Don’t Feed the Pedophiles

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There’s a by-election going on in a riding for the provincial government to replace the disgraced leader of the losing Conservative party who stepped down from leadership and politics as a whole. It’s a consistently conservative, wealthy and the worst kind of suburban, and the candidate running in the Conservative party to replace this man is wealthy and buddy-buddy with powerful people.

It’s almost no question that he will win, but he’s not running without opposition. There are five candidates as a whole; on top of this man there’s the federally mainstream but provincially laughable Liberal party, the ruling New Democratic Party, the naively hopeful Green Party, and one independent.

That independent, known locally as “Mr Jetz TV” after his YouTube channel, is out on bail facing numerous sex offender charges, including child pornography and pimping underage prostitutes. I shit you not.

I don’t think his candidacy should be outlawed based on being on bail for outstanding charges, as people are innocent until proven guilty and banning this kind of candidacy can and will be used for repression of dissent in corrupt governments. I won’t even question the people who signed the petition for him to run; it may have been in the name of believing candidates of any position should be permitted in elections so the popular vote can decide. I will, however, pay attention to his vote tally, and consider that a count of sick, sick people, whether they voted in jest or not.

To describe this as “don’t feed the animals” is an insult to other living creatures who have done no harm.

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Socks and Holes and Professional Conduct

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I bought a travel sewing kit a few weeks ago so I can at any time mend my socks. I did so at work today, because as we all know I don’t wear shoes there, and it would be very unbecoming of me to walk around with holes by the toes.

For some absurd reason the sewing kit came with a dozen plus thread colurs, but no black. My socks are black. So I went with the obvious choice, the furthest-from-black thread I had: light pink.

It really doesn’t matter. People pay enough attention to know I don’t wear shoes (a guy from IT was surprised to see otherwise earlier this week) but they won’t pay enough attention to see rose thread keeping black cotton together. If they do notice, they shouldn’t have an issue. It’s no less “professional” than not wearing shoes to begin with, and I haven’t been taken into anyone’s office for a verbal warning about that.

That I sewed these socks at my desk may have been a bigger concern, but the only person who could see it has an understanding with me because we’re always needing to adjust our clothing. The world was not designed for us, and irrespective of that, holes happen to even the best of socks.

Getting Into the Groove of Crashing Into Lamp Posts

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I think it’s about time I grow up and get a bicycle.

I haven’t had a bike that was properly “mine” since I was smaller than I am now. I don’t mean thinner, because my current girth is probably the same as it was 20 years ago, but it must be pre-growth spurt, which was…at least 18 years ago. In any case – I don’t have a bike.

I don’t have a car either, but there are very valid reasons for that and very valid reasons for me not ever getting a car. I have good walking shoes and, on occasion, take the bus begrudgingly with my distrust in the transit authority.

My life and the lives of others around me are shifting in both spatial and non-spatial ways, and the spatial part makes the on-foot philosophy impractical in certain realms. I need to accept a place two hours of walking away is not somewhere worth walking to. In most cases I could take the bus, with actually little inconvenience in the changes so far, but to avoid spending the fare, and Sticking It to the Man, I want a spiteful alternative.

That’s why I should get a bike. In a city not designed for cycling, though, it’s not a perfect solution. And as a person who has not normally cycled for this many years, I can’t rely on myself to use the bike for extensive purposes right away. There’s an internal debate of principles between taking the sidewalk and taking the road, and I need to reconcile what irritates me as a pedestrian with what would be easiest for me as a cyclist.

This is why it is a maturity process to get a bicycle. It’s not the financial purchase, or being responsible for an item of utility or value, but coming to terms with personal struggle and responsibility. It’s not going to be easy.

Keep Talking About Rape

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Haha. “Legitimate rape” as its own built-in form of birth control.

No, actually, that’s not funny. It’s a terrible piece of ignorance that goes beyond Todd Akin, running for the US Senate in the state of Missouri. I’ve been familiar with that argument for over ten years now, because I was naïve and irresponsible in my adolescence and jumped into threads of arguments on internet message boards.

What’s the most terrible about that argument is it tries to narrow the definition of rape to what the patriarchal conservative school of thought calls “legitimate rape”. I tweeted last night amidst the flood of outraged and satirical responses:

I think half the population of the US thinks the only “legitimate rape” is a sexual predator lurking in back alleys awaiting female victims.

No, most rape is unreported out of the risk of consequences for bringing forward such charges against “friends”, neighbours, or family members, and such rape is often led up to with emotional manipulation and abuse into making the victim feel like they need to submit and they need to be quiet about it. The victims are the vulnerable – children, those with both physical and mental illness or disabilities, the recently traumatized, those with low self-esteem – who, for whatever reason, aren’t of the psychological strength at that moment or in that time span to fight the luring into such a compromising position. This isn’t a sudden attack, a stressful trauma that ignites a fight-or-flight situation that can at the snap of the fingers turn off the fertility of the victim – and even that “type” of rape doesn’t come with that defense mechanism.

I recently had a conversation, preceding this incident by a few days, that there are essentially three categories of why perpetrators sexually assault their victims:

  1. They are sociopaths or otherwise have their own twisted psychological disorders that lead them to plan sexual assaults to satiate their perversions;
  2. They have psychological disorders and blatantly immoral perversions that they don’t want to inflict on others involuntarily, so they convince themselves it’s okay because the victim wants it; and
  3. They see expressions of sexuality or are in relationships with the victims that they think sex is par for the course and they are entitled to it as part of the relationship.

The first two categories of perpetrators need to be isolated and treated for the mental illnesses and disorders behind their actions. The last category needs to be educated as part of a broader cultural change away from rape and victim-blaming. The last category wouldn’t be what Todd Akin and much of the socially-conservative population thinks is “legitimate rape” – the woman wore a sexy outfit, the implicit marital contract includes sexual relations, or the victim should’ve just said no more loudly and clearly for the perpetrator to understand.

Victims in all categories, by the way, can be male or female, and the perpetrators the same. It just so happens that the genders of each are overwhelmingly imbalanced – most rapists are men, and most victims are women. It is because of the patriarchal foundations of society that have barely been shaken with the various waves of feminism and women’s rights movements that it is predominantly men who feel entitlement to sexual relations with those they desire, or they feel endorphins from power trips over victimizing and dehumanizing others. Gender inequality embedded in society is a significant part of why this is so tilted. Men need to fight against this too, to not only make it socially acceptable for male rape victims to speak out without emasculation, but also to tear down the stereotype of being incapable of living up to moral standards whenever they get a boner. The wave of critical responses to Akin’s statement that I saw in the limited, routine checking of my social media outlets included as many men as it did women, because the factual inaccuracies of both instinctive contraceptive mechanisms AND the separation of “legitimate” rape and “a-guy-gotsa-get-laid” rape dehumanizes both all genders.

This is completely outside of the abortion debate that prompted this snowballing remark, because the “certain situations” exception some people claim to support needs to be clearly defined before people can accurately say that they are on the same page and that they agree. The devil’s in the details, and the devil wants those details left out so victims can still be blamed and dehumanized and told they weren’t actually raped. Let’s crush that misconception, so we can carry the conversation on.

The Voice of the Uninformed

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Today I was having political discussions with somebody who, yesterday, asked me if a prominent Canadian politician who died a year ago was still alive. Needless to say she doesn’t keep on top of things, particularly since she couldn’t name the politician but said “that majority party leader guy…” when he was the leader of the Official Opposition, very different from a majority party. The topic came up because she only learned through an e-mail newsletter of a professional organization that the Canadian penny is ceasing production and cash transactions (but not electronic transactions) will need to be rounded to the nearest nickel. I brought up how that was announced much earlier in the year, a cause that my Member of Parliament from the Official Opposition has been advocating for a long time. The Conservative government has usurped that as their own Something To Be Proud Of, instead of credit ever being given to someone from the New Democratic Party. At that point, she asked the “that majority party leader guy” question. She’s not one to keep up on certain issues.

Our political discussion today was of matters beyond elected representatives and bills passed in Parliament and more of a principle-based dialogue. She has principles, and she’s certainly not dim or uninformed in them. In a roundabout way she implied that she doesn’t vote, nor sees a point in voting with the corruption that is evident across “free” countries as a whole. That’s why she doesn’t pay attention to most current events.

I can’t force her to vote and neither can our government. (In some “free” countries, the government can and does force people to vote – e.g. Australia.) I still choose to listen to her opinions in spite of her lack of participation in any political activity or movement. Some people wouldn’t. Some people maintain that if you don’t vote, you aren’t justified in complaining about politics. I suppose she isn’t complaining or criticizing politics in the elected-government sense, but she has opinions on the things she has selected to be informed on, but when the not-voting has been uncovered I’m sure many people would dismiss what she’s already said, and/or stop listening. That will do nothing to sway her towards voting, have her change her mind, or enlighten her to the ways in which she can help to effect change in the problems she sees and we all see.

As I’ve matured in the time since adolescence and my university years, I’ve broadened my perspective or changed my mind on many principles. Perhaps there’s somewhere on paper or on the internet (likely from more than seven years ago, mind you), where I’ve criticized any cosmetic medical procedure as being vain, or a woman’s traditional homemaker lifestyle as anti-feminist. I don’t stand by those opinions anymore, because, in the first case, I myself may pursue cosmetic surgery one day to undo damage that isolates me and my external features from the majority of the population, and in the second case, the more I’ve read about a history in a variety of contexts the more I’ve realized that “jobs” and “income” and “employment” are the patriarchal concepts that are used to make homemaking seem negative to gender equality, and not the other way around. Since I’ve opened myself to ideas and changed my mind on some things, perhaps opening myself to political discussions with those who choose not to vote will sway me to a broader and more enlightened, inclusive perspective on other issues.

I still think that voting is important even for those who hold the opinion of its futility. I still think that protesting is necessary in spite of those who scoff at it as ornamental and ineffective. Her point is that there is an expiry date on functioning free democracies and she thinks that has gone, and something needs to crumble before her actions can mean anything. Amidst the movements and revolutions and growing pains of democracies around the Arab world or the economic statements and reactions of citizens of Eurozone countries in financial danger or the Occupy movements with their initial spark, there are signs and inspirations that perhaps we can make things crumble, and perhaps only the institutions that have solidified inequalities and oligarchies without applying ideologies drastically different from those that include some level of free enterprise. To get that momentum we need to listen to both those voices that actively speak out at political events, and those that don’t for whatever reasons they may have. We all have to live in this society. Those that do so day by day and keep to themselves shouldn’t be excluded from the dialogue of change, whether they vote or not. My opinion in this area has changed.

Middle Class Accomplishments in Being Poor

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There is a sense of victory in getting from one paycheque to another within dollars. It’s unusual for me, or at least looking at my bank account since I started earning paycheques. There have been times in the last two to four years when it was somewhat of a sport, but for the most part I’m frugal enough to have a cushion even in my day-to-day banking account balance.

It’s since getting a giddily large  tax refund this year that I’ve had that cushion. I put a lot of it to savings and had other big-ticket items on the list for the rest of it to go towards, and over the past few months most of those big-ticket items have been bought and paid for. The grand total of a trip out west for a family wedding and a little bit of recreational travel has come and gone, and so have the funds allocated for it. I get to save money over the next two months by being anchored at home and in libraries to study for an exam that I’ve paid several hundred to take. This is why – along with paying bills weeks before their due date for the sake of getting them out of the way – I have roughly $7 left. It’s not enough to take out of an ATM and most debit purchases (which I never make anyway – all about cash and credit) don’t hit that mark. I had $2.99 in change on me today until I spent $2.67 of it at Tim Horton’s so my “disposable” money at the moment falls short of eight dollars.

I’m getting paid tomorrow, which is part of the glory of coming to this total. It’s safely at the very end of the pay period, and I get back to a responsible amount of accessible funds shortly after midnight, or whenever the bank decides to wake up and officially process my pay. I can depend on this – I work for a payroll company. That’s one employer I can rely on for this kind of thing.

One of my biggest accomplishments in having money so small was the first payday after traveling for three months. I had survived the expensive pursuit with $3.48 to spare before payday. And then on payday, I also had $3.48. The payroll department neglected to process my pay. I entered my hours worked and my manager approved them, but somebody in the payroll department two provinces away fucked up. This is when I worked for the government, and take what you will from that either confirming your cynicism about the bureaucratic incompetence our tax dollars fund or being shocked that such a safe and comfortable employer (pfft hahaha) would not pay someone.

I had no immediate bills to pay or rent due so it was something I survived, and I got to see my union dues at work in getting me some kind of payment for time worked in a shorter period than the clerk actually wanted to bother with. This being a mid-month pay with everything taken care of for August but the last half’s daily cash, not getting paid tomorrow wouldn’t leave me in immediate ruin. But I know that won’t happen. That is why I can afford the comfort, the luxury, of celebrating $7 left in my account. And by some spenders’ standards, even that is impressively high.