Caesura Letters

From July 1, 2012 to December 31, 2015 I published the Caesura Lettersdaily inspiration and intellectual provocation for life-long learners, critical thinkers, mindful questioners, and curious, inquisitive people. All fifteen volumes were published via email, ebook, and paperback. The three and a half years I spent studying and writing for the project proved to be an incredibly rewarding ‘sabbatical’ of sorts. I hope you find these ‘letters’ to be an invitation to pursue mindfulness in everything. To begin exploring, please enjoy Volume XV for free.

0 thoughts on “Caesura Letters

  1. I daresay that I don’t think fear-mongering can be equated with terrorism. If anything, it is an excessive response to a terrible situation. I say this because I have seen the other side of the spectrum – an apathetic response to a dangerous situation. In that scenario, all that happens is assault over assault from the terrorist, completely ignored and even prompted by lazy policing and imperfect laws, combined with a weak democracy and uncharismatic leaders.

    That is a poorer situation to be in because no matter how bad things get, the defacto response becomes, “it could be worse”.

    I don’t say that fear-mongering is good. I’ve seen it get used to destroy lives and start communal riots too. But there is a healthy level of fear-mongering that a Statesman must use to inspire people to action. There’s that sweet spot that can only come if leaders have true power and a moral compass that points due north. I see both these things missing from most of politicians today.

  2. Hi Nitin,
    I agree, burying one’s head in the sand, as they say, is equally futile, and equally dangerous. I’m a pragmatist at heart on issues of national security. Personally, I want to live in a country that has a national defense apparatus that is second to none — I want to feel safe and protected just as much as anyone else. Just as you agree that fear-mongering isn’t good, so I too agree that apathy is not good either.
    All I’m saying is that the incitement of fear is the incitement of fear, and in as much as even the most righteous, competent governor utilizes fear to compel/inspire their constituents to action, they too are making a utility of terror. “Fighting terror” by appeal to fear is thus a far more nuanced and complex situation than many of us instinctively recognize. My gut says that it would be better if more filtered the words of our political leaders through such an analytical filter.
    In line with your comment, I have an article scheduled to be published next week in the Caesura Letters drawn from some literature on the ‘complacency vs panic’ problem in theoretical literature. We humans, the theory argues, are not really built to operating inbetween these poles of response: we have evolved to either brush off treats, or switch immediately into fight/flight mode. What’s in the middle? Conceptually speaking, I think this question is hugely important, especially to discussions of things like national security and terrorism. I will post a link in this comment thread to the other article once it goes live.

  3. James,

    I cannot speak to the theory you’ve explained. I’d love to read that Caesura Letter and formulate an opinion based on that.

    However, I can talk towards a certain scenario that I’ve been thinking about since I read your post – What if you’re the strongest military in the world, but there’s no open war you’re fighting, or huge terror organization you’re keeping in check? In such a scenario, you’ve got no politicians using the language of fear, no need to fight terror openly or make campaign promises based on what wars you are willing to fight. But what happens then? Your military and intelligence apparatus is so strong and itchy to do something, that they will start working covertly, collaborating with forces around the world and subverting regimes based on what they predict would be a good idea for your country.

    How does this fit into our discussion? It is human tendency that where we do not perceive threat either visibly or vocally, we let others sit in the driver’s seat of decision making. We let people we deem fit to make such decisions make them without our involvement.

    One issue that has arisen from the recent debate on privacy is thus, that the cost of ignorance of terrorism is the ignorance of what your own government is doing. Thus the middle scenario, as good as it gets, from what is observable right now, is that we let people we believe to be professionals in the field process all that fear-mongering instead of it seeping down to the public.

    That was more of a ramble than processed thought. I’ve love to read that upcoming post of yours before making up my mind on something definite.

  4. Your comment seems to describe the “industrial military complex” theory to a tea! Practically speaking, once a certain portion of your economy depends on military expenditure, you’ve gotta start coming up with things for your military to do.

    I’ll definitely post that other article here when it goes live. It would be very interesting to discuss both concepts in light of each other.

  5. Thank you for putting into words so succintly the issues I face as a person who helps people. I shy undeniably from the spotlight as being a hero takes the focus off the person who needed help. Instead of focusing on the hero/victim mentality focus instead should be made on how the “helpee (ie the victim) can be given the tools to help themselves the next time they need assistance.

  6. I can’t imagine how such an honour system approach wouldn’t be easily – and immediately – manipulated by groups as to render the results useless. Focus should instead be on the accountability factor itself, where the onus is on incumbents to adequately explain why they broke whatever percentage of promises they made, as that number is required to be prominently displayed in every media source pertaining to the current election.
    As for corporate influence over elections: they need to be taken out of the picture entirely, as no campaign reform measures can ever amount to anything as long as they control from up high. The people shouldn’t need to form an army of sorts to combat the corps; the corps should just be rendered impotent from the get-go.
    These are the powers that know *all* the people would be united against their corruption and control – if we were given the chance to be united. So they keep the people split between often negligible left and right issues, increasingly so, to negate the possibility of us coming together over what really matters: defeating corporate power and control over government in ways designed to benefit the few over the many.
    This is where the people need to start: unite against corruption. The People vs The Corps. Regardless of political slant, vote – en masse – only for candidates who agree to accountability rules that remind them who they are supposed to be serving.

    • I agree that corruption is the evil that we need to address. My thesis is simply that getting ourselves “united” for anything requires some kind of lateral signalling. No politician stands before us on their campaign and says, “Vote for me! I’ll feed the corruption machine some more!” We cannot collectively sync our sensibilities adequately to perceive that candidate A will be less corrupt than candidate B — what we need to be able to do is to turf which ever candidate does not make the implementation of anti-corruption measures their priority.
      So, yes, I could not be more supportive of all people uniting against corruption. But uniting requires organizing. The practical logistics of organizing in the face of the systemic opposition we face in the beast of corruption is what I am most interested in exploring.

    • I agree that the honour system is the weakest link in this proposal. That said, a platform like this would need to espouse and incarnate the kind of transparency and accountability that we demand from our leaders. Thus, while it is based on the honour system, it is also transparent, kind of like Wikipedia, for instance: it is based on honour, but it is robust and secure: any abuse can publicly tracked to the infracting IPs.

      • I sincerely hope a way to prevent mischief-makers from ruining the idea could be achieved. But when said mischief-makers are the most powerful people on the planet, and you threaten the happy little racket they’ve got going for themselves, I’m wary in assuming they won’t somehow find the ability to mischief-make all over the place as they please.
        I guess we’re basically agreeing; I just think it would be an exceptionally difficult challenge — not one that isn’t worth pursuing. On the contrary, I think it’s of paramount importance. I hope your article gets spread far and wide, and someone, somewhere gets the ball rolling. I’m sure there’d be a tremendous outpouring of support.

  7. A key component would be a a group of non-corporate trustworthy journos to help out and spread the news and keep us all informed. There seems to be a few with solid integrity making themselves known. They need to band together.

  8. You’re addressing an important issue, but I do worry about the ways the system will be corrupted. I don’t see a way around it that’s reliable enough.

    Meanwhile, we do have other ways of signaling our intent. Candidates count how many “supporters” they have. In my benighted country, they tout how many people have contributed money, and how many of those were small contributors. Polls can ask us who we’re voting for and who we prefer. It’s all very sloppy, but so would a pre-vote sign-up system of the sort you suggest.

    Maybe a way to proceed would be to pick a relatively small local election where you think the voters might choose differently if they knew one another’s actual preferences. Do it on a small scale with a relatively low tech approach — explicitly not promising a lot of security — and see if it can make a difference. Maybe?

    • David, thanks so much for taking a few minutes to respond here. I really appreciate it.
      I definitely agree that the system’s fragility for abuse is the weakest aspect of the idea.

      What I find limiting about our current “signaling” mechanisms is that they only demonstrate a very isolated snapshot of intent. What intrigues me about biological systems, in contrast, is that the “personal vote” is the result of a kind of “bargaining” and “negotiating” with other nodes.

      I do agree that trying to prototype this approach a local election level would be highly instructive and informative. Thanks again for the feedback.

  9. It’s pretty common in South East Asia. Everyone’s on motorbikes in Viet Nam, and there’s none of that weird “woman driver” stuff we have here in North America. Whoever owns the bike is the driver, unless the other person is much bigger or heavier, and even then. . .

  10. The self-interest doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the tendency to fixate on groups that are “not like us” in some way (just about any difference will do, real or imagined) to scapegoat, denigrate and punish.

  11. I’m not sure about this self-interest thing. There is self interest as in we want our ideals to prevail through a political choice, but then there’s self interest as in I want what will benefit me and my family regardless of the cost to others. The first kind of self interest seems to be the kind talked about in this article, the second kind seems to fall squarely on the Milton Freidman type of political economy where if we all act ‘selfishly’ then we will all get what we need and there will be little need for government, beyond the protection of private property. I don’t think I’m being ideological here, but the self-interest of the Milton Freidman type seems to be what underlies the current iteration of Conservative politics which has been appears to increase inequality and social injustices. A self interest that seeks to build equality and social justice (even at the cost of one’s own social and economic position) is simply at odds with a self-interest that doesn’t have a vision beyond one’s own pay cheque and pension plan.

    Therefore the statement “Whoever’s not on our side is only in politics for some twisted egomaniacal payoff!” to my mind does require us to look at why people will vote for a party, and some positions are simply more ‘egomaniacal’ than others. To reject this would assume that voting for a party who seeks equality through wealth redistribution (even when it means that I will have less money in my bank at the end of the day and will have to take a couple less all inclusive vacations or pass by installing my new granite counter top) is as egomaniacal as an already very wealthy person voting for more income tax breaks or a decrease in social benefits to the poor. It seems that the calculus is pretty clear and that the latter position is clearly more egomaniacal and self-interested in the bad kind of way (selfish at the expense of others), than the first option, which represents a person willing to sacrifice some of their own comforts for the betterment of the community. If making such a point is considered “turning up the heat in my own self-righteous chamber” so be it, but there are in fact many voters who could care less about a conversation on justice and fairness if such a conversation will negatively effect their pocket books (short term or long term).

    I don’t think such a position is flippantly brushing “aside the beliefs of people who vote ‘against’ me ” rather it is taking a sober look at what kinds of life styles those people want to live and what kind of discourse and society they encourage. I continuously try to not take people at face value, sure just because you vote for a party that I don’t like it doesn’t meant that I will judge you about your values, perhaps you haven’t thought through some positions, perhaps I need to adjust some of mine, perhaps we can learn together. But when a person is willing to continuously promote political parties that have been found to be corrupt and unfair time and time again, who does not talk about fairness and justice, who is explicitly racist, who does not seek to support the weakest in society, but rather can’t stop worrying about their own pocket book, then there comes a time to let it be said — you are only voting in your self-interest (read selfishly) and you continue to put your pocket book ahead of justice and fairness. Sometimes it’s true.

    On the upside, the Conservative vote last time around was only 39% of voters, so I’m glad to say that we have a population that is NOT swayed so easily by little morsels to tempt their pitiful self-interest…

    All that said, I’m glad to have a conversation about justice and fairness, but I suspect there won’t be many Conservatives (yes capital C) in attendance.

    Just some thoughts and open for debate.

    • You automatically tilt the windmill by use of terms like equality and justice. Equality of what? Incomes ? Opportunity? Benefits? Justice as in what – rule of law? Principles ensconced in a constitution? Giving people things at the expense of others? Before attacking Friedman, how much do you really understand the concepts of freedom and liberty? The idea of personal initiative and responsibility? You do understand that the system that has lifted more people out of poverty than any other known to man is capitalism, right?

  12. I think the only reason I’m voting is because by not voting I’m perpetuating a system that seemingly hurts a lot of people. If it was self-interest I wouldn’t bother. I’m privileged enough that whoever wins won’t affect my life drastically enough to affect my interests.

  13. Dear James,

    I would like to respond to your letter to Jim Jefferies but I must admit that I did not see his show and do not know the material in question (I have seen other material of his). I feel I can glean some info from your letter, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, but I hope it might add to this conversation.

    First a bit about myself – I am a hard-core anti-feminist and will speak out against feminism, religion or any other socially accepted ideology or dogma that plagues us, even if most people are not yet aware of it.

    To begin I wanted to question – what if the ‘rape’ jokes were not of women but of men being raped in prison, would that have been acceptable? The tone of your letter suggests quite literally that it is ‘women’ being rapped that you find offensive. You make a good point in your ‘comparatively speaking’ paragraph on switching raping women jokes with the abusing children jokes and you ask the questions, “why would the social consequences and thresholds for acceptance be different? What are the cultural norms and precedents that make this dichotomy possible? What kind of systematic inequalities underpin this double standard? These are good question and I would like to suggest that this might be precisely why Jim Jeffries has selected this material. This is his way of ‘pushing the envelope’ as you mention later in your letter – his creative license.

    I grew up in this society and I was indoctrinated with a feminist agenda, as we all have been. Now I see things clearly and it has been statistically proven that women are just as violent and abusive as men (men are bigger and stronger and therefore more likely to cause injury, but this does not excuse the violent actions of women) and far more violent and abusive to children than are men, with one possible exemption of sexual abuse (sexual abuse is most common between live-in boyfriends and non-biological offspring). We know from statistics that men are raped in prison (in developed countries) and in general in non-developed countries to a far greater extent than are women. We know that women are much more likely to kill their own children than are the fathers of those children, but all I have just said here will be strongly disputed by feminist because it does not fit with the socially accepted narrative that men are violent brutes and women are innocent angels. From reading your letter it is my belief that you have been indoctrinated into this all-pervasive feminist ideology and I’m glad to hear to question the ‘justification of comedic misogyny’. Let’s go one step further and question our socially accepted ‘comedic misandry’ too. I know Jim Jefferies is a controversial act and highly offensive to many people. But I’m sure you would agree that a ‘politically correct’ comedy routine would not be funny at all. In order to be able to laugh at material such as this, one need to reflect on the many things that people do laugh at every day – on public radio and television – and these are things that I personally find highly offensive. I’m talking about a systemic abuse of men and boys. I wonder if the material of Jim Jeffries would be funny if we were all painfully aware of how the opposite is true? Maybe without one we would not have the other? I believe that if we were all as offended by the abuse of men and boys (including rape) as we are by the abuse of women and girls, then his jokes would only be offensive and not be funny at all.

    I think your sentences at the end are great; “You provoke them (the audience) to reevaluate their assumptions on a number of issues”. Very true, and don’t forget, this audience includes you. Then you add, “But unfortunately, the real world mores and precedents that sentence millions of women to live in fear were only reinforced by the glaring double standards of your act”. Of which ‘real world’ are you speaking? While it is true that millions of women are sentenced to live in fear, millions of men and children (boys and girls) do as well. If men are not directly abused by women, then they are abused by the government sanctioned proxies like the family courts and laws biased against men and boys. You wrote, “the systemic toxicity of fear must be thwarted by rational vigilance: collective compassion”, and I couldn’t agree more. But one needs to understand that we ‘fight the enemy we know’, and it is government, industry and media that is ever feeding us with ready-made enemies and never letting us see the big picture. This is why I am on the crusade to educate as many people as I can.

    The perpetual messages from the feminist camp have permitted our lives, and i know this because I was once like you. The media perpetuates this message constantly, and to the exclusion of all other information regardless of how rational or accurate that information might be. We can only play the cards we are dealt. The world is a fucked up place because it is run by fucked up people. The internet is the great equalizer and enemy of the tyrants who would seek to control us. It’s right to be offended, and I agree with your sentiments, but making the world a just and loving place is a big job and in a strange, roundabout way the words of Jim Jeffferies are a very small part of that.

    Wolf Moehrle

    • Wow. You literally took one argument about a man talking about raping women, where the argument was to talk about how serious a situation that is.

      And went all Shannon like “what about me?! I am a man?! And I’m feeling cold and alone! Well I’m not to proud, to cry out loud that this argument should be about me?!?!?!”

      Pick your fights bro.

      And yes, it would be beyond disgusting if he were talking about raping an unconscious man. That is filth.
      Rape is rape. This specific guy was making jokes about men being raped too, so perhaps you could take this argument out on him, rather than someone on the internet who wrote a response to him about raping women.


    • I watched Jim Jefferies on TV, and I was first unimpressed by his political ideology but then I started to notice sonething interesting about how all his parts relate. Jim Jefferies is calling out the female psychopath, and possibly the motherly one, and he hates guns because it could have been him that stormed the school in rage, and if it was a musket he would have calmed down.

    • Hey Wolf, let me be honest straight off the bat and say I completely disagree with you about feminism. I could go point for point with you on your arguments. We could both share stats, question each others sources and become more entrenched in our views. But you know what, I’m not sure we’d get anywhere.

      Can I ask you a question though – Are you happy? And further to that what does happiness mean to you? You say in your comment that the world is a fucked up place? What does an unfucked up world look like to you? And finally, what are you scared of? Why do you feel the need to be anti-feminist? What part of your self do you feel is under attack? What are you protecting? I believe if you really want to change the world, whether or not you believe in feminism, the first thing to do is to look inside yourself at the soft broken parts, the unsure bits, the fear, the tender places of your heart and ask – what’s really going on in here? You sound like a really well meaning person and I’m happy to chat with you any time you like, just send me an email at
      We can argue about feminism if you like. Personally I think you’ve made a mistake along the way and found yourself on the wrong side on this one my friend.

  14. There’s a hidden assumption in this whole discussion that needs highlighting, which is that Diogenes’ version of freedom or detachment is the best thing to strive for. In fact, there is a hidden statement that Diogenes’ freedom is somehow more valuable that Alexander’s achievements and responsibilities. That might be true for some people, but certainly not for everyone. For many people, the chance to create history and do great things is more worthwhile an endeavor than pursuing detachment from all things. It’s really a question of priorities and consciously deciding what you want out of your mind rather than leaving it to social conditioning.

    • I agree. But I don’t think the assumption is ‘hidden’ at all. The Cynics are entirely forthright in their ridicule of mass culture’s obsession with rank and accomplishment. The story here of Alexander is a narrative device to juxtapose what the Cynics believed most people wanted (the fame, glory, and pride of someone like Alexander) with a Cynics life of non attachment.
      I agree entirely with your point that one ought to think about how they gauge value in their life by being suspicious of the cultural, social conditioning of society. Absolutely. But I just think the Cynics would say the vast majority of us have already been preconditioned by society to seek accomplishment. That they offer an alternative is not hidden at all. But to your point, I thoroughly agree that just swallowing such an ideology uncritically is only to be ‘conditioned’ in another way. Great comment! Thanks for sharing.

  15. I see what you’re saying, James, about identifying with positive and forgiving relationships. What I have difficulty understanding is why people like characters in shows such as The Big Bang Theory and Friends. Would you say that it is because they are horrible people, the audience likes them more because their friends forgive the most hurtful and degrading insults from one another? So, no matter how bad their own personal relationships are, at least they aren’t Raj or Wolowitz, or God forbid, Leonard.

    • This is a good point. On the whole, most sitcom characters are pretty selfish and self-oriented people. (I imagine that their chronic selfishness ultimately serves as a comedic plot device to drive stories ahead. A group of people who don’t want things — let alone conflicting things — isn’t going to push a narrative.) My hypothesis is that we love these characters not because they are selfish per se but because their selfishness is manifestly obvious. They wear it on their sleeve. Most importantly, they live in these wonderful make believe social environments where everyone can be transparently self-obsessed AND still remain friends. They get the ‘best of both worlds’: they can think of nothing but themselves and yet it always magically works out that their friends stay by their sides. This doesn’t work well at all in real life!

  16. There is no environmental case for fixing the dam because an operational structure results in the ecocide of the sensitive and COSEWIC identified Species at Risk between the dam and the forks. Fixing the dam will be a waste of taxpayer money better spent on making measurable improvements to our infrastructure to completely eliminate the hundreds of millions of liters of untreated wastewater that is released into the river. Impounding this wastewater along with all the other agricultural, residential and commercial sources of pollution creates a public health and safety risk within the reservoir within a functional dam and contradicts our commitments to do our part to reduce toxic blue-green algae in the Great Lakes. An environmentalist thinks of the environment first and speak up for the creatures and systems that cannot defend themselves from human activity.

  17. There are plenty of reports and studies that were completed in 2015 showing the presence of identified species at risk by the UTRCA. This information was relayed to both the DFO and MNRF and there is a deadline of Dec. 2016 for the City to deliver a plan to those agencies outlining how they will resolve fish passage efficiency and attraction issues over the lowered doors along with how they could protect the habitat of the turtles, mussels, birds, fish and plants between the dam and Harris Park. No plan, no permits, no dam. It’s that simple… aka the “showstopper” that not only will prevent the dam from ever being repaired but would also complicates any associated projects like Back to the River that suggest the dam needs to be fixed for aesthetic and recreational purpose. The other fact is that there are no lost business or recreational opportunities being realized without a functional dam… Plenty of places to paddle canoes safely including the coves, westminster ponds and the river itself. The LCC should be back in the city… just operating different. Point to point canoeing from Harris to Springbank Parks, good parking and accessible launches with canoes for rent and bicycles to ride the trails back upstream. Green, healthy and it supports all the City objectives with killing the inhabitants of the river that cannot speak up.

    • Hubert give it up and respect what this blog states . Your worst allie is Barry Wells .. James has an opinion and your Angler group has bombarded him with negative thinking and false facts. He set out to look at a prospective giving his thoughts and you react in a very negative way.

      • It is encouraging to see that the city has voted in favour of repairing the dam in the latest two LFP polls! When another Environmental Assessment has been completed on the river it will show that the dam is not responsible for polluting the river.

      • Barry, I have some respect for the approach that James has taken. He’s looking at it from all angles and welcoming different perspectives. It would be silly to give up this point when it clearly looks like the “One River” holistic EA will not pass council vote on Mar. 22nd and that the majority of councillors would rather decommission the dam. The Free press isn’t making the decision and their polls are meaningless. Our organization had to provide proof of all signatures on both petitions and joint letters to council. From what I have heard there are legitimate and escalated concerns regarding your misrepresentation of both the Waterkeeper and Riverkeeper groups along with First Nations communities downstream.

        • Hi Robert,
          Actually there were two LFP polls, both in favour of fixing the dam. One is at 64% and the other is at 61%. The EA will give the city councilors the information they need to make an informed decision about fixing Springbank Dam. Why would they vote against obtaining the information that they need to make an informed decision?

          • Please don’t believe those polls. They can be easily manipulated. All it would take is one crafty teenager, or somebody that wants to spend a few hours manipulating a poll that isn’t relevant. The two prior polls showed Londoners wanted the dam decommissioned. I can’t see how there could be a shift in the other direction. The two polls I’m referring to were prior to the Urban League decision to decommission and the public meeting at the City.

      • Barry Callow: Even the three First Nations’ communities downstream of the Springbank Dam want the dam decommissioned. OPPOSED TO SPRINGBANK DAM: In addition to Irene Mathyssen, the NDP MP for London-Fanshawe, former Mayor Joni Baechler, former Coun. Nancy Branscombe, former Coun. Cheryl Miller, Ward 1 Coun. Michael Van Holst, Ward 2 Coun. Bill Armstrong, Ward 3 Coun. Mo Salih, Ward 6 Coun. Phil Squire, Ward 9 Coun. Anna Hopkins, Ward 10 Coun. Virginia Ridley, Ward 11 Coun. Stephen Turner, Ward 13 Coun. Tanya Park, Mike Bloxam, chair of the City’s Advisory Committee on the Environment, Dean Sheppard, executive director of ReForest London, lifelong environmentalists David and Winnifred Wake, UTRCA Species-at-Risk Biologist Scott Gillingwater and former Urban League of London president Gloria McMinn-McTeer (2000-2003), the following groups have come out swinging for the permanent decommissioning or removal of this costly but unnecessary dam in the Thames River, due to the dam’s negative effects on the river’s ecosystem, both in London and downstream:

        The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation; Oneida Nation of the Thames; Munsee-Delaware Nation; World Wildlife Fund-Canada; Ontario Rivers Coalition; Thames River Anglers Association; Nature London; Trout Unlimited Canada; Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters; Earthroots; Western Ontario Fish & Game Protective Association; Forest City Fly Fishing Club; the Urban League of London; the City of London’s Advisory Committee on the Environment; the City of London’s Trees and Forests Advisory Committee and the Byron Community Organization.

      • With the City of London’s Civic Works Committee voting unanimously 6-0 on Jan. 9, 2017 to support the EA consultant’s and City staff’s recommendation to decommission the unnecessary Springbank Dam, City Council is now poised to vote 15-0 in favour of decommissioning the Springbank Dam.

        Your worst ally, Barry Callow, is being on the wrong side of the overwhelming science-based evidence that the Thames River and its ecosystem, including species-at-risk, from Byron to the river forks are far healthier without a working Springbank Dam.

        There’s an opportunity here for you and your misguided sidekick, Simon Tanner, to learn something. Read the EA reports.

  18. A repaired dam will only benefit the canoe and rowing club. Let’s not say that the only way to canoe on the Thames and have people ‘return to the river’ is with a repaired dam. The number of people that canoe the Thames are substantially less than those who walk it banks or drive their cars over the number of bridges in the city. Those people unfortunately are not as vocal as the small number of canoeist. The notion that people don’t care about the river because they can’t go down and appreciate it via canoeing or rowing is nonsense. I fish the Thames regularly and I would say almost every time I do I come across someone canoeing (with smiles and a friendly wave)
    Finally to say that one dam on a short stress of water will not affect things is short sighted. By this same logic one shouldn’t bother recycling every piece of paper or choose organic options. Why bother when the majority don’t. Please don’t consider yourself an environmentalist if choose the line of thought.

    • I thoroughly agree that the principle goal of involving people with the river should not be necessarily conflated with the specific condition of the dam. That’s an important clarification, and I’m thankful to you and a few other Facebook commenters for highlighting it.

  19. James. We have spent 7 million dollars on this white elephant to date that we know of. $4.2 million was the original budget. How much is it going to cost to fix???? Then let’s factor in the Southbank Erosion Protection plans from the original EA that have yet to be completed. Add in the fact that the Biotactic Fish Monitoring reports clearly show that fish passage has been compromised and the dam is a barrier. The pre & post construction monitoring results prove it. The SETC agreement with the COL was NO NET LOSS or they will be required to mitigate. Lastly, the islands that once were present below the dam were deemed nursery habitat by MNR and DFO. The new gate design has increased the velocity going over the them which in turn has obliterated this habitat. Can you say H.A.D.D. The city is going to have to mitigate this too. Then species at risk come in to play and it is another hurdle that the city is going to have to overcome. You get my drift??? Dam the river for what?? Historical Expectations of Recreational Use by a select few user groups while sacrificing the environment. The canoeing and rowing community have yet to provide 1 piece of scientific evidence which would support fixing the dam. All we get are their emotional pleas which is a pretty sad state of affairs.

    • Thanks for the comment Randy. One thing that I did know before researching for this post was just how many times Springbank has been dammed, undammed, and redammed over and over again since the 1870s. One gets the impression that the story we are living at the moment is one that has been rehearsed and rehashed many times over. This is all to say, I think you make a terrific point that taking a long-term view is very important here, and it’s a perspective I would want to reiterate indeed.

  20. James,
    Your case is well stated. Urban “green space” has a long history, and is considered essential for the “health” (including mental health) for urban populations. As you know, I’ve had to privilege of biking along the river. I can’t imagine the city NOT wanting to keep/reclaim this area. It is clear that these 22 km won’t “destroy” the ecosystem, and my very well enhance it. I hope the fine people of London, Ontario rebuild the dam while being as ecologically conscious as possible.

  21. Great article James. Blaming Springbank Dam for polluting the Thames River is like filling you pool up with raw sewage and then blaming the concrete walls of the pool for making it worse. Robert Corey’s article in the London Free Press “Thames Cleanup Real Priority” on Feb 13 2016 cites the real problem: “The Thames is horribly polluted from above Fanshawe Dam by factory farming and manuring of fields.”

  22. Hello James,

    I would like to start with stating that I appreciate your article; it is nice to see somebody critical of both sides of an argument, as I find this more and more rare as of late.

    To start, I just want to address the “natural river” idea. I completely agree with you that we cannot make the river natural ever again – once man has touched nature, it is no longer natural! That being said, I also agree with the ‘healthy river’ points that you make, though I find that the ‘healthy river’ that you seem to be referring to happens to be the same ideas as many of the ‘naturalists” views that you speak to. I don’t think the majority of those wanting the dam decommissioned are hoping for an entirely natural river, as it’s no longer feasible, but are speaking on behalf of those that cannot – the endangered species’ that have flourished since the dam has been out of use.

    In regards to the social and environmental costs whether or not the dam is decommissioned, I think that is more where the debate lies. In my opinion, the social and environmental benefits in recommissioning the dam are purely recreational. Not only recreational, but conveniently recreational – as there is a State of the Art recreational facility at the Fanshawe Conservation Area which is less than a 10km drive away from the downtown core. The drawbacks, on the other hand, are that the entire list of different species that you listed (i.e. the Spiny Softshell Turtle, Queensnake, Eastern Hog-nosed Snake, Salamander (Mudpuppy) Mussel and Silver Shiner (fish), as well as species of special concern such as the Northern Map Turtle, Snapping Turtle and Green Dragon [perennial wildflower].) will disappear again from the river, as they had done previously. So my question to you (and anybody else who is interested in responding) is what is more important: the more convenient recreational space in the city’s core, or the lives of the species that I just listed who all contribute to our ecosystem?

    In my opinion, keeping these species in the river (by decommissioning the dam) would make the Thames River the ‘healthy river’ that you later refer to in your work.

    In regards to needing more people who canoe, kayak, etc. to use the river so that future generations continue to care about the river and ‘keep it healthy,’ I believe that if the younger generations see what happened to the environment in the past when the dam was in place should teach them to keep it healthy, and they can use the river at Fanshawe for recreation. Further, there was the suggestion of making the old dam into a bridge which solves making the dam a focal point so that others see it as something to take care of.

    Thank you, again, for your response. I look forward to a reply if possible!

    • Thanks for the comment Ryley. I really appreciate your thoughts. I agree that species variation and biodiversity must be fundamental aspects to the decisions we must make about local ecology structures. But we must keep in mind that our own houses, parks, roads, food production, and municipal infrastructure displaces many species too. This is not a specific phenomenon to the river: weigh human utility against biodiversity in almost everything we do.

  23. I don’t understand the connection between how war leads to society.
    “The victors of war begin to incorporate the losers of war into increasingly larger societies. Our species starts down a road of amalgamation.” — this sounds more like slavery or something than the formation of a larger, more cohesive society that “require[s] complex government structures and administration.”
    What piece am I missing?


  24. Perhaps we should all read Who am I? by Ramana Maharshi. That might put a new slant on what we are or not… Best wishes Julian

  25. I’m excited about the debate. My mind isn’t made up about the issue, but I’ve been thinking about it on and off for the last 20 years.
    I grew up in Germany and among us young liberal leftwingers it was a popular idea (still is, obviously.. but I’m not that young and not that left anymore).
    I’d love to see it done somewhere. I think it needs to be tried out until we can really say what the results are. Of course that still would show us only the results in that area in that time.
    From a purely emotional perspective I still think that a society that calls itself civilized should provide a minimum for its citizens. Germany does that much more than the US but it still requires a lot of paperwork and hassle. I’d love to see what people could come up with if basic food and shelter needs were just taken care of.
    On the other hand I’ve seen people fall into depression when they didn’t have to make a living.
    But oh, all that free time that could be used for volunteer work!

    Gets me right back to
    I want to see it done.

  26. I watched it. It seemed to me the anti side considered the proposal to be something that would inherently change everything for the worse forever. Why not consider giving some form of it a full, national five-year test just in case it works? We could likely recover from it if it doesn’t help.

  27. Thanks, James, for setting up a really interesting and thought-provoking debate. I brought my 12 yr old daughter with me and she was very engaged in it all. On the way to the event, I explained the basic premise and why it would be a good thing. She thought it made sense and in fact, could not believe anybody would oppose it. I then proposed the arguments against the idea and she could see those points, too. Then she could not decide. Very interesting. By the end, we were both convinced of the arguments for and very surprised by the outcome. Democracy in action! Civic engagement! Yes.

  28. I am not familiar with the legislation of other countries, but at least in Finland, each time a book is borrowed in a library there is a small payment to the rights holder. (In practice the payments are made yearly, of course.) So it’s not as simple as having a librarian buying a copy and making it available to the public.

  29. People are too fucking up tight, learn to understand it’s a fucking joke. You’re the 1% of society that is so fucking obnoxious, people like Jim Jefferies have to be careful with their jokes. It’s stand up. Jokes are jokes. Fair game to say literally anything you want, if people are laughing, you win. Everyone was laughing except you.

      • Listen, who cares whether or not a guy makes a damn joke. People have dark humor, you can’t get offended over everything that you hear. In his Netflix show, he clearly stated it was all to be interpreted, As. A. Joke. I understand that it may offend you, but as a man, I don’t see how it would’ve offended you as much as it did. Seeing how you can voice your opinion, and I do respect it. In all respect though sir, I, as a woman, can understand the difference between someone literally saying rape is okay, to a good ol’ dark humor comedy bit. In all due respect, get over yourself.

        • I don’t think there’s any disagreement here that Jeffries’ jokes are intended as jokes.

          But if Jeffries’ jokes had been about babies or children, would they still be funny to you?

          • The fact you ask if we changed the subject of the jokes if the person would still be offended shows how arbitrary this all is. The culture has a few sacred cows currently. You happen to have bought into women being one of these sacred cows, pun not intended. Another amusing example is the logic pretzel the left contorts itself into when forced to play favorites between its sacred cows as you see when they are required to concoct a rationalization for Islam’s abhorrent treatment of gays or women. The left’s bizarre defense of Islam would make a theologian who wrestled with the problem of evil proud.

          • If the rights, safety, and equal opportunity of literally half the human population is a ‘sacred cow’, then sure, I think that’s a pretty worthy sacred cow.

        • his hearts in the right place, it’s dark comedy. Stop being so offended , there are a lot of real things to get offended about. You didn’t get him it’s ok but maybe you should stick to more mild comedy.

        • Exactly! Rape jokes are meant to be jokes that are hilarious. What’s so hard to understand people? How many times do I have to explain this??
          Real rape = real bad.
          Joke rape = hilarious.
          Keep fighting the good fight sister!

  30. Dear James Shelley. I just spent a glorious few minutes transcribing your post Careerist vs Dilettante for a project I’m doing called Proof in the Pencil in which I attempt to see how many words are in a single pencil. It is a delightful task. I hope it’s okay with you. Full credit is giving within the text. I’m on Facebook at Proof in the Pencil.

  31. I completely agree. I just watched his show on Netflix, expecting political satire, but the first few minutes made me feel a little sick to my stomach. I don’t think Mr. Jefferies meant to do it, but he reinforces so many misconceptions about rape in that bit (it’s not ‘real’ rape because he only fingered them, they should take it as a compliment, etc.), and I do think that that is a dangerous mindset to perpetuate. I absolutely believe free speech should come without terms and conditions, but I also believe in thinking before you speak, and being aware of the impact and gravity of your words.

    • Thank you for writing this, James! I first saw Jim Jefferies on Conan and I liked the bit he did about gun control in the United States so I wanted to check out his special “Bare,” but I could barely get through 10 minutes without being completely turned off by the uncomfortable level of misogyny he was dishing out. And so, I am so appreciative of people like you speaking out against it and calling Jefferies out for the potential damage this type of “comedy” can inflict. Thank you again for your thoughtful post.

      • Misogyny.

        The go to word for the perpetually offended when all they really mean is:-

        Women are special, no-one should make jokes about them.

        You sound like a feminist all right.

    • When he says that it wasn’t “real” rape because it was only drugging/fingering, he gets laughs, because it’s an absurd concept and the audience knows it is. He’s not perpetuating ignorance any more than Archie Bunker was perpetuating ignorance when he talked about colored people. He’s intentionally playing the buffoon.

  32. The jokes/stories were quite funny – e.g. Jefferies painted a bizarre picture of coming around to find out you’d been raped by good ol’ Bill Cosby, and your possible reactions to that. The humour is in the situation he invented, it’s not at the expense of actual rape victims. But that makes no difference to our wannabe moral guardians. For them rape is only for them to understand and interpret.
    See, here’s the thing. If someone makes edgy jokes about torturing or killing people there is no outcry from those looking to educate us as to what is right and wrong. No, the pontificating is always limited to rape, or more specifically men raping women. Prison rape jokes generate no outrage. Weird eh?
    Monty Python’s Black Knight got off lightly. At least he wasn’t raped!
    Oh wait, I’m so offended. That sketch makes fun of amputees.

    • I imagine that if 1 in 5 people had experienced violent bodily dismemberment (or attempts there at) in their lives, there would likely be a significant difference in our collective attitudes towards the Black Knight sketch. Maybe?

  33. Is the original author aware Jim was abused as a child himself ?

    Neither for or against the original document, just wondered if it would change his questioning ?

  34. So if I’m not mistaken, had Jeffries’ routine involved an equal amount of jokes about peadophilia as about the rape of adults then you would have had no cause to write this letter? In desegregating his routine, you seem far more offended by the recipe than by the ingredients (cause, free speech). Boohoo, mate.
    All victims are victims and there should be no hierarchy of suffering or victimhood – obviously. But you talk about societal mores and what not. People are uncomfortable with and offended by all manner of topics – be it holocaust denialism, necrophilia or whatever. But you’re right, jokes about child abuse are particularly unpalatable; hence, Jeffries’ (career) decision to spend less time on such jokes…
    Why is that the case? I have no idea. Perhaps children represent the height of vulnerability and defencelessness. I don’t know though.
    At any rate, I really don’t understand your point. You seem to want to defend free speech while, contradictorily, couching disproval and offence about aspects of a comedy act with arguments about not enough of the comedian’s speech being used to express jokes on a particular topic. Confusing…

    • In the spirit of Voltaire, ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’

      This doesn’t seem to be ‘confusing’ to me all — it seems like a principle foundation of classical liberal democracy.

      Jeffries used his freedom of speech to say something. I used my freedom of speech to say that I disagree. It is not contradictory at all say I am ardent defender of his right to say what he wants while simultaneously disagreeing with what he says. That’s what living in a free society is all about.

  35. I’m hoping that one day we can have our cake and eat it too, when machines can do the majority of jobs, making most things (even upgraded gadgets) essentially free. That leaves us with much more leisure time. Though it’s probably best to heed your advice NOW instead of hoping for that better future. :)


  36. Jim did actually at one point tell jokes about sexually abused children. Funny enough the subject of the jokes were him because he was badly sexually abused as a child.
    Unlike you he’s able to find the humor in it because he’s a better, stronger person who doesn’t let something bad define his life. He turns his weaknesses into strengths. He’s not a victim and doesn’t suffer from male guilt like you.

  37. Jim Jefferies works in shock humour. Shock humour relies on playing with what we find offensive and do not agree with. Jim Jefferies’ rape jokes, like Louis CK’s child rape jokes, rely on us finding these things to not be okay. If we think the behaviour is acceptable, the joke does not work. If someone laughs at a rape joke, it is not because they agree with the idea.

    • I don’t get it. Are you saying fingering an unconscious girl is totally rapey therefore hearing someone say the opposite is shockingly hilarious?
      Where’s the funny? Maybe you had to be there for the full experience? Did he make a funny face while telling the joke? Or maybe he pantomimed fingering an unconscious girl? Yeah, I agree. That would have been hilarious.

  38. I have as much hope in humanity as Moses did after his people broke the Ten Commandments Covenant and started worshiping idols again. “I hope I would find my way if I were lost; I did. I re established my covenants and am guided by God, and faith. I believe hope is fleeting and I pray for my my place in heaven”.

  39. This discussion of hope reminds me of a passage by Philo of Alexandria in his On Rewards and Punishments (§10 and following), in which he remarks similarly of hope serving as the primary motivator behind all human action. Hope, writes Philo, is “that most vital form of seed which the Creator sowed in the rich soil of the rational soul” and motivates all human action, regardless of one’s intended aim: one hopes for glory achieved in political life; in the hope of successful voyage a skipper sails across the sea; hope of prizes moves the training athlete to endure the contests of the arena. For Philo, this “vital seed” in the human rational soul is best employed in the quest for virtue and wisdom: “the hope of happiness incites also the devotees of virtue to study wisdom, believing that thus they will be able to discern the nature of all that exists and to act in accordance with nature and so bring to their fullness the best types of life, the contemplative and the practical, which necessarily make their possessor a happy man” (p.319 in the Loeb edition).

    • Thanks for bringing this to the discussion, Nathan. I haven’t read Philo yet, and this passage was not on my radar at all. As you note, it is highly resonate with the theme. Thanks for bringing it to bear here.

  40. So the human race is driven
    By fate. Of what comes from Zeus
    We have no sure sign, and yet
    We set foot upon great endeavours
    And hanker for many things.
    Our bodies are chained to wanton hope,
    And the waters of foresight lie far away.
    We must hunt for the mean in our profits —
    Loves beyond reach sting too sharply to madness.
    (Pindar, *Nemean XI* 42-46; in Trans C.M. Bowra, 1969:231, Penguin)

  41. It’s not up to you to decide what is funny and what isn’t. Gallows humour is a well known coping mechanism when you see the horrible shit that happens in the world. A comedian tells jokes, if you take it seriously you’re missing the point.

  42. I’m sure if Twitter were state owned it would be screwed up, constantly crashing, heavily-censored, and supported by a Twitter tax. :-)

  43. Prometheus: I stopped mortals from seeing their death.
    Chorus: What remedy did you find for that affliction?
    Prometheus: I planted blind hopes within them.

    *Prometheus Bound* 248-250 (Trans. Alan Sommerstein, 2009)

  44. Curious about the parameters of what you mean. Not being a parent myself, this is all quite abstract and hypothetical to me (read: I have no clue what I am talking about right now.) That said, the basic tenants of attachment parenting and the thinking of folks like Barbara Coloroso make a lot of sense to me: at the end of the day, the kid is going to be who the kid is going to be, and what seems most highly correlated with well-adjusted, compassionate, and confident adults is that they were unconditionally accepted for who they were by a caring adult when they were children. It seems to me that trying to conform people, even (especially?) children, is a recipe for resentment.


  45. James Shelley it’s true, kids will be who they’re destined to be. It is the responsibility as the parent to love & to guide them while they make the choice on their own of who they want to be. Children don’t do well with control. Guiding your children while also providing them with necessary information/important talks while growing up to help them cope with life will be much more positive and beneficial for them more so than the “because I told you so” approach.


  46. I guess the parameters of what I mean is dependent on the parameters you mean :) I am not suggesting parents should force their children to conform to a particular ideal, however, and as Tracie suggests, the mere fact of guiding children is a form of changing behaviour. We try and guide our children to make choices that will benefit them. We teach them not to run out into the street, even though they want to in order to retrieve an errand ball. We teach them to share, we teach them to use manners. We are in fact teaching them to adhere to acceptable social norms. I am not sure it is clear cut as it is, potentially, a paradox.


  47. I agree we shouldn’t ‘make’ people think things… but we do have an important role in shaping thinking and behaviour in others whether we want to admit it or not. Friendship, teaching, politics, parenting, publishing writing…. these are all areas that we impact other’s thinking and behaviour… we don’t control them but we should be very conscious about how we produce and reproduce ideas that impact others. That is a personal responsibility that we seem to be avoiding in today’s apathetic, happiness seeking, self-help society. All this can be true without being arrogant and expecting others to be a ‘carbon copy’ of ourselves.
    There are ways to ‘make’ people think and behave in a certain way which the mass media, marketing, public policy, and law each specialize in. I think a complete denial of responsibility in how we actually do impact how others think would be an illusion, liberating, but an illusion nonetheless.
    I know I may be missing the point that we should be accepting others for who they are – a point that I do agree with – but the underlying tone of the article does suggest that we are powerless to shape others thinking and behavior, and that we should not be thinking in those terms anyhow. For me this article goes further in encouraging apathy and conformity than it does in developing a compassionate and humble approach to social critique. Besides the racist, homophobic, and xenophobic tendencies in some segments of our society (for which the article may be targeted at); I think we need more, not less clarity and debate about what we want to achieve together as a community, which does require all of us to put forth our ideas and shape how others think.
    What is social/political/economic change if it is not a change in how people think and behave?
    If you’re in the business of these types of change then you are in the business of shaping thinking and action in yourself and others.
    It is okay to feel defeated, to lose hope, to be unhappy, and to feel sorrow for the avoidable destruction of people and places around the world. We should see how our lives are benefiting from and being sacrificed in those things (particularly from our privileged position) We shouldn’t take these feelings away from being human…. it may be our one way out of the many messes that we find ourselves in.


  48. I agree with you here Mike. One of the gravest concerns I see for the near future is the lack of responsibility I see in. Everything is either someone else’s fault or problem. We want rights, but do not want the responsibility that goes with said rights.


  49. Michael and Steve: this question of social change and personal responsibility is quite interesting. I appreciate what you are saying and value the input. At the same time, I wonder if there is an a priori grounding in the idea of ‘human progress’ that one must first adopt before assuming that I, as a human being, have some kind of moral responsibility to nudge the other humanoids in my vicinity towards a standard of behaviour that I deem most appropriate. I guess the other fundamental question here is going to drive to a more basic ethical issue: who gets to decide what is appropriate for everyone else? If I am the standard of morality, I’m moving towards fascism… but if the standard of morality is more of an emergent property of the so-called human hivemind of consciousness, then why would I presume that I ought to be a warrior on its behalf?


  50. A most interesting conundrum, one that I would answer with the following: It is not WHO gets to decide what to decide for everyone, but WHAT. In nature, a dog, a cat, a human, a bear, a butterfly….none of them, whether leader/following, smartest/unintelligent get to decide. If one of the species mentioned follows the laws of aerodynamics, they can fly. If one of the species mentioned does not follow the laws of aerodynamics, they will fall. The laws of nature have been proven both on a macro and microscopic level…Yet we as a society do not look at them as something that we must adhere to. We debate as a species whether abortion, euthanasia, stem-cell research, and hundreds of other issues, are all things that can be ultimately determined by our own intellect, when in fact we refuse to determine whether any of our actions, which ultimately end in moral conundrums, follow particular laws of nature. A great deal has been written about the effects of natural law and its adherence/ignorance thereof ultimately determines the fate of humanity. Just my two cents….well, five cents. We don’t have pennies anymore.


  51. It takes practice living in community to have patience for the workings of the community minds processes. This notion was why I fell in love with the idea of becoming an architect at 8, bike and walking paths as a teenager and community gardens at 50. I like the Aboriginal Justice and healing circle process as well for how it grows people together with a minimum of criticism. In my mind the children would be instructed mostly without words but instead by community building actions on projects that have a broad group benefit.


  52. Well, as per my initial post, I don’t really have an agenda to change your mind on the matter :) but your proposition of natural law as the ‘correct default’ raises a number of questions in my mind. It’s a still a ‘who’ (in this case, you) declaring a ‘what’ (natural law) for other people. Adopting the supremacy of natural law still rests on any number of presuppositions. Another person may declare that the alleviation of suffering is the penultimate basis of ethics: and they have no more or less grounding for that claim than the natural law advocate. Everything comes back to your first principles, doesn’t it? To come back to my initial post: I don’t think I can change your first principles. It’s not in my capacity to do so, any more than you can change the mind of the anti-suffering ethicist and convince them of the merit of natural law (or, perhaps more correctly, one particular interpretation of the scope of natural law)


  53. Is it helpful here to differentiate between people and systems? Mike’s question, “What is social/political/economic change if it is not a change in how people think and behave?” maybe is not as rhetorical as it first appears. I want to think about this more.


  54. “You know I cannot save them. I am not here to save anybody or to save the world. All I can do — what I am called to do — is to plant myself at the gates of Hope. Sometimes they come in; sometimes they walk by. But I stand there every day and I call out till my lungs are sore with calling, and beckon and urge them in toward beautiful life and love…”
    (The Small Work in the Great Work, by Victoria Safford –

  55. These and similar issues have had me reflecting recently on our democratic processes. I think about, for example, the redacting of the draft Shift London proposal. We imbue our bureaucratic structures with a degree of power that at times I struggle to understand in the context of a representative democracy. Government by the people for the people makes things like RFPs drafted, reviewed, and funded by the bureaucracy seem somewhat odd to me. To me the deeper question is why citizens find themselves being tokenistically gifted power that should be theirs in the first place? Not only have those in government done a poor job at recognizing the participatory role of particular groups, it seems they need a constant reminder of their representative status in general. Sameer’s quote nails it for me, each strategy is and should be the community’s strategy.


  56. I would add only to this very articulate essay that the disproportionate burden I spoke of isn’t just about constantly being asked to participate or constantly being asked to educate and provide input (that never seems to lead to change) but also that we are the ones constantly having to drive the process already.
    This ties into the comments made by Chief White-Eye. She said commented about why we end up protesting on the streets or shutting down highways. That that’s not our first thought. We try through letters. We try through the courts and tribunals. And after trying and trying it inevitably escalates to full protests. And suddenly everyone is bewildered! Why are we shouting so loud? Why are we inconveniencing people? All we had to do is commit to their process because “they are listening”.
    And actually this also ties in to the Mayor’s reluctance on carding and on the poverty panel. He takes credit for the diversity on the panel now, but I can tell you, we had to SHOUT vociferously to be heard, and even then we met with a great deal of resistance. Why? Why did we have to shout so loud and push so hard if he is listening? That process did not feel like a collaboration.


  57. Agree “….why citizens find themselves being tokenistically gifted power that should be theirs in the first place? Not only have those in government done a poor job at recognizing the participatory role of particular groups, it seems they need a constant reminder of their representative statue in general.”


  58. I don’t follow Jenny McCarthy but I do believe that organizations can falsify evidence. Check out the Documentary “Vaxxed” You might still find a link to it on my Facebook page. “Vaxxed” is the documentary that Robert DeNiro said everyone should watch.

  59. I wish I could give this a thousand thumbs up. “Truth is a real thing in the world” is something I find myself saying more and more these days, which scares me. The reason the scientific process exists is to compensate for human frailties of reason like those suffered by John in this article (and most of us on bad days)


  60. Wow, James. Major, major wow. I think this just cranked up citizen engagement in #ldnont majorly – it sounds as though this will be an important conversation in the call for accountability to take action. I look forward to watching this unfold from afar – thanks for so eloquently providing a summary and awesome perspective!


  61. People have dark humours— get over it. And stop voicing all your stupid opinions and find a nice vanilla humoured comedian to watch. Not that he or anyone else actually gives a fuck about your opinion. Social justice warriors are everywhere, Gaaaawd!

  62. Excellent post, very thought provoking. Wish I could be at the Debates on Monday but will be reading about them from afar!

  63. As slightly said before, I guarantee this ‘letter’ wouldn’t have been written if the routine was about men being raped, as apposed to women… People – particularly feminist – are so sensitive about their genders, that a large part of the time, they forget that the disgusting part of the thing is the rape. The fact that you’ve based so much of this letter about women and not rape, makes me feel like you’ve just used it as an excuse to label men as brutes who itemise women and use them as sex toys. It’s fucking infuriating. If you’re going to write a letter, use proper, valid points instead of using shit to back up your arguments.

  64. Always bring it back to what makes sense. I rely on you to help me decode the events of the world. Great post, friend.

  65. I think political correctness as a label is probably done, it’s now just a perjorative label to ward off the responses of people hurt by words and to justify my bad behavior for not listening, as you describe listening.

    • I agree, Jamie. Mobilizing the PC rhetoric only creates another layer of linguistic abstraction between our words and the issues at hand — and therefore only creates more ‘distance’ between people.

  66. I think the additional issue though is – its great to listen, but then… what? So if one person is offended by a term/joke/phrase/action, and we listen to why. Then what? Do we respond and take action? And when? When its one person who is offended? A small group? A larger group? Do we hold a vote? I grapple with this – because what if its a very small (but more vocal) percentage of a larger group? A (white) friend of mine told me they were told “visible minority” is an offensive term… I happen to be one and I don’t think it is. I personally don’t like the term “racialized” but thats the term the Human Rights Commissioner has deemed appropriate. So lets say I listen to the person who doesn’t like visible minority… and they explain why its problematic. So now, do we always default to that? And if I don’t like racialized, do we also default to that? We could end up being paralyzed, no? I agree that we need to listen… I just wonder what happens after if we can’t all agree.

    These are the things I am grappling with – there’s no easy answer.

    • I’m right there with you, Susan – and it seems like this train leads to a point where it comes down to a fundamental question about how ‘the law of the land’ is suppose to respond to (and reflect) people’s feelings, and what ‘percentage’ of the people’s feelings should be accounted for in this relationship. I’m grappling too. The classic John Stuart Mill conclusion that the point of liberty is to protect the minority voice — the one lone voice in opposition to the majority — seems like a footnote in the way this whole problem is being addressed today… and ‘my feeling’ is that this somehow needs be brought back to the forefront (even if to be reconsidered and critiqued by another generation)

  67. +1.

    I had come to a similar conclusion right after the debate, actually; I came to it while waiting for the bus home.

    It isn’t a matter of the idea of political correctness, as some explicit target that can be hit or missed to varying degrees. Rather, it becomes an ever-changing minefield of individualistic political correctness, which effectively renders any discussion on any potentially-deep or heavy or controversial topic as an opportunity to offend those with differing opinions or sensitivities, inadvertently or otherwise.

  68. Dear Mr. Shelley

    During the modern ages, we have many problems. Raping is not funny. Racism is not funny. Untill you make them funny. Who is one to say what we can and can not say? Rape, racism, bullying and other horrible things have occurred since the dawn of times and they shall exist till the end of humanity, or another advanced life form. By making these things a “taboo” you are only hurting your cause. I would reconsider your comments before having these accusations. To accept and to tolerate are a different thing. You good sir have still a lot of learning to do.

  69. It is an excellent article It is so close to “win-win-win papakonstantinidis model”
    Since 2002 i have launchd the mean of the “intermediate Community as “moral aggregation” which partipate as peer in political game (the peer-pressing concept)

  70. I saw him last night in Seattle. He got pretty drunk onstage, viciously heckled a couple of women in the audience, and then made a hilarious joke about the audience having an orgy. Since there were more men than women, he said, it would be fine – that’s why they have three holes. And if that wasn’t enough, the men could cut more. A few women walked out. He came off as a stereotypical Aussie guy – sexist and alcoholic. No wonder the mother of your child dumped you, cunt.

  71. I applaud your article, and I applaud your conclusion. I’ve been coming around to much the same conclusion myself.

    One thing really bothers me, at the moment, above all else. Regardless of political party or motivation, the reality is an authoritarian (or a wannabe authoritarian) is President of the most fearsome military apparatus the world has ever seen. I’ve been reading a lot of accounts from people who have lived under authoritarian regimes (Russia, Venezuela, central Asian states, etc) and they give us a glimpse at what may lie ahead of us in America. What is most critically important, in my view, is to resist the normalization of authoritarianism at every opportunity. At least, that’s my personal conclusion and commitment.

  72. How about this! If you’re into stand up, you go and enjoy it for what it is!? I for one know, that if I am going to see one of the best stand up comedians in the show biz right now (which Jim is) I do my research on him. I find out what his comedy is all about! If I was paying in excess of 80 dollars for my ticket to a comedy show, I’m pretty sure I have introduced myself to this artists sense of humor. So honestly go get bent, if you payed top dollar to see a great and halarious human being perform, and then you decided to be offended by the material.
    Last but not least, in today’s politically correct, over the top, butt hurt world…people like myself and many others, find live comedy a place to be able to go to and be free. A place where everything said doesn’t offend at least one person. People need to get over their self entitlement, and get back to loving the world, get back to just striaght loving each other. As soon as we as a whole, can start just being free on all levels, then life will start reconforming back to a place where the world we live in, is a world that is REAL!!

  73. May I add to your final summation, in doing what you can, to include in this, “opening your eyes to see through the smokescreen of bigotry that is being created in order to distract you from the more hidden malicious self-serving acts being deviously planned and perpetrated” by this authoritarian and his cronies”. Seeing through, and seeing clearly, is the way to the great inner power of awareness, and with it, potency of related and ensuing informed action.

  74. Hi James,
    Am spending the morning in silence and reading and in came your blog. The stark image of someone pouring mercury into into our municipal pipelines puts Grassy Narrows into perspective. I do not understand why it seems so impossible to have clean drinking water for every person in Canada…at some level in my limited understanding, it seems relatively easy and do-able. Thanks for this…reminds me of our visit with Jan.

  75. Thanks so much James for this commentary. I’m away on retreat and this caught my eye this morn and shall become both my day’s lament – as I listen to the silent cry of water, reflect on Canadian colonialism & consider attitudes/perspectives that mitigate against true reconciliation and my day’s gratitude focus – as I turn on the tap to supply my cleanse and my sustainance – and my day’s confession – I use & abuse without thought to both our interconnectedness and water’s sacredness.
    As I’ve followed Standing Rock I’ve been wondering – what are our Canadian equivalents and how might we stand in solidarity with our near neighbor communities? Thanks for your research and putting thoughts out for my/our pondering ?

  76. I stumbled across this post as it was shared by a friend on Facebook… What an incredible piece of commentary! I’m in awe of how well presented this information and humble opinion drew me in to think! Thank-you James for sharing. I hope to hear and see more from you.


  77. hello James from a grey Dublin, Ireland.

    A belated thank you for the article. I work in higher education as a career guidance practitioner and toyed in my mind with what you have put so succinctly in your paycheck say careers adviser but at heart i am a dilettante. how to discuss this with peers and students is another matter.

    your thoughts?

    • I’m still very much wrestling with this, too. At the most basic level, I think the idea of finding projects/tasks/jobs that are ‘completable’ is fundamental ( This idea of completion points was what really triggered everything for me. Maybe this is a kind of discussion that makes sense to have with colleagues and students? I think it’s a way of thinking that goes beyond the job/career dichotomy. Perhaps it is more accessible, more broadly?

  78. My friends thought his Freedumb show would be great to watch for a laugh.
    I sat through so many repulsive mysogonistic jokes whilst everyone else laughed. I felt repulsed, I had to get out of the room. What’s wrong with people?
    At one point he made a joke about his pregnant gf after the birth of their child – “her c*** would be so f****d up that I would just jizz on her tits instead”. People laugh but you can always tell there’s an underlying truth to it.
    It’s talk like his that has literally brought me to questioning suicide.
    If all I’m worth as a woman is what somebody can do to/with me, then what’s the point? This is the thought pattern his “comedy” reinforces within me.

    • You’re weak. There should be absolutely no boundaries to comedy. I made this point on my blog, but I’m gonna say it here too. If something offends you, people don’t need to dance around the topic when they’re in your company.

  79. A question to all the people saying “I’m sick of political correctness. Let’s just go back to being free to do and say what we want. Let’s have freedom.”

    Do you honestly not see that your ‘freedom’ to minimise, laugh at, dismiss and re-inforce the actual real suffering of countless other human beings is the cause of these people experiencing a great-deal of not-freedom.

    Your freedom to laugh at a rape joke helps to normalise and enable rape-culture. This directly curtails the freedom of millions of women to feel and be safe in their daily lives.

    I’m a massive comedy nerd. I listen to and watch stand up constantly. I even love dark and shocking comedy. But you know what? there’s plenty of darkness in ourselves, plenty of horror and humour in the universal human predicament. We don’t need to laugh at the expense of rape victims. It’s not a ‘sacred cow’. It’s just basic human decency.

    • Thank you, so much, that has made me feel better. I’ve just watched his Netflix show and it was like playing rape experience recall Bingo (there you go Jeffries fans, there’s a joke about rape for you!). I’ve come here to check-.once again- if my opinion is out of line or twisted, after my companion said to me ‘maybe you’re sensitive because of your experience’. If only it were my experience alone that had been brought to mind, and not those of friends, family, acquaintances, clients… As you say, millions of women. If only his routine didn’t recall uncomfortable moments with the many, many folks who don’t really think that violent abuse and degradation of women is wrong, more that it is a weird combination of imaginary, unimaginable and biologically inevitable. If only my not-sooo-very-distant youth had been free from misogyny as standard, in comedy and in life.
      And no, I’m not happy with his jokes about raping men either. Until rape is being properly socially rejected and legally sanctioned, it is not going to be the same as joking about murder. People don’t seem to get this, that’s OK, but shouting at rape survivors to get over it, even if the people shouting have also experienced rape, is not. Again, thank you for your voice and to all the other voices here supporting decency, and to James Shelley.

  80. Thanks for this post James. It fits into a spot in my own thinking that I’m allowing to evolve. I’m appreciative of the moments that emerge from reading your ideas.

  81. Has anyone even begun to think about how Jim’s “distasteful” jokes actually highlight, throw into relief even, the dark side of humanity and make us realise “Oh my word, I’m laughing, but he’s so right! This is wrong! This is all wrong!”

    I’m a woman. I’m a feminist. And by this I mean I want equal rights for ALL of us, not just women.

    I want men to feel they’re able to talk about their emotions, laugh and cry when they need to, take parental leave if they want to, have equal rights to child custody and maintenance payments when necessary and most of all to be able to just BE, so that they don’t feel like they have to work 7 days a week 365 days a year to provide for their family, just like some of us lucky women get to feel. Men are still faced with the IMMENSE pressure of being “the main bread winner” that many women aren’t.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve fallen victim to misogyny many times in my life and have my woes to deal with just because I’m a woman, but hating men and each other never helps. It divides us. We NEED to work together to end the age old institution of the Patriarchy. And I really think Jim Jeffries is on the same page in this fight.

    • I missed the bit where anyone said they hated men. I believe the op hates rape jokes.
      I think we all agree rape is wrong but the question is, is it okay to mock someone’s traumatic experience in public? As someone mentioned, there are many issues that are considered taboo to some people.
      I’m Australian too and have a very sarcastic dark sense of humour sometimes. Half of the time I’m making fun of myself but not many topics are off limit to me.
      Where I’m different is, that I’m not a celebrity doing public shows. I can pick and choose my audience. When I’m around elderly people and children, I never drop the f bomb or the c bomb. I don’t make disabled jokes in front of disabled people. I don’t make Holocaust jokes in front of my Jewish friends (unless they do first), etc. Would you go into an elderly nursing home and shout “okay, who’s up for dying next?”. It might be funny to your friend but I’m pretty sure a lot of the residents wouldn’t be so amused. I have a couple of friends where we go really dark only in each others company and we both know it’s all a joke and just letting off steam. It’s pretty easy for me. I call it respecting other people.
      With Jim Jeffries, he has no idea who’s in his audience so says whatever he wants, which is fine. But you can’t say that everyone that paid that ticket should think every joke is funny, even if it’s mocking them. There’s this ridiculous belief that we should all laugh at every joke or we ‘don’t have a sense of humour’. “I reckon it’s funny, you should, too”. That’s bullshit. Besides the offensive ones, some jokes are just bad , as in not funny, to anyone. If I don’t laugh at those, am I wrong too?
      My little boys think poo and fart jokes are hilarious right now. I laugh along because they’re so silly but it’s not something that is an intelligent, witty joke to me.
      I’ve heard a bit of Jim Jeffries comedy and I thought he was funny and before this article, I thought to myself that I would watch him again. I don’t know about paying $80 but would watch him again on tv.
      But now I know that rape humour is his thing, I won’t be watching him for my own personal reasons. My mother was drugged and raped in 1965 and I was conceived from that. He disappeared without trace after the rape so he doesn’t even know he’s a father. She had to give me up for adoption. That act fucked up two people’s lives. I didn’t have a horrific childhood but we both were affected by it. Luckily I found her just before I turned 50 which is how I found out the story of my conception. Also, I was brutally raped years ago and am still physically affected by the scars today.
      So, if I went to his show not knowing there was going to be so many rape jokes, especially about drugging, I’m not sure what my experience would have been like. I’m a pretty tough person and probably wouldn’t cry or walk out, but it would probably make me feel physically sick and think everybody just doesn’t care.
      I’m not being a victim here and asking for special treatment but if you tell me ‘it’s just a joke, get over it’, no, you can go and fuck yourself and drug yourself while you’re at it.

    • This is just the thing. Jim says these things ironically, specifically to speak the injustice. It has a visceral impact that lectures and nagging can not. We laugh in spite of ourselves, genuinely feeling how wrong it is. It might be the case that some enlightened souls can’t make use of this reminder, but I’d hazard a guess that they aren’t spending their time lecturing and nagging a guy like Jim Jefferies.

  82. James,
    Thank you for your always insightful observations. I believe you’ve framed exceedingly well the fundamental issue that water is a basic human right. I would hope the perspective outlined becomes a seed thought of influence to lead everyone to make much better choices/decisions in a modern society that seemingly becomes more and further detached from Mother Earth. Your article reminded me of Carl Sagan’s comment years ago “Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand.” We collectively must truly dearly embrace the obvious: we (humanity) simply have no other viable alternative to this single remarkably unique “goldilox zone” small marble upon which we miraculously live and are supported by. May we not foul it up!! Thank you for your thought provoking writings!!

  83. As in most discussions, the RT discussion tries to paint the opposition as uncaring self-centered folk -worried only about their comfort. Not so. London can move all traffic more efficiently and rapidly with less disruption by creating pull offs for buses, tunnels or overpasses that accept all vehicles and shared lanes. Eliminate a few parking spots along King and create left turn lanes. Automobile drivers are not the ones saying “you cannot drive in my lane, its mine and mine alone”. Let’s share the road. The public input meetings were sales pitches not open minded discussions and a waste of time for those who thought their ideas would be given consideration.

  84. James,
    I think it is good to notice that reasoning is perfused with human interests, preferences, history, and agendas—even our own. The epistemological challenge of this level of self and process awareness (i.e., post-modernism(1)) is to be humble without sliding down the slippery slope into a relativism where all that’s left is propaganda and power. To make this even more pointed and urgent, see Chapter 4 of Chris Hayes’ _Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy_. Our public discourse has slipped free from respect for those who study and focus (i.e., become experts) for a whole suite of reasons that Hayes lists. So where to now? Can we shake off the pernicious post-consensus/post-fact proof by power situation or shall we sit (or stand and scream) as watch the slow motion train wreck. It is worth wondering how bad the impacts of climate change will have to be to generate a consensus that can overcome short term interests (enforced and reinforced by consistent propaganda)? – Jeremy

    (1) see _The Social Construction of What?_ by Ian Hacking

  85. I think you’re onto something here that our political views and actions are obviously related to how we see ourselves, but I don’t think that’s identity politics. I think there is rightly a more derogatory use of the term identity politics referring to groups of political actors that take on single ‘identity issues’ without situating that struggle in a broader context that highlights connections that cut across identity groups and into an overall critique of the existing socio political order. For example, a feminist who continually fights for equal pay for women but who does not see the larger issue of inequality perpetuated by capitalist relations of production. This person will celebrate the victory of equal pay while perpetuating an equally oppressive system for much larger groups of society, including themselves. It is these types of identity politics that divide the oppressed from forming solidarity and creating truly just and equal structures. Capitalism can accommodate identity politics of almost any stripe… It can’t accommodate a demand for a just and equitable economic system.

  86. In order to participate in and contribute to civic engagement, we must strive to be as informed as possible with all the information available, and weigh our own biases based on our one knowledge and past experiences, against those of the community as a whole to present a viewpoint that reflects the best interests of the entire community both in the present and in the future

  87. Mike, I personally haven’t met any “political actors that take on single ‘identity issues’ without situating that struggle in a broader context that highlights connections that cut across identity groups”. I certainly meet a lot of people who focus their energy on a particular form of oppression, but that doesn’t mean they lack a theoretical understanding of intersectionality, it means you can’t fight all things as one person. The identity politics use you are highlighting is largely a strawman argument in my experience, and disparages and divides the left.

  88. LOL ….There is money to be made off us poor folk. We rarely see money, we stay poor and yet keep getting asked the same questions, giving the same answers….asking for the simplest of things to improve our own situation, but ….if they resolved the poverty issue, what would these folks do for a job then? I sometimes feel so used and I wish that those in government got minimum wage for their work for a change and no pension…after all even with work my family can’t save for one, and if you are a client of OW and ODSP you are not allowed to save too much (ODSP) to improve your situation.

  89. I see curiosity as a gift. I’m grateful I am curious, that I can listen to non-curious people and learn from them. I recognize though that I am not this way because of anything that I have chosen or done on my own. We also have to recognize, that for an infinite amount of reasons, not everyone has received this gift. To say that one ought to be curious is to not recognize this gift for yourself and imply that your way of being is superior to all else, which in many ways ironically ends in you being less curious.

  90. James, I love your blog / writing! That said: In my experience “Should” is not a very useful word. I think it would just be a better world if everyone were truly curious, seeking to connect with – appropriately- and understand the interests and values of others. Such willingness does not imply agreement. Willingness to truly listen almost always creates some kind of path forward.

  91. Alternately, I think it is also OK to say “I don’t have enough information to be able to have an opinion about that.”

  92. Hi James!
    Hope u r well
    Thanks for the blog post re:community. I agree with you re: loving the ‘idea of a community’ vs the ‘community of people’ themselves. I think another way to put it (as we say at is distinguising the difference between ‘wanting something FROM people’ vs ‘wanting something FOR people’….when our intention is to put energy and time towards helping and caring for someone else’s sake…it helps everyone and creates the kind of community that I believe we are all ultimately looking for.

  93. The reasoning here is completely congruent with my 20 years experience facilitating interest-based (AKA mutual gains) negotiations over a wide range of public policy issues.

  94. I’m a male and I would never have a problem in riding in the passenger seat while a woman drives, when I was teaching my girl to ride I rode on the back seat for her to get used to having weight on the backseat, and I didn’t care about what other people were thinking when they were seeing me! (I turned 17 in february)
    Matter of fact is that I really dislike terms such as “riding bitch” for the back seat, or “sissy bar” for the passenger seat backrest, it’s derogatory to women in my opinion

  95. I can’t believe so many people are upset at J.J.’s cringe worthy and ironically dry humor. As it is in real life, ironic statements are always meant to imply exactly the opposite of what is actually being said… anyone who doesn’t undertand that probably doesn’t speak English as a native language… or maybe they’re just somewhere along the spectrum of Rainman…. ;)

  96. I really appreciate this post, James. It is very timely and it has me thinking about the intellectual categories historians of thought and ideas use to distinguish intellectual movements from one another.

    Really helpful food for thought. Thank you.

  97. Thank you for posting this. A great listen. I was disappointed that I couldn’t attend the event at the library and so pleased to be able to listen to this now.

  98. Good interview.
    30 years in policing.
    So corrupt it makes me sick
    You nailed it with this interview.
    Corruption continues to breed corruption

  99. Thank you for this article. I did the “perfect day” exercise about 5 years ago. I think it’s something that bears repeating, as my values have matured and shifted over the years. I will certainly be doing a new list soon – perhaps with a glass of wine at the end of a day.

  100. You raise a good point. Reconciliation is spear headed by the powerful political elite, in the case of Canada. So what would be a better solution? Ensure indigenous sovereignty rather than federal? I honestly do not know. Curious of your thoughts.

  101. Interesting read about political correctness. I appreciate that you mentioned that, at the end of the day, we return to the basic questions and principles in the discussions. I’m still trying to learn as much as I can about politics, but sometimes I think going to the basics is a great way to step back and re-evaluate things. Plus, it can also help you see the broader picture, especially if it’s necessary to understand more about the minute details.

  102. Fantastic thoughts, here! So many folks these days wrestle with low dopamine from too much screen time. A top recommendation (in addition to less screen time) is to create big checklists with small tasks. It gets people hooked on the dopamine rush of completion as well as showing the value of the small over the big. Thanks for expanding this to the lifetime perspective. I’ll be sharing this post far and wide 👍

  103. Fascinating. This sounds like a noble effort and I’ll follow it with interest.

    I suspect that it will be difficult, not impossible, to sustain this effort, primarily because it is not organic and the discussion topics are planned. I would happily attend and participate if this were in my community (and I’ll have to see if it can be introduced here), but this is not the same as a community that has a culture of gathering and discussing.

  104. If you don’t like him don’t go but that said just because he jokes about it does that make him bad? Bill Cosby never joked about it, was always a clean comedian yet look what he allegedly did. If your easily offended stay home, and let the rest of us enjoy life and turn away when we don’t rather than trying to censor it.

  105. I am a senior and I only wish I had learned this lesson while I was young. The years of wasteful time spent on the hope of changing anyone. The time wasted could have been use wisely
    changing myself. I really like this article as a reminder that it is the simple but important lessons learned that make a good life. Freedom does come from liberation within.

  106. Life is seldom one or the other. “Work is work” and “I can love my work”, even cleaning the toilet. I am thankful that I am able to work and that I am healthy in body and spirit. Consider the old saying that “if a job is worth doing it is worth doing well.” This is true on two levels. When I leave employment I hope the people will miss me both for the tasks I did and the positive attitude I maintained. Work brings me into community with my family, colleagues and strangers. This helps me to “belong” and fulfills a great human need. My life experience would suggest that who I do work with is as important as what I am doing. I am not suggesting that we look for a dream team but rather appreciate each person for the gifts they bring to the work. If we do our jobs with love for the task and those around we will be satisfied .

  107. I’ve never been much of a Facebook user (just a few family things) and stopped using Twitter last year – they are just too frustrating and aggravating, filled with snark and hate. No matter who you follow it always finds a way in.

    The only “social” space I inhabit now is because it is more a blogging platform with a social layer (almost like a commenting system) that promotes and encourages ownership using indieweb principles.

    The backlash is growing but I fear it will never be strong enough to actually hurt the networks and cause them to truly rethink how they operate. But as long as it continues to grow, even just a little, there will be enough to support the open web and prevent its demise.

    • This has been my first week on I have enjoyed peeking around a bit. I like the principles behind the ‘social layer’ quite a bit, and I also must admit I like the community that is coalescing in the space. (I have a really old phone that can’t run the app – so I might become more active one day when this old 4s finally blinks out for the last time)

  108. Hello, James, we’re very happy to find that people are still discovering our little book. All the best, Everyone.

    • Thank you so much for saying hello. And thanks for writing an interesting book. I’m curious, in the subsequent years since its publication, have you continued to write or expand on any of these themes elsewhere?

      • That was our only non-fiction book but our novels, Luminosity (Random House, Canada) and Sea-Change (Mosaic Press) are informed by a careerfree sensibility. Perhaps you’ve read Ivan Illich’s book, The Right to Useful Unemployment and Its Professional Enemies?

  109. Let me count the ways… de-friend someone you disagree with, mock those you disagree with, shame those you disagree with, don’t provide any evidence when you disagree with, claim the other has no right to speak because they’re this gender, or this culture etc., etc., etc. Perhaps the biggest of all, gather around you only those who give you likes (so you better give some likes on this ;-)). No, wrong, the biggest of all, just don’t express an opinion on social networks because it will just get you in trouble from someone — many have told me they are on FB but won’t say anything, because people don’t want a real conversation. I just keep trying :-)


  110. Liked! :) I agree. It seems impossible to quantify how much people withhold their thoughts or opinions in these spaces due to the fear of repercussions. What we can count are the attacks, but what we can’t really measure is the impact that those attacks have on what is then never shared.


  111. I love this its so inspiring i noted down the last paragraph to fully explain what it is and i read the whole thing which was interesting thanks for that!!!!
    I am currently doing a course in RWN Roscommon Ireland and just taking a break form work and doing research is great and i found about this word so I searched it up even though I knew what it was and i found this website which was great do write more words to learn !!
    Maria Soares

  112. The last point is the killer. It IS what the internet was intended to be in the first place. For most of the first two decades it achieved that goal. Let’s get back to those roots.

  113. My vote too
    Almost hit by a car walking across the street at 6:00 likely because the driver hadn’t adjusted to sudden change in lighting
    Everyone adjusts better when light conditions change incrementally

  114. @jamesshelley Since moving to SW London, L and I have been spending a lot of time in St. Thomas. One of our favorite activities is to grab a coffee at Streamliners and then sit by the abandoned train tracks, imagining all the journeys and adventures that took place upon them.


    • When I look at it, I remember the adventures from my youth. When I would ride my bike home from Homedale and Central, the shortest path home was through the railyard. I would then do this sort of railyard portage over multiple sets of tracks, four or more sets of tracks, depending on where I crossed.

  115. @jamesshelley I’m very pleased with NewsBlur – started my account in 2012 & have paid for a subscription since 2013. Sam (the developer) is attentive & proactive on new features. Very stable service. I use the native iOS app, but understand it supports third-party apps, too.


  116. Nicely stated. I’ve been wrestling with this problem these last few weeks as accusers come forward. This articulates the situation well, though leaves us with the quandary nonetheless.

  117. Nicely stated. I’ve been wrestling with this problem these last few weeks as accusers come forward. This articulates the situation well, though leaves us with the quandary nonetheless.

  118. But you should get the focus group to review this while the consultants prepare their recommendations, the committee should be created by a committee to create the committee who will be directed by another committee which will provide the consultants an overview so they can provide a report.


  119. @jamesshelley Very interesting post. I mostly agree with your last paragraph—fundamentally, the question is about liturgies, practices, whether or not supernatural beliefs undergird those practices. But your phrase “sharing ideas,” to my mind, over-intellectualizes the matter.


  120. @jamesshelley From my experience, it seems the strength of community you ascribe to religion is only true where that religion is a minority. Protestants in Ireland provide strong community, a role mirrored by Catholics in UK. Judaism everywhere save Israel, where it divides.


  121. @dgold I agree that external pressure is critical. But I wonder if this sense of otherness can be ‘fabricated’ too? Bible Belt American Christian communities still thrive on the conviction they are perpetually under attack and persecution. I suppose angels need demons?


  122. Easy solution… stop using it. James, I think if you really believed that statement to be true you would be required, in good conscience, to stop using it or: 1. You don’t really mean what you say. 2. You are already under its control (get help). 3. You think you are above it and can help others. Only the third would be a legitimate use, but then, if you can overcome, why can’t others?


  123. @frankm As far as I can tell, every unfalisfiable declaration about the truth of the New Testament is as unfalsifiable as every other declaration, so I personally can’t comment on whether White Christian America is any more or less ‘true’ than any other version/interpretation/tradition of Christianity.


  124. I think this is a great question. Have you heard about the group called the “Brights” who tried to have social meetups of non-religious folk? I think they even sing unbelieving songs of some type. My experience of humanist society meetings was fraught with similar questions: Why am I here when I could just read this stuff at home? Who are these people and why do they all look angry about something? I feel like there is something there that’s worthy of a non-denominational secular humanist pub night discussion. :)

  125. James,
    I’ll send you a chapter that addresses a similar question, “Is organized religion necessary for society?” You might find it interesting.