Friday in the wild: July 25, 2014

July 25, 2014

Like or hate Matt Walsh’s opinions, you have to commend his rhetorical skills. His latest, about the impending release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, was a joy to read from start to finish.

My favourite part:

Today, someone on Facebook quoted a line from the novel:

“Finally, my medulla oblongata recalls its purpose, I breathe.”

I thought this was a joke, so I looked it up.

Nope. Not a joke. Completely real. That line actually appears in a best selling piece of literature. That line was written by someone masquerading as an author, approved by someone masquerading as an editor, published by someone masquerading as a publisher, and then consumed by millions of people masquerading as literate.

I found some other excerpts that are almost as bad/good:

“That’s the bottom line. I want to be with him. My inner goddess sighs with relief.”

“Her curiosity oozes through the phone.”

“My scalp prickles as adrenaline and fury lance through my body, all my worst fears realized.”

“My inner goddess is beside herself, hopping from foot to foot.”

This is some very, very stupid material. It reads like a thesaurus procreated with a script from a soft core porn and then the baby fell into a vat of Lifetime Channel DVDs. My inner goddess is rolling her eyes, my inner brain is hurting.

[Read To the Women of America: 4 Reasons to Hate 50 Shades of Grey]

I think her inner goddess needs to take a leak.

I later learned—and was frankly unsurprised—that Fifty Shades of Grey began its life as a work of erotic Twilight fan fiction. It certainly seems tacky enough. In fact, judging by Matt’s excerpts, even though erotic fiction isn’t my cup of tea, I suspect that I owe it to myself (and my medulla oblongata) to read at least the first book just for the sheer amusement value that Bulwer-Lyttonesque doggerel can offer. I can’t imagine that it’s Minnow Trap, but it comes close.


And now . . . this – Jul. 11/14

July 11, 2014

Are you a man born in Pennsylvania between 1893 and 1897? If so, a government agency may have just reminded you to register for the draft.

The Selective Service System, which keeps a roster of potential men who can be enlisted in the military, inadvertently sent out mailings to more than 14,000 Pennsylvania men born in those years, reminding them to register. . . .

Shuback said that the agency uses a two-digit code for the birth year, which is why the years 1893 to 1897 were mixed up with the years from 1993 to 1997. (The agency was actually going to send letters to more than 27,000 men, he said, but they started getting phone calls last week that alerted them to the mix-up.)

[Full Story]

There, see? We knew the Y2K meltdown was coming. We just didn’t realize it would be 15 years late.


Blurred lines, part 2: You and me, baby, we ain’t nothing but mammals

July 11, 2014

(Two weeks ago, I posted an article titled “Blurred Lines,” about the eroding of the male-female “binary” and the clash of biblical and secular worldviews. That article was originally posted at Faith Beyond Belief, and contained two parallel arguments. I removed the second argument for brevity and relevance. Had I known what last week would bring, I could have kept the whole article intact and just changed the news stories at the beginning.)

Last week, Texas teenager Kendall Jones was the target of an Internet lynching after photos of herself with African big-game animals, which she had shot, went viral. For her part, Ms. Jones claims that some of the animals were tranquilized for the purposes of research or veterinary treatment, and that the ones she killed either provided food for the locals or aided conservation. For my part, I believe her (on that last point, specifically—as far as I’m concerned, the others require no defense): coming from Northern Ontario where hunting and fishing are popular pastimes, in my experience the most devoted conservationists are hunters. Ducks Unlimited, for example, is dedicated to preserving waterfowl habitats. It was founded by, and primarily supported by, hunters: not merely because they want to preserve their hobby, but they also love nature and want to protect it. Conserving wetlands ensures not only a good supply of ducks to shoot, but has the side benefit of protecting other species that live there as well.

Nonetheless, hordes of easily angered Internet slacktivists descended upon Ms. Jones, demanding (successfully) that Facebook remove the pictures from her page—though a “Kill Kendall Jones” fan page was allowed to exist for a few days longer. Some folks have started online petitions to have her banned from hunting in South Africa or Tanzania, even though her kind of hunting is legal and generates revenue. The usual death threats were issued via Twitter, and one liberal douchebag is even offering $100,000 for nude pictures of her. Mike Dickinson’s apparent rationale is that “hunting” nudie pics of Ms. Jones is the moral equivalent of her hunting animals. (The Web site of this alleged, self-proclaimed Congressional candidate is currently disabled. I wonder why?)

Read the rest of this entry »


Canada Day 2014

July 1, 2014

Happy 147th birthday, Canada! We’re definitely on the home stretch to our sesquicentennial celebration (150 years) in 2017. Absolutely true to tradition, this Canada Day is a muggy scorcher, threatening later in the day to break into thunderstorms. (In fact, as I write this, Ottawa is even under a tornado warning.) Fortunately, the buses are free, as I will be heading downtown this evening to view the fireworks with a friend, who has a perfect view from his balcony.

My blog posting has been sporadic in recent years, but unlike many of my more ambitious plans, I have always made sure to post something on Canada Day every year since 2004. My habit—though, after 10 years, I think I’m right in calling it a tradition—has been to showcase a Canadian patriotic song each year.

I discovered Stan Rogers 8 years ago—in fact, it was while researching my Canada Day post for 2006, in which I wrote: “It is said that the best recording [of “Farewell to Nova Scotia”] is that of the late folk singer Stan Rogers, although I have not heard it.” In fact, I still haven’t. Even YouTube (which hardly existed back then) hasn’t managed to come through yet. Now I’m actually skeptical the recording even exists (curse you, Wikipedia!). However, the lack of one particular, fabled recording hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the rest of Rogers’ music over the years.

In his first trip to the North in 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper referred to Rogers’ 1981 song “Northwest Passage” as Canada’s unofficial national anthem. The lyrics parallel the search for the fabled Northwest Passage across North America to the Pacific Ocean, with Rogers’ own trip west. Like many Canadian patriotic songs, it makes numerous references to history, mentioning several explorers directly or indirectly:

  • John Davis was a sixteenth-century English navigator, who led several voyages during the reign of Elizabeth I to find the Northwest Passage. Davis Strait, between Greenland and Baffin Island, is named after him.
  • Henry Kelsey (“brave Kelso” in the song) was a seventeenth-century English fur trader and explorer for the Hudson’s Bay Company. He was likely the first European to see present-day Saskatchewan.
  • Alexander Mackenzie was a Scottish explorer, the first man to cross North America to the Pacific north of Mexico, in 1790. The Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories is named after him: he travelled to its mouth hoping it would lead to the Pacific, but named the river “Disappointment” when it opened into the Arctic Ocean.
  • David Thompson, who worked as a fur trader and surveyor for both the Hudson’s Bay and North West companies, mapped nearly four million square kilometers of the North American west: one-fifth of the continent.
  • The Fraser River is named after Simon Fraser, the Scottish fur trader who charted much of present-day British Columbia, and in 1808 explored the Fraser River from Prince George to its mouth.
  • Sir John Franklin sailed on four Arctic exploration expeditions. The final one was to travel the theretofore unnavigated section of the Northwest Passage. Both ships and all hands of the expedition were lost in 1845 when they became icebound in the Arctic near King William Island.

Stan Rogers died at the age of 33 on June 2, 1983, when a fire aboard Air Canada Flight 797 forced an emergency landing at Cincinnati Greater Airport. Seconds after landing, a flash fire killed Rogers and 22 passengers who had not yet had time to evacuate the plane. His legacy is a small library of wonderful recordings, and a deep influence on Canadian music.

Happy birthday, Canada.

Previous Canada Day songs: