Adam, meet Eve

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It’s grim news, although perhaps not surprising. Thirty-seven per cent of Americans believe God created human beings as homo sapiens 10,000 years ago: http://washington.cbslocal.com/2013/07/23/poll-majority-of-americans-believe-god-played-role-in-human-evolution/

Forty per cent believe creationism should be taught in schools. Now that stat may be a little more open to interpretation. I have no problem with a school mentioning some people believe in creationism, so long as the school then explains the path life has taken over billions of years back into the primordial past. I’m comfortable with a teacher answering “we don’t know” to the question of how life first began, although if it’s a science teacher, or being asked in the context of science class, I would think also offering “one theory is that life was sparked in a chemical soup” would be appropriate.

I often come to the defense of Americans. I think Canadians have a knee-jerk contempt for our neighbours – a contempt that is often ill-founded. But one thing is definitely true: the States has a big contingent of fundamentalist Christians and much of what they believe is crazy town.

Before moderate Christians start patting themselves on the back, I should say that I have some measure of respect for principled fundamentalists. They’re absolutely wrong, of course, but at least they aren’t adrift in a sea of modern revisionism that says God becomes OK with whatever the public becomes comfortable embracing. Moderate Christians seem to be trying to make reasonable what is fundamentally unreasonable, while fundamentalists say up front “What’s ‘reasonable’ in 2013 doesn’t matter next to the commandments of almighty God.”

I don’t want to sound the alarms too early. I may have overcommitted when I previously warned readers of the potential threat of imminent war in Korea

 (if memory serves, I didn’t say it would happen, but I said the potential was very real and the reality would be devastating). Still, this is a situation to keep an eye on: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/japan-scrambles-jets-china-plane-flies-southern-islands-110905491.html

Japan has recently elected a prime minister who’s considered nationalist and has voiced interest in changing Japan’s strictly defensive constitution.

Japan’s a strange country. Ostensibly it’s peaceful – one of the most peaceful countries on Earth. But there are elements of the culture that make it fertile ground for robust nationalism, perhaps even fascism.

Authority is to be obeyed, not questioned. There are exceptions – even Japan’s monoculture will have some diversity of opinion – but dissent and difference aren’t often accommodated in Japan. Even the Japanese have a saying: the nail that sticks out gets hammered down.

Civil institutions are often invested with a martial air. Everyone wears a uniform at work, even if it’s just the universal dark suit of the salaryman. Sports days at schools have marching and flags. Austerity is a virtue to a greater degree than in the West.

Racism is fairly widespread. In most cases, overtly ill-intent is absent – it’s ignorance more than hatred. But there are openly fascist groups that drive black, reinforced buses through metropolitan areas blasting imperialist music and slogans.

The Japanese like to win. We all like to win, of course, but the Japanese like to win the way Americans like to win. They’ve been on top economically but have fallen on hard times over the past two decades. The rise of China – briefly a vassal state – can’t be sitting well with politicians, industrialists, or even regular citizens, some of whom may be sick of lingering resentment from mainland Asia as well.

In this particular linked story, China is cast as the aggressor. Japan has shown restraint in its dealings with North Korea, for example, and I’m certainly not suggesting Japan should allow China to run roughshod over it. I focus on Japan simply because it’s the one of the two nations I have knowledge of.

In short, there are lots of reasons China and Japan could come into conflict in the 21st century.

Not sure if the petition is meant to be a joke, although some commenters clearly don’t think it is: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/25-children-that-need-to-be-set-free

Some of the kids in the photos are WAY too old to be attached to a parent with a leash, granted, but I generally don’t understand the intense feelings some people clearly have about leashed kids: I don’t think having a leash attached to a backpack on a two or even three year old is offensive in the least. By age four, depending on the child, I could see it starting to impact negatively on development. But rabid no-leashers should worry about their own parenting skills – being a self-righteous know-it-all is an ugly trait to pass on to your kids.

Prince Edward Island made a Top 10 Islands list: http://www.buzzfeed.com/pauljamez/10-paradise-islands-that-will-take-your-breath-awa-2kjh

At the risk of a hit squad driving over the Confederation Bridge and taking me out, I’m going to come right out and say my affection for PEI is lukewarmish. I do like it, and it would probably make my Top 10 Islands list, but there are a lot of islands on the planet – like hundreds, even thousands of pretty significant ones – I haven’t visited.

My negativity dates to a trip a few years back. We went over in June, the first weekend I think – and everything was closed. Everything. It was ridiculous. How is June not tourist season? Then there was the visit to Santa’s Forest or whatever that place is called. If you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about. Just WOW.

PEI has nice landscapes, for sure, but we live in Nova Scotia – we have some of the prettiest country in the country, if you ask me. By the end of the visit, I’d come up with a new slogan for the gentle Island: “PEI…not quite as nice as where you come from”

I’m half-joking. The Island is pretty. But Top 10 on Earth? I’m saying no chance.

What do we think of this? http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/07/22/your-home-is-your-castle-but-the-front-yard-is-fair-game-nova-scotia-court-rules/

It’s in Nova Scotia, Cumberland County looks like. Although I’m a vocal proponent of individual liberty and property rights, I’m not going to opine on this as stridently as you might presume. On balance, I side with the property owner, but I’m not blind to the hassle it creates for inspectors. Here’s the thing, though: infringing on someone’s property SHOULD be a hassle for a government official when the owner doesn’t want the government there. And which good is greater: the good of a bureaucrat being able to quickly determine if an incident of illegal garbage burning took place, or the good of private property actually being private?

Remember, police with warrants will always have access, as will police or fire without warrants in cases of emergency. No, this is a relatively low-grade inquiry being given precedence over the rights of property owners. I see merit in the contrary position, but ultimately side with property owners.

Yet another example of the “rules are rules” mindset run amok: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/07/24/armless-man-ticketed-for-driving-without-seatbelt-cleared-gets-special-exemption-because-i-cant-put-it-on/

It’s stupid that the cop issued a ticket, it’s stupid that some bureaucrat needs to officially give this man an exemption, it’s stupid that a police spokesperson offers the lame excuse that the officer had no choice but to issue a ticket (police use their own discretion frequently, just not in this case).

Lunch beckons…

 

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