I have safely arrived here in Calgary, and here are the plans for Sunday:

At 10:30, we’ll be having brunch at the Best Western Village Park Inn.

At 2:00, I’ll be speaking at the University of Calgary.

At 6:00, come around to the Kilkenny Irish Pub. There are possibilities of haggis.

Sound good? Sounds busy! See you tomorrow!

The great comment registration experiment is still in progress. I will switch it off on Wednesday to allow everyone to weigh in with their opinion. There are a few things I can experiment with on my end, too — we’re supposed to somehow be able to use OpenID instead of Typekey, for instance. Bear with it for a little longer, though.


  1. JoshS, Official SpokesGay says

    Have fun at the lecture, PZ. Looking forward to your report afterward.

    You may want to eat before your brunch. My experience with the advertised “full breakfasts” or “brunches” at Best Western-type hotels is that you end up standing there toasting your own miniature “bagel” while some guy from Wisconsin with a sports hat and a mustache wrestles you for the last individual cream cheese packet.

    Well, Ted Haggard might like it.

  2. speedwell says

    Haggis at an Irish pub? Huh?

    Haggis is terrific, by the way, when made properly. My boss, based in Aberdeen, had the five of us on his team over for training together last year. We all went to his favorite pub for dinner the first night, and he ordered haggis for all of us, promising we could order something else if we didn’t like it. We all took the first bite, then light broke over our faces and we dug in. Even the tech from Shanghai thought it was pretty good. :)

  3. says

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned yet, but you’re on a good half-page article in the January 24th Calgary Herald: “Taking aim at intelligent design/Professor says classrooms must remain secular”

    Graeme Morton thankfully didn’t even put any “balancing” bits in the article. My mother-in-law clipped it out for me, though, so I cannot speak for the rest of that particular page :)

    “Atheists need to come out of the closet, stop being so polite and stand up to this movement, which is already in Canada as well,” says Myers.

    I’d be intrigued to see where the intelligent design movement is popping up, in particular outside of Denyse’s wetware. All we seem to have are “run-of-the-mill” literalist creationists just outside our neck of the woods. I mean, their arguments sound similar, but then, they have been using largely the same foolscap page of arguments since the 70s, making it hard to tell, sometimes.

    Looking forward to the talk, and somewhat wondering how much in advance to get there :)

    Nelson -> I believe it’s in the ICT building. Use the map – and it should be on the main floor, too, if I am not mistaken :)

  4. says

    speedwell -> *laugh* From the page on the Kilkenny:

    …There’s even haggis for those looking for an extra culinary adventure.

    We’ve a dearth of Scottish pubs in the city; the Irish ones are extraordinarily popular. Hence the crossover, I suppose!

    I was born in Aberdeen, and I won’t touch the stuff. Mind you, when I lived there, there were a lot more lights (organ meats), fewer herbs, and a lot less frying. Going to that house of guilty pleasures, the Bervie Chipper, not too far out of town, I watched relatives order haggis, and saw it come out fried in tube form, which despite the ill-seeming juxtaposition of “fried” and “tube”, actually looked appetizing, most certainly compared to the haggis I remember.

  5. Kitty'sBitch says

    Here in Cincinnati, Ohio we have something called goetta.
    It seems to be something very like Haggis, but without the casing. I grew up with it, and love it, but many around here think I’m crazy.
    If I’m correct in the comparison, you people don’t know what you’re missing.

  6. Mena says

    Calgary in January and then off to Edmonton. It’s a good thing that he’s living in Minnesota and comes from good Viking stock, isn’t it? ;^)

  7. speedwell says

    OK, here in Houston we have something called boudin, which is the equivalent of haggis made with pork instead of lamb, rice instead of oats, green onions instead of bulb onions, and Cajun seasoning instead of… whatever they season haggis with, if they do.

    Ritchie, we usually had it served as a scoop on a plate with the traditional accompaniments. I don’t really care about it being organ meats; I’m Hungarian for Pete’s sake and you can’t be too afraid of organ meats when your father cooks traditional dishes like lung in lemon sauce and beef heart cholent for a treat. LOL

  8. Heraclides says

    Just re-posting this, in revised form, in case it helps anyone:

    By “registration”, PZ means that people are to sign up for a TypeKey identity. (This wasn’t clear to me at all when I read this in the earlier thread.)

    For people to post a comment, they now must first click on the “sign in” link the text “If you have a TypeKey identity, you can sign in to use it here”, immediately below “Post a Comment” at the bottom of the page for the thread.

    The wording is a bit misleading as it reads as if it’s an optional thing, as it was earlier: it should now be read as “To comment, sign in via TypePad first”. This will take you to the TypePad login page, then return to PZ’s blog once you’ve signed in. (The comment “Email is required…” below the “Post a Comment” will get updated too at some point, I guess.)

    When you are setting up their TypePad account, once you have given your username and password, select the ‘Account’ page from the menu bar on the top of the page, then select ‘Email and Password’ from the options on the left, then check the box next to “Share your email address” to ask TypePad to forward email address to sciblogs.

  9. Bride of Shrek says

    I’m all for registration to filter out the shitbags but truly, without the help of Heraclides there I’d be stuffed.

    Truly for us types that avoid things like Facebook because they confuse the crap out of us, this Typepad thingy is just torture.

  10. JackC says

    I am having no issues with Typekey and in fact rather like it. Not sure about this post following issue though – I haven’t pushed it yet.

    One vote for keeping things along these lines.

    Oh, I wish I was in Calgary…. doo dah… do dah…


  11. John Morales says

    I just note PZ wrote

    I will switch it [registration] off on Wednesday to allow everyone to weigh in with their opinion.

    We could wait till then…

  12. Tristan C says

    @#3: On a visit to Shanghai, I ordered chicken soup at a restaurant, and upon stirring the bowl was rather perturbed to see the chicken’s head swim to the surface. I’m not surprised in the slightest that your tech from Shanghai was unfazed by the haggis.

  13. says

    Does anyone know how to delete a typepad account? I now have two useless accounts on there which I would love to delete so I can free up the email addresses to use it properly.

  14. africangenesis says

    Boy this typepad was a pain. openid doesn’t work. I don’t see what is gained by registration, other than the email address is verified, but email addresses are easy to come by. So this is pointless.

  15. Valis says

    I had a really hard time at first getting my TypePad account to work. Sorted it out thanks to some commenters’ help and it’s working perfectly now. Maybe we should just give it a chance and get used to it?

  16. bobxxxx says

    There’s an article about PZ in today’s Sunday Calgary Herald newspaper.

    Myers says the intelligent design movement has a strong ideological agenda “to saturate our children’s education with religious belief.”

    “Atheists need to come out of the closet, stop being so polite and stand up to this movement, which is already in Canada as well,” says Myers.

  17. Helioprogenus says

    I don’t have much to say here, except I wanted to post something and see how this new comment thing works. At least I’m not using any physical paper, and out of curiosity, I wonder how much my carbon footprint increases with each second on the computer. Does anyone have that kind of information? PZ must be razing some prime virgin forests somewhere in the vicinity of Vermont and New Hampshire, our double inverted states people usually forget about.

    OK, my life is now somehow inconvenienced because I have to register with typepad and sign away my firstborn in blood.

  18. Boletus says

    There were plenty of religious fundamentalists around when I was growing up in Calgary. That said, it didn’t really matter given how the Canadian education system is structured:

    * Funding for schools comes from the Province (and not local taxes). It is debursed roughly equitably between school districts. So gross inequalities don’t arise.
    * The high-school curricula are under Provincial jurisdiction and not the control of local school boards. The Federal Government has a say also.
    * Some religious education exists. It’s primarily Catholic.
    * Very few students attend private schools. Since public schools are perfectly good, this option is seen as unnecessary by most parents.
    * Some public high schools use the International Baccalaureate curriculum – which, by the way, is superb. (We in the USA should steal it.)

    Fundies don’t have a hope in hell of convincing any of the Provinces to teach ID. Private schools are not suicidal either. IB is too clever. And Catholics have no issues with evolution. So that just about settles it.

  19. says

    Some public high schools use the International Baccalaureate curriculum – which, by the way, is superb. (We in the USA should steal it.)

    It’s increasingly popular here in the UK as an alternative to our traditional system of GCSEs and A-Levels, and is seen as a “gold standard” by many universities. So you’re probably right.

    However, on the topic of education reform: Are any of you familiar with Dr James Tooley’s research on education in the developing world? Apparently, in a study of slum areas in Africa and India, he showerd that there are actually a vast number of budget private schools – many unlicensed/unregulated by the state – which, for minimal fees, educate poor children to a much higher standard than the overcrowded, failing government schools. In Lagos State, Nigeria, he found that around 70% of children are educated by such schools; parents, even those living barely above the poverty level, would rather pay a couple of dollars a month than send their children to the very poor, under-resourced state-run schools. And because of the effect of private markets and competition, the standard of teaching is actually high. He theorises that increased investment in state education is actually, in some respects, a bad idea, because it crowds these schools out of the market – reducing choice and innovation.

    For me, the ideal would be for government to get the hell out of the school system altogether. As of 2005, average annual government spending per-student on public education, in the US, was $11,000. Why not, therefore, privatise all the schools, and simply give every parent in America a cash handout of $11,000 per child per year, for the purposes of educating their child, giving the parents free rein in how to spend it? Why do we dogmatically assume that government bureaucrats and legislators – most of whom are idiots, as we all know – know better than parents and teachers how to educate?

    Yes, some parents will educate their children inadequately, teach them creationism and other such nonsense, etc. That can’t be helped; some people are simply idiots, and will find ways to inflict their idiocy on their children. But the present system allows those idiots to stand for election and inflict their idiocy on everyone’s children. Parents don’t necessarily know best; but I’d rather trust them than the state.

  20. Carlie says

    Does anyone know how to delete a typepad account? I now have two useless accounts on there which I would love to delete so I can free up the email addresses to use it properly.

    Kel – I’m not sure how to delete them, but if you want to use the same email address on a TypePad account, you can just change all of the account information to what you want it to be. I had a different username on mine, so I just went into the account settings and changed it to what I always use here.

  21. Boletus says

    Interesting… Well, I suppose what sort of society results from the various types of education system is an empirical question. But let me offer my 2 cents’ worth:

    In my view, the role of the education system — in a modern social democracy, at least — is to produce informed, rational, critical citizens capable of taking up their responsibilities in civil society. That sort of thing seems to go OK in Canada. But the success of that kind of education system depends on it being free, mandatory, disciplined, and staffed with well-paid and well-educated teachers. I suspect that only possible if a central government stays in charge is is able to afford it.

    Of course, you can reject the goals I’ve proposed. (Margaret Thatcher famously said that there is no such thing as society.) But again: it’s an empirical question whether countries where the government abrogates its responsibility to perpetuate an informed civil society can survive. If the USA is fair test case then my money is still on the social democratic model. But I guess we’ll see…

    One other thought on this: I am not sure we can extrapolate from what works in Nigeria to what would work in Nebraska. Children in slums are motivated by poverty. One of the challenges facing a first world education system where teachers are not allowed to inflict corporal punishment and where the prospect of working for a dime a day as an alternative seems remote is how to motivate students. I think we are probably better off looking to see what works well in Japan, Taiwan, France or Germany.

  22. D. Finch says

    I haven’t seen any intelligent design movements in Canada much, and I did live in the Prairies and Northern Quebec where they still retain a modicum of religiosity. There’s the creationist museum in Alberta (in Big Valley) but it’s kinda of a joke, considering how many dinosaur fossils you find in Alberta (Drumheller).

    I’d be curious to find out if ID proponents are making any inroads up here. We do have a segment of the population that’s ultra-conservative, but they usually limit themselves to writing to the local newspapers and posting comments on the Globe and Mail website. Church attendance has been declining for years throughout the country. Last year, there were a series of debates in Quebec about multiculturalism, which brought up the issue of religion in school. That drew xenophobic reactions from some Catholics, and raised the notion that the government was trying to control our moral lives (the provincial government implemented a new and mandatory ethics and religion class replacing traditional religious education).

    When I was a kid in suburban Quebec, I had to sing hymns and color pictures of Jesus, just because they didn’t know what to do with me (this was a public school). If you weren’t Catholic, your other option was “moral class”, which was supposed to teach us morals because clearly, we had none. More coloring books ensued, though no Jesus was mentioned. I did my high school through the IB system and that was much, much better.

    Any lucky Canadians out there who’ve encountered ID proponents in school boards?

  23. 'Tis Himself says

    Haggis at an Irish pub? Huh?

    They also offer “cornish pastie.” Cornwall is part of England, the hated enemy of all good Irish (except for Ulster prods, of course).

  24. Africangenesis says


    Here is a cite for that Thatcher quote:

    She definitely appears to have the evolutionary perspective. She is right of course, society and government don’t exist (being quite massless). They are concepts in the minds of believers and non-believers that are useful in predicting the behavior of humans. She sounds like a deeply thoughtful person.

  25. says

    I’ll vouch for the International Bacchalaureate system – it saved me from academic self-destructiveness in the regular curriculum, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

    Marks have to be statistically “normalized” to that of the regular curriculum (based on typical diploma final performance, I believe), it does not allow for a full set of options (I only took 4/6 courses in IB, but people taking the Full IB program had to fight to get the Career and Life Management program combined with another course so that they did not have to take a fourth year of high school), and the curriculum is “nasty” enough that the university will take anywhere from a 5/7 (I think) to a 7/7 on the IB diplomas for advanced placement in a lot of courses.

    If I never have to do another mathematical proof, though, it will be too soon :)

    Private schools can get 60% provincial funding if they agree to teach the Alberta Programs of Study, 70% if they agree to some increased accountability. I do not know if they are prohibited from teaching additional spew, though – the Mitford Middle School program in Cochrane would imply to me that they are not.

  26. Nemo says

    The high-school curricula are under Provincial jurisdiction and not the control of local school boards.

    I’ve seen this argument from Canadians before. But have you noticed what’s happening in the U.S. at the state level? Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana? Are you sure it can’t happen in Alberta?

  27. 'Tis Himself says


    You can argue it either way. In certain states you’ll have the fundies running some school districts and more normal people running other districts. So I don’t know if the U.S. system is any better or any worse.

  28. chuckgoecke says

    I vote no for typepad. I’ve never joined a signup site that didn’t make you type your password twice. How can one be sure he didn’t typo during setting their password. The system was very clunky about whether it wanted my name or my email. Maybe things will be okay now that I’ve experienced its idiosyncrasies.

  29. Just Passin' Through says

    I’ve seen this argument from Canadians before. But have you noticed what’s happening in the U.S. at the state level? Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana? Are you sure it can’t happen in Alberta?

    Doubtful. Even though ID isn’t much of an issue among the general population, this debate has gone on for a long time among Canadian educators and most understand that ID, whatever it is, is not science. The other factor is that the largest religious denominations in Canada are all mainstream Christian (Catholic, United Church, Anglican, Lutheran), who don’t like to touch this issue with a ten-foot pole because it promotes un-nicesness. ;)

    Still, we have to be vigilant.

  30. Bride of Shrek says


    Alas, I am usually the one behind the camera taking the picture and I have no photos to upload. I will work on it this week if I remember.

    For now you could just visualise a cross between Heidi Klum and Elle McPherson. That’d be pretty close… Heh.

  31. littlejohn says

    As the son of a Scotsman and an Irish woman, I’m fairly sure I’m drunk. Oops, I meant to say that haggis is Scottish, not Irish. But of course no one in either country is sober enough to notice the difference. Occasionally a Scot eats a potato. Who’s to judge?

  32. says

    Well, it was a pretty fun event, going to see PZ in person and all. Thanks for coming to see us, Herr Doktor Professor!

    I’ve blogged the experience here. My apologies if I’ve missed something or gotten something wrong; my eyes are crossing at this late hours, and I will fix it as soon as I can :)

    Now if someone could promise to detail out the big God debate up there in Edmonton for us… please? Pretty please??

  33. speedwell says

    I’ll be damned. I just opened the door to the UPS guy, who was bringing me an Amazon box that had in it Elizabeth Luard’s famous cookbook, European Peasant Cookery. It does indeed have a recipe from Ireland called “Pig Haggis.” The full instructions are:

    Wash the [pig’s] stomach very thoroughly, scrub with salt, and stuff it with potatoes boiled and mashed with onions and bacon fat. Roast for 2-3 hours in a medium oven.

  34. Brownian says

    Ritchie, here’s a page about the debate at Q transmissions.

    The post-debate Pharyngulibations will be at RATT, according to the Edmonton Skeptical Society’s event page on facebook, but have we confirmation from PZ as to where he’ll be?