Monthly Archives: October 2015

Fear of the Same Thing

Vishnu

Last week was a good week for Canada. It’s been a decade since we had Harper and the conservatives, and it’s been decade of Canada becoming more and more like its southern neighbor. Canada’s become more polluted and more reliant on dirty energy exploration. Many of our protected lakes are no longer protected and Aboriginal communities continue to be marginalized. There were even talks about abolishing our healthcare system to something more similar to the one in the United States.

And while I didn’t vote this election (I was not allowed.) and would’ve been very happy should NDP have taken control of the government, I’m glad that Justin Trudeau won. It’s still very early and he has not done anything yet, but at least Harper is out of office. This is the same elated feeling back when Barrack Obama won in 2008. We didn’t know what Obama was about back then, but at least he was not George Bush. The anti-Bush sentiment was so overwhelming that Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize just for not being bush (A senseless gesture in my opinion, since Obama is just as pro-military as his predecessor.). I just hope that our new Prime Minister lives up to his promises and not be as empty and as pro-corporation as Barrack Obama.

Canadians woke up from their conservative slumber and decided to get their voices heard and try to affect some change in the country. It was a good week to feel hopeful, to be optimistic about our future. I’m very optimistic as well. But looking down south, it is a cautious optimism.

I notice Vice has been doing a lot of stories related to Winnipeg lately. I tend to get very suspicious when news aggregators keep on pushing people and stories to their viewers when they really don’t belong in the headlines (I’m looking at you, Huffington Post! Stop trying to get me to like Trevor Noah!). I don’t mind agenda in journalism, but it gets tiring and disheartening when the agenda is marketing. Anyway, the Winnipeg-related stories, while unusually frequent, seem to tell a common theme of the government marginalizing certain segments of the population. In Winnipeg’s case, it’s the Aboriginal population.

At least that’s what I previously thought. It’s the government that didn’t care. It’s the government that continues to ignore these poor communities. Then I send the videos to a few people. These people immediately got bored. These people weren’t that affected. It’s not the government; it’s a lot of Canadians, even the “progressive” ones.

This brings me back to the elections. And while Trudeau promises to make positive changes to conservative policies that have harmed the country, I wonder if that promise for a better future extends to all of Canada. A few weeks ago, Harper claimed that most cases of murdered and missing Aboriginal women are solved. This is typical of many people’s attitudes regarding Aboriginal issues, not just conservatives. “It has already been taken care of.”

Here’s hoping that the government, and most people who claim to be progressive, will be more concerned about Aboriginal issues.

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Inktober is for Jerks

stag

Being an artist who mainly does ink drawings, it’s a bit odd that I’m missing out on Inktober. I’d like to blame Jake Parker, the man who created Inktober, for not listing Rotring pens as one of the best ink drawing tools. If he can’t recognize the superiority of the German rapidographs over any other technical pens, then the man must be insane and the movement a sham. Sure, Copic Multiliners and Pentel Pocket Brush Pens are good, but that’s if you’re a child. If you’re a grown man, you use Rotring rapidographs.

Actually, the real reason I don’t do Inktober is that I already draw almost every day. That and I don’t really maintain my Facebook or Instagram account that much. Despite the occasional good that we get from social platforms, I really think that Facebook is a cynical sham built on a foundation of narcissism and the desire to peek into your ex’s life. It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but I’d rather not provide a multi-billion dollar company personal content for free (or at least try to limit my use of it).

In any case, any movement that gets people drawing more is good with me (despite the misleading title). At least it’s better than Movember, when people grow hipster mustaches and don’t bother donating to cancer research or getting their prostates examined. Less hipster, more drawing please.

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Time Traveling Via NPR

paratrooper

I’ve been listening to old ‘This American Life’ episodes. Over the weekend, I listened to ones that were broadcast right after the attack on the World Trade Center. Like a time traveler, it’s interesting to hear what people feel at the time especially their attitudes towards the US heading to war. As expected, I was annoyed at experts at the time, people like Rumsfeld, who are selling the war with a calamitous need for justice and assurance that America is going to battle in most well thought-out manner. He couldn’t have been more wrong about everything. It’s amazing that they still allow him on television as an ‘expert’ on anything these days.

What’s most interesting was episode 196, when the events of September 11 are examined through different perspectives. Much like the movie ‘Rashomon,’ stories change drastically depending on whose eyes you’re experiencing them through. Of course, people in the west were scared. They we scared of this nebulous terrorist threat. As a westerner, this was probably my default point of view. The west needed a target. It needed to get back at someone. Saddam Hussein has always been a “bad guy” through most of the 90s. Perhaps getting him would turn the scales back into a place of normalcy.

But then there’s also the Muslim point of view. In the episode, a Palestinian teenager explains about why the September 11 attacks doesn’t benefit the Muslims, but instead benefits the Jews in Israel since it puts the Americans into conflict in the Middle East, much like Pearl Harbor brought America out of isolationism in WWII. This of course is seen as anti-Semitic conspiracy theories from western point of views, and in my opinion, rightfully so. But to some Muslims, especially Palestinians and with the different biases between western and Muslim media skewering regional opinion, this could very well be a plausible explanation for the attacks. Another Muslim point of view is that of a former soldier from Iraq who had to reluctantly fight for Saddam’s army. Not a rabid supporter of Saddam, the man had to explain to his son why the normally pleasant and well-meaning Americans had to violently terrorize their city. Looking back on this now, if he had stayed in the Iraqi army, this man would’ve been out of job and perhaps forced to join ISIS by now.

Lastly, the show also looked at war from the point of view of some soldiers. Despite best preparations, war is hell, and things could turn bloody in any minute. It is always best to approach war with reasoned reluctance than with the zeal and optimism the world had back in 2003, when we were confident at shocking and awing the enemy into submission.

Episode 200 looked at the radio station set up by the CIA to help overthrow the democratically elected president of Guatemala in 1954, Jacobo Arbenz. It was an interesting examination of the power of radio back in the day and the way propaganda is used both during a conflict and long after, when myths cultivated. What I find most poignant however, is the comment by Prof. Nick Cullather, who says that while the US does have a responsibility to sometimes intervene in foreign countries’ affairs, it is far more difficult to face the magnitude of the task afterwards. It is quite easy to depose a leader compared to the difficulty of finding a suitable replacement. Just look at Guatemala after Arbenz, Syria in 1949, Iran in the 50s, Chile and the junta in the 70s. And now Iraq with the fall of Saddam has the whole Middle East in a quagmire.

Listening to old radio shows and “time travelling” is a nice distraction during my commute. However, I would’ve hoped our leaders had more insight to predict the future. Looking back now, we were all such fools back then. It is amazing that NPR had the courage and prudence to examine issues from different perspectives, especially with the national climate in 2001-2003. Unfortunately, being seen as an organization with liberal biases, I doubt that it or any other organizations like it would have their ideas taken seriously in the mainstream media.

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News Friday

A couple of things about the news:

Why are people surprised at the pope visiting a gay-hating bigot? The Catholic church, as progressive as the current pope has been on income inequality and environmental issues, is still a regressive institution when it comes to gender and women’s rights. The church still doesn’t like the idea of birth control and abortion (great idea for poor, overpopulated countries!). The priesthood is still a men’s club! The order of the world is still God > man > woman > children > animals.

A part of me tends to be nitpicky about the whole thing however. Growing up Catholic, I’m sensitive to the differences between Roman Catholics and Christians. Aside from Christians separating themselves from the Catholic Church hundreds of years ago, why would Kim Davis, a Oneness Pentecostal, be interested in seeing the pope and vice versa? Shouldn’t the two be arguing over the nature of the Holy Trinity and calling the other a heathen?

Also, why Kim Davis? Were the Duck Dynasty guys too busy for the Pope that week? What about the God Hates Fags people? At least I find them more logically consistent than Kim Davis. Like the Catholic church, they stand up against divorce , which really is the bigger threat against traditional marriages.

I can’t stand Obama when it comes to gun control. He rails against lawmakers and the NRA every time there’s a school shooting, speaking as if he has no power to makes changes. He’s the leader of the most powerful country in the planet! He can push his agenda if he wanted to. He certainly did with Obamacare. And he’s certainly trying with the Keystone pipeline. But when it comes to gun violence, police violence, income inequality, immigration, etc. it’s just one flower speech after another. Someone remind him that he’s not Maya Angelou. He’s the president. At least critics like Cornel West are willing to put some skin in the game and get themselves arrested in order to affect some change on important issues.

Why is the UN having talks against cyber violence? And why is cyber violence solely “against women and girls?” I understand things such as revenge porn is mostly aimed against women, but a lot of the vitriol on the Internet is aimed towards everyone. It’s not gender specific. I would even guess there’s more animosity against gays and lesbians on the Internet than there would be against women. In any case, the Internet, due to anonymity, makes it a breeding ground for general negativity. Women claiming that cyber violence does serious harm especially to women is a disservice to the strength of women and downplays the effect of cyber bullying on men.

Also, shouldn’t the UN be focusing more on REAL violence? This seems more like a sham show to support censorship in many countries.

Listening to some sweet Willie Nelson to calm down.

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