Friday, December 14, 2012

I am dumbstruck. Today's events have left me harrowed. I'm caught somewhere between the numb sense of inevitability I felt upon first hearing the tragic news and the tears that well up each time someone mentions the Christmas presents that will go unclaimed after today. On the one hand I want to fight back against all the multitude of factors that led to the day's events, but on the other I feel paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of what has happened in Connecticut.

It's simply too much for me to put into words that feel appropriate right now. Even these ones feel contrived and insensitive as it is. But it also feels wrong to let this pass without a word for the futre.

David Frum's excellent piece on The Daily Beast says what I think needs to be said about as succinctly as possible:
A permissive gun regime is not the only reason that the United States suffers so many atrocities like the one in Connecticut. An inadequate mental health system is surely at least as important a part of the answer, as are half a dozen other factors arising from some of the deepest wellsprings of American culture.
Nor can anybody promise that more rational gun laws would prevent each and every mass murder in this country. Gun killings do occur even in countries that restrict guns with maximum severity.
But we can say that if the United States worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be many, many fewer atrocities like the one in Connecticut.
And I'll say: I'll accept no lectures about "sensitivity" on days of tragedy like today from people who work the other 364 days of the year against any attempt to prevent such tragedies.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rob Ford Granted Stay of Decision

In a completely unsurprising turn of events, Rob Ford was granted a stay of last week's decision removing him from office. This doesn't mean much besides the fact that all the talk of "Goodbye Rob Ford!" was premature at the very least. It also means that the appeal, which sounds like it'll be heard in January, will be very interesting indeed. I still think Ford's best shot is to challenge Justice Hackland's assessment of his section 4(k) defence under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, but we'll see what happens. I would have bet on Ford winning at trial, but after how things went down at trial... It's hard to say how this will turn out.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

RIP Dave Brubeck

Jazz legend Dave Brubeck died of heart failure this morning. He was just one day shy of his 92nd birthday. Brubeck leaves behind an incredible legacy including some of the most influential music of the 20th century. The thoughts of this blogger are with Brubeck's family and friends.

Take a few minutes to check out Brubeck's incredible "Take-Five" below.

Repost: Why are women scared to call themselves feminists?

Salon recently ran an article asking "Why are women scared to call themselves feminists?" If you'd asked me a few years ago whether I thought "Why are women afraid to identify as feminists?" was an important conversation to have, I would have called you crazy. Completely immersed in university culture, most of the people I associated with were openly (and actively) feminists. It got to the point where I mentally resituated feminism to the default politics I assumed in people. After all, who doesn't believe in female equality? If someone legitimately didn't then I would find that surprising and repugnant, and that became something I actively did not expect in people.

But things don't stay the way they are in undergrad. A few years out, I've had more conversations than I care to recall that pretty much go something like this:
Them: "No, I'm not a feminist."
Me: "Oh? Why not? Do you believe in gender equality?"
Them: "Yes, of cours, but feminism just... I don't know, it just seems like something for lesbians."
Me: ...

Yep. I shit you not, that's a conversation I've been a part of. More than once. I'm now at the point where, upon seeing Salon's headline pop up on my newsfeed, I immediately thought, "That is a damn good message that more people should be exposed to!" Hence this repost.

It's not that people don't believe in equality for women, generally I've found that most people still believe in that (or at least claim to). What I've found startling in recent years is the sheer number of people I've met, men and women alike, who claim not to be feminists as though that identifier is a dirty word. I've had numerous conversations with people who actively don't want to be associated with feminism because they see it as some sort of radical ideology. Sure, there are radical feminists, just like there are radical anythings. Radical liberals, radical atheists, radical [insert noun]. That doesn't mean that the underlying assumption of feminism is inherently associated with such radicalism. More than that, I still believe it should be shocking for someone in this day and age to say they are not a feminist given that doing so equates to not believing in gender equality. Is that really a message that is still mainstream acceptable in any way?

I think the major issue is that people don't understand the difference between feminism and the abstract notion of radical politics, and that's a very serious problem. I'm certain there are very good arguments that such misunderstandings are the result of misogynist attempts to undermine the goals of feminism, and while I don't think it's my place to make those arguments, I will say that if people (women or men) in positions of power continue to say that they are not feminists then that is straight up evidence of and a victory for the patriarchy. It literally means you don't believe in gender equality, and when people say it what I think they're actually trying to convey is that they want to be successful so they don't want to be associated with a political ideology that has been cast as radical and therefore repugnant. Is gender equality a radical notion? That's for you to decide, me I'm a feminist so I'll let you guess what I think.

I'll leave you with what I think is the best paragraph from the article, it really hits the nail on the head:
Let me just point out that if you believe in the strength of women, Ms. Perry, or their equality, Ms. Mayer, you’re soaking in feminism. If you’re like Ms. Bruni-Sarkozy and want to explain that “I imagine I am if feminism means claiming one’s freedom. But I am not if it means being committed in an active way to the fight that some women are still leading today I admire their bravery a lot, but I have chosen to commit myself elsewhere,” you should know that “the fight” is just being an autonomous person in the world. And if you’re like Ms. Fenton and think feminism means being treated like “anyone else,” remember that there aren’t a whole lot of “anyone else” options out there. You’re basically admitting that masculinity is the norm and that all we can do is aspire toward some kind of equitable footing in a man’s world. This sounds like a job for … feminism!
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'Reposts' are inspired by other articles or blog posts around the Internet. They are used here with accreditation as the basis for short bursts of Max's interests.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Margaret Atwood Talks Modernity and Zombies

The title says it all. Care of The Hour's YouTube channel. This is just plain awesome. The english-lit-major and zombie-genre-loving parts of me are squealing with collective delight. Squee-ing, even. It's a good day.