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Sunday September 4, 2022
By now, everyone must have seen the video of Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland being accosted in the lobby of a hotel in Grand Prairie, Alberta, on a visit to her home province; she was born in Peace River, north of Grand Prairie.
Freeland is quite short, even in high heels. One of her own Tweets gives her height as “5 feet 2 inches, on a good day.”
The man – identified by his own Internet postings as Elliott McDavid – towers over her. He’s almost a stereotype of an Alberta redneck -- burly, heavily bearded, dressed in a tattered undershirt.
Media coverage described him as a "right-wing extremist" and an "active organizer of convoy protests.”
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: harassment, Chrystia Freeland, Grand Prairie, redneck
Thursday August 25, 2022
Something got me thinking about the pop songs I listened to in my youth. Here’s one of them: “Sh-boom sh-boom… yallalala lallalalala, Hey nonny ding dong, a-lang a--lang a-lang, Boom ba-doh, ba-doo ba-doodle-ay…”
The quartet went on to include some real words, but they’ve faded from memory. Only the nonsense syllables remain.
Or Sammy Kaye and his orchestra, otherwise a fairly conservative group: “Chickery chick, cha-la, cha-la, Check-a-la romey in a bananika, Bollika, wollika, can't you see, Chickery chick is me?”
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: Silly songs, innocence
Sunday August 21, 2022
Colorado Republican Representative Lauren Boebert wants the U.S. to have a “biblical citizenship” test. Was she serious? On video clips, she sounds as if it was just a casual aside.
Serious or not, it may be the stupidest idea that the U.S.’s Christian Right has come up with yet.
The first casualty would be Donald Trump. The 9th Commandment forbids lying; Trump broke it 30,573 times during his presidency!
Beyond that, though, what constitutes biblical literacy? Is it enough to know the Ten Commandments, a few choice quotations from Jesus, and the 23rd Psalm?
Or should biblical literacy mean that you can open the Bible to any page, any verse, and know how it relates to the book’s larger themes?
Tags: Bible, Boebert, citizenship, tests
Thursday August 18, 2022
I got a cat last week. Correction – last week a cat got me. Because no human owns a cat. Cats may have been the first wild creatures to co-habit with humans, but unlike dogs, they have never let humans dominate them.
My cat is only eight weeks old, but he already runs my household. Wrong again – HIS household! He determines when I shall wake up. By licking the end of my nose..
He has found his own private cave between my pillows, where he spends the night. Unless he decides to wake up long enough to walk across my head.
I expected him to play with my computer mouse – cat and mouse, you know. I didn’t expect him to take naps on my keyboard. Now I know how those computer nerds come up with weird passwords like 8[UEVrn#ds-ibJEtb&iSio&hf. They invite a kitten to pounce on their keyboards.
Tags: Dickie, kitten
Sunday August 7, 2022
You probably don’t have Monday August 15 circled on your calendar. Perhaps you should. It’s the 75th anniversary of the collapse of colonialism.
On August 15, 1947, India declared Independence.
I spent my first ten years in India. I remember standing on our hillside the summer before Independence, listening to waves of sound drifting across the forested slopes from the nearest town, as thousands chanted “Jai Hind! Jai Hind! Jai Hind!”
Loosely translated, “Victory to India!”
“What are they shouting for?” I asked my father. At ten, I was politically clueless.
“They want independence from Britain,” `he explained.
“Why?” I wondered. “Don’t they realize how good they’ve got it now?”
My father, wisely, said nothing.
Tags: India, independence, colonialism
Thursday August 11, 2022
I made a momentous decision a few months ago. I decided to quit playing minister.
A few people may be surprised that I’m NOT a minister. Because I often write about religious topics. I also write about evolution, life, economics, politics, and occasionally even mathematics. Somehow, no one suggests that makes me an economist, biologist, or mathematician.
Perhaps they assume that no one could possibly be interested in theology unless they were being paid to do so.
Tags: decisions, minister, ordained
Is it just my imagination, or is there a predictable pattern to news coverage these days?
The pattern starts with someone accusing, say, Hockey Canada for covering up charges of rape. Or attacking the Canadian Armed Forces for sex discrimination. Or a charity comes under fire for misusing donated dollars. Or a TV program unearths evidence that a renovation firm’s labyrinth of corporate connections defrauds both its customers and Canada Revenue.
The accusers are willing to go public with their names and faces.
The accused are not. They decline personal interviews. Instead, they issue carefully-worded statements which assert, essentially, that the conduct in question contravenes their code of ethics, didn’t happen, and if it did, won’t happen again.
The language used is numbingly bureaucratic.
Tags: Jan White, hierarchy, human interest
August 4, 2022
Zoology 101 was a favourite first-year course at the University of British Columbia. My class probably had 250 in it, enthralled by from Dr. Ian McTaggart-Cowan’s witty and profound explanations of what animals were, and how they related to each other.
As I recall those classes, McTaggart-Cowan talked more about animals than plants. Certainly it’s the animals I remember. Everything from single-celled amoebas to humans.
A lot of it dealt with taxonomy – the formal classifications of animals. That we humans, for example, are a species, Homo Sapiens. Of the genus Homo. Of the family Hominidae. Of the order Primates. Of the class Mammalia. Of the phylum Chordata. Of the kingdom Animalia. Of the domain Eukarya.
Taxonomy, however, doesn’t answer the question, “Why?”
Tags: Zoology, taxonomy, fours
Sunday July 24, 2022
There is only one event worth writing about this week -- Pope Francis’s “penitential pilgrimage.”
“Penitential” means doing penance -- making amends for having done something wrong.
The name alone acknowledges that the Roman Catholic church failed its indigenous members.
Church doctrines have long taught that Jesus took upon himself the sins of the world. Figuratively, Pope Francis chose to do the same with his church’s involvement in residential schools.
People have mixed feelings about his trip and his apologies.
Tags: Pope, Indigenous, Francis, pilgrimage
Thursday July 28, 2022
Last weekend marked a significant anniversary. Twenty-nine years ago, on July 23, 1993, Joan and I moved into our new home here in the Okanagan Valley.
It’s the longest I have ever lived in one place.
The previous longest was 25 years in Toronto – equivalent, I sometimes joke, to a life sentence without parole. Then we moved west. Back west, actually, since I had grown up in Vancouver, and Joan in the Kootenays.
So we watched our worldly possessions disappear into a moving company’s container, locked up our now-empty home, and set out across the country in a Honda Accord packed full of suitcases, house plants, and two panicky cats.
The cats yowled for 100 miles, and then became – dare I put it this way? – catatonic. They shut down. They didn’t eat, drink, pee or poo for five days.
Tags: alone, Anniversary, moving, retreats