July 28, 2008

Goodbye to all that . . .

Yesterday was a bittersweet day: the last Sunday in my church's downtown building. The Metropolitan Bible Church (known affectionately by its members and adherents as "The Met") has been a downtown church since its founding in 1931.

The first Met originally met in the Imperial Theatre on Bank St. - the present-day Barrymore's - and moved into their own building, at the corner of Bank and Gladstone streets, in 1936. The look and feel of the building - both inside and out - is of an old theatre. This is intentional, as in the midst of the Great Depression, the banks wouldn't finance construction unless it could be converted to another use if the church folded.

It didn't fold. Instead, the Met continued to grow and grow. An "education wing" was added in 1967 to address the space needs for Sunday school classes. And even in the last few years, renovations continued to reconfigure the interior to accommodate something like 1,800 regular attendees in a building designed for about 700.

I first started attending the Met as a co-op student in Ottawa in 1995. I was part of Waterloo Christian Fellowship (Waterloo U.'s IVCF chapter) during my last few years of school, and this was the church I was told I ought to check out when I got to Ottawa. When I turned up at the largest church and congregation I had ever been in, practically the first person I encountered was another WCF member that I was vaguely acquainted with - and I have never been so happy to meet someone I had probably exchanged a dozen words with over the year! (Fortunately, we became fairly good friends, and when she later transfered from Waterloo to McMaster, she ended up living with my sister for a couple of years.) Back then the college and career group ranged from about 30-50 people, and it was easy to get to know almost everyone. Most of those folks are gone from the Met, many married and raising families ow, but many are still in Ottawa, and it's good to run into them on occasion. Naturally, when I moved permanently to Ottawa in 1998 to work, it was a no-brainer that I would come back to the Met. Ten years later, I have no regrets.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, the last morning service was packed out. I wasn't there. In 2003, as a temporary measure to reduce some of the crowding at the Bank St. church, we started renting the Alumni Theatre on Carleton University campus as a satellite church, with the morning sermons couriered over from Bank St. on videotape. This was intended as a temporary measure until a new building could be readied. During the fall and winter I sing in the choir, so I have gone downtown, but in the summer when there is no choir, it was always easier to attend the Carleton venue. "Met@Carleton" has ministered to students for 5 years, and although the Met will continue to have a presence on campus thanks to the chaplaincy office, this was also the final Sunday service to be held there.

After the service, we held an informal picnic by Hartwell's Locks on the Rideau Canal, just off-campus. This flight of two locks lifts boats over 20 feet in about 30 minutes, and it was a busy Sunday for boaters. Most of the locks on the Rideau Canal, including Hartwell's, are still entirely hand-operated. Even though I've lived in Ottawa for over 10 years, I've never watched them in use, so I stayed long enough to watch a few power boaters travelling in both directions before going home.

I did go back to Bank St. for the evening service, however. We had a brief *cough* sharing time for people who wanted to testify to what the Met has meant to them. Our pastor gave a brief Bible lesson, based on Hebrews 13:7-8, reminding us that church leaders may come and go; addresses may change; we may do things a little differently than we used to; but even though we are moving to a new building, we still worship the same Jesus: "the same yesterday and today and forever." Then we closed with communion, and the last song to be sung at 453 Bank St. was a fitting medley of "Power in the Blood" and "Are You Washed in the Blood?"

In a few years, the corner of Bank and Gladstone will be condominiums, albeit with the original façade intact, the Met being a heritage building. And while it's sad to move away from a comfortable, familiar building that has shone God's light in downtown Ottawa for nearly 80 years, with the way the city is growing it won't be long until Ottawa's southern suburbs look an awful lot like downtown.

Church will be meeting again next week. As our building campaign motto has said all along, it's "more than a building."

I don't think I know her, but Gen of Confessions from a Road Less Travelled posts her own reminiscences of the Met.

(H/T: CT Moore, whose photo I borrowed. I hope he doesn't mind my linking to it!)

July 23, 2008

Worst phishing scam ever!

Got this message in my inbox yesterday:

This is to formally notify you that we are presently working on the Carleton webmail, and this can close your webmail account with Carleton completely.

To avoid this, please send your surname and password to Carleton Webmail Care on: carletonwebmailcare@webmail.co.za

Please do this, so that your Carleton webmail Account can be protected from being close.

Your immediate response is highly needed.


Customer Care Service.


  • It was apparently sent from a Verizon emall account named "CARLETON WEBMAIL CARE," but the supposed sender's initials and last name appear in he email address proper.
  • IT admins at Carleton University don't need to send admin messages from Verizon accounts.
  • Verizon doesn't even operate in Canada.
  • The Reply-To: address in the headers is to a webmail account in South Africa (the same one that appears in the message body). I'm pretty sure that if Carleton doesn't need Verizon for email access, they definitely don't need the equivalent of a South African Hotmail account.
  • Although my email account at the National Capital FreeNet is based at Carleton  University (where the mail servers are housed), I don't have a "Carleton webmail account."
  • Admin-type broadcast messages typically tell you why, when, and how long they plan to "work on" the system, so that people who rely on the service have prior warning, e.g. "The Network Gods will be performing scheduled maintenance to the webmail server on Friday, July 25 at 5 pm. This software upgrade is expected to last for about two hours. During this time, your account will not be accessible. We apologize for the inconvenience."
  • Thanks to such routine precautions as redundant systems and regular backups, the possibility of my account being "closed" "completely" due to "work" is basically nil.
  • Obviously, in the unlikely event of an unintentional hosing of the mail server, the powers-that-be do not need my "surname and password" in order to restore the system from a previous backup.
  • While IT professionals are not always the most literate folks, I've never seen a broadcast message so poorly written. I don't want my account protected from being "close." I like it nearby, where it belongs.
  • A large Canadian university doesn't have "Customer Care Service."

So, needless to say, I wasn't particularly fooled. This was a more transparent attempt to phish for my personal info than the usual bank/eBay/PayPal scams you see, and those are pretty obvious too.

But unless it's a coincidence that someone else was running a more sophisticated phishing scam at the same time, someone was fooled:

The e-mail system at an Ottawa university was crippled this week by cyber criminals who tricked a user into providing access to a university e-mail account.

The system at Carleton University is now back to normal, Ralph Michaelis, the chief information officer at the university's department of computing and communications services, said Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, the criminals used a university e-mail account to send out tens of thousands of spam e-mails, clogging the system and forcing users to wait up to five minutes to send or receive e-mail, Michaelis said.

Which only goes to show that there's no trick in the book so old that it won't catch a new fish.

July 09, 2008

And now . . . this - July 9/08

Stupid poetic justice!

A desperate five-day search for a 9-year-old boy abducted by his father in Southern California ended in Mexico, where the man died after being hit by a bus and the boy was found safe across town, authorities said Monday.

[Full Story]

The Proverbial Bus solves the Problem of Evil. This has to be the Christian apologist's biggest fantasy.

Here we go again, part 6.022x1023

John Ganster has watched cars creep, crawl and park in front of his East Dallas stone company as their occupants try to catch a glimpse of a granite slab stained with what some think is an image of Jesus. . . .

At first, no one at the company noticed the image, Mr. Ganster said. Then a customer called and asked about buying the "Jesus slab," a 1,000-pound hunk of granite that comes from Brazil.

[Jesus rock]

Uh-oh. It looks to me like he's about to stick that shiv into the giant skull on the left.

And now for some completely bad hermeneutics.

The stone had been in the company's Tulsa, Okla., store. It was moved to the Dallas office in December, after builders in the Tulsa area kept passing on it because of cosmetic imperfections.

"That's kind of ironic," Mr. Ganster said. "Christ said that he would build his church on the stone that the builders rejected."

[Full Story]

And that puddle on the floor is the puke my stomach rejected. Hey, I think I see an image of Jesus.

That's right, shoot the messenger

At least I'm glad to see that "human rights" kookery isn't limited to Canadian shores:

A Canton [Michigan] man is suing Zondervan Publishing and a Tennessee-based publisher, claiming their versions of the Bible that refer to homosexuality as a sin violate his constitutional rights and has caused him emotional pain and mental instability.

Mental instability, eh? This lawsuit is Exhibit A.

Bradley LaShawn Fowler, 39, is seeking $60 million from Zondervan, based in Cascade Township, and another $10 million from Thomas Nelson Publishing in the lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Fowler filed the suit against Zondervan on Monday, the same day U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook Jr. refused to appoint an attorney to represent him in his case against Thomas Nelson, a Tennessee publisher. Fowler filed a suit against Thomas Nelson in June. He is representing himself in both claims.

"The Court has some very genuine concerns about the nature and efficacy of these claims," the judge wrote.

[Full Story]

Translation: "'He's as fruity as a nutcake,' the judge wrote.'

(H/T: James White.)

July 04, 2008

And now . . . this - July 4/08

For some people, stealing traffic cones isn't enough of a challenge

A 42-year-old Ottawa man has been charged with the theft of 25 sewer grates in the Elmvale Acres area — some of the 150 catch basin covers that have gone missing around the city in the past month.

Tim Argiropoulos was arrested Thursday afternoon and is to appear in court on Aug. 11, Ottawa police said Friday.

[Full Story]

Under normal circumstances, the city of Ottawa loses a handful of sewer grates every month. A few is pranksters; 150 of the things is some sort of conspiracy. No doubt the dramatic rise in thefts is due to the current high price of metals. Meanwhile, thanks to dimbulbs like Argiropooulos, we all run the risk of stepping off the curb into a 10-foot hole.

Always look on the bright side of life

Thomas Beatie, the transgender man who made headlines as the so-called "pregnant man," gave birth Sunday to a healthy baby girl, ABC News has learned.

The birth, at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon, was natural, according to a source, who added that reports that Beatie had had a Caesarean section are false.

[Full Story]

At the risk of acquiring my very own Human Rights complaint for discriminating against the weird: "Thomas Beatie" is not a man, pregnant or otherwise. She is a woman whom an intensive regimen of hormones and surgery has messed up severely. Inevitably, this nonsense reminds me of this classic Monty Python scene from Life of Brian:

sigh . . . stupid world . . .

(H/T: Jill Stanek.)

The Order of Canada jumps the shark

While everyone else was enjoying the big street party yesterday, Canada bestowed its highest civilian honour, quietly and underhandedly, upon Dr. Henry Morgentaler, a Holocaust survivor who believes he should be able to kill as many unborn children as he wants, without legal consequences.

The motto of the Order of Canada is Desiderantes meliorem patriam ("They desire a better country").1 Has Morgentaler's legacy left us a better country? On the contrary, his advocacy has left Canadians polarized and divided over the abortion issue -  to say nothing of the thousands of unborn infants that he and his kind have enabled to be slaughtered for any reason or none. Abortion is so often (and falsely) assumed to be a fundamental human right, that the student Politburos at several Canadian universities have taken steps to officially stifle the real fundamental right of free speech of those students who oppose it. At the very least, causing roughly half of all Canadians to suddenly take offense hardly makes Canada a better place. If Morgentaler's crusade for abortion rights has left Canada a better country, the benefits are, at best, invisible and dubious.

On the other hand, Morgentaler's crusade certainly has benefited Morgentaler. Lest we forget the circumstances of his crusade, it was about his right to open a private, for-profit abortion clinic in 1969. He doesn't seem to be too poorly off. Notwithstanding all the empty platitudes about "safe, legal, and rare" that fall from the lips of abortion advocates, the last thing a professional abortionist would want is for business to be rare.

At every debate on abortion that I have attended, inevitably someone (whether the pro-abortion advocate or someone from the audience in the Q&A) will argue that since men can't get pregnant, their opinion on the abortion issue isn't worth much.  Of course, that argument only counts for men like Jojo Ruba or Scott Klusendorf, who are against abortion. When men are for abortion, like Dr. Morgentaler or the majority of Supreme Court judges who struck down the abortion law in 1988, they get honours, human rights awards, and honorary doctorates.

However, it's now official: The Order of Canada has jumped the shark. Like the Nobel Prize and the Academy Awards, it's no longer about celebrating excellence that all Canadians can be proud of: it's about being one more soapbox for the political hobby horses of the not-so-intelligentsia. Shameful.


1 A motto, ironically, derived from the Bible: "But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one" (Heb. 11:16, emphasis added). As a general rule, the authors of the Bible frowned upon the mass murder of infants.

July 01, 2008

Canada Day, 2008

Today is Canada Day - more specifically, Canada's 141's birthday. (She doesn't look a day over 120 . . .)

It has been my practice, since my first Canada Day blogging in 2004, to tell the story of one Canadian patriotic song. This year, the song both isn't, and is, Canadian: "God Save the Queen."

This song is actually a British patriotic song. The author and composer are unknown. The phrase "God save the King" originated in the English Bible (specifically, the Coverdale Bible of 1535, though it was retained also in the King James Version). It was also employed as a naval watchword, the countersign to which was, "Long to reign over us."

The form we are familiar with originated in 1745, when it was sung in theatres (anyone else old enough to remember singing the national anthem at the movies?):

God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen:
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen.

"God Save the Queen" is the unofficial national anthem of England, its usage having been established by tradition rather than legislation. Similarly, here in Canada it is the unofficial "Royal Anthem," played in the presence of royalty or the Governor-General, but has no legal standing. When I was in elementary school, it was sung after "O Canada" during daily opening exercises.

Two other, more politically incorrect verses, are rarely sung today:

O Lord, our God, arise,
Scatter thine enemies,
And make them fall:
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On thee our hopes we fix:
God save us all.

Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign:
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save the Queen.

Though it isn't a Canadian song, in a sense it is, since Canada is a constitutional monarchy, and the Queen of England is also our head of state, designated the Queen of Canada. While pro-royalty sentiment in Canada may not be what it is in London, or what it used to be, naturally Canadians wish Her Majesty well.

In Canada the anthem has an additional verse, though again it is almost never sung. Admittedly, the reference to the British Empire is rather obsolescent:

Our loved Dominion bless
With peace and happiness
From shore to shore;
And let our Empire be
Loyal, united, free
True to herself and Thee
God save the Queen.

"God Save the Queen" is, I"m sure, familiar to all natives of English-speaking countries. In the United States, the melody is used for "My Country, 'Tis of Thee." It is well known even outside the English-speaking world: the melody has been used in the past for the national anthems of Germany (Beethoven once composed a "theme and variations" on it), Switzerland, and Russia; and is still used as the anthem of Liechtenstein, as well as the royal anthem of Norway and Sweden. (Britannia certainly does rule the sound waves!) So it seems almost redundant to provide the usual link to the tune in MIDI format. Nonetheless, here it is.

Happy Birthday, Canada. And God save our gracious Queen.

Previous Canada Day songs: