Habit Poop

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It turns out that when I post things, people are more likely to visit my blog. In other words, you are far more likely to read me when I write. See?! I knew there was a purpose to language!

I’ve fallen out of sorts with writing, lately, and there are a few explanations I can think of that may be behind this sudden stall in the will to post things.

1.       Watching – half-watching, at least – Deep Space Nine is WAY more important than applying my brain’s creative capabilities to something.

2.       It’s only fair that if I avoid all of these other voluntary commitments I’ve gotten myself into that I avoid writing as well.

3.       I’ve already written literally all of my opinions and I’m completely out of useful things to say.

4.       There’s just no point. The system is broken. It will be written in the Constitution of the World that life begins at your great-grandmother’s conception, and that moment will be renamed to “The Harper Your Great-Grandmother’s Conception”. (Okay, that double political joke didn’t come out so smoothly.)

In all of these I still take the blame, the responsibility for my own writing. That last one, if nurtured enough, might grow into a beautiful plea of insanity but I’d be committed to some institution nonetheless if not-writing were a crime. (Is it a crime? I wouldn’t be surprised if citizens could get in trouble for not distracting themselves with useless whining, giving them more time for actions of substance towards change and improvement.)

This could be seen as a vague kind of apology, but none of you has brought this up with me so either you don’t care, or you don’t care to express that you care! That should be a crime. So really it’s YOUR fault that I haven’t been writing. For shame. You should know better.

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Thanks, JC

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Good Friday is a holiday. Jesus died for a day off work. Jesus died because maybe his dad God was taking a personal day and wasn’t around to get him uncrucified. That’s why we take this day off: because, even though it’s not a Sunday, God did.

Anyway, I won’t be at work and neither will most people. Stores will be closed. That leaves me with no excuse to put off tomorrow’s grocery shopping and little to justify further delays in chores. So much for a day of rest. Did God do his laundry that first Good Friday? Does God even need to do his own laundry?

With laundry taken care of on Friday I have Saturday to run errands that condescending amateur economists use as examples of the superiority of laissez-faire capitalism. See? The system works! God chilled that Friday so he could get some rest and not stress out about all the shopping he had to do on Saturday. He couldn’t spread those tasks out to Sunday. Sunday is his off day. It’s his “me-time”.

Because Jesus just happened to…not be in a cave that Sunday (I may have my story wrong as I haven’t been to church since the 80s), I’m also forced to use Sunday as “me-time”. Stores are again closed. My laundry, and possibly other cleaning, was taken care of on Friday. What is there to do?! I need to make up false purposes to get through the day. My spring cleaning is an all-seasons process so there’s nothing major to clean. Maybe I should almost literally sit around and do nothing, in honour of Zombie Jesus. I can’t imagine he was up to much. “Saving” and “forgiving” probably don’t burn many calories. Neither, by the way, does just lying there nailed to a cross. Remember, kids: live an active lifestyle, lest you die at 33.

I guess the net-positive of a double-holiday weekend is the opportunity to be more offensively blasphemous than the rest of the year. It’s a hobby that I can only annually engage in, like people setting off recreational explosives for [insert nation’s “founding” holiday here]. Come to think of it, why don’t we set off recreational explosives for Easter Weekend? And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that Jesus was still suffering a slow, brutal death on a crucifix.

It only seems fair, given that I spread my religious sacrilege to America’s July 4th.

31 Days to 30

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Drinking is just one month away. It’s one of the longer months, unfortunately, but nearly three months have passed since my last momentous binge and that keeps things in perspective. I should be worrying about the end of my youth –which has happened three times already, but the definition of “young” will keep on changing as an excuse for the older generations not give proper respect and opportunities to their children. It’s the end of what’s supposed to be one of the best decades of a person’s life – but again, the same goes for the half-decade of adolescence, which was extended to be a decade until the end of university, and the end of university is like a carrot on a string because we never have quite enough credentials to actually land the job we know we’re already capable of doing. Sorry for the run-on sentences. This is an issue of contention, but I guess that’s an attitude I have to grow out of in the next month.

I’ve been looking forward to my 30s since high school, quite honestly, because I predicted the path my 20s would go down – useless university, miserable job, terrible apartment, overseas travel, back to parents, back to school, slightly better job, slightly better apartment – and I met all of my modest, realistic, common-experience goals. Projecting into my 30s I should continue to grow as I intend – more intellectual fulfillment, healthier habits, better quality of possessions, more respect for choices and accomplishments. I’ve decided to leave “accomplished career” or “own property” or “more money” out of this, because I may turn around and opt for a simpler path if fate and fortune don’t cooperate with my hard work. I’m cynically starting to believe this is likely.

Maybe it’s counterintuitive to kick off my decade of personal glory with a drinking binge, but I haven’t been looking forward to this age for the sake of genuine maturity. It’s more for the sake of pretending, around other people who think their maturity is real. After all, my role models who have lived through most of their 30s already are some of the least mature people I know.

Voices You Never Would’ve Heard

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Yesterday’s Twitter buzz about the Steubenville teenagers’ rape conviction and the tone of wider media’s coverage of the verdict led me to the depressing and enraging entertainment source of publicshaming.tumblr.com. It seems to carry a higher purpose than other sites that engage in, well, public shaming – FailBlog and many offshoots in its Cheezburger network (god, I can’t believe we live in a world where this sentence actually means something), for example. Public social media, the kind that’s drawn in all types to interact on the internet )and not just geeks, nerds, and losers as was the case when I got into it before it was cool) has made mainstream opinions more accessible straight from the horse’s mouth. The voices of the people must be HEARD, then recorded in some format that allows the voices of other people to deconstruct public sentiment and why inequalities are being perpetuated despite continuous struggles for equality.

Good on the person, the people, who collect samples of these reactions to bring them to light. It’s not a job for the weak of heart. It takes having to tolerate knowing just how many people are in the dark on their own reality. The means by which I come across these representative samples is through people who are like-minded or under the same umbrella of perspective and thought. The things I read from regular people – regular strangers – are selected to be enlightening to me, to continuously grow my understanding starting from a common ground.

One of these people whom I wrote about last week, Stefanie Zipnick aka @donglord69, got a lot of attention this morning by explaining what’s wrong with the knee-jerk solution – that prevention comes from women being less legs and more arms, so to speak. The “don’t be a slut” and “don’t get drunk, stupid” pieces of advice are on the lowest level of human intellectual capacity and I just don’t have time to explain what’s wrong with them even more. The “carry a gun” and “learn to defend yourself” solutions still put the burden on women having to stop rape rather than men having to not rape. She, and other regular everyday feminists I follow because they’re usually hilarious and, when not, encouragingly insightful, has spoken on this issue countless times in…however long a period of time I’ve been following this stranger I feel I now know and admire.

And there are more. I only recently, despite knowing of her through similar circles to people like DongLord above, started following Ayesha A. Siddiqi, aka @pushinghoops. Similarly, she often gets pulled into teaching lessons on where commonly held prejudices hide. Having the advantage of being a Muslim woman of Pakistani origin, she has compounded experiences of sexism and racism of a variety people still think is justified – because we, “The West”, which includes whoever counts as “white” plus African- and Hispanic-Americans as long as they’re Christian, have achieved freedom, and other parts of the world have not. This is why, as Ms. Siddiqi put it, “American media would care a lot more about the victim + analyzing the surrounding culture had Steubenville gang rape taken place in India”. As I’ve said somewhere before – probably many places before, to all too many of you poor listening ears – as I’m learning from the perspectives of a diversity of people, it confirms and refines my intellectual suspicions that the West’s concern with women elsewhere is actually looking for reasons to justify racism against these other cultures as a whole.

The people I follow who express these opinions are limited, in part because including everyone who often has a good thing or two to say would be a lot to keep up with. Instead I’ve chosen a few voices to listen to, and to trust what they retweet. That’s a phenomenal thing about Twitter culture. I can read the thoughts expressed by strangers to a point of being interested in reading them regularly. I can share the thoughts of theirs I find most insightful and relevant to the people who read what I have to say, and conversely I get exposed to what they share from the voices they want to keep reading. It’s the power of networking, the exponential audience, the exposure to more perspectives both good and bad – that’s what makes the internet democratically empowering. “Public shaming” isn’t forcing people into stockades like its former incarnations as formal punishment for what should be free speech – it’s a populist, self-governing enforcement of accountability from citizen to citizen. Some might see it as flaming people who are entitled to their own opinions, but I see it as a public service. I don’t have to actively search for other people to spark some ire and get my ideological passions going. Through people like me, I find people that are not like me, and from that I can get inspired and feel more closely connected to strangers who are just trying to enlighten, who help enlighten me.

You Put the -ish in Irish!

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Let’s dye everything green and get drunk! Well, I’m still sober for 33 more days, but that’s not what makes this holiday transparent to me.

There is a diaspora of Irish descendants in the Western world – as is famously cited each year at this time, there are more Irish people in the United States than in Ireland today. That’s using the term “Irish” liberally, just like claiming any other nationality from where ancestors lived generations ago. People are conveniently part-German during Oktoberfest, and everyone likes to justify their prejudice as “not racist” because of some ancestor so far back that gives them claim to the group they’re judging. But like Christmas not being genuinely Christian anymore, Saint Patrick’s Day has little significance to actual Irish observances and traditions.

Well, except for drinking. And fighting. But that’s not really done in the spirit of Saint Patrick.

I’m cynical about  most holidays, certainly, but there’s particular room for improvement in this one. I’d be much happier with green vomit abound if it was from people finally eating their vegetables. If the drunken spirit of the event wasn’t so…Catholic in its sexual demeaning of women because you can confess for forgiveness later, I may even be drawn to celebrating it among the general public. And if people didn’t use this as the one day of the year to call themselves “Irish” as described above I would be far less jaded about all of this.

After all, the things we see as Irish – their staple the potato, the chocolate flavour in Guinness beer, bright orange ginger hair – were all introduced to their culture and gene pool after the life of Saint Patrick, who wasn’t ethnically Irish himself. And there were never any snakes in Ireland, ever, so let’s abandon that historical fallacy. If you want to celebrate banishing unwelcome serpentines, do it in the name of Samuel L. Jackson, and do it on a motherfucking plane.

Old Man Mania

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DSC_1245I don’t know why I got swept up in conclave-joke fever today, as the white smoke came from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney. I’ve been to the Vatican more times than I’ve been to a Catholic mass – that is actually true – and it doesn’t take knowing me long to gather I don’t particularly care for archaic religious traditions.

I wasn’t disappointed in the Catholic church for the outcome, but I was disappointed in myself for paying attention. Of course it was going to be an old white man. (If you argue that he’s Latino and not white and the first from the New World, think for a moment of why we use the label “Latino” and call it the “New World”…and why there are so many Catholics living there.)

I’m blessed to be irreligious and I should take pride in that by not falling for the spectacular trap of self-congratulatory, theatric rituals. Because I have decided to take up other directly meaningful things, for example, I missed out on the Oscars this year – and lived without having watched three hours of the rich, famous, and unrealistically beautiful patting themselves on the back. The envelopes are just like the Sistine chimney, and just like the conclave the Academy is old white men.

As I didn’t watch the Oscars, I didn’t complain afterwards of how much the winners didn’t deserve them, or that the losers were robbed. Immediately after Jorge Bergoglio’s ascension to the Chair of Peter was announced a wave of information and opinions flooded the internet about his scandalous past and equally out-of-date views that will not help the problems of the people of world who are still suckered into being Catholic. As important as it is for this information to be known and such influential leaders to be called on their past actions, I’m in no position of power for my opinions to do anything about it. I won’t go on righteous rants about his unsuitability for such an influential role. I don’t know enough, for one, about the Catholic church and this papacy’s other candidates, and for two it lacks any relevance to my own life to deserve any of my attention.

To my flaw, I jumped on the trend of making pope jokes between the white smoke and the announcement, but I’m done. I’ve been to St. Peter’s Basilica under Pope John Paul and under Pope Benedict, but the only difference it made to me was using the Lira to get in rather than the Euro, and the number of photos I took with what type of camera. I expect nothing to change in the short papacy of Francis the First that is to follow. And anything I say in criticism is pretty much meaningless.

The Importance of Being Personable when Impersonal

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I go on multi-tweet rants about things in spite of the microblogging mantra. This is partly because of my habit to go on and on about things in general, but it’s reinforced as “acceptable” by the people I choose to follow. These aren’t friends I connect with, or “celebrities” in the traditional sense of the word, but they are people with many followers based on the dialogue they spark. Naturally, to spark dialogue, messages longer than 140 characters need to be sent piece by piece.

One such person, not “famous” but experienced in an online social presence as I used to be, is “@donglord69”. Overnight she posted an extended series of tweets about lessons she’s learned in feuding ideologies in online arguments, particular with her experience on my unexplored territory of Tumblr. What happens in these fora is usually a more condensed version of public dialogue, spoken or not. In this case her stream of consciousness as translated a tweet at a time surrounded the argumentative style the internet permits – a stubborn us-versus-them mentality that knee-jerks to vilify the other side rather than have real conversation. If we tried first to understand others, then addressed their assumptions one at a time in respectful, lateral discussion, perhaps we could change people’s perspectives. “Do not feed the trolls” is an extension of making respectful conversation the first resort and ignoring/humouring them while choosing to be unoffended as I have in the past being the healthier alternative.

I get a lot of inspiration for this blog from the topics that spark from people like Don G. Lord/bell hookahs (both pseudonyms she’s assumed) – like minded people to both me and each other who tweet things that I agree with, but add an additional perspective to. It’s through reading (I think “listening” is more appropriate in this case since it’s not full books and tweets are composed in a more as-expressed-verbally sort of way) tweets of this broad group of people that I have been further convinced there is no need for an enemy. An enemy is a person chosen as a target. Targeting people won’t change the social context and cultural factors that made them that way. Not knowing what social contexts and cultural factors contributed to who you are is doing yourself a disservice, and not forgiving others for first being shaped by theirs is instant hostility. Listen. Talk. Educate. Learn. Don’t judge people until they make clearly conscious decisions to be an asshole. Don’t get suckered into arguments with trolls. Sucker trolls into constructive dialogue. That’ll show ‘em…the realities of the underclasses and systemically disadvantaged. Mwahahahahaha.