Saturday, January 28, 2006

Terrence Malick's The New World

photo: Lake Nipissing summer 2005

Five hundred years on and still it brings me to the verge of tears when I imagine or I am shown a depiction of what we've lost, of what our ancestors crushed. There are those that would find it trite, overly sentimental, pining for a lost paradise that never was a paradise, they would scoff, ridicule, mock, taunt but what should that matter to me? Why should it be of my concern, their reaction to these same images, these same facts and this same legacy and their reaction to my own? Why, if they cannot comprehend my sorrow, or think it ill advised, repulsive, not pragmatic or just generally contradictory to their own sense of the "way the world works", should I attempt to retreat, retract, rephrase or rethink what I feel to be true and right? I have "rethought" much, and in the end there is nothing I can change, nothing I should change, of how I react to these things, how the shortsightedness of our ancestors' actions have lead to so little, are leading us to a dead-end. In short, why should the emotional reaction and response to these facts by others that do not share my wish that things could have been different become somehow my responsibility to explain or challenge or acknowledge? It is a way in which we can get derailed from thinking along the good path. They should look at themselves and question their own reactions and not demand that I do so. They do not know me. They do not know how I arrived at my own conclusions and way of seeing. I believe in many cases the antagonists of the world know that this works, that attacking those who do not agree with harsh words will often cause them to react and defend and be on the defensive and spend energy simply on reiterating opinions to those who do not listen and do not care when that same energy could be used elsewhere to better ends.

History teaches us nothing not because it cannot but because, for the moment, we have little more than the word history, as well as a misunderstanding of how to study it and to what ends. We also lack the ability to comprehend how it is still with us. We are and have been repeating what was left behind in Europe; we are becoming what our ancestors, in part, believed they were fleeing. We are mutilating even the very sins of our fathers and mothers. And we are doing it at a time in the phase of human techno-cultural means that will see us enslaved in ways that could render us incapable of survival without them. Today, if I did not have at least the change in my pocket, with the skills I possess I would be dead in less than a month.

I walked home on the same earth depicted in the film, with those same horrifying trees lined out in rows as they were in horrific England. I walked across places where forests had stood for millennia, where hunters hunted and people worshipped and made love and fought and died and wondered at their existence. Now there is a grid of streets bearing the names of saints and politicians and long dead public figures whose stories no longer mean anything to us and perhaps should not. There is no New World, only a corpse dressed up in European garb.

The editing was a dance and a dream, obeying no rules of classic continuity. I watched thin strong leaves augment the light of the sun and pages turned with the wind of a breath. Some will no doubt find it hard to endure, as did the giggling girls a few seats over from mine, but I believe this form was conducive to the theme, the collision of one way of seeing with another and the tantalizing disorientation that can ensue. It also works to keep it ethereal, somewhat impossible to possess, to own, to claim to know. It is about loss after all, an immense loss that we cannot truly comprehend and shrink from attempting. It was less about the facts (though they were there) than it was about the human reaction to the world and an homage to this moment when the opportunity to come to know and be in the world was there before Western man. A moment that was so quickly lost and may never be repeated. I want to see it again and again, and at least once more on the big screen, for there are still questions, not questions of plot or story but rather questions of meaning, of how to take in the work as a whole and how it should inform and alter one's life. There is no one making films like this man anymore.

PS: sorry Blog Monkey, I just decided on the spur of the moment on the way home from work to go see it, but I'll see it again with you, honest I will!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Commuting Thoughts 1

1. To avoid mob rule, a democratic society should always steer as clear as possible of monolithic generalizations. It should aim, instead, to approach the threshold of what might be called or thought of as something like individual law, a form of justice that seeks to protect the right of every individual to be unique, indefinable, without absolute category, then pull back just enough from sinking into something incomprehensible and chaotic. I believe this is what law intends to do, in theory, though some politicians and citizens would wish it were otherwise. It is only those who cannot tolerate question, difference, risk, and actual freedom who would find this incomprehensible. Anger would most likely be their reaction, for something has come up against the simple view they have of how things ought to be and their inability and lack of desire to try to see anything from anyone else's perspective, and possibly let a new idea enter their minds, terrifies them, frustrates them, drives them to hate without limit.

2. The first order of business for any being that finds itself in the midst of existence should be to protect the 'ecological capital' of the world, preserve it for the untold billions to come, rather than selfishly use more than we need at the expense of future life. To do any less is to be complicit in a type of mass murder that only disasters of a cosmological scale are supposed to inflict. The second order of business is to do all one can, make the constant effort, to take responsibility for the growth and evolution and continuation of the concept and state of freedom, never tiring of fighting the good fight, to never think one has done enough, to know that to enjoy freedom now without making the effort and recognizing the responsibility one has to future generations is, again, incomprehensibly and irrationally selfish. It is to spit in the face of the untold millions who toiled to bring us the opportunities we enjoy and face today. It is to turn a blind eye to the billions yet to come into a world that could be made better, that could speak of heroes and the benevolent societies that came before them, as they donned the mantle of responsibility of this proud tradition. Of course, there is still the intriguing problem of creating a common understanding of the sanity of these two principles.

3. Never judge a person until you've truly, truly walked several hundred kilometres in their shoes. That is, value the power of empathy. So many proponents of certain hard-line ideologies claim to be able to speak for the so-called "bums on welfare", claiming to know, with god-like omnipotence, what goes on in their heads, generalizing to such an extreme that you'd think a concentration camp of some sort wouldn't be good enough for them all. To do this sort of judging is not only irresponsible, without merit or evidence, but is ultimately a sign of a hate filled and diseased mind, one that has lost all sense of compassion except for what is already their own and will never stoop to empathy, entering into what is probably the early phases of a sociopathic personality. The day we cease to be moved by the plight of even one of us is the day we cease to be human and become little more than a part of an inhumane and inhuman machine.

4. Never lose hope. This is what they want us to do. Lose hope and enter into a state of permanent fear. Fortunately, as history shows us, these sorts of rulers don't tend to endure, but even the short term is too long for them and the price paid is always too high.

5. Do your best to love life, but do not be afraid to risk it. Life is not lived without it. Avoid or question and challenge those systems and forces that seek to distract, defocus, confuse, over stimulate and enslave. We all suffer at the hands of these apparent ways of accomplishing through purchasing or wiring ourselves into some larger sphere of communication. But unless handled with skill, these methods lead to a thinning, a dilution of thought, of will, of life. They offer only a ghostly substitute for something they usurp and replace. I remember only a short 20 years ago how the world felt. It was different, more solid, and more alive and I wanted to be in it, out in it, seeing it, knowing it, walking it. Now, it feels hollow, harder to connect to, ironically, and smaller. I spend most of my time staring at screens such as this one. This may sound paranoid or reactionary but it is not. It is testimony from a witness to this change, one who has, like so many of us, seen and experienced the radical shift, untested, unprecedented, that computers and other technologies have inflicted. My mind is different now and not, I fear, for the better. Perhaps we should have been more critical of the introduction of certain methods of making sense of our lives. The word 'cyborg' comes to mind, unpleasantly.

With Headlines Like These....

Read 'em and weep.

World Gloats Over Canada's Stupidity

The only good thing about this election is that it might finally force the Liberals to clean house and come out as a revamped and appealing option in the future. What is probably just as likely is the Conservatives work hard to convince us they're doing a good job, get a majority and then slowly start to destroy anything resembling democracy, freedom and hope using deceptive and subtle Straussian techniques to mask their intolerance, hatred, bigotry, and desire to crush difference, social progress and real thought. And the longer they stay in power the more likely it is that we'll get cozier and cozier with Republican lead America and who knows what that kind of intimacy can lead to. By the headlines above you can tell this is the kind of possibility that gets the rest of the right-wing world slavering like rabid dogs.

And if anyone needs a reminder of why we've been duped read the full transcript of the speech Stephen Harper gave in 1997 to the American Council for National Policy that I found on this guy's blog.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Meditations on Freedom (sort of)

Ah, the commute to work. What better place to let the mind wander and ponder! Finding itself in the perfect millieu to meditate upon the common fate of us all, as we jostle together along the subway tracks, packed like the proverbial sardine in a tin can (though this tin can happens to be hurtling us at breakneck speed not only toward the work-a-day portion of our existence but also, therefore, towards the end of the line, the end of the self, the big D, the big D that follows the big R, that is if we've planned right and put enough away not to find ourselves falling into the big P!).

So today, being election day here in Canada and all, I found myself trying to, yet again, stave off a sense of hopelessness and despair in the face of what appears will be a Conservative minority if not majority win. Even though any rational human might look at a few widely publicized news items and realise what a Conservative vote might mean, it would seem we have not. One, as I reported earlier, was when Harper was quoted as basically admitting that, even if elected, we need not fear they will be able to do all the nasty things we suspect they will do because right now, for the time being at least, there is a Liberally appointed Senate and bureaucracy to stop them (i.e. "watch out you ignorant pricks if you actually give us power long enough for some of these suckers to die off and be replaced by our goons!") Two, on the weekend, the Conservative party began refusing any interviews or contact with the press and media for fear of, well, let's see, not being able to bite their collective tongues any longer and go off like a sixteen-year old's pocket rocket on a first date? I mean, are they really that giddy about the fact they might get more seats than they've had in years that they think one of them is going to blow his load in front of a camera or microphone and let loose a wad of "holy fuckin' shit are you guys stupid we're gonna so fuck you up and Jesus is gonna be shoved so far down your friggin' throats you're gonna be literally puking up faith and spewing it all over this great land of ours and screw gay rights and abortions are illegal now and the environment can go fuck itself and I like to eat babies for breakfast even though that makes me a hypocrite because I'm supposed to be opposed to abortion and suck me and go to church heathen!" Or something in that general, dilapidated ballpark?

All this got me thinking, as I watched those faces staring at their dim reflections in the glass of the subway doors: At least we're free to screw up. At least we've got the freedom to make mistakes. But why do we screw up and make uninformed, dumb decisions? In part it's because we're complacent about our freedom, which in a way is a good thing. It means we take it for granted, we think it should always be there, should come naturally to human society and we go about our day to day lives knowing we've got this security. It allows us to feel secure enough that we don't go around blowing up things in the name of some cause or other. Of course, it's a false sense of security, but isn't it sweet that we think it will endure for all time just because? So we're free to shoot ourselves in the foot and we're free to be lazy and that's pretty much what's wrong with freedom. But is this complacency and forgetfulness an inevitable consequence of freedom? When did we forget that we need to be vigilant in protecting it? When did we forget that freedom must extend to all members of a society and that minorities cannot have their freedoms stifled at the hands of a moral majority? When did we forget that with freedom comes the responsibility to maintain it for future generations? I'm guessing that went out the door as easily, and perhaps nudged by the same corporate hand, as did our sense of responsiblity for the state of the environment as well for future generations. I'm also guessing that much of our laziness and complacency comes from a channelling of our energies and attention into other, simpler, more easily consumed activities such as shopping, DVD renting, internet surfing, and all other forms of current, Western cultural activities that mostly center around the dispensing of cash in order to get a quick sense of accomplishment or connection to the larger world.

So we get what we deserve. It's just too bad that there are a few of us who don't deserve it and are about to suffer because of the collective laziness of the many....or perhaps we all deserve it, but for slightly different reasons. Those informed few who actually vote with their brains and their hearts connected are probably the best of the worst, at least they are doing, with all the attention and care it deserves, that one action that democracy asks of them. But they are still not guiltless, in that, if they are truly as enlightened as they make themselves out to be, they should be out there on the campaign trails, working their asses off to make their voices heard, or trying to reform voting methods, or even just sharing ideas on a non-partisan level, and even if against seemingly impossible odds. That includes me, by the way. It is at election time that my own laziness is most keenly felt. This blogging at the mouth does take some effort but mostly it almost instantly disappear into the cacaphony of individual voices ranting and raving and pretending we're a community on the internet and yet again, we scratch an itch, doing something that's this close to nothing, typing away on the ether as if that could make a difference. And meanwhile, those who know that it takes practical actions to make a real difference have mustered up the corporate sponsorship and are out there almost literally pulling the wool over our eyes for their own shortsighted or selfish gains.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Somebody Took the Hand Out of the Puppet's Ass!

Stephen Harper, leader of the Canadian Conservative Party and all-round creepy person, recently took George Bush's cock out of his mouth and to get quoted as saying, "What I can say is that there will be a Liberal Senate, there will be a bureaucracy appointed by the Liberals....So even with a majority, it's impossible to have absolute power for the Conservatives. There are checks and balances, and that is the reality."

Does he not realise what he just said? He basically admitted: "We are ultra-right wing, hate-filled and dangerous! Oh but not to worry, there are still some semi-sane people working for the collective good to keep us in line, dammit all!"

Now if only people pick up on this oopsy-daisy of a talking point maybe we could avoid a major fiasco and at worst re-elect a government that only tried to keep the country together in a scandalous way rather than tearing it apart and all we stand for surreptitiously and deceitfully with Jesus in their hearts (or some version thereof)!

This election might just do me in! My heart is hurting, physically.

little people making a big stinkie

I may regret this in the morning though I'm pretty sure most of us are immune to this kind of crap simply by the fact that we have a shred of humanity left within us. So I know that by reading material at this site

nobody who isn't already insane is going to be a sudden convert to this whacko cause. Thanks to Kathleen Callon for the link and it's sobering look at the bottom rung of the evolutionary ladder. And don't worry, she isn't a supporter. I believe she's as stunned as anyone is that these people are for real and call themselves a church.

Don't bother sending them any hate mail, seems the FBI is on their side! Says so in their FAQ! Hee hee heee ho ho ho hahahaha ahhhhh....cute.

And be sure to read other shit in the FAQ, even if only for the amusement park ride-like terror it induces. I'd do it especially for their irrationalizing of why it's right for them to hate soldiers and be glad they die in Iraq. Honestly. That's something they hold close to their cold, deluded, Xtian heart-substitutes.

Oh yeah, be warned, it's pretty damned hateful. I feel like puking actually.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Slow Down You Move Too Fast

The Fook sent me a link to this really nice article. Made me want to turn....

Japan Grows A Beard

And here is the list (though it is also hyperlinked in the article):

The practice of the "Slow Life" involves the following eight themes:

SLOW PACE: We value the culture of walking, to be fit and to reduce traffic accidents.

SLOW WEAR: We respect and cherish our beautiful traditional costumes, including woven and dyed fabrics, Japanese kimonos and Japanese night robes (yukata).

We enjoy Japanese food culture, such as Japanese dishes and tea ceremony, and safe local ingredients.

We respect houses built with wood, bamboo, and paper, lasting over one hundred or two hundred years, and are careful to make things durably, and ultimately, to conserve our environment.

SLOW INDUSTRY: We take care of our forests, through our agriculture and forestry, conduct sustainable farming with human labor, and ultimately spread urban farms and green tourism.

SLOW EDUCATION: We pay less attention to academic achievement, and create a society in which people can enjoy arts, hobbies, and sports throughout our lifetimes, and where all generations can communicate well with each other.

SLOW AGING: We aim to age with grace and be self-reliant throughout our lifetimes.

SLOW LIFE: Based on the philosophy of life stated above, we live our lives with nature and the seasons, saving our resources and energy.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Dear World (Holy christ am I stupid!)

(blog monkey sent me a link to a "great" blog, from someone calling themselves a "new christian". I found it very inspirational. But it was kind of cryptic, that is, it was phrased in such a way that it only barely managed to conceal the face of a raving lunatic behind a mask of calm serenity. Allow me to nudge it out into the open with a bit of transubstantiation:)


Bumfuck USA

Me: I am a nondescript Caucasian female, totally shallow, oh and gullible too! Please love me!

Dear World:

Before I found my current fuck friend Stan I was a major whore. Whoo boy was I ever! I mean I've got this kid and I think the father was this guy that I was working with at the time, but I'm not sure, but I've heard that you're not supposed to beat yourself up over that kind of stuff so I don't, I've just kept working at being a single mom, with everything going for me! I mean I've got it made right? Funny thing is, no matter how hard I tried to put out, Stan wouldn't go for it. I thought maybe he was gay until he told me he has devoted his life to Jesus, and even then I kind of had my doubts....

Anyway, he didn't pressure me about going to church, much....well, okay, so every conversation we ever had slowly came around to the subject of my heretical ways, but honest, he was so nice about it, he never once called me devil-spawn or harlot or Satan's love-child or anything else I could read in his eyes.

Then one day, after I just wanted to shut him up, he invited me to something called a "Harvest Party". At first I thought, shit, now it makes sense! They're an alien race that culls the herd from time to time! And I've been invited to their not-so-subtly named feast probably as the stereotypical "guest of honor/main course"! Turns out it was just a brainwashing shindig hosted by a bunch of Stan's overzealous, life-hating Christian pals! I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure they spiked my food with something, or maybe it was the fact that the party lasted 7 days straight with almost nothing to eat and very little sleep. It's all a blur really.

Shortly after this wonderful event that I loved with all my heart absolutely voluntarily, I went to his church.

Now remember: I had nothing but TV, a shitty minimum wage job, cigarettes and almost zero education before I met Stan. And I was a single mom with a daughter that would some day no doubt be the greatest little gangster a mother could have! I guess you could say I had everything going for me so there was no reason I should need anything else, right? That's why I found it so strange that when I got into the church, and when this huge group of people (who seemed to have their shit together, and were dressed so nice and had a live in husband, 2 cars, 3 or more well-behaved children and friends) started hugging me and showing something akin to actual human emotion, it got me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, but there is absolutely no reason that I should have felt this way, remember, my life was complete and I had it made! Oh yeah, and they hung out in this massive building, lavishly decorated that was meant, architecturally speaking, to inspire awe, but you know something, it inspired this feeling of awe in me for no reason I can think of....must have been something metaphysical I guess, whatever that means, like a divine or holy ghost, maybe even Jesus himself! I mean it just had to be! The next week I went back, totally of my own volition and NOT because I had finally felt like someone loved me for more than a night. I went again and again and each time I went the pastor asked those of us who were desperate fools and new to the church to come up to the alter to receive the holy ghost through the equivalent of spiritual hazing. I was scared shitless, trembling like a ninny, my pits were swamps, I could feel everyone's eyes on me, I wanted to run away, I was a bundle of confused emotions and again, that's why it was so inexplicable that I would suddenly feel different up there, that I would suddenly feel the need to scream out in incoherent sentences as if reaching for some kind of orgasm of release or escape. I'm pretty sure I didn't go insane at that moment or just do something that would allow all this self-hating torture in front of the judging eyes of the congregation to end. It's much more likely and believable that a supernatural entity entered my body and is now residing there. Really. He's there. He tells me things. I am no longer fully responsible for my own thoughts and actions because the lord now tells me what to do (through the more influential members of the church can still also tell us what to do. But they, coincidentally, happen to have a much more open channel to God than the rest of us. Weird eh?)

So now I'm a new Christian because I realise that even though my life was so great and I had no reason to be out looking for something a tad more meaningful I was actually a bad person, bad I tell you, terrible and this is the way I'm correcting all the problems I had before, the ones that I didn't even know I had. Sure I'm not getting a real education or finding my own meaning in the universe and growing as a person but I am having a bunch of stepford wives tell me how great the lord is and why the earth doesn't mean shit, even for my daughter who is about to inherit it and that there is a mansion for me in heaven! A mansion! Can you believe it! And I'm sure I'll have lots of time to go out shopping to fill it full of stuff, yeah, it'll be heavenly stuff made mostly of sublime vapours and whatnot, but stuff all the same; the type of stuff I just couldn't afford on my minimum wage salary (and can't possibly afford now that I have to give some of it to the church)! Thank you Stan, thank you for showing me the light....oh and Jesus, thank you dear Jesus for giving me this type of overly simplistic bliss that even the numbing love of TV couldn't quite achieve. Praise be to God and this one single idea I can focus on effortlessly! It's so easy! Don't knock it til you've tried it!

E.Z. Pickins

(All I can say is: I really need to start a church.)

Will Democracy Fail (or has it done so already)?

Given the relatively short history of democracy and ideas such as individualism, freedom, human rights, it is my sincere hope that the current ugliness creeping up on Western democracies, and the fallout it is having across the rest of the globe, is but a blip on the historical radar. I'd like to hope that it's a kind of concerted last gasp effort by the forces of oppression (ie the psychopaths who can't stand the thought that anyone else out there has a thought or does something that contradicts their own narrow and constricting world-view. It's called 'tolerance' and 'sharing', penises! Look it up!). Since learning recently that the Conservative Party of Canada consists mostly of those educated in the warped, elitist views of Leo Strauss and his school of thought (as are Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and that happy bunch) and that their goal is regime change -and not just in dictatorships but here at home, especially here at home, insidiously using fear and lies to gain public support for policies that seek to homogenize society into uninteresting and lifeless forms- I have found myself looking at this 'annoying' election here in Canada a little more seriously. Wait. Who am I kidding? A lot more seriously. Sleeplessness type seriously. And being the one little person in the scheme of things that I am, I find myself seeking thoughts that can help counteract the darker ones that threaten to paralyze me with dread if they get elected. One of those 'helper thoughts' goes something like this: Even if this gets worse before it gets better, we can always hope that things have progressed far enough by now that we will see more clearly, and quickly, through the lies and spin when push comes to shove. That if individual freedoms continue to erode under such governments, that some threshold will be reached at which point most people will stop and ask what's going on. Let's just hope that we would do this before a threshold of a different sort was crossed and it was now too late without a bloody, disruptive civil war. Oops. Darker thought just crept up and stabbed poor, little, naive, helper thought in the back!

Okay let's go with some darker more paranoid ones then, just to get them out on the table and expose them to the light:

Question: Will Canada be hit by a terrorist event if the Conservatives are elected? If so, why? Because terrorists don't like conservative values? Yeah right! I guess what I'm asking: Does Canada need a terrorist fear-inducing event to create a similar milieu of fear that now currently exists in the US and allows the current administration and law enforcement organizations to trample on the constitution with no immediate repercussions? (Leo Strauss would think so.) And, if so, why would it happen when the Conservatives get elected? Hmmmm? (god I hope I'm just a bit paranoid and not right on this!)

What might be done by such a government for the sake of supposed fiscal reform, tax cuts, necessary spending tactics that would actually be a way of so eroding our society's ability to prosper and evolve socially, such that we may be incapacitated us from rebuilding what we lose? I don't have any answers for that, really. And besides author Jane Jacobs in her rather hopeful book, given it's title, Dark Age Ahead, can do it infinitely better than I ever could hope to, and without the taint of paranoia.

How will the very identity of 'being Canadian' be radically altered and denigrated on the world stage by the actions of a government who would have sent troops to Iraq, helped back missile defense and wants to scrap our commitment to Kyoto?

When I'm asking "will democracy fail" I'm not only or even specifically talking about this time in this election. What I'm wondering is if it will fail totally and completely in the future because of things we do now, because of what we allow to happen now, because of our laziness and stupidity even in the midst of such apparent freedom. And if it is heading toward failure, at what stage of the game are we today? Are we only at the beginning? Can what happens now determine the outcome no matter where we are at? Are things already very much in motion to see it mutated into something that is 'democracy' in name only? Is it too late? Was democracy a 'necessary evil' so that a new type of monarchy could emerge from out of the ashes of the dark ages? Or is democracy truly the ultimate challenge to the age old problem of tyranny? And the crisis stems from the fact that only the would-be tyrants have infiltrated the systems we designed to try to keep democracy from harm and have subverted them, surreptitiously, to their selfish, hateful, anti-life delusions? (Okay, so that was a loaded question bordering on rhetorical....)

Can't really think of how to end this so I'll just ask a question that's more of the moment: Why is it that when we get disillusioned with government we don't want to go over to the 'good', self-less side of the political spectrum but, rather, we get all angry and intolerant and freaked out or something and put up our collective "dukes" and vote conservatively!? It is so disheartening and, well, confusing. I mean just look at the recent polls! Sure the conservatives are ahead but their leader is almost the least popular (just above the guy who represents the party we're all sore at)! Now if that doesn't seem like a schizophrenic way of seeing the political landscape I don't know what is! We want change. W get pissed and our anger seems to breed collective intolerance, insecurity, and I don't know what happens exactly but we suddenly start to vote for the guys who seem angry just like us even though we don't actually like them or have much else in common. Christ we're stupid sometimes!

Friday, January 13, 2006

A Question About Winter

If the weather is so goddamn nice today, why do I want to kill myself? Because it's January in Montreal and for some reason it's above zero degrees Celsius and the birds are singing an untimely song that might just trick the trees into blooming so early that all the bumble bees will die! This is not how it should be! Something's not right! Everything's not right! Please, for chrissake! Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it be so friggin cold I can gleefully bitch about how hideous it is outside and how much I hate winter! At least then I'd know that a natural springtime is just around the corner and not some sort of ecological doomsday! Oh, but maybe it's only an anomaly, maybe it means nothing....Right! How many of the warmest years on record have been recorded in the latter half of the last century and the early part of the present one? Seems there was a blip like this in 1950, 10 plus degrees Celsius. Was that too early to be global warming? Was that a blip whereas this is a symptom? How can we be sure it's not? Whatever happened to better safe than sorry?!

By the way, get out there an enjoy, it's really nice outside today!

In the mean time....

I've not been too inspired to write lately, or, rather, perhaps overstimulated and unable to focus on a single topic that doesn't get me frothing at the mouth and incoherent. I want to write something soon, I'll try to focus on something shortly even if it might be of interest only to me.

In the mean time, you MUST check out these documentaries.

It's called the Power of Nightmares And the other 2 parts can be found on the same site,, by typing in "adam curtis" in the search box. He's the director. Also did a great, hard to find series called The Century of the Self about the birth of public relations and the ways in which human beings have been recast and controlled throughout the 20th century (and into this one).


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

People Are Stupid

Gone are the days when one could write out a political diatribe in the form of a poem (and no not a clever, dumbed-down limerick) and have people not only read it with enthusiasm but understand it and allow it to inform their opinion of current events. Yes this was the same era when it was considered normal to dump buckets of sewage from a window and into the street but is dumping massive quantities of our feces directly into lakes, rivers and oceans really any more bright or enlightened? But I digress. All I'm saying is that, as everybody by now knows, but really doesn't fear enough, is that our attention span craves the succinct and vapid headlines and catchy sound bytes that media organizations, run by mega corporations, generate ad infinitum.....So, no politically insightful poem. Not even an attempt to outline, in only half decent prose, why our society allows itself to be misinformed, self-centred to the point of a collective neuroses, shortsighted, all-consuming and emotionally challenged, yet ruled for the most part by this same knee-jerk handicap. Nope. Just an attention grabbing and grade-school simple title : "People Are Stupid" (thought it might be more "grippy", as Stephen Colbert might put it) followed by a heart-felt rant.

I guess stupid people deserve a stupid government. Which is what will happen if what current polls are predicting comes to pass and the choice is made here in Canada in the coming days to elect the Conservative Party. Yes we are all pissed at the Liberals for being arrogant and scandal-ridden but are the Conservatives really the only viable alternative? Ask yourself: Do they make the best choice for a protest vote? If they do get elected we're in for bad times of a different sort all together (not to mention that they themselves would in no way be immune to similar scandals as have plagued the Liberal party). Because remember this is the same party that has publicly declared being open to support Bush's and the Pentagon's idiotic and thus far ineffectual missile defense program (forget the moral implications of joining in, I'm sure at some point down the road we'd have to contribute big bucks too); they're 100 percent pro-business (okay, not so different from the Liberals actually, but it's the kinds of business they'd be in bed with and the fact that they wouldn't temper their relationship with at least a smidgen of humanity) which means the average person's needs as well as the needs of the environment get placed a dismal second, or even lower if the need for a better second arises that would help business and politicians other assorted buddies.

And of course, we would have gone into Iraq had the Conservatives been in power, meaning the Government of Canada would also, like Britain and the U.S., have broken International Law, ignored the will of the United Nations and made us even more of a terrorist target than we already are for being in Afghanistan. We'd be forking out tax dollars and the lives of Canadian soldiers for an illegal, ill-conceived and unwinnable invas....I mean "war".

Let's see....

What else?

Oh ya.

Harper and Bush are buddies and share an ultra-right wing, neo-con, Creationist, Christian ideology... 'nuff said.

Okay, not enough. Read this and tremble:

Harper, Bush Share Roots In Controversial Philosophy

Anyway, I've got to get back to work. All I'm really trying to say is people need to think a bit more clearly and inform themselves. If they want to kick the Liberals out yet have any sort of progressive continuity in terms of the direction of our nation is currently taking then vote for the NDP. Yes they'll have a hell of time (remember what happened when they got elected in Ontario) but at least you can be sure they are trying to help us and do the right thing for everyone even when they stir shit up and probably end up stumbling. But they aren't in bed with any big business because they are anathemical to those would-be kings and I'd like to see someone in this country, even if they fail, try to show some backbone in the face of tough issues like health care, corporate tax breaks and loop holes, education, urban development, the environment, defense and human rights. All the other parties seem to be talk tough then back down when a fight is required. The Liberals took some stands on some controversial topics, on which the Conservatives would have caved, which unfortunately is what still makes them a better alternative to the Conservatives. But if we want to give them a collective kick in the pants right out the doors of parliament Hill let's do it by grabbing those benign yet inexperienced bunch of clip-on tie wearing ex-hippies called the New Democrats and hoist them onto the hot seat. At least the headlines that will trail their actions will be a bit more spicy and just plain new!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Simple Math

Watched that clip from the Daily Show again yesterday and on the way home I was thinking: Bush took questions, unscreened questions, at a press conference of some sort and was asked how many he thinks have died so far in Iraq. He casually put the number of dead in Iraq (the way one would estimate the number of jelly beans in a jelly bean jar, is how Jon Stewart put it so well), to date, including civilians (though when he answered he said "the number of civilians" alone) at 30,000!

Let's overlook the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and go on the assumption, as horrifically ridiculous as it is, that the reason the US is in Iraq is to somehow prevent another 9/11 (remember when it was about weapons of mass destruction and not freedom? And all that other blah blah blah?). Okay, so how many died at the WTC? Officially it's put at 2,986, including the hijackers. So, by their logic, in order to "prevent further deaths" the Bush administration has killed over 30,000 people, mostly civilians, even by their own admission. So...Um....does anyone else's brain instantly scream WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!

And does anyone else not feel the earth trembling with an angry vibration as the victims of 9/11 collectively roll over in their graves? I mean, the suffering created that day from that attack is now being felt in Iraq on a scale that, even if we just do simple math, get yer calculators out if you need em, (30,000 divided by approximately 3000), is ten times greater! Justice? Righting a wrong? Highly debatable. The most obvious way to look at it is that the Bush administration is -by a calculation a grade school student could do with one eye on his/her PSP- 10 times more violent, cruel and just plain deadly as those who committed the 9/11 atrocities. At least by my reckoning. Not to mention that the deaths continue unabated in Iraq and show no signs of decreasing any time soon. Let's face it, this isn't a one day only event like 9/11 was. Also, a terrorist event is done outside the law and yet is somehow, on a very odd level, more honest: they may be wrong and crazy but at least you know they meant to do the damage they did, that they wanted to inflict maximum carnage. With Bush and co., they say one thing, do another; they spout ideology that isn't reflected in their actions. It is all the more maddening for being so out of touch with logic and reality and just common human decency. In my opinion anyway. If I could choose, I'd rather have an enemy tell me he hates me and try to flat out kill me rather than one that tells me and those around me that he's helping me and has my best interests at heart, even as he hacks my family into pieces and then looks up with a you're-next-gleam in his eye.

And it all ain't even over yet.

For everyday in which more people die Bush et al get further and further ahead of the actual terrorists in the "I'm more capable of dealing out death than you" game. Of course this is nothing all that new (though one can wish that by now it would be getting a little old for our species). Most times when one country goes after another, the eye for an eye mentality goes a little haywire and an exponentially higher number of people suffer revenge for something that was originally a little smaller in scale. Ah but no one counts coup anymore the way the supposed "primitives" used to do in less civilized times.... Anyway, the war is just so wrong on so many other levels that perhaps this simple mathematical exercise is pointless or redundant. But I'm just saying that even on the simplest level, this ain't even an eye for an eye...and besides, if one really truly values life, then there would be no way in the world they'd allow harm to come to an innocent, an Iraqi family that they are trying to "free" for example. The equivalent, on a personal scale that would seem utterly insane to most (I mean all those not already considered insane) would be to try to go after someone who has wronged you, gravely, "an eye for an eye", then take the eye of the next person you bump into because he was in the way of your getting to the person from whom you really want to carve out that orbit! And then keep doing this until, no matter how many sightless innocent folk you leave in your wake, you maybe, if you're not too exhausted by the time you reach him, get to the guy who maybe deserved your wrath but who most likely should go on trial, just to keep things a bit more within reason and civil and well just plain lawful between us all, regardless of the arbitrary value one might like to place on the colour of a skin, a nationality, or one's just plain not being an American.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

My 2006 "To Do" List

-Figure shit out.

-Stop having delusions that any one reads this.

-Be more like Jesus, except for the dead part.

-Focus on the positive, though I doubt that's possible.

-Fight terrorists where they live, even if that happens to be in grandma's basement.

-Pack lightly.

-Stop putting off calling for the results of that MRI.

-Do not miss your chance to blow, This opportunity comes once in a life time, yo.

-Buy a good quality bean-bag chair and turn it to face the wall.

-Focus an energy beam into the form of a sword and wield it with stunning grace and precision.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

They Still Blame the Sea

This is the inevitable New Year's post. I tried to avoid it. But I keep feeling it tugging so why fight it. Last night someone in the small cluster of relatives I was spending the eve with asked, basically, what do we expect of the year 2006? After we all half-heartedly made a few attempts at mustering up something positive out of that old repetition of adding 1 to our previous year's date, someone said to me, "Hey, you'll be 35 this year, that's only 15 years away from 50!" I'd always felt myself prepared against and somewhat immune, in a very dishonest way I now see, to the impending crisis of middle age (and to be even less delusional, middle age is a tad closer than 15 years away), but with those simple words I found myself suddenly at the event horizon of the black hole of regret, sinking, quickly and well in advance, into a veritable panic striken morass of self-doubt and disappointment that instantly overrode anything positive and worthy of appreciation that my life had forged thus far.

But this was good.

(Though it didn't need to be New Year's that brought it on. It's ridiculous to think we need such flaccid events as this to make us question the meaning of our lives. It just so happens that because of the mystique of January 1st, the question came up from the aforementioned train of thought.)

And while at the time it didn't feel all that good, I knew something good could come of this darkness if I critiqued my own reaction to these words about my inevitable approach to the half century mark. Why did it fill me with terror to realise I was aging and that time was passing more quickly each day? What was it about my life or life in our culture in general that seemed to have tricked me into a complacency and laziness that was suddenly slashed and torn open, bleeding like a wound?

What in my life should I have done differently?

What could I change now so that from here on in I do things right?

What projects had a I put off long enough?

What good things could I try to nuture and make even more fruitful?

Was there really any hope of staving off crushing regret or was it already too late?

Maybe I should just give up, lay down and die a slow, hopefully forty-years-away-minimum, death and try to wear a smile so as not to disturb the others around me who might still have a chance of making it work for them even under the spell of their own personal delusions.

Of course, this fundamental questioning of life direction wasn't new to me at all. I'd thought about it before, discussed it with a handful of friends, you know, the idea that our own life and the way we see it, not to mention the way we see the world and understand our place in it, is at the mercy of perception and socio-cultural discourse and paradigms. But what is the best way to perceive it? That is the real question. Which way of seeing one's life would not be a convenient slight of hand trick just to make things easier? Which way would not simply allow us to avoid the pain and difficulty of a more truthful way of seeing it? And which way, though it may seem to offer us that tough-love with its screams of "You've failed! You're a big nothing nobody!" is equally dangerous for it's insistence on a rare or impossible to achieve state of success and happiness? Basically, what I think it comes down to, is how to determine the right way of seeing one's life so that it is neither too "I'm okay, you're okay, let's all go for ice cream" nor making such demands that will paralyze one from doing anything productive or worthwhile at all for being so massively difficult to achieve and visualize from the outset.

Oh but these are cliched, yet fundamental problems for any semi-conscious human being!

And just previous to the mention that in a relatively short period of time I'd hit the big 5-0, we'd all been watching a documentary in which the testimony of several survivors of last year's tsunami framed images of destruction and chaos. And though it may seem clear (and maybe I'm being generous here) that it was not an act of god meant to strike down sinners, and was, rather, a natural disaster that was made worse by a lack of infrastructure to warn inhabitants and tourists of such a freak event, almost everyone in the documentary seemed to blame the sea for "the death it had wrought". Some said it was a friend before and an enemy now, projecting the failure of government to create safety mechanisms onto a body of water that cannot care whether or not we see it as friend or foe. Others stated that we must have somehow deserved it, brought it on ourselves (true, but not because of a sin that offended god but, again, only because we weren't smart enough to put in the failsafes that were necessary and do exist in other parts of the world). The handful of Westerners who were interviewed were a bit more mute on the subject. Most focused solely on their personal experience of it and in the end acted more as camera or storyteller rather than as way of coming to an understanding about the event itself. The most surprisingly clear statement came from the natives of the Nicobar islands on which every member of their communities had survived. And though they too had a culturally-based, even religious explanation as to why it had happenend (the Sea and the Land are in constant battle over boundaries and thus everything is subject to change, and something too about the world being situated at the top of a tall tree that the gods shake every now and again to test us), they were able, because they knew their world and their place in it, to see the signs that something was coming and they needed to act in a very specific way to survive it. They saw, just as the home video taken by tourists shows, that something unusual was unfolding, the sea receded suddenly and then a giant wave built up on the horizon and came in to shore rapidly. But whereas the tourists and even some local villagers waited until it was all but too late (one person caught on video even stood stock still and faced it in his speedo never flinching even as the wave overtook him and he disappeared), these long-time inhabitants of the islands of Nicobar simply understood, based on traditional teachings, ancestral knowledge and a firm sense of their place in the world, an identity. They knew what to do. They needed to find shelter and fast and that all would be good and continue on after if they did so. They had the confidence of their perception of the world that allowed them to continue to live another day. There was no way they were caught standing staring into the face of death and wishing they had a camera.

The man who told this story walked along the shore with his 3 children and an ethnologist. He carried one child on his back supported by a strap around his own forehead. As the interview ended he walked off down the shore. He had no questions to ask of the ethnologist. He went on his way and left us behind, staring.