Monday, November 17, 2008

Way to Ruin a Good Thing

So, this commercial pissed me off especially because I the first whiskey I started drinking was Wisers.

Too bad I ain't male...

Luckily, I've gotten over Wisers, and moved onto things much better.

I'm just annoyed at the sexism inherent in umpteen alcohol advertisements. GAWD, if I decided to boycott all alcohol based on sexist ads, I'd probably be stuck with no choice but making moonshine.

...Luckily my favourite wines don't need to advertise.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bloody Poppies

So, it's that time of year again - that time when talk of the world wars suddenly rises from the ashes and we all wear poppies to support the veterans of those wars.

Last year I posted about why I don't wear a poppy. This year, again, I am not wearing a poppy, but still remembering. But I have noticed that the collective minds of the masses seems to have decided either in favour of my direction or to simply forget.

To reiterate what I said last year: Ever since September 11th rhetoric started to get mixed up with world war remembrance rhetoric the poppy turned just didn't do it. Even if you listen to the straight-up nothing but "remember the 'Great' Wars" rhetoric, we're getting into foggy territory. Yes, it is important to remember the terrible losses (by which I mean hundreds of thousands of deaths, not "casualties") but to what extent are we glorifying the very act of war with this remembrance? The poem that the poppy symbolism comes from states, very clearly: "Take up our quarrel with the foe:/ To you from falling hands we throw/ The torch; be yours to hold it high." (McCrae 1915). That's a pretty clear statement of "Keep this damned war going."

Another issue I keep taking with the Remembrance Day deal are our "new" modern wars. Sure, people said that World War I was "the first modern war" - but was it really? It seems to me that World War I and World War II were really the exception. Modern Wars seems to be the ability to inflict as much damage on the "enemy" with as little damage on your own troops - current wars, Afghanistan and Iraq as our primary example (where's the talk about these places, now that suddenly the US is in an era of progression?). "Our" side, the "good guys" have a death toll of something like a mere tenth of how many of "Their" side, the "bad guys" have had? Is that war, or is that a one sided slaughter with the victims doing their best to fight back?

YES, we must remember the lessons of World Wars I and II. But we've very obviously already forgotten them, and remembered absolutely nothing but the bloody poppy! Wars today are being fought for the same reasons they were being fought back then. It's very much colonialism under a vague flag of "We're democratic, let us free the victims of these totalitarian states" and "Bringing Free and Democratic Trade to the land of the oppressed!". But we are setting ourselves in the space of the oppressor, and maybe they can vote on their government, but these countries, set up as they are being set up - even if they were able to emerge peacefully (and I beg you all to remember that if Canada or the States were thrown down into a state of Anarchy by another country, we would not emerge any more peacefully than Iraq or Afghanistan or any other country has in history), World Trade sanctions and unfair trading treaties are already being placed on them - making it pretty much impossible for them to emerge in a state of anything but poverty.

So, again: I cannot wear a poppy that stands for "remembrance" of previous wars, when the bloodthirst of my own nation (and its closest ally) is so apparent. I repeat: we have not retained anything except this bloody poppy. So maybe it's time to start a new way of remembrance, one that ties itself to remembering why we shouldn't be invading other countries for colonial purposes.

Or maybe we should strip back this artificial veneer of pretending we remember and recognize the sacrifices of World War veterans and start actually remembering and recognizing their sacrifices - as well as the sacrifices of so many millions of innocent victims who did not fight in these wars, but were merely killed in them.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Anti-Gay is Anti-Human Rights

I posted last night about the American election. Although I am no American, American policies often affect the policies in my own country (Canada, if you cannot already guess). This is why Canadians so often have their noses right into American politics. And I've had a number of American friends who, while coming up here because they can't stand their own country, get bent way out of whack when we criticize American policy that affects us. Because a lot of it does.

One thing that terrified me in this American election was the number of Woman's Choice issues on the block for decision. I say this because, although Canada is a fair deal more liberal than the states, the border is, after all, only a line created by politicians and bankers. We do have our own Anti-Abortion activists here, and don't you worry one bit, we've got our fair share of Christian Fundies. If the anti-choice give-embryos rights legislation were to have passed, it would have given fuel to our own Anti-Choice types (who actually get a good deal of funding from the American Focus on the Family group**). Which, as someone who grew up in a small town that has a fairly strong anti-choice climate, is frightening. I'll admit, it terrified me that those rights that women had fought for were being marched towards an executioner's block.

Gay rights in Canada are a fair bit stronger than those in the States. In all honesty, I think here, too, it's a good deal shakier than womens' rights. Of course, it's not perfect for homosexuals or transexuals (henceforth referred to as queers). In all honesty, no where is. In small town Canada, young queers face the same sorts of discrimination that young queers face in small town USA. (I saw it happen to friends in highschool). Most of them didn't come out until they had moved to a larger city, someplace like Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. But Canada still has a large populous that doesn't support gay rights, and the rights that queers have are still shaky here.

Which is why it disturbs me so much that all the anti-gay legislation in the States passed on Tuesday.
It makes me happy that the queers in the states aren't taking this sitting down:

And I am writing this to express some form of solidarity (as weak and fleeting as digital words are) with the American queers. It is absolutely disgusting (still) that a country that can spend so much time talking about their so-called "freedom" can unblinkingly treat its own citizenry so poorly.

** the first time I heard of Focus on the Family was actually when they were campaigning against gay marriage in Canada, like before we had granted queers that right. It was an ad in the Hamilton Spectator.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ok, so, just a two days ago, the United States of America elected their very firstest ever non-white prezie, and the rest of us in the world are cheering this shit on. I work in a cafe, and the entire day went a little like: "We love Obama!" "So glad Obama won the election!" and "What a momentous day that the first black man is elected president!"

Hells, you could almost believe that this cafe was, you know, like a full border south-wards.

But, as Pierre Trudeau said, living next to the US of A is like sleeping with an elephant, and since the US of A has extended its enormous tentacles worldwide, the rest of the world, we're all sleeping with the American elephant... and we all feel every single tiny twitch. So, although the entire world is disenfranchised and without a US Ballot, every single person on the planet had a lot riding on this election too.

So, as a Canadian, my hopes and fears about Obama's presidency.

So, yeah, let's start this off positively, shall we?
1. I hope that Obama begins to bring some much needed education and sanity to much of the American populace. That much ridiculousness starts to rub off after a while.
2. I hope that Obama's only sort of less right wing policies help to keep the majority of Americans out of third-world style poverty. As much as the US likes to call itself a land of the free... I ain't never seen slums like America in Canada or Europe. It's an absolute disgrace that such a wealthy nation decides to treat its own citizens so poorly.
3. I hope that Obama is the start of meaningful, long-lasting change in American policy.
4. I hope that Obama does decide to roll Free Trade back, but also that he waits until we don't have a treacherous Conservative slug for a PM. (Yeah, Harper, I mean you... I see you licking your greasy lips waiting for the sell Canada to the US moments).
5. I hope that Obama is helluva a lot more radical than he actually sounds like he is.

And now the gross stuff...
1. I fear that Obama will get blamed for the shit-storm that will be heaped on him when he takes up the presidency. By this I mean: Bush may only be president for a gruelingly long 8 years, but his peoples' policies aren't exactly going to go away when they do. Obama's going to have a tough shit fight.
2. I fear that the United States SuperRight Psychos will assassinate Obama.
3. I fear that Obama is still an American president. And, as we all know, American presidents don't really give much shit about the rest of the world... we love the fact that he's not McCain, but I'm not putting money on Obama's social conscience.
4. I fear that this is the first time I've really been more ok with the American President than the Canadian Prime Minister. Oh, I know that Stephen Harper is a fluffy kitty compared to John McCain, and that Obama's policies still lie pretty close to Harper's... but it's just the US pulled up and made the better choice, why didn't we.
5. I fear that the scary shit that McCain ran on is not going to be buried just because McCain didn't win.
6. I fear that I may hear Sarah Palin's name again.