Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Snowflakes and cherry blossoms

For the past few weeks snow has been getting closer and closer to Victoria. This morning it finally got past our protective ring of hills and mountains and arrived on our doorsteps. I think this would be the perfect time to burden my audience with a sample of the author's doggerel entitled:

That Old Dog Winter

Ol' Dog Winter got lazy this year.
Boreas some call him, an Easterneer,
Comes prowling (that wormy mutt)
At night up on the Malahat.

Comes howling for crystal snow to chill us,
Then slinks across to the low Sooke Hills
Where he hangs around them there tall trees.
Jack Frost, his frisky pup, comes by with a freeze.

On clear starry nights he gives us a whiff,
So our dried up tomatoes set a bit stiff.
On a winter's day all muffled in white,
Here in Victoria we don't mind that, quite.

I know the rest of the country finds this hilarious, but when it snows in Victoria we are virtually paralyzed. Victorians have a reputation for driving ineptitude. That may be because we have such a large population of retirees- including 1000 licensed drivers over the age of ninety, as a government official in my cab once informed me. But my own theory is that Ontarians of all ages are the problem. For one thing, they can't get used to the fact that you don't have to hurry in Victoria. It isn't that big. We have a rush half hour. Some Ontarians can never get used to that. Because they have driven all their lives in places where snow is normal they think they are experts. However, in Ontario they don't have much in the way of hills and it often comes as a surprise that a vehicle- even with four wheel drive- keeps going on a downhill slope no matter how hard the brakes are applied. It can be quite amusing to watch cars drift through the red light at Tyee as they come down the hill on Esquimault Road.
Luckily, I don't have to drive in the stuff anymore so I can enjoy it. Once or twice in the year hearing the crunch of new snow under ones feet is quite pleasant, especially with the black waters of the harbour looming out of the darkness. The ducks and geese seem as confused by the snow as our drivers.
This morning's temperature is hovering around the freezing point and I suppose it will warm up later today. But it's supposed to get colder this week, and if that happens all that half melted snow will freeze solid. That's when the fun will start.
A lot of bad stuff is happening in the world right now. While we shovel a little snow New Zealand is recovering from a terrible earthquake while the Middle East is going insane. I think the difference between how we handle things compared to them is instructive. In New Zealand, neighbour helps neighbour and the machinery in place to deal with emergencies moves into place. Victorians are out with snow shovels clearing sidewalks. In Egypt after supposedly gaining freedom from a brutal dictator two million Egyptians gather together and celebrate by chanting, "Death to Israel."
There seem to be a lot of apologists for Islam in our media, but pay no attention to them. Islam is not about peace as they pretend but about brutality. If we value our peaceful institutions and our freedoms we have to do our utmost to keep it out of our society. It's hard for most Canadians and Americans to believe, but they want to kill us, too.
An Iraq war veteran enrolled at Columbia University trie to explain that to his fellow students but they wouldn't listen.

“It doesn’t matter how you feel about the war. It doesn’t matter how you feel about fighting,” said Maschek. “There are bad men out there plotting to kill you.”

Several students laughed and jeered the Idaho native, a 10th Mountain Division infantryman who spent two years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington recovering from grievous wounds. . ."

The media coverage of Islam is deplorable so it's understandable that average citizens who are busy raising families and going to work don't understand what's going on, but it's shocking that students from a prestigious university in New York could be so ignorant. Some commentators are a little more realistic but excuse the religion of Islam by saying the bombings and savagery are committed by a few extremists. That may be true as far as it goes. Most Muslims probably don't want to strap explosives to their children. Most Muslims are probably content to raise their families just like the rest of us. But all Muslims are required by the Koran to wage war against non believers. Jihad is what it's called, and it doesn't mean 'interior spiritual journey,' it means any means of destroying competing belief systems is justified. In Islam there is no crime in killing an unbeliever. On the contrary, it's a duty. These beliefs are not tangential to Islam, they are and essential feature. How somebody can go through university without figuring this out is beyond my understanding.
I rather think that we are in a pivotal phase of human history. The First World War was one of those pivotal points. Before the war Europe was still dominated by the kind of monarchical empires that had been in place since the Napoleonic Wars. There had been a century of peace, prosperity, and an unprecedented advance in human knowledge and technology had taken place. In 1815 the fastest mode of travel on land was by horseback, as it had been for thousands of years, and by sailing ships on the high seas. No message could move any faster. But by 1915 we traveled by railroad, car, steamship, and airplane, while communication via telegraph, radio and telephone was instant. Most people were still poor, but also there was a burgeoning middle middle class, and more people could become middle class than ever before. These technologies brought down the old empires. At the end of the war there was no more Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Russia the Bolsheviks had overthrown the Tsar. Much of the world map was coloured the red of the British Empire, but it was to be a relic. Republican France still had an empire but it had lost a generation of young men in the war. Neither the British nor the French had any more stomach for world domination. The second world war finished them off, but the US took on the British task of keeping the seas open to trade, and faced down the only power able to threaten world peace. Now we seem to be entering the post American age. Now it seems as if Islam, which never emerged from the medieval world, is either on its way to world domination, or is finally beginning to self- destruct. Who knows how it will end.
If the chaos keeps up it will mean a massive disruption of the world's oil production. Some are predicting gasoline at $10 a gallon in the near future. That alone will shut down trade everywhere, even locally. Envirofascists have been pushing for localism recently, and they may soon find out what it's like.

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