With refinements in Agatan Gear Theory and the ever increasing precision of measuring tools, the late 1500s saw a widespread interest in clockwork machinery for everything from toys to basic amenities (see: the AutoSignatour, 1579). In 1567, a Spanish monk crafted a life-sized mechanical replica of himself to take his place in the monastery during mass and prayer while he was ill or travelling. It was made of wood and iron and stood about five feet tall with fully functioning eyes, mouth, and arms. It rolled about on a number of small, finely shaped brass balls, usually in a circle or a square, driven by key-wound spring that required winding every two hours. Various whistles and flutes built inside the chest were designed so that when air was pushed through by a concealed pump, the resulting whistling sounded close to a certain hymn or chant.
The Charter of Quebec Values will not last. It may not even pass at this rate. Nothing this blunt and wide-sweeping could. The ruling Parti Québécois released this handy infographic detailing what would be appropriate under the new charter (top row) and what wouldn’t (bottom). As it proudly displays, everyone is getting their own special form of white-washing, with Sikhs and any anti-jewelry sects of Islam in particular getting the cold shoulder. The brickwork backdrop is an apt choice from the Marois’ PR department, as the charter has only worked to wall her government off from both the religious voting blocks outlined in the poster and just about everyone else on the political scene. From high up on the hill where strange bedfellows now meet, right down to the plucky Quebec Solidaire and even the freakin’ Bloc, it seems like everyone’s rearing to distance themselves from this dull and bumbling two-headed ogre.
To his credit one of those heads, Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville, has been trying to make the best case possible, citing gender equality. state neutrality, and an appeal to focus on common values, all very tame and worthy arguments to consider. It probably doesn’t help that the other head he’s stuck with is lolling around in its socket, spouting off whatever rambling bit of xenophobic propaganda it can grasp at a given moment. Focusing particularly on Islam, Marois’ comments have touched on the brainwashing capacities of the hijab and the rising intifada in England, of all places. But, as she is quick to state, “The objective is not to provoke”, a snide and empty statement from a snide and empty politician.
However, strange as it may be, I kind of believe her.