Thursday, December 30, 2004

American Editions of the Harry Potter Books

One of the books I bought recently was a beautiful hardcover edition of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Unfortunately, it's an American edition.

Having done a bit of research, I found this site, which lists all the various changes which were made to the Harry Potter books for the United States market (here in Canada we get the unadulterated original version).

I'm not certain whether people in the United States should be horribly insulted that the publisher felt it necessary to dumb down Harry Potter for them, or whether the rest of the world should be aghast at the arrogance of the publisher trying to Americanize a patently British character.

At this point, having read the proper versions of the other books, I think it would be a bit jarring to suddenly have all the British idioms disappear. It would also seem rather disjointed to be reading a story set in Britain, with characters who seem to be more American than British. It would strip away the authenticity and part of the magic.

I think I'll be buying another copy, in which the author's original words are printed, and her original writing style preserved. Otherwise I'll feel that I haven't really read the book, but instead merely a corrupted derivative. I know that sounds neurotic, but I'm a book purist because books are more or less sacred to me.

Here's a link describing another great feature of the Canadian editions... they're printed on 100% recycled paper:
Harry Potter books help save forests

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Spending money I don't have on books...

My mom and I went to the Book Depot Boxing Week sale again this year. Book Depot is a warehouse book store that specializes in discount books, where the average price on hardcovers is roughly $8.99 CDN. Well, every year for their boxing day sale, everything in the store is 50% off. Book lovers' heaven.

So, you know you're a book geek when you show up to the big sale with your own cart. We've found from previous years that carrying stacks of books around a huge store for a couple hours is tiring. Now we bring a folding grocery cart with us (so we don't have to fight for the limited supply of actual grocery carts in the store). We quickly filled our cart, and started stacking books on top. I was especially pleased to pick up a couple of the latest books from Charles de Lint and Guy Gavriel Kay.

I ended up getting 26 books, mostly hardcover, for $127.57 (including taxes). Average price $4.91 each. Not bad, a super deal, but unfortunately even that hurts a lot when you're as poor as I am right now. What can I say, though? Books are my only vice. Now I just have to find shelf space...

Update: I couldn't resist a second trip... another 8 books, all hardcover, $28.31.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Job Benefits Equality for Singles

Declaring your love for someone and committing to faithfully spend your life with that person doesn't require a priest, a lawyer, or a gathering of people. All it takes is personal integrity. Loyalty, honour... all those things that have fallen out of fashion.

When you get right down to it, marriage is simply a legal contract between two people that defines property ownership and sharing of assets. In fact, the law extends almost all of the benefits of a formalized marriage to common-law couples, so there's not a whole lot of incentive to get married (especially if you already have assets which could be split in case of divorce).

But what I'd like to address is this: when you're married or living with someone, you can extend your job benefits (medical, pension, insurance, and so on) to include that person, usually at no cost. In the past few years, this benefit has been extended to same-sex couples.

I think it's past time the same consideration was given to single people.

What? Who do single people need benefits for? Well, I'm sure there are many people who would appreciate being able to extend their prescription drug coverage to an elderly parent, or their medical coverage to a disabled or unemployed sibling. How about extending dental coverage to a friend who needs their wisdom teeth removed?

Now, of course there would be reasonable limits on this. Just as with common-law couples, benefits coverage would only be extended to one person, and restricted as to how often the beneficiary could be changed (likely once per year). That's a reasonable restriction.

In fact, freedom in assigning benefits would benefit married people as well. With two people working at different employers, one of them could extend their benefits to their spouse, and the other could extend theirs to the elderly parent, for instance.

The point is, unless single people have freedom in assigning their benefits, they're really only receiving half the benefits of their co-workers. While society is examining what it means to be married, this might be an opportunity to examine job benefits and make them equal for singles.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

In Defense of Traditional Christian Marriage

What with all the furor in the media lately over the issue of homosexual marriage, I felt that I could no longer keep my silence. It's time for a good Christian man to speak up so that everyone can be certain of Jesus' will once and for all. To make my points, I would like to profile four marriages of good, God-fearing men. To protect the privacy of the people involved, I've changed their names to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Those of you who aren't going to Hell will likely smile in recognition of old friends.

My first friend, Matthew, has been married for twelve years. His is a natural marriage, between a Man and Woman. He was married in a Church and his wedding was blessed by God. I chose to tell you about Matthew's marriage because it is not perfect. I wanted to dispel any notions you might have that because religious people object to same-sex marriages, they think they are Holier Than Thou. You see, Matthew beats his wife on a regular basis, and has put her in the hospital on several occasions. I can hear your exclamations of shock. But fear not. Matthew's marriage is a natural union between Man and Woman, and is blessed by God. The support and fellowship of the Church, and God's will, has kept Matthew's marriage together and happy. Every Sunday, both Jesus and Matthew's wife forgive him his sins, and she knows that she is protected by the benevolent hand of Jesus. I ask you, could an unnatural union of two men or two women, specifically forbidden by God, survive such trials?

My next friend, Mark, has not been married so long, only for three years. In fact, this is Mark's third marriage, and his wife's fifth marriage. Now, you may wonder why I would hold up Mark as an exemplar of Christian marriage, as it may seem that he and his wife have failed at it several times. But where you see failure, I see the light of Christ's forgiveness and love. Each and every one of their marriages has been a natural union, consecrated by God. Our Lord, in his infinite compassion and mercy, has gladly granted them a fresh start with each marriage, free of guilt and doubts. Lacking God's forgiveness, same-sex spouses are doomed to repeat the mistakes of their past "marriages" and compound their grief. Surely, in the spirit of compassion and mercy taught to us by Jesus, we should protect them from this folly by not supporting the notion that a same-sex union can be called a marriage.

My friend Luke is a good example of how God's influence makes a blessed union of a Man and a Woman the ideal environment for children to be raised in. While he was married to his first wife, he frequently came home drunk, and three of his five children were not planned, but rather unexpected blessings from God. Now, while Luke sexually abused two of his daughters and was unfaithful to his wife, have no fear. God, in his infinite mercy and compassion, forgave Luke his sins. His five children now live happily with their mother and her boyfriends, and see their father once a month. This family would not have survived their tribulations if God had not placed his benediction upon their house. Not only is it an indisputable truth that only a natural union between Man and Woman can procreate, but surely the tale of Luke's family demonstrates that only a union also blessed by Jesus is capable of raising children in a home filled with traditional Christian values. Without God's help, a supportive, nurturing environment is not possible amidst the pressures of the modern world.

My last good friend, John, does not have children, and is happily married to his first wife. Their blessed union of Man and Woman represents the bright hope of the future. John and his wife, through their love of Christ and their strong belief in the rights of free speech and freedom of religion, take God's message to the streets. In true evangelical form, they spread God's word wherever they can. John has taken particular interest in the issue of same-sex "marriage" and has made sure his is the loudest voice heard by his local politicians. He makes a point of remonstrating people in public for their un-Christian behaviour, and writes regularly to his local paper. John has personally fired two openly homosexual people from his workplace (and one he suspected of homosexuality), and one night after drinking, he even helped a gang of young men educate a same-sex couple in the love and forgiveness of Jesus. He even made sure that the hospital chaplain visited them. John is a paragon of Christian goodness. Every Sunday he is forgiven his sins of the past week, and begins with a fresh slate. He goes out into the world with tolerance and compassion in his heart, and the knowledge that God will forgive him any transgressions. John's marriage is a natural union of Man and Woman, and so he lives in the light, love, and protection of Jesus.

Surely, you must see that with all the modern-day challenges to traditional marriage, it would be impossible for a same-sex union to succeed without the blessing of God (which, as even the Pope has decreed, is not forthcoming). Rather than trying to accommodate such notions, we should dedicate our energies to helping these confused people find their way to the light of God and blessed heterosexuality, so that they can bask in the glory of a blessed natural union between Man and Woman. However, should we find ourselves assailed on all sides by the Godless, we should at the very least advocate another term for same-sex unions than marriage. Marriage is a sacred institution. It is the term for a union of Man and Woman that is blessed by God. New terminology must be devised to denote these separate but legally-equal same-sex unions. Marriage is a sacred union, and we must not allow homosexuals to make a mockery of it.