30 July 2008
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.
And people wonder why i have misanthropic, anti-social tendencies.
29 July 2008
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
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
I love two things about this video:
- 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.
- The two conversations he applies to race can apply to so many onther situations that I want to make it my mantra.
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
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.
19 July 2008
- 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.
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.
16 July 2008
When one thinks of polygamy, the two top candidates are probably Mormons and Muslims. The latter are making news in Italy because of polygamy. As a traditionally Catholic country, Italy has had a ban on polygamy for quite a while, but according to this article from the LA Times, immigrants are slipping through the cracks:
Sbai, the politician, remembers polygamy from her childhood in Morocco. There, at least officially, the husband could marry no more women than he could adequately and justly care for. Here in Italy, she says, polygamy is often distorted. The immigrant experience is turned on its head: regression and isolation instead of integration.According to the article, the law currently doesn't offer protection for women who were deceived about other wives, and custody problems are cropping up. Technically, it's not just a problem of compliance with current polygamy laws; it's about offering support to all immigrants -- men and women -- so that they understand their rights and responsibilities in their new country. I don't want to get into an argument about cultural integration or assimilation. If someone chooses to live in a new country, they have to be aware how that country operates. Hopefully there are ways for someone to preserve important elements of their culture, but ultimately, things will be different and I believe that systems should be in place to help immigrants adapt so that they understand the consequences and privileges of their new home.
I don't have the final solution, but it seems like an easy concept to me.
15 July 2008
What that means to the man, Ware said, is: "He will have to rule, and because he's a sinner, this can happen in one of two ways. It can happen either through ruling that is abusive and oppressive--and of course we all know the horrors of that and the ugliness of that--but here's the other way in which he can respond when his authority is threatened. He can acquiesce. He can become passive. He can give up any responsibility that he thought he had to the leader in the relationship and just say 'OK dear,' 'Whatever you say dear,' 'Fine dear' and become a passive husband, because of sin."Did you catch that? According to this guy, Bruce Ware, men beat women because when a woman is in charge, she's sinning; and even though he's a sinner too, it's the lesser of two evils.
I'm sure battered women everywhere will find it a relief to know that God wants their husbands to beat them. Phew! Now they can stop wondering what they did to deserve it....
14 July 2008
... but he makes some good points.
In the US, a lot of the same people who oppose abortion also support the death penalty. They also eat meat. They also support the military. They also oppose gun control.
The abortion debate is not holistically about unborn children (yes, to some it is), it's about controlling women. As mentioned previously, women's intellectual contributions are, by and large, not valued. In fact to a certain demographic, women are for having babies and taking care of the family. A woman who doesn't even want a baby is a shocking thing, so a women who wants to abort a fetus (potential baby) is sacrilegious.
(I purposefully excluded the "abortion is murder" argument because it seems like an easy manipulation of the biology that is effective in inducing crushing guilt on those who consider abortion when faced with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.)
Without unequivocally stating it as fact, it's easy to see how making women keep their babies helps men retain power in politics, business and social spheres. It's not deliberate or malicious in all cases, but it works. Being pregnant can very often make a women physically sick and tired, which makes them less effective in public spheres. A man with the flu is less effective than a man in decent health. Those things happen. Where I take exception is when a policy creates a situation where women can't be free to choose their own timing. A woman who makes a mistake (unplanned pregancy), has to live with it if we don't allow another choice. The man involved in that same mistake -- or purposefully creates the mistake (rape) -- can choose to not deal with it from the instant it happens. A woman at least has to deal with it long enough to figure out her options, even if the only option becomes is pregnancy, birth and adoption. It's inherently unfair. I'll even go so far as to call it unjust.
So, in a world where rape doesn't exist, where women aren't victimized, and are allowed to make their own choices about when to get pregnant (let's pretend that everyone chooses abstinence when they don't want that baby), we don't need abortion, because women don't end up with the possibility of a child they can't keep for any reason.
Since we don't live in that world, what do anti-abortionists propose as an alternative?
13 July 2008
Author and journalist (and apparent masochist) Christopher HitchensLINK who has been a staunch defender of the war in IraqLINK, decided to give it a try to see what all the fuss was about.
Well, he might agree with the end, but he's no longer keen on the means.
I can't wait to read the upcoming article or see the backlash.
Christopher Hitchens gets Hero of the Week for putting his money where his mouth is. Hopefully those nightmares will subside soon.
12 July 2008
Tip of the day: You should call your bank for a chat. You never know when they'll offer you enough money to refinance your debt in such a way that saves you more money than you could possibly spend. Or maybe they'll try to beat the living crap out of you, but that fact is that they want your money more than anyone (no matter which bank you're with) so I highly recommend trying to strike a bargain.
In other news:
Hey! I like debating! I'd forgotten that fact for a long time. It turns out that I just prefer the style that uses real world examples of concepts and theories as opposed to lateral theorism that can't be applied to anything that ever has or ever could happen(ed). It's funny how that kind of debate can lead you to believe that you're stupid and should just concede so you can curl up to lick your wounds.
Along with this particular revelation, I realized that people who use their intellect to beat others down are generally cowards. They fear looking like idiots, which is ironic because they certainly come across as idiots. Or assholes. And not to beat a dead horse, they are rarely convincing and tend to just make other people either not want to talk to them or just fear (interaction with) them. In short, they are bullies. They think, "So-and-so doesn't like me because I'm so smart" or "I hate people because they're all so stupid and can't keep up with me." In reality they are alienating people to fit a perception, usually one of self-loathing. Then, when they do find someone to connect with, they turn to sarcasm and a mix of self-aggrandizing (mocking others) and self-deprecation (mocking self) as comedy to cement that friendship.
Lest anyone think I'm picking on anyone in particular, I'll be candid. I am not targeting commenter "Buddy", whose anonymous comment of sarcasm and derision sparked some anger. Admittedly, it's easy to draw a link to what I'm saying and what he posted. However, I'm speaking about a deeper revelation I had this week and sorting through the feelings attached.
Over the past couple of years, I'd come to believe that I hated debating because I was "no good at it." I honestly and sincerely believed that I was too stupid to keep up in an intellectual debate. And while I should probably have a chat with my self-esteem for giving up so easily, I came to see how that is directly related to the people I was debating and their methods. I won't equivocate; I honestly believe that I was bullied to a point that I became afraid to express my views because, those times that I did usually ended with circular arguments that wore me down, insulted my intelligence, and generally left me a tearful pile of shame. Unfortunately (fortunately?), my independent (stubborn) streak is too well-developed to have let me avoid the confrontation altogether. Plus, my beaten-down intellect was constantly looking for recognition that it wasn't as stultified as it was being led to believe.
But since I decided to take this blog in a new direction, let me link this to a larger phenomenon: Women aren't valued for their intellect.
Women are not widely seen as stars of academia, and in fact their contributions have traditionally been overlooked or outright dismissed. There are many blogs about women and their juggling of academia with motherhood. One of my own undergrad professors did her PhD while raising children. It's not easy. This is a world that was not constructed with women in mind, certainly not women of young children. So, it's easy to say that women can't hack it and dismiss the amazing and enlightening things they have to say. Even while observing women go home to cook for their families and men going home to eat their prepared meals.
Yes, that's a simplistic stereotype. But I'm using it to illustrate how traditional gender roles get in the way of females fully participating in academia. A relative-in-law (aunt's niece) told me about how she was reconsidering doing her MEd because of having to look after two small girls, yet she didn't see that her husband had a similar problem. She counselled me to get mine done before I start a family or otherwise I'd have no time.
This is not a full-out man-bash. There are lots of great men who are dedicated, focused parents. But that's usually seen as a product of his ultra-sensitivity, not an archaic idea that he "has to" effectively parent on top of his studies.
That's the kind of attitude that leads a lot of people to believe that women don't have ideas of value to the same extent than men do. I don't necessarily think that my experience speaks to that (in fact, I'd say it has more to do with the individual's own insecurities and neuroses). I just find it hard to accept the portrayal of women with strong opinions or ideas as butch, or that their ideas are less worthy if they don't have the looks to go along with it. Meanwhile, Bill Gates is hardly a stud, yet he's revered as a highly intelligent person who has changed society.
What do we have to do to erase the double standard? How can we change society to make ideas valuable, regardless of their source?
Related stories or comments welcome.
08 July 2008
According to The Associated Press, Canada ranks 2nd worst of the G8 nations for addressing climate change. Only the US ranks worse.
What good is a robust economy if we kill ourselves in the process of maintaining it?
Read the full article here.
07 July 2008
For the record, since my switch to deodorant, my life got MORE stressful. So while there may been infinite contributing factors to my improved overall physical health, saying that any change in "everything else in [my] life that has been altered" is as "naïve" as pointing to reduced chemical exposure as a reason. Especially since numerous studies show that stress has a depressive effect on the immune system.
I'm not linking to any of the studies. You're reading this on the internet; look it up!
Please note the return of the comment rules. All comments are moderated anyway; this is just my fair way of letting you know why something may not get posted.
This week's Hero of the Week is Patrick, for his intelligent and well reasoned comment response. Lurk away, dear Patrick. And keep the intelligent comments coming!
I have a busy week ahead with a houseguest imminent, but I have some posts in the wings, so blogging may still happen.
In the meantime, here's a fun story about how much one guy hates Hitler.
06 July 2008
So, now every person who has ever visited YouTube is having personal data handed over to a corporation who never asked permission to claim it. Yup. Every person. Every single vistor since the site launched in 2005. According to some (see below), that's virtually every person who has ever used the internet.
But don't worry, third-part lawyers are going to sift through the billions of hits to sort out which ones will help Viacom with its lawsuit.
As you can imagine, Google is sad about this. On the one hand, it means that data which could blow their defense out of the water is now in the hands of the plaintiff. On the other hand, all the whiney privacy advocates who have been saying that Google has always gathered and sotred far too much user data to begin with now have some more ammo. "If you didn't store that data in the first place," they might say, "Viacom wouldn't be able to find out how much soft porn I search!"
They have a point.
And while most people are harmlessly sifting through for the latest offering by Lil' Wayne or sxephil's latest commentary, even the perviest user doesn't deserve to have their personal info turned over.
At this point, I'm not sure that there's anything you can do about it, but you can certainly ask YouTube and Google what they're planning on doing in the future to protect you. You can also check in with the Privacy Commisioner (Canadians only) to see what the ruling means. Because the last thing you need is a cop knocking on your door and busting you for watching that episode of Tila Tequila online.
Read more about the verdict at the New York Times.
05 July 2008
You might have two thoughts now:
- Why is that interesting?
I also started thinking about the environmental impact of the ingredients. Most of the ingredients are synthetically manufactured. That worried me. And while cake is also synthetically manufactured, there are studies about how it's not that great for you either.
I thought about chemicals like proylene glycol washing down the drain in the shower and I got concerned. Then I started thinking about the "One Person" effect. I thought that maybe it would matter if I chose not to excrete a lifetime of those chemicals into the water supply. I went looking for alternatives. A natural skin-care product dealer told me that the rock crystals aren't that effective, so I decided to stick with a basic deodorant that had as many naturally-occurring ingredients as I could find.
Yes, I initially sweated more. But after a couple of weeks, not as much as I expected. I discovered a funny thing about our bodies and how they function: certain things are meant to happen; they happen for a reason. Sweat is one of those things. After a little while it appeared that my body got used to not having to work as hard to get things out that way. It slowed down; I returned to a less-remarkable amount of armpit sweat. I wasn't sad about this unexpected effect.
Two other things happened that I didn't expect (the interesting bits). I stopped getting stains in my shirts. I think most of us have come across a white or light-coloured shirt and decided that we couldn't wear it anymore because of the faint yellow stain -- "sweat stains", as they're commonly called. Well, did you know that it isn't just sweat that causes these stains? It's actually the chemical reaction between your sweat and the antiperspirant. No antiperspirant, no sweat stains, no need to get rid of that nice shirt because it's too embarrassing to wear. I have yet to see a stain on any new shirts since I made the switch.
The biggie: I don't get sick as much. Those who know me know that I am always sick; I always have a cold coming on. I have never been able to explain it other than to call it my poor immune system. Sometimes I blamed it on not eating well. But, no word of a lie, I have not had a full-blown, knock-me-out cold since I stopped wearing antiperspirant. I'm loathe to call it a placebo effect, because I wasn't expecting it. But if antiperspirant prevents one method of excreting toxins, then it makes sense to me that the build-up while they try to exit another way would contribute to toxins and germs having a negative effect on my body.
That's hardly conclusive scientific proof, but would anyone else like to offer a reasonable explanation? Because, if you don't believe that, suddenly having a tolerance/immunity to rhinovirus after 28+ years seems equally implausible.
*As a final note: I do own antiperspirant and will wear it on the rare occasion when I can't get away with any sweating. Like prom.
04 July 2008
A woman in New York City has opened a spa for women that focuses on their genital muscles. The New York Times reports that for $150 the doctor will stick her fingers in your vagina and tell you how toned your muscles are. Phit (Pelvic Health Integrated Techniques) will then provide you with an "exercise regimen."
And sadly, people with too much money will pay for it.
03 July 2008
Is it possible that educating women on their options for birth control (medical and otherwise) could help prevent abortions better than say, pretending that there aren't any?
Even pro-lifers are excited!
Barbara Lyons, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, said she is “extremely elated” that the number of abortions dropped again last year.
“It represents life,” she said. “It represents 1,313 babies saved from abortion and the mothers saved from the impact of an abortion.”