Archive for June, 2011

This question is supposed to help you determine deep, immediate compatibility with someone on a first date.

Do you like your friends to be simple, or complex?

My preference is always complex.  When you filter through the people in my life, the simple ones tend to be more so acquaintances than actual friends.  Categorization along these lines are so involuntary that I was doing so long before I found out about the question.

I’ve always been a bit envious of my simpler friends – after all, ignorance is bliss, right?  Therefore, the simpler you are, the more easily amused, and more easily entertained you will be by the smaller “victories.”   You know, chocolate chip cookie type victories.  Not world peace type victories.  I’m always aching for something a bit more . . . substantial?

So I lol’d when I saw this article today.

It paints a picture of the brooding, depressed Woody Allen, absorbed in all the problems of the world, against a jolly, care-free George W. Bush.

Then it takes a detour by suggesting that the real joys in life are not the simple ones.  They are the ones that come through recognizing that life will always throw a few challenges and the result of mental fortitude, searching for solutions, and conscious optimism will produce a much more substantial, much meatier victory.

So toil on, my complicated friends!  For us enjoyment doesn’t come in the small things (although it can), but in the search and the perpetual struggle to maneuver through this world.


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True Blood

I love how in television shows, characters can decide whether or not they want to press assault charges (or whatever have you).  Then, when they decide not to because the alleged is their friend/lover/family member, that is the end of the issue.  Do they not realize that there are both civil and criminal court systems?  You can’t drop charges against someone for assault?  Have we learned nothing from OJ Simpson?

*sorry, I’m watching True Blood. Sookie won’t press charges against Bill.  The title is related, I promise.

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Playoffs ended in another shellacking and an amazing performance by the star of the Bruins, Tim Thomas.  I’d hate that man so much, if he weren’t also so awesome and so nice in his post-game interviews.   It was so painful to watch our boys, esp Ryan “heart of a lion” Kesler, clearly on the brink of tears after months of hard work and determination, come within one game of winning it all.  I wanted to leave immediately.

I could also smell the agitation in the air, something that had nothing to do with the embarrassment that was on the large jumbo screens.  In an creepy way, related to my previous post about Lara Logan, the crowd of hundreds of thousands that I celebrated with on so many nights decided to pay ugly homage to mob anger.  Except, unlike rioting all over the world, this time it was aimed at something so stupid and banal I’m willing to recognize that hockey is just a game.  And I breathe hockey.

There was assaults.  A guy fell off the viaduct.  Car flipping.  Things being set on fire.  Looting.  Hospitals were on code orange.  General vandalism.  Stabbing victims.  Things being set on fire.  Did I mention that people set things on fire for the sake of setting them on fire?

At the time, I was nervous, so I started walking south, and within three minutes, would look back to see billows of black smoke, no doubt from a car being torched.  I didn’t take a picture, I just kept walking.  Tetsuro didn’t.  He’s batshit crazy.

After a few hours and a few cocktails, my curiosity bested me and Mario and I walked through downtown at 11:00 pm.  It was like a zombie wasteland.

The next day, the entire city woke up from its hangover.  There were some bright spots: people did go downtown as early as 7:00 am to help clean up the trash and glass strewn across our beautiful streets.  Those people are amazing.  I’d bet money that those people are also probably not the same people who caused the damage.

Condemnation was thrown around at the minority of hooligans who were causing trouble.  And there truly were people who showed up with gasmasks, molotov cocktails, weapons and bandannas, ready to stir shit up.  But we need to recognize that all of us, including me, had a part in the way the night unfolded.

Psychology tells us that mob mentality will reveal the ugliest parts of human nature.  It is easy for normal, average, nice Canadians to get pulled into the frenzy when someone has already flipped a car.  It won’t matter if I kick that car, someone flipped it.  Hey, that guy kicked the car, I’ll take my hockey stick to the windshield.  Hey, that guy smashed the windshield, I’ll jump on top and do a stupid little jig.   Mob mentality is well documented and has caused many normal, rational people to do inexplicable things.  Anonymity seems to dissipate people’s fears of consequences.  Remember all the reports of assaults at Woodstock 1999?  Would the attackers have done the same thing if they were not being openly egged on?

So while there were some idiots, we all had our small part in this.  No one is above an apology, not even me.  I can’t stand here and criticize those who joined in, because doing so would be to deny a part of my nature that is not beyond reproach.  I, like the rest of the city, have the potential to expose the uglier parts of humanity.  I may not have stood on a car or flipped it (who are we kidding here? I can’t lift shit) but I might have stood there, cheered, took pictures, or otherwise been part of the tacit approval of the havoc.  I don’t know if I would have been above that, and that is a scary thought.

One of the books I remember reading in high school was Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse.  In it, our protagonist takes a journey where he goes from seeking spiritual enlightenment, to all things worldly.  He comes back around, but in the process realizes that in all of us is the potential for us to become what we hate.  That Hesse was a smart man.

We are all Canucks.  But in a similar fashion, we are all made of the same weaknesses.

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With the combination of playoff fever, the postal strike which is preventing me from getting any mail or magazine subscriptions, and general laziness, I have been turning into a bit of a current events hermit.  Or a cur-mit?

Anyways, it’ll all be over in a day (the playoffs, not the strike) so it is time to stretch my eyeballs.

One of my dreams has always been to work in a post-conflict zone (after everyone and their tanks have packed up and gone home) and so this issue really hits home.  Back in March, I had the privilege of sitting down to talk with Deborah Campbell, a journalist who has written for The Economist and worked in some of the most dangerous places on earth.  She nonchalantly described being caught in the middle of gun fights, the importance of having good local contacts, and safety as a foreigner who visibly stands out.   Last month, two separate journalists came out with their stories about working in Afghanistan and Egypt.

How Mellissa Fung survived 28 days of captivity in Afghanistan

And the more recent assault of Lara Logan in Tahrir Square

Lara Logan breaks the silence

I have since learned that there is a certain code of silence amongst female journalists covering stories abroad  that sexual assaults should be kept private.  Why?  Because speaking out about them will prevent other female journalists from being sent out on these assignments for fear of putting them at a risk which their male counterparts are less likely to experience.  After Ms. Fung was released from captivity, she still has not been assigned back to the field.  So silence becomes a mechanism of solidarity.

It is unfair in a way to punish women journalists who survive violence and assault by preventing them from doing their jobs in the future.  Especially if they make a personal decision to accept the risks and show an interest in returning to the field, which so far, all the notable cases have done.  Men face risks in the field as well, and while I have no evidence of this, there have been many who have been killed while working, rather than assaulted.  Perhaps had they survived, many of them would have chosen to return to the field again, knowing the risks.

Preventing women from working dangerous assignments means we lose half of the picture of what is going on in these places.  Ms. Fung spoke out afterwards about the experience of the local women, as did Ms. Logan.

In a perfect world:  women who choose to return to the field with a full understanding of the risks to their personal safety would be allowed to make those choices, instead of being grandfathered by their employers.  They could also choose to talk about ordeals, without fear of consequences.

In this world: it is a tough balance between choosing to bury an assault experience for the sake of others in your profession, or speaking out and risk losing future assignments.  It isn’t a choice that has to be made.

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Sissy Boy Scandals

Therapy to change feminine boy created a troubled man, family says

I don’t really have a lot to add on this story, but I do love when big hypocrisy revealing scandals make the headlines.

Male Escort and Baptist Minister

So I have this hunch that exaggerated homophobia in some individuals is actually just a sweet, maraschino of homosexuality masked in a violent chocolatey shell of denial.   Then I did ONE google search and found the following study.

If life were a game, and it is, this warrants me a self-pat on the back.  Because I missed MY chance to publish a study where I make 48 dudes watch various types of porn and then measure them.  Sometimes, I wish my life were more of a joke.  Like George Rekers’.

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Subsidies for parties to be phased out.

tell me I'm not the only one.

Sigh.  I knew this was coming, but somehow it doesn’t stop me from feeling a sense of disgust.  One of the biggest complaints about the previous few elections has been how the voting patterns across Canada do not match the makeup of Parliament at the end of the process, with a majority government winning on roughly a third of the popular vote.  It makes it difficult for people, esp young people, to really care about our government when we know our vote is futile.  With the introduction (or extroduction?) of the vote subsidy, I feel like this will further remove the Canadian public from the political process.

Two dollars isn’t a lot per voter, but it was one of a few rare mechanisms that kept democracy running somewhat like a free market.  Everyone has the same amount of currency and everyone’s interests matter to the same degree.  Voting with a ballot was like literally putting your money where your mouth was.  It was the purest form of an election market, unmarred by the difficult and complicated processes tangled up in ridings, strategy, vote-swapping, etc.  It is an insurance policy that even if the man who represents our Parliament is not what we want, we have concrete evidence that we have contributed in some small, monetary way, towards a cause that is going to fight him on the policies that we care about the most.

With the subsidy being phased out, the market is gone and politics drifts further from its original core: finding a way to voice peoples’ concerns.   Not only are the results undesirable, our ballot paper will no longer have the currency to promise us any better luck the next time around.

I’m hoping that there’s a bit of a silver lining to this.  Harper may have a current advantage in terms of fundraising, but we will need to see an equivalent push, to newer, younger, possibly previously marginalized voters from other parties.  Barack Obama did it three years ago, and we may yet see the kind of ingenuity that market pressure produces.  Let’s just hope it’s sometime soon and we end this government because Harper creeps me the fuck out.

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