Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Massacre Memorial

Memorial Day in the U.S. comes just as news of another atrocity surfaces. U.S. Marines killed 25 innocent civilians in Haditha, possibly as a "reprisal" for a roadside bomb which took soldiers lives. Some are comparing it to the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, which was the turning point in that war, although it took another five years before troops pulled out.

How the U.S. responds to this will be interesting. Will a spokesperson explain that the civilians that were shot in cold blood were killed to prevent them from becoming terrorists, as part of the overall "preemptive" strategy of the U.S. War on Terror? This all seems linked to what I have said before. The Marines will be tried whether in universal or special courts. It would be nice if it were to influence overall foreign policy but of course it won't. Just another accidental side-effect, nevermind that the whole invasion was an accident -accidentally blaming someone who had nothing to do with 9/11.

I'm sure that this is only one incident in many that are reported. Iraqis have come to accept violence by insurgents or soldiers as just another fact of their existence. They have limited communications technology to serve as a whistle on such breaches of Geneva conventions.

War debilitates and desensitizes us, like a thick veil pulled over our faces. The numbers of dead are faceless. The U.S. body count is above 2,400 but it sounds a little more shocking when you count how many limbs have been lost -6,432 arms and 9,715 legs. [1] That's a lot less people walking, jogging, dancing, playing guitar and being functionally ambulant although I'm sure for the wives and husbands of soldiers, it is better to welcome them home in a wheelchair, rather than a box. As for the scores of innocent civilian Iraqi deaths, Iraqi body count is the first database, accumulated by various sources and verified by several accounts that I've seen attempted to get some sort of accurate figure into just another fact of war.

1) http://news.yahoo.com/s/huffpost/20060530/cm_huffpost/021847

News Reviews

Friday, May 26, 2006

Highlights of the Week, Including: How Not to Load a Quadruped

Time to recap. It's been a whole week!

I came back from the long weekend at the close of the Queen's Birthday (a national excuse not to go to work), heading back from the big city where I got to meet Jimmy, Madamerouge and Toobusyliving -some hospitable gents. They advised me to change my profile picture because Toobusyliving said it was too much of "this," putting his fingers in the sign of a camera lens, framing the centre of his face. It was too much of a close-up? He is also xanthophobic, apparently. I went there to visit my friend Le Joueur, who has been teaching Shakespeare at an acting camp for children and cooking part time but I was too busy crying because I didn't get to meet Mitzzee. He took me to see some live jazz one night, then the next day we walked in the park and through the zoo, where I got to see some real live Bison.

Seeing those majestic beasts in captivity unleashed a happy/sadness in my breast that we had to kill them all off in the wild -chasing off of the cliffs and wasting their carcasses, unlike our native inhabitants, who we were busy killing with guns, influenza and alcohol, who used their entire bodies for a purpose. Now none of these animals are roaming the plaines. No, they are standing in a zoo for me to look at on my afternoon walk.

Tuesday I went back to the think tank where just last week, our fellow Paul Heinbecker got several interviews talking about Canada's fading role as an international peace keeper, which aired on CBC and CPAC. I ordered DVD's of these programs and continued along with my own research. It is a shame that our Prime Minister this week announced we would not be sending any troops to Darfur to help alleviate the genocide. We will send $40 million dollars instead for humanitarian projects like water sanitation. Apparently we can back out of our peace-keeping missions and we can back out of the Kyoto Protocol, but we'll never back out of sending our troops to slaughter in Afghanistan, or supporting the US while it drops bombs on civilians in Azizi, Afghanistan, the deadliest attack since 2001.

Anyway, so then on Wednesday I took the day off to help my father sort cattle. It is that special time when they are required to get vaccinations and have their horns burnt off. You must burn a ring around their horns to kill the cells and ensure that they don't grow back. It's smoky and smelly and very unpleasant, especially since the cows are screaming, but in an effort to be humanitarian, we would jab the calves with a needle in the little indentations behind their eyes with anesthetic and this freezing would go a long way. The whole process is still quite a pain because then they need to be run through the chute twice each -once to freeze, then about ten minutes later after the drugs have kicked in.

So, think of it like a hospital for cattle, with me as the nurse ushering (chasing) cattle in from the waiting room, and my father and sister acting as the doctor, while another young veterinarian checked the adult cattle for pregnancy. This involves a glove large enough to go up to the shoulder and a sense of investigation.

These calves can be quite rambunctious. The chute is just wide enough so that the cattle can line up in it but not turn around. When they get to the front of the line, their head is clamped in between bars and the medical business begins. They may struggle, hence the bars. For calves, things are a little more complicated. Sorting them and ushering them is a fine art which requires the usher (me) to dance and dodge in such a way that the calves run up in the chute. Sometimes, however, they get spooked and run straight into the wall, or do silly things like turn around in the chute (because they are small enough) so that they must be turned around again, manually. My father usually slips a bar between the bars of the chute to prevent the cattle from backing back out of the chute, giving them the sole choice of advancing to the head-clasp.

Interestingly, my father was standing on the outside of the chute with the bar still through while I was chasing a calf into the chute at an unsafe speed. The calf went crashing into the bar with its legs and broke it out of its hold. Like a teeter-todder, the dynamics of the one end of the metal bar going forward forced it to go backward on the fulcrum, swiping my father in the knee and knocking him over on his arse.

You may fondly recall my bad luck with limbs. Well, like son, like father. The old man now walks with a cane and has a knee that looks proportionately like a beach ball. I apologized for not knowing that the bar was still in the chute. "No problem," he said. "I just have to walk on it a bit." Apparently another trait that runs in families is the stubborness to admit that you are badly injured.

Yesterday I had two interviews for various positions. The one was supposed to be a writing position, however, before I got there they informed me that they were already in the process of second interviews for that and so instead wanted to interview me for something else. Great! I thought. It's one of those surprise interviews! Was I interested in another position? I would bear it. The organization is a good one but we were both equally confused as to how my skills would match up with a position because we were both winging the thing. The role didn't have a title because it's so ad hoc. I think I got the hint when he said: "Best of luck in your future endeavours." He might as well have added: "because I'll never have to see your face again!" Anyway...

The other interview has led to more testing, which will happen next week. This surprised me since it was conducted on my cell phone. I had extreme technical difficulties due to the fact that I was wedged between thick concrete walls. Thankfully, I answered the questions appropriately and came through clearly and articulately on their end, because on my end, I was just guessing what they were saying. The speaker's words came through as: "XXX XXXXXX XX XXXXXXX XXX!! XXX XXXXX? x. xxXX?????"

Last night I went to a BBQ with the think tank staff commemorating the work of an employee about to go on leave. We ate hamburgers, talked baseball, watched the children play on mechanical toy cars and joked about work. I went off to Andy's to watch the huge loss of Edmonton against The Mighty Ducks. There was a great goal by Laraque, who was excited enough by it to jump into the glass but the Oiler's lost. Well, the Sharks drowned in oil, the ducks will too!

Today I had the pleasure of another Food for Thought lecture at the think tank. Dr. Leslie Pal led an interesting discussion about the Internet and how it's governed. It got me thinking about the Internet as a place where new laws will need to be created to control it, to make it like property. I wonder: in twenty years will their be a tax on your Internet property? Did you know that ICANN, the non-profit group responsible for assigning every domain name -the .net's and .com's, including this one was thinking of creating a new domain: .xxx? Take a wild guess what kind of content would be hosted by this tag. I'll give you a clue: the Internet is rife with it, and it makes things very hard for some people. Unfortunately because of Christian fundamentalist pressure, the government imposed and the .xxx's domain ascription will not be created.

So it was an interesting week. All afternoon I studied the benefits and features of a Smart car. I've heard people complain that they wouldn't want to drive one because if it crashed, it would be demolished, but actually, the shape, and the fact that the thing has a protective "tridion" which absorbs shock and relegates it to the tires. They are quite economical little cuties that will fit into any parking space -as long as it's at least 2.5 metres wide.

When I went home from work I turned on my phone and was happy to find messages for me. All the interviews and no results was getting me down. I thought all the things people say at the end of interviews like "it was great to get a chance to talk to you" were hollow, polite attempts to let me down easy. However, my faith in humanity was renewed by one of the messages being from an interviewer explaining simply that a decision about the position wasn't yet made but that they'll keep me updated. That was impressive business communications courtesy.

I thought more about the importance of innovation and creativity in life. When you are creating something, you feel like you have a sense of direction. I went to an IABC event yesterday on creativity and the lady who led the session had some great tips. Her keys to creativity were to simply start -once you start something, you get the ball rolling. That's the hardest part. The other key has to do with seeing -seeing the world in new ways and approaching problems from every angle, never taking anything for granted. She highlighted that it's important to make mistakes. Sometimes mistakes end up being strokes of genius. I impressed myself by recording a song I wrote about half a year ago. The song was starting to get stal but after I transposed it from guitar to accordion and played it with soul, adding digital delay to my drum track, it became a completely new song! All it took was the curiosity to try it in a new medium and not taking the song as is for granted. Sometimes even just asking the question "why am I doing this?" can have a huge impact on the outcome.

So going into the next week, I encourage you to make and break connections. Learn by unlearning the things you take for granted and look at things in new ways. And keep busy!

Personal Diegesis

Friday, May 19, 2006

Empire in Denial


This is not really an essay so much as a reflection and comparison of recent and past foreign policy events of the United States. I have looked at history and compared it to today, coming to the realization that mostly it is just a language game that we play because it is hard to draw cause and effect relationships between one nation and the world, isolating it as a variable. Regardless of this consideration, I hope that there are certain lessons from history that can be learned and that an analysis of where "the land of the free" has come from and where it has gone is an interesting one. There is a vast bundle of literature on the subject of American "empire" of which I must credit Niall Ferguson's Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire.

"Be convinced that to be happy means to be free and that to be free means to be brave. Therefore do not take lightly the perils of war." -Thucydides

Did the World Change Much in 2001?

Post 9/11, it became customary for the U.S. to deny that it was an imperialistic force. Maybe it was just the first time many of us started to make comparisons.

Within its own hemisphere, Washington has carried out wars in El Salvador, in Columbia,[1] and has a long history of domination in Nicaragua lasting throughout the 1980's to interfere with Nicaraguan politics fighting the Sandinistas. Throughout South America, the U.S. provided hundreds of millions of dollars of military aid to attack soft targets like peasants and farmers, imposing embargoes and planting landmines and mobilizing troops to quell rebellions or plant politicians in Bolivia, Panama, Los Angeles and Haiti.[2] Was this benevolence and order maintenance, or was it purely suppression of left-wing civilians to deliver the U.S. version of democracy?

Nicaraguan graffiti in 1980 translates as:"if the Gringos (slang for Americans) intervene, the militias will stop them!" Courtesy of wikipedia.org

Within recent history, the U.S. had been guilty of military meddling abroad, including the assistance with NATO air strikes on Bosnia in 1995. In 1998, the Clinton Administration bombed the Sudanese Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant which supplied around half the needs of the Sudanese, supposedly on the grounds that it was a terrorist "nerve" gas plant and in retaliation for African embassy bombings which were blamed on Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. In the same year, it also attacked Afghanistan training camps used by Islamic Fundamentalists. In Yugoslavia, it intervened against Serbian invasion and used air strikes in Iraq for not complying with weapons inspectors. In the process of "protecting" Kosovo in 1999, the U.S. managed to set up its largest military base outside of the U.S. -Camp Bondsteel.

If the U.S. had imposed its systems of government on other countries, it makes sense that it would want to bury its tracks, distancing itself from the idea of being responsible for any violent recourse that it could have avoided.

I Can't Imagine Why You'd Ask the Question

In 1983, during the Reagan administration and the Iraq-Iran war, current secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld went to Baghdad to visit with Saddam Hussein and Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz as special envoy to the Middle East. Iraq was at a disadvantage. Although the US Government showed concern over Iraq's use of chemical weapons, they didn't talk about it. Rumsfeld's main mission was to build rapport with the country. Reagan had lifted them off the terrorist list and wanted to show Iraq that Iranian victory was not in their interest. The main issue of concern was Iran's access to the Gulf and Iraqis lack thereof. This meant that the logistics of oil transportation from Iraq would need facilitating. Rumsfeld suggested that an oil pipeline be built through Jordan by Bechtel (whose former CEO was then Secretary of State, George Schultz). With the amount of investment potential in Iraq, the US couldn't afford to let it lose.

Perhaps Rumsfeld was just seeking diplomatic ties for strategic purposes. Surely he wasn't planting the seeds of empire...or was he? Is it really that unimaginable? I suppose to "plant seeds" ignores that American Empire might already have been deeply rooted. When questioned by al-Jazeera correspondent twenty years later on April 29, 2003 whether the US considered itself an empire he responded: "We don't seek empires. We are not imperialistic. We never have been. I can't imagine why you'd even ask the question."

Well, I can. It is an interesting question.

But how can the man who is an avid member of the PNAC, (Project for the New American Century) not believe in the US as an empire? In its statement of principles, it refers to the US as the "pre-eminent" power. The PNAC encourages "global leadership" which requires "military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to principle." It's funny to think that such a question would never have crossed Rumsfeld's mind. Such a situation where isn't US would be a global leader isn't necessarily the worst option we currently have as an international community, but it is well, unsettling to imagine a world where the U.S.'s already colossal military would need to be significantly increased and what it would be like once it was.

It is certainly arguable that the US has an imperial past. The question is: do empire and imperialism inherently have everything to do with each other? If they do, does imperialism still work the same way today as it has in the past from military occupation, to constitutional reform, to foreign investment?

A Look at the Past

During the Colonial era, the US successfully seized and expanded territory occupied by the Spanish, Portuguese, French and English. In the Caribbean theatre, after American forces destroyed the Spanish fleet at Manila in May 1898, they fetched the exiled Filipino Revolutionary Emiliano Aguinaldo to help them fight, giving their troops more time to arrive, fueling negative sentiment for their other colonial power: the Spanish.

In June the Filipino army entrenched the city and had the Spanish surrounded while the US troops were finally arriving. In August, the Spanish surrendered to the US after mere hours of fighting. The Filipino leaders had issued a Declaration of Independencdidn'tsed on the US model. Too bad they didn't have the knowledge of today's Haitians in acknowledging that "a constitution is made up of paper but the bayonet is made up of steel" for in October 1898, the McKinley administration revealed that it intended to annex the whole Filipino region.

The Treaty of Paris went through in December, ending the American-Spanish war whereby Spain officially handed over the Phillipines, Guam and Puerto Rico and put Cuba under its control. They then provoked a fight with Filipino soldiers and the Fillipino-American war began. Like today's wars, the US military was highly trained in warfare and greatly outnumbered the enemy. The Filipinos therefore were forced to turn to guerilla warfare and surprise attacks or "terrorism". The war was officially over in 1902 but it continued for years. In 1906 the Moro Massacre occurred, which consisted of shooting and blowing up 600 men, women and children for days, who were trapped in a volcanic crater on the island of Jolo. The US tortured, raped and, in the words of General Jacob Smith, were instructed to turn the place into a "howling wilderness." It killed a quarter of a million Filipinos, most of them civilians, while US soldiers suffered ten times less casualties than they had during the Spanish war -only 4,200.

In 1899, Rudyard Kipling had just written a poem warning the US of the responsibilities of building and maintaining an empire entitled "White Man's Burden." Within that year, the Colonial war between the Spanish and Philippines ended and the imperial wars both in the Phillipines (with the U.S.) and in South Africa (the Boer War) began. Kipling's poem was popular in the U.S. but as many like Senator Albert J. Beveridge from Indiana were wont to think, their mission had been ordained by a higher power: "God has not been preparing the English-speaking and Teutonic peoples for a thousand years for nothing but vain and idle self-contemplation and self-admiration.…He has made us adept in government that we may administer government among savage and senile peoples." Many incorrectly interpreted Kipling's poem as a rallying cry.

Just as there is much anti-American sentiment now over the way it bullies, so was there then. Members like Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie, Charles Francis Adams and William James were part of the newly formed New England Anti-Imperialist League in Boston opposed the war. [4]

Does Might Make Right or Is Hard Power Weak When it Comes Down to it?

Jonathan Schnell critiques the argument that America is an "empire" on the basis that although America's military might is unmatched in this world, it has not yet gained political power. Perhaps the PNAC has achieved the firsthasn'tf of its commitments to strengthen its military but it hasn't yet achieved "moral clarity."[5] A first step to gaining credibility and international support would be to restore order in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, as Schell argues, by the time Iraq has the kind of power to govern itself, it may be just in time to throw the US out.

Unfortunately, to have the idea that the US would be kicked out of anywhere seems to "misunderestimate" Bush and his administration. True, they have already suffered thousands of casualties in Iraq alone but they can always recruit more soldiers and beef up supplies. For example, Bush defended his plan to deploy 6000 National Guard troops to secure the U.S.-Mexican border against illegal immigrants against critics who said it would strain military capacity. While Canada has trouble justifying troops for the Darfur region because its mere 2,600 troops (as of May 2006) in Afghanistan aren't enough to go around, the U.S. has no problem approving military assignments in Afghanistan, Iraq and coping with natural disasters at home, including Hurricane Katrina (or so it claims). [6] Originally the war was supposed to be a simple regime change mission. Now it looks like the occupation will require another decade at least to ensure "security" (about 90% of the casualties have been civilians) for Iraqis and the West alike. Might the U.S. die slowly in an unbeatable war of attrition?

Canadian Press Photo, Feb-11-02[8]

If so, perhaps many of us will die with them. Now that the new Conservative government has risen to power in Canada, it looks like we're going to be further dragged into any conflicts that the U.S. initiates, thereby tarnishing our international image as a peace-keeping nation even more. Canadian soldiers are now being revered as war heroes -a surprising phenomenon, an example being Maclean's May article about how Canadian sniper Rob Furlong just made a new long distance record -the longest since Vietnam, for shooting a Taliban fighter from 2,430 m -more than 2 1/2 kilometers away.[7]

Citing anti-colonial sentiment in Iraq as the most recent reaction to empire-building America, it is clear that despite its talks of handing over power to the Iraqis, it does not yet exercise the political power required to do so. If this war is anything like the wars in the past, the Philippine-American war being an example, maybe the US never really plans to hand over power at all.[9]

Schell says that the US doesn't exercise political power there but neither do the Iraqis. Isn't power then, relative to how much technology, military, culture and policy there is? As long as lawlessness and disorder continue, the Iraqis are captives in their own country. It may be political chaos for both sides but considering that the most powerful force there is the coercive force of the military occupation, couldn't that be considered a political power? If people are afraid or discouraged to vote, disenfranchised and thus unable to work or they act differently than they would were they to have proper resources that a governing government would grant them, can it not be said that they are ruled because of their powerlessness and by the relative power of the US military?

We can see that the organizing force of the Iraqi government is driven by Coalition members. Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein there have been four governments in Iraq.

First there was the Coalition Provisional Authority (led by Paul Bremer and the US), which technically had judicial, legislative and executive power over Iraq for over a year! Citing UN resolution 1483, the CPA was legitimately in charge of Iraq's oil revenue which it could spend on redevelopment under the discretion of the International Advisory and Monitoring Board.

Then on June 28, 2004, the Iraqi constitution came into effect and power symbolically transferred to the "sovereign Iraqi government" or an "Iraqi Interim Government" whose members were appointed by UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on June 1, 2004.

In May 2005, an Iraqi Transitional Government was elected.

On Oct 15, 2005 a permanent constitution was elected by a referendum and on Dec 15, 2005 the National Assembly was elected to form a new permanent government to last until 2010.

In the preamble to the Iraqi constitution, it says: "Terrorism and takfir (declaring someone an infidel) did not divert us from moving forward to build a nation of law. Sectarianism and racism did not stop us from marching together to strengthen our national unity, set ways to peacefully transfer power, adopt a manner to fairly distribute wealth and give equal opportunity to all." [10]

Yet sectarian violence continues to plague the country and paradoxically, by invading Iraq without UN approval, international laws were broken in the process of "moving forward to build a nation of law." President Jalal Talabani reported that over 1,100 were found in Baghdad for the month of April 2006 "victims of executions.[11] Iraqis, especially Sunni Muslims, worry over whether the Interior Ministry will continue to be led by the Shiite majority, who they say are using death squads to target them. The transfer of power has been all but "peaceful" and there is not much wealth other than the foreign-owned oil wells to distribute "fairly." So the preamble to the Iraqi constitution pretty much just amounts to a lie.

Can we be Re-sold on America?

The Bush administration may be preparing to regain that kind of credibility and renew faith in the Republican party in the face of new fears as his rein is down to its last days. Even though Iran hasn't broken any international treaties, including the Non-Proliferation Treaty protecting against the spread of nuclear weapons, Iranian leader Mamoud Adimadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." The January 2006 Hamas victory also raises huge concerns about the fate of Israel as a place of Jewish settlement.

In reaction to the US freezing assets and preventing the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of aid money, 10,000 Palestinian demonstrators gathered, chanting "death to the United States" and collected money from donations to try to support 160,000 governmental employees who have gone unpaid. A pro-Hamas group's slogan read "better hungry than humiliated" reflecting such a strong nationalism that it is worth dying for, according to some Palestinians. [12]

Israel sees Iran as the biggest threat they have to security and so it is no wonder that the U.S. is opportunistically looking for an enemy to prove its strength, threatening to use nuclear weapons themselves if necessary. So the U.S. will threaten without impunity, but will it change the decisions of defiant leaders and the masses?

Even though Iran claims that its uranium enrichment facilities are for peaceful means, the U.S. seems either not to believe them, or they want to cause suspicion in others. This is reflected in the fact that the Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty was no longer good enough for Bush who sought to legislate a new treaty on May 18, 2006 at the 65 nation assembly Conference of Disarmament in Geneva. The Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) "bans…the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices." This move undermines the power of the International Atomic Agency's ability to police nuclear proliferation. They have been consistently monitoring the situation the whole time. It won't affect Korea, who already has nuclear weapons and for whom it would be unenforceable to punish them for breaking restrictions. What this new treaty allows is a vague enough definition of restrictions to allow the U.S. to go to war against Iran; for after all, how do you determine the intent behind developing fissile material, whether it be for nuclear power or nuclear destruction? It's not that the U.S. is limiting itself from producing uranium and plutonium for their own weapons; it's that they have the power to deny others that right and enforce things with serious consequences when they don't.

Hamid Eslamizad, a senior Iran official at the Geneva mission correctly noted that the U.S. decision was similar in flavor to its previously bogus accusations of Iraq for having WMD's before it invaded the Middle East. [13]

Rising Dissenters

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been vocal of his American dissent. At a conference speaking to socialist activist groups in Vienna after a summit of European and Latin leaders, he urged other countries to "confront the empire and denounce it...…The U.S. empire is coming to an end," he said. He was offering his oil to European countries in poverty needing winter heating fuel. [14] Bolivian President Eva Morales has also sought to protect his oil from greedy U.S. hands.

On Tuesday, May 16, 2006, Hugo Chavez signaled revenge by suggesting it would negotiate with Iran to sell its U.S. made F-16 fighter jets as a response to the arms ban imposed by the U.S. a day earlier, which had been refusing to sell parts required for upgrades before then. According to U.S. State Department figures, Venezuela bought $33.9 million worth of planes and military supplies in 2005. [15]

The next day, Chavez went on a private visit to London to thank the Parliament and the unions for their support in the Bolivian Revolution. He met with its mayor, Ken Livingstone, and was questioned by CNN, Reuters and other media networks. DPA asked Chavez about whether he has plans to cut the oil flow to the U.S. if it invaded Iran and about whether he was interested in monopolizing the industry. He interrupted the reporter to point out that the idea of Venezuela as the imperialist nation was most likely fabricated in Washington. He goes on to justify his criteria for trade, distinguishing his country from the U.S. as one that is:

"putting forward an international policy of respect for the sovereignty of states, of the people, and also opening channels to establish a new mechanism for integration, based on solidarity, above all solidarity; based on true cooperation, on economic complementation, with respect for institutions, for international law, which is what is not recognized in Washington: how they violate international law, how they dominate, how they commit aggression against the world from Washington! That is were the real empire is, and now they want to accuse Venezuelans as imperialists or of launching strategies of domination, or monopolies. Monopoly us? We are fighting against monopolies, we are fighting against imperialism." [16]

The New World Order

These are just a few examples of countries that squirm under the second phase and demonstration of the laws of the New World Order whereby journalists and states are quick to attack preemptively without UN approval, as justified by heightened paranoia due to the prominence that terrorism has taken in the media. An example of how moral questions are spun to justify security initiatives is the U.S. position on Iran. Even though Iran has not yet enriched uranium to the point where they could feasibly make nuclear weapons, their ties with other terrorist organizations and allies would ensure that the backlash from such a bomb attack on Iran would be detrimental to the security of Iraq, Israel and the rest of the Western world. These threats coupled with the fact that Russian economy is going to hell may suggest we're heading towards another Cold War.

There are many different definitions of an "empire". It can be a multi-ethnic state ruled by a central authority or a state with imperial aims but a distinguishing feature of an empire is that its political structure is held together at least partially by coercion. Most empires come into being by a military domination of peripheral states. If we were to compare these characteristics of empire to the US situation, it could be categorized as a discontinuous empire because the regions that it rules (indirectly) are overseas. These are disconnected places like Germany, South Korea, Japan, Italy where there are over 150,000 troops. These countries have autonomous self-government, unlike Iraq. It cannot be said that they are part of a US "empire" however, what the numbers show is that the US still sees a benefit in occupying and coercing these countries and empires can be informal in nature. Its influence might be to deter these countries from building up their militaries, to monitor their policies and literally keep a 'foot in the door'. There are another 150,000 across the Middle East in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. [17] Think about what this does to citizen's own ability to organize a government representative of their own interests.

There are other forms of coercion that play into politics including aid and strategic alliances. The US emerged from WWII as a "superpower". With its might, it can afford to give the decisions of other countries extra power, or take it away from them. It has recently promised to help India with supplying nuclear energy while it condemns Iran for their scientific progress in attaining enriched uranium. It has quite a burden in ensuring that Taiwan has independence from the Republic of China, who still contends that it is one of its provinces, with the responsibility to attack if China invades. The British Empire used to have the strongest navy in the world but couldn't compete with the other powers after being so strained after all its wars. It became the America's strongest "client state", supporting it during the Cold War against the Soviet Union and now supports the US, not vice-versa in fighting the "war on terror".

Well, the "war on terror" is starting to show its price at home. The American citizens now know that their government uses widespread wiretapping to spy on them and that it sends detainees to secret prisons abroad. According to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of the 1978, the President is not above those required to get a warrant to conduct domestic wiretapping, however, Bush admitted he directed the NSA to do it post 9/11.

Therefore, the administration uses illegal means to enforce illegalities and leaks of information, begging the question of what justice really is. The "war on terror" is quickly transferring into a war on the freedom of speech, with the Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago noted in a letter to the New York Times Monday, May 8, 2006 that despite age-old tensions between the government and the media "presidential administrations have never been inclined to criminally prosecute the news media for publishing information they would rather keep secret" yet this one has. They have threatened to prosecute the Times for its report on U.S.'s secret prisons. [18]

Helen Thomas uses a key word to describe the style in which the U.S. is currently conducting political matters in her article "Bush defends spying on Americans" stating: "Bush imperially defends his legally questionable order, claiming it is his inherent right as commander in chief." [19]

When did the US shift from a republic to an empire?

Some argue that it has always been an empire. It was an offspring of the British Empire, and then when it declared independence it was still an empire of sorts, relying on African slaves.

The modern word "republic" comes from the latin res publica which can be translated as "public affairs". A republic is a state or country with autonomous rule of law that isn't a monarchy and makes no claims to controlling territories or citizens outside of itself. The political power is not based on an abstract principle of power but rather constitutional forms of governing those people within that state or country. [20]

During the early sixth century, the Roman Empire spent a lot of time fighting the Etruscans, the Carthaginians and then the tall blonde Gauls. There was also a struggle for power during this time up until 287 BC between the patricians and the plebeians, or the aristocracy and the common people. The endless wars that Rome fought were its fall. And it had already stretched itself thin with the possession of Sicily, Spain, Sardinia and Corsica. What the constant fighting and the development of governance in the rule of the Senate did was to create the ideal Roman characteristics as simplicity, practicality and dutifulness to god, state and family. But it was the Greeks that Rome captured who were the real capturers because of their superior intellect. They ruled the Romans by the fact that the Romans depended on them as their tutors and educators. [21] Is American culture destined to produce equally simple, unquestioning citizens of us? If so, what would be different beside materialistic advantage, between us and the citizens of the Dark Ages?

Photo Source: National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN)
This is a picture of Marquis de Lafayette, who wrote "The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen" with help from American envoy to France, Thomas Jefferson. It approved by the National Assembly of France on Aug 26, 1789. Lafayette was instrumental in helping America defeat the English in the American Revolutionary War, or the War of Independence.

The wars of Independence and the American Civil War were some of the bloodiest in history. The whole time, they were killing their own people for an intangible thing: freedom. Why is it then that freedom has such a high price and when does the philosophy of live and let live convert to a form of liberty which is more controlling than it is…liberating? The point is: there has to be some balance in bettering society by having both the means to advance socially, culturally, materially, but then that they have the will to do so as well.

In an Islamic republic, state laws are meant to be compatible or dependent on Muslim or Sharia law. The Islamic Republics of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Mauritania are all different examples. Obviously the rationale behind a conservative political structure is that things are kept simple, each citizen requires little, life may be hard but it is manageable. Nothing gets too far out of control. In Iran's case, the leader is directly voted into power by the citizens. It is seen as a more theocratic government than the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which is partially secular and where in practice, laws of state tend to override laws of religion.[22]

In Afghanistan, the Taliban forbid educating women or allowing them to take jobs. The Seattle Times reported a case where they executed a man in front of his family for teaching boys and girls alike.[23] This is the result of them trying to enforce an extreme version of a "pure" Islamic state. The U.S. and its allies sees its mission as bringing democracy and human rights there. However, because they have become desensitized to the regular deception and psychological games that enemies play, they have hardened to the fact that there are no rules that govern war. There have been countless examples from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay, which the U.S. has played a direct part in. Now that there's been a crackdown on prisons such as Guantanamo, where there are cases of detainees being imprisoned for years without even being charged, the U.N. has tried to negotiate a deadline for prisoner's release. However, it is a major issue what the fate of these prisoners will be. Albania is one of the countries that has accepted them, where they have been dumped, expected to figure things out for themselves. There continues to exist many secret detention centres alleged to be used for torture in Eastern Europe among other places as of May 2006. [24]

Since the Taliban also banned listening to music, American soldiers have tried to use this to their advantage by blasting the Rolling Stones or whatever music they have to try to lure them out of their caves. They have tried to do everything insulting to Islam because it is psychological warfare too, reinforcing the fact that Geneva conventions will be overstepped in an effort to gain an assault on the enemy. What other choice do American troops have when there is no way of distinguishing the enemy other than by figuring out who might be shooting a gun? Dateline reports of U.S. soldiers in Gonbaz, Southern Afghanistan burning the bodies of Taliban fighters killed the night before, using a loudspeaker to shout taunts and facing the bodies towards Mecca, a purposeful blasphemy to Islam. [25]

It seems that the U.S. may be able to overpower other nations in the short-term through the use of intimidation, psychological scare-tactics and economic sanctions yet surely they do not want to be stationed in politically volatile places like Iraq and Afghanistan forever. What their goal would be is to encourage dependencies on Western forms of economy and governance, allowing U.S. businesses to open up and function relatively identically regardless of what country they were in, without regard for regional culture.

The US seems to be one of the biggest promoters of globalization. On Feb 23 2006, President Bush said when speaking to the Asian Society at the Doha Rounds, said that it "provides the greatest opportunity to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, and to boost economic growth across the world." That's quite an optimistic view! But after the 1997 Asian financial crisis and in Argentina and Brazil in 1999 and 2000, the continuing setbacks of WTO negotiations post Hong Kong and high subsidizations in developed countries that cause developing countries to try to cut corners and operate corrupt sweatshops to undercut competition, there are enough reason to have a jilted view of both free trade and globalization.

In the US, the strength of anti-globalization sentiments is growing as the economy spirals downward and jobs are outsourced to foreign nations. As globalization takes on a non-Western face, perhaps the anti-Americanism will change too, but then we will have helped the cause of our own doom. Globalization increases both competition and dependence on other nations. It can be tough for the World Trade Organization to regulate all the agreements going on at once. Evidently however, while the American empire declines, it will be heavily populated developing countries like India that will garner much more power in the next few decades. We are sure to see a rise in economic dominance of Asian countries like China.

So in a world increasingly like George Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty Four, it is questionable whether it is desirable for our own protection that we are spied on, manipulated and fed propaganda so that we may support the "war on terrorism" or whether freedom is worth being a bad citizen and risking being abducted to some secret prison somewhere. The U.S. is an empire in this respect in that it dominates our thoughts, actions and the headlines with its decisions -it has colonized our minds. There are many cases of "double speak" and double standards whereby the leadership of the governing body is an exception to the rules, where 'elitism' runs rampant and where the President takes on the role of protecting his citizens, reminiscent of Kipling's "White Man's Burden" more than a hundred years later, even if that means concealing the truth. Perhaps we should have known we were coming to this, realizing that the way we treat the environment itself is unsustainable. A Marxist reading of history would just explain this as the strongest preying on the weak in a competition for material survival. If anything though, the thing that may save our souls is enlightenment -to know our own history, so that as a global society, we act consciously. Even if mistakes are doomed to happen, we should still nurture the hope that we are entering the future with open eyes and that the burden is for all of us to share.

1. http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Latin_America/StopWarColombia.html
2. http://www.neravt.com/left/invade.htm
3. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2004/mar2004/iraq-m19.shtml
4. http://www.globalpolicy.org/empire/history/2003/nov2003kiplingempire.htm
5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_American_Century
6. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12817488/
7. http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/canada/article.jsp?content=20060515_126689_126689
8. http://www.sniper.ws/photogallery/Sniper_Canadian_Afghanistan_2002_Feb_11_Van_SUN.jpg
9. Schell, Jonathan "America’s Vulnerable Imperialism" Yale Global, 24 November 2003 http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=2873
10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Iraq
11. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12719344/?GT1=8199
12. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060505/wl_mideast_afp/mideastpalestinianpoliticsdemo
13. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060518.wusnuike0518/BNStory/International/home
14. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000086&sid=ayTf7G2G6d50&refer=latin_america
15. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12818045/
16. http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=45&ItemID=10284
17. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_armed_forces
18. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/269904_thomas12.html
19. Thomas, Helen. "Bush defends spying on Americans" The Record Monday May 15, 2006.
20. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic
21. http://mars.wnec.edu/~grempel/courses/wc1/lectures/11republic.html
22. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Republic
23. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002720193_webafghan04.html
24. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/HE17Aa01.html
25. http://news.sbs.com.au/dateline/index.php?page=transcript&dte=2005-04-06&headlineid=1036


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Restaurant Biz

While I have been keeping busy volunteering at the think tank, where website updates, news releases and contact list building can get a little hectic, I have also been working part-time, training as a cook.

The restaurant in question is a upscale café with renaissance prints of paintings on the wall and the intentionally cracked stone look. It serves a wide variety of flavoured coffees and liquors, ice cream, espressos, teas,cheesecakes and fruit desserts but I don't deal with such things. Instead, I make the pizzas, pastas, wraps, salads, hamburgers, steaks, fried fish, sweet and regular fries. It is a glorious and intimate thing I engage in with the food.

My job as chef debonair however is in limbo.

You see, just yesterday when I called in for my hours, I asked to speak to little K
(a pseudonym), who is my training chef. It went like this:

"Hello, this is [me], may I speak to little K please?"


"He said he was going to call me because I was scheduled to work at 5 on Wednesday."

"You cannot speak to him."

Considering the tom-foolery that sometimes occurs when dealing with kitchen-folk, I assumed the person was just being intentionally gruff and yanking my chain, so I thought biblically, seek (a little bit harder) and you shall find:

"Can I please speak with him," I begged.

"No. You cannot speak with him because he is a bad person. He just quit!"

Uh oh. Sensitive territory. Kitchen folk are also often emotionally fragile. I now reappropriated the tone of the person's voice and particular sense of unhelpfulness to be deep-seated anger that he was venting at me.

I cautiously resumed the topic:

"Well, do you need me to come in on Wednesday to work?"

"I don't know! I don't know if we need you to work!"


*CLICK* (the phone hang up, or rather, WAS hung up...BY SOMEONE. Everyone knows phones don't just hang themselves up. That's about as likely as a cat declawing itself.)

So, I let the situation simmer (having learned a thing or two about the cookery of tense situations). Today I haven't been able to get a hold of Homer, who, as it turns out, was the prickly voice on the receiver on whom my job now depends.

Anyway, so that's that. I'm sure things will resume like normal, I just don't know when. In the meantime, let us reminisce about fun kitchen times and I will introduce you to the usual suspects:

Little K is a scrawny kid who's been cooking in the kitchen since he could walk. He expects us to be quick but he's laid back and likes to joke around, often singing "Sitting on the Cock of some Gay" to the tune of "Sitting on the Dock of a Bay." I don't think he really has any particular feelings towards the homosexual community. He just like to rhyme. One cool thing that was neat was how one day when he cut his hand open, he didn't want to bleed all over, so he just cauterized it on the hot grill.

Jailmaster is an old alcoholic who likes to swear at everyone inGreekk. He will encourage us to suck a certain limb of his and when we politely refuse he'll mutter to himself. He was apparently charged for attempted murder after he threatened the use of a hockey skate blade on his opponent's neck. He swears his wife's "thing" is larger than "that thing you call a penis" (not that anyone tries to compare by displaying their member). Once when a waitress left her cell phone unattended, him and Little K took a quick snap and replaced her background image with a picture of his hairyGreekk arse.

Shazeem is a little Turkish man who will happily cut dough for portioning or do whatever is needed in the kitchen, jumping at the opportunity to work, saying "I will do it for you, my friend." What he doesn't do however is take up the Jailmaster's offer when he asks him for fellacio. Instead, he politely says "no, thank you. There is no way I could do that." Then, sarcastically, but with so much seeming sincerity, he tells Jailmaster: "It will be so sad when you are gone." This gets Jailmaster fired up and Jailmaster will claim: "When I die it will be like Jesus Christ! You won't be able to stop worshipping me!" Shazeem takes it all in. He could remain calm throughout an earthquake. He comes into work, sighs and says "God Bless America!" To which I quickly add: "And no one else," which he confirms: "Right! No one else. Only America." Often he sings eastern melodies which are quite beautiful and talks about making love to Jailmaster's daughter in his fantasy, outlining how this would last for days and days and how he would treat her as a princess.

The other trainee, Unfortunate, has a son named Barrett. (That is not why he's "Unfortunate"). What are the chances? He turned back to hospitality services after he got sued by his business partner who he opened up a rollerblade and skateboard equipment company with. He hasn't cooked since the eighties but he's good. He will be a sane addition to the force. His house has been robbed twice in the last year, (most likely by his ex wife, he suspects) and now he just wants something steady to keep going so that he can pay the bills.

The waitresses are typical: not bad-looking, overworked, chain-smoking wenches that are full of complaints. I'm exaggerating. They are generally nice and friendly. One is really nice. Her name is Unpronounceable. I saw her on the street today so I snuck up and surprised her. She didn't recognize me because I was wearing a suit (I had just been in the think tank) instead of my raggy kitchen clothes. I explained what was going on with the lack of employee support and she said she'd do something for me. I thought that was sweet.

Anyway, so now that this job uncertainty thing lingers and don't know if I'll even be paid because I was anticipating making it through the training process first, I seemingly would have a reason to be glum. Knowing that the last source of cash I'll get for who-knows-how-long was last night's babysitting stint, I would conclude that I am a financially ruined and worthless derelict (except that I still have a home).

The highlight though, the volta, if you will, is that while I wasn't thinking of all the good karma I saved up from last year's serfdom as a jack-hammering slave/underling to the tyrannical Howard, my dashed hopes were suddenly restored by my income tax return!! Huzzah!

So now I have new fire in my bones and some Taschengeld. I should make sure my recipes are memorized so that I can pass my certification, IF I still have a job. Here's one delightful dish I'll share with you:

Penne Alla Checka

Eggplant sautéd in olive and garlic oil mixed in a cream alfredo sauce with zucchini, tomatoes, kalamata olives, basil and white wine served with penne noodles and topped with feta and mozzarella cheese, sprinkled with parsley.

Personal Diegesis

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A Day for Mothers

Photo originally published in The Record, May 13, 2006 p. G1. by Matthew McCarthy, GRAND RIVER LIFE.

This is my neighbor Sharron and her six-week-old son, Isaac in front of the barbed wire that separates her property from my father's cattle-grazing field. She had wanted a baby of her own for years but just couldn't get pregnant and when she did, she had a miscarriage. By the age of 42 she thought she would never have kids, thinking it was now or never, but she didn't give up.

After my grandfather passed away two years ago, her and her husband Al moved into his place next door. They were hopeful that this time they would get lucky and they would have a child. They did! Isaac was born a healthy happy baby!

Funny for me to think that in this above picture, her and the new baby are captured in the place that my father's father would set out at 7am every morning at the age of 84 for the barn to meet him for their daily chores, like they had always worked together, father and son, in days gone past. Isaac will be growing up in the house that I would scamper about in as a toddler grandchild around the Christmas tree. The passing of the seasons and the new buds on all the trees remind me of the rejuvenation and possible reincarnation of existence itself. It's as if when one light goes out, somewhere else another always turns on. It's a nice thought.

Now that my neighbor has a new little man in her life, she can't believe the kind of love she has from being a mother: "It's a dream come true. You're in love (with a spouse) but you've never had this kind of in-love before." A new child changes the dynamics of a family.

Sometimes changes are a miracle, other times they come as a tragic surprise. Last year another part of her family was taken away. Her step-son was only seventeen, playing sports and most likely looking forward to life when he lost the fight against cancer. So this birth was a blessing at a time when other parts of her and her husband's life could have been very trying.

Being an older mom seems to increasingly be the norm in this country where financial and marital stability can take more time to get sorted out before the choice to have a child is affordable or practical. There can however be health risks associated with waiting until later to get pregnant. The biological clock is always ticking. Despite the worry, Sharron was fine. She may be better prepared in her patience and wisdom to properly nurture a child at the age she is. She seems to be having a heyday pushing little Isaac around in his buggy, showing her youthfulness in the form of enthusiasm for mothering.

So this Mother's Day Sharron and Al have something special to celebrate. It was also Trash's nephew's first birthday today. Yey! That kid loves to go for walks.* I suggest you take a moment to think of your moms on this day. Celebrate the selfless gift of life that our mothers gave to us!**

As for my own mother, she is getting older. I didn't really know what to get her! She will probably be hoping for a foot massage (one of her favorite things). Lately I've gotten out of the habit of doing it -I've gotten off easy, although I may be forced this time by moral imperative. My sisters and I all used to make up different excuses to pin the chore on each other when we were all watching a movie and my mother would ask "would you massage my feet?". "You do mom's feet!" We'd say. But considering all the diapers she's changed, all the lunches she's packed, all the hours spent playing, all the ohhing and awing and support she's given me over the years, putting up with her heavily calloused feet (she spends lots of time walking around in the garden) is probably a modest Mother's Day gift...uhmm, er, on second thought, maybe I'll just go with the card.


*Trash is not a mom but when she babysits she becomes momish.
*Mitzee, Chloe, Queen of Ass, Suburban Misfit and Vesper are cool moms. Did I forget anyone?


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Why Discerns the Nothing?

Sometimes life makes no sense.

Why do people die of AIDS, talk about baseball, abuse their children, smoke crack, tan until they turn orange, eat out of dumpsters or kill little girls for money or a VISA? Why do those little things happen that change everything else in a way that can never really be anticipated? That's irreversible? Why are accidents bound to happen even in good will? Do we have an intelligible route to our destiny or are we destined to fail, to flounder?

The flapping of a butterfly's wings on one side of the earth is said to have enough energy to generate an earthquake on the other.

Flipping the coin to land on the one side is what counts in the toss.

Knowing that jello may turn into jet fluid at any time, or that I may wake up as a giant beetle, or that planes will come crashing into my basement, or that viruses will mutate into new species, or that the sun will turn green, or that I may spontaneously combust at a certain temperature, or that volcanoes may spurt alien forms of DNA, or that things may have no coherent superficial meaning, allows me to suspend my logic enough to trust that the situation on a more general level, including what it seems to be, has some other layer of meaning worth investigating and that regardless of whether I figure it out or not, it's still entertaining.

Give it the benefit of the doubt.

There is that possibility of turning "it" in the right direction. Guiding life. There is the human blessing: opportunity of experience, living in the flesh, calling out in the wind, being tasted by the earth.

What other salient forms are witness to the giant mystery of the cosmos, to the ineffable howling of the universe? All. Invariably, there forms a method to the madness within our own tempered skulls, in subjectivity, a backpocket instinct,
something we gain as we interact with the exterior,
the organisms,
the ecological structure,
matter, -the historical trace of our existence.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Bandwatch: Elefant

I just found this band, Elefant, out of nowhere. This video is interesting. I like the minimalist rock thing. A characteristic I see emerging in whatever you might call this music is this:

-consistent quick bass which changes tones only periodically, not necessarily when the lead guitar does
-songs about strange sexual tension/infatuation which doesn't work out
-moments where only the drums and vocals are together
-some unexplainable tone of voice which I can only describe as "vampirish" but not gothy

The parts are all so simple but when put together they sound amazing. It's that kind of music which you don't need to take too much effort to hear the winds or take note of the subtle ritardando. No, there's not a moment of stolen time spent listening to this band through my all-enveloping earphones. When I put them on, my ears are swallowed and bathed in easy-listening music, which is perfect for this summer mood that I'm in.

Other bands that pull off the minimalist rock or "post punk" thing well are:

The Rapture
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Bands that are on the Bandwatch radar:

Neil Young

Beautiful instrumental artist:

Yann Tiersen (remember all that music from Amelie?)

Bands I'm sick of who now officially suck:

The Strokes
because they were always too trendy
Michael Bublé
because he's always happy and snappy and...wait I think I'm going to throw up!
I know, they were my other Bandwatch
because they're charging over $70/ticket for their upcoming concert!! Love em but hate em.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Cleaning Episode

There is no mold that grows between the corners of my room.
We are far from that.
The dust that gathers on table tops will kill no one
as far as I know.
I like to think of myself as a tidy person.
Was there even a question?

Of course I am not the ghastly appearance of water stains on my shower wall,
nor the errant hairs that accumulate at the bottom of the drain.
It's only human!
Perhaps it has been a little while but I have a solution to the grime.
Nothing a cloth, chemicals, towels, mops, a brushes and few strong strokes can't take care of.

Surely, I don't need any windex to see that my toilet could use a scrub,
or that my counter top could use a new shine.
(I might though, need a helpful, paternal or maternal reminder)
Cleaning is a chore which enlightens the spirit and clears the surface of my desk!
It doesn't take a Betty Crocker to tell me that.
It is a way of organizing items, particles and particulars.

With toxic chemicals, I can sanitize, sterilize and standardize my spaces, spraying relentlessly until all bacteria are annihilated.
I can vacuum floors, de-scent and rotate laundry through a purifying cycle, softening and drying the Dickens out of it.

My parents apparently are not aware of this secret ritual I perform.
Cleaning, they think, is out of character for me.
Have things really gone so far towards the unkempt?

My father pops his head mischievously downstairs.
"Are you alright?" he asks, in mock earnestness.
"Yes. Why?"
"Well, it smells like cleaning supplies!"


Filed under Poetry and Play

One Big Trip Infauxmercial

This is too amazing! Somebody better get their hands on this before they can't get my hands OFF! See what it's done for others. It can happen for you too!!!

"New" technology will simply blow your mind, transport it to an alternate dimension, laser it then put it back together again! No reason to do anything else except BUY THIS PRODUCT!!! At this price you are practically MAKING MONEY by spending it on this incredible offer -you'd have to be COMPLETELY insane NOT to buy it!! It's "STAR RACKING!" Hurry now while you still can!

[See this movie and you'll understand]

Click here if video doesn't load

~Winner of the 2006 Sir Barrett Infauxmercial Awards~

Filed under Silly

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Offending Articles: You Tense Still?

This is forked!

A Quebecois mother of a Filipino child Luc Cagadoc, who was separated repeatedly by lunch room supervisors at Roxboro school for his eating habits will be asking for an apology.

Though the supervisor's claim it was the manner in which he was eating the food, having called him "disgusting" and a "pig" after separating him from other children, the child was simply eating his food with a fork and a spoon -a style commonly used in the South by the Filipino community. They use the spoon the way some might use a fork and the fork as some might use a knife.

What's the big deal? I personally like to push my food on my fork with my knife, but that's just me. Chaqu'un son gout.

Well, this incident has sparked international protests over the discriminatory way in which Cagadoc was segregated, with protesters holding utensils and signs that say "we eat with a spoon and fork and we are proud of it!" The mother of the child will be taking the school board to Human Rights court because of the way the principle reacted to her when she first called wondering what the punishment was for. He basically said: "You're in Canada now! Eat like a Canadian!"

It is quite a leap for people to assume that Canadians eat any specific way. To assume one way is "civilized" and another not is to revert back to what amounts racism or intolerance of cultural diversity.

When I was a child, one of my best friends lived in the second storey of his parent's Indian restaurant. They came to Canada from Bangledesh and it was customary for them to eat their rice, chicken and curry with their fingers. It didn't look "disgusting". In fact, there seemed to be an art to pushing the grains together with the tips of the fingers and manage to get it into your mouth. It seemed that they were just more intimate with their food and I'm sure it was more practical than needing utensils everywhere you went. I couldn't master it. I was simply too used to the old fork and knife. So they tolerated me as I ate in their home in my accustomed fashion. I would devour their pampadom and curry until my mouth was burning, my eyes were watering and my nose was running. Boy did I love their mother's food!

Canada should be an accepting place considering we regard ourselves as a "cultural mosaic" of diverse groups of people from all over the world. Apparently the way you eat has a lot to do with culture but no one should be expected to give up their culture to be "Canadian". Rather, Canadianism is the combination of all those cultures that are brought and preserved here.

Filed under News Reviews

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Sprained my Ankle but Got a Job

Shoot! I sprained my ankle.

Last night, as my first two moves of this year's trampolining career I attempted flips. Bad moves. The first flip I over-accomplished, rotating about 440 degrees and landing on my face but that didn't teach me anything. I should have stopped there but no. Call me energetic. On the second, I went "crunch". I must have rotated not only forwards, but slightly sideways, catching the side of my foot, which made an ungodly popping noise as I came down. I immediately hugged the railing of the trampoline and gasped for air, lifting my leg up and trying the will the pain away.

Now that I've almost healed my bummy arm from a stair-descending accident/assault, it appears that all I've done is trade it in for a gimpy leg. I know. I'm TRYING not to be the definition of "accident prone" but it's so hard! Well, if you do a figure eight around me at least you can say that half of my body works. This causes problems not only for bass-drumming initiatives but also for locomotion. I kind of hobble around. Now that my arm is almost better, I can successfully wash parts of my back without the aid of a scrub-brush. It's just things like putting on my socks and ambling up the stairs that cost me a few more minutes of panting and groaning as I get ready for interviews.

It felt fine last night, but as I told Squeegiekid who was over to share some coffee, tunes and mess around on my computer, "it [was] going to hurt tomorrow" and it has.

Anyway, we had a fun time watching Steve Bridges as President Dubya videos. This man has an uncanny ability to impersonate him. His comic role at the White House Correspondent's Association Dinner was to play what seemed the darker, more id-like and self-consciously honest version of Bush. Some parts got me wondering whether Georgie boy knew the jokes were on him.

Squeegiekid is such a whiz that he got my MP3 encoder working again so that I can burn the songs I record on my computer to CD! Squeegie and I have known each other since the dawning of the Internet so it was nice to catch up on old times. He's quite the programmer working on a project right now in the conceptualization stage, putting together the neuron-networks of his mind like nuts and bolts. From what he told me, I have no clue what it's going to look like when it comes out of his brain but surely it will be technical in nature, hopefully revolutionary.

I hack-sawed off the old combination lock (which I forget) from my bicycle, replaced it with a new lock and succesfully pumped up the tires after shorting out two of the three cigarette lighters in the cars accessible to me for air compression power. So it's good to go! (If only I were).

So today I am on painkillers and they are serving me well. My sister, who is in nursing tells me that it can take up to six weeks for a sprain to heal but what do nurses know about injuries anyway?

I went to an interview with a temp agency and then swung over to a café that I applied to do some part time cooking for. My timing was good. The result is that I start training Friday. It will be nice to be doing SOMETHING while I scout out politicians, IT firms or research institutes to write for...or during the time it takes to get some temporary office experience.

So, things are looking up even if my jogging will be put on hold. Give me a few days and I'm sure I'll be as good as gold. For my part, I am looking out, remaining Argus-eyed for the ideal job.

Filed under General Announcements
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