Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Proof Texting the Second Round

A.K.A. Benny Hinn does the playoffs!

Seeing as the prophesy discerned for round one of the playoffs proved more or less correct (My sincere sympathy to my Flames loving readers). We here at the pickle have decided to press on with the word which cometh from on high and predict the next round outcomes – using the tried and true method that most prophet employ the ubiquitous proof text.

Boston and Carolinaeast2_57532

According to 1 Kings 19:11 “the Lord was not in the wind” on the other hand in 2 Kings 2:24 “two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths”. Obviously, this can only mean that Carolina has blown their last gust and just think if two bears can wipe out 40 youth a whole team of them should be able to handle John Torterella – oh shucks those guys are out of the playoffs…

Bruins in 5

Detroit and Anaheimdet-ana_55808

Friends Leviticus 23:40 makes this very clear. “On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice…for seven days.” Many might look at this passage as the inauguration of one of Israel’s feasts – they would only see half of the meaning. The number seven is important here as is the reference to palms since it seems that Pronger and the gang from the city of palms are destined to rejoice over the Red Wings in Seven Games… Who’s mounting up with wings now Osgood? See its in the name right there the goalie thinks he’s good and he’s not. Don’t you know pride cometh before a game seven loss…

Vancouver and Chicagoplayoffs_42462

Now follow along with this. We know that the Black Hawks were named after a revered First Nations group – in fact they bear a ‘likeness’ of one of these valiant warriors upon their jersey. However, as we all know the Canucks have drawn from Haida First Nations imagery in their logo as well. So how to tell the difference? Well once again obscure historical passages that once only served to put you to sleep in those night time devotions is useful in delivering predictions…

Consider 1Chronicles 12:1&2 Here is clearly says that, “…the men who came to David…were among the warriors who helped him in battle;” (and we all know that David was the winner in battle) Who were these men? Well, “they were armed with bows and were able to shoot arrows or to sling stones right-handed or left-handed (an obvious illusion to scoring ability from the left or right wing); they were kinsmen of Saul” An of course we all know that Jonathan (as in Jonathan Toews) was Saul’s premier kinsman. So there you have it…

A dandy little verse that proves that the NUCKS will face the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune…and lose in 6.

Pittsburgh and Washingtoneast5_57565

Obviously Jericho the great walled and fortified city of giants can only refer to Washington. And as most of you plainly know instructions about how this city can be defeated are pretty clearly spelled out in Joshua Chapter 6. Circling the city means that the ‘cycle’ will be critical to success against Ovechkin and his pals but it will take seven games to declare the winner and by the looks of things that game might have a few extra overtime periods. But take a closer look at verse 2: “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.” I’ll admit I myself was surprised by this but it seems that not only will Pittsburgh win the series but they will take over the Whitehouse as well. In a move reminiscent of the time when Canada burned the Whitehouse in 1812 – it seems that Sidney Crosby is poised to become president of the United States as well. Some one better tell Barack to hang a red sash out the oval office window…

Friday, April 24, 2009

Prevention Program

Prevent something from happening again.

If you can really prevent it from ever happening again – you’ve actually eradicated it.

In that case it there is no need to prevent it.

You only actually prevent it till the next time it happens.

So prevention never really works.



Dwight Shrute,

That being said, if a pirate does enter a hospital missing a leg, under no circumstances should he be given a wooden peg leg, because that just enables him to get back on his feet. He'll be raping and pillaging in no time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

History and Memory

human-brain-3So say you are an historian. Forget all the rhetoric about history being written by the winners. Forget the limitation of individual perspective. Consider that there is no actual location for the events stored in your brain. There is no cell in my brain for the first kiss or the first time I hit the ditch. There isn’t even a group of cells that you could point to as holding these events. Don’t forget that all that is up there is: chemicals passing between neurons carried by an electrical charge. Somehow out of all that some neural stimulation make it into what we call awareness (a bunch of stuff does not: the feeling of your socks on your feet rarely enters your awareness). That these neurons could produce this thing called awareness is mysterious enough but from that awareness some stimuli get preserved by (not in) the brain. If this information persists we call it memory.

What can we say so far? Your brain does not contain memories – it MAKES memories. The best theories of memory suggest that memory is an association of neurons firing in relatively the same way as when the original event occurred. The deal is that in order to pull up that vivid memory of your first kiss you gotta reconstruct the event – you rebuild it. By definition then the thing you remember is not the actual original event but your reconstruction of it which means of course that it is different (even if in small ways) than the original. Now this happens to be a fairly accurate process – one that we rely on pretty heavily (sometimes too heavily). That first kiss was with Charlene for me! It is not very likely that I will ever tell you Julianna was the first female with whom I passionately shared saliva. This good and keeps my relationship with Char pretty much locked up!

But what about the study that showed people two cars in an accident then they asked the observers this question: How fast were the vehicles going when they ______? (in the blank they substituted the words: crash. collided, bumped, hit, smashed). What they found was that the observers reported the cars as travelling up to 10 mph faster with the most graphic words like smashed than they did with words like bumped. People rebuilt the memory to accommodate the question they were asked. What does that tell us? That things can be (and often are) moulded to accommodate the conditions of a pre-existing state.

So you are historian right? You write down what you remember about a battle, a voyage, an encounter, a personality. What can we say about your account? Well since it was made up (constructed) we can tell you that it is not completely accurate with the original. We can also be confident that what you wrote is deeply affected by the conditions, biases and influences that you held at the time of writing it down. We seem to be pretty comfortable with this situation since we use it all the time.

I think it should makes us stop and think about what we mean when we say that something is reliable. Is BBC News actually more reliable than CNN or CBC? It can’t actually be more reliable since we know that each piece of reporting has taken an event and processed it through the neurons in their brain and reconstructed the event for us to read.

But what about Scripture? Does the idea that the Holy Spirit inspired scripture mean that a new level of reliability is achieved? Does that mean that the writers brains became putty in the hands of the Holy Spirit? Does it change the way we read and use Scripture if we say that human neurons functioned as they normally do in writing these texts? Interesting questions to be sure…

Let me know when your autobiography  is ready to go to print…

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pope’s picks: Update

So the games have begun. Pontificating on the results thus far seems to be in order – mostly to rub it in the face of all you non-believers that still have Jokingnen in their scoring pools. Remember that while the Pope is considered to be infallible – there is still the matter of free will and indulgences.

Boston vs Montreal


San Jose vs Anaheim

Update: Pride cometh before a fall – so president’s trophy winners look out apparently the “s’s” in your name also stand for shut out and swept.

Ducks in 4

Washington vs NY Rangers

Unchanged: Even though you’ll notice the Rangers are up in this series. At times a team must go through their own period of captivity before they can regain the promised land – in this case the next round

Capitals in seven

Detroit vs Columbus

Unchanged: Red Wings in 5

New Jersey vs Carolina

Unchanged: remember that a mighty wind was used to part the Red Sea…

Hurricanes in 7

Vancouver vs St. Louis

Update: Apparently the Canucks have been reading this blog and mended their ways. Evidence: Miracle of miracles - The Ol’ Deacon Sundin scored a goal. I say prop up his stick in the middle of the room and light candles around it – its an icon. I know its cheap idolatry but the way they are playing any amount of luck might just keep Luongo the blessed between the pipes

Vancouver in 5

Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia

Unchanged. Pittsburg in 6

Chicago vs Calgary

Unchanged: Did I not tell thee to be aware of the Mennonites. Calgary you bunch of Zwinglians.

Black Hawks  - in 5

at least I am doing a fair but better than the monkey…

The Art of Fixing a Game

3a907280a3_lucic_04202009 Put aside for a moment the dramatic rise in temperature of my blood based on the news that my favourite Bruins player has been suspended for one game. Get the gist of it here: Milan Lucic gets1-game hit -

The actions of league vice-president Colin Campbell are curiously frustrating at best and the marked trappings of game rigging at worst. Sure coaches and GM’s were ‘warned’ that end of game shenanigans that were intended to ‘send a message’ to the other team were not going to be tolerated. Fair warning. So what!

I’m sorta with PJ Stock on this one. The game of hockey has changed but not necessarily in a good way. Increasing the regulation of the game has led to general lack of respectability in the game. Let’s try to understand the effectiveness of the league’s rules on the overall outcomes of the games. Penalty minutes have increased significantly overall. So too has the greasy chippy and pansy bottomed play of divers and hackers and cheap-shotters. It has begun to take on some of the unseemly aspects of Brazilian or Argentinean soccer tom-foolery. The game used be shaped by notions of respect which kept players in their respective roles.

If the regulatory effort has been to increase the opportunity for skill players like Ovechkin, Crosby, or Malkin to strut their stuff the playoffs at least have been a pretty poor showcase. If the these penalties and suspensions are intended to make the game more palatable to the a more PC audience – consider the ecstatic cheers of Blues fans every time one of their boys pounded Vancouver. If the motivation of these measures is to bring the game in line with other sports like basketball, baseball, or bowling (which up until recently received a greater TV market share than hockey in the USA) then we have another glaring problem: Hockey is not baseball, basketball or bowling – it is conceptually different.

Removing Lucic, Carcillo, et al. for one game is stupid. If this type of activity is really problematic send them off for the series or the entire playoffs – instead of forcing a team to make line-up changes in order to compensate for the ‘message’ the league wants to send. If Lucic is suspended why isn’t every other head shot being penalized similarly. Those of you who might try to argue that Lucic’s shot is somehow different than any other glove or stick to the head in behind the net scrum should consider that the only way one can make that qualitative difference is to impose highly subjective standards of judgement. LaPierre got it right when he said that the shot was a normal part of the game and he should know he’s handed out his fair share of similar shots.

What bothers me the most is that the game I loved as a younger person does not actually exist any longer. By saying that I am not appealing to the notion that a game should remain fixed in some nostalgic time frame. Changes need to be made – but ones that return the game to its original spirit. Hockey has always been a tough game – remember that it started outside on ICE! Efforts to extract that quality of the game should be discouraged. Hockey has always been an inventive game – both personally and corporately. It is this spirit of innovation that should be explored. Consider the difference that bigger ice surface would make to the game. It remains to be seen what creative coaches and players could do to make the game exciting. Instead while there is arguably more parity (a good thing) in the league there is also far more uniformity in style of play. And the outcomes of games are being decided on power plays which means that referees are determining the outcome of games.

In the end we are left with an impoverished game available to whimsical subjectivity that serves only to frustrate players and fans.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Acrostically referential rankings of NHL teams based on Christian virtue…

Here’s the deal: use the first letter of teams name or home town as a reference for Christian virtue that can indicate a divine preference and series outcome
First Round Matchups

Let’s begin in the east

Boston vs Montreal

east1_66133 Of course most Canadiens’ fans will be quick to identify that “C” stands for Christian but we also know that “M” stands for Mamon the god of money and we know exactly how favoured money is in the religious scheme of things (interesting that the team is up for sale eh?)

The “B” in Bruins stands for – what else – Bible and the other “B” in Boston stands for Believer.

Do the religious math buddy – Boston in 5

San Jose vs Anaheim

west1_72445 “S” stands for sin - “J” stands for Jericho (which fell by the way) “Sh” stands for “shhh you’re making too much noise!”

and A is reserved for Angels, Anglicans, and Apostle – and every knows how well looked after birds are in the scheme of things

Ducks in 7

Washington vs NY Rangers

east2_66421 For Washington the “C” in Capitals is actually a good thing -  it equals crazy and the “w” equals women – people Jesus always found time to help

The “R”In Rangers stands for Rich (again a negative) and the “NY” = no youth something the church or a hockey team cannot do without

Capitals in seven

Detroit vs Columbus

west2_72829 “RW” obvious stands for the Right Way which we all know is the only way.

“BJ” on the other hand put Barrabas and Jezebel together for the first time in liturgical history…

Red Wings in 5

New Jersey vs Carolina

east3_66833 “D” stand for Devil need i say more…

After all “H” stands for heaven, and heart, and yippe

Hurricanes in 7

Vancouver vs St. Louis

west3_73025 “V” stands for verily verily i say unto you that the Canucks Cannot make it out of the first round.

Besides as has already been mentioned “B” stands for alot of really good things…

Blues in 6

Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia

east4_67151 Even though Revelations has some kind words for the Philadelphians the “F” in Flyers clear stands for Free Will which in this case has been exercised to construct an inferior team

“P” = pastor  and “P” = Power, Preaching, etc.

Look for Pastor Malkin and Pastor Crosby to make an alter call around game #6

Chicago vs Calgary

west4_73254 Yeah yeah yeah I get it Calgary – Calvary but come on you for get about the Flames – no need to do the acrostic…

Chicago at least has the “Ch” in Christian and the “BH” is backwards for Heavenly Blessings – plus there are Mennonites on that team hello

Black Hawks  - in 5

Looks like Canadian teams are still not holier than thou especially if thou is any US teams

There you go…

Let the Playoffs begin…

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Indigenous aesthetics and power

BBC NEWS | Americas | Colombian Indians seek security

As this piece points out the situation that the indigenous peoples of Colombia find themselves in is precarious. Threatened as the innocent bystanders caught in the middle of armed conflict between government militia, drug cartels and the FARC these groups claim their indigenous identity is being threatened. Several things pop out at me in this article that correlate to the issues we have discussed in class recently about indigeneity.

First it is interesting how the author of the article appeals in very specific notion to an _45645295_arhuacomen_226ahistorical construction of the indigenous identity. Notice:

Some 1,000 metres above sea level lies the heart of the reservation of the Arhuaco people, one of the more traditional indigenous tribes, whose members wear white robes and speak a language that greeted the Spanish Conquistadors when they landed here some five centuries ago.

-notice how the aesthetic displays (dress, language) are fixed to notions of ancientness and fixed in a particular space. When the author describes the aesthetic display of one woman who stands out in protest of the arrangements imposed by Uribe’s government – it is used to qualify her statements as contextually authoritative as the voice of the indigenous person.

Dressed in the traditional white robes with coloured beads draped around her neck, Leonor fears the consequences of allowing troops to move freely into the reservation.

The author goes on to use another visual image to drive home the point of his argument. He points to a member of another tribe who has lost his indigenous identity and marks it by referring to the ‘traffic’ that could be heard in the background of the telephone conversation.

The author seems to appeal to the Western typical notions of indigeneity inscribed in very particular aesthetics. In fairness though it seems that these people themselves are actually looking for the type of isolation from external contact that clearly is not possible.

"The more contact we have with the government, the more people that come to the Sierra, the more they will try to dilute our culture, our traditions," said Diego Garcia

This article serves to once again complexify the issues around indigeneity, aesthetics, land and power.

Friday, April 10, 2009



FAIL Blog: Pictures and Videos of Owned, Pwnd and Fail Moments

constructing the cross

Many Christians talk about Jesus’ death on the cross as the ultimate suffering anyone has ever been subjected to. The way The Crucifixion is talked about paints Jesus experience as an outstanding even the most horrific event anyone has ever had to endure. Certainly this seems to be the sentiment that motivated the production of the Mel Gibson’s movie which focuses on the especially violent aspects of Jesus death.

This notion seems inaccurate. It also seems to capitalize on a certain underdog/victimization complex that frames some of the battle like rhetoric that Christians often take up.0501-08

It is not hard to see that Jesus death was on most accounts rather common-place. It should be noted that crucifixion was not only a common feature of the Roman justice system. It was used for crimes like theft that even advocates of the death penalty would not accept as appropriate measures today. All of the actions surrounding the crucifixion (beating, thorns, even the crowd of protestors) that Christ endured were fairly common in this form of execution. What begins to appear then is that the insult of the cross was not how extraordinarily cruel it was  - but how demeaningly banal it was.

In addition it would seem that Jesus suffering in terms of both emotional and physical pain has been far exceeded by other victims through the course of history. Think of the torture endured at the hands of Nazi or dirty war death squads in Argentina. Or the horror of genocide in Rwanda, Darfur, Cambodia, etc. Many convicts who were crucified had their legs broken to ‘speed up’ death. One of the ideas that is promoted is that Jesus can identify with the depths of pain experienced by victims of these horrors because he suffered such a horrific death himself. While in a general sense because he is more than just human it is clear that identification with the incredible suffering of the world is possible for Jesus – the cross itself does not automatically bequeath this unparalleled suffering on Christ.

One of the other factors that must be considered is Christ’s willingness to go to the cross. While Jesus’ Divine nature could have certainly prevented his own death, it is not responsible psychology or theology to suggest that Christ essentially committed suicide. However, what must be accepted is that this particular form of death was intentionally chosen to demonstrate critical features of God’s redemptive plan. Again it is common to hear the rhetoric that suggests that Christ’s death was a tragedy of perpetuated by religiously calloused Jewish leaders and indifferent bystanders. This is not faithful to the notion that Jesus’ death was intended to occur and that his accusers were instrumental to that intentional plan.

All this brings a few important aspects to light that I think bear reinforcing:

-the cross must be understood as a largely symbolic act designed for a human audience. God could have just snapped his fingers and forgiven sin instead he chose to elaborate his plan in this specific drama.

-understood as a symbolic act it seems that theology must tread carefully in constructing a too specific doctrinal paradigm around this event. It seems that some fairly spurious doctrinal positions have risen out of a too literal interpretation of the crucifixion. Instead the cross ought to be the starting point of a discussion about the ideas that God wanted to communicate in this drama.

-perhaps the most important message of the Crucifixion is not the injustice of the God/Man being killed at the hands of individuals too steeped in religiosity to see Jesus’ true identity. Instead it is the fact that God was willing to have his most benevolent act toward humanity forgotten in the triviality of common cruelty. He was willing to have his death become just as meaningless as the untold thousands who lie namely in mass graves – their personal meaning erased by the identity as number. There seems to be almost a disservice that is given to Jesus’ death by elevating it above all other human suffering. I think this what Isaiah was getting at in the image about ‘the lamb to the slaughter’. This is the utter beauty of God’s death drama – not only was he willing to give up his status as God but ultimately he was willing to be reduced to a statistic.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Poker and Indigeneity

Here are a couple of clips you might have seen in the last while advertising Party Poker:

and this one…

how are the representations of these individuals given credibility? Indigenous people plus technology is what is able to produce the comic tension needed to make these commercials ‘work’.

then this…


So if as Beth A. Conklin suggests in “Body Paint, Feathers, and VCRs: Aesthetics and Authenticity in Amazonian Activism” that indigeneity is subject to the forces of external representations of authenticity then the image of the native is essentially reflected back to the observer as their own construction. Indigeneity then is strategic for the performer (the indian) to gain access to the benefits afforded by the exercise of power which is once again (seems like a broken record already) held in Western ideological structures. To suggest then that a naked body painted native is somehow more authentic than one that is dressed in western clothes is actually only a judgement on our western idea not on the natives themselves. That it should seem funny to us that an indigenous person could use technology successfully enough to vanquish the most lucrative indulgences (poker) of our western capitalist frame should really give us pause. What we are actually suggesting is that the very (visual) types that we expect natives to demonstrate to prove their authenticity is exactly what allows them to remain disengaged from advantages of our own cultural paradigms.

Canada's tolerance misplaced?

I mourn the passing of Pierre Elliot Trudeau when I read material like this: Canada's tolerance misplaced. The author constructs an impassioned argument for a return to Diefenbaker’s notion of unhyphenated-Canadianism. Canadian multiculturalism has led to a pluralistic society that most conservative right leaning individuals see as being problematic. Mr. Kanwar intones some of the typical perspectives:

It is amazing that 77 per cent of the Canadian majority are scared of offending 23 per cent of minorities. We have become so timid that the majority cannot assert its own freedom of expression. We cannot publicly question certain foreign social customs, traditions and values that do not fit into the Canadian ethos of equality. Rather than encouraging new immigrants to adjust to Canada, we tolerate peculiar ways of doing things. We do not remind them that they are in Canada, not in their original homelands…

In a multicultural society, it is the responsibility of minorities to adjust to the majority. It does not mean that minorities have to to-tally amalgamate with the majority. They can practise some of their cultural traditions within their homes --their backstage behaviour. However, when outside of their homes, their front stage behaviour should resemble mainstream Canadian behaviour.

The Mount Royal professor is drawing on Goffman’s dramaturgical social theory of the self to construct his arguments about how his view of multiculturalism is to be expressed. His comments seem to suggest that there is an essential Canadian identity: one that is definitive enough to bring ‘cultural’ distinctions like female circumcision, or religious customs that contravene these essential characteristics. The question is whether such a unified identity is actually available or useful. Certainly some could point to a few general characteristics of being Canadian – but save the commodified stereotypes of the ubiquitous beer commercials – they often seem too broad or ambiguous. Mr. Kanwar himself fails to outline what the contours of his unhyphenated identity except that in some general sense it is different in public than in private. He manages to outline several things that being Canadian is NOT!

He also misses an important observation. Freedom of expression is precisely the elevating of minority and opposing points of view to equal status in the face of the reality that the dominant majority already has access and validity in the views they express. If freedom of expression is a value we would advocate in our society it must apply uniformly. Certainly freedom of expression exists within certain limits since we know that certain language is designed to damage peaceful and respectful relationship within a society. But any limits exercised must be done so uniformly.

Fredrick Barth suggests that ethnicity is produced and maintained not as some essentialized notion in isolation from other ethnicities. Instead he advocates that it is produced and maintained at the boundaries between ethnicities. Distinction is a productive choice of the interaction between ethnic types. If Barth is right then Mr. Kanwar’s position is a most interesting one.  In his view being Canadian is not:

  • a place where female circumcision is practiced
  • a place where marriage is conducted on the dowry basis
  • a place where female fetus are aborted based on their sex
  • a place where national loyalty can follow religious conviction

The question is then – what kind of boundary do these statements actually contest or define? In any event it seems distinct and important enough for Mr Kanwar to suggest that…

Those who come here of their own volition and stay here must be truly patriotic Canadians or go back.