Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Meme time

Hey cool. I've been memed by the gifted Timothy Jones over at Old World Swine. Quirky unspectacular things about me? Nothing like being memed to realize you are more boring than you ought to be. I'll give it a shot.

Here are the rules of the meme:

1. Link the person(s) who tagged you
2. Mention the rules on your blog
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
4. Tag 6 fellow bloggers by linking them
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.

I'm tagging Colleen and Christina. If you are reading this and want to be tagged, then be tagged.

And here's my six (seven) quirks:

1. I weigh approximately 140 pounds, and am what they call "a rake". But I can eat an entire large size "the works" pizza in one sitting, come back half an hour later and eat more.

2. I close my eyes during the commercials before the previews at the movie theater. Sometimes during the previews.

3. I hate, and have always hated bananas. I can't put one in my mouth without slightly gagging. And if it's cut up in a fruit salad I just swallow the pieces without letting it touch my tongue or roof of mouth.

4. When I'm driving I constantly identify trees. Often my head turns back to see a tree I passed by.

5. Whenever reciting the Nicene Creed at mass, at the part that goes, "…and through Him all things were made", I always automatically say instead, "and through Him all things remain."

6. When I come up with a line or two of poetry in my mind, I always count out the syllables on my fingers just to see if they add up to ten.

6. When I get to talking, often a sort of accent takes over, sometimes prompting people to ask me if I'm Irish.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Daily Encounters

An Italian man has been coming to the old store where I work for years now as far back as I can remember. He comes into the back to take all the leftover produce, such as trimmings and vegetables and fruit going bad, which would be thrown out otherwise. Sometimes there are lots of boxes full for him, sometimes just one. He usually comes everyday with his truck.

"Allo, Paull", he says. Sometimes with, "It's a nica day today uh?"

Or something along those lines; we exchange pleasantries - and it's always pleasant.

Some people, you know they own a few acres or so, without having been told. People carry their worlds with them. This Italian man takes the leftover produce for his goats and sheep. He has an easy way; he's old but limber, has those brown Italian eyes that are wizened but soft.

And some people, you know they have a big family without having been told. I always help him with the boxes into his truck, unless there's only one and I'm busy with too many other things. Sometimes we get to talking more than usual. His accent from the old country is undiminished, like old sunshine.

For the longest time I did not know his name. One time during the days when I did not know his name, quite a few years ago, I was in the produce aisle and a man comes up to me in a very earnest, courteous manner. I think he had his hat in his hands. And he says to me, in a solemn, mannered cadence that I liked immediately, "I am here, on behalf of Giovanni".

I knew in a wink who he was talking about. Some people, you don't need to be told. So that's his name I said to myself. I believe he was Giovanni's brother, who was picking up the leftover produce for him while he was away on vacation.

Giovanni brought one of his sons with him once. And his son said with the same accent, only more diminished, "So now I can finally see where my dad spends his time". Not all of his time of course; he was joshing in a way. I could hazily picture his daily route from place to place. Often when putting the boxes into the back of his truck there are hay bales or animal feed.

Once, there was a bunch of piglets stirring around in a cage, pink and hairless and succulent - ready to be slaughtered, as he told me.

Somehow I knew without knowing that he owned a swimming pool in his rural property and that it was a familial junction for all the relatives, so that when he told me one time that the pump for his pool had broke, I seemed to already know he had a swimming pool.

A couple weeks ago, two stout and short men came to pick up the boxes of produce scraps. We didn't get to talking. One of them picked up the big crumpled ball of plastic wrap, which was what wrapped the skid of produce when it came in the morning, and he put it to the side, as though he was still at the farm where he worked cleaning up.

The next day Giovanni came and told me he had just gotten back from Germany: his son's wedding - one of his sons. After we got the boxes into the back of his truck, he told me: "Now alla seven of them are marreed, thatsa it. All of them marreed now." And it was something, perhaps, like when a monk of old before the times of the printing press, came out and announced to his fellow brothers that he had just finished the enormous feat of translating all four Gospels, or even the entire Bible. Like someone who has gone from fulfillment to fulfillment, accepting, and more importantly, submitting to, the ways of life, without trying to bend it this or way or that.

Some know how to live.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Contraception: four prophecies

He [Pope Paul VI] said, for instance, that universal acceptance of contraception would have the social consequence of creating men who had lost all respect for women. No longer caring for “her physical and psychological equilibrium,” men will come to “the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.” In any great social movement, what’s cause and what’s effect is always hard to figure out, but, at the very least, all you have to do is sign on to the Internet to see that this much is true: Widespread access to birth control certainly didn’t bring us the end of pornography and the objectification of women’s bodies.

Paul VI predicted, as well, that the institution of marriage would have trouble surviving “the conjugal infidelity” that contraception makes easy. Far from strengthening marriage as the Supreme Court seems to have imagined, the advent of birth control left marriage in tatters, as the sexual revolution roared through town. If many more people use contraception today than they used to—and do so certainly with less shame—then why have divorce, abortion, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and venereal disease done nothing but increase since 1968?

Humanae Vitae added that the general acceptance of contraception would put a “dangerous weapon” in the hands of “those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies.” And, from forced abortions in China to involuntary sterilizations in Peru, non-democratic governments have seen that there aren’t many steps between allowing people to limit birth and forcing them to.

Finally, the pope warned that contraception would lead people to picture their bodies as somehow possessions, rather than as their actual being. If a woman can paint her house, then why shouldn’t she get her nose bobbed and her breasts blown up with silicon to the size of beachballs? It’s what men seem to like, after all, and the body is just a thing, isn’t it?

Well, no, the body isn’t just a thing. The universal acceptance of contraception changed not just our behavior but the way that we think. It created a chasm between sex and procreation, and into that chasm fell social good after social good. You can’t say Paul VI didn’t warn us.

From Joseph Bottum's article at First Things today. That is perhaps the most significant damage, that we "...picture [their] bodies as somehow possessions, rather than as [their] actual being." As ever, the present corruption we experience (divorce, abortion, pornographic culture, paedophilia etc.) starts from a very 'simple' division that occurred in the past. You seperate pro-creation from sex, in a manner that pointedly disrupts and changes the in-built purpose, meaning and gift of the conjugal act; that division extends by consequence to your very perception of your own body, and hence, the bodies of others. Really, there is no end to the chain of divisions. And, as stated in the article, it ultimately changes the way we think.

Why have we been so blinded to how radical a gift sex is? Like all radical gifts given to us by God, there is a precious sharing in his creation; something which He entrusts to us, out of sheer love. It is this sacred character of the gift that makes it entirely vulnerable; and not just vulnerable in a passive sense, but something about it that contains a living picture of our being - and when it is attacked, our being is attacked.

What is horrific about it, is that it has taken place down the years in tandem with material gain and comfort; the idealism of mediocrity, which poses as normalcy.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Monsanto. Soy. Two words I do not like.

Who has something to gain from the consumption of soy? Perhaps companies like Monsanto which produce the genetically modified soybean seeds. Perhaps companies like Cargill Foods or SoyLife which produce countless soy-based foods. Or soybean councils in several states which represent farmers who grow this new, emerging bumper crop. And, of course, all of the companies which are constructing factories all over the world to do the processing which is necessary to make soybeans edible.
Quote from this article, which you should take the time to read. Not only does soy not seem to be all what it's coughed up to be, it is apparently quite bad for you. Not just the soy alone, which seems simply of its own nature to outweigh its positive aspects with negative ones, but also as to the process it goes through to become edible.

And what man wants his sperm concentration dissipated? Check here.

All said and done though, it's not like you're being told to no longer eat pizza. Soy? Tofu? Bad for you? There' s a thousand other beans you can eat; tastier ones. Soy can go to hell. It won't be missed. Have you ever tasted it when it's not plastered over with things you can actually taste? All what it's good for is triggering the gag reflex.

Perhaps soy was intended to be used for some other inedible purpose.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Acrostic poem (on Sin)

Several deadly, which beatitudes will counter.
It is one or the other; no whiling it away,
No timely recession. There's death and resurrection.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pit bull/Bull mastiff

The Province had this story today on its cover. The cops came through the gate and MURDERED, Murdered, Murdered the dog!

And while it happened, more than 40 babies at Vancouver General Hospital received evacuation through vacuum aspiration, dilation and curettage, and "the use of surgical instruments (such as forceps)", all safely procured in the bubble zone of a woman's right to choose.

Having your dog shot isn't fun, I grant that. The police were responding to a 911 call to the tenant's place and went through the side gate into the backyard and the pit bull-cross-bull mastiff came barrelling at them and when it was within one foot of the police, an officer pulled out his gun and shot it.

The family is screaming bloody murder. They insist their pit bull/bull mastiff was friendly as anything, that the dog played with a five year old and so on. They took it to the vet who had to put the dog down and they are landed with a whopper of a bill. It's a hard call who should pay it. That to me is really the only problem. Who is to pay the bill. Aside from that, what do you expect?

Here's the scenario: you're a cop taking a 911 call. You go (mistakenly) through the side gate,

and there's a dog coming at you,

and it is, to all appearances, a pit bull,

and you have a loaded hand gun at your side,

what do you do? Wait to see if the pit bull is running at you in a friendly way, just to lick and sniff you and get you to throw him a stick,

or shoot him down and not take the chance of being infected by rabies and having permanent jagged scar tissue down your arms and possibly large pieces of flesh and hair torn off your scalp?

Now, let's say for the sake of argument, the person in this scenario is a thinking person. Let's say he has a brain. Let's say he has, like most other human persons, natural instincts about what is taking place before him. Let's say he can discern a pit bull from a poodle, and again, the scenario plays itself out:

You open the side gate,

and there's dog charging after you, possibly only "coming at you",

and the dog is a pit bull,

and you have a loaded gun at your side,

what does the thinking person with a brain and natural instincts do?

You unlock the safety on your gun,

and you put a bullet between the psychotic beady little eyes of the pit bull, and not wait to see if you get permanent scar tissue. That's what you do. And when you do it, it is legitimate to not feel guilt over it; and moreover, it may even be legitimate to feel you have positively done a service to the entire neighbourhood. Because killing an animal is not murder.

Aside: you have to love it when certain people accuse others of being biased against pit bulls; that we perpetuate irrational stereotypes of pit bulls. Of course people are biased against pit bulls. Most people are when one is charging at them.

In other tree-house news

I went a little blowhard on this post about that pirate ship tree-house having to come down, which I would like to correct as it pertains to particulars, though the universal truths I expressed I retain. For it seems figures on all sides expressed regret over it having to come down, and the neighbour's complaint was that the tree-house had inappropriate vantage into one of their windows. The father who built the tree-house made moves to cover eye-access to the window, but at that point the case went beyond complaints to "building permits" and all that.

The pirate ship tree-house is being auctioned off by the father and the proceeds going to charity. I still find its coming down a travesty of sorts, and a microcosm of what's taking place in this country.

In the meantime - in fact, as the above-mentioned was reported - there was another case of a heavily-invested tree-house (40 hours and $500.00 by the father of three sons) having to come down in New Brunswick. Read about it here.

Same thing:

"This was a way to get them outside and use their imagination," said Constantine. "They just have no imaginations anymore. Children can't role-play. All they can do is computers and videogames and such. It was a family project. They worked on it with their dad."

The Greater Moncton Planning District Commission has ordered that the structure to come down because of safety concerns.

Constantine said the family was told the tree house was constructed without proper permits and wasn't up to code.

The family tried to negotiate a way to keep the structure in the tree, she said.

MacIntyre was willing to build a first storey to provide further support for the building, she said. But that plan was also nixed.

Doesn't that gall you? The kids can go on the internet all they like, where the potential to be exposed to the most graphic imagery is ever present, but no, no, and no to having a tree-house? If the government was really interested in investing in the future health of its citizens, don't you think it would reward and implement and grant access to such healthy outdoor activities, especially ones that are family-oriented and family-implemented?

But notice that last part quoted:

MacIntyre was willing to build a first storey to provide further support for the building, she said. But that plan was also nixed.

Again, the complete inability, or refusal, on behalf of the government, to use common sense and work with concrete people in special contexts. The man was willing to cooperate to make it up to snuff: adding a first storey. This would make it safe. This would satisfy the "building safety code" and keep his kids happy, and thus himself. A win-win situation. But the government - they are simply butt-stuck-blind-stupid.

I am trying not to use expletives here. And no, this is not a case of the writer being sentimental and nostalgic about tree-houses. This is a case of the government screwing up the lives of real families. The government is diseased with a kind of machinating pride when it refuses to allow citizen cooperation in the satisfying of by-law codes. The codes are made for people; not people made for codes.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Only in Canada

This industrious and deliberate man built a beautiful pirate ship tree-house for his kids. It looks as though some neighbour complained. Now he has to take it down. Apparently it is in violation of by-laws.

Such instances of by-law enforcement seem like a microcosm of the Canadian Human Rights Commission: on what basis exactly is the tree-house to be taken down? Because the neighbour can see it, and thinks it an eye-sore? What goes into deciding whether something in a neighbour's yard is causing disturbance to the eyes? What are the building codes based on? What's the standard? Bland suburban mediocrity?

Take a look at the tree-house. It is not gaudy or painted livid yellow; it doesn't look like anything out of Disneyland. It is actually really well built and of natural wood. It looks unobtrusively poetic, that ship landed way up in the evergreen tree. If I was that man's neighbour, I would feel strangely grateful to be able to see such a thing.

But here in Canada, certain people "live by the rules". They don't seem to live by much else, save by the one standard of total indifference towards other people, kept intact through STCSFS: Sickeningly Tepid but Constantly Sustained Fear Syndrome. They usually like to call it Tolerance. Most of the time though, it likes to go unspoken; but tangibly present, it most certainly is. It is the Great Nullifier. The spirit likes to lurk especially at social gatherings, weaving an invisible thread through each person there, unifying them in one great bond of soft nullification.

An instance of it, which is yet somewhat different, is making the sign of the cross before you eat your food in a restaurant. You should try it sometime, even if you're not a Catholic. It's quite liberating. It's liberating both in the home and out of it. People who don’t make the sign of the cross in a restaurant but do so at home, do not reason thus to themselves: "I'm afraid of what others might think of me". But they reason thus: "I don't want to disturb the unspoken rules of this place and have people thinking that I'm busting out with the religious stuff out of some sort of strange religious defiance. I'm not a religious fanatic." Which is, pared down: "I'm afraid of what others might think of me".

They like to reason that at home they are religiously fine. But in public, all religion suddenly becomes fanaticism. That is due to a spirit. When I say 'spirit', I do not mean some vague and ethereal gas. I mean a spirit: an entity in rebellion in the spiritual realm. The realm we do not see but which gives this world material form.

I get off track. It is this general atmosphere which taints pretty much everyone: The atmospheric lie, which is a term coined by a published author. Anyhow, the microcosm. The small things that give a picture of the bigger things. By-law enforcement, and the followers-of-it-at-any-cost disciples.

They don't think what those rules might mean, or how those rules must run parallel with common sense. Like for instance, realizing that by-law enforcement can be appropriate for extremely noisome cases, such as say, your neighbour builds some monument that depends on your tool shed for support. But the same doesn't apply equally to all situations. Most of the time there is no "situation", just life. Enjoy it.

There was a person in Surrey living in one of those closely quartered living complexes who had to take down his Canadian flag due to by-law enforcement. It was in violation of the building codes or some other rules. Nope, no descrying here, or discriminating here. Don't bring your common sense. We can't have discernment. We can't be sure. We cannot specialize in localized cases with specific contexts like real human persons. It's the rules.

So, say no to the Great Nullifier. Do something unique for its own sake, because it gives glory to God. A pirate ship tree-house does that. So do a lot of other things.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Early Childhood Education

I received an e-mail about the B.C. government consulting people on "Early Childhood Education", like full-day kindergarten for four and three year olds.

I went and filled their Consultation Response Form, found here. The deadline is July 18, so take the few minutes to fill it.

Here's the answers I wrote to the questions:

Response Form

Part One

Given the importance of the early childhood years and the clear trends to increase and improve programs in other jurisdictions, the Early Childhood Learning Agency invites your response to the following questions.

1. What are your thoughts on full school day kindergarten for five-year-olds?

It is taking way too much responsibility away from the parents, which will only be a catalyst for further infringements on parenting rights in the future. It is precisely because the early years are so formative for a child that it is imperative that he or she have roots formed at home. Because that's what people do: they grow up in a family, in a home. Even foster care is based and formed on this. Without home formation, a child will eventually grow up alienated. And the word "alienated" here is just an understated aside. What the does the government mean by "early formation" and who is going to watch over them, that is, over the child and the government teachers?

2. What about parent choice for full-school-day pre-kindergarten programs for four-year olds?

I feel sorry for the parents who would do this.

3. What about parent choice for full-school-day pre-kindergarten programs for three-year olds?

Why not just hand the child over to a travelling carnival?

4. What do you think are the most important factors to consider in expanding early learning programs in British Columbia?

Six words: Parents are the child's first teachers. Any "Early Learning Program" that does not take into consideration first and foremost, who the child's first educators are is an abomination and an usurper of the family. And such is deserving of no respect. Here's a hint: the government can do all it can in its power to make concession to parents who wish to be the first educators of their own children. This would be the true "expansion" of "Early Learning Programs". Here's another hint, differing from the former positive facilitation only in being a negative facilitation: do all you can to stay out of parent's hair, and realize your natural proper limitations as a government.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Leavings

“It depended on the life of your eyes at that moment, how often the horse’s head and mane became those of a lion’s, ravaging and efficient, and how fast it would morph back and you knew it was a horse all along. The horse was the scarier. It was the divine dignity and stateliness gone cold with its own irrevocable power: this was bound in the horse’s over-long snout and muzzle. It was pent, pointing straight down from its erect neck. Its eyes were the impenetrable shadows of guttural caves up in a grey cliff. In the shower of lightning I did not want it to meet me.”

“You’d rather have the lion?”

“Well…yeah, I guess so. Though he was scary too…no, I’d definitely rather take the lion. But it was the horse all along.”

“You see Jeremy, the horse is that self you are running away from– no, you are indeed very scared of this self. You’d rather make compromises with the prowling lion. The lion is your ego. You want to have it easy, sitting back, watching your cubs play, which represents to you your desire for contentment and producing offspring; or killing a gazelle, which represents your sexual prowess and fulfilment; you want to be able to roar and have others respect you, which represents your desire to roar and have others respect you; eating the cubs, which is representative of your unwillingness to let your children pursue their Freudian inclinations. And you see how the lion wanted to keep coming through the horse; this of course could mean you are bisexual, but it is unclear as yet, which one will win over, that is, if the horse and lion can’t make peace and become bisexual, one will have to come out over the other...the horse is that which you have repressed. The horse is free. The lion is domesticated, but the horse is free. But this also becomes the matter of the primitive you, the self which wants to be unbarred and beat his chest and go into the wild and become one of the animals - a lion for instance. Did you by the way, have any bad encounters with horses as a child?”

“Look, Roger, uhm, Dr. Roger, it wasn’t like that kind of dream. It was like peaking your head for a moment into some other wake-up world. In fact, I knew the horse was something very much apart from myself.”

“Yes, yes, it is like that sometimes. The mind has amazing capabilities.”

“No, I mean there was some message in it…that the horse was apart from myself…I mean, that was why the horse was scary…because it was so much apart, yet I knew I would have to meet it.”

“Yes, your unconscious has I think perhaps decided upon that inevitability.”

“No, Doctor, you're not listening…"

At which point Dr. Roger was scribbling in his notebook: "Attention Deficit Disorder: Flag Red." Then he scratched his balls and put the hand he used to scratch his balls under his chin, two fingers to his cheekbone, the other two curled down.

"Now Jeremy, you must not isolate yourself by creating the illusion that…"

"Doc. Did you ever listen, I mean really listen…to a story?"

"Yes, yes", said Dr. Roger who seemed to be catching on to Jeremy, and lifted his head while closing his eyes, "Yes. The story has always been the tribal impulse beginning with our ancient ancestors who employed it as a psychological means of acting out one's insecurities and certainties and to give the community a sense of belonging, for the group mentality has always…"

But there was nothing on the leather couch but a long indentation in the process of slowly lifting like yeasted bread dough, and the door of the room closing to, as though by an invisible hand.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hellboy II: the Golden Army

The paganistic milieu of Hellboy II: the Golden Army, with its faux Lord of the Rings beginning elements, is, like most paganistic milieus, self-limited, muddled, and ultimately boring.

One couldn't care less about the forest god that wreaks havoc on the city and before which Hellboy must pause in a sudden crisis of identity, debating whether to kill the giant asparagus or not. Then, when he does kill the monster, which was ruining things in a king-kong-like fury and seeking to kill Hellboy in spite of the fact that Hellboy has a baby in his arms he's trying to protect, it turns into a growing carpet of green moss-like stuff, growing over cars and buildings and sprouting all kinds of flowers, and the monster's head, which was blown apart by Hellboy's gun, opens in a huge magnificent magnolia-like flower. Abe Sapien, Hellboy's chum (sidekick?) walks into the petal-falling scene of nature that has suddenly happened, and exclaims, "It's beautiful".

It's like this over and over again in this movie. Like the delirium of some frail old lady on opium who cannot make distinctions between anything. That's not a good thing in case you're thinking that the analogy means the film must be "imaginative". If "imaginative" means tiresome, like the above-mentioned old lady, then sure, the movie is "imaginative".

I get queasy when an old parental figure in a movie pulls out a book and starts reading it to the child, and lo, it turns out the story that he or she is reading is actually real! And the movie has at one point some troll-like figure who takes the characters into an inexplicable underground world, totally unknown to the outside world? Golly. Imaginative.

Do I say the movie has a paganistic milieu merely because it has monsters and trolls and underground worlds? Hardly. I love monsters and the like in movies, and, more besides, such things are Christian. But it's stupid and lumbering and silly when the monsters or trolls or witches or witch-like angel figures or keepers to gateways or holders of the life-saving means of some dying character, are so ambiguous, in the sense of their personal character, like say, whether they are good or bad or mean well or mean evil or where they come from, so that all of it merely becomes the most mechanical analogous world of utilitarian means by which one is to survive or get what they are seeking.

Everything becomes a formula. And so much for being imaginative. All symbols, crosses included, become merely a cycle of talismans and charms. It's completely the contradiction of what fantasy is supposed to do, which is, simplistically put, to reimburse our world with the awe-inspiring depth of infinity. Yes, fantasy becomes analogous to our world by "diverging" from it, but not by diverging from its moral order.

Oh yes, the childish attempt to give characters, monsters included, more "depth" by psychologizing them and mistaking the mere subtracting of distinctness for the adding of depth. Such attempts ironically turn out to be the shallowest black and white reduction of the life of the work of art into a mechanical reproduction of one's own ghettoized sentiments. Not to mention the sentiments of the environmental movement and/or any zeitgeist "causes" or "movements" that fantasy is supposed to nobly escape from in the first place.

Fantasy is supposed to have not just clear-cut things, but extraordinarily clear-cut things. Hellboy II has all the clear-cut distinctions of a ball of snakes. And this, in spite of the fact that it has parallel worlds going on in it.

Guillermo del Toro has indeed a certain talent going for him. For instance, I do like how he ploughs headlong into his unabashed fantasy elements, such that, that very headlong plowing forward is what, to a large degree, carries the film. The successive feel of his worlds, which he gets across in a manner that is not enslaved to plot, but which exists on the "plane surface" of the film, and is the film. But of course, still telling a story.

But like Peter Jackson, he's flawed and marred by the shallow excesses of his "imagination", compounded (same as with Jackson) with a curious absence that I can only describe as not feeling objectively grounded. Jackson had The Lord of the Rings which saved him from this. But it shows up in King Kong. The Coen brothers have the same thing as well. It is a kind of adroit ability that is absent of gravitas; absent of having a connection with the continuity of reality as it stands. In short, the matrix of their worlds feels too much as though they exist in, and of, thin air. Yet paradoxically, they carry this cross-wired solemnity about them that is simply inartistic, lumbering, garish, heavy-handed, dead, muddled, threadbare, or all those things together.

Alas, in this movie you can almost hear Guillermo del Toro practicing his batting swings for The Hobbit. As with the honing of the imagination of Peter Jackson on encountering the world of Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings, certainly the same will happen with del Toro on encountering The Hobbit.

Of note: There is a scene in Hellboy II where Hellboy is trying to get some answers from a troll in the unknown troll market under the Brooklyn bridge. He's striking the troll again and again trying to get an answer, and from this troll's midsection there is a baby attached, in the manner of a Siamese twin, as though growing from the troll's body. The little baby provides a cute commentary as the withdrawing of information is going on. When the troll finally gives the answer to Hellboy, the baby says cutely, "chicken". After he gets his answer, Hellboy apologizes to the kid for the ruckus he caused his parent. The kid answers nicely that it's no problem. Then Abe pats the kid on the head and says, "That's a good baby". Then the kid answers back, in the same unshaken nice child-tone, "I'm not a baby. I'm a tumor."

I found this moment stunning actually. As far as I can tell, that little moment in the film is an unabashed, mocking, O Connoresque slap in the face of pro-choicers, or at least a grotesque mocking of their extremely blind subjective rationalizations.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lauren Richardson


Looks like some good news for the Lauren Richardson case. From Life Site:

Delaware House Approves Resolution Protecting Woman from Dehydration/Starvation
By John Jalsevac

DOVER, Delaware, July 7, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Delaware House of Representatives has passed a resolution supporting Randy Richardson in his bid to protect the life of his 24-year-old daughter, Lauren Richardson.

Richardson, who at one time was the valedictorian of her high school class, suffered a brain injury after a heroine overdose in 2006, which left her severely handicapped. Doctors diagnosed Richardson, whose plight is being compared widely to that of Terri Schiavo, as being in a Permanent Vegatative State (PVS).

At the time of the accident Lauren was three months pregnant. After the birth of Lauren's child, her mother, Edith Towers, who is divorced from Lauren's father, and who gained legal guardianship over the girl, tried to have her daughter's feeding tube removed, thereby causing her death by dehydration.

Randy Richardson, however, has organized a desperate fight to protect his daughter from such a fate, bringing Lauren's story to the media, and initiating legal action to ensure that doctors do not remove Lauren's feeding tube. He claims that his daughter, while severely handicapped, is both responsive and not terminally ill. He has said that with therapy Lauren could be re-taught to eat, and would have no need of the feeding tube.

The Delaware House of Representatives responded to the case on June 30 by passing a resolution in support of Richardson.

The Resolution observes, "It is becoming increasingly apparent that persons who are suffering from severe brain injuries often have cognitive functions significantly beyond what medical science previously estimated."

The resolution then goes on to criticize the idea of "Permanent Vegetative State," a medical diagnosis that is frequently used to justify the decision to starve and dehydrate a patient to death. Most famously, Terri Schiavo was diagnosed as PVS, a diagnosis that Schiavo's family vehemently contested.

It "is also becoming increasingly apparent that the diagnosis of 'persistent vegetative state' or 'PVS' is a category that recent science shows is far more uncertain and overly broad than had been previously thought," said the House resolution, "including a high rate of misdiagnoses of PVS patients who have not been able to exhibit responses, but whose consciousness can now sometimes be measured with medical advances such as neuroimaging and drug treatment."

Hence, concluded the resolution, "Be it resolved… that it is against the public policy of this State and this State's interest in life, health and safety, for hydration and nutrition that is not harming a patient to be involuntarily removed from a non-terminal, apparently brain-incapacitated patient if doing so will cause the individual's death."

"Furthermore," continues the strongly worded resolution, "such withholding of hydration and nutrition without: 1) clear written direction from a legally competent patient or, 2) a valid written advance health-care directive that was previously executed by a patient who is now incapacitated and that either allows such withholding under such circumstances or grants an agent authority to make that decision by an incapacitated patient is also against the public policy of the State of Delaware."

The synopsis of the resolution specifically mentions Richardson, saying, "The impetus for this Resolution comes from the case of Lauren Richardson, a 24-year-old Delaware woman who, after suffering brain injuries and impaired consciousness, now faces the possible removal of her nutrition and hydration, despite the absence of her clearly specified and legal consent to any such a course of action."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

"Submit yourselves therefore to God; resist the devil, and he will flee…"

"The unwanted piece of the UFO puzzle" best sums the investigative work of Joe Jordan. He is President and co-founder of CE-4 (Close Encounters of the Fourth kind), the investigative and counselling arm of Alien Resistance.

An addendum on his site says: He is also MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) State Section Director and Field Investigator for Brevard County, Florida, home of Kennedy Space Center. Joe works for Sea Ray Boats in Product Development & Engineering in Merritt Island, Florida.

His line of investigation has the peculiarity of not just being solidly anti-fringe (in the sense of discrediting the notion of flying beings from outer space who have super intelligence) but of also being solidly anti-speculative about those same "space men".

That is to say, he, and the others he works with, are quite willing to believe in peoples' testimonies about being abducted by aliens. They differ though, in what the nature is of the abductors, and where they come from, and what their intentions are.

What is his specific area of enquiry? He has investigated over 300 cases of abduction/encounters; terrifying and paralyzing abductions/encounters. What sets him apart from other investigators (unbelieving scientific speculative types on one hand, and conspiracy theory fringe believers on the other) is that the subjects in his 300 plus cases were able to stop their abductions/encounters, as they were happening, by calling on the name of Jesus.

You can read an article on him here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Buckling


Do you hear that?

It's the sound of nobody weeping.

I've stayed away from Starbucks since I read this. There's more here.

It's been around a year now, except once when I went with a friend who is a regular at Starbucks. I'm too lazy to start giving the reasons why one should boycott Starbucks when the person has already pulled into the parking lot, with full intentions of getting his coffee.

I honestly don't miss Starbucks one bit. The following may sound like one breaking the principle of non-contradiction, but I've never hated a coffee that I liked so much. Or I've never liked a coffee that I hated so much. And I mean both in the realm of pure taste, removed from all corporate baggage.

I would get the dark roast and it was the olfactory sense when you first sipped it in the morning. But then there was the acrid flavour when swallowing. Combined, the memory of the over-roasted acridness was enough to make me keep on driving by the place on the way to work.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Not that it's wrong per say, but...

Why do some parishioners clap after the final hymn at the end of Mass? Are they applauding themselves for having gone to Mass? Or do they clap because Mass is over?

Since the Mass does not "end" (on the contrary), it's a little odd.

Sky High

I'm not entirely convinced that eating dinner around a long-table hoisted 50 meters (164.04 feet) in the air by a crane (mechanized, not the bird) with chefs serving in the middle of it, would be fun, novel, adventurous, or anything more than merely putting food in your mouth (probably expensively lame food) with no ground immediately below you.

How bored and boring do you have to be to get excited over such a thing? Because it seems exactly one of those things the bored and boringly affluent would do. Why not hoist a platform of slot machines into the air? Like the law in the Old Testament that says the gatherers of wheat and barley had to leave leftover gleanings in the field for the poorer folk, any coins that fell could, by law, be collected by homeless people. "I sometimes let a few slip on purpose", says one boring rich guy to news camera, "You know, it's a new thing, this. It's a lot of fun".

What if someone desperately has to urinate? Do they then lower the crane's arm for a short span, much to the chagrin of all the other rich boring folk? "I wanted full air time, damn it! I didn't get my money's worth!" says one rich boring guy to camera.

I don't take it as a virtue that I have a very poor interest in novelty. When the novelty is real, and not false and boring like dinner in the sky, it is to be sort of admired when someone takes an innocent interest in it, without losing their self-possession and composure, or depth of character.

I know G.K. Chesterton had an innocent, unending interest in novelty. Though of course it seems he never let it take over the vastly more important realization that he was alive; the realization of being alive, unabated, and not aided by consumption, but only by awe. And that for me cuts the difference: novelty that springs as an offshoot from the very abundance of being fully alive, which doesn't dissipate; and the "novelty" that is pursued, through more and more labyrinthine ways, from the fact of one being stultifyingly dead. It would look to an outside superficial observer that there was no difference between the two, that is, until he joined one sort one day, and then joined the other the next.

G.K.C. had a natural suspicion of those sophisticated ones of his day who proclaimed themselves above the pursuit of material pleasure, those teetotalers, sometimes millionares, who said they lived "the simple life" and who thought "the higher thought".

Much has changed, in a sense, since Chesterton's days. First, mediocrity is everywhere practically enforced (something he prophesied); the pursuit of pleasure is frightfully frought with a more and more complex "higher thought", quite the opposite of the usual non-thinking of pleasure-seeking pigs. A veritable tower of Babel is being erected of ever stranger novelty that ends up as a kind of twilight zone where no moral bounds, no sense of beauty, truth or goodness gets to have any say, or have any standard at all.

Look at the "higher thought" of pro-choicers. Look at the "higher thought" of Peter Singer. The evil that is brought on by university professors, the academia and scientists through their ideas is becoming more and more shared by their pleasure-seeking counterparts, who more than likely have never heard of Peter Singer and don't care. What does it mean?

It means the pleasure-seeking of today's materialists (while evil, it is not the more abominable evil) is the unmarked door through which the "higher thought", of the likes of Peter Singer, is silently and unnoticeably getting into their minds and taking root. For everything we do and pursue there is an underlying stance of principle that we concede to. The question is, what is happening in peoples' souls and minds, what are they consecrating their minds to, while they go after ever newer, more novel pleasure?

In the past, say, in G.K.C's day, they were conceding to a quickly-materializing corruption and emptiness. Many repented. Today, the pleasure-seeking has been built up and extended into a kind of virtual reality and sustained fantasy that has never been done before in the past. But it is matched and paralleled with an equally hitherto unseen and underheard of replication of the constructs of life itself. And it is to this "replication" which increasingly immoral pleasure-seeking people are conceding to.

Meditation

Consolation for the Christian often hurts. His joy is dangerous. Christianity is the one religion where the smashing of one’s paradigm is also the ascent to holiness, not merely a “humbling” prerequisite to enlightenment where one later looks wistfully back and says, “Ah yes, such an evil fool I was back in the day when my ego needed smashing”; but is itself the sanctified and sanctifying path, because Jesus, the Son of God went down it.

Eagle

From what clouds, what abandoned stratosphere this huge bird
plummets, to almost touch the pavement’s crescent
that feeds sheer into the car streaming freeway?

Shrunk usually by blue distance, archetypically,
the fanning girth of wings, rim-shod with mountain white,
now show archangel-close, almost blessing

the windshield of the driving car, while crows accost him.
O those wings, working in the wreck of those pebble birds!
Like the One Word flaming down cruciformed
in the midst of littler words!

Unsubtle poem

Alright. You do your thing and we’ll do ours.
We're sure that one day we'll make it to Mars,
and there have global peace and no more cars
(though we may have to change the planet's name),
and keep this planet as a sort of sister site.org.

But when that day comes and you're still obstinate,
saying there lies there nothing but dust and war
we simply will kill you in the name of Al Gore.
Though we may have to change murder's name.

In our community you will have to be obdured
to the taste of tofu and to diversity's word.
If about the meaning of diversity you are perturbed,
especially when you see us enforcing only tofu

as the regular diet down people's throats,
you will be notified through uniform rotes
that diversity means you should shut the hell up
especially as regards the ideas on which we make you sup.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Native's Cape Breton Ditty

On the river’s pebbled bend
in woods where no voice was
save the river’s, grandma did not wish
the clear-cut rending of the air
by music from another realm.

How say the river’s flowing was?
She turned all accidental,
leaping over rocks in lullaby.

Had we been there awhile
or not awhile, all day an age
or just arrived, planned, by the by-

not sure; what stays with me it was
an afternoon of simple outing
held in the sun’s soft pulses
in which the sharp strains ushered from without
that lent the floor of stones,
the river’s odd fish-sprout,
the jig of mosquitoes,
some change, as of a vessel quelled:

Some clear procession about to be seen
was outlier, on the bend’s unseen
other length, coming where it curved
round on to our side. And at that
grandma forthright, started, bolt up.

“Get in the car! Now! Get! Now!”
Could not have been more adamant
had she found us in our reservation house,
were it burning beyond being put out,
when she started shoving us out. Out?

“Don’t look behind! Don’t!
In the car! Get! Now!” until within
the car that must've been some boat's rusted kin,
with the heavy doors you did not
want your fingers gotten slammed in,
she repeated her commands, might
well have told us look behind, for I did.

I did, back through the fleeing trail
down to the water where we were
instants ago: there luminous little men
in the gemmed grass astride the stones
began a circle-dance, joined their hands.

The leaves they left from showered voices
like streams leaked out in rows from cracked
pitchers, of which the sound’s brilliance
car’s shelter would not shut out,
until the rise its wheels rolled over
came up as we went down and walled it off.

What they call middle-age
is where I sit as now.
And little ones again I see
on the floor around me
(to whom I tell this ditty),
not though of that matter which
seems to flee as it does come,
but of my own flesh and blood.

Corner Store

I know of a little corner store where the image of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism and first Sikh guru, hangs on the wall beside the counter.

Next to it hangs the image of Jesus Christ and His Sacred Heart.

Below the images, there are trojan condoms for sale.

Now go and figure that out.