Sunday, March 15, 2009

Atheists arise

Have you ever been faced with an ad for religion while riding the bus or the metro? I'm sure we all have at one time or other, well the atheists (in the interest of full disclosure I must say that I am a long time atheist) are finally standing up and telling their side of the story. This has certainly ruffled more than a few feathers in the religious community.
In Ottawa the Ottawa Transpo originally refused to run the ads because it would be too controversial, yet it ran Christian ads all the time. It finally went to city hall where an acrimonious debate took place between councillors who were insulted by the supposedly anti-religious message and those who supported free speech. I'm glad to say that free speech finally won out.
Did you ever notice that for religion what is good for the gander is not necessarily good for the goose. The religious community can condemn the non believers to everlasting hell but if a non believer says anything against religion it raises a furor worthy of a global calamity. I have been accused of being immoral, of having no values and of being a terrible human being. Why is it that most of the atheists I know are much more tolerant and open minded than those who are fervid believers in a religion? It seems to me that what most religions preach is love thy neighbour, not love thy neighbour if he believes like you and hate the others. I have, despite being an atheist, read the Christian Bible from cover to cover, as well as the Koran, and Buddhist teachings (If I had to be religious I'd probably be Buddhist I must say.) and I have yet to find the kind of hate and intolerance that is shown by a good part of the religious community. I know that there are good people who believe in religion and some of them have done much for the community, but I think that there is also a certain amount of hypocrisy when your religion preaches love and your actions speak of intolerance. Maybe someone out there can explain it to me?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Obituary Channel

Believe it or not a Québec entrepreneur has asked for and gotten permission from the CRTC (Canadian Radio and Television Commission*) to open a new television channel.... the Obituary Channel. Yes that's right a television channel that shows obituaries, 24/7. Now how strange is that. Only in Québec could this be possible. The entrepreneur was quoted as saying, "The first thing people look at in the papers is the obituary, so my idea should be a smashing success..." He also plans to call the channel, "Je me souviens" (I remember), which by the way is the motto of our fair province. The nationalists will have a bird. I can just imagine saying to my wife, "Honey, it's Saturday. Lets eat in and see who died on the Obituary Channel."

*the people who make the rules for telecommunications in Canada)

Monday, March 09, 2009

March Break

Last week was March Break where both teachers and students take a midwinter break from the homework, testing and corrections that go with them. So last week Mrs BB and I decided to go visit my family Québec. As you know from my previous blog my ancestors come from there, the cradle of New France. The weather was not at its best, since it rained on Thursday and Friday but by Saturday it was starting to clear up. It was cloudy but at least it wasn't raining and the temperature was a balmy 7 degrees Celsius.
As we wandered around "la Basse-Ville" with its 18th century European flavour, I took a pictures with my trusty camera to give you an idea of what this part of the city looks like.
Let me explain the topography of the city of Québec. The city of Québec was originally built on a plateau bordered by the St-Lawrence on one side and the St-Charles River on the other. To give you an idea, it kind of looks like the bow of a ship. The fortifications follow the line of the cliffs and then cross to the other side, inclosing "La Vielle Ville". "La Citadelle" a fortress built by British after the conquest towers over the city from the highest point, "Le Cap Diamand" (The Cap got its name because supposedly Jacques Cartier found gold and diamonds there. They turned to be quartz and iron pyrites... ) Now the old city is divided into two parts, "La Haute Ville" or Upper town and "La Basse Ville" or Lower Town. On the map the "La Haute-Ville is in blue and "La Basse-Ville" is in red.
The "Haute-Ville was the richer of the two parts, but "La Basse-Ville" is the oldest part and dates back to the foundation of Québec in 1608. For the longest time after the conquest, the Basse-Ville became the poor part of the city and that is probably what saved it. The docks were close by and when the emphasis of trade moved more to Montréal that part was left to itself. In the 1960's archaeologists started digging around and discovered that most of the old houses dating back to the 17th and 18th century were still intact for the most part. The government of the day then decided that instead of tearing everything down they would renovate the buildings to bring them back to what they looked like just before the British captured the city in 1759. So here are the pictures.This is the Chateau Frontenac sitting atop the cliffs above the Basse-Ville.

This is the Petit Séminaire. It is here that l'Université Laval was founded as a seminary. You'll notice the cliffs dividing the Haute and Basse-Ville.
This is the original church that dates back to the beginning of the colony. (In fact it sits atop Champlains original "Abitation") It started life as l'Église Notre Dame and when Phipps fleet was sunk in 1690 it became Notre Dame de la Victoire then in 1711 when Walker's fleet suffered the same fate it finally became Notre Dame des Victoires. Unfortunately in the final battles of 1759 the chuch was heavily damaged as were many of the houses around it by the canonballs of the British fleet. When they were renovating the houses and church many of the canonballs were found embedded in the walls.

La Place Royale

The gate leading to the Bastion du Roy an artillery emplacement. Notice the Royal Crest above the gate.

This street is called Rue Sous le Fort and it is squashed between the building and the cliff face behind.

This is the Rue du Petit Champlain and it is the oldest street in North America. There are many fun boutiques and restaurants there.

This ia a "trompe oeuil" depicting the uses that the building had in the past. There is no longer any house beside it because in the early 19th century the cliff face collapsed and buried the other house under tons of rubble. Many people were killed and the end of the house that is painted was destroyed.
A shop sign in the Petit Champlain. The shop sells bird sculptures.

Since I know that quite a few of you have bird feeders, yes you, citizen and my lil sister Jazz, I thought to include this one. I found it quite humerous. ;o)