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Sunday March 7, 2021
In June this year, Aunt Jemima will die. So will Uncle Ben.
The companies that own those trademarks – Pepsi Cola and Quaker Oats for Aunt Jemima, Mars for Uncle Ben – have decided those brand images “do not fit our core values.”
They reek of southern slavery.
So they have to come down. Like those statues of Robert E. Lee and Lord Cornwallis. And renaming of sports teams, schools, and streets to banish references to an unsavory past.
Who’s next for the chopping block? Dr. Seuss?
Actually, yes. Six of his books will stop being published, AP reported this week, “because of racist and insensitive imagery, said the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy.”
The name given to this practice is “revisionism.”
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: Dr. Seuss, Revisionism, Aunt Jemima, King David
Thursday March 4, 2021
I enjoy good discussions. On almost any topic. My aging body no longer permits some other activities, but I haven’t lost my ability to take part in a lively discussion. Yet.
Along the way, though, I’ve learned that there are many ways of destroying a discussion, which range from saying too much to not saying anything.
In my experience, the most pernicious fault is to drag in an external authority. Perhaps relying on the insights of a famous writer. A quotation from a scientist. A definition from a dictionary. A theory from a theologian.
Or, in some circles, citing selected verses from a scriptural text.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: discussion, experience, prooftext
Sunday February 28, 2021
The federal government in Ottawa has proposed a new bill that would allow Canadians suffering from “grievous and irremediable mental illnesses” – the wording comes from a Canadian Press report – to opt for a medically assisted death.
If they choose to do so.
The revised legislation will permit them that choice. The previous legislation didn’t.
The original Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) law, which came into effect in June 2016, required the person seeking assistance in dying to be capable of consenting.
Which excluded persons suffering from various forms of cognitive impairment –those in a coma, or unconscious from pain medication, or who had Alzheimer’s Disease, or who had suffered brain damage…
In other words. a lot of people.
Tags: dying, MAiD, assisted death
I wore a pink T-shirt yesterday, Anti-Bullying Day in Canada. But because this isn’t T-shirt weather, I wore it over the top of my other clothes, to make it more visible.
Anti-Bullying Day started in Canada. I’m proud of that fact, as proud as an apologetic Canadian can be about anything.
Two teenagers in Nova Scotia, David Shepherd and Travis Price, objected to another student being ridiculed for wearing a pink shirt on the first day of school. So they bought 50 pink shirts and handed them out to other students, to wear in solidarity with the bullying victim.
So when I took the dog out for her morning walk yesterday, I was wearing a pink T-shirt. Also, red-and-white socks, a thank-you gift from the Canadian Red Cross for a donation in my wife’s memory. A blue tuque from my church’s Thrift Shop. A Rotary pin.
And I thought, I’m a walking billboard!
Tags: bullying, pink shirt, billboards
I have hesitated for some time to write about gun control. In my experience, it’s the most explosive topic I ever tackle – even more so than abortion, Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and federal deficits.
Gun owners believe in their right to own guns. They tend to react strongly against anything they perceive as a threat. Perhaps that explains why they own guns at all.
The legislation introduced in Ottawa last week recognizes that Canada is not a uniform nation. According to the 2011 census, more than 80% of Canadians live in urban areas; slightly under 20% in rural areas.
In rural areas, people want keep their guns to protect themselves against wild animals; in urban areas, people want to get rid of guns to protect themselves from other people.
Tags: guns, gun control
Driving to town the other day, I ran into a patch of valley fog.
Suddenly, clear air and bright sky vanished. I was swaddled in translucent cheesecloth. The centreline’s yellow tape scrolled out ahead of me, measuring time and distance to nowhere. The paved road, grey and gritty close up, merged into mist, dissolving into invisibility.
I felt as if I was driving down a metaphor.
Because, only moments before, I had been pondering the process of aging. Another colleague from former years had died.
The road ahead felt uncertain, unsure.
Tags: future, death, fog, rear-view mirror, road
Once upon a time, we all made little valentines. Our school teachers provided coloured paper and lace doilies that we could cut up and stick together.
I distantly remember having crushes on various girls. I always hoped they’d feel the love oozing out of the card I made for them. And vice versa, I suppose. But it’s hard to sense true love when everyone gets a card.
Valentine’s Day seems somewhat fruitless for one who now lives alone. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not whining. I’m much more comfortable with being on my own these days. When I think about it, I live a privileged life. I have a warm house. I have adequate income. I enjoy an active life. I have friends.
But it does give me an outsider’s perspective on the urge to couple up.
Tags: Valentine, holon, couple
At the start of winter, I filled my bird feeder with sunflower seeds. For several days, not one bird came to dinner. Then a single junco arrived, pecked, and flew away. The day after that, a handful of scrappy little finches showed up.
The third day, a single quail appeared.
Now, quail are ground birds. They’d rather run than fly, little legs blurring beneath them like the cartoon Roadrunner’s. And they are not loners. They travel in flocks, so many that sometimes the earth itself seems to be moving.
But for some reason, this one flew up to check. Alone.
And the next day, dozens of quail swarmed over the feeder, climbing over each other, double-deckering on each other’s backs, to get at the treasure trove of sunflower seeds.
They had to have had a way of passing the good news around.
Their own social media?
Tags: God, Language, birds, experience, prairie dogs
It’s hard to realize that the first COVID-19 case showed up in Canada barely more than a year ago. A patient came to Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital after returning from Wuhan, China, where the disease apparently originated.
COVID-19 was a brand new disease. We didn’t know how it started, how it was transmitted, or how to treat it.
We learned as we went.
Initially, too, we saw ICU patients propped up in beds. Now I sometimes see then lying face down. It looks awkward, but apparently it helps to drain the fluid building up in their lungs.
At that point, I wondered if anyone in the COVID-19 camp had contacted the cystic fibrosis community about postural drainage.
Because nobody, but nobody, knows more about getting fluid out of lungs than the people who treat cystic fibrosis.
Tags: Cystic Fibrosis, COVID-19, postural drainage, lungs
I’ve been taking my time putting Christmas decorations away.
Long ago, everything came down on Twelfth Night, January 6 -- when, tradition says, the Magi from the east visited Jesus and brought gifts of gold, and myrrh, and incense.
We put them all away. Somewhere. That wasn’t part of my job.
My job was to take the tree and any evergreen wreathes outside. To burn them in the yard. A single match usually sufficed to demonstrate the combustibility of coniferous forests.
This year has been different.
Some of my Christmas decorations have come down, and been tucked away in boxes in the basement storage room. But some are still out.
Because I think, I don’t want Christmas to end.
Tags: Christmas, decorations, W.R.Rodgers, pretence