Sunday, November 29, 2009

In Loving Memory

Come on in and enjoy the low fire. Excuse the extra ghosts, but they're the memories of a special person.

This morning my grandmother passed away. She was a remarkable person, and, in my mind, the toughest person who lived. There is so much I wish to say about her and so much I want to share that it is too much right now. Eventually I will share them but for now let me say this. Immortality does not occur through what we do but who we love. And Grandma was well loved. For that she will live forever through those of us still here.

Goodbye Grandma. Love you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A sports filled weekend

Come on into the den, grab a seat, and yeah ... the fire is green. Neat huh?

So this weekend was filled with all kinds of sports. And all kinds of friends. And good food. The Ringbearer is one fantastic hostess. Let me just repeat that. The Ringbearer is one fantastic hostess. I'm still thinking about that apple pie. Damn that was good.

So anyways we start on Saturday night. UFC PPV, main event Tito 'The Huntington Beach Ball Head' Ortiz vs Forrest Griffen. Overall was a fairly decent card. Some really great undercard fights, and main card fights, with the exception of the co-main event between Josh 'A Whole Bag of Cocks' Koscheck and Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson. After watching Koscheck play up an eye injury from an admittedly illegal blow that didn't come anywhere near the 'injured' eye, and then to watch him TWICE purposefully poke Johnson in the eye makes me just pissed.

Now my favorite fight of the night was Amir Sodallah vs. Phil Baroni. Damn, Amir just picked apart Phil, it was a surgical dissection of one human being by another. Phil came out banging, and seemed to hurt Amir early on, but after that it was all Amir, knees, elbows, punches from the clinch, was just incredible to watch. And that Baroni kept fighting through a complete destruction was incredible. He kept swinging and banging and trying to keep Amir off his neck.

Of course, for some reason the UFC saw fit to award the Koscheck/Johnson fight the Fight of the Night awards. What a fucking joke. So a fight that was a decisive win and incredible to watch gets shafted and that punk ass bitch Koscheck gets FotN? I'm kind of glad he did win, because like the Ringmaster says 'Give him hope...' because once GSP gets ahold of Koscheck he's gonna serve his ass up on a platter. GSP outwrestled and outgunned Koscheck last time, it can happen again.

So onto Sunday. The Eastern and Western CFL finals. I loved that Montreal BC game. Because Buono made the face. I love it when he makes that face. I love watching his lips go through those bitey, pouty, twisty motions. It's the confused/whiny look of a grade schooler who can't find a bathroom. I will now, for the benefit of all those without TV Telepathy, rebroadcast Wally's thoughts: "Why are we loooOOOoooosing! Aw, c'mon, I'm the winningest coach EVAR! These guys suck!! Why don't they do what I sa-ay! If they just went out and did that we'd win!" Beautiful.

So onto the Main Event! 'Riders vs. Stamps! The chants of HEEEN-REEEEE can be heard all the way out to Pilot Butte. TYG is humping the TV, the Youngest Clown is doing the only cool handshake white guys can do repeatedly, The Ringmaster is handing out pounds like Richard Branson. The Ringbearer is acting like an immigrant mother with chants of 'Eat eat!' and the game was spectacular.

Most spectacular being that we won the game in the THIRD QUARTER!! What the hell?! To quote TYG 'We just outscored ourselves in the third quarter in this game as compared to the entire season!' And of course there is Ken Miller, wandering the sidelines with this open mouth confused look. Even he wasn't sure what was going on. Fantastic! GO RIDERS GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So overall great sports weekend. I would have pity for the BC fans except they act like such douche's when they win it's hard to feel any sort of sympathy. And after hearing from everyone all season long how the 'Riders shouldn't even make the playoffs, to end up First and also go to the Grey Cup is just too sweet. Great stuff.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Big O

Come on in, I'm still glowing from the wonderful performance of my baby bear, which of course can be viewed here. Don't have much to snack on, I've had a lot of teenagers in my house lately. They're like freakin' locusts. Time to hit the grocery story.

So the big O is leavin' her show. I heard this in passing and I had a sudden moment of worry. 'Oh no, what will the American people do without Oprah to tell them what to do?! What will they think/eat/read without the Big O telling them!! The masses will be lost.' Folks you want to worry about a zombie apocalypse, I'd say Oprah cancelling her show is right up there.

And then someone says 'Oh she's not stopping doing TV she's just creating her own cable channel and doing her stuff there now.' And again I say 'Ooooh fuck. Now there really will be a zombie apocalypse.' 24 hours a day of Oprah with people slavishly following her every word and direction?! I'ma go head for the hills soon people, I suggest you join me. We'll load up on guns and bring our friends, that Cobain musta seen this comin' cuz he's lookin' like a prophet to me!

Ok calm down, it can't be that bad, right? People won't constantly tune into Oprah's cavalcade of mind warping programming right? Right?!

Fuck we're all doomed.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Word Warriors

This is the latest in my shots at Dale Turner, so feel free to grab some yogurt, it has saskatoon berries in it, and enjoy the fire and some light reading.

Dale Turner’s book This is not a Peace Pipe contains a very interesting concept in a type of indigenous academic called a word warrior. While the intention is very admirable and there are some very interesting aspects to the role the author envisions for word warriors Turner fails to create a philosophical argument for both the restrictions and validity of who can be a word warrior. On top of that he completely ignores indigenous spirituality to create this concept and despite his desire to have his philosophy seen as being outside Eurocentric ideals that he pigeon holes who may or may not be a word warrior and what knowledge they may share outside of indigenous culture shows that despite his claim Turner is still heavily affected by post-colonial thought and attitudes. Turner may be attempting to create a new way for First Nations to engage the dominant culture and refute what he refers to as White Paper philosophy through out the book but instead all he has done is create new ways to segregate First Nations from the rest of Canada as well as show a complete lack of understanding of the values that unite First Nations culture as a whole.

The concept of a word warrior is a fantastic idea. An individual who is knowledgeable in
both First Nations history and philosophy, as well as trained in European styled academics who is responsible for both defending and asserting First Nations rights and national sovereignty is an admirable and important job. To recognize that for First Nations to engage the dominant culture they must do so both in their own way but on the battlefields of law and academia is not necessarily a new concept but to lay out a plan that may encourage people to take up verbal arms is. Turner recognizes that both forms are important for the overall success of future negotiations. It is the implementation of this plan that requires a great deal more work as well as fully recognizing the importance of traditional values.

While First Nations have become more panistic it is important to recognize that even though there may be significant language and value system differences there are still recognizable and verifiable similarities that identify First Nations thought and philosophy. The most recognizable being that of the interconnectedness and inclusion of all things. While this may be represented by some philosophies as the Sacred Circle it is important to remember that this is merely a representation and not an entirely accurate one at that. It is helpful for ritual and symbolism but does not describe this concept as well as it might. The best analogy that I can think if that actually encompasses this philosophy would better be described as a globule of liquid in zero gravity. While it may mostly retain a circular shape it by no means is entirely spherical, nor does it have a particular point of power or importance. The whole is important, not any one facet. So to translate this to the world view of First Nations it means things such as spirituality are not a separate or ignorable part of existence. The spirit world is not a separate one from this, but in fact an active and vital part.

Turner does not address spirituality, and his reasons for avoiding it until just a few pages before the conclusion. His reason behind this is somehow privileging the spiritual knowledge yet for First Nations all acts are spiritual acts. Spirituality is not the sole province of a select few but the very ways in which an individual must live. Turner explains on page 115, “I am indigenous, yet I am not an indigenous philosopher; and therefore I ought not to place myself in the privileged position of explaining the meaning of indigenous spirituality.” This statement itself shows Turner’s lack of understanding that even without being an indigenous philosopher, that if he is engaging the role of creating a coherent and lasting Indigenous Philosophy then he is partaking of that spirituality as well.

To explain this let’s turn to Jordan Paper’s book Native North American Religious Traditions. In the introduction he speaks of many things that may be seen as general components of these practices but the one line that is most profound in this introduction is this from page 4: “These are religions of doing, of spontaneity, of taking active responsibility for one’s spiritual life and of encountering the spirits with one’s entire being.” Simply put, if you are to engage in Native philosophy you must also engage it from a spiritual, a holistic, point of view. To fail to do this will ultimately cause the entire theory to fail as it is not dealing with the entire issue. Turner fails to do this and offers up the excuse that since he does not have the specialized knowledge he cannot explain it. While there is specialized knowledge in certain aspects of ritual and knowledge, spiritual actions are not in of themselves limited to these specific times. On this principle Turner fails to recognize the importance of this central tenant of First Nations ideology.

To compound this error Turner then goes on to place qualifiers that eliminate a great many individuals from the role of a word warrior. The first qualifier is that “Aboriginal intellectuals must develop a community of practitioners within the existing dominant legal and political intellectual communities, while remaining an essential part of a thriving indigenous intellectual community.” (Turner 90) Essentially the claim is that to be a word warrior there has to be an outward representation of being wholly “Indian.” I use this term because the claim is one that does not resonate with the central tenant of a holistic approach. Many intellectuals who are from urban communities, from mixed race, or European descent are fully capable of the task of understanding and embracing a First Nations philosophy as well as creating an intellectual community without being purely indigenous. By eliminating these forms of discourse Turner is doing a disservice to those both inside and outside of indigenous communities who are attempting to forward the goals of First Nation sovereignty and rights.

This stance is doubled by Turner’s claim that certain types of knowledge must be privileged and held to only indigenous communities. He suggests that only by protecting and keeping traditional values from European culture can they retain their purity. This again flies in the face of the central tenant of inclusion. By creating a separation that does not invite equal participation how can an indigenous philosophy grounded in ideals from both societies ever be understood without the application of both dialogues. If word warriors are to be the bridge between worlds then it requires that they share the knowledge of their own culture so that it can be understood. While there will be difficulties in translation between both world views it is impossible to create a space of negotiation without at least finding a common ground from which to work.

In answer to these failures by Turner I would instead suggest merely two qualifiers for word warriors and how these would implement best in Turner’s goal of creating a new indigenous philosophy. First is the knowledge of both worlds. Here I agree with Turner; the only way in which First Nations will be able to address the dominant culture is by understanding both it and how First Nations world views can be used within these frame works. Already this is being accomplished as many First Nation professionals inhabit areas where these two worlds are at play. Specific examples would include professors, lawyers, and creative writers. While art may not hold the key to an exact problem the creation of art that focuses on indigenous issues still allows the beginning and the sustainability of fruitful dialogues.

The second qualifier has more to do with intent than anything else. A respectful and complete understanding of First Nation goals and ideals and the willingness to participate in those same ideals as both an individual and a member of the community. This can be anything from fully living in an indigenous community to participating in those ceremonies that would engender a feeling of community between various parties. The reason for this lack of strict definition yet still having this component has more to do with the nature of First Nations interaction than any exacting need for word warriors to be held to a certain ideal.

The name of Turner’s book alludes to the practice of initial Europeans using the pipes they were given as carte blanche means to invade and manipulate First Nation people and customs. This practice came about both from misunderstanding of the importance of those pipes but also a need to gain an advantage over the First Nations. By dispelling the myths and misunderstandings First Nations culture may eventually be able to overcome the prejudices and cultural means through which they are dominated. Recognition of the ideals and world views that are apparent in the dominant culture by sharing the ritual and spiritual knowledge may help to overcome a great deal of the adverse situations that currently afflict both the First Nations people and the continued negotiation and settlement of treaty claims and rights.

Turner’s definition of word warriors is flawed and dangerous to the overall health of First Nations culture and its relationship to the dominant culture. When he ignores the spiritual aspect he undermines the central tenant of the First Nation world view and devalues the culture. By allowing the definition of word warriors to be expanded beyond Turner’s flawed view and disseminating a world view that would encompass more than what is currently viewed would greatly increase the chance for a renewed and rewarding relationship between First Nations and the dominant culture.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why the Eff Bee Eye wanna get me

Come on into the den, this weather is certainly different. And while this won't make some folks happy, I want the snow. So grab a seat and let this humble storyteller explain why he was once hunted by the FBI.

So back when I was much younger and even more of a romantic (imagine that!) I chased after a fairy tale down in Maine. But since I was young and wasn't that well behaved they decided to track me on my visit. I had to turn in a card when I came back across the border. So I did that and headed back to the Land of Living Skies, and got a job and started my fairy tale with the little bear's mama.

This was all fine until one day we get a call from mama's family back in Maine. Turns out the Canadian folks didn't send that card back to the States. So they had no record of me coming back across the border. So the FBI considered me AWOL from Canada and as I was a young man with a troubled past that meant I was unwanted in their beautiful country.

Now when we got back to Rejayjay, I ran across a fellow on a newsboard group that was interested in Socialism. Turns out he was a student at Rice University. So we exchanged a few emails about Socialism and political ideology.

Turns out this guy also happened to be into some hacker activities and got arrested for it. So when they confiscated his computer, they come across emails from someone who they track down and find out it's the same name as a guy they think is in their country and of bad moral character.

How did I find this out? Y'ever been visited by the RCMP Computer Crimes folks? I have. They wanted to make sure I wasn't a hacker too. I had a crappy 386 with 2 megs of ram and a 2400 baud modem. No hacker was I.

What do these two things equate to? An active file with the FBI!!

How did I find his out you ask? I crossed the border after this but had my car searched for no apparent reason. So I asked 'Why the hell are you guys suddenly treating me like a drug dealer?' 'Dunno about drugs, but our computers say you're a person of note to the FBI and so procedure is to search your car.'

Oh and a few months after that I received a letter saying I had an active FBI file and if I wanted to have it closed I'd have to get a lawyer to present a case to them on why. Woulda cost more money than it was worth.

In the end it was just erased because I don't go to the States that often and they have no real reason to watch me but somewhere in that big cavern of old files my name is in a few of them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How to properly judge an ass

Come on in, time for another funny story. The fire is bright and the weather is fine. Oh yeah and there's some BPT sammiches available. That's bacon pickle and tomato. Quite tasty.

So there I am working one day at the old call center and these two very nice looking females on my team had a disagreement. Said disagreement was on who's butt was nicer. And seeing as how I was established as the best one to determine which ass was nicer, both asked me to judge said butts.

Now seeing as I take the female form, and it's appreciation of it, very seriously I told the girls that any judging of asses would require a complete and thorough testing of their various aspects. This would require much touching, grabbing, slapping, pinching, and fondling. And that I would not be rushed to a decision.

Suffice it to say I spent most of my shift while not on the phone having a wonderful eight hours of playing with two different asses. And we all went out after the shift to a local bar to sing and have fun and spent a few more hours studying, comparing, and testing said asses.

Once I had compiled all my information, I said it was impossible to say either was better. Girl one had a firm little butt, nice to slap and rub, and looked fantastic in a pair of jeans. Girl two had a full soft butt that was so nice to dig your fingers into and looked so good in a skirt with her longer legs. It would be unfair to either girl to say one was better than the other, instead each were equally fantastic and deserved to be played with on a daily basis.

Two things are incredibly funny about this. First off, these things happen to me on a fairly regular basis. And that they happen with such regularity and yet cause me no ill effects makes me very happy. Two, is that the call center had one of the most anal group of people when it came to the whole sexual harassment issues. Despite the fact that I did these things in plain view, even explaining it to my supervisor, I never ONCE got brought up on a complaint, even one brought by someone who was offended on the 'victims' behalf.

So ... maybe not funny. But life is good.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lotsa political talk

Come on in, enjoy the last of the soup and some good music. I've found a new love in Cage the Elephant and think I may have to pick up some of their discs. Also my friend Cenobyte has gotten herself hooked up with some right wing nuts and now her left wing nuts are mixing with them and it's quite a fun little bit of hilarity. And all this political talk has me reminded of a political system I'd much prefer to the one we have now.

So this is what I want to see. First off we're gonna toss out this whole majority rules thing. No one is happy with that. It makes some of the people happy some of the time but beyond that it sucks. It also doesn't work. If the majority enact an action plan that doesn't include everyone then someone gets marginalized and they will act counter to the plan and it won't succeed to it's full potential. Just doesn't work.

Next we're gonna stop calling elected officials our leaders. It goes to their head and they think that just because we voted for them once that means we're giving them our voice for every single issue and that is just not the case. From now on they will be referred to as Speakers. They speak for the individuals who elected them. There is no set term for how long these speakers may serve or have to serve, and they can be removed at any point that the community loses their confidence that the Speaker is working for their best interest.

Next, no more political parties. Communities will pick their speakers not because they follow an ideology but because everyone agrees to have that individual as their leader. Remember this isn't a case of majority rules. EVERYONE has to agree to that person. Total consensus. Trying to convince the majority isn't good enough anymore, you've got to achieve true consensus which means your goal will not be to gain power but to serve your community.

Oh yeah and it means that everyone has to participate. No more not voting. However your voting is limited to just your community. Maybe a group no bigger than 500-1000 people. I'm not sure what size would work best yet, but I'm guessing the smaller the better to start with. Your speaker will then move up and up and up until we have one speaker who will be our 'Voice to the World' but no longer the leader of the country.

Only women will vote on matters involving the military and warfare. I'd love to explain this, but I'm sure if you think about it you'll figure it out. Besides I'd rather hear why you think this is a good or bad idea.

Taxes will now be based on local use first then upwards. We will pool our money across communities if a bigger project is done. This may mean rethinking how our justice system works as well but that's another post.

Does anyone recognize this system yet? This is the system the Haudenosaunee used. Also known as the Six Nations, or the Iroquois Confederacy. They did things this way and held one of the largest sections of North America for a very long time. They were not the only ones who did this. Majority rules was not a part of their way of doing things. It took the consensus of every individual for major changes to their confederacy to change or to do something that would be life or lifestyle changing. Everyone was included.

The drawback to this is that sometimes it takes a little longer to actually work out a plan that everyone is happy with. On the flip side of that once that plan is put into place with everyone pulling for it it happens with amazing alacrity. And happens with a great deal of success.

In case you're wondering a great many First Nations around the Great Lakes region still use this model as how they rule themselves and works quite well. Think about it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My right thumb nail.

Come on in, the soup is cooked, and another is on the way, lentil next time. The fire is nice and high and blankets abound. And of course, I've another funny story for you.

So I can't remember if I was five or six. My mom signed me up for soccer and off we go to my VERY FIRST PRACTICE!! And I'm hyped cuz I've never done this before. So I rush out of the car and somehow I manage to slam my thumb in the door.

I screamed and howled and once my thumb was out of the door I wanted to go to practice because I was afraid that if I didn't go they wouldn't let me play. And they might kick me off the team, cuz I've never done it before and I want to be good at what I do. Instead my mom forces me in the car and off we trundle to the hospital.

A screaming five or six year old is easily the first thing admitted. Because we scream. And every time they touched my thumb I'd scream some more, or louder, depending on the situation. And this nurse, who I can only assume either had no kids or had suffered some brain damage says to me 'Ok dear, what we're going to need to do is relieve the pressure on your thumb. To do that we're going to heat a needle and stick it through the nail.' Now some of you might question how I can remember something nearly thirty years ago, but when someone says they're going to shove a hot piece of metal through a part of your body, you remember that shit ok!

So my reaction was pretty predictable. I mean I was in an incredible amount of pain and they want to help me by sticking hot metal into me? I screamed some more and bolted, headed for the car in the parking lot, screaming the whole way.

My mom tells me that she told the nurse she was an idiot, and how could she describe that procedure to a kid and expect them to sit still. When the nurse suggested my mom go get me and help her do the procedure, my mom's response was something along the lines of 'Fuck you, you caused this problem, you deal with it,' and she promptly went to wait for them to be done with me. So I'm hauled back into the hospital, and the nurse reasons with me. Well a little kid in pain is the worst person to reason with, but she played the 'brave big boy' card and had me at least sitting in the room. So there she is with a frickin' flame and NOT a needle but a goddamn paper clip, and she's heating it up. And she goes 'Ok here we go...'

And out the door I go. I mean fuck being a big brave boy, they were going to stick hot metal in me!! BLUNT HOT METAL! So the nurse chases me down and asks an orderly to help. So he comes in and the nurse holds my arm and the orderly holds my shoulders. And the nurse goes 'Here we go ...'

You know what, it turns out I was pretty damn good at soccer, especially the kicking part. I kicked the table, kicked the chair, jumped up like a wild animal, kicked the orderly and bolted.

So the nurse and the orderly haul me back in, this time by brute force. They call in another orderly. No wait, they get the idea and call in TWO orderlies. One grabs me around the chest, another holds down my legs by basically wrapping himself around the chair and my legs, and another holds down my right arm, so the nurse can hold down my hand. And the whole time I'm thrashing like a wild animal and these adults are yelling at the nurse to hurry the hell up cuz they don't know how long they can hold the crazy kid.

So the metal goes in, and this SPURT of liquid goes flying out of my thumb, about three feet in the air, and INSTANTLY my thumb stops hurting. I stop thrashing, I watch the liquid splash down and go 'Oh wow, that feels better.' After a lecture on how my nail would fall off and grow back, I went home. And I'm sure that there are still three orderlies and a nurse who talk about a fateful day in the early eighties when the bride of Satan's child was unleashed on their emergency ward.

I like soup

Come on in, enjoy the smell, tomorrow we'll have some wonderful turkey soup. The fire is low to let the soup cook nicely.

I do like cooking, and there's many things I love to cook. Not much of a baker. Never got the thrill out of baking that I get out of cooking. Baking is more like chemistry. Y'gotta follow the recipe or it goes blauw. Cooking seems more like an art, because while there are set rules for it you can play with them, change them, move them around. I like that creative element. Of course someone will disagree with that assessment but hey, it's how I see it.

I especially like making soups. Not only are they easy but they're also delicious. And they require as much inspiration as anything else. How else could I look at the desiccated corpse of a recently eaten animal and go 'That'll make a great soup!'

And they're very comforting for me. Dunno why, I don't have any reason for it to be a comfort food. But they're something about a nice rich soup made from scratch. It just smells good, it looks good, it tastes incredibly good.

So come by tomorrow, we'll ladle out a few bowls and share some stories around the fire, and just enjoy good food and good company.