Tag Archives: US

Why the midterm election doesn’t matter

By all means, if you are American, you should vote today. It is your civic right and duty. It is a necessity, if Keith Olbermann is to be believed. A low voter turnout would definitely work in favor of the religious fanatics of the tea party and the villainous Koch brothers. But what do we think is going to happen after that little piece of paper drops through the ballot box? What’s going to change?

So much expectation is placed on our elected officials these days. We expect them to heal the sick, remove blight from the land, put a chicken in every pot, and a car in every garage. It’s outright lunacy to expect politicians to keep their promises when we want them to promise us the moon.

And what are the hot-button issues of this election? Healthcare? Gay Marriage? Marijuana? In Canada, we have things like gay marriage, universal healthcare, and a laissez-faire attitude to the use of marijuana. Our society hasn’t collapsed into a Marxist oligarchy, but it is by no means paradise either. These are just a few, key, niggling details to the idea of freedom in a representative democracy. Chances are you won’t be noticeably more free after these issues are sorted out than you are right now.

Change cannot come from politicians any more. Real change is going to come from you and me. So much social progress has been made in the past 40 years that we literally have more freedom than we know what to do with. We all now have the right to get an education or start a business, but how many of us are going to exercise that right? We can envision all the things we need to do to make our countries great, but who is going to make it happen? Who is going to care enough to make it work? The answer lies not in the names on the ballot, but in ourselves.

Tea Parties

If the fallout surrounding the American Health Care bill was any indication, you’d think that the States were about to have another Civil War. Comment boards on CNN are aflame with rant’s about Obama’s “Nazi socialist baby-killer”. Angry Mobs are literally spitting in the faces of congressmen. Protesters are marching on Washington with assault rifles. Is the great American experiment over? Will I have to start running an underground railroad to Canada for my Seattle friends out of my apartment?

I doubt it. America couldn’t possibly have just doubled its amount of populist right-wing hatred in one week. Washington is in no danger of falling under a coup d’etat. If anything, the media coverage of the Tea Party protesters is only cementing the Democrat hold on the government.

Still, the discourse over this health bill seems to be dominated by a bunch of paranoid red-necks who believe that Universal Health care is the work of the devil. Why?

There is one thing that the Tea Party goers have figured out that more centrist Republicans haven’t. Everyone else is too worried if they have their facts right or if they are going offend anybody. People without such filters are going to be commenting on more blogs, posting videos, and speaking to more people about their cause. They’re not going to convert anybody, but they are going to rally anyone who is sitting on the fence. When all it takes is an email or a blog post to express your views these days, we should be less concerned with making sure our opinion is correct and more concerned with expressing it in the first place.

Avatar: The Story of North America

James_Cameron_Avatar

Avatar is one of those movies that you just have to see. In our thousand-channel, billion-webpage universe, sometimes we need to have a collective cultural experience. The CGI is amazing. I couldn’t tell whether it was through the use of clever editing or new software tools, but the live action blended seamlessly with the animation in way I’ve never seen before. The story strikes a fine balance, incorporating enough hard science fiction ideas to inspire the visuals, but enough mythological tropes to keep the audience involved. It’s cheesy, but not too cheesy.

It is by no means a perfect movie. I would’ve liked to know why the corporation was willing to go through with genocide to get at their unobtainium (I would’ve called in macguffinite myself). This is a movie more about spectacle than nuance. But as the success of District 9 has shown us, there is room for intellectual SF movies as well as the booming blockbusters. Avatar has been an easy target for internet snark ever since the first trailers came out, but I find I part ways with the critics when they start talking about the film’s racist/mysoginist/ableist overtones.

I’m not going to go into every political grievance against this film. Even anti-smokers are getting into the game. Yes, Avatar is essentially “Dances With Wolves” in space, but that doesn’t make it white supremacist literature. People respond to this story, especially in North America because it is, in essence, their story. Most societies on the Western Hemisphere are here because of political edicts of older, more entrenched societies in Eurasia. As time went on, we adapted to our new home and eventually broke free of our autocratic masters from across the ocean. A lot of people died or were subjugated over this period of history, but it does not change the fact that it is our story. Instead of simply decrying movies like this, we should learn why they resonate with us, and in turn learn a bit more about ourselves.

The Captain Planet Cocktail Mark I

I attempted to create this drink last night at a New Year’s party. The recipe was improvised, the ratio imprecise, but this version ends up tasting like a graham cracker with lemon, much like the ironic nostalgia that inspired it.

Kahlúa (Earth)
Spiced rum (Fire)
Nigori Sake (Wind)
Vodka (Water)
Yuzu liqueur (Heart)
Red bull (Your powers combined)

Christmas Part 7: Evening

ChristmasTree2009

Think back a moment. How late would you stay up on Christmas Eve? How far would that sense of excitement and expectation take you? My holiday insomnia as a kid was notorious. My ability to keep conscious would stretch itself to the limit thinking about sleigh bells and presents under the tree. Waking up was no picnic either. If I was up past five, there was no way I was able to get back to sleep. In the end, I think this is my favorite part of the Christmas season. Finally unraveling the mystery boxes piled under the tree. Seeing the reaction of people receiving the gifts you bought for them. I think there is something wonderful about focusing all this importance on a single night of the year. It reminds us of the importance of all the other nights of the year, when the future, and all the gifts it will bring are little more than 12 hours away. Merry Christmas, Everyone.