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Canadian Dimension: ‘Pornography Is What the End of the World Looks Like’

Bacchanal with a wine vat (c. 1475) by Andrea Mantegna

BOSTON—Fifty Shades of Grey, the book and the movie, is a celebration of the sadism that dominates nearly every aspect of American culture and lies at the core of pornography and global capitalism. It glorifies our dehumanization of women. It champions a world devoid of compassion, empathy and love. It eroticizes hypermasculine power that carries out the abuse, degradation, humiliation and torture of women whose personalities have been removed, whose only desire is to debase themselves in the service of male lust. The film, like American Sniper, unquestioningly (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension: “We the North” and the “Marketing of Blackness”

The Raptors are hot. Toronto’s professional basketball team sits atop the Eastern Conference and are arguably the NBA’s most exciting team to watch. But on-court swagger has been paired with slick re-branding, the centerpiece of which is the “We The North” campaign.

The campaign’s lead commercial intersperses Raptors’ highlight-reel dunks with shots of amateur ballers — primarily young black men — on street blacktops and gyms. Some of the city’s racialized, working class neighbourhoods — Jane-Finch, Regent Park, St. James Town — act as backdrop. There are graffitied walls, tattooed (black) bodies, and imposing apartment blocks. According to Raptors’ exec, (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Happy Talk

A recent study proved an old notion – the Pollyanna Hypothesis – that there is a “universal human tendency to ‘look on and talk about the bright side of life’” according to a team of scientists at the University of Vermont. The story was reported on Science Daily recently. Reading through newspapers, magazines, websites, music lyrics and […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Weaponized Aryan Jesus?

The term “weaponized Jesus” comes from an article I read on, from November 2013, titled “The Religious Right With Their Weaponized Jesus Are Not Christians.” It’s worth a read, if you enjoy the political-religious debate. I eventually traced the phrase back to a 2010 story in Mother Jones. It’s a good description of the way […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Internet TV and Roku

I picked up a ROKU streaming stick this weekend at the local Staples store to get access to some internet TV. The box advertises 500+ channels, while the boxes for the upscale models 2 and 3 offer 450+ and 1,000+, respectively. However, the official webpage for Roku says you can get more than 1,800 channels in the US […]

Dead Wild Roses: The Heart of Whiteness – 2015 Oscars

I usually don’t pay attention to the Oscars and other such award shoes. Playing League of Legends, tweezing my eyebrows, cleaning the tiles in the bathroom all are significantly higher on my to do list that giving a frack about the Oscars. This story caught my attention though, provocatively titled “Academy Responds to Diversity Firestorm“.

Unaware that diversity comes in firestorms and how mega-rad that would be, I read on.

“Responding for the first time to the firestorm of criticism over the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations, film academy president Cheryl Boone (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension: Art Has to Fight for Justice

Alberto Bruzzone, oil on canvas, 1976 • Located in Mar Del Plata (Buenos Aires)

It was 30th May, deep autumn in Argentina. The streetlights had been turned on an hour earlier, just as I was entering the house/museum. Now inside, it was dark, silent, warm and cozy.

Magda Konopacka de Bruzzone brought two cups of tea upstairs, after locking the gate. For a while, we sat in silence.

“Now tell me about the world outside,” she whispered, after I took my first sip.

“People are freezing to death,” I said. “Argentinean people are dying.”

She looked at me and (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Revised CPLUG Ukulele Song Book

I spent the past couple of weeks diligently working on updating and expanding our Collingwood Public Library Ukulele Group (CPLUG) songbook. I’m happy to announce it is completed – and that I can get back to my regular blogging. I had put together two smaller songbooks previously for group use, as well as sent along several […]

Canadian Dimension: Charlie Hebdo murders show some speakers are freer than others

Image from the Office of War Information

The shocking murder of nine journalists and three others in a brazen, coordinated attack in the offices of French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo demands sympathy for the victims’ families and has provided a chilling reminder to many writers, editors and satirists who challenge orthodoxy of the potential costs of their willingness to provoke. That shouldn’t, and won’t, be forgotten.

We have already heard political leaders from across the globe represent these attacks as attacks on democratic values. Stephen Harper called the attacks “barbaric” and vowed that “Canada and its allies will not be (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Book List Game

In a recent story titled “Neil deGrasse Tyson Selects the Eight Books Every Intelligent Person on the Planet Should Read,” the eminent astrophysicist listed his top eight book titles – from a Reddit conversation that was going on back in December, 2011. Here are the books he chose back then (check the linked story above […]

Dead Wild Roses: Snow Seasonal Things Considered: Clean Sidewalks

I know what you’re thinking. “Fascinating subject Arb, do tell us more!”

Okay, perhaps not as gripping the other newsy bits we we have around here but none the less a subject that shouldn’t be casually swept aside. Living in Alberta means that for three to five months of the year, snow will be on the ground. The lovely first fall of snow marks the official end of mosquito season and the transition to having ‘exposed flesh stick uncomfortably to metal season’. Some might balk at all the freezing rain, sleet and snow – but (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: 47 Ronin Reviewed

This week, after watching the 2013 film, 47 Ronin, starring Keanu Reeves, I had to wonder why Hollywood felt it necessary to take a powerful story, a great historical drama, and mess with it. And, of course, why they would put Keanu Reeves into a film about 18th century Japanese samurai. Or, for that matter, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness can be a difficult read. Not just for its brooding setting and the sense of morbid inevitability. Conrad’s semi-autobiographical 1899 novel is replete with racism and breezy colonialism: the insufferable superiority of white, Western culture. The casual ability of so-called civilized men to commit savagery in the name of some higher cause is clearly […]

Canadian Dimension: Dialectics of Santa Claus by Karl Marx

Image from United States Library of Congress

An undiscovered text by Karl Marx. titled, Dialectics of Santa Claus: Critique of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Here is Marx’s analysis of Santa using materialist dialectics:

A review of Hegel’s Science of Logic teaches us to go beyond mere appearances, to indeed “look at things twice”. Notice the relationship, the very contradiction of daily lived experience of being judged “naughty or nice”. The notion of a Santa Claus (a character based on the the religious reference to St. Nicholas now turned into a fetishized figure created during the full swing of (Read more…)

Dead Wild Roses: Quotes from The Politics of Heroin – Alfred W. Mcoy

The so called war on drugs contains so much irony, we’ll need a new solar system to keep it in check.

“As long as demand and prices remain at current levels in wealthy drug-consuming nations, traders will enter almost any potential production area with wads of currency to elicit supply that can meet this demand. Over the past thirty years, the U.S. and UN prohibition has simply served to push production and processing, and smuggling of illicit drugs back and forth across the globe’s three critical trafficking areas – between Turkey and Laos within the Asian opium zone, (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension: The Popular Front: An Alternative “Year in Review” of Pop Culture

Photo by TampAGS

Most “Year in Review” lists of popular culture are pretty predictable. Such lists are jam-packed with consensus contenders for big industry awards such as the Oscars and Grammys and they tend to be reflections of what is “popular” as defined by sales. Indeed, the typical “Year in Review” list highlights profitable popular culture. As the pop culture columnist for Canadian Dimension Magazine, I have assembled an alternative “Year in Review” list showcasing elements of progressive popular culture from 2014.

I have created the following list by polling CD collective members as well as readers on social media (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Falling Skies: Aliens as Metaphor

We watched the last of Season Two of the Falling Skies series last night. After a bit of research this morning, I learned I have two more seasons to watch and a fifth season has been scheduled. Something to look forward to. I wasn’t sure about how it would turn out, but the series has […]

Canadian Dimension: Misogyny at Dal: When we are sick of being forced down the middle road of apology and contrition

Photo by Anton Bielousov

My mother was a Dentistry graduate at the University of Toronto in 1943. As I look at her class graduation photo, I count 44 men and three women. She practiced dentistry, then taught dental hygienists, for 40 years. When I was a child, she never attended class reunions and, as far as I know, was never friendly with the men who graduated with her. Years ago I asked her why. She said, “The boys in my class were awful. They insulted me and the other two women. They played nasty tricks on us.”

More than (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: A Few More Uke Arrangements

Lately, I’ve been redoing all the arrangements of songs I put together for the Collingwood Public Library Ukulele Group (CPLUG) this year, as well as arranging some new pieces for the group. I’m working on a new layout for the tunes that makes them easier for beginners to follow and makes the songbook somewhat easier […]

Canadian Dimension: Ghomeshi Redux: Where do we go from here?

Photo by Damien D.

Now that Jian Ghomeshi has been charged with five criminal offences, including sexual assault and choking, what can we learn from this case, and more importantly – what can we do to make sure this does not continue to happen? We know that Ghomeshi was not the first media star to use his sense of entitlement to hurt women. Many white men especially, in all walks of life, use their entitlement, and power and privilege to get what they want from women. About Ghomeshi, we know this: at least four women have publicly condemned Jian Ghomeshi (Read more…)

Dead Wild Roses: Heartwarming Crap I Have to Post – Thai Life Insurance

Sometimes you just have to look at the good bits in a situation.

Yes this is a commercial for a life insurance company. Yes it free promotion for them. Yes, if you subtract the commercial bit at the end, this is how life should go.

Filed under: Culture Tagged: Capitalism went right for once, Commerical, Heartwarming Crap I have to Post, Life Affirming

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Gravity: A Review

While watching director Alfonso Cuarón’s film, Gravity, this weekend, I was struck by how powerful the mixed themes of isolation and survival can be. I was reminded not simply of films – Tom Hanks in Castaway came to mind immediately – but in literature, too; from Robinson Crusoe to Blindness. Stories of survival have captivated humankind […]

Dead Wild Roses: Why You Can’t Be Racist Toward White People

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Politics, Re-Spun: Ferguson?

If there’s anything you can learn from Ferguson this morning, it’s that we need to check our race- and class-based social, political and economic entitlements.

It’s the least we can do this morning.

"If racism is something you're sick of hearing about, imagine how exhausting it must be living it every day." Jon Stewart

— Kendra Coulter (@DrKendraCoulter) November 25, 2014

Deaths from police shootings US 461 (*updated, likely undercount) Germany 8 Britain 0 Japan 0 #Ferguson

— Conrad Hackett (@conradhackett) November 25, 2014

August 11, 2014 Welcome to the 1,000th Politics, Re-Spun Editorial! (1) July 15, 2013 Fearing Kate (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Julius Caesar: Best of the Bard?

For my money, Julius Caesar is simply Billy Shakespeare’s best ever play. I mean, what’s not to like in it? It has some stonking great speeches in it – including one of his top five ever (Marc Antony’s “Friends, Romans, countrymen….”) as well as a passel of memorable lines you can quote at parties (Who among […]