The Humanist Association of Toronto provides a focus of activities and discussion for Humanists in the Toronto area. Please note: HAT events are open to the public, and views expressed do not necessarily represent the official views of the Humanist Association of Toronto. For all public statements, educational events, media enquiries, please contact the webeditor, who will forward your enquiry to our Spokesperson.
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm
The Monthly Meeting the 2nd or 3rd Saturday at 1:30pm (TBD)
The Steering Committee meets 1st Wednesday, 7pm
The Book Group meets monthly.

TEDxToronto | September 30, 2010 at Glenn Gould Studio | Ideas Worth Spreading

TEDxToronto | September 30, 2010 at Glenn Gould Studio | Ideas Worth Spreading

TED is a the Glenn Gould today. Sold out (of course!) You can sign up for updates when the feeds are posted.

I'm particularly interested in PLANINTERNATIONAL (as that's one of the nonprofits I support). Here's the speaker:

Amanda Sussman provides training on political activism
to strengthen the ability of citizen’s groups to participate in shaping government policy. She has extensive experience working with a wide range of organizations including Human Rights Watch, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, Amnesty International, the Food Security Policy Group, the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She was senior policy advisor on human rights and refugee issues to the former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Recently, Amanda was a member of the Steering Committee for the Canadian G8/G20 Civil Society Campaign, which led a successful effort to garner 7.3 billion dollars from G8 countries to save the lives of women and children in the developing world. She is also a [senior advisor] to Plan International, Canada, one of the world’s largest international child-centered development organizations, without political or religious affiliations.

HAT FORUM: Sat. Oct 2, OISE 11-1pm. Liberal Arts

HAT Forum, OISE 252 Bloor Street West, Room 7-192
Date: Saturday, October 2, 11am - 1pm
Topic: Liberal arts education and the ideal of the Renaissance Man
Facilitator: Moses Klein

Consider the principle of a liberal arts education, stressing breadth over specialization and general intellectual skills over technical mastery. Is this ideal still a valuable one in today's world? Are today's schools suited toward producing Renaissance people? Should they be? And if so, how?

For one provocative viewpoint, John Allemang argues (Globe and Mail) that a renewed focus on liberal arts education would further empathy and cross-cultural peace.

NOTE: you may be interested in supporting the Save Comparative Literature campaign  (and the Ethics Centre and the Northrup Frye center and diaspora studies) at Uof T.

the Star: Short-sighted environmental reporting

Juan Cole: This week’s award for bad environmental reporting goes to John Spear of the Toronto Star for his article on the cost of wind power in Ontario “when we don’t need it.”

Spear manages to write the entire article as though the only comparison between wind power and other energy should be about the conventional pricing, and he continually assumes that green energy is an unneeded add-on. He complains about government essentially subsidizing the start-up costs of wind turbines by paying a relatively high price per kilowatt hour, and brings up the question of over-production of power and the inability of wind to meet high demand on particularly hot, still days as this past August. Spear either has no sense of irony or has never read a book on pollution or climate change, or just doesn’t get it. I couldn’t tell you.
But he manages not to make the connection between the use of coal, natural gas, and petroleum to produce power in Ontario and the highly dangerous levels of air pollution reached in Toronto in late August, not to mention the the extreme heat alert around the same time. That is, he was complaining about the inability of the wind turbines to deal with the air conditioning demand (in Canada!) on hot windless days instead of realizing that the hydrocarbons caused the heat wave in the first place. It is astonishing.
He doesn’t want to factor into the cost of the hydrocarbons the lost lives caused by pollution (and consequent losses to the economy), the effects on health and consequent costs of medical care, and the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change on Canada as more and more carbon is dumped into the atmosphere– even just things like insufficient lumber availability from transformed forests affected by more frequent forest fires and fewer hardwood trees.
Is the 12 cents a kilowatt hour for wind that Spear complains about really such a bad bargain when it produces none of those bad effects? Is it really the case that hydrocarbons are such a steal when they do? Nor does he seem to be aware of the potential positive effects on job-generation of wind energy, as the Nordseewerke shipyard in Emden, Germany, has discovered.
I constantly come across this bad arithmetic (it is not even calculus, just adding and subtracting) in business reporting on alternative energy, and am frankly getting more and more crotchety about it. Spear’s article should have been about why Ontario is still depending so heavily on the hydrocarbon power generation that “we don’t need” and which is actively harming us, not why the pollution-free wind turbines are a government boondoggle. (Maybe he has a point about how the provincial or municipal energy contracts are being let, I don’t know; but if that is the main problem then it isn’t about wind, is it?)

Saudi Arabia to re-educate its clerics against extremism

Saudi Arabia to re-educate its clerics against extremism
An interesting move on the part of King Abdullah. This might be topic for discussion with Mr. Mirza at our monthly meeting on Oct 16.

Saudi Arabia is set to train mosque imams and preachers to resist extremist ideologies in a new government-run program.

The program, which begins this week and will include 20 simultaneous sessions in the capital city of Riyadh and its surrounding provinces, is run by the kingdom's Ministry of Islamic Affairs. The title of the opening session is "The Friday sermon and its importance in implementing moderation and intellectual security." "We are bringing in the most senior scholars in Saudi Arabia to give this training," Ahmad Fouad of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs told The Media Line. "Twenty lectures will be delivered in and around Riyadh."

Over the past eight years the Ministry for Islamic Affairs has been implementing educational programs for mosque personnel, including preachers, imams and muezzins (those who sing the call to prayer), stressing "the importance of citizenship and intellectual security," the Arab daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported.

Prof. Gared Nonneman, an expert on Saudi affairs at the Center for Gulf Studies in the University of Exeter, said that the Saudis have been successful in reducing the level of extremism in the kingdom through a variety of programs initiated by King Abdullah. "This program fits into a larger pattern in Saudi Arabia," he told The Media Line. "From 2004-2005 the Saudis have launched a very effective campaign against extremism."

Nonneman said that since coming to power in 2005, King Abdullah has launched a national dialogue project meant to unite society around the idea of Islamic tolerance. He has also promoted the idea of inter-religious dialogue, stemming from his belief that such dialogue does not contradict the fundamentals of Wahhabism, a conservative strand of Sunni Islam which dominates Saudi Arabia.

Nonneman noted another program initiated by King Abduallah indented to reintegrate Saudi Jihadis into society by having them meet and discuss religious issues with moderate Muslim scholars within the Wahabbi tradition. The program is held in collaboration with the Islamists' families and includes financial incentives to partic

Of interest: The Archaeology of Early Humans in South Africa, Oct 27, UofT

Sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America a Free lecture:
Wednesday, October 27, 2010 – 5:15 pm
Breaking the News from the Distant Past: The Archaeology of Early Humans in South Africa
Presenter: Michael Chazan, University of Toronto
Location: Bahen Centre – Room 1190, 40 St. George Street

GO: Word on the Street Festival, Sunday Sept 25, Queens Park.

WORDS: Pay tribute to the printed (and digital) word this Sunday at The Word On The Street Festival, bringing together authors and publishers from across the country in one epic day of literary celebration. Headliners this year include Man Booker Prize winning Yann Martel reading from his new book Beatrice and Virgil and soon-to-be former mayor David Miller discussing his authorial debut Witness to a City. The festival offers far too many events to fit into this modest blurb, but an entertaining way to encounter as much as you're able can be found in the Diaspora Dialogues' Literary Scavenger Hunt, running throughout the day. Queen's Park (111 Wellesley Street West), 11 a.m.–6 p.m., FREE.

GO: Stuff envelopes with Fair Vote Canada on Sept 28

We need 10 volunteers to help with a mailing project for Fair Vote Canada
Date: Tuesday, September 28
Location: 130 Carlton St. (NE corner of Carlton and Jarvis), in the Party Room
Start time: 7:00pm - 8:30pm or 9:00pm
Task: stuff and seal 1,000 envelopes

Immediate benefits: great conversation with fellow electoral reformers (in fact, let's talk about municipal electoral reform!)

Long-term benefits: history books will show that the pivotal moment in the fight to bring proportional representation to Canada can be traced back to this critically important mailing...and you were there!!

If you can lend a hand on Tuesday evening, please reply to or call 416-410-4034.

UofT Event: Neuroscience, Free Will and Moral Responsibility Oct 6

of possible interest:
Neuroscience, Free Will and Moral Responsibility
Oct 06, 3 - 4:30 pm
Joint Centre for Bioethics Seminar Series
Gardar Arnason, PhD, Researcher, Dept. of Social and Moral Philosophy
University of Helsinki
Health Sciences Building, 155 College Street, 754
Contact Information  Beth Woods
(note that these seminars are usually archived online)

HAT Forum Saturday, Sept. 25, 11am-1 pm OISE Single Sperm Donors

Topic: Single Sperm Donor Parenthood
Date: Sat. Sept. 25, 11 am-1pm
Location: OISE, 252 Bloor Street W. Room 4-418
Moderator: Dr. Marilyn Miller

Since the 1970s Feminist movement opened doors to better, higher paying jobs for women and the means to support a family, a growing number of single women are choosing to raise children without a father, using sperm donor insemination. During the past four decades, sperm banks have proliferated in part as an outgrowth of the feminist movement. The trend is now finding its way as a theme in current movies, The Kids are All Right, The Switch, and The Back-up Plan.

A strong issue in the U.S. and Canada is the right of the sperm donor to remain anonymous vs. the right of the donor conceived child to know their donor parent’s identity. Medical News Today reports that it became compulsory last June in the Netherlands for all sperm donors to be identified. In the UK since April this year all children conceived via donors will be entitled to have identifying information when they are 18.

Should the records of fertility clinics be opened so that donor offspring can find out who is their biological father? That is the goal of a class action lawsuit launched Oct. 24, 2008 in the province of British Columbia

How can the rights/needs of the parents be balanced with the rights/needs of donor conceived children?

Is single parenthood a good model for optimal human development in view of psychological and child development research that identifies the different contributions mothers and fathers impart in their parenting as teachers and role models?

HAT Monthly Meeting, Sat October 16: OISE: Ahmadiyya Muslim Institute

Date: Saturday, October 16
Time: 1:30 – 3pm
Location: OISE, 252 Bloor Street W Room 3-311
Topic: Living the Faith in Contemporary Society
Speaker: Afzal Mirza

Mr. Afzal Mirza is a missionary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, whose premise is 'love for all, hatred for none.' He has many years of service in Canada and the USA. In the recent past, he was the Vice Principal of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Institute of Islamic Studies in Mississauga. Currently, he is the missionary responsible for Peel region. Mr. Mirza will speak on living the faith in contemporary society: how does an individual Muslim observe their faith in a secular society with Judeo-Christian roots? How does one do this especially when one’s experience as a peaceful, liberal-minded Muslim is at odds with what is portrayed in the media? And how does one interact with others in this society?

There will be an opportunity for open discussion and questions.

Protesters with the group One School System Network, a coalition of teachers, civil rights, secularist and religious groups, held a rally calling for the end of tax-payer funding to the Catholic school system, Toronto, Ont. Sept. 13/2010.

Protesters with the group One School System Network, a coalition of teachers, civil rights, secularist and religious groups, held a rally calling for the end of tax-payer funding to the Roman Catholic school system in Toronto, Ont.

GO: FairVote Canada meeting, Toronto, Sept 22, Meet Larry Gordon


Another election -- another excellent opportunity for fair voters to campaign for democratic reform in the city of Toronto. When only 39% of our citizens vote, something needs fixing and we have some answers.

Come and find out how Proportional Representation can work in our city elections and help the campaign for democratic reform.

Let's not miss this chance to talk to candidates, councillors and our neighbours and advance our campaign for a voting system that represents all of us.

Guest Speaker: Larry Gordon, Executive Director, Fair Vote Canada
Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 Time: 8 to 10 pm.
Place: 519 Community Centre
519 Church Street, Room 301
(a few doors north of Wellesley Street)
Refreshments available

For more information, contact – Gary Dale

Ayaan Hirsi Ali rebroadcast on | Ideas | Ideas
Thursday, September 16 NOMAD
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali born activist and writer whose life has been threatened by radical Islamists. Wherever she speaks, she is protected by bodyguards. And they were there when she gave a Donner lecture in Toronto. Article HERE

Event: James Hansen @ Science for Peace: Climate Reality

Science for Peace: Climate Reality

Public talk with James Hansen, Naomi Klein and Clayton Thomas-Muller, Wednesday, September 15, 5:30pm at McMillan Theatre, Toronto

Science for Peace and The Centre for Global Change Science at the University of Toronto welcome the world’s foremost climate scientist and author of Storms of My Grandchildren, Dr. James Hansen, for 2 days of engagements, meetings with students and political lobbying, Wednesday, Sept. 15th and Thursday Sept. 16 in Toronto.

Joining Dr. Hansen at his main public speaking event, Wednesday, Sept. 15th are: the author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism Naomi Klein; Indigenous Environmental Network’s Tar Sands Campaigner, Clayton Thomas-Muller; and moderator Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux (U of T Aboriginal Studies and Social Work).

Wednesday, September 15 at the McMillan Theatre (capacity: 800), Edward Johnson Bldg, 80 Queen’s Park
5:30pm – 6:30pm Science presentation by Dr. James Hansen
7:00pm to 8:45pm Climate Reality: A Conversation with Dr. James Hansen, Naomi Klein & Clayton Thomas-Muller, moderated by Cynthia Wesley

About Dr. Hansen:

Dr. James Hansen is one of the world’s foremost climate scientists. In his scientific work, Dr. Hansen has proven to be consistently accurate in his predictions. He has long been recognized as an authority on climate science and has been asked to give briefings to every U.S. administration since that of President George H.W. Bush. Overseas, he most recently spoke to the Club of Rome, at the United Nations University in Tokyo and to the French National Assembly.
Dr. Hansen will be able to discuss the most recent scientific findings about climate change, about what can be accurately predicted and about areas of uncertainty, and about his own recommendations of a complete phase-out of coal. You will find in him an accessible and humane man, deeply concerned about the welfare of future generations.

HAT Forum Saturday Sept 11, 11am - 1pm OISE "Privacy"

TOPIC: Privacy vs the public’s right to know
DATE:  Sat. Sept. 11, 11am-1pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W, Room 4-218
MODERATOR:  Rob Thistle

When it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else - David Brin, writer

Privacy ain’t what it used to be!  The web 2.0, reality TV programming, “infotainment” journalism and security concerns have all adjusted the bar for personal privacy.  The trend to require government and business to be more transparent has led to an ongoing clash of rights between public policy promoting a more open society and the legitimate expectation of privacy for individuals, organizations and governments.  How much do we really need to know, and how much should we be expected to reveal?

Homa Arjomand speaking at Durham Humanist Association, Pickering Sept 30.

From John Manuel:
At the September 30th meeting, Homa Arjomand will be our guest speaker.  We invite you to spread the word.  As you know, she is a very popular speaker, having received awards from HAC, HAT and CFI, among others.
We have asked her to update us on Sharia law, but she will also address other related subjects, as time permits.
Our meetings are held at the Golden Griddle, Liverpool Road and Hwy 2 (Kingston Rd), in Pickering (Pickering Town Centre entrance, Kingston Rd), with supper (open menu) at 7:00.  Homa will be introduced around 8:00.
HAT meetings are free and open to members and the public. Call (416) 966-1361 for location information. ___________________________________________________
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm.
The Monthly Meeting, is usually the second Saturday at 1:30pm; specifics should be found on this blog.
The Steering Committee meets the first Wednesday of each month, at 7pm.
The Book Group usually meets on the first Saturday afternoon of the month.