June 24th, 2005

[NON BLOG] Gaming

Dark Ages: Vampire went well tonight, although I have to report that one shouldn't mention the presence of Dominicans to Lamia priestesses with issues. You just shouldn't. Late-night post-game Dance Dance Revolution is fun, as are strolls through Little Italy along College very early in the morning.

[LINK] Fallaci is a git, not a poster child

Harry at Hurry Up Harry explains why neocons specifically and people generally should not look to Fallaci as a prophet of the problems facing Europe. One might as well argue that the American racist populists who insisted that those nasty Italians and other foreign hordes on the verge of transforming the Union into an anarchist-communist nightmare were right.

[BRIEF NOTE] How do you reach these people? You don't.

The Tin Man and polonius have each linked to Russell Shorto's New York Times Magazine article "What's Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage? (It's the Gay Part)". I disagree with them to a certain extent inasmuch as I think that certain trends are actually quite hopeful.

For [anti-gay-marriage Christians], the issue isn’t one of civil rights, because the term implies something inherent in the individual--being black, say, or a woman--and they deny that homosexuality is inherent. It can’t be, because that would mean God had created some people who are damned from birth, morally blackened.

As a commenter at the Tin Man's blog notes, this belief contradicts the Calvinist doctrine of predestination that supposedly lies at the heart of modern American evangelical Christianity. This is a good sign. But then, Shorto interviews various people opposed to gay marriage and any recognition of same-sex couples who just don't seem to be clueing onto the reality that

Later, [Pastor Brian] Racer was working for a greenhouse and got to know a lot of florists. "You'd be amazed how many people in the floral industry are homosexuals," he said. "And that's where I became curious. How do you put it together, that they've chosen to do something that I have such an aversion to, yet I'm finding I can see them as real people? As a Christian, that was a welcome development. Around the same time, a close friend told me he was struggling because he was attracted to men. Over the next two years, I had two other people confide the same thing to me. For some reason, God was putting it in my path."

As polonius wrote, "[m]ost people's neurotic aversion to homosexuality doesn't survive becoming good friends with someone who's gay. It takes a special kind of egomania to make a conscious decision to allow one's own ignorant prejudices to override knowledge, experience, and reality."

I'm tempted to agree with Ludwig Lewisohn, writing in the 1920s about a previous generations of American idiots. "What will you say to a man who believes in hell, or that the Pope of Rome wants to run this country, or that the Jews caused the war? How would you argue with a Methodist minister from an Arkansas village, with a Kleagle of the Klan, with a 'this-is-a-white-man's-country­' politician from central Georgia?" What's the point in arguing with bigots who've built such a self-consistent universe for themselves? Is it even worth the effort?

One answer is that this particular sub-species of bigot doesn't represent all bigots. Most people really are more flexible once you've given them demonstrable proof that their beliefs are mistaken. There are some people who will firmly insist that, say, gay sex demons exist; there are also some people who write in their 20th century history tests that Hitler was the first man on the moon and that Nazis were victims of concentration camps. Some people don't get reality, but they're only some people. Most others can be persuaded by reality.

[LINK] Silence!

I'd like to point people in the direction of Silence of the Lambs: The Musical. It's a joke musical, yes, but it's also a very well-written musical, as demonstrated by the energetic melody of "In the Dark with a Maniac," the wordplay of "Quid Pro Quo," and the pathos of "Put the Fucking Lotion in the Basket." Not only you can download the mp3s, but you can catch the upcoming musical. I should go to New York City just to see that.
  • Current Music
    Clarice, Buffalo Bill and Catherine, "In the Dark with a Maniac"

[URBAN NOTE] Overheard on the Dufferin Bus Yesterday

Yesterday evening, as I was heading north on the Dufferin bus with several dozen other people, the bus driver pulled over to the side of the road for some minutes. Perhaps he was negligent; perhaps he wanted to avoid getting to the Dufferin TTC station ahead of schedule. Behind me at the back of the bus, a woman in her late 30s with a bleached-blond ponytail was talking to an older, larger woman who somehow was able to knit on a moving bus.

- I left Halifax 22 years ago, the first woman said. I just pretend to be an out-of-towner so I can scream.

- Prozac helps, honey.
  • Current Mood
    amused amused

[BRIEF NOTE] What Concerns Me About Some Intercountry Adoptions

Hot on the heels of the decision of Romania to limit inter-country adoptions, the Christian Science Monitor reports that Russia is following suit. I last wrote about this issue in February, when I made an ill-thought post supporting the Romanian legislation. I wasn't able to effectively articulate what really bothered me about the issue at the time. It only came to me today that I felt much the same way about child labour in factories.

It isn't a stretch to compare the two situations. Both, after all, are ways of incorporating minors born in communities lying outside the privileged developed world into our privileged circles. Critics of child labour suggest that children should be removed immediately from factory work; their opponents argue with some reason that keeping minors from working in factories could harm their well-being, that removing them from factories won't improve their standards of living but that it will forced these deprived children to take more difficult and dangerous jobs. Whenever proposals are advanced to try to prepare these children for something better--to provide them with a modicum of education, or some job security, or something extra--these opponents seem inclined to reluctantly implement these proposals if these are implemented at all. It might well be true that child factory workers are enjoying the best of all possible situations. It also seems to be true that this is a classic example of damning a situation with faint praise. A non-catastrophic situation isn't automatically a good situation, after all, and we rich consumers do bear some responsibility for the fate of those Bangladeshi children who make our T-shirts.

What I think provoked me to write that post back in February was a sense that proponents of intercountry adoption without restriction weren't acknowledging that there are serious problems, and were opposing certain changes to the various relevant systems. Some sort of effective monitoring system would be nice; some acknowledgement that, for the children who still maintain contact with their birth families, removing them to live with adoptive parents in a foreign country might not be the best idea; even recognition that the corrupt and/or ineffective state bureaucracies charged with supervising potential adoptees can easily cock things up and that we should be critical of them would be nice. If we--by which I mean the potential pool of would-be parents interested in adopting children from poorer countries in the world--support these mechanisms uncritically, even out of an honest desire to help as many children as possible, we surely should accept responsibility for tragic stories like that of Alexandra and try to avoid repetitions. All free markets require regulation, after all.
  • Current Music
    The KLF, "No more tears"

[MEME] What would my conspiracy theory be?

I've been tagged with an interesting meme by Patrick Banks. What would my conspiracy theory be? Find out.

* * *

Who are the bad guy(s)/gal(s)/alien(s) in your conspiracy? What is it they are conspiring for?
Christian Dufour, in his 1990 A Canadian Challenge/Le défi québécois, made the point that beginning with the foundation of New France in the early 17th century the peoples of what is now Canada have been locked in a conflictual relationship with the United States. After we helped Britain raze Washington D.C., we've moved away from armed conflict towards quieter but no less determined efforts to consolidate our distinct cultural identities against the United States. Why? In part, so we'd have a secure base of operations.

"Bad" is a relative term. This conspiracy is "bad" for Americans, since they are destined to fall under Canadian hegemony and become our kine at a point in time no later than the 2050s. This conspiracy is good for Canadians since, well, we finally get to dominate the North American continent. After a series of failed attempts, first under the French then in the first generation of British rule, to conquer the United States, the various elites in the colonies which came to unite as Canada decided to take over the Union from the inside. The massive southwards migration of Canadians has worked nicely. Not only are many border regions of the United States--the entire state of Vermont, for instance--mostly populated by people of Canadian descent who are secretly loyal to Ottawa, but many of the United States' most prominent celebrities are actually Canadian. Did you know that Christina Aguilera is part-Newfoundlander, for instance? Quiet cultural engineering has worked wonders. Sooner rather than later, Americans will grow tired of their dubious independence. We'll be waiting to assume the protectorate as soon as you are ready to give up that annoying thing you Americans call "independence."

How long have they been at it?
We started with Champlain. After a generation's lag time, the British decided to adopt the Canadiens' strategy.

How are you going to spread the word of this threat?
I'll let those Americans who I like in on the secret. If you read my livejournal, you deserve not to be made kine--I'd be quite happy to recommend you as collaborationists. Otherwise, I'll be quiet. I want to live long enough to have indentured servants, to be honest.

Are our elected officials in on the plot?
Yours aren't. Ours are, of course, even the Conservatives. What better way is there to neutralize your Republicans than to quietly subvert them with the example of a softer Canadian conservatism, given our established skills at manipulation?

Name three people you are tagging for this meme.
Pearsall Helms, pauldrye, and orlandobr.
  • Current Music
    Buffalo Bill, "Are You About a Size 14?"