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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Do the Limbo! (Vatican style)

Apparently the Vatican has an important group working on its position on the concept of limbo (heaven's waiting room, especially outfitted for un-unbaptised babies). It seems they may come out with a position that it doesn't exist and won't be part of the Catholic Church's theology.

Help me please! First, does this not strike you as a little weird - that limbo can be in place since it was invented in the Middle Ages and might not be there now? Either the souls in limbo get a free pass into paradise or they never stopped there to start with - am I wrong?

Help me again please! Is it strange to anyone else that millions of people believe that a man was born of a virgin, died and came to life again, wants you to believe that if you don't follow the Pope's rules, you will roast in hell (or relax in limbo or do time in purgatory).. oh yeah, and this man is going to 'come back' someday and straighten us all out. If it was only me that believed all of the above...if I was unwise enough to repeatedly tell people about it, I would undoubtedly end up with serious medical attention. If millions believe it, well it's just dandy (and gee, is there limbo or not?)

I do certainly believe in each person's right to believe what they want to (as long as it doesn't do harm to others). I have encountered good religious people (and thinkers) too. But do we need this kind of fantasy land to be good people? I suspect not.

If you're offended by this rant - apologies. Happy to hear your views.

UPDATE: Check out what the pope himself has to say (here).


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Republican's Guide to Sodomy

Over at Latte Lectures, Auntie Willow has posted a very informative guide - it's the Republicans Guide to Sodomy. I won't repost it here, but will give you a link. Don't worry, it's tasteful (unless you're a Republican). Thanks Auntie.


Monday, November 28, 2005

First woman GI war resister

Katherine Jashinski

SPC Katherine Jashinski has publically announced her intention to refuse orders to complete weapons training in preparation for being sent to war (story). She made this announcement at the gates of Fort Benning.

There are a number of US War Resisters in Canada, some seeking refugee status. Interesting times!

A war without legality... launched in a cloud of lies and executed through an occupying force...men and women who are unable to express their conscientious objection. (Thanks to Penney Kome, Editor of Straight Goods for linking to this story.)


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Burma 'extends Aung San Suu Kyi detention'

Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi had her house arrest extended for another 12 months (story), sources within the country's military government say. This brave winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize has spent 10 of the last 15 years in prison or house arrest.

Go here to learn more about Ms Suu Kyi and to connect to action you can take.

"It is not power that corrupts, but fear." - Aung San Suu Kyi


Friday, November 25, 2005

Humour on global warming - honest!

"I have a President who thinks Kyoto is that guy his father threw up on in Japan...."

Want to see a video message from the President on global warming (Pres. Will Farrell that is)? Bill Maher on stage too. Thanks to onegoodmove.org (go here for clips)


Election Time in Canada

It seems like we just had a federal election... Oh yeah, we did! Now we will be having another sometime in January (story) - as a result of a non-confidence vote.

For my American visitors, we currently have a minority Liberal government and they have survived by working closely with the NDP (more socialist leaning party). They have also had to be careful to strive for multi-party committees and to ensure more consensus around decisions. In the short duration of their term they have increased spending on aboriginal people, education, health, housing, city infrastructure, foreign aid, the arts and well... other things. They have also just cut personal and corporate taxes. And here's the kicker - the country is still running a surplus budget. Why the hell would anyone need an election, you might ask?

Unfortunately, they also have been exposed to have behaved abysmally in terms of ethics and money-grubbing (some in particular and not the Prime Minister). Some Canadians (not the majority) are unhappy with progressive bills on gay marriage (legal in all Canada now) and pot smoking (soon to be decriminalized).

Here's my take, for what it's worth:

- Minority governments may be short-lived and misery for whoever leads, but they provide good government because the leaders don't have complete power (like King George II in Washington).
- This election will return the Liberals as a minority government again - mainly because most Canadians can't stomach the Conservative opposition and aren't ready to trust the NDP to actually hold the steering wheel.

I can add another metaphor for the separatist Quebec Party, the Bloq, if you'd like? Okay, I will! The Bloq can never be at the ship's helm because they are only in Quebec and Quebecers, like good milk, don't really want to separate... but they like playing the threaten-to-leave card and they trust the Liberals about as much as Tom Cruise trusts Prozac or traditional religion. Count those metaphors - dare you.

Me? I'm voting Alex Atamenenko, our local NDP candidate. He's a good man, has a chance to win and I love saying his name out loud - try it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Clinton speaks on the big mistake of the Iraq war

Bill Clinton is becoming more vocal with his criticism of the Iraq war - both how the US got into in it and how it's been executed. (Straight Goods link here) Many Americans respect President Clinton and he is considered one of the most influential people in the world outside the US (some polls have indicated that he's seen as the most influential).

While I'd rather have lunch with the Dalai Lama or Nelson Mandela - I appreciate Bill's speaking out. Maybe next time he's flying to some disaster fundraiser with George Bush Senior he can get the old guy to whisper in his son's ear, "It's time to quit and spend more time in Crawford, son..."

Monday, November 21, 2005

Anyone out there stressed?

Is it just me or are we all a tad stressed? It seems that between earning a living, being part of a family, keeping up with the world, volunteer work, trying to eat, sleep and exercise... and simply looking for a quiet moment - it's a fast ride for me.

Sometimes I think I'd like to take all of my eggs and put them in a basket that looks like a little cabin in the woods, a small garden out back, a shelf of books and an occasional slow trip to somewhere warm (drive to Mexico and camp maybe)...

Here are two questions for you:
1. How do you deal with the stress of everyday busy living?
2. What is your respite picture/fantasy when you feel a bit overwhelmed?

Japan's asteroid touchdown fails

Another expensive space probe that is struggling out there in the void (story). Now I ask you, and don't worry about being polite... what does this asteroid look like to you?


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Women & War: How much do you know?

This link leads to an Amnesty quiz about women and war. I took the time to answer the 10 questions and learned quite a bit (and got some wrong).


Friday, November 18, 2005


This is my LIVE WRITE newspaper column for next week. Okay, it's sort of tame, but I do get paid and it has to be for all audiences. Feedback always welcome.

There are very few times when I have wanted to get sick. It has happened however. There was a time in Grade six when I was dealing simultaneously with the oh-so-mean Mrs. Barclay, a pending arithmetic exam and a bully. It may have been blasphemous, but I recall some intense praying that may or may not have led to the fantastic cold that kept me home for a few days. It was perfect… sick enough for my mother to insist on me staying home, yet well enough to truly enjoy the chicken soup, daytime soaps and catching up on my Hardy Boy mystery reading.

With that confession out of the way, I now really do want to be healthy all the time. I will assume that you, too, do not want to suffer from the common cold, the annual performance of a flu bug or the devastating pandemic we keep hearing about - always with an expert stating, “It’s not really a matter of if, but when.” With this assumption in mind, there are some things you can do to protect yourself and others.

There’s an annual campaign recommending flu shots, particularly for those who might have weakened or compromised immune systems and those who work in health care settings. Every family doctor and health unit in BC has information and advice on this, as does this link www.interiorhealth.ca

Germs will spread directly through kisses, sneezes and coughs, but can also sit on surfaces for up to 48 hours, waiting for a nice warm ride to come along. Cold and flu viruses hang out on hands, banisters, door knobs, toys, shopping carts, telephones, your children… just about everywhere. Remember the warning about germs on money? Researchers from the Wright-Patterson Medical Centre in Ohio recently collected 68 dollar bills from a concession stand and a grocery store, and examined them for bacterial contamination. Only four bills contained no detectable germs. I now imagine my wallet as some sort of microscopic zoo.

News articles and signs advocating hand-washing are on the increase. I was in a men’s room recently that had a poster reminding me to scrub, and also had a brilliantly coloured drawing of a hand, indicating the places I probably am missing when I wash (between the fingers at the hand and the tip of each finger).

When should you wash your hands? Once on your hands, germs usually travel to the eyes, nose or mouth. Washing five times a day and especially before you eat will help break that chain. Feeling sleepy? Wash before you rub your eyes. Driving alone and feel an itchy nostril? Don’t do it …for several reasons.

Flu shots and hand-washing seem to be the key messages. Here are more tips to help you avoid illness. Get enough sleep – your body can’t fight colds or other bugs without fully charging its batteries. Avoid flying on commercial airlines – their air circulation systems are implicated with the spread of infectious diseases. If you have to fly, keep your hands away from your nose, mouth and eyes. If you can’t avoid hospitals or doctor’s offices, be extra cautious in these environments - sick people congregate there. Indoor air in Canada in the winter is usually very dry, which can dehydrate your sinuses – try a humidifier.

And finally, if your mother always warned you to wrap up warmly to avoid catching a cold, it seems she may have had a point. Scientists at the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff, Wales, say they have the first proof that there really is a link between getting cold and catching one. They took 180 volunteers and asked half of them to keep their bare feet in icy water for 20 minutes. They found 29% developed a cold within five days, compared with only 9% in the control group not exposed to a chill.

Bundle up, wash your hands and enjoy the pleasures of a Canadian winter.

Calling all Don Knotts fans!

Pica posted this link (thanks!). If you want a taste of the next blockbuster movie - the life of fearless Bush II, then go here and see the trailer.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

On the road ...and what's your song?

Photo has no particular relevance...just love these guys (from the March of the Penguins)

I've been travelling just about every week - that damn 'earning a living' thing... Haven't posted a lot, but have bloggie thoughts.

First, I appreciate Tina, Madcap, Julian Blue, Pica, Dr. Mike, Anna and all the rest who visit and leave messages. I feel like I have interesting friends out there.

Here's a question for you: What is one piece of music that you really like these days and why? (Leave a link if you have it.)

My favourite these days is REBELLION by Arcade Fire (a Montreal band that I've posted on). They're just so full of energy and while their lyrics are pretty earnest, they feel very upbeat and positive (like most of you). Here's a Rolling Stone link to 3 videos(including REBELLION). Meant to be played loudly.

Sorry about the ad the site plays first...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Good news ... sort of

The good news: The speed of global deforestation is showing signs of slowing down because of new planting and natural forest extension, according to new figures. (article here)

The sort of: An average 7.3 million hectares was lost annually over the last five years. This was down from 8.9 million hectares (22 million acres) a year between 1990 and 2000.

The loss is still astounding. One hopes the trend speeds up. (This blog was produced without the use of paper.)


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Top 10 Reasons Gay Marriage is Wrong

Thanks to Miss Cellania for this link. Add more reasons if you'd like to...


Friday, November 11, 2005

My prayer for our time

God, if you exist and read English and care about this particular blog and aren't too busy receiving souls from the war in Iraq, earthquake in Pakistan, AIDS in Africa etc...I have a some questions for you.

"What the hell is religion all about? Is it really of any value to you? Do you really want us squinting at these old books; listening to these generally annoying men who interpret the books; praying to you or your sales representatives about everything from elections to winning poker hands; shutting down our brains; spending time to convince each other that our religion must be better than others; imagining all kinds of dreamy after-death fantasies?"

I'd like to know. If you are there - perhaps you could bless us all with forgetting about you (and religion) for a while. We really do need some common sense and some peace - I'm not sure your approach is working.

A musical treat

I don't use this blog to review or plug culture, but there are no rules against it... Arcade Fire
is a relatively new Canadian band (from Montreal), who I think are fantastic. Have a peek at their website (have fun with the page too) - some music should begin playing that I think you might enjoy - each to her own of course! My friend Raphael's son plays horn in the band too (Hi Raphael!).

And yes, that's David Bowie in one the photos here - he likes them too...

Polio spread halted across Africa

This is a good-news story and those are nice to have. It's been a stuggle, but a worldwide effort (from everyone from the Rotary Club to the UN) has almost eradicated polio. As a kid in the 50's, I remember when it struck friends and families close to us. Neil Young almost died from polio as a child - think of the music we almost missed!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Write for Rights on International Human Rights Day

On International Human Rights Day, will you write a letter with Amnesty International? Join Amnesty members and supporters around the world in the Amnesty International Write-a-thon. From Nepal to Tunisia, Gabriola Island to Springdale, Newfoundland, Amnesty supporters are planning to write for rights on December 10th.

You can take part on your own, or plan a Write for Rights event with your friends, family, colleagues or classmates. It’s a fun and meaningful way to mark the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Hey, you could even organize a blogger writing party!

American Use of Chemical weapons in Iraq

Many people have been following the story from RAI (Italian public television) about the evidence of American use of chemical weapons (white phosphorus) on Iraqis in Fallujah. It's clear that people have been burned/melted to death with a substance that would not fit the Geneva Convention definition of an approved weapon. The video clip is a gruesome, but moving 27 minutes. If you want to link to it or to learn more go here or if you want me to email you the file, just ask.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Waging Peace by Refusing to Fight

This links to a sermon given recently by a friend of mine, Penney Kome (Unitarian Church). It's a wonderfully thoughtful assessment of the theory, "What if they gave a war and nobody came?"


Monday, November 07, 2005

LIVE WRITE article

This is my latest newspaper column - it's aimed at municipal elections in British Columbia Canada, but might be interesting to others...

Years ago, while working for the International Red Cross in Sudan, I had a memorable meeting with the Mayor of the city of Port Sudan. After sipping tea and reporting on our activities in the area, I asked, “As Mayor, if there were one thing you could do for the health of your people, what would it be?” He launched into an impassioned speech about the debilitating effects of malaria. He concluded by excitedly saying (with a grin), “Mr. Gary, if the Red Cross helps me rid Port Sudan of mosquitoes, I will build a large statue, with you bravely holding a sword up to a giant mosquito!” This was a city politician with a clear health mission. (The Red Cross did work on the malaria problem, but the St. Gary statue was never built.)

With civic elections upon us, it’s timely to think of useful questions to ask our Mayors-to-be. When asked about health issues, local politicians often point out that these are provincial responsibilities. While this is partly accurate, research on what contributes to our physical, emotional and social well-being provides a broader picture – one that shows us significant roles for local government.

Some Canadians argue that universal health care is what defines us as a people. In the CBC television series, The Greatest Canadian, it was the ‘father of Medicare’, Tommy Douglas, who garnished the most votes. With such devotion to our health care system, one might think that health, happiness and longevity depend entirely on doctors, hospitals, emergency rooms and pharmacies.

The truth is that while health services are important, they are only a part of the picture. The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research has estimated that the health care system itself contributes about 25% to your health status. Social, environmental and economic factors contribute about 60%. (The remaining 15% is based on biology and genetic endowment – and you can’t choose your parents…)

This means to foster a community of healthy people, we need to address the wider influences that lie outside the health sector. The folks you vote into local government have an important role to play.

For example, in debating zoning and growth issues, they can ask questions such as: does the development include housing for low-income people, seniors and people with disabilities? Is it accessible via all modes of transportation, including walking, cycling and public transit? What green spaces, recreational or play areas will be created? These built-in features are good for our health.

Other issues related to health that make it to the local halls of power include community safety, crime prevention and infrastructure projects such as community centres, soccer fields and libraries. Don’t forget the environment we live in - not only the obvious, such as air and water quality – but also road hazards, waste disposal and the use of pesticides. A poet (and a social researcher) will tell you that beautiful surroundings, natural and built, nurture the spirit… and the body.

Local politicians could also take on tough issues such as poverty - by developing affordable housing, supporting the establishment of a local or regional social planning council and lobbying for a living wage for all.

A sense of belonging and citizen involvement in decision-making contribute to good health. There’s a message here for local leaders - create ways to involve citizens in decision-making. You’ll be practicing wise politics... and good community health.

In political debates this month, don’t be surprised if candidates are asked about local hospitals and health services. You might also ask them how they plan to address the other determinants of health.

Saint John-Paul? (not the Beatles)

Well, they're working to fast-track Pope John-Paul II into a saint. article here
Pope Benedict XVI launched the beatification proceedings in June. He waived the customary five-year waiting period to start the process following public calls to name John Paul II a saint as soon as possible.
I find this weird in many ways, let me count some of them:
1. What the hell is a saint anyhow? Some special person because they did good stuff, then had miracles happen in their name (after death). Must be Catholic to apply. I can only think that if there is still a Jesus and he were to return - this whole process would piss him off big time.
2. When miracles are attributed to a dead person - who's to say the intervention wasn't from elsewhere? How do we know that John Lennon didn't intervene thinking that prayers to John-Paul were to he and his bass player?
3. Do saints get benefits in heaven? Larger bedrooms, better music, good sex (finally)....
4. And finally, how can a man be a saint who is greatly responsible for many perishing from AIDS (no condoms please!); for women being oppressed within his own organization (nuns need not apply); for adding fuel to homophobic fires worldwide (bad, bad men); and for wearing what must be considered the most unusual hats? Surely these things would offset the fundraising, rigid management style, big parades etc. that might lead to sainthood.
Just thinking out loud.


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