Friday, 23 December 2011

Season's Gratings

If, as Emerson said, "language is the archives of history," then "Merry Christmas" in itself is a whole chronicle of contentious claims. No wonder it rubs so many otherwise affable people the wrong way. Originally it referred to a mass, i.e., a celebration of the Last Supper, the feast of the consubstantiation of the Lord's flesh and blood into bread and wine. For non-Christians, that in itself is a hard swallow. And the "oiled" root embedded in the Greek term Christ doesn't help it go down any easier. Was Jesus really the oiled or "anointed" one? Not according to the Jews, who rejected his divinity outright and got him nailed him to a Roman cross just to drive home the point. So every time we wish someone who's Jewish a "merry Christmas" we might as well be saying something like, "let's commemorate the birth of that mad and blasphemous rabbi, aka the Son of God, who broke bread and predicted his death at the hands of your forbears, forbears who, btw, missed the bus on His messiahship, as even you yourselves are presently missing it by persisting in standing stiff-necked beyond the grace of salvation, bound instead for eternal perdition." Quite a mouthful! Who can blame them if they want to spit some of it back in our face? Then again who knows what Talmudic terror might be lurking under every seemingly innocent "happy Hanukkah?"
I think maybe I'll stick with Sunny Solstice from now on. The whole world, after all, confesses that Sun.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

This is Coquitlam: The Saga continues

Email to Douglas Horne, MLA: D-grade

Eagle Mountain (Eagle Ridge) in North Coquitlam is a crown-managed area that has been entirely given over to off-road "recreational" traffic, to the effective exclusion of all other activities. The gate signs posted by the government are a joke, sternly prohibiting entry in one line and then inviting all and sundry "exceptions" in the next. Sign or no sign, the rules are routinely flouted by any and all comers. Inimical to habitat and hiker alike, the machines, some of them quite monstrous, and their throwback operators, represent an absolute abuse of a scarce and precious resource: sound, soil and air, you name it, the degradation is there! The whole business literally reeks of mismanagement and indifference to the common good.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

C I Aced

Chess is a heady diversion,
Perfected by the Persian,
Where foresight is king,
And victory takes wing
At the least ill-judged incursion.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

NASA's Milking Way

 The discovery of new "earth-like" planets by NASA proceeds according to a well-established law: the more the space budgets get trimmed, the more frequent and sensational the "breakthroughs" will be. Lately, what with the axing of the shuttle program and the Mars expedition on hold, the folks at Two Independence Square are on a veritable roll of finding brave new worlds. But the character and perhaps even the existence of these "exoplanets" is conjectural at best, sheer fantasy at worst. For heaven' sake, these geniuses can't even convincingly describe the surface of Ceres, sitting a virtual stone's throw from earth, but they can pinpoint a planet light years beyond the range of an optical telescope, and even narrow its temperature down to a degree or two. Breakthrough? Gimme a break!
        Based on nothing more than inferential conclusions drawn from highly iffy infrared data, these speculations get full indulgence from journalists who wouldn't know a peer review from a peer into the blue. An rf perturbation here, a twinkle in the spectra there, and voila! a brand new world where we can all decamp when the big freeze finally hits home. The same perturbations and twinkles could be read any number of ways, of course, so why not read them in the most dramatic way possible, a reading contrived to capture the public imagination and maybe the public purse to boot? The media loves this stuff, and routinely glosses the science with science fiction-like "artist's conceptions" of our distant future home. It's a feel good story all the way - to the bank. Congress, turn on the taps, because Milky Way, we're on our way!
        Too bad the story must end in no way: no way would anyone mount a full fledged colonization to these exoplanets based on such flimsy evidence. No way would any rational human want to travel to such a conjectural paradise after hibernating for a few thousand years like a bug in the ice. No way could a ship even begin to approach the speeds that would materially shorten the time required to get there. And no way could the human organism even withstand the rigors of such a prolonged time in space, since muscle tissue degenerates irremediably in weightlessness. 
       Of course, recent research involving worms in space offers some hope that a way might be found around the last objection. On the other hand it might only underscore the fact that if God had intended man for intergalactic flight then he would have given him rings!