Thursday, February 19, 2009

Religious Literature In Public Libraries

I laughed a bit when I read this this Daily Mail article twisting a simple story about a Muslim society in the UK requesting that the Koran be placed on a higher shelf. Apparently Muslim scholars believe the Koran should always be on the higher shelf to show respect.

The Library responded by putting all religious texts on the uppers shelves. This caused a predictable counter-reaction from some Christian groups who now claim to be persecuted victims. Bet you didn't see that one coming.

I think the Library made an acceptable compromise, although it wouldn't bother me either if the Library just ignored the request. The Dewey decimal system works fine and there is a strong argument to be made for pragmatism.

If you made me the Librarian I just might slap warning labels on those books that they are not suitable for children. Some of the stories in ancient religious literature are violent and sexist. And its fairly obvious that religious texts nurture severe bigotry in some people

The story does show how a simple request from one group gets turned into a whole Christian vs Muslim war of Civilizations controversy. Mark Steyn would be proud. The rest of us find it tiresome.

I'm in favor of Libraries stocking primary religious texts and I'm in favor of people reading the Bible and the Koran at least once to complete their general education. My own Library has a fairly diverse collection of primary religious texts. I also know there is a subtle pressure to stock some fairly ugly religious literature.

I wouldn't want to be a librarian these days having to use public money to purchase materials, and probably getting angry letters and phone calls from unbalanced people who aren't seeing their kind of books. Or mad because they see something they don't like. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Harper Less Classy Than Nixon

Is it just me, or do you agree that Stephen Harper is completely afraid of Canadians engaging in any kind of Barack Obama adulation. I'm not really into hero worship but it was hard not to notice that in the lead up to the Presidential Election Barack Obama was eliciting a certain kind of enthusiastic response that has been noticeably lacking in our politics for some time.

I can't remember an American President who was so widely popularized in foreign countries, except perhaps John F. Kennedy. Reagan did get cheered at that SS cemetery in Germany but I think those were mostly neo-Nazis. (Obligatory Reagan joke.)

Our photo archives are full of Trudeau and Nixon meeting and talking in front of the media. The two loathed one another but they did meet out in the open. My point is I think what Harper is doing is unprecedented and without class.

Can you think of any other democracy where the Head of State is not allowed to greet a foreign leader in the open presence of a free media?

Does Stephen Harper fear Obamamania will infect Canada? Please recommend this post

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ignatieff's US Connections and More Fake Patriotism

Joan Bryden via the Canadian Press gave us a Valentines Day present, another article about Michael Ignatieff. Ignatieff went to Harvard and met some people. Some of those people are now in the Obama administration and the relationships might prove useful in the future. What strikes me about the name dropping is the fact that Obama's team appears to have some brain power, unlike the previous team.

Of course you can't talk about Ignatieff without quoting some flack who reminds us that he worked outside Canada:

As for Ignatieff's connections to Obama's inner circle, Teneycke scoffed: "It is not surprising, given that he spent most of his professional life in the United States, that he would know more Americans than Stephen Harper, who's spent his professional life - in fact, his entire life - living in Canada."

Teneycke went on to ask the author if she liked his clown shoes.

It doesn't bother me much that Ignatieff taught at Harvard and worked in the UK. I think it is far more important where your mentality lives. Mr. Harper has spent his whole career living in an intellectual slum.

Peter Lougheed went to Harvard to get an MBA. After that he worked in the United States for some time for Gulf Oil. Yet most Albertan's considered this as part of what made Lougheed an historical leader for Alberta. Strange how that works.

Expect to hear a lot about Ignatieff's career path in the next election. Conservatives don't campaign on real issues. When you can use fake patriotism to divide people mission accomplished.

I also look forward to the day when political spokesmen can answer a question, any question with out obnoxious self-loathing snark. Please recommend this post

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bush Coming to Calgary

Media outlets are reporting that former US President George W. Bush will visit Calgary on March 17, 2009 to speak at a private function. All I really know about it is that it is co-sponsored by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and seems to have an aura of secrecy.

The secrecy part is in keeping with Bush's history of living in a bubble and only talking to friendly hand-picked, carefully screened audiences. If I remember correctly his campaign events were by invitation only and people had to sign loyalty oaths to get in.

I wouldn't pay to hear Bush speak. He is one of the dullest and least comprehensible speakers in an entire generation. What a waste of an evening.

Calgary has hosted many conservative icons in the past including Margaret Thatcher, George H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney, among others. Not to mention a whole bunch of other B-Circuit speakers. The City of Calgary with its subjective and arbitrary VIP protocol may or may not give Bush a White Stetson.

History has a way of judging its actors and I could care less is some people in Calgary want to have one last toke of Bush worship.

Cliff at Rusty Idols is suggesting that on March 17 we all take our old shoes down to the Telus Convention Centre and pile them up at the front of the building. That would be a cool thing to see. While I'm undecided about this type of action, it is a passive non-violent expression of protest against the Bush legacy. It would be a good if the world knows that not all Calgarians are ditto heads.

Aside: Spell check suggests replacing Calgarians with Vulgarians. Bush's communication style speaks to the original meaning of the word vulgar. Please recommend this post

Friday, February 06, 2009

Some Serious Pathology With Those Folks

via Pam's House Blend:

Take a look at who John McCain and Sarah Palin were palin around with:

Schadenfreude is an overrated emotion. These stories make me sick. May we not forgot that there are real victims behind these creeps and it's not just politics.

But still, does the Party of God check references? Please recommend this post

On Getting Blown Off Course

This just in:

The federal government must "stick to the course" outlined in its massive economic stimulus plan despite the "bad news" of Canada shedding 129,000 jobs in January, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday.

The prime minister made the comment in New Brunswick when asked about Statistics Canada's report on Friday, which said the country's unemployment rate shot up by 0.6 percentage points in January to 7.2 per cent. Almost all of the job losses were in full-time work.

When you are a dull thinker, mean spirited, value ideology over facts, of course you would not change your plans in the face of changing evidence.

I'm starting to believe that Stephen Harper's personality and lack of intellectual agility will do us some long term harm. Please recommend this post

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Terry Gilliam awarded Bafta Fellowship

Finally. The British Academy of Film and Television has awarded former Python and Director Terry Gilliam with a fellowship. This is the highest recognition the UK film industry can bestow.

The word genius has been devalued in our society, especially when it comes to popular culture. Yet Gilliam is a genius. I clearly remember sitting in my mother's basement watching PBS and stumbling on Monty Python's Flying Circus. It was Edmonton, I was always bored and we couldn't afford drugs. I remember the between skit animations like these ones and was hooked forever.

Even though I grew up on Mad Magazine, National Lampoon, Robert Crumb and the Golden Age of Hanna-Barbera cartoons there was nothing like Gilliam. His animations were slick, fascinating and made me pee.

Gilliam's list of movies that he either Directed or helped write is fairly long so I'll only mention my favourites:

Monty Python & The Holy Grail
Meaning of Life
Fisher King
Twelve Monkeys

The rest on the list I either haven't seen yet, or didn't connect with.

Gilliam has had a fairly rocky relationship with main stream studios because he prefers big budgets and has an artistic vision that doesn't always translate into big revenue. Apparently J.K. Rowling wanted Gilliam to direct the Potter films but the studio vetoed. I would give several body parts to have seen Harry Potter directed by Terry Gilliam. Considering that the movies they made were utterly boring and unimaginative. Like Disney's disastrous production of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, a pedestrian director can ruin a perfectly good story.

I understood Gilliam a lot better after I watched the documentary Lost in La Mancha which chronicles the disaster of Gilliam's failed attempt to make a movie about Don Quixote. Its worth watching and perfectly captures the difficulties in translating a vivid imagination into a work of art. Please recommend this post