"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction."

Proof of evolution: just five years ago Stephen Harper called the Kyoto Accord a money-sucking “socialist scheme”, but today he’s a good steward of the environment. Welcome to the party, Steve.


There was an interesting article in the October issue of The Atlantic called “Prophetic Justice” about the grounds on which terrorism suspects are being tried, the ignorance and fear that allows the situation, and the political climate that fosters it.

That inculcation has ample source material, Haykel said, because many hadith and Koranic verses seem to advocate violence; most Muslims just know not to take them literally. Is it possible, he was asked during cross-examination, that someone radically inclined might take al-Kousi’s words as a call to action? “Well, the Koran can be taken as a call to action,” Haykel answered. “You don’t need to listen to al-Kousi.”

Religious speech is extreme, emotional, and motivational. It is anti-literal, relying on metaphor, allusion, and other rhetorical devices, and it assumes knowledge within a community of believers. Its potency is deliberate: faith is about calling on a higher power, one stronger than ourselves, and the very language we use helps inflate that strength. We arm ourselves (itself a violent metaphor) with prayer.

This is hardly unique to Islam. The question of how to interpret a text may be as old as writing, and it applies equally to determining where the power of religious speech inheres. In authorial intent? A reader’s interpretation? Historical or modern context? Over the centuries, and even today, the Bible and Christian theology have helped justify the Crusades, slavery, violence against gays, and the murder of doctors who perform abortions. The words themselves are latent, inert, harmless—until they aren’t.

It’s long, but worth the read.


My favourite new source of excellent music: the KEXP “song of the day” podcast. It’s usually something I haven’t heard, and is almost always very good.
[tags]stephen harper, kyoto accord, prophetic justice, terrorism, kexp[/tags]

A gurgling stomach is "one of the signs" of My Lunch's imminent return

First of all, some big news: my oldest brother is now engaged!!! Everybody pop over to his blog and say congratulations to TimmyD and She Who Must Not Be Named.

Needless to say we’re extremely happy for both of them. We adore SWMNBN, and love how happy she makes my big brother, so we couldn’t be more pleased. Huzzah!


We tried a new place for Winterlicious last night: The Savoy. T-Bone joined us once again, along with her friend AS. We had a MUCH better experience this time than we had at 1055. My wine (can’t remember what it was…something Tuscan) was really good, my starter salad was excellent, my mushroom risotto wasn’t bad (I don’t like mushrooms, but even then…pretty decent) and my creme brulee was just right. The service was also very good, and best of all our table was in an enclosed booth, so the four of us felt very private and cozy during our meal. To top it off, it was actually cheaper than the typical ‘licious meal — $25 instead of $35 — so we definitely felt like we got our money’s worth.

The Savoy could very well become a neighbourhood joint once we move into our new place.


I seem to have buggered up my knee somehow. Tried to run on it Sunday afternoon and had to hobble to a stop after 45 seconds. This happens occasionally; hopefully a day with the knee brace should fix it up. But of all the weeks not to be able to exercise: Winterlicious week. Deadly.


This post on the Showcase Sideshow blog makes an interesting observation: the quality of Mexican directors right now is pretty impressive. It’d be pretty tough to find a better trio of films than Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro), Children Of Men (Alfonso Cuaron) and Babel (Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu) in theatres right now.


Holy blessed mother of hotpants, this Washington Post story takes climate change denial to a whole new level of silliness:

Hardison, a parent of seven here in the southern suburbs of Seattle, has himself roiled the global-warming waters. It happened early this month when he learned that one of his daughters would be watching “An Inconvenient Truth” in her seventh-grade science class.

“No you will not teach or show that propagandist Al Gore video to my child, blaming our nation — the greatest nation ever to exist on this planet — for global warming,” Hardison wrote in an e-mail to the Federal Way School Board. The 43-year-old computer consultant is an evangelical Christian who says he believes that a warming planet is “one of the signs” of Jesus Christ’s imminent return for Judgment Day.

His angry e-mail (along with complaints from a few other parents) stopped the film from being shown to Hardison’s daughter.

The teacher in that science class, Kay Walls, says that after Hardison’s e-mail she was told by her principal that she would receive a disciplinary letter for not following school board rules that require her to seek written permission to present “controversial” materials in class.

Seriously…if you’re the school how can you discipline a teacher for that? You’ve opened the door for teachers to be disciplined for discussing anything, since there’s always some nutbag parent who’ll get their knickers in a twist. Teaching evolution? Sex ed? Geology? Astronomy? Prepare to be disciplined. Hell, if a kid’s parent works for Verizon they’re even likely to complain about the math.

[via Cinematical]

[tags]engagement, savoy restaurant, winterlicious, climate change, inconvenient truth, frosty hardison[/tags]

"To marriage…the reason we have bars."

That toast comes courtesy of Battlestar Galactica, to which I am now firmly addicted.


Poor Nellie’s sick, so we didn’t go to a movie today, just emptied one of the Zip envelopes. it was November (imdb | rotten tomatoes), a low-budget indie starring Courteney Cox. It was weird and a little confusing at times, but reasonably impressive considering it was shot in 15 days.

[tags]battlestar galactica, november[/tags]

The Devil is {yawn} boring

The Devil Wears Prada (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was…meh. Not terrible, but entirely unremarkable. A few little laughs early on, but only a few. Predictable & formulaic if well-executed. Just…vanilla.

I don’t get all the fuss about Meryl Streep’s performance; I mean, the woman has produced so much brilliant work over her career that this seems throwaway by comparison. Stanley Tucci was great, but he — like Streep — was a brilliant actor dragged down by the material.


[tags]the devil wears prada, meryl streep, stanley tucci[/tags]

The summer of Dan

I’m a very happy MBA student right now. Not only did I just finished stats/quants (which is generally thought to be one of the least pleasant courses), and not only am I now more than 60% of the way through, but I have a very favourable series of courses coming up:

  • Information Systems (IT is kind of my specialty, so this will be like a 3-month vacation for me)
  • Strategic Thinking (I took this course before I even started the MBA; that doesn’t mean I can skip it, but I’m already more than familiar with the subject matter)
  • Financial Risk (as I understand it, this is running computer simulations to determine financial risk of various investment & spending strategies…again, computers + numbers = my wheelhouse)

That puts me into September. I’ve been joking with classmates that this is the summer of Dan (a term I adapted from Seinfeld), and offered my assistance since this is probably one of the few times I’ll be of any help to anyone.

George: This is gonna be my time. Time to taste the fruits and let the juices drip down my chin. I proclaim this: The Summer of George!

[A bee comes and George has to run inside]


I also have a large comprehensive term paper to write up by the end of October, but I’m not worried about that. A classmate and I already have a topic in mind, with a ton of supporting material already lined up, and neither of us struggle to fill pages.


Since it’s cold out and neither of us are feeling that well, Nellie and I are undertaking the very winter-y exercise of watching the Leafs play the Canadiens, and then watching a movie: The Devil Wears Prada. Now that is the definition of marital compromise.
[tags]the summer of dan, mba courses, leafs, canadiens, the devil wears prada[/tags]

I hate your kids and your white chocolate mousse

Would it be wrong for me to buy this t-shirt? ‘Cause I really, really want one.


So, 1055 last night: my meal was ok, but not great. A simple salad to start, then butternut squash ravioli cooked in brown butter sauce, then an apple tart with caramel sauce. Nellie’s meal was ok too — she had the goat cheese, salmon and “chocolate” mousse — but it was T-Bone who had trouble. She couldn’t have any wine last night, she didn’t think her duck breast was a duck breast at all, and the “chocolate” mousse on the menu turned out to be white chocolate. I find that bizarre; how does “Belgian Chocolate mousse with Merlot poached pears and vanilla sauce” translate to white chocolate, which really isn’t even chocolate at all? Shouldn’t you at least warn people? Anyway, T-Bone doesn’t like white chocolate so I ate most of it and gave her some of my apple tart.

I also had trouble getting a glass of wine, and the service was just on the verge of being inattentive. All in all, I got the sense that 1055 is a place that tries hard but just doesn’t have the talent level to back it up.

[tags]i hate your kids, 1055, winterlicious[/tags]


Just in the final hours of prep now. Class is over, pizza’s been eaten. Done all the studying and practicing I plan on doing. Just gonna relax, watch my girlfriend on 30 Rock, pack, maybe do one last quick review of my notes and then head over to the bar. It is, after all, Burns night.

[tags]mba, stats, exam, 30 rock, burns night[/tags]