Thursday, June 23, 2016

we are glass

obsessed with dystopian novels, i finally found We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
it felt strangely small and closed in and intimate in its dissonance
and the observer's eye is able to see across city blocks, through glass, glass glass, everything glass
and the author's world is glimpsed through the glass, USSR 1920
prescient: bland and terrifying
dystopia = utopia = atrophy

Monday, February 1, 2016

morality and philsophy

I have always found Hume's question to be quite interesting:

"Epicurus's old questions are still unanswered: Is he (God) willing to prevent evil, but not able? then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? then whence evil?" – David Hume

In philosophy we attempt to separate what "is" and what "should be", and this is one reason why a philosophical education is extremely important to develop your own moral compass.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Gender is a performance, gender is a pattern.

Gender is a performance, gender is a pattern. 

As an example, the girls start to wear cute, tight, heeled shoes. The kind that pinch your toes, leave blisters if you walk too far, but they look beautiful. The girls happily suffer for fashion because the ultimate goal of the girls is to look cute while they do whatever it is they are doing. (Yes, they want to be doctors and scientists and artists, but they need to look cute at the same time.) They wear a skirt and tights, it looks adorable. They are relatively comfortable, a little constricted. They might see the boys chasing each other and jumping over a fence. You cannot jump over a fence wearing heels and a skirt. So the performance becomes a pattern, as the less you jump over fences, the more you get out of the habit until horse-play is not something you do, and you become a gentle, feminized person. So did the girl choose the shoes because she is a girl, or did the shoes make the girl more likely to act like a girl?

Of course you can't remove social influences from the question, but if you try a thought-experiment and ask yourself if, in the wild, the female of a species would purposefully want to hinder her physical abilities to not only attract a male, but to appear pleasing to all the other males she isn't even trying to attract, I'd say it sounds like a conspiracy. It seems like it would a good bit of propaganda to get a whole half of a species to limit itself and boost the other half.

My personal experience as a youth was thinking, why would I wear heels, what if I want to run? What if I need to run... away from someone? (Who wants to hurt me, or worse....) I'm not letting these feminine trappings make me feel unsafe. It's not worth it to look like a cute angel with tiny delicate unicorn feet, even though I do want that, because I've been told I want that, I've been shown how cute it is. I want to be cute. My giant feet look big enough on their own, but I strap on hiking boots and I kick ass and I tell myself I don't care if it's not feminine. It's my right as a living breathing being with a body to not have my body be in pain all the time, to let my body move the way it was meant to. (This could also apply to bras but that's a whole 'nother story....)

I'm getting sick of feeling torn inside, sick of feeling like it's more important to look good than to get shit done. I want to be so darn awesome at stuff that I look good for that reason, not because I'm sexually attractive. I am attractive but I am also strong, and while looks do fade, inner strength won't fade if you let it grow. And there is a wild, rare beauty in a person who follows their own path.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Forever is nothing we can have

One thing that I've noticed as I get older, is how things don't last. I had this idea, as a kid, that if you hang onto something, you can keep it forever. Well, I learned that forever is nothing we can have, and you can't hang onto anything. 

How long do things last?

Certain materials do seem to last. But everything is slowly disintegrating from the inside out.

That object that you tuck into a box is going to be ravaged by time and there's nothing you can do about it. Those lotions are going to be oil-slicks in the back of your cupboard. Those spices are turning into coloured dust. Those photographs are slowly fading to grey. 

I noted, that while memories do fade as well, they last longer and are much more enjoyable to look back on than crumbling knick-knacks and stained chemises.

As I peer into the drawers and boxes and realise that the things I put in there no longer exist, I exalt in the act of fully enjoying an object in the moment, rather than holding onto it until some indefinitely-never-arriving glowing future.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Too much junk this holiday? Fill your heart with puppy love.

Don't we all already have too much junk? Sure, we need things but we get the things we need for ourselves. Gifts are nice but if it's just an obligation to spend money, it doesn't really fit into the spirit of giving.

Every holiday I wonder, do I need to buy into all this consumerism? I always tell myself I won't, but then people start buying me presents and the guilt rolls in. A couple of hand-made gifts and a few treats here and there are nice but I want to donate to a cause as my gift to my friends and family. And I hope that they might join me and raise even more for an awesome cause!

My solution: Asking you to please donate to my favourite cause, the Second Chance fund at the BCSPCA. Raising funds for specific animals who need life-saving surgery, this is a great way to give joy and love this holiday season.

Look at that punam.

My angel this season is a nine-year-old Lhasa Apso named Zizi. She has been neglected too long, and needs a chance in her golden years to live life free of pain and surrounded by love, just like all of us. She needs $3800 for her surgery and care, of which $2745 has already been raised. I set my goal at $100 but I think we can raise $1055 and complete Zizi's surgery fund, with your help.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Do protest marches have an impact?

This morning I received an email regarding a climate march taking place soon, to coincide with the Paris Climate Summit that starts on November 30, 2015. It included a video of the climate marches in 2014, which was both inspirational and a little worrying. The video got me thinking: do marches work? What do they accomplish? My first instinct is that they do little but soothe the protesters themselves. They could connect the activists together in a stronger community, inspire activists to get even more passionate, and encourage the marchers to feel like their views are being heard. But are they really having those impacts? Are there any outside impacts, aside from the positive benefits to the marchers themselves? I wanted to find out a little bit more.

The Atlantic’s piece from 2014 called Why Street Protests Don’t Work, details some recent marches and the effects of them, and finds that social media and online activism has negatively affected the impact of protest marches. Now there are many marches that do not accomplish anything. An article called Marches and Demonstrations Do Work, For A Variety of (Good and Bad) Reasons, details how marches do have an impact, but that impact is often negative against the cause of the protest. The author details how immigrant marches in Arizona in 2006 and 2007 , intended to bring support for undocumented immigrants, actually caused more racial tension, and increased calls against legalizing the large numbers of undocumented immigrants who filled the streets. Another article in favour of protests, says that the important act of showing those in power they are being watched is more than enough to make protest marches worthwhile.

Most of those I spoke to here in Canada about protest marches, from people in their 20’s and 30’s, to people in their 40’s and 50’s, did not think that protest marches have any impact at all on the politics at large. These are people who sympathize with the goals of the marchers in many cases, and yet see this form of activism as fruitless, or even as working against the objectives. A few people made hesitantly supportive comments, but nobody could voice what real impacts protests would actually have, instead vaguely referencing solidarity, spreading information and awareness, and creating visibility for the cause as the more tangible benefits of protest marches. Many young people are disillusioned with activism, finding that nothing much changes despite the energy poured into their causes.

There was some optimism about protests and marches from those I spoke to. Some people believe that peaceful protests are an important way to express yourself in today’s society, and that marches and demonstrations have a huge impact compared to “armchair activism” aka online activism, clicktivism, on social media. An article on Slate described protests as one of the only ways that disenfranchised people have to engage with democracy and express their political opinions. However, when we started discussing violent protests, things got a little murkier. Being from Canada, we are lucky to be legally allowed to protest, and while things have gotten a bit unclear with the previous Harper government’s condemnation of masked protests, generally we are protected and allowed to express ourselves. However, in some places in the world, people are so thoroughly oppressed, and the government so reprehensively despotic, that peaceful protests are not allowed and the marches often turn violent. Governments would be well-advised to allow peaceful protests, as shaking a bottle with the lid tightly closed can shortly lead to a messy explosion. Politicians in Canada might even see peaceful protests as a way to crack the lid and let out the pressure without any explosions.

I guess it really comes down to what the goals of the marches are. If your goal is to raise awareness, and to show the politicians what you believe in, maybe protests do have a positive impact. But to affect real change to the laws and political systems of your country, I have come to believe that marches are not as effective as we wish them to be. I am, however, stumped as to a better solution.

eta (Dec. 14, 2015): In light of the extremely promising Paris Climate Talks, I should add that it has been said that the global climate marches have had an important influence on letting decision makers know that the people want progress on climate change.  
"When in 2014 the UN Secretary General convened his UN Climate Change Summit and hundreds of thousands of people marched in the streets of New York, it was then that we knew that we had the power of the people on our side." - Christiana Figueres, head of UN climate talks, speaks to the power of our marches in her closing speech to the summit today [Dec 12].

Further reading: