Read this with an Oxford accent

I've been following the fallout from last week's Anglican Primates' meeting, and think this is a good a perspective as any right now:

Posted on Get Religion

RowanAgain.jpgAnglican-beat reporters, please repeat after me once again: The Africans pray, the Americans pay and the British write the resolutions.

And the second truth of Anglican corporate life is like unto this: The British will do their bloody best to write those resolutions in such a way that Americans get to keep writing checks.

Thus, to the surprise of no one, MSM reports about this week's Anglican primates meetings are all over the map. No one can agree on who actually said what and if the words they said actually mean what they appear to mean. Ah, those British resolution writers are the best.

Let's work at this backwards for a moment. Right now, the most important story on the news wires comes from up in Canada:

Canadian and U.S. Anglican officials denied media reports suggesting they have temporarily withdrawn from an international council at the request of leaders who condemn their position on homosexuality.

They have not yet made any decisions in response to the request, Archdeacon Paul Feheley, Principal Secretary to the Primate, told CTV.ca in a phone interview from Northern Ireland where the meetings between the leaders took place this week.

"We're members of the Anglican Communion, we will continue to be members of the Anglican Communion," he said, noting that the talks were much like a family dispute during which family members "step back for breathing space, to sort things out."

[The] Rev. Jan Nunley of the U.S. Episcopal Church Center also denied media reports in an email to CTV.ca inquiring about the church's response.

"No, no decision has been made on the request for voluntary temporary withdrawal from the Anglican Consultative Council," Nunley wrote.

These denials are in response to early Associated Press stories that opened like this sample from The Miami Herald:

LONDON (AP) -- Anglican primates agreed late Thursday that the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada would withdraw from a key body of the global Anglican Communion after failing to overcome internal church disagreements about the election of a gay bishop in the United States and the blessing of same-sex unions there and in Canada.

A statement from leaders of Anglican national churches who met this week in Northern Ireland also called on the two churches to explain their thinking on gay issues at another Anglican meeting in June. . . . The two churches would temporarily step away from the Anglican Consultative Council, a key body for contact among the national churches and one of the four "instruments of unity.''

Some reports stated even more clearly that the Canadians and Americans had been forced out.

Whence comes this confusion? The answer is found, of course, in the work of those British resolution writers and the wiggle room found in the actual communique that is the foundation of all of these stories in the MSM and the blogosphere. Here is the crucial passage. This should be read with a strong Oxford or Upper West Side Manhattan accent for the proper effect.

14. Within the ambit of the issues discussed in the Windsor Report and in order to recognize the integrity of all parties, we request that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference. During that same period we request that both churches respond through their relevant constitutional bodies to the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report as they consider their place within the Anglican Communion. (cf. paragraph 8)

And the key word? Righto, that would be voluntarily. Thus, this is yet another document asking the North American progressives to repent -- if they choose to do so. Stronger action may or may not take place in the future. St this point, the North Americans are still smarting from a slap on the collective wrist, but nothing more than that. If there were stronger actions suggested, they remained behind the tightly closed doors of the conclave and, thus, they will have no effect until they are reported in the pages of sacred scripture.

 

Read the rest here.

 

clock Posted Mon Feb 28th, 2005 - 5:225pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Air Jesus 

I find this article by Max Blumenthal to be interesting on many levels.  While it is not written from my point of view (which is Biblically Orthodox and Evangelical -- and yes, I find the article to be offensive), it does beg a few questions about the U.S. "Christian Conservative Right" -- particularly their own perceptions about their power and influence in the world, but also how their influence is being viewed by those who do not share a Christian world-view.

 

Air Jesus - With The Evangelical Air Force

by Max Blumenthal for Mediatransparency.org
POSTED FEBRUARY 27, 2005

"How many of you out there think ministering the Word is unpopular?" the Rev. James McDonald asked a rapt crowd of hundreds at the opening ceremony of the National Religious Broadcasters' (NRB - website) convention. A beefy, bald-headed evangelist with a folksy style and an uncanny resemblance to Jesse Ventura, McDonald spent his 30 minute sermon harping on a theme that would dominate the convention: Christian persecution.

Air Jesus: With the Evangelical Air ForceFor five days inside the Anaheim Convention Center, from February 11-16, the NRB's attendees conducted business as if they were huddled in the catacombs of Rome rather than welcomed guests at a self-contained suburban city of paisley-carpeted hotels, all-you-can-eat buffets and climate-controlled conference halls directly across the street from Disneyland. Indeed, when McDonald asked attendees for a show of hands in affirmation of his question, nearly every hand in the room shot up.

It might seem ironic for McDonald to invoke the spectre of persecution at the convention of a group that represents the interests of 1700 broadcasters and which enjoys unfettered access to congressional Republicans and the White House. The NRB's influence was best summarized by its new CEO, Frank Wright, who, in describing a recent lobbying excursion to Capitol Hill, said, "We got into rooms we've never been in before. We got down on the floor of the Senate and prayed over Hillary Clinton's desk." Wright went on to rally support for the NRB's handpicked candidate for FCC commissioner, whom he refused to name, and rail against federal hate crime legislation because, "Calls for tolerance are often a subterfuge when everything will be tolerated except Christian truth."

 

Read the rest here.

 

clock Posted Son Feb 27th, 2005 - 6:45pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Core values

By Chris Floyd, Moscow Times
Posted @ SmirkingChimp.com on Friday, February 25

Day in and day out, patriotic American dissidents on both the left and the right keep shoveling through the bloody muck of the Bush Imperium. The filth is endless, Augean; Salon.com recently catalogued 34 ongoing major scandals, equaling or surpassing the depravity of Watergate. Yet still the patriots bend to the task, tossing up steaming piles of ugly truth before the public.

And with every loud splattering of fresh Bushflop, there's a flurry of hope that this time, the dirt will stick; this time, the stench of corruption will be so overwhelming that the nation's long-somnolent conscience will be aroused. Yet each time, the rancid slurry just disappears down the drain: The Bushists tell their butt-covering lies, the "watchdogs" of the media wag their tails and all is well again in the land that Gore Vidal so aptly dubbed the United States of Amnesia. No scandal, no matter how outrageous, ever gains any traction.

But there is a simple reason why patriots on both the right and the left are stymied: because the center is rotten to its well-wadded, self-righteous, willfully ignorant core...

 

Read the rest here

 

clock Posted Fri Feb 25th, 2005 - 12:46pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

The Highland Pipe-off

Love the bagpipes, do ye? Sign up to compete at the Highland Pipe-off, courtesy of bearskinrug (the professional web space of illustrator and designer, Kevin Cornell).

 

clock Posted Thu Feb 24th, 2005 - 10:09pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Daion Handcrafted Guitars

I've been a big fan of Daion guitars since the late 70's, when I had the opportunity to play several models I came across in a music store in Montreal, Canada. Made in Japan, and distributed in North America by MCI Inc. based in Waco, Texas -- Daion guitars were reasonably high quality instruments offered at great prices. In 1979, after a very short deliberation, I bought a '78 Heritage (from Chateau Musicale on rue Ste. Antoine) which quickly became my favourite guitar for both practice and performing. I had to sell my '78 a few years later, and have regretted that decision for nearly 20 years! I was fortunate to acquire a model '80 in 2002, and it's played daily.

At the time my web searches turned up precious little information on these fantastic guitars which were only built and available for a few years between 1978-84. Starting in 2000, I was able to find some mention of these on various guitar review sites, bulletin boards, eBay and classified ads, and various performers' sites.  Since then I have compiled most of this information and made it available on a web site, which gets a ton of traffic. I get mail weekly from folks around the world singing the praises of these great guitars.

Check out my recently updated Daion Guitar site here.

 

clock Posted Tue Feb 22nd, 2005 - 6:46pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is the oldest producer of free electronic books (eBooks or etexts) on the Internet. Their collection of more than 15.000 eBooks was produced by hundreds of volunteers. For the most part, Project Gutenberg concentrates on historically-significant literature and reference works. The slogan of the project is "break down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy", chosen because the project hopes to continue the work of spreading public literacy and appreciation for our literary heritage that public libraries began in the early 20th century. Most of the Project Gutenberg eBooks are older literary works that are in the public domain in the United States. All may be freely downloaded and read, and redistributed for non-commercial use.

When Michael Hart was a student at the University of Illinois (USA), in July 1971, he set up Project Gutenberg with the goal of making available for free, and electronically, the largest possible number of books whose copyright had expired.

printing pressThis ground-breaking project became both the first Internet information site and the world’s first digitized library. Michael himself typed in the first hundred books. When the Internet became widely-used, in the mid-1990s, the project got a boost and an international dimension. Michael still typed and scanned in books, but now coordinated the work of dozens and then hundreds of volunteers in many countries.

The number of electronic books rose from 1,000 (in August 1997) to 2,000 (in May 1999), 3,000 (in December 2000) and 4,000 (in October 2001). Project Gutenberg had 5,000 books online in April 2002 and topped 10,000 in October 2003, when it had a team of 1,000 volunteers around the world making 350 new books available every month. These 10,000 books are also available on DVD for US$1 each. Michael hopes to have a million available by 2015.

Hart describes himself as a workaholic who is devoting his entire life to the project, which he sees as the start of a new Industrial Revolution. He considers himself as a pragmatic and farsighted altruist. For years he was regarded as a nut but now he is respected. He wants to change the world through freely-available e-books that can be used and copied endlessly. Reading and culture for everyone at minimal cost, on a computer or a secondhand PDA costing just a few dollars, or even on a solar-powered PDA, which are starting to appear.

 

clock Posted Mon Feb 21st, 2005 - 10:00am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Crash Test Dummies Inventor Dies

CNN  - Friday, February 18, 2005 Posted: 1508 GMT

MARINA DEL REY, California (AP) -- Samuel W. Alderson, the inventor of crash test dummies that are used to make cars, parachutes and other devices safer, has died. He was 90. Alderson died February 11 at home of complications from myelofibrosis, a bone marrow disorder, his son Jeremy said.

He grew up tinkering in his father's custom sheet-metal shop, worked on various military technology and by 1952 had formed Alderson Research Labs.

09 crash test dummiesThe company made anthropomorphic dummies for use by the military and NASA in testing ejection seats and parachutes. The dummies were built to approximate the weight and density of humans and hold data-gathering instruments.

One type of dummy he developed measured radiation doses.

There was little interest in his first automobile test dummy, he once said, until publication of Ralph Nader's consumer protection book "Unsafe at Any Speed" in 1965. The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was passed a year later.

Before creating dummies, he worked on missile guidance systems and helped develop a coating to enhance vision on submarine periscopes during World War II.

He left his original company in 1973 to form a competing crash test dummy maker, and the two companies were dominant in the market until eventually merging in 1990 to form First Technology Safety Systems.

 

Totally unrelated: Check out the Crash Test Dummies official web site (a great Canadian '90's band; the Superman Song rocked!)

 

clock Posted Fri Feb 18th, 2005 - 3:05pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Hopping Mad

I'm still upset about Chuck Jones' makeover of Bugs Bunny in the early 60's,  which made him look like Tom from the "Tom and Jerry" cartoons of the same era (also produced by Jones).  Fritz Freleng produced the quintessential Bugs, in my book.

THE HORROR, THE HORROR: Today's Wall Street Journal includes a terrifying story about the "extreme makeover" planned for the classic Warner Bros. characters. Excerpts:

"Hoping to breathe new life into its animated Looney Tunes franchise and prop up the WB television network's slumping Kids' WB line-up, Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. is planning to launch a new cartoon series this fall based on 're-imagined' versions of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tasmanian Devil, Lola Bunny, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.

Loonatics"Warner Bros. has created angular, slightly menacing-looking versions of the classic Looney Tunes characters for its new series, dubbed 'Loonatics' and set in the year 2772. Names for the new characters haven't been finalized, but they are likely to be derived from the originals: Buzz Bunny, for example. Each new character retains personality quirks of the original. The new Bugs, for example, will be the natural leader of the Loonatics' spaceship; the new Daffy will remain confident that he is the one who should be in charge. ...

"'The new series will have the same classic wit and wisdom, but we have to do it more in line with what kids are talking about today,' says Sander Schwartz, president of Warner Bros. Animation. The plots are action-oriented, filled with chases and fights. Each character possesses a special crime-fighting power.

"Sounds familiar? The format echoes a successful show Warner Bros. launched in 2003 on its WB network and Cartoon Network called 'Teen Titans,' about five teenage superheroes. The series, featuring dark, futuristic characters, based on such DC Comics personalities as Robin the Boy Wonder, quickly became a hit. It ranked No. 26 among kids programs for the fourth quarter last year. ...

"Given Warner's mixed track record over the past two decades with the Looney Tunes franchise, advertisers may be wary. Steven Spielberg sparked things up in the early 1990s with 'Tiny Toons,' a series in which new characters interacted with the originals. But a 2002 effort, 'Baby Looney Tunes, 'has been a dud for the Cartoon Network, where it ended the fourth quarter ranked No. 104 among kids programs."

It isn't just advertisers who will be wary.

 

Check out this AP story lifted from the Wall Street Journal

WB to Update Characters for 'Loonatics'

AP Wire - Friday, Feb 18, 2005

NEW YORK — Bugs Bunny and his pals are being updated for the future — way in the future.

The WB network will take the famed Looney Tunes characters as models for a new children's series, "Loonatics," that will air on Saturday mornings starting this fall.

The characters' descendants — Buzz Bunny and the like — will be superhero action figures for the cartoon set in the year 2772.

The network's animators have re-imagined Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Wile E. Coyote as sleek new figures for a modern age.

"We all flipped for it," David Janollari, president of the Kids' WB (search), said this week. "We just said, `Wow, what a great way to take the classic Looney Tunes franchise that has been huge with audiences for decades and bring it into the new millennium.'"

Janollari said both boys and girls enjoyed the new action figures in test runs of the show. Their parents may be a little surprised, however.

"I think the legacy is intact," he said. "If anything, it's an homage to the legacy instead of a destruction of the legacy."

clock Posted Fri Feb 18th, 2005 - 12:04pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Quality and Good Taste Never Go out of Style

 

'DOGS PLAYING POKER' SELLS FOR $590,400 AT DOYLE NEW YORK ON FEBRUARY 15, 2005

Intense Competition for Pair From Coolidge's Original 1903 Series

Paddles were wagging at Doyle New York's annual Dogs in Art auction on February 15, 2005. Coinciding each year with the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, the auction offers two centuries of canine paintings, paintings, prints, bronzes and other objects.

"A BOLD BLUFF " - CM Coolidge, 1903
Oil on canvas , 24 x 34 inches

Highlighting this year's sale were two rare paintings from Cassius Marcellus Coolidge's 1903 series of dogs playing poker. The pair were estimated to fetch $30,000-50,000 at the auction. After intense bidding from several determined bidders on the telephones and in the salesroom, the pair sold to a private collector from New York City for a staggering $590,400, setting a new world auction record for the artist.

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge was born in upstate New York in 1844 to abolitionist Quaker farmers who named him after statesman Henry Clay's brother, Cassius Marcellus Clay. An accomplished cartoonist, he is also credited with creating the familiar life-size Boardwalk cutouts, which he called Comic Foregrounds, into which one's head was placed so as to be photographed as an amusing character.

In 1903, Coolidge contracted with the advertising firm of Brown & Bigelow of St. Paul, Minnesota to create sixteen paintings of dogs in various human-like situations. Nine of these paintings depicted dogs around a card table, two of which were offered at the auction.

 

Postscript: Happy to say that I own a full set of (half size) prints for this series. Time to get them framed, huh?  And to think my friends say I have no class!

 

clock Posted Wed Feb 16th, 2005 - 3:55pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

National Flag Day

Most Canadians that have traveled throughout the world have shared in the phenomenon of Canadian National pride kicking in from somewhere afar.  Whether it is the the overwhelming gratitude of someone from the Netherlands who lived through WWII, seeing the Canadian flag flying majestically over Trafalgar Square, a Canadian bumper sticker in Mexico, or simply spotting a CCA Jersey clad Canadian Cycling Team member out on a training ride while in Budapest  -- well, you get the idea (these were some of my experiences).  We Canadians secretly love our country.  Sometimes we need to travel outside our borders to realize that.

Our flag turns 40 today, and I love it too.

 

From the Canadian Heritage web site:

A symbol of Canadian identity

Canadian FlagThe maple leaf flag's 40th anniversary on February 15, 2005 is cause for celebration - a celebration of our shared values, our common citizenship and our sense of belonging to this great, richly diverse land we all call home. Our flag belongs to each and every one of us and remains our most visible and cherished symbol that reminds us each day that we are all part of the Canadian family.

The official ceremony inaugurating the new Canadian flag was held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 15, 1965, with Governor General Georges Vanier, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, the members of the Cabinet and thousands of Canadians in attendance.

The Canadian Red Ensign, bearing the Union Jack and the shield of the royal arms of Canada, was lowered and then, on the stroke of noon, our new maple leaf flag was raised. The crowd sang the national anthem O Canada followed by the royal anthem God Save the Queen.

The following words, spoken on that momentous day by the Honourable Maurice Bourget, Speaker of the Senate, added further symbolic meaning to our flag: "The flag is the symbol of the nation's unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion."

 

clock Posted Tue Feb 15th, 2005 - 10:21pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Fainting Goats

In the early 1800's a strangely dressed man named Tinsley appeared in Marshall County Tennessee with four goats and a sacred cow named "Zebu". He took up with a local woman but things didn't work out. One day he took his cow and left, leaving the woman and his goats behind. The goats were sold to Dr. H.H. Mayberry who recognized their unique traits and kept and bred them.

This unique trait is called Myotonia which causes the goat to stiffen up and fall over if startled or surprised. It does not hurt the goat and the effect only lasts for 10-15 seconds and goes away. This condition was determined valuable to sheep ranchers as they would put a few Myotonic goats in with the herd and if a predator came the goats would fall over while the sheep would run away, providing the predator with an easy meal.

Myotonic goats are known by many colorful names such as Stiff Leg, Wooden Leg, Nervous Goats, and Tennessee Scare Goats. Most folks call them Fainting Goats.

Check out the Moonlight Farms web site (my long time favourite!)

See a video from CBS News 4 in Boston

See also Tennessee Fainting Goats

 

clock Posted Tue Feb 15th, 2005 - 9:45am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Hoops and Yoyo

Completely over-the-top cute with some sass mixed in. Their dedicated site at Hallmark e-cards is quite the hoot.

Click on the bit that says 'Click to have a little fun' - I love the "hopping in the puddle".

For Valentine's Day, check out Kisses.

It would seem that I have survived another Valentine's Day relatively unscathed.

 

clock Posted Mon Feb 14th, 2005 - 2:09pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Windows XP Annoyances

Annoyances.org is the most complete collection of information assembled for and by actual users of Microsoft Windows.  This site has a wealth of information, focusing on solving problems and eliminating annoyances with all modern versions of Microsoft Windows. The website is task-oriented, which means (in practical terms) that it is designed to help you achieve a certain goal, such as finding a solution to a problem or learning more about your operating system.

 

clock Posted Fri Feb 11th, 2005 - 11:32pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Future: Tense

Gwynne Dyer isn’t exactly a wimp. Not many guys from Newfoundland are.

Born during World War II, Dyer has been fascinated by things military all his life, and has served in three navies — Canada’s, America's and Great Britain’s. He has university degrees from all three countries too, including Doctorates in both military and Middle Eastern history. During the 1980s, he produced and narrated "War" the award winning documentary series about the nature of war.  (Here's his official web site.)

This is what Dyer has to say about what the U.S. is doing in Iraq:

“The United States needs to lose the war in Iraq as soon as possible. Even more urgently, the whole world needs the United States to lose the war in Iraq. What is at stake now is the way we run the world for the next generation or more, and really bad things will happen if we get it wrong.”

I firmly believe that he has it right; we live in frightening times, but far worse is yet to come...!

 

Check out this review and commentary by Jack Lessenberry of the Detroit Metro Times (Feb 8th, 2005):

"The world has changed, that we aren’t living in our old superpower world anymore, one in which the United States is the leader of the forces of light against the evil dark powers of communism. Nor is the U.S., in fact, even a military superpower in the way they would like to think they are; in reality, the U.S. military machine can only be used against very weak countries. As he notes, “War with a serious opponent would lead to a level of American casualties that the U.S. public would not tolerate for long.”

What the world needs most in the long run (if there’s to be a long run), he reminds us, is a stable international order in which all nations gradually work on abandoning war as an acceptable way of settling any differences. Dyer isn’t starry-eyed about this; he thinks it will take a hundred years at least to get major countries to stop resorting to war, “for it is trying to change international habits that had at least 5,000 years to take root.”

That, he reminds us, is the whole purpose of the United Nations, which the U.S. played the major role in starting exactly 60 years ago this spring. Yes, America has resorted to war before, as have other countries, but they always at least pretended that what they were doing was legally justified by international standards.

Now, however, the current U.S. administration is essentially spitting on this, and openly proclaiming their right to intervene unilaterally anywhere they want. Why is that so bad? Because others will do it too, and, eventually, it will break down even the ideal of an international order, causing a general return to “the old world of alliances, arms races and all the other old baggage.”

Dyer writes, “No other major power wants to abandon the project to outlaw war … but if the world’s greatest power becomes a rogue state, they won’t have much choice.” Some days, it appears the U.S. has already crossed the line.

Interestingly, if that happens, the U.S. may not be able to afford to be a rogue state for very long. In what’s surely the most telling and terrifying part of this book, the author takes on the most frightening topic of all — the real condition of the American economy, which is now totally dependent on foreign investment.

You’d scarcely know it from the “mainstream media,” but the U.S. is now the biggest debtor nation in history, owing far more to foreign countries than they do to us, and running up $500 billion more on our “credit card” every year.

Why does this go on? Dyer argues what other economists have told me in whispers: “The U.S. economy is a confidence trick based on everybody else’s perception that the United States is centrally important for the world’s security and that its economy is centrally important for the world economy.”

That was absolutely true in 1945, and largely true even in 1985. But not anymore. If you look at only those foreign investments that could be liquidated fairly quickly, the total, he estimates, would come to about $8 trillion. If those investments started to move elsewhere, the value of the dollar could be cut in half, Dyer estimates, overnight.

That would mean not only no more Lincoln Navigators, it more than likely would lead to the end of democracy as we know it. Which would be especially unfortunate since, as he notes, “global warming and other environmental problems are going to hit us very hard over the next 50 years.”

“How fast they hit and how great the resulting upheavals will be cannot be known in advance, but very few people apart from the usual suspects in the United States any longer doubt that climate change is a reality.”

Incidentally, if you’re tempted to tell me why Gwynne Dyer is all wrong, I’ll be willing to listen — but not if you haven’t read this book first. "

I could not agree more. 

Here's the book:

 

Future: Tense - The Coming World Order?

Written by Gwynne Dyer

 

from the Publisher:

The foundations of World War III are being laid today.

American defeat in Iraq is only a matter of time, but how long it takes matters a lot. The fate of Iraq is a sideshow, the terrorist threat is a red herring, and the radical Islamists' dream of a worldwide jihad against the West is a fantasy, but the attempt to revive Pax Americana is real. No matter what the outcome of the election in November, 2004, the enterprise is likely to continue. It is bound to fail eventually, but we need it to fail soon.

American military power is not limitless, and the other big powers will not stand for US military domination of the world. They don't buy the cover story about the 'terrorist threat,' but they don't want a fight either. They are all on hold for the moment, hoping that America will remember its commitment to the United Nations, the rule of law and multilateralism. If it does not, then the drift back into alliances, balance-of-power politics and military confrontations will begin. Ten years from now, an American-led alliance that includes India and occupies much of the Middle East could be facing a European alliance led by France, Germany and Russia AND a hostile, heavily armed China.

In Future Tense, Gwynne Dyer's brilliant follow up to last year's bestselling Ignorant Armies, he analyzes how the world made its way to the brink of disaster, and describes how we may all slide over the edge. It was fringe groups of extremists - Islamist fanatics and American neo-conservatives - who set the process in motion, but it has gone well beyond that now. It is not too late, but the clock is running.

 

See also:

A Scenario For Survival

Gwynne Dyer Pinpoints Canada's Responsibility In Tipping The System Of World Affairs Away From The Edge Of Destruction (2002)

 

 

clock Posted Thu Feb 10th, 2005 - 9:15am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Ash Wednesday

I'm getting ashes on my forehead this evening at an Ash Wednesday service, then taking myself on a long walk along Ste. Catherine street.

From Wikipedia.com:

"Some Christians treat Ash Wednesday as a day for remembering one's mortality. Masses are traditionally held on this day at which attendees are blessed with ashes by the priest ministering the ceremony. The minister marks the forehead of each celebrant with black ashes, leaving a mark that the worshipper traditionally leaves on his or her forehead until sundown, before washing it off. This symbolism recalls the ancient Near Eastern tradition of throwing ash over one's head signifying repentance before God (as related numerous times in the Bible). Often these Ash Wednesday ashes are made by burning Palm leaves from the previous year's Palm Sunday celebrations and mixing them with olive oil as a fixative. In Roman Catholicism Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence. The penitential psalms are read."

 

clock Posted Wed Feb 9th, 2005 - 2:45pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Shrovetide!

Hey, it's shrove Tuesday (otherwise known as Pancake Day). 

For those of you who don't know, this day falls on the day before Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent. Traditionally pancakes are eaten in a little feast before the fasting of Lent begins. The name "Shrove" Tuesday is related to "shrive" which means "to make confession". In times gone by some would go round singing for money - a sort of precursor to busking.

The French name for Shrove Tuesday is Mardi Gras which means "fat Tuesday". This became more and more lavish with masked balls, parades, mock ceremonies, and street dancing. The most famous current Mardi Gras are held in New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, Nice, and Cologne. Shrove Tuesday is also called Fasching, or Carnival.

Carnival means "farewell to meat" in Latin.

When my brother and I were kids, my mom used to put money in the pancakes (I do recall that the coins were boiled first) -- still, it's a wonder I did not crack off a tooth!

 

see shrovetide at newadvent.org

see the History of Shrove Tuesday at the pancakeparlour.com

 

clock Posted Tue Feb 8th, 2005 - 4:45pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Diagnosis: Evil

For most folks, the word "evil" conotates some sort of subjective measure of "lack of goodness".  Personally, when I hear "evil", my thoughts vacillate between Scriptural accounts of insidious and pervasive malevolence on one hand, and a particularly nasty person I used to love and trust on the other.

Seemingly fewer of us hold to a Scriptural world-view, and instead rely on social science or humanism to define our social and moral boundaries. Since I have a working knowledge of both these languages, I am quite content to read, write or otherwise dialogue to these perspectives. 

Forensic anthropology is a fascinating areas of study, and I have read the definitive study on serial murderers "Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Modern Multiple Murderer" by Dr. Elliott Leyton (this Memorial University of Newfoundland professor lived a few houses down from me in Torbay).

For the Worst of Us, the Diagnosis May Be 'Evil'
By BENEDICT CAREY
Published in the New York Times: February 8, 2005
 

Predatory killers often do far more than commit murder. Some have lured their victims into homemade chambers for prolonged torture. Others have exotic tastes - for vivisection, sexual humiliation, burning. Many perform their grisly rituals as much for pleasure as for any other reason.

Among themselves, a few forensic scientists have taken to thinking of these people as not merely disturbed but evil. Evil in that their deliberate, habitual savagery defies any psychological explanation or attempt at treatment.

Most psychiatrists assiduously avoid the word evil, contending that its use would precipitate a dangerous slide from clinical to moral judgment that could put people on death row unnecessarily and obscure the understanding of violent criminals.

Still, many career forensic examiners say their work forces them to reflect on the concept of evil, and some acknowledge they can find no other term for certain individuals they have evaluated.

In an effort to standardize what makes a crime particularly heinous, a group at New York University has been developing what it calls a depravity scale, which rates the horror of an act by the sum of its grim details.

And a prominent personality expert at Columbia University has published a 22-level hierarchy of evil behavior, derived from detailed biographies of more than 500 violent criminals.

He is now working on a book urging the profession not to shrink from thinking in terms of evil when appraising certain offenders, even if the E-word cannot be used as part of an official examination or diagnosis...

see the rest here
 
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clock Posted Tue Feb 8th, 2005 - 11:45am by CPC perm link  Return to home page Top of page


 

Mired in Denial, Lost in the Present

I realize that my Liberal tree-hugging, globalist roots are beginning to show, and I really do plan on getting back to my Conservative rants in a bit -- however (!!) -- it is unseasonably warm here in Montreal, and is forecast to be so for the rest of the week.  The weather is great -- it's the current smog alert that's got me in an uproar about global warming!  The skyline of Downtown looks like Mexico City! When are we going to wake up?

 

Found this through Cursor:

Dropping in on the Apocalypse
By Tom Engelhardt

"It's global-warming time again at Tomdispatch; or perhaps it's the more neutral "climate-change" time favored, for its non-apocalyptic mildness, by the fossil-fuel enraptured Bush administration and by others for its temperature inclusiveness (after all, there may be freezing wrapped in global warming); or perhaps it's the time of "climate destruction" or even "the heat death of humanity," phrases evidently being used by the young activists who are about to bestow the latest Flat Earth Award; or perhaps we should choose no name at all in honor of the native peoples of the north whose lands have by now been invaded by well-warmed southern species of insects, plants, and animals that they have no words for in their languages. ("We can't even describe what we are seeing," says Sheila Watt-Cloutier, chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference.)

Or maybe we should skip the issue of names for the moment while I sum up a little of the latest news that has continued to flood in, as if from so many melting glaciers, on the [unnamed subject or, for short, US] since last I wrote about it. If start down this path we must, then why not start with the iconic casualties, which, when it comes to the [US], are conveniently confined to the far, far north where only the hardiest of explorers once went to freeze to death and, of course, where the Inuit live. This is a region -- aka "the only virgin territories left" -- that the Great Melting may someday open up to a final round of land-and-water grabs and mineral over-reaches before we start exporting ourselves and our extra greenhouse gases to Mars to help create a more hospitable planet there (as recently suggested in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets, published by the American Geophysical Union) or even to other solar systems. The iconic [US] topics most likely to be found melting into your local paper (along with the Arctic ice cap, which has shrunk by 20% in the last three decades) are, in descending order: polar bears, glaciers, and native peoples... "

Read the rest at TomDispatch

 

clock Posted Mon Feb 7th, 2005 - 9:59pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

The Hermit Nuclear Kingdom

Two books reviewed at The New Your Review of Books
By Nicholas D. Kristof
 
Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty
by Bradley K. Martin
Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's, 868 pp.
 
Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies
by Victor D. Cha and David C. Kang
Columbia University Press, 265 pp.
 

"North Korea is the most secretive country in the world today, with its main railway lined with walls so high that its foreign passengers can't see the countryside. It is also, as Bradley Martin's book makes clear, the most repressive and brutal country in the world, with entire families sometimes executed if one member gets drunk and slights the Dear Leader. It is at the same time by far the most totalitarian, with nearly every home equipped with a speaker that issues propaganda from morning to night. It is the country most defiant of the West, whose leaders not only counterfeit US $100 bills but also are building nuclear warheads. North Korea is also, along with Iraq, the country where President Bush has most seriously bungled US foreign policy, and has made the world more dangerous and unstable. Finally, North Korea is perhaps the least understood place on earth. There is no firm agreement on such basic facts as whether Kim Jong Il is a playboy or a savvy leader who constantly monitors the Internet and CNN.

Bradley Martin's book, which took him twenty-five years to write, helps to resolve any uncertainty. Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader is, from all I have read, simply the best book ever written about North Korea. Relying largely on extensive interviews with defectors, Martin portrays North Korean life with a clarity that is stunning, and he captures the paradoxes in North Korean public opinion —people often revered their "Great Leader" at the same time that he was horrifically mismanaging their country and brutalizing their countrymen. Some will think that Martin is too soft, and others will think him too harsh, but his analysis matches what I've seen on my own trip to North Korea (before I was banned for life) and in my own interviews with North Korean citizens and defectors in China and South Korea.

Martin's work is sobering—he quotes one North Korean defector after another who says that a new Korean war is entirely possible, and that many North Koreans would welcome a war in hopes that it might end their miseries. And while American policy toward North Korea seems based on the idea that just a little nudge and the entire dictatorship will come crashing down, he doesn't believe it's that fragile. I fear he is right..."

 

Very scary stuff... see the full reviews here.

 

clock Posted Sat Feb 5th, 2005 - 5:59pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Drinking Nemo

I've often said that fishing and drinking don't mix. 

Animal lover David Beart was shocked last Friday when he watched six men belly up to the bar at Booker's BBQ Grill & Crab Shack  — and gulp down an equal number of live goldfish, each drowning in a shot glass full of booze.

"I was quite horrified by the whole ordeal," Beart, 36, told the Toronto Globe and Mail. "These are living beings."

Outraged, Beart put his account of the incident up on his Web site, ThePetProfessor.com, and informed the local humane society, the health inspector and city and provincial authorities.

"What does this do for tourism?" he asked rhetorically. "When people come here, they'll think, 'What kind of redneck losers live here?'"

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals spokeswoman Cheryl Wallach told the Calgary Herald she'd never heard of anyone doing goldfish shots before. She was clearly unaware of a long tradition of guppy drinking south of the border among college students and during Prohibition.

Obviously, the only use these fish have is for entertainment purposes, and as a society, we don't believe animals should be killed for the purpose of entertainment, which is what is happening here," Wallach told the Daily News of Kamloops, British Columbia.

Bar owner Bruce Claypool insists the animal lovers had it all wrong.

"We were never promoting or advertising the shots — it's not even on the menu," he told the Daily News.

He said the bar kept the goldfish around to feed its piranhas and catfish, and only picked them out for human consumption upon request.

"Once in a while, you get a customer who says, 'Hey, let's play a little "Fear Factor" game. Can we have one of those in a shooter?'" Claypool explained to the Globe and Mail.

The SPCA decided that while the practice was disturbing, it wasn't illegal in Alberta to drink goldfish.

The health inspector ruled otherwise, and on Tuesday, Booker's announced it would stop selling goldfish shots.

Despite having had to back down about downing fish, Claypool saw the upside to the controversy.

"There's more going on to worry about," he told the Globe and Mail. "But a lot of people are talking about Booker's right now."

 

clock Posted Fri Feb 4th, 2005 - 11:55am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Liberals table same-sex marriage bill despite protests, opposition

By Meghan Wood  - posted at CanadianChristianity.com

CANADIAN justice minister Irwin Cotler tabled legislation to allow same-sex marriage in the House of Commons Tuesday.

If passed, Bill C-38 would redefine marriage as a "union between two persons." As a result, consequential amendments would also have to be made to the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Civilian War-related Benefits Act, the Divorce Act and the Income Tax Act.

"What will be the social effects of refashioning a fundamental social institution -- to marriage itself, to spouses, children and society?" responded Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC). "It is a sad day when the language of husband and wife is removed from federal legislation. Is this what Canadians want? It is a distorted notion of tolerance and respect that eclipses this distinctive relationship."

If the bill is passed, the Liberal government would not use the Constitution's notwithstanding clause to preserve the current definition of marriage, as between two people of the opposite sex. The notwithstanding clause allows the government to create laws that will operate in spite of some Charter rights that the laws appear to violate. Though these declarations last only five years, they can be re-enacted indefinitely.  

more

 

An interesting article which discusses the unhappy marriage of "Marriage and Queerness" from a Gay and Lesbian rights perspective:

Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace? Why We Need Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage

Excerpts: ".. framing gay marriage only as a battle for civil rights excludes critiques that examine the issue in a broader social context-critiques that are central to queer theory and queer politics, and are currently dividing queer communities over the issue.

Karen Andrews is well known in Toronto for her involvement as a successful litigant in the influential 1988 Andrews v. Minister of Health case to get same-sex health benefits. Despite her own struggle for equal rights, however, Andrews remains adamantly opposed to marriage. She recently participated in a panel discussion on gay marriage at the University of Toronto in order to present her views. "They asked me to show up on the basis of the fact that in Ontario I'm reasonably well known and everybody's kind of surprised by the fact that I think marriage is a terrible idea," laughs Andrews.

When asked why, she explains: "It's as if the feminist critique of marriage doesn't exist. And you know feminism is near and dear to the hearts of lesbians. It's as if it's all been forgotten -- and it's a very legitimate critique that [marriage] is an institution that is beyond rehabilitation."

It could also be argued that mainstream discourse may be less likely to include queer critiques of marriage precisely because, for all of the Christian Right's outrage over the issue, North American society is far more comfortable with marriage in any form than with a more radical critique of the family and its social functions. Marriage -- even gay marriage -- is intrinsically conservative. At its core, it is built on an idealized notion of the traditional family."

Susan Thompson is a freelance writer who concentrates on social and political issues. She is also active in promoting Canadian sovereignty as resistance to U.S. empire and maintains the progressive nationalist website www.vivelecanada.ca.

clock Posted Thu Feb 3rd, 2005 - 9:23pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Brand Name Bullies: The Quest to Own and Control Culture

by David Bollier
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, 2005

Brand Name Bullies: The Quest to Own and Control CultureIf you want to make fun of Mickey or Barbie on your website, you may be hearing from some corporate lawyers. You may also want to think twice before using the words "fair and balanced" in a book title or publicly using Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. It may be illegal. Or in truth, it may be entirely legal -- but the distinction may not matter because who can afford a lawyer? The bully wins. According to David Bollier, creativity and free expression in American culture are under siege by a new breed of corporate bullies. They claim to own all sorts of images, ideas, words, musical notes, letters and even smells. They have made it illegal to name a sporting event the "Gay Olympics" or a portable toilet business "Here's Johnny!" A music licensing body once tried to charge the Girl Scouts for singing around the campfire (a "public performance"). Someone actually owns a trademark of the phrase "Freedom of Expression." A darker problem lies beyond the humorous absurdity of such madness. Turning all aspects of our culture into "intellectual property" squelches creativity and limits free expression. It prevents the creation of new music, art and literature. It inhibits new scientific research and business investment. In this highly readable account, BRAND NAME BULLIES explains how insidious extensions of intellectual property law are quietly privatizing American culture.

 

See also: Righting Copyright: Fair Use and "Digital Environmentalism" by Robert S. Boyton @ Bookforum

 

clock Posted Wed Feb 2nd, 2005 - 11:22pm by CPC  Return to home page Top of page


 

Spam, Horrible Spam

I cannot remember a day when I have checked my e-mail and have NOT received the gift of SPAM. Seems that plenty of nice folks  -- very kindly  -- csd spamwant to share their sources for cheap pharmaceuticals, penis enlargement, pirated software and unbelievably low rates on home mortgages. Increasingly -- and despite three layers of anti-spam protection -- I still get several of these messages per day, along with a dose of graphic pornographic images that would make a pirate blush.

Friends and colleagues have abandoned long used e-mail addresses, just to get away from the constant deluge. My wisdom on this is that it is akin to arbitrarily changing the numbers on your house.  It may confuse the postman for a day or two, but everyone is still going to find you.

The best wisdom I've heard for curbing spam, is to start charging a penny for every e-mail sent.  This would not hurt you or I as even the cost of sending several thousand e-mails per month could be absorbed into a small increase in ISP fees.  However, for the kind folks that send out !,000,000 e-mails or more -- it gets pricey to continue to do so!

A sad thought occurred to me this morning: There are probably more folks out there who think of spam as unwanted e-mail, instead of the fabulous luncheon meat that it is! 

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, wonderful Spam!!!  

 

See: The Monty Python sketch

Hear: the Spam song here

See: Fun stuff to do with Spam

Also: Today's NYT article: Law Barring Junk E-Mail Allows a Flood Instead

Update: Spam Costs U.S. Nearly $22 Billion Annually; National Survey Finds 22.9 Million Hours a Week Wasted on Spam

 

clock Posted Tue Feb 1st, 2005 - 11:48am by CPC  Return to home page Top of page