Good news: there was no major snow storm in Montréal this March. So, March 2005 came in like a lamb, and goes out like a lamb. Not too baaaad.
Speaking of pulling wool, last evening, the CBC's Fifth Estate re-aired the January Sticks and Stones story as their final installment for the 2004 season.
Again, I found a lot to agree about in this story. In short, Fox News, and other so called US media outfits are selling ideological snake oil.
From the CBC web site Program Guide:
Wednesday, March 30, 2005, 9:00 p.m.
Sticks and Stones
Forget the American melting pot. Today, the United States is like a nation of warring factions, where the political debate has become a yelling match between two extremes. Where once opposing political views were tolerated if not respected, there now exists a very un-civil state of affairs. It's right versus left, Republican versus Democrat, blue state versus red state.
Nowhere is this change more obvious than in the media. Talk radio and TV have become the new forum for the gladiators in this war; words the new weapons. The biggest mouths have become the biggest stars-Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter rail against what they call the liberal enemy. These days, when Americans say "liberal" or "conservative', they mean something far more profound-something that describes the fundamental way someone looks at the world; almost like a religion. And these days, it seems, everybody in the United States belongs to one camp or the other.
In Sticks and Stones, the fifth estate's Bob McKeown talks to some of the biggest stars on the left and the right of this great national, even continental, divide.
REPEAT AIRING CC
see previous entry: Sticks and Stones
The Boyfriend Arm Pillow (manufactured by Kameo), is targeted towards Japanese single women.
The pillow resembles a man's torso, shoulder and arm, offering a cozy space sized to fit and comfort its lonely owner.
It comes with two removable shirts its owner can use to bone-up on washing and pressing. One model also doubles as an alarm clock that shakes to wake its sleeping companion.
‘It has been so successful we have had to draw up a waiting list,"
A spokesman for Kameo said. "Women of all ages have been queuing round
the block to take one home.’
Priced at around $74, the pillow is currently available only in Japan - though, according to press reports, Kameo may soon be exporting it to Britain.
This product is similar to the Hizamakura, being marketed towards Japanese men, and is essentially a pillow shaped like a woman's lap.
See: Lap of Comfort
"Blogging, Journalism, and Credibility: Battleground and Common Ground," a conference held in late January at Harvard, featured a group of fifty journalists, bloggers, news executives, media scholars and librarians trying to make sense of the new media environment. The relationship between bloggers and journalists was a particular focus. Since the conference, the resignation of CNN's Eason Jordan and the Jeff Gannon White House scandal have only underscored the power of weblogs as a new form of citizens' media. We are entering an era in which professionals have lost their monopoly over information--not just the reporting of it, but also the framing of what's important for the public to know. Have blogs chipped away at the credibility of mainstream media? How have they influenced the way news is being reported? Is credibility a zero-sum game--in which credibility gained by blogs is lost by mainstream media and vice versa? Conference participants put their minds to these questions, among many others.
Read the rest here.
Who can forget the joy of mixing up a tiny cake mix and cooking it with the warm glow of a light bulb? We didn't seem to care that it was only about 3 bites worth - it was damn tasty, and homemade with our own grubby little hands. Now the computer savvy among us can relive the fun of having your very own personal mini-oven with the PC Ez-Bake oven! It fits in a 5 1/4" drive bay and plugs right into your power supply with the included Molex connector. Also included is "PC Ez-Cook", the open-source oven controller software with hundreds of easy and creative recipes for your PC Ez-Bake oven, and even a fuzzy-logic cooking control system to precisely measure the doneness of your cake, cookie, or cheese soufflé. The PC Ez-Bake oven can even be used to cook your Pop Tarts, Bagel Bites, or any tiny or flat food. YUM!
Check it out here.
The Reverend Dr. Stephanie J. Nagley
E.B. White watched his wife Katherine planning the planting of bulbs in her garden in the last autumn of her life. He wrote: "There was something comical yet touching in her bedraggled appearance…the hunched over figure in studied absorption that there would be another spring, oblivious to the ending of her own days, which she knew perfectly well was near, sitting there with her detailed chart under the dark skies of October, calmly plotting the resurrection."
In the certainty of her own death, Katherine White calmly plotted the resurrection.
Perhaps we shouldn't be astonished at her courage or defiance for she plotted that resurrection in the same way all resurrections, big and small, make their start. The seeds are sown in the dark, the place of suffering and insecurity where we are certain the light is gone and death is the only thing of which we can be certain.
Easter is a plot. Easter is a resurrection conspiracy that begins in the dark, where hope and the possibility of life and light seem impossible.
And so our story of Easter begins in the gospel account of John like this: "Early on the first day of the week when it was still dark…" Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb. What is going through her mind as she approached? Was there a possibility that it was all a dream, the kind of nightmare we've all experienced when we awake in a cold sweat and shaking until we are finally able to say "…there, there it was only a dream". Mary goes to the tomb. If that grave is real, if that death is real her last act of love is to do what she is called to do by custom. If that grave is real, if that death is real she can only weep, for all is lost.
Her grief must be intense for Jesus gave her something no one else had given her. What she had done with her life didn't matter. Her station in life didn't matter. In him, through his eyes she saw her true self for the first time. In him, through his eyes, she saw a life that could be, should be, would be prized. In him, through his eyes she saw hope. He accepted her just as she was, with all her secrets, with all that was unacceptable to others. Her grief must be intense for with his death her hope died.
Easter begins in the dark. Easter begins in the bone chilling awareness of loss. Easter begins with the death of hope. If only it didn't come that way. If only Easter could be about bunnies and new hats, pretty dresses and chocolate. But, Easter doesn't come that way. There is no way around or over what it takes to bring the resurrection about. The only way to new life is through tears and despair. The resurrection can't happen without the darkness that precedes it. I wish it were different. I would give anything if it were different, but this is a true story, this is our story, these are the circumstances through which we realize new life...
Read the rest.
A Barrel of Monkeys is an archaic game involving plastic monkeys, a plastic barrel and (presumably) plastic fun. Of more interest is the expression "more fun then a barrel full of monkeys", which interestingly enough seems to predate the rather mediocre game.
A considerable debate continues to rage about this phrase, with occasional drunken brawls livening the discussion from time to time. What, exactly, is so much fun about a barrel of monkeys? How many monkeys are in a barrel? What kind of monkey? What size of barrel? What sort of sandwich would a barrel monkey like? What color would the monkeys like the barrel painted? If they were to go over the Niagara Falls in that barrel, would it be fun? And do you have to be alive to have fun?
These and other earth shattering problems prompted the "1st Annual Monkey Barrel Conference" in Berne, Switzerland, on Dec 5, 1995. A number of things quickly became apparent...
While that particular debate rages on, here's a website that is really a ton o' fun (where you can read about gadgets, trends, robots, entertainment, and the world of design): http://www.we-make-money-not-art.com/
-E. Pauline Johnson (1861-1913)
I'm decidedly not vegetarian. However, I was recently talking to a friend about how I don't (as a general rule) eat animals that have been given a first name. See, I figure that naming a critter kind of makes it a pet, and eating someone's pet is definitely not cool.
This photo has been floating around the 'net for at least 12 years.
I have no idea where it came from, or what it's supposed to depict (apart from the obvious) -- but I did think that it would be fun to have a captioning contest around it.
I'll get us started:
"Jim Bob was forever emotionally scarred after that fateful day his Mom made him bring Rusty to auction."
What did a 17th Century French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher have to do with the invention of the Internet? Who was Charles Babbage, and how did he built the first computer in the early 1800's?
See also: The Difference Engine
Every now and again there comes a sort of subsonic disturbance in the blogosphere inhabited by the Evangelical Christian community, which makes folks stop in their tracks for just a moment. One such occasion has been the recent entry on Ragamuffin Ramblings which attempts to shine light on the conservative Christian community, with regards to some rather un-Christ like attitudes and rhetoric towards the homosexual community (posted February 28th, 2005).
The Samaritan Story - Redux
I've been blogging since October of 2003. Regular readers will nod their head in agreement when I describe myself as a conservative. Certainly politically.
There might be some on the right who would question my conservative credentials theologically, given recent musings, but overall, I continue to say that I'm more right than I am wrong left spiritually.
It's to my conservative friends, especially theologically, that I address this post to.
I have not used this forum to launch rants aimed at homosexuality or more specifically, homosexuals. I've not done so purposely and with forethought.
I've come to a position on this subject that concludes that Christians have spent far too much time and effort vilifying the homosexual community. That's not to say that I see the behavior as something we should embrace, endorse or give sanction to. Not at all. I can't get around what Scripture has to say about the subject. Yet, neither can I get around New Testament emphasis on redemption and the fact that all are redeemable, most especially those who sin and have done so consistently. I believe it was Paul who called himself chief sinner. He seemed accepted, fully, by Christ Himself. Gives this sinner hope.
But I digress... somewhat. (read the rest here)
I have green on the brain.
check out: Cine Gael Montreal, the 2005 Irish Film Festival
Festivale Transformation was the second annual conference which encompassed seminars, workshops and artistic media events, seeking to foster reflection and dialogue regarding the arts and Christian spirituality -- in and throughout the greater Montreal community.
From the 2005 IN VIVO web site:
We wish to create a space where artists and friends of the arts can connect and contribute to a better understanding of the role and the reciprocal influence of faith, arts and culture.
I attended the keynote session with Nigel Goodwin, founder of the Genesis Arts Trust in the U.K., and found his talk riveting as per usual! I always get a right-brained charge out of hearing him speak or preach!
Once again, Quebeckers are reminded by our benevolent government as the to depths of our collective profound stupidity -- as the Supreme Court decides to uphold a draconian law which dictates that yellow-coloured margarine cannot be sold in this province. It seems that we poor unfortunates cannot be trusted to be able to discriminate margarine from butter. I can remember that 30 years ago, they used to at least allow margarine to be sold with a small package of food colouring (but sadly, once we colour margarine ourselves, we are also lost). Thank you Quebec Superior Court (and the Federal Supreme Court) for protecting our distinctly white margarine! Without your constant vigilance, we might mistakenly identify ourselves as Canadians.
Keep the lid on yellow margarine: Supreme Court Last Updated Mar 18 2005 01:50 PM EST CBC News
OTTAWA – Quebecers will continue to eat white margarine after the Supreme Court rejected Unilever's argument it should be allowed to sell yellow margarine in the province.
The justices ruled immediately after Unilever lawyer Gérald Tremblay's hour-long appearance, rejecting all aspects of his argument.
The court decided it didn't want to hear from the Quebec government or from lawyers for the dairy industry.
The decision to reject the appeal upholds two lower court rulings from the Quebec Superior Court and the Quebec Court of Appeal that the province can prevent the sale of yellow margarine.
Former Quebec premier Robert Bourassa passed the law in 1987, saying it protected the dairy industry and ensured consumers would not confuse margarine with butter.
Unilever, a British-Dutch company, argued that the law reduced margarine sales in Quebec, raised the cost of producing white margarine for Quebec only and contravened the North American Free Trade Agreement and World Trade Organization rules.
But the ruling isn't the end of Quebec's margarine saga.
Quebec will soon have to defend its law under a special committee on interprovincial trade requested by Alberta.
Patrick was kidnapped from the British mainland around age 16, and shipped to Ireland as a slave. He was sent to the mountains as a shepherd, and spent much of his time in prayer. Six years later , he had a dream in which he was commanded to return to Britain; seeing this as a sign from God, he escaped. After Studying in continental monasteries he became a Priest, and later a Bishop. He was sent by Pope Celestine to evangelize England, then Ireland -- where, in 33 years, he effectively converted all of Ireland to Christianity.
During the Middle Ages Ireland became known as the Land of Saints, and during the Dark Ages its monasteries were considered the great repositories of learning in Europe -- all as a consequence of Patrick's ministry.
See: Erin Go Brae!
I came to the Irish people to preach the Gospel and endure the taunts of unbelievers, putting up with reproaches about my earthly pilgrimage, suffering many persecutions, even bondage, and losing my birthright of freedom for the benefit of others.
If I am worthy, I am ready also to give up my life, without hesitation and most willingly, for Christ's name. I want to spend myself for that country, even in death, if the Lord should grant me this favor.
It is among that people that I want to wait for the promise made by him, who assuredly never tells a lie. He makes this promise in the Gospel: "They shall come from the east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." This is our faith: believers are to come from the whole world.
from the Confession of Saint Patrick
Christ shield me this day:
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
Saint Patrick, from his breastplate
I caught most of an interview with Tom Fenton last night, who was plugging his book entitled Bad News. He's been preaching what I have been saying for years about the decline of the media -- however, he's a respected career journalist with a great book on a timely subject, while I'm just a wanna-be crank with a sad little blog and scores of things to rant about.
Bad News : The Decline of Reporting, the Business of News, and the Danger to Us All
by Tom Fenton
Review from Publishers Weekly (Mar. 1)
What makes this discourse on the current state of broadcast news such a gripping read is not that it critiques the establishment—it's the specific nature of Fenton's complaint. The author, who's been reporting for CBS News for 34 years, accuses the industry not just of having a political bias, but of being supremely lazy and incompetent. Fenton shares his own opinions, but buttresses them with sharp interviews from the Big Three (Brokaw, Rather, Jennings) and elder statesman Cronkite, who, not surprisingly, is most forthcoming, admitting he doesn't even watch the CBS Evening News anymore: "Nothing there but crime and sob sister material." Fenton lays out the hows and whys of what he sees as the problems present in today's news media (largely broadcast news) with exacting logic. After the end of the Cold War, an unfortunate confluence of factors—including the lack of a pervasive threat that might keep audiences attuned to foreign news, a growing herd mentality within the media, and "cutbacks, bottom-line fever, and CEO-mandated news criteria"—resulted in an industry wide dumbing-down and a decline in ratings. Along with this well-structured explanation of what's wrong and how to fix it, Fenton also provides a convenient guide to the biggest underreported stories and why they're important.
Book description from publisher:
In his long journalistic experience as the senior European correspondent for CBS News, Tom Fenton has reported on everything from the fall of the Shah of Iran to the movements of al Qaeda throughout Europe -- a story he was tracking before 9/11. And in the three years since that fateful day, he has come to a sobering realization: Our once-noble news media -- and network TV news in particular -- have abdicated their responsibility to the American people, and endangered us in the process.
As Fenton points out, much of the United States still depends on the networks for most of its information about the world. But after the fall of the Soviet Union, the networks gutted their news-gathering operations -- just as the old Cold War status quo was shattering -- leaving behind an unstable and violent new world order. Once a public service, the network news was commandeered by its corporate parents as a cash cow. In-depth reporting on critical issues was replaced with saturation coverage of sensationalistic crime stories and simpleminded "news you can use." Even as genocide spread through Africa -- and Islamic terror festered in the Middle East -- international reporting disappeared almost entirely from the airwaves. And Americans were left uninformed, unable to judge the accuracy of politically biased stories (on both sides of the spectrum), and utterly unprepared for the war on terror about to descend on their doorstep.
In Bad News, Tom Fenton offers a fiery indictment of just how far "the news" has fallen. As a frequent voice in the wilderness himself -- who fought in vain to interest CBS in an Osama bin Laden interview in the 1990s -- Fenton reveals a news-gathering environment gutted by corporate bottom-lining bottom-feeders, staffed by dilatory producers and executives (who dismissed important stories as depressing or obscure), and dangerously dependent on images and information gathered by third-party sources. In hard-hitting interviews with Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Tom Brokaw, he exposes how even the anchors themselves believed they were outlandishly compensated -- while quality coverage was being slashed. And he charges that the news media must lose its entertainment-industry mindset and reestablish its role as a keeper of the public trust.
"This is not just a book," writes Fenton. "This is the beginning of a campaign to galvanize America. We need more and better news. Our lives depend on it."
May those who love us, love us.
For those who don't, may God turn their hearts.
And if He cannot turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles
so we may know them by their limping.
-Irish Proverb (author unknown)
Agence France-Presse - From correspondents in Dhaka March 11, 2005
HEALTH chiefs in Bangladesh have launched a drive to evict some 200 cats living in the wards of the country's premier public hospital, officials said.
For years the cats have roamed freely about the hospital, establishing a "mini-kingdom" of their own and growing fat on the food meant for patients, the hospital officials said.
But now a team of ward assistants armed with traps and sacks has swung into action to eject the feline invaders.
"We've caught scores of cats and sent them to exile in faraway places so that they cannot come back to the hospital again," administrator of Dhaka Medical College Hospital Brigadier General M.A. Matin told AFP.
"The operation will continue as along as a single cat remains in the hospital. Our aim is to create a hygienic atmosphere," Matin added.
The eviction drive was launched after patients complained that the hospital had been invaded by hundreds of cats who treated it as their home, other officials said.
The captured cats have been released on the far side of Dhaka's Buriganga river, around five kilometers from the hospital.
The 1700-bed Dhaka Medical College Hospital is the country's premier state-owned hospital.
Due to government subsidies, it is also the country's cheapest hospital attracting hundreds of poor who go there for medical treatment each day.
If still unconvinced that cats are plotting to take over the world, see also My Cat Hates You.
"The Internet changes everything."
How often have we heard or thought this? My first job was working for the Dorval city library when I was 15. Two or three nights a week, I would be the guy at the desk -- and I could read all I wanted, having little or no supervision (and often, few visitors). Being an amazingly well stocked library, they had a vast array of magazine subscriptions -- I would pour over new ones for hours! It was incredible... there were periodicals about every subject or interest imaginable. This is also the time that I fed a growing passion for Science Fiction, and I read ever single collection of SF short stories I could get my hands on. What was more incredible, is that this was 1974, and there was not even a thought that there would ever be a computer in the library building, let alone such a thing as the Internet. With everything I had ever read to that point, there had never been such an wild idea or fantasy as that which would come.
The Internet is truly incredible on so many levels, and it will surely continue to shape our lives and our society for years to come. My question is, what is next? If we could have not have seen the Internet coming 30 years ago (in our wildest imaginations), then what else could -- or is about to emerge -- that will inextricably change how we live, learn and communicate with one another?
All this to say, I still make lots of room in my life for books and magazines. While the 'Net is great for a quick information "fix", it cannot replace the multi-sensual experience of a brand new (or dusty old) book or magazine.
My current favorite is Good Old Boat.
Every now and then I run across a blog that makes me think "...exactly! Why didn't I say that!" RAFwN, is such a blog, and pokes at the Liberal whosies of the Anglican and Episcopal Church.
I was interested to notice that this site lives on the same server as that which hosts the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, ACC Primate Andrew Hutchinson's previous haunt.
Anyways, great satire and comment.
Oy (fist pumping in air)!! The Anglican Underground Rulz!!
Oh man, I am sooo excited!
Doctor Who is the world's longest-running science-fiction television program, having originally aired on the BBC in the United Kingdom from 1963 to 1989, spawning a movie revival in 1996, and soon to return to television in a new series airing on BBC One, starting on March 26, 2005. The first episode will air in Canada in April.
Chronicling the adventures of eight Doctors and more than twenty companions against countless foes -- human, alien and otherwise -- throughout time and space, Doctor Who remains the greatest example of the genre. Doctor Who has also thrived in other media, appearing in print, on stage, on film, on radio, and elsewhere. Today, the legacy of Doctor Who is perpetuated in a range of original novels and a series of full-cast audio dramas.
Doctor Who is about the Doctor, an alien Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who, by virtue of his people's unique physiology, is able to recover from mortal injuries by "regenerating" into a new body with a new personality. In direct contravention of his people's edicts, the Doctor fled Gallifrey in a stolen time machine -- a TARDIS -- which is now stuck in the shape of a blue British police box due to a malfunction. The Doctor traverses the universe, usually in the company of companions he meets along the way -- aiding the oppressed, fighting injustice, and putting his unique and indelible mark on the broad canvas of time and space.
I've seen nearly every episode (including a few "lost episodes" from the very early classic series), and won't miss any of the new one. Doctor Who is way more intelligent than the original Star Trek, and far less predictable than the spin-offs from that franchise.
Doctor Who web site at BBC the classic cult Doctor Who series at BBC Doctor Who at Wikipedia
Posted Sat Mar 12th, 2005 - 7:09am by CPC Top of page
For the last few weeks, our Pastor has been giving sermons based upon the Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman.
Essentially, Chapman says that we give and receive love in languages, while each of us has "receiving" languages that are particularly tuned to any two of the following:
My two Love Languages are Words of Affirmation and Physical touch. That said, now I have to figure out why I recoil in abject horror whenever anyone who speaks these languages approaches me. Kidding (sort of)!
Here's a review/synopsis of the book:What's the Needle on your Love Tank? by Janet Boyer
How's your relationship with your mate? Your children? Your parents? Your siblings? It may be a matter of the state of the "love tank".
Author Gary Chapman in his book "The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate" believes everyone has a love tank, and that tank is filled by different love languages. These five languages are Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Quality of Time, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.
Often, we tend to give love in the languages we are most fluent in, which usually ends up being the languages that fill up our love tank. This would be why a husband who does yard work, dishes, car maintenance, etc. (Acts of Service) is floored when his wife says "You never show me you love me. You never cuddle with me, or caress my hair, or make the first move for sex." (Physical Touch). Or, "Why don't you spend time with me? Why do you work so much?" (Quality Time). And, "Why don't you buy me flowers? Why don't you ever get me cards or balloons...just because?" (Gifts) Or "You never tell me what I mean to you. Why don't you ever share with me what I mean to you, or what my good qualities are?" (Words of Affirmation) But, if her language is primarily Acts of Service, she'll feel so loved and honored because her husband does so many things for her, and thus feels "full" in her love tank.
This may not sound like a big deal, but considering the divorce rate is 50% (as one relationship instance), and so many seem to be unhappy with their primary relationships, the concept of love languages may very well be a significant factor in understanding self and others, and in relationship growth. Perhaps relationships get rocky or arrive at an impasse because individuals are speaking a different love language than what fills up the "love tank" of the object of their affection...and a result, the recipient doesn't feel loved. It's not that they feel empty and unfulfilled because love isn't being given, but because the language "spoken" is not something that registers to the recipient as a form of love.
Chapman further theorizes that we usually have 2 main love languages that fill up our tank. He also says that if a person has a hard time identifying their main love languages, they've either been on empty for so long and are out of touch with their needs, or they have been so filled up by their spouse, that all 5 languages tend to speak to them equally.
A story in the book that illustrates the love tank theory is the "burnt toast syndrome". A woman was sick in bed. Her husband would always bring her burnt toast to her when she was ailing. She was so hurt and offended by this repeated insensitivity and ignorance, that she finally burst into tears one day, and asked him why he did that...and didn't he care? She was floored to hear him say "I'm sorry honey. I had no idea. Burnt toast is my favorite, and I gave you what I would consider my favorite breakfast...burnt toast."
Chapman writes: "When your spouse's emotional love tank is full and he feels secure in your love, the whole world looks right and your spouse will move out to reach his highest potential in life. But when the love tank is empty and he feels used but not loved, the whole world looks dark and he will likely never reach his potential for good in the world."
I recommend this book highly. It could very well be a relationship saver!
Posted Fri Mar 11th, 2005 - 10:50am by CPC Top of page
I've been thinking about all of the creative projects I have lying about in various stages of completion. Makes me feel guilty... goals set, then ignored or forgotten! The problem is finding a way to blend inspiration and spontaneity, while suspending self-criticism or other negative judgment on the anticipated outcome. Silliness!
Here's part of a song started in May 31, 2001. Intended to be a Celtic lament, inspired by the late Autumn North Atlantic storms off the Avalon Peninsula of my home (Newfoundland).
big deep oceanA late October storm tempers along the banks Where great grey waves churn and roar the waters pain upon abrupt endings to winds long traveled run A Northwest gale throwing up a cold salt mist while the weary beach head gives up her delicate shore and tuckamore trees bend to the tempest’s will I am but a speck on the distant cold horizon yet tender roll the waters deep I am but a speck on the distant cold horizon yet tender roll the waters deep
Note to self: I have to get this finished and recorded!
Posted Thu Mar 10th, 2005 - 10:45pm by CPC Top of page
Some web sites are just too much fun. Check out Spamusement, described by the author as "poorly-drawn cartoons inspired by actual spam subject lines!"
See also: Spam, Horrible Spam
Posted Wed Mar 9th, 2005 - 11:11pm by CPC Top of page
A so handy guide in these times of fear unrest: How to Survive a Nuclear Blast – a recent article available thanks to those hard-working folks at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
I have printed a copy, and keep it next to my supply of duct tape and rolls of plastic.
See also: Duck and Cover, 1951 See also: Duck and Cover Exercises
No nukes! Everyone just take a pill and disarm now puhlease!!
Posted Tue Mar 8th, 2005 - 8:34am by CPC Top of page
My good friend C. reminded me of the John Wyndham novel last week, so it's been on my mind -- and therefore very worthy of a re-read.
John Wyndham is a master of tightly-focused disaster stories, and The Day of the Triffids is his calling card. It's set in England in his own time (1951 is the original publication date), but in a world with a vital difference from ours: tall, three-legged ambulatory plants have been discovered growing everywhere. The plants, dubbed triffids, can be crushed to produce a delicate pink oil, far more nutritious and tasty than fish oil, and they become extensively cultivated despite their poisonous whiplash stings. They are harmless enough, although they do enjoy a nice bit of decaying carrion... (yum!).
The story opens as Bill Masen, eyes bandaged from an industrial accident, wakes in a hospital to an eerie silence. No doctors, no nurses, no breakfast. He removes his bandages, only to find that everyone else in the surrounding city seems to be blind. In fact, everyone in the world is blind, due to the previous night's light-show of beautiful green shooting stars, attributed to comet debris. As Masen goes in search of help and food, the panic and desperation of a blinded populace is revealed.
Masen finds a woman who also escaped blindness, and the two join other sighted survivors. They are few, and they determine to escape the chaos of London's fall and start a new life in the country. But one of the survivors forces them to face the responsibility of caring for some of the blinded people. Trapped in the city, Masen loses the woman, and as he searches for her, he encounters triffids on the hunt.
Humanity plants the seeds of its own demise
The Cold War was clearly preying on Wyndham's mind when he wrote The Day of the Triffids. The triffids themselves, although seemingly extraterrestrial, are given a flashback origin in the depths of biologically irresponsible Russia. The hero attributes the comet debris-induced blindness to satellite weapons systems. But the trick of catalytically combining these ingredients into an Armageddon scenario is what really gives the book its tension. Early on, Wyndham drops clues like mad, as the hero reflects on his coworker's distrust of the triffids: "We can see, and they can't. Take away our vision, and the superiority is gone."
Tales of survival against the odds are always interesting, and Wyndham has a heyday showing the decay of the cities, and images of pretty, rural England lapsing from cultivated meadows back to bog. And there's a piquant, stiff-upper-lip savor to the British public school diction, which came naturally to Wyndham but which rings imposingly -- almost officiously -- on the modern ear.
But it is Wyndham's investigation of the morality of survival strategies that sticks with you: the individual vs. the group, the loss of societal restraints, considerations of feudalism and territorialism. The triffids provide an external pressure that forces hard choices on the characters. And it's all packaged in an adventurous yarn with a dash of romance.
Here's a review by Steve Silver the Publisher's blurb (Rosetta)
Posted Mon Mar 7th, 2005 - 8:24am by CPC Top of page
By Phillip Carter and Paul Glastris
The United States has occupied many foreign lands over the last half century—Germany and Japan in World War II, and, on a much smaller scale, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo in the 1990s. In all these cases, we sponsored elections and handed-off to democratic governments control of countries that were relatively stable, secure, and reasonably peaceful.
In Iraq, we failed to do this, despite heroic efforts by U.S. and coalition troops. The newly-elected Iraqi government inherits a country in which assassinations, kidnappings, suicide bombings, pipeline sabotages, and beheadings of foreigners are daily occurrences. For the last eight months, the ranks of the insurgency have been growing faster than those of the security forces of the provisional Iraqi government—and an alarming number of those government forces are secretly working for the insurgency. American-led combat operations in Ramadi and Fallujah killed large numbers of the enemy, but at the price of fanning the flames of anti-American hatred and dispersing the insurrection throughout Iraq. Despite nearly two years of effort, American troops and civilian administrators have failed to restore basic services to much of the central part of the country where a majority of Iraqis live. The U.S. military has not even been able to secure the 7-mile stretch of highway leading from the Baghdad airport to the Green Zone where America's own embassy and the seat of the Iraqi government are headquartered.
The only effective solution to the manpower crunch is the one America has turned to again and again in its history: the draft. Not the mass combat mobilizations of World War II, nor the inequitable conscription of Vietnam—for just as threats change and war-fighting advances, so too must the draft. A modernized draft would demand that the privileged participate. It would give all who serve a choice over how they serve. And it would provide the military, on a “just in time” basis, large numbers of deployable ground troops, particularly the peacekeepers we'll need to meet the security challenges of the 21st century.
America has a choice. It can be the world's superpower, or it can maintain the current all-volunteer military, but it probably can't do both...
Posted Sun Mar 6th, 2005 - 7:44pm by CPC Top of page
I'm a big time knuckle cracker, and seldom annoyed when other people crack theirs -- but always amused when cracking mine bothers others. I've been frequently told that people cracking their knuckles would eventually experience arthritis as a result. However, according to this NY Times article (republished in the Arizona Republic) it's not true. It's an urban legend.
Warning, just reading this description of what causes knuckles to crack could make you cringe: The loud pop of a cracked knuckle is caused by synovial fluid, the thick lubricant that surrounds every joint. When the fingers are stretched or bent backward, the bones of the joint pull apart. This creates bubbles of air in the fluid, which subsequently burst.
For the evidence that knuckle cracking doesn't cause arthritis, the article cites a 1990 study: The largest study to explore a link to arthritis was published in 1990 in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. It looked at 300 healthy people older than 45, 74 of them habitual knuckle crackers. The rates of arthritis of the hand were similar in both groups, though the knuckle crackers, on average, had reduced grip strength.
Oh, I feel a great big crack coming on!
Posted Sat Mar 5th, 2005 - 7:22pm by CPC Top of page
Prime Minister Paul Martin said Thursday that Canada would not join the contentious U.S. missile defense program, a decision that will further strain brittle relations between the neighbors but please Canadians who fear it could lead to an international arms race. (not sure who he is trying to placate, perhaps the Liberal Women's Caucus and whining Quebecers who aren't going to vote for him no matter how much he plays the anti-American card).
The Bush administration has tried to make a public show of understanding that Martin heads up a minority government that could fall over such a contentious debate. But after the announcement, U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci told reporters he was perplexed over Canada's decision, which he said effectively allows Washington to decide what to do if a missile was headed toward Canada.
"We simply cannot understand why Canada would in effect give up its sovereignty — its seat at the table — to decide what to do about a missile that might be coming towards Canada," said the outgoing ambassador, who had vigorously urged Canada to sign on the plan.
Martin, ending nearly two years of debate over whether Canada should participate in the development or operation of the multibillion-dollar program, insisted his decision had not relinquished Canada's sovereignty over its airspace and that Ottawa would expect to be consulted what to do about any missile passing over Canada.
"We are certainly intending to defend our sovereignty and our air space and if anything develops in our air space, we expect, as a sovereign state, to be notified and have influence on any decisions," he said. "Canada's a sovereign nation and we would expect and insist on being consulted on any intrusion into our air space."
gnotalex writes: Listen up, Flipper. I'll speak slowly. Clap your fins together and make occasional oik-oik chitchit! noises. Now, where's Timmy and what have you done with him?
If a missile enters Canadian airspace it'll be traveling a polar route. I haven't worked out the distances, but a North Korean missile shot at the western US would likely be on a flatter trans-Pacific trajectory. (And given the likely accuracy of it, I wouldn't feel too comfortable in Vancouver or Victoria if they aimed it at Seattle, or San Francisco, for that matter.) If the Norks do come across the pole, that missile will be at terminal velocity about 100km over Canada as it enters its ballistic phase.
At that point it is about 2 to 3 minutes from target. If you think the Americans are going to be phoning around the world trying to figure out which dictator's behind you're smooching on your next "Soft Power" tour you are kidding yourself. They will order the shootdown and if they are wringing their hands about not getting your permission, they might drop you a letter in the next diplomatic pouch apologizing for it.
Or maybe not.
What makes this exceptionally idiotic, even for you, is that we've already signed on to missile defence at least insofar in that we've agreed to forward all relevant targeting information from our assets in NORAD to NORTHCOM, charged with running the ABM program. See this exchange of letters in August, 2004 from Canadian ambassador Michael Kergin to then-US Sec. of State Colin Powell confirming the agreement.
That's all the Americans were asking for. That's what we gave them. And now you want to run around waving your hands and yelling about your new-found virginity, to placate some of the stupidest people in this country.
They must be shaking their heads in Washington. They thought they were dealing with adults and instead they found a pack of petulant, sulky teenagers on the other end of the line.
Robert Fulford, in a piece in the National Post some years ago, put it best:
Dean Acheson, the designer of American strategy in the Cold War, tried hard to give Canada the respect we yearned for, but he wrote an essay ("Canada: Stern Daughter of the Voice of God") to let it be known that our role as broker made us no better than a footnote and our habit of scolding the Americans was annoying if occasionally amusing.
Except now we can no longer invoke the presumptive moral authority of God; and so must make do with the collective braintrust of the Liberal Party. Not a good exchange, all things considered.
Posted Fri Mar 4th, 2005 - 8:45am by CPC Top of page
Silly Americans. More passenger trucks are now being sold than cars in the U.S. -- by something like a factor of two. Trucks are not only cheaper to manufacture (therefore more profitable to sell), but are not required to have nearly the mandatory (and costly to retro-engineer) safety features as passenger cars. No wonder these massive gas guzzlers are being pushed on the public by the auto makers. Sad thing is that they are being projected as big and safe and solid, and just the thing you want to be in if you happen to get involved in a vehicular accident. Gotta be bigger and heavier than the other guy is all! Cost to run? Oil is cheap and plentiful right? Especially factoring in the spoils of the Iraq war. Whoo hoo!
However, even the U.S. Government is taking notice and expressing concern about the ridiculous number of deaths caused by SUV roll-overs (folks, these things were NEVER engineered for hiway driving!!!). Take a look at the SUVEE web site.
"Anyone can ride an ESUVEE, but not everyone rides 'em right. Knowing and respecting your ESUVEE can reduce the chance your ESUVEE will have a rollover. There are a few things you can do to keep your ESUVEE on all fours, and that's the idea, right?"
Is animating a monster truck really what it's going to take to make folks finally understand the danger of high centre of gravity one-ton vehicles careening down the hiway at 7 second zero to sixty times? Nah. Just make 'em bigger and faster! Sheesh.see: Humming for Hummers see: You Smell Like a Hummer
Posted Thu Mar 3rd, 2005 - 11:39pm by CPC Top of page
As an adopted son of Texan (most of the time removed), I would be remiss in not noting that today (March 2nd) is Texas Independence Day.
Texas holds the unique distinctions of being the only sovereign nation, one that held its own revolution and had its own independent government, that ever went on to became a member of the united states. It was the only state which asked for--and received--the right to unilaterally secede as part of its admission to the union.
It is also only state which by protocol is allowed to fly its flag at the same level as the Stars & Stripes, rather than underneath it.
There's no other U.S. state like it, and miss that crazy place when I'm away. Yee haw!
Posted Wed Mar 2nd, 2005 - 7:35pm by CPC Top of page
The current worst kept secret in Washington D.C. is the Bush Administration's vitriolic displeasure with Canada. John Gibson of Fox News follows the angry mob with a pitchfork and this bleat.see: Rice postpones Ottawa trip after missile defence snub see: Rice to meet with Canadian diplomats see: Ballistic Missile Defense - CBC Television web site
Report warns of rising tide of U.S. 'anti-Canadianism'
by Scott Stinson, National Post - March 2, 2005
Canada and the United States are at their most acrimonious point in recent history, despite being more reliant on each other than ever, an assembly of 70 high-profile citizens of the two countries warns.
"It is by now evident that Canada is losing influence in Washington," says the report, the product of the American Assembly, a series of meetings last month in New York.
"At the same time that Canada has lost clout in Washington, U.S. leadership's judgment post-9/11 has been met with skepticism and even hostility by Canadians."
The report notes the relationship has been strained at other times over the past century, but "we are witnessing something new: the emergence on the right of a troubling anti-Canadianism ... that regularly contrasts American values with those of a soft and self-indulgent Canada."
"This misguided impulse pales beside the disturbing and persistent currents of anti-Americanism in Canada," the study says.
The group included Allan Gotlieb, Canada's former ambassador to the U.S.; James Blanchard, former U.S. ambassador to Canada; Quebec Premier Jean Charest; former prime minister Joe Clark; and leaders from business, academia, labour and the media.
One of the assembly's major findings was that Canada should participate in ballistic missile defence. Although the report was released yesterday, that conclusion has been overtaken by the Liberal government's decision last week to not participate.
Douglas Goold, president and chief executive of the Canadian Institute for International Affairs, a think-tank that co-sponsored the assembly, said yesterday that among the 70 attendees an "overwhelming majority thought it was in the best interests of both countries for Canada to go ahead [with ballistic missile defence], and if they were all sitting in the room today they would be extremely disappointed with the decision Paul Martin took last week."
Mr. Goold said in an interview it was generally agreed that the North American Aerospace Defense Command is one of the most successful examples of co-operation between the nations, and that its mandate should grow in the coming years to include new aspects of shared defence.
"There was also a sense that we should not just renew [NORAD], we should expand it. Far from wanting to cut back, the sense was that Canada had to play a more vigorous part" in defence.
Some of the reasons for the strained relationship between the two countries can be traced to structural reasons, such as the end of the Cold War, which eliminated a sense of mutual purpose in the face of a common threat, Mr. Goold said.
But he also noted some of the unease can be attributed to the post-9/11 U.S. focus on security issues, both at home and overseas. "What the people at the assembly said was Canada has to recognize and accept that security is a priority for the United States," Mr. Goold said. "We just have to recognize it and accept it and move forward."
Paul Cellucci, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Canada, was a keynote speaker at the American Assembly, and he told the participants that "security trumps trade, while we must keep trade flowing."
Posted Wed Mar 2nd, 2005 - 11:55am by CPC Top of page
Meet Richard Land, the Christian right leader who has Bush's ear But some church-goers want leaders to focus on poverty, war By Holly Edwards, The Tennessean Posted Tuesday, March 1st at thesmirkingchimp.com
As leader of the policy arm of the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention, Richard Land has emerged as one of the most powerful voices among the country's burgeoning evangelical movers and shakers.
He has the ear of the Bush administration through weekly teleconferences with the president's aides, and leaders of both parties routinely consult him as they shape policies and issues.
The 58-year-old Texas native, who lives in Franklin, typifies the new breed of evangelical Christian leaders who have progressed from a group of outsiders banging on the doors of government to gain influence to respected partners of the Republican Party, helping to frame and define public policy.
But a growing number of Christians, frustrated that their voices have been eclipsed, are challenging the growing influence of religious leaders such as Land. They say there's more to their faith than the views of the religious right, which, they feel, too often echo the views of the Republican Party...
Read the article here.Faith and Family web site Richard Land Live! web site
Posted Wed Mar 2nd, 2005 - 11:12am by CPC Top of page
Posted Tue Mar 1st, 2005 - 11:48am by CPC Top of page