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

31 July 2008

Some Days the Internet is Too Good to Me #67

Via a comment at Pharyngula, I encountered this.

Story here.

I'd have left this to Raincoaster, but I sent her something else entirely, instead. Something she will appreciate given her fascination with donkey-punching.

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In the Big Inning

While researching bats for a piece on rabies I found God. Turns out he's a ballplayer. At least according to the Smithsonian magazine.
...the children of Israel ...said "Who shall go up for us first...?" (Judges 20:18) out a man who is a skillful player... (I Samuel 16:16)
...Judah [shall go up] first... (Judges 20:18)
[And] Judah took... (Judges 1:18)
Three times... (Exodus 23:14) was good. (Genesis 1:10)
...and Abram went down... (Genesis 12:10)
...out at the base... (Leviticus 4:18)

I'd worry that the fundies might call for the author's head for his blasphemy, did I not know that most of them can't read anything but John 3:16 and Leviticus 19 or so.

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The Art of Researching Stuff

About a week ago I delivered an internet thumping to someone who posted a long screed about how Michelle Obama is some sort of Black Panther just waiting to leap out and set fire to whitey, or whatever. I seized his Limbaugh-derived talking points and beat him severely about the head an' neck with them until he bled from the nose and mouth all over his keyborad. Why? Well because it was plain from word two that the putz was just using Wingnut Wurlitzer fables that could have been dispelled with a visit to such rarified information sources as, say, CNN.

And forsooth I am much prone to SIWOTI syndrome.

So what exactly does this have to do with my vacation? Well, it's all about the power of internet research. Putz-face could have made a far stronger argument had he found credible, quotable back-up sources instead of just confirming his biases over at the Freepazoid forums. A bit of research could have saved him a lexical beating.

Me, I almost accepted the price of my holiday as a given, but I did a little research:

Mme Metro and I are planning on visiting some of her relatives Back East (partly because from here there's really very little Out West to be had).

I've had good results with some of the travel sites. Roughly five days before Mme and I got married, I scored a flight deal from Yahoo Travel that saw us jetting across to honeymoon romantically in Paris for $1000. Not "each". Both of us went to Paris (though not, I should explain, Paris Hilton) for $1000. Which would have been far too pricey for the Paris Hilton.

[We did not stay at the Paris Hilton, I have never been inside Paris Hilton though I understand the Paris Hilton's pretty plush. Nor do I have any Paris Hilton nude photos and video, and you'd likely be somewhat peturbed if I did.]

I'm also fond of Travelocity, Kayak (which is a meta-search engine for several of the other sites) and Expedia.

Now we intend on going to a madhouse of a place. A wasteland where centuries of conflict have left barren, bitter, scorched earth and where the peasants tremble under the dark shadow of the Gothic building that governs their lives, knowing that their freedom is at the pleasure of man with the heart and ticking brain of a machine, whose very word could send them to prison.

That's right--Ottawa.

I don't consider myself the Sultan of Stingy, the Duke of the Deal, the Prince of Penny-Pinching or anything. But I think any fool can spend more than they need to, and most do.

The odds are agin' you in travel, particularly, since ... well look how the world would work if airlines sold paint.

So I began researching a flight-car package a while ago. And I found there was no consistency. It was actually insane. I might find a flight at $X at one site, go check it out at another, and after doing that I'd return to site one minutes later to find that the price was now $X+100.

Then when Mme discovered that we might have to stay with her relatives, I had to add a hotel. The six-day package I eventually found through Travelocity was estimated at $2,410 or so.

Flight: $689 per person (the previous week it was $750 or so).
$1,400 total.

Hotel: $600-plus-a-bit
(just under $100 per night. There may be better deals, but YOU try finding them)
Car rental: $322 or so.

Which roughly adds up.

I found that there were few ways to save. Most car rental companies, for one thing, are distal arms of the same octopus. Competition is more-or-less a sham. Air travel--well in Canada the competition is digital. It's either Air Canada or Westjet on most national routes. Hotels? Well they just don't seem to get cheaper than $80 per night in the Capital.

But because when it comes to money I am thrifty, frugal ... "cheap", as Mme might say, I started to look at the airline sites.

Westjet had a seat sale that made it $199 one-way plus taxes and fees per person, or roughly $1000 round-trip for both of us.

The hotel could be booked from its own site for the same rate as, or lower than, the one I got from the travel sites.

Then I tried booking the car by itself through Travelocity or possibly Expedia. They sent me to Dollar Rental. Bingo--from $322 we went to $250 or so.

Travelocity package deal: $2,400
Plus--let us not forget--the fees to have T'city do the booking (about $18 per transaction, adding up in this case to two airline tickets, a hotel reservation, and a car rental or $76).

Metro package:
Flight: $1100
Hotel: $650 or so (taxes etc weren't included in the initial booking rate)
Car: $250 or so.

Total: $2000-plus-a-bit.

So yesterday we took the "saved" money and went and bought a digital camera (I notice it's cheaper at that site, but ours is new, not refurbished). 'Cos when you're going on a trip you want memories of it.

And I'm waaaay too cheap to buy souvenirs.

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29 July 2008

The Waiter--Naked!

Waiter of Waiter Rant, aka Steve Dublanica isn't hiding anything anymore.

H/T to Waiter Rant

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28 July 2008

A Certain Special Feeling #903

We all know the feeling: You've got just enough in the bank to cover the rent, it's three days to payday, and you're down to your last five smokes.

You've looted the Cheez Whiz jar for its last few pennies, and an intensive search of the couch cushions has revealed a) that you eat McDonald's takeout way too often, and b) thirty-eight cents.

You can't afford smokes, so to keep your mind off of smoking the last five, rather than smoking them all in an effort to bait the Murphy trap (it is a law of the universe that when a smoker finishes a deck and is too broke to purchase more, he or she will soon run into a generous fried), you decide to actually DO stuff. The housework (or more properly apartmentwork, or possibly hovelwork) is the logical start point.

The dishes are stacked in the sink. And around the sink. And across the counter. And on the table. And indeed on most of the flat surfaces in the flat. Too intimidating. So you figure you might as well do your laundry. You begin to prepare the pile, turning t-shirts inside out with the practised ease of a lifelong coastal fisherman gutting crabs, or barnacles, or whatever it is that lifelong coastal fisherpersons gut.

When suddenly you feel an oddly-folded, stiff bit of paper in a discarded pair of worked-to-death pants, last seen at a party a week ago, and missing since in the rising tide of detritus in your room.

You reach into the pocket trying to control your excitement: "It's probably a receipt," you tell yourself "Don't get your hopes up." But coastal fisherpersons sometimes find pearls o' great price in their catch.

Revealed to daylight, the crinkly paper turns out to be a randomly-folded ten-dollar bill that you stuffed in there when you paid for the pizza. Which reminds you that Joe said he'd get you back--that sonovabitch owes you eight bucks!

But now you'll be able to stand outside the laundromat, drawing on the first smoke out of a new pack, watching through the window at the red thong whirling around in the dryer next to yours and wondering whether it belongs to the something-teen blonde in the college sweats or the sixty-something biker chick with the jailhouse tats, as the last of the light fades from a blue summer sky, while smoke fills your lungs, nictotine waters down your blood, and you are filled with the peace of knowing all's right with the world.

And as you wiggle the wadded ten out of the inverted pocket you get just a fragmentary smattering of that feeling, for just a second.

Today I phoned a bank, let's call it Cinquante. I was inquiring about interest rates, as I had a considerable chunk of RRSP money I needed to roll over from another institution.

"Do you have an account with us?" asked the person who doubtless would have been referred to as a Consultant.
"Oh," I said "I had one once ... blank years ago at least. But the investment matured, so I think it's closed."
"Ah," she said after a few nosy questions about my SIN number and my mother's maiden name, "I see it."
"Waitasecond," I said "I have an active account there? I thought it would at least be inactive."
"Nope," she said "It's been active since year blank."
"Wow," I said, not daring to say it hopefully, "How much is in there?"
"[An amount close to five thousand dollars.]"

And although I quit smoking at least two years back, and although I can't touch that money for at least two years, and although I intend to keep it locked up until I'm at least 70 ... for a moment I tasted the fresh burn of nicotine smoke in my throat.

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25 July 2008

Just Because I'm Paranoid Doesn't Mean They Aren't Watching My Every Move Through My Television Screen #1

I actually worked with a guy who believed the proposition alluded to above. He also believed that Asian people had lousy peripheral vision. I had a perception that, while a pleasant guy to work with, he was a complete idiot when trying to deal with the real world.

Maybe I was wrong. Norlinda has discovered the secret tapes of what life is like at my place. Watch the Metrovision here.

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A Vision of the Future!

Wanna be scared?

Check out this New Yorker article, which I found courtesy of The Pump Handle.

It tells you how you are going to die. Most likely.

You probably hope so, anyway. The alternatives aren't quite as easy.

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24 July 2008

The Passion of the Crust

He did it.

PZ Myers desecrated a host. He shoved a nail through it and threw it into the garbage. He also included a couple of pages from the Qu'ran and from Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion for good measure.

And I, I find myself relieved. Imagine the reaction if he'd defecated on it, as some of his detractors suggested he do with a Qu'ran (some folks even sent him one for the purpose). Instead, he treated it dismissively, as a thing of no importance. Like an atheist.

I find his actions fairly reserved and sensible, on balance, especially in light of some of the abuse he's received for so much as publicly contemplating the death of the wafer.

One quote from some of his e-mail did a great deal to turn my mind in Myers' favour:
Since I'm not demonstrating any fear over their threats against me, well hey, let's try a new target! KJ Atkins of Bellarmine University thinks cowardly warnings against my family might be effective.

You fool, the vengeance for your sacrilege will not be . exhausted against you, but it will be carried out on your child. Wait and see.
My biggest question is: Where the hell was the Catholic Church on this? An issue that's hit the internet so hard there are echoes of it nearly everywhere I go, and not one word from the Vatican?

Oh--I forgot. The Pope was celebrating World Youth Day. What's the Latin word for "irony"?

Where was the statement from a prominent Archbishop saying "Hey--okay the guy's acting like an @$$#013, but let's not give him any more ammunition, eh?"

Where did common sense and decency go? What happened to turning the other cheek?

The people Myers is dealing with claim to represent Christianity, if not Catholicism outright. They're supposed to take their inspiration from the way Christ lived his life.

But their answer to question "What would Jesus do?" is: "Threaten to kill somone?"

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22 July 2008

More-Or-Less-Random Link O' the Day

Via Jesus' General we come to fafblog, where we find entries like this:
I knew I forgot to pay one a the bills yesterday but I just thought it was the cable or the internet or somethin an I guess it musta been worse cause when I step outside this mornin somebody's shut off the time. Now everything's happenin all at once an there's all this history spilled all over the lawn. Now I got all these crusaders sackin the mailbox an morlocks hibernatin under the porch an at least a dozen Louis the Sixteenths grazin on the azalea bushes. Look at the mess!
You really should go get a loada this.

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All Quiet on the Metro Front, July 22nd, 2008

Or possibly July 22, 2008. One of the big editorial conflicts at work is that I like to write as things are read. Who reads a dateline "July twenty-two, two thousand and eight"?

By this you shall know that the Metrolife has lately been fairly tranquil.I work, albeit reluctantly. I play freeroll poker with rather more enthusiasm, and I sail like a mad fool at every opportunity.

The garden has tended itself reasonably well in my absence, I observe. Which is perfect. I have never wished to do more nor less than simply stick seeds in the ground and eat whatever comes up ... of course one must make allowances for the vagaries of such crops as potatoes and carrots.

The deer got in at my grape vine just as the first clusters appeared. Still, I have anointed the yard with cougar piss (and no, this did not involve getting Raincoaster bombed) and other assorted predator urine--supposedly a magical panacea against interloping ungulates.

I was trying to break the top ten at my local poker league. Thanks in large part to Mme Metro's ridiculous insistence on having something she calls a "relationship" (I'm married to her--how much more relatioship can we have?) I was prevented from reaching that goal, hitting a peak rank of 13 before dropping to 17 this week. Fortunately, that was enough to get me into the regionals, as the league expanded the number of players each region could send.

My sailboat is reassembled. Unfortunately the multiple layers of paint and glue have added substantial weight. She's tighter than she's ever been--after riding her for three hours I saw only a few ounces of moisture building up in her bottom, and when I turned her over I was able to flip her right over again without her going down on me.

Uh ... let me clarify:

The boat doesn't leak.

I can "self-rescue". That is, when I tip the boat over on purpose I can right her by myself and clamber back into her.

The weight is an issue though, as I seem to be carrying less sail area than anyone else, so I travel more slowly. I finished third in a field of five last week, behind the very two people I most need and desire to beat.

So it's off to the local hardware place for yards of "house wrap" ... or possibly just some other similar material. I'm having thoughts about clear poly for a see-through sail. I'd have to wear a lot more sunscreen, though.

I spend as much time as I can at the beach, and I am hopeful that Mme Metro has become more enthusiastic--she's not a beach person, but has displayed remarkable willingness, among other willingnesses, to haul my boat onto the roof rack so that I can sail away for hours on end, and I want her to know, here and now, that I appreciate and love her all the more for it.

I find myself wishing that all my friends had concerns as trivial as mine.

17 July 2008

Tell It Like it is, Carney!

Of course I suppose that depends on whether it's your job that's been cut. In all, I'm sure the economy is fine right now, but I believe that we'd best be searching for trade partners in a hurry, or onshoring some of our own industry. Because our nearest neighbour is about ten trillion in the hole and really shouldn't be encouraged to buy anything.

Speaking of buying stuff. How the hell has this happened under the ever-alert noses of the press? And why does no-one seem to be saying anything about it (including the perps).

Bush claims "conscience" is a valid reason for denying people sound, scientific medical care.

Soon we'll be seeing doctors treating syphillis with lemon juice because they're "philosophically opposed" to antibiotics. Faith healing will be listed as a valid medical expense under "physiotherapy" ...

Sure it's aimed at the "abortion is murder" crowd ... or is it?

Nope: It's aimed at the fruit bats who think a fertilized egg should get voting rights. Many of these imbeciles also subscribe to the notion that there's a god who considers every sperm sacred, or something.

In which case one has to wonder why s/he allows fertilized eggs by the millions to be flushed from hordes of wombs, unnoticed, each year. Still, she's mysterious, or so I'm told by his/her fans.

God, it took the United States 225 years to rise from subsistence farming and superstition to become the economic engine of the world and scientific leader, and George Bush took less than eight years to £µ©λ it up completely.

I suppose it isn't all bad: Clearly the spirit of 1776 is alive and well under the Bush regime. They've got the superstition, they cower in fear of their gods, torture is enshrined in law, racism abounds alongside fear of foreigners, no-one may resist the state ...

Oh, and they sent their finest people to die in a Crusade in the Middle East, which is a bit more Medieval. Unless you're with the "insurgents" in Iraq, who apparently have learned the lessons of American History fairly well.

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16 July 2008

This Explains a Great Deal About Mme Metro

After all, she's been exposed to them a lot longer than I.


It's true. Consider that Mme spends her life decoding contracts. Yet when she comes home ...

Worse, we have two of the little buggers, and they're indoor animals so we never get very far from them.

I think there may be a logarithmic progression.

Method in the Alleged Music

Mme Metro has me sussed, I must admit it.

I can think of a number of better things to do than get up in the morning. But my mornings must, perforce, start at six a.m.

So in our shared bedroom, beside our shared bed (lest you think we sleep in the twin-bedded bliss of the Cleavers), we have an alarm clock. This fiendish device exists for no other purpose, astoundingly enough, than to disrupt our natural sleep cycle and arouse us before our natural time.

By so doing, the device contributes misery. Imagine how much nicer people might be to one another did they not start their day before their natural time. Why, I'd bet that war might be entirely eliminated, solutions to the problems of the world could be found, and George the Lesser would become a better public speaker ... Well okay, there are limits.

But more sleep would be a generally good thing in the world, in any case. Remember--there was no time to waste, no time to spend, no time to lose, before we insisted on counting the damn stuff slipping through our fingers.

Any road, this morning that time-bomb woke us with a burst of twangy music accompanied by what sounded like a cowboy desperately in need of adenoid surgery.

By this you may deduce that it was what some deluded folk refer to as "country music"; a clear oxymoron.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I can't appreciate the beauty of a steel guitar, nor the heartfelt poetry of some idiot in a string tie and a fancy hat ... it's just that I'm not plugged into the values of country music. For example, in part due to a suburban upbringing, I have never actually been in love with a cow.

(Mme has met some of my exes [who do not live in the southwestern US] and may have a divergent opinion)

So you will gather that I am not as fond of country "music" as I am of, say, protracted dental appointments, smelly feet, or cleaning the cat box. Well, strike that last--it's a choice between two horribles.

However, when I was awakened slightly before the alarm by the polite inquiries of one of the cats regarding the current location of the bloody tuna and why not, I was slightly-less groggy than usual and was able to take advantage of my heightened state to ask Mme why she insisted on this morning torture instead of the 6 a.m. news or, say, actual music.

"Well," she replied "This way I know you won't lie in bed listening to it."

She has me sussed, I tell you!

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A Clarification

On my last post I expressed that I wasn't sure how news of Webster Cook's theft (or misappropriation if you prefer) of a communion wafer became public knowledge.

It turns out that a member of the congregation stopped him as he tried to sneak out with it and asked him for it back. When he refused, she tried to grab it back, but he apparently bravely fought his way free, clutching his prize.
"When I received the Eucharist, my intention was to bring it back to my seat to show him," Cook said. "I took about three steps from the woman distributing the Eucharist and someone grabbed the inside of my elbow and blocked the path in front of me. At that point I put it in my mouth so they'd leave me alone and I went back to my seat and I removed it from my mouth."

A church leader was watching, confronted Cook and tried to recover the sacred bread. Cook said she crossed the line and that's why he brought it home with him.
For my Avid Fans who may not know: it is not unusual for churches to have the ushers watching for precisely the sort of stupidity Cook comitted.

Because though they are far outnumbered by their fellow-delusionists who follow other religions, there are such deluded fools as devil-worshippers. Not many, but enough. And one thing the Catholic Church has had to do is keep careful track of hosts.

Because Satanists, and members of other sects, including, I have it personally, Protestants and similar heretics (Isn't religion a terrific unifying force? You can just feel it doing you good, cantcha?), like to take hosts for purposes other than simply eating them.

Just in case you worry that ol' Metro has gone off the deep end with all this talk of Satanists and devil worshippers, let me restate my position on religious faiths of all natures: They're all nucking futs.

But they exist, and that's how Cook came to public notice.

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15 July 2008

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right #2

Update July 19th: An anonymous commentor has left me a note correcting my spelling of the names Myers (lose the extra "e") and Donohue ("o" not "a"). I am grateful.

Okay, so as an ex-Catholic I feel like I have to wade into crackergate.

1) I'm an atheist. I don't feel anyone's superstitions--from virgin birth, to UFOs, to real, live mummified fairies should be "respected" in the public sphere.

2) Webster Cook entered a church, that is, a building dedicated to Christian worship. There he participated in the Mass, as he apparently had before. He went to Communion and took the wafer. Webster Cook has yet to explain why he, who should apparently have known better, took an item he knew was sacred. Nor why and how the affair became public. A friend of his apparently claimed Cook wanted to show him "what the Host means to Catholics."

Well now he knows.

3) Cook then left the church and stuck the Host in a baggie. Then apparently announced to someone that he had done so. Otherwise who'd know?

4) He received a lot of mail. Some of it was hate mail and death threats, apparently. Not all of it, I guarantee, was Catholic.

5) He returned the host after a week. I note that no report indicates clearly what he did with it, nor how he communicated with church officials in the meantime. The words "holding hostage" are mentioned, but I can't make out if those were Cook's words or the overwrought reporting. If they're Cook's, then he's twice teh stupid. But who cares. He gave it back and that's the important thing.

And that's where PZ Myers got stuck in.

I generally like Meyers. And I often feel that the world needs more people like him. But on this, he's dead wrong.

PZ was apparently so incensed by the hate mail and death threats, along with Bill Donohue's Catholic League statement that this is "beyond hate crime", that he couldn't resist poking up the fire a little. He asked people to enter Catholic churches and get him consecrated hosts, which he would then personally desecrate.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I believe transubstantiation is a stuperstition. I believe that, as Myers originally wrote: "It's a Goddamned Cracker! (before, in an uncharacteristic act of self-censorship, he changed it to "Frackin' Cracker").

I also believe that some Catholics need a lot more metaphorical kicking around than they get. Bill Donohue (whose howls of outrage at this act went so far as to accuse Webster Cook of a hate crime) is one. Pope Benedict would command a lot more respect if he officially told Bill to STFU.

But Myers is just as bad, on this issue. In the post linked above he exhorted folks to send him consecrated hosts. He claims he's justified in threatening to desecrate hosts because of the hate mail Cook and he himself are getting.

The two are not analogous. The hate mail and death threats (and as I said, I guarantee not all of them are from Catholics) are recognized (INCLUDING by the vast majority of Catholics) as unreasonable, an overreaction to an incident that was deliberately instigated. Cook could have quietly snuck the host around to the back door of the church. Instead he decided to go public, loudly, leaving himself vulnerable to targeting by unstable @$$#0!3s.

I feel the majority of atheists feel that Myers' rhetorical act was just as hyperbolic.

On one side, Donohue says it's a hate crime. No, I don't think so. I feel Webster's got an issue or two with the CC, but that he acted mostly out of stupidity or (charitably speaking) curiosity. On the other hand, people say it's akin to the Muslim cartoon business. Not quite--the cartoons were the product and publication of the papers concerned. No-one's saying Webster Cook can't cook himself a wafer.

And here's where my opinion rests:

It's their house, their rules.

Inside their private faith building, you do what they do. You respect their traditions or stay the hell outside! Stealing a host, wearing shoes into a mosque, chomping on a BLT in a synagogue--all deliberately stupid and offensive. Should I go into your house and start tearing up photos of your grandmother just because she means nothing to me?

It might not legally be theft. After all, the host is given to anyone with their hand out at the right time. But it's certainly misuse. If Webster Cook had pulled the same stunt with a rental car, he'd be piling up some serious bills for having violated the letter and spirit of the rental contract.

It's marginally different if the perpetrator can claim innocence. But Cook stole that wafer from a church, a house of worship he had apparently been to before. According to his friend, Cook knew the significance of the blessed host. He's since returned it for burial, too.


And there it might have ended, but for Cook's need for publicity and particularly Myers' need to turn it up to eleven and yank off the knob. Threatening to publicly desecrate a consecrated host is every bit as needlessly offensive as anything Bill Donohue ever said. Myers' intentional desecration--well I would see it as being little different from scrawling swastikas on synagogues.

If you don't want to see a church service, don't go to a church. If you don't want a $#17storm, don't steal a sacred item from that church and brag about it!

But threatening to desecrate a host? Why? Was that really necessary? Or has Myers' hat for a moment ceased to fit his head?

If we adopt simply being offensive to as many people as possible as a strategy, atheists start to look like jackasses. PZ also kicked rationality in the nuts by publishing the names and IPs of some of his spammers and threateners. That hurt us as atheists too.

Because, guess what? Offended atheists can be just as irrational, ignorant, and threatening as offended alleged Christians. Who'da thunk humans could be stupid on both sides of an argument, eh? I'm honestly not sure Meyers actually expected that.

In fact, in an ironical turn, he says " ... we're supposed to be better than that."

Yes, PZ. My point exactly.

I'd like to see Myers admit that, just this once, he was wrong.

Because sometimes a cigar is just a cigar;
But sometimes a cracker is not just a cracker.

And it's a shame, because there's a lot of stupidity out there in the name of, or in the name of respecting respecting people of faith. And Myers has been leading the charge. Now he seems to have gotten sidetracked.

Addendum: Cook is now accusing the University of Florida's Catholic Association of violating the university's hazing policy for trying to persuade him to eat the Host. He also claims Catholics violate the underage drinking policy by serving communion wine to "minors" (US definition of a minor: Someone who can kill for their country, vote, and have school-age children before they can legally drink).

Cook's a jerk. The fact that he's received death threats doesn't make him a saint.

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Out of Interest ...

What rhymes with "iambic pentameter"? I mean, shouldn't there be something?

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11 July 2008

You Had Me At 'Goodbye'

One thing George W. Bush is good at (I mean, there had to be something) is plumbing newer and more inventive depths of £µ©λing moronic stupidity.

Go read this at the Telegraph.

I found it because the Seattle-based Stranger's blog, SLOG sent me to Wonkette, who linked to it.

There are roughly 190 days left in the Worst. Presidency. Evar. I used to think he'd reached the pinnacle of plutocratic, bloodthirsty luncay. Now I just wonder how much farther he can climb before they send the Air Force to take him out.

Heck, if I was George Bush Sr. I'd be pulling strings at the CIA to get a Black Ops hit squad on this clown's ass for making me look like a total idiot as a father.

One hundred and ninety days from now ... I hope ...

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09 July 2008

Sorry, You're Too Late. We're Closed ... Or Maybe Not

In the course of researching Dr. Morgentaler's Order of Canada and some of its fallout, I found this steaming pile of misstatement at the Hamilton Spectator. It's an opinion by the publisher of The Catholic Register.

Joseph Sinasac takes issue with what he perceives as twin assumptions: Firstly "that abortion is a done deal and there is no point arguing about it anymore ... time to move on," and secondly "that Canadians by and large agree having no legal restrictions on aborting unborn children is a good thing."

Well, since 60% of Canadians backed Morgentaler's award, I'd say that #2 goes without saying.

First, Sinasac has to move the debate away from the actual person who was actually given the award. Thusly:
It was not about whatever admirable qualities he may have demonstrated over decades of battling for his cause, whether courage or perseverance or consistency. It was, simply put, about abortion.
Which rather contradicts the reasons as given, which included "a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation."

Then he dodges the central issue of the Morgentaler case of 1988 selectively quoting Dr. Morgentaler himself:
"Since the Morgentaler decision of 1988 (before the Supreme Court of Canada), abortion has become available in most of Canada and the results are extremely good for women," he told the media at his Toronto clinic.

"Women no longer die as a result of abortion. Women are no longer cut up, damaged as a result of abortion. Women no longer lose their fertility because of abortion so the situation has improved greatly over most of Canada and I'm very proud of that."

Morgentaler is suffering from a bit of selective memory. Safe abortions were done before 1988, in hospitals, after approval by therapeutic committees. The court case revolved over whether there was enough timely access across the country.
Because timely access has nothing to do with whether a woman who needs an abortion before, say, 24 weeks, will seek one outside of a hospital if her way is deliberately obstructed by regulations, as pushed by people like Mr. Sinasac, I guess.

And I'm sure any woman who needed an abortion would be happy to argue her case beore a committee. But longing for the good ol' days isn't Sinasac's point:
In fact, the very push to name Morgentaler to the Order of Canada was a part of a strategy to put the issue beyond debate, to turn abortion access into another of those "Canadian values" like multiculturalism or universal health care -- so exalted they are almost untouchable.
Uh, dude? Abortions ARE health care. Thanks, in large part to Dr. Morgentaler. Sinasac goes on:
Those who were negative, he [Morgentaler] said, were from "the usual sources: the Catholic Church, the fundamentalists, the women who are usually against women's rights." And presumably, therefore, not worth listening to.
Well so far it looks as though he's right.
A 2004 Environics poll revealed that 68 per cent of those surveyed favour some restrictions on abortion access. This includes 33 per cent who say life should be protected from the moment of conception. Clearly, Canadian public opinion would be more comfortable with a legal regime more akin to that in the countries of Western Europe such as Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy -- all of which restrict access to abortion to one degree or other -- than to the current legal vacuum.
Yeah. I'm one of that 68%. I don't actually think you should be shooting the baby in the head as it emerges during labour, amazingly enough.

But also, I'm reasonably sure that "some restrictions" might actually mean something different from what Mr. S. thinks it does. For example, I think it might be desirable to restrict a woman from having her fifth non-theraputic abortion. Duh.

Also, there isn't a "legal vacuum" on this. From CBC News In Depth:
Abortion is now treated like any other medical procedure and is governed by provincial and medical regulations.

That should make Sinasac feel better, no?

Me, I feel that non-theraputic abortion should be available up until at least 3 months without question. I mean, if you can't make up your mind about whether or not you want the brat by twelve weeks then I respectfully submit that you may not be thinking about it seriously enough. And in general, I think the six-month mark is probably a healthy limit.

But more importantly--can anyone tell me what reason there is to make MORE law on this when, actually, it's pretty obvious Canadians are okay with it? As far as I know, no-one has been forced to have an abortion she didn't want, nor to keep a baby she didn't want either. Good, all's well then, no? Why £µ©λ with it?

But Sinasac has more to say:
Even Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente, who favours open access to abortion, acknowledged in her July 3 column that the fetus is not just a blob of cells. Ultrasound and other imaging techniques have made it impossible to deny that unborn children are truly tiny human beings with all their characteristics.
And here's another blob of weasel crap. No-one has ever denied that "an unborn child" is a child.

The big fight is over where the dividing line should be drawn. Even the rabidest pro-choice person will agree that at some point an embryon becomes a foetus, and that a foetus at some point becomes an unborn baby. But you won't get logic like that from the "life begins at conception" crowd.

Would Sinasac argue that life begins at conception? That four cells is "a tiny human being"? He's trying to wallpaper the weakest point of his argument.

Spot the human:

You know something? I've lost my answer key. I think it's hamster, human, dog, elephant. Or possibly the first two are human and the other two are a manatee and a dolphin, respectively ... or maybe human, hamster, bunny, lolcat? ... Who can tell?

Sinasac is trying to reopen the abortion debate in this country. Pity for him he's about fifty years too late. The debate is over, and the rest of the country's moved on.


Except for New Brunswick, where despite the 1988 ruling, the province has legislated that it won't pay for abortions done at non-hospital clinics. They've also closed the only public abortion clinic left in a hospital.


Oh, and except for (ready for a big surprise?) the Conservative Party of Canada (NEW! Green!):
2004:Conservative Leader Stephen Harper tries to steer clear of the abortion controversy while campaigning for the June 28 election, saying he has no plans to change the country's abortion regulations if he forms the next government. The statement comes after his party's health critic says women considering an abortion should receive third-party counselling.

So perhaps Sinasac is right. The fight for women's rights isn't yet over.

Perhaps we should thank him for the wake-up call?

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An Empty Gesture in the Name of a Dead Woman

I was saddened to read in the National Post that Madonna House will be returning Catherine Doherty's Order of Canada.

For those of you who tuned in late, this is a late-breaking Catholic protest against the Order having been awarded to Dr. Henry Morgentaler, an abortion provider and tireless crusader for a woman's right to choose.

The argument from the secular standpoint is mealy-mouthed and expressed by Stephen Harper thus: "[M]y preference, to be frank, would be to see the Order of Canada be something that really unifies, that brings Canadians together."

Which it does, actually--60% or more of Canadians support Morgentaler's inclusion.

Three Orders have been returned in protest, from Catholics almost exclusively. And at least one of those who returned his OOC has a controversial history of his own. I wonder whether Harper thinks the Catholic Church is a unifying force? Especially since he himself is a member of what I consider an evangelical cult.

The Madonna House protest saddens me for several reasons. I love Combermere. My family spent many happy summer vacations there in an atmosphere of simplicity and service.

My adult atheism in no way devalues founding principles of Madonna house. But I feel very much that this gesture does.

I met Catherine Doherty a couple of times, though I don't recall her clearly. Some Catholics call for her beatification. She was devout and devoted. And she based her life and work on her "Little Mandate".
Arise — go! Sell all you possess. Give it directly, personally to the poor. Take up My cross (their cross) and follow Me, going to the poor, being poor, being one with them, one with Me.

Little — be always little! Be simple, poor, childlike.

Preach the Gospel with your life — without compromise! Listen to the Spirit. He will lead you.

Do little things exceedingly well for love of Me.

Love... love... love, never counting the cost.

Go into the marketplace and stay with Me. Pray, fast. Pray always, fast.

Be hidden. Be a light to your neighbour's feet. Go without fear into the depth of men's hearts. I shall be with you.

Pray always. I will be your rest.
I do not feel that this is the personal creed of a woman who would make grandiose and empty gestures simply to satisfy a need to make a political statement.

Catherine Doherty deserves to be better memorialized than this.

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08 July 2008

They Grow Up So Fast! Sniff ... Sniff.

The fledgling democracy in Iraq is flapping its wings:
Iraq said on Tuesday it will reject any security pact with the United States unless it sets a date for the pullout of US-led foreign troops, a proposal turned down by US President George W. Bush.
I'm sure he feels bewildered, like a rejected parent. I mean, you feed them, you nurture them, you encourage their first faltering steps toward democracy ... And then they turn around and demand to be treated like a real country instead of a satrapy.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said the talks were aimed at reaching agreement on a framework for future US-Iraqi relations and on the arrangements to govern the US military presence.

"It is important to understand that these are not talks on a hard date for a withdrawal," he said. "When you make an agreement," he added, however, "that doesn't mean that there won't be some understanding of time-frames."
Let's review what the Iraq government (the people who, in the New Free and Democratic Nation of Iraq, are supposed to be running things)apparently said:
"We will not accept any memorandum of understanding if it does not give a specific date for a complete withdrawal of foreign troops," national security advisor Muwaffaq al-Rubaie told reporters in the holy city of Najaf.
Wait a minute--that's not at all in line with the statement from the White House!

Gee, that's a first. I mean, they've been right about so many other things ... Wait ... Why are you laughing?

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03 July 2008

You Catch More Dog Turds With Honey Than Vinegar

Avid Fans (all both of them) will recall I do not, as the transatlantikers say, "go a bundle" on dogs going a bundle on my yard, sidewalk or, indeed, on my planet.

So yesterday I was mortified to watch an overweight middle-aged brass-haired trailer troglodyte, sweating in her canvas shorts and flowered blouse, tug her wee little dog along the sidewalk on The Main Street, with Fido cheerfully shitting every five feet for roughly half the block.

The output was so disproportionate to the outputter as to invite inadvertent and unwilling comparison to a video of a python swallowing a pig, shown in reverse.

The owner, looking exasperatedly at the animal, looked up and spotted me. Our eyes met and she turned away, dragging the animal to its next drop. Which turned out to be five feet from the door of a business I'll call K9 Kollege. It's primarily a grooming studio. And it was the destination for the turd parade. On the door I noticed adverts for dog obedience training. None on owner obedience training.

I felt really mad about this. I dislike litter of any type, but when it's somebody's pet's effluvia, I find the whole business stomach-churning. I wish there were a way to force dogs to crap indoors, so that we'd have a guarantee that at least 60% of owners would clean up every time.

But instead of raising the issue, I decided that perhaps the woman, whom I now saw busilly chatting with the salon's owner, was asking for a plastic bag. Of course, it was a vain hope: we all know that the bag is, these days, simply a badge used as camouflage for all those people who simply tie the bag to the leash and leave it there forever. But this woman hadn't even gone that far.

Still, rather than ratchet everyone's tempers up (besides mine own, which was winched to about 140 ft-lbs), I walked down to Timmy's and got a coffee.

As it happened, I met a co-worker and returned via a different route. So the issue remained unresolved. But I had deep faith that Trailer Trog had left the precious bundles of joy to delight and amuse other patrons of the sidewalk.

Today as I headed for Timmy's I noticed the wee doggie spa across the street (I was unconsciously avoiding any leftover doggie land mines) and determined to say something. I imagined berating the shopowner and venting my spleen across her floor the way her customer or employee had allowed her pet to shit across the sidewalk.

Then I stopped. There's really enough aggravation in the world. Why I would actually cause any more of it is beyond me. Not that I don't sometimes enjoy the idea, but really we have to live, all six billion of us, in a relatively small space. When you adopt the enemy's aggressive offensiveness, you can easily become what you hate most.

So I went in.

"Can I help you?" quoth the owner, scanning for a terrier at my feet.
"I just wanted to say thanks," I lied convincingly. I still had no idea whether the outsize dog bombs were lying on the sidewalk still or not.
"Sorry?" she apologized instinctively.
"Well yesterday I followed a customer of yours, and about every five feet her dog would have a crap, then she'd pull the leash and drag it another five feet. She turned in here. I was pretty put out by the dog turds on the sidewalk, but today I noticed they seemed to have disappeared, and I just wanted to say 'thanks'."

Now she was contrite:
"Jeez I'm sorry. I hate it when the customers won't walk their dogs and they crap all over the floor. It's happened twice today," she said, indicating the general area where I was standing.

"I just wanted to thank whoever cleaned that up," I said, lying only a little.

"Well it wasn't us," the owner sighed, "But if you ever see that kind of thing again, please, let us know and we'll clean it up. It's so embarrasing."

And off I went, with a little of my faith in humanity restored. I do like good neighbours.

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"Battle-Hardened" Doesn't Mean Error-Proof

I've said elsewhere that my experience with weapons in the Canadian Forces convinced me that arms control in a civil society is an absolute necessity, and that the more stringent such control is, the better.

Why? Well here's the sort of thing professionals are capable of:

France just had 17 people blasted by a guy who had just come home from a live deployment in Chad.

He apparently managed to mistake live ammo for blanks.
The soldier who fired the shots was arrested, but an army spokesman insisted that Sunday's incident was "99.99 per cent" likely the result of an "unintentional" error.
I'm not saying I'd never make that mistake, but there are significant differences. Blanks, without the lead projectiles, are significantly lighter. And in France they pack blank ammo in a different coloured magazine to avoid exactly this kind of confusion.

Remember, this is a trained professional. I feel so sorry for him. Not to mention seventeen people whose lives will never be the same.

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02 July 2008


I got to via Vlad's place.

Their Top 100 list is hilarious. Here's one of my personal faves:
DragonflyBlade21: A woman has a close male friend. This means that he is probably interested in her, which is why he hangs around so much. She sees him strictly as a friend. This always starts out with, you're a great guy, but I don't like you in that way. This is roughly the equivalent for the guy of going to a job interview and the company saying, You have a great resume, you have all the qualifications we are looking for, but we're not going to hire you. We will, however, use your resume as the basis for comparison for all other applicants. But, we're going to hire somebody who is far less qualified and is probably an alcoholic. And if he doesn't work out, we'll hire somebody else, but still not you. In fact, we will never hire you. But we will call you from time to time to complain about the person that we hired.

But there are other funny quotes over there. Go look. I guarantee you'll find an LOL for yourself.

01 July 2008

So, Happy Canada Day, Eh?

I love my country. For all I bitch about the current government; with all the venial, short-sighted, grasping, greedy, blackhearted fellow citizens I have to share it with; for all that much of our industry has evaporated overseas or over the border. There's a lot of it to love.

In no particular order.

Big damn place.

We have gay marriage. No "civil union" wordsplitting, not "justlikemarriages." Marriage.

A constitutional monarchy: the best form of government there is. The monarch and the people are each empowered by the constitution, and the constitution is protected by the monarch and the people.

A relaxed attitude to vice. Pot is illegal, but tolerance is high. Prostitution is legal (though negotiating the transaction isn't).

We have free speech, and hate speech laws. Because we recognize that the two aren't mutually exclusive, and that rhetorical effect is a real force.

We're the first civilized nation trying to do anything about carbon emissions. Happy Canada day to British Columbia, where prices jumped two-point-four cents at the pump, and everyone got a cheque for a hundred bucks--including my 6-month-old niece, who is not known to have much of an opinion on the price of gasoline.

Single-payer health care (not "universal", not "socialized"). I have yet to hear of a better system.

We give awards to abortion rights pioneers.

Our musicians are pretty damn good. Here are some:

The original Lunatic Fringe

David Wilcox: Canada's Hot, Hot Papa

And what Canadian lineup would ever be complete sans the Tragically Hip? Here they are with "In View". In which Gord Downie resorts to desperate measure to find a phone that works, triggering a sort of Asian zombie chase.

Happy Canada Day! Don't you wish you lived here? I do. Then I could buy you a beer. But I hope you'll take the thought for the deed.

Oh, and how could I forget Stompin' Tom?

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