Saturday, October 18, 2014

Oct. 18: Let's start with the Faith page, I mean...

I mean what the hell.... we live in religious society. Right? Business operates on principles of being charitable, loving neighbours, etc...  I mean that's why we have an Irving Chapel in celebration of Judaic-Christian principles. This time, the sermonette on the faith page is about Thanksgiving Day.   (There's also, as a sign of the free-thinking of the writer of the sermonette, a daring statement that God does not create hurricanes. No doubt there are also people who will think its worth arguing about that.)

As Rhett Butler said to Scarlett O'Hara, "Frankly, I don't give a damn." Nor do I see such an insight having any use to anybody. No doubt, though, some damfool will found a new church based on that. They could call it the "Windless Church of Christ" - but that might lead to confusion with too many other churches.

Anyway, the idea that the American pilgrim fathers were the first to celebrate thanksgiving (and that it was essentially a religious experience) is pure bunk. The practice of feasting to celebrate the harvest goes back all over the world for nobody knows how many thousand years. Commonly, it was not a religious occasion.

The myth our modern thanksgiving was created by American history books to create the impression that the Pilgrim Fathers were the founders of a nation devoted to good works and faith.  Indeed, the American nation is part of God's great plan. (If it was part of God's great plan, then God must have planned the slaughter of native peoples, the American aggressions and killings and exploitations all over the world, including Canada, and the current idea that US has a right to rule the world. That's what the term "American exceptionalism" means; and it is currently the official position of both the Democrats and the Republicans - though I don't believe it has ever been mentioned in the Irving press.)

Incidentally, the US government did not recognize Thanksgiving as an official holiday until the Civil War, when Lincoln needed something to associate his war with "God's great plan".

The reality is that we don't live in a society that has religious principles of any sort. The very rich are running wild in scooping up the world's wealth. In the US, the wealth gap is bigger than it's been in a least a century. In Canada, as most people get poorer, the super-rich are making their biggest profits in history. They're doing it by exploiting the poor (especially those in really poor countries), by hiding their money, by controlling governments (in fact, buying them), and by destroying the environment.

They are greedy without limit, and the greed makes them short-sighted. Put together greed and short-sightedness, and you get stupidity and destruction - and self-destruction.

The writer of today's Faith Page column is a preacher who describes himself as progressive. But just like the others, he writes a column that makes no connection whatever between religious concepts of morality and ethics and religious teaching with the reality of our daily behaviour.

No wonder so few go to church.  My advice to the clergy is to understand that religious teaching is meant as a guide for daily life, real life, and was designed to influence our daily behaviour. Remembering that, try to write something that connects religion to real life.

We are living in a world - and a country - characterized by greed, destructiveness and stupidity. And it is getting worse. And too often the churches are in bed with the greedy and the destructive and the stupid.

So, to all of you clergy and the many of you self-righteous, it's time to get past the pious words and to give meaning. For Christ's sake.

As that long foreword suggests, there isn't much in the Times and Transcript.

In the Friday edition, Alec Bruce has a strong  ( and worrying) column about the collapsing price of oil. He doesn't really understand why this is happening; and he doesn't pretend to. And that makes it more worrying because Mr. Bruce has a far better understanding of the economy than anybody else I have seen in the Irving press (or most others).

David Suzuki roasts Canadian government as among the slackets in the world in copying with environmental destruction. Harper has been, for some time, making it worse by slipping through bills that make it legal to destroy the environment - as in allowing mines to dump their poisonous tailings into lakes and streams. Greed and short sightedness and stupidity. And we'll all pay a price for it.

(I"m aware that Norbert thinks poisoning the environment is good for you, and that environmentalists are all crazy. I'm also aware big-hearted industrialists like oil producers have spent billions to assure us that it's all perfectly safe - and there is no climate change.  That, alone, should tip us all off that those industrialists have been lying to us. They're not big on spending money to help us.)


In NewsToday, there's a story on B1 "Federal bill to expand anti-terrror powers." Harper intends to give CSIS (our equivalent of the Gestapo) the power to prevent their sources of information from giving testimony at the trials of people they charge with terrorism.  Sounds harmless?

Well, we (it is said)live in freedom and democracy. And in such a state, everyone is entitled to a fair trial. How can there possibly be a fair trial when key witnesses cannot be questioned in court - or even identified?
This is one more step in taking away our rights and freedoms with the excuse of protecting our rights and freedoms. In the US, a similar attitude has allowed the US to deport or imprison Palestinian-Americans. And it's done in cooperation with Israeli intelligence,

Some day, we're going to wake up to realize we've slept through the deliberate destruction of rights and freedoms. It's already happened by scaring people into believing that terrorists are going to kill them in their beds. (Actually, people have been killed in their beds - but by police in the US. It has become common to break into homes at night "on suspicion", and to shoot to kill. The break-ins now number in the tens of thousands. A few days ago, a courageous policeman shot to death a seven-year-old girl who was asleep. Well, she had to be protected from them there terrorists  who might have killed her in her bed.)

In the attempt to hold the town of Kobadi on the Turkish border, Kurds have asked for more weapons from the world.  Well, why not? Most of the weapons in fighting in the middle east were made in the USA. These are good times for the American military-industrial complex.

But don't get me wrong. I mean, it's terrible the way ISIS is killing Kurd civilians. I'm sure it was nicer in 1920 when Churchill ordered intense bombing of civilians in Kurd villages.

Friday has a promising headline. "Salary guide shows region's top earners".  So, at last, publication of the Irving's yearly pay.....  Well, no. but it does say top dollar is $118,00O a year.. So I guess the Irvings must be getting about that. And that would explain their low taxes.

A3 for Friday has a good story on 'Living wage concept gains traction". This means a wage which really reflects what it takes to live on - and a minimum of $10 an hour doesn't do that. Actually, it makes sense for business, too, because you can't make money out of a market in which people can't afford to buy what you have to sell. But big business, in particular, has never understood that. (Well, I said it was short-sighted, greedy and stupid.  Instead, big business operates on the old colonial principal - to exploit people of the empire for the benefit of big business in the "mother" country.)

It doesn't work. You need customers. And you can make those only by offering a living wage.

To my great relief, Dr. Norbert Cunningham says there's no reason to worry about Ebola. He says there have been other health scares that didn't pan out. Therefore, this one won't.

Then he switches gears to say we should be very concerned and should prepare for it. And, yes, we should.

But where are the streets that are full of people running in panic? Where is the hysteria? I haven't seen any.

What I've seen is a very disorganized response to the outbreak in Africa, and very disorganized preparations being made here for it. And yes, that does concern me. And I am concerned when the major US response is to send troops. And I am concerned the the world's muted response in sending help.

Norbert ends with a couple of limp suggestions and, of course, a quite irrelevant quotation, "Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."

Brilliant. If we understand nuclear weapons better, we won't fear them. Norbert, Einstein feared them. I was told that by his friend and disposer of his will who wrote a book called 'Einstein on Peace'.

Brent Mazerolle's"opinion" column is another bedtime story about himself. For something of more substance, look down to Gwynne Dyer on how world opinion is turning against Israel. Help for Israel is  holding firm in the US with voters of 50 or more, but is strongly opposed by the younger generations. And that's a real danger sign for all of us.

Israel has just illegally annexed another 1000 acres of Palestinian land, and kicked its people out. With opinion severely turning against Israel, Netanyahu may well decide he was to move now to annex all Palestinian land, and get rid of all Palestinian people. He might even decide that it's now or never to launch a nuclear attack on Iran.

Of course, he still has Harper's assurance that Canada will stand by him come hell of high water.

I'm surprised at the continuing absence of any news about Ukraine. The Kiev government is proving utterly inept, and is actually demanding that Russia continue its gas supply to it, even if Ukraine refuses to pay for the last several years of gas. The Kiev government has consistently broken the ceasefire terms, and has blocked peaceful settlements - and the American press has consistently not reported it.

I'm quite sure the US has been behind the  government coup in Ukraine, and that it wants a war with Russia.
Norbert, some things do panic me. And among them are the stunning messes of American foreign policy and the deliberate looking for wars. The mess is the Middle East policies which created ISIS and which will continue to get worse even if the "coalition" kills every person fighting for ISIS. American policy created ISIS. If it now defeats ISIS, that will create a worse form of it.

The US response in Ukraine has consistently been aggressive and negative. ( and please don't tell me they're doing it to defend democracy. No country goes to war to save democracy. In any case, Ukraine had a democracy. The present government of Ukraine is the one that destroyed it.)

Remember, God wants America to rule the world. That belief is what made Thanksgiving Day into a holiday. And the time to take over the world is running short.

Onward Christian soldiers.


  1. First Thanksgiving in North America? - Martin Frobisher, Canada, 1578 (maybe)

  2. I'm sorry Graeme, but I really am going to give up on Alec Bruce, despite the difficulties he must have writing for the Irving press. In an attempt to bolster his explanation of why oil prices are falling and how it relates to Alberta and the tar sands he quotes figures from Oil Sands Today (yes, we are talking here about an industry rag) who in turn quote their figures from the Canadian Energy Research Institute who receive their funding from:
    -The Federal Dept. of Natural Resources
    -The Alberta Department of Energy and
    -The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
    That makes this editorial no longer an opinion piece, but simple propoganda. He starts by saying that Alberta is the source of 30% of federal GDP, whatever that means. The actual statistic, hard as it may be to believe, is that the tar sands contribute 2% to Canada's GDP. This has been reported not only on the CBC, but most recently confirmed by Naomi Klein, who, I am sure would not err about a statistic like that in her new book. It's disappointing, but you just can't trust any of them to be unbiased or credible.

    1. Well, yes. I admit I have a soft spot for Alec Bruce (though I've never met him). He's one of the few columnists in that paper who actually offer opinions. If we ever lost him, we'd probably be reading columns by Brent Mazerolle's cousin or something.
      He is intelligent, appears to be a decent person but, as you say, suffers the hell of being an Irving employee.

      Thank you for those figures. I didn't know them.

  3. Nope. native agricultural peoples - like the Iroquois tribes - had harvest feasts.

    And Columbus was nowhere near first to discover America. that was done by numbers that are uncountable. There were the Vikings, there were the Spanish who left behind their slaves in south eastern US. Almost certainly, there were the phoenicians of a thousand years or so before Columbus. And there were, of course, the many peoples of Asia and the Pacific who were there even before the Phoenicians. And we don't even know whether they were the first.

  4. I don't know what Alec Bruce wrote in regard to oil prices, but stagnant or collapsing economies in Europe and elsewhere aside, are the Saudi's pricing their oil downwards in order to drag other oil producers prices down such as Russian oil and gas? Or, is it a temporary gift to the US and Europe to boost failing economies for a while longer?

  5. Interesting comments. Poor old Alec Bruce, can't win for losing. Yes, the same thing happened when David Campbell started writing for the Irving rags. He used to do a similar Irving paper critique, so they hired him.

    However, those are at least sources, I'm assuming thats a joke that Naomi Klein wouldn't lie (that part is true, but she's certainly as biased as the government of canada).

    A recent study reported at the CBC put the oil sands value at 93 billion. Canadian GDP is 1.5 trillion. So what percent is that? And that would be erring on the side of probably way too much. Which is interesting that Alberta keeps talking about what a miniscule polluter the tar sands are, yet look how big an impact they have. Where do they think that impact comes from? No resource is worth big money without big pollution.

    But i also had a laugh with that. You think Alec Bruce would know why oil prices dropped?? You do know what he does for a living right?

    PS, the phoenician angle of american discovery has long since been debunked as a couple of hoaxes, mostly pushed by the mormons who insist jews discovered america first.

  6. The Phoenician angle has been challenged. It has not been debunked. See James W. Loewen. 'Lies My Teacher Told Me", esp. p. 42. The book is recent (1995) and Professor Loewen is man of highly regarded scholarship.

    Native peoples did not spring from the soil of the Americas. They were, themselves, immigrants at some points. In other words, they were from other regions of the world - and always by primitive methods because that's all they had.

    Certainly, Europeans knew of a new world almost five hundred years before Columbus, and was carrying on trade - through the Vikings. And I'm sure they knew those polar bears weren't coming from Scandinavian boutiques. As for Africans and people of the middle east getting to the Americas, why not? Were they less knowledgeable of the sea than those who had preceded them by over 10,000 years?

  7. Well, thats like saying "aliens visiting earth has been challenged". The theory was advanced by Ezra Stiles in 1783, who was as notorious a racist as any elite of that time. No suprise it was popular during the genocidal killing of the people currently occupying the land.

    The Dighton Rock fraud was made known when an early drawing of it was found in britain which was substancially different from the now 'current' petroglyphs, and an identical one was found being carved by appalachian natives.

    Along with those theories were those that Hebrews had been the earliest settlers, that later became mormonism, with a book that makes the New Testament look like it was written by my grandmother. These theories came at a time when america was building its 'religion', and the idea that 'westerners' were simply 'reclaiming' what had been stolen from them fit the bill pretty well. Thats why its known as a 'fringe theory'.

    So its not up to people to 'challenge' the Phoenician theory, its up to those who believe it to justify it. Just like viking settlements were a 'theory' up until the discovery in Newfoundland.

    But you can't disprove a theory. I can't disprove that Bill Cosby and a harem of twenty women are time travellers who have been going back in time and populating America. That doesn't mean the historical community, or ANYBODY in fact, is going to believe it.

    But I didn't say anything else about natives, however, I remember reading about some new evidence that challenged the 'migration theory' thats been around forever. Its 'possible' that human civilization began in North America and people travelled outwards from there. Or its possible human development began in two or more places, we simply don't know.

    "Why not?", though, isn't really a realistic way to judge historical accuracy. The reason l'anse aux meadows confirmed the theory was because norsemen had mentioned it in their sagas.

    There have been findings that 'suggest' perhaps there was trade, but so far nothing concrete, and certainly not 'extensive'. By the great lakes there was a find of viking artefacts, but these could have been brought by others during early settlement. Butternuts were found in Newfoundland, which suggests trade from lower provinces as butternuts were only found in new brunswick (not anymore though!). However, that again is only a suggestion as its well known that there was violent interaction between vikings and natives, so these could have been spoils of war, not trade.

    For those interested, there is an excellent lecture series on The Vikings by The Teaching Company, and the one lecture on the 'canadian venture' is very very interesting, and pretty downright entertaining, in fact hilarious in parts.

    But the idea that people came to america because they were mariners is a stretch. From the north its not actually that far. But ships that tooled around the mediterranean were no match for the atlantic. There's this idea that 'way back then' people were much smarter about things than today, which isn't really true in most cases. I think several trips across the atlantic have been attempted in ancient vessels, and without modern aid, they rarely get as far as Madeira. By the time of Columbus shipbuilding had advanced in no small part thanks to the knowledge of nordic shipbuilders, but ancient sea vessels were simply not designed for ocean voyage.

    But yeah, all that could change with a few discoveries, and I've heard that there is a TV show about the Vikings on HBO or something, it would actually be a pretty cool spinoff to have a series about the vikings in North America-even if it is made up. The norse saga though, would make a great movie in itself with no embellishment whatsoever.

  8. The trade with native peoples and nordics is not a theory. There are records of supplies of northern animals to kings and aristocrats who wanted exotic animals for their estates.

    As you say, it's quite possible that Europeans (or Asians) originated in the Americas, but was long forgotten by people who, at that time, couldn't keep records.

    No, ancient sea craft were not designed for ocean conditions. But they must have done it to populate the pacific islands. And remember the voyage of Thor Hyerdahl on a balsa raft. nordic sea vessels were frequently crossing the Atlantic, admittedly with the help of islands on the way. And they were half a thousand years before Columbus. In fact, several people have actually rowed boats across the Atlantic. I've been thinking of doing it; but I don't think my TV reception is up to it.

    There's also the story of vikings reaching Minnesota. But I don't believe it. It would now have a much tougher football team if they had.

    As you say, there's a lot of speculation in all this. But we do know that informed Europeans had knowledge of a land over the Atlantic long before Columbus. After all, there were European settlers on Greenland long, long before Columbus, and they were in regular contact with Europe.

    Then there's the fact that the various native peoples of the Americas look different from each other. That suggests many points of origin.

    The most important thing I learned in history is always to doubt it. In support of that, I saw a Harper ad for a year of celebrating confederation. It touts Sir John A as the creator of confederation. And that is more than a bit of a stretch.

  9. The trade in polar bears and other arctic animals was from Greenland, which was a well known viking colony, until they were tossed out by the Thule people (a sort of reverse colonization).

    The pacific islands were populated by eurasian peoples, largely on rafts which could handle the pacific quite easily, the atlantic is quite another matter.

    Again, there is no evidence viking boats were 'frequently' crossing the atlantic. There are sagas which talk about North America in the story I mentioned, but if there was frequent trade, then it would have been mentioned and we'd have found more evidence of it.

    Thor hyerdahl's voyage doesn't actually 'prove' anything. In the right conditions and with luck almost anything is 'possible'. We know that vikings DID make the trip, so we know its 'possible'. However, there is no evidence of it as a trade route, only a singular adventure. In time other theories may pan out, but not yet.

    Vinland, Helluland, and Markland are all mentioned in the sagas as well, as well as warmer climates 'further west', but so far no evidence has been found (sagas, like most tales from that time period, weren't that interested in 'facts'). 'The west' has always held a religious connotation for european civilizations and to vikings it could have just been metaphoric.

    I'm not sure what evidence you are talking about for 'educated' europeans. Its quite well known that Columbus was looking for a trade route to asia. A common misconception is the idea that people of the middle ages thought the world was 'flat', which isn't true, and is why Columbus thought asia was just over the horizon.