31 October 2011

End of month notes

  • It's almost certainly past time for this: Commonwealth agrees first-born girls can be queen. Two observations: First, eliminating gender discrimination is the easy part; ending birth-order discrimination would be more complicated. Then again we are talking about hereditary monarchy, no? Second, the United Kingdom can change the succession to the Crown more easily than Canada. In the UK an act of parliament is sufficient; here we would need a constitutional amendment requiring unanimous provincial approval. It seems unlikely that a single province would stand in the way, but stranger things have happened in our history.

  • We Canadians are not as wedded to our national symbols as are Americans to theirs, so changing them is not unthinkable: Should a polar bear replace the beaver as Canada’s national emblem?

  • Some months ago a friend, knowing my American birth, made me feel sheepish for not knowing that the oak tree is the United States' national tree. However, I subsequently discovered that the choice of a national tree was made only in 2004, long after I left the country. It seems my memory isn't as bad as I had feared. Um, now what were we talking about again?

  • The global protests are becoming more specific:

  • How many deadlines have passed for the indefatigable Harold Camping's doomsday predictions? Apparently a week ago last friday was the last straw, even for Camping: Family Radio Founder Harold Camping Repents, Apologizes for False Teachings. Last I heard, Family Radio was still airing on shortwave, but for how long?

  • Andrew Coyne is dead-on here: If our leaders were corrupt, would we know it?
    In other countries executive power is subject to various checks and balances. Who or what prevents a prime minister of Canada from doing as he pleases? The governor general? But he is his appointee. The Senate? He appoints all the senators. The courts? He appoints every member of the Supreme Court, and all the federal court judges, too. The bureaucracy? He appoints the clerk of the privy council, every deputy minister, the heads of all the major Crown corporations, even the ambassadors. The police? He appoints the chief of the RCMP. And so on, hundreds and hundreds of posts, great and small, and nearly all without any independent oversight.

    Reform is long overdue. I think modifying our first-past-the-post electoral system towards some form of proportional representation would be a step in the right direction, but it's not the only one.

  • This is from my Genevan Psalter blog, but it is worth posting here as well. The Psalm Project will be performing at Redeemer University College during its North American tour in January.

    I hope their efforts will lead to a recovery of psalm-singing in North American churches, but one thing puzzles me: why would anyone tour North America in January?
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