Apartment showing angst

SilverHi Richard,

Here’s the usual photos of cats, squirrels and brightly-coloured objects on Montreal streets. Since it was moving day recently, there was lots of discarded furniture, so the whole city was a photo op.

It’s Jazz Festival time here, and I haven’t been to anything. I went to Place des Arts on Canada Day, but didn’t feel like being in huge crushing crowds of people. Fantasia will be starting shortly, though, and I’ll definitely go see some freaky films.

I’ve been a bit stressed because my landlady is completely not of this earth, and loves causing lots of drama, so she’s been a total pill about showing this apartment. I suggested at the get-go that she let me place the ad and show the place and she could interview people, making it more covenient for us all, but she didn’t go for that, saying she wants to choose the people. I reiterated that that is exactly what I’m suggesting, but she likely had another agenda of simply wanting to snoop around in my place. Legally she’s supposed to give me notice when she wants to show the apartment, and although she’s done so twice and it went smoothly, most recently she said the day before “I might bring somebody tomorrow”, and I said fine, just let me know what time, if you are going to show it. Then, with no notice she showed up with people and I wouldn’t let them in. I did that because she’s the sort of person who would then start doing that all the time, unless I maintain firm boundaries. She had a freak out. I started lining up people to be here when she comes, so now I think she’s intimidated because with the last visit she didn’t come in, but waited outside on the street. I think I’m going to enjoy having my own home just that much more because of this.

So anyway, that has short-term sucked a bit of the joy out of my normal mood, but this too shall pass. I’m still blissed about being in Montreal. I live here. It’s awesome.



The question that’s the question for me, is What do you want your life to mean? Most people discover Existentialism when they’re 15, but I’m a late bloomer.

Part of the answer to that question is why I live in Montreal. As Mary Oliver says in The Swan,

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

One of the clearest expressions is Georgs PelecisNevertheless

Christmas letters


From P

Dear L,

I hope that all’s well in Montreal. By the way, just to let you know that you’re not missing much in this town here’s a letter to the editor that was in today’s Calgary Sun. It reflects the “New” Spirit of Calgary.


Re: “If you donate, I’ll cut the melodrama,” Ian Robinson, Nov. 24.) Telling ghastly tales of Christmas woe doesn’t make me teary eyed enough to open my wallet. In fact, I roll my eyes at such drivel during this time of the year. Remember, no amount of kindness will make any difference to people in need, as evident by the continued existence of such charities. Logically, if charities did make a difference, there would be a gradual decline for such services, not more of them.

Dan Peters

Be thankful that you fled this greedy city.

Blessing on your forehead for Christmas.


From me

Hello and Christmas Greetings to you too P!

Your message, with the quoted letter from the Sun, just about made me cry. Calgary’s a contradictory tension of Social Darwinism and people who consider themselves to be Christians. They’re often Biblical literalists, but leave out all that love and compassion and equality stuff, which is what their leader stressed, saying the poor will always be among us.

I like Christmas because we tell ourselves our most dearly loved story, where divinity reveals itself to poor humble people and animals. And I believe that we’re never going to have peace in our psyches, or peace on earth, until we embrace the poor and the humble and the voiceless.

Bruce Cockburn says in his song, The Cry of a Tiny Babe,

And there are others who know about this miracle birth
The humblest of people catch a glimpse of their worth
For it isn’t to the palace that the Christ child comes
But to shepherds and street people, hookers and bums

Peace, happiness, health and every good thing to you this holiday season, P.


From P

Thanks so much for your beautiful response which outlines the real meaning of Christmas. Forgive me for my delay in responding.

I was reading the Calgary Sun today and I guess that there is “some” hope. There’s a letter printed in response to the terse one that I forwarded to you.


Dan Peter’s letter (Kindness Doesn’t Matter, Dec. 1) is among the most ignorant, offensive, and arrogant letters I have ever read. I could attempt to explain the need for charity and the need for charity this time of year, but as shown in his letter, ignorance is much more powerful than any reason you could produce. Thankfully, many Calgarians know better.

Ken Moffatt

(Let’s hope he never needs help.)

As I mentioned, there is hope.

All the best


This is normal for us

herouxville.jpgI guess by now everyone knows about Hérouxville’s prohibition on stoning or igniting women:

Our Women
We consider that men and women are of the same value. Having said this, we consider that a woman can; drive a car, vote, sign checks, dance, decide for herself, speak her peace, dress as she sees fit respecting of course the democratic decency, walk alone in public places, study, have a job, have her own belongings and anything else that a man can do. These are our standards and our way of life.
However, we consider that killing women in public beatings, or burning them alive are not part of our standards of life.

But it’s strange that the rest of the document, which can be found if you go to http://municipalite.herouxville.qc.ca/ and then click Avis Public, isn’t worthy of mention. Because it’s rife with a bunch of finger-pointing and xenophobic assumptions. They won’t say at whom, but you can pretty much guess.

Our Festivities
We listen to music, we drink alcoholic beverages in public or private places, we dance and at the end of every year we decorate a tree with balls and tinsel and some lights. This is normally called “Christmas Decorations” or also “Christmas Tree” letting us rejoice in the notion of our national heritage and not necessarily a religious holiday. These festivities are authorized in public, schools, and institutions and also in private.

Our Sports & Leisure
For the longest time boys and girls have played the same games and often play together.
For example, if you came to my place we would send the kids to swim together in the pool, don’t be surprised this is normal for us.
You would see men and women skiing together on the same hill at the same time, don’t be surprised this is normal for us.
You would also see men and women playing hockey together, don’t be surprised this is normal for us.
In our public swimming pools we have men and women lifeguards for our security to protect us from drowning, don’t be surprised this is normal for us.
All the laws adopted that permit these phenomenons have followed a strict democratic process. You would appreciate this new life style and share our habits & customs.

and from Our Security

The only time you may mask or cover your face is during Halloween, this is a religious traditional custom at the end of October celebrating all Saints Day, where children dress up and go door to door begging for candy and treats. All of us accept to have our picture taken and printed on our driver’s permit, health care card and passports. A result of democracy.

From Our Families

If our children eat meat for example, they don’t need to know where it came from or who killed it. Our people eat to nourish the body not the soul.

The document claims, “The standards published above are just a sample so the new arrivals to this territory can clearly identify with us before making their decision to move here.”

A friend remarked that it’s funny this distinct society won’t tolerate any others, but there you have it.

This is normal for us.

Brought to you by The Decider

decider-sm.JPGWhen it seemed like George Bush would win the presidential election in 2004, I remember the dismay of my American friends. Ruefully, they thought that if Bush won it might be a wakeup for the US electorate, to see what a helluva mess you have to clean up afterwards when you don’t choose a good leader.

Bush’s decision to throw twenty thousand lives at his created war, is another catastrophe that no one seems to have the will to oppose. As he gave the Democrats’ reply to Bush’s Presidential address, James Webb said that he, like so many other soldiers,

trusted the judgment of our national leaders. . . . We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it. But they owed us sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

But that isn’t the card that Bush is playing here. In the January 22 issue of The New Yorker Steve Coll writes

In a competitive democracy, it is difficult to rescue a war built on distortions and illusions, because, to protect falsehoods proffered to voters in the past, a President and his advisers may find it tempting to manufacture more of them. It does not require a cynic to see that even an implausible escalation plan has the virtue of putting domestic political opponents back on their heels. This was the advice given by McGeorge Bundy to Lyndon Johnson in a memo dated February 7, 1965, concerning an escalation plan for Vietnam that Bundy thought might have as little as a twenty-five-per-cent chance of success:

Even if it fails, the policy will be worth it. At a minimum it will damp down the charge that we did not do all that we could have done, and this charge will be important in many countries, including our own.

The Bush Administration is now reworking this sad axiom, and once again, American soldiers will be asked to give their lives for its assumptions.

I doubt it’s worth it for those who are about to throw away their lives for this lie. As Hendrik Hertzenberg writes

His Presidency and his “legacy” are in ruins anyway, so he imagines he has nothing to lose. If only that were true of the rest of us.

God 2.0


In the documentary The Root of All Evil? Richard Dawkins says

We live in a time of lethal polarization, when the great religions are pushing their conflict to a point where it is difficult to see how they can ever be reconciled

and goes on to show the fear, misery and atrophy of thought caused by religious extremes.

We live in the shadow of a religiously-inspired terror, in an era when science has plainly shown religious superstitions to be false.

It’s a fixed fight when Dawkins interviews Ted Haggard, among others who are likely quite disturbed enough without religion. Religion just gives them the ultimate authority they need to justify their thoughts and actions. And the moderate, benign believers are revealed by Dawkins to be fuzzy-headed equivocators, interpreting the Bible selectively by glossing over the unpleasant bits where God’s an “ethnic cleanser urging his followers to acts of genocide”, as Dawkins puts it.

Why we can’t take the Bible as an authoritative moral code is because it’s a compendium of Bronze to Axis-age beliefs. These social norms included owning slaves and concubines, condemning gays, witches and adulterers, and the wholesale killing of tribes of men, women, children and even their herd animals, because god said so. Taking the Bible as a moral code that’s relevant to our lives denies that “we have a moral conscience and empathy and it is constantly evolving”.

I’ve had my own encounters with religious extremists that have shaped how I am. When I was a little girl, a friend invited me to what sounded like Girl Guides. Pioneer Girls is “a Christian ministry that’s entirely driven by a passion to evangelize and disciple today’s children.” Another of their goals is to “reached unchurched families”, through those little evangelized pioneers.

In a recent survey, 46 percent of our churches reported that unchurched families had begun attending worship services as a result of their child’s involvement in Pioneer Clubs.

How they hoped to do this was through scaring the crap out of us, amen. Lots of end-time stuff. Jesus is coming back at any moment, so we had better make sure our families were saved. I was an eight year old insomniac, as many nights I lay awake, worrying about the Rapture. Was I good enough to go to heaven? And what about my family, would they have 666 tattooed on their foreheads? And my grandpa who sang, “Jesus walks upon the water, he’s the lifeguard at our pool”, would he be thrown into the lake of burning fire forever?

So lots of the Book of Revelation, Chick Publications, C.S. Lewis and memorizing Bible verses. The devil was everywhere, tempting you, especially in anything pleasureable like tv, rock music, comic books and movies.

I couldn’t believe that nobody had warned me about this. This was so important, that the world worked this way. Why hadn’t I been told? My grandmother, who attended the United Church certainly never mentioned the dire straits we were all in. In order to try to save my family, I started to read my copy of Good News for Modern Man. Certainly it would contain all the clues, as it had Jesus’ own words in it.

Then I started having doubts. God seemed really angry and sort of sneaky a lot of the time. It was mean-spirited of him to hold all the cards, putting the tree in the garden of Eden while giving people free will and curiosity and then punishing them for it. That wasn’t fair; what about a second chance, love, forgiveness and compassion? It was harsh, but worse was to come. Crumbling towers and plagues of death to cities, to people who were just trying to make a living, and all the innocent animals killed in the flood. That good old OT god, always looking over his shoulder, warning us we’d better not have any gods before him, threatening, boasting, needing worship and the blood of sacrificed animals to propitiate him. Please don’t rain curses on us again…

But no, wrong. God is a god of love. He loves us all. It’s a confusing kind of love, of a tyrant who demands the father sacrifice the son to a god who needs blood. (And this was the good guy, not the evil devil.) So what was the mental aftermath for Abraham after having been told to kill his son and having been ready to do so? How could he or Isaac ever forgive him that willingness to murder? God was playing head games with Abraham. And what of our trauma and confusion, after god’s demand of the murder of his own son? This notion of a blood price, is that the best he could do, he who made the rules? And now all of us have no choice but to have him in charge.

When our cat Sylvia died, I told my friend that I would see Sylvia again in heaven some day. Oh no you won’t, my friend informed me, because animals don’t have souls. That was the last straw for me. I decided I wasn’t on god’s side anymore, and that I had a few words for him.

I’d prefer not to have faith as the underpinning for morality, so that our good deeds can stand on their own, rather than as appeasement to an angry god who wants to test us, and who’s going to incinerate us if we fail.

I don’t really care what people believe or draw comfort and meaning from – the religious impulse fascinates me – but I do care about their actions. And the problem with religious belief (or any extreme ideology) is that it can stifle rational thought and lead to hateful actions. A supreme authority that incites people to hate is not an entity I’m willing to believe in. It’s time for God 2.0.

Retrial for Nazanin Fatehi

There’s going to be a retrial for Nazanin Fatehi, the then 17-year-old Iranian girl who was sentenced to hang, after stabbing one of the three men who tried to rape her and her niece.

According to the Middle East Times, Fatehi would have been in dire circumstances no matter what she did:

On one hand, Iranian Penal Code severely limits the possibility of using ‘self-defense’ as a legitimate defence to aggression.”

“On the other hand, if Nazanin had allowed the rape to take place, she could still be imprisoned, flogged or stoned for having sex outside of marriage unless four male witnesses to the actual rape would testify on her behalf.”

The Independent’s interpretation is slightly different:

If she had allowed the men to rape her and her niece, the girls would have been subjected to 100 lashes under Iranian laws on chastity. If they had been married at the time they were raped they would likely have been found guilty of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning.

In either case, what she should have done, apart from cursing the misfortune of being born a woman, is a mystery.

The Canadian lawyer, Negar Azmudeh, who’s spoken on Fatehi’s behalf cited a case where “a woman was prosecuted for injuring her boss as he tried to rape her at work: “Because she had showed up at work on a Friday [a weekend day in Iran] they could not claim ‘self-defence’ because her presence at the office on a Friday when she knew the boss was there constituted her ‘invitation’ to be raped.”

Save Nazanin news