Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Breaking News: Potter defeats Voldemort

Last night, in a battle fought across the country, the young wizard Harry Potter delivered a resounding defeat to the Dark Lord Voldemort.
Potter was widely considered too young and inexperienced to be a serious threat to He Who Now Can Be Named Freely. He was dismissed as the talentless son of James Potter, a longtime enemy of the Dark Lord. It was noted he spent most of his younger years gallivanting around on fast brooms rather than studying, and often said he was nothing but a pretty face with unruly hair. The Death Eaters led a whispering campaign claiming that Harry was just not ready to lead the resistance, and that the Order of the Phoenix was a shattered husk of what it had once been.
Nonetheless, over the past few months Harry demonstrated a cleverness and tenacity that surprised even his supporters, and with the help of a few exceptional friends and a shocking defection from Voldemort's ranks managed to turn the tide of battle at the last minute. The scale of his victory was remarkable. Voldemort's hold over the country was utterly destroyed and only ninety-nine Death Eaters survived.
A triumphant Potter extended an olive branch to the defeated, saying that Voldemort's minions "are not our enemies, but our neighbours."

The ex-Dark Lord could not be reached for comment, but sources within the Death Eaters report that he has resigned from the leadership.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A metaphysical interview with Thomas Mulcair

Last on my list of interviews was Thomas Mulcair, the leader of the New Democrats. It took a while to get hold of him, because when I called his campaign office a recording said the line had been disconnected. Eventually I tracked down his campaign manager, who turned out to be crashing on a buddy’s couch for just a week or two until he got some things straightened out.
I was supposed to meet Mulcair in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart on the south side. I stood there wondering why he would choose this place, until I was distracted by the sound of an engine sputtering. An ancient Winnebago came down the road, painted bright orange, with Air Mulcair emblazoned on the side. The motor stalled every time the camper turned left, but it managed to coast almost all the way to me.
Thomas Mulcair got out, his face plastered with a smile that looked like a cross between a game-show host and rigor mortis. He sauntered over and shook my hand energetically, rather like the Cat in the Hat might.
“Mr. Mulcair,” I said. “It seems that your proposed budget, which makes only small changes to the tax structure and social spending, has failed to impress leftists. Was this a strategic calculation to win over centrist voters in Ontario, or are you taking a principled stance against sacrificing fiscal responsibility for redistribution?”
With his teeth bared and his cheeks scrunched up in a massive grin, his reply went like this, “pollscannotbetrustedanywaybreakthroughin905upcomingtookmoralhighroadasalwayscanadasnextgovernment.
“Are you okay?” I asked. “It kind of looks like you smiled so much your face got stuck that way.”
photoopneedbaby,” said Mulcair. “zhuli!getmebaby!” He waved his fist at the Winnebago. “BAAAABY!
A staffer ran out of the camper, carrying a nonplussed-looking baby. She handed it to Mulcair, who cooed at it and kissed it as well as he could without breaking his rictus grin.
“Sorry,” the staffer whispered. “If it’s time for a photo op and he doesn’t have a baby to kiss, he sometimes loses his temper.” She surreptitiously wiped some spittle from Mulcair’s beard. “It’s been a long campaign.”
“Tell me about it,” I said.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A metaphysical interview with Justin Trudeau

After my unsatisfying interview with the Prime Minister, I met with Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party. That didn’t go much better.
To start with, he wanted to meet me on a beach in Cuba. When I got there he was lying on his side in the sand, wearing nothing but a red Speedo, long curls hanging over his face. His jaw didn’t so much look chiseled as like it had been carved out of granite to be a Pharaoh’s tomb.
“Mr. Trudeau,” I began.
“Call me” – he brushed some sand off his abs – “Justin.”
“Okay, Justin. The Liberals have proposed a loosely Keynesian budget, trying to soften the oncoming downturn with deficit-funded spending on infrastructure. Do you think this country is really that desperately in need of infrastructure? One might argue that we’re in pretty good shape already, and that increasing spending might lead to a lot of unnecessary and wasteful projects. Like that train line to Pearson Airport that no one ever uses.”
“That’s an interesting question,” he said, “and I love answering interesting questions because of my intelligence and experience.” He pointed to the book on the sand next to him, which was titled Advanced Vector Calculus. “Just some light reading, to rest my brain. Given that it’s an election, I would read something on economics or political science, but, you know, I read them all already. All the books.” He stretched languidly. “Yep, I’m that smart.”
“Sure, okay,” I said. “I wasn’t questioning that, since the perception you’re inexperienced is basically just the product of Conservative attack ads.”
“Oh, I’m” – he gave me a sort of come-hither look – “experienced.”
“But you didn’t actually answer my question.”

“Didn’t I?” He winked. “I don’t know how I forgot, because I love talking about my erection.” There was a really dumbfoundingly long pause before he finally added, “of infrastructure.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A metaphysical interview with Stephen Harper

So it’s been a long time since I posted anything here, despite the obvious fact that there is a national election going on and everyone is in a tizzy. I’ve been busy, mostly working on a new book, which is turning out to be six billion times more complicated than I’d thought. Writing is, like, hard and stuff.
Anyway, I did manage to find some time for metaphysical interviews with the major candidates. I’ve been trying to interview the incumbent, Stephen Harper, for weeks. But his staffers refused. I explained to them that a metaphysical interview is not a real interview, because instead of talking to the person you speculate about what they might say. They still wouldn’t do it. “The Prime Minister doesn’t do imaginary interviews,” they said. “You’re not even allowed to pretend you talked to him.”
Then I got a call out of blue. “The Prime Minister is willing to speak to you, to help get his message out to Canadians.” And I was asked to meet Harper at his home in Calgary.
Harper's home was a black tower looming over what was otherwise a pleasant suburban neighbourhood. Thunder rumbled in the clouds overhead and a chill wind shook the dead branches of the trees. The yard was decorated with severed heads on spikes – Nigel Wright, Michael Sona, a bunch more I didn’t recognize.
Pierre Poilevre was waiting at the door, casually leaning an AK-47 against the shoulder of his blue suit. “The boss is expecting you,” he said by way of greeting.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


The Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective just published a critical reply by me to a paper on relativism. The original paper (by Howard Sankey, in Social Epistemology) tries to refute relativism. That's generally a good thing, but Sankey's argument doesn't work. Or so I argue.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It's election time in Alberta

It’s election time in Alberta – the premier heard the call on this blog, or maybe one of the four million other blogs in Alberta that are more widely read, and deigned to ask voters for a mandate. Much to his surprise, the voters counteroffered with a trip to the glue factory. Yes, it looks like we’re going to have a change of government. I know that for people in most democratic countries this is a regular occurrence, but around here it literally happens once every ten blue moons.
People in the fast-paced modern world are too busy to pay attention to boring things like elections, and so here is an objective and completely nonpartisan summary of the Albertan political landscape.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Perspectives on genocide

Today is the centenary of the beginning of the Armenian genocide, when as many as 1.5 million Armenians were murdered by the Ottoman government. Using the word “genocide” here is a bit controversial, and by “controversial” I mean that it pisses off Turkish nationalists.
The Hürriyet Daily News ran a column arguing that the Turkish nationalist perspective on the “Armenian issue” should not be ignored, and so I’m only going to talk about that. The Council of Turkish Canadians ran a chilling ad in this morning’s Globe and Mail. Here is an excerpt of a news release from their website that has almost the same text:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

An Open Letter to Forty-Seven Members of the United States Senate

Mar. 12, 2015
An Open Letter to Forty-Seven Members of the United States Senate:
I have noticed from the way you have been acting lately that you may not fully understand what diplomacy is. I am writing to tell you all about it. Diplomacy is very important. While you are in the United States Senate, you should seriously consider trying it.
A dictionary is a book that explains what words mean. There is a good one on the Internet at www.learnersdictionary.com. It says “diplomacy” is a word that means:
1. the work of maintaining good relations between the governments of different countries
2. skill in dealing with others without causing bad feelings
When you write a letter to the leaders of another country and you give them a basic lesson on the constitution as if they were children and you were a civics teacher, it is not good diplomacy. Let me explain why.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Called it

For anyone who thought that my portrayal of jihadis as thugs with no knowledge of Islam was maybe too harsh, we have the following corroboration from the Economist
For recruits to an ostensibly religious militia, many of those joining IS seem to display a notable ignorance of Islam. Before leaving for Syria, Yusuf Sarwar and Mohammed Ahmed, two young men from Birmingham who pleaded guilty to terrorism offenses in July, ordered copies of “Islam for Dummies” and “The Koran for Dummies” from Amazon.
You see, just because you made something up on the spot doesn't mean it's not true. Metaphysical journalism wins again! Though for some reason the Globe and Mail still returned my resume with the note, "Send this again and we'll get a restraining order."

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Charlie Hebdo

Today I conducted a metaphysical interview with one of the men who allegedly carried out the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, killing Stéphane Charbonnier and eleven others. As you may know from earlier posts, a metaphysical interview is like a real interview except instead of talking to people you speculate about what they might say. It's basically like Fox News without the pretence of factuality.
The killers are in hiding, of course. I met them in what looked like an abandoned warehouse. Before me was a thin, thuggish man, his head not quite shaved recently enough to hide his widow’s peak. He fixed me with a menacing stare. “Allahu akbar,” he said slowly. “I am Cherif.”
“Thanks for agreeing to meet with me.” Then I froze up, not sure what to say to someone who had allegedly just gunned down twelve people in cold blood. “Um – so you are one of the alleged attackers.”
“Yes,” said Cherif. “I was one of those who allegedly executed the infidels. We allegedly cut those bastards down where they stood. We allegedly went in there, found that beast Charbonnier, that foul cartoonist, and put an alleged cap in his alleged ass. And then we allegedly shot everybody else, mostly because they were there.”
 “And – why? I guess that’s the question, right? Why did you allegedly do this?”
“To defend Islam. They blasphemed the Prophet.”
“And so you killed them all? Don’t you think that’s a bit harsh?”
“Allah is harsh,” said Cherif. He leant towards me, scowling. “You don’t fuck with Allah, see? You try fucking with Allah, and you’ll hear from us.” He tapped his chest with his fist.
“Isn’t there some kind of rule against using all those words in the same sentence?”