June 24, 2005

Friday in the wild - June 24, 2005

As always, on Friday I like to showcase a few posts that I read during the week that make me think, give me a good laugh, or otherwise just stick out in my memory. I have been a bit light on blog runs this week since I've been spending my online time on other concerns, but nonetheless here's a couple for your perusal.

It's a good thing for Christ's sake that Larry King likes John MacArthur so much, because MacArthur invariably proclaims a real Gospel when he's on King's show. By contrast, James White chimes in on the squishy interview that Joel Osteen gave King earlier this week:

Can you just imagine Paul or John responding to these direct questions the way Osteen did? What a wonderful opportunity to present the awesome holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, and the unique truth of salvation through the cross of Christ, squandered out of fear of the faces of men! Just amazing.

[Read Muddling the Message, Ashamed of the Gospel]

Yesterday I blogged about the USSC's ruling that municipalities can take land from one owner and give it to another if the latter will bring in more tax revenues. This morning I discovered that people were finding their way here from the Xanga blog of Miss O'Hara. She wonders where the faith bloggers are in all this, and makes a very good point that honestly didn't occur to me at the time: What does this mean for churches, which don't pay any taxes at all?

One thing I am finding curious is how many faith-type bloggers haven't said a word about this. I know we aren't OF the world, but we are in it, and we're supposed to make a difference and be salty and so forth. Shouldn't we have something to say? It's frightening to see that most don't care. Talk about defending those without defense - now, that is every single one of us - including our churches. Say goodbye to your cathedrals, your chapels, your little community churches; they're about to be turned into strip malls, parking lots, and office complexes. That'll be a nice change for the American landscape. No more steeples. What's that saying about never sticking up for someone . . . and there being no one left to defend you when they come for you? If you're a "Christian" and you think this does not affect you . . . well, God will forgive you. But you still need to get with the program.

[Read Liberty Tree Looking Parched]

Challies.com posts the Christian Blogosphere Awards of Demerit, a tongue-in-cheek critique of a few blogging faux pas. Amongst the honored recipients: Phil Johnson for editing his published posts to death, thereby mangling all our RSS feeds, and (not surprisingly) Hugh Hewitt for still not having an RSS feed at all.

After last week's dry spell, it's good to see Google getting used for its intended purpose again:

Until next week, enjoy.

June 23, 2005

Welcome to the new feudalism

If you thought that the Terri Schiavo case represented the worst sort of judicial tyranny in the United States, think again:

A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth often is at war with individual property rights.

The 5-4 ruling - assailed by dissenting Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as handing "disproportionate influence and power" to the well-heeled in America - was a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They had argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.

[Full Story]

In other words, if you are a homeowner, and some developer makes a pitch to the municipal government that they can put the land to better use (which would generate higher taxes for the city), now the government has the "Constitutional" right, backed up with a Supreme Court precedent, to expropriate your land and give it to the developer.

This decision is worse than feudalism: at least the feudal lord had to demonstrate breach of contract before compelling the vassal to forfeit his fiefdom. It represents the worst aspects of socialism and unbridled capitalism: pure covetousness and greed motivating confiscation of private property.

Woe to those who join house to house,
who add field to field,
until there is no more room,
and you are made to dwell alone
in the midst of the land.
The LORD of hosts has sworn in my hearing:
"Surely many houses shall be desolate,
large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant. (Isa. 5:8-9)

Ironic comment of the day goes to "Cynical Nation" on VodkaPundit: "This conservative, right-wing court is destroying *all* our rights!! Well, at least we had some brave dissenters on this one, like O'Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas."

KJV-onlyism: Now with 20% more ignorance

It's always good to go to bed on a high note, and the latest nitwittery from the KJV-onlyists, those "fools for Christ," has made my day.

A KJV-onlyist calling himself KJV4ME (strike 1: lame screen name) on the Fightin' Fundamentalist Forum, where the free and unmoderated format has the downside of allowing anyone to post without a license, posted one of the usual ridiculous macros this evening. What caught my eye, however, was the following dubious factoid:

Having militarily defeated Rome, a spiritual defeat was now necessary. The Geneva Bible commonly used was from the Catholic mainland, and as such was tainted. As God's Word commands separation from unbelievers, England, separated by water and military might from the Catholic mainland was now set to take up her pre ordained place in history.

Two notes:

  • This is guilt by association of the grossest sort. The "logic," to use the word in its loosest possible meaning, goes something like this: Roman "Catholicism" comes from Europe. The Geneva Bible comes from Europe. Therefore, the Geneva Bible is tainted with Roman Catholicism. (Put another way: Rice comes from China. Pandas come from China. Therefore, pandas are made of rice.)
  • The Geneva Bible was translated in 1560 by expatriate Puritans living in Calvin's Geneva. As such, its evangelical credentials are considerably more solid than the overtly Anglican King James Bible.

KJV4ME closes his missive with this parting shot: "Once they remove the King James Bible as the authority for Christendom, the 2nd coming will follow shortly." Put another way, in order to hasten the return of Jesus, just switch to the NIV. Sounds like an endorsement to me.

Postscript: It's a con! "KJV4ME" admitted yesterday to being a "satire-loving troll," after posting an over-the-top follow-up that was still very clever (and nonetheless a major temptation not to deliver a good fisking). What you read above, though, remains the sort of gross ignorance and logical foolishness the KJVers like to employ, and it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if another one (with a slight reading comprehension difficulty) starts putting such claims forward in all seriousness. We shall see.

June 22, 2005

Google maps redux: Now that's what I'm talking about

In my previous post on wasting time with Google Maps, I set out some challenges. A number of commenters delivered multiple instances of planes in flight, and another correctly identified one of my mystery locations.

In the meantime I've been losing more sleep to Google and come up with a few instances of some other interesting views from my original list, especially military hardware:

  • A B-2 Spirit.
  • A little ways farther south, what appears to be a F-117 Nighthawk sits on the tarmac. Not surprising that these two planes are hanging around Plant 42 in Palmdale, California.
  • Over at Edwards AFB, I spotted a pair of SR-71s - quite possibly the coolest airplane ever invented.
  • And check this out: submarines at Norfolk.

Apparently, some time in the last few days, Google has also updated the maps section with footage of locations all over the world. Should be fun to do a little more sightseeing in Europe and Asia, checking out nifty locations like this and this and this and this and this.

June 21, 2005

The ultimate sore loser

Check out this obituary:

[Corwyn William Zimbleman] had strong political opinions and followed Amy Goodman's radio broadcast "Democracy Now." Alas the stolen election of 2000 and living with right-winged Americans finally brought him to his early demise. Stress from living in this unjust country brought about several heart attacks rendering him disabled.

[Full Obit]

Just goes to show: Moonbat handwringing is bad for your health.

(H/T: Michelle Malkin.)

June 20, 2005

Way to go TSN

Yesterday's U.S. Grand Prix was not broadcast live in Canada except for those whose cable packages include Speed. Mine does not.

To add insult to injury, coverage of the USGP, already limited to a half hour of highlights, was pre-empted by the NBA playoffs and then joined "already in progress" when there were only 5 minutes left.

Not that I was missing anything, of course. Citing safety concerns, every F1 team on Michelin tires boycotted the race and pulled their cars out after the parade lap - including Jarno Trulli, the polesitter - and in the end only six cars ran the race: Ferrari's, BAR's, and Jordan's, all of which use Bridgestone tires. In the end, Michael Schumacher won, not that he had any competition worth noting.

Fundamentally, the major culprit in this flap is FIA itself, with this year's stupid rule limiting drivers to a single set of tires for the entire race weekend. If worn tires could be replaced, safety at turn 13 wouldn't have even been an issue. What drunkard thought forcing drivers to drive carefully and conserve their tires would make a more exciting race?

Still, I wouldn't have minded seeing something. I haven't watched a USGP before and I was interested in seeing the F1 cars race on the Brickyard.

Oh well. To FIA and TSN: A pox on both your houses. At least I've got the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland to watch yet.

Yet again, we're all gonna die

"Brother" R. G. Stair never met an interesting phenomenon he couldn't pronounce imminent doom over.

"Planet X" never hit us, and the December 26 earthquake that resulted in that devastating tsunami didn't shatter the planet either.

Now, ol' Ralph is gone ga-ga over the fact that for the first time since the 1600s, magnetic north recently moved outside of Canadian territory and is moving toward Siberia. Judging by the frequency that catchphrases like "total chaos," "unexplainable massive upheavals," and "catastrophic worldwide weather chaos" pass from his lips, you'd expect that the North Magnetic Pole just ran roughshod over the terrain like some sort of rampaging Japanese movie monster. And, of course, this is all taken as proof that the Second Coming is gonna happen Real Soon Now and, much to the delight of prophecy "experts" everywhere, bodies will pile up all over the place.

The truth is, as usual, much more mundane. The movement of the magnetic pole is a natural function of the planet; its average position typically moves several miles a year. Basically, the movement of molten iron and nickel in the core of the earth generates a giant magnetic field. In addition, solar radiation interacting with this field can cause the magnetic pole to fluctuate several miles even in a single day. This, too, is a natural function of the sun. The only "news" in this story is the fact that Canada no longer "owns" magnetic north despite it being within current Canadian territory for nearly 400 years.

Perhaps if the "Last Day Prophet of God" went back to high school and took a few remedial science classes, he'd be a little more obedient to the divine command to be "quick to hear, [and] slow to speak" (James 1:19).

June 17, 2005

Friday in the wild - June 17, 2005

It's time for the end-of-the-week roundup of the things, I, Ransom, found so interesting and entertaining about the blogosphere in the last 7 days.

I've just discovered Pedantic Protestant this week, and amidst all the speculation as to who this "nobody relative to the Christian Church" is, I found his three-part critique of Romanist apologetics interesting:

There are various ways of defending Roman Catholicism. Here's a brief outline, that if not exhaustive, should be close enough to being exhaustive to do the trick:

(1) RCism is completely supportable from the OT and NT.

(2) RCism is not completely supportable from the OT and NT:

(a) RCism is not inconsistent with the Bible, being found in "seed" form, but needs extra-Biblical evidence
(b) RCism is not inconsistent with the Bible, not being found in "seed" form, but extra-Biblical evidence supports the Roman superstructure added to the Bible.

(3) Independently of scripture, Romanism is true because of certain philosophical a priori assumptions, which assumptions in the end make Romanism the only thing consistent with said assumptions.

(4) RCism is true by an experiential argument or some sort of mystical experience.

In tackling these four prongs of attack, which are mixed-n-matched by Roman apologists, I'll give my own opinion on their strengths and weaknesses.

[Read Defending Romanism --- Part 1]

Don't forget to check out parts 2 and 3.

The Pedantic Protestant also notes the 25th birthday of Pac-Man.

Doug TenNapel posts an excellent editorial cartoon.

Tim at Challies.com commemorates the 50th anniversary of L'Abri Fellowship with a guest article by Rick Pearcey:

[Francis Schaeffer] realized that people need to see an exhibition that God actually exists, and that's why he felt led to live a life, and begin a ministry, based on principles that emphasized verifiably answerable prayer, so that atheists, agnostics, and doubting Christians (sometimes hobbled by other Christians), could observe "living evidence," to borrow a phrase from author Udo Middelmann, of God at work in the modern world. Schaeffer's vision was that when "people come to L'Abri they are faced with these two aspects simultaneously" - honest answers to honest questions and the practical demonstration of the existence of God - "as the two sides of a single coin."

[Read Francis Schaeffer: A Student's Appreciation of a Distinct Voice]

The Phil Johnson greatest-post-ever-of-the-week shreds thin-skinned group blogs:

Virtual drinking guilds and smoking-fraternity group blogs are all the rage these days—especially those devoted to picking fights about theology and religion. Here's a step-by-step guide to everything you need to start your own similar frat-house-cum-religious-debate blog. Follow my advice, and you and your coterie of compadres can soon be starting your own theological food-fights in the virtual realm, just like the Big Boys. . . .

[Read The Do-It-Yourself Group Blogging Kit for Emerging Religious Types]

My RSS aggregator has an entire subfolder filled with pretentious emerging Latin-named "reformed this-or-that" blogs that obviously got a hold of an advance copy of this post. I'd take issue with lumping the Thinklings in with Bore's Head Tavern, though.

Was there a full moon or something? The regular crowd of Google users seem to have had an unusual week of sanity. Apart from one search from the Emma Watson pedophile crowd, which was so crude I won't repeat it here, searches bringing people to the Curmdugeon were basically mundane. Let me qualify that. There were weird searches, but I often talk about weird things, so none of them specifically struck me as odd.

Until next week, enjoy.

June 16, 2005

Honouring the dealers of death

Dr. Henry Morgentaler, Canada's leading crusader for the legalization of abortion, was awarded an honorary doctorate today by the University of Western Ontario:

"Over the last 37 years, I have dedicated myself to achieve rights to reproductive freedom and to provide facilities where women could obtain safe abortions in an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion," said Morgentaler.

"I decided to provide safe abortions on request on humanitarian grounds in defiance of a law which I considered unjust and cruel, exposing women to death and injury."

[Full Story]

Indeed, Morgentaler's medical accomplishments, as a pioneer in the field of efficiently dealing out human death, rank right up there with notables such as Drs. Kevorkian, Mengele, and Rascher. Of course Morgentaler, a Jew, would never want to put himself in a position where he could be compared to a Nazi. Right?

(H/T: A Form of Sound Words.)

June 15, 2005

Canada's slide into moral degeneracy continues

We're just a little farther along the slippery slope.

The wording of Bill C-38, the bill redefining "marriage" to the "lawful union of two persons", which the Liberal government is intent on ramming through Parliament for no adequately ascertained reason, states that

nothing in this Act affects the guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion and, in particular, the freedom of members of religious groups to hold and declare their religious beliefs and the freedom of officials of religious groups to refuse to perform marriages that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs . . .

Nonetheless, Justice Minister Irwin Cotler admitted a week ago that he cannot guarantee ironclad protection for religious institutions that are opposed to same-sex "marriage."

Now, the gay brownshirts are making their play:

Churches that oppose same-sex marriage legislation have good reason to fear for their charitable status, a leading gay-rights advocate is warning.

"If you are at the public trough, if you are collecting taxpayers' money, you should be following taxpayers' laws. And that means adhering to the Charter," says Kevin Bourassa, who in 2001 married Joe Varnell in one of Canada's first gay weddings, and is behind www.equalmarriage.ca.

"We have no problem with the Catholic Church or any other faith group promoting bigotry," he said. "We have a problem with the Canadian government funding that bigotry."

[Full Story]

Bourassa's screed starts right off the bat with a lie. Churches are exempt from paying taxes. Yet Bourassa's choice of words implies, wrongly, that the churches receive public money from the government. "He who pays the piper calls the tune" is the logic here, but no one is really paying the piper, at least not the entity that Bourassa deceptively insinuates.

If homosexuals want to be married in those provinces where same-sex "marriage" is already recognized, nothing is stopping them. Civil marriage is an option, and there are also a handful of apostate churches that will enable them. But this isn't about civil rights; it's about two percent of the population destroying traditional institutions that they do not value. The brownshirts are using their own alleged Constitutional rights to trample the religious rights of those who won't be pressed into their mold. God help Canada.

Not only giant inflatable pigs can fly, it seems

Pink Floyd, one of the biggest rock bands of all time, are to re-unite for the Live 8 concert in London’s Hyde Park on July 2, it was announced today.

David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright will perform together in public for the first time since 1981, event organisers said.

Fans have long yearned for a reunion of the classic line-up but it seemed unlikely because of a fall-out between founder member Waters and the rest of the group in the 1980s.

[Full Story]

The split between Roger Waters and Pink Floyd occurred in the early 1980s. It was fueled primarily by Waters' increased dominance of the band's songwriting, particularly the self-indulgent albums The Wall and The Final Cut, inspired by the death of his father at Anzio in WW2. It hit its bitter peak in about 1987 when Waters unsuccesfully sued David Gilmour and Nick Mason, claiming they were not entitled to use the Pink Floyd name without him. Although he failed to retain rights to the name, he did win some significant concessions, most notably rights to The Wall and the infamous inflatable pig (the rest of the Floyd continued to use a flying pig of a modified design).

Waters hasn't done much of anything of late, whiny or otherwise. Perhaps a more permanent reunion is not far behind, although even a once-off might be worth watching.

June 13, 2005

And so the sideshow ends

Freak Bankrupt has-been Failed plastic surgery patient with a butt for a chinPop singer Michael Jackson has been declared not guilty on all ten counts related to child-molestation charges.

Meanwhile, I have had CNN on in the background for the last five hours, and not once have I heard any non-Jackson-related news. Not from Larry King, not from Aaron Brown, not from Paula Zahn.

Osama bin Ladin could blow his brains out live on al-Jazeera, Manhattan could sink into the Hudson, and an angel could take a stroll down the Via Dolorosa with a flaming sword. It all takes second fiddle to the almighty Michael J.

Meanwhile, the never-ending parade of relatives, jurists, friends, and "spiritual advisors" remind us ad nauseam that sharing a bed with little boys is not illegal, especially if you are an emotionally unstable kook with loads of money and buttloads of adoring fans. (It is, however, inappropriate behaviour. Now, after the media circus is over, they figure this out. You gotta laugh.)

In the meantime, I guess I'll have to listen to Thriller, and remember that there was once a time when Michael Jackson had human DNA and a shred of talent, and did nothing weirder than chumming around with a chimp and Emmanuel Lewis.

Mindless Google Maps fun

I love Google Maps. Operating the site is simplicity itself. Drag the cursor to pan around. Use the slider to zoom in or out. Click "Map" or "Satellite" to switch between views. Type an address into the search bar and get a little "push pin" graphic pointing directly to your destination.

I have spent literally hours just zooming in and out looking for landmarks, famous attractions, historic sites, even friends' houses. It's a real timewaster! I've made a game of finding them with as little help as possible: relying primarily on my knowledge of geography, visualizing what landmarks would look like from space, identifying shadows, etc. (Using the search bar to get a pointer would be cheating.

Some of these American landmarks were easy to locate; others were a real challenge. Can you find:

  • the Chrysler Building?
  • "Old Ironsides"?
  • Walt Disney World?
  • the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center?
  • the Sears Tower?
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
  • the Sunsphere?
  • Graceland?
  • the Gateway Arch?
  • Mount Rushmore?
  • the AMARC "Boneyard"?
  • Caesar's Palace?
  • the Seattle Space Needle?
  • the TransAmerica Pyramid?
  • the Hollywood sign?

Unfortunately, at this time Google Maps covers only North America, and primarily urban territory in the United States, at that. So there's no chance of seeing Picadilly Circus, the Eiffel Tower, or the Sydney Opera House at this time. But can you find these Canadian landmarks?

  • Lions' Gate Bridge?
  • Calgary Tower?
  • Portage and Main?
  • the Big Nickel?
  • Toronto City Hall?
  • Parliament Hill?
  • Olympic Stadium?
  • Chateau Frontenac?
  • Province House?
  • the Halifax Citadel?

If you want a real challenge, try what I've been trying to do for ages: spot an airplane in flight. Or see if you can find pictures of some of the USAF's niftier aircraft (the B-52s sitting on the desert at AMARC don't count), or even Barbra Streisand's Malibu mansion (remember her suing that coastline conservationist for taking pictures of her beachfront property a few years ago?). I've found all the above, not always without difficulty. Still looking for flying planes, though.

Postscript: Name this site, if you can.

June 12, 2005

What a silly meme

Proving there are no memes so dumb that suckerspeople like Warren and me won't carry them on . . . "sort your iTunes list by title, then list one for each letter of the alphabet."

I guess mine looks something like this. Warren included a numerical title, so I followed suit:

  • "19" - Paul Hardcastle
  • "A Criminal Mind" - Gowan
  • "Black Superman" - Johnny Wakelin & The Kineshasa Band
  • "Chicks 'n' Cars (And the Third World War)" - Colin James
  • "Darn That Dream" - Chet Baker
  • "Electric Spanking of War Babies" - Funkadelic
  • "Fancy Meeting You Here" - Rosemary Clooney
  • "Guava Jelly" - Johnny Nash
  • "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" - Daft Punk
  • "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" - Iron Butterfly
  • "Jerusalem" - Emerson, Lake, & Palmer
  • "Koko" - Charlie Parker
  • "Love Shack" - The B-52's
  • "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" - Slade
  • "New Moon on Monday" - Duran Duran
  • "O Death" - Ralph Stanley
  • "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" - Tom Lehrer
  • "Quante buffonerie!" - Mozart
  • "Robbery, Assault and Battery" - Genesis
  • "Swlabr" - Cream
  • "Tall Cool One" - Robert Plant
  • "Up on Cripple Creek" - The Band
  • "Video Killed the Radio Star" - The Buggles
  • "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" - R.E.M.
  • "X.Y.U." - Smashing Pumpkins
  • "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"
  • "Zooropa" - U2

I don't know what this was supposed to accomplish, except to prove that I have enough tunes in my iTunes library (3,972 items at this moment) to cover every letter of the alphabet. Fun though.

June 11, 2005

Spoiled this story is

Over at Starwars.com Blogs, Ghent shows Episode 4 A New Hope Star Wars to his seven-year-old son, who has already seen all three prequels, for the first time. Here are some of his reactions:

"Wow! Is the Death Star done already? I guess that's how you know that a long time has passed."

"Look... Obi-Wan is pretending he doesn't know R2-D2."

"Why are red leader and gold leader the leaders? They don't know what they're doing..."

[Full Story]

This is why I also read the Chronicles of Narnia in publication order instead of chronological order.

(H/T: Slashdot.)

The UK's best-loved novels

Rebecca posted the top 10 of the United Kingdom's most popular novels. I am, as anyone knows who regularly reads this blog, a complete sucker for long lists of books of which I have only read a few.

She asks: "How many of the top 100 have you read?" Here's the answer.

The ones I have read are bolded:

  1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
  2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
  4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
  8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
  9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
  10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
  11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
  12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
  13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
  14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
  15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
  16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
  17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
  20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
  21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
  23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
  24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
  25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
  26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
  27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
  28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
  29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
  31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
  32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
  33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
  34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
  35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
  36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
  38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  39. Dune, Frank Herbert
  40. Emma, Jane Austen
  41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
  42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
  43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
  44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
  46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
  47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
  48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
  49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
  50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
  51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
  53. The Stand, Stephen King
  54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
  56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
  57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
  58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
  59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
  60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
  62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
  63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
  65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
  66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
  67. The Magus, John Fowles
  68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
  70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
  71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
  72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
  73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
  74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
  75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
  76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
  78. Ulysses, James Joyce
  79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
  80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
  81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
  82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
  83. Holes, Louis Sachar
  84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
  85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
  86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
  87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
  89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
  90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
  91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
  92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
  93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
  94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
  95. Katherine, Anya Seton
  96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
  97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
  98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
  99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
  100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

Once again, the number I have read is a clear minority: 33. I have yet to determine whether this is due to sloth (you may notice the distinct escapist slant in my reading list; while I try to balance my reading with some literary fiction, much of what I read isn't going to make anyone's "best of" lists, quite frankly) or just the fact that there are so many books that no one could possibly cover them all. "[O]f making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh" (Eccl. 12:12).

Rebecca also asks, "Would an American list be different? A Canadian one?" Naturally, the American list would include more American works. While a few greats, most notably John Steinbeck, get a nod, American notables like William Faulkner, Mark Twain, or Ernest Hemingway are conspicuously absent (as are more recent luminaries such as Toni Morrison . . . meh). Beyond that I'll let the Americans deal with the Americans.

Naturally, a Canadian list would probably include Mordecai Richler, Farley Mowat, Margaret Atwood, and - if we take the gag off the English teachers - Margaret Laurence. My list of favourites, if I were to supplement the above with Canadian works, might include a number of the following Canadian novels which I have read and enjoyed, in no particular order.

  • Jacob Two-Two and the Hooded Fang, Mordecai Richler
  • The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
  • Life of Pi, Yann Martel
  • Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, Stephen Leacock
  • Life After God, Douglas Coupland
  • Tempest-Tost, Robertson Davies
  • The Englishman's Boy, Guy Vanderhaeghe
  • Owls in the Family, Farley Mowat

I should add, in the interest of full disclosure, that I grew up in the 1980s when Canadian literature had a reputation for being dreck and the library slapping a maple leaf sticker on the spine of a book signalled the kiss of death. This longstanding prejudice against Canadian literature is only recently being reformed, thus my experience is necessarily limited. I'll let some of my other Canadian friends fill in some of the lacunæ in my education. In fact, given enough good suggestions, perhaps "No Sci-Fi September" this year should focus on good Canadian books?

Postscript: Rebecca follows this list up with a list of the top 100 wonders of the world. It's a good thing Niagara Falls made the list (at #87), because otherwise I would have never seen anything wonderful at all.

Things that make you go, "What the @#$%?"

One word: Blwaaaaah!

Another glimpse into Japanese popular culture. From the same country that brought us Iron Chef and Hey! Spring of Trivia.

(H/T: Ghost of a Flea.)

June 10, 2005

And now . . . this - June 10/05

Some of my closest relatives are Pringles!

Two daughters have sued a synagogue after they found a potato chip can in place of their mother's remains behind the locked, glass door of her niche in a mausoleum.

When the women visited Vivian Shulman Lieberman's niche in a Houston mausoleum a year ago, they found the cedar chest containing her ashes missing and a can of sour-cream-and-onion potato chips in its place.

The ashes are still missing, said Philip Hilder, an attorney for Lieberman's two daughters.

[Full Story]

Hey, even undertakers get a case of the munchies every now and then.

Whine on, you crazy diamond

Dave Armstrong complains about Steve Hays' use of words like Romanist and popish.

I don't see why Dave has a problem with truth in advertising. After all, the Church of Rome ceased to be catholic around the 16th century.

Friday in the wild - June 10, 2005

I hate writing introductions, so I just skipped it this week.

Semper Reformanda lists the ten best reasons to be a Calvinist. But judging by the comments, about half her readers are the dour variety of Calvinist. (Boo!)

(H/T: Jollyblogger gets the nod for this one.)

Miscellanies on the Gospel posts an interesting critique of the Emergent Open Source Theology site:

Surely you see the problem then in the definitions and explanations above? Though it has weathered the gale storm of postmodernism and has come out on the other side, albeit living in makeshift shelters, sitting around the campfires like spiritual refugees (not my words, but the words from the rest of the article above), the problem is still inherent within the refugees. Let me put it this way:

You can take the Emergent Church member out of postmodernism,
but you can't take the postmodernism out of the Emergent Church member.

The truth of this statement can be seen in the very way in which the Emerging Church and OST hopes to handle the gospel, the Scriptures, and theology itself. They want to rework it, redefine it, reshape it, add to it, and do everything to it that Open Source software hopes to do to programming. That's where the danger to the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ comes in.

[Read Emergent Church Movement and the Gospel: Open Source Theology]

Steve Hays of Triablogue ruminates on the tendency of "reformed Catholics" to want to vilify those horrible, dangerous, just-barely-Reformed Baptists:

There has always been some hostility in some Presbyterian circles towards their Reformed Baptist kin, and this seems to have rubbed off on the “Reformed Catholics.” Why, if I didn’t know better, I’d almost suspect that “Reformed Catholics” are trying to prove their own Reformed paternity by joining with the Presbyterians in ganging up on the Baptist end of the Calvinist continuum.

[Read Reformed Baptists and other Devil-worshipers]

On the search engine front, there are still an awful lot of people wondering how to make a lightsaber that continue to lash the blog. I think, however, that a clue is beginning to form.

Speaking of clues, this looks like someone was trying to play TriBond: buffy "pink floyd "easton ellis" [mangled punctuation sic]. I think the answer you're looking for is, "One of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces." (Crusty Curmudgeon Bonus PointsTM to the first person to figure out how I came to that solution.)

Much to my embarrassment, I am the most relevant "hit" for a search on oooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Till next week, enjoy.

June 09, 2005

Lactation envy?

Comedienne ROSIE O'DONNELL banned her partner KELLI CARPENTER from breastfeeding their daughter VIVIENNE just a few weeks after she was born - because she was jealous of their bonding sessions.

Kelli gave birth to Vivienne in 2002, and the lesbian couple have been raising her along with their three other adopted children.

But O'Donnell admits she felt left out of the motherhood process whenever she observed her partner nursing their child.

[Full Story]

Just close your eyes and keep repeating: "Gay marriage is normal, gay marriage is normal, one spouse always gets jealous because the other can nurse . . ."

(H/T: heard on Michael Medved.)

Enjoying C. S. Lewis

My friend Coyote is trying to expand his horizons by reading some C. S. Lewis, whom, surprisingly, he has not yet dug into.

He's got some suggestions up, but if you are a Lewis aficionado, why not drop by and give a brief rationale for your own choices?

Here are my personal top five choices for a Lewis sampler, with the caveat that I have probably read only half of Lewis' published works.

  1. Mere Christianity: A compilation of Lewis' wartime radio broadcasts on basic Christian doctrine. While it's probably not Lewis' best work, it is arguably his best known, and anyone wanting to deal with Lewis has to deal with Mere Christianity. This book is probably best known for the "Lord, liar, or lunatic" trilemma.
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia: Classic children's literature; if Mere Christianity isn't Lewis' best known work, then this is without question.
  3. God in the Dock: This is a collection of essays compiled from various sources in which Lewis discusses various subjects, including the possibility of miracles, the relationship of science and faith, modern Bible translations, female priests, and others. There are two editions of God in the Dock available: one by Eerdmans and one by HarperCollins. Avoid the HarperCollins edition; it is severely and poorly abridged, not containing at least half of the essays in the Eerdmans volume and leaving out some of the best, such as Lewis' satirical essay "Bulverism" and his famous critique of the humanitarian theory of punishment.
  4. The Screwtape Letters: One of the best satirical works ever written, this is a series of letters from a demon named Screwtape instructing his nephew on the finer points of temptation. Sometimes mistakenly identified as a book on spiritual warfare (see, for example, the critics' blurbs on the back of Peretti's This Present Darkness), it's really a neat little book on avoiding temptation through renewal of the mind.
  5. The Problem with Pain and A Grief Observed: The former is Lewis' attempt at theodicy in which he famously argues that pain "God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world." He wrote the latter book following the death of his wife; whereas The Problem with Pain is a detached, "theoretical" discussion of suffering, A Grief Observed is his personal, visceral reaction to it in his own life.

A couple of other personal favourites:

  • The Space Trilogy: It would be irresponsible to read Lewis-as-theologian while ignoring Lewis-as-literary-author. Some of his earliest work, this trilogy of science-fiction novels - Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength - are something of an homage to the fantasies of Verne and Wells, but with an unashamedly Christian slant. There hasn't been literary fiction like this written by a Christian in over 50 years (Frank Peretti does not count).
  • The Pilgrim's Regress: As the title suggests, this is a parody (of sorts) of John Bunyan's classic allegory of Christian sanctification. Only Lewis uses the "similitude of a dream" to present a spiritual autobiography of sorts: the main character "John" experiments with various faddish philosophies while trying to reach a beautiful island on the other side of the world.

Someone really brave might consider tackling Lewis' academic magnum opus: his contribution to the Oxford History of English Literature, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century (Excluding Drama). I'll be honest. I haven't yet.

And now . . . this - June 9/05

Unclear on the concept

Words just fail me:

Mary Carey, the buxom porn star slated to dine with President Bush at a GOP fund-raiser Tuesday, says despite her racy occupation, she's still a Christian, and has her own aspirations of winning the presidency in the future.

"I read the Bible and pray every night," Carey told WorldNetDaily in an exclusive interview. . . .

"I kind of wanted to be a porn star," she said. "I wasn't raped or abused." . . .

"I probably have less sex with those guys than any college girl [typically has]. It doesn't make me less moral," she said. "I'm sure a lot of Christians have had sex before marriage. God reads my heart. I'm a good person. ... I think I have more morals than the politicians in office. I don't rob, steal, hurt, or lie - a lot of politicians do that."

When asked about Bible verses condemning adultery, she responded, "Bill Clinton committed adultery. [Doing] adult movies is acting, portraying a role. It's not Mary Ellen Cook, the real me."

[Full Story, emphasis added]

One word: deluded.

Snake! Aaaaah, it's a snake!

A snake in the grass is to blame for a teenager shooting himself in the leg, police said. A 16-year-old boy was mowing his lawn Tuesday when he saw a snake slithering toward his dogs, which were chained in the front yard, police said.

Worried about the canines, the boy ran inside and grabbed a .22-caliber pistol, said Port Wentworth police Sgt. Loren Scholes.

The boy came back outside and when he saw the snake at his feet, he hastily aimed and fired. The bullet entered his right calf and exited near his heel, Scholes said.

[Full Story]

The sad part is that he didn't need the gun if he had a lawn mower.

Next off the menu: Bunny steaks

A restaurant selling squirrel terrine has been forced to withdraw it after death threats from animal rights activists.

Protesters threatened to firebomb the Hadley Bowling Green Inn in Droitwich, Worcs, and to smash up the staff's cars over the £7.95 paté starter. . . .

He added: "We've never had to take something off the menu before because of threats from protesters. I don't know why squirrel meat is so controversial.

"In the past we've sold meat from fluffy little lambs and it's not been a problem."

[Full Story]

They should get together with the kid in the last story and serve shredded lawn snake. No one ever used the cute-and-fuzzy defense for a snake.

Incidentally, the classic cookbook The Joy of Cooking, of all things, does contain preparation instructions for squirrel and other small game.

June 08, 2005

A three-ring service

I'm still playing a bit of catch-up after being out of town for the weekend. One of the stories that made the rounds while I was away was the "Clown Eucharist" held at Trinity Church in Manhattan on Trinity Sunday (May 22):

Calling the clown a "symbol of 'divine foolishness,'" Trinity's rector, the [ir]Reverend James Cooper, aka Bom Bean, parish clown, defends his antics as follows:

It will likely be a surprise to see clowns inside Trinity Church, but think about it this way: how we perceive the world in light of our relationship with Jesus could rightly be called foolish. Jesus looked at things in a new and strange way - a foolish way. But, as St. Paul said, the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of the world. Paul declared himself a fool for Christ's sake.

[Full Text]

If you have the stomach for blasphemous tommyrot, there's actually video of the service. The most surreal moment is probably Rev. Bozo consecrating the Eucharistic elements to a chorus of kazoos:

[Rev. Bozo consecrates the big rubber wafer.]

My advice to the clergy of Trinity: Once you've replaced the the traditional Episcopal vestments with clown costumes, you might as well stick with them. You've only admitted what you really are.

Once a dork, always a dork

I've "complained" many times in the last year how John "Effing" Kerry makes poking fun at him so easy. Turns out he's been doing it for the last 30 years.

[Kerry's school photo]


June 06, 2005

Another title joins the elite few

While novels I can devour in one sitting of a few hours are a dime a dozen (or at least I wish they were), there are very few nonfiction titles of which I can say the same. While it has taken me a very long time to read some nonfiction books that I consider excellent, the number that so held my attention that I was able to polish them off in one basically uninterrupted session is quite small.

In fact, until today, there were four. Thanks to Hugh Hewitt's Blog, the next time a nonfiction book so grabs me, I'll have to count it on my right hand.

For the record, the other four were, in rough order of reading:

  1. Kingdoms in Conflict by Charles Colson
  2. The King James Only Controversy by James R. White
  3. Decision Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen (one of my Top Three Must Read books which I recently learned has just been revised)
  4. Slander by Ann Coulter

June 03, 2005

Weekend hiatus

I'm out of town from this evening until Sunday night.

There will be no further blogging until at least then, so don't come back sooner.

Unless you like reading stuff twice. But not otherwise.

That is all.

And now . . . this - June 3/05

Some jokes just write themselves

From the annals of dubious technological breakthroughs comes this story from Singapore - which, incidentally, is now my Reason #1 why you should never read news on the Internet when you're running multimedia at church if you don't want to make a spectacle of yourself:

Scientists have developed a system which enables people to stroke a chicken over the internet.

Users touch a chicken-shaped doll which duplicates the actions of a real chicken through a webcam link. . . .

Touch sensors on the doll send 'tactile information' over the internet to a second computer near the chicken.

This computer triggers tiny vibration motors in a lightweight jacket worn by the chicken, meaning the chicken feels the user's touch in the exact same place as the doll was stroked. . . .

Remote interaction could allow people who are allergic to dogs and cats to caress their pets remotely. Used in zoos, it may allow visitors to pat a lion or scratch a bear.

[Full Story]

Or even spank a monkey.

This story, along with the recent approval of the .xxx top-level domain, opens up whole new avenues for Web interaction previously unconsidered.

Friday in the wild: June 3, 2005

Welcome to the first instalment of "Friday in the Wild" for June.

This edition also represents my first stab at a real post with client blogging software instead of Blogger's Web client. I'm typing this up in w.bloggar and putting it through its paces. So far, so good.

Brian at The Dawn Treader recently had an opportunity to ask Christian astrophysicist Hugh Ross a question at a church lecture:

After a short lecture, Hugh opened it up for questions. Several got up and asked questions. I began fidgeting in my seat. I have always wanted to ask Hugh a question. This guy answers questions for a living -- hard questions. What should I ask, I thought.

I rose out of my chair and approached the microphone. . . .

What I really wanted to know ... was if Hugh Ross ever got stumped by a question ... or, what question does Hugh Ross dread getting from an audience ... or, what makes this man with ice water in his veins get truly nervous ... or, how does Hugh Ross stay so calm when he gets viciously attacked and called names by young earth creationists. These were the things I really wanted to know.

However, when I stepped up to the microphone, I chickened out and went with a safe question.

[Read What I Asked Hugh Ross for the question!]

Then, go and read the answer. Good stuff, and it looks like there's more to come.

In a whoosh of mixed metaphors, Phil Johnson hits the ground running and comes out swinging against Internet Calvinists, who seem perpetually locked in the "cage stage" and seem far more interested in scholasticism and polemics than real evangelism:

I have to say with all candor that I can somewhat understand the feelings expressed by some of Calvinism's recent critics. Sniff around some of the Calvinist forums on the Internet and it won't be long before you begin to think something is rotten in Geneva.

But I hasten to add that I don't think the problem really lies in Geneva, or in historic Calvinism, or in any of the classic Reformed creeds. I especially don't think the stench arises from any problem with Calvinism per se. In my judgment, the problem is a fairly recent down n' dirty version of callow Calvinism that has flourished chiefly on the Internet and has been made possible only by the new media.

[Read Quick-and-Dirty Calvinism]

My friend James Spurgeon of The Howling Coyote responds, calling for a somewhat more temperate approach to the issue:

1. The Great Commission is about more than just evangelism. It is about making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them. So polemics has its place in the execution of the Great Commission. In our a-theological age the need has never been greater to equip the saints by grounding them in sound theology. So let's not throw polemics out.

2. Good Calvinism is evangelistic. What greater motivation is there than the glory of God? What greater promise is there than that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation? What greater encouragement is there than to know that God has fore-ordained and guaranteed results?

[Read Predestination and Evangelism]

Meanwhile, Google and lesser search engines continue to do the task they were predestined for: bringing readers to my site in interesting ways. Here is a sampling of the more unusual combinations that land people on the Crusty Curmudgeon.

One thing I haven't noted recently is how this blog rates when someone googles a word in the title. For the record, as of right now, I'm #2 for crusty, #17 for curmudgeon, and (naturally!) #1 for crusty curmudgeon. (The poor guy who actually went out and bought crustycurmudgeon.com is #2. Heh. Actually, it's a fairly well-designed personal site about libertarianism. But I was here first.)