Posted by: transcendingchaos | July 19, 2009

My book blog

I don’t hang out here all that often any more.

Find my musings on my readings here:

http://whatiskristinreading.wordpress.com

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Posted by: transcendingchaos | September 29, 2008

Pascal

Thanks to a certain RELS 465 class I’ve been going to on Wednesday evenings, I have found myself reacquainted with Blaise Pascal and his brilliance. Here are just a few aphorisms from the Pensees:

253. Two extremes: to exclude reason, to admit reason only.

280. The knowledge of God is very far from the love of him.

555. … The God of Christians is not a God who is simply the author of mathematical truths, or of the order of the elements; that is the view of the heathens and Epicureans. He is not merely a God who exercises His providence over the life and fortunes of men, to bestow on those who worship Him a long and happy life. That was the portion of the Jews. But the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, and God of Christians, is a God of love and of comfort, a God who fills the soul and heart of those whom He possesses, a God who makes them conscious of their inward wretchedness, and His infinite mercy, who unites Himself to their inmost soul, who fills it with humility and joy, with confidence and love, who renders them incapable of any other end than Himself.

347. Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this.
All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.

Posted by: transcendingchaos | September 15, 2008

we have a piano now.

we have a piano now
and he is playing it
minuets and sonatas
golden pedals, soft keys

we have two cats now
and he is petting them
orange and black
wandering tails, tear-drop eyes

we have a home now
and he is with me
here and there
ever loving, wholly mine.

Posted by: transcendingchaos | September 13, 2008

Houston. We have contact.

I am a neglectful, terrible caretaker, abandoning my blog that way. Sigh… it’s been two months. I’m sorry I haven’t called. Summer happened. Math happened (I finished up my last course this summer). And now I return to the land of the blogosphere, perhaps a little more humble, a little more reserved, and hopefully a little more consistent.

I’m taking–well, sitting in on–Townsend’s 465 this semester, so I’m hoping that will stimulate my economics-filled mind in ways that I deeply miss. This past week, seeing Chris go back to school, I felt a twitch, a twinge, a small clench of the stomach that said, Yes.

I am tired, yes. Particularly after writing a 50-page honours thesis while working full-time. That was my send-off. But sitting in that student-filled classroom in RNT–Cal embarassed the hell out of me when Chris and I showed up late–I felt something deeper, more fulfilling than, well, almost anything I’ve experienced of late. I can see why some people never leave the university.

And with a degree now under my belt, I’m free. I’m not bound by the necessity of getting a piece of paper that tells future employers, friends, co-workers, and family, Look! This person is a valuable member of society. And smart too! No, now I’m free to learn.

In retrospect, it is sad, to me, how the pressure to do well in school can actually hinder learning by driving us to choose “safe” paper topics and to only make comments in class that we’re sure will make us look like intelligent and diligent students. And reading–reading became a chore instead of the joy that it really is.
That is not to say that I didn’t learn much while in university–I did! More than I ever could have imagined.

But now–now I have a freedom I did not have before. And it is wonderful.

Posted by: transcendingchaos | July 14, 2008

How to solve world hunger

According to researchers from the University of Mexico.

From The Economist:

Let them eat bugs
Jul 12th 2008

The world is getting hungrier. After years of falling food prices, eating is suddenly getting expensive. With price-tags now rising some 75%, the World Bank estimates that the soaring cost of food will push 100m people into poverty. What with rising fertiliser prices, increasing concerns about deforestation and unreliable rains brought on by climate change, how will we find new sources of nourishment?

Scientists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico have an answer: entomophagy, or dining on insects. They claim the practice is common in some 113 countries. Better yet, bugs provide more nutrients than beef or fish, gram for gram.

Meat provides just under one fifth of the energy and one third of the protein humans consume. But its production uses up a hugely disproportionate share of agricultural resources. Feed crops gobble up some 70% of agricultural land, while a quarter of the world’s land is devoted to grazing. Brazil’s burgeoning livestock industry is responsible for huge swathes of deforestation in the Amazon.

As developing countries get richer meat’s ecological footprint is set to get even bigger. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) at the United Nations considers livestock “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” It predicts that the world’s demand for meat will nearly double by 2050.

Eating insects does far less damage. For one thing, the habit could help to protect crops. Some 30 years ago the Thai government, struggling to contain a plague of locusts with pesticides, began encouraging its citizens to collect and eat the insects. Officials even distributed recipes for cooking them. Locusts were not commonly eaten at the time, but they have since become popular. Today some farmers plant corn just to attract them. Stir-frying other menaces could help reduce the use of pesticides.

Is eating insects the wave of the future? It’s an odd thought. I think the only time I’ve knowingly and willingly ingested an insect was after a visit to the Insectarium in Montreal. And it was in a lollipop.

Really, all it needs to take off is the approval of the hipsters. Once the hipsters are on board, it won’t be long before we see “insect bars” popping up in chic urban areas. It will be sushi and yoga and the reusable bag craze all over again.

Okay, that’s probably far too cynical of me. After all, I’m quite okay with the idea of eating insects as a viable alternative to meat, which has an incredibly large ecological footprint–okay with the idea. Maybe if it was cooked up in a stir fry and no one told me what I was actually eating. I think after eating it once or twice, I could become okay with it.

Posted by: transcendingchaos | July 8, 2008

Interview with Mark Steyn – full text

Now that the magazine is out, I can finally post the interview here for your reading pleasure. The pdf version can be found here.

_________________________
A Steyn of the times

Mark Steyn speaks out about his controversial Maclean’s article and Canada’s human rights tribunals

In October 2006, Maclean’s magazine published an excerpt from Mark Steyn’s  book, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. The piece was titled, “The Future Belongs to Islam.”

In November 2007, the Canadian Islamic Congress filed human rights complaints against Maclean’s and its Editor-in-Chief, Kenneth Whyte, for publishing this piece (and others), accusing the magazine of being “flagrantly Islamophobic.”
These complaints were submitted to the human rights commissions in both British Columbia and Ontario.

In April 2008, the Ontario Human Rights Commission decided not to proceed with complaints, claiming it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. Nevertheless, the Ontario commission issued a statement in which it accused Maclean’s of further perpetuating and promoting prejudice towards Muslims.

During the first week of June 2008, the case was heard by the BC Human Rights Tribunal. At the time of publication, the Tribunal had not yet submitted its decision.

On May 26, 2008, the Fraser Institute hosted Mark Steyn as part of its ongoing Illuminismo speaker series. Prior to the event, Fraser Forum spoke with him about his book, Canada’s human rights commissions, and the future of the Western world.

Fraser Forum: What led you to write America Alone?

Mark Steyn: The seed of the book came about six months after September 11; the Afghan campaign had happened and the Taliban had fallen.
After the fall of the Taliban, I arranged to spend some time in the Middle East and, because that seemed a fairly depressing prospect, I thought I’d schedule a couple of weeks in Europe in advance.
When I was in Paris, I saw these Muslim ghettos, and similar ones in Brussels and Amsterdam. By comparison, the Muslims in the Middle East were far less alienated than those fellows in France and the Netherlands.
[Seeing this] I thought, “It’s not about Islam … It’s about the relationship between Islam and the West.”

FF: When the book was published (and the excerpt in Maclean’s), did you ever envision the reaction that has resulted in the complaints before the human rights commissions?

MS: I didn’t.
Because I’d been thinking about it for so long before the book was published, I kind of assumed it would be slightly obvious to other people—this structural weakness in the Western world, the huge demographic decline in Europe, Britain, and Canada, too.
It seemed to me that if you lived in some of these countries, including Canada, then what was happening was going on outside your front window. It shouldn’t have been the shattering news that it was. My publisher’s grateful for that, and I guess I am too because I do believe that, in a way, this is the biggest issue of our time—whether the Western world is at a point of entire civilizational exhaustion.

FF: How did you feel about the Ontario judgment, which dismissed the complaint but with the caveat that the articles were “inconsistent with the spirit” of the Ontario Human Rights Code, and doing “serious harm” to Canadian society by “promoting societal intolerance” and disseminating “destructive, xenophobic
opinions”?

MS: I’ve written in publications in dozens of different countries, and I’ve been doing it for long enough that I’ve attracted my fair share of legal attention in different legal systems. I’ve never had a situation where a quasi-judicial body rules that it does not have jurisdiction but decides to pronounce you guilty anyway. I’ve never had that.
The fact that Barbara Hall [Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission] and the Ontario commission are even wasting time with this issue testifies to how little real “hate” there is in Canada. These tribunals were created
so that if you went for a job and the guy wouldn’t hire you because you were black, you could go to the commission and seek redress for that. The fact is, there’s not a lot of that going on.
Ian Fine [Director General and Senior General Counsel, Dispute Resolution Branch] of the Canadian commission has said that he wants to stamp out hate. Not hate crimes, not hate speech. Hate. Hate is a human emotion. To have hate surgically removed is to become post-human, is to become dehumanized—unhuman. A society without hate is the definition of totalitarian.

FF: What are your thoughts regarding the upcoming BC Human Rights Commission hearing and its possible outcome(s)?

MS: The law is so broadly drawn that it’s essentially created a human right not to be offended. If one person is offended by my book, he can go to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal and complain about it. And, of course, if he’s offended, I can’t do anything about it. Offense is in the ear of the offended. And so if it is a human right not to be offended, and I have offended this person, then I am guilty, Maclean’s magazine is guilty, and my book is guilty.

I think we’ll be convicted, then we’ll appeal it up to the real court, and it will work its way through the system. At some point, it will eventually come to the Supreme Court of Canada and it will be decided 4-3, one way or the other.

But I am not confident that Canadians will come to understand the assault on their liberties—on some of the oldest liberties of this society—that these tribunals are engaged in. They have essentially created a parallel legal system that does away with real human rights, like the presumption of innocence, in
favour of cockamamie human rights like the human right not to be offended.

FF: You and Ezra Levant have written at length about the human rights commissions and their impact on free speech, but do you feel anyone is listening? What does this say about modern Canadian society?

MS: The Canadian Association of Journalists has joined in. They have no love for me but they understand ultimately that this is a threat. PEN Canada—again, they have no great love for me but they understand the threat this is to what they do. And I think principled liberals see the threat and see what’s wrong. Keith Martin, a Liberal MP, sees it and understands it.

Too many liberals think that if we just get rid of the neo-Nazis and the homophobes and the right-wing blowhards like Steyn and Ezra Levant, then we’ll have a perfect society and we won’t need to use this law anymore. They’re deluding themselves. A couple of years down the line it’s going to be Muslim
lobby groups making human rights complaints against gay groups. It’s all going to get more complicated for these liberals. The fact is, we need, and multicultural societies in particular need, to have a high degree of real tolerance—the thick skin which means that you do what adults do and shrug off disagreements rather than trying to criminalize them.

FF: You have written in your book that “big government is a national security threat.” How has this played out in Canada? Is the US in danger of succumbing to a similar threat?

MS: I think that if you have a nanny state, eventually you sever your population from all the most basic survival instincts. I think you see that in Western Europe most clearly where, effectively, the population lives as the wrinkliest generation of adolescents in history. Life in continental Europe is very agreeable. You’ve got loads of leisure time, you don’t have to work terribly hard—you have a 35-hour work week. Compared to North America, they have a very light load. What do they do with all this time?
If you have a government that effectively supplants other organic institutions of society, such as family or church or other civic institutions, I think you wind up with a sort of presenttense self-absorbed society, which is certainly the case in Europe, and I think there’s a big question mark over whether that is also the case in Canada and parts of the United States, too.
And that’s the weakness. Radical Islam, by any definition, is a weak enemy. But they don’t think they have to be that strong because they smell weakness and decay at the heart of the Western world. And I think it’s hard to argue with that.

Posted by: transcendingchaos | June 27, 2008

All quiet on the Western front

It’s been awhile, I know. But the newspapers have been rather silent, as far as my interests go, and so I’ve been completely unmotivated to write. Plus, I’ve been reading a helluva lot lately–books, that is–and it’s kept me more than occupied.

When will the BC Human Rights Tribunal finally make a decision? It’s not like they haven’t been active  (see this article here) … but more on that later.

And for other free speech related news, see this recent Supreme Court decision here.

Posted by: transcendingchaos | June 16, 2008

How much does driving cost you?

It’s a lot more than I thought it would be.

(Click on it to make the image bigger)

As GOOD magazine reports, if you use a sedan to drive 12,500 miles (20,000 km) a year, it will cost you more than $6,500 annually. If you drive an SUV, you’ll pay more than $8,500.

I don’t think we (me and the husband) pay quite that much for our car each year – we own it outright so we don’t have any payments – but considering that the gas/maintenence costs alone are 14.5 cents per mile, plus we pay about $1,000 or so for insurance . . . suffice to say, it adds up.

I’m glad that I’m able to walk to work and to the grocery store.

Posted by: transcendingchaos | June 16, 2008

I’m back.

Posted by: transcendingchaos | June 11, 2008

A Steyn of the times

Here’s a teaser from my forthcoming interview with Mark Steyn, which will appear in the July issue of Fraser Forum. (For current issues of Fraser Forum, go here)

What are your thoughts regarding the upcoming BC Human Rights Commission hearing and its possible outcome(s)?

The law is so broadly drawn that it’s essentially created a human right not to be offended.

So if one person is offended by my book, he can go to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal and complain about it. And of course if he’s offended, I can’t do anything about it. Offense is in the ear of the offended. And so if it is a human right not to be offended, and I have offended this guy, then I am guilty, Maclean’s magazine is guilty, and my book is guilty.

I think we’ll be convicted, then we’ll appeal it up to the real court, and it will work it’s way through the system. At some point, I would imagine, it will eventually come to the Supreme Court of Canada and it will be decided 4-3 one way or the other.

But I am not confident that Canadians will come to understand the assault on their liberties–on some of the oldest liberties of this society–that these tribunals are engaged in. They essentially created a parallel legal system that does away with real human rights, like the presumption of innocence, in favour of cockamamie human rights like the human right not to be offended. 

 

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