Canada reads . . .

February 26, 2005

Typically of a night I will tune into CBC Radio One to catch the six o’clock news, then follow that up with the public-affairs program As It Happens. This week AIH was truncated for the annual Canada Reads series. Surprisingly for a literary-minded person, this isn’t the sort of thing that really turns me on. It has to do with an intense dislike of Canadian fiction, with the occasional exception. But on Tuesday night I was a little bit slow turning off the radio. Imagine my surprise to find out that one of this year’s panelists was my friend Sherraine MacKay.

Needless to say, I paid closer attention this year. And I’m glad I did, too, because some of the books on the short list sound quite intriguing.

Canada Reads is a CBC project begun in 2002, a sort of literary “reality show,” in which celebrity panelists promote a work of Canadian fiction that they think the whole country should read. Five books are shortlisted, and their advocates defend their choices in a panel discussion over five days. From the second round onward, one book is eliminated by ballot until only the winner remains.

Sherraine is a world-class fencer and an Olympic athlete, having competed in Sydney and Athens (and currently training in Budapest in anticipation of Beijing). I actually know her because she married a good friend of mine who attended my church when he lived in Ottawa (i.e. before getting married and moving to Europe).

Her Canada Reads pick was No Crystal Stair by Mairuth Sarsfield, a novel about members of a black community in Montréal during WW2. She defended it pretty well, too: it survived until Day 4.

The other panelists and their books included: novelist Donna Morissey, defending Rockbound by Frank Parker Day; pop artist Molly Johnson, who substituted for Rufus Wainwright to defend Leonard Cohen’s Beautiful Losers; Toronto city councillor Olivia Chow, advocating Margaret Atwood’s recent science fiction novel Oryx and Crake; and author and former National Librarian Roch Carrier, whose short story “The Hockey Sweater” is literally a national symbol (an excerpt is printed on the reverse of the $5 bill), stumped for Volkswagen Blues, a novel by French-Canadian author Jacques Poulin.

In the end, when the votes were all counted on Friday, Rockbound edged out Oryx and Crake as as the novel all of Canada should read. Maybe I will, too.

The Canada Reads site contains audio blurbs from the five panelists and RealAudio of all five days of debate.


Stupid Microsloth

February 25, 2005

Heaven forbid that Microsoft (hereafter Microsloth for reasons that will become apparent) should provide a Web browser that actually does what it’s told.

My primary browser is Mozilla Firefox. It’s small, it’s fast, and best of all, it’s compliant. If you write HTML according to spec (as I try to), it doesn’t break it. As annoying as HTML purism can be to some designers, the fact is that it’s one of the easiest ways to ensure that if a Web browser can’t handle your design, at least it will probably devolve gracefully.

My other blog, Sacra Eloquia, consists mainly of lengthy theological posts. They are originally adapted from Sunday school lessons that took around 45 minutes to deliver, so they’re pretty lengthy. That means lots of scrolling. More advanced blogging platforms than Blogger often offer excerpting: a post preview on the main page and a link to the full article. That kind of feature is perfect for what I’m doing on Sacra Eloquia. And while it’s not built into Blogger, it can be hacked, and in fact they do provide instructions. Following those, basically, I followed their directions, like so:

Within the header of my template (i.e. between the <head> and </head> tags), I added this bit of style information:

<style>

<!--

<MainOrArchivePage>

div.fulltext { display: none; }

</MainOrArchivePage>

-->

</style>

Next, I located the <$BlogItemBody$> tag in the template, and immediately after it, added:

<MainOrArchivePage>

<p>[<a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>">Read more</a>]</p>

</MainOrArchivePage>

Basically, what all this means is that when you write a blog entry, enclose the part you don’t want on your main page in <div class="fulltext"> and </div> tags. On the main page only , it will be hidden; also on the main page it will provide an explicit link to the full text at the bottom of the excerpt.

The disadvantage (which the Blogger people admit) is that the read-on link will always be visible on your main page whether you excerpt or not. No matter, I just made some modifications to their hack. In the style sheet, I added:

div.readmore { display: none; }

div.fulltext + div.readmore { display: block }

and wrapped the read-on link in <div class="readmore"> and </div> tags. Basically, what this does is make hiding the read-more link the default condition. However, if the last part of the blog post is hidden, then the link is visible. So in a standards-compliant browser like Firefox, it works as expected.

Enter Microsloth Internet Explorer.

I don’t use it for regular browsing. In fact the only reason I keep it around is a) because it’s too much hassle to extricate it from the operating system; and b) so many people are using it, that I have to design Web pages that don’t break in it. It just happens that I looked at my blog in IE this evening, and much to my chagrin discovered that the read-more link doesn’t show up. At all. It appears that IE doesnt’ like adjacent selectors, so it ignores ’em.

No matter, I thought. If I can’t work around this “feature,” I’ll just exploit it, adding this to my style sheet:

div.iereadmore { display: block }

div.readmore + div.iereadmore

And I added a second link, identical to the first, only this time wrapped in <div> tags of the iereadmore class. Essentially, Firefox now hides one and displays the other, and IE does the exact opposite.

The only problem remaining: We’re back to square one as far as the original Blogger hack is concerned. Whether I excerpt the post or not, IE will always display the link. But at least the hack works properly now on one browser and it isn’t exactly broken with respect to Microsloth anymore. Maybe I’ll edit one to flash IE users a snarky message, as a reminder that Microsloth can’t be bothered to provide a browser that respects Web designers or users.

Meanwhile, feel free to inspect my HTML source, and if you can suggest another workaround that will get both Mozilla and IE working identically, I’d love to hear about it.


And now . . . this – Feb. 25/05

February 25, 2005

What the . . . ?

Fire your dentist. Apparently if your teeth grow in unusual ways, it’s an evil omen, and you have to marry a dog:

Two small boys and two girls were married off to four puppies by tribal villagers in the small northern Indian state of Jharkhand to ward off evil.

Local officials in Kuluptang village in Jharkhand said the “kukur vibaha” or dogs’ marriages, were organised on the last day of a local tribal festival, the Press Trust of India (news – web sites) news agency said.

One of the tribals, 54-year-old Sonamuni, who blessed the marriage of her three-year-old grand-daughter Priya, said the wedding was no less important than other such ceremonies and all customs normally associated with marriage were followed.

The mother of “groom” Durga, aged one, said that if the first tooth of a baby came out in the upper jaw it was considered “inauspicious” for the child as well as the family and dog marriages had to be performed. (emphasis added)

[Full Story]

Is the marriage of an infant to a dog actually considered legally binding? If so, it’s criminal. There’s no other word for it. Sadly, there’s no William Carey today to put an end to superstitious nonsense.

(H/T: The Great Separation.)


Dodge this

February 25, 2005

Does Condi Rice have poise, or what? No, I haven’t turned into a fashion critic, but check out this Reuters photo of the American Secretary of State meeting the troops in a black opera trenchcoat. She’s got sort of a “The Matrix meets Honor Blackman in her Avengers kinky boots” kind of thing going on. (Too bad the photog didn’t catch her in a slightly less awkward pose, though.)

(H/T to Blaster’s Blog.)


Friday in the wild – Feb. 25, 2005

February 25, 2005

It’s Friday! Here’s some of the stuff that really caught my eye around the blogosphere this week.

Michael King dug up a bit of interesting trivia about the narcotic heroin: the word used to be a trademark registered by the same people who brought us “aspirin.”

<johnnycarson>I did not know that.</johnnycarson>

Catez at Allthings2all continues a friendly debate over the Quran:

A number of scholars are agreed that Mohammed was influenced by certain teachings on Christianity. It is evident that he had learned some of the Bible accounts from the way he has incorporated them into the Qu’ran. However his understanding was limited and he not only plagiarised the Bible but was also lacking in understanding sequences of events and the roles that certain people played.

[Read The Qu’ran: Plagiarism of the Bible and Omissions]

Over on Manasclerk’s Power Struggle, manasclerk has posted a tribute of sorts to one of my favourite musicians, the late Mark Heard:

He was an amazing songwriter and performer. A whole generation of Christians in popular and folk music were inspired by his craft. It’s over a decade after he died and Buddy Miller just released a new cover of “Worry Too Much.” You know, I hope when I die I leave just a tenth of how he affected folks.

[Read Mark Heard’s Final Performance]

Yeah, me too. Mark Heard’s influence is probably more keenly felt than seen, especially these days. But if you can find them, you owe it to yourself to acquire an album or two of his. I personally recommend Second Hand and Satellite Sky. And the compilation album Strong Hand of Love, featuring contributions from Bruce Cockburn, Randy Stonehill, Michael Tait, and Rich Mullins, among others, is probably the best tribute album ever recorded. No joke.

Tim Irvin tells a story about his adventures at the local Burger King that is almost as good as the classic Taco Bell adventure:

Our local Burger King used to be an excellent burger haven but it has hit the skids. Last Summer I pulled through the drive-thru and ordered like I usually do. Mustard Whopper, fries and coke. For years I could say, “Mustard Whopper” and it was understood that I wanted a standard Whopper with Mustard instead of Mayo. The girl taking my order wasn’t up on it.

[Read The Downfall of BK]

I can relate. I used to live around the corner from a BK where I am convinced the night staff were always on something.

Last but not least, Dawn Eden has been tearing the hide off Planned Parenthood this week. Yesterday she posted about an article in Teenwire, a teen-oriented sex-ed site, which linked to another site apparently run by pedophiles:

The article tells little girls that besides the possibility of an older man’s being too “controlling,” “a girl who’s hooking up with an older guy needs to think about something else, too—the law….Check out Age of Consent for more about the laws in your state.”

The words “Age of Consent” in the Teenwire piece link to a Web site which is very clearly run by pedophiles.

[Read “F— the Children”: Planned Parenthood’s Teenwire Sends Kids to Pedophile Site]

By the time I read the article, PP had apparently removed an active link to the Age of Consent site (as one commenter posted, “How conveeenient”). But I did manage to track it down (not even slightly difficult, and yes, the site does contain editorials such as “Possesion [sic] of child porn should be legal” or “Is Adult/Child Sex always abuse?” I decline to multiply further examples. We all know there are plenty of sick freaks in the world, and apparently a number of them work for publicly-funded Planned Parenthood.

A few days ago Dawn also pointed out the sick inconsistency of Planned Parenthood celebrating supportive black politicians:

Brian Clowes, PhD, of Human Life International, has compiled a remarkable collection of nearly 1,200 quotes from the Birth Control Review, published between 1917 and 1940 by the American Birth Control League, forerunner of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The sheer breadth of the quotes from magazine, edited by Birth Control League/Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger until 1928 and continuing to represent the views of her organization thereafter, show that Planned Parenthood’s philosophy is grounded in disgustingly obvious racism and eugenics. (Emphases in original)

[Read Planned Parenthood’s Racist Roots]

Update: The iMonk gets one in under the wire, just because his tribute to Gene Scott manages to capture the man’s essence perfectly:

I was visiting my friend Darrell back in 1988, and he wanted to show me his satellite TV system. This was back in the day when satellite dishes made your yard look like the Jordell Bank radio dish. We descended to the den in the basement, and Darrell was flipping through the channels, when we came upon a puzzling sight. A long haired old man, sitting in a lounge chair, books all around him, puffing a cigar, and talking about the Great Pyramid.

“Dr. Gene Scott,” Darrell said with a smile. Thus was I introduced….and promptly addicted.

What the heck was this? This was the pastor of the University Cathedral, the host of the University Network, the most educated televangelist on the air and the absolute ruler of the universe that was Gene Scott’s version of Christianity.

[Read I Just Couldn’t Look Away: The Crazed, Cranky, Captivating Christianity of Dr. Gene Scott]

After disappearing into the netherworld, today if I type crusty into Google, I have returned to #4 in the rankings. But for some reason Google’s lost my title. Well, whatever.

Interesting searches that brought people to the Crusty Curmudgeon this week:

I’ve made a couple of changes to the blogroll as well:

  • My friends Rand and Twinklemoose have moved blogs and can now be found at A Form of Sound Words. I’ll keep both links up for a week or so.
  • Warren Kelly’s View from the Pew has been languishing in my reciprocal links for some time, but I’ve moved him up to the main blogroll.

Go and give these worthy blogs a read.

Till next time.


So is it a hate crime or isn’t it?

February 24, 2005

I’ve said it before. I love it when the loony left’s sacred cows start butting heads for dominance of the herd.

Per The Dawn Patrol, a state representative in Maine has introduced a bill that would make it a hate crime to abort an unborn child because it carries homosexual genes. (Not that the “gay gene” has been discovered yet. It just might be someday.) [Full Story]

Meanwhile, however, the lesbian, pro-abortion, Planned Parenthood-sponsored blogger at Now What is having none of it. Little lesbian fetuses ought to have equal rights . . . to be vacuumed out of the uterus. [Full Post]

When the moonbats start feeding on their own, how are us unenlightened luddites in Jesusland supposed to know whose side to take? It’s so confusing. Can we just put the two of ’em into a cage with a couple of chainsaws and let them duke it out?

Incidentally, Dawn has been tearing a strip off Planned Parenthood lately, and I’ll have more to say about her in tomorrow’s weekly roundup.

Postscript (Feb. 25): Thanks to Paradoxes and Problems for the hat tip.


And now . . . this – Feb. 23/05

February 23, 2005

Dear baby, welcome to Dumpsville. Population: you.

The delicate problem of how to dump a lover before moving on to the next one has been given a new twist by a Dutch Web site.

The site suggests women tell their partner they want a baby and men buy their girlfriend underwear that’s too big. . . .

The site also provides two downloadable documents with blanks left for names — one a curt business-style letter, the other a scathing poem — to end relationships in writing.

[Full Story]

Nothing says “Dear John” quite like a form letter.

If a flaming bag of poop is cool, then . . .

It took nearly four months, but to the relief of neighbors miles around, a burning manure pile has been extinguished.

David Dickinson, owner and manager of Midwest Feeding Co., said Wednesday that several weeks of pulling the 2,000-ton pile apart proved effective by late last week.

[Full Story]

Some people can’t be paid enough for what they do.

Oh, and for those wondering what a giant burning mound of cow crap looks like, Yahoo has pictures.