Summer night storm

Last night up and down the street windows slammed shut from the approaching storm. There must have been a dozen slams, maybe two. All were dwarfed by the thunder clap coming from the clouds encroaching the space over the street between the buildings.

While securing a window, a flash of light made everything pale, then whiter until finally only the contours of the darkest shapes were barely spared by the flash. When the thunder broke the light, the panes in the windows and the floor under my bare feet trembled.

Once darkness filled the living room to the brim and the tremors subsided, my thoughts drifted to life in many parts of the world, as described by CBC’s Nahlah Ayed:

receptionWhat we saw in one experience is something the Lebanese have seen far too often, and have had to long contend with. So I’ve been flooded with advice: put protective film on the windows; buy glass with wire mesh; I’ve even been advised to build walls to replace the sliding doors. Others bluntly advised me to move to a place with fewer windows.

I sheepishly appreciated and accepted all the advice and concern from a people who have truly suffered, a people who have often paid with more than material loss. What made me much sadder than the fate of our offices, though, is that implicit in all the advice was an expectation, even a conviction, that this kind of violence will happen again.

Send in the clowns

I commented an article knowing full well that in most likelihood it will not get published. The knowledge that someone must read it as part of the rejection process was enough to get my keyboard and soapbox out. My second paragraph reuses phrases which the author quotes of others with pious delight.

A rather verbose column – Mr. Bergman is obviously deeply passionate about the subject. Unfortunately from first to last paragraph the content is tripe.

As the article unfolds one is left with a deepening feeling that the only science experience Mr. Bergman can possibly have is in being a test subject in a windowless, damp lab manned by ‘zealots and cranks’ suffering from ‘misplaced confidence.’

Science fraud epidemic – Factors driving the increase in science fraud today are many, but include a rejection of Christian moral absolutes.

Epidemic? Christian moral absolutes?

“Send in the Clowns”
“Don’t bother. They’re here.”

Another brick in the wall

Wrocław Hotel MargottThe image left links to a story about a new hotel in Wrocław and the controversy it is causing: it’s too high. The story is in Polish, but here’s my summary:

Three times the construction has been halted. A city official says that clearly the building is higher than the others, which supposedly is against city regulations. The developer retorts with ‘we’ve not deviated from the original building plans approved by the city.’ In true eastern European style, there are allegations of exploitation of personal connections to get the plans approved, and the drama goes on.

But what I found really interesting (the Mariott Hotel story is all too typical to be newsworthy in itself) are the comments below the story. In them are several complaints about the continued expansion of the city through ever taller buildings. And where I sit and write this now in central Canada, urban sprawl is a big problem (no pun intended.) The city has gotten so large that no public transit can cover it efficiently, which means more roads, more cars, more pollution, and more time behind the wheel adding to the obesity problem. (Snow removal alone cost the city about 30 million Canadian dollars for the last winter – more roads and tiny buildings in an area where few have more than two storeys is creating expensive problems.)

Wherever you’re reading this, if you’ve a view from one of these type of buildings, send me a photo. I want to see the other side of the story, the one looking down. And seeing these photos, maybe the citizens of Wrocław can breathe a little easier knowing that things are not that bad.

As for me, this weekend I’m one of the lucky ones to see the inside of the new Human Rights museum which is set to open next year.

human-rights-museum

‘Pro-life’ is simply ‘anti-choice’

I was going to write about pro-life, how it’s a misnomer since so many calling themselves that have polar opposite attitudes towards e.g. capital punishment. I was going to take it further back into the shady lanes of the anti-choice movement as it ignores the often fatal outcomes for pregnant women in societies that put the foetus’ survival ahead of the mother’s. But someone else already did a good job doing just that, so I’ll kindly point you in the direction of said piece.

Posted in Anti-theism, Life, Political Perspective, Science at March 4th, 2013. 2 Comments.

привет

“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” ‒Frank Smith

A third language opens the windows too, the fourth is access to the emergency fire exits; a fifth key to the penthouse…

I haven’t thought my line well through yet, but it came as an uninterrupted continuation to what Mr.Smith said which made it worth noting. Seems like the kind of thing that blogs are perfect for.

Posted in Life, Parlez-vous français?, Political Perspective at February 9th, 2013. No Comments.

Fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it?

Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!” This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.

— Douglas Adams

Posted in Anti-theism, Life, Political Perspective at February 8th, 2013. No Comments.

When the Nazis came

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Offendedness

“I think that we live in a very timid age, and a part of our timidity arises from our unwillingness to offend people. And as a result there are whole tribes of people now who define themselves by their offendedness. I mean, who are you if you are not offended by anything? You’re kind of nobody or even worse, you are a liberal. And I just think that whole business defining yourself by anger is very problematic. And then the fact that we all kind of bend over backwards not to induce that anger becomes very often also a problem and a kind of cowardice, if you like. And I think we just need to live in a more robust society in which people say things that other people don’t like and the answer to that is not to throw a bomb at them, but to say “I don’t like that much” and then get on with the next business.” — Salman Rushdie

I like the ‘word’ offendedness. I wonder if Steven Colbert already used it in his theme loop. :)