Thursday, October 30, 2003
A Happy Birthday...With Bonuses

Hey, Internet population - today (October 30th, 2003) is my brother Evan's 21st birthday. Now he's legal...well, he is in the States, anyway. He's been legal here for 2 years now.

Happy Birthday, Evan! I'm not there today (obviously) but I'll be there on Saturday afternoon, and we can figure out what to do about your gift then.

Inauthentic Authenticity

I had an interesting set of conversations and experiences yesterday, and I think they all will fit into my ongoing 'series' of thought-pieces on Truth.

After our workout yesterday, my housemate (Art) and I went to a sushi place he really liked for dinner. Not being much of a sushi person myself, I stuck with the Chicken Teriaki, but Art said the sushi was great. During the course of our journey over to the restaurant, we had discussed varying aspects of the University of Toronto, Southern Ontario, and Canada in general, so we were in a 'thought-full' mood as we sat down to eat. After discussing the lack of balance in Canadian politics (ie. the lack of a coherent conservative political option), I commented on the fact that the restaurant was a living, breathing example of the vastness of diverse culture in Toronto, and that people always point to this as a counter-example to my complaints about political balance. I then stated that this doesn't hold up, because I'm not arguing that we are not culturally diverse enough - I'm arguing that we are not ideologically diverse enough.

But this conversation and its observations led me to note another interesting fact. There we were, in a Japanese Sushi place, surrounded by a multitude of languages, being served by Asian waitresses and chefs who were not, in fact, Japanese. The predominant language of the staff was Cantonese (according to Art, who's family is from Hong Kong), though there were also some Koreans working as well. As we left the restaurant, Art said that we passed a Japanese staff member who was entering.

One thing I've noted in the past is that North Americans proclaim our hatred for hypocrisy, for untruth - we say we want people and things that are authentic. So why is it that we relax our demands for authenticity, so long as something appears that way? Isn't that the very definition of inauthenticity?

How likely would customers be to patronize a Sushi place that had no Asian staff? Not very. Or at least, they would prefer to visit a restaurant that employed people from whence the food style originated over a restaurant that didn't. Why? Because it feels more authentic. But what if those Asian waiters and waitresses were actually not Japanese? What if they were Vietnamese? Or Laotian? Or from Singapore? I don't think it would matter, so long as they look 'Asian.'

Now don't get me wrong - I'm not coming down on places for hiring non-Japanese workers, not at all. These businesses can hire whomever they want, and I'll still exchange my money for whatever service they provide. What I'm noticing and commenting on is not business practice, but the attitude of the consumer that drives it.

So what have we seen? A desire for an authenticity that only seems authentic. A hypocrisy, really. We don't insist that things be 'real', we only require that they satisfy our own preconceived notions. Asian restaurants should have Asian staff - nevermind the fact that there are a multitude of different Asian countries and cultures, and just as great a number of differences among them. Korean food is different from Thai food is different from Japanese food is different from Chinese food is different get the idea. But it's okay, because they all look the same? For a continent that claims to be pluralistic and open-minded, this sure seems fly in the face of all for which we say we stand. "People are different...unless they look alike."

Wednesday, October 29, 2003
It's Just Too Darn Difficult!

I'm sorry, but when I read this, I just laughed and laughed and laughed:

EUGENE, Ore. - Roughly 40,000 poor people have been dropped from the Oregon Health Plan this year because of their failure to make monthly premium payments, some as low as $6 a month.
"It's an enormous barrier," said Ellen Pinney, director of the Oregon Health Action Committee. "Let alone the $6, there is the whole issue of writing a check or getting a money order, putting it in an envelope with a stamp and putting it in the mail to this place in Portland that must receive it by the due date."

PLEASE! $6 is "an enormous barrier"? "Writing a check...[and] putting it in an envelope with a stamp" is too hard for people to deal with? Oh, Lord - these people are INSULTING!

Look, the down and out may have difficulties in life, but they aren't stupid. They are still human. If they can't be bothered to write a check and put it in the mail, then hey, they'll have to deal with the consequences. But don't imply that they're somehow unable to do it. What is it with these people? Now they're standing up for the poor because the poor are somehow 'less human' than the rest of us?
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Just A Quick Note

[Note To Laurie: Let Mom and Dad decide if you should read the links in this one -- Ed.]

Just before I head off to follow Mr. Bauer through another day of zany antics, I thought I'd point out this piece by Mark Steyn. With his usual wit, he makes several cutting insights.

One of the things I'd feel humiliated about if I lived in the Arab world is that almost all the forms of expression of my anti-Westernism are themselves Western in origin. Pan-Arabism was old-school 19th century nationalism of the type that eventually unified the various German and Italian statelets. Nasserism was transplanted European socialism, Baathism a local anachronistic variant on 'tween-wars Fascist movements. The Arabs even swiped Jew hatred from the Europeans. Though there was certainly friction between Jews and Muslims before the 20th century, it took the Europeans to package a disorganized, free-lance dislike of Jews into a big-time ideology with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Mein Kampf and all the rest.

Read the rest.
Ladies and Gentlemen!

Your sets should all be tuned to Fox/Global/whatever-other-station at 9pm (EST) to view the best show on television. I know my hour already has 'taken' stamped on it.


I'll let Reverend Joseph speak for himself.

Monday, October 27, 2003
Perhaps I Was Premature

Well, I found a free comment-hosting site, and I refined some of the code in the template that my blog uses. So now you can email me from each post, select the permanent link for each post (for external linking purposes), and add on-site comments that everyone can read (Hooray for feedback! I live on the stuff!). It would appear, then, that I was premature in announcing the NEW Transplanted Texan. So, for the sake of my sanity, I retain the right to make further modifications to the site without announcing a 'NEW' version.

Besides, you'd get tired of reading 'NEW' every day.

Sunday, October 26, 2003
The NEW Transplanted Texan

Well, it's sorta new, anyway. Same old content, same old ideas, but with a flashy new look! Other than the change in colors and formats, you now also have the ability to email me via links after each post. See how the poster's name is highlighted? Yeah. Also, there's a generic email link in the upper right (as opposed to the post links, which are post specific).

My BlogRoll is now on the right, and has complete room to grow (whereas before it was limited to the space I manually allotted), so you can expect more examples of what I read. Eventually, once I've obtained my own domain and server space, I'll be able to add graphics and make the place a bit snazzier. But for now, step one will do. I'm also looking into an onsite 'Comment' area for each post, but that may fall through - I'm not quite ready to pay for the luxury.

I've also setup an email system that will send out copies of my posts to its membership. If you're interested, drop me a line, and I'll sign you up.

Friday, October 24, 2003
You Discover Who Your Friends Are... times of crisis. I'm not surprised, but Germany and France are again refusing to help the people of Iraq, this time with financial means. Now, though, Iraqis have a voice:

"As far as Germany and France are concerned, really, this was a regrettable position they had," [Ayad] Allawi, [current head of Iraq's U.S.-appointed governing council] said. "I don't think the Iraqis are going to forget easily that in the hour of need, those countries wanted to neglect Iraq."

In the same vein, Arab nations (save Kuwait) are also refusing to help. Again, no surprise, as they have a vested interest in seeing democracy fail - that way they don't have to undergo the same transformations in their own countries. But let's hear it for Kuwait, huh? So far they've offered US$1.5 billion, and this after being previously invaded by Iraq! Guess they like the new leadership.

With all these countries saying 'no,' who is helping? Those who know what oppression and democratic growing pains are like. Along with the US, these poor, ex-communist countries are on the forefront of Iraqi aid. It warms my heart to see this, and makes me deeply upset with those who have more to spare but aren't giving.
al-Qaeda Attacks The Internet?

Unbelievable. I heard about this several days ago (I'm quite tuned into the blogsphere myself) and my first reaction was one of disbelief: "Surely not. No, this is just some prank. Can't be real - I mean, terrorists? What do they care about weblogs?"

But sure enough, the traces have been done. And now it's making news.

Of course, the point of these attacks was to silence one specific blogsite - Internet Haganah (this is a mirror site, not the original) - which has made a hobby of trying to shut down the websites that terrorists use to recruit members and refine methods of attack. And, as usual, the terrorists' actions (ie. Distributed Denial of Service attacks) have only served to increase the number of people interested in the target site (and its mirrors). I've added it to my BlogRoll.

This still seems surreal - terrorists (and yes, it would appear that they are based out of Malaysian service providers) are trying to 'down' the anti-terror Internet. Even in small ways, the war against terror goes on. Chalk up one more life illusion shattered.

Thursday, October 23, 2003
Speaking For All Of Us?

Why is it that celebrities and public personae find it necessary to 'speak for' those of us who don't have access to the mass media resources that they do? TimRobbinsSusanSarandon, Janeane Garofalo, Michael Moore, Al Franken, etc., all seem to take it upon themselves to give everyone else their voice. What if we don't want it?

I can understand politicians doing it. After all, we elected them to represent us. That's their job - to speak in our place in the buildings where policy and law are debated. They can actually enumerate the populations that they speak for, no doubt with a wide variety of visual displays (carefully color-coded as to demographics). That's cool. But celebrities?

The next time Al Franken, or Tim Robbins, or whoever-else-from-Hollywood stands up and says "I'm against so and so, and so are the People!" ask yourself - who exactly elected them to this position? Did they run for the office of 'Spokesman For The People'? Who gave them the right to speak for 'Us'?

Take, for example, Michael Moore. The last speech he gave (heck, EVERY speech he ever gave) he claimed to be speaking for the People. He said that the majority of the People in the United States agree with him. See, that's funny, because last I heard, the 'silent majority' of the People in the US were conservative. Oh, well - Mr. Moore's a celebrity, so I guess I'll take him at his word. He wouldn't lie, now, would he?

Look, folks. We elect representatives for Our government. We aren't stupid. We weren't duped. We chose them because that's who we want running the country. If We wanted celebrities in office, We'd elect them (see: California). Let me give celebrities a tip as to their 'mandate from the Public:' you were selected for your talent at your craft, not your knowledge of foreign policy, not your ideas about domestic affairs, and certainly not your notions on how to spend Our money. Funnily enough, one of the most important factors in Our decision to select you for Our entertainment is the way you look. To put it bluntly: you are eyecandy. We aren't looking to you to say anything meaningful, let alone anything in 'Our Place'; We're looking at you simply to look at you.

So please, celebrities, follow Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger's example: if you want to talk politics, then get out of the movie-making business and into the political realm, because unless you want to make representing Us your life's work, We really don't care what you have to say. And we certainly don't want you speaking for Us.

Here We Go Again...

Well, it would appear that BlackFive (via Peeve Farm) is having an experience just like mine, but with different names inserted in the blanks. Now it's not the American government that's murdering its own citizens, it's those darn Jews.

The world spins on, and the otherwise intelligent continue to lose their minds.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Does This Worry Anyone Else?

Just gotta hand it to those communists - always thinking ahead. Take for instance Red China's plan to mine the moon:

By 2010, China hopes, in the words of its chief space scientist, Ouyang Ziyuan, to "set up a base on the moon and mine its riches for the benefit of humanity." Since China's entire space program is controlled by the People's Liberation Army (PLA), it is unlikely that humanity's benefit is high on China's agenda. As Lt.-Gen. Edward Anderson, the deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command, has put it: "It will not be long before space becomes a battleground."

Now, set aside for just one moment the political ramifications of such interplanetary intentions. They're gonna do WHAT to the moon???

Let's of the 76 (or so) factors that enable life to exist on Earth is the fact that we have one (1) moon, and the fact that it is as dense as it is, resulting in it having the orbit that it does. So what happens when we mine the moon? We cut holes, dig tunnels, and empty the core of its dense materials. So then what? Well, let me forward a semi-educated guess:

The Earth would be so affected by the change in gravitational pull that the oceans would lose their regular tide schedules. This would probably lead to mass flooding of our continents by our oceans (re: widespread death). The Earth's orbit is very precise, and rather precarious. If we're just a bit off-kilter, then we'll either fly further away from the sun (ie. we get REALLY cold) or we fly further toward the sun (ie. we get REALLY hot). Neither movement is a good thing, and both (besides destroying the planet as we know it) will result in the deaths of most every living thing.

What is one of the major gravitational forces keeping us in just the right orbit around the sun? That's right - the moon, and its perfect density.

So why don't I find the communists' desire to destroy the Earth surprising?
T-Shirt Partisans

The National Post has some very interesting observations by one Barbara Kay on the politics of T-Shirts. I read this about lunch time, and was so struck by the truth of what she said that I had to root through my backpack (in the middle of the food court), pull out my pen, and underline some of the more potent quotes. For example:

Nowadays, academic gurus -- virtually all left-wing -- do the R and D on theory, download it into their students as packaged, sloganized positions and these eager acolytes, superficially empowered but context-deprived, market them in demonstrations and marches. They in turn are applauded, not for their intellectual rigour, but for their mindless passion.

This is probably the first time I've experienced what my mother has referred to as 'enlightening reading" - I read this article and was jolted out of my seat (nearly, but it helped that the seats were the small, flimsy plastic ones usually employed by mall food courts) by how accurate Ms. Kay's observations were. I would not have seen this, had she not written it. So there you go, Mom - it finally happened!

There's more, and better, stuff - go read.
Thursday, October 16, 2003
Been A While...

Well, it's been a few weeks since I lasted posted here, and I suppose an explanation is in order. Basically, I've been a little busy with what is called 'Real Life' lately. My semester is going well - I enjoy both my classes and their professors. I haven't gotten any assignments back yet, but I've turned in two, and feel good about my prospects. I've also got a couple of quizzes and another essay due next week, so I don't know that I'll be blogging regularly until after that - perhaps not even then, as I've got something like 12,000 words to write over the next 2 weeks.

But I haven't given up on the site, or the idea behind it. I just haven't had a lot of time - or at least, time that I wasn't already spending on other activities that I consider higher on my priority list (spending time with friends, watching movies, writing poetry, and reading for recreation, to name a few).

So fear not, dear readers. I'll be around sporadically - but my commitment to this blog is solid. I'm planning on writing this thing for a long time.

A webjournal of ideas, comments, and various other miscellany from a Texan university student (with occasional input from his family) living in Toronto, Ontario. Can you say "culture shock?"

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On Truth
A Clarification On Media Bias
A Bit Of An Issue
[Defending My Position]
Canada And Cynicism
Inauthentic Authenticity
Conspiracy Theories
Conspiracy Theories, Redux

On 9/11 And Terror
Monochromatic Thinking
A Day Worth Remembering

On Politics And Public Issues
The Art Of Listening
The American System
A Clarification On Media Bias
A Bit Of An Issue
Little Longer Than Expected
Speaking For All Of Us?

On Poetry
Something I've Been Meaning To Do

(Some Of) What I Read:

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