Ponder Ancient Muslim Tolerance


Posted almost three years ago in reaction to anti Muslim sentiment, exasperation couldn’t begin to fathom where we find ourselves today. Religious intolerance will be the death of us all.

notestoponder

I doubt many could fathom a world of religious tolerance under Islam. Ancient history lends itself to images of holy war, crusades and religious oppression.

Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453 – a crushing blow in favour of the Ottoman Empire – orchestrated by a 21 year old visionary. According to Sharia law, non-Muslims were guaranteed freedom and protection from persecution. Once Ottoman rule was established, it made little sense to squabble over religious differences.

The Arabic word for “nation” is millet. The Ottoman Empire allowed each “millet” or religious group to elect leaders and practice freely as a “nation” under Ottoman protection. Each “millet” was free to enforce their own rules – Islamic law did not apply to non-Muslim “nations”.Criminal acts within a “millet” were dealt with under religious laws of that nation. The only time Islamic law applied was when crimes involved people of two separate nations or was perpetrated…

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Parking


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My home of 18 years sits on a Vancouver corner near B.C. Children’s Hospital. A tidy middle class neighborhood dotted with parks, worlds away from the 10 minute drive downtown. Traffic circles calm the ebb and flow, night falls with silent invitation to coyote, skunk and racoon. Day breaks with time clock punctuality, proximity to the hospital dictates a 6 am scramble for precious free parking.

Parking trouble started with a distant rumble. Several years ago Car2Go marched into town – https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/car2go/ The city designated one side of the next block as “Car2Go Parking Only”, no big deal – I joined the car sharing club knowing one would be just down the street, half the cost of a taxi anytime my husband had our car. No skin off my nose, parking for our car and my work vehicle were guaranteed by “Resident Only” parking on our side of the street as well as the street running alongside the house. Across the street remained up for grabs, anyone determined to forsake sleep for a run at the 6 am parking dash might save $14.25 in the hospital lot.

Early last year geniuses at city hall obliterated 60 free street parking spots to build a bike lane. To be clear – this is wide residential street with generous sidewalks, an existing crosstown bike-way 9 blocks south, unremarkable daytime, negligible after dark traffic – but this is Vancouver. Mayor Gregor Robertson rides a bicycle to City Hall,  oblivious to realities of life in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

Tolerant at first, I didn’t mind non resident hospital staff parking on restricted sides of the street. Restricted resident only parking on two sides of our corner could park a dozen vehicles, we only needed two – one in front, another around the corner. Imaginary propriety held for a while, I called it respect, parkers considered it testing the water.

Word of consequence free parking violation spread like wildfire. For over a year I countered with polite notes tucked under wiper blades of offending vehicles. ” We don’t mind you parking in a restricted zone but request you not park in front of our house” or “Please park at the alley so we can all get along” meant nothing. I’d played my cards, they knew I was bluffing. Months of home from work realization parking wouldn’t be close to home, relentless personal debates over tolerance vs spineless complacency later, I called bullshit on resident only parking violators.

Plate numbers in hand I dialed parking enforcement. Civic employee took my complaint with apparent sympathy, diligently confirming repeat offender plates with assurance of immediate action. Empowered, I left for work without a tinge of remorse, certain that news of a ticket or trip to the impound lot would spread as quickly as news my corner was a pushover. Next morning the cars were back. I called again. The third day I returned from work to one of the cars parked where I wanted to pull in. Noticing a driver at the wheel I assaulted the horn with vengeance, slammed my car in park and jumping out to a chorus of “what’s the problem you crazy bitch”. “This is my house! Get off my street” was enough to shut him down, he drove off without a murmur.

Only then did I notice a city vehicle down the street. A handful of perplexed onlookers watched me stomp toward his car shouting  “are you parking enforcement?”. “Yes” the man replied. Conflict resolution kicked in allowing Bylaw enforcement man to hear my out with appropriate sprinkles of sympathy. He apologized for lack of civic action, suggesting I call again to request a “patrol” for offending vehicle plates, adding “permit only” parking was dealt with immediately, “resident only” was a little trickier.

Feeling better but not convinced, I walked home to Google Vancouver resident only parking and found this –

Resident Parking Only (RPO) zones

The RPO program was cancelled in January, 2010. Existing RPO zones have been grandfathered into the residential parking system, however, the City no longer creates or extends RPO zones. All new restricted parking is now permit based.

RPO zones:

  • Allow you to park on your block without a permit
  • Are enforced on a complaint basis only

Where RPO regulations are ineffective, residents may request a change to their block regulations and be incorporated into a new residential permit parking plan.

WTF! “Where RPO regulations are ineffective residents may request a change to their block regulations and be incorporated into a new residential parking permit plan”. Heads up to the civic employee who takes my fourth complaint call tomorrow morning, all I can say is they’d better have a damn good grasp on “ineffective” because this resident only parking victim won’t be swallowing excuses.

 

Acoustic Kitty


In 2001 declassified CIA documents revealed Operation Acoustic Kitty. The premise – use cats to spy on Soviet embassies and the Kremlin. Launched in 1961, Acoustic Kitty faced considerable challenges – surgically implanting listening devices into a cat’s ear, wiring the tail as an antennae weren’t problematic, training fickle felines to ignore distractions were another matter.

Five years and $20 million tax dollars later, Acoustic Kitty was tasked with eavesdropping on two Soviet agents in a park near the Soviet Embassy on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington D.C. CIA operatives released, then witnessed Acoustic Kitty’s demise when a taxi ran over her. They secured Acoustic Kitty’s remains to prevent Soviet discovery of the mission.

Abandoned in 1967 as “an unadulterated failure”, to this day portions of CIA Acoustic Kitty files remain censored.

Former CIA officer Victor Marchetti said –

“They slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity. They tested him and tested him. They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that. Finally, they’re ready. They took it out to a park bench and said, “Listen to those two guys. Don’t listen to anything else – not the birds, no cat or dog – just those two guys!”

https://www.damninteresting.com/operation-acoustic-kitty/

Allow Me To Introduce The Moon


The cosmos doesn’t have to by a mystery, the first step begins with our Moon. Once you know the Moon, cosmic threads unravel with confidence. Allow me to introduce the Moon –

Moon phase composite via Fred Espenak. Read more about this image.

Moon phase composite via Fred Espenak. Read more about this image.

1. When you see the moon, think of the whereabouts of the sun

2. The moon rises in the east and sets in the west, each and every day

3. The moon takes about a month (one month) to orbit the Earth

4. The moon’s orbital motion is toward the east

http://earthsky.org/moon-phases/understandingmoonphases

Official End Of The World Song


This evening’s commute began as any other. Far from remarkable, CBC Radio sang background vocals – traffic, weather, Trump, Trump, Trump. Then I heard  “this is the official end of the world song”, instantly adrenaline consumed an otherwise mediocre drive.

Official end of the world song? WTF! Says who? Shut up! This was news two years ago and I’m only hearing about it now!

From an article in The Guardian –

The video had passed into CNN lore by the time Mike Ballaban, now an editor with Jalopnik, worked as an intern at the network in 2009. As rumor had it, the billionaire founder of CNN, Ted Turner, a man as known for his eccentricities as for his wealth and media legacy, had called for the preparation of a video to air in the event of nuclear holocaust.

The legend has circulated for decades, boosted by Turner’s own words in June 1980, when he said, “We’re gonna go on air June 1, and we’re gonna stay on until the end of the world. When that time comes, we’ll cover it, play Nearer My God to Thee and sign off.”

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jan/06/cnn-apocalypse-video-nearer-my-god-to-thee

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/06/cnn-end-of-the-world_n_6422738.html

Rumor has it musicians aboard the Titanic played Nearer My God To Thee as she sank . When CBC played Ted Turner’s chosen rendition I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. Have mercy- when the world ends play anything but a brass band nearer to God dirge.

 

 

Landing On Pluto


Last week NASA released a video compilation of New Horizons 2015 landing on Pluto.

What would it be like to actually land on Pluto? This movie was made from more than 100 images taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft over six weeks of approach and close flyby in the summer of 2015. The video offers a trip down onto the surface of Pluto — starting with a distant view of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon — and leading up to an eventual ride in for a “landing” on the shoreline of Pluto’s informally named Sputnik Planitia.
To create a movie that makes viewers feel as if they’re diving into Pluto, mission scientists had to interpolate some of the panchromatic (black and white) frames based on what they know Pluto looks like to make it as smooth and seamless as possible. Low-resolution color from the Ralph color camera aboard New Horizons was then draped over the frames to give the best available, actual color simulation of what it would look like to descend from high altitude to Pluto’s surface.
After a 9.5-year voyage covering more than three billion miles, New Horizons flew through the Pluto system on July 14, 2015, coming within 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) of Pluto. Carrying powerful telescopic cameras that could spot features smaller than a football field, New Horizons sent back hundreds of images of Pluto and its moons that show how dynamic and fascinating their surfaces are. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
The original black-and-white “landing” movie can be viewed at:
http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/N…