A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

29 September 2004

Playing With My Settings

We got the pics working, now I'm looking for the post comment function.

Gotta run--having coffee at Timmy's.

And let's see if I can add a picture mid-stream.
Hmmm. Ah! I understand now.

A photo of my sister apparently in the act of strangling my neice. Posted by Hello

One of my favorite photos of my Australia trip. Looks like I'm really carving the foam, eh? Actually I'm falling off . . . Posted by Hello

It worked, Igor! It worked! Nothing can stop me now!

Be Honest

Yesterday's post was long and rambled a bit incoherently, didn't it?

What I fundamentally needed to express there was that I had become very angry for no apparent reason. The anger was aggravated by my continuing unemployment, and by the behaviour and attitudes of two groups of people, one older than myself, one younger.

But my rage was illegitimate, stemming as it did from some false conviction that the future-which-is-now was supposed to be shinier than it is. I don't really expect it to be. And it's a good world, overall. Or as Gord Downie, my Dad and my Grandfather would have it, "It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken".

I called my old boss to alleviate the unemployment problem. It looks as though I'll be trucking again for a bit, starting next week or so. Meantime, someone whose opinion I respect has suggested that rather than cast myself as a tech writer, or a marketing writer, or any of the other categories, I should try flogging some fiction.

Today's meditation: To keep this post short, I invite you to read this article, and this one.

That is all, as the original anonymous megaphoner used to say on M*A*S*H.

28 September 2004

4:30 AM. And I've already been up for an hour.

I spent part of that hour surfing the net. Found T-shirt hell. I realized I'm a bit out of step with consumerism in the "00's". People had posted pics of themselves to the site, under the name "I'm a T-shirt Hell wearing whore". Some of the pics were nudes. Curious--would these people send nude photos to a category called "I'm a Nike-wearing whore?"

Ooh--funny, though. And no, that's not a nude. You don't need me to find you nudes on the 'net, do you?

That said, some of the shirts are terrific. Prime among them: "Jesus did it for the chicks" and this one (for all you HTML geeks). But the one that had me muffling giggles reads: "WWJD?" Go look. Honourable mention also to this.

That WWJD thing bugs me anyway. Especially when you consider that some folks think Jesus would have been kicking someone's ass. I much prefer the "What Would Jerry Do?" interpretation--oh, and this.

I spent a lot of yesterday in an apparently aimless rage at not much in particular. If anyone were to ask, I suppose I'd say I felt a bit cheated--the "angry" part of the angry white male.

Why? I mean, what was I so entitled to that I feel cheated of it? Oh I don't know. I suppose it was a residual hangover from an editorial about "kids today"--written of course by someone theoretically older and wiser.

I'm no longer able by any stretch of the imagination to refer to myself as a kid. But the point of the editorial is that lacking the strong pulls of anything like a feeling of civic, religious, or moral duty, today's kids have turned what they consume into their definition. They apparently can't think either.

Hogwash. It's just that they have been given neither the incentive nor the teaching to think critically about anything. And why should they? The world, they are frequently told, promises them nothing. They have what they can grab--nothing else.

There was an article on the front page of the local daily that showed a burned-out house, with accompanying damage to the neighbour's property. One of the quotes from the resident (rental tenant) of the burned house said something like:
"Well, yeah, it was supposed to be a house-wrecking party. I mean ten people got kicked out when they sold out. And it's better if we wreck it than if some soulless corporation comes in just to knock it down anyway."

Here is a person who doubtless would scream blue murder if I incinerated his private property.

In the same establishment where I was reading this, a man in his late fifties was bitching about how he'd seen a young man with a purple mohawk walking around downtown with two goth chicks.

"Yeah, y'know, he ain't getting any jobs with that haircut." he opined.
"Uh-hu. But he doesn't give a damn anyway, right?" said another "He just wants his welfare check so he can get his drugs, and when that runs out he'll just steal something."

And here sat I, disgusted with all of them. The men in the café. The guy in the paper and his friends. The only person on the planet for whom I felt the slightest affection at that moment was the waitress, because she had coffee.

That was the sort of sullen, childish, annoyed rage I felt yesterday, when I told myself that the world was supposed to be better than this.

I grew up in the early seventies-to-eighties, like many of you. I suppose, if I thought about it much, that I rather expected to go into some sort of office-bound profession. I would work eight hours a day and come home to my wife and kids, like my father did.

Not that that was always the case--my family knew people who were divorced, drunk, or on welfare. But it was the example I had.

The Vietnam war hadn't yet ended when I entered kindergarten, and at the war's end I think there was something of a surge of optimism. The world was more peaceful. (And it always seemed to me that that trend continued right up until some crackhead at the Electoral College put Bush on the throne. I'm not blaming him for the way the world is--The hypocrite is as much a product of his times as I am).

Computers were emerging, theoretically they would make life easier for us--take some of the dull drudgery from the day-to-day. Work was mutating in interesting ways, but there was enough around if you weren't congenitally defective or lazy.

I expected to be married by the time I was twenty-five . . . three kids by now. Hmmm. Kinda missed that dealine. Damned emancipation of women, I suppose?

Where O Where did that bright shining future go? Wail! Wail!

The short answer is that I was feeling sorry for myself and deluded yesterday. It's not an uncommon phenomenon among the unemployed. There weren't never gonna be no revolution per se. The world resurged into hippidom in the nineties (a good thing) and what we're kiving through is something of a reaction from those older and more soured on their dreams than I am.

When I get sulky and childish like this I have to remind myself that we live in the world we create by our every action. It is best to hope that the just will outnumber and outlast the bastards (of all stripes), and that the struggle will always continue.

Where did that future go? I still have it here in my pocket. I dust it off once in a while. It's a bit worn but it looks a lot like I remember it.

Occasionally I think of my great-granddad. He was killed during the war (I'd better specify: World War II). Oh, not like that--he was walking home from the pub in the blackout and got hit by a car. While it might well have been the way he might have preferred to go, I can't help but think how sad it was that he didn't get to see the war end. What was on his mind, I wonder? Since the year of his death is unknown to me, did he have any idea that the war would end favourably for the Allies?

What about all the people in the US and Canada who came to the end of their lives in the midst of the depression? What was left for them but hope?

My point is that the seemingly soulless generation we are raising has its own roots. They have their beliefs and their hopes, and I hope and believe that those dreams are big enough for the world.

When next I feel angry at the stupid drivers, punk kids, or old farts, I hope I come back to this post and remember that none of this is new, or particularly special. I sometimes have visions of Joseph watching his son and shaking his head, saying:

"That kid and his long-haired friends are gonna get themselves crucified if they don't settle down!"

It's 6:10 AM now. Good day to you.

24 September 2004

Of Running and Religion

Hi. How have you been? Keeping it together?

I am. Barely, but I am. I had been feeling a bit low lately about jobs (or the lack thereof) and whatnot. I went to an EAC meeting for the first time in a while, which was both interesting and freaky. Is it really constructive for me to be attending these things (and remember that the membership cost, at $160 or so, is a good deal more than my current annual salary i.e. $0) if 2/3 of the meeting stands up and gives out that they're new-ish professionals seeking work? Seems like going to an World Food Program station to get a good meal.

So instead of buying a membership I bought a television. A rather nice one, actually. In fact, for someone like myself who's been cable-less for a year or so and confined to a 13-inch tv/vcr combo this is big-screen technology. This will come in handy when I lie on the couch all day, a move I plan to make fairly soon.

I've sort of kept up with the exercising: Due to a recent back strain I've stopped running, temporarily, but I've now clocked about 21 miles in the last three weeks. I look a bit less fat, and I feel better as well. But I haven't lost any weight. My doctor (well, the doctor I happened to see at the clinic this time) told me I have to consult a nutritionist.

There was also the vague melancholy caused by the fact that I've realised lately that I haven't spoken to certain of my old schoolmates for months. I met with one last week and said: "Wow. I sure wish I'd kept up with (this girl--let's call her Fred)".

Fred is a true success story. Single-motherhood, a good union job gone wrong, various lifestyle difficulties. Now she's a freelance writer--look for her cover story on running in a prominent Canadian women's fitness mag this week. No, of course I'm not telling you which one. Fred's identity is being kept closely guarded, right?

So today I was somewhat gratified to see her gazelle-ing around the track as I walked (briskly, but not, I hope "power-walking-ly") along.

After she'd run six laps, I waved hello and she came over. Fred is a terrific person. I admire her wholehearted devotion to herself and her lifestyle, as well as to her passion. During a discussion on the latest Persian Incursion, she burst into tears at the mere thought of "innocent victims". She argues with waving hands and a depth of belief and passion that are truly fierce. Fred can turn a dispassionate argument into a holy war.

And I'd like to say I admire that--but my admiration is tempered with something one might even refer to as mild scorn. I find her dedication a bit chilling. It's the same way I feel about meeting a truly devout proselytizing religionist. There's a little bit of me that stands back and watches the rest--I'm not a good candidate for a lynch mob.

Why the connexion? Simple: increasingly the important part of North America is becoming (thank Christ) a post-christian society. We acknowledge (I hope) our historical debt to Christian ethicists and jurists who made possible the freedom we experience today, but we cast it off when it limits us.

Fred is a devout lifestyle religionist. When I explain why I'm busy wearing out a pair of $60 shoes turning circles on a high school track she says: "I never eat anything with a label or a face," enumerating the things she doesn't eat on her fingers (of which she surprisingly has sufficient to the purpose) "and I don't eat flour or dairy."

I am reluctant to point out that the life steakless is not worth living. Myself, I hold as my motto "Moderation in all things--but don't overdo it."

This woman, perhaps 110 pounds and nearly as six-feet-tall as I am, dares to comment that her family tends to flab, pinching a fold of domed belly as she speaks.
"Think of your body as a lump of stone." she urges "That shape in there is you. Take a knife and carve it out! It's your birthright!"

I am momentarily angry with her. Is it now? Is it the birthright of starving Darfur-ans (see also) that they maintain that wonderful 22-18-24 physique? Is it the "birthright" of a man whose forebears keel over from heart attacks at seventy to live to be 100? Is it the birthright of someone I love, who has a thyroid problem, to be a triathelete?

But hey, I think to myself after a moment, it works for her. It powers her, inspires her, and fills her needs--just like religion. Although as I understand it she hates "religion" (but embraces a loosely-defined set of new-agey elements--"without all the flaky crap").

This is the post-religion spirituality. Instead of pouring our money and our time into our churches, which are at least community-based, we increasingly instead spend them on us. And while I mourn the loss of community, this is one of my atheist weeks and I have to say I can't wait to see religion dead--all of it.

Including the gospel of "health".

I mean, I'm mumble-mumble years old. Is it worth me giving up a good steak (mmmmmm), chicken cordon bleu, cheese (mmmm--mmmmmmmm!) and of all things beer, in order to be a doddering senile dotard for twenty extra years? Let's face it; by medical science alone my life expectancy is probably about eighty years if I keep relatively trim and leave off smoking. Do I want to hang about once I'm messing my pants daily and the sole surviving brain cell I have is crying softly 'cos it's all alone?

Oh--in other news: Lately I've been increasingly gravitating to atheism. More on this soon. But right now I have dinner scheduled with a friend of the SO's. It is likely there will be refined flour, alcohol, and as she puts it "pounds of meat".

I'm looking forward to it. It's not that I'm not interested in living longer--but I'd rather have something to look forward to while I'm doing it.

21 September 2004

Hullo. How are you?

I'm a little Woebegone.

Some of you may know who Garrison Keillor is. He's the gently-baritoned host of A Prairie Home Companion , which is heard on National Public Radio, weekends. The show overflows with good humour, stories, and pleasant, folksy music, all overseen by Mr. Keillor.

Keillor is also the author of a number of home-spun, down-homey books about life in a small town, or life as a radio announcer, or what-have-you.

Which is why this is rather surprising. To read it is to become aware of how much vitriol the little yellow man in the big white house has given rise to amongst the people. To hear Keillor describing him as an "Etch-A-Sketch president" and his party as "Pithecanthropus Republicanii" is not unlike the first time you heard your mother swear.

I mean really swear, not "Damn", or "bloody" (which isn't so much a swear word as an adjective), but ₤µ€λ, $λ!τ or @$$λΩ₤€.

Speaking of which:

Rewriting My Mother

This summer the SO and I spent a very pleasant and all-too-few days on an island in the Pacific, more-or-less. My parents have been waiting for enough co-op members to die in order that they might finally become full-fledged members. They have, in fact, been waiting for so long that my little sister this year asked if Mum and Dad would leave her their place on the waiting list in their will.

But I digress.

The rules at the co-op are simple but fairly strict: No construction of permanent facilities, aside from the scattered outhouses and some increasingly-cabinish structures for stretching tarps over your cooking area. Naturally, no campers (as in self-propelled-or-towed-house) are allowed--a move that should be followed by the entire nation. And while there are standpipes for water, there is no electricity. Generators are also not permitted, thank whomever you think is in charge.

Naturally, there is some need for refrigeration. At the gatehouse sit two ancient groaning freezers, and inside each are plastic water bottles filled with ice (you expected something other than ice in a freezer?). These are used to help keep perishables cool in the campsites.

On the date in question, Mum had put on a small backpack and headed up the hill to reload our cooler with ice. On the roughly 500-metre trip she met several friends, and talked with them, resulting in a total trip time of roughly one hour.

It is worth saying at this point that my mother is a very dignified, deeply Christian woman with a mild upper-class London accent. She is tolerant of children and friendly to the elderly in a very genuine way. She also understands the concept of Christian Duty to mean her--not anyone else. She is extraordinarily even-tempered and generally thinks before speaking--except when dad gets up her nose, as he does.

Upon her return, she began unloading the backpack, whereupon quoth my father, noticing that the bottles still contained water:
"Didn't you go up to get ice?"

Whereupon quoth my mother, in her upper-class London accent, for the first time in my mumble-mumble years of life:

"Oh . . . ₤µ€λ!"

There are moments when the world revolves slowly about a spindle roughly centred in your head. Your first car accident; that time you threw an iceball at your worst enemy and your teacher stuck her head up. You watch things unfold, knowing you cannot change what is about to happen, or what (as in this case) has happened.

My sister and I, seated on the opposite sides of the picnic table, exchanged incredulous looks. Did you really hear that? clearly written on each of our faces (at least on hers, and I assume on mine as well, although I have no way of knowing). Nothing was ever going to be the same again.

I'd imagine people might feel the same if the Queen hit her thumb with a hammer whilst driving the first nail on some massive public housing project and leaped around screaming "Christ on a crutch!" Come to think of it, there is a certain physical resemblance.

Then we and my father carried on as though nothing had happened. The whole thing had the sort of unreality I imagine China, or the USSR having. It had not happened, it was an un-event.


Later on that afternoon, the SO said to me:
"Did your mom say '₤µ€λ'?"

"₤µ€λed if I know" I was tempted to reply.

16 September 2004

Your Attention, Please. Ye Scurvy Dogs.

Avast thar! I be tryin' to direct yer attention to International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

It happens September 19th, which takes place around this time each year. Now you don't need to dress like a pirate, nor do you need to acessorize like one. Just talk like one. Or sing, perhaps.

For information on how to do this, refer to the site above, or to your copy of Treasure Island.

This isn't a sea chanty, but it's a great tune.

14 September 2004

Resolution: Be careful whom I hire to handle HR

Today I went for a walk on the track up at the local high school. It's something I'm trying to do regularly--at least two miles every second day or so. I walk or walk-and-run endless loops of a 400-metre track until about the time I lose count. I am greatly aided in this by the Samsung Yepp the SO gave me as a gift.

In fact, the SO's intention in giving me this device was to enable me to record my non-sequitur thoughts. Stuff along the lines of "Why do we speak of a pair of panties, but of a bra?"; also stuff more intelligent than that example, but that's the one I had handy. The SO got tired of me posing odd questions in the car, and more to the point asking her later: "What was that thing we were talking about in the car . . .?"

So my Yepp (which I notice doesn't appear on the site anymore) has a little microphone which I last used to record myself playing guitar rather badly and singing "If I had $1000000" for the SO. {You MUST go look at that site--it's truly one of the greats in the music industry, and a testament to the power of blogging}

The reason I don't use it for the purpose for which it was acquired is that I now have a blog.

So with that in mind . . .

I arrived at the track to find it more-or-less swarming with Asians (A fairer term and more accurate, I think, than "East Indians"--it's a term I learnt in Britain). Perhaps this is part of the Sikh or Hindu religion? I looked for the "Five K's" (turban, sash, bracelet, khirpan, comb, I think--ah.) but couldn't establish a pattern. Perhaps it's a matter of geographic culture, rather than religion. Still, it has appeal: Walking while thinking about the nature of God.

Speaking of which--watched "Life of Brian" again last night. Favourite quote of this viewing was "I'm a Red Sea pedestrian and proud of it!"

As I walked the track today, a gaggle of high-schoolers, estimated ages anywhere from twelve to fourteen emerged from the school and began the usual two circuits. Most of them looked like kids usually look, the boys sharp-nosed and bony, the girls still soft-faced and rounded with baby fat. Funny how as we age we drift physically toward the other sex--I mean consider hair. Or rather don't.

I saw them all, the fashion plates (who having been instructed by the local paper last week that the Britney Spears look is out are now covering their navels), the jocks in sports-branded clothing leaping along like gazelles on PCP, the geeks wobbling and giggling along. The lazy ones who ran like blazes halfway round, then slowed to a walk until they came within viewing distance of the games master.

And she was there, as I knew she would be. She was walking slowly, lapped by her peers. Bigger than the rest of her class, with the slow, odd grace that comes of a lifetime's experience of being fat.

I felt something like shame and pity wash over me. I'm thirty-mumble. I knew twenty years ago that I was inclined to gain weight and it's taken me until now to even consider the whole business seriously. But I also know a few more things about being fat--a lifetime's experience from her perspective.

For example, I know that she'll earn less than her skinny co-workers who are equally educated. For men the disparity may be greater. She'll get passed over for promotions and have a harder time finding work in the first place. If she remains heavy all her life she'll have to deal with all the health crap that I won't bother repeating here since it's shrilled out at us on nearly every page of the internet except this one.

And since obesity tends to run in families, her kids may have to deal with the same economic disadvantages, the same slights, the lifetime of subtle insults that are really well-meant.

On the other hand, if she wins a Nobel prize it will make no difference.

I hope this doesn't sound smug or deprecating. I'd like to believe I'm a little bit better than that. My silhouette isn't carrot-shaped, and the SO isn't Twiggy, either.

But it ties into work, and how miserable it feels to stuff oneself into one's uncomfortable interview-wear (that fit LAST time we went looking for a job) and to see the odd look in the interviewer's eyes. To observe that he or she is so disappointed that you don't look like you sounded on the phone, and has marked you down before you've even shaken hands. To know that no matter what your qualifications are you're dammned unless you're twice as convincing--unless in short you can find the reason they have to hire you instead of someone with similar qualifications, less experience, but a better hip-to-stomach ratio.

When I am grown to man's estate I shall hire none but blind HR people, partly because I'd rather work with Roseanne Barr than with someone wearing "oceans of lotion" (a quote from the wonderful Jules Feiffer).

But I will also have them have a staff of a few interns who can reply to ₤µ€λing résumés! I've been throwing in anywhere from three to a dozen per week since I came home and haven't had a ₤µ€λing nibble! The sheer impolitesse of this appals me (Yes--"appals" as in disgusts, vice "appalls" as in dismays).

I find myself angry and offended over this. Are my qualifications insufficient?--Can't be; I've spent two damn years ensuring that I can write competently to a variety of audiences. Is my résumé not interesting enough? Do they hit my website and think I'm too fat? Are they intimidated by the fact that I can correctly use the words "juxtapositioned" "larcenous", and "indemnify" in the same sentence?

I'm just pissed off with the whole job-seeking process. I have a right to work and I damn well want to exercise it!

But where?

  • An interesting and useful resource

  • 13 September 2004

    Let's Get This Straight

    According to the White House, we (that is, America) is in the middle of a war in Iraq which somehow translates into an effort against terrorism.

    As lately but oh-so-briefly publicized, this effort has thus far cost over a thousand American lives, and between ten and thirty thousand Iraqi ones.

    But it was all worth it. America is somehow safer today than it was on September 10th, 2001. The cutting of civil liberties, the deliberate pushing of a partisan agenda by the White House, the squandering of moral capital in Guantanamo Bay and at Abu Ghraib have all contributed to make certain fewer Americans will be killed in acts of terrorism.

    But two days after the third anniversary of the attacks that got the ball rolling, the US government lets the assault-weapons ban expire. Okay--the ban never actually restricted the sale of most assault weapons, and it didn't stop the sale of such weapons manufactured prior to 1994. What it did was max out the size of a magazine to ten rounds, restrict 19 of the most offensive of this most offensive category of weapons, such as the TEC-9 (popular where your target is surrounded by other dancers at nightclubs and such situations) and forbid the use of things that made such weapons easier to conceal, such as folding stocks.

    So, after at least three years and 11,000 lives spent in the name of anti-terrorism (although the term "counter"-terrorism seems more appropriate), the Bush White House wants to make it easier to carry high-fire-rate weapons with large numbers of bullets, and furthermore wants to ensure that you can once again hide such weaponry under a trenchcoat?

  • This is not a story.

  • Freeway Blogger--all I can say is, "Rock On"

  • 12 September 2004


    Got the links back in. Trying to add picture and comment capability. I had comments before, over in the division, but I'd like people to be able to post directly beneath the item that annoyed/overjoyed them.

    I'm actually working from a fairly old-fashioned HTML template. The newer ones seem to be a different format (some sort of Java setup, possibly?) that appears to rely on linking many different sections of the page to programming held at another location.

    Oh well, onward ever upward.

  • Theme for today. From this site.

  • 10 September 2004

    Purposeful Insomnia

    Hi boys and girls. Been a while since I've been here. And yeah, yeah, I keep saying I'll get the links and comments back up and running. It's sort of turned into the birdhouse kit that's still in its component pieces on the shelf in your garage . . .

    I'm up at 3:30 AM (although it's actually 5:00 now--I've been surfing). I'm up because I had something I rather treasured this morning: One instant of pure faith.

    Those of my regular readers (both of them) who've been reading this work for a while know that I generally avoid comment on religious issues, except to point out that aside from the most rabid extremists in any camp, few of us actually believe that it's right or necessary to force our morality onto others beyond a few basic fundamentals. Except possibly for the current US president, who believes in the Constitution the way some fundies believe in the Bible, except for the three or four amendments he's proposed (which for some odd reason were not included by the Founding Fathers).

    In fact the Constitution of the United States is a fine example of why it's wise to be cautious in accepting a given text as (ahem) gospel. The slave-owning, hard-drinking, womanizing heads of the rabble of some 35,000 or so that would one day become the most powerful nation-state on the planet could not conceive of the nation of 250 million they were creating.

    In most countries, (i.e. Europe and particularly England) the tremendous freedom of the individual was grown organically, as part of a process having to do with an increasingly wide world-view on the part of the citizenry. In England the process began with the Magna Carta, which may be the first written bill of rights.

    However, no-one today would say that the Magna Carta should be imposed full force on the populace simply because it's a text with the weight of history behind it (some three times more history than the Constitution).

    I don't argue with the idea that the US Constitution is a handy document, but its sacred status keeps getting in the way: George Bush seeks to modify it to ban gay marriage, but as far as I can tell, would scream were the same logic used to justify suspending the second amendment.

    As far as I can follow the logic, God likes guns, not gays.

    Anyway: to return to my theme: My regular readers (both of them) know that I was raised Catholic, and that I facetiously claim to be Catholic on odd weeks and athiest on evens. This of course is a very simplistic way of putting it.

    "I used to be a Catholic; until I reached the age of reason."
    --George Carlin

    You don't shake off the conditioning of seventeen years overnight--or even over seventeen more years. I feel the "void" that people blab about--but they're talking about "the abscence of God in your life". I'm thinking about the abscence of ritual and community.

    We have no real rituals. We do not gather as a tribe for any purpose. We meet at bridge groups, curling clubs, raffles and garage sales . . . and at church. But I can't do that anymore.

    Like most western Catholics of this day and age I hold positions that are anaethma to the teachings of the Church: I think gays are okay, and that marriage is, when you come right down to it, a simple property-and-support agreement which needs to be respected by a state, but 'sanctified' by only those who feel like doing so. The Church need not perform gay marriages (that'd be like getting John Ashcroft to light your bong).

    Abortion is probably murder--after some period of time. Let me ask you this: Is two cells a person? How about one? At least Catholicism is consistent: No birth control is good birth control (Yes, it's a stupid position from the standpoint of any third-world nation. That's not the point yet). So if two cells isn't a person, how about five hundred undefined cells? How about a thousand? Etc.

    If we as a society had any guts at all, we'd mandate a date-past-conception beyond which all necessary and reasonable measures would be taken to save a fetus, and before which it would be perfectly legal to abort. But you won't hear that one on Parliament Hill because it represents neither of the extremes.

    I approve of birth control, the church doesn't. As an argument in my favour: Have you seen some of the people out there?

    And the Church compounds this with the Doctrine of Papal Infallibility. This thousand-plus-year-old idea essentially says that the Pope is chosen by God through the Cardinals (not the baseball team--God deserted them) and therefore is incapable of making a mistake.

    Sorry? Let's have that again. Have you seen the current office-holder? Honestly, I love John Paul the Second. As popes go he's a damn fine man and again, consistent. He does not attempt to reform the church in line with modern political thought because in his eyes, the Church is constant. But he's over eighty, he has parkinson's and he drools. We wouldn't let him run a bake sale in any other capacity. He should have retired long since.

    But he has a point. If all people lived as Catholics are enjoined to live, the world would be both a peacable and charitable place. Never forget that the Inquisition, which so many people point to as the ultimate symbol of the Evil of Catholicism, was a blot on the record of the church whose influences are among the most civilising of all. Never forget that the Jesuits had quinine before anyone else. And that Michalangelo was not a Baptist (otherwise he'd have painted God in a nice blue Moss Bros. pinstripe, no doubt).

    For those who claim that the church is somehow wrong because it's "wealthy" but allegedly doesn't "do anything" with that wealth. Ever heard of the House of Saud? The Sultan of Bahrain? I'd include the House of Windsor (Hapsburg), but the Queen is a welfare mother by comparison to those two. How about Oral Roberts and ilk?

    The Catholic church was a primary stimulus for civil rights, in which it contains the seeds of its own undoing, because civil rights causes ride cheek-by-jowl with some other ideas that the Church isn't fond of. The CC is even dodgy on women's rights.

    I've taken a long time to get here, but basically this was to show that I really am of two minds about the Church. It was my cradle, and the seat of my childhood faith. I know next to nothing about its history per se (although I'm not entirely ignorant of it), for I was raised in a largely secular age and semi-secular nation. My father was educated by Jesuits, yet I sometimes wonder about the strength of his belief. My mother is a deeply devout Catholic woman. It must occasionally kill her to have her three children all having lived in sin (two of them married the other sinner involved).

    I grew up in a church, left it in the bravado of my teens, and attend sporadically. What's at issue here is no longer my political positions. It's faith. For the first time I'm really working over what I believe not so much about God, as about the universe.

    Because religiosity is different from faith. One can find endless examples: Priests bugger choirboys, "peaceful" religions espouse hatred, and the less said of Scientology the better.

    For me, the question has for a long time been: Do I believe in a God at all? I mean the big-beard-in-the-sky of my childhood doesn't cut it anymore. The "wise and benevolent" one is problematic. To quote "Deteriorata":

    "Therefore make peace with your God, whatever you conceive Him to be: hairy thunderer or cosmic muffin"

    So who am I making peace with? I have yet to find a God I consider my moral superior. I mean, if you were friggin' all-powerful would you let this sxxt go on? Would you allow Darfur to burn?

    Anyway. For a shining moment today at 3:30 AM I awoke and lay there holding onto one thread of shining 100% belief that there was a God, and that he had everything under control.

    Then I read the news and thought "you bastard!