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The assorted meanderings, rantings, and pontifications of... us!

Topics may include, but will not be limited to: feminism, hockey, atheism, shoes, politics, fat acceptance, fitness, skepticism, dancing, introversion/HSP issues, and anything else that happens to be on my mind.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Because fat people just deserve to suffer

Some obese Britons now ineligible for paid hip, knee replacements

Obese people in East Suffolk, England, will be denied hip and knee replacements paid for by the government.

New rules from the National Health Service say joint replacements will not be performed unless a patient has a body mass index of less than 30 and "conservative means have failed to alleviate the patient's pain and disability."

I'm trying really hard to figure out how this can mean anything but that fat people deserve to suffer.

Here's the thing about joint replacement surgery: it only becomes an option when the joint is so severely damaged that it can't be repaired. And you know what, damaged joints, get this, hurt. A lot. I would really like the people who formulated this asinine policy to explain to the people affected how they are supposed to lose weight when they're in so much pain they can barely walk, let alone get regular exercise.

Minor administrative note

Over the next few days I intend to update the links section. I'm going to take out the classifications because it just doesn't work that way. While there are some blogs that are single-issue, many cross all sorts of boundaries and defy classification. I need to get off my butt, add all the cool stuff I've been reading lately, and then get it all into alphabetical order. I hope to get it done... sometime before Christmas! Or during the time off?

Toeing the line.

To toe-ring or not to toe-ring…a question of gender acceptance.

I said in my last post that I would tackle something a little less serious this time blogging around. The ugly state of the ‘socioeconomicpolitical’ landscape can fester for the time being. Back to the issue of toe-rings; really a non-issue at first glance. The problem being simply, I am male. Men do not wear toe-rings. End of sentence, full stop, termination of debate. What society says is pretty clear on the matter. I’ve been wearing my toe-rings now for 14 years and what a gauntlet I have run.

It of course starts with the stares… the incredulous looks. What is going on here? That is not the worst of it. It is my nature to be polite, *very* polite. Apparently as a man, that is another strike against me. The question that I have polled my friends about on his initial impression is quite simple. “Is he gay?” Since when has extra ornamentation coupled with a civil attitude point to sexual orientation?

Of course, gender identity, and societal norms are all called into effect in this situation. I realize that but I also see certain standards that are appropriate for women, but not for men. Women are ‘supposed’ to adorn themselves with all sorts of shiny beads and gaudy baubles. Men…well… they can wear a watch and maybe a necklace if they are lucky. Professionally for men, the open toed shoe or sandal is a no-go. If we are not sporting the jacket, tie, loafers etc combo, we are not taken seriously or respected. I’m not really much for the status quo anyways, but at times not being part of the herd is rather disquieting.

I’m thinking that a more relaxed attitude towards the fashion rules for both sexes would be a good thing. Women just seem to have a better grasp on bringing the established clothing trends together and making it work. Men I think are still gripped in the ‘manly’ image and censure those who are on the fringes of acceptable male fashion.

Thank you, HR, for wasting my time

My employer is on some kind of employee wellness kick for the last year or so. For the most part, I like what they're doing. For example, they piloted flex time and compressed work weeks, and are now offering it more widely to help employees with work/life balance issues. The benefits are good; the union just negotiated a way improved medical/dental package; and every once in a while they have casual week that you don't have to pay into the social committee/united way/other charity fund for - it's supposed to encourage you to go for a brisk walk on your lunch break if you don't have to wear a suit. Pretty enlightened for the behemoth entity it is.

Unfortunately not all the initiatives pan out. Take, for example, the series of seminars they've arranged with the Doctors' Speakers Bureau - today's topic was Natural Solutions to Headache Pain. The blurb said, "Millions of Americans suffer from chronic headaches. This results in millions of doctors visits, millions of lost work days, and billions of dollars in medical bills. This presentation was designed to educate the audience about the different types of headaches, what causes them, how to prevent them, and safe, natural and effective alternatives to treating them." I was keen to go to this (and my boss was keen for me to go too) because I am a chronic headache sufferer and it definitely impacts my work.

I should admit up front I don't have a really positive view of so-called "alternative medicine". As far as I am concerned, there are treatments that scientific evidence shows they work, and then there are treatments without that kind of evidence. The former, regardless of whether it was first invented by a scientist in a lab, or a shaman in a sweat lodge, is real medicine. I don't really see why anybody would want an alternative to that, but maybe it's just me.

But I felt I went in with a fairly open mind. I was hoping for 'can't hurt, might help' type stuff I hadn't heard of (or had forgotten about) for headache self-care, things to try when you first start having a migraine aura besides taking hardcore drugs, or some relaxation exercises to try if you feel a tension headache coming on. Nice basic stuff like that, that would have a good chance of improving both my productivity at work, and my overall quality of life.

What I got was an infomercial on acupuncture, with a major de-emphasis on "info". The speaker, a local acupuncturist, was, I'm sure, a very nice and caring person, but she was completely unqualified to be giving the presentation. Her public speaking was at the level of a moderately gifted eighth grader. She finished every sentence like it was a question? You know? And she ran out of content? After ten minutes? And it was supposed to have been, you know, an hour presentation? So after she ran out of content, people just asked her non-critical questions for the rest of the hour.

A meta-analysis of trials of acupuncture for headache pain (1) found "Overall, the existing evidence suggests that acupuncture has a role in the treatment of recurrent headaches. However, the quality and amount of evidence is not fully convincing. There is urgent need for well-planned, large-scale studies to assess effectiveness and efficiency of acupuncture under real life conditions." Apparently an erratum was published in a later issue, but I haven't been able to find the text online to find out of the error caused their conclusions to be too generous or too strict, or if it was something more minor.

The bottom line for me is, at the end of it, all I had to take home was the option of a long course of therapy, twice a week over several weeks, and then regular maintenance care, at over $50/appointment, which might help a bit as long as I would make changes in the rest of my life too. And I gave up an hour of time I could have been using to get shit done to hear about it.
1 - Melchart D,Linde K, Fischer P, White A, Allais G, Vickers A, Berman B, (1999). Acupuncture for recurrent headaches: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Cephalalgia. 1999 Nov;19(9):779-86; discussion 765

Thursday, November 24, 2005

stupid dreams

Every night this week, I've had the same dream. I dream that I'm lying in bed staring at the ceiling worrying about stuff and wishing I could get to sleep. The only way I know that I'm actually asleep is that I wake up and find myself doing guess what. It's not even one of those cool things where I could ask myself well, what if I'm going to wake up from what I'm doing right now and find out it's a dream too, because the only thing I do when I'm dreaming is lie restlessly awake and worry about things. If I expand my stupid-dream repertoire to include blogging though?

The downside is I'm about as tired as if I hadn't slept at all and it's an effort to string a sentence together and there's all this stuff I want to write about but I don't think I can until I get some sleep. waah. oh well.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Birkenstocks Cause Feminism: Causality in Odd Directions

A minor example of odd causality in my life: Rather than develop a taste for beer while watching hockey games, I developed a taste for hockey as a result of the fact that it's an opportunity for beer. And now it's generalizing over to football. I swear I will purchase a sword for the sole purpose of falling on it should I discover I also enjoy drinking beer and watching baseball or golf.

And the major example: Birkenstocks cause feminism.

At one time I was one of those tough young women who didn't need feminism because I had certainly never been stepped on by the patriarchy, because I was too good to let the turkeys get me down. Feminism, to me, was just for poor women, and women in developing nations.

And at the same time I had this incredible shoe fixation. It was partially because I was into dancing, and of course if you dance you need shoes, and you're always searching for that pair that's exactly right, and all the imperfect ones just accumulate. The other part was that shoes tied really heavily into my gender identity. As a fat chick, there really wasn't (still isn't, although it's slowly getting better) much I could find to wear that would express my femininity beyond "liker of sequined appliqued sack-dresses", and the only thing I could find to wear that said vixen like I wanted it to was shoes. Sexy, high-heeled shoes. Ankle-breaking, stilletto, fuck-me shoes. I took a lot of pride that I could walk (and run backwards and spin) my fat ass around in scary heels around the wobbling skinny women.

The fall came when all the running around in nasty heels caused an old knee injury to get worse and worse, eventually requiring surgery. And after the surgery I couldn't wear heels any more, because I'd lost the muscle tone necessary to keep my balance, not to mention that I couldn't handle the strain it put on my reconstructed knee. I took it really hard, and spent a lot of time and money trying to find femmey shoes that I could also walk in. Or wearing ones I couldn't really walk in, and taking a lot of pain medicine. And I thought this was OK!

I got my Birkenstocks, if you'll believe this, to please a man. Sardeth had to wheedle at me for close to two years before I'd even consider it (he thinks Birks are hott). But I was not going to wear ugly shoes and that was final. When we finally went to the Birkenstock store (I caved in to shut him up and because he was paying) I did some hardcore distancing myself from anything hippie. I wore a frilly little sundress and sparkly heels and lots of whiny attitude, as if the sandals were going to send butch-rays up my legs and grow out my armpit hair or something.

And then the day the Birkenstocks finally broke in, I was like Saul on the road to Tarsus. What the fuck had I been doing to myself and why and for whom?

Since B-day, I've re-evaluated a lot of stuff about my self, my identity as a woman, my actual place in society as opposed to my ideal place, how much worse it is for women who didn't get the breaks I did, and come out at least an intermediate patriarchy blamer (I hope).

The Case for Torture

This is an excerpt from a CBC news documentary on the torture that the United States continues to engage in. The weasel-ese this gentlemen spews speaks volumes of the moral currency of the US. How long before the rest of the United States sponsored terrorism comes to light. How long must the injustice be doubled…then redoubled a thousand times before people are moved to act? I’ve got nothing else on this one at the moment. How a purportedly ‘civilized’ nation can still unabashedly raise its head and trumpet its values?

** I've decided to edit out the rest of the post. Just the first paragraphs of the interview will be in this version. I have also edited out last sentence of my introduction because on second reflection, it was too venomous. It is just very frustrating to see the great potential of a nation used to cause so much pain and injustice. **


John Yoo: I can't talk about that.
Gillian Findlay: WHY NOT?
John Yoo: Because it's classified.
John Yoo: About why it was asked?
Gillian Findlay: WHY, YES, EXACTLY.
John Yoo: No, I can't.
John Yoo: I can't, although if you look at the details of the memos, the memos that have to do with people held at Guantanamo Bay are a different question, right? Those were handled by a Defence Department working group in the spring of 2003, I believe. And this is much earlier, this is over a year earlier, almost a year earlier.
John Yoo: I can't.
Gillian Findlay: YOU CAN'T?
John Yoo: No.
John Yoo: It's all, it's classified. If the government decides to release it, then I could talk about it. But they just, they have not.
John Yoo: You have to figure out what the law says and again, I think there is an important difference between law and policy. And so I think there is a legal question that has to be answered and I think it's a hard question. Don't get me wrong. What the word "torture" means when it's undefined by federal statutes is a hard question. It's never, that statute had never been interpreted by the executive branch, by courts, prosecutors, by anybody.So I think it's a hard legal question. That's a different question in my mind than about whether, what kinds of policies ought to be drafted and shaped within the law. And I think factors like, will there be likely abuses to occur or not are certainly things policy makers should think about when they decide what policies to adopt. But it should not, it seems to me, change the legal analysis or the legal conclusion about what Congress has and has not prohibited.

I need to find a lighter topic for next post.

TV makes me sad

And this is surprising why?

First up: What Not to Wear

I know that at one time I liked this show. I seem to have retreated into some kind of dour, hairy-legged humourless feminism coupled with that stereotypical leftie hatred of the rich or something, because all I could do this time was yell at the screen and threaten to beat those bitches Stacy and Clinton up and yell at the poor victim to resist patriarchal authority by not wearing heels if she doesn't want to. I mean, pretending a bra strap is a necklace isn't cool, but neither is trying to teach for an eight-hour day in fuck-me pumps. And of course by the end of the show the poor dupe is thanking everybody and talking about how beauty is something she has to think about every day and pay attention to. Compare and contrast that to her at the beginning saying something like, "At school I have a dozen kids who are several grades behind who are counting on me, and what I look like isn't nearly as important as looking after those kids." Consider the patriarchy blamed. Suggested music selection, Nine Inch Nails, Happiness in Slavery.

Then a Fifth Estate Documentary about American war crimes in Iraq. Sardeth is writing about that.

And, during the commercials, back to TLC and the Ballroom Boot Camp, where some asshole trash talked a fat chick until she quit. Having been a passionate ballroom dancer for years, I know perfectly well that fat chicks, no matter how good they are at dancing, never win competitions*. The guy who was supposed to be the trainer knew it too, and decided he'd rather demoralize her out of the running than be associated with a fat chick. Asshole.

* - not that I was ever good enough that it mattered to me speficically!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Random DogBlogging

Miss Muffet

And now for something completely different:

A free lecture and string quartet performance by Dr. Clifford Will, professor of physics at Washington University, and the Borealis String Quartet. The topic was, "Was Einstein Right?".

It started out looking like it was going to be a disappointment, because, despite being a free lecture, you were supposed to pre-register. Except that only some of the advertising said anything about pre-registering, and the pre-registrations sold out, and the advertising we'd seen wasn't the advertising that said anything about pre-registering, so we almost didn't get in. Fortunately they opened up the balcony of the auditorium to make room for all us extra people.

The string quartet performance that started it out was lovely. Mozart to begin with, and then a brand new work commissioned speficically for the occasion by the Canadian Association of Physicists. The piece was called "From Water to Ice", and was written by Aaron Hryciw, a PhD student in condensed matter physics at the U of A, who also plays violin and bassoon in the University Symphony Orchestra, and studies composition with Malcolm Forsyth.

"From Water to Ice" gave me The Shivers. It's a horrible pun and I'm really sorry, but it's true.

And then the lecture was a lot of fun as well. The format was essentially, general and special relativity predict, to an insane number of decimal places, X. Due to all sorts of really cool technology, we've measured, to an insane number of decimal places, and gotten... X. Over and over again. There wasn't much that I hadn't already read in popular science stuff, but the combination of hard data, pretty pictures of gravitational lensing, and Dr. Will's enthusiasm and sense of humour, took me back to the best of my intro physics days and gave me a good case of the darn it why didn't I's.

The coolest thing Dr. Will talked about was LISA - the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna - image from NASA. LISA is three satellites that will be put into orbit around the sun, in a free-floating equilateral triangle 5 million km to a side, and, if they can get the thing to work, they'll be able to detect the distortions caused by gravity waves as they pass through. How hot is that?!

And then, if that weren't already a perfect evening, we went upstairs to RATT and caught the hockey game about halfway through the third period, during which time the Oilers came back from losing 3-1 to winning 6-5 in overtime. My poor throat - as if I hadn't done enough screaming at NIN yesterday.

I hope tonight's game will be a turning point for the Oilers season. I often feel that what happens to them is, they start to lose, and then they seem to get upset with themselves and play poorly, and keep on losing, often for several games. Playing so hard tonight and coming from behind like that proves to me that they have it in them to do it. I just hope they've proved it to themselves as well.

"You're the crazy fuckers who broke the barricade" - Trent Reznor

Last night: Nine Inch Nails with Queens of the Stone Age and Death from Above 1979 at Rexall Place. Fuck yeah!

I was a bit disappointed that DFA was on first, because hearing they were going to be there is what pushed me over the edge from "tickets are too expensive" to "damn the torpedoes". So of course they had to deal with the half-empty stadium and the crowd that wasn't warmed up yet. Plus we got there a bit late, so we missed some of their set, which made me sad.

I hadn't heard of Queens of the Stone Age before, but they put on a good show and I might have to pick up their CD.

And of course NIN... They played some of their new stuff, which I wasn't expecting to like, since I hadn't liked The Fragile, but it was good stuff. Not the sound I remember from the olden days, more guitar and stuff, but probably going to have to buy With Teeth too... I'm going to be poor. And they played things from The Fragile, and maybe I was on crack for not liking it, because it rocked. And they played lots of old stuff too. Closer, of course, and I nearly shook my bootie off. And Head like a Hole. And the fuckers did their sad songs too and I lost half of my makeup during "Something I Can Never Have" and the rest of it during "Hurt." OK I didn't actually lose it, it just went from my eyes into stripes on my cheeks.

The one disappointment for me when it comes to what songs they did, is they didn't do "Heresy." Reason #1 for going was because I wanted to scream "God is dead and no one cares" with a whole stadium of people. I complained about it to our friend who we brought along, and she said, well, maybe they didn't want to offend anybody. I'm still a little blown away by that one. I mean, self-mutilation and "I want to fuck you like an animal" are OK, but a little "God is dead" is not? WTF? And I mean honestly, since when did Mr. Reznor worry about offending people? But they didn't play it. waah.

Oh, and about that barricade. I guess the people down in the pit got a little out of hand, because they did in fact manage to break the steel barricade keeping them back from the stage, and the show had to stop until they could get it fixed. Which is what prompted TR to tell us not to boo, because we were the crazy fuckers that broke the barricade in the first place. People got a little silly during the break, starting cheers like "Lets go Oilers" for the hell of it, and I'm just glad they could get it fixed and go on with the show, because it could have gotten pretty ugly if they'd had to stop.

Bottom line though: awesome show. Well worth the price of admission, even without Heresy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Why the Left has such a rough time...(part 2)

Three cheers for Canada’s Globe and Mail! One of the best subscriptions, next to Harper’s, I have the pleasure to receive. The Saturday focus section is always a favorite of mine and I am culling these facts from the article entitled Free (market) Agent. This article is about Michael Walker and his impending retirement from the Fraser Institute, a radical Right wing think tank. Some of Walker’s greatest hits include:

-Calculations of ‘tax-freedom day’.
-Privatization of nationalized industry.
-Privatization of the delivery of government services
-Reduction of the overall role of government in the economy
-Reduction of Red Tape
-Measurement of provincial education performance with ‘report cards’
-Measurement of hospital waiting lists
-Measurement of government ‘interference’ to rank ‘economic freedom’ in 127 countries.

Walker’s personal motto: “If it matters, measure it.” Now on the surface, the idea makes a great deal of sense. Econometrics can be valuable tools in gauging how our society doing in general. The downside is that studies like those in the list above readily become “factual ammunition” for the causes of the far Right here in Canada. Statistics are great, but the real magic is in how you present them to the public for their consumption. The Fraser Institute excels at taping the populist sentiments withing the Canadian populace. The econometric statistics are then used to bully, bash and coerce the public and government to a further right of center position.

Who would not like to see Tax-freedom day retreat a couple of months? Who would not like to see a more efficient Government? These contentious topics are presented on high to the public. Unfortunately, or fortunately if media distortion is your game, the topical analysis is presented with only one solution. The solution, of course, is the right-wing prescription for good governance. Backed with figures now! Charts! More importantly with no debate, no dissent and no choice on the issue at hand. Okay, the possibility for debate is there, we do live in a state with democratic tendencies. However the amount of public discussion is small, and dissent is hard to foment. Topping it all off the reports from the Fraser Institute are often mistaken for gospel here in Alberta.

On the bright side Fraser Institute literature is not mandatory reading in the schools...yet.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Why the Left has such a rough time...(part one)

Why the Left has such a rough time...

If I could point to a few key ideas of what being Left wing is all about I think I could roughly (very roughly) sum it up in one sentence.

“We’re all in this together, lets help each other out and make the best of it.”

Contrast this with the Right:

“We’re all in this together, now get the hell out of my way…”

Okay, not the most balanced treatment of the Right, but they get enough positive spin from the rest of the mainstream. One of the fundamental reasons the Right is getting so much attention I believe is that they have the answers. Good answers, or at least good sounding answers.

Crime a problem? We need more police to enforce the rules. Welfare a problem? Let’s get mandatory work for welfare recipients, so they can earn their keep. Drug addiction? Let’s go after the dealers and the users with equal ferocity. Universal Healthcare cost too much? Privatize the lot of it, the private sector knows best. I could go on… and on.

The Right has short concise answers. The answers however do not plumb the depths of the real issues at hand. Why do we have more crime? What are the factors that lead to criminal activity? What can we do to decrease the prevalence of these factors? The Left’s answers are not compact; they require explanation, background, in essence, time we rarely give to a political problem.

Comparing the Right and Left viewpoints to television, the Right would be the commercials, quick and snappy, and the Left would be the actual show, that slowly builds to conclusion, but not with the laser-like concision of the right. For better or worse, the media has chosen to go with the sound byte, the clip…and that certainly makes the case for the Left difficult to cogently access the public mind. It is on the other hand an ideal situation for the political right. The rhetoric of the right is slowly becoming the gospel as our major news sources constantly repeat the same right-slanted mantra.

The problem with the Left is that our solutions often yield less than concrete results. For instance, if we give people enough money to survive modestly on Welfare then we have less desperation, less abject poverty, less hopelessness and also less crime. When we think of “those poor wretched people” they are often disproportionately responsible for much of the crime in our communities. Consider that if they could live decently would there be similar level of criminal behaviour? Would the conditions that lead to criminality be as prevalent if more people had a better standard of living? A qualified “yes” is the answer.

The problem is the qualified “yes”. Sure we can give more poor people a chance, but can we point to statistics as easily as the Right does when they put more police on the street. Arrests are up, indictments are up… these are all easily digestible facts and concrete statistics the media and the public can readily understand. Contrast this with a hot lunch program for underprivileged children. How do you quantify the results of feeding children at school? Little ‘Bobby’ now has enough calories to operate his brain properly so he can focus on school rather than on what to eat. ‘Bobby’ can now concentrate on his lessons, he does well in school, and he has a positive environment in which he can better resist the paths that lead to criminality and poor life decisions.

How do you say that in 30 seconds or less and not sound goofy (at least to the coached mainstream media public)? You would get torn to shreds. We do not have the laser of the right to make the black and white pronouncements that they often seem to do. Will allowing more people to live with dignity lower the crime rate? Of course it will. Can you get in on a chart understandable in 20 seconds or less? Doubtful. Therein lies the problem. We need to bring public debate back to reasonable intellectual standards or even have a debate in which points of view can be discussed in detail to see the good and bad with both the Right and the Left’s point of view.

Pat Robertson vs God

Pat Robertson says, in his Answers to 200 of Life's Most Difficult Questions:

Is Abortion Wrong?

"[...] Abortion is terribly wrong. God condemned the Israelites who were offering their children as sacrifices to the heathen god Molech. Such children were burned up in the fires of sacrifice (see Leviticus 20:2). But we are offering our children to a god of pleasure and sensuality and convenience. By doing so we are saying that human beings are not worth anything. This is a terrible sin and a blot on our society."

On the other hand, if you believe the Bible, God:
  • To Abram, Genesis 22:2 - "And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of."
  • Exodus 12:29 - "And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle."
  • Numbers 16 - God causes an entire family, including their little children, to be swallowed up by the earth
  • Numbers 21:3 - "And the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah." Nope, no kids there.
  • Numbers 21:34-35 - "And the LORD said unto Moses, Fear him not: for I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people, and his land; and thou shalt do to him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon. 21:35 So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land" Surely God spared the children there?
  • Numbers 25:7-8 - "And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
    25:8 And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. " Now why is it important to stab a woman through her belly if you disapprove of the union? In any case, God seems to have been fine with it, since Phinehas and all his descendents are priests for ever.
  • Numbers 31:17 - The Israelites rout the Midianites, kill all the adult men, and take the women and children captive. Moses, mouthpiece for God, says "Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him."
  • 1 Samuel 15:3 - "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. "
  • Joshua 6:21 - "And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword." God thought this was a Good Thing.
  • Joshua 8:24 - "And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword." God also approved of this one.
  • Joshua 10 is a whole list of entire cities where Joshua killed everybody, including babies, with God's approval
  • 2 Kings 2:23-24 "And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. 2:24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. "
  • 2 Kings 15:16 - "Then Menahem smote Tiphsah, and all that were therein, and the coasts thereof from Tirzah: because they opened not to him, therefore he smote it; and all the women therein that were with child he ripped up." God doesn't seem to have a problem with this.
  • Psalms 137:9 - "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. " (Of course, the little ones are not God's people's little ones)
  • Jeremiah 2:29 - God admits to having smitten little children as a way of making a point
  • Ezekiel 9:6 - God commands, "Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. "
  • Hosea 9:11-12 - "As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. 9:12 Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there shall not be a man left: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them! "
  • Hosea 13:16 - "Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up. "

Edited to add, November 14: After all that, I'm wondering if God's problem up in Leviticus was not so much that babies were being killed, as that babies were being killed, and offered as sacrifices to someone other than him.

Also, thanks to the Skeptic's Annotated Bible, which made it much easier to find the list, and which also made the list turn out to be much longer than I'd remembered.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tuffy is Alive!

As a little girl I was horse-crazy (I still love horses, just not in that crazy little girl way) and I was lucky enough to get horseback riding lessons. The horse I had most of my lessons on was named Tuffy. Tuffy is the best horse that ever lived. At 15 hands, he's just a little guy, but not too little for most adults to ride. At the time I was learning to ride, he was quite an old horse already, but still full of zip.

When you'd come to get him out of his stall, he'd make a happy-anticipation rumble in his chest. Oh, boy, attention!

When you brought out the saddle and bridle, he seemed to smile.

He was just about psychic when it came to connection with the rider, which is probably why I never got very good - he could tell what I wanted regardless of how badly I signalled it, as far as I can tell.

Whatever you wanted to do, he was enthusiastic. He was involved in Little Bits a therapeutic riding program for people with disabilities, and for them he was rock-solid, steady, quiet, and patient. A kid could have a siezure on his back and he wouldn't bat an eye. But when he was with an advanced rider and they brought out the jumps, he'd prick his ears and snort and prance and get excited, because he seemed to like that too.

So Tuffy always had a special place in my heart, even after I grew up and couldn't fit horse stuff in with my adult financial responsibilities.

When I learned, a few years ago, that Tuffy's stablemate Pax had died, I cried, and went through a grieving process, because I just assumed that if Pax was gone, Tuffy must be too - Tuffy was much older than Pax.

And then there was this article, and he's alive and well and being taken good care of. It's funny what strong feelings I have for an animal who I doubt ever had any feelings for me, and who I haven't seen in over a decade. But finding out that he's OK, that he's the oldest horse in Alberta, has put me through the whole ringer again. I'm happy, and I'm sad because now I'm going to have to go through it all when he actually does die.

Heaven help the children...

The torture of foreign nationals must be getting close to being old hat in North America.

I am shocked that we as a civilized nation can allow this sort of thing to go on. What is more shocking is the complacent nature of our citizenry and our elected officials on the illegal and unjust nature of these detainments.

As the news article says, the boy was 15 years old when his alleged crime took place. When we make war on children how can we justify anything else that we do?

The War on Terror casts an indiscriminate net far and wide. We shatter the lives of innocent human beings. For what? Security? Defending democracy? What utter nonsense.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Another reason to love America

Vice President Dick Cheney's office was responsible for directives that led to U.S. soldiers' abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, a former top State Department official said Thursday.

via BitchPhD and the International Herald Tribune.

All I can say is fuck. Between that and the secret CIA prisons and the way Canadians go missing when they pass through America, is it any wonder Sweden is looking better and better?

Insightful lecture by Stephen Bezruchka

On Alternative Radio today.

The United States, the richest country in the world, currently ranks 27th in the health of its citizens. Lagging behind not only most of the rich countries, but a few poor ones as well. Fifty years ago, the US was among the top five. What happened in the past five decades to cause this decline? Bezruchka explains that an increasing stratification between the rich and the poor plays a major role. Life spans and infant mortality rates depend very much on the hierarchal structure of a society. And new research shows that half of what influences our health as adults is largely determined before the age of five. What can we learn from other countries whose citizens live longer and healthier lives?

To think about from the lecture:

  • Stratification hurts the rich as well as the poor - even the rich in America aren't as healthy as the rich in other, less-stratified countries
  • Impact of poverty, maternal stress on developing fetus (and young child) has life-long consequences, that stretch to the next generation --> health of the maternal grandmother when she was pregnant with mom is major determinant of health of child
  • To return to the top of the world for health status, America will have to focus on becoming 'a caring and sharing nation', and 'focus on good, not greed'
  • In Sweden they get 1 year of mat leave at 100% and an additional year optional at 80%, and then day care is staffed by people with masters' degrees - note to self, research immigration requirements for Sweden

Fascinating stuff. Must learn more.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Just how stupid does Rahim Jaffer think we are?

Stupid enough to vote Conservative I guess.

According to Rahim Jaffer's quarterly missive to his constituents, the Liberals are to blame for high energy prices, because the Liberals are deliberately using taxes to gouge consumers at the pump. The evil Liberals' motivation is that if prices are unaffordable to the average consumer, consumption will go down, and then they will be able to meet the targets of that Commie Kyoto Plan.

He further asserts that the Liberals are deliberately obfuscating the issue when they say that energy prices are set by the global market, and that the real issue is that Americans are able to pay less at the pump despite high global prices, because they pay less tax.

Fuel taxes in Canada haven't changed in quite a while. Fuel is really, really expensive now. It used to be less expensive. Is the honourable Member of Parliament seriously trying to argue that prices went up at the pumps because taxes stayed the same?

I think I know who's deliberately obfuscating, and it's not the Liberals.

Q: Why is the cost of fuel up?
A: Because we have to pay the world market price for fuel, and the price of fuel has gone up worldwide.

Q: A lot of the fuel comes out of our own ground. If we're not having to buy it from another country, why do we have to pay global market price for it?
A: Because NAFTA says so.

Q: That seems like a shitty deal. How did we get suckered into that?
A: Brian Mulroney thought it sounded like a good idea.

Q: What party was Brian Mulroney?
A: One of the ancestors of the one that now wants us to believe that increases in fuel prices are due to taxes staying the same.

I do agree with Mr. Jaffer on one point: the Liberals' plan for Kyoto so far has been piss-poor. According to Mr. Jaffer's community bulletin, the Liberal Kyoto plan
lacks initiatives to find cheaper or even cleaner forms of fuel that would replace the millions of barrels of oil that we use daily to run our cars, heat our houses, and create electricity.

Instead of developing a real plan that would map out a strategy for new hydroelectric dams, wind and solar power, clean coal technology, strengthening Canada's nuclear capacity, providing incentives to develop hybrid cars, and new ways of insulating our houses, the Liberals instead earmarked money in the last budget without any plan.
According to Mr. Jaffer, the Conservatives' plan is much, much better, because they have a concrete plan. They're going to stop charging GST on top of all the other taxes, and just charge it on the base price of the gasoline. Clearly "Axe the tax on tax", by saving everybody a couple cents per litre, will provide us all with super-efficient houses, hybrid cars, hydroelectric, wind, and solar power, and cleaner nuclear and coal technologies.

I'm sure this clever, concrete plan has nothing to do with the fact that it rhymes, and plays to populist "TAXES BAAAD" sentiments.

I guess they think nobody remembers who brought in the GST in the first place.