Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Our greatest weapon of war

Christians and pagans, friends and Romans, we have found it. After an exhaustive and thorough analysis and a staggering search over thousands of years, we have found the greatest weapon of war.

It's this.

Okay, you probably need some context here. Last week in London, there was a vicious and brutal attack in broad daylight against a member of the British military. The man was hacked to death in the middle of the street by, if sources are correct, a pair of Muslim men. There have been a variety of responses to the attack and a lot of them against Muslims.

Quite a few of these attacks seem to connected to an organization called the English Defense League, which is a loosely bound coalition of soccer hooligans, neo-Nazis and Christian fundamentalists*. To my church friends, no, you're not hallucinating that last bit. There are Christian fundamentalists who think that the most Christian way to respond to violence is to offer it in response. And, no, I don't get it either.

They decided to stage a protest outside a mosque. And by, "protest," we really meaning that they were planning to show up, shout racial slurs and try to incite violence. They've done it before. And then, this happened.

Now, at this time we can't be sure that the custard cream alone was what did it. It might have been the tea as well - these people are British, after all - but the research is promising enough that I'm confident in saying that custard creams are our greatest weapon of war.

Or maybe it's this. Maybe turning the other cheek, and denying the power of violence** and actually talking to people is the best way to turn away war.

Hmm. It seemed simple at first. I guess it's not. Further research is clearly needed.

. . .

Anyone want some Oreos and tea? Fresh out of custard creams.

* There serious needs to be a "three guys walk into a bar" joke here.
** Not a universally Christian concept, and a concept that more than a few Christians seem to struggle with, particularly lately.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Today is Memorial Day. I'll be frank with you, it's not a holiday I grew up with, and not one I'm accustomed to. While Canada looks a lot like the U.S. on paper, we really are our own beast, and while I appreciate the idea behind this day, I'm still trying to grok it. Back home, we have Remembrance Day, but the way we celebrate and even its place in the calendar (it's on November 11th) make it a difference sort of day.

Right now, Christy and Graeme are off at a formal Memorial Day service in Epsom while Brandon and I stay back - sitting still for a full hour isn't one of Brandon's strengths, and I'm scarcely better, so it seemed a good plan. Still, the whole day has me thinking about freedom. What it means to the soldiers I know, what it means to the veterans I've talked. What they died for.

I think of my grandfather. He died years after the war, a grandfather many times over, having accomplished much. I think of how he would've reacted to the Internet and how it's made us all closer and put us all further apart. I'm pretty sure he would've been a big lolcat fan (he loved his cats) but I realized, accidentally, the video that would've hit him closest to home.

One guy, travelling around the world and dancing with total strangers. One the Gaza Strip and in the heart of Israel. On tall mountains and down by the ocean - in the ocean, in one case. This is what he paid for with his sweat and blood in World War II. Freedom. Sure, there are greater and broader applications of that freedom. We're more mobile than ever, and goods we once though exotic are now commonplace. The long arc of justice has bent ever more sharply toward freedom in so many places in the world.

We might see a world full of violence and war and predation of man on man, but slavery is on the wane, global poverty is on the wane and, locally, disease is becoming a memory. But we have a long way to go and this is no time to slow down.

There's a dark side to this freedom. Some corporations - not all, but some - take advantage of the rise in globalism to manipulate the markets and cruelly manipulate foreign labour. Small people groups end up getting absorbed into larger people groups, bringing to an end cultural traditions and even languages that have lasted out centuries of mere military conflict. Too many military conflicts are fought not to spread freedom, but out of fear or greed. Ethnic warfare, which only have a century was the least cause of war, is now rampant in many parts of the world.

Still, I am confident that if my grandfather were here to see what his efforts, and the efforts of so many others, had gained, he would be pleased. The long arc bends, so long as there are people with the courage to keep pushing.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Eddard Stark is not a hero

** Caution: Game of Thrones spoilers ahead **

We've started watching the first season of Game of Thrones. I'll be honest, I never got through the first book - just too slow-moving for me - but the show's quite good. I don't much care for the main plot, really, which is pretty much bog-standard backstabbing medieval skullduggery*, but the side scenes are fantastic. The youngest daughter with her "dance" instructor. The Mountain and the Hound. That stuff, I love.

Anyhow, in several conversations I've had about the show, people have said that I need to prepare to be shocked by it because, "They kill off Eddard Stark, the guy you think should be the hero."

First of all, thanks to both of you for, like, totally spoiling the first season for me. That was swell. Second, Eddard Stark is not a hero

Mr. Stark (can I call him that?) finds out that his long-time friend and now-king is plotting to kill a young woman and her unborn child to prevent her and a horde of ignoble horseman from crossing a sea and attacking their realm.** His reaction? He walks away from the king, the throne, the responsibility of being the king's second in command.

He just walks away.

See, a hero would do something. I mean, to be truly heroic, to truly stand up for what he believes to be right, he would go save the girl and her unborn child. Sure, it might be dumb, but if he's willing to break friendship and break his oath to the king***, he should be willing to not only do what's right, but should also be willing to do what's right. There's no such thing as heroic words, really, only heroic actions.

Shortly after deciding to hightail it back to his home in Winterfell, his life and the life of his family is threatened so, really, even if he does do something about this potential assassination, its coloured by the certain fact that his action might be simply self-serving.

Some people might argue with this and say that he's acting on his code of honour. And it's true, he is. So what. It's a stupid code of honour, and one not worth following, if it places a higher premium on fealty over the life and well-being of others. A hero would get that. Heck, my kid would get that.

Eddard Stark is not a hero.

* Yes, there are "twists you'll never see coming." That actually really unimpressive because, honestly, anyone can write that kind of plot. Far more impressive would be twists you should have seen coming, but didn't.

** The reasons why the birth of a child would cause an invasion are complicated. Not especially interesting, but complicated.

*** Yes, I was paying attention to the first 10 minutes of the first episode - I see where this is going.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Things I'm grateful for today, in no particular order:

1) Grace.
2) Family.
3) A group of friends that know how to that laugh with me AND at me.
4) The Leafs defense.
5) The realization that Graeme's chuckle sounds exactly like Kermit the Frog.
6) Gardening.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Observations from tonight

1. There is very little about a not-so-great day that cannot be amended by coming home and grilling burgers (and marshmallows and chicken and . . .)
2. There is very little about a now much better day that cannot be amended by your kindergartener running an "experiment" where he determines which will melt faster in the spring sun - a rock or a piece of ice.
3. There is very little about a good day that cannot be improved by your kindergartener trying to say, "hypothesis."
4. There is very little about a great day that cannot be improved by a glass of good port.

And it's a wonderful day, isn't it? Life is kind of awesome, isn't it?