March 31, 2005

And now . . . this - Mar. 31/05

Hold muh beer an' watch this!

A teenager who found a cloud-seeding missile was almost killed when he tried to cut it up for scrap metal with an axe.

Milan Petrov, 16, from Vinica, Macedonia, found the missile in a forest near his house and brought it home to cut up for scrap metal.

But he was badly injured when it blew up after he hit it several times with a heavy axe.

[Full Story]

*sigh* . . . Never bring an axe to a missile fight. (Someone had to say it.)

Terri Schiavo has died

Mikey "Grieving Widower" Schiavo denied his in-laws access to their daughter on her deathbed. Now, supposedly no legal obstacle remains for him to marry the concubine he deserted her for.

" Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." (Gal. 6:7)

Hope you're happy, Mikey. Celebrate while you can, because it won't be long before you're the sort of social pariah only the worst sex offender can dream of being.

March 28, 2005

Scott's Easter roundup

What a day.

I awoke Sunday morning at 6am and headed downtown. The evangelical churches in Ottawa have held a yearly Easter sunrise service on Parliament Hill for nearly 40 years - skipping only last year because of a perceived lack of interest which, as they learned in short order, was a misperception. When I arrived (about 15 minutes early) there were about 20 people gathered at the foot of the steps to the Peace Tower. By the time the service was over, there had to be about 200. The speaker was Brian Stiller, formerly the president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, currently president of Tyndale Bible College and Seminary in Toronto, and an excellent preacher and dissector of Canadian culture. Broadly speaking, the short message was about the significance of Easter for Christians in the public square.

From there I walked up Bank St. to my own church, and attended the first of the three Easter services, at 8:30. The sermon, titled "Easter: The Eternal Holy Day" was an exposition of Revelation 5, specifically the worthiness of Christ, the Lamb that was slain, to break the seals on the scroll:

  1. Jesus is worthy because he is the crucified Lamb.
  2. Jesus is worthy because he is the conquering Lion.
  3. Jesus is worthy to be the centre of world history.
  4. Jesus is worthy to be the centre of your life.

After the first service, I joined the choir singing the anthem at the beginning of the second and third services, skipping out in between for a quick breakfast. Then it was home for a brief respite (all of 15 minutes) before heading out to my Bible study group, which was surprisingly (to me) well attended for an Easter afternoon.

Next, it was back to church again for rehearsal and the evening service, which presented the choir cantata Believe. Being a Clydesdale arrangement, it featured many Notes of Unusual Pitch for us poor basses. My lungs hurt.

Finally, I spent a couple of hours soothing my tortured throat with bubble tea and pho at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant with some friends before going home and crashing.

Next year I'm taking some of Easter off . . . Most of the day was fun and enjoyable, but it was just too long without a break.

On the other hand, by virtue of showing up at church at 8:30, I coincidentally hooked up with an old friend who happened to be in Ottawa for the weekend and had come to Easter service at my church simply because it was closest to his hotel. If I'd started later in the day, I would have missed him entirely. (Hi Mark, if you're reading.)

March 27, 2005

He is risen indeed!

An Easter thought from Athanasius, that great defender of Trinitarian Christianity:

Some might urge that, even granting the necessity of a public death for subsequent belief in the resurrection, it would surely have been better for Him to have arranged an honorable death for Himself, and so to have avoided the ignominy of the cross. But even this would have given ground for suspicion that His power over death was limited to the particular kind of death which He chose for Himself; and that again would furnish excuse for disbelieving the resurrection. Death came to His body, therefore, not from Himself but from enemy action, in order that the Savior might utterly abolish death in whatever form they offered it to Him. A generous wrestler, virile and strong, does not himself choose his antagonists, lest it should be thought that of some of them he is afraid. Rather, he lets the spectators choose them, and that all the more if these are hostile, so that he may overthrow whomsoever they match against him and thus vindicate his superior strength. Even so was it with Christ. He, the Life of all, our Lord and Savior, did not arrange the manner of his own death lest He should seem to be afraid of some other kind. No. He accepted and bore upon the cross a death inflicted by others, and those others His special enemies, a death which to them was supremely terrible and by no means to be faced; and He did this in order that, by destroying even this death, He might Himself be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be recognized as finally annulled. A marvelous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonor and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death's defeat. Therefore it is also, that He neither endured the death of John, who was beheaded, nor was He sawn asunder, like Isaiah: even in death He preserved His body whole and undivided, so that there should be no excuse hereafter for those who would divide the Church.

- Athanasius, On the Incarnation 24.

March 26, 2005

FridaySaturday in the wild - Mar. 26, 2005

Held up a day this week because of Good Friday.

It's a couple years behind the fashion curve, but Lars at Brandywine Books has weighed in on Bruce Wilkinson's The Prayer of Jabez:

And that’s the secret to the passage. Jabez is the son of a mother who doesn’t love him; who blames him and holds a grudge against him. And that’s a big deal, especially in Jabez’ culture. Not getting a blessing from your parents was a major setback for an Israelite. To actually be cursed by a parent was horrific. You might as well just go hang yourself now. Your life is not going to be a pleasant one. You are a luck-repellant.

But Jabez, we are told, took his problem to God. He apparently asked the Lord to give him a blessing that would counteract his mother’s curse. “And God granted his request.” (verse 10) His brothers, not as honorable as he, very likely let their mother’s judgment be the last word on their destinies, and lived lives that were nasty, brutish and short.

[Read Jabez 'n me]

Darlene of Blogger, can you spare a dime? is responsible for my nearly spewing Kraft Dinner all over my desk with this story of heroism in the face of animal attack:

As the water rose higher and higher, Michael moved faster and faster. Running. Plunging. Sweating. Swearing. The mouse realized it was his last chance at freedom as he struggled against the current and clung to the plunger that jostled him to and fro. If only he could manage to climb up the handle, he could run up the man’s sleeves and start clawing at his face. But the water pulled him down hard and soon he lost hold of the dome of salvation.

[Read Man against Nature]

Finally for today, ever heard the Leonard Cohen Song "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy"? Tim Challies shows in this must-read post how small our world is:

Over the years I have had a fascination with this song. It is an awful song, in many ways, leaving Nancy a legacy that few would want - a legacy of promiscuity and self-loathing. I have often felt such pity for Nancy as I can almost feel her sadness and pain through the song. I have wished that someone could reach through the sadness and bring her some measure of peace.

But the peace never came. Lost in her despair, Nancy took her own life.

How do I know this? Nancy was my aunt.

[Read Seems So Long Ago, Nancy]

Meanwhile, over on the search engine front, someone Googled me looking for freaky bible passages. Not sure I can help with that.

But that's not half as disturbing as the guy who was looking for pastor gene scott porn. I'm afraid to ask what this guy's kink is.

Someone else wanted to know why arizona doesn't care how I stand on public issues as long%2 . . . What? What? Don't leave me in the dark, man!

Till next week.

March 25, 2005

Na na na na, hey hey, Allah Achbar

This one is actually a couple of days old, but it completes the trifecta:

A federal court judge has upheld the use of a security certificate against Ottawa's Mohamed Harkat, who has been held in jail for more than two years.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service says the Algerian-born man is a member of Al-Qaeda who trained in Afghanistan, then entered Canada as a sleeper agent.

On Tuesday, Madam Justice Eleanor Dawson ruled that the grounds for that certificate are reasonable, opening the way to Harkat's deportation.

[Full Story]

Buh-bye. Say hi to Osama for me.

March 24, 2005

Na na na na, hey hey, y'all don't come back now, y'hear?

Life is good in Canada these days.

First we rid ourselves of German whiner Ernst Zündel and deport him back to Germany where he faces criminal charges for his particular brand of idiocy. Now, today, we rid ourselves of American whiner Jeremy Hinzman and deport him back to the States where he faces charges for his particular brand of idiocy:

An American war dodger who fled the U.S. military because he believed the invasion of Iraq was criminal has lost his bid for refugee status in Canada in a case closely watched on both sides of the border.

In a written ruling released Thursday, the Immigration and Refugee Board said Jeremy Hinzman had not made a convincing argument that he faced persecution or cruel and unusual punishment in the United States. . . .

"Mr. Hinzman is disappointed," said [lawyer Jeffry] House.

[Full Story]

"Mr. Hinzman is hosed," says Ransom.


Being a fan of open-wheel racing, I generally think of Formula 1 as a race of driving virtuosity, as opposed to the raw mechanical power that seems to predominate in Champ Car or IRL. This seems especially true when you consider the number of rules the FIA has imposed upon F1 cars specifically to slow them down.

So how fast does an F1 car go, comparatively speaking? Check out this video in which driver David Coulthard and his Mercedez-Benz-equipped McLaren car blows the doors off two Mercedes street vehicles, even giving them a 70-second head start around the 3.2-mile road track. Vroom!

(H/T: Ghost of a Flea.)

March 23, 2005

Local passages of note

Talk about being gone and forgotten. This was just reported in the paper yesterday:

ONE OF OTTAWA's most infamous child predators is dead. Owen Dulmage died in January at St. Vincent's Hospital. He was 83. . . .

For it all, Dulmage got just one year in jail. But upon his release in November 1999, the one-time predator became the prey. He was pursued by the media and warning notices with his photograph were taped to his front yard tree. His home was vandalized.

There was no outpouring of grief for Dulmage at Kelly's Funeral Home in January. In fact, there was no funeral service to mark his passing. The lifelong bachelor was cremated. The final resting place for his remains is not known.

[Full Story]

As it happens, I lived at the other end of the street from Dulmage for about three years, though I never encountered him.

Meanwhile, a little closer to downtown, there was a four-alarm fire last night at a pizzeria a block away from my church. The street was closed for most of today while they did cleanup, but it was clear by the time I went to church this evening for choir practice. The building is now a pile of rubble, and it looks like the restaurant next door suffered some pretty heavy damage too. Fortunately no one was hurt, but apparently 14 people lived in the apartments above the pizzeria.

Welcome to the culture of death


A Sothern [sic] Illinois woman was arrested last week (March 17) after trying to intervene on behalf of her 14-year old daughter's effort to have an abortion. The girl was allegedly taken to an abortion clinic by the mother of the man allegedly to have impregnated the 14-year old.

According to the girl's mother, her 14-year old daughter was called off from school in Madison County by a woman posing as the girl's “grandmother.” The woman took the girl from her home only minutes before the girl’s mother returned home from work. . . .

“My husband and I rushed to the abortion clinic where we saw our daughter’s name on the roster and the time she had checked in,” the mother said. She then went into the clinic and searched a room filled with young women awaiting abortions but did not see her daughter.

She took a seat near the main desk and said, “I was told I could not prove my daughter was there so I began calling her name. A medical tech at the clinic told me , ‘It’s your daughter’s rights, it’s her body. You have no rights.’”

After continuing to call out her daughter’s name and telling her “don’t do it,” authorities were called and the mother was arrested.

[Full Story]

This is an abomination. A minor cannot get her ears pierced or take aspirin to school without parental consent, yet the mother of the alleged boy who knocked this little girl up can pose as her grandmother and take her to an abortuary where, for her convenience, will arrest her real mother when she, quite rightly furious and concerned about her daughter, shows up.

The Web page of the Hope Clinic, where the woman was taken, says this to parents:

Studies have shown young women are more likely to experience a favorable outcome after an abortion if their parents are supportive. It's also known that women under age 22,were more heavily influenced emotionally by parents' support than by a male partner's support.

[Full Text]

Meanwhile, they are barring a mother access to her daughter, and then lying to the daughter when her mother is arrested.

Sick freaks.

main { printf ("It was a dark and stormy night"); return 0; }

Yay! This year's installment of The International Obfuscated C Code Contest started this Monday.

The IOCCC is like the programming equivalent of The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest - except that, instead of celebrating bad prose, it celebrates bad C code. The founders were inspired to start the contest after having to debug some extraordinarily broken code at work, so they got on Usenet and taunted others to try and out-obfuscate it. The result is the Internet's longest running contest.

My personal favourite - primarily since, as a non-programmer, it's one of the few I understand - is the 1988 entry that calculates the value of π by using an ASCII representation of a circle. (For a more accurate calculation, draw a bigger circle.)

Missing the point

Feel like a cup of tea, but don't have the time to brew one up? Pop a "tea pill" instead.

Indian tea scientists have produced a tea-flavored pill that can be chewed or quickly dissolved in hot or cold water.

The brownish tablet weighs 0.3 grams and consists of 80 percent tea and 20 percent other flavors -- a combination the inventors at the Tocklai tea research center in India's northeastern Assam state say peps you up just like a traditional cuppa.

[Full Story]

Shoot, brewing a pot of Earl Grey is half of what makes it so satisfying.

March 22, 2005

And now . . . this - Mar. 22/05

Reminds me of an old practical joke

Scientists at MIT's Media Lab in the United States have invented an alarm clock called Clocky to make even the doziest sleepers, who repeatedly hit the snooze button, leap out of bed.

After the snooze button is pressed, the clock, which is equipped with a set of wheels, rolls off the table to another part of the room.

[Full Story]

Yeah right. I used to have a clock radio that sounded like a school fire alarm going off. It didn't stop me from hitting the snooze bar about 50 times.

Dubious honour

A Scottish factory worker has been crowned the world's fastest text-messager after punching out a complicated message in record time.

Craig Crosbie, 24, took just 48 seconds to type out the 160-character message: "The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human."

Must be a Scottish thing. Two years ago, a 13-year-old girl submitted an entire essay in text-messagese.

A question

Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that you are a demolition expert heading up a crew hired to implode an old, decrepit building so the owner can reuse the lot.

You have gutted the interior of the building and set the explosives. But when the time arrives to detonate the charges and reduce the building to a pile of rubble, a bystander points to one of the upper-story windows. "I think I just saw someone moving around in there," he says. You do a quick roll call, and determine that all of your crew is accounted for.

At that point, do you:

  1. put an immediate end to all further work, until you have thoroughly searched the building and made absolutely sure no one is left inside?
  2. summarily deny that anyone could possibly be left in the building, have security escort anyone who says otherwise off the premises, then blow the charges anyway?

The clear answer is (a), of course. If you do not know for certain whether everyone is out of the building, you are morally obliged to make sure before proceeding. Anything less would be reckless, if not criminal. This is obvious.

That was a hypothetical question.

Here's a real one: Where Terri Schiavo is concerned, why are so many people saying (b) is the right answer?

Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo, and his attorney, George Felos, as well as Judge George W. Greer, who presides over this case, argue that Terri is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS).

Loosely defined, a patient in a PVS lacks any sort of cognition and is neither self-aware nor aware of his environment. He is incapable of voluntary movement, vocalization, and so forth, and does not experience pain or suffering.

However, various medical personnel, visitors, and Terri's family have observed that Terri is apparently capable of simple cognitive activities: she attempts to speak, reacts to visitors, laughs and cries, enjoys music, and withdraws from painful stimuli. If this is true, then by definition, she is not in a PVS.

Schiavo has banned visitors who attempted to feed Terri by mouth. He also once banned Terri's family from visiting after they took some videos and posted them to the Internet; Judge Greer has banned visitors from taking pictures or videos.

Furthermore, it has been claimed by some that no one has ever administered the MRI scan that would be a standard test for PVS. However, this claim is disputable, and in light of the above, it is beside the point in any case.

There is good reason to believe that there is "someone inside the building." The moral thing to do under the circumstances would be to ascertain conclusively whether or not that is the case before allowing Terri Schiavo to die. However, it appears that Michael Schiavo and company have not only ignored the evidence, but removed anyone who disputes his own foregone conclusions, and forged ahead with ending his wife's life.

Anything less would be reckless, if not criminal.


The building analogy is borrowed from the "Pro-Life 101" seminar presented by Scott Klusendorf.

March 21, 2005

And now . . . this - Mar. 21/05

A first-grader brought dozens of little bags of crack cocaine to his Chicago Heights elementary school Friday and began passing them out to classmates, calling them "candy," officials said Sunday. . . .

"He lives in a household where apparently there's drug dealing, and when he sees these little bags of rock cocaine around the house, they're telling him it's candy," Chicago Heights Deputy Police Chief Michael Camilli said.

[Full Story]

You know, every once in awhile someone floats the idea of licensing parents. I'm generally opposed to it, but some people make a compelling argument for it.

March 20, 2005

New "feature"

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that Canada Reads 2005 has propelled a 100-year-old Nova Scotian novel, Rockbound, right into the limelight. I put myself on the reserve list for it at the local library, and already found myself at #158 on the reading list.

As of today, I am #139. Obviously things are moving more quickly than I anticipated. (Yay!)

I thought it might be mildly amusing to log my progress up the chart, so I've added a "Waiting for Rockbound" section to the sidebar, just above the blogroll, that I will update every Wednesday.

March 19, 2005

Introducing the Coens

(Better late than never.)

Spoiler warning: This is part review, part critical essay, and as such may give away important plot details. If you don't want to risk the movie being spoiled for you before you've seen it, come back later. If you don't particularly care, read on.

Short version: Blood Simple is the first feature film by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen. It introduces themes, plot points, and stylistic elements that recur in their later work. Thus, qua Coen film, it is indispensible to appreciating their work. On the other hand, if you're just looking for something to kill some time on a Friday night, I recommend a later, similar Coen film such as Fargo or The Man Who Wasn't There.

Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya), who owns a redneck bar somewhere in Texas, believes that his wife Abby is cheating on him. He hires private detective Loren Visser (M. Emmet Walsh, Blade Runner) to spy on her. It turns out she is sleeping with Ray (John Getz), one of Marty's bartenders. Ray quits his job before Marty can fire him, but first he demands the two weeks' back pay he is owed. Marty refuses, insinuating that sharing Abby's bed is payment in full.

After a botched abduction attempt, Marty hires Visser again to do something "not strictly legal": he offers him $10,000 to kill Ray and Abby. The detective accepts the offer. But he's more interested in the money than carrying out the contract. When he double-crosses Marty, he sets off a chain reaction. No one really seems to know what's going on as the body count rises.

This movie, inspired by James Cain's novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, is billed as a black comedy. But it's a comedy in the sense of a "comedy of errors." Blood Simple is a film noir, where the plot and the characters are driven by circumstances gone beyond their control. While the audience knows exactly what's going on, none of the characters have all the pieces of the puzzle. They are all motivated by erroneous assumptions. Ray, finding Abby's Saturday Night Special near Marty's body, assumes she did the deed, not realizing Visser stole it. He cleans up the murder scene to protect her. In the movie's most macabre scene, while attempting to get rid of Marty's body, he discovers that he isn't quite dead, so he buries him alive in the middle of a field - and, not being too bright, implicates himself in the process. Abby thinks Ray is responsible for stealing thousands of dollars from Marty's bar. Neither of them is aware of Visser apart from a vague idea that they are being followed. Visser, accidentally leaving his lighter behind at the murder scene, assumes (falsely) that Ray and Abby are onto him.

Hedaya, best known as Carla's ex-husband Nick Tortelli on Cheers, excels at greasy, not-too-bright characters, so he plays Marty with just the right amount of sliminess. A very young Frances McDormand (Fargo) makes her on-screen debut here as well. John Getz is the weak link; he doesn't make the simple-minded Ray into anything memorable. But it's veteran character actor Walsh who makes this movie. His portrayal of Visser ("Elks Man of the Year"), in his yellow leisure suit and perpetual film of sweat, is just creepy.

The Coens' director of photography is Barry Sonnenfeld, who would collaborate with them for a number of movies before embarking on a successful directing career of his own (most notably with Men in Black). Blood Simple uses a number of trademark Coen cinematography techniques. The so-called "Raimi cam," for example, is an oddball camera rush used extensively in Sam Raimi's film The Evil Dead, which Joel Coen edited. In one early scene in Blood Simple, the camera tracks over top of Marty's bar, doing a bunny-hop over a passed-out drunk. The Coens make frequent make use of disguised cuts, focusing on an object common to two settings (such as the ceiling fans in Marty's office and Abby's bedroom) to transition between those locations. This movie makes good use of light and shadow and high contrasts. Much of the action takes place in the dark. In one memorable use of chiaroscuro lighting, seemingly solid shafts of light penetrate a black room through freshly made bullet holes.

Another longtime Coen collaborator, Carter Burwell, provided the film's music. The original score, consisting mainly of haunting solo piano, underscores the creepiness of the plot nicely. The recurring use of The Four Tops' hit "It's the Same Old Song" (restored to the DVD edition of Blood Simple after licensing concerns forced the Coens to substitute "I'm a Believer" for the home VHS release) gives the ending an ironic twist.

If there is any negative in this movie, it's the lack of truly likeable characters. No one in this story is truly good: Visser is sinister, Marty is sleazy, and even the two protagonists are a murderer and an adulteress who don't really trust each other. It's hard to sympathize with characters who do despicable things, even if their enemies are even more despicable.

Think of Blood Simple as a dry run for 1995's Fargo. If you're in the mood simply for a good thriller, check out that later and superior film. The Man Who Wasn't There, the Coens' 2001 neo-noir, also revisits the motif of the simple plan gone wrong with disastrous consequences. But if you want to see how the distinctive style of two of the most creative filmmakers currently working got its start, Blood Simple is the place to begin.

March 18, 2005

Friday in the wild - Mar. 18, 2005

Ha ha ha! Just kidding. With some other stuff on my plate, my time for blogging or reading other blogs has been down this week. Better to post nothing than try and post something cheesy just for the sake of doing it. See you next week.

March 17, 2005

What a day

I spent a good part of my afternoon today helping my friend Brandt move out of the place he's been living for the last two weeks, in anticipation of moving into what sounds like a suh-weet loft. Reason for move: weird landlord. Brandt chronicled some of his idiosyncrasies a few days ago. He was creepy. He seems sane enough, but as long as we were in the house packing things up, he was constantly in our faces, asking if we needed garbage bags, telling us to check behind the furniture, yada yada yada. I don't think he got more than ten feet away from us as long as we were there. Maybe he thought we were going to swipe the silverware or something, I don't know.

Followed that up by going out to church. Our usual young adult meeting was pre-empted by a coffee house. When the right people in the group get organized to do stuff like this, the result is a real talent powerhouse. I don't think there was a bad act in the bunch, and what lacked finesse made up for it in gutsiness.

But now I'm bushed, and I ate too much cake. I'm winding down with a little Mozart: horn concerti performed by Xiao-Ming Han with the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jia Lü. One of the girls in the group plays French horn and performed a movement from one of them, and it's kind of stuck in my head.

Happy St. Pat's day

May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be half an hour in heaven
Before the devil knows you're dead.

March 12, 2005

Another Canadian fixture is gone

Veteran journalist and broadcaster Bill Cameron, a fixture on Canadian news and current-affairs programming since the 1970s, died yesterday of cancer.

Cameron began his broadcasting career with Global TV in 1978, leaving to anchor the newsdesk at Toronto's CITY-TV in 1983 before becoming a reporter and alternate host for the CBC's news magazine program The Journal - which is where I remember him most vividly, as I was a regular viewer of The National and The Journal every evening while in high school. He remained with the CBC in various capacities until the deep budget cuts of 1999.

He was 62.

March 11, 2005

Friday in the wild - Mar. 11, 2005

Once again: whutz been goin on around the blog that wasn't here.

Two weeks ago I reported on a legislator in Maine that had introduced a bill to make it a hate crime to abort gay fetuses, should homosexuality be discovered to have a genetic cause. Joe Carter posted an interesting analysis of this situation this week, coming to a different conclusion than myself:

The question then is what will happen to gays and lesbians when homosexuality becomes “preventable?” My guess it that it won’t be long before "being gay" is once again classified under the disease model of behavior and is considered a treatable condition. After all, it was only recently that psychiatry let go of its hold on this "disorder." (Until 1987, “ego-dystonic homosexuality” was still classified as a pathology in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II).)

The fact that the vast majority of gay people will not feel a corresponding desire to be “treated” will be deemed irrelevant. When alcoholism became a “disease” the onus was put on the individual to “get help” whether it was desired or not. If an alcoholic says that she can live and function just fine with her “condition”, she is considered in denial. If she won’t seek help for herself, the family and friends are encouraged to participate in an “intervention” to persuade her. Likewise, homosexuals may be compelled to seek treatment for their condition. Failure to do so might allow insurance companies to legitimately deny coverage for any illnesses that can be traced back to this “preventable” condition.

[Read Pre-Born Discrimination: Can Abortion Be Classified as a Hate Crime?]

The Conservative Grad Student ought to post more often, but when he does, his anecdotes of experiences in graduate studies in the humanities are usually worth a good chuckle. This week:

So, we're discussing St. Augustine for whatever reason (I'm not sure, as no one in the class understands any of the scriptural allusions he makes and all they want to do is insult him for not being clever enough to see through the sham of Christianity),


I quote a verse from the Bible from memory. One that Augustine alluded to but didn't fully quote.

Someone actually said "I didn't think there were people who could quote the Bible at the drop of a hat. At least not among educated people, anyway."

[Full Post]

There wasn't a full moon this week (quite the opposite, in fact) so the searches were relatively sane. Nonetheless, there were some interesting queries that brought surfers to this site:

Oh - and Google searches for "crusty" still rank this blog as #4, only now they've discovered that the site has a name again, and all is back to normal. The ways of Google are mysterious.

March 09, 2005

Conspiracy nut update

The lunatic fringe has gone into serious "headless chicken" mode over Popular Mechanics' March cover story debunking 9/11 conspiracy theories. This excellent article has sent the freakazoids like Alex Jones and The Power Hour into a complete tailspin. Seriously, it's all they talk about anymore.

March 06, 2005

And now . . . this - Mar. 5/05


A 40-year-old woman described as a transient was jailed in Grand Junction - accused of jumping a fence to wrestle naked with a dog.

An arrest affidavit indicated that Katherine Earle scaled the four-foot fence just before midnight Tuesday, then stripped in order to wrestle with the male Labrador retriever-blue heeler mix.

Residents of the home awoke from the noise and called police.

Responding officers said Earle told them she was having sex with the dog, and that she does it all the time. The dog's owner, Six Starr, said that Earle has been friendly with the dog, but that Earle has been acting strangely for the past six months.

[Full Story]

Strangely? Nah, it's OK, she does it all the time. Nothing to see here.

Paging Larry Summers

A fourth-grader who was attending a Methuen elementary school as a girl before February vacation has returned to school as a boy.

The parents of the 9-year-old child said the youngster was born with the body of a girl, but the brain of a boy.

They have asked that he be referred to and treated as a boy by teachers and other students, and school officials are accommodating the request. The parents have even changed the child's name.

[Full Story]

OK, but what kind of brain do her parents and the school admins have?

March 05, 2005

More cowbell, baby!

The slight cosmetic change at the top of the blog is in honour of this post by the Jollyblogger, who is responsible for my nearly passing out laughing. The cowbell sketch is one of the few things that actually gets funnier with repeated viewings.

(Out of curiosity, I located and listened to a clip of "Don't Fear the Reaper," and I'll be darned if there isn't someone banging away at a cowbell. The song's ruined for me now.)

The worst form of torture you can imagine is not having panties on your head, it's having "this song" stuck in your head. Jeremy at Parableman is personally responsible for the next worst thing. (One of the funniest Muppet sketches ever, though, so he's forgiven.)

March 04, 2005

Friday in the wild - Mar. 4, 2005

It's Friday! And that means that it's time for the regular Friday roundup of new and interesting stuff I've seen around the blogosphere from last Friday to today, which is Friday. Here goes:

Joe Carter laments - or maybe "laughs at" would be more factually correct - the sad state of modern visual art:

Modern art is in the toilet.


Last December, 500 arts specialists in Britain agreed that the single most important work of art in the 20th century was Marcel Duchamp’s "Fountain."

[Read Lifting Art Out of the Toilet: Can Christians Save the Visual Arts?]

Fountain, for you ignorant philistines, is a urinal placed on a pedestal.

I think one of Joe's commenters said it best: "DuChamp has the right to write his name on any piece of plumbing he wants and I have the right to call him a lazy hack-poser for it. It's the circle of life!"

Here's an excellent piece from about the contemporary trend toward deprecating the office of pastor:

As the Protestant church has changed and evolved since the time of the Reformation, so has the office of pastor. Where in times past the minister wore a robe, collar or both to differentiate himself from the laity, it seems that today the pastor is often the person wearing shorts and sandals. Where a pastor once wore clothing that conveyed dignity and displayed the uniqueness of the pastoral ministry, today the pastor often tries to be the most unnoticeable person in the church. Where the term "pastor" was once largely reserved for the minister who led his flock, today we have pastors of every type – music pastors, counseling pastors, administrative pastors, and even lay pastors (which seems to be a contradiction in terms). Where pastors and office-bearers once held the keys to the kingdom and had the privilege of administering the sacraments, today the laity is permitted and even encouraged to do this themselves.

[Read An Authoritative Word from God]

Taking his cue from Hollywood Worldviews author Brian Godawa, David at Jollyblogger comments on the self-stultifying assumptions of movies written from an existentialist point of view:

So, the bottom line is that the art of storytelling itself belies an existential worldview. The art of storytelling leaves no room for chance, it operates under a deterministic worldview.

[Read The Paradox of Existentialism in the Movies]

Call me heteronormative. That's the word Parableman suggests for the view that heterosexuality is normal and homosexuality is abnormal, as opposed to "homophobia" which has overtones of bigotry. He frames the discussion in terms of the flap at Harvard over Jada Pinkett Smith made some comments at a recent event that assumed a heterosexual audience.

No interesting searches graced the Crusty Curmudgeon this week. There were an understandable number of hits from people wanting info on Gene Scott, a less understandable run on "God's perfect will," and a last-minute attempt by someone to search for Michael Menkin, a literal tinfoil-hat guru. Googling crusty finds us in 5th place this week, though Google is still ignoring what's between the <title /> tags for some reason. Well, whatever. Enjoy.

March 02, 2005

Canada Reads followup

You wouldn't think that a silly literary contest run by the CBC once a year would have the effect it does.

Over the last week, I have seen people all over the place reading shortlisted books: Volkswagen Blues on the bus, Rockbound in the mall, everywhere.

I just put my name on the waiting list for Rockbound at the library. I am 158th in line. (I might actually get to read it this year.) Not at all bad for a book that was shrouded in obscurity only a few weeks ago.

March 01, 2005

And now . . . this - Mar. 1/05

Fortunately he landed on his head, and not a vital organ

From - you guessed it - Floriduh:

Teenagers in Orlando, Fla., are leaping between 80-foot high public parking garages in a new trend called "garage jumping," according to a Local 6 News investigation.

Local 6 News reported that the thrill seekers are vaulting themselves between garages in downtown Orlando.

Tim Bargfrede told Local 6 News that he was following friends when he attempted to garage jump and did not make it to the other side. Bargfrede fell six stories and was knocked unconscious on impact.

Marginally stupider than the kid is the family lawyer, Vincent D'Assaro:

D'Assaro is filing a lawsuit against the city of Orlando and the private garage owner for making little effort to correct a potential deadly risk.

"There was a very, very short length of fence that was completely ineffective in preventing this from happening," D'Assaro said.

[Full Story]

After all, kids these days need to be protected from themselves, being too dim to understand why you shouldn't jump off tall buildings.

And these people want to get to the moon?

An Indian teenager from one of the country's most backward states appears to have fooled governments, the media and even the president into believing he had topped the world in a NASA science exam. . . .

The Uttar Pradesh state government rewarded him with a 500,000 rupee ($11,500) prize and more than 100 members of the state's upper house each donated a day's salary to him.

But as he was at the president's official residence awaiting an audience during the week, his story unraveled.

[Full Story]

Mmm hmm. And what clued you in first?

An Indian news portal,, contacted NASA, which denied any knowledge of the exam.

And your second clue?

The certificate, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, declared "You are the member of NASA" (sic) and is signed by Singh and "Chief of NASA, Cin K. Kif" -- NASA's former administrator was Sean O'Keefe. It also lists the name of Singh's father, common practice in Indian documents.

Mmm hmm . . .

Singh says he flew to London on Indian Airlines -- which does not fly to the city -- and took a taxi to Oxford University and back every day for the exam from January 4-8, a round trip of about 230 km (140 miles).

How interesting. Go on . . .

Singh told Reuters he stayed in a hotel, but told a Hindi language newspaper he stayed at Buckingham Palace.

You can't make this stuff up.

Draw thy tool!

A man threatened his neighbors with a sword after they complained about him being naked in his front yard, police said. Curtis D. Rarick, 44, was charged with assault while displaying a dangerous weapon.

[Full Story]

The neighbours were just envious. Yeah, that's it.

Na na na na, hey hey, Auf Wiedersehen

As Canadian authorities prepared to deport Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel back to his native Germany, authorities there said Monday he faces arrest on charges of inciting racial hatred upon his return.

Zundel, author of "The Hitler We Loved and Why," has been held in a Toronto jail for two years while authorities determined whether he posed a security risk to Canadian society.

Federal Court Justice Pierre Blais ruled last Friday that Zundel's activities were a threat to national security and "the international community of nations."

Zundel's attorney Peter Lindsay said his client would not appeal and was expected to be deported as early as Tuesday. Immigration officials did not return calls regarding the timing and details of the deportation.

[Full Story]

Good riddance to bad rubbish. And take the hard hat with you.

(H/T: Religion News Blog.)