Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas: Not a fan.

Come in and enjoy the warmth of the fire, the dance of the shadows, and the lull in the business of this season. So many things expected of us, so many dollars to go so far, and far too much food to consume. Enjoy the pistachios, there is still some left.

From about the age of 15 or so I haven't much enjoyed Christmas. Not the holiday, or the underlying themes, but the ideology and the expectations of it. I don't go in for all the ritual involved. I never enjoyed the multitude of jobs that came with Christmas. About the only thing I do enjoy is the gathering of my family and the love and joy of being all in one place. I even enjoy the fighting and annoyance that close quarters breeds. I'm funny that way.

I don't put up a tree. No one should have to work that hard on a holiday. Nor is the ritual sacrifice of an evergreen tree as an idol that appealing to me. I buy gifts, but I don't overspend or rack up large chunks of credit. I tend to also go with gifts that have some form of meaning or bond between me and the person I'm buying for. Our own family has reduced it's spending by doing a Christmas draw for one adult rather than buying for everyone.

The thing I can say about the holiday is the unity and sense of family and community it creates is wonderful. I'm one of those idealists who say 'Let the theme of the holidays last the whole year round.' And I do try. Of course, life isn't a matter of doing only the things you choose to.

Is there a point, not really. Just rambling away with my thoughts. That happens sometimes. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Light a lamp, so on and so forth. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another semester done

Come in come in. The den is restocked, but some of it isn't so healthy. There's some ripple chips and dip, some chilli lime/lemon pistachios (I know, yum!) and of course, some celery. If you want to make that unhealthy I'm sure we've got some spreadable cheese gunk around here somewhere. The fire is hot, the tales are fun, and you're always welcome to spend some time here.

So another semester down. This series of tests was fun because I really changed how I write, and it all came out so easy. I filled book after book with my wit, wisdom, and smart ass-ness. :) And I got back my term paper (A story about Remus Lupin's time in the werewolf community) and response papers for my Harry Potter class. When I'm given a free hand to just do as I want to display the knowledge I have I do really well apparently and come up with some brilliant stuff. The term paper was an 85%, and the response papers got 20.01 out of 25. That means I've got a good chance to make over 80 in the class. WHEEEE!!!! Yeah real intelligentsia I am! :)

I'll be taking another author study. Last semester was Rowling and Milton, this semester, James Joyce! Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, and Ulysses. Been told by the prof teaching the class to start reading, and I have. Already enjoying this way too much.

So here's hoping you're all enjoying your various endeavors with the same joy I'm taking in mine.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Seasonal thank yous

Come in come in, the fire is nice, but the food is low, need to restock the den. But there is some rye crackers and some cheese. Yummy. The fire is still high because it's SO COLD outside. I come in from one of my infrequent self-poisoning trips and wish for new hands as the old ones have frozen solid.

So it's that time of year and while I'm not a huge supporter of Christmas, I do like the holiday and ideas it represents so I thought I'd take a few moments and thank all the loving people who make life not just possible but wonderful. So personal shout out time.

Thank you to my family, the basis on which I have built who I am. Thank you mom and dad for being incredible role models and such huge helps. Every time you help me I dedicate at least one grade level to you two. :) I love you both dearly and again, while some of my family might not be biological relatives, I want to specifically say this: I've known no other person who is my dad except you Chris, and I'm so happy you treat me like a son and don't accept my bs, push me to be better than I am and always always love me and my little ones. You and mom make your home feel like my home and I'm always happy to be there. Thank you.

To all my brothers and sisters, and their wonderful spouses. You're all just awesome. I love each and everyone of you so much. I envy that you got to grow up together at times, but that I'm one of the siblings makes me feel incredible. Even though they came late, I'm happy to be one of five rather than just one.

Granny. You are my example of toughness and love all together. No one person I've known has lived through what you have, and yet still you love the people around you. There is no bitterness, there is no regret. There is quiet pride and beautiful strength. You deserve more than life has given you but have never asked for it. Thank you for showing us all that happiness and life is not what we're given but what we have.

My Moon, my Little Bear, my Little Bird. No three people could mean as much as you all have come to mean. These are my direct family, and no one has given me more moments of happiness, pride, frustration, and joy than you three have.

My friends. I am blessed and honoured to have as many as I do. I think I'll have to mention them all briefly, but if I miss someone, I truly apologize.

Viper Pilot: Your joys are mine, your distance is meaningless, that I miss you is nothing compared to how happy I am that you and Atomique have the little Astro-themed one. There is no one thing I could say to express my gratitude to you. I love you, your family and wish that half way around the world I could send you all a heartfelt hug.

Johnny and Cindy, Saskbeast, Jeffy, Loki, T, Brian, and all the others who weekly gather to take my money at a poker table. I am thankful you understand I can be a big whiny baby head and still invite me over. You have all given me such great moments, stories, and times that I can't list them all. Your friendship may manifest around cards, but you all mean so much more than that. Thank you.

Cenobyte, His Nibs, and the clan: While it seems that I may only think of you at my convenience, I am always happy to see you and I think if I do commit myself to some atrocious new years promise of improving myself it'll be to make many more trips down the valley to enjoy you all a lot more. You cock I think is Ceno's favorite phrase of praise. :)

Ringmaster and the Circus: Start a damn Shadowrun game Ringmaster!! :) Kidding. You know we've flung ourselves out in all directions, and those of us who are more centrally located have no place to volunteer for gathering. I think you get placed in that same silly new years promise. Political differences aside, your talents and humour are always one of the things that I love. Oh yeah, Ringmaster? I brag about you to my friends whenever one of your commercials is funny. :)

Neo, TYG, and various others who get slotted into these funny little places. Oh yeah Parmesian as well. I love the new people I meet, I love the new friends I make, and I love the new experiences I get to have. Each and every one of you hold a place in my heart and I appreciate you. Thank you. There's a Dragon, a big hair Raz, a Mel, half of the La's, a troll, Russian boy/girl name guy, oh so many I could thank in this space.

Time and place makes things change, and while the time together may not be a constant, do not think that I do not appreciate even those who leave my sight, because they're always in my heart.

Love you all, and thank you for helping me to be who I am. So really, it's all your fault! :) Hah, just kidding.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wheeeeee!!!

Ok so I'm ridiculously happy about this. Jason Clermont is comin' home! Two big bruisin' and cruisin' CANADIAN slotbacks, a speedster for a six pack offense and good enough guys all over the place to start to have one of the best and most agressive recieving corps in the league! HELL YEAH!

'Course now we need to really work on developing the young quarterbacks we have. With improving recievers it'll be a bit easier but still. We didn't exactly set the league on fire with the set we had.

And let's not forget Cates and an offensive line that is one of the best. That's where it starts people. While other's have been said to be better, when the 'Riders offensive line is all together and playing as a unit there is no one better.

But then again I have a different point of view when it comes to O-lines. I coached the offensive line for the Mounties this last year. That's a bantam team in the RMF. Oh yeah, and LEAGUE CHAMPIONS!!!!! But I digress. Here was my o-line:

Left Tackle - Big bruiser of a kid, Brandon, never played football until he stepped onto the field. Was a real quiet and placid kid. But stood about 5'10" and weighed in at 215. (Yeah that is a 14 year old kid as big as me.:)

Left Guard - Smaller guy, Austin, 6 foot, about 185. He WAS a defensive end the last year he played, but he had the speed and smarts to be a really great lineman. And he was 15 and I realized he could be a great leader for the others. He was my captain and did an incredible job of it.

Center - Dory, a THIRTEEN YEAR OLD! Who was too big to play in the younger league. About 5'8" and 160. Was the most consistent and toughest kid I had out there, and was incredible at center.

Right guard - Sean. 14, 5'10" and about 165. Not the biggest guy out there. Wasn't the fastest either. And at practice didn't really show off his great skills until he got pissed. But on game day, it was the same thing. He came to play. That first play he was shakey, but then BOOM! People got run over.

Right tackle - Lewis. 6ft, maybe a bit taller. And 135 lbs. No that's not a typo, he was a string bean. And slow. However, he knew the assignments and how to zone block almost perfectly and used his head to make sure he was in the right place at the right time.

Back up - Joseph. About 5'8", and 190 lbs. Happiest kid in the world. Couldn't piss him off to save my life. I even told him I was gonna start selling pictures of his mom nekkid and he just grinned at me. Never played football and I only had him for half a season, but he tried his hardest.

Here's the thing about all these kids. Not even Austin, who was fairly athletic, was a natural athlete. None of them had any particularily fantastic skills, and none of them would be picked for other sports to be the super star. However I fought for every single one of these kids to be my guys. Why? Cuz I know the secret of a great offensive line. Six to seven guys who want to work. Who take pride in doing everything the hard way. Who are willing to lay down their bodies to let others grab the glory. A group of guys who will bond together and make a name for themselves as a unit, not as individuals. I've been a part of these groups. I know how to look for them.

And these six guys did it. They became a unit faster than anyone else, and allowed our offense to gel around them. They never once said 'Look at us' they always pointed to our stars like Connor and Burke, and said 'Look at the touchdowns they got!' They worked harder than everyone else, and never once gave up. My guys pushed themselves and each other to keep getting better and better.

And let's not forget that on average, my guys gave up a lot of size to most teams. Most d-lines in the RMF had at least one behemoth who was like 250, and shoulda been playing high school but couldn't for some reason or another. Yet we ran. We ran over people like you wouldn't believe. Our running backs racked up, in 11 total games, over 5000 yards in rushing. And yes we passed. The RMF said they've never seen offensive stats like we put forward. We passed for close to 3000 yards as well.

So let me tell you some stories about my guys. Let me show you the character and the toughness these kids had. Let me tell you why I was so proud of them at the end of the season and why when I said to the captains who had the trophy, 'Y'know you should let the o-line have some time with that thing,' everyone, including the coaches, said 'hell yeah!' and my guys carried that huge beautiful piece of hardware off the field and to the dressing room we were using. They got the honour, they got the privilage of carrying it each and saying 'This is what WE did.' WE, you see that, we, the team. They brought it all back to the team and I was so proud of them.

So lessee. Let's start with my favorite moment from the preseason. Austin, who we were still arguing about where he would be, O or D, and Ben, another big boy who was one of our top d-ends, do a two on two against Dory and Lewis. The two smallest o-lineman out there. I pointed at Austin and Ben and said 'They beat you, you guys should be ashamed.' Then turned to my o-line and said 'Beat'um. Size is irrelevant, we've gone over the technique, and if you want to beat them and you do what you're s'posed to, you'll win.' Sure enough, Dory and Lewis just RAN OVER those two. Drove'um right out of the blocks and dumped'um both on their backs about 10 yards away. I was screaming and cheering and whooping so loud the entire team was looking over. Ben and Austin were embarassed. And this is what made me fight even harder for Austin to be an o-lineman. He got up and he nodded to Dory and looked at me and said 'I got beat. Gotta try harder.' Ben on the other hand waved it off and made light of it. Austin was a leader there, and someone willing to work. Defeat is as telling as winning is.

Another favorite practice moment. Ben was harrassing Sean, and Sean had had enough. In one on ones, Sean destroyed Ben, repeatedly. Every time Ben came in, Sean would shove whoever it was in there out of the way and go against Ben. And he spent the entire session schooling Ben. So proud of that mook. :)

Brandon, he was young, he's going through some tough times. He seemed a bit introverted and almost too quiet. He'd just moved from Calgary, and wasn't sure of himself. Occasionally he got whiney. Drove me nuts. So we're playing the Raiders and they've got this retarded defense where they've stacked two lineman and two linebackers on top of my left guard and tackle. That's Austin and Brandon. And Brandon keeps saying 'I don't know what to do, I get the first but the next guy gets past, what do I do, what do I do what do I do?!' and I finally snapped, I shouted at him 'Look! Just destroy the first idiot that crosses your face, and chances are he'll trip up the next guy stacked!' Brandon shot me a dirty look and said 'Fine' all sulky and stalked off. Next offensive series, I told Mark, our head coach, to send a play right up the 5 hole, which is to the left of the left tackle. He does. And you want to know what Brandon did? Exactly what I told him to do. That d-lineman steps up and Brandon DESTROYS HIM!! I mean just kills him! And sends him flying into the lineman in front of Austin, and both go down, so Austin just covers them so they can't get up. The two linebackers are now coming in hard, and Brandon does it again!! Just DEMOLISHES the lineback and sends him cartwheeling into the other. Both end up in a heap on top of the lineman, and my two stand over these four and hold them down. I'm jumping up and down on the sidelines, screaming and yelling and shouting, and generally looking like a maniac, and the other coaches think I'm pissed because we only got like 3 yards. As the offensive goes to huddle up I yell 'Brandon! Austin!' and they turn and one coach goes 'Take it easy Rich,' thinking I'm gonna freak. And I yell out 'DO IT AGAIN YOU STUDS!! That was exactly right!! DO IT AGAIN!' I explained it to the other coaches and we run to the right, get a first, and we run to the left again, and I'm guessing that my line told Connor where to grab the read cuz sure enough, they do it AGAIN!! They demolish four guys and the entire right side of the Raider's defense, and Conner cuts loose and is GONE! I was so impressed. I honestly cannot stop talking about that moment, it was so cool!

So as I said, a loss is as telling as a win when it comes to character. So is a bad game. Lewis had one of the worst games I've ever seen played on a football field. Guys blew past him, he didn't make any real blocks, only half blocked, and generally he stank up the place. It happens. I don't expect perfection. What I expect is learning a lesson even when a mistake is made. I dunno what was going on with Lewis that day but it was a bad day for him. We discussed it on the field, and afterwards at the next practice. I told him my rule. Making one mistake, and really the way he played I'm sure it was just one looooooong continuing mistake, is not bad. What is bad is making the exact same mistake in the exact same way. He took that to heart. The next game out I watched him just smash guys around. Here's this skinny kid who I'm sure my 12 year old girl is bigger than, just crushing guys in the next game. He came off the field and I grabbed his face mask, gave him a glare and said 'What was that?' He stared right back, smiled and said 'I'm not gonna make the same mistake coach.' And he didn't. He was stellar the rest of the season. So proud of him.

Dory. So he's one of the youngest guys on the field. He's smallish for the age and position. And he's got this totally relaxed demeanor that always throws me off, especially when I watch game film of him playing. You see the 'top' team, the 'Riders, had this big freakin' goon named Cy, who was like 6'4" and 280 lbs, and he was posting YouTube videos about how they were gonna win the championship and how he can crush anyone. Well we outpsyched ourselves and didn't play our game and we lost to the Riders. However one guy did play his game. Dory. See, Cy spent the game lined up on top of Dory. And my guy kicked Cy's ass! I told Dory, 'Make him remember you man. Make a tattoo of your facemask on his fat gut, and make sure he realizes, that you're no push over.' And he did. To this day I'm sure that blowhard has a big cross shaped bruise that will never go away over his belly button, put there by Dory. What a beast!

Finally Joseph. Or Jo-jo. See, I made a joke one day cuz he was not paying attention and I called him 'Joey-jo-jo Shabadue.' Like from the Simpsons. And from that point that was his name Jo-jo. And he didn't become a mascot but he became a rallying point. See, he wasn't very good, but when he did good it drove everyone else to get better. Every special team tackle, every great block, every time he worked hard everyone else worked harder. When he went in as backup, the guys around him stepped up and played harder to help him out and they coached him THEMSELVES to get him up to speed with everyone else. Jo-jo got much better and I'm really looking forward to having him back on the team next year.

So that's my long winded football rant. I loved coaching. And my guys impressed me and made me proud the whole year. They played for their team and crushed other teams within the rules. No dirty play, no smart mouth, nothing but showing they knew their jobs and doing them better than anyone else could. It was fabulous. And I get almost all of them back next year! :) So awesome.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Two down two to go.

Come in, the wind is blowing but the den is quiet, I've found some very nice hides that can be strung across the front, and are heavy enough to be wind resistant. And of course, the fire is stoked high. I love big fires!

Second one down, CanLit. MAN I totally riffed out on the essay question and filled 10 pages hand written. And I think it was awesome. Mostly because it flowed out of me with such ease and strength that I was 'oh wow.' It's quite good stuff. If I get it back I'll have to type it out for you folks.

Anyone else ever have that feeling? When you just sit down and BOOM! The idea is there and it writes itself, and in fact you could keep on writing about it if you had more time and some research resources. It was AWESOME! Of course, after a test like that I feel complete drained and very hungry. Burning the brain power is just as energy consuming as burning the body power some times.

Monday, December 8, 2008

One test down

Well, come in and relax with me. I've gotten one test down and another is coming. I've got a real big fire stoked here because I'm enjoying myself and well let's face it, a big fire is fun. It helps the shadows dance, and they like that.

With one test down and three days until the next I can relax a bit. I also enjoyed this test, because I've decided something. While some might consider me intelligent, I'm not one of the brainiac crowd. So rather than try to sound like one I've decided to just be the smart ass I am. I know I have a very distinctive voice when I write in my own style and I think... well better to put it, I know that I am far more capable of writing like myself rather than trying to sound different than the antagonistic jerk I am. So we're going to go for shock and entertainment value. Of course, flashes of wisdom and insight do come through in my mad ramblings, so we'll see if my profs can keep up. Fun times folks. Ejumakashun is fun!

Paradise Lost

Come round and enjoy the fire. It's rather cold out and today I'll be heading off to the final for one of my favorite classes, my Study of John Milton. I've got a lovely home made soup for you as well. Ham bone base, various beans, mushrooms and a couple onions. It is delicious!

One of the things my professor for this class does is every couple three years she puts on a public reading of Paradise Lost. I participated. Read the part of the Son of God. Yeah I know, there are so many jokes about my ego that could be made from this that it's ridiculous. Anyways it was a 12 hour display that I took part in for the WHOLE DAY. I listened and read Paradise Lost for 12 hours. By the time it was over I was ready for a nap. For three days. However I can honestly say it was one of the most incredible experiences I've participated in.

So a funny thing happened during it, which reminded me why I LOVE Futurama. As has been pointed out the show is a bastion of science and technology jokes yet the show also makes quite a few literature based jokes. So here is one of them.

At the end of book 9, Adam and Eve discuss Adam eating the fruit as Eve has done and Eve attempts to convince Adam not to eat, that perhaps if only she has eaten they can make an act of contrition or perhaps Adam can stay in Eden. So Adam declares to Eve that he will chose to follow her without regret. Later, he goes into this long speech that decries Eve for leading him into temptation and says that he should rue ever making such a choice, and he laments falling to Eve's charms.

So in the final episode of season 2 of Futurama is called The Cryonic Woman. Here Fry discovers his girlfriend from 1999 has frozen herself and he unfreezes her. (BTW the girlfriend is voiced by Sarah Silverman and she has this wonderful line that is also an homage to PL when she demands "Oh Fry why do you continue with your relentless logic!") Anyhow, Fry's girlfriend doesn't fit in the year 3001, so she convinces Fry to freeze themselves again for another 1000 years so they can have a fresh start.

Fry agrees, claiming he makes the decision with no regrets. When they come out of the cryo-chamber to emerge into a blasted wasteland, Fry states: "Honey, I just want you to know I don't regret my decision, but I both rue and lament it." I always chuckled at this line, but it seemed so out of place, as it's far more intelligent that Fry usually is, but he has moments of brilliance so I never thought about it. Until the reading of PL.

So there I am in the audience, behind my Professor. And the gentleman reading Adam says these lines, and I immediately react like I've been kicked in the stomach. I want to burst out laughing. However this is a very serious and tension filled moment in the poem. So there I am behind my professor, hunched over, with both my hands clutched over my mouth and nose, making noises like SNERK and GUFORT, and what not, trying not to roll down the aisle in laughter.

My professor turns around and looks at me, concern on her face, and mouths 'Are you ok?' And I nod vigorously, and open my fingers just wide enough to lean over and whisper, 'Tell ya later.' And go back to stiffling my glumps and fffurrrck noises.

I'm tempted to write a paper on the parallels and go into a huge discussion about the meaning of paradise and man's attempt to regain what he's lost, but I think most people would miss the joke.

So go watch Futurama and find your own literary jokes hidden in the show. It's a hoot!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Political Turmoil

Come in come in. In this time of intense division and battle lines being drawn, you can always come here by the fire and sit with me. Silence is such a beautiful thing. Watch the flames, watch the smoke. I offer ... distractions! :)

The Guild already has two episodes up! They aren't doing the same thing as before, with the eps on their website, instead it's on MSN Video. Sponserships! :) So here are the links to enjoy these two eps.

http://video.msn.com/video.aspx/?mkt=en-US&vid=0184e453-8782-4412-a0a0-8899325f629d&wa=wsignin1.0

Oh crap the MSN site is fubar'd, and I can't link the second ep. I'm sure they'll fix it, and you'll be able to find it from the first. Enjoy this meaningless distraction within the horribleness that is Canadian politics. :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

The GST mystery

Come close and sit down, bring a calculator. I'm going to throw an extra few logs on so you can sit down and work this out for yourselves as well and realize how just incredibly convoluted the GST is.

So one of my bosses at work worked for a long long time in the federal government in the tax department. One day he explained to me the implementation of the GST and why even the department people were incredibly opposed to this new tax. So I thought I'd share what he had to say.

Back in the old days before the GST, the Federal government placed a 13.5% tax on the end product for sale. It was 'hidden' in that it was supposed to be worked into the price without being added. I remember when it was introduced. A friend of mine who now works for RIM (You know who you are Mr. There's Gotta Be Some Indian In Here Somewhere), his dad was one of the folks down at the Chamber of Commerce here in the city. He explained that the _base_ cost, according to what the Feds were telling us, should go down. It actually went up. WAY up. Because you see, what the Feds didn't tell us was the extent of the implementation.

Do you know that the GST is applied to every single product and service there is (With minor exceptions)? Do you understand the ramifications of that? Alright let me explain.

The example that my boss gave me was of a product produced here in Canada by Canadian Tire, a rather useful little air compressor. Under the old system the critter cost the average person, at the time, about $600.00, with about 60 bucks of that being taxes. Well, under the new system it goes like this. All the materials that are bought now have GST on them. And so the plant assembles them and sells them to a distributor. They gotta charge the GST there. The distributor now sells them to regional wholesalers, whoops, another level of GST. Now the wholesalers, they sell them to the stores, there's another level off GST. And finally you the consumer gets to buy it and pay the GST again.

And he said this was one of the rare ones that only ran through 4 levels. Most products averaged SEVEN! Think about it, manufacturers generally don't package, or ship, or distribute. From resources to your hands is actually a lot of steps.

The NEW price under the new GST was close now to $760.00!! With $180.00 plus of it being just taxes! As well it created a system that was infinitely more complex than the old one.

He went on to describe that the Feds then wanted him to reduce departments to deal with a more complex system.

Here are a few quick talking points for you all to think about:

1) This tax was proposed by a conservative government. If reducing government and creating business friendly environments is a part of your general platform, why the fuck would you introduce a tax like this?

2) A reduction in the GST is not beneficial to the average consumer. There's two ways you as the consumer gets fucked. First off, that much of a reduction should lower the overall general cost of the creation of products to buy, yet companies DON'T lower their costs. So really, they save money (Less cost to do business) and you pay the same anyways (Garnering them more profits).

3) The only reason to reduce the GST is to help business, and the loss of revenue for each percentage point works out to be about 6 billion dollars annually. BTW folks, we're gonna run a 12 billion dollar deficit next year.

4) Unrelated personal opinion: Harper is a fuckwit who is out of touch with the general needs of the people he 'rules'. His overall inability to follow his own stated agenda, incredibly stupid comments (The average Canadian doesn't care about the Arts. HAH!), and his failure to produce any discernible results in the area of the environment add up to one big fuckwit. Perhaps even fucktard. Of course, I've stated this before, I really shouldn't blame Stephen. It is the folks pulling the strings that are the real danger.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More points of clarification

I love the night, I feel comfortable in it. While the fire may keep some of the shadows at bay, it also helps to create shadows. Iskote (Pronounced ish-go-tay) is the Saulteax word for fire. It is an inanimate noun. In almost every single First Nations language, it isn't broken down in male and female, instead animate and inanimate. Understanding this difference in language helps to understand the difference in priorities, because language is not a component of thought, it is instead the basis for thought.

So let's discuss Indian Title. This is a funny little term. It can be described as a usafractory right. In simple terms this means that if you have a usafractory right to a piece of land, you can do whatever you want with it, but you never actually own it. An example might be roads, both urban and highway. Our taxes pay for them, and we are allowed to use them for our travel purposes, but their ultimate ownership is held by the government. By making this distinction, it's easy to see that this relationship is somewhat limiting, as the true owner can lay out any rules they wish when it comes to the use of that land.

All Indian lands, so reserve lands, are placed under this form of ownership. By the way, the word in Saulteax for reserve is iskonikan (pronounced ish-go-nee-gan) and it means left overs. See, even back then the First Nations knew they were getting shafted. However, if you read the letters, journals, and official statements from the leaders who signed the treaties, you'll see that they all saw this as the only way for First Nations to adapt and survive. And that could be the one linking aspect of all First Nations, they know how to survive.

So let's make this a little more personal. Most of you out there own a home, and we're gonna say you only have a usafractory right to it. I'm also going to put in the restriction that you may only use this land for survival through traditional practices. Oh yeah, this is the restrictions all reserves live under. So everyone of you who makes the statement 'If I had a bunch of tax free lands available to me I'd be starting businesses left and right' can now see how this fails.

So first off, let's take my friend Viper Pilot. He owns his house and I know a bit about his ethnic background. I also know he currently works as tech support for IT services at a university. Well he's French. And IT work is NOT a traditional practice for the French so I'm sorry, you can't do that anymore VP. Looking at the history of the French in Canada, you're allowed to use your property to trap for furs, and possibly set up a trading post. Oh and maybe a Church. Those are your options. Now since I realize you've got a family to feed, I'll put you on a stipend while you adjust to this new lifestyle.

Now here's where we get wonky. Let's say VP does all three of these things, and is HUGELY successful. Here a problem arises. You see I said he could only use the land for SURVIVAL, and I gave him money to live on while he was adjusting. Therefore any money he makes over the amount I was giving him, I get to take away. Also, since his businesses are taking away from surrounding businesses that are owned by the people I actually care about I'm going to place huge restrictions now on how many furs he can trap, which products he can trade at his post, and state that only people living on his land can use the church he's set up. Oh and every single thing he does requires a permit from me, which I may give him late, because well, he's just got the best furs around, so I'd rather the animals he is going to trap have a chance to leave his land so someone else can trap them.

Is everyone starting to understand why First Nations are not having much success at starting their own businesses? Yeah I thought so.

These are the restrictions that are constantly placed on First Nations, but I hear you say 'Wait there are tons of First Nations businesses! You're right, here's how it's done. First off, a site that is not on the reserve has to be purchased to start the business. Next, since it's nearly impossible to get any funding Federally or through financial institutions to start a business (Remember that horrible survival rule) partnerships are generally achieved with other businesses so that they can get started. And then the money is kept separate so that it doesn't interfere with the Federal funding. The government knows this is going on, but they're getting taxes off the profits so they're ok with it. See First Nations DO pay taxes.

But the survival restriction is still here, it still hampers any real creation of either personal or community wealth. And I'm not talking getting money, I'm talking the ability to use the money you have to continue to make money.

I also have not gone into the myriad of ways that various governments have used to discourage any kind of financial independence.

So there you have it, that's Indian Title. It's pretty horrible and it is the current rules. Of course, for folks like the previously mentioned Tom Flannagan, it's far too expensive to try to change these rules, so better not to try.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Misunderstanding Abounds!

It is cold, so the fire is low and spread out, so the coals can give off the most reflective heat. Enjoy it, and take your clothes over to the hot rocks there. Let them dry on that, and come back, while I pour some water over the rocks I have here in a pit next to the coals. Look up, watch this unfold in the steam.

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2008/11/20/nr.sanchez.preacher.sign.cnn?iref=videosearch

So this video is just phenominal. It shows a massive amount of misunderstandings. Let's start with the first. Here's the biblical verse that this Pastor has used:

Exodus 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

What does this have to do with Barack Obama, even if he WERE a Muslim? This is A) Jewish Law, and B) pertaining to those that would follow Christianity. The USA might be a Christian Majority, it is NOT a Theocracy (But God Bless him, George W. Bush certainly tried didn't he?).

So there you have just the sign, let's get into the video now. There is a lot more I could rant about regarding the two first misunderstanding, but I find this seperation of church and state thing fabulous.

So here we have Pastor Mark telling us that the Constitution of the United States of America does not contain any part that says the Church cannot interfer in politics. And I suppose he is somewhat right. Except that the reason for that part of the constitution has to do with why people were leaving England. That the head of England was both the head of state and of church disallowed any freedom of religion, so they made this part for two reasons. One was of course to satisify the various different religious movements with the US at the time, but the bigger reason was so that the church was not the source, or basis for the powers and decisions of the government.

The letters quoted by Rich Sanchez (That's the interviewer) definitively give the intent of the founding fathers within the context of what they wrote. Of course, certain individuals don't like that interpretation anymore so they'd prefer to just ignore the intent.

And lastly, we have his quote about God being the Judge, Lawgiver, and King. I don't even know where to begin in dismantling this little bit of out and out idiocy. first again JEWISH LAW!!! JEWISH!!! Not Christian. Admittedly this is the basis for Christianity, but it is entirely out of context to quote this in regards to the current government or even current Christianity. So big zero on the scoreboard there.

Next, the fact that something current could resemble the set up of a past system is absolutely rediculous. The formation and set up of a senate and congress is based on the Greek and Roman models. Does this mean that all the senators should be fucking each other? Shall we paint giant flying phalluses all over the state and capitol buildings? So this form of logic is so incredibly... oh I can't even BEGIN to describe how failed it is, anyone with half a brain can figure it out.

And lastly. He misquoted the scripture. The biblical verse he gives is about clothing, not what he quotes.

Now I agree with what Mr. Sanchez said the next day about this nipplehead, he's not evil, he's not a bad guy. He just sees things differently. And that's fine, but the way he sees them has a profound effect on other people, AND he's misinformed and misinterpreting a hell of a lot of important things. And then telling other people this is RIGHT!

Now my wonderful friend Ceno over there has pointed out a lovely misinterpretation as well concering gay rights. The reason these kind of misinterpretations happen is because someone gets a hair across their ass about something they have decided they don't like, so they go and find something, ANYTHING, they can twist to be the reason why whatever it is they hate is wrong, and a 'sin' or will 'destroy society' or any other list of things that will cause the end of the world. Well, here's a lovely chart I found in regards to gay marriage, and we'll leave you all with that.

http://graphjam.com/2008/11/19/song-chart-memes-consequences-of-gay-marriage/

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Grandpa Didn't Cry

Come, sit, quiet is needed. The fire is very low because the shadows demand it. They want to come in too. The shadows, in case I haven't explained, are the thoughts and spirits of those that have passed. I feel close to them right now, and they seem real to me. They won't hurt you, trust me, they're mine and I wish no ill to anyone, but they will talk to you, and perhaps that might be scary. Right now they're talking to me about a promise I made and I'd like to share with you how it was made. It's ok, shhh, sit down I'll tell them.

When Desert Storm (Operation Friction to us Canadians) started, I was 15. There was a certain level of uncertainty in the air as to how the actual invasion may fare. Iraq was very much ready for a fight, and the US hadn't shown their hand. As we know it went quickly, but for some who had gone through previous wars felt it could have gone much differently.

I've told you of my Grandfather, a burly man who lived through World War Two minus a lower leg and his twin. He occasionally told me about the boat ride he saw his twin killed on. Rambling details when he was a little in his cups. I couldn't share with you the exact details, but to say I saw the pain and heard the terror he must have felt as a young man would be true. He was profoundly affected by that experience and I doubt he felt it was in a good way.

When the war was finally underway, my grandparents came to visit. It was on all the news and we all had an intense front row view of modern warfare. My grandfather asked for a cup of coffee, and sat down in the dining room. Grandma told me I should go sit with him so I did. He seemed shaken, and pale. He face, usually a hard stern mask, held a look of apprehension. His cheeks were wet.

We sat in silence for a number of minutes, he held his coffee cup and stared at it, perhaps hoping it would tell him how to start. I'm not sure. I was frightened, because my grandfather didn't cry.

"I'm not cryin'." He could see it, my own confusion. "Shrapnel in my eye. Pains me sometimes." He gripped that cup again and I swear it disappeared within those huge hand. Massive and powerful, they symbolized something scary but sometimes something safe. "Like my leg. Stupid wooden one hurts most times." He coughed, and pulled out his cigarettes, and I passed the ashtray closer. Why were his cheeks still wet?

"You know I don't talk about the war at all." He inhaled a long drag, and let it move from his nose. The smoke came out in shaky jumbles; twisted, twirling, tumbling clouds that didn't seem right. I watched and stayed silent. "I don't like it, no one should have to do that. I know I had to, but no one should."

I was stunned to hear this. I was young, I thought anyone who fought in a war thought it was the right thing to do. His cheeks were still wet, why were they still wet?!

"You're pretty young, don't get me wrong, you won't go, or shouldn't. Maybe not yet." His voice shook, I didn't know what to do, his cheeks were still wet. He brushed at them, "Ain't tears, just the shrapnel."

One of those massive hands reached slowly, oh so slowly, and gripped my wrist. The grip was iron and I could feel how strong he was, how strong he felt. My body stopped twitching, moving, perhaps even stopped breathing. I stared into his eyes. "You won't go. You promise me." His cheeks were still wet.

As if on cue from his eyes, I answered, "I promise granpa, I won't go." He nodded, and let go. The cup of coffee disappeared again inside those hands, but I was still held.

"You don't want to ever see that. Going to war ..." his words trailed, and he shook his head, and I saw something splash to the table out of the corner of my eye. He wiped again, muttered something about shrapnel and moved to stand. I sat there, and watched as he seemed to move upward like a monolith, perhaps a living cenotaph. "You promise me you won't go." I just nodded. "Good." He left the coffee, his smoke, and the room.

I sat for a bit, I was stunned, and then I went downstairs, watched the war, but it was just sliding past.

My grandfather never cried, he couldn't. Those things were stolen from him due to his own sacrifice. He gave them up and so for you granpa, I'll cry. I cry for all those from the first times of war who gave what they could so others didn't have to. And I promised to him I wouldn't, so I won't. But I'll cry.

I'll cry for you grandpa, shhh, it's ok, I love you and I miss you. Thank you, for everything.

Clearing up some points

Come sit down and enjoy the fire, I have some baby carrots and beef jerky to share. It's a special day today and a lot that needs to be remembered actually needs to be learned. This post is not to diminish the incredible sacrifice of our armed forces. Its purpose is instead for that recognition to be elevated so that we might all enjoy the freedoms that were fought for.

I'm going to have to go way way way back to the Royal Proclamation of 1763. By the way, for those that don't know, this is the basis and beginning of our constitution within Canada, and is in fact the first instance of the word reserve was used. Part of the purpose of the Royal Proclamation was to appease the First Nations people who's land was being infringed upon by con men and settlers. It also sets up the frame work for the creation and negotiation of treaties. You see it said that all the land that was 'reserved' for Indians was owned by the Crown, and no one may buy, sell, or use it without the Crown's permission. In fact all land deals that involved 'Indian reserved land' must go through the Crown. There is also a statement that the Crown promised to defend the traditional lifestyle of the First Nations.

To do this slightly bizarre set up the Crown, in the Royal Proclamation created a new term, called 'Indian Title.' What this meant was, that all lands reserved for the Indians, was actually owned by the Crown, but that the Indians could use it and continue to use it for any traditional purposes. It's funny how a statement that was made then to protect First Nations people, actually is used to hamper them now.

Oh yes, and this proclamation also made all Indians subjects of the British Crown but exempted them from being duty bound to serve in any military campaign. Of course, anyone who has studied North American history know that First Nations have served in every single war that has ever occurred on our own soil, as well as every single one we've contributed to outside of our borders.

All of these points are in effect in today's treaties and are relevant to any discussion of changing, modifying, renegotiation, or abolishing the treaties, because each and every point here has been used to degrade, diminish, and destroy the First Nations.

First off, by setting themselves up as the only agent through which economic trade with First Nations could be done, either through sale of land or other arrangements, the British Crown, and subsequently the Canadian Government, set itself up in a relationship of Fiduciary Responsibility. In simple terms, the government is now held accountable for the financial well being of the First Nations.

The example I always use is one of parent and child. Let's say my Little Bear becomes a huge pop star tomorrow. She makes sixty million dollars throughout her career as a minor. According to an agreement we have made as her agent and father I am allowed to access 10% as my fee (Which is actually pretty low for an agent) and then spend any money on agreed expenses for Little Bear's lifestyle and business expenses. The rest is put in trust for her when she turns 18. Now as a good parent I've attempted to keep things reasonable and hey, when she turns 18, there should be say ... half that left in trust for her, so 30 million dollars. If she turns 18 and that money is not there for her, then guess what?! I'm on the hook for that money, and can legally be sued to pay it.

Ok so this brings up a number of issues. First off, the Canadian government has not fulfilled its obligations in regards to the well being of First Nations. You go to the reserves and tell me if these people are enjoying the prosperity that the government has promised them. In fact we have documented cases (Kahkewistahaw is a good one) that prove they not only did not fulfill this obligation but acted against it. There are thousands of other examples of this same thing happening over and over again.

The second is this interesting thought: the relationship of First Nations and the Canadian government could be, and legally is, seen as something similar to the child/parent relationship. It is seen frequently in the way INAC takes control of First Nations organizations when they feel they are not being handled correctly. This relationship is damaging because it creates a case of unfounded superiority and control that degrades the lesser party in the relationship. It is unhealthy and will continue to create problems that resonate throughout the negotiation of new ways to do things, and ultimately will prevent any real change. It also leads to ridiculous statements like those of Tom Flanagan who state that small governments on reserves create familial factionalism and economic abuse that create a rich and poor class. These statements are ridiculous because our own government and political system creates these exact same things! By making these statements it reinforces the 'other' or 'lesser' idea that is inherent in the child/parent relationship of the current situation and do not allow for any real growth. Simply put, it is ok for white people to practice nepotism and horde wealth, but First Nations cannot. It would be 'bad' for them. (Personal note: Ok I know this is being presented as an intellectual exercise but is anyone else feeling incredibly offended and ready to kick someone in the junk?)

The last issue involved in this relationship is that final accounting. If the government ever wants to abolish this relationship then the bill will be due. Just as in my previous example, if the Canadian government ever abolishes the child/parent relationship then every single First Nation has ever legal right to sue for everything they have no gotten, every dollar earned from their land without proper recompense, and for every broken promise the Canadian government put down on paper.

I'm going to stop here for now, but there is a number of points still uncleared. Next we'll look at the restrictions used within Indian Title, the lie that was military service exemption, and the failure of the Human Rights Code.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

*sigh*

I'm participating only because if I don't I'll seem weak, and then the predators will eat me. So come in and enjoy the night fire and listen to this amusing bit of ... stuff.

So Cenobyte tagged me. Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

So here are the six things, and you may all enjoy them for what they are worth.

1) I have several criminal charges, most of which would cause people to hate me. I'm not going to share them, but I am a reformed individual, who committed the crimes I did because I was a fucked up kid. Everyone, no matter the crime deserves a full hearted chance at rehabilitation, because even the worst of them can change when given the right resources. Like myself.

2) I have, and do occasionally still suffer from depression, have used many different ways to cope with it including medication. Due to my depression I have considered suicide quite often. No, not recently, well maybe, within the last three years or so. These are things I am not ashamed of, and no one else should ever be ashamed of this. A lot more people than you think suffer from mental illness and maybe if I am willing to tell everyone about my own others might start changing their perceptions of fellow sufferers.

3) I am an extroverted introvert. I would rather sit at home and let the rest of you (in my more bitter and less forgiving times) kill each other while I enjoy time with a nice book. While I operate quite well in front of people, am not shy, and in fact take a certain joy in being the center of attention, I also hate it at the same time. Go fig?

4) The things I truly enjoy about people are those idosyncracies and annoying habits that others actually dislike. It is our weakness and failings that make us what we are because those are what we must overcome to better ourselves and the people around us. I love you all for the ways you make me suffer. Even more twisted. :)

5) I like the Canadian made show 6teen. It's freakin' hilarious! Especially the episode when the three main girls all have their periods together. I've never laughed so hard in my life.

6) I lost my virginity at the age of 13. I was drunk, stoned, and could barely get it up. I think the girl I had sex with was five or six years older than me. I barely remember most of it, the parts I do were very uncomfortable and the entire experience was bad. I don't remember her name and I didn't have sex again until I was 18. (I stole the inspiration for this from Cenobyte. Heh)

Now we're s'pose to tag six others, but I'm only gonna tag one. My bestest best buddy in the whole wide world (Literally!), Viper Pilot! Mostly cuz the others are already tagged, and I don't know many others that blog. Rules were made to be broken right?

Now I also broke the rules because the things I shared are not random, they are in fact calculated to let you all know more of who I am and why I see things the way they are. Or why I want to change the world. It'll happen, slowly, but it will happen.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Another question

The fire is still bright, the sky is always dark here in the den. Enjoy some more time with me if you would.

So those of us here in Saskatchewan have just got a BIG tax break right? I'm a bit confused about it though. Income tax breaks generally favor the wealthy, and are not as all encompasing as the government would like you to believe. So here I'm going to pose some questions. Fire some answers please.

Increasing the base benefit will help only those that are already above the poverty line. If your goal is to help the province, wouldn't it make sense to make sure everyone can benefit from our economic windfall?

I've heard complaints that not enough was put towards debt reduction. From what I understand, the interest on our debt is also dependant on how much the debt is and how much we have sitting there to ward against unforseen circumstances, or if we had to pay RIGHT NOW how much could we put together. So having a large 'rainy day fund' like the NDP set up is actually more economically responsible. Am I reading this wrong? Is it not true that the more money we have in surplus the lower our interest rates are, and the faster we can repay the debt at a lower rate?

A better tax benefit for everyone would have been to reduce or eliminate the provincial sales tax. Everyone has to pay that, and wouldn't eliminating this also produce a larger incentive to buy things, which if I'm again understanding this, would create a better economic climate?

How many of you believe Wall (A twice failed businessman who ran a family farm worth millions into the groud) had ANYTHING to do with our current prosperity? IF you do, can you please give examples. They had better be more than 'Businesses do better under a conservative government' because that, as far as I can tell is false.

Unrelated question: Duane is back. Think he'll want to try to de-criminalize prostitution again?

Discuss.

I'ma gunna beat some ignorant Presidential people

Come in, enjoy this little blaze I've got going. It's a beautiful night, the weather is fine, but I'm at unease. I'm a little angry, but mostly I'm completely amazed at the ignorance of people in that wonderful country below us. Oh yeah I stole some home made curied mayonnaise from that crazy Cenobyte for her misuse of a word. Enjoy it mixed into this flaked turkey I have. Crackers too.

Ok so for the past two weeks we've had to listen to McCain/Palin denounce socialism like it's some vicious disease and now I listen to Caribou Barbie make a personal attack on socialism. She claims it's used in other countries where they destroy entrepenurialism and grows government. She then used a logical falicy in saying that since Obama wants to 'redistribute wealth' then he's going to make more government and to pay for that he'll have to actually raise taxes. She also made the claim that those countries that use socialism are countries where people are not actually free.

So let's break this down. Socialism as I understand it is imposing a social order that is based off of the equality of man and that we're all responsible for each other. As a collective we're far greater and stronger than individuals clawing for our own personal gain. Socialism employed in this way would actually create more job growth and overall prosparity, increasing the overall 'pie' that we have so that everyone can benefit from it to a greater degree. This has always been the case but since pure capitalists see the threat to their personal greed, they make this false claim that business would suffer.

A buddy of mine who's business went under didn't go under because of socialism, in fact he is very much a socialist in how he ran it. No, he went under because a bigger business overextended itself, and in a capitalist system you can always claim a 'oops' and walk away from your debts. 30 grand my friend lost because of another's greed. In fact all these problems the US is experiencing in their markets is due to unfettered capitalism. Greed driven political systems dehumanize people and place value where it shouldn't be, on a non-real idea of money that is centered in bits of paper that are essentially without value. It wasn't socialism that caused that market crash however it was the very socialist idea of using government money to prop up that market that is apparently going to save them.

Now let's address that claim that socialism is used in countries that aren't free. Well look around you fellow Canadians. Do you feel more or less free than the United States? It'd be a bit of a spectrum but I think for the most part we're just as free as they are, and we employ a great many socialist ideals. Canada is a left leaning country. What about France? They've been a whole heap of free for many many years. Those folks are the rulers of socialism. They also have a healthy economy and are a strong part of the EU.

Now the more taxes and growing government? Do these people not look at what their own party has done? The USA has had the largest governmental increase since The New Deal. Something like a 30% growth in government departments and services. Mostly associated with removing the freedom of their own people.

I'm also listening to McCain speak of buying bad mortgages to save the housing market. This is in essence a completely socialist ideal. Do these people have any concept of reality, of the things they say? Do they know that their claims and jibes are completely untruthful? I'm so sick of politics in general, including our recent election and the false ideas that political parties implant in the public to induce fear. I've run into so many people without any real concept of how these things influence one another, that the problem isn't entirely on the politicians side. It's us too folks, we're not out there seperating the lies they tell from the truth of the situation.

So here's the deal. The public starts paying attention to the real issues that happen around us. We start reading and researching the way of the world around us, and become much better informed. If we as a public demand more from the politicians and media around us then perhaps we'll get better. Of course it is much easier to sit around and make excuses so feel free to do that too. Just don't expect anything to get better.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On Funny

Come in, come in, the fire is warm and the jokes are funny, while outside it is cold and bitter. I love contrasts. So yesterday I had to do a presentation on what is funny. It went over smashingly. It perfectly encapsulated my view that what we find funny are things we also find offensive. It's laugh or cry. At times half the room would be laughing, at others, they'd be moaning, or shooting me dirty looks. It was rather funny. :) So I share the presentation with you. I wish I'd recorded it so that you could get the full effect.

Good morning. How is everyone? Ahh excellent, mostly catatonic like usual. Less questions for me at the end.

This morning I am going to talk to you all about humor. What is funny? Why do we laugh at certain things? Why does this differ between people and cultures? Well lucky for me, I happened across a rather interesting bit of writing that broke down the stimuli of humor in relation to psychology, and I’ve written the name of that book behind me on the board.
Sultanoff, Steven M. "Integrating Humor into Psychotherapy." in Play Therapy with Adults. Ed. Charles Schaefer, New York, NY: Wiley and Sons, 2002.

In it, Sultanoff has broken down the seven situations that all humans find humor in. Interestingly enough each of these categories has something in common with one another.

First we have Incongruity: that being things placed together that we don’t usually associate with one another. The article mentions Oxymorons, but I find most observational humor that stand up comedians do fall into this category as well. Or of course, I’m always amused when I see a sign that says ‘We’re here to help’ in any governmental agency.

Second is Absurdity, ridiculousness, and ludicrousness: exaggerations, over the top events, things that seem so out of place in the ‘normal’ flow of a persons perceptions will fall into this category. Such as the definition between kinky and perverted: can anyone tell me that one? Kinky is when you use a feather to tickle your lover. Perverted, that’s when you use the whole chicken.

Third we have Unexpected Future: This is where the expected result is replaced. Slapstick, punchlines, and cartoons are cited in the article. Groucho Marx telling us how he shot an elephant in his pajamas last night ‘How he got in my pajamas I’ll neva know…’

Fourth we have Pleasant Surprise: a nice event that tickles us in a way to amuse. For me I was rushing to my 212 survey class last year, and grabbed a Coke Zero from the vending machine down by Printing Services. When it fell out I noticed a sticker across the label. The first thing I thought was ‘Great, advertisement on my pop now.’ Instead when I pick it up it says ‘You’ve won $50.00.’ So I look around. I’m confused because this shouldn’t happen, and I read the label again, and it’s directing me to head on up to financial services. So I do, and yep, apparently Coca-Cola vending services hands out these ‘scholarships.’ I sign the sheet, answer the skill testing question, get my fifty bucks, end up late to class, but it was the BEST Coke Zero ever! Had to tell everyone when I got to class. Part of the humor of that situation lies also in our fifth category.

Being startled: Practical jokes and such fall into this category, but I’m not sure if it’s the subject or the joker that is more amused. When I got that drink, I looked around because I expected someone to jump out with a camera going ‘HAH! Got’cha!’

Sixth we have ‘Getting It.’ Jokes where our intellect is prodded into action, such as puns, and riddles but also jokes where insider knowledge reveals the joke. My favorite riddle is ‘No sooner spoken than broken.’ I personally am unable to keep the answer to that riddle.

Lastly of course is the Emotional Chaos Remembered in Tranquility: the old ‘Ok so remember when this happened!’ It results in two responses, such as ‘Wasn’t very funny at the time,’ or ‘Well you had to be there.’ Here the article cites survivor groups such as cancer patients who use humor to deal with living through the ordeal. For me it was the birth of my first child. Now ladies, especially those who have had children, do not think that for one moment I am belittling the ordeal of child birth, but for those of us who are dedicated fathers and partners, it’s not all smiles and laughs either. It was three days of labor for my ex-wife to birth my eldest. And she was so oversensitive to every stimulus that I couldn’t cook, I couldn’t turn on the TV, and for her to get any sleep I had to get her onto a chair in the shower, let the hot water flow while I massaged her upper back, and then put her to bed while I rolled a cold can of Sprite up and down her lower back. So Three days, no sleep, the only food was when she did fall asleep, I’d sprint down to the 7-11 that was a few houses down and scarf down one of their belly bomb burgers, and rush back.

The event finally is getting to the point so to speak, and my parents come into town from Esterhazy, and my mom has brought me a WONDERFUL corned beef sandwich, hot mustard, red onion, cheddar cheese, on rye. Oh my, I just about fell over in ecstasy right there. I take one bite, one delicious, savoury bite, chewing slowly oh so slowly, enjoying every last little flavour that is bursting in my mouth, to be yanked away by the pained moans of my then wife. I put down the sandwich, swallow, rush over, and take her hand while taking the cloth I had to wipe her forehead, to be shoved away abruptly with this shout: ‘Oh you stink like onions! If you don’t get rid of that I swear I’ll puke then kill you!’

So there I am scrambling down to the gift shop in the hospital, hoping A) my baby isn’t born in the time I’m gone, and B) that I can find a toothbrush and toothpaste so my loooovely partner doesn’t kill me.

My dad ate my sandwich.

Did you notice the one thread that ties them all together? It’s surprise, or offense. Humor is universally based on these seven traits, which could best be described as things that will either make you cry or laugh, and it is the individual response that dictates which it will be.

The article stresses this. Here is a direct quote from Sultanoff: While one’s “sense of humor” is highly idiosyncratic and individualized, it is based on one’s awareness and perception of a stimulus that is presented in the context of one or more of the universal traits. The universal qualities of the stimulus-receiver interaction increase the probability of a specific event being perceived as humorous.
Once a stimulus is perceived as humorous, it will trigger a reaction within the individual. This reaction may be physiological (laughter), cognitive (wit), or emotional (mirth), or a combination of these experiences. Therefore, the total sensation of a humorous event is a complex interaction of a stimulus, an individual’s perception, and the resulting reaction.

We are shaped by the experiences around us. My own humor could best be described as somewhat twisted. Let me demonstrate: By the way, if body hair offends you, cover your ears. What is the last noise a pubic hair makes before it hits the ground? Pbbt. Yeah, somewhat funny, funnier part though? My mom told me that joke! The humor of my family generally follows this pattern, and has shaped my own view of what will in the end offend me, which isn’t much.

As individuals are shaped by their experiences, those experiences are shaped by their culture. This shows particularily well in the idea of humor within First Nations, as compared to European culture. Crudely put, white folks don’t know how to laugh at themselves that well. There are reports from men in Cartier’s first journeys who are absolutely startled that the Indians can all make fun and laugh at their Chiefs. This flows through to modern times with articles from Drew Hayden Taylor who make a mock of the residential school pay outs, wondering when the victims of the Battle of Little Big Horn are going to sue the Sioux for their losses those many years ago. Or the article I’ve handed to you, you can read later.

Certain cultures seem to build within themselves a higher capacity for humor, and place its value somewhere in their spectrum of importance. For Europeans, how many times do we say ‘Stop being silly’ or ‘This isn’t a time to joke around!’ Well, it would appear for other cultures they would consider those the exact times to joke around and be silly.

Examples of that, are stories passed down in families that describe an elder going to town dressed in long underwear, and because of that misunderstanding, he got free groceries and a ride home from the Indian Agent when he was tired. Or my own family’s story of the first outhouse they had placed on the reserve.

For a broader example I would suggest you all look to find some sweat lodge stories. While these ceremonies are highly ritualistic and on the prairies were a form of healing and cleansing, larger sweats, for groups of men or women were done with a more communal idea in mind and the stories they used in these situations were all dealing with that most taboo of subjects: sex. All of them are absolutely hilarious, and treat the subject with a very easy and comfortable manner.

It’s hard not to look at these differences and not be able to see that in European culture, humor is seen as a lower form of communication, and in First Nations, it is a primary way to deal with those events of life that aren’t always the easiest. Personally I agree, I’d rather laugh than cry, I’d rather be amused and see the joy of a situation rather than the dour attitude that most ‘serious’ things entail. How about all of you?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

RIP Rufus

The fire is low tonight, I'm not feeling up to warmth or light. I need some somber atmosphere because it hasn't been a pleasant night. I still want you to come sit down though, I need the company. It may seem small at first, but perhaps we can all understand these things a bit more.

Our hamster died tonight. His name was Rufus and he was an incredible little beastie. One of the few I've ever known to come when called, to escape but not to leave but to be close to the person who he connected with the most, that being my eldest daughter Little Bear. He was incredibly resourceful when it came to escape, and that same incredible nature had an effect on our cat Xuxa (That's pronounced SHOOshA), cuz even I saw that little critter sit next to the cat without a care in the world while the cat seemed just as happy to hang out with something she generally killed. He was so comfortable with our family that one morning Little Bear placed Rufus on my chest, and he looked around, sniffed, then curled up and went to sleep. Truly unique.

My poor Little Bear was hysterical and it's hard to see that as a dad. On the flip side of that I know there is no way I can keep the big bad world from intruding on the perceived safety of our home. It's like that old joke, Life: Nobody gets out of here Alive. As such I got to help Little Bear deal with some of her first close loss. It's a tough bit of reality and I'll help the Baby Bird understand it better tomorrow, but right now, right this instant, I'm gonna tell you all what I told Little Bear.

First, there was the disposal. I don't go in for the ceremony of funerals. Me personally, I'll be having my disease riddled body shipped off to the U of S to be hacked apart by folks who wanna learn how to cure people. So I let Little Bear carry the cage with corpse outside to the garbage to get it out of the house. She was still crying in great heaves and sobs, and the Baby Bird was hiccuping along in response to the cries of her big sister. Once Rufus was disposed of, I called a stop to the wailing and asked the girls to listen. This is what I said:

'The loss involved with death is a lot, and it hurts, but I don't feel that is what should be focused on. Instead celebrate the joy of what Rufus brought to your life. The special memories of how great a pet he was, and how because of your care for him he was more than just a little thing in a cage, he was your little guy, your baby. I understand the loss. Hurting isn't bad, but celebrate the life, don't bemoan your own loss.'

Little Bear seemed to take this in stride, and she coughed out a few last tears, and said to me 'I'll try.' And she burst into all the memories she had. She told story after story once we got back into the house, and it helped her regain her own composure and she calmed. There were still tears, don't mistake that, but she thought about how special that little critter was to her and held close to his memory.

I held her for a while, and we talked. She asked me if he'd be in Heaven. I'm an honest guy, so I had to explain the dogma. Most Christian sects don't equate souls to animals. I then explained my own view, that we each receive what we deserve, our own Happy Hunting Ground. For Rufus, I see a big house, with rooms filled with Little Bear and her love and food. No cages, just lots of room for him to explore yet always come back to the thing he was most comfortable with, the crook of Little Bear's arm, or huddled beneath her knee with a piece of apple.

I then explained how I saw immortality. We as living things will all die. Our shells will waste away, all those things we bought, those things we made of stuff, all that will turn to dust and wash away into the stream of time. But those who loved us, and who we love, then will remember us. And in that, we will be immortal.

She then said 'You've dealt with a lot of loss huh dad?' I had to nod, and I thought back to all the people who I've loved yet lost. My father committed suicide when I was just 6. From there I've watched family members succumb to many things, mostly cancer. An Aunt passed while I was a teen, her daughter, my cousin just recently. All these people shaped me, and I carry them with me, I talk to them and let them know I still will love them despite their lack of a physical presence. My grandfather whom I've introduced to you all. These things hurt and ache yet I cherish them and the parts of me that will always wish for them to see the things I still see.

I couldn't really respond to her on this, I just held her. I gave my Little Bear what little comfort I could from my own actions, and I just loved her. Then we played Rock Band.

I write these things through crying eyes, knowing my daughter has lost yet another piece of the innocence of youth. I cry for the loss that we will all suffer, and I know each of you out there will feel the same things, yet I won't tell you how to think or feel. We will all feel it and it's a universal experience. All I can do is assure you that those I love, I will always continue to love, and those that love me, I can only hope for the same.

I also cry because I'm gonna miss that little guy, he may have only been a bit of fluff and maybe he peed on me a few times, but he was special to my daughters and special to me. Bye Rufus, enjoy the apples.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Amazing.

Come in, sit down and grab a blanket. The fire has just reached that point where it's still very warm but not so high that it makes cooking impossible. I've got some sausages, you hungry? It's better to discuss politics on a full stomach. Although this won't be much of a discussion.

There are so many articles on just what this bailout means, from comparing it to French policies (Why not Canada, or is it not cool to shit on us anymore?) to the various political party members demanding that this bailout follow certain rules. Even Bill Clinton was on the Daily Show saying that the US Gov't has to either charge high interest rates on the loan, or demand shares in the company. Either way it's a crappy situation.

I prefer to look at it this way: yet another example that Dubya et al. will do whatever the fuck they want whenever they want. Right now they're trying to bully the congress into getting this bill through without any changes, which would just be bizarre. Just like our own leader Stephen 'I'll get it down even if it's illegal' Harper. (I realize that nickname will never really catch on, but it's true. The other I wanna use is Stephen 'Fucktard' Harper. That might catch on.)

So to close. George W. Bush, Stephen Harper, both people who feel that the legalities of their position is irrelevant to their desires. Oh and here's a funny.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Disturbing Images.

Come in, despite the sadness of the day, with the passing of the Little General, I had some amusement today amidst the near tears. So come sit down around the fire and enjoy. Maybe you've got a funny story as well, share it, I am looking for a laugh.

I am taking an author's study of Milton for one of my classes, and it focuses mainly on Paradise Lost. It has some loverly disturbing images folks. Book two, when Satan meets Sin and Death. WHOOO DADDY! Nuthin' like incest/rape/BDSM to make a story interesting. But I got worse than that today.

John Donne wrote a poem called Batter my Heart, Three Person'd God and in my Genre theory class, we're going over sonnets, which this poem is. And at the end of the day she introduced the Queer reading of the poem. Now go read the poem and come back to hear the end of this. G'on, I'll wait...

So ... she reads the academic paper on the queer theory of the poem and in it is the term 'Trinitary Gangbang.'

Repeat that with me. Trinitary Gangbang.

Donne apparently wants to be raped by the three aspects of God. Or so this reading claims.

Right or wrong I couldn't stop laughing for the last ten minutes of class.

So I show up for my Milton class, which is right after the Genre Theory class, and say to my wonderful professor 'Sorry, you're gonna hafta turn it up a notch. While we've had some disturbing images in this poem, nuthin' so far beats Trinitary Gangbang.'

Heheheh. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, truly filling you. So wrong!

And this line: 'Labour to'admit you, but Oh, to no end,' *snickers* I'm tryin' God, but your horsecock won't fit up m'pooper! *falls over laughing*

Ok ... and this is why you all want to becoming English students. We have the most fun. :)

Sad

Can't think of anything to say.

We lost the Little General.

Bye Ron.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

How best to spend 9/11

So I was sick last week, and I'm flipping through the channels and all that's on is tributes. I mean even Discovery shows an all day thing on the attack on the Pentagon. So I flipped it to MuchMoreMusic and luckily it was actually showing music videos. And I stumble across this. Now I can't embed it so go give it a look.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXMeZwO2qZ0

The music is ... well the song is nice, it's nothing like 'Oh my god! That's the greatest thing ever!' but it is nice. But the imagery in the video is just ... oh my. I've watched the video about a dozen times, and showed it to a few other folks. I keep finding new creepy little things in it. Quite tasty.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Frivolous Post

Come in, enjoy a laugh, it's such a beautiful night, the fire is perfect for roasting a marshmellow or two.

For those of you who may not be fans of The Guild (Shame on you if you're not) or who haven't checked out the links to it, you gotta check this.

The Legend of Neil

It's a webisode show spoofing Legend of Zelda, done by Sandeep Parihk (Zaboo).

My fav is Ep 3. Felicia Day and a Fairy with Issues. It doesn't get funnier.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I am Canadian.

Come in, but stay back, for the fire is truly blazing tonight. I found a rather fun subject and when it goes, it certainly goes. This next bit was a research project I did, and I think will be the beginings of the master thesis I wish to work on in regards to cultural identity and literature. I've found some rather nifty stuff since this first dip into the pool.

The Canadian people have always wondered who they are. Even now our identity is mired in a distinct lack of identity. While this can be touted as a good position because we are much more accepting of those outside influences which may shape a nation, yet with a critical eye, Canada is still seen as a country without a true identity. Unfortunately we will never achieve any state of true identity without accepting all the various events that created the country we live in. Due to the ignorance bred from ethnocentric historical bias Canada has lost its foundation, lost its connection to the very land which would give it an identity; by ignoring the massive contributions and the millennia of history provided by the First Nations the Canadian identity will never be realized.

“Canada, it use to be said by non-Aboriginals with more or less conviction, is a country of much geography and little history.” (Dickason VIII) A puzzling statement used to introduce Olive Patricia Dickason’s text A Concise History of Canada’s First Nations. It relates directly to the question of what exactly is Canada. We as a nation have struggled for hundreds of years to find an identity, and like most identities it has related to what we are not: USA’s little brother, peacekeepers, negotiators, British Subjects, nice. All descriptions used with a begrudging indifference, never satisfactory in truly capturing who we are.

Where this identity crisis becomes truly apparent is in our current definition of what it is to be Canadian. Our government’s official position is one of multiculturalism. We accept all races, and have decided since we cannot nail down a specific identity we will merely borrow from the world, and force no one to accept wholly the identity of Canadian. In fact it leads to some interesting descriptions given by individuals within our country. If you ask someone where they are from, the first answer is rarely Canada, it is instead to someplace else, connections to far away countries are given. This further highlights the disconnection Canadians have with their very country.

Where this disconnection comes from is the lack of recognition we give to our complete history. A separation from the history of the First Nations gives the myth that Canada popped into existence with the arrival of Europeans. While on the surface that disconnect might seem superficial and unimportant it leads to a very real issue in terms of the human psyche. Without the vital connection, without a base, a relationship with the very land we walk on every day we prevent ourselves from ever realizing who we truly are.

Take this idea a step back. Each individual identifies with the place of their birth. We can all name the city of our birth and usually we have some strong idea of what that place is like, either love or hate, or an idealized image. Without that initial connection in our mind we cannot establish the rest of the timeline that creates the personal history of who we are. That first step in our personal myth gives us the foundation, and initial connection of our identity.

As a country Canada has purposefully removed that connection. Most history books start with Cartier landing here and establishing the first French colonies. From there we learn of the arrival of the English and their eventual domination. What is never mentioned is the way First Nations history affected these events. Without the pharmacological knowledge of those Cartier first met his initial camps would have died due to scurvy, without the massive and intricate trade routes already established throughout North America the surveying of the land would never have progressed as quickly as it did, nor would the economic benefits from things like the fur trade have flourished. Without the military allies of the First Nations, Canada would have lost the war of 1812. These are only some very tiny examples of the overall effect that the First Nations had on European settlers, yet even these tiny ones show that without them colonization would never have occurred, would never have been profitable or desirable.

There is a darker side to this disconnection. Without that connection, and without that identity, we also have lost any real ability to embrace that multicultural identity we currently tout as Canadian. At first it started with the marginalization of the First Nations. These people were robbed of their ancestral homes, forced into new modes of life and survival, and systemic genocide was then employed to solve the problem they created. A people without a history have no future, at least according to Europeans, and by ignoring the history these people did have, it becomes very easy to see First Nations as less than human.

These ideas are ever present in the film “Dancing Around The Table.” The confrontational attitude taken by the government is due to two reasons stemming from the disconnect we have created in our national history and identity. First, it shows a lack of respect for the desires of Aboriginal people. How could any people without a history feel they deserve both a land base and to be treated with the same respect and privileges of Europeans. Trudeau’s interruption of the prayers to start the conference perfectly highlights this. Since the talks also mandate a constitutional accord, none of the provinces wish to agree to this. The constitution defines our country, and to add Aboriginal rights to that document would require recognizing the position of the Aboriginal people as a nation within Canada.

Add to this the myth that is Canadian identity. It is firmly entrenched in the idea that the European settlers created Canada through trials and dangerous wilderness. If you accept that the First Nations are a nation and deserve that constitutional recognition then the myth is shattered, and there is no narrative. The identity that has been partially created is completely destroyed. At the end of the second conference in “Dance…” we see the Aboriginal leaders addressing the Prime Minister and the First Ministers. All being addressed hang their heads in shameful postures, knowing they have continued to perpetrate the damaging myth that is the only shred of Canadian Identity.

It is also important to recognize how this myth has been created. In Judith Butler’s article “Imitation and Gender Insubordination” she discusses the concept of psychic mimesis in relation to the normalization of the heterosexual gender: “Consider that identifications are always made in response to loss of some kind, and that they involve a certain mimetic practice that seeks to incorporate the lost love within the very “identity” of the one who remains.” (Butler 382) These are the basic tenants of how an identity is created, through both desire and identification. She further explains how this normalization of heterosexuality first creates the identity but also constructs a past, and then an ideal which can be strived through in the future. There is no normal instead it is a construct that creates a personal, and in the case of Canadian identity, cultural myth.

That is an important point when it comes to discussions of our fragmented Canadian identity because it means that it can be changed. While Ms. Butler is writing specifically to address gender and sexuality issues, they speak to the overall concept of identity, and a Nations developing identity follows the same steps as the personal. While the Canadian myth is built on that of the settlers it is only seen as the norm due to the iterability of the myth. It has been repeated, changing as we grow culturally, and if we take a look at the historical relationship of Canada with the First Nations we see how that relationship has changed.

At the first contacts there was an equal respect, sharing of ideas, knowledge and technology. Trading arrangements were made, and cultural exchange happened freely. It is even within the realm of possibility that the ideals of the Aboriginals made their way back across the ocean and were the sparks to create the intellectual movement that fueled the French Revolution. Once settlement started to become the policy, military might started to come into question, with restrictions placed on the number of guns the Aboriginals had. We have the French/English conflict, which relegated First Nations people to mere military pawns, used to strengthen weakened positions and harass the enemy. With the French loss came the Royal Proclamation, meant to appease the concerns of Aboriginal people but instead, the First Nations, who saw the conflict as between the French and English, lost their land in negotiations that did not include them. The War of 1812 once again saw the use of Aboriginals as military allies, but once this was passed, again they were without a purpose in the British Empire’s plans. With the formation of the Canadian government we see again how the First Nations were marginalized onto reserves, and Treaty negotiation further created relationships which put the Aboriginals further under the thumb of the government

While this is a rather brief summary of 500 years of history it shows how the relationship has changed drastically. From trading partners to subjugated race the Aboriginals were placed further below the status of the incoming settlers, and with that we get the birth of the Canadian myth. Entrenched in our identity is the thought that somehow the colonization was good for Aboriginal people, civilization was brought to them, and if they have chosen not to take the helping hand given by their social betters then it is their own fault. It is never mentioned that without the Aboriginal people Canada would not be a nation.

One of the most surprising pieces of Canadian identity to happen were the I Am Canadian commercials that aired, staring Joe Canadian and his rant on what it is to be Canadian. Cyntia Sugars writes in her essay “Marking Ambivalence”: “The paradox of a unifying Canadian ambivalence is central to Molson Breweries’ “I am Canadian” ad campaign.” (Sugars 125) She shows how the rant taps into the idea of a Canadian identity through the settler myth. It clearly shows images that it decries, such as a lumberjack and Inuit. These images are splayed larger than life behind Joe Canadian as he denounces them as part of the Canadian image, further reinforcing the ideas of colonialism.

One of the interesting parts of the rant is the claim of multiculturalism, showing a brightly coloured picture board of different nationalities behind Joe Canadian. Interesting to this is of course the beginning, showing Joe, a clearly white Anglo Canadian, and the names he references: “Jimmy Sally, or Suzie.” There is no native or even French names, both large parts of Canadian societies. In fact, the commercial did not even air in Quebec. This handling of the Canadian identity reinforces the subjugation inherent to the colonial, or settler myth that is Canadian history.

“Through its self-referential stance, the ad performs a version of national skepticism, for even as it promotes Canadian nationalism, it dramatizes a debunking of national identity constructs.” (Sugars 126) By rejecting the images that are most common to the settler myth, the commercial in fact reinforces them; leading to the question of what is Canadian identity. While on the surface it may appear that the commercial might answer those questions, in fact it was recognized by the heritage minister of the time, what should be gathered from it is the lack of identity, the shame involved both in the lack of identity and the reasons for it. A commercial to sell beer should not be seen as the answer to Canadian identity.

Relating this back to the marginalization of Aboriginal society is the rejection of those things that are still a part of our country. This marginalization is what has lead to the various conflicts, and how they are handled. Oka is the one most commonly cited, but I believe the GW land claim stands as a much better example of the systemic racism invoked when ignoring the history of First Nations. From the initial court rulings, to the eventual reversal of legal policy, we see the damage of ignorance of complete history.

Even looking at the Judge McKechrine’s statement of the life of the GW is ignorant of the history that was provided him: “Life was at best nasty, brutish, and short.” It ignores the thousands of years of shared naming, the cultural development and social structure required to respect and use a system based on earned hereditary rights. Not only that, but his dismissal of the oral histories is in direct conflict with the basis of original settlers which were led to the ‘New World’ by papal bull that allowed them the right to claim land from Aboriginals because they followed a different religion. The rights given to Europeans is sacrosanct, the rights of Aboriginals are only what the settler myth will allow.

While there is a great many political and anthropological reasons given for his decision, I feel it relates more to identity than anything else. There is a mistaken belief that identity is static, that it is something we decide upon. Identity is not an ideal, nor does it remain the same, it is a perfect example of iterability, repetition continuing, and changing with each repetition. Garry Sherbert states in the introduction of Canadian Cultural Poesis: “Our identity is therefore determined by our repeated, ritualistic social behaviours before we are even aware enough of our identity to challenge it.” (6) To accept Aboriginal oral history, and the full history of Canada is a radical break from the identity we now have, it would force us to first accept the mistakes, and the accompanying guilt, that have been made and then rewrite our collective myth.

The first step to that is the repetition of that idea. Unfortunately most discussions that start with this concept are immediately seen as an accusation due to the trauma associated with both the fragmented identity and the guilt of past mistakes. A close to irrevocable state of melancholia is achieved as stated by Ms. Butler: “In Freud’s view […] incorporation – a kind of psychic miming – is a response to, and refusal of, loss.” (Butler 383) We are caught in an identification with the myth with have created, but have lost our true connection to the history of our country, leading to a melancholic state that cannot be resolved until we can also identify with that loss in a conscious manner. The identification is only operating on a subconscious level, creating a love/hate ambivalence that further feeds the settler myth and causes but the subjugation and appropriation, usually through stereotypes or archetypal roles, of the Aboriginal culture and history.

By stepping beyond the first hurdle, understanding the idea that the myth is not the norm but a fabrication that allows the basis of our current fragmented identity, the first act to reconciling the break in our collective identity can begin. Without focusing on those first few steps most issues within Canadian culture will continue to fracture and no forward progress of our nation and its global identity can happen.

It would be one thing if this disconnect only involved the First Nations, but it doesn’t. This disconnect leads to further atrocities. We didn’t learn from our mistake, in fact while continuing to ignore the totality, the whole, that is Canadian history it allows us to further marginalize and repress parts of the culture without understanding why. The Japanese detainment during World War II, the creation of segregated farming communities brought over by displaced and disposed German refugees (Huderites) and finally in dealing with any of Quebec’s constitutional demands. We continue to be unable to actually accept the tenants of our proclaimed identity because we lack any real connection to where Canada truly came from. Instead we are all forced to mourn for our lost identity, never more than a shadow of what we could become. The Canadian Nation is one of immensely diverse and incredible talent, but never is that talent ever fully tapped, never is that country fully realized, because we don’t ever start properly. We have no real birthplace. We have a place of being, disconnected from our very home.