Monday, September 23, 2013

The week in review (2013-09-23)

Domestic log -- It was again a busy couple of weeks for me. First, I had two separate sessions of union training (union rep and health & security at work). Going back to class is more tiring than working, I can tell you. I was going back home even more exhausted than usual, so I didn't write much during that time. I wrote only one comment (which demanded lots of research, so it took me quite a while and it's a little longer than usual [2000 words] but I am quite happy with it) about Barefoot Gen (in french). I'll try to catch up on my writing, but unfortunately my pile of books to read keeps growing faster than I can write about them!

We're definitely having an early autumn this year. Already by mid-september the temperature had drop to 10~12˚C and leaves had started falling from the trees! And I could see (or hear) flights of geese going south. It definitely bodes ill for the season... Now autumn is here and it shows (although the temperature has warmed up a little). It is sunny today, but days tend to be rather dull and cloudy lately. To add to the gloomy atmosphere, two friends of my father died in the last week.

“Oh my God! It's full of kittens!” An alternate version of 2001 Space Odyssey? No: my backyard in the last couple of weeks! Two separate litters of kittens roam in the backyard. I had a scare when, one day, they all disappeared (I was dismayed: who had stolen my kittens?! It was a hard blow to take after the unexpected departure of my beloved Spotty) but they were all back the next day. I don't know what happened but I was glad to see them back (actually it was to be expected because mothers tend to move their kittens after a while for security reasons, so it could happen again; although the shed is providing them shelter and there's always food). If they are still around next month I am planning to adopt one of them, whose shown us great interest and affection...

Besides all that, we keep watching British period drama on TV (finishing Copper and Foyle's War, only one episode left to the first season of The Bletchley Circle, but season four of Downton Abbey is just starting) and enjoying the beautiful crops of our garden!

Press review -- Lately the news have been dominated by two stories: Apple releasing new products (iPhones 5s and 5c, iOS 7) and lots of discussions on the charter of Quebec values. I could say a lot on this subject, but I'll try to be brief.

I totally agree on the principle that Quebec society (and particularly its government) should be totally secular. I've always said that religion should take place only in your head [not on your head!], your home and your temple. No need to broadcast your beliefs with ostentatious signs (and certainly not blocking the metro entrance or wake me up in the morning to distribute leaflets of religious propaganda!). Unfortunately, the government (PQ) has handled the whole situation quite badly, which has been blown out of proportion by its opponents and gave it the bitter taste of xenophobia (some conspiracy theorists say it was done on purpose: either to distract from their poor economical performance or, even crazier, to drive immigrants out of the province to increase their chance in a future sovereignty referendum). However, it should be done fair and square, equally and evenly. Catholic signs of faith should receive the same treatment. That also means no crucifix in classes or in the parliament, no prayers before council meetings.

Personally, I don't see the problem. I don't wear any signs of my belief, so why should other people do? Religion is a private matter. That's the way it should be done here, so why not adapt to this? It is a question of equality. People want to be treated equally? Then it works both ways. And, in this case, the charter is not attacking their liberty of whatever at all: it only asks people not to wear any religious signs if they work for the government, and only during the working hours! Outside of that they can do whatever they want! Someone on the internet compared this with wearing a uniform at work. Is that too much to ask? Of course, it is a delicate and complex subject. The veil that some muslim women wear: is it a religious or cultural expression (after all the Koran only asks women to be “modest”)? Same situation for the turban wore by the Sikhs: in itself it is not an ostentatious sign as it is only used to contains the long hair that their religion requires them not to cut, ever. We should think carefully about all this. Maybe some exceptions, some compromises, are necessary. Unfortunately, many are using this to further their own agenda. If the debate gets ugly, we should try to put ourselves in the others' place. The fact that we are debating the subject is quite healthy in itself. I am sure we can find a solution that will be acceptable for all and thus preserve the beautiful cultural diversity of our society.

On a lesser extend there also talks about two upcoming elections: municipal and for my union executive team. As usual, I've gathered links about the most interesting news and I am sharing them with you:

Anime & Manga related, Japan, Popular Culture
Apple, apps and mobile devices news
Extra: Apple releases iOS 7 and two models of iPhone !! Books, Digital Edition & Libraries Economy, Environment & International/U.S. Politics Health, home & garden Local News & National Politics Media, Culture, & Society Sciences & History Technology, Gadgets & Internet Union stuff & Montreal's libraries

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