31 December 2008

Should we be worried?

This is a screen shot that I took of my iGoogle page yesterday morning. Pretty innocuous, right? Nice and festive for the season. I've blurred personal references for obvious reasons.

Here's what I want to draw your attention to:

WHAT?! Who screens these ads? I'm actually too afraid to click on the link because I'm worried about what I'll find. It could be some ultra-fundamentalist cult. Or just a really religious economist. My real fear is that it has something to to with Barak Obama becoming president. That would just make me cry.

18 December 2008

Mobility

I had an "I'm old" week last week.

1) My cold. I called in sick Monday for it, but lucked into a snow day. I went to work Tuesday and was told repeatedly by various and sundry people that I shouldn't be there, so I left that evening with my genius plan of staying home on Wednesday. It was the tiredness that made me feel old. By the end of Wednesday, I had discovered that activity made me very tired, but that I was otherwise capable of living as usual. Then Thursday happened.

2) My neck. As I was getting out of the shower Thursday morning (at a decent time because I was back to work!), there was a loud CRACK! A series of them, actually. One giant crack, and two loud pops. It's not unusual for my neck to crack. It's the routine sound of my over-tight tendons snapping over my vertebrae. It's not a pleasant sound, but relatively harmless and, I've been assured, unlikely to give me any form of arthritis.

This crack was different. As soon as I heard it, I immediately started twisting and stretching to try to stop what was quickly becoming the inevitable tightening of my neck muscles. Inevitability won out. I stood tensely in the bathroom trying to figure out what to do. I decided that lying down and getting the weight of my giant head off my neck and shoulders could only help. Gasping and mewing, I made my way to the bedroom, with a quick, semi-conscious detour to the living room to grab my cell phone. I can't explain why I did that, but it turned out to be a good idea.

Once on my back on the bed, I started some deep breathing to try to relax and counteract the jolts of pain that were emanating from my left neck and shoulder. The radio was on, so I tried to concentrate on that and not the pain. After about 10 minutes went by, I started making attempts to get up again.

To no avail. I was basically paralysed from the waist up. Any movement ignited another flash of pain. I screamed and yelled practically every time I tried. I was glad my neighbour was away. She probably would have thought I was being murdered. Probably by my ex since she has no use for him.

I tried over and over to get up. I had three ongoing thoughts: "There's nothing wrong."; "I have to go to work." and; "Fuck; I can't move, I can't get up. Fuck, this hurts." All those thoughts were in my head. Out loud there was lots of swearing, screaming, whimpering, and groaning.

This is where my Blackberry comes in handy. I first tried to find the e-mail with the phone number of the guy I was supposed to call if I needed a sub. No luck. Then I called my friend who tends to get to school pretty early to see if she could inform someone. No luck. Then I tried to bypass that and call my friend who subs for me on occasion. No luck. Then I called another friend I work with and asked her to look up the number for me. She did. I called the supervisor and told him I needed a sub. I apologized for not letting him know earlier. He said no problem, asked me to e-mail a lesson plan, and didn't ask any other questions. Typing a whole day's lesson plans on a Blackberry was fun....

Then, after all this, I called my parents. And promptly started to cry and panic and freak out and all that good stuff. My dad handed me off to my mom, who offered to come over. I told her to wait until after rush hour, since I couldn't move then anyway. While I waited, I shivered (I was still only wearing a wet towel) and dozed.

When Mom showed up, she helped me get up (much screaming ensued), get dressed (how embarrassing), and eat. She called her chiropractor and made an appointment for me. Then she left me on the couch with an ice pack for an hour while she went to yoga.

A couple of hours later, I was face down on a massage table after a scan of the nerves in my back revealed wide-spread inflammation, compression, and misalignment of my vertebrae. The bulk of the problems were in my upper back and neck, with a few problems lower down.

After a chat about my various aches and pains over the years, the link was made: my problems are related to my jaw. The same jaw for which I am currently being treated. It really is all in my head. Years of pain and the resulting ridicule most likely originate from my crooked, off-centre lower jaw.

Actually, knowing that makes me feel less old; less like I'm falling apart before 30 and more justified in feeling the pain. It also makes me want to smack all the people who were ever rude to me about my poor health, calling me lazy, etc.

I'd just like to say that I'm glad that I live in a country where I can have this pain and someone will fix it for me without my having to prove anything to anyone. I'm just sad that dental isn't covered, because I now owe a lot of money for these teeth.

Oh, right. Bills. That's the other thing that makes me feel old....

17 December 2008

I hope he hates his parents when he grows up

I can understand lots of things. I can understand wanting to be original. I can understand wanting to stand out. I can understand wanting to be known for something that sets you apart from other people.

I can't understand wanting to be know for this. A set of parents in New Jersey named their son Adolf Hitler Campbell. And they're annoyed that it upsets people.

They think they should be allowed to name their kids what they want. I think they named their kid so they could make a big deal of it when the kid was denied service or discriminated against because people found it offensive.

12 December 2008

Someone else already had his kids...

... but if Jon Stewart is up for another round, I'll have some too.

Watch this clip of his interview with former US presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee. The Comedy Network won't let me embed it (and if you're outside Canada, you'll have to look elsewhere for it). The interview aired on Tuesday 9 December 2008.

It's so worth it for even the one question: "At what age did you decide you weren't a homosexual?"

11 December 2008

Buy foreign. You'll spend on domestic anyway.

From matthewgood.org comes this lovely poster:


That's what it feels like to me, too.

It kind of frightens me that companies of this size can't follow market trends and predict an outcome. This started before gas prices skyrocketed over the past few years. The fact that the so-called "Big Three" American automakers pissed around for so long is a pretty sad commentary on the state of business and ethics.

I fully understand why it's better for the governments to bail them out. They'd be looking at thousands of job losses that would ultimately have a worse economic impact than the money being thrown at this fiasco by the Americans (and subsequently the Canadians, since we have no real auto industry of our own and rely on international investment for our auto sector jobs).

I hope the unions are prepared to make some concessions to justify this expenditure. Before you pull out your claws, I'm pro-union -- within reasonable limits. I'm a teacher. When I do the calculations, I make just over $26/hr before taxes. When I hear of auto workers making upwards of $80/hr, I do have to ask why. Why do some of them make more than 3 times my salary when I was in school for 7 years? How can they justify the swollen salaries when their employers are asking for billions of dollars from the government. And in a capitalist society at that. What ever happened to letting the market determine the winners and losers?

No, I agree that the cost of letting these car companies fall apart is too high. And as I lie here on my second sick day this week in excruciating pain with the luxury of my unionized benefits to pay for 80% of the massage and chiropractic I spontaneously needed today because of the domino effect of my myofascial malocclusion which is being treated in part by orthodontic benefits of said unionized health plan (gasp for air!), I will contemplate what I would be willing to give up. For example, the news came down today that my own union pension plan has a $1.5 billion unfunded liability (read: deficit). Will I be asked to vote on a proposal to top that up at the expense of something else, like dental or acupuncture? I guess it's a real possibility, if not for the current round of negotiations, then at some point during this apparent extended economic decline we're facing down. But if the government can't tell me that my money isn't about to be well-spent on some flagging car manufacturers, I'm prepared to fight that point all the way to the bank.

09 December 2008

Compelled to Act

Earlier this year, I watched Hotel Rwanda, about a man who bargained almost everything he owned and used every connection he had to keep people alive in the face of the Rwandan Genocide. Of course, it was given the Hollywood treatment.

Last week I started Shake Hands with the Devil. I had to turn it off partway through because of how disturbing the images were. I finished it up this afternoon. I'm sure it had its own cinematic flourishes, but it was treated very seriously and respectfully. It's based on the autobiographical account of Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian Major-General who was the Force Commander of UNAMIR -- the UN's mission to provide support and stability to the country -- when the genocide took place.

Something very stunning caught my attention. When Dallaire (played by Roy Dupuis) was talking to a reporter about the situation, they discussed the use of the term "genocide" in respect to the civil war. Apparently the Americans were instrumental in preventing the label from being attached to the crisis, much like they have been in Darfur, Sudan. It turns out that, if the UN applies the label to a crisis, nations are compelled to act. As such, certain nations fight tooth and nail to prevent that label from being applied. I guess if the conflict doesn't serve an underlying economic purpose, there's no point in taking action. Why should we try to uphold principles enshrined in legal documents like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Or even the Golden Rule.

I can't begin to unpack the politics and the pettiness that leads to this level of atrocity in one blog entry. People have been writing articles and dissertations on it for years. It all comes down to the same hand-wringing and lamenting, "How could we let this happen?!"

Well, we did. The government officials did, the media did, and the complacency of people too far removed from the situation, too busy doom-saying about NAFTA and too busy crying about Kurt Cobain* allowed them too.

I often get blank stares when I talk about my involvement with Amnesty International. But the people who work for and with AI are trying to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. Like, for real. They are trying to point out the abusive regimes that treat their citizens (or certain groups of citizens) like crap. They are trying to motivate more progressive governments to intervene and to set the right kind of example. They are trying to make people all over the world aware of things that are going on so that they don't happen in silence anymore.

Tomorrow is International Human Rights Day. It is the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. I didn't meant to turn this blog into an appeal, but if you're interested in knowing what you can do on this one day to make a difference, check you the Write for Rights.

I really wanted to draw attention to Romeo Dallaire for his courage. I wanted to thank him for standing by what he believes. I know he didn't do it alone. I know that many other people chose to stay with him to keep working for peace in Rwanda. I wish I knew all their names too. On behalf of all of them, and all the people who have fought and still do like Romeo Dallaire did and does, Senator Dallaire is my Hero of the Week.



*I am not trying to downplay Kurt Cobain's death. I happen to believe that he was an incredible musical and artistic force that gave voice to another disenchanted (my) generation. But in the grand scheme of global events, and the events of the following days -- should have been a blip.

07 December 2008

New Beginnings

I feel like doing a personal post.

My friends know about my affinity for Felicity. This isn't the first time I've mentioned it on this blog. I'm now sure there's a reason I didn't watch it when it was first being broadcast (which kind of scares me -- what's in store when I watch Dawson's Creek and Gilmore Girls?) because it sure makes a lot of sense to me now. Or, maybe, if I'd watched it then, I would have been completely insufferable as I extolled my learnings.

I'm not trying to say that the universe is telling me something when I watch WB (now CW) shows. I don't think that I'm going to meet a man from Krypton or that I'm going to raise a family in Bed Stuy. But beneath all its preachiness, there's something powerful that I get from watching this show. There is definitely a theme of independence that emerges from the show. Unfortunately, it often ends up being subjugated by the continual story arc of Felecity + Ben = Meant to Be.

There's all kinds of love and hooking up and unrequited feelings in the show, which I guess is not dissimilar to real life. I know there things are happening every day. I've been to a bar the past two weekend and watched it play out for dozens of people. The dance continues.

Every so often, I encounter it myself. I can hardly say that I met my soulmate this weekend, but I didn't expect what I ran into, and the yawning abyss of possibility opened up to me again. But no matter what, I still have to do it for myself. We all do. That's the theory put forward by Felicity. It's what I keep forgetting.

Of course, because it's television, we only have to watch the episode to see how it ends:



Reality dictates that we don't get to know when someone will realize how desperately they need to be with us that they would take a bus to New Jersey to atone for past sins. In reality, we have to sit tight, and keep going. Nothing stays the same for long.

It's funny how those same words would terrify me under different circumstances.

I can't embed this video, but here's the mantra.

06 December 2008

Who needs democracy?

Should we have a coalition government? Should the opposition suck it up and pack it in, like Stephen Harper hoped they would do?

Rarely, to some, does Canadian politics warrant the level of interest and excitement that leads ordinary citizens to tune into CPAC to hear the next low blow in the debate, but it happened. Sitting in my staffroom, I heard people get excited and expound on the necessity of either prorogation or new government. "Facts" and numbers were thrown around with the ease and simplicity which usually has people turning over to take a nap. Had I attempted a conversation about politics a few weeks ago, the force of people's yawns would have blown me out the door. Now they all want to talk about it -- loudly.

What gets to people are the reasons. Some will go on about the attack on collective bargaining embedded in the financial update. Others will point to the trampling of hard-won women's rights. The most popular arguement -- because it was at the top of the list of Conservative talking points -- is funding to the other political parties.

Whether you believe that political parties should get all their funding from those who support them, or think that all political campaigning should be meted out equally so all parties work from a level playing field, I think the point was best made (as far as I've seen) by Rick Mercer this week on his show.

04 December 2008

Tell us, Jesus

It's been a while since I've posted. I've been so busy that I rarely get to see the inside of my condo in daylight. I hope to rectify that starting next week.

Until then, let's hear about Prop 8 in an amusing way.


See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

16 November 2008

We DO need another hero

The video below is possibly the most powerful thing I've heard in a long time.

It's about the passing of Proposition 8 in California (and probably similar propositions in other states the past election day). Prop 8 was for a constitutional amendment that would deny homosexuals the right to marry. Basically, it changes the guarantee of equal rights for all to say that gay people can't get married. The equal rights guarantee is what proponents of gay marriage are using to legalize the practice. Now states are gradually changing their constitutions to eliminate that protection. I don't want to even consider where that slippery slope could lead.

So, without further ado, have a gander at an impassioned plea for some common sense and basic decency.



Keith Olbermann is definitely my Hero of the Week.

15 November 2008

It was huge

I think it's easy to forget, a few weeks after the fact, that what happened on November 4th was amazing. Everything could change on January 20th, 2009 when Obama is actually sworn in, and he has to actually make some of the changes he promised.

In the meantime, let's keep celebrating.

12 November 2008

09 November 2008

That was close!

Look, I'm not going to get into a whole thing about something is in the past, but this video shows that the world is pretty lucky that America does not have another Republican administration en route.

Here's why:



There are other clips that talk about her tantrums and her shop-aholism. It's such a petty thing to do. McCain's staffers seem to be bent on blaming his loss on her, when really it's their fault for pushing her as an option. They were desperate to shore up a niche vote by running a woman on the ticket. Too bad they didn't consider that having someone with credibility might be more important.

05 November 2008

For better or for worse...

Whether you are conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, or just plain indifferent, the fact of the matter is that this is a big deal.

Welcome to the World Stage, Mr. Obama.

I, for one, am happy to see you there.

03 November 2008

A message to any American readers....

And for the entertainment of everyone else:

31 October 2008

Whose fault is it?

There are two conflicting beliefs surrounding who is at fault when a woman is raped. And they don't always fight to exist to the exclusion of the other. In one camp, the rapist is always at fault; in the other, the victim/survivor is at fault for one or various reasons she could have controlled.

I submit for your evaluation: Don't blind-drunk women who cry rape bear any responsibility for what happens to them?

"Don't women who get plastered beyond control have any responsibility for what happens to them?

Many women insist they have the right to wear and do whatever they like.

They say rape is a man's problem - and that's an end to it.

...

In so many of today's cases, alcohol has become the element that literally blurs the evidence.

Last year, a Welsh university student said she was raped by a campus guard asked to escort her to her dormitory because she was too inebriated to get home safely.

Two days later, she reported he'd had sex with her in the corridor outside her door.

He said it was consensual.

She said it wasn't.

The police believed her, and so did the prosecutor. So they went to trial.

But when the defence barrister challenged her to be specific, she simply couldn't remember.

The judge ordered the jury to acquit the defendant.

One observer noted: 'Drunken consent is still consent.'"



Which is the opposite of what I have taught my own students. I'm not sure what the law is in Britain, but in Canada, we err on the side of caution -- drunken consent is not consent. And I'll tell you, it made quite a few 15 year-old boys nervous, because plying a woman with alcohol in order to "loosen her up" so she'll "put out" is a common practice.

Let me be clear, the woman does not bear responsibility for a man forcible putting his penis in any orifice on her body. If at any point she says no, or -- just as important -- fails to say yes, it's rape. And if you lack the control to spend more time with her without trying again and again to get her to change her mind, you risk an accusation. Or worse, if you lack the control to keep from making her, you deserve an accusation.

Let's be fair, women don't always make this easy. We dress in high skirts and low tops. We dance and have fun. And unless people are going to start saying that a male deserves to get the shit kicked out of him if he decides to go out and get plastered, then we have no right to say that a woman deserves any level of violence that might be inflicted on her if she chooses to do the same.

Maybe everyone needs to kick up their level of personal responsibility and rethink the idea that getting wasted beyond control is an awesome thing to do. Until that happens, we need to stop saying that a woman is to blame for any kind of sexual attack perpetrated against her. Women can and should do everything they can to protect themselves from any form of attack. Men should remember that having sex with someone is not some kind of inalienable right. Deciding to drink alcohol does not create open season into a woman's vagina. Women should remember to be clear about their intentions, sexual or otherwise.

This is something to think about for women who plan on dressing up like a sexy nurse or slutty vampiress and going out to a bar to get loaded or for guys who hope to reap the benefits of this auspicious night.

Happy Hallowe'en.

30 October 2008

Quotable Quotes

If you aren't yet familiar with John McCain's use of air quotes to diminish the value of other people's views, here's an all-inclusive piece via The Daily Show that will enlighten you.

If you don't want to watch all nine minutes of the clip (you're automatically subjected to a short ad before the clip begins) jump to 5:45 for the relevant content.

29 October 2008

Ahead of the curve

Gee, willikers! I sure am glad my ancestors got on the wagon before the band piled on!

27 October 2008

Contrary

I am not the first person to have ever made a choice or a decision based on the likes or dislikes of someone else. Recently, in a conversation about television shows with a couple of friends, an admission by one friend surfaced that he long ago decided not to like something his wife (the other friend) liked because, frankly, she liked it. A joke was made about she being like his mother and he a petulant teen.

I've done it too. I can probably name numerous situations where I argued against something I might have liked had I tried it. Instead, I chose an opposite position on the principle of... not agreeing?

I think sometimes such a decision is made quite reasonably. Something about the other persons argument sounds viscerally wrong and we need to disagree without understanding why. Sometimes that decision is made because it helps us assert some independence from the person with whom we're becoming increasingly intimate. I am, mainly, talking about choosing to like or dislike something that a partner dislikes or likes, respectively.

Some of my silly dislikes based on partners likes:
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (specifically the TV show)
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Dr. Who
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • Marijuana
  • Chronic drinking to excess
Okay, so not all of those are silly -- and there's a lot of sci-fi -- but, for good measure, some likes based on partners dislikes:
  • Spice Girls
  • Dixie Chicks
  • French anything (there are lots of French things I legitimately like, but have tended to over-emphasize because of partner dislike)
As recently as seven or eight months ago, I was asked to watch something by my then-boyfriend. He wanted to know how I felt about it so he could decide whether it was something we could watch together when he came back home, or if he should go ahead and watch it himself at his leisure. I agreed to check it out. I could definitely see some merit in it, and I knew exactly what he liked about it, but I wasn't sold. I quietly decided that I would check out a second episode before letting him know what I thought. Then we broke up.

"Well, that was easy," I thought to myself, "We are now broken up and I don't have to put myself through another episode."

"Put myself through"? That's an interesting choice of words for someone who hadn't decided for herself what she thought of something. See, what I think is worse than being contrary about something that someone close to us thinks or believes is deciding to not like something because someone we don't like (or who hurt us) likes. Why? Because we're giving that other person power over our choices. It might just be a cute (sometimes frustrating) game when we're friends or in a relationship with the other person, but when it's not a friend or partner -- rather an "enemy" or someone who hurt us badly -- we're allowing that person to influence us long after they should have any claim on us.

A couple of things have triggered this particular feeling from me. Firstly, a conversation with friends in Ontario about the awesomeness of Dr. Who. That was the first time I admitted why I initially didn't like the show and why I continued to avoid watching it. I later quizzed another friend on what I would like about it. I think something about strong female characters came up. Secondly, a blog post about Mad Men. That's the show I tried out a few months back. The post also talked about female characters.

Now, while the usage of females characters in television and movies are not the hinge reason whether I like something, it does matter to me because I'm a woman and a feminist. It's important to me that woman not always be portrayed as eye/arm-candy, sex objects, the weaker sex, etc. But I'm also a reasonable person who is willing to listen to arguments about why something is not what I think it is. And so I shall be giving Mad Men another try in the near future. Probably Dr. Who, too. Battlestar Galactica is a tougher sell.

It's silly to base a like or dislike on it being the opposite of someone. It's irrational. I'm going to try to do it less, because there are enough reasons why I like or dislike something. I don't need to create more divisive issues.

However, in rare exceptions, we should absolutely ignore the likes and dislikes of people close to us, and embrace contrariness in all its glory. As a parting thought for this blog, I submit to you the exception that proves the rule:

26 October 2008

The Girl Effect

It's not an uncommon theory to think that the world would be (and would have been) a better place with women in charge. I've always thought about how women are more likely to talk through problems and less likely to launch nuclear missiles at people they don't like. Now it turns out that there's a website promoting just such a concept: the power of girls.

Take a look:



Via feministing. This group is my Hero of the Week.

15 October 2008

If Monty Python scripted the US election....

My favourite part of this video is the outburst of laughter before John Cleese answers the question.

14 October 2008

Makes sense to me

I'm lovin' this ad campaign.

13 October 2008

What's the big deal?

Fox news has itself all in a tizzy over this photo:



I don't see what the big deal is, but Megyn Kelly is FREAKING OUT!



I think it's a pretty sad state of affairs when a couple of attractive women while about how another attractive woman isn't digitally altered in a photo. Why can't they look at the flip side and consider that maybe Sarah Palin doesn't care whether her pores were blended and smudged into oblivion. Maybe this is exactly the way it should be.

11 October 2008

Nice try

I have to commend Senator McCain for trying to bring some civility back into the American presidential race.



I just wish it didn't feel so much like he's trying to dig himself out of the hole he put himself in.



I honestly don't think that McCain was purposefully racist. I think he was being dismissive. I think he was trying to diminish Obama's status as the country's saviour by pointing out that he sometimes made decisions with something other than citizen's best interests in mind. Fair enough, but there's usually a right way and a wrong way to get your point across.

Dehumanizing someone is often the wrong way.

08 October 2008

I (heart) this

This is required viewing for the planet.

Hillary Duff is my Hero of the Week.

05 October 2008

Not quite

This isn't the distillation of the leaders debate that I was hoping for, but Dale Mugford at matthewgood.org has some great analysis of what happened in Canada on Thursday night.

You know, I'm glad to live in a country where there are multiple options for political parties, but five people around the table is a complicated debate.

10 minutes

Let's face it, debates can be hard to watch. They're repetetive, they're long, they're sometimes juvenile.

If you couldn't stomach the full debate, here's the US VPs in ten minutes:



I wish someone would do this with the Canadian debates.

04 October 2008

Let's keep it a movie



But if that's what you want, don't vote:

28 September 2008

I Hear Matt Good is a Real Asshole (Part Two)

For long-time readers of this blog, it's no surprise that I love Matthew Good. I love his music, I respect him as an artist, I respect his opinions and motivation to do something. He was my inspiration for getting involved with Amnesty International. Well, he's done it again.

Last year, he announced publicly that he suffers from Bipolar Disorder. It came to light after a drug overdose that was not a suicide attempt. He was misdiagnosed for years. That misdiagnosis is directly responsible for a lot of the wacky behaviour that everyone attributes to proof that he's an asshole.

Of course, highly-intelligent, opinionated, outspoken critical thinkers are often labeled as assholes (unless they're women -- then they're bitches). This one happens to also put his money where his mouth is. For this, he's my Hero of the Week.



From matthewgood.org.

27 September 2008

It's the Environment, stupid.

If you listen to the party leaders in the current political campaign, they might lead you to believe that the biggest worry the country is facing is the economy. Radio, newspapers and television reports all trumpet the same message. There's a flaw with this logic, though: without the environment, we have no economy.

Canada's economy relies in huge part on our natural resources. We mine coal, diamonds and potash; we harvest lumber, fruits, and veggies; we fish, hunt, and raise livestock; we drill for oil and natural gas; and we have a huge nation full of trees, coastline, and mountains that attracts thousands of people every year.

Is what's going on south of the border scary? I guess it depends on your perspective. I'm not quite so worried. I work in a relatively secure job. As a teacher, either there are enough kids to teach, or their aren't. The public isn't overly thrilled with the idea of cuts to the department that oversees my employers. I'm also young and have few investments. I have a couple of bank accounts and RRSPs, and I have a pension at work. I have a mortgage worth about 80% of the value of my home with payments low enough to buffer me from house fluctuations.

But I know this isn't the case for everyone. There are people whose lives depend on manufacturing. There are people who were close to retirement who are facing extra years on the job as they've watched their investments plummet in the last few weeks and months. There are people who just watched their investment income dry up in a major way. And everyday is another dip or crest on the roller coaster.

So why shouldn't people demand that the next prime minister have an idea of what to do about all this? I'm not saying that. I am saying that, as always, the markets correct themselves. I've never heard a financial planner (and I keep track of two, personally, plus the ones I hear in the media) say that you should sink all your money into your home or CTVglobemedia or Petro-Canada or even the federal government. If you've been told that, go hire someone new. Markets go up; markets go down. Jobs are created; jobs are terminated. I definitely have compassion for anyone affected by the turmoil. I don't think that a government led by any political party has the power to stop train unless they do away with the market system altogether.

But that's another post for another day.

How about this: if we don't get a handle on carbon emissions, the polar icecaps will melt. If the polar icecaps melt, valuable agrarian land will be flooded. Fish will die because of the shift the balance of ocean salination. More people will have to move inland and to higher ground causing over-crowding of the little land that's left and further jeopardizing agrarian land. The buildings, vehicles and infrastructure left behind in the flooded regions will pollute the water, killing more species. Polar bears will drown. Seals will drown. Seals, unchecked by polar bears, will eat the scant remaining fish stocks. People in the newly over-crowed regions will spread disease faster. Remaning hospitals will be unable to cope after a large percentage of hospitals sit in the encroaching ocean, unusable. Animals will spread disease more rapidly because of similar over-crowding. The price of food will skyrocket because agrarian land will be at such a premium, as will commerical, residential, and industrial spaces.

Doesn't that sound like fun? Okay, so it's extreme, but haven't we been warned enough?

It's unlikely that this will happen in my lifetime. But I don't like the idea of having children who will struggle with that life. I don't like the idea of knowing that I live in a country where we ignored the long-term problem to address a problem that comes and goes in regular succession every few years.

I'm not worried about the planet. I've addressed that before. I'll be sad to think that we could have done something to keep a few more species kicking around rather than speed their extinction, but something will survive and life will continue. I'm concerned about everyone. I'm concerned about people who have a real love of seeing humans continue to grow and thrive and learn on this planet. I'm interested in how to live in a way that doesn't make life worse for someone else, whether that person live 40,000 km away, or 200 years from now.

One way or another, the economy will hiccough, burp and keep going. But we have the ability to choose a government that allows up to keep going. The moral and economic fibre of this country mean absolutely nothing if no one lives here, or if we use up everything that keeps us going.

October 14th. It's your choice.

20 September 2008

Proof positive

If you ever needed proof that Bill O'Reilly is not a legitimate journalist, here it is:



I find it's helpful for journalists to know what is and what isn't going to get them thrown in jail when covering news stories. Even the police get to use evidence handed to them as long as they aren't the ones who broke the law to obtain it. I don't advocate a massive campaign of rooting through people's lives and belongs to uncover any whiff of unseemly behaviour, but occasionally something pops up that "we, the people" find important to know about.

The icing on my cake was the (politically incorrect) caption that went along with this video: Megyn Kelly makes Bill look like a retard.

16 September 2008

Find another way

Look, whether we have enough oil to last us thousands of years, or only enough for another couple of decades, the fact remains that it a dirty process from start to finish. Drilling for oil upsets sensitive ecosystems, it creates waste and is just plain ugly. So why can't we focus on new technology? Would it be that bad to pay extra for a few years so we can find something that is clean, renewable and affordable?

It's not like extra drilling will make a huge dent anyway....




From Groovy Green.

15 September 2008

Pick your historic precedent

Right now, American voters have two choices: they can send a black man to the White House for the first time in history, or they can send a woman to Observatory Circle. How to choose between two such momentous occasions? How will they decide whether a black man or a white woman should receive the honour first?

Well, they could start by looking at the politics.

Before I go further, if I had to choose between the two, I'd go for Obama. I like that he's trying to rise above mud-slinging. I do have a problem with (what I perceive as) his under-thought plan of removing troops from Iraq. While I have always been opposed to that military action, I think blind retreat will be more detrimental to human rights in the long run. Come up with a plan, buddy.

Of course, I don't think that Americans should have to feel that they only have two from which to choose. No more than I think that Conservatives and Liberals are the only choices in Canada. But, I digress.

Lots of right-wing, conservative, pro-Republican commentators in the states are complaining that feminists aren't jumping on board with Sarah Palin. "What's your problem?" they wonder (and sometimes yell), "We picked a female VP candidate!" You should be over-joyed and falling into ranks!"

Well, I don't get to vote for her, but I'll gladly tell any of them what my problem is.
  • The feeling of her appointment being a disingenuous choice because Hilary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination for President and Obama didn't choose a woman. It's shouts, "Hey! We're open-minded!" a little too loudly for my taste. But even when we peel back the layers of cynicism we get...
  • "She’s Phyllis Schlafly, Only Younger." Schlafly is a woman who campaigned against an equal-rights amendment to the US Constitution. It made a big splash that a woman would be opposed to the ERA. But this woman had a list of reasons that were rooted in sexist beliefs. And yes, a woman can be sexist against other women. As Gloria Steinem says in her article;
"She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women’s wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves “abstinence-only” programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers’ millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn’t spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but she supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

...

She doesn’t just echo McCain’s pledge to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs. Wade, she says that if one of her daughters were impregnated by rape or incest, she should bear the child. She not only opposes reproductive freedom as a human right but implies that it dictates abortion, without saying that it also protects the right to have a child."
  • She seems unfazed by recent crackdowns on the media. While this account is definitely one-sided, it feels like blaming the media is becoming endemic for conservatives whose views don't match the mainstream -- as if it's the media's fault for reporting it wrong, and not just a popular belief held by many people. It's also laughable when the 24-hour cable news networks spout conservatism andright-wing beliefs most of the day. One needs look no further than Bill O'Reilly, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and their ilk. If I could have found an appropriate Sarah Palin clip, I would use it, instead you get to see how relentless and unfocused their attacks can be.
  • She a huge partisan game-player, promoting her friends and weeding out those who oppose or lose favour with her. She did it in Alaska, and I have no doubt that, as VP, she would find a way to ouster as many opponents of her policies as possible. From the New York Times article:
"Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.

...

Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records."
I'd love to see a woman helping run or actually running the US one day. More importantly, I'd love to see someone qualified. Sorry, John McCain, Sarah Pail doesn't cut it.

14 September 2008

Point made

See? This is what I'm talking about:

13 September 2008

He's not just an actor...!

A few months ago I read an article in MacLean's about Matt Damon. He talked about things ranging from Africa to politics and was hugely articulate. I love reading or listening to articulate people. I love to hear them express their ideas in a way that all kinds of people can understand it.

And that's what makes this clip so great:



Maybe he should run for president next.

12 September 2008

Walk the talk

I don't know if Barak Obama does what he says he'll do. I don't know if he's capable of making the changes he says he'll make. I don't even know if he's capable of winning the election in November. What I do know is that listening to him is much better than listening to what has become political status quo in North American politics.



I wish more politicians would cut the crap and just tell us what they stand for and what they want to do when they get elected. Then people could decide whether that's what they want to happen to their country. I bet a lot fewer people would feel scared about what will happen if the "wrong" people take over. I bet more people would want to vote if they saw the eventual results or efforts. At least it wouldn't be like watching so many junior high girls spread ridiculous rumours about each other.

The same goes for you Canada. I just don't hear any of our politicians talking about it.

08 September 2008

Cosmo Doormat?

This video from the publishers at Cosmopolitan actually kind of offends me.



And, I don't think it's offensive to just woman; I think men should be upset by it too: "Hey guys! You're scumbags who can't control yourselves! You are walking, talking sex machines and women are there to please you! Dick around all you want! It's your girlfriend's fault for wanting to cuddle too much."

Pardon me, but last time I checked, lots of men have self-control and are able to exercise it on a regular basis.

Oh, and how does the job title "Editor-in-Chief" qualify you to make any of these assertions? It's really dangerous territory for you to spout off about the wherefores and whys of cheating without any credentials other than being able to put "Asked Features Writer to add two more to list of 'Ten Ways to Please Your Man' to make it an exciting 12" on your resume.

The one thing that I sort of agree with is her warning about taking care when dating a guy who has admitted to cheating in past relationships. It is something to be cautious about, if it's a pattern. I think the pattern part is essential to the warning. No matter what, it's definitely not a stellar quality, but by broad strokes, I am never entitled to a fulfilling relationship in my entire life because I kissed another guy when I was 17.

03 September 2008

Gettin' Down to Business

I'm in the midst of starting a new job for the third year in a row. It's tiring and I'm not prepared for it. I had a week's notice. I'm teaching 4 courses I've never taught before.

I hope to get back to regular posting soon. In the meantime, please bear with me.

For entertainment:


27 August 2008

The New World Order

(Video Launches automatically.)

Browsing through my links, as I often do, I came across the following video on a couple of different sites.



The video, produced by the American News Project, a new venture aimed at independence in media and truth in reporting. They also have a bias toward the underprivileged. In this case, they are following one of the protests related to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. As you can see, they stumble upon some curious tactics by the police in response to their efforts to be heard.

For a while, it seems like the US has been becoming an increasingly fascist state. It feels like more and more of their enshrined rights are being eroded in the interest of government control over the day-to-day lives of the citizens.

I think it's plausible to consider that no one imagined having to look after 450 million people in one country. People point to China's human rights record with disdain (including me, as a human rights advocate), but how do you reasonably operate in a country with 1.3 billion people? How do you make it work? In Canada we panic over the thought of Quebec separating; East Timor split from Indonesia (after a prolonged military occupation); very recently, fighting broke out in "break-away region" of South Ossetia. When people within a nation disagree, especially when it comes down to cultural groups, governments tend to react strongly to any attempt to secede. It perhaps makes sense, then, that governments would react strongly before it gets to that point, especially when the dissenting group is lamenting a loss of "what used to be" and the government is trying to stringently implement a new status quo.

Of course, this is simplistic. But at the same time, it feels more and more like a monoculture is the only way to ensure that things run smoothly. Of course, I think that it depends on what your definition of "smoothly" is. Mine includes people not trying to impose their beliefs on others, but not everyone works that way. Some people beliefs include imposing their beliefs on others. So, we find ourselves in a paradox.

There is no definitive answer, however, it seems to me that the only option is to keep fighting for the freedom to speak out and be different and want different.

(For more on South Ossetia, check out Matthew Good's recent musings on their independence.)

26 August 2008

Put your money where your mouth is

I use Brita filters. I like the way they work. Because I have stomach sensitivities, I find it helps to take some of the trace minerals and chlorine from my drinking water. But lately, I have been wondering about the filters.

I'm not the only one. Yesterday's Daily Bite from IdealBite.com addressed this very issue. In it, they link to a petition for Clorox, which is the parent company of Brita. If you're concerned about all those plastic tubes going in the garbage, why not sign it? The IdealBite tip also lists ways to contact other filter manufacturers about the same issue. And lest you pooh-pooh this idea, saying that perhaps there is no such option, be aware that filter recycling is already available in Europe.

Urge Clorox to take back and recycle used Brita water filter cartridges

20 August 2008

Smart Shopping

IdealBite is a great website with lots of easy-to-do conserve/recycle/be healthy tips. I've added them to the links on the left. I get an e-mail from them every weekday that talks about environmentally-friendly products or companies and things I can easily do to spend less and save more of the planet's resources.

I wanted to share the following tip about shopping because what they're suggesting is so easy. It's all about pocket guides that tell you about the good things and the bad things in some of the products we buy, including food. I printed off the lot and stuck them in my wallet for easy access.

Check it out!

18 August 2008

Altering my past

I have always been a huge fan of Disney, The Evil Corporation. My infatuation has cooled somewhat over the years. When I learned to love Disney, 24-hour television stations were virtually unheard of, let alone a station devoted entirely to the mass-produced kiddie fad factory that is the Disney Channel.

A rant in its own right, Disney has grown enormously over the last two decades, from a corporation that creates "family friendly" entertainment, to one that essentially drives junior consumerism to new heights with every new Hayley Mills or Hillary Duff clone it manufactures.

However, this post focuses on how Disney creates and enforces gender stereotypes through their depictions of men and women. I saw this video (embedded below) at Feministing.com and it made me think a lot about the Disney I know and love. The love is still there, but I'm looking at it through a filtered lens.

Disney is not the corporation that created hero worship; the ancient Greeks were lauding the feats of Achilles and Hercules millennia before the invention of moving pictures. Nor did Disney create princess envy; the King Arthur legends incorporated their fair share in Guinevere, as did the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. But Disney's versions of classic fairy tales (and more recent original stories) permeated the culture in an unprecedented way, tying merchandising into the stories in a way that allows wide-eyed children to glom onto and become the characters.

Is it any wonder that so many of us have body issues, or feel "sub-standard" when faced with animated characterizations?

A few years ago, Bitch, Ph.D. wrote about her young son watching Disney's Peter Pan and how to strike a balance between an entertaining and classic children's story, with what we now understand about the entrenched racism in the story. Disney itself struggles with some of these depictions, trying to figure out how to make its catalogue of movies fully available to a nostalgia-hungry collector-culture without subjecting itself to a boycott and other bad press by mass-marketing something that was seen as "harmless" at the time, but now highlights offensive stereotypes and derogatory views of other cultures and races. Sometimes.

At what point will we realize that the same applies to depictions of gender and what makes a "real man" or a "good woman"? Shouldn't we be sitting down with our children and explaining to them how, at one time people thought women needed to be "rescued" by men, and that we had to work to embody certain values and ideals so men would want to fight for and choose us? But guys, does it make you feel inadequate to think that you have to measure up to a genteel and buff cartoon for a woman to consider wanting to be rescued by you? I realize that this is an inherently heterosexist line of thinking; Disney's lack of homosexual normalizing is another post for another day.

16 August 2008

Vigilante justice, internet-style

My favourite thing about this article, is how the internet community totally violated the thief's right to privacy in their attempt to rain justice down on him. Things that actual cops and judges can't do just get opened up in the new frontier of cyberspace. It allows for a whole new kind of public humiliation (akin to cyber-bullying).

While I appreciate how they rallied to enforce some morals, I don't think posting the kid's home address and high school is a good idea. There are some crazies out there....

15 August 2008

We can't hear you over the television

What is happening in South Ossetia is a contentious issue. As with most conflicts, there are two sides to the issue. In this case, Russia and Georgia are at odds over a region that originally broke away with Georgia following the fall of the USSR.

But right now, Georgia has the US on their side. They aren't sending troops; they're sending diplomats and the media. And so, whatever Russia's justification, Georgia has the world's sympathy right now, because of the science of speech, propaganda.

14 August 2008

Why is it wrong to just want to have sex?

It shouldn't be. Men are allowed. But that's not the way the options are presented.

For your consideration:


13 August 2008

Some humour for a change

So, maybe Bowser is too incompetent a leader. Could this be a metaphor for real life?

12 August 2008

My stomach is turning

spare teeth wrote about this in a much more coherent way than I can right now.

I just wonder how some people form their opinions....

11 August 2008

What's step one?

Let me tell you; I'm scared to death about what will happen if we don't get climate change and energy under control. Civil revolutions are not fun with automatic weapons. Have you watched the news lately? Scary!



So, what do we do about it?

08 August 2008

More propaganda?

For those who read and consume the news widely, looking at various news sources from around the world, it probably won't come as a surprise to you that the US has long claimed that Osama bin Laden's Al Quaeda had links to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Unfortunately, for a long time after the war in Iraq started, many Americans continued to believe in the link.

Early into the war, a letter surfaced that claimed that one of the masterminds of the attacks on 11 September 2001 was trained in Iraq at the pleasure of Hussein. (Editorially, I find it curious that many other nations didn't seem to buy into it, but it helped the Bush administration bolster their case at home for continued engagement in Iraq.)

Surprise, surprise; the letter was forged.



It behooves us to look at the latest and see who stands to benefit from this latest "revelation". It certainly goes a long way to discredit anyone who was involved in promoting the war in Iraq as a security necessity. Tell-all books might be interesting and factual and tell a story that needs to be told, but they still make money for the author, so the more sensational the better. And while some might call the timing suspect (three months until the US presidential election) a lot goes into writing a book, including convincing the people you quote to let you publish what they said.

I'm biased; I'm inclined to believe that the Bush administration authorized a document forgery to legitimize continued military occupation of Iraq. I'm one of those who has long thought that the war was about circumventing the UN's Oil for Food program to increase oil exports from Iraq and open the country to foreign (read: American) control of the resource. So, while I'm trying to keep in mind that the pendulum swings back and forth on these revelations, I'm feeling smug about this latest truth.

04 August 2008

Blogroll'd!!

I added a new link to the sidebar for Unapologetically Female. The wonderful lady who runs it has also blogrolled me, so be a good neighbour and pop over to say hi.

02 August 2008

Some people like realism

Hooray for Keira Knightly!

She is standing up to publicists and stereotypes by telling Paramount Vantage that she doesn't want her breasts enhanced in promotional materials for her new film The Duchess.

She's happy with her body and wants other people to see it as it is... not all tricked out using digital enhancement.

Video news story at ABC.com.

She totally wins Hero of the Week.


Thanks to tricky and spare teeth for digging up some drama while I was away!

30 July 2008

A Cyclist's Plea

Another guest blogger here, with a topic that is near and dear to my heart: commuting via bicycle. I've previously expressed some of my frustrations on my blog. (Shameless self-promotion - check!) But my frustration had reached a new level. I'm more prone than ever to yell and curse at people. It's not something I'm proud of, even if I can recognize that 90% of the time it stems from fear.

I've been thinking lately that it all boils down to respect. Respect for rules, sure, but more importantly respect for others. For their safety on the one hand, and for their simple right to exist and choose a different mode of transportation than you on the other. At least that's how it feels, sometimes - that drivers have no respect for cyclists' right to be on the road, and no consideration of how terrifying their practices can be.

Let me preface the rest of this with the admission that I am far from perfect in my cycling. I've been known to jump onto the sidewalk, and to 'turn left' by crossing with the pedestrian signals at traffic lights. For these reasons my growing frustration is distinct from that of my mother, who can't fathom why anyone (cyclist, driver, pedestrian) would knowingly break the rules.

However, I am exceedingly careful not to endanger anyone else when I do these things. I go slowly on side walks, and try to stay out of the way of cars and people when I'm cheating by scooting into the crosswalk. I try hard to minimize discomfort for others when I decide to break the rules, but I also refuse to martyr myself by hanging out in the middle of a crazy intersection hoping to have time to turn left without a car sideswiping me first. In short, I take care, try not to take myself too seriously, and to be courteous.

So why on earth is it so difficult for others to do the same? Is it the white noise of the city traffic making everyone angry? Or just a deep-rooted belief that one's own life and schedule is the most important? Why is it so important to get 3 cars lengths ahead that drivers roar past me in the right hand lane - a lane that is usually dotted with parked cars, anyway? Are they really oblivious to how unnerving it is to have a vehicle accelerate past you so abruptly, squeezing you dangerously close to the curb? Don't even get me started on those who use our precious few bike lanes to try to pass someone before a red light, only to get stuck with 6 angry cyclists whacking the car trunk or door as they try to maneuver around or past it. Acting like a jerk in traffic brings it out in everyone else, perpetuating and intensifying the jerkiness.

Professional drivers are notorious - I've had a complete stranger, but fellow cyclist tell me to 'watch out for the cabs' as he pulled away from the bike rack. I understood precisely what he meant. I get that it's their job to be quick, but does that mean they absolutely can't check their blind spot? Tour buses have also be proving dangerous of late. I was convinced I was about to see someone get flattened by a bus two days ago. In a bike lane, no less.

I've been lucky - my worst accident was a result of trying to avoid a car, but didn't end up involving one. I have a number of friends who haven't been so lucky - one got the door prize but was relatively okay; another got knocked over, rolled across the car's hood, and the driver pretty much left her on the corner in shock. Just this weekend someone related a recent accident where a driver hit him at an intersection and proceeded to imply that if he had been wearing more appropriate bike attire (as opposed to his office clothes, it being Monday morning) the accident might not have happened.

What do these incidents all share? A shocking lack of respect and a shirking of responsibility. In each case, the cyclists had the right of way. In each case, the drivers took off as soon as possible - no offer to take the cyclist to an emergency room, no exchange of numbers. I wonder, sometimes, whether these drivers would be a little more compassionate, a little more respectful - not to mention careful - if they were to spend a week, or even a day cycling.

All of this said, it's not only drivers who are idiots. I came close to an accident with someone just yesterday because she was wearing headphones while cycling and so didn't hear my frantic bell-ringing. These ipod-wearing cyclists strike the fear of God into my atheist heart -- yes, they worry me that much.

Lastly, I know that I can be impatient with cyclists when I'm in a car, and impatient with both cyclists and drivers when I walk. But I try to stay calm and put myself in their shoes unless it's a matter of intensely dangerous actions, in which case I feel free to judge. All I'm getting at is that if more people paid just a little more respect to others on the road maybe, just maybe, my morning and evening commute would feel less like a big ol' risk.

Fly the Friendly Skies

Delta Airlines Makes Woman with Muscular Dystrophy Crawl Off Plane

And people wonder why i have misanthropic, anti-social tendencies.

29 July 2008

Walk the Line

Greetings!

Guest blogger Tricky here. For your reading pleasure:
Therapy too Expensive; Please Enjoy our Complimentary Death Package Instead

It's quite the glitch...

28 July 2008

I have a problem with this.

So, there's a website out there for people looking to have an affair. I saw the video of an ad for it on YouTube. I'm not posting the link or giving you the URL, because the idea of the site is so repugnant to me, and I'd rather not give them any free publicity or coveted word-of-mouth buzz.

The ad features a man in bed with a snoring woman draped on him. The voice-over talks about one-night stands. Then it's revealed that this apparent fling is actually the guy's marriage. And he's either sneaking off to meet his internet-acquired lover, or sneaking away to get on the computer to masturbate to pictures of people who are willing to be either The Other Man/Woman or a cheater.

If I sound judgemental, damn straight I am. Not only do extra-marital affairs (or any other cheating outside of an otherwise monogamous relationship) put the other partner at risk of unknowingly contracting STIs, there are all sorts of other implications.

Bottom line; if you're not happy in your relationship, no affair -- not even a no-strings-attached, we-both-knew-what-we-wanted-when-we-signed-up affair -- is going to benefit anyone down the road. If you're one of the "lucky" ones who's gotten away with an affair and it made you feel like shit, but it ended and now your marriage/partnership is stronger than ever, bully for you.
Usually, there's a world of hurt coming and it's either in the form of broken hearts, strong antibiotics (if you're fortunate), child-support payments or maybe just stress from keeping the lies straight.

Obviously someone saw a business opportunity in the statistics. Too bad it's morally reprehensible. Or just simply skeezy.


I'm going away for a couple of days, so I don't know what posting will look like. I've approached a couple of possible guest bloggers. We'll see what happens.

26 July 2008

Watermelons and cantaloupes

I've been looking for a hero this week and was about to give up when I found the following on feministing.com:





I love two things about this video:
  1. Telling someone what they are makes it way to easy to for them to squirm out of it by creating a "you don't know me" loophole.
  2. The two conversations he applies to race can apply to so many onther situations that I want to make it my mantra.
Unfortunately, I'm too easily distracted to mediatate.

Speaking of which, I had a delicious cupcake today. If illdoctrine hasn't materialized as my Hero of the Week, it totally would have been Susie.

24 July 2008

Sisterhood

Yesterday I met a woman at my favourite health store. She was working and I was buying a wonderful all-natural cleaning product that they carry. I don't know how we got on the topic, but we started to talk about relationships. Keep in mind that, while I've seen this woman working there before, all previous interactions were of a purely retail nature. Somehow, we went from talking about the glorious all-natural cleaning product to something very personal very quickly.

She talked about her ex-husband -- a man she hasn't been with since the early-90s -- and the effect he had on her. I talked about my recent experience dating a bully and how it changed me for a few years. Now I realize that it isn't normal to start talking to a stranger about environmental cleaning products and then launch into a conversation about ex-husbands who contributed to their daughter's eating disorder and ex-boyfriends who bounce from relationship to relationship without ever examining their own faults.

I really enjoyed this conversation, though. And not because it was a chance to "bash" anyone. That actually didn't happen. It was more of an examination of past events and how they contributed to what we think now. It was because we were bonding and being supportive in a really genuine way.

Women don't do that enough. I'm sure we mostly have our friends with whom we don't feel the need to compete, but so many other women are seen as competition. It's presented to us from a very early age. Other women are threats in our quest to land a mate.

Feminism will often (not always) point to entrenched patriarchy as a reason that women can't get ahead, or for disparaging attitudes towards women. The thing is, some of the worst misogyny I've ever been subject to came from other women. I've had men say nasty things about me -- I've been called a slut and a bitch, among other delightful slurs -- but that's where it ended. However, when I have been the target of a woman doing the name-calling, it has also come with some kind of social repercussions: ostracizing, nasty rumours and even, on occasion, physical confrontations.

Why do women hate each other so much? I don't have an answer. I think to say that men have historically pitted us against each other is both a simplistic fallacy and a dangerous shirking of responsibility for our own actions. My health store friend (and yes, I feel that the conversation merits an inclusion of friendship) told me stories of what men told her about other women, and her current experience with a lifetime friend pushing her away because of what she said about a the man her friend is dating. I've let men come in between me and a few friends.

How often are the men to blame in those cases? Actually, never. While they sure don't help, somehow, women seem to ignore all external expressions of concern once they're in a relationship. "Stella" makes excuse after excuse for various boyfriend behaviours and "Blanche" ends up feeling like she has to let it all slide if she wants to maintain the friendship or just be available to support the inevitable fallout.

I ended up having it all happen. I had some friends who spoke their minds and it created emotional distance; I had other friends who made tentative comments but ultimately decided that they're rather just stick by me when I needed it. And I also had friends who saw the writing on the wall and decided to get the hell outta Dodge without saying a word. So what makes women so determined to ignore the advice of people they talk to about everything from their aspirations to their ovaries?

It all comes down to one word: loneliness. Women aren't brought up to make friends, we're brought up to find mates. For a long time it has been a huge social stigma for a woman to not get married. Even today, I often hear friends talk about their mothers and other family members asking them about whether they've "found a husband yet?" as if he under a rock and you just have to flip over the right one. In other cases, there's no direct pressure, but finding a mate holds promise based on other influences. Pop culture is the obvious target; in my case, it's wanting what my parents have.

So women dive into relationships because they have the opportunity. They don't want to say know, or they get caught up in the initial attraction. Then they set about making it work, and therein lies the problem. Relationships do require work; there's no question about that. But the need to make a relationship work is where we get tripped up. Then, when a friend comes along and points out flaws, our instinct is to protect our relationship because we own so much of its successes and failures. In the same way that an author or an artist will toil on a particular project long past what is necessary because they can't see the finished product, women will stay in relationships too long because they think that if they change one thing (or convince their partner to change one thing) then it will meet their ideal and the search will be over.

Meanwhile, we're missing, losing or devaluing friendships. Instead of turning to other women when problems pop up, we're turning away. We don't want to hear the truth because it means we'll have to either face it or at least acknowledge it long enough to deny it. So from young teenagers all the way up to seniors, women are missing out on the most powerful thing they have to rely on: sisterhood. Muddled in a search for lasting love, we're squashing the people who love us the most.

And that's what I learned from letting go of my pride and talking openly to a stranger.

She's not wrong

Via BitchPhD:


19 July 2008

This makes me feel ill

Granted, I've been feeling queasy for the last 36 hours or so, but this certainly doesn't help.





Some background:
  • Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen. Every other Western nation has repatirated all of its citizens who were sent to the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
  • At 15, Omar Khadr was a child when he was arrested and sent to detention. In 2000, the US (and Afghanistan, and Canada) signed the "Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict". It was ratified by the US government in 2002.
  • Omar Khadr is at Guantanamo Bay with some older people, and even though he's 21 now, since he was 15 he's been in prison with adults and they're putting him through this pseudo-judiciary process which has no differentiation for young offenders. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Articles 37 & 40), children are to be incarcerated separately from adults and they require a judicial process that takes into account their age.
I just can't figure out why the Canadian government won't repatriate him. If the evidence is there, he can be tried in a Canadian court using a system that takes into account his special status.

He may be 21 now, but any alleged crimes happened when he was younger, and at no point has that been taken into account with his treatment so far.

I hope the Canadian government is shamed into taking action. I'm embarrassed.