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: