An afternoon well spent

All riiiiight – I got to see inside the Parliament library. That makes up a little for the crushing fact that I didn’t get to see the second floor of Manchester Town Hall (with the murals by Ford Madox Ford) because it was off-limits that afternoon.

I had to take the tour, because you can’t go as many places if you just wander around on your own, such as the library for one. The tour it is then, I exclaimed, and accepted my orange pass with 2:50 stamped on it. It was 2:30, so I nipped up to the Peace Tower to look at the view. It was very like the time I nipped up to the Old Post Office tower in DC – same line to wait for the small elevator, same easier time getting down, same general kind of architecture – and both in national capitals. How about that.

The library is gorgeous.

I like gorgeous. I don’t like coldly minimal. I know someone who spent two million dollars on a reno – yes really – and it’s coldly minimal, just the same very boring tan wood everywhere. The hell with that. I want gorgeous.

Domestic architecture

Second trip, to walk by the canal.

First I went around the corner from the hotel to get a look at that park I can see from my window, where I saw dogs being walked in the frozen sunrise. I found that it’s not a park at all, it’s the grounds of the Science Museum (where PZ is doing a talk tomorrow evening) – so now I see that I can see the museum from here! It’s right over my left shoulder as I speak. It’s one of those massive castle type museums – the bit I can see looks like Caernarvon Castle or something. There’s also a new glass part, which I can also see from here.

Also, Ottawa (at least this downtown part of it) is packed with very appealing 19th century brick houses, that are like the brick semis you see all over London and yet also not like them, and not like anything else I know either. They’re familiar yet oddly distinctive.

Incident in Las Vegas

Hey if you’re a magician, be careful about what tv talk shows you grace with your presence. Go on the wrong one and you might be set on fire.

Wayne Houchin, a Las Vegas-based magician, was.

Shocking footage has emerged on YouTube of a magician being attacked and badly injured by the host of a TV show on which he was a guest.  In an apparently spontaneous gesture, the man (who has been named as Franklin Barazarte) who is both host and producer of a talk-show in the Dominican Republic, doused 29-year old Wayne Houchin with a flammable liquid and set it on fire.

Well at least Bill O’Reilly doesn’t do that.

We shouldn’t jump to any conclusions about this one incident, although it if *was* an attempted exorcism, it would not be unique in involving violent and dangerous practices.  To take two examples from different parts of the world, in 2007 a Romanian priest was jailed for 14 years for conducting an exorcism that led to the death of a nun,  while in Japan last year a 13-year-old girl suffocated after being strapped down and doused with water by her father and a Buddhist monk who were trying to expel an “evil spirit”.

And there are all the children in places like Akwa Ibom state in Nigeria, and London, and all the women in places like India and Kenya, who get tortured to death for being “witches.”

Bullshit is not always harmless.

Women are persons

Yow – it really is cold. I got out there though. Walked around Parliament Hill and admired the stunning views of the river and Gatineau and the Gatineau hills and the distance. Saw three of the Cats of Parliament Hill sunning themselves on their front porches. I also admired the ugly-beautiful crazily grandiose architecture, just as I admired that of Manchester Town Hall. Saw the mouth of the Rideau canal. Also the Women are Persons! monument. Yes, Virginia, it really had to be argued that women are persons, and there really were people (men, that is) who said no they aren’t.

Crossing Lake Michigan

I am in Toronto. Ok not really in, except literally – I’m at the airport. Anyway I’m where I’m supposed to be for the purpose of taking a short flight to Ottawa and showing up at Eschaton. I did not forget everything, I did not lose everything, I did not miss the bus or the plane, I did not leave everything on the plane, I did not get sucked into the engine. Success! Am I competent or what.

Did you see Dave Silverman on O’Reilly last night?I never watch O’Reilly except when Dave is on. You know what BillO’s new thing is? It’s to say that Christianity is not a religion, it’s a philosophy – and not just say it, but say it in that impatient, contemptuous, everybody-knows-that way that is so irritating even when it’s true, let alone when it’s complete bullshit.

Dave is the perfect guy to go on O’Reilly because he can be just as shouty and inyerface as O’Reilly is, if need be. It’s a treat to watch, because usually BillO just shouts people down.

The bishops really do mean it

Jen Gunter is also disturbed by what the Irish bishops said.

Terminating a pregnancy is “gravely immoral in all circumstances.” All circumstances includes 17 weeks and ruptured membranes. Unless I misunderstand the meaning of “all,” then Irish Catholic Bishops also view ending a pregnancy at 17 weeks with ruptured membranes and sepsis, either by induction of labor or the surgical dilation and evacuation (D & E), to be “gravely immoral.” [Read more...]

Sorrowing bishops

The Irish bishops have spoken up. Just as they spoke up when all that terrible stuff about child rape by priests and the moving of child-raping priests from job to job instead of reporting them to the law was coming to light despite decades of effort to keep it hidden. They say the same thing now as they said then. They’re very very very sad.

The death of Mrs. Savita Halappanavar and her unborn child in University Hospital Galway on the 28 October last was a devastating personal tragedy for her husband and family. It has stunned our country. We share the anguish and sorrow expressed by so many at the tragic loss of a mother and her baby in these circumstances and we express our sympathy to the family of Mrs. Halappanavar and all those affected by these events. [Read more...]