Thursday, December 31, 2009
So- happy new year and decade.
PS- my good friend is a New Year's baby so lots of happiness to you!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
It is also Boxing Day, a day when poor boxes were opened and the money inside was offered to the poor.
This article in American Thinker expounds the sadness and bleakness of Christmas and life in general under communism. Read the whole thing.
Yet one of the inescapable paradoxes of Communism is the fact that the godless state, which professes the virtue of materialism, can then so completely fail to provide even the material necessities that most in the West take for granted. Although there were rubber chickens and wooden pop guns in the market, there was a general absence of everything else. By the time Christmas rolled around, there was little variety of food, and milk had disappeared from the stores. Fresh fruit, including oranges and bananas, vanished entirely, as did all fresh vegetables, except for an aging stock of potatoes, carrots, and turnips. Other than some suspiciously outdated and moldy-looking sausages, meat was in short supply. What there was, along with the potatoes, carrots, turnips, and sausages, was the bland production of the state canneries: jams, jellies, canned vegetables and fruits, potted meat and chicken, and an adequate quantity of bread to be washed down with ample supplies of locally produced plum brandy, beer, and wine.
It might seem that the state had at least provided an adequate caloric intake, but every day I saw people of all ages, from young women with infants cradled in one arm to old men in ragged suits, fumbling through garbage bins for bread crusts and bones.
Christmas was also accompanied by the unrelieved cold. The Communist state had guaranteed heating and electricity for all, just as it had guaranteed universal free medical care, but blackouts were frequent and long, and water shortages predictable: two days off, one day on. Every night, the heat was turned off at nine o'clock. I slept in a cold room under a mountain of blankets, sometimes lying awake as my breath rose like smoke in the moonlight. Then I got very sick, but I refused to be taken to the hospital for fear of being made sicker.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
My favourite bit on the Charlie Brown Christmas special is when Linus tells Charlie Brown what the true meaning of Christmas is.
No matter what, please do have a Merry Christmas and an enjoyable and safe day off.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
As we all prepare during the final days before Christmas, we might want to kick back and relax with some holiday favourites.
It's a Wonderful Life: watch Jimmy Stewart chew the scenery and Clarence get his wings in this Christmas-time favourite.
A Christmas Carol: this film version of Charles Dickens' Christmas classic makes us love Christmas all over again.
A Christmas Story: why get a pair of socks when you can get an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle?
Die Hard: nothing says the peace and joy of Christmas like blowing up terrorists.
Sympathy for Lady Revenge: a wonderfully crafted Korean film that starts off Christmas-y but gets dark. Really, really dark.
These last two entries aren't movies but are really worth watching.
"Miracle on Evergreen Terrace": Bart tries to cover up his nearly disastrous antics during Christmas. Minus the Cajun sausage.
"A Charlie Brown Christmas": the Browniest of Christmas specials. My favourite bit is when Linus recites from the Gospel according to Saint Luke.
Don't have time to watch these shows? Go here.
Archaeologists have found a dwelling from the time of Jesus. Sweet.
Friday, December 18, 2009
The Ugly Canadian.
Usually the "Ugly Canadian" is a total dweeb who sews a Canadian flag on his backpack and labours under the misconception that the world loves him and will totally forgive him if he is rude, demanding, ignorant of the local culture and mangles the language. According to Mr. Murray Dobbin, however, the Ugly Canadian is one who doesn't do enough to ward off global warming, supports the military effort in Afghanistan, is appalled by China's many human rights abuses and seeks new economic opportunities . Mr. Dobbin's screed is basically anti-Harper and is so ridiculous that it shouldn't be responded to but I will- a little. Canada is not even remotely polluting when compared to China whose people are nothing more than coolies living in cancer villages. Canadian troops are doing more to stabilise a restive region of the world that countries like the former Soviet Union screwed up in the first place than peaceniks who decry Canada's presence there.
I'll stop here and suggest that Mr. Dobbin compare his lot in Canada to one in North Korea or Cuba. No doubt, his screed would have gone unnoticed by the half-literate populations there as their access to the Internet is strongly controlled or non-existent.
When not eliminating Africans or Asians to save the planet, getting rid of one's household pets become the next best thing in saving the planet from global warming the causes or existence of which no one can really prove absolutely. According to a recent book, Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living, by Robert and Brenda Vale of New Zealand, household pets have a very sizeable "carbon footprint". Assuming one buys into this footprint (or pawprint, as the case may be) stuff, let's point out that owning a pet can be costly, therefore, many choose not to get one. If some people do, they might go overboard in its care. Even so, given this absurd notion, I'd rather spend an entire afternoon talking with my dog (God rest his fluffy soul) than drown in the "green" cesspools created for everyone by hypocrites and extremists. He was more intelligent, charming and definitely more cuddly.
(how can anyone eat a face like that?)
Cap and trade, essentially, is a sort of barter system wherein a central authority sets a limit (cap) of emissions companies can expel. Companies must purchase "credits" which allow them to expel emissions. If they must emit more, they must buy these credits from companies which expel less. If one wasn't paying attention, it seems like a decent enough idea. In truth, it's as useless- and harmful- as carbon off-sets (paying someone else to make up for your "environmental mistakes" by planting trees and such). An article in the Wall Street Journal maintains that cap and trade serves only to tax, create unemployment and move industries elsewhere:
We should add that all of this is precisely what Kyoto envisioned. The idea is to tax Western industry and then send the proceeds to developing countries as an incentive to join the anticarbon crusade. But unless governments close their borders to foreign investment, business will flow to where the carbon tariff is least punishing. China and India understand this, which is why they won't agree at Copenhagen to anything that reduces this advantage.
It's a waste of time.
And now for happier things....
In this time of peace and happiness, it is important to share love and by love I mean fudge. Here is a recipe for cream cheese fudge:
5 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3-1/2 cups sifted or strained confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Line an 8 inch square pan with a doubled length of regular-weight aluminum foil, shiny side up; set aside. In small heatproof bowl, combine chopped chocolates. Set over hot water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl); stir frequently until almost melted. Remove from heat and hot water; carefully dry bowl bottom and sides. Stir chocolate until melted and smooth. Set aside.
In large bowl, beat softened cream cheese and salt with large spoon or sturdy hand-held electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar, one cup at a time, beating after each addition until smooth and incorporated; scrape bowl bottom and sides and mixer beater(s) with rubber spatula frequently. Add vanilla with last half-cup of sugar.
All at once, add melted chocolates, which should still be warm. Immediately blend in thoroughly. The fudge will stiffen very rapidly, so if you start blending it in with an electric mixer you'll probably need to finish blending it in with a large spoon. Make sure the fudge is an even color; scrape bowl bottom and sides well.
Working quickly, scrape fudge into prepared pan. With back of a large spoon, press fudge into as even a layer as possible (you might have to finish this by using the backs of your fingertips, but do so as briefly as possible. A slight oily layer may form on top, but this will be reabsorbed quickly.)
Chill fudge for at least one hour before cutting. To cut, use a large, sharp, straight-edged knife. Remove uncut fudge, still in foil, from pan; transfer to cutting board. Peel foil back from edges. Cut into small squares. To keep cuts neat, it will be necessary to rinse the knife blade under hot water, then dry it, frequently.
Store in refrigerator, tightly covered, or freeze. Fudge can be eaten refrigerator-cold or brought to room temperature, covered, before serving.
Variation: For fudge that is slightly less sweet and a shade darker in color, use 4 ounces of milk chocolate and 3 ounces of unsweetened chocolate.Here is a recipe for Glögg (drink responsibly!):
dried Seville orange peel
dried ginger (not ground)
cardamom seeds (whole)
1 cup (2.5dl)
1 bottle of wine (or similar amount of black currant or grape juice for a non-alcoholic alternative)
What to do:
· Heat spices and water to boiling, then turn off heat and let stand overnight
· Sieve/filter out the spices
· Add the wine (or juice)
· Add sugar to taste (that should be a minimum of one deciliter (=2/5 of a cup); we’re talking Swedish cooking here!). You probably have to heat it first so that the sugar dissolves, then see if you want to add some more
· Heat. Note that alcohol evaporates at 72 degrees Celsius (or is it 78?) so you want to be a bit careful!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
The Alberta Court of Appeal said in a decision released on Tuesday that Kibrom Gebreweldi Teclesenbet, who had moved from Sudan five days before the assault, cannot claim he had not yet adjusted to Canadian standards. The judges quashed a conditional discharge and replaced it with a 30-day jail sentence. "To suggest it might be acceptable to beat one's wife with a stick elsewhere does not mitigate the seriousness of the offence," they wrote.
Up your nose, cultural relativism!
Where do we start?
It's bad enough a conference that could decide the economic fate of participating nations still continues despite record cold temperatures, Al Gore being publicly embarrassed and Climate-gate but to include Hugo Chavez and Robert Mugabe? I thought the point was to legitimise the conference? What does it say when these tyrants are given a free reign?
Climate "activists" deface a Canadian flag because of the oil sands in Alberta. The total area of the oil sands in Alberta stretch 140,000 square kilometres with about 500 square kilometres of land disturbed by oil sands surface mining activity, are estimated to produce173 billion barrels of oil and make up "about five per cent of Canada’s overall greenhouse gas emissions and less than one-tenth of one per cent of the world’s emissions". China, apparently, has soaring greenhouse emissions with "more than 400,000 people die every year as a result of air pollution, an estimated 190 million people drink water so contaminated that it makes them sick and 40 per cent of its land mass is affected by soil erosion. Indeed, the Chinese desert is expanding at a rate of 1900 square miles per year and is already encroaching on Beijing". Yet China hasn't faced the scathing vitriol Canada has. I suppose it's easier to attack a Western country than cut off an arm of the Sinoctopus.
(China in all its smoggy glory)
As for the flag defacers, grow up. You're not going to walk in minus forty degree Celsius temperatures and we all know it. How many resources have you consumed with your ridiculous stunt?
An eight year old boy in Massachusetts was suspended from school and ordered to undergo psychological testing before returning to school after he drew a crucifix.
From the article:
An eight-year-old Massachusetts boy was suspended from school and ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation after drawing a figure of Jesus Christ nailed to the cross.In my time teaching, I've seen kids draw reindeer instead of cars, put ink their mouths, sing songs, dance when there is no music and behave when presented a cookie or sticker. I've also seen kids with anger issues. I've seen kids blithely rattle off the garbage they watch on TV because their parents are too lazy to monitor their watching habits or even engage them in another activity altogether. Never once would anyone suggest these children needed help. Did it not occur to the teacher to quietly ask the boy why he drew what he did or go out on a limb and make a cognitive connection between Christ on the Cross and the Christ-Child in a manger (not that we're allowed to discuss any of these things)? Did it not occur to the teacher that the over-reaction was more harmful than helpful?
The second-grader drew the crucifix after his teacher asked children to sketch something they associated with Christmas. But the boy's father said he then got a call from the elementary school informing him that his son had created a violent drawing.
"When she told me he needed to be psychologically evaluated, I thought she was playing," the boy's father told the Taunton Daily Gazette.
The drawing in question shows Jesus on a cross with Xs in place of his eyes to symbolize death.
The man, who asked for his name not to be published to protect the child, said his son gets specialized reading and speech instruction at school, and has never shown any tendency toward violence.
"He's never been suspended. He's eight years old. They overreacted," he said.
The child drew the picture shortly after taking a family trip to see the Christmas display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, a Christian retreat site in Attleboro, Mass.
Toni Saunders, a non-profit educational consultant, said the boy's father reached out to her for help after trying to have his son moved to another school because "he's traumatized by everything that has happened.
"I've had kids suspended for idiotic things before, but I've never had to deal with anything like this," Ms. Saunders said.
I believe this in my bones: there are people who are so desperate for attention that they would drag people down to get it.
Religious charitable groups could be forced to choose between abandoning their values or going out of business if an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal decision is not overturned, an Ontario Divisional Court was told yesterday.
An Ontario tribunal ruled that Christian Horizons had no right to fire a woman after she entered into a homosexual relationship. I'm sure this woman is proud of herself. While she gets to luxuriate in a bath of her own self-pity, a charity which helps the disabled could shut its doors forever. She knew the rules going in and could make any decision with her life but no matter- it's better to pout, whine and destroy religious charities. Where should the needy go? To the government? Nowhere? Thanks for the selfishness. If spoiled individuals or special-interest groups take away the rights of private groups, how does it benefit anyone?
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
This is Haeundae Beach in Busan, South Korea. This photo was taken in August during a spell of twenty-plus degree Celsius weather.
If you're in Saskatchewan, you might prefer to be on that beach now.
More than likely.
Anything's better than forty below.
Monday, December 14, 2009
(Above is a photograph of unseasonable warmth. The earth is covered in some sort white warm stuff and, if you really squint, there is a polar bear eating another polar bear.)
Days before Christmas: eleven
Days before the next ice age: not sure
I do know that temperatures in Saskatchewan have been dropping WELL below zero. It must be because Canada is an absolutely filthy country, unlike picturesque China.
Gentlemen, start your engines.
Random Christmas fact: did you know that artificial spiders and webs are often included in the decorations on Ukrainian Christmas trees. A spider web found on Christmas morning is believed to bring good luck. More facts here.
Sarah Palin is coming to Canada. Sweet......
Saturday, December 12, 2009
On Wednesday, we saw a cat clean a dog's clock.
On Friday, I posted about Climate-gate, the controversy no network wants to talk about.
Today marks the first day of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. I bid greetings to all. Please see this Star Trek menorah.
Tomorrow is not only the third Sunday in Advent but the feast day of Saint Lucy, the patron saint of eye problems. In Sweden, girls dressed as Saint Lucy would offer their families coffee and saffron buns.
Yep, December is a pretty fun month.
Friday, December 11, 2009
I've been a little remiss about the scandal gleefully termed as Climate-gate. The upshot of Climate-gate is this: someone hacked into e-mails sent from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University. These e-mails suggest that data was doctored and deleted and that publicly-funded scientists conspired to not only destroy and distort data concerning global warming (the belief that the world's temperature is rising due to man-driven activities) or its newest euphemism- climate change- but to charge through any opposition. Though the CRU is not the only research institute, it one of the most prominent. The revelation of these damaging e-mails has hurt the climate change cause and caused its chief believers to fly into a tail-spin.
One of the most prominent believers in climate change is former Democratic vice-president Al Gore. It should be noted that Mr. Gore is not a scientist, nor have his political achievements been stellar. He does, however, live in a rather large and "un-green" house, flies across the globe and takes town cars to talks about a subject he is not wholly familiar with but is very well compensated for. He will not take unscripted questions or debate openly with anyone. His documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth", for which he was awarded an Oscar, is riddled with errors (please see here). Things like the sea is rising (the ice melting in Greenland will not cause catastrophic flooding because of the position of the ice, the need for constant warmer temperatures and the fact that this ice may melt millennia from now) and carbon dioxide driving up the world's temperature (it does not) are refuted by sound scientific studies. Mr. Gore doesn't mention these studies in his book which is widely distributed to schools. He doesn't mention any references at all.
When the e-mails came to light, Mr. Gore, at first cocooning himself from the blowback, then responded by saying the e-mails were "taken out of context" (emphasis mine):
A: I think it's been taken wildly out of context. The discussion you're referring to was about two papers that two of these scientists felt shouldn't be accepted as part of the IPCC report. Both of them, in fact, were included, referenced, and discussed. So an e-mail exchange more than 10 years ago* including somebody's opinion that a particular study isn't any good is one thing, but the fact that the study ended up being included and discussed anyway is a more powerful comment on what the result of the scientific process really is.
It's one thing for Al Gore to assume adults want to hear his unqualified opinions and pronouncements on the state of the earth's environment, even to the point of developing social, economic and even educational policies which affect entire countries and their economies, but to now assume they don't know when they are being hood-winked. Priceless.
From: Phil Jones
To: Sandy Tudhope Subject: Latest draft of WP1 Date: Thu Nov 12 10:18:54 2009
Cc: "Wolff, Eric W"
, Rob Wilson , "Bass, Catherine" , "Turney, Christian" , Rob Allan , Keith Briffa , "email@example.com"
Dear All (especially Chris/Catherine), Here's the latest draft of WP1. All in the group have now commented and amended this. You should have the 3 supporting letters from Tree partners. Eric was contacting Eric Steig and Sandy (see below) is contacting 3 coral people. There is an issue about a Map. Rob W put one in his PhD page. This shows the corals. If we were to add the tree-ring sites we would mainly get a splodge of points in South America and NZ. Ice cores would just be over the AP and in the low-lat Andes. Issue is one of space. We already have 3pp fo this WP. Refs will reduce to about 0.5pp once we go to et al for 3 or more authors. A map would be useful for presentation to NERC, but is it essential for the submission? I'm away from tomorrow lunchtime for the weekend. Back in on Monday. Hope we'll be looking through more complete drafts next week! Cheers Phil
At 19:02 11/11/2009,
Sandy Tudhope wrote: Dear Phil et al, Good to speak to you earlier Phil and Rob W.. Please find attached a slightly modified version for WP1 ... I've just changed the coral section a bit. Briefly, I've identified the new coral coring sites (rather than get bogged down trying to describe how we will use analysis of model output to prioritise), plus I've added back in some references and details that I think help, but don't add too much length. I've written to Janice Lough, Julie Cole and Kim Cobb re being Project Partners (I actually spoke to Kim and she is keen). FIGURE: I still think it might be useful to have a map in the main proposal ... basically like the one Rob has in the PhD proposal ... we can simply have boxes around the tree ring and ice core regions. This map needn't be any larger than Rob already has it ... but it does help illustrate where we will get/have data. What do you all think? Cheers, Sandy
Prof. Phil Jones Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090 School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784 University of East Anglia Norwich Email firstname.lastname@example.org NR4 7TJ UK
(search the rest here)
Ten years ago? Right.
Other e-mails indicate there were personal attacks, demands of endorsement, and lack of data to support some claims about temperature over the centuries.
Even someone whose understanding of climate science is rudimentary can find the discord in these e-mails and be concerned. After all, the recommendations of these scientists are the basis for "carbon cards" and "Earth hours".
Part of the reason why Mr. Gore doesn't debate openly is the inevitable skepticism. When former Alaska governor Sarah Palin asked the current administration to boycott the Copenhagen climate talks given the uncertainty the newly discovered e-mails put on current climate belief, Mr. Gore called her a "denier".
Pretty catty (not the above one).
Mrs. Palin's response:
The response to my op-ed by global warming alarmists has been interesting. Former Vice President Al Gore has called me a “denier” and informs us that climate change is “a principle in physics. It’s like gravity. It exists.” Perhaps he’s right. Climate change is like gravity – a naturally occurring phenomenon that existed long before, and will exist long after, any governmental attempts to affect it. However, he’s wrong in calling me a “denier.” As I noted in my op-ed above and in my original Facebook post on Climategate, I have never denied the existence of climate change. I just don’t think we can primarily blame man’s activities for the earth’s cyclical weather changes. Former Vice President Gore also claimed today that the scientific community has worked on this issue for 20 years, and therefore it is settled science. Well, the Climategate scandal involves the leading experts in this field, and if Climategate is proof of the larger method used over the past 20 years, then Vice President Gore seriously needs to consider that their findings are flawed, falsified, or inconclusive. Vice President Gore, the Climategate scandal exists. You might even say that it’s sort of like gravity: you simply can’t deny it.
Ouch- to Mr. Gore!
The fact that Al Gore- and others (especially those who would never touch China or India for their environmental "transgressions")- will never abandon "climate change" suggests a cultish attitude rooted in the multi-million dollar "green" industry. I'm sure there are many jokes about green and money but I'll dispense with them here. At the very least, the revelation that these e-mails and the following repercussions should have firmly planted a seed of doubt in everyone who tries being environmentally conscious. Science has been swallowed not by the mythical fundamentalists but by the very people who hide their true intentions behind the veneer of proper scientific inquiry. Carbon taxes and cap-and-trades will only serve to squash economies. Carbon cards are, at the very least, fascistic and complete invasions of one's privacy. The failure to disclose and peer-edit puts the scientific community in the light of narrow-minded boors who lord their alleged superiority over everyone.
We need truth, not rhetoric or alarmism.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
I can see from the few who responded to my poll (thanks, guys) that overwhelmingly "Merry Christmas" is the preferred greeting over the generic "Happy Holidays". In a time when we brush over or deliberately omit things for fear of giving offense, it is this conscious decision that stands a better display of culture and festivity.
Imagine for a moment one is in Japan. As Japan is a country with a homogeneous population, culture and language, one would be hard pressed to observe the things one usually observes. With the exception migrant workers, everyone is Japanese. The Japanese have three writing systems and a unified language. People are usually Shintoist. In the past century, modern Japanese culture lent itself to the juvenile but, by and large, it's still a culture of self-effacement and adherence to strict mores. Though the Japanese don't usually observe Western holidays, they make up for it by having some rather colourful and stylish festivals. New Year's Day (Shogatsu) is massively fun with cards, hanetsuki (badminton), decorated entrances, auspicious murmurings, visits to shrines and temples and eating soba noodles symbolising long life. Setsubun, held in the first few days of February, is marked with the expulsion of evil spirits and bean-throwing.
Now imagine a single individual, foreign in origin, who declared that he (or she) spoke for everyone and demanded changes to these long-standing festivals. Hiragana is lovely to look at but there's no way anyone can master it in a day, and you can forget about kanji so everything would have to be conducted in English (and in French in Canada). Not everyone in the world is Shintoist. Perhaps those elements in the festivals that are particularly Shintoist can be eliminated to suit a more Christian audience (though when I was in Japan I cannot recall Christians behaving in such a way but we're imagining here). The idea of driving away of evil spirits is just too much for some to understand so that will have to go. Throwing beans could injure someone's eye so that will be given a miss. Fortune-telling is wrong in some cultures so that's out. Spaghetti could easily replace the nutty texture of soba noodles because noodles are noodles are noodles (sidebar: I don't really mean that, food purists). There might be room for compromise by listing other holidays with Shogatsu and Setsubun even though they might have absolutely nothing to do with each other.
So, with a little rearranging, two of the biggest festivals in Japan have become more palatable to other cultures. Should the Japanese acquiesce or should they root themselves firmly into the ground and say: "This is who we are and this is what we do"?
Herein lies the quandary. For some, it might seem the essence of fairness and "multiculturalism" to change Christmas or omit entirely. Is that the case? Christmas is a Christian holiday as neither the Romans, Druids nor the Vikings celebrated the birth of the Christ-Child. Christmas has incorporated many of its more familiar aspects such as the Christmas tree and card-sending (even, unfortunately, consumerist aspects). Whole swathes of people celebrate Christmas in one form or another. Even the Japanese find room in their busy schedules for Christmas.
Back to the original dilemma: why say "Merry Christmas" as opposed to "Happy Holidays"? There is a problem in denying an event or holiday the specificity and uniqueness that it possesses. By lumping Christmas in with other holidays, you make Christmas generic, not special or with a purpose. "Holiday" could mean anything. Would it be amiss to say "Happy Holidays" for St. Valentine's Day? It is a holiday of sorts.
As it goes without saying, holidays aren't the same in every respect. Is Setsubun the same as Christmas? Is Hanukkah the same as Christmas? Obviously not. By not mentioning Christmas, you (to put it dramatically) rob it of its identity. Christmas has various rituals and memes all with significance. If Christmas was not omitted but diluted to something barely recognisable, that which made it special would fail to resonate with its observers. Any celebrations would be menial task for those accustomed to the holiday in its original form and a confusing, even belittling experience for those unused to such a holiday. Do we assume that by celebrating Christmas that those of other cultures cannot follow along? Do we trust them to be active in the celebrations if they so want? What must be going through a Hindu or Buddhist's mind when they are invited to a "winter holiday" party minus the Christmas tree and carols they've been apprised of in some fuzzy photograph in a magazine somewhere? Making assumptions on someone else's behalf is- well- offensive. Isn't it better to simply live or celebrate something than to hide it?
Has anyone determined that Christmas itself is exclusive or could it be a vehicle for inclusion? As was mentioned before, Christmas is observed by many people in many ways. It is a time of great ease and celebration. By refusing to celebrate it all or in traditional ways, how do immigrants become aware of the predominant culture (or a minor culture, for that matter)? Has anyone asked them if such celebrations would bother them? I would suggest the assumptions on what is or is not offensive can only be seen as insults to their intelligence.
The greater insult might very well be on the general mind-set. Are we so bereft of cultural and intellectual maturity that we would deprive even ourselves of Christmas? It is- for the most part- who we are. In the West, we adopt cultural plurality, even see it as one of our assets. We pride ourselves in not having a state religion or culture. No one is forced to celebrate one holiday or another. It's simply a matter of population. More people than not observe Christmas. Why not say "Merry Christmas"?
Thursday, December 03, 2009
From the article:
A male suicide bomber dressed as a woman attacked a graduation ceremony
Thursday in a small part of the capital still under government control, killing
22 people, including three Cabinet ministers, doctors and medical students.
The attack was a severe blow to a country long battered by war and
underscored the government's tenuous hold even on its small area of Mogadishu.
African Union peacekeeping troops protecting the government wage near daily
battles with Islamic militants who hold much of central and southern Somalia and
act so brazenly in the capital that they carry out public executions.
"What happened today is a national disaster," said Somali
Information Minister Dahir Mohamud Gelle, who confirmed that the ministers for
education, higher education and health were killed in the blast. The ministers
for sports and tourism were wounded in the attack inside the Shamo Hotel, he
The assailants hit one of Somalia's most important efforts to
extricate itself from anarchy and violence, explaining the presence of so many
top government officials. The former medical students among the graduates came
from only the second class to receive diplomas from the medical school.
The first class graduated a year ago. Before then, almost two
decades had passed since anyone earned a medical degree in Somalia. In the
December 2008 ceremony, held at the same hotel, the graduates proudly hoisted
diplomas into the air. This year, there was mayhem as the bomb went off among 43 graduates, their families and officials who were sitting on plastic chairs
facing a small stage, leaving the dead and wounded in bloody heaps.
More than 40 people were wounded. Students and doctors were among
Burkas not only serve as coverings for women but as clever disguises for emotional retards who attack and kill those who strive for higher things in life.
In a surprisingly undiplomatic rebuke, Prime Minister Stephen Harper
was publicly chided at a traditional Chinese welcoming ceremony Thursday for
taking too long to visit the country.
The subtle but pointed rebuke came as the prime minister and his
Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao, sat at a large oval table for talks following a
military welcome at the cavernous Great Hall of the People.
With television cameras rolling, Wen noted that he and Harper had yet
to meet and that no Canadian prime minister had visited China in five
Asked about human rights after his meetings with the two Chinese
leaders, the prime minister said he had brought up in private both specific
issues and general ones, such as the situation Tibet.
One specific issue is the case of Husein Celil, the Canadian dual
citizen whisked out of Uzbekistan in 2006 and imprisoned in China. The
government is refusing Canadian consular visits.
But Harper has also been careful not to embarrass the Chinese
by bringing up the issues in a public setting.
"We always bring these up in a way that is frank and at the same time
that is respectful of Chinese sovereignty," he said.
Researchers for the Ecology Center, a health-advocacy group based in
Ann Arbor, Mich., tested the products and released their findings in a yearly
report issued in time for the holiday shopping season.
The products tested include toys, clothing and jewelry that could be
purchased for children as gifts. The group said the toxic substances they
contain can cause developmental problems in children and are linked to
When freelance writer Wang Jian shops for toys for her 5-year-old son,
she’s happy to pay extra for Legos blocks and Japanese-brand train sets.
The reason, she and other parents say: Foreign brands enjoy a reputation
for higher quality — a perception reinforced by the product scares of recent
China may be Santa’s global workshop, but when it comes to buying
playthings for their own children, Chinese families who can afford it opt for
foreign-brand toys — even if they are made in China.
Quality and safety issues are drawing more attention as incomes rise
and upwardly mobile Chinese grow more health conscious. While virtually all toys
on the market, whether foreign or domestic brands, are made in China, factories
making foreign brands are assumed to abide by more rigorous standards to screen
out lead paint and other harmful materials.
“I dare not buy cheap wooden toys or toys with paint,” said Lin Yan, a
professor at Shanghai International Studies University, whose 7-year-old
daughter tested for elevated levels of lead in her blood.
“I have a stupid standard: I buy her expensive toys in big department
stores. I can only assume most of the expensive ones are foreign brands and are
guaranteed to have better quality,” said Lin.