Thursday, October 16, 2008

From Insurrection to Election

When it became clear that the Conservatives could smell a majority in Parliament, I began to get nervous, jittery, perhaps even a little faint. The concept that this band of Alberta cowboys, Ignorant 19-year-olds, Crazed Anti-abortionist Moms and disgusting Oil Barons could have undisputed control of Canadian Law caused my spine to twist on it's base and fold me back into a contorted near death pose.

Gone would be the lax court treatment for Canada's archaic marijuana laws. Gone would be any hope whatsover of cleaning up the already propped up economy that continues to vomit cancerous wastes all over our lands, our air, our oceans and our own personal bodies. Onward would come privitized health insurance, greater involvement in Bush's wars, harsher sentences for victimless crimes and all sorts of other horrible things.

Around this time, my friend and associate Andrew Paul of SEE Magazine contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in being in a roundtable discussion about politics. Of course I accepted.

At the time I had just begun a job, that I was swiftly fired from, and was given a phone call by my local New Democratic Party. Suddenly unemloyed and eager to stop the Conservative Majority however I could (which amounted to trying to stop them in local ridings, a daunting task when you consider the Conservatives swept the entire province last time around) I signed up and began doorknocking.

Doorknocking is what you could call the rawest and purest form of politics. There's just you, your little pamphlet, your smattering of points on the candidate you just met ten minutes earlier and why they're the best choice for the riding, and the nazi-redneck's rottweiler chasing you across the yard.

Actually, for the most part, people are pretty Canadian around here; they come to the door, even if they're on the phone, and listen to you say your piece, and politely tell you no. Quite pleasant, really. However, you always get those bad apples who slam the door in your face, call the police on you or bug you for cigarettes.

Personally, I have no problem with people smoking tobacco whatsoever, it's when I have to continually deal with people asking if they can buy a cigarette off me that gets kinda annoying.

The other day, while waiting for the bus, I saw a homeless looking guy inhaling finesse hair spray, on the ratio of once every eight minutes.

So night after night, I braved the scary unknown yards and apartment buildings, knocked on doors, took down numbers, turned fence sitting Liberals (which I myself was) and generally did my best to take out two Conservative MPs - Rahim Jaffer and Peter Goldring, both notable for having done absolutely nothing in several terms of office.

By the time election day came near, I was pretty confident that in the two ridings I was in, the NDP had a chance of turfing the Conservatives, stopping two seats from going blue. Granted, two seats out of 155 needed to not be Conservative is merely a drop in the bucket, but it's a needed drop.

So then the article in SEE comes out.

Now, the consensus I've had is that this article was a bad move by myself, but I still don't see what is so horrible about anything I said besides the fact I wasn't towing the party line. The article was about young adults and what they thought, not about young adults representing political parties.

But, someone in the NDP didn't see things that way, and when I went into the office for that final push over the Thanksgiving day weekend, I was informed I was no longer needed.

So I took the rest of the election (3 days) off and cast my vote.

In the end, one of the New Democrats I was plugging, Linda Duncan, defeated Rahim Jaffer by 442 votes. The other, Ray Martin, lost to Peter Golding by over 8000 votes.

Sitting back and watching the election, two things became clear to me. One, we, the very divided left, had managed to hold the Cons to another minority despite our own infighting. Two, when the Liberals take the worst loss they've had in over fifty years, they still end up with double the seats that the NDP managed to get with what was probably their strongest campaign ever.

Similarly to when the PCs and the Reform split back in the 90s, the left now sees the same symptom - when the larger, dominant party is weak, the other parties grow exponentially.

Chances are this is as close to a majority that either the Conservatives or the NDP are going to get; the Liberals are going to turf Dion and either Ignatieff or Rae is going to take the helm, and either of those leaders should have enough presence to restore the Liberal Party to a higher seat count within two years. Unless the Liberal party bankrupts itself in the process.

Either way, that's going to be the politics to watch over the next year. Let's see if the Liberals can reinvent themselves.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What a ride

Four years of love. What an awesome experience.

I'm not sure if people thought we would last this long, Tanja and I. Indeed, the challenges to our relationship have been strong and fierce. From struggles with friends to struggles with cash, we have endured the full range of emotions in our love for each other.

What has kept us together?

I think it's because we both realize the qualities of each other which sometimes irritate us also are those same qualities we adore about each other. Neither of us will take shit from authority, even each other. We both love adventure and novelty. Neither of us like to be cooped up or stuck in one spot...

So this is my thanks to my love for staying the course with me.

I love you Tanja.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

25 years


It's one of those things. Realizing that I've been on this supermassive chunk of rock for 25 of it's laps around the sun.

During my life the earth has spun on it's axis 9131 times.

So what events have I been blessed to see on this chunk of rock spinning through this spacious solar medium?

Whilst I was growing up and playing with my friends or with my legos or video games and not especially concerning myself with or even really conceiving the earth in general, the Soviet Union, that first social experiment inspired by the writing of Karl Marx, collapsed. In it's wake first was a violent anarchy but from that now emerges a new neo-fascist state.

American backed dictator Saddam Hussein, called "a friend of the American People" by Ronald Reagan, invaded Kuwait and became "Hitler Incarnate" as refered to by George Bush I. The United States invaded, reached an objective, and pulled out, leaving their allies, the northern Kurds, at the mercy of a very angry dictator. Many laps around the sun later, George Bush II returned to finish the job, plunging the region into anarchy and likely initiating the collapse of the European drawn borders of the middle east and a turn to more sectarian lines - which will be a major blow to the west's ability to control the region.

When I was five, the people of Myanmar held a general election and elected Aung San Suu Kyi. The military Junta didn't like that and massacred the people and imprisoned her, and then moved her to a house arrest. This house arrest, interestingly enough, ends at midnight this Saturday May 24th.

Before I had even finished elementary, the grunge movement had risen, sold out and died. My greasy teen years were spent mainly in video game world, and so while in Croatia and Yugoslavia a rather confusing genocide played out, I played Chrono Trigger and Zelda and argued about whether Square should stay with Nintendo or not.

In a region smaller than the southern part of Alberta, a genocide broke out where millions upon millions died while the world watched the OJ simpson trial.

My life has seen the emergence of two new nuclear powers; India and Pakistan.

My high school years gave me the freedom to be as in your face as I could; I spent most of it screaming for fun, irritating school authority figures, playing contact sports, getting really drunk with my punk rock buddies, hanging out in the music and drama departments and in the later parts of it, trying to meet women.

For the first time in history, a blowjob made international headlines across this entire chunk of rock.

In South America the next Marxist social experiment became underway, with the rise of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and other left-leaning leaders in neighboring countries.

Perhaps the most interesting thing I am blessed/damned to see, however, is the transformation of our climate.

From the time I was born onward, the environmental movement has grown and transformed from extremist hippies to a worldwide phenomenon.

No one would even suggest the idea of quoting Greenpeace in an actual news story back then. Today, they're comments are sought on anything to do with the environment.

All this history - and far more that I'm sure I have missed - happened since I was alive. The world continued to spin while I learned how to: walk, speak, care for others, read, write, tell stories, masturbate, get along with others, distrust authority, drink, smoke, make love, dance, take photos, and many other skills.

So it's been an action packed 25 years, and I'm pretty certain I'm just now getting to the good parts.

Carpe Diem my friends, Carpe Diem.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Century of Failure

When all has been said and done, the 20th century will be remembered as the century where humanity failed in its every respect. More people died in genocides, ideological wars, under the reigns of both capitalist and socialist tyrants, and of disease and hunger than ever before in recorded history. From the World Wars to Global Warming to the collapse of western democracies in the wake of rampant capitalism, the 20th century will be doomed to be remembered as the century of failure.

What none of us are old enough to remember is that even as it was becoming clear a global war that would engulf most of the populated world was on the horizon, the western world had intense optimism coming out of a bloody 18th century. The rational, literate, free thinking French and English and German and Japanese had freed themselves of the oppressive chains of the nobility and the church. No longer would Kings be ordained by the pope, no, the government would be the will of the people! Science had already solved just about every problem of the medieval world, including smallpox, and soon it was going to take us to other planets and onward into utopia. Clearly evolution had cumulated into this great entity, the industrial European/American, and these people took up the "White Man's Burden" and spread their so-called enlightened literate European democracies across the planet.

Then of course, everything fell to shit in Europe again, dragging all of the European colonies in Africa, Asia and South America into five years of freestyle slaughter. A spanish flu epidemic immediately filled the evolutionary niche that smallpox had previously occupied, and killed between 50-100 million people. The global market came to the natural end of its cycle and crashed, and overfarming created drought conditions across North America. Soon everyone started to doubt just how smart they thought they were. That could not do, so soon populist movements sprang up across the great enlightened nations of Europe and North America. Communists, Socialists, and Anarchists, my oh my! So of course, the frightened majority turned to the reactionary "blame-everyone-but-us"es, as human nature is so inclined to do, and thus Fascism, backed by industry, the media it owned and the ignorance of the masses, far too depressed with reality to actually pay attention, overtook numerous countries. And so humans had to go have another global war that dragged everyone into it.

You see, humans are primates. Because of this, our natural social behavior is to either appoint a leader of the pack, or follow one that more or less takes the roll. When more than one person wants that job, you have what is known as a power struggle. Most mammals do this in some manner or another. Our advanced transportation and communication technology allows us to now have tribes that could potentially span the globe, but still we use that technology to create the same social circles and societies we always have. We still pick "heroes" or "leaders" or "gods" or whatever you want to call them, instill our own values onto them and then expect them to solve all our problems for us. Our loyalty to this structure and the beauracracies it spawns oftentimes overrules our good judgement because, simply put, making serious decisions is quite often scary.

So, after another six years of freestyle slaughter, and the first known nuclear reactions - previously only known to occur on the surface of the sun -to have happened on the surface of the earth, we'd learned our lesson. As the Russian socialist dictators, pretending to be the people's guardian against the rich, and American somewhat democratically elected presidents, pretending to be the people's guardian against dictators and anti-human socialism, postured and boasted, both had reached a standstill. It is both a beautiful and a horrible thought to realize the greatest accomplishment of this century was that we managed to NOT nuke ourselves into oblivion.

However, we felt that we'd learned our lesson, and so rather than nuke the human race into extinction, the two new superpowers did as all superpowers have done in the past and assumed that they knew everything and started to meddle in everyone else's affairs, just as the European nations did in the lead-up to and the first part of the century. So the United States overthrew elected socialist governments and propped up corrupt, bloodthirsty dictators that would sell them cheap resources like oil and coal. The Soviet Union installed and supported Communist governments across the planet, which then almost always outlawed other political parties and killed or imprisoned any political dissidents.

Scientists of course continued to believe they were on the verge of something big. Men were walking on the moon. Plastics would soon make every natural fibre obsolete, oil would allow us all to drive Mustangs and Capitalism would lead us all to live like kings. Flu vaccinations would prevent any epidemic from ever occurring again. Polio was even looking like old news.

But all was not well in the two gems of civilization, and they both dealt with their problems remarkably similarly. Russia committed massive genocides on rebels in many of its satellite countries, and the United States assassinated numerous political figures involved in the civil rights movements, the hippie movements and anti-war movements.

Nations that were supposedly "freed" after we learned our lessons from world war 2 of course found themselves increasingly forced to choose a side or have a side chosen for them. From the 1950s to 2000 there were wars in almost every nation that had been brought "civilization" by the Europeans, and the western world immediately looked at them condescendingly and attempted to avoid any responsibility.

Near the end of the century the Soviet Union's top-heavy system had run itself out and it collapsed, ending a conflict of ideas. The western states grew smugger, even as Scientists realized that not only had they found something, they discovered we were creating our own destruction with the prosperity we thought we were having. But by this point no one believed the scientists anymore. The world was too depressing, so no one wanted to pay attention to it.

It was around this point that the United States decided it was the most enlightened, bad-ass and intelligent society around and that it ruled the planet. For the rest of the century and this day, close allies of the American way of life, including oligarchs of its former enemy Russia, would benefit from the globalized, americanized, civilized market thanks to such great inventions as the satellite and the internet, while in many countries water is privitized and taken from the people that rely on it to drink and bathe, and sold to people in stadiums half around the world. People now believe the scientists, though few seem especially eager to do something about it. Now, no one believes the leaders or the media, perhaps rightly so.

Today, oddly enough, the problems of the human race are remarkable similar to but far worse than before; global epidemics of cancer, malaria and AIDS are killing hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The planet is, according to both scientists examining weather patterns and shamans communing with spirits alike, about to open up a can of whoopass on us. We are facing a global water shortage in the wake of the global water market. The last president of the United States was not elected, and his foreign policy decisions will be influencing events for at least two decades. Fear of yet another genocide, this time in Sudan, is being met yet again with a blind eye from the global powers we have instilled with our lives.

Why does it seem we aren't really going anywhere except towards self created oblivion? Most humans today seem to recognize that society is fucked because most humans today cannot deal with reality in its entirety. Most people cannot consciously deal with the burden they now have thanks to a century of "enlightenment." So they don't bother.

Clearly we missed the mark on what being an enlightened society and an unenlightened society is. There were plenty of cultures that were doing just fine before Western Cultures went in and gave them "civilization."

The problem is in part the aforementioned natural social order. Because we are naturally hardwired to create these organizations, many of us will often believe an alpha male even if he is lying to us, and no amount of facts seem to be able to shake that loyalty. If we are unconscious of this natural reaction, we follow it without question. When we examine this reaction consciously, however, we often logically override it.

Few people who supported George W. Bush on his march to Baghdad will still stand by him now that its impossible to escape the fact that his whole reason for going was completely bogus from the start.

No one remembers Hitler the way Hitler wanted to be remembered.

But hindsight is always 20/20. How do we stop ourselves from fucking up history while its happening?

Most humans on the planet have managed to get a hold of the natural reactions of "Hot - Must Fuck Now" and "He insult me kill." While an enormous amount of literature and mythology exists to placate these instincts, the day to day of civilization is relatively peaceful. It is when the culture that placates these reactions collapse that they begin to quickly re-assert themselves. Perhaps this is an inevitable part of human nature.

But perhaps there's another answer, perhaps if we, as a people, come to realize that we are all equal, and that no powerful figure exist without the support of his followers, and that most people, when require to be so, are intelligent and reasonable people, perhaps we can create a society that replaces our traditional alpha-male of the pack society with something truly democratic.

This can only happen when each and every one of us is willing to rigourously examine ourselves. We need to teach ourselves to handle democracies properly with critical examination of the facts, not selecting our leaders on the mammalian politics of the past. We each need to understand how our emotions work, what they were designed for, how they play into modern society, and how we can control them to improve ourselves and not let them lead us on their own trails. Only then I think can we escape the madness we are currently in.

We have a nearly 6000 year record showing the results of a alpha-male dominated society. We have a 6000 year record showing the results of letting our emotions guide our decisions. We have a 6000 year recording showing both the genius of our brains and the follies that result when we choose to not use it.

I think the results of the experiment are pretty conclusive. Its time we tried a different experiment. But that has to begin with individuals like you and me. No government, corporation or public society can make us enlightened for us. You must learn who you are, and why.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The need for a united left

Alright, since the numbers began pouring in I've been contemplating what the hell went wrong here. By all means, the NDP should have picked up at least two seats, and the liberals should have had at least six or more, by the worst case scenario.

Aside from the obvious fact we were too optimistic and fell in love with the various random sampling polls, there are some clear points about this election.

1) Only around half the population voted, and of that half only half voted Con, so the current government has the support of around 25% of the population.

2) There is an epidemic of rather spoiled young people who continually use the mantra "I don't vote because I don't understand the issues." but can tell you thousands of facts about their sports team, favourite tv shows or video games.

3) We could have won without them anyway, or at least restricted the cons to a minority.

The main problem was that the Cons etched by in a lot of ridings because either the Liberals had around 4500 votes and the NDP 1000, or the other way around. The two parties spent so much time fighting each other for whatever reason that they completely missed the opportunity to actually accomplish something. So now, because they got greedy, we now have another 3+ years of Con rule, we will live to see the "celebration" of 30 years of one party government, oil companies will continue to pollute our rivers and our air and spread cancer across our first nations while paying resource royalties lower than anywhere in the United States or in any country that isn't currently experiencing a civil war, for that matter. Oil sands development will continue at full speed ahead, dragging already overstrained infrastructures, education and health care systems along the pavement with it.

So, whoever inherits this mess of the left after this fallout, enough infighting. There are not enough left thinkers in this province that the NDP, Liberals, Greens and anyone else can fight each other for votes. Isolate the ridings where the NDP did best, only run NDP candidates instead of NDPs, Liberals and Greens. Isolate the ridings where the Liberals did best, don't run NDPs and Greens. I think it's a reasonable assumption that most Liberal voters, NDP voters and Green voters would much rather have a coalition government of Liberal, NDP and Green MLAs than the Conservatives.

Its high time that the Alberta left decide whats more important to them; their chosen club or the actual problems at hand.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Enough of this bullshit morality

Recent events in my life have lead me to believe that not enough has been said about the realities of human sexuality and behavior.

Humans are extremely variant creatures sexually. Some humans are devout monogamists. Some humans are total polygamists. Some humans make porn. Some humans form sexual communes. Some humans clothe themselves in heavy duty robes and rarely show any skin at all. Some humans rarely wear clothes. Some humans get off on certain types of clothes. Some humans like to have sex in bunny suits. Some humans like to tie each other up and whip each other. Some humans want to be sexually dominant all the time. Some humans want to be submissive all the time. Some humans get off on some really strange activities. Some humans just want to have sex and pass out.

The point here is that there really is nothing wrong with any of these behaviors. So why do people feel the need to superimpose their sexual morality on others? This is how wars get started.

Historically speaking, every attempt to control sexual behavior has failed miserably. There are numerous accounts of the absurd underground sex world of Victorian England, one of the more sexually repressive societies; the vast majority of marriages these days end in divorce, and one of the main causes of divorce is infidelity.

So can we please stop judging each other's sexualities? Whether we like it or not most humans have free will on how they behave sexually - one can do what feels right to themselves or one can be constrained by the morality of some other person or religion or some bullshit ideal that doesn't actually exist.

The sooner we learn to live and let live as a species and focus our energies elsewhere from judging each other, the sooner we'll actually accomplish something worthy of our actual intelligence.

To quote from Schroedinger's Cat by Robert Anton Wilson:

"Benny had actually read Darwin once in college a long time ago, and had heard of sciences like ethology and ecology, but the facts of evolution had never really registered on him. He never thought of himself as a primate. He never realized that his friends and associates were primates. Above all, he never understood that the alpha males of Unistat (The United States) were typical leaders of primate bands. As a result of this inability to see the obvious, Benny was constantly alarmed and terrified by the behavior of himself, his friends and associates and especially the alpha males of the pack. Since he didn't know it was ordinary primate behavior, it seemed just awful to him.
Since a great deal of primate behavior was considered just awful, most of the domesticated primates spent most of their time trying to conceal what they were doing.
Some of the primates got caught by other primates. All of the primates lived in dread of getting caught.
Those who got caught were called no-good shits.
The term no-good shit was a deep expression of primate psychology. For instance, one wild primate (a chimpanzee) taught sign language by two domesticated primates (scientists) spontaneously put the words together the signs for "shit" and "scientist" to describe a scientist she didn't like. She was calling him a shit-scientist. She also put together the signs for 'shit' and 'chimpanzee' for another chimpanzee she didn't like. She was calling him a shit chimpanzee.
'You no-good shit," domesticated primates often said to each other.
This metaphor was deep in primate psychology because primates mark their territories with excretions, and sometimes they threw excretions at each other when disputing over territories."

- From the Universe Next Door, Page 15-17, by Robert Anton Wilson.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Kinky Robot Sex makes the world go 'round

Alright, so apparently an Artificial Intelligence expert recently wrote a book that argues that humans and robots could be having sex in as early as forty years.

Wow, really? Like, who's surprised? Humans have sex with anything they can. There are more documented cases of bestiality than any society would care to admit. Human sexual behavior is so deviant that religion was developed in part to safeguard against it. It only stands to reason that once robots are contributing members of society, there will be humans who will fall madly in love with them and have wild and beautiful sex that the global media will come all over with journalistic fervour.

The real question is what the human-robot relationship is going to be. Are we talking about creating conscious, thinking, caring, creative beings - and then using them as sex toys that we can reprogram at our will? Isn't that going backwards?

The Nazis took the prettiest girls from the concentration camps for their soldiers' brothels.

Or we could be talking about something similiar to what we have today, maybe with impoverished robots selling themselves, or possibly robots designed as porn stars.

Maybe we'll have gigantic tentacle robot monsters that go apeshit and have sex with every girl in the vicinity like in some animes.

The point is that we're tinkering with really powerful magic here, and we really should think about the actual possibilities before charging gungho into the abyss. Once robots come all over human society's face they're going to be here to stay, so we should do this right the first time.