Sunday, November 30, 2003
Answered Easily Enough...

Okay, Laurie. Perhaps you are right. Maybe I don't give enough time to the good things there are to say about Canadians. Perhaps. But I'd like you to do something for me.

I'd like you to read through the archives of this website (they are in the right-hand column) and point out specific posts where I single out Canadians and disparage them. After all, if I'm always harping on the poorer characteristics of our neighbors, then it's going to be there, right?

Please point out where I've done this. If you can show me a recurring theme of "Canada-bashing" on this blog, then I'll grant you your point. Thing is, though, I don't think you can. Because I don't bash Canadians, and I never have, nor will. Not because I think they are "The World's Best Humans," but because I think that they are human, period; and as such, they deserve the same respect I accord any other human being.

Now, those that I do 'bash' (and that's really an ugly mischaracterization of what I do), I come down on as individuals. I've made comments, for example, about Hillary Clinton, a former friend of mine, and I've discussed the inability of one country to fully appreciate the pain of another, no matter the proximity - but I've never said "This Race" or "That Nationality" or "This Gender" and then equated those terms with behavior one way or another; not in a serious discussion.

Slow down....

ok wait a second austin, take a deep breath. ok you used a lot of big words well not really A LOT but anyway there are some things in there that just seem so.....OLD. I mean by old that an elderly person would say that. You have to admit you do say canadians are stupid. And as you told me before what "Mr. Positive" said about not all canadians being "stupid" on the whole. And never ONCE did you say not all of them are. I'm sorry Austin but I must take sides with Mr. Positive about you. Maybe you need to look on the GOOD sides of canadians. Well, of course there are some extremely frusturating things about them BUT there are some extremly frusturating things about americans. As you can see nobody is perfect, so as a true American you should give a good example to the ones around us and not be so negative.

Saturday, November 29, 2003
A Few Clarifications

First, Laurie, I have never called Canadians on the whole 'stupid.' I have referred to a few individuals who happened to be Canadian as possessing lower intelligence than the norm, but I've also done that with Americans. And Brits. And Germans. And French. Etc.

I'm glad you think I'm smart, and I'm glad you find my statements to be truthful, but please don't say that I characterize people in general based on their nationality, or race, or gender. It's not true - after all, one of my highest ideals is that of individual responsibility. And we can't be individually responsible if we're always looking at the larger group, now can we?

People, people, PEOPLE!!!!!!!!

some people just make me mad. Take austin for instance he's always complaining about how stupid canadians are. Of course I have to stick up for them because a lot of them are my friends but what makes me mad is that almost all of the things he said are true! I'm mad because austin is so smart :(

Did I Miss Something?

By now, everyone knows of the amazing events that took place on Thursday. Likewise, many of you may know that another US politician is in Iraq - Hillary Clinton.

I think it's safe to say that Bush upstaged the junior senator from New York, but I want to bring to your attention something that may be passed over too briefly. Ms. Clinton has insisted that the UN become more involved in Iraq:

"I'm a big believer that we ought to internationalize this, but it will take a big change in our administration's thinking," said Clinton, a Democrat from New York. "I don't see that it's forthcoming."
Ummm...Ms. Clinton? The UN has been in Iraq. They actually left, even though we didn't want them to do so.

So for what are you calling, senator? Are you lambasting Bush for not involving the international community (a patent falsehood)? Or are you trying to get the same UN that fled Iraq with its tail between its legs to come back and 'legitimize' the operations? (Scare quotes courtesy of Reuters "News" Agency).

On another note, there was apparently a protest in Baghdad - but get this: it was anti-Terror. So far, I haven't seen any US media outlets pick this one up. Seems they're too busy trying to be subtle (so President's visit = soldier's death?).
Friday, November 28, 2003
Intermittency

As I wrote before I'm right in the middle of a ton of work (one last essay, and several end of term tests), so my posts will be rather spread out. Once the rush is over, though, I should be rather consistent through Christmas, but then my family is going on its annual trip back to Texas, and as a result, I'll be separated from the Internet. Posting will probably die off until after New Years, or so. But, again, it's just a bit of a break, and I'll be posting up a storm soon enough.

The site, however, will by no means be dead. Laurie seems to have taken to posting regularly (and yes, Laurie, I'm certain everyone would enjoy reading some of your work - here's a preemptive copyright statement, even: original creative work posted under Laurie's name is © 2003 Laurie Fusilier). Goodness knows we all want to hear more from Evan (humorous or otherwise). Speaking of my family members, actually, I'd like to take this time to do something that just occurred to me. Eric - I offer you the position of resident Music News informant for the TransplantedTexan. You've got that autoblog link in your toolbar, feel free to post new groups you discover, old groups you enjoy, opinions on music, or whatever else.

Alright, that pretty much covers it, I think, so I'll get back to finishing up my last essay. I'll be around, but who knows how regularly.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Poems

I like to write poems! i have some of them out but yeah and if you wanna hear some of them just reply this and tell me so :D

Something I've Been Meaning To Do

Well, folks, this blog was set up for a number of reasons. First and foremost, to give me an outlet for my creative urges. Secondly, to allow me to vent my intellectual turmoil - hoping for a resulting order. Thirdly, to allow me to make my views on the political, the educational, the emotional, and whatever-else clear to those who read.

Well, I've certainly attempted both the second and third categories. The one thing I haven't done yet is the first. But now that's gonna change (all original content © 2003 Austin Fusilier):

	"Snow On Maple"


The crisp, clean air
With it's wafting white flakes
Over this field of crimson leaves, fallen;

Those old English buildings
And their ivy-covered stone
Vacant 'round the autumn field, wall'd in.

Seated on the edge
Of this low flat rock,
I watch the silvery crystals float

And wonder at the gray sky,
The ground of solid scarlet,
And the painting twixt them both

Until the west wind mars it.

Expect more of that.

[Hmmm...it seems that the poem's format and display change depending on the application viewing it. If anyone was curious, the intended arrangement of the poem is what appeared on the site. - Ed.]
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Same old things

Shall the politic talk never end? I always come back and check on things I don't understand what the hooha you're talking about. WHO CARES about polictics. Well I kinda do but anyways I mean isn't there anything ELSE to talk about? Like how your own life is doing and not the life of others. SOOOOOO what is up in your lives???

Sigh

Well, it happened. Global Warming has failed me yet again - there's snow on the rooftops, there's snow on the ground. Snow in the trees. Snow on the tails of the now-puzzled squirrels in Queen's Park ("Is it time to hibernate already?"). Heck, there's even snow on my jacket.

Fortunately, after it snowed last night, the sun came up and warmed the ground - so most of the flakes are gone (the houses across the street are still partially covered, though). Everything's back to dry and not-so-white. But it's supposed to snow again by Friday. And this time, they're predicting accumulation. Ah well - winter weather is here, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Monday, November 24, 2003
Tears In My Eyes

This is probably the one of the most important pieces I've read on the war in Iraq:

The following letter was written by a 14 year old daughter of one of our troops who was killed when the convoy he was in was attacked with an improvised explosive device and rocket-propelled grenades in Samarra, Iraq, on October 1, 2003...
Again, something everyone needs to read. So go.
Do Protesters Care About Other Countries?

I saw a kid yesterday wearing a shirt that had a picture of Dubya with the caption, "International Terrorist" safety-pinned on his black shirt, black jacket, and black tight pants equipped with more safety pins gripping anarchy patches and the like (I wonder if he knows he's conforming?). I thought to myself, "I wonder if he sympathizes with the Iraqi people he's supporting," and quickly answered, "no, of course not." I looked on the I-net (which is what I now call the internet because I'm awesome), and realized that first, he had to order the large patch from one of many websites with a credit card, and secondly that the patch costs upwards of $35 Canadian (differing from site to site).

Being a Texan, and an American, I of course asked what reason the guy had for calling Dubya a terrorist. To answer my question he said something about how he didn't agree with the killing of all the innocent and poor people living in Iraq. Now I understand why he wouldn't "agree" with killing innocent people, but after seeing only the cost of the patch he was wearing, I find it hard to believe that he knows or even cares about what the Iraqi people are going through. Apparently they're not "going through" too much, seeing as how most of the people in Iraq want the US to stay (thank you Steyn). I concluded that he was just spouting lines from somebody else who wanted to be shocking.

My conclusion brought me to another question: Do protesters care about the countries they support? Are they protesting because they hate the US, or because they have nothing better to do? Riddle me that.

New Addition To The BlogRoll

I came across this BlogRoll addition via James Lileks' Bleat, and I must say, it's certainly worth the addition. There are several others like it out there, but I like this particular soldier's writing.

And besides, if I'm going to support him in his duty, I'd better know what it is he's doing. So there it is, taking up another space in my right-hand column: Iraq Now. Go get acquainted.

Incredibly Refreshing

Jewsweek attends the first annual Arab-American Comedy Night. It's a long article, but it needs to be read. By everyone. Go. [HatTip to BuzzMachine]

Thursday, November 20, 2003
It's Enough To Drive One Mad

Steyn nails it again. Let me get this straight - America is...

Too Christian, too Godless, too isolationist, too imperialist, too seductive, too cretinous, America is George Orwell's Room 101: whatever your bugbear, you will find it therein - for the Continentals, excessive religiosity; for the Muslims, excessive decadence...
Why is it that the protestors can't see the inherent logical problems in their positions? These aren't stupid people - I don't know them, per se, but I do know people who are otherwise rather intelligent, but still can't see the contradictions inherent in their irrational anti-Americanism. The fact that no amount of evidence will convince them otherwise makes this a wonder for the ages, right up there with humanity's simultaneous love/hatred for Truth.

In essence, then, they've been told the truth, and they have decided to prefer the lie. Maybe it makes them feel better to have someone rather good to hate. Certainly the United States is at the forefront of protecting Western ideals, of which these protestors are enjoying the freedoms. You'd think they'd want everyone to experience this kind of life, especially those who've been living their entire existences under horrid oppression. But still they protest.

I dunno. I'm at a loss.
Little Longer Than Expected...

Heh. Well, it would appear "a few hours" means "a few days," at least when I've got three papers due over the weekend! So yeah, it took a little longer than I thought; but I'm still gonna write a piece on this whole 'Free Speech' controversy. And ya know what? I'm gonna do it right now.

The links are below, and hopefully you've done your 'homework' already, but just in case, I'll repost them to make sure:

Philadelphia -- This is the one that first got my attention. You know, there's not much to say about the issue at large that hasn't already been discussed by these articles. Obviously (given my occupation - student - and my desired vocation - writer) I have a vested interest in securing the right of free speech. But I'm not going to talk about that, exactly, because everything's really been said already (if not about this specific situation then about others), and it really seems like a no-brainer decision on the behalf of the universities - overturn the rules. What does strike me as 'post-worthy,' however, is the series of events that led us to this point.

It seems to me that we started out well enough, in that the purpose of the 'Free Speech Pavillion' (and other locations like it) was originally intended to protect the freedom of speech. And in actuality, it still does, at the expense of making every other area of the campus a de facto 'Free Speech' null zone. When you combine this kind of limitation with a codified expression of Political Correctness (a blight upon culture if ever there was one), things get out of hand, and the errors inherent in the original decision become glaringly apparent (as evidenced by the recent rulings in cases like Harrisburg's Shippensburg University).

So what's wrong with wanting to protect people from slur-filled speech? Or desiring that everyone be able to go through campus life in a comfortable, non-offensive environment? Well, nothing. These are all good and desirable things. But they are not the 'highest' good. The 'highest' good arises when we uphold the ideals set out in our Constitution - freedom of speech (no matter what is said, who is saying it, or why it is being said), freedom to peaceably assemble, freedom of the press (which, by the way, we all are, in the 'new world' of the Internet blog), etc.

It's been said before, but I'll say it again. There are rights that we have, and rights that we don't. I have the right to speak my mind. You have the right to disagree and speak yours. Part and parcel with that, however, comes a right that neither of us have: the right to go through life un-offended. If we disagree, then I may very well be offended by your opinions (heck, Canadians have practically made it a sport -- for more information read either of these books). To that I say: "Tough." It's not a right we have, nor is it one we want to have - not really.

If you think about it, the 'right' to be un-offended is a 'right' to live an unstimulated life. A life where nothing you ever read or see causes you to rethink your positions and opinions. A life of rather bland prospects, at least intellectualy. I know that if I had the right to be un-offended, then I certainly wouldn't change my mind (and we all know how disastrous that would be), because I wouldn't be presented with alternate opinions. There are even facts that offend me - the fact that people don't view communism in the same family as naziism offends me, for example (and yes, for those of you who don't know, Evan's post is a joke - it's rather obvious).

I had a discussion last night, during the weekly small group I attend, that moved into the realm of 'hate crime' and 'hate speech.' It will soon be illegal here in Canada (and it already is in British Columbia), just as it is in Sweden. On the topic, a friend of mine said something that I very much agree with:

"I think the government does have a responsibilty to protect those individuals who are in a position of weakness, or are threatened by others."
However, I don't think that classifying 'hate speech' a crime is the right way to go about doing that (anyone see the movie Equilibrium?) As has been stated before, by people like Mark Steyn and others (yes, I work at plugging him every chance I get, what of it?), the basis of 'hate crime' legislation is the judgement of your mental processes by a government body. It's frighteningly close to telling us what we can and cannot think. I may not like it that people hate, but I certainly can't claim to be without that feeling myself. Am I to be condemned, then, because my brothers are really making me angry? Are politicians to be condemned for 'hating' their opponents? Are anti-war protestors to be condemned for 'hating' President Bush? Are Iraqi citizens to be condemned for 'hating' Saddam Hussein (hmm...perhaps!)? How about Jewish people and Hitler? The list goes on and on.

Do I have a solution? I think so. Let the current, existing legal code (pre-hate speech) deal with offenders as it has done for decades. We already have different degrees of criminal activity (Assault in the First Degree, Second Degree, etc.), and I feel they are sufficient. Perhaps a consideration of the defendant's mental state is in order, but only during sentencing - not during the actual trial (and this may be a place where I'll examine and reexamine my position and find that I change my mind -- it happens quite often).

This post has been running long for a while now, but I think it's worth it (and I'm free to do both!). Free Speech means Free Speech. It's not without its limits (you can't yell 'Fire!' in a crowded theater, and not be held accountable), but those limits must be incredibly broad. They're guaranteed to be so. Let's not undercut that by trying to examine and pass legal judgement on thought.
Friday, November 14, 2003
Student Voices

This deserves a long post, and I don't really have the time right now - so I'll revist the issue in a few hours. But you can start reading up on the events taking place in:

Philadelphia

Harrisburg

and Lubbock (among others.)

More On Political Shifts

Looks like more than just the electorate are changing sides:

Our foreign policy debate right now pits radicals against conservatives. Republicans are the radicals. Democrats are the conservatives.

That jarring but shrewd perspective, offered by Anthony Lake, President Clinton's former national security adviser, explains much that is strange in our national discussion. And while Lake is critical of President Bush's policies, he does not use the word 'radical' to make a partisan point. He is also critical of his party's newly discovered conservatism.

..................................

Democrats have been in a box since the Iraq debate began because they have always identified with the emphasis on spreading democracy that is at the heart of Bush's rhetoric, but are deeply uneasy with the use of military force to impose new regimes, even democratic ones, on other nations. They want to preserve alliances and the old institutions of international cooperation.

All this, says Lake, now a professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, is why Democrats are today's conservatives.

So Democrats are Conservative and Republicans are Liberal? Somehow I don't think the change is quite that drastic. But it certainly fits with the point I made to my housemate the other night:

"There is no '100%' correct political ground - not even the middle. On some issues, the correct view is that of the hardcore right. On others, it's the hardcore left. On still others, it's a compromise between them - but it's never all one side."

I think that's true (and yes, I'm implying that I don't always believe everything I say - that's one of the hazards of having to speak to understand what one thinks), and I think the recent political shifts give support to that idea. People are starting to recognize what positions are correct for this current situation, and are adjusting to match them. It's the nature of 'the social pendulum' (can I trademark that phrase?), and will undoubtedly swing back the other way soon enough; so I'll enjoy this excursion back into "the right" while it lasts.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Fascist-Communism: "It Works"

In this time of turmoil, tact, and textiles, there is an apparent lack of leadership in the form of government. What this world needs is something new; something that takes a fresh perspective on the social well-being of society in general. The solution can only come by combining the two most opposite types of ideologies: fascism, and communism (with a lowercase 'c'). One cannot find this in the dictionary or encyclopedia, unless it is seen under "oxymorons," but soon everything will change once this short explanation is complete.

In the western world, where politicians are elected, there must be a revolution. Democracy has begun to deteriorate, and with the deterioration comes civil unrest. A change is needed before the rot forms mildew on all the edges of the Electoral college. The wave that will sweep the nations is "Fascist-Communism," or the eloquently coined: "Communazism." Skeptics have been up to their norms, calling Communazism "Stupid," "Dumb," and some even go so far as to say "Gastric," but their weak stomachs will not be able to handle what is to come, and they should probably be sent to an island somewhere. Now to the meat.

Communazism is the movement defined by the union of a class system, and the absence of a class system; a paradox. Although a paradox has never been so explicable. Communazism consists of a two class system, a ruling class, and a non-ruling class. There are no subclasses in these two classes, therefore succesfully constructing the classless class system. The ruling class, consisting totally of whole-hearted "Communazis" will rule the non-ruling class, or "Communotsees," in the most socialist way possible. The "Communazis" will share all the money and power amongst themselves in order to better control the "Communotsees," which will be in a constant state of confused uproar. The well-being of the "Communotsees" will be top priority to the "Communazis" of course, because the "Communazis" will always be in threat of being overthrown. The "Communazis" will appease the non-ruling class by throwing money at the problems, and eventually the "Communotsees" will revolt again, continuing the unending cycle; thus forming an equalibrium of society, and achieving happiness to all. The "Communazis" will have all the money and power they want, and the "Communotsees" will be able to whine, and complain for anything they want; a perfect world.

Communazism will take western culture by the ears, and ram its revolutinary knee into the face of democracy; creating a shockwave that will emanate the voice of reason to the four corners of the world. Oh how the world will be a better place for all.

And Just When You Thought It Would Go Away...

Well, it would appear that several more people are getting onto the 'blogwagon.' I'm a little late with this, obviously - it appears to have been up for quite a while now - but I think this is a definite indicator of where things are going in the near future.

Folks, if you're not wired now, it'll be a big disadvantage to you in the coming decade. Information's digital, news is going digital, politics is looking into it, and it doesn't look like any of them will be going back.

As interesting as this whole 'Presidential Blog' is, I think it would be even better if The Man himself were to write a message or so per day...but given the choice, yes, I'd rather have him running the country. ;-)

Interesting Voter Statistics

Wow...the U.S. really is undergoing a political shift!

Last summer, pollster Mark Penn found that just 32 percent of voters called themselves Democrats, which led Penn to conclude that, at least on the party-ID issue, "the Democratic party is currently in its weakest position since the dawn of the New Deal."

Now a new study by the Pew Research Center pegs the Democratic number at 31 percent, versus 30 percent who call themselves Republicans.

That's very bad news - if you're a Democrat - but what does it actually mean?
Go find out.
And In Toronto...

...there was snow. Ach! It's not even American Thanksgiving yet - there can't be snow! Man...

I like snow. It's very pretty, and clean, and white, and nice if you're warm by a fire with the ground outside blanketed in a carpet of crystal; but in REALITY, snow is 'neat' for around 30 seconds - then you have to go stomp through it, slushing your way to class or the car or on errands or to the gym, muddying your boots and tennis shoes, soaking your slacks (or worse, your jeans, which take forever to dry), drenching your supposedly 'waterproof' coat, wetting yourself to the bone, arriving at the cluttered entrance to your home to find it tracked with sludge, and feeling like a miserable puppy who just got beaten around by a large cat and dunked into the almost-freezing water of the local river - no I don't like snow (and yes, this is the longest sentence in all of recorded history).

But it's not sticking yet (though that's sure to happen soon), and that's at least one positive thing I can take from this weather catastrophe. Heck, if humanity is affecting global warming, then I've only got one thing to say: step it up!

Tuesday, November 11, 2003
So...Much...

Ugh. I'm so bogged down with work, it's nearly unreal. I've got upwards of 12,000 words due in various classes over the next week and a few. To top this all off, my creative side is firing on all cylinders, too - I've just topped 16 pages of notes for one of my current story ideas, and I've had inspiration hit for a second, as well (it's coming up on four pages now). So much writing, so little time.

Plus, I've got to read to stay up with class discussions! Ah well...this is what I signed up for, I suppose. You, on the other hand, signed up for nothing, as far as this site goes - and while you've received something for nothing so far, keep in mind that the amount of work I have is inversely proportional to the amount of blogging I'm going to have time to do. I'll try and get out a post per day (as has been the pattern for a few days now), but, again, I can't guarantee anything; but hey, what do you care? You aren't paying for this anyway!

Oh, and just so you know, there's so much going on in the political blogsphere of late that I'm moving into a near-shellshocked state. I'm just too overwhelmed with work and writing in general to give you many of my own opinions. That's not to say I don't have these opinions (my family and friends can tell you this is certainly not true - I've got too many opinions for my own good), just that I can't really sort through them at the current time. So you'll have to go elsewhere for your information. Any of the links in my BlogRoll (on the right side of the website) will take you to interesting commentary and news - note that I don't vouch for ANY of it, make up your own mind. As far as one specifically, I'll give you two:

Instapundit is the granddaddy of blogs (he's even got an Internet phenomenon named after him).

James Lileks' Bleat is something you should read every day.

And, of course, we all know how much I enjoy Mark Steyn. (Oh, so it's three...who's counting?)

Monday, November 10, 2003
An Abortion Boycott?

This completely blew me away:

The willingness of some Texas pro-lifers to mix their personal views with their everyday professional lives has blocked the construction of a $6.2 million abortion clinic in Austin.

San Antonio-based Browning construction, one of the largest such firms in the state, pulled out of the contract recently after a key contractors balked at the project because it was going to house a Planned Parenthood clinic where abortions were going to be performed.
I never thought this kind of thing would happen, not even in Texas. I'm awed, and my hat's off to them.
Friday, November 07, 2003
Europe and the U.S.

Wow. In all my reading, in all my time spent perusing the Internet and blogs and newspapers and news magazines and... - in all that time, I have never read something (secular) that affected me as greatly as this has. This settles, in my mind, for once and for all, that Mark Steyn is a brilliant commentator, and possibly one of the most important political writers around. Here, he has summarized the issues, examined the deepening rifts, predicted the future of European and U.S. relations, and made clear what is going on, big-picture style.

Honestly, I find this frightening. I agree with him, but that doesn't make it any less scary. Unless things soon (now) reverse direction...but culture doesn't stop and about-face on a dime. These things take time, and time is not something of which Europe appears to have an abundance. No, things do not look good. Heck, Old Europe has been an enemy in principle for a while now (ie. ideologically opposed to anything the U.S. does), but how much worse will it be in a few decades when they're living under Sharia?

Thursday, November 06, 2003
Just Before Bed...

More press for those things which I have long suspected (via One Hand Clapping):

While an unmarried mom and dad living together might look like the married couple down the block, unions lacking formal long-term commitments have been found more likely to create problems for kids. Sociologists cite evidence that children raised by live-in parents have a greater likelihood of emotional troubles and poor school performance. A major reason is that unmarried couples are more likely to break up.

And now, to sleep!
And Now For Something Completely Worthless

I give you:

Poke the Penguin!!!!!

Sorry about the low content today, I've been busy. I've got several ideas for new 'Musings,' though, and as soon as the baking timer dings, I'll be serving up some nice idea cookies. Trouble is, I don't know when the dadgum timer is gonna go off - it's pretty much a random thing. Ah well...have fun poking!

Let The Dominoes Begin...

Yet another convert, this time from the Arab News. I hope this will be a melody soon joined by many others.

Highlight of the piece (via Peeve Farm):

At issue here is whether the Iraqi people have benefited from the overthrow of the Baathist regime and whether the American occupation will eventually benefit their country even more. I'm convinced - and berate me here from your patriotic bleachers, if you must - that what we have seen in the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates in recent months may turn out to be the most serendipitous event in its modern history.
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
A Pair of Birthdays

Hey again, Internet Population - this time it's my brother Eric, and my father who have a birthday! Eric is 19, and my father...well, out of respect for the ancient, I'll decline to list his age.

I'll be home this weekend (as opposed to next weekend), and I'll come bearing gifts. Oh, and just so you know, there are still 'Trilogy Tuesday' tickets available at Famous Players SilverCity in Ancaster (they're sold out at the Paramount in Toronto, and all the other theaters involved are too far out of the way). Seems the price is ~$50, and the showings begin at 1:30pm on the 16th of December. If you go get tickets, pick one up for me (I'll reimburse you). On the web, in the upper left, pull-down the menu and select December 16th, it should show up.

Writing Binge

Man, when I break a wall, I don't leave a brick standing!

Perhaps a little background: I have several literary projects going, aside from my school writing (which takes precedence), but until the middle of last week, I hadn't added anything to any of them in over four or five months. Reason? Well, I just didn't know where I was going. I had a few ideas, but they were all for new projects, so I jotted them down, and set them aside (nine is more than enough, thank-you-very-much). So I'd been staring at these partially begun novels, short stories, tirades, experiments, and beating myself (mentally) over the head because I couldn't finish them. Couldn't come close.

Then something changed. Last week, my housemate and I began working out together regularly. We had had several false starts earlier in the semester, but I finally got fed up with myself and forced the point. So we began working out. And wouldn't you know it? Art (my housemate) got sick. Well, there goes my workout - I've never in my life gone to the gym without someone else. I lack the motivation. Or, I should say, I used to lack motivation. Now I can't stay away from the gym.

Art's sick, true, but that hasn't stopped me. I've worked out three straight times without a partner, and it may wind up that I work out alone again tomorrow. The great thing is: I no longer need someone there to push me. This is a momentous break through; and it's having effects elsewhere in my life, too.

Which is really why I wanted to blog this: my writer's block is gone! I've been jotting down notes on stories I'm currently writing (one in particular) ever since I started back at the gym, and I'm making incredible progress. I've got nearly ten pages of handwritten ideas - and each of those ideas will take up several pages of text. This thing is gonna get done. Heck, I'm able to blog more often, too, after I started working out on a regular basis.

Plus, there's an episode of 24 on tonight. Yeah, things are definitely looking up.

Monday, November 03, 2003
Canada And Cynicism

One of the things I've noticed while living up here is that Canadians are incredibly cynical. If a politician says something, then it must either a) not be true or b) have some hidden, self-gratifying agenda behind it. Like I wrote earlier, outgrowing naivete is a good thing, but you can also go too far the other way, as well.

Take, for example, the myriad of Canadian friends who chuckle at me when I suggest that George W. Bush truly is a Christian (like he says he is). Never mind that even his political opposition acknowledges the truth of this claim; if a politician says it, it's not true.

Heck, I can't resist - look what life-long Democrat Zell Miller (former Governor of Georgia, and current senator) has to say about W.:

I first got to know George Bush when we served as governors together, and I just plain like the man, a man who feeds his dogs first thing every morning, has Larry Gatlin sing in the White House, and knows what is meant by the term "hitting behind the runner."

I am moved by the reverence and tenderness he shows the first lady and the unabashed love he has for his parents and his daughters.

I admire this man of faith who has lived that line in that old hymn, "Amazing Grace," "Was blind, but now I see." I like the fact that he's the same on Saturday night as he is on Sunday morning. And I like a man who shows respect for others by starting meetings on time.

Now, I guarantee you - Canadians will look at this, realize that the speaker is a politician, and immediately begin to discount it ("A politician said it? Well, then, it can't be true, huh?").

The problem with this cynical attitude, other than being extremely annoying to those of us who are less so, is that it tends to lead to an adoption of Conspiracy Theory mindsets. Just look at the experience my mother recounted to me about a recent trip to Mennonite country. She and a friend had gone to shop, meet the people, and get a taste of the atmosphere and aesthetic that they enjoy so much; and they came across a Mennonite woman who insisted that she had previously liked George W., until, that is, he sent that bovine with Mad Cow Disease to Canada as a payback for not joining in the war on Iraq.

Did you get that? George W. is so concerned with Canada's backing that he tries to undercut the Alberta beef industry by sending a cow that carries the disease that destroyed a good deal of Europe's cattle industry into Canada. That way, he would be justified in cutting off economic ties to the Great White North.

Right. Yeah. Never mind that the reason the US had such a prolonged ban on Canadian beef was that Japan was pressuring them to do so:
Japan has threatened to ban beef imports from the U.S. if it reopens the border to Canadian beef, something that could happen as early as late August.

This was acknowledged by Canadian officials when they attempted to lobby Japan to relax its pressure on the US. (Scroll down the page to "The Current: Part 3" to get the story, or just stream it from here -- link via CBC Radio).

Oh, and there's this:
If the cow is confirmed to have been born in Canada - as it appears almost certain - it would become the first homegrown case of mad cow disease in North America. [emphasis added]

But can you see the futility of all this? In this particular case, my mother's never going to see this woman again (as far as she knows) and the woman is a Mennonite, so she won't ever read this Internet post refuting her claims. Besides, even if she did, I've dealt with enough cynical CTs to realize that mere facts and information won't convince them to change their minds. America has no beef with Canada (I know, I know, but I couldn't resist!), but so long as the cynics can believe that GWB is a liar with their destruction in mind, they are (perversely) happy.

I've seen too much of it up here, and I'm beginning to believe it's a sort of "Mad Human" disease. Hope I don't catch it. Fortunately, it's easily combated - and you don't even have to become a vegetarian. All you have to do is take everything you hear with a grain of salt, and fact-check everything on which you base your opinions. It would be nice if there were some kind of vaccine, but that's probably too much to ask.
I coulda told you that!

Well, this is a welcome sign: MSN's Top Ten Myths About Marriage. It's refreshing to see something that you've understood and believed for a while now get at least some press (especially numbers 3, 5, and 9).


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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