Friday, December 18, 2009

Canada to Harper: Remember Us?

So the Copenhagen talks accomplished nothing. Have you seen their current draft?

Basically, what they have officially decided is that they think it's a good idea to do something about climate change. They will support initiatives and set targets, but they will not set deadlines or make any commitments. Harper is on the wrong side of all the issues, and Obama is too concerned with having control over China's economy to make any promises. The EU won't promise more than a 20% reduction in carbon emissions (compared to 1990 levels), because they are annoyed about other countries not doing their share. So basically everyone wants someone else to take responsibility.

In regards to the attempt at a people's assembly outside the building where the meetings took place, I think that some people are accusing the police of more brutality than they actually used. Now, obviously, people beating people is never a good thing, but the demonstrators did try to break through the police line onto territory where they were not allowed to go. On the other hand, the Youtube videos show that excessive force was used in many cases. It seems to mostly be one policeman who beats people with his baton even when they are putting their hands up in surrender and doing what they're told.

The upside (I guess) is that no country will be policed by another country to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to. Officially, that is. Like I said, Obama will not commit to giving funds to help reduce emissions until China becomes more "transparent" whatever that means. It's one of those catchy words politicians like to throw around these days.

In other news, Omar Khadr is being transferred to a federal US prison in Illinois. I think it's Illinois. Anyway, basically this now 23-year-old Canadian will not be sent home for his trial. The guy was arrested when he was 15 for crying out loud. I think he has served his sentence.

Also, he was arrested for killing an American officer of some sort in Afghanistan. He allegedly threw a grenade at him during a US military attack on a village. Some say he was a child soldier. Others say he knew nothing about his father's alleged terrorist activities. Either way, the UN Human Rights Declaration is being violated as well as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that he must be brought home. Amnesty International, the Canadian Bar Association and several others have lobbied for his extradition, but the Canadian government refuses to comply with its own Charter.

He might be guilty and he might not be. That's not the issue. The issue is twofold: 1) he was a juvenile at the time of his arrest, something the Canadian government has decided to ignore, and 2) he is a Canadian citizen who should be extradited back to his home country.

Sigh. When is this idiot Prime Minister gonna be replaced with someone who cares about his country? Can we have another vote of non-confidence?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Musical Rut

Have you ever tried to write a song? I have. Every so often, I get this mad impulse to imagine that I'm much better at guitar and songwriting than I really am, and I think I can write something amazing. Needless to say, it's never amazing.

It is fun though, and sometimes it works as a release. On the other hand, sometimes it's just plain frustrating. If you've ever tried and failed to do anything creative, you'll understand. You get all excited about it as you work on it, then over time you realize, nope, not what I wanted it to be at all.

It sucks.

Now, I have written a few songs I'm proud of, but I'm just not where I wanna be with my music skills. I think I have a good ear and mind for music. I can usually pick out the different instruments in a song (if they're real instruments and not somebody hitting computer keys), and I can follow the drumbeat pretty well. I notice dissonance and key changes. So yeah, I'm okay at it, theoretically.

That's the problem though. It's all theoretical. I understand it in my head but it just doesn't come out the way I want it to. Also, I think being in an academic environment is ruining my ability to write poetically. You know, starting off your song with a thesis statement doesn't really work all that well.

I guess I just don't practice enough, or have anyone to bounce it off of. Not to say that there's no one who would be able to give me advice. It's just, showing a song to someone is like letting them read your diary. True, they probably won't understand it, but still. They will wonder what it's all about and most likely ask and then you either have to tell them or find some excuse not to. It's just unpleasant.

If you have any advice how I can get myself out of this musical rut, let me know in a comment. It's really frustrating, especially since I don't get much support from the people I'm around most of the time.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The US and Canada are going to hell

There are so many things I want to blog about today.

First off, why is Harper destroying Canada? (Note: in case you don't know, Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada.) He is going ahead with the SPP (check it out here ), he's trying to sell off all our water, and he's abandoning Canada's identity as a nation of peacekeepers to turn us into a nation of warriors. What is wrong with this guy, and more importantly, why are people supporting him? I know Canadians aren't good at getting pissed off about stuff, but seriously.

On a similar note, Canada's environmental responsibility is rapidly disappearing down the drain of Alberta's tar sands. Oil, always oil. Tar sands produce the dirtiest kind of oil in the world, which means it takes three barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil. Also, the drainage from this work goes into "tailing ponds" most of which are unlined, meaning that the pollution seeps into rivers and basically pollutes the entire country's network of water. (For more information on this and similar issues, check out the Council of Canadians website at )

It seems that my elation over Obama's decision to withdraw from Afghanistan was a little premature. Turns out he's going to play the numbers game, adding more troops in order to send a message to the world that the USA is strong and can do whatever it wants. WE ALREADY KNOW THAT, OBAMA, so just get the hell out. Nobody wants you there. At least Harper is taking a mild stand on this one and refusing to send more troops to complement the American military being deployed there. On the other hand, he's not exactly pulling out either.

The number strategy didn't work in Vietnam, it didn't work for the Russians in Afghanistan and it didn't work in the first Gulf War. It just doesn't work. Sending more people to die and kill is not going to solve anything. People have been invading Afghanistan forever and adding more troops has never accomplished anything. If the President were really to listen to his people, the ones that know what they're talking about and care about their nation, he would be pulling everyone out of that country - and Iraq - as quickly as possible. Oh well, at least he has set a time frame for complete withdrawal. It's still a step. Now we just have to see if he sticks to it.

So much for the Nobel Peace Prize. How can that have been given to a man who is engaged in TWO occupations, one of which is illegal under international law? Yeah, because that promotes peace in the world...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Time Warp

It's been a month since my boyfriend left.

Those of you who don't know me are probably thinking I've gone through some kind of breakup. This is not the case. I'm in a long distance relationship and we see each other every 4 months on average. It's not easy but it's worth it.

Anyway, so I was looking at the calendar today and realized it's been just over a month. He left on October 28th. It seems like so long ago.

But it's only a month.

It's weird how time bends like that. It warps itself so that a month can be a long time or a short time, depending. A lot has happened in the last month, and yet when you look at a calendar and see that it's only four and a half weeks, it kind of boggles the mind.

It's hard to wrap your head around sometimes.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Finally, A Timeframe for Withdrawal

Today I read in the New York Times that US President Obama plans to set a time frame for withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan. Although some Republicans, among others, believe that doing so "shows weakness and blablabla", I say it's about time. Even better news is the fact that the withdrawal won't be tied to conditions on the ground, which means that they can't keep pushing back the date, like they've been doing in Iraq.

However, the time frame for the withdrawal from Iraq is set in stone (as much as anything political can be set in stone). Most of the troops will be out by next August, and Obama promises complete withdrawal by the end of 2011. Now we will see how true to his word this man can be.

The downside to all this is that "a significant American presence in Afghanistan [will] remain for a long while". Of course. Can't be leaving them unsupervised.

It seems like a positive step, though, if it actually happens.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Puddle of Mudd

I just got back from a Puddle of Mudd concert at the stadium here. It was crazy.

They had two opening bands, the first of which was an unknown local band, KoJu, that had won a rock off contest. Half the band seemed thrilled; the drummer seemed terrified and the guitarist looked like he wanted to kill someone - or like someone had forced him to come play.

The second opening band, Crash Karma, wasn't bad, good at what they do, but nothing amazing. The lead singer looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the sense that his shirt could hardly contain his overgrown muscles. He looked like he was about to explode. The drummer broke his drumstick and it came flying right at my sister's face. It bounced off the barrier between us and the stage, but one of the security guards picked it up and gave it to her.

Puddle of Mudd almost caused rioting. They had to call in extra security to deal with the crowd getting out of hand. There were a bunch of crowd surfers, especially this one guy over and over. And one guy tried to pick a fight with the security guards, jabbing his finger in their faces and even pulling off one of their communication mics. Another guard handled it really well though, separating everyone and sending the guards involved to a section farther away from this guy in the audience.

A bunch of people threw beer onto the stage, and at one point a guy even ran onto the stage himself! He was quickly hauled off by security, of course, but he made it on. Pretty crazy. Wes Scantlin (the lead singer/guitarist) didn't even flinch. He just glanced at the guy and let security deal with it.

A guy right close to me had some kind of seizure. Luckily, the people around him were good enough to give him some space, but they brought in a bunch of medics, around eight of them. They took him out once he came to, but he was saying he was okay. He probably didn't even know it was happening at the time.

At another point, a girl got kicked in the head really hard by a crowd surfer. They had to lift another girl out of the crowd because she was passed out. I'm not sure why, whether it was too much alcohol, exhaustion, getting kicked in the head too, or what.

It was definitely quite a show, although the audience almost provided more of it than the band. Not that they weren't good. They were, but Wes Scantlin acted like an arrogant "drugs, sex and rock'n'roll" type. Typical, but not attractive to me.

I got one of his guitar picks though. It landed somewhere near us, but no one could find it. Finally, my sister found it - right at my feet. She's not a big fan so she said I could have it. It's a nylon Jim Dunlop .75mm. I already have a .55mm almost exactly like it. Funny. I think they just buy them in hundred packs and dish them out during their tour.

It was a crazy night, that's for sure, and definitely a lot of fun.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pure Happiness

I had a moment of pure happiness today.

I went out with a couple friends to see a band - turned out to be three because the main act canceled. The first band that played was really good. With practice and a bit more experience, they could be great. Their songs had meaning and emotion and the music lifted the house. The band was called White Elephant and they are a local band who just might make it big some day.

There weren't that many people on the floor when they started so my friends and I started rocking out, dancing to our hearts' content. People actually cleared a space around us. We had as much room as we wanted, and even though people were giving us glances, I didn't care. I just closed my eyes and let myself go with the music. I could hear every instrument separately - the bass, the drums, the guitar, the keyboard, even the trumpet when it hit - and I could feel the synergetic whole creating something greater than its parts.

I smiled and smiled.

I haven't smiled like that in a long time.

Friday, October 9, 2009


US President Obama has won a Nobel Peace Prize.

I agree that the man has greatly improved American relations with the rest of the world (not really that hard after Bush). He also has a lot of good ideas, not least of which are the health reform, universal nuclear disarmament and the closing of the Guantanamo Bay torture facility.

However... what has he really accomplished yet? I won't say he's not trying. He's achieved greater government transparency (meaning we get to know more about what happened under Bush and Cheney, but not necessarily in the present). He's working hard to get his greatly needed, albeit not perfect health reform approved (what system is really perfect anyway?). And he's trying to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, even if he's pissing a lot of people off by trying to introduce bills making people pay more taxes (gasp! not taxes!).

On the other hand, he is still deeply involved in fighting an illegal war in the Middle East. He supports the kind of big business that chews up and spits out everyone it doesn't like, including workers, competitors and the proverbial little guy. He bought out the banks while leaving people with mortgages in the lurch.

Okay, so the man's not perfect. He's not bad, he's not good, but at least he's trying.

But he really doesn't deserve a Nobel Peace Prize. People don't get prizes for good intentions and positive rhetoric. Knowing how to give speeches doesn't really constitute working for peace.

On top of that, the deadline for nominations for the prize was 12 days after Obama took office. 12 days.

"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the Norwegian committee said in a statement. "His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population." (BBC News)

He got the prize for being popular... interesting. Hopefully, he really will use it as a call to action like he says. Otherwise, it's about as meaningful as being Prom Queen.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Laced With Poison

Sometimes your words are laced with poison
Sometimes your eyes are all aflame
Sometimes your smile doesn't touch your eyes
Sometimes your whisper burns with pain

Somewhere along the way you found me
Somewhere you saw me on my knees
Somewhere I gave up what I beleived in
Somewhere I learned how not to breathe

Somehow you thought you had the answers
Somehow I tried to break away
Somehow you fought to be alright
Somehow I found the wrong words to say

Sometimes I wonder where we're going
Sometimes I know it will not last
Sometimes I fear the future's darkness
Sometimes I run, run from the past

I never knew I'd feel this pain
I never knew life loses light
I never knew you'd shake my faith
I never knew I'd lose this fight

Monday, September 28, 2009

Somewhere Else

Today in my Spanish class, we were talking about travel.

Almost everyone in the class has travelled somewhere pretty far from here. We're a nation of travellers. A nation of people well off enough to spend both time and the money on a trip to somewhere else.

Sometimes these somewhere elses are full of people who work twelve hours a day, men, women and children, in order to make ends meet. Sometimes they are in the middle of an undercover genocide or under an oppressive military dictatorship. Sometimes they suffer so that we can drink coffee every morning, or so that some huge multinational company can make even more money. Sometimes they suffer because the US government doesn't approve of socialist tendencies (why don't they reform Canadian policy? We have free "socialist" healthcare). Sometimes thousands of people lose their jobs because of European trade laws. And sometimes when we travel as tourists, we don't even notice any of this stuff.

Not everyone who travels is oblivious, of course. Lots of people travel with religious, government or non-profit organizations in order to improve the situation of people living in less-than-desirable conditions. But how much do we really understand their situation? I mean, I can build a house for someone, but if the Army comes and burns it down the next day, what have I really changed?

So that brings us to the next question: what can we really do? And the answer is: a lot. But the first step is to know what's really going on, to find out what people really want, and to situate their struggles within the larger framework. It's not easy to do. And it's even harder to get other people to care. Raising awareness is one of the two biggest challenges faced by NGOs and other groups. (Raising funds is the other one.)

I'm an anthropology student. (This is where you say, "What's that?") No, I don't study bones. I study people. I study culture and society and how the world of humans works. I love what I study. But it's also very depressing because when I get passionate about it, most people shy away. Most people have heard too much about politics and suffering and violence in the world. They're sick of it, and I can understand that, because most people don't realize that change is not only possible, but inevitable. Just look at history. Even recent history. Compare the early 1900s to the early 2000s. Big difference, right? And most of the difference was brought about by small groups of people who fought for their rights and their beliefs. I wouldn't be typing this if it wasn't for the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which, by the way, is only about 60 years old. As a girl, I wouldn't be in university and my sister definitely wouldn't be able to apply to medical school, if someone somewhere hadn't made the first step.

Travel is fun, it's informative, it's exciting, it's relaxing, and it's enriching. Next time you take a trip somewhere, why don't you do a little research on the place? I don't mean the kind of research the travel brochures give you, showing off the local attractions and wildlife, which more often than not includes a picture of a human being. What? Yep, take a look in a travel magazine. Guaranteed there will be at least one "exotic" person carrying a basket on their head or dancing in colourful clothing. What a total lack of respect for another human being. It makes them into a freak show or a performer for our entertainment.

When you're somewhere else, talk to local people, find out about their lives and their hopes and their vision of the world. I promise you that your trip will be much more rewarding and fulfilling than a week spent on the beach working on your tan. At least you might pick up a few words of the local language, right?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Taste of Life (Intro Post)

The first full week of classes at university saw this blogger on the go every single night.

On Sunday, my sister and I went to see a drag show, the local version of Drag Idol 2009. There were five contestants, including one drag king. Some were better than others. The judges dressed up too and, honestly, it took me awhile to be certain that they were all guys. Shows how much gender is determined by the way we dress, talk and move.

Monday I started judo on campus. That was intense. I was pretty sore the next day. After class, the instructor (sensei) invited us to go run 5km around campus. No thanks. Maybe later in the term when I'm more in shape.

Tuesday night there was a mayoral debate televised life to the city. Since it was held so close to where I live, I decided to check it out. That was cool, especially since one of the candidates is most well-known in this province for fronting a rather large and rather popular reggae band.

On Wednesday, I headed over to Yuk Yuk's for some stand-up comedy. The guy who set up our phone told us that he'd be performing that night. The comics ranged from hilarious to okay, with the MC making excuses for one of the newbies obvious case of nerves.

Thursday was back to judo. We learned quite a few holds and switched up partners, as well as bowing to the picture of ... some guy. Not sure who he is, but we do it every time. The class was still intense, but I could walk without wincing the next day.

Friday brought four of us out to a performance of Tuesdays with Morrie at the theatre. Excellent acting, especially for a two-man show. It lasted about two and a half hours and never dropped the audience once. The only downside was the little glowing light next to me the whole time. The woman beside me couldn't stop texting from her cellphone.

I find it funny that some people say there's nothing to do in this town.