Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Abortion - where to begin?

When it comes to certain issues, I get remarkably feisty. For me, abortion is one such issue. Since I started blogging, I've always intended to write my detailed views/arguments related to abortion. Now that I'm here, I'm at a loss of where to start - you could say I'm having trouble conceiving this post.

I've spent a lot of time meditating and reading about abortion; I've taught about it in many of my classes; I've argued against it in personal debates, in newspaper editorials, and through internet forums/blogs.

Perhaps one place to start, and one that gets straight to my heart, is that my wife and I are legally allowed, right now, to go and have our almost 8-month-old-in-the-womb daughter killed, for any or no reason at all. In fact, my wife could do it without me even knowing anything about it ahead of time (I don't often enough realize how wonderful it is to have a God-fearing, life-loving wife). There is nothing in our country's legal framework to prevent us, or even to counsel us, to consider otherwise. If my wife somehow were to go through with such a heinous act - the only possible 'official' response would be some kind of celebration of her 'fundamental rights'. So much for the moral authority of the State.

Monday, June 20, 2005

AdScam Redux

This site has a flashy way of presenting information about the sponsorship scandal - or did you forget about that particular news item?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Environmental Catastrophe!!

In light of recent environmental events in Calgary and area, I would like to draw your attention to the following web-site. Prepare to be shocked!

Friday, June 17, 2005

A novel proposal.

Just so you all don't freak all over me, realize the following is "philosophically speculative".

Let's suppose that those of us opposed to same-sex marriage would agree to it with a significant concession from 'the other side'. What if that concession was a public, enforceable (yes, this is why it's speculative) prohibition on both divorce and infidelity? Just for the thought experiment of it all, I'd love for pro- and anti- comments to discuss this one. Oh, heck, just to build up my blog comments I'd love for any comment at all. Pretty please .....?

Vive l'aventure!!

Most will consider me crazy, but I'm planning on taking my boys camping tomorrow. In the mountains. Where it's been raining insanely off and on for the past couple of weeks (particularly throughout today).

The truth is, I don't care. It's been a long school-year, and I need a break, even if it is water-logged. In fact, we may just sleep in the van, instead of the tent; and a friend has offered to let us stay in his cabin tomorrow night. The only tough part for me will be trying to find something to do with my boys tomorrow afternoon while it's raining. I'll be gone before anybody has time for suggestions, but perhaps for the future?

I'm hoping for s'mores around a fire tomorrow night.

UPDATE: Well, me and my boys actually went camping in the crazy rain of Southern Alberta. Not having anything much to do in the rain, we spent much of Saturday driving around looking at the flooding. We had to drive through water spilling over highway 8 at one point. Bragg Creek and the Elbow River around Elbow Falls were sights to behold - the power of so much water is awesome (yes, I've seen Niagara Falls and other significant water sights before). What an amazing contrast between normal flow and this flooding. Highway #1 was shut down past the highway 22 intersection - this, itself, is quite amazing. The (government?) workers diverting traffic were also amazing - amazingly stupid. They set up a barricade 2 kms AFTER the #22/#1 intersection. I spent an hour in this line waiting for a worker to tell me I would have to go back to the intersection to take Highway 1A instead. Did it ever occur to them to set up the barricade/detour before the intersection?

We ended up wandering around Canmore to see the commercial sights. My friend, apparently, isn't as crazy as I am, because he stayed in the city, and so my kids and I camped in the back of the van. This worked out well, despite/because it was a little cramped. Except for little boy smells, it was a lot of fun and I got 10 and a half hours sleep - something I haven't done in years. Sunday was much nicer and we did a couple of smaller hikes in K-country. Perhaps we'll try it all again next weekend.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Schiavo has been put to rest - even though the controversy hasn't (completely)

I don't know how to do trackbacks (well, this is my first try, anyway).

Captain's Quarters has an excellent summary and discussion among the comments regarding the autopsy report of Terri Schiavo - it makes me yearn for rational discussion in my own little Canada, when similar issues come to the fore.

Anyway, go here to read CQ's analysis of the whole thing.

You might be a ..... Jedi if ...

I AM (also) Canadian has split my gut with the following two posts:

"You Might be a Jedi Redneck if ...",


"You might be a Canadian Jedi if ...".

Read at your peril.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Canadians Dying Due to Utopian Medicare

One of the things we probably shouldn't think about too much, in light of the recent Chaoulli decision in Quebec, is how many Canadians have already died because of our governments' addiction to the idea of "single-tier health care". Nope, because then we might actually have to assign blame (particularly to Canadian leftist politicians), and that is SOOooooo unCanadian.

P.S. Anybody want to start a list on-line somewhere of Canadians who someone personally (thus, verifiable) knows who died (or lived in terrible health) while on a waiting list for more than, say, one month?

UPDATE: Okay, that PS isn't for real, that would be tasteless (just quietly reflect on it yourselves, those who've been affected by it). Personally, I can think of 1, 2, 3, 4 - okay, 4 off the top of my head who I know who've been affected negatively by STHC.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Apparently, I'm smart

Your IQ Is 130

Your Logical Intelligence is Exceptional
Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Genius
Your General Knowledge is Exceptional

One midsummer's election morn .... (in Canada)

I, unequivocably, desire a Canadian federal election. I don't care that the party I most despise is up in the polls, to the detriment of my current choice. I am not overly concerned that they may get back in, this time with a majority mandate. I don't care that people will 'blame' Stephen Harper for bringing this apocalypse upon us; and during Summer - egad!

I want this election for the principle of the thing. Stephen Harper said he would do what he could to put this government out of its misery - I, for one, cannot stomach to watch it (and all of Canadian democracy by extension) writh in pain any/much longer.

We are a democracy, and I want to see Canadians fight for it through the only real opportunity we have to show what our desires for self-governance are. People can complain all they like about it only being a year since the last one; as a result of our last foray into an election, we elected a weak minority government - accept that this situation is inheritantly unstable and was always likely to result in another election within 18 months. There are no external realities that offer any compelling argumentation as to why we should wait - Gomery, if truly independent, will continue, and will report around the time initially established. The only plausible environment in which this wouldn't happen is if the Liberals somehow were to shut his inquiry down (no other party has any interest in doing so).

Now - I realize that practically, a lot of conservative-types don't like the idea of an election now because the polls alluva sudden are against us. This is precisely the time to show that there is integrity and credibility behind what Harper said earlier - it is not simply about his desire to replace the Liberals, it is also very much about our desire to free Canadians from the scum that is the current government. If people want to vote them back in, so be it - at least, in light of the many things that we've seen since last election, we can honestly say we're getting what we deserve.

As a concession to conservative types, consider the following tactically:

First, acting on integrity (when it's genuine) is generally apparent;
Second, Martin's arguments are being cut out from under his feet;
- public health care is no longer a sacred cow; with this argument coming from the Liberals' favorite authority/reference source;
- PM's 'free votes' amount to a whipped Cabinet (because it's a Charter right, stupid!), but not backbenchers, because their votes are not needed to pass PM's pet legislation; full debate of a stunning social change is not needed, so the legislation "can be passed before Summer"; provincial court decisions do not need to be appealed and defended despite a vote overwhelmingly affirming marriage a mere 5 years ago;
- PM's democratic renewal consists of bribing opposition MP's; of ignoring rules and conventions until a favorable situation can be manipulated to keep him in power;
- PM's fiscal prudence consists of spending vast amounts of our tax money to keep himself in power longer;
- updates will be added; feel free to drop any in the comments.

UPDATE: The other thing I should mention is that I'm entirely in favour of fixed election dates - I don't like to be as cynical about the political process as I currently am. If we remove the ability to manipulate the election date to suit a party's (any party) chances, it behooves on all parties to clean up their acts, at least as election dates approach.

UPPITY DATE: Let's just at least think about reworking the whole Canadian Senate while we're at it, okay? Triple E is a great idea - if we're serious about being a federation of as many provinces as we have, there should be some equal playing field in the process that is not dependent on population. As an interesting aside, before anyone accuses this little Albertan/Westerner of seeking provincial power: Alberta is one of 10 provinces, and also has about 10% of Canada's population (this proportion almost certainly to increase in the years to come) - either way, we deserve 10% of Senate appointments. In the long run, we probably stand to lose more power than our population would otherwise be entitled to with EEE. If provinces cannot receive equal representation in one of the Houses, then our provinces aren't being treated as equal entities. Your thoughts?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Last Day of School

Today is my students' last day of classes for the year. As much as some people look forward to the end of another year/semester, I don't usually get too excited (and get a little worried when students/teachers look so forward to the end that it's one long countdown for them). On the other hand, I like to take a look at my school year, realize what areas I need to work on, and enjoy the relaxation of the summer, and the new beginning of the next year, to tackle these areas. Without these breaks, it'd be more difficult to have a strong sense of renewal. Our summers are like mini-mourning periods, as we contemplate the loss of our students - many will be missed (surprisingly, even many of the difficult cases). It's good to pause and reflect on what would work better to guide these lives if we were to do it again (because we will be doing it again for next year's crew). I guess this is one advantage that teachers have that parents can't afford - we get to retry our 'parenting' multiple times in order to improve on it each time (although we lack the opportunity to stay with a child until we get it right with that one particular soul).

Enough meditation for the moment. Any other teachers out there with some end of the year thoughts?

Flooding in southern Alberta

It's awe-inspiring to see the works of nature. I have a little bit of a better appreciation of floods I've seen on the news elsewhere, and the tsunami in Asia. Don't get me wrong, our flooding is nowhere near the levels that have happened elsewhere - but when you see the little bit here you get a sense of what the magnified version would be like. It's good to see humanity humbled in the face of nature/God's works every so often - it helps dispel the illusions we create that we are ultimately in control. It's also good to see people working together, helping to rebuilt what is lost in a natural disaster's aftermath. I'm also glad (as far as I've heard) that there's been no loss of life.

I haven't been to the reservoir to see the water overflowing the reservoir dam yet (it'll probably be done by the time I make it out there) - but was able to see the aftereffects in Fish Creek Park, and what a creek that turns into a river looks like. Perhaps I'll make it out to Elbow Falls tomorrow to see how flooded that area is.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Results of my inquiries into topics (distantly) related to SSM

I started writing this in response to a fellow at this blog. The initial article post dealt with same-sex marriage (SSM), which diverged into an discussion of the Catholic priest sexual abuse scandal after he brought up the Church's diminished ability to be heard on sexuality issues in its wake. He was flabbergasted at some of the claims I stated, I think it's fair to say. I don't doubt that some of what I wrote was shocking, perhaps what I wrote isn't the way MSM has covered, for example, the crisis of sexual abuse by priests. To someone unfamiliar with genuinely Catholic sources, analyzing a problem in a very Catholic environment - the secular approach is quite different. It doesn't change the truth of the explanation I offered (I may have got some details mixed up, although his response didn't identify specific problems with my arguments - only broad strokes of incredulity at what I wrote). I promised him I would review a book called Pedophiles and Priests - In the midst of regular family life over the past few days, I ended up reviewing that book, several articles in Crisis magazine, and a portion of George Weigel's The Courage to be Catholic. Unless something more is offered in the way of refutation, I offer the following to back up the claims I made there, and, on the whole, to stand by them.

I've stated before that if marriage was a healthy institution in society, the SSM debate would be moot - "I think this, in itself, says something about what SSM really represents". This is not an anti-homosexual argument; rather, it is a statement about what marriage has become. If people are content with marriage as fractured as it is, that's one thing - if we wish to change that reality, that's another one. Part of strengthening marriage will necessarily mean turning around some of those things that lead us to consider SSM as a logical extension of our past actions. Referenced at another site is Andrew Sullivan:

"Likewise, though gay activists cite the very desire to marry as evidence that their lifestyle is not inherently promiscuous, Andrew Sullivan acknowledges that that desire arises only because of the promiscuity permitted in modern marriage. “The world of no-strings heterosexual hookups and 50 percent divorce rates preceded gay marriage,” he points out in the New Republic. “All homosexuals are saying…is that, under the current definition, there’s no reason to exclude us. If you want to return straight marriage to the 1950s, go ahead. But until you do, the exclusion of gays is…a denial of basic civil equality” (emphasis added). Gays do not want a marriage in the traditional mold, only the watered-down version that exists today."

This realization has hardly entered mainstream debate, which is part of the process that needs to happen before Canadians can intelligently decide on this issue through our elected representives. To push the proposed law through is ridiculous at this point. We're not dealing with an institution that suddenly appeared - we're talking about marriage-as-it-has-ALWAYS-existed, only recently redefined by 7 (?) judges in Canada, under an unclear authority (appealing to a Charter that explicitly rejected comment on this type of issue).

It's been a couple of years since I read the following, so to me it isn't a particularly innovative or outlandish explanation of a large part of the sexual abuse scandal:

"The media have framed the issue as one of pedophilia—that is, the sexual abuse of prepubescent children. But the large majority of the cases in question involve not pedophilia but the sexual abuse of teenage boys. Sexual attraction to male adolescents is technically called "ephebophilia." But don’t expect Mike Wallace to use this term on 60 Minutes. Not because it is a mouthful, but because the media prefer not to treat homosexual behavior as the issue. Still, it is the issue, and if the hierarchy does not root it out—if it takes the easy approach of instituting "new procedures" for dealing with abuse only after it has occurred—then the devastation is going to continue.

"I hope we are beyond the point where any discussion of homosexual behavior that is not entirely favorable is deemed "homophobic." We are not talking here about priests with a homosexual orientation who are struggling to live the virtue of chastity. We are talking about active homosexuals who have broken their vows. We are talking about a lifestyle that is often marked by compulsive behavior. Homosexuals have a more serious problem with promiscuity and lack of restraint than do heterosexuals (see, for example, Spence Publishing’s Homosexuality in American Public Life, edited by Christopher Wolfe). Forty percent of homosexual sex today is reportedly unprotected—this after two decades of safe-sex instruction. Active homosexuals also constitute a relatively high proportion of sexual molesters. And they have been welcomed into the Catholic priesthood.

"How did this happen? At some point in the early 1970s, a gay insurgency within the Church began to gain control of at least part of the official Catholic apparatus. Once in place, this network expanded. Many seminaries were turned into "pink palaces" where young, devout, heterosexual men felt distinctly vulnerable. And this is not just a diocesan problem: Many religious orders run seminaries with openly homosexual cultures.

"Is it surprising, then, that these scandals have occurred? If you allow into the priesthood men who in many cases have already chosen to flout Catholic moral teachings and are disposed to mix sodomy with their ministerial rounds, which include contact with teenage boys, there are going to be incidents of sexual abuse."

You can read the entire article here.

Philip Jenkins' book identifies many of the same points:

"When considered in detail, the cases often suggest sexual liaisons between priests and boys or young men in their late teens or early twenties. This behavior may be reprehensible in terms of violating ecclesiastical and moral codes of sexual conduct, and breaching vows of celibacy, and the power relationship between priest and young parishioner renders it difficult to speak of the behavior as fully consensual. However, it is not properly pedophilia."

"The difference between ephebophilia and pedophilia may seem purely semantic, but it has many implications in terms of the potential for treatment and therapy. In the prevailing psychiatric opinion of the 1970s and the early 1980s, it would have been quite appropriate to return to a parish setting a man who had been successfully treated for ephebophilia but not for pedophilia, and it was precisely this issue of employment of past offenders that led to [some of the scandals]. It was dangerous for church authorities to permit a known pedophile [...] to be in unsupervised contact with children, but such a decision would have been defensible with an ephebophile of homosexual." (p. 78-79)

If I remember correctly, Jenkins is not Catholic, and so can hardly be accused of arbitrarily defending the Church.

I would also like to quote from Weigel's book, mentioned above, who approaches this discussion from a theological angle:

"[T]he combination of clergy sexual abuse and failed leadership by bishops clearly and unmistakably demonstrates that the Catholic Church in the United States is in crisis. It is a crisis because any sexual misconduct by persons placed in positions of trust and responsibility for the young is wicked and scandalous." (p. 21)
"It is a crisis because Catholic priests and bishops should know better; and the people of the Church have every reason to expect that their pastors will know better." (p. 22)

One last quote from Crisis magazine again:

"The Catholic Church in America is at a watershed. The current crisis is the culmination of decades of bad management, errant theology, and sinful behavior. It is partly about sex and partly about bishops. It is also about deluded therapies and an institutional Church that often goes flopping along with the mainstream on moral issues. The crisis is mostly, however, about active homosexuals in the priesthood. Anyone (including an archbishop) who does not admit this is simply part of the problem."

My arguments were hardly novel.

I used 3% as the number of adult homosexuals in society - a number close to this, or less, can be found from many reputable sources today. The most recent, Canada's census statistics, identified 1.3% of adult males as homosexual, and 0.7% of women. I admit that my generalized numbers of 1/3 of pedophilia cases perpetrated by homosexual men is from memory, and a fairly blurry one right now. I haven't sought out these numbers in my few days of research, and would welcome them if someone could find a reputable source.

When arguing about the numbers of this or that, it's important that we're taking into account the relative numbers of each population. I need to verify some numbers (such as my # from memory above) before I can calculate the comparative likelihood of such and such occurring in such and such a situation.

Anyhoo - one of the nice things about blogging is that corrections can be made as they're brought to one's attention, and I can get on with my life until such time as I, or somebody else, finds any pertinent information.

Thanks for dropping by.

Other articles related to the discussion on that other blog can be found here, here, here, and here. These articles deal with fairly diverse parts of that conversation.

UPDATE: a fellow at the other blog identified a site with the stats I mentioned. I'll track the info down and post it here. He argued that the stats were bogus - which will need to bear further scrutiny (and hopefully, accurate stats to replace them if they turn out to be wrong).

Grade "A" Sappy

I've been spending about the last hour dreaming about ways that I can improve my front and backyards. I'm looking at adding a garage out front, and building a concrete retaining wall all the back, in place of the fence. I'd then build another fence on the retaining wall after filling in dirt behind the retaining wall. So far, so good. The thing is, to do all this, I have to take down 3 large pine trees - each about 30 or 40 feet high. I'm no animist (or whatever it is that believes the trees have spirits), but I'm feeling quite sad at the potential loss of these beautiful trees. I think it'd be a fun experience to do the lumberjack thing (I could sing a lumberjack song all the while, "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm o-kay ..."); give my chainsaw a little heretofore unknown experience; stock some firewood.

I'm sure I'll be able to do it when the time comes - but it's causing me some sadness and inner turmoil right now. By the way, I love steak - but I am extremely grateful that I don't actually have to raise and slaughter the things. Just a sappy city-boy, I guess.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Somebody else's thoughts on homosexuality and SSM

I dropped a post similar to the below on somebody else's blog. If anybody heading in here is interested in some of the more detailed arguments (as opposed to my ramblings), you would do well to check out these links. Just some thoughts from the anti same-sex marriage side to think about. Don't let the address keep you from reading it, please - this site seems to function like a clearing house of articles from many different sources.

This first article details 20 reasons why two authors (one of them unapologetically homosexual) see homosexual marriage as wrong.
This article discusses why SSM is not in children's interests (that is an inherent part of the debate, after all).
An interesting article on the larger implications of acceptance of homosexuality.
For any interested, an official document detailing the Catholic Church's reasons for refusing recognition of SSM.
Information about a Catholic group called "Courage", where homosexuals in the Church provide mutual support in living the Church's teachings.
A rather smart article by William Bennett on SSM.
First of 6 part series discussing the "Untold Story" of homosexuality. The other 5 parts can be reached from part 1.
Some reflections on the Canadian court decisions that are forcing SSM marriage on us (I'm not trying to be inflammatory, just descriptive).
Looks at why heterosexual marriage is set apart in the first place.
Margaret Somerville's brief.
Some points made by a US legislator against SSM.
Not sure if this one is relevant, but medical details of extra health risks attributed to gay sex.

Just one short personal point, I think. For an institution that has served society for as long as we know it - why the rush to get this particular law passed now, before summer, by rushing through debate? Arguably, the fashion it is being pushed is not how it was campaigned on last election, effectively denying many people the representation they thought they had (wasn't PM all about 'free votes' - only later telling us that his version includes a whipped Cabinet?). I'm concerned that we aren't taking a long and sober second thought before taking this step - many on the left are pushing in order to get this change through now, as though there are no risks in doing so, without much evident consideration as to why marriage has always been fundamentally heterosexual throughout history. Our state of marriage, generally, is pathetic right now, and I, for one, am reluctant to tinker with it in new ways until we learn to address some of the problems and excesses of the old ways.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Tagged by Mark @ Section 15

Of course, I dislike chain letters and ponzi schemes; but this book tagging business I find interesting. I've already got several new books to add to my 'must read' list. Apologies in advance that my list is unlikely to yield anything as deep as some I've been reading elsewhere already. I feel pretty shallow, actually, compared to others out there. Here goes:

Number of books I own: A quick walk through the house puts this number something close to 1000 (not including scads of children's books).

Last book bought: I peruse through second-hand book stores more than I maybe should (I've only read about 10% of what I own); on a recent trip I picked up 7 second-hand books, mostly history-related; the most recent new book I bought was Witness to Hope by George Weigel (John Paul II's biography).

Last book read: I've started a LOT of books, but recently have finished few. My wife pointed out to me that the last full book I read was The Da Vinci Code. I really need to read more real books.

Five books that mean a lot to me:

The Ultimate Resource, by Julian Simon. It's strange how a book like this can have such a strong impact philosophically. The premise, fundamentally, is that people are the world's ultimate resource, and that discussions of natural resources that discount or neglect this fact may (often) come to the radically wrong conclusions about life, the environment, and everything (to throw HHGTTG in here without having to count it in my 5).

I've long enjoyed absorbing mysteries, such as those by Agatha Christie. To pick one with a unique plot, the standard would have to be The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

I'm reluctant to mention LOTR because I deplore the faddiness of it all these days, but one semester at university, in the midst of more French literature than I care to remember, I'm sure it, and The Hobbit, saved my sanity. For that I am also grateful.

Mark Twain's Joan of Arc. Twain apparently considered this his greatest book. It's a very interesting fiction-like read, with the added bonus of considerable historicity.

Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating is a tremendous boost to one asking difficult questions about the rationale behind the Catholic faith. Covers many broad topics, but gives enough depth to whet your appetite.

Thanks for the tag, Mark.

I think I'll tag:

and Ed

Political Compass

On reader Mark's suggestion, I took the Political Compass test. I scored 0.50 on the economic scale (slightly to the right), and 0.56 on the authoritarian/libertarian scale (slightly authoritarian). I'm actually a little disappointed - I was hoping to be closer to Margaret Thatcher's ratings. Please feel free to post your results for this test in the comments section.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Sticky Fingers S. Jazz

I've chosen a new name. Okay, actually, I haven't, I've just pimpified the old one. You can do the same at the Name Pimpifier. For those who don't know me (heck, even for those who do), I settled on this pimped handle due to my saxophone experience.