Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tokin' character

Ottawa now has its own Human Rights Commission complaint by a medical marijuana user. The last one was against a Burlington restaurant and ended in (predictable) defeat for the restaurant owner. This time, the complainant is a standup comedian, who's been barred from smoking pot in the smoking area of an Ottawa comedy club.

It would have been nice if the reporter had given a little more background on the complainant, Russell Barth. He's portrayed as just an ordinary schmoe, trying to make a living while struggling with ill health. A quick google search reveals that he's a well-known marijuana rights activist, and has been for several years. I must say, though, his approach is original. Whereas the Burlington pot smoker leaned on the restaurant, Barth's complaint names the Ontario Government as the rights violator, because it is the Ontario Liquor License Act which mandates that people may not use marijuana in licensed premises, or even enter such establishments after having done so.

His complaint to the HRC states that he is not seeking financial damages.
We are seeking an amendment by The Minister to Regulation 719, section 45, subsection 2 of the Liquor Licence Act to accommodate the needs of federally licenced medical marihuana users. In preparing this Human Rights Complaint, however, we have found other Ontario regulations which might place legal medical marihuana patients in similar territory.

These include the Charitable Institutions Act (Reg. 69 s.19), the Day Nurseries Act (reg. 262 s.37(1), the Highway Traffic Act (Reg. 340/94 ss. 14(b), 17(b), and 32.4(2)), the Homes for the Aged and Rest Homes Act (Reg. 637 s. 14), the Nursing Homes Act (Reg. 832 s. 68) and the Ontario Drug Benefit Act (Reg. 201/96 ss 3(4)1(iv) and 12.1(2)).

While this complaint does not focus on those issues, we suggest that they need to be brought to the attention of current and future regulation drafters so as to avoid future problems.
OK, the guy is upfront about what he wants - to change the law (though the Day Nurseries Act gives me pause - is this about the right to light up around toddlers?). The problem is, this is just another example of the corrupting influence the HRCs have on everything they touch. It's not just the judicial system; now they're being used by activists to crowbar the legislative process.

We have ways to change laws, and activists know better than anyone how it's done. Laws are supposed to be changed through the same legislatures that passed them in the first place, often in response to public pressure. The trouble is, it's a long process, and it doesn't always work. Impatient people then discovered that the courts can be a shortcut to changing the law, but that still involved some personal risk and expense. Now we have the HRCs - Barth no longer has to defiantly light up a joint in a bar, and wait for the police to come and arrest him, so he can fight his campaign through a legal trial. A successful verdict could do the job, but he would still have to put up the money for his own lawyer. Now all he has to do is send in a piece of paper, and the government will do all the work for him.

It will be interesting to see if this method works. The HRC might decide that suing the government is not in their mandate, and reject the complaint. On the other hand, an organization that thinks that they've been entrusted with the elimination of hatred from the human heart is not renowned for its modesty. They might well conclude that they're competent to create law as well.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Reliving my past, through the miracle of YouTube

I can't believe I found this commercial:I saw it ONCE back in the '80s. Every year, the local arthouse/repertory movie theatre would show the annual Advertising Festival - prize-winning commercials from around the world. Dean and I would always go. I never forgot this one, though I didn't realize it was from New Zealand. What with Vietnam such a recent memory, I thought it was American. The look on that kid's face as the song progresses is just unforgettable, and I could still sing most of the lyrics, even after one viewing.

And for Duncan Regehr fans, someone actually posted an entire episode of 'Wizards and Warriors':
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

I have to say, it's even loopier than I remembered, though I don't remember this particular episode. Much overacting, silly sets and ridiculous writing, but it does have Duncan in a black leather fetish outfit, so what can I say? This is for serious fans only.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Some welcome backchat

Sean Penn isn't someone I spend much time thinking about, but The Bovina Bloviator posted a heartwarming story of him delivering a little well-deserved defiance to the bossyboots anti-smoking Nazis at the Cannes Festival:
US actor and director Sean Penn lit up and led a minor revolt at the Cannes film festival against France's draconian new anti-smoking laws.

Penn, the head of the jury that will pick the best films, pulled out a cigarette and puffed on it at a press conference with fellow jury members, in defiance of laws in place since January that ban smoking in public enclosed spaces.
Good for him! My aunts in Victoria are frequently berated in public by impudent, unembarrassed little power-trippers who think that two old ladies who want to smoke a cigarette outside are suitable targets for pushing around. They've been insulted and driven away from bus shelters, open squares, terraces, anywhere a self-righteous nobody gets the urge to risk-free bullying. (Not quite risk-free; Auntie May got into a screaming match with one of these snotnoses once.)

I complain about Ottawa, but I have to be honest and admit that Victoria is A LOT worse in terms of the amount of bossy, nosy, nannyish harrassment people have to put up with. It's practically European in its mania for proscription and "for your own good" bullying.

But just when I'm thinking that Sean Penn is OK, one of my favourite bloggers, Arts & Ammo, digs up this piece of brilliance. On the whole, I think Chesterton would count his instinct for freedom as more important than his confused approach to politics, so he comes out slightly ahead on points this week.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Building a church that is half-slave, half-free

I read this article by Doug LeBlanc in Episcopal Life, and immediately thought of a scene in The Mahabharata. Perhaps it's not so odd that I've been seeing parallels between the Episcopal Church and various "end of the world" stories recently - what we are witnessing IS a small world ending, and these things seem to move in an almost choreographed way.

The article is typical of the well-meaning, honest, earnest conservative who is convinced that the innocence and transparency of his belief will naturally be rewarded by similar good faith on the part of liberals. They're the words of a person who hasn't yet realized that he's at war. The wistful hope still persists that somehow conservatives can negotiate a little safe space for themselves. Like dogs that roll over and show their bellies, they think that such a display of helplessness will convince the other side that they have nothing to fear, and so will treat them humanely. This misunderstands the relationship between left and right, and good and evil in the Episcopal Church.

The Mahabharata is a very interesting tale about a power struggle between two sets of royal cousins for control of the kingdom. They have a very complex family tree, so I won't explain just how they are related; all you need to know is that the family is divided into two sides -- the 5 Pandava brothers, who are half-human, half-god, and the Kurus, the 100 sons of the blind king, Dhritarashtra. The Pandavas are the true heirs to the kingdom - they not only have the best legal claim, they are by far the most worthy, being the embodiment of all the virtues. However, their uncle Dhritarashtra wants HIS son, the evil Duryodhan, to inherit the throne.

The Pandavas may be semi-divine, but they are not perfect. Partly due to their own flaws, they are swindled out of the kingdom by Duryodhan. They agree to temporarily give up the kingdom, and endure 13 years of exile and penance (thus, incidentally, further proving their fitness to rule). After 13 years they return, and now Duryodhan has to pay the piper; after 13 years of usurping their kingdom, he has to give it back. Naturally, he refuses, and war seems inevitable.

Then Krishna comes to court as a peace ambassador on behalf of the Pandavas. He has a proposal: Duryodhan can keep the kingdom, but give the Pandavas just 5 villages, and they will be satisfied. War will be averted. Duryodhan angrily declares that he will not give them 5 villages, or even one grain of sand. With that, Krishna's peace mission fails and everyone prepares for war.

The first time I saw this, I thought that Duryodhan's refusal to give just a paltry 5 villages proved how selfish and evil he was, but after thinking about it, I realized that he was behaving logically. Evil CANNOT endure the presence of good alongside it. Evil is destructive, and what it wants to destroy is goodness. If Duryodhan had give the Pandavas the 5 villages, in time they would have grown strong again, and they would eventually have conquered him. Goodness will live and grow, and so evil will try to kill it wherever it finds it.

The sterile evil that now controls the Episcopal Church will never willingly allow Christian belief to remain unmolested. Conservatives who think that they can negotiate some sort of truce, or even a ghetto existence within the larger, demon-possessed church, are deluding themselves. As C.S. Lewis wrote, the sort of "agreement" these people come up with consists of saying "Oh, you can believe what you want, as long as you do it alone," and then they mutter under their breath, "and we'll see to it that you're NEVER alone." It's in their nature to try to eradicate every voice that answers their lies with the truth, because they rightly sense that it is the only way that they can survive.

Anglicanism has staked its entire 400-year existence on a dice game, and a bet that they CAN serve God and Mammon, they CAN build a church that is half-slave and half-free, and a house divided against itself CAN stand. Conservatives should not be putting themselves up as half of the stake.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Peter Cook explains it all to you

This must be the reason why Anglican churches are nearly empty!

UPDATE: One of the commenters mentioned it, so I was curious and went looking for it: SuperThunderStingCar is GOOOOOOOO!!!! I said that I'd never seen the British puppet shows that inspired this, and that's true - I've never seen an actual episode. But I have seen tiny clips or maybe ads, so I was familiar with the puppetry technique, and I have to say, Cook and Moore have it down uncannily well. It's a brilliant parody. Actually, I laughed more the second time I watched it - especially at the way nobody can remember the complicated name of the superweapon.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Emma Update

We finally got in to see our GP, after 2 weeks' wait. A week later, Emma went to the General Hospital and had an EEG - it was the middle of the day, not a time when she usually has a problem, so it didn't show up anything too unusual. Except when they started flashing the lights at her - when they got up to 16 pulses per second, her brainwaves started going haywire, so they stopped at that point and didn't do the last 3 levels (I think they can go up to 64 pulses per second).

About 2 weeks later, we finally got the referral to a neurologist at the Civic Hospital. Are you ready for this? The appointment is for August 18. April 4, when she had her big seizure, to August 18 - that's 4.5 months, for an 18-year old girl who is having chronic seizures. In a system of rationed health care, it's nice to know just how unimportant we are - if Dean were a hockey player, or a relative of Premier McGuinty, I'm sure we'd be having the appointment this week, but as it is...

I dream about getting rich, I'm sure many people do. But I never think, "If I had lots of money, I could buy a giant plasma TV and have a computer in every room of the house, and take vacations on a private island in the Caribbean." All I think is, "I'd get my kids the hell out of this dingy backwater, and down the U.S. where they have a decent medical system, and you don't die waiting for a doctor to look at a lump in your breast."

Linguistic stupidity

This article on growing Islamic terrorist threats in Canada appeared a few days ago in the Ottawa Citizen. What caught my eye was this quote from a Mountie:
"What we're facing is a violent Islamist born-again social movement," comprised mostly of young, second- or third-generation immigrants with a secular background, he told the Conference Board of Canada gathering of security, industry and government experts.
This must be one of the dumbest expressions I've heard yet to describe the phenomenon of totalitarian Islam, and it's coming from someone who's actually paid to think about it. I guess it's too much work to actually find out where that expression "born-again" comes from. Here it is, in John 3:
3In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

4"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"

5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
It's an exclusive claim made by Christians, and deals with their claims to salvation, but here it's being casually slung about as a shorthand term for "deracinated fanatic". The guy might just as well call them "Muslim Crusaders" for all the sense his statement makes. But I guess there's nothing new under the sun; I remember when the most fossilized Marxists in the Soviet Politburo were referred to by the press as "conservatives". You know, just like William F. Buckley, Jr. So just to keep things clear and easy to understand, we have violent terrorist wannabes, "emotionally motivated, motivated by images: rapes, murders, arrests creating moral outrage." And they're "born-again". You know, just like, um, George W. Bush - same thing. Everything clear now?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Enforced hiatus

Gotta make this quick - last week, our computer was hit with a net worm (maybe someone trying to defend the reputation of the Turkish Sultan). I took it in to Stapes on Tuesday for cleaning, and they told me it would be ready by Friday at the latest. On Saturday we phoned and were told it was ready. I picked it up, plugged it in, and discovered that absolutely NOTHING had been done to it! The same software trying to install itself and hijack the machine, the same popups, the same freezing - well, you get the picture. Naturally I phoned them in a mighty temper, and was told to bring it back so they could do the job. I said no, I want my money back and I'll be getting someone else to fix the problem. Now I have to bring the PC back on Monday, to PROVE that the problem still exists! That's tomorrow's job, and if I don't get back every penny of my money, it'll be the last time I ever set foot in a Staples again!

A week to clean a hard drive - that's ridiculous. And not a week of working on it; a week of it sitting in the back room, while other people's computers get fixed. The phone book is filled with ads for companies that come to the house to fix the problem, it's ridiculous to lug the thing out to a store that can't even give you a decent turnaround time. It's like my aunts, who were still RENTING their phone from Bell Canada - in 1999! Just because they had always done it that way.

Anyway, that's why it's been so quiet here. I haven't wasted the time, though - I finished painting the living room, rehung our icons and pictures (I'll post some pictures of the Marza paintings we have when I get back to full strength), and of course I've been doing some gardening. I'll try to post this in between flashing red X's, "System Warnings" and "Spyware Alerts". Hope it takes.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Dogs barking - must be a caravan nearby

The National Post has a good editorial on the Canadian Islamic Congress dog-and-pony show of Thursday.
Three weeks ago, the case being pressed by the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) was tossed out (albeit with an unprecedented display of regret) by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. How did CIC lawyer Faisal Joseph and his Osgoode Hall helpmates respond to the setback? Why, by calling a press conference and repeating their original demand for substantially equal space to rebut Mr. Steyn, with a few of the details changed. (They’ve relented, for example, on their insistence that they be allowed to control the physical design of the pages on which their counterblast would run.) Not only that, but they represented the demand as a renewed effort toward “reasonable conciliation” — while at the same time pledging to forge ahead with their legal threats outside Ontario if Maclean’s wasn’t “reasonable” enough to suit their tastes. “One way or another it’s going to be dealt with, either by agreement or by an imposed decision,” said Mr. Joseph.

The Post terms this "chutzpah", and observes, "You must admit, it takes an audacious general to demand the enemy’s surrender so soon after a losing battle."

True, but there are precedents.
[In 1676] The Cossacks of the Zaporozhian Host (from 'beyond the rapids', za porohamy), inhabiting the lands around the lower Dnieper River in Ukraine, had defeated Ottoman Turkish forces in battle. However, the Sultan of Ottoman Empire demanded that the Cossacks submit to Turkish rule.
I suspect the tactic will be as successful for the CIC as it was for the Sultan. They should be grateful Maclean's doesn't publish the Cossacks' letter on the editorial page:
Zaporozhian Cossacks to the Turkish Sultan!

You, turkish devil and damned devil's brother and friend, secretary to Lucifer himself. What the devil kind of knight are you, that can't slay a hedgehog with his naked arse? The devil shits, and your army eats. You will not, you son of a bitch, make subjects of Christian sons; we've no fear of your army, by land and by sea we will battle with thee, fuck your mother.

You Babylonian scullion, Macedonian wheelwright, brewer of Jerusalem, goat-fucker of Alexandria, swineherd of Greater and Lesser Egypt, Armenian pig, Podolian thief, catamite of Tartary, hangman of Kamyanets, and fool of all the world and underworld, an idiot before God, grandson of the Serpent, and the crick in our dick. Pig's snout, mare's arse, slaughterhouse cur, unchristened brow, screw your own mother!

So the Zaporozhians declare, you lowlife. You won't even be herding Christian pigs. Now we'll conclude, for we don't know the date and don't own a calendar; the moon's in the sky, the year in the book, the day's the same over here as it is over there; for this kiss our arse!

Koshovyi Otaman Ivan Sirko, with the whole Zaporozhian Host