20 December 2009

Merry Christmas (almost)

Merry Christmas! I know, not quite, but who knows when I'll get to sit my butt down at the computer for 10 minutes between now and Christmas? I have stuff to do! Seriously, not as much as many. I love Christmas, so I try not to fuck it up by being stressed out for it. Still, I have some presents to buy (kids - almost done and husband, barely started), a ton of gluten-free, corn-free, dairy-free, nut-free baking to do, and I have to work on Wednesday and Thursday morning! Crazy. And yet, I love it.

Bear with me through this post, I'm gonna ramble, fersure.

Christmas is, to me, a crazy, wonderful time. When I was a kid, it was full of awe and wonder, with presents and lights and fires in the fireplace and family and the Christmas story. Funny aside: Sing "... on a cold winter's night that was so deep" to a child in Saskatchewan, and chances are, she imagines Mary and Joseph in a barn huddling up for warmth in -30 weather. Or maybe it's just me. :) Anyway, now it's a time of watching the kids enjoy it. Crackle's face lit up like the Christmas tree itself when I asked him if he wanted to set up the tree. He remembered, that's for sure. For reference, he's the 3.5 year old. He and his little brother Pop went to see Santa. Crackle doesn't talk, but he sure enjoyed touching the Santa's (terribly fake) beard. I have since lost the pictures (dude. wtf? how am I that unorganized?!) but I assume they will turn up in August. I like going to the mall and watching the people scramble for gifts. I like smiling and saying Merry Christmas to anyone who looks at me. I like the lights. I like the songs. I like the stories. I like all of it.

Now, as to whether or not a baby was born in a stable to a teenager named Mary who may or may not have gotten it on with her fiancé Joseph, I don't know. I don't really care, to be quite honest. If it's all myth, it's all myth. The power is in the story. The retelling. The imagery. The vision. Imagine. A child born in an occupied country to woman who would have been killed if her boyfriend had decided he didn't trust her word and according to one gospel, an angel. Born in the barn with the animals. Imagine that was today. Where would that child be born? Sudan? Afghanistan? Palestine? Would the Saviour be a girl? Would anyone know?

The story of this poor child, son of a carpenter, changed the world. There's nary a square inch of the world that hasn't been touched by Christianity. Not always for the better, unfortunately, when the message was so clear. It all boils down to "Don't be an asshole": If someone needs help, help them. If someone is hungry, feed them. Try not to tailgate or cut people off in traffic. Be nice to the poor schmuck at the gas station who is pumping your gas. You know, don't be an asshole.

And what are we, as a society, doing this Christmas? Being assholes. Witness Stephen Harper and the Weasels he calls his cabinet. Actually trying to cover up the fact that they are responsible for the torture of prisoners. Torture! And their supporters, who are, ironically the loudest supporters of Christianity, are defending them. Defending them! It's mindblowing. Of course, these are the same douchebags that insist Jesus would have cast out the gays.

So I'm giving money to charities (my favourite is Our Place - go give them a few bucks, please. They do great work and there isn't a lot of advertising. I know the guy who runs it and he does a hell of a great job.) I'm talking about politics to anyone interested - the more people who know about what's going on, the better. I'm praying. I'm reading. I'm writing. 

There is so very much suffering in the world, it makes me hurt just thinking about it. And I wonder if there aren't a million little babies out there who could grow up to change the world. Or if there aren't a million ignored poor people in impoverished or occupied lands who might be the next person to change the world. God only knows.

Here are some suggestions for Christmas cheer:
- Buy some really nice warm long underwear. Or a pair of wool socks. Give it to a homeless person.
- Donate some money to Unicef - Spread the Net is a great initiative. $10 buys a mosquito net to prevent a kid from getting malaria. $10!
- Say Merry Christmas to anyone who happens to make eye contact with you.
- Give a box of chocolates to your mail carrier. Or the bus driver on your route. Or a cashier you see a lot.
- Pay for the person behind you at the parkade. You might not know how much they owe, but you can always chip in $5, and if the parkade dude pockets it, well so what? You gave him the present.
- Think 100%  tips. The holidays are stressful for the service industry workers. Tip them really well. Take it from me, nothing is more cheering than getting a huge tip.

Merry Christmas if you celebrate it. Have a great day if you don't.

17 December 2009

quick hit: stupid headline

What a drag! Virgin's Branson, AirAsia's Fernandes may dress as stewardess after racing duel

Wow. Offensive enough headline? First the stupid pun on 'drag'. What a drag... so dressing as a woman is *so* humiliating that it's what happens if you lose a bet. Then, "stewardess"? What is this, 1972? Why not throw in "oriental" or "negro" and get a trifecta?

16 December 2009

Your experience: not the be all and end all

One of my biggest pet peeves is the marketing technique, "I can do it, so can you" that usually pops up in dieting ads (OH GOD! I just realized that all the weight loss ads are due to start in a week or two - seriously, I get infuriated. I know... *sigh*) I mean, I get all useful and do things like shout at the TV.

I've seen it in so many places this week, I just had to write about it. It's not just the "I can do it, so can you", it's the "my experience is universal" attitude that I see entirely too often. For example, a certain in-law of mine likes to point out that his mother never took medications, his mother never was sick, his mother cooked with lard all the time, etc. Fine, but then he takes that to mean that her mother is a hypochondriac because she does have to take pills. They grew up in the same area, they ate the same way, they clearly should be EXACTLY the same. Right? Wrong. Another in-law of mine says that childbirth isn't that bad, and anyone who says it is is playing it up for attention. Because clearly, every birth experience is the same.

The reasoning is pretty faulty and obvious at this level, no? Do I have to write out the syllogism for you? Because lately, it seems pretty systemic. It's economic: Person X grew up poor and worked her way up, therefore everyone can. If person Y is poor, it's because he didn't do what Person X did. It's social: Person A was in an abusive relationship. She left the bastard. If Person B doesn't leave her bastard, it's her fault. It's in the marketing I mentioned above. Another one I saw this week, I don't get beaten at the border. If SciFi writer got beaten, it must have been something he did. It's infuriating.

I even saw it in the story of the autistic kid who died because he wandered off before a winter storm. People had the gall to ask "Where were the parents?!" (which is this decade's "Won't anybody please think of the children?!") and then go on to say that if the parents had just watched the boy properly, he would be alive. What shit. What utter shit, on so many levels. First there's the victim blaming. Then there's the self-righteous indignation - they insist they've never ever let a child out of their sight. Oh puhleeze. Never had to take a pee when looking after kids? Oh no, they bring all three kids in with them, right? Right? And finally, there's the "Well, it never happened to me, so therefore, it's your fault". They seem to be unable to believe in the concept of accidents. Something bad always must have someone to blame in these people's world.

On first glance, it seems like these people are just stupid. I imagine that's the problem for a number of them. It's almost certainly the problem in the case of my in-laws (I kid, I kid - but they do vote Conservative and support, I kid you not, a flat income tax). They're just too shortsighted to see anything outside of their realm of experience, and too unimaginative to fathom anything else. I think they musn't read a lot of fiction. But I think some of them are afraid. They're afraid that if they admit that something bad happened, something that was out of the control of the victim, that they too could be a victim. And that scares them into denial. At least, that's what I was thinking when I found myself in that thinking pattern. And my experience is universal. Right?

10 December 2009

Language matters, part... where's the sideways 8?

I try to be a sensitive person. I do. Sometimes I refuse to give a shit about feelings (like say, the feelings of people who are bent on being intolerant, mean, or in the case of conservatives, both), but I try not to be a douchebag.

I have two disabled kids, so I try not to use words like 'retarded' or other ablist words like that. However, I am having a hard time not using, or even understanding the reasoning behind not calling people like Glenn Beck "crazy", "deranged", "lunatic", etc.

See, ranting and raving, being irrational, illogical and paranoid all seem to be indications of a pathology. Calling Beck crazy doesn't mean that all psychologically ill people are like him. Nor does it necessarily mean that he isn't responsible for his actions. I dunno, he might not, but he probably does.

Getting upset that people are calling him deranged/crazy/insane/psycho/etc because you are also mentally ill is ludicrous. It's like me getting mad that people call Ann Coulter a woman. She presents as a woman. And although people insist that she's not, she sure looks that way to me. Does it tar me with the same brush? No, I don't think so.

So, no, I won't call Beck crazy (etc.) on the forum where this all blew up, because it's clear that it hurts some people's feelings, and I can just call him an asshole instead. But really, I think some people are a little oversensitive on this one.

Standard comment: I'm open to other arguments or having the error of my ways pointed out.

07 December 2009

So much greed...

Olimpdicks, bringing out the best in everyone, as predicted.

What a load of shit. These people are being illegally evicted for greed. Sure, if they fight it properly, they'll get twice a month's rent back in damages, but the landlord still comes up a winner. Ridiculous.

But the Olympics will benefit us all, right? Right?!

Good Samaritans


My thank you to these brave men who were injured trying to help a woman who was being abused. If more people (not just men), were so brave, abusers might not be so bloody brazen.

I'm sorry they had to see just how far these men can go.

Growing up, I learned from my parents to Never Get Involved. I always felt vaguely wrong for not calling the cops if I could hear something awful going on, and I decided I wouldn't be that person when I got older. I've had to call the police a few times - neighbours usually, beating the hell out of each other. Or in one case, neighbour being beaten by her boyfriend. That situation got to the point that one morning, I was jolted out of bed by a bang type of earthquake and I thought, "Holy shit, she finally killed him. Or vice versa." I don't know what good I've done, if any. Maybe I've made things worse, like my parents said I would. But I've always had to try. The idea that someone could be beaten to death while I just sat there and tried not hear it? Unfathomable.

But Mom and Dad's idea of not getting involved is what keeps us from helping out the people in the third world, isn't it? Or is it simply apathy? Or greed? I dunno. What I can't understand is how we can stand by and let people suffer needlessly. I cannot fathom the reasoning. More of us need to be like those two guys who stepped in to help a woman they didn't know. But on a global level.

06 December 2009

20 years, and what's changed?

It's been 20 years. 20 years since Marc Lepine walked into Ecole Polytechnique and blew away
  • Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
  • Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  • Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  • Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
  • Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
  • Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
  • Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique's finance department
  • Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
  • Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
  • Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
  • Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
  • Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  • Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student
I won't speculate as to what drove him to kill these women - all I know is from the media, and I don't trust them to have it right.  What is clear, is that he hated women and blamed feminism for his problems.

The deaths of these women sparked a lot of debate and some changes in the gun laws. Of course, I am utterly disgusted by the repeal of the gun registry. I know, I know, that it has been expensive and stupidly managed. And I know that criminals don't register their guns. But here's why the gun registry is important: "Domestic disputes". When a report comes to the police of a domestic dispute, the police automatically check the gun registry to see if there are guns in the home. This protects the police, in that they know to expect a gun. This also protects the women in the home. If the police come in and find guns, when no gun is registered, they can arrest the abuser on grounds of having an unregistered gun, getting him out of the house.

I KNOW. I know that it's poorly managed. I know that it's expensive. I also know that it's worth it to save every one of those women. I don't know that it would have saved any of the women in Montreal. It probably wouldn't have. But if some good can come out of such a tragedy, it seems all the more the tragedy to destroy that good.

So what else has changed? Not much. Women-haters still hate (just read the comments at Broadsides sometime). They still abuse. They still kill. Women still get blamed for being victims.

So many bloggers have put it better than I can today. Go read them.