Friday, January 25, 2008

Edith Harsch

I just received an email from my mom informing me that Edith Harsch died on January 21st. She was 92 years old.

I probably first met Mrs. Harsch in 1974, when I began elementary school. She was my second grade teacher in 1975-76, and attended the same church that my family did. I'm a little hazy on this part, but I think she was my Sunday School teacher for a year or two as well.

She was my favorite teacher, and I want to tell you a little bit about her. From what I recall based on many-years-old conversations with various people, she began teaching at the age of 15. That would have made her a 45 year veteran of teaching by the time I was in her class. I'm pretty sure she continued to teach long past the normal retirement age, too, so I would estimate that she taught between fifteen hundred and eighteen hundred students over the course of her career.

Her name was pronounced "harsh", however she was anything but. She was one of the sweetest ladies I've ever known. And, she took a personal interest in all of her students. I recall missing the bus one day, and deciding to walk home (nine miles - what the heck was I thinking?); I must have been six or seven or eight years old at the time. She went out looking for me, found me, and drove me home. I know that my sister Wendy had a similar experience a few years later, under slightly different circumstances, and I vaguely recall my other sister Heidi perhaps having a similar experience (but I can't be sure).

I was a fairly smart kid when I was in her class, and my buddy Collin was also pretty smart - a lot of teachers wouldn't have known what to do with the two of us. Mrs. Harsch recognized that Collin and I were getting quite a bit ahead of the class, so she made up a bunch of flash cards with multiplication and division questions on them, and had us teach each other arithmetic. We got a year or two head start in math compared to our contemporaries because Mrs. Harsch fed our thirst for knowledge.

Being in the same church and having attended her class, I saw a fair amount of Mrs. Harsch (and vice-versa) during my childhood. When I last saw her three years ago she remembered my name, my sisters, my parents... but I would be willing to bet that she remembered the name of every student she ever had.

That meeting three years ago is something I'm going to remember for a very long time. My mom had asked me to help out with cooking for some church function, and I did. Mrs. Harsch was there, and when it came time to eat she corralled me and insisted I sit beside her to eat.

While we were finishing up eating the meal I mentioned to her that she was my all-time favorite teacher. I don't think I'll forget the look on her face. She positively beamed, and I thought she might even cry. - but rather than crying she took a fork full of the cake from her plate and proceeded to feed me as if I was still a small boy. I let her.

Edith Harsch was almost like a third grandmother to me, and I loved her and will miss her a lot.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Monday, January 14, 2008

The HRC must go

OK, now this has me really pissed off. A couple of years ago, there were a dozen cartoons featuring Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper. A few months later, some imam decided to incite riots over these cartoons, so he added a few more of his own and then told people how offensive they were. Well, the members of the "religion of peace" used that as an excuse to riot and kill a bunch of people who had nothing whatsoever to do with the cartoons. This is absolutely psychotic behaviour.

The Western Standard magazine chose to publish those cartoons, too, just to show people in Canada what all the fuss was about. The cartoons were newsworthy - after all, people were dying because of the riots supposedly incited by the cartoons - and yet of all the newspapers and magazines in Canada, only three other publications published any of the cartoons, other than the Western Standard (and one of those subsequently recalled every copy that they had printed). I myself published one of the cartoons on my blog. Here is the entire set of twelve cartoons (with a tip of the hat to Kate):

That's it. Those twelve cartoons, which are pretty darn tame, are the reason that more than 100 innocent people lost their lives.

The words to describe such behaviour - rioting and killing innocent people over freakin' cartoons - include such terms as barbaric, insane, sociopathic, deranged, idiotic, stupid, and so forth. In short, these people are batshit crazy.

If the Western Standard had not published the cartoons, then a great many Canadians would have had no idea what all the controversy was about - they would have just figured that the Muslims had gone completely off their rocker. But after seeing those cartoons, Canadians could see that it was much worse than that: that the Islamic world was completely insane even before the cartoons were published. But, that is not what has me so pissed off. Instead, I'm angry about the subsequent actions of the Alberta government.

You see, some Saudi imam currently living in Canada took offense to the Western Standard's publication of the cartoons. So, instead of - for instance - writing about or speaking out against the publication of the cartoons, he called the Alberta Human Rights Commission and insisted that this government body force Ezra Levant, the publisher of the Western Standard, to apologize.

Well, one could excuse this Saudi for not knowing about such esoteric concepts as Freedom of Speech or Freedom of the Press. However it is absolutely inexcusable for the government to use its power - to subpoena Ezra Levant, to force him to waste his time appearing before this quasi-judicial commisssion, to force him to pay lawyers for his defence - simply for the "crime" of exercising his political freedom in Canada. And yet, that is exactly what happened. Levant taped his appearance before the commission (in reality, just a single bored bureaucrat - what was that line about the banality of evil?) and posted excerpts on YouTube. Here are those excerpts:

Now, I am an Albertan just like Ezra Levant. I also published one of those cartoons when the riots occurred and republished them all today. Although Ezra Levant is the one sitting before the commission, wasting his valuable time and money on lawyers, I may as well be sitting in the chair right beside him, for I am guilty of the same "crime" as he is, exercising my constitutionally-protected rights to free speech.

You know, I could make up my own cartoon, one which would be so offensive that members of polite society would shun me. That is their right, just as it is my right to make up and publish such a cartoon. The government legally has nothing whatsoever to say about it, and cannot censor me. I even seriously considered making up just such a cartoon (one involving the devil, Mohammed bent over a barrel, and 72 male pigs - use your imagination). However, my readership is low enough as it is, and I don't want it to go to zero. That is the way it should be. I publish what I want, people read it if they want to. If I go too far across the line of good taste, then I lose readers. The government has no say, nor should it have any say, in what I publish.

It is inexcusable that this quasi-judicial body has the power to force publishers like Ezra Levant or columnists like Mark Steyn (who is, by the way, next up before this kangaroo court) to appear before them simply for having exercised their constitutionally-protected and fundamental human right to free speech. It is doubly offensive that this star chamber is presided over by activists rather than judges, that the rules of evidence do not apply, that the motion to dismiss does not apply, that accusers can bring multiple suits and abuse the process with no consequences or cost to them, that the accused cannot choose to have more than one lawyer present - in short, that the rule of law and jurisprudence, not to mention 800 years of common law, are completely ignored.

Look, you want offensive? This is offensive:

That's the Piss Christ, supposed "art" which is merely a crucifix immersed in a jar of urine. Remember the riots, the more than 100 dead, the conviction of the artist in a kangaroo court, due to this craptacular, truly blasphemous "artwork"? No? Maybe that's because people in the Western world understand the concepts of civilization and Freedom of Speech. Maybe it is well past time for people in other parts of the world to grow the fuck up, too. And I know for certain that it is long past time for the abomination of the quasi-judicial Alberta Human Rights Commission to be disbanded - never again should the government use its power to punish people simply for exercising their fundamental rights to free speech. I hope (as does Ezra Levant) that the HRC rules against Levant or Mark Steyn - that way, this case can go to a real court, and be fought all the way up to the Supreme Court. Should it go that far, then the "human rights" commissions are done for, and good riddance.

Finally, here's a personal note to Syed Soharwardy, the POS that lodged this complaint against Levant with the AHRC:

This is how it is done in a free society. If someone writes or says something you don't like, then you write or say something in response. If people agree with you, then you win the argument. If they don't, then you lose and STFU. Using the government to silence your critics is the act of a coward. If I have the opportunity, I will call you a coward to your face. Luckily, I have the advantage of being right - and you'll still be a coward and a weasel. This is our system in free Western societies. If you don't like it, then either run for political office and try to change our laws from within our system, or go back to whatever third world hellhole (and there's a reason that it is a hellhole, while Western societies are not) you came from and wallow in your ignorance and stupidity and fear and cowardice. Jerk.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Yulia Tymoshenko topless photos

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post expressing my admiration for the very pretty Yulia Tymoshenko, the current prime minister of the Ukraine. Since then, that post has become by far the most popular post on this blog. I would estimate that more than half the traffic to Robot Guy is to that one blog post. So, I decided to do a little experiment: at great expense and personal risk, I have obtained these topless photos of Yulia Tymoshenko. That's right, topless photos of Yulia Tymoshenko. I am betting that this post is going to receive thousands of hits, just a prediction. So, if you want to see topless photos of Yulia Tymoshenko, just scroll down. If you're at work, your company probably has some sort of prohibition against viewing topless photos of gorgeous women, so keep that in mind before scrolling down the page.

And now, without further ado, I present for your edification four topless photos of Yulia Tymoshenko. Enjoy.

See? Yulia Tymoshenko, topless. What did I tell you? You get what you pay for.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A two-part Carnival of Space

Music of the Spheres posted the Carnival of Space this week, check it out here and here.