22 May 2017

And yet again

Please pray for those murdered and injured at the concert in Manchester this evening.

19 May 2017

Oh, heck yeah!

Finally, some good news! (For me and others like me in Toronto, at least.)

I just found out the Tallis Choir of Toronto will be performing Tallis's 40 motet Spem in Alium in the coming year, as well as the Mass by Striggio which lead to Tallis composing his work.

Wife- clear the calendar for Saturday November 25th.  I am there. Someone tell those meatheads with their fingers hovering over the buttons that they are not to start a global thermonuclear war until the 26th. Prior to that, I forbid it.

Oh, and for those unfortunates out there who do not know of what I speak- here is Spem in Alium:


15 May 2017

Is the law The Law?

I had a minor debate with a friend over at Facebook over this article. I tend to stay away from those who call themselves or go under the banner of 'freethinker'.  One gets what one pays for, after all. My position was that the article was a badly written hit piece against the police that glosses over a number of complicated issues and assumptions. I I left the debate quickly, because I find Facebook does not allow for complexity, and I needed to be able to elaborate  y position a little. Actually. in keeping with my usual long windedness, I will elaborate a lot  Those who don't care for long-windedness may quit reading now. Those who proceed should keep in mind that my experience in the fields about which I am about to speak is limited, that Dunning-Krueger is in play, and that, when it comes to my opinion, as s the case with 'freethinkers', you truly get what you pay for.

The incident which inspired the article was simple enough in its facts: a man was selling fruit by the side of the road. An officer told him he was in violation of some law. Further investigation revealed that the man was on probation, (what his original altercation with the law was is not stated, although the author of the below article states his thoery) and the terms of his probation were such that he could not violate any further laws. Finding him in violation of his probation,the officer attempted to arrest him, the man resisted, a photo of the man bound behind his fruit stand whilst an officer examined the goods went viral, people reacted to it, and poof! article.

The article uses what I found to be inflammatory terms- the arrest is referred to a kidnapping, and resisting arrest is called resisting a kidnapping- to describe the incident. The writer lauds Facebook for the general response to the incident, claiming the man should not have been arrested for committing a 'victimless crime'. The author and much of Facebook believes the man should not have been arrested. Let's start with that.

That assumption means that people believe the cops should use their discretion in deciding which laws to enforce, and whether or not to enforce them. Some may argue that they already do, but that's not the question. The question, right now, is should they?

The answer to that varies from culture to culture, and embodies cultural attitudes towards the law. For people who come from Northern Europe and the English speaking world, the usual assumption is that the law is The Law. You can trace this sentiment at least as far back as Magna Carta, when the belief was enshrined, and no free man shall be deprived of his life, liberty or property except by due process of the law.' Even the King was bound by the law, and not the other way around. This tradition results in a tendency to treat the law as quasi sacred, and a caution when it comes tomaking laws. We tend, on the whole, to make as few laws as possible, and then enforce them even when it makes absolutely no sense to do so, because the law is The Law.

Other countries and regions take a different approach. The Latin tradition, for instance, goes in the exact opposite direction: The way it has been explained to me, they make as many laws as possible, then interpret them as broadly as possible so they may enforce them as rarely as possible. The law in many cases becomes more of a set of guidelines than a hard code.
 
If you want a concrete example of this attitude, consider how the average North American will, without a second thought, stop their car at a stop sign in the middle of the Mojave desert, despite the fact that they are the only car within fifty miles of the spot, and compare it to Italian driving in general. There are advantages and disadvantages to both ways. We may chafe against the rules we must obey, but, on the whole, we may enjoy that our roads are generally orderly and would not want the near total chaos of the Italian drivers on our streets.  Allowing the police to decided for themselves which laws are to be enforced and which not will also have consequences- both for good and for ill.

So our laws tend to be enforced as much as we are capable of enforcing them. That is how our system was designed to operate.   We may ask if this is just, which would lead to the question: why is selling fruit by the side of the road illegal in this area, and should it be so? However, my question is this: what caused this law to be made in the first place?

The answer that I got as to why the law is there in the first place is that it was the general overreach of some bureaucrats and a tax grab. That is possible, but in my experience bureaucrats and politicians do not make laws and tax grabs unless they are invited to do so by the populace. It seems likely to me that there was some cause out there at some time, some form of public nuisance, that caused people to demand that 'something' be done, and thus this law was passed. Were this in my neighbourhood, I would not be averse to changing the law, but I would like to know why the law was made in the first place, and then know if the conditions that lead to a demand that this behaviour be banned are still in play.   As always, I tend to urge caution when it comes to change, which does not play well with those outraged because a man was arrested for the heinous crime of selling fruit by a road.

 So, what should have happened in this case?  I confess I don't know.  What happened is, in its face, very simple, but the issues that I see involved are quite complex, and while a discussion of this event and its issues should happen, the social media are a poor place to have it.

Mother's Day: must be time for people to write articles saying we should get rid of the day.

And here's one.

Idiotic. Every reason- every single one- that she gives behind her proposal for getting rid of mother's and father's day can also apply to her new proposed 'guardian's day.' Not everyone had good parents? Understandable. But everyone will have good 'guardians'? It's a pain in the neck to get together with your parents, but not for 'guardians'? Some people will feel excluded because they don't identify with the binary blah blah blah? What about the exclusion of those who do identify in the binary blah blah blah? If you want to get rid of the days, fine. Get rid of the days, but don't give me this baloney and tripe as to why, or propose a new day that does not address any of issues you raise for getting rid of the days in the first place. The sole result of this new holiday will be the removal of the words mother and father, which is the whole point: pretend that they don't really exist.

12 May 2017

There's what you say, and there's what people hear.

Years ago, my wife and I went to get some counselling for our marriage. My work covered counselling as part of the employee benefits package, and that was a good thing, but it also meant you were assigned your counsellor. How was ours? Welllll...
 
After meeting with our counsellor together, he announced that he would like us to meet with him separately. When my turn came I spoke about many things, including my dissatisfaction with various elements of my life in general, and I concluded, with a laugh, that sometimes I'd like to just pull a Thoreau, head out into the woods, build a cabin, and ignore the rest of the world. (I'll expand on that here, sometime.)
 
He cut me off. "Okay, I can't stay silent," he said. "Because I feel very strongly about this." He then proceeded to tell me about his brother, who bought a place up north with several buildings on it- the counsellor wasn't too specific, only that the property had several buildings of which some were, he grudgingly admitted, of *some* historical interest. His brother was trying to fix the place up and then do something with it- again, the counsellor was not terribly specific. He had visited his brother at this place, and his brother had taken him on a tour of it, explaining what the place was and its history, but, by his own admission, the counsellor paid no attention to all that, because he was a fastidious sort of person and all he could see was that the place was an absolute mess. He stopped off at a local bar during that visit, and spoke to someone he met there about his brother and the place his brother had bought. "Oh, I know that place," said the random new acquaintance. "It would cost about a million dollars to fix it up."
 
Sometime not long after that, the brother approached his and the counsellor's parents to ask them for a loan to help him complete the work on the place. He needed a hundred thousand dollars to do so. The parents then approached the counsellor, who advised them not to loan the money, because some random guy he had met at the bar said it would cost a million dollars to fix, which he took as a more accurate estimation of the cost than the estimate coming from the man who was actually doing the work.  On the counselor's advice, the parent turned down his brother's request for a loan.
 
His brother never spoke to him again. About two years after that, he was driving a truck- he had taken on the job to try and fund his dream- when he slammed into an embankment and died. Police found no real cause for the accident, and, my counsellor confided in me, he wasn't too sure the brother hadn't crashed deliberately.
 
He told me this to convince me to not chase that particular dream. However, what I heard was something completely different than what he was trying to tell me, for what I heard was that I had a counsellor that had helped drive his brother to suicide, which, with my luck, was really about what I should have expected.
 
That was our last meeting

11 May 2017

Prayer request

A friend of the family who has been fighting cancer for years called tonight.  Barring a miracle, she won't be lasting much longer.

3 May 2017

Bad headlines, revisited

"Pope Francis Excommunicates Priest Who Backed Women’s Ordination and Gays"

As always, much of the headache with such lines lies in explaining that the Pope did not excommunicate the priest.  Rather, the priest excommunicated himself and Francis is, on the whole, pointing that fact out.

28 April 2017

St Michael's, revisited

I was by the Cathedral the other night for an 'Organ Tour'.  It was my first chance to go in there with a camera since the renovations had been completed. On the whole, it is looking better than it has in decades.  My photos turned out fairly well, for once, and perhaps at some future date I'll be able to get rid of the blasted date stamp.