Friday, December 30, 2005

Inane Chatter

Hello all. Sorry for the delay in updating the Digglings, but I’ve been off in Costa Rica with my sister avoiding the West Coast winter rains. Now, one may think that such a holiday would have lead to several blog entries about endless sunshine and glorious surfing, and that may yet happen. But not now. First, I need to blow off some steam, for I have witnessed countless scenarios that leave me convinced of the ongoing decline of civilization and the impending end to our society as a whole.

My next few entries will discuss some of these observations. The following is the first. I call it:

Inane Chatter

Now come on people. If you’re stupid you should be self conscious about it, not broadcast it at full volume for all the world to hear!

There’s a classic scene in Jim Jarmusch’s film “Broken Flowers” where Bill Murray is riding a bus from an airport terminal to the rental car lot. Sitting across from him are two teenage girls engaged in the most mindless banter imaginable. The look on his face alone is worth the price of admission. He sports a slight grin all the while conveying a sense of absolute exasperation and complete disdain. In the end, however, you can tell he understands because, after all, they are just teenage girls.

If inane banter was restricted to teenage girls, I’d be OK with it, too. They go hand in hand, right down to the incessant repetition of “like” and “oh my god”. My problem is that mindless dialogue appears to be an outbreak of epidemic proportions, affecting every last man, woman and child in America. And they insist on shoving it in your face.

Case in point. Our last night in Costa Rica we went on a guided moonlight stroll down “Playa Grande” to witness a true wonder of nature, leatherback turtles laying eggs in the sand. It’s an incredible spectacle.

Leatherbacks are the largest turtles in the world, some measuring over three feet wide and five feet long. The females struggle up onto the beach at high tide in the dark, and deposit up to 70 eggs into a trench that they dig with their rear flippers. Not long ago, the beach would have been home to over 200 turtles a night going through this process. Today, the average is around three per night, and the overall turtle populations are dwindling fast. The reason is, of course, man’s interference with the turtle’s environment.

In an effort to preserve the leatherback turtles, Costa Rica has designated Playa Grande as a nature preserve, and only a limited number of guided trips are permitted on the beach at night. So, Beth and I signed up and joined a group of about thirty tourists eager to experience the spectacle.

Picture this – you’re part of the only group walking along an otherwise empty 2 ½ mile stretch of pristine beach. The moon has yet to rise, but the sheer abundance of stars cast enough light that you can actually see your shadow. The surf crashes noisily, occasionally splashing your bare feet with warm tropical water as you expectantly approach a leatherback turtle.

Sounds absolutely magical, yes?

Well, it should have been, but it wasn’t. How could such an otherwise perfect occasion be ruined? You guessed it, with stupid, brainless, dim-witted, inane chatter. Our group of thirty individuals came from all over North America, and the one thing they had in common was that they just wouldn’t shut up. It was absolutely mind-boggling.

Like all interactions while abroad, it starts with the absurd mantra of the American tourist, “ Where y’all from?”. The question itself isn’t at issue, it’s the intent. You see, people who ask that question really aren’t interested in where you’re from. They’re initiating a conversation because they’re interested in telling you where they’re from! It’s a time worn tradition. Some profusely sweating perfect stranger blurts out the dreaded question from across a bus or on the street, and before you can say “Canada”, he or she interrupts you to fill you in on everything you didn’t want to know about Tuba City, Arizona. (I didn’t make that up, honest!) And, unless you’re particularly rude, the endless diatribe of gibberish picks up from there.

Our walk along Playa Grande in the starlight was no different. The poor Costa Rican guide finally gave up on trying to fill us in on local lore, because he was continuously drowned out by a barrage of increasingly voluminous idiodicy. It was like a contest. Not to be outdone by a school girl complaining that her legs were going to be sore from this epic hike, a college girl started to loudly complain to her mother that her roommate’s boyfriend wouldn’t let she and some girls watch Sex In The City DVDs because Monday Night Football was on. She was infuriated, and apparently wanted all of us to feel her pain.

And on it went for the entire half hour it took us to get to the turtle. Whatever fleeting thought that leapt into each individual’s mind was immediately blurted out for all to hear. Calling it vacuous is giving it too much credit.

Even worse were the questions that people asked the guide after we had spent 15 minutes watching the turtle lay her eggs. The guide had been adamant that we keep silent while in close proximity to the turtle, a task which I’m sure was torture for our group. We then moved about a hundred feet away so the guide could field questions. I was more appalled than during the walk. I’m convinced that people only ask questions so they can hear themselves talk. It has absolutely nothing to do with learning. It has everything to do with exposing oneself as a complete imbecile.

In my mind, our guide showed Herculean restraint. Check out some of these questions:

“What color are the eggs?” What?!? You mean the white eggs you were just looking at less than 30 seconds ago?
“What size are the eggs?” Once again, we’re discussing the eggs you just saw. They were mere inches from your nose. There was no illusion of any kind going on, so if they looked to be just slightly larger than a golf ball, then they are probably just slightly larger than a golf ball.

The questions were fired at the guide faster than he could answer them. But, I had the utmost confidence in his ability to answer all of them because he had already told us the answers in his preamble talk before we started walking. People were making up questions to information that they had already heard. What size is the turtle? Why is it called a leatherback? How many eggs does it lay? Unbelievable! Each and every one of us had a hand-out that the guide had read to us before we started, and the answer to EVERY question that was asked was on the handout.

Every question, that is, except one. And it is with that question that I will end this rant. A rather slight, spectacled, middle aged fellow had been silent for most of the question answer period, but towards the end he had to prove to all of us that he held knowledge that was exclusive to the rest. With a nervous giggle, he asked the guide about how long “the act” took between the male and female turtle. The guide said he wasn’t sure. So, in front of the whole group, including children, the man started to describe to us in great detail that it went on for a really, really long time. Perhaps not as long as it took for him to tell us, but for a really long time just the same. His long winded answer to his own question was often punctuated by Mr. Burns style laughter, leading me to believe that at least one member of our group wasn’t a total idiot. Certifiably insane yes, but not necessarily an idiot.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Today's Moment of Zen

Researchers studying the drug content of the River Po in Italy concluded that the 5 million people living in the river’s vicinity must consume about 200,000 lines of cocaine per day.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Stop Don't Go Traffic

Oh to be the guy who sells traffic lights to the city of Vancouver! He must be making money hand over fist. This holiday season, who needs Christmas lights? We’ve already got plenty of flashing red and green lights for as far as the eye can see!

For those of you fortunate enough to not have to drive Vancouver city streets each day, let me explain. Back in the early 70’s, Vancouver city planners made a conscious decision not to build freeways. Their vision was one of a city with lots of green space, minimal cars and effective transit. Considering Vancouver’s idyllic location on the west coast, I’d say that wasn’t a bad idea.

However, there is a not-so subtle difference between vision and implementation, and Vancouver is a textbook example of how the one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other. In fact, it more closely resembles an example of how bright ideas can get totally screwed up.

The original plan was to discourage people from commuting by making driving in the city as frustrating as possible while at the same time providing efficient and cost effective transportation alternatives. Pretty simple, really. If driving is a pain, people will take another option.

Well, they got it half right. Driving in Vancouver is indeed a pain. You can’t get anywhere quickly because all the roads are clogged city streets. There are no freeways or thoroughfares. Moreover, there are hardly any left hand turn lanes or advance turn signals! As a result, rush hour lasts from 7 AM to 7 PM.

Of course, making life hell for drivers was the easy part of the plan. The city has saved a bundle on highway construction (there is none) and has obviously put no money or even thought into improving the infrastructure of existing roads. About all they seem to have done is to initiate a plan whereby traffic lights are being installed at every single intersection in the city. It’s infuriating in its idiodicy, but it sure adds to the goal of snarling traffic and exasperating drivers. Good job on task one city planners!

Meanwhile, the city collects some of the highest civic taxes in the country. Now, it was my understanding that the reasoning behind the high taxes was that the city was going to build a world class public transit system. Remember that part of the plan? The bit about effective and efficient alternatives? Instead, the city appears to be spending the money talking about building a world class public transit system. Apparently, talk doesn’t come cheap here on the west coast. So, while city planners talk, the number of cars on the road multiplies like rabbits, and drivers have an increasing number of stop lights where they can get out of their cars and clobber their fellow motorists with golf clubs.

On a recent trip to Seattle, I heard that they are looking to Vancouver as a model for the redevelopment of their downtown core. I hope they’ve stocked up on traffic lights.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

To The Polls We Go!

Well folks, it has finally happened. The Liberal Government has folded like the house of cards it always was, imploding from an abundance of corruption the likes of which have only been observed in, well, most other governments.

It’s big news, too. The “Daily Show with John Stewart” led with the story last night, and dedicated a whole 5 minutes to a Bob and Doug McKenzie style Canadian roast. They called Paul Martin a hoser, and got a Canadian to say “out” and “about”. Man, that gag never gets old, does it? Even CNN had a 20 second spot on the Canadian political turmoil. They had it sandwiched between two other newsworthy topics; something about a heroic cat that helped its obese owner to escape a burning apartment, and an informative look at the upcoming season of The Apprentice (this time it’s filmed in LA!).

It’s true that the Liberals have been in power for so long that their flippancy resembles that of an African tin pot dictator dressing up as a woman to avoid being busted at a hotel, but in reality they’re no more corrupt than governments in other countries. For example, while I was working on a job in Panama during the Florida Election Scandal (round 1), the Panamanians expressed disbelief in America’s apparent shock at the shenanigans. “In Panama, we simply accept that all politicians are crooks. That way we’re never disappointed, and it’s an unending source of amusement!” They even offered to send a team of election observers to the US to ensure that true democracy was upheld.

However, there’s perhaps more to this story than just the collapse of a minority government in Canada. The pollsters are already predicting that in January Canadians will elect yet another minority government, and I think we may as well get used to it. Here’s why. We’ve got a lot of federal political parties in Canada, with four legitimate parties leading the way, a couple of potential contenders close on their heels, and scores of others trying to achieve official political party status. With the varied interests of the provinces and territories across Canada, it’s doubtful that we could all agree on one party.

Take a quick glance at the typical distribution of votes for the top four, and you’ll see what I mean. Ontario has the most seats in the nation, and they tend to vote for whatever party promises to wring lots of taxpayer dollars out of the other Provinces and build freeway extensions around Toronto and Ottawa. That party is the Liberal Party. Quebec, and their ridiculous number of seats (considering their decreasing population), will always vote for The Bloc. It’s never enough seats to win a majority, but it’s enough to occasionally be anointed as the official opposition. Imagine that, a federal political party whose only real mandate is to separate the Province of Quebec from the Country of Canada. How that is even legal is beyond me. So, the rest of Canada is forced to fend for itself and vote for whoever Ontario doesn’t, and that leaves the Conservative Party and the NDP. Those parties bicker among themselves and more or less split the votes west of Ontario. Occasionally, they even win the odd seat in Ontario. The Atlantic Provinces don’t count. Sorry.

What does this all mean? It means that I’d be amazed if we ever see a majority government in Canada again. There are other parties gaining momentum as well, such as the Green Party and the Party of Yogic Flyers. As those parties become mainstays of the Canadian political scene, the votes will become spread out even further. The chances of one party being elected with a clear majority may very well be a thing of the past.

But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Look at Europe, and some of the election patterns that have occurred there for many years. The Italians haven’t had a majority government for decades. The “winning” political party rarely receives more than 30% of the vote, and the governing body usually consists of a rag-tag coalition of sorts. Now, Italian politicians can hardly be help up as pillars of their vocation, but coalition governments do tend to have one thing going for them – they keep the government honest. I know, I know, calling an Italian government honest is a contradiction in terms, but just imagine if one party actually won an election in Italy. The resulting payola would make the sponsorship scandal and the gun registry look like the change jar on grandma’s bedside table.

Coalition governments can also result in strange bedfellows, like the current situation in Germany. The coalition parties may not like each other very much, but to remain in power, they have to cooperate. This often results in less extreme government.

What do all these countries, including Canada, have in common? They have more than two official federal political parties. The two party system is a topic for another day, but let me leave you with this. In the US, most of the big corporations make large campaign contributions to both parties. So, when either party is elected, and it will by definition be a majority victory, who is really calling the shots? Perhaps if the voters had more options, and the nation spent a few terms with coalitions formed by parties representing more diverse interests, the corporate stranglehold would be loosened. Perhaps.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Today's Moment of Zen

Cree Indian Chief: "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?"
Priest: "No, not if you did not know."
Cree Indian Chief: "Then why did you tell me?"

Friday, November 11, 2005

Liberal Party Antics

Or, The Gomery Report for Americans

When people outside of Canada think of a liberal party, they think of a room full of flakey hippies smoking grass and experimenting with free love. In other words, Democrats. Fair enough. In Canada, the term liberal has taken on a whole new meaning. That’s because the federal political party that has been in power for as long as anyone can remember is called “The Liberal Party”. They aren’t so much left leaning or even right leaning, but instead tend to stay centralized, collecting huge quantities of taxpayer’s dollars while trying their best not to rock the boat.

This model has proved to be quite successful for them, that is until recently. Over the last several years, the Liberals have participated in some “back room shenanigans” that even typically apathetic Canadians are getting worked up about. The outcome may very well be that the general population decides to put down their beers, stand up and call for the resignation of the governing party! Or not. Either way, it’s made for some pretty interesting headlines, and is worth some further discussion.

But first, a little background for those readers located south of the border in the great US of A. (Readers in Canada or any other country that recognizes life beyond its own borders, feel free to skip ahead) There is a large land mass north of the 49th parallel. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe because any map of the USA that’s made in America shows nothing but a great void up north. But the land mass is real. I can prove it. I live there. The great land mass is called North America. The country that occupies that land is called Canada.

French Whine
In Canada we have both English and French speaking people. The English live pretty well everywhere, while the French are all clustered in Quebec (and Provincial capitals, but that’s a really long story to be saved for another time). The dual language system in Canada is called bilingualism, and the government tells us it works really well.

A decade or so ago, the French people in Quebec felt unloved and tried to separate from Canada. They voted on it in a referendum, and the “let’s split” vote failed by the slimmest of margins. The French blamed the loss on non-French people living in Quebec. They have since been doing their best to make non-French people feel extra unwelcome, so that there will be fewer of them around when Quebec has its next referendum. Referendums are a fairly regular occurrence in Quebec. It’s a French thing.

Anyhow, the Government of Canada is made up of people from all over the country. However, those in the positions that have some power are primarily French speaking. It’s hard to explain why, but it’s related to bilingualism and that provincial capital phenomena I mentioned earlier - a balance of power sort of thing. So, for those in power, English is usually their second language. This explains why whenever you see a Canadian politician on American television (which only ever happens on South Park), they sound like Pepe LePew. It also explains why Canadian politicians have lots of close ties to businesses in Quebec.

At What Cost Unity?
Several years ago, the Canadian Liberal government decided that Canada really needs Quebec. As a result, the government has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Quebec to try to convince them not to have another referendum. The government calls this a sponsorship program, and like bilingualism, the government tells us it works really well.

But, who does it in fact work really well for? (This is where it gets really interesting. Those readers who skipped ahead earlier should start paying attention again.) The sponsorship money goes to organizations in Quebec that are best positioned to promote Canada, organizations like consulting firms, marketing groups and brothels (they’re legal in Quebec – life’s actually not so bad there). And, of course, these organizations all happen to be run by “associates” of Liberal government officials.

So far, none of this should have raised any eyebrows (except for maybe the brothels, which have been known to raise more than eyebrows). After all, efforts to keep the country united could only have the best interests of all Canadians at heart, right? Even so, one day it occurred to some non-Liberal Party individuals that it was time to investigate this “perfectly legitimate government business” being done “strictly for the good of the country”. They began by comparing a list of those in Quebec who received government sponsorship money to a list of the biggest monetary supporters of the federal Liberal Party. The lists were practically identical. Hence, the Liberal Party was getting huge campaign contributions from groups that had first received buckets of federally collected tax dollars.

Gomery To The Rescue!
The implications were enormous. Money laundering is illegal, after all, and a government caught doing so had better be prepared for taxpayer revolt. That was the situation in Canada. It was a scandalous scenario, requiring immediate, hardnosed action. In typical Canadian fashion, when the going gets tough and we are facing a battle we form a committee, and the sponsorship scandal was no exception . In this case we appointed a committee of one – Justice John Gomery. Mr. Gomery was handed the unenviable task of getting to the bottom of all the sponsorship intrigue. His first task? He’d need to learn how to speak French. The rest would be easy.

Still, committee work is grueling, requiring long hours and many months, which is just what the Liberal Party was counting on. Another Canadian trademark in addition to forming committees is apathy, and the Liberals were counting on the Canadian public to be so distracted by the resumption of hockey that the findings of the inquiry would pass unnoticed.

Well, Mr. Gomery’s findings were released a week ago in a document aptly entitled “The Gomery Report”. Unfortunately for the Liberals, Canadians have one more trademark, that of multitasking. So, despite our fervent passion for the return of “the good old hockey game”, Canadians were equally fervent in our disdain for what the Gomery report exposed.

The Gomery inquiry had involved countless interviews with everyone from current and past Prime Ministers (for those of you in red states, the Prime Minister is the Canadian version of the President), to CEOs of Quebec corporations. The complete and utter disrespect for the Canadian public displayed by the government officials was astounding, although not completely out of character for politicians. Our past Prime Minister (OK America, fifty points to the first person who can actually name our last PM) was callous enough to ask:
“What’s a few million doll-airs ‘ere and zhair? Zee government budget is very big. ‘Ow could we possibly keep track of every few million doll-airs?”
But hey, at least he was telling the truth, sort of. The rest of our elected officials claimed with an air of Bart Simpson smugness “I didn’t do it!” This is in itself puzzling, because it suggests they all knew it was going on but claimed they didn’t know who was doing it. I call it the Bill Clinton technique - deny, deny, deny…and pray there’s no photographic evidence.

If the politicians were playing the arrogant and innocent cards, their Quebec counterparts were trying to trump them with the “stupidity” card. There was the president of a Quebec marketing firm who saw revenues jump from $85,000 one year to $1.8 million the following. The money was reputed to have come from the Government of Canada, but the paper trail was a bit fuzzy (probably because it was all in French). There was no record of where the money went. The company hadn’t hired any new employees or moved into a bigger location. They hadn’t even printed T-shirts with “Canada Allons Zee!” (Let’s Go Canada!) on them. When asked if he had any recollection of any of this, the best the president under investigation could muster was a Reagan-esque “I don’t remember…”, which is a phrase that Justice Gomery became quite familiar with while interviewing folks from Quebec.

The End Of The Liberal Era?
Stories like these abound in the Gomery report, and we Canadians are really mad at the Liberal Party. To fuel the fire, the CBC, our national news service, has posted the entire report on its Website. None of us have actually read it, but we’re mad just knowing it’s there. We’re so mad that we plan to wait around and see what the other Canadian political parties plan to do about it.

Right now, the other parties are sort of thinking of calling an election, but if they do, they don’t want it to interfere with Christmas. We Canadians love the holiday season. Why spoil it with bringing down a corrupt political party? So, if there actually is an election, it will probably occur in the Spring, an appropriate time for renewal. That’s when we’ll all head back to the polls and, yet again, vote Liberal.

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Gras is Always Greener, Unless it’s Foie

Who’s more powerful, a saint or a knight?  Now, I’m not talking about just any old saint or knight, I mean the guys presently at the top of the heap, the current crème de la crème, as it were.  In today’s world, the most powerful saint has got to be The Pope.  He talks directly to God, after all.  And if you took a straw poll around the office, I’d bet the winner of the knights contest would be Sir Paul McCartney.  If nothing else, he at least thinks he’s a god.

What would happen if it weren’t a contest at all, if instead these two powerhouses decided to pool their collective strength together for a noble cause of some sort?  They would certainly be a formidable “God Squad”.  

The fact of the matter is, they have already teamed up.  Not only that, they have brought in a little earthly muscle, just in case.  Yes, even Arnold Schwarzenegger is on board for this the mightiest of modern crusades.  In a day and age where the world has seen genocide, famine, natural disasters and unjust wars, those closest to God (and Arnie, too) have brought it upon themselves to stand up for that most noble of beasts – the goose.  That’s right, forget about human suffering, our crusaders are out to put an end to the agony of the goose.  They are campaigning for a world wide boycott of foie gras.

For those of you unfamiliar with foie gras, it is a traditional French pate made from the liver of a goose.  The more fat in and around the liver, the more absolutely dreamy the pate becomes.  Needless to say, the temptation arises to “help the goose out” when it comes time to put on a few extra inches.  It is the sometimes crude methodology involved in this process that has caught the attention of the God Squad.

Let’s start with the saint.  Not long ago, Pope Benedict XVI, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was asked about his thoughts on the treatment of animals.  He responded with compassion and called animals our "companions in creation."  He also went on to say:
"we cannot just do whatever we want with them. ... Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible…this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible."

Uh Benny, where on Earth did you read that?  It's common knowledge that God created man in his own image.  The goose was created in the image of a very distant (and somewhat estranged) cousin whose name escapes even the enlightened writings of the Gospels.  Animals were put on earth to serve man, or at least to be served to man, preferably with a lovely Sauterne.

Or so I thought, until Sir Paul came on the scene.  A recent BBC headline caught my eye: “Sir Paul McCartney urges California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to ban the French delicacy foie gras”.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but it’s true.  Read it for yourself at:

How can I argue with Sir Paul?  I suppose, there’s no other recourse than to have a change of heart. Let’s make up for all those years of goose torture, primarily by the evil French, and raise the standard of living for all geese.  Their lives shall be spent roaming the lushest of fields, and sleeping in air controlled comfort on nothing but the finest goose-down silk pillows... Or maybe not.

So why all the fuss?  It wasn’t that long ago that no one outside of France other than members of the foreign legion knew what foie gras was.  In fact, most North Americans can’t pronounce it, let alone know what it is.  It has only been in very recent memory that foie gras has become a mainstay on the menu of any restaurant that also marks up its wine by 300%.  

And that in itself is essentially the problem.  Demand for the super creamy, irresistible stuff has flown the coup, so to speak.  Once a delicacy reserved for French aristocracy, foie gras is now sought after world wide.  The demand has far surpassed the supply that can be produced by a few farms in the Dordogne.  Thus, industrial foie gras production facilities have appeared, many of them in Eastern European countries.  The conditions in these facilities are truly horrific, beginning to rival their North American counterpart, the modern chicken farm.

In the end, that’s what irks me the most about this passionate cry for goose rights.  At the urging of Sir Paul, Arnie is currently calling for a ban on foie gras in California.  I wonder if either of these do-gooders has visited a chicken facility lately?  They don’t even have to go that far.  There’s lots of information right at their (and our) fingertips.  One example is, which has a whole section dedicated to chicken farms.  Some of the depictions of beakless, steroid stuffed chickens penned in three to a cage seem more appropriate in a horror flick.  Yet, I don’t see the Paul and Arnie show calling for a ban on Kentucky Fried Chicken!  And last I checked, there are a hell of a lot more chicken farms around the world than goose facilities.

Maybe “Team Terminator” should use their connections to divinity to tackle the bigger issues in their own back yards.  Ah, but then again, that’s not good for business or politics.  Best to point across the pond and yell “Fowl!”  Oh, and can I get two dozen wings with that?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Gunplay American Style

The headlines were as big as Texas south of the border today - Congress Passes New Legal Shield for Gun Industry. President Bush said that he looked forward to signing the bill, which would "further our efforts to stem frivolous lawsuits." "As of Oct. 20, the Second Amendment is probably in the best shape in this country that it's been in decades," exclaimed Wayne Lapierre, of the National Rifle Association.

Now, some may claim that certain ramblings on these pages have leaned a little to the left, which I have to admit is probably accurate. So it would only be natural to expect this entry to be a rather long winded rant expressing disgust at yet another right wing atrocity.

Well, the last thing I want around here at Dave’s Digglings is predictability, so mothers cover your children’s ears ‘cause I’m saddling up and rootin’ for Texas! Despite the fact that I’m not a big fan of the NRA (“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people?” Give me a break! In the words of Eddie Izzard, “I think the gun helps…”), I can’t really argue with this one. In fact, the basic premise of the argument applies to a number of hot topics in today’s media, including cigarettes and obesity. But, let’s stick to our guns for the moment.

The intent of the bill is to prevent people from trying to sue gun manufacturers for manufacturing guns. That’s it – plain and simple. There are a number of cases currently in the courts in the US where victims of horrible crimes are trying to prevent the same from happening to others. I applaud their efforts, but their method is flawed. They are taking action against gun manufacturers because guns are used to murder people.

Murder must be a most horrible experience for the victim’s loved ones. I say must be because I can only imagine. It would be wonderful if there was a way to prevent guns from getting into the hands of murderers in the first place. The murderer-to-be would be a lot less effective if he was restricted to jumping out in front of his victims and yelling “bang!” (thanks again Eddie). Yet, that doesn’t give anyone the right to take it out on the manufacturer of the weapon.

Hair spray and aerosol deodorant can be used to launch potentially lethal projectiles from home made devices. No matter how much we all feel that hairspray should be just as illegal as fifty year old people wearing spandex, you can’t sue Clairol because Jim-bob knocked out your dog with a potato gun. (OK, that’s not really an applicable argument because the hairspray is not being used as intended, but I just couldn’t resist the gag.)

The real issue is this - it is not illegal for a gun manufacturer to make a gun. Yes, guns can kill and hand guns can be concealed, but in the US making the gun is not against the law. If there was a law in place that said a gun manufacturer would be held liable for how their product was used, I suspect they’d quickly get out of the business and start making some much less deadly products, like cigarettes or fatty foods, for example. But as it stands today, you can’t sue someone if you don’t have the grounds to do so, or at least you shouldn’t be able to, and that’s what this new bill states.

However, to those trying to find a way to reduce the number of crime related fatalities in the US, I say don’t give up just yet. All you need is to come up with a different approach, one that involves changing the psyche of the entire nation. Somehow, you’ll have to find a way to rip the assault weapons and mini death pistols from the dead cold hands of the NRA, and convince the law makers that such items have no place in today’s society. And that will be no easy task in a nation where it is considered perfectly normal to teach pre-schoolers how to “play” with guns.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I Am A Steelheader

And you thought marathoners were a strange breed. Ha! Think again! For there is in fact a group of even odder, potentially more driven, and equally insane individuals in our midst. They can be found lurking about in the most inclement of fall and winter months, usually standing waist deep in cold, large rivers, all in an attempt to attract a steelhead to take a well presented fly. These outcasts of society are called Steelheaders. I should know, for I am one of them.

A steelhead is a sea going rainbow trout. Like a salmon, it begins life in a river, but spends its maturing years in the ocean. Both species return to the river after one to four years at sea in order to spawn. However, a salmon only spawns once. You could say it sacrifices its life for sex, which in the end, isn’t all that exciting or amorous for a salmon. The female “fakes it” in order to trick a male into satisfying himself over her eggs, and that’s about it. Once that’s over, both the male and female die. Hmmmm, I’ve always said we could learn a thing or two from the animal kingdom. Paying attention boys?

Anyhow, steelhead do essentially the same thing, only once finished with “the act”, they head back to the sea to get bigger. Some time later they return to the river to do it all over again, and one would assume, do it better. Practice, practice, practice - the life cycle of a steelhead is pure agony.

Catching one of these big dudes with a fly while they’re in the river is quite a feat. First off, they aren’t really thinking about eating. They have other things on their mind. Just getting their attention is a small miracle. Secondly, there aren’t that many of them, so your chances are reduced by the numbers themselves. And finally, there a lot of more efficient ways of catching them, like using nets, or bait or hardware.

So, what is it that makes a few individuals put up with the bad weather, the expense and the remote locations to try something where they are almost destined to fail? I’d say the following picture says it all:

Thursday, October 13, 2005

You Are A Marathoner!

Have you ever run a marathon? Neither have I. Maybe the better phrased question is “Who in their right mind would run a marathon?” It has always seemed masochistic to me - months of grueling training (always at very early hours in the AM) followed by an equally grueling final event (often starting at an even earlier hour). Still, many of the people I know insist on taking part in these crazy things. It just doesn’t make sense.

This past weekend I took it upon myself to figure it all out. No, I haven’t lost my marbles and actually entered one. Instead, I followed my sister to Kelowna, BC, where she was running her first marathon. I had spent months trying to talk her out of it, but she was always finished her training by the time I was getting out of bed, so the effectiveness of my pleas was somewhat diminished.

For the uninitiated, which is what I was until this past Sunday, a marathon is a 26 mile (40.2 km) run. That’s it. You start the race by running across a line with a few thousand other “hopefuls”, each and every one “hoping” to finish some four hours later by running back across the same line. Only it’s not really so simple. Those four hours or so involve a number of stages that you have to witness to really understand. You have to partake in a marathon to truly feel what the marathoner endures. So, in order to truly feel and understand, I followed my sister around the entire circuit - on my mountain bike. And, based on my first hand knowledge, I present to you the six stages of a marathon:
Stage 1 – Hope Springs Eternal
A broad smile is splashed across every face. Bodies are limber. Confidence abounds. It’s truly a remarkable scene. And it should be, for the race hasn’t started yet.
Stage 2 – Less Spring, But There’s Still Hope (km 1 to 10)
For the first ten kilometers, the air of confidence remains. Everyone has trained for this race and thinks they know what to expect. Those who have run marathons in the past are even better prepared. I was a little less organized, so I stopped off at the first Starbucks I saw and ordered a quad latte. Hey, the race started at 8 AM. I hadn’t had time to get primed before the starting gun was fired. For me, the first ten kilometers was for figuring out how to ride my bike without spilling scalding hot coffee all over myself.
Stage 3 – Reality Sets In (km 10 to 20)
This is when the marathon runner begins to realize what they’ve got themselves into. For the newbies, it’s when they begin to feel those nagging little injuries and wonder what they’ll feel like in another 20 kilometers. For all but the most experienced marathoners, it’s when they begin to feel those nagging little injuries and wonder what they’ll feel like in another 20 kilometers. The real pros already know what it’s going to feel like. That’s why they’re the ones with better drugs than Advil.
Stage 4 – Is It True That 25 km Is Only 15.5 Miles? (km 20 to 30)
Hell yes it’s true. And to make matters worse, in the Kelowna marathon they put a hill right in the middle of this stage. That’s cruel. I was exhausted, and some of the marathoners seemed to be struggling a bit, too.
Stage 5 – Mental Fatigue (km 30 to 40)
It is well documented that the beginning of this stage is the most crucial time for a marathoner. The body has already quit miles before, but the mind has been keeping it going. In the early 30’s, the mind starts to fade, as well. Marathoners struggle with delusions of self doubt, like “Why in the world am I doing this?” and “I’m never ever making a bet with Bob when I’m drunk again!” It’s only those who are able to regain focus, and realize that they are on the home stretch, that are able to go on to stage 6. Which is a good thing, because most of them are so exhausted that it makes for some great embarrassing photos, guaranteed to get a laugh from the audience at the next roast!
Stage 6 – You Are A Marathoner! (km 40.2)
OK, all kidding aside, this is why people run marathons. Those four words sum it up. It is quite an exclusive club. It signifies a level of commitment and fitness that only a few ever achieve. And, as each runner crosses the finish line, they hear their names announced over the loud speaker, and they know that each and every one of them, all ages and sizes, is a marathoner.

I’ll most certainly drink to that, as I did at the end of this race, having packed along a nice bottle of champagne to help my sister celebrate. This one’s for you, Beth. You are a marathoner! Now quit drinking all the bubbly…

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Kick 'Em While They're Down

To the 27% of Americans who believe that the recent onslaught of natural disasters in the world is God acting out against sinful rebellious mankind, I say GIVE YOUR HEAD A SHAKE!  Or, maybe more appropriately, get your heads out of your self righteous asses and pay attention!

If God really wanted us to take notice, do you think He would focus His anger on some of the poorest people in the world?  How can you possibly think that one day God got really fed-up with His creation and decided to teach a lesson to those in charge by kicking the shit out of those who hardly have any shit left in them?

No, if God truly wanted to get His point across, his anger would probably touch down elsewhere.  Problem is, that’s not happening.  Instead, Condoleezza is able to take time away from her morning television cameos to stiff-arm Kyrgyzstan into continued support of the US Air force, while the death toll continues to rise in Pakistan, hampered by bad weather.  Last I checked, the SUVs are all back tackling the rugged streets of Houston and Tom Delay continues to be the “go-to guy” for White House republicans, while contractors argue over how much they get to charge for re-building New Orleans.

Something’s just not quite right here.  This God fellow is supposed to be pretty smart, right?  I mean, after all, he did create the entire universe in a week (six days actually, took a breather on the seventh).  Not only that, but he knows and sees everything.  Period.  Right?

So, if God is truly such a powerful and awe-inspiring Entity, who are we to even fathom a guess as to what He’s doing?  Maybe we should let God continue to do his thing, whatever that may be, and we can concentrate on something that we actually have some control over?  Like, oh I don’t know, Global Warming maybe?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

C'mon! Join the Club

I’m sorry, I’m sorry…
I know I promised to lighten things up around here at Dave’s Digglings, and I fully intend to do so, but an article in today’s NY Times just sent me for a loop.
The article, titled “In Midcareer, a Turn to Faith to Fill a Void”, describes how Harriet E. Miers's decision to become an evangelical Christian coincided with a move toward the Republican Party. You can read the article here:
For those of you currently living in a cave, Ms. Miers was recently appointed by “W” to the United States Supreme Court.

Now, I have nothing against a person of almost any religious background attaining such a position, as long as they are qualified. But the following excerpt from the article caught my attention:
To persuade the right to embrace Ms. Miers's selection despite her lack of a clear record on social issues, representatives of the White House put Justice Hecht (on the Texas Supreme Court, and romantically linked to Ms. Miers) on at least one conference call with influential social conservative organizers on Monday to talk about her faith and character.
(OK, I admit, I added the italics…)

Huh? That is wrong in so many ways. Ms. Miers, who began her political career as a democrat, became a republican at the same time as she was born again. Apparently, God favors those who are against abortion and gays while supporting corporate interests more than He supports those who are concerned about the poor and needy. When exactly did Christianity become synonymous with right wing?

Ms. Miers’s political career is well documented by her lack of taking a stand, and dare I say a rather Kerrryesque wishy-washiness. (Funny, I thought that was political suicide.) She has never taken a political stand for or against abortion, although her personal conviction most definitely sides with “Wade”.

Perhaps even more frightening is the following:
In an interview Tuesday on the televangelist Pat Robertson's "700 Club," Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the Christian conservative American Center for Law and Justice, said "So this is a big opportunity for those of us who have a conviction, that share an evangelical faith in Christianity, to see someone with our positions put on the court."

We’ve basically witnessed someone without the track record required for the job (she has the necessary job credentials, she just hasn’t displayed that she’s an independent decision maker on issues very key to the nation), being given the position because she belongs to “the Club”. The same “God” that told another prominent club member to invade Iraq is now going to direct the newest member of the Supreme Court! And, since she’s cleverly not divulged her political stance with respect to social issues, we can only guess that she will side with the “influential social conservative organizers” that needed “convincing” before they embraced her new appointment.

A friend of mine put it best:

There's something about this story that's quite creepy and frightening. Ha! And they talk about Tom Cruise being weird for pushing his belief in Thetans !!! Same stuff, different pile, methinks.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Great Non-Evolution Debate

An excerpt from my response to a September 25 article in The Washington Post entitled "In Evolution Debate, Creationists Are Breaking New Ground: Museum Dedicated to Biblical Interpretation Of the World Is Being Built Near Cincinnati." :

That organization (building the "museum") represents the old guard faction in the creationism movement - those who haven't given up on the age of the earth debate.  Put quite simply, their science isn't.

The "intelligent design" folks are trying to be a bit more scientific in their premise, although their goal is essentially the same as with those in the old guard, which is to get evolution out of schools and general thought by replacing it with God (or some all powerful creation-wielding entity to be named at a later date).
Back to my old premise - what if this money and energy was spent to feed and educate the poor?  And, of course, by educate I mean life skills, not dogma.  A 14 year old individual who doesn’t know how to feed him or herself or their child doesn’t need to learn about the age of the earth…at least not yet.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hurricane? What Hurricane?

Remember investigative reporting? It seems no more than a foggy concept from our distant past, but there was actually a time when we could count on our news media to report things that mattered to the nation. There was Walter Cronkite (who as a news anchor was once “the most trusted man in America”) reporting from Vietnam, addressing the nation with news that this was a war that America couldn’t win, and backing it up with some first hand information in addition to what was then horrific footage. There was a time when the media even played government watchdog, as in the days of Nixon and Watergate.

But today, our news media seems to have been reduced to fleets of reporters in rain slickers waiting for natural disasters. They’re arguably worse than ambulance chasers, choosing not to persue, but rather to stand on street corners in hopes that an accident might happen. Technology has improved so that information can be disseminated instantly from anywhere in the world, yet the people that use it are focused on bringing us 24 hour coverage of the weather, and speculation about Michael Jackson. Today’s investigative reporting is defined by Geraldo standing next to a large puddle in Galveston, Texas asking “How in the world are they going to deal with this?” and demanding “I need military assistance right here, right now!”

I spent this past weekend at a music festival in Austin, Texas. The eye of the hurricane had been predicted by the National Weather Service to be directly over Austin at 1 PM on Saturday. As it turned out, the hurricane ended up elsewhere, but the hysteria was still painfully evident - not a vacancy to be had, people at grocery marts with shopping carts loaded to the brim with bottled water (and junk food), a potential gas shortage at the pumps and the world’s longest traffic jam out on the interstate (in one direction). The religious talk radio program blaring in our taxi from the airport insisted that the rapture was undoubtedly upon us.

Now, I’m not suggesting that warning people of potential danger from natural disasters is a bad thing. Far from it. But that’s not what the media is doing. If warning people had even been on their priority radar, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina may very well have been reduced. No, the media barrage came afterwards. Tragedy, misfortune and death, now that sells advertising! So, not only were we inundated with it in the wake of the first storm, but oh rapture, there was a second “even bigger” one coming right behind. Who needs Hollywood? The end of the world, or at least the gulf coast, was going to be brought to us live on CNN et al.

The real tragedy in all of this hype is that what should really matter to us isn’t making the news channels or headlines. Imagine, the richest country in the world can’t take care of its own citizens in times of trouble. Instead, it’s as if a disaster had occurred in a third world country. The Salvation Army, Red Cross and United Way are begging for donations. Televised professional sports events are covered with 1-800 numbers to call in your donation. It’s only a matter of time before Bob Geldoff organizes a multi-continental “US Aid”. A country of unparalleled wealth brought to its knees by a single storm. How could that have happened? Maybe Michael Jackson can tell us?

Still, it’s not like our news media hasn’t been distracting the population from real issues for many years. And, it really doesn’t matter whether it’s happening because it’s the media’s “modus operandi”, or because we the people want to be distracted and the media is just following suit. We can all take some of the responsibility.

The storm reports have been a welcome diversion from the increasingly mundane carnage in Iraq. The incessant Iraq coverage was convenient filler as opposed to prying into other potentially sticky issues like election fraud in Ohio and sky rocketing “earmarking” in the US federal budget process (can you say money laundering?). Hell, at least there are explosions and wailing mothers to watch in Iraq.

Oh yeah, and then there's Gary Condit, the only man in America happy for the media blitz that accompanied 9/11. Who is Gary Condit you ask? I rest my case.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Elevator Etiquette

There are many indicators of the impending demise of civilization as we know it, not the least of which is currently unfolding south of the 49th. However, there are some slightly more subtle occurrences that also suggest a sorry decline in certain aspects of day to day society.

Take getting off an elevator, for example. Before leaving my apartment this morning, I was returning a small flat cart to the building recycling center. I normally take the stairs, but the cart necessitated that I use the elevator. As the doors opened into our lobby, some nimrod with his head down walked right into the elevator. Of course, he also walked right into the cart, which caused him to tumble head first onto the cart while grabbing his ankle which had met the blunt front end of the cart with some force. He then gathered himself up, cursed at me, and backed out of the elevator.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but is it not good form to, when waiting for an elevator door to open so one can get on that elevator, first take a look into the elevator? Furthermore, is it not actually just common courtesy to allow people already in the elevator to exit before others enter? I’m not imagining things here, right? That’s pretty common knowledge, yes?
So why is it that more and more people are choosing to ignore this generally accepted practice? The now limping fellow that I encountered this morning is just a slightly more extreme example of what I have been observing for some time. Elevator doors open and everyone tries to enter and exit at the same time. The result? A traffic jam that makes intersections in India look orderly!

About all I can surmise is this is just another example of the ongoing decay of the fabric of our society. First it was trudging mud across Mom’s living room carpet, now this. The future looks grim…

Monday, September 12, 2005

The God of New Orleans

How often have you heard someone quote “God helps those who help themselves”? It’s a popular phrase, usually used as Biblical encouragement to get individuals off their butts and contributing to society. However, it seems strangely out of place in light of the current events in New Orleans.
A lot of those who passed away during and after the storm couldn’t help themselves. The media is full of their heart wrenching stories. Would the God of the Bible be so callous as to say it’s really their own fault?
Well, it turns out that the God of the Bible didn’t say that he helps those who help themselves. Benjamin Franklin said it. Yet, 75% of Americans think it’s a quote from the Bible! And, since 85% of Americans call themselves Christians, it’s pretty safe to say that a lot of them need to start attending Bible studies. Perhaps then they’ll realize that the Bible encourages them to “love thy neighbor”, not to “drive by thy neighbor in an SUV filled with stuff” as a deadly storm approaches…

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Katrina vs Bush

The world doesn't need to hear my sarcasm concerning recent world events. I'll let Mr. Fish do the talking for me. Click on the picture to enlarge.

Thanks to Harper's magazine.

Friday, August 26, 2005

A Lao Glossary

A Lao Glossary

The following information is provided, free of charge, to help you gain insight into everyday life in Lao and to assist you with any travel plans you may be making in the near future. Enjoy!
Remember, the Lao have the utmost respect for visitors. Hence the term falang dung moe, na deng, which means long nosed, red faced foreigners. Mind you, after hours at a time in the scorching sun, and considering my own rather prominent snoz, it actually appears to be a rather appropriate term…
A necessary part of any travel adventure, Lao boasts an abundance of transportation options:
heua bin (flying boat or airplane) – Undoubtedly the quickest way to get from A to B in any country is to take a plane, and Lao is no exception. However, you may wish to observe a recent UN policy, which is to boycott Lao Airlines (the only airline in the country), as the last maintenance carried out on any of their aircraft was in early 1998.
loht may (bus) – If there is one thing that’s consistent throughout Asia (and India, Indonesia and just about anywhere else in the “3rd world”), it’s busses. Expect to have you and 200 others with all their earthly possessions (which usually consists of a huge bag of rice and several chickens) packed into a bus that has a seating capacity of 30. And just when they’ve packed five more people on and you can’t imagine where they’ll fit anyone else, the bus will stop another 100 meters down the road to let on a few more.
thang sip-sang (super “high-speed” freeway) – A recent addition to Lao are new “high-speed” paved roads between major centers. At this time I believe there are two. Unfortunately, a lack of high-speed vehicles in the country means that these roads are full of tractors, mopeds, bicycles, livestock and large groups of playing school children, which sort of defeats the “high-speed” bit. A further complication occurs at night, as none of the above is equipped with lights.
heua jak (long-tail boat) – Until “modern” times, the most efficient means of travel throughout the country was on the rivers by long-tail boat. My experience is that they are still the most efficient means of travel throughout the country. They may be tippier than a canoe and you may be sharing your journey with a cow or a tractor, but at least you get some air (and rain and splash). Besides, drowning seems a much more pleasant way to die than driving over a cliff or dropping from the sky.
tuk tuk (motorized rickshaw) – A combination motorcycle / open air cattle cart that is by far the most efficient means of getting where you want (for short hauls).
City Life
Unlike most SE Asian countries, whose cities are big, busy, sprawling concentrations of pollution and humanity, Lao’s major cities are small and unassuming (except for a remarkable overpopulation of scooters). In fact, in a country with a population of around six million, less than one million Lao people live in cities. So, not much to comment on here other than:
tet (Chinese New Year) – When the Chinese and Vietnamese celebrate their new calendar year by taking one week off from work. What does this have to do with life in Lao’s cities? Well, for that week, every store, restaurant, bakery, repair shop etc. in the entire country is closed. Foreigners living in Lao cities know to stock up ahead of time. I still haven’t figured out what Lao people in Lao cities do, any time… Obviously none of them run stores, restaurants, bakeries or repair shops.
Village Life
Ah yes, a serene life in the country…er, not exactly.
bahn noy (small village) – A random cluster of bamboo houses surrounded by mud. Average number of children per family is 10. The best indicators of village wealth are the number of water buffaloes and the fatness of the pigs that roam about in the mud with the children. Electricity and running water, are you kidding?
bahn nawg (country village) – Same as above, but usually more rural and inundated with pasasohn.
pasasohn (inbred cretins) – see above.
chahk (pronounced “chuck”, literally means “huh”) – Most effectively uttered with a completely blank face, a slack jaw and a distant stare. Most commonly used by pasasohns.
paw bahn (village chief) – Chief village decision maker and often the father of most of the children. Always has the choicest huen (see below).
huen (village house) – Bamboo and scrap wood structures on stilts with thatched roofs. The paw bahn’s house usually has a big porch, suitable for tourist “sleep-overs”.
seua non (village mattress) – Not your average Sealy Posturepedic. A very thin, frustratingly short, rather soiled mat. Imagine that futon you discarded after college, but with another ten or twelve semesters of use. Commonly offered to tourists who want to sleep over.
gahn nyoong (mosquito net) – An absolute necessity in the villages. Be sure to bring your own. Village supplies seem to be mosquito nests, not nets.
abnam (village bath) – A gathering place along the river edge where people and water buffalo bathe. The Lao like to refer to the thick mud brown texture of the river as silk, hence the phrase “bathing in silk”. The same location is also the source of the village drinking water.
Lao Cuisine
Kind of a contradiction in terms…
pa dek (rancid fish sauce) – The staple Lao seasoning. Prepared by stuffing a bunch of dead fish into a ceramic jar and leaving it in the sun for six months to one year. Once good and fermented, drain out whatever liquid has formed and serve it as a tasty compliment to all your food.
khao neo (sticky rice) – The staple Lao food, guaranteed to block your passages like super glue. Served at each meal in a single small basket so that everyone shares whatever is under everyone else’s fingernails.
tom guy (chicken knuckle soup) – Prepared by breaking the neck of some scrawny chicken, de-feathering it, removing some of the guts and finally chopping the remainder into bite sized pieces. Boiled in water for a while, then seasoned by adding a plethora of pa dek. Other than the head and the feet, everything in the soup resembles knuckles. The only thing missing is meat. Served with a bowl full of chicken blood on the side. Great for dipping sticky rice!
geng nom my (bamboo shoot soup) – similar to the above, with loads of pa dek, but no blood.
kye mot deng (red ant eggs) – served in a big bowl with a light pa dek glaze. Eaten by the hand full.
kye peung (bee’s eggs) – Served still in the bee’s nest, complete with rather panicky worker bees flitting about wondering what the heck is going on.
meng bao (mutant dung beetles) – That’s the best description I can come up with. These things come in what look like tennis ball sized coconuts (buffalo dung balls). Shake them and they rattle like a spray paint can. Chop them open and out falls the gooiest, yellowiest, most X-files looking translucent creature I have ever seen. One stares in awe, expecting it to leap at your face and suck out your brain at any moment. Instead, the Lao villagers snatch ‘em up and eat ‘em raw. None of this swallowing them like oysters, they bite the things and chew them in pieces. I insulted the entire village and decided not to try this particular delicacy.
kohn kye bing guy (“Lao butchers”) – purveyors of mystery meat.
sep (Lao for “delicious”) – used subjectively…

And there you have it. All you need to know for your next visit to Lao. I may post pictures of some of the spectacular sights (and there truly is some incredible scenery) soon - just as soon as I’ve rid myself of parasites, that is...

October, 1999

Thursday, August 25, 2005

What's Intelligence Got To Do With It?

From an ongoing email discussion with a friend about the merits (or lack thereof) of Intelligent Design...

I'm actually surprised at the fervor with which the Intelligent Design folks are approaching the issue. I suppose it's an attempt to overturn a past ruling from the failed "Creationism" movement, but in the end, it seems like a lot of time and energy is being wasted on something that doesn't necessarily need it.

In addition, the fervor isn't backed by much meat. Pointing to gaps in understanding and claiming they can only be explained by Divine Intervention of some sort seems rather short sighted. It wasn't that long ago that we didn't understand the genetic code, and things like heredity were hard to explain, let alone cloning. Today, we know a lot more. Not everything, of course, but a lot more. If people had made similar claims with respect to genetics back then, they'd be looking pretty silly today.

One thing the Intelligent Design people have conceded is the age of the earth as indicated by the geologic record, as opposed to as calculated using the lineage described in the bible. As such, they are admitting that certain "evolutionary processes" have occurred through time. If the proponents of Creationism had had their way a few years ago, the curriculum in many American schools would look a little "unscientific", if not downright foolish.

Still, I don't know that the whole issue needs the political spotlight. Evolutionists don't claim to know the whole story, and fully admit that there are large gaps. It is the role of scientists to continue to study and try to unlock the mysteries. I don't see where people with a belief in a higher being should feel threatened by that.

None of this precludes any group, religious or otherwise, from having beliefs about the origin or sanctity of man. Many scientists involved with the study of evolution are in fact Christians, and don't see it as a conflict with their beliefs. They're studying how the body works, or how it developed, not questioning the presence of man's soul.

It is the right of Christians to believe that man is the divine creation of a higher being. It seems odd that they would insist on seeing science as an enemy to this belief. True, some scientists are humanists, and see man as simply another animal. But, isn't that their right?

The Intelligent Design proponents are using political clout and lobbying to advance their position, and quite possibly force it into classrooms. I hope they've done their homework.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

What in the World is a Diggling?

What is a Diggling anyhow? One would assume that it comes from the word diggle,
but neither word appears in the dictionary (honest, check for yourself:

So, it's up to me to come up with a suitable definition. After all, I made up the word myself.

Here goes:
Diggling (dig-ling)
origin: first used in 2005, result of sloppy typing and unfortunate slack non-usage of "spell check", supposed to have been written as "digging".
definition: a derivative of the word diggle, as in "to diggle", diggling refers to random minings of the mind, my mind, in particular. Think rants, political satire, and observations about living with billions of people who just don't have a clue - it's all here.
alternate origin: from the name Diggler, as in Dirk Diggler from the film Boogie Nights. It just has a nice ring to it, wot?

There you have it. Dave's Digglings. Let's play!