Thursday, March 29, 2007

Helen Of Plymouth

© Steve Bell 2007

"deux millions de nouveaux électeurs"

Environ 44,5 millions de Français sont inscrits sur les listes électorales pour le premier tour de la présidentielle, soit une hausse de 4,2 % par rapport à 2006, selon des chiffres rendus publics par le ministère de l'intérieur, mardi 27 mars. Il s'agit de la plus forte hausse pour une élection présidentielle depuis le scrutin de 1981, où le nombre d'inscrits avait augmenté de 3,7 % ...


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Step Off, Critter

DALLAS (Reuters) - Criminals in Texas beware : if you threaten someone in their car or office, the citizens ... have the right to shoot you dead.

Governor Rick Perry's office said on Tuesday that he had signed a new law that expands Texans' existing right to use deadly force to defend themselves "without retreat" in their homes, cars and workplaces.

The reasonable use of lethal force will be allowed if an intruder is :

... - Unlawfully trying to enter a protected place ...

Texas (which "leads the United States in executions with 388 since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 by the U.S. Supreme Court") joins several other states including Florida that have or are considering similar laws.

In other words, only rob unprotected homes or business establishments : no fences, no guard dogs, no locks allowed. But you can still bring your gun.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bishop of Arabia

Work has begun on the construction of Qatar's first purpose-built church in the desert outside Doha, the country's capital. Although the country's native inhabitants are entirely Muslim - and are prohibited by law from converting to another faith - the new Catholic church will cater to the large number of Christian migrants who have come to the Arabia Gulf state in search of work.

Paul Hinder, the Catholic Church's Bishop of Arabia, [is] a Christian in the heart of the Muslim world, his diocese is the entire Arabian peninsular, encompassing six countries.

He oversees churches in Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen and even in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam where Christianity is practiced behind closed doors.

Numbers in the congregations regularly beat those in congregations in Europe and even in the United States.

Can't wait to see the stained glass windows on that baby.

Ménage À Trois

Parti libéral du Québec
(PLQ) 48 sièges ÉLU
l'Action démocratique du Québec
(ADQ) 41 sièges
Parti québécois
(PQ) 36 sièges

(Photo: La Presse Canadienne /Ryan Remiorz)

la Politique Française/la République

We have to give them the philosophical arguments they need to respond.”
-Herve Le Guyader, University of Paris biology professor, vs. Creationism in France

Creationists reject evolution because some scientists say the role of chance in it proves that life has no final meaning.
-Tom Heneghan, authored Reuters story quoted above

Do you have to have a reason for loving?
-Brigitte Bardot, French philosophe and erstwhile actress

Monday, March 26, 2007

la Politique Canadienne/Crown

Heavy loss for Quebec separatists

The BBC is right on top of this one, but...something ... needs.. ... .. . ...explaining... .

Quebec's opposition nationalists have suffered a heavy defeat in elections in the French-speaking province... But the ruling Liberal Party also fared badly, losing its majority amid a surge by the right-of-centre Action Democratic party (ADQ). The ADQ advocates more autonomy for Quebec, but within a federal Canada.

So separatists are starting to swing right, is what the BBC doesn't want to say. That's the second hole in my head I didn't need but have.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Vive La France Libre

(Photo - AFP)

The editor of a satirical French magazine accused of insulting Muslims by reprinting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad has been acquitted. A French court has ruled in favour of weekly Charlie Hebdo, rejecting accusations by Islamic groups who said it incited hatred against Muslims.

Applause broke out in the courtroom at the announcement of the verdict, which ruled that the three cartoons published in February 2006 were not insulting to the Muslim community, the AFP news agency reports. Editor Philippe Val had rejected the allegations, saying the cartoons were not an attack on Muslims, but on terrorists. He said the ruling was a victory for secular French Muslims.


Regarder le video ici.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Jesus Bloody Christ!

Thousands of people are flocking to a policeman's house in India's remote Andaman Islands to pray in front of two portraits of Jesus Christ, which are said to have been "bleeding" for the past two weeks...

Officials said red paint used in the portraits could be melting in the extreme humidity, but ...

"This is indeed a miracle and shows that Jesus was in pain because of our sins," said John Chrysostom, a priest at the Anglican Church of Port Blair.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Get McReal

The UK arm of McDonald's is planning a campaign to have the dictionary definition of a McJob changed. "An unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector," it first appeared in the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary in March 2001.

Lorraine Homer from McDonald's said the firm felt the definition was "out of date and inaccurate".

Eyesight, Hindsight... What's The Difference?

When Alicja Tysiac became pregnant in February 2000, three eye specialists told her having another baby could put her eyesight at serious risk. But neither the specialists nor her GP would authorise an abortion. After giving birth later that year, Ms Tysiac suffered a retinal haemorrhage and feared she may go blind. She now wears glasses with thick powerful lenses but she cannot see objects more than a metre and a half (5ft) away.

In staunchly Catholic Poland, abortion is illegal unless the health of the mother or unborn child is at risk.

That $33,000 award from the European Court of Human Rights ought to help Queen Oedipus out of her welfare state.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Going To California

Oil exploration work in California's Central Valley region has uncovered a possible space impact crater... [which is between San Francisco to the west and Stockton to the east]. -BBC

(Photo - San Diego State University)

Maybe if they suck a bunch of oil out of the ground it'll stop greasing all those earth tremors and Californians can get a decent night's sleep ... and perhaps refrain from selecting second-rate actors as governors.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Oh, The Theology

Seven years ago, Zubaida Ali witnessed a bizarre ceremony in her ancestral village in Sindh province of Pakistan where her cousin Fareeba was married to the Holy Qur'an.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Another Hallmark (Occasion)

Atlanta entrepreneur Jeff Goldblatt last year created a so-called "holiday" ... Get Over It Day"

Goldblatt's friends spread the word on the Internet, and last March "Get Over It Day" found itself on "Good Morning America," and ESPN's "SportsCenter," and radio shows across the country, not to mention at "Get Over It Day" parties nationwide.

Sounds like a good anniversary for things such as weddings, baptisms, starting wars, and exonerations.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


An Ode To Suffering Sisters

At the risk of my blaspheming
The Gospel according to Joe,
The tenor of this debate, it seems,
Has wandered where, I do not know.

"If it makes sense to this brain of mine,
Which is all I ever know,
Then, so help us God, I must conclude
That it cannot but be so."

Yet the issue at debate
Is now and always has been:
On whose say-so is Woman's hair
Evil in its sheen?

While I can accept your point
That it's inhuman to be mean,
Ponder scores beneath hijabs and burqas,
Voices unheard, bruises unseen.

Christians, Jews and Hindus all
Have used their gods to beat on Woman;
"But all that's ancient history,"
Says the modern, lazy freeman.

"The hijab is a human right,"
That's the cry we often hear.
"Revealed to Man in the Koran..."
Remind again, in which year?

It's sad to see such faulty logic
In even atheists, I must say.
But I trust the point shall not be lost
This International Women's Day.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Secular Islam Summit Florida this weekend was, by all accounts, a success. Check it out.

Credulity 1, Credentials 0

Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia, has been plunged into controversy after one of its most prolific contributors and editors, a professor of religion with advanced degrees in theology and canon law, was exposed as a 24-year-old community college drop-out. In fact Essjay was actually Ryan Jordan, a 24-year-old from Kentucky with no advanced degrees who used texts such as Catholicism for Dummies to help him correct articles on the penitential rite or transubstantiation. Telegraph UK

Let's use transubstantiation to put the unemployed Essjay's expertise to the test.


Transubstantiation is the change of the substance of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ occurring in the Eucharist according to the teaching of some Christian churches, including the Roman Catholic Church.

"Substance" here means what something is in itself. A hat's shape is not the hat itself, nor is its colour the hat, nor is its size, nor its softness to the touch, nor anything else about it perceptible to the senses. The hat itself (the "substance") has the shape, the colour, the size, the softness and the other appearances, but is distinct from them. While the appearances, which are referred to by the philosophical term accidents, are perceptible to the senses, the substance is not.

When at his Last Supper Jesus said: "This is my body", what he held in his hands had all the appearances of bread: these "accidents" remained unchanged. However, the Roman Catholic Church believes that, in accordance with what Jesus said, the underlying reality was changed: the "substance" of the bread was converted to that of his body. In other words, it actually was his body, while all the appearances open to the senses or to scientific investigation were still those of bread, exactly as before. The Church holds that the same change of the substance of the bread and of the wine occurs at the consecration of the Eucharist.

The bread is changed into Jesus' body, but, because Jesus, risen from the dead, is living, not only his body is present, but Jesus as a whole, body and blood, soul and divinity. The same holds for the wine changed into his blood.

The Roman Catholic Church considers the doctrine of transubstantiation, which is about what is changed, not about how the change occurs, the best defence against what it sees as the mutually opposed errors of, on the one hand, a merely figurative understanding of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (the change of the substance is real), and, on the other hand, an interpretation that would amount to cannibalistic eating of the flesh and corporal drinking of the blood of Christ (the accidents that remain are real, not an illusion).

Now, here's the expert opinion posted at New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia :

Before proving dogmatically the fact of the substantial change here under consideration, we must first outline its history and nature.

(a) The scientific development of the concept of Transubstantiation can hardly be said to be a product of the Greeks, who did not get beyond its more general notes; rather, it is the remarkable contribution of the Latin theologians, who were stimulated to work it out in complete logical form by the three Eucharistic controversies mentioned above.... The Council of Trent (Sess. XIII, cap. iv; can. ii) not only accepted as an inheritance of faith the truth contained in the idea, but authoritatively confirmed the "aptitude of the term" to express most strikingly the legitimately developed doctrinal concept.... In a closer logical analysis of Transubstantiation, we find the first and fundamental notion to be that of conversion, which may be defined as "the transition of one thing into another in some aspect of being". As is immediately evident, conversion (conversio) is something more than mere change (mutatio). Whereas in mere changes one of the two extremes may be expressed negatively, as, e.g., in the change of day and night, conversion requires two positive extremes, which are related to each other as thing to thing, and must have, besides, such an intimate connection with each other, that the last extreme (terminus ad quem) begins to be only as the first (terminus a quo) ceases to be, as, e.g., in the conversion of water into wine at Cana.... Transubstantiation, however, is not a conversion simply so called, but a substantial conversion (conversio substantialis), inasmuch as one thing is substantially or essentially converted into another. Thus from the concept of Transubstantiation is excluded every sort of merely accidental conversion, whether it be purely natural (e.g. the metamorphosis of insects) or supernatural (e.g. the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor). Finally, Transubstantiation differs from every other substantial conversion in this, that only the substance is converted into another — the accidents remaining the same — just as would be the case if wood were miraculously converted into iron, the substance of the iron remaining hidden under the external appearance of the wood....

The application of the foregoing to the Eucharist is an easy matter. First of all the notion of conversion is verified in the Eucharist, not only in general, but in all its essential details.

In other words, Essjay was fired for parroting the experts without paying for the privilege. For a credulous refutation of transubstantiation, click here. For a brief summary of Henry VIII's support of transubstantiation, click here. For a brief discussion on the credulity required for even discussing transubstantiation, click here.

Or, you could make productive use of your time and spend the afternoon photographing a pair of rutting warthogs.

Friday, March 02, 2007

What's To Separate?

The Québec election of 2007 (slated for March 26) has begun in earnest. André Boisclair has his hands full already, leading the Parti Québécois whose platform since its inception after/during the Quiet Revolution, is a sovereign Québec. Now's he's got to deal with this couldn't-have-been-unexpected item... :

When reporters asked him whether homophobia was weighing on his election campaign, Boisclair took a long pause before saying he would let Quebecers answer that question, because he knows they believe in equality and freedom...

Thursday afternoon, Boisclair took aim at ADQ Leader Mario Dumont on his views about religion in schools. Addressing students at the Université Laval, the PQ leader said Dumont would allow any religion in public schools — "from Jesus Christ right to Rael," the leader of a sect that believes life on Earth was created by extraterrestrials — if he's elected and enacts his plan to fund religious instruction. The proposal would divide Quebecers and undermine its secular identity, Boisclair said. "Public school must be secular, it must be neutral," he told an enthusiastic crowd of students.


In other Québec-related news, "Muslim Liberals decr[ied Québec premier Jean] Charest's stand on soccer hijab":

Some Muslim Liberals in Quebec are upset with party leader Jean Charest's support for an amateur soccer official who kicked a young Muslim girl out of a Laval tournament for wearing a hijab... The referee, who is Muslim, said the association's position complies with FIFA rules, an explanation Charest endorsed Monday, when he said he agreed there are certain behaviours to be expected from soccer players on the field, including proper attire.

"The community isn't feeling very comfortable with that kind of comment," said Maher Bissany, a Liberal supporter. "We would much rather hear from Mr. Charest things along the lines of integration, and having our kids feel part of all the activities, whether it's soccer or at school or any other type of activities," Bissany told CBC.

Bissany said he hopes Muslim leaders in Quebec will have a chance to share their thoughts with Charest about religious accommodation. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) said the incident should prompt soccer officials in Quebec to change field attire rules.

I've got a more equitable solution:
maybe Québec's decision should prompt Islam to change its rules regarding attire, especially when it comes to women, hijabs, and sharing public space with people who don't subscribe to Islam's belief that a woman's hair must be hidden from public view. Québec is more than happy to let people practice their religion (the province's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms is older than Canada's), but one condition must be adhered to: keep it to yourself. Is it asking too much for citizens in a multi-cultural, multi-religious community to see their way to respecting other people's [non-] beliefs in public, secular spaces?


Not surprisingly, Ontario's soccer association disagrees with Quebec's soccer association — and Quebec's premier — about banning head scarves from the game.

Charest's comments also came a little more than two weeks after he called for a one-year provincial commission to examine what constitutes reasonable accommodation of minorities, following the adoption of controversial codes of conduct targeted at immigrants by several Quebec communities.