November 29, 2006

Carleton update

Since my post on Monday night about CUSA's motion to ban all so-called "anti-choice" clubs from Carleton University's campus, the blogosphere has started to swarm. And the media is starting to pay attention, too: yesterday, the story broke on the Web sites of the CBC and the Ottawa Citizen. Today, the other Ottawa paper, the Sun, carried the story, as did local news/talk radio station CFRA, and in the West the Edmonton Journal picked up the Citizen's story.

I have yet to read a single blogger either praising or defending CUSA. Two student newspapers so far have reported on the motion, and both have written editorials that sharply criticize CUSA and defend the free market of ideas. One of these papers is Carleton's own Charlatan, and the other is UWO's Gazette (along with a pointed editorial cartoon). Finally, even Focus on the Family is starting to pay attention.

Whether CUSA passes this motion or not, the very fact they tabled such a discriminatory and anti-intellectual motion to begin with means that they've already lost. The only thing they have going for them is the fact that student politics make no difference to anyone else.

I think Tuesday night is going to be interesting.

November 27, 2006

Big Brother U.

Maybe the administration at Carleton University should stop moaning about their abysmal Maclean's ranking this year, if these are the kind of bubbleheads their academic program is turning out.

A motion was recently tabled to be voted on at the December 5 meeting of the Carleton University Student Association (CUSA)1. Although I could find no primary source for the motion on CUSA's own Web site, according to the Charlatan student paper, it affirms that CUSA is pro-choice and moves that "no CUSA resources, space, recognition or funding be allocated for anti-choice purposes" (full story). This motion bears a bland, Orwellian moniker: "Motion to Amend Discrimination on Campus Policy."

Apparently last month's abortion debate was the catalyst for this instance of academic fascism. The motion was made by vice-president Katy McIntyre on behalf of the campus Womyn's [sic] Centre, because

McIntyre said she received complaints after Lifeline organized an academic debate on whether or not elective abortion should be made illegal.

“[These women] were upset the debate was happening on campus in a space that they thought they were safe and protected, and that respected their rights and freedoms,” said McIntyre.

Oh, those poor, helpless womyn [sic]! Perhaps CUSA should move to purchase fainting couches for public areas. Then when these delicate flowers swoon after having their tender ears violated by horrible, dangerous ideas they don't like, they'll at least have somewhere to lie down and recover. Then, after their fainting spell has passed, perhaps someone of stouter constitution can explain that if they want a "safe space" where their own prejudices are protected, they shouldn't be on a university campus, which at least gives lip service to the free exchange of ideas.

In Orwell's 1984, the "Ministry of Peace" dealt in war and the "Ministry of Truth" dealt in lies and propaganda. Similarly, the brownshirts in CUSA and the Womyn's [sic] Centre, in the name of tolerance and diversity, display their intolerance for diversity of opinion. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, so highly lauded by Tracy Davidson and Jeannette Doucet in the aforementioned abortion debate, guarantees "freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression . . . freedom of peaceable assembly; and freedom of association" (Constitution Act, I.2). In other words, on Canadian soil, you have the right to be pro-life, to say you are pro-life, to attend pro-life meetings, and join pro-life organizations. While technically a university is not a government institution, it receives government funding, and for that reason should protect the freedom of students on campus. And since the student union receives fees from students, it should respect the rights of even the pro-life students it supposedly represents.

In the meantime, however, CUSA earns itself the DIM BULB du jour. Katy McIntyre, in particular, receives her very own 15-Watt Special for bringing this asinine motion to the table. I'd like to be able to excuse her for an isolated "blonde moment," but since she also thinks that crappy kindergarten art created by adult university students is "fabulous," I'm guessing she's probably a full-time airhead.


1 Oh well, there's always this footnote: Or perhaps that should be LCUSA (Last Chance U. Student Association)?

November 24, 2006

KJV monkey-boy update

Probably my favourite TV show of all time is the science-fiction program Babylon 5. In one second-season episode, the newly promoted Commander Ivanova, is given a diplomatic assignment: deal with the escalating violence amongst the Drazi that inhabit the station. Every five years, the aliens draw coloured scarves from a barre - some green, some purple. Thus divided, the two factions beat each other senseless for a year for dominance. When Ivanova tries to figure out the rationale behind this completely arbitrary distinction, she is told only, "Green must fight purple, purple must fight green. Is no other way." "Just my luck," she says, "I get stuck with a race that speaks only in macros."

I frequently feel the same way as Cmdr. Ivanova when dealing with KJV-onlyists.

The Crustier Curmudgeon

Time to come clean. I'm seeing another blog behind the Crusty Curmudgeon's back.

Well, not really. But not long after went online, I registered - partly because, I was thinking, at some point I would probably want to migrate to my own domain and perhaps use WordPress for the blog, so working with it on a regular basis struck me as a good idea. But since Blogger also has the occasional (and not-so-occasional) maintenance difficulties, I was also wanting to create a "backup" blog where I could keep working even when Blogger wasn't.

Hence The Crustier Curmudgeon was born. It's still a bit of a mess, because it was intended mainly as a secondary repository for blog posts, not yet for public consumption. But following (I assume) some sort of software upgrade on the hosting site, it seems that it inadvertently got switched from a private blog to a public one, and posts have started showing up on search engines. Inevitably, this means comments have also started showing up.

So it's time to bring CC2 out of the closet, as it were. If you prefer reading blogs on WordPress to Blogger, I'll be spending some time over the next little while making the interface presentable. I'm only using the default template on WordPress because even if they did allow customization of the templates, I don't know enough PHP yet to make it look anything like this one. I'm also not going to be rewriting posts to customize them for a particular platform (i.e. rewriting styles, links, etc.). So while the Blogger blog still remains the "official" one, as of now I'm actively maintaining (and watching comments on) both.

Pardon the dust.

November 22, 2006

And now . . . this - Nov. 22, 2006

See if I eat toad-in-the-hole ever again

A SPICY sausage known as the Welsh Dragon will have to be renamed after trading standards’ officers warned manufacturers that they could face prosecution because it does not contain dragon.

The sausages will now have to be labelled Welsh Dragon Pork Sausages to avoid any confusion among customers.

[Full Story]

Another bit of marketing brilliance is brought to us by the same lawsuit-shy people who gave us "WARNING: This costume does not enable flight or super strength," and "WARNING: Coffee is hot."

The inevitable comparison:

November 21, 2006

Letter to a skeptic

During his sermon this Sunday evening, our senior pastor mentioned that our church receives piles of emails denouncing Christianity's claim to exclusivity. As it happened, two weeks earlier I had received a copy of one such email, forwarded by another pastor in the hopes that I would be able to formulate an appropriate answer.

The message was articulate, though I can imagine that many such emails are not. But it reflects the sort of mushy-headed, relativist thinking that tends to hound truth claims these days. I won't copy the original email to this post, since I don't have the author's permission. Basically he had visited our church's Web site and was provoked to criticize the supposed intolerance that comes from a particular religion claiming an exclusive path to God. He called such thinking "ethnocentrism" and "supreme spiritual narcissism and arrogance," that such a mindset leads to such actions as the abuses in the residential school system, and is the same kind of thinking that drives radical Islam.

Here is my response (edited to remove personal details).

November 19, 2006

And now . . . this - Nov. 19, 2006

There's never a Sith Lord around when you need one

With their vast intergalactic knowledge and ability to harness the Force, the task of convincing UN officials to recognise their cause should be a walkover for a pair of Jedi Knights.

But self-proclaimed Jedis Umada and Yunyun, better known as John Wilkinson and Charlotte Law, have adopted a more conventional approach in their pursuit of recognition - delivering a protest letter.

The unconventional pair are calling for the UN to acknowlegde what has become Britain's fourth largest 'religion' with 390,000 followers.

No, really.

But wait! There's more:

Umada, 27, and Yunyun, 24, both from London, want the [U.N. International Day of Tolerance] to be renamed the "Interstellar Day of Tolerance" to reflect millions of people across the globe who have chosen to follow the Jedi code as a religion and truly reflect social diversity.nbsp;.nbsp;.nbsp;.

"We therefore are calling upon the United Nations Association to change November 16 to the UN Interstellar Day of Tolerance, to reflect the religious make-up of our twenty-first century civilisation.

"Tolerance is about respecting difference where ever [sic] it lies, including other galaxies. Please don't exclude us from your important work. May the Force be with you."

In the 2001 UK Census 390,000 people listed their religion as Jedi Knight making it the fourth biggest belief in the country.

There are also an estimated 70,000 Jedi knights in Australia, 53,000 in New Zealand and 20,000 in Canada.

[Full Story]

In the UK, 390,000 people got beat up a lot as kids and now live in their parents' basements.

(H/T: Hot Air.)

November 14, 2006


In the first centuries of the Church, Christians used to rescue and raise infants that had been abandoned to die by the pagans of Rome. This story from England just goes to show how far we've fallen in 1600 years:

The Church of England has broken with tradition dogma by calling for doctors to be allowed to let sick newborn babies die.

Christians have long argued that life should preserved at all costs - but a bishop representing the national church has now sparked controversy by arguing that there are occasions when it is compassionate to leave a severely disabled child to die.

And the Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler, who is the vice chair of the Church of England's Mission and Public Affairs Council, has also argued that the high financial cost of keeping desperately ill babies alive should be a factor in life or death decisions.

[Full Story]

The early faithful used to save the lives of babies because those babies were made in the image of God. They were worth saving because they had intrinsic worth. God alone, not the paterfamilias who left the child outside in the cold, had the right of life or death. What it is determines what we may do with it.

Today, it's bad enough that "ethicists" like Princeton philosopher Peter Singer apply their own man-made calculus to decide who lives and who dies. But for the church, which claims to have the message of life, to advocate death? That's downright repugnant.

(H/T: Centuri0n.)

November 13, 2006

No "honour" killing in Canada, please

I occasionally listen to Dennis Prager's radio program thanks to the magic of the Internet, and I've heard him speak on occasion of how while Judeo-Christian ethics centre around absolute standards of right and wrong, the Muslim ethic is based on the subjective idea of "honour." He writes, for example:

In much of the Arab and Muslim world, "face," "shame" and "honor" define moral norms, not standards of good and evil. That is the reason for "honor killings" - the murder of a daughter or sister who has brought "shame" to the family (through alleged sexual sin) - and the widespread view of these murders as heroic, not evil.

That is why Saddam Hussein, no matter how many innocent people he had murdered, tortured and raped, was a hero to much of the Arab world. As much evil as he committed, what most mattered was his strength, and therefore his honor.

(Prager, "The Case for Judeo-Christian Values: Hate Evil", Jewish World Review, Mar. 1, 2005)

As if to illustrate the point, here's a news story that happened this weekend (while I was busy writing up Saturday's Remembrance Day post and some other offline work):

The Supreme Court of Canada declined an invitation on Thursday to consider whether Muslim cultural and religious beliefs in "family honour" should be taken into account as justification for receiving a lighter sentence for killing an unfaithful wife.

The court refused to hear the appeal of Adi Abdul Humaid, a devout Muslim from the United Arab Emirates, who admitted to stabbing Aysar Abbas to death with a steak knife on a visit to Ottawa in 1999.

In an application filed in the Supreme Court, Humaid's lawyer, Richard Bosada, argued Humaid was provoked by his wife's claim she cheated on him, an insult so severe in the Muslim faith it deprived him of self-control.

[Full Story]

Humaid was originally convicted of first-degree murder in 2002. My question at this point is: Whose bright idea was it to appeal this case? In its judgment, Hamaid's defense of "provocation" (that the circumstances would cause any "ordinary person" to similarly lose control) lacked an "air of reality." The evidence favoured the conclusion that the murder was premeditated, not committed in a shame-induced robo-rage, because Captain Caveman had certain ulterior motives:

The Ontario Crown, in a Supreme Court court submission, maintains the murder was pre-meditated and Humaid, who had an affair with the family maid, wanted out of his marriage. Humaid also stood to gain financially from the death of his wife, a successful engineer who controlled most of the family wealth.

I suspect that "no air of reality" is court-speak for "Don't waste my time with this idiocy." More nuggets of wisdom:

[Humaid's lawyer Richard] Bosada said the high court should take on the case to provide guidance to lower courts "in this multi-cultural Canadian society."

Excuse me? What additional guidance did the lower courts need? Murder = go to jail for a very long time seems pretty straightforward to me. It's to the court's credit that multicult didn't trump common sense. Islam is not a defense.

An American scholar, Mahmoud Mustafa Ayoub, testified at Humaid's trial that many Islamic societies permit men to punish wives suspected of adultery and sometimes even kill them. Under Islamic law, punishment for adultery is usually flogging or stoning, Ayoub said. In some Muslim cultures and rural areas, unfaithful women can be killed.

The above atavistic vomit, faithful readers, is a major reason why I repeat to myself frequently: "I am very happy that Sharia law has not been codified in Ontario in any way, shape, or form." "Islamic law" is antithetical - if not downright hostile - to a free and democratic society, and there is no place for it in Canada.

Enjoy prison, barbarian.

November 11, 2006

Lest we forget

Today is Remembrance Day. This year it falls a week before the 90th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest fights in the history of warfare.

The objective at the Somme was to break through the German lines on the Western front, along a 25-mile-long line north and south of the Somme River in northern France. The Allies also hoped to draw German forces away from Verdun.

Action began on July 1, 1916, following five days of artillery barrage. The British had also dug ten mines underneath the German position and laid tons of explosives, and ten minutes before the attack, the first of these was detonated. (The spectacular explosion of the first, the Hawthorn Ridge mine, was captured on film [.MOV].) At 7:30 am, British troops began advancing across no man's land behind a rolling barrage. But when they reached the German position, they discovered that five days of bombardment had not killed as many of the enemy as anticipated, and the Germans inflicted heavy losses on Allied troops. The first day of fighting was largely a failure: Virtually none of the first-day objectives were met, and there were 19,240 dead amongst nearly 57,500 casualties - to date, still the bloodiest day in British military history.

The Somme was also notable for the introduction of the tank to ground warfare. It made its debut at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on September 15. It was hoped that tanks would give the British a tactical advantage (as the armoured machines had little to fear from barbed wire or light-weapons fire), but the reality was far different. Of the 49 tanks available, only 21 were actually operational by the time they were deployed. They suffered frequent mechanical breakdowns and were likely to become bogged down on the battlefield, making them vulnerable to artillery fire. But this early in the war, they did confer a significant psychological advantage, because the Germans didn't have them.

The battle ended on November 18, 1916, when the weather had turned too cold to continue with the campaign. It had been a battle of attrition: the Allies suffered 625,000 casualties, including 146,431 dead; Canadian divisons had nearly 25,000 men killed, wounded, or missing. At the same time, they inflicted approximately the same number of casualties on the German army, which was more experienced, and these losses had greater military value than the fresh volunteers in the Allied trenches. But in the end, the battle was inconclusive: after more than four months of fierce battle and more than a quarter of a million deaths on both sides, the Allies gained virtually no territory, the greatest advancement being only five miles.

The torch: be yours to hold it high. / If ye break faith with us who die / We shall not sleep, though poppies grow / In Flanders fields.

This Remembrance Day post is dedicated to Cpl. Glen Arnold and Pte. David Byers, two soldiers from my home town of Espanola, Ontario, who were amongst the four Canadians killed by a suicide bomber on September 18 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. In a war with such light casualties, it is a hard thing for a small town to lose two of its finest in a single day.

The current war hits home here in Ottawa, as well, as three of our church family are currently serving in Afghanistan. Please pray for them, that they may remain safe and remain faithful during their deployment.

And thank you to all - whether in active service or out - who have served this country and the cause of freedom.

November 10, 2006

Jack Palance (1919-2006)

Legendary Western tough-guy actor Jack Palance died today at the age of 87.

Looking over Palance's filmography on IMDb, I'm surprised that for such a well-known and ubiquitous actor, I've seen very little of his work. Shane, of course (Palance's Jack Wilson is the outlaw). And I was a regular viewer of Ripley's Believe It or Not! in the early 80s. (But I never saw City Slickers. Believe it . . . or not.)

It's fitting that Palance should pass away on the day before Remembrance Day - not only was he a talented actor, but a decorated serviceman who served with the Army Air Corps in WWII. His characteristic gaunt look was the result of injuries he suffered when he bailed out of a burning B-24 on a training mission.

And who can forget his Oscar acceptance "speech" in 1992 when, at a loss for words, he just dropped to the floor and started doing one-armed push-ups? Right now, Death is nursing his wounds. Rest in peace, Jack.

This oughta be a scream

This just in, from the Grope and Flail:

Former Vermont governor Howard Dean, fresh from leading Democrats to victory in both Houses of Congress, has been recruited to inspire Canada's Liberals in their own efforts to find their way back from the political wilderness.

Dr. Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman, will deliver the keynote speech at the Liberal Party's leadership convention this month, just as the Liberals are trying to emulate the Democrats' efforts to rebuild their shaken party organization.

[Full Story]

"We're going to Alberta and Saskatchewan and Manitoba! And we're going to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland! And then we're going to Ottawa, to take back the White House! I mean the Centre Block! Yeearghh!"

Don't we have enough domestic crazy, without having to import it from the States?

November 04, 2006

Should elective abortion be illegal? Part the last

While any debate that includes a good cross-examination section is always rhetorically interesting, my personal favourite part is always the Q&A section at the end. Here is an opportunity for anyone in the audience, if he can get a few seconds at the microphone, to insert himself into the debate. Normally I have a question after hearing two sides go at it for an hour or two. However, on Monday night, by the time I put my head up after my note-taking, there were already half a dozen others already lined up behind each mike. Since I already knew that questions were to be limited to eight, there was no chance I would be able to ask mine. What I wanted to ask was this, addressing Tracy or Jeannette:

"You have continually argued that elective abortion should be legal on the basis of existing law, specifically, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, laws change, and the Charter was not the law of the land before 1982. How would you have argued your case in 1981?"

My intent, of course, would have been twofold: First, to expose the circularity of the pro-choice argument in this respect. At least two of the abortion debates I have attended have appealed to existing law, essentially saying, "It's legal, get over it." But what if existing law, or its interpretation with respect to abortion rights, is wrong? Second, my intent would have been to pull the rug out from under Tracy or Jeannette and compel them to argue in different categories than they had been, to see if they had any substance behind their position. I also know Jojo well enough to have confidence he would have known where I was going with this.

November 03, 2006

More random nonsense

Using the self-serve checkout machine at Loblaw's, it takes three college-age women five minutes to buy two bananas and an apple.

Kent Hovind convicted of tax fraud

In Pensacola yesterday, creation "scientist," tax evader, and all-round kook "Dr." Kent Hovind, who also goes by the nickname "Dr. Dino," was convicted of 58 counts of tax-evasion-related offenses, including failure to pay more than $800,000 in employee taxes. His wife was also convicted of 44 counts of avoiding income-reporting requirements.

Hovind has refused to pay employee taxes, claiming that he and his employees are working for God, and therefore exempted from taxes. He does not withhold tax, and he pays his employees in cash.

Over the course of his three-week trial (with a one-week interruption in the middle), Hovind hit a number of the standard tax-evader/conspiracy-nut arguments:

  • He argued that he is not a citizen of the United States, nor a resident of Florida, and therefore not subject to taxation.
  • He claimed zero income.
  • He refused to provide a tax number to churches that engaged him as a speaker.
  • He paid his staff in "cash gifts" to avoid reporting it.
  • One employee testified that he had been instructed to refuse any mail addressed to "KENT HOVIND" in all capitals, because that signified that the government had created a "corporation" in that name, and by accepting the mail, Hovind was accepting all the responsibilities that went with it.
  • He initiated a frivolous lawsuit against an IRS agent because she could not make an appointment at the time he suggested.
  • His lawyer asked irrelevant questions of witnesses - for example, asking one IRS agent whether his family paid his "fair share" of taxes - until he was told off by the judge.
  • The defense called no witnesses, claiming the prosecution had not established its case.

Frankly I'm surprised that he didn't complain that the American flag in the courtroom had a gold fringe on it, and therefore it was an admiralty court and had no right to try him. There are a number of stalling tactics like that, which tax evaders use in court and the rest of the world laughs at. Some of these simps will argue that if their name appears in ALL CAPS on court documents, it is a "nom de guerre" and proves the State has declared them an enemy, or a "trust corporation," or a "fictitious entity." (All-capital words or names are an old convention for emphasis in legal documentation; typewriters could only do so much.) Also, as far as I know, Hovind did not argue that income taxes were illegal because the Sixteenth Amendment was never ratified.

What Hovind did do, however, was deliberately move his money around in ways that avoided the reporting requirements that the banks are bound by (for example, they must report funds transfers greater than $10,000). If Hovind wasn't doing something illegal (as he claims), why try to hide it?

A few weeks ago, just as this trial started, I attended a church retreat with our Young Adults. The guest speaker was a seminary professor of my acquaintance, who spoke that weekend on ethics. After sessions on living in the world as salt and light, the right use of money, or whether it's right to judge, we wrapped up with a talk from 1 Pet. 3:13-17:

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.

In other words: Maybe if you are a faithful Christian, you will be persecuted. If you are, make sure your conscience is clean. If you are to suffer, make sure it is for something good, and not for being a jerk.

Kent Hovind will soon be suffering in jail, not for Christ's sake, but because he's a jerk.

Random nonsense

Here’s a new kitchen safety tip I just learned.

If you need to reheat a cup of coffee that you bought at Second Cup (or Starbucks if you’re a silly American), do not put the paper cup and dome lid in the microwave and leave it unattended for more than, say, 30 seconds.

The outcome is, shall we say, unexpectedly spectacular. If I had a digicam, I’d post a picture of the aftermath.

But at least the coffee still tastes OK . . . what’s left of it.

Should elective abortion be illegal? Part 4

With part four of this summary, I come to the closing statements in last Monday's debate between Jojo Ruba and two pro-choice advocates on the above question. Without further ado, therefore, here they are. This time, Tracy and Jeannette went first.

November 02, 2006

Should elective abortion be illegal? Part 3

This is third post summarizing and paraphrasing a debate on the question, "Should elective abortion be illegal?" that was held on Monday night at Carleton University between Jojo Ruba of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform, and a team consisting of Tracy Davidson of Planned Parenthood Ottawa and Jeannette Doucet of Canadians for Choice. Following the cross-examination period (posted yesterday) was a rebuttal period of ten minutes. Again, Jojo spoke first.

November 01, 2006

Should elective abortion be illegal? Part 2

Yesterday I started posting a summary of a debate held Monday between Jojo Ruba of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform. I began with the opening statements. The second major section of the debate was the cross-examination, in which the sides each had six minutes in which to grill their opponent. Jojo was the first to cross-examine.

Here is my summary and paraphrase of the cross-examination. Unfortunately, my notes here are very sketchy. This is partly because of the unstructured nature of cross-examination; there were times when the discussion was simply flying too quickly to follow in writing. I was also still filling in some of the details of the opening statements when it started. Usually I'm pretty good about remembering a few points while I'm catching up on others, but not in this case. I've noted the gap in my records, and since I also have no specific recollection of the discussion at that point, I have decided it is better to leave it blank than inadvertently put words in anyone's mouth.