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Blevkog: It’s Not the End of the World

His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Anti-Intellectualism: The New Elitism

There’s a growing – and disturbing – trend in modern culture: anti-intellectual elitism. The dismissal of art, science, culture, philosophy, of rhetoric and debate, of literature and poetry, and their replacement by entertainment, spectacle, self-righteous self ignorance, and deliberate gullibility. These are usually followed by vituperative ridicule and angry caterwauling when anyone challenges the populist […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: 1927: Ads, Layout and Typography

As promised, here are the first 20 scans of the ads from the 1927 North American Almanac I recently mentioned. If there is interest, I’ll do another set later this week. There are probably another 40 or 50 pages of ads in the book. I think these ads give us a wonderful window into the […]

A Puff of Absurdity: On Celebrating Talent

Convalescing from a wicked cold that’s beating the crap out of me, I watched a trio of movies about amazing musicians: Joe Strummer, Ginger Baker, and Sixto Rodriguez.  In the films, other musical geniuses were highlighted along the way.  What a delight!  But as Ginger, Jack and Eric talked about people with the gift of perfect time, my first reflexive response was, “How many kids are told they can be a great musician if they just put their mind to it?”.

In class this week, yet another student insisted that intelligence has minimal genetic basis compared to effort.  Anybody (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: A Cup of Pu-Erh

It’s dark in the cup, but in the glass pot for brewing, it’s a deep copper. It smells of earth and age, a hint of horses and leather. A rich, slightly sweet and crisp taste. Black, no milk. With milk, it changes to a hot-chocolate light brown, and the flavour mellows. I prefer the slightly […]

Politics, Re-Spun: Robin & Stewart – Our Veterans

Robin & Stewart – Our Veterans Submitted by Robin and Stewart on Mon, 09/23/2013 – 14:40

“Canadian soldiers bravely put themselves in harm’s way, prepared to sacrifice for their country. By some estimates one in five will return with the invisible wounds of PTSD” (War in The Mind).

The complexities of war and mental illness are bewildering, convoluted, and deeply saddening. Robin and myself have read so many articles from brave, outspoken veterans, battling PTSD. Talked to friends about their daily battles. And we’ve cried with heads in hands as we read about the desperation and courage of (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Swimming with Vivaldi

Today, for an hour, I swam with Vivaldi. Not the actual composer, of course. He died in 1741 at the age of 63. Would have made a mess of the pool to dig him up and toss him in. The “red priest,” as he was called (for his red hair), probably couldn’t even swim. Not […]

Politics, Re-Spun: Kate, Robin and Stewart’s Challenge To Us All About PTSD

I will be doing regular updates on two events to increase awareness about PTSD, particularly as the Canadian Forces spends too little on treatment of its members and PTSD. Regardless of all the ways we could improve our military or the Canadian government’s often imperialistic foreign policy, the real human beings who signed up are being mistreated. We cannot stand for this.

Kate MacEachern is walking from Cape Breton to Ottawa and Robin and Stewart are running in the Victoria Marathon, all to raise awareness and funds for PTSD

You can donate to either or both campaigns by following the (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: A Benchmark for Quality Journalism

Once in a while, but not frequently, someone does something in the media that helps me understand that there is still integrity in journalism. At least in some places.

Squeaky clean!

Once upon a time, I wrote about Paris Hilton’s post-incarceration image make-over. Sure, that was 6 years ago. And I honestly hadn’t tracked her to see if she’s become more puritanical.

But this weekend, I stumbled across an MSNBC news program with three journalists at the anchor desk. One was quite bothered that a story about the Paris Hilton make-over was going to be the lead.

She was reluctant (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Of Type and Typography

Humans have remarkable ability that is shared by – as far as we know – no other animal. We can turn abstract images and symbols into meaning. Words are, of course, the prime example, as old as our history. We can turn a word like dog, tree, table or vacation into a broad and deep […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Empire of Illusion and the End of Literacy

I don’t know whether to feel vindicated, delighted, frightened or depressed as I read through Chris Hedges’s book, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. Much of what he says reflects many of my own observations and opinions. I started reading this book in part as research for my upcoming […]

Politics, Re-Spun: Men: Never 100% Responsible for Rape?

I have no words, at least I thought I didn’t.

It’s bad enough that men rape women, then modern culture shames women for wearing anything but a burlap sack.

I do not condone rape or sexual assault, but I think the male teens often so accused are not wholly to blame.

via Exhibitionist modern culture breeds excess | The Chronicle Herald. by Mary Bowen [whose 15 minutes I hope are now up]

Bring back the burka, Mary Bowen? Turns out you’re uninformed about this too. If only no one wearing a burka ever got raped. What a simple little universe (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension | Articles: Beats Against Colonialism: A Tribe Called Red

The buzz around Ottawa’s electronic dance music group A Tribe Called Red has spread like wildfire. With sold-out shows as far apart as Austin, Texas, and Brighton, England, the three young men behind A Tribe Called Red are winning fans with each engagement while also opening the door for a much needed conversation about Indigenous politics and cultural appropriation.

While audiences overseas may not pick up on the political and cultural motivations behind the music, people are paying attention.

“It’s definitely different,” says Ian Campeau (DJ NDN), who is accompanied by group members Dan General (DJ Shub) and Bear Witness. (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension | Articles: Virality, Solidarity and Meme Warfare

Ff course one can’t really be against memes, because it would do no good. It’s not like they can be voted off the internet island. But there are a few reasons to be suspicious. While cats worldwide are no doubt thrilled at the digital attention they always knew they deserved, humans, and especially labour and social justice activists, might have reason to be wary of the meme.

First, it’s important to recognize the origins of the idea itself. In his pathbreaking 1976 book The Selfish Gene, Oxford geneticist Richard Dawkins introduced the idea of a mimeme (or “meme”) as (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension | Articles: Challenging Sex Segregation in Sport

When Hank Aaron left the Negro Leagues for major league baseball in the early 1950s, a woman named Toni Stone took his spot on second base. Rejected from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (of A League of Their Own fame) due to the colour of her skin, Stone was determined to play at the highest level possible. Her story, as detailed in a biography by writer Martha Ackmann, has the makings of a Hollywood biopic. More than 50 years later, Toni Stone’s story is still stunning. This is how little progress we have made in shifting attitudes about women’s (Read more…)

Christy's Houseful of Chaos politics » Christy's Houseful of Chaos: Reasons to NOT Support Operation Christmas Child

Google informs me that there are already people and schools taking advantage of back-to-school sales to gather supplies for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. While I think it is great to try to give extra joy to others, I want to write to urge people not to support this program.

Why? Let me count the reasons.

1) Each box is filled with different objects, some of which will not be culturally appropriate. Even presumably benign things like soap or toothpaste implies to people that we don’t think they can maintain adequate hygiene without our charity products.

2) Gift-giving is not a part of the (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: You Aren’t Sufficiently Critical of the #Media

You need to trust the media less.

Almost a year ago, and before the last US presidential election, Gallup determined that there has been a stunning decline in citizens’ mistrust of the media [see below].

It crossed over from mostly trust to not so much trust around 2004-2005. If you recall, the US imperialist invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and the accompanying atrocities and war crimes were given a broad pass by the media. Thankfully, trust in media dropped by 10% then. Now there is a 20 point spread with mostly trusting plummeting to just 40%

That number (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: You Aren’t Sufficiently Critical of the #Media

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.

- Katie McDonough reports on new research showing the devastating effects of poverty on an individual’s ability to plan and function: According to researchers at Harvard University and the University of British Columbia, people living in poverty experience reduced cognitive functioning as a result of regularly wrestling with how to make ends meet. People struggling to get by were found to suffer a drop of as much as 13 points in their IQ, approximately the same difference found in people who go an entire night without sleep.

“Past research has often blamed [poverty] on (Read more…)

A Puff of Absurdity: On Canada: A Fair Country

I used to be so proud to be Canadian and that’s wavered over this difficult period in our history.  I was searching for this book to loan out, and once found, I got totally engrossed in re-reading it.  It made me feel so much better.  It’s an important book about who we really are:  A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada by John Ralston Saul (2009).  What a delight!

Like Hedges’ Empire of Illusion, this book focuses on our cultural stories or myths.  How we understand ourselves affects how we live and act, our beliefs and allegiances.  And (Read more…)

Politics, Re-Spun: MexAmeriCanada? We Are Not Thinking Creatively Enough

MexAmeriCanada doesn’t have to be our future.

I think I’m guilty of being a bit slow and uncreative. The bogeyman of deep integration, North American Union, the United States-ification of Canada, the United States OF Canada, and Canada becoming states #51-60 plus three more protectorates is just too simplistic.

We just have an inherent Canadian urge to be colonized. Maybe because it’s all we really know.

It’s not about someone stealing our sovereignty, or losing our sovereignty, we just seem to feel more comfortable as a nation, being someone’s colony. Like we can’t grow up and make our own decisions, (Read more…)

Dead Wild Roses: Chris Hedges on The Empire of Illusion

My summer vacation reading was a sunny little book by Nick Turse called Kill Anything That Moves. I finished the other book I was noshing on, the Age of American Unreason, just after returning from Kaslo and now I’ve started Chris Hedges book, the Empire of Illusion. Turse’s book is a necessary read for anyone who wants to understand what war is all about; I’ll be posting quotes from it here soon, but a work of that calibre needs time to digest, to make sense of the crushing sorrow it brings about.

Hedges book is similar (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension | Articles: The NHL and the New Canadian Militarism

There was a time when the idea of military pomp at a Canadian sporting event would have seemed absurdly out of place — that was an American thing. Oh, how the times have changed.

These days, when you settle in to watch the Jets beat the Leafs on Saturday night, you do so understanding that there will almost inevitably be some kind of military spectacle on display. Maybe soldiers will rappel from the rafters to thunderous applause. Maybe there will be a moment of silence for our fallen heroes. Maybe Don Cherry will take us on an unscheduled trip to (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension | Articles: From the Empire

As long as there have been organized sports in the United States, they have walked hand-in-hand with empire. From the beginning, the message was that men should be men, girls submissive, and war is good. In the late 19th century, empire was on the march, with the US invading the Philippines, Latin America and the Caribbean. The values of sports were tied to ideas about spreading Christianity by force and conquering other lands. An early baseball owners, Albert Spalding — as in Spalding sporting goods — spoke proudly about offering a helping hand for US empire, writing, “Baseball has proudly (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension | Articles: The First Loser

A few summers ago,walking down Corydon Avenue in Winnipeg, I found myself reading a political message blazoned on the T-shirt of a young woman just ahead of me. “Second place is the first loser.”

One or other version of this message is so common in both the culture of sport and the wider culture that it has become a cliché. Who hasn’t heard the aphorism “nice guys finish last,” attributed to baseball manager Leo Durocher (1939)? Henry Russell (“Red”) Sanders, former coach of the fabled UCLA Bruins football team, is famous for having memorably captured (1950) the gist of (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension | Articles: Racism and Anti-Racism in Canadian Sport: An Interview with Dr. Janelle Joseph

Janelle Joseph is a Banting Research Fellow at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Her research represents the first national interdisciplinary study to merge theories of youth studies, Afrocentricity, criminology, education, and physical cultural studies. Dr. Joseph’s research and teaching also include studies of transnationalism and sport, with a focus on issues of equity, race, and gender.

Simon Black: What forms does racism in Canadian sport take today? How are these forms different from the past?

Janielle Joseph: In Canada today forms of racism are both similar and different to the past. There is much less of (Read more…)