Fundamentalism stinks, fundamentalism is insanementalism without the benefit of an excuse

December 7, 2004 at 9:08 pm | In yulelogStories | 5 Comments

Would like to put that translation up (mentioned last time), but am just not ready, and haven’t had time. However, there’s always enough energy to vent, eh? So, forthwith: we have a really terrific magazine in Victoria called Focus. It’s available for free at various locations throughout town, but I’m seriously considering a subscription because it’s that good, really. Unfortunately, it’s not online. (Dear Leslie Campbell, Publisher of Focus: figure out some way to make the magazine’s online availability economically attractive and then do it! Rob Wipond’s December column should be available to everyone — and so should Susan Musgrave’s take-down of Air Canada, and all her previous columns, too.) But no matter that it’s not yet online, because I am (bwahaha!). Briony Penn, dashed interesting environmentalist, writes for Focus on a regular basis. I missed her November column, but she must have compared environmental stewardship to living life according to principles set out in the biblical story of Genesis. That garnered the following reader letter, from a Christian fundamentalist:

The Bible, which is God-breathed, cannot be rewritten to suit someone’s comparison of dichotomies.

The reason Noah and his family survived is due to their faith in the only one, true and living God, no other reason. Lack of obedience has its consequences both then and now.

[Ok, here comes the important part, pay attention:]

Those who think true security is found by respecting our planet and its resources face an eternity devoid of anything but hopelessness. In an ever-changing world that lacks stability, and will not get better no matter how much we respect each other or resources [sic], the only true security is that of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

And there you have it: now you know why and how Christian fundamentalists don’t care a damn about environmental causes or the earth. Environmental causes are in their view a prideful, sinful matter that leads humans to believe (falsely) that they have some sort of human control over their destinies. Talk about being beaten before getting out of the gate!

Translating separating reporting blogging

December 5, 2004 at 11:10 pm | In yulelogStories | 1 Comment

Maria is combatting early-onset blogging-ADD by …(re)starting another blog called Marin Outings. It’s a “writing separating” strategy that makes sense since it’s impossible to put everything into one blog. I wonder whether Marin will be outed in more ways that one here…

Co-incidentally, I started writing in a separate category last week, but it’s not online. It’s a “Homeschool Diary,” intended as occasionally hysterical fieldnotes for this new terrain of blowing factory schooling to bits in new and unexpected (and sometimes thoroughly Canadian) ways. Neurotic, nagging, complaining, full of doubts, triumphant, celebratory — really undone, full of “whys” and “hows” and “what they (the kids) are doing now.” A diary which currently is just for me, but which might make sense later, reworked in another context or format.

However, so far there’s just one entry, and I suppose I should rectify that, but I spent the evening stuffing envelopes with invitations to that winter solstice party….

More substantive postings later this week — spent a bit of time this weekend translating a newspaper article (from German to English) about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and plan to put it up with commentary in the next couple of days. She recently gave an interview to a reporter for the Rotterdam paper NRC Handelsblad (she is in hiding in an undisclosed location). The German article (written by a man) was annoying in a hard-to-define way, but when I found the Dutch original, it was easier to see how and why, because I could see what he left out. Unfortunately, I can only read bits and pieces of Dutch, and can’t read it with fluent confidence, but I made the effort to translate a bit more of what she had to say from Dutch to English (and gave the Dutch original, in case anyone out there is fluent in Dutch). Hirsi Ali’s angle is critical thinking, enlightenment, and feminism; in my book, a compelling set of tools. Tomorrow I’ll post that translation, but for now I’m too beat to find the links that post still needs.

Lots of reading, my head’s exploding.

It’s interesting to translate from a language you don’t know well. It’s like a blueprint for life, an Erector set, a cookbook, hermeneutics, some skill, and a soup

I thought you said you didn’t do “diary posts”?

December 3, 2004 at 9:03 pm | In yulelogStories | 3 Comments

Yeah, I did, but it’s been that kind of week, and damn, I wanted to get a post in! It’s December already!

This afternoon I had some of the best samosas I’ve ever tasted. My neighbour’s mother, who was born and raised in East Africa, made them. Different from ordinary restaurant samosas because a) they were better because b) they were homemade and c) they were much more sophisticated and subtle in terms of filling and covering, which might be the East Africa influence.

I was just bathing the beastly dog (tomorrow I plan to cut his hair) when my neighbour called to say that she was bringing a batch over (she’s the pharmacist, btw, who hooked me up with Entex LA). The dog doesn’t like being bathed and gives me a hard time about it, and I wasn’t thinking very quickly when I answered the phone — I should have asked her to bring her mother, and her new baby (a daughter, after 3 sons). So I instead made her the first invitee for a planned Winter Solstice Open House party. Eeps. “Hostess anxiety” and I go together like hand in glove, but now I’ve done it. Can’t go back, invited the first group, now I need to make lists of more invitees, and think about food and music and booze …and god, I feel sick, it’s already December. Only 18 more days… Get crackin’!

I can’t wait for the Solstice, though. I’ve noticed that here on the West Coast, in northern latitudes, seasons need to be measured by light (its presence, its absence). While it ain’t warm, it’s not very cold, either — in fact, there’s sage blooming in my garden, and I see California lilac blooms and some rhododendrons are blooming now, too. Today I saw some kind of crabapple tree, obviously seriously deranged and confused, decorated with spindly but profuse blooms. Go figure. But what is unnerving in these parts — and this holds true in summer, too — is the plenitude of absence (winter) and presence (summer) of light. It has been so dully overcast for days on end lately that my outside motion detector lights go on at midday. (And yet these plants bloom! ) During the summer, it’s a reverse “problem”: the sunshine is so intense and lasts for so many hours in the day that one feels as though one’s eyelids have been removed.

What I’m learning is that life in temperate climates means you really do measure seasons by light. Back East, where it’s colder than hell in the winter, the December Solstice is nearly meaningless since real winter — really bitter cold temperatures and human feelings of being sick unto death of bare trees and grey ground — doesn’t even go into full gear until January and February and March. That’s when it’s really cold, colder than December ever gets, that’s when blizzards strike, and so what if the days are lengthening by minutes. It matters little to one’s frostbitten nose and toes. Here, however, you can really rejoice at the Winter Solstice. It won’t get colder, it will just start getting brighter again. And more stuff will bloom. By February, we’ll have daffodils. In the summer, meanwhile, just when you think you can’t stand another blinding day starting at an ungodly hour in the morning that’s too early even for birds (but of course they wake up anyway and make a racket) and ending god knows when at night, the Summer Solstice steps in by the end of June to let you know that the world will indeed get a bit shadier again. It’s nice. I like it. It’s just a different way of complaining about the weather, I guess, but it suits me more than complaining about the heat and humidity and bugs (summer) or shoveling snow brought by the last blizzard and noticing how nothing, but nothing is green (winter).

So, watch this:

On Wednesday, I went to the annual meet-and-greet for VIATec, Vancouver Island’s own Advanced Technology Centre, “a not-for-profit, industry-driven venture, which actively promotes and enhances the development of the advanced technology industry on Vancouver Island.” It was held in a ballroom at the downtown hotel we originally stayed in two years ago when we moved back here (they allow dogs). The husband is a member of VIATec, and he wanted to stop in for, well, for the meet-and-greet. As we stood by the buffet, he pointed out the people he knew.

My husband nudged me in the ribs gently; I managed not to spill my wine. “See that guy over there? The one in the suit?”
“The one that looks like a dead horse?”
“Yeah, yeah.” He pressed his lips together before continuing, and I wondered whether he caught a note of disrespect in my voice. “That’s Jim Sprightlybucket. He was the CEO of Flutchmutch before they managed to turf him out. They figured they needed someone with a bit more zip at the helm.”

No kidding, I thought. You could tell Victoria is a government town by all the suits at this gathering. This is not the way things would look in Cambridge or in Palo Alto, although the male-female ratio was about the same, i.e., terribly lopsided in favour of men. And it was also predominantly — and I mean predominantly — Caucasian. When Alan Low (the mayor of Victoria) arrived, the Asian quota instantly increased by 100%. I’m not kidding. In Vancouver, a high tech gathering like this would not be so firmly held by the Anglo-Irish-Scots contingent, but, well, we’re on an island. And it shows. Even turfing Mr. Sprightlybuckets out won’t help much. You can’t get far flogging a dead horse.

I retreated to the mezzanine (it was closer to the bar) to watch the dense swirl of men below. From my vantage point, I could survey everyone, and this made me feel really comfortable. Mingling with the others made me uncomfortable. I only knew one other person, a member of VIATec’s board, but he was swamped by young techies (there were, lo!, a number of young techies there — not everyone was old or in a suit …or dead, which is about the same thing, given the venue), besieged by a constantly reemerging group of two or three who moved toward him in waves as soon as the previous group finally moved on. So I stayed on the mezzanine and just watched. My husband went back down to mingle, leaving me comfortably installed on my regal perch. I wondered how long it would take before some guy would chat me up. For the occasion, I had changed from my usual size 4 Calvin Klein jeans into my black leather pants, nice and tight, and a silver and black lam

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