Archive for the ‘i reject your reality and substitute my own’ Category

Note: This post is not about cycling.

Once upon a time, when I was a sincerely religious child attending Catholic school in London, Ontario, I was confronted with a strange document.

It was in Religion class. Religion had gone from learning arcane rituals for First Communion (which I loved – it was like joining a secret society) and drawing pictures of candles to symbolize our souls to covering the more fraught topics of Sex Ed (I KNOW), Comparative Religions (“Don’t be an asshole about it or anything, but all other religions are wrong and this is why”), and Moral Decision-Making.

I actually think it’s a great idea to teach children to reason morally. Once they are able to question the social norms and the rules they’ve been taught they need tools to form their own senses of ethics. Of course it would be difficult and highly controversial – do you teach virtue ethics or utilitarianism? How do you deal with different religious perspectives on morality? What if all the kids become vegetarians and their parents are livid about it? – but what that is worthwhile isn’t?

But sadly the moral education we got was not exactly ideal. I have a very clear memory from Grade 6 of being given a strange document called:

The STO(M)P Sign

This was our guide to moral decision-making, that when faced with a dilemma we should:

S – Stop
T – Think – how does this affect
O – Others
(M – Myself), then
P – Pray, and make your decision.

Why is the M in brackets, you might ask?

Why, because it wasn’t part of the official worksheet. Our teacher added it in herself.

That’s right, whatever powers that be that control Catholic education in Ontario decided that the needs of 11-year-olds were not important factors in their own moral lives. And if that isn’t fucked up I don’t know what is.

BTW, the next horribly tasteless and damaging document I was handed in Religion class was in Grade 9, when the rage-filled chainsmoking teacher whose name I’ve forgotten gave us the now-infamous Sperm Vs. HIV handout. It implied that, since HIV virii are a lot smaller than sperm, and you can still get pregnant using condoms, then condoms won’t protect you from HIV. (This was in the early 90s, people, just when HIV/AIDS was cutting a swathe through the world. Stay classy, abstinence-only!). In that same class we were shown anti-abortion videos and forced to listen to Jars of Clay. I came out of that class thinking that birth control was unsafe and ineffective and if you had an abortion you’d die. The girl who sat next to me didn’t finish the class, because she got pregnant and dropped out of school.

So why am I writing about this? I suppose it’s because, as I get closer to parenthood, I have been trying to be a more moral person, and as I try to make moral decisions (“Should I tell X about Y? Should I follow the rules in X situation even though I know everyone else is cheating? Should I share that bit of gossip or be classy and not?”) I find myself thinking of the STO(M)P sign and finding it utterly useless, and not just because I’m an atheist now and prayer isn’t helpful anymore.

So for my own use and that of my future child, I present my own moral decision-making acronym:

S – Stop
T – Think: what are my
O – Options, what are my
N – Needs; what are the short-term and long-term consequences for
M – Myself,
P – People I love,
C – my Community,
W – the World in general;
L – Listen to my instincts;
T – Talk to someone I trust;
D – Decide and take
R – Responsibility for the consequences.

STONMPCWLTDR. Not as catchy, of course, but much less likely to fuck with your self-esteem.  If you are a Catholic educator and you are asked to use the STO(M)P sign in your class, please feel free to substitute this one instead.

You’re welcome!

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I’ve been following via Twitter the launch of SunTV. That’s right, the newspaper chain dedicated to making you deathly afraid of pit bulls, PCP-crazed gangs, and flu shots now has a TV station. Because the airwaves aren’t clogged enough with right-wing rants of dubious factuality.

Anyway, as I said, I’ve been following this on Twitter, mostly via @Antonia_Z and @goldsbie. And it sounds like Sun Media Group gave their little station quite a launch. Launched it right into a wall. Lots of CBC bashing, an attempt to bring the “Sunshine Girls” to the screen, and Ezra Levant telling about a zillion lies.

But why, you ask, am I taking Twitter’s word for it? Why am I not checking out “Ezra Levant and his Amazing Tap-Dancing Ego” myself?




…I don’t have a TV.

Yes, I am a walking stereotype. I’m a leftist feminist vegan who rides a bicycle, works in the arts, does yoga, rarely washes her hair, and to top it all off doesn’t even have a TV.

In my own defense, I did used to have one. I never wanted to pay for cable, so we had an antenna and got the following stations:

– CBC English
– CBC French
– whatever Ontario’s French-language public station is called
– City
– Omni
– occasionally the Fox affiliate from Rochester if the weather was good.

The best reception was on TVO and French CBC, so all I ever really watched was Lingo (which is an awesome game show, if you speak enough French to follow it) and various British mysteries on TVO. I’m not complaining, since it introduced me to both Midsomer Murders and Rosemary and Thyme (two middle-aged ladies run a gardening business and solve murders? Sign me up!), but when we moved to this 12-foot-wide palatial estate, it didn’t seem worth keeping.

And now I am a TV freeloader – I watch TV shows streaming on my computer/IPod, or on DVD, or downloaded directly from ITunes or some other completely legal source. I am not holding up my end of the “watch TV for free, but sit through these ads” bargain. And I don’t feel bad about that at all.*

Anyway. Let’s hope Ezra Levant goes totally batshit and becomes Canada’s answer to Glenn Beck, complete with blackboard and Nazi flashcards. I still won’t buy a TV to watch him, but I will look up Rick Mercer making fun of him on YouTube.

*I know, this raises the free-rider problem: “How will TV get produced if no one pays for it?”, But honestly, it’s not my problem that the TV industry hasn’t figured out how monetize the Internet yet. There are lots of really good ideas for turning even file-sharing into something that brings in money for artists and producers (automatic micro-contributions from users, a radio licensing model, something like FACTOR where a small levy is placed on every computer to fund grants for independent producers, etc), but the networks prefer to defend the old model tooth and nail. And while I doubt that Internet revenues will bring in the obscenely massive profits the networks have gotten used to, I can’t bring myself to give a shit. They’ll bring in something, and the Charlie Sheen will have to settle for only $100,000/episode instead of $2,000,000. The horror.

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Jesus is coming! Look busy!

Taken with my cellphone on Davenport Rd just before you go under the underpass of death that connects it to Dupont.

For your edification: Failed end of the world predictions from 30 CE to 1920 CE

So, to clarify, I do NOT think the world will end on May 21, 2011.  In fact, I would be pretty pissed if it did.   I would like to draw your attention to one thing:

It’s very blurry, I know (hey, the cellphone was free, and you get what you pay for!), but this billboard directs you to a website called FamilyRadio.com.

I have to say, for a nutty Christian website, the design is not half bad.  Family Radio  does appear to be an actual syndicated/short wave radio show/ministry/crank haven run by a dude called Harold Camping.  While I disagree with Rev. Camping on, I assume, pretty much everything, I can’t stop him from ranting incoherently to anyone who’ll listen.  I have to say, though…

Family Radio?

What does predicting the End of the World have to do with Family?

“Family Radio” sounds like a show about parenting or fun family activities or family therapy.  Not the platform of a crazy preacher who hates gays and thinks the world is about to end.

But I guess this is all of a piece with the Family Research Council, American Family Association, or Focus on the Family, whose titles make much more sense if you replace “Family” with “Patriarchy”.

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This week: BETTER times on planet Earth. I promise!

Look, we are going to be positive if it KILLS US!

Just to get it out of the way, a list of things to not be positive about:

– earthquake, tsunami, nuclear disaster
– bombing of Libya (even if you don’t like Quaddafi, this is still people getting killed, and that’s bad)
– Rob Ford continues to be Rob Ford, and continues to be mayor
– Infected mystery wound on Madeline’s back. It’s much better now, but she had to be watched like a hawk for two days to stop her from licking it obsessively.
– The power supply has died AGAIN on the EEE
– Still can’t get the ARCHOS 70 in Canada!
– Still having early-awakening insomnia!
– Which means I have officially turned into both my mother AND my father.
I forsee my middle age will consist of me dozing off after dinner while wearing a matching tracksuit.

And now, things to be positive about:

– It’s too late to do it now, but if you purchased Plants vs. Zombies this weekend, you not only got a discount but 70% of what you paid was donated to the Red Cross. Also you got an awesome game. I’ve beaten it three times now and I still love it.
– It sort of feels like spring outside. It even got up to 10C for a bit.
– We’re making the original cast recording for Fallen Voices on Thursday! And it is going to be awesome! And have awesome packaging.
– I took the plunge and bought a ticket to Saskatoon for Easter. While I am there my sister and I will play the Anne of Green Gables drinking game. Good times.

OK, that’s enough for now. I’m going to go play some more Plants vs. Zombies before I practice.

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I try to give people, even people with apparently bizarre beliefs, the benefit of the doubt.  Lots of things which are at first glance ridiculous – the success of the Left Behind books comes to mind – turn out to be real or true, after all.

But when you’re talking with someone, there are certain red flags that may indicate that they’re not altogether on the same reality train as the rest of us.

1. Insistence that they’ve discovered a hidden truth no one knows.

2. Vague plans to inform the authorities.

3. They are being stalked or harrassed in subtle ways by the nefarious evil-doers in question.  Such stalking might take the form of property damage that is too minor for others to notice, but that the putative crackpot insists was done.

4. Either no one else or a only select few are aware of the truth.

5. Yet any oppression the nefarious evil-doing group has experienced is because people won’t tolerate their wicked, wicked ways.

6. The evil that the nefarious evil-doers do is all-encompassing and vague in nature, ranging from sex crimes to drug dealing.

7.  The nefarious evil-doers are in some way sub-human.

8. Saying, “Really?  All the [insert name of purported nefarious evil-doing group here] that I’ve met have been really nice,” gets the response, “They’re good at putting on an act.  They’ve been pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes for centuries.”

9. The putative crackpot claims to practice extreme caution in spreading the truth, because the all-powerful nefarious evil-doers will come after him if he goes public.

10. Yet he’s telling total strangers at the pub all about it: in case they DO come after him someone will know why.

And lastly…

11.  General craziness red flags such as nervous laughter at odd times, an unwillingness to engage in different topics, and a moustache.

So, as you might guess, I ran into someone yesterday who displayed all of the above signs and more.  Guess what group of nefarious evil-doers he thought were making small dents on his car, staking out his house, and reading his emails.

No, it wasn’t the Jews.

Seriously, not the Jews.  Not the Illuminati, not the Pope, not the reptoid aliens.

Click through if you want to know who, according to this guy, are just as bad as the Mafia.

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Yesterday evening I was walking the dogs and we past a local bar that seemed to be holding some kind of function.  It turned out to be a Green Party fundraiser/meeting.

Gus, while he doesn’t like the kind of parties that involve strangers coming to your house and making you stay up late, was taken by the idea of a political party, and has founded his own party with him as leader and Madeline as deputy: The Hound Party.

Personally I find their platform quite convincing.

The Hound Party Manifesto
Sausages for all!

The Hound Party represents a new direction in  Canadian politics: one that stands for justice for all citizens, both human and canine.  But not cats.

Our policies address issues not normally considered by mainstream parties.  When the Hound Party comes to power:

– Every hound in the nation will be provided with a minimum of 1 (one) sausage per day
– Those little tiny breakfast sausages will count only as 0.33 of one sausage.
– No hound will be obliged to share their sausage with ANYONE.
– Pork production will be heavily subsidised.
– Our 6 civic holidays will be replaced with 6 civic WORKDAYs.  The rest of the year will consist of holidays, so everyone will be free to spend their time at home with their hounds.
– Squirrels will be outlawed.
– Cats will not be permitted unless they are old and weak.
– Our border defenses will be strengthened by stationing basset hounds at every checkpoint.  When intruders approach they will be greeted with a loud “ROROOOOOROOOOOROOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and will run away in fear.
– All street furniture of the bench type – including bus stop benches – will be replaced with comfy couches and easy chairs, and hounds will be allowed to sit on them as much as they like.
– Car travel will not be allowed, unless it is to take your hounds to visit family or to a big park.
– Thus leashes will no longer be needed except in dire emergencies.
– Veterinary care will be covered by OHIP.  However, veterinarians will no longer be permitted to give hounds needles or take their temperature.

– Our current tax system will be scrapped and replaced with a flat tax system: one sausage per person per year must be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency.  Of these 30 million sausages, 75% will go to Gus, and 25% to Madeline.  Other hounds may apply for grants of sausages, but only in cases of dire need, such as not having eaten in two hours.
– Each breakfast must be followed by another breakfast, which must be followed by another, and another, at the individual hound’s discretion.
– All parking lots will be replaced with parks.
– Capital punishment will be re-introduced – but only for the crime of hound abuse.

– People who don’t like dogs will be offered opportunities for re-education.  Those who fail to develop a hound-loving perspective will be deported to America.

Hounds of the world: unite!  You have nothing to lose but your leashes!

Our fearless leaders.

Our fearless leaders.

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People, we need to increase the traffic around here.  It’s pathetic.  Since the “be really good and attract an audience through your writing, consistency of posting, and original thought” route is obviously off the table, I’m going to go with the “throw out a list of inflammatory statements and/or buzzwords and hope for the best”.

Come to think of it, I might as well throw them all out at once.  The flame war of all against all:

– Orly Taitz
– Anything about HIV (this can be from the “God is punishing teh gayz” or from the “HIV doesn’t exist/isn’t really a problem/was created by the Illuminati in a lab and is being spread via vaccines to control us all” angle – up to you)
– “My grandfather wasn’t a monkey!  Genesis IS Science!”
– Women are people and have the same rights to bodily integrity, personal self-determination, and respect as men do.  Discuss.
– Children NEED to be spanked.  Spare the rod, spoil the child.
– Male circumcision*: for or against?
– Anything about animal rights (OMG you bought a dog that is EXACTLY like buying a slave whaaagarrble)
– Grammar: kids today, wont use apostrophes!
– “Pat Buchanan isn’t a racist – OBAMA is the reeeeeeeaal racist!”**

Quality trolling only, please.

*UNBELIEVABLE flame bait.  I know this from personal experience.
**You think that’s a joke, but I believe Glenn Beck has said pretty much exactly that.

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