Friday, February 27, 2009
But I guess it’s not that surprising, seeing as how the members of RA are strict vegetarians and proud PETA-supporters. C’mon, it would be like leather-bound Marilyn Manson not winning the Most Frequent Cow-Wearer Award. (Image: RiseAgainst.com – Isn’t it kind of strange that it looks like it says, “Rise Against Vegetarians”?)
Wait – there’s more…
Besides their in-your-face music, RA’s videos are chock-full of truth. Their PETA-inspired video for “Ready to Fall” condemns animal cruelty by taking aim at sport-hunting (pun intended), environmental pillaging and pollution, “efficient” mass-processing technologies, and our general ignorance of the issue.
And just as PETA uses shocking, disturbing, nightmare-inducing images to create awareness, “Ready to Fall” will make you think twice about where your food comes from – and then make you want to kick your own ass for not thinking about it before.
True to their name, Rise Against goes against the mainstream by using music to expose violence rather than exploit it (50 Cent comes to mind here) and by using their fame to encourage change.
Aside from their PETA-friendliness, RA has teamed up with Vans to create a line of skate shoes that are not only vegan-appropriate, but slave-labour-free. (Yeah, apparently such things DO exist.) However, their video for “Prayer of the Refugee” shows this particular fight is far from over.
Set in what looks like a Wal-Mart, “Prayer of the Refugee” slams slave labour by exploring the histories of the products sitting on the shelves, and the lives of the workers who make them. Suddenly rollback prices don’t look so good.
And with their latest album, Appeal to Reason, RA has already begun to tackle the “hot” topics of today. Illegal immigration, the war in Iraq, gay marriage, Gitmo, and the silencing of truth by those in power are fair game in RA’s new video, “Audience of One.”
Like “Ready to Fall” and “Prayer of the Refugee,” “Audience of One” is a reflection of our world, and of what needs to be fixed. An appeal to reason, perhaps?
The video shows a little boy playing with a model world, and by playing I mean destroying. I'm pretty sure the boy is supposed to be George W. Bush.
Did I mention I love these guys?
P.S. Rise Against Canada and US tour dates have been announced. I guess I know where I’ll be July 31, 2009!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
But the lawyer in the story is named Richard Warman. That’s not quite funny enough do be made up, so who exactly is Richard Warman? (And am I the only person who's never heard of him until now?)
Apparently he's a Canadian human rights lawyer who has made more complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Commission than, well, anyone else. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing; it’s not like there aren’t human rights violations happening right now that need to be complained about.
But among his complaints about white supremacists on the internet, he’s also focused a lot of his energy on suing conspiracy theorist David Icke (more on him to come), and requested that British Columbia libraries remove all copies of Icke’s book, “Children of the Matrix,” from their shelves. Warman isn’t exactly known for leaving (mainly conservative) bloggers alone either.
Oddly enough, all this information can be found at RichardWarman.com. Even weirder is the fact that it’s not even his site. There’s a disclaimer at the bottom that says, “This site is to document the actions of Richard Warman. Richard Warman has no association with this site.”
Now that is hilarious.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
After reading Paul Sham’s post on the internet’s role in shaping democracy, and after writing/ranting about Holocaust deniers and woman-haters, I’m now left wondering about “freedom of speech.”
For one, is there a difference between “free speech” and “hate speech”? In his post Paul questions the ability of the web to democratize since it usually turns into an I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong competition, complete with insults and threats.
At this point, I would have to say that the right to “Freedom of Speech” is an illusion. Sure, we can all say what we want to say; it’s not like we’re all walking around with duct tape over our mouths…well, not literally. But if we say things that will offend or hurt another person/group of people, we’re suddenly not free anymore, and the metaphorical duct tape is firmly put in place.
The internet is making this freedom more real, yes, but the speaker is always susceptible to responses/threats/name-calling from their angry critics.
Take, for example, Bishop Richard Williamson, who claims that Jews made up the Holocaust. Obviously his comments upset a lot of people, but could we really believe we’re living in a democracy is he couldn’t express himself?
And in the same respect, should the people who think he’s an anti-Semite who needs to do some research not be allowed to say he’s an anti-Semite who needs to do some research?
It’s a very sticky issue, and no matter what is said it seems someone will always be hurt, offended, or disgusted by it. For example, I am pro-choice. Oops, I just pissed off a bunch of people!
I'm not trying to be rude, but here’s why I don’t care:
"Maintenance of a system of free expression is necessary:
- as assuring individual self-fulfillment
- as a means of attaining the truth
- as a method of securing participation by the members of the society in social, including political, decision-making
- as maintaining the balance between stability and change in society”
(from U of Ottawa)
Without disparate voices speaking out, women might not be “legal persons,” a black man might not be the President of the United States, this freedom to speak out might not even exist. Then where would we be?
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I’ll try to keep this short, but I doubt it will be sweet. And just so I don’t go rambling on in a fit of rage and annoyance, I’ll just refer to one of the articles, entitled, “Female Oppression: More Monkey Shit.”
In this article/piece of crap that makes absolutely no sense, it’s argued that MEN are the ones who have been oppressed for centuries (but keep in mind, the few brave men he's talking about were punished by other men):
“The fact is, men have been the real victims of oppression throughout history, not women. Men have been oppressed for their brilliance in math. Men have been punished for their innovations in science. Men have been drowned, stabbed, burned, tortured, and killed just for picking up a piece of chalk instead of a frying pan and a birth control test.”
Are you insane? It was never a law that (white) men couldn’t vote; it was never a law that a wife could beat, rape, or kill her husband. Look, I could go on for days about why this guy is a complete moron, and a...what's that word again? Oh yeah, hypocrite, but I won’t! At least not right now.
I would just like to bring to attention a story about a Saudi woman who is going to jail for being gang-raped.
After she accepted a ride from a man, the 23-year-old woman was taken to a house and gang-raped by the kidnapper and four of his friends. When she found out she was pregnant and attempted to get an abortion, she was taken to court and given a one-year prison sentence. After the child is born (that’s right, no abortion AND jail-time) she will receive 100 lashes.
The crime? Adultery - even though she’s not married.
Is that not female oppression? Or is it just evil?
...Dick! (Actually his name. Go figure.)
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Um, is that what you call hypocrisy, or just plain nuts?
A letter written to the Belfast Telegraph caught my attention because it asked those questions (but not in those words, exactly), and it got me searching for more.
I found another article, this one from BBC News, which reported that Bishop Richard Williamson claims the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is authentic. This anti-Semitic piece of garbage supposedly reveals a secret plot for Jewish world domination, and has been proven a hoax numerous times since the early 20th century – hence the garbage comment.
To attempt to be fair, I should refer to this video in which Williamson explains that people were never killed in gas chambers. He doesn’t specifically deny that Jews were killed in Nazi concentration camps, but he says it was more likely 200,000 to 300,000.
Even more ridiculous is Williamson’s attempt to exonerate himself from his clearly anti-Semitic beliefs: "My definition of anti-Semitism is to be against every single Jew purely because he's a Jew. That's not at all my case. I once had a Jewish rabbi come and speak to seminarians. Does that sound to you like anti-Semitism?"
Well, no, but the part about the Holocaust never happening, and supporting the authenticity of a piece of hate literature that’s been used to justify the oppression and genocide of Jews, is.
Plus, it kind of reminds me of that part in movies when a white person is accused of being racist and all they can come up with is, “My grandma’s black. How can I be racist?”
But doing one semi-tolerant thing doesn’t make up for saying, "Jews made up the Holocaust, Protestants get their orders from the devil and the Vatican has sold its soul to liberalism,” or, “A woman can do a good imitation of handling ideas, but then she will not be thinking properly as a woman.”
So if denying the Holocaust isn’t anti-Semitic, does that mean calling Protestants devil-worshipers isn’t hateful? Or that claiming women are inherently stupid isn’t sexist?
Is this guy Rush Limbaugh’s best friend or something?
For the sake of being rhetorical, even IF (IF) the Holocaust didn't happen the way we're told it happened, according to Williamson at least 200,000 people were imprisoned and killed in Nazi concentration camps. Whether gas chambers were used or not, it doesn't make what happened any less awful.
Monday, February 16, 2009
I have two family members who fall into this “small-business owner” category; my stepmom owns a pet/wild bird food store, Creature Comfort Co., which is across the street from my aunt’s bulk/health food store, Foodstuffs, in downtown Georgetown.
Now don't get me wrong, I always enjoy a day off, but since these stores are located downtown, they have to close on Sundays too. If small businesses are losing money because they have to close one Monday in February, it seems like nothing in comparison to four or five Sundays every month. But they’re still doing well.
Since they're small, local, independent businesses, their customers are very loyal and would probably just go shopping there tomorrow if they needed something. And since my stepmom and aunt only have a few employees – well, compared to the amount of employees at say, one Tim Hortons – they usually work every day that they’re open. If you ask me, they deserve a break.
I just wonder how long it’ll take Hallmark to start making cards...
Saturday, February 14, 2009
But enough with the bitterness; it’s love day!
According to legend, February 14 is the day the patron saint of love was executed. Arrested around 270 CE by Roman Emperor Claudius II for conducting secret marriages, Valentine has since become a symbol of love and romance.
After his death he became the overseer of an annual festival in which Roman men gave women they liked a hand-written letter confessing their desires. How romantic.
But like most marketable traditions, some historians suggest St. Valentine may better represent Christian love (even though the "Saint" part is usually left out of the cards).
It’s said that Claudius attempted to convert Valentine from his Christian faith to worship the Roman gods; Valentine refused, and even tried to convert the Emperor.
Either way, whichever legend is true, it appears love is still at the heart of it. And I suppose chocolate doesn't hurt either.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Why is Friday the 13th “unlucky”? And walking under a ladder? And breaking a mirror? And spilling salt?
Why do I think all these superstitions are silly, and yet I definitely wouldn’t want to get on a plane today?
Turns out the belief in the unluckiness of Friday the 13th, and 13 in general, isn’t just some behavioral quirk or hard-to-read phobia name (Triskaidekaphobia).
No, the fear of the number 13 is so powerful and so common that it affects airport terminals, airplane seating, street signs, house numbers, and elevator buttons.
(As my fellow North Americans might have noticed, the 13th floor is cleverly renamed “14,” or as in my friend’s building, just “3.”)
So, where did this superstition even come from?
The most common answer I found dates back to the Last Supper, when the twelve apostles and Jesus gathered for supper, well, for the last time. Since Judas was the 13th guest to arrive, there's one legend that says if 13 people have dinner together, one of them will die within a year.
And, as I learned from National Treasure, Friday the 13th 1306 was the day King Philip of France arrested the Knights Templar and tortured them for false confessions of heresy.
Also, 12 is a complete number (months in a year, dials on a clock, signs of the zodiac), which makes 13 quite odd.
I don’t know if I completely buy this whole Friday the 13th stuff. Today’s been pretty good so far...knock on wood.
Speaking of knocking on wood, here are some informative pieces on other things people believe for no real reason.
Debunking Myths of Bad Luck
Origins of Superstition
Superstition and Survival
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
10) Donnie Darko (2001)
After a jet engine crashes through his roof, a disturbed teenager (Donnie Darko) comes under the influence of a giant bunny rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world will end in 28 days. Frank convinces him to perform a series of crimes, while all along Donnie is becoming more and more captivated by the notion of time travel. This isn’t your typical scary movie, but for some reason it always gives me the chills. Maybe because it’s so dark; and that rabbit doesn’t help much either.
9) Frailty (2001)
Fenton Meiks enters an FBI agent’s office late at night to confess his knowledge of the “God’s Hand” killer. His knowledge is centred on two young brothers – one of who is telling the story – whose father claims to have been given a list of “demons” (real people) to vanquish (kill) in the name of God. There’s always the question of whether God is actually speaking to his father, or if he’s just crazy. It’s the not-knowing that keeps you watching until the superb (and freaky) twist at the end.
8) The Mist (2007)
A group of citizens are stranded in a supermarket when an eerie mist rolls into town. Hiding in the fog are giant carnivorous insect-like creatures that may or may not be supernatural. While the creatures themselves put on a good show, the scariest aspect of the movie is how people react to life-threatening situations, and how quickly they can turn against each other.
7) Village of the Damned (1995)
In a small town, ten women mysteriously become pregnant and give birth at the exact same time. Weird, right? Creepier is that when the children grow older, they all have white hair and glowing eyes, can read people’s thoughts, and make them do things against their will. Need I say more? (Even looking at that movie cover terrifies me.)
6) Stir of Echoes (1999)
When Tom Whitzky is hypnotized at a party he begins to see the ghost of a young girl in his house, leading him to embark on a search for the horrifying truth of what happened to her. What makes this movie creepy is the originality and believability of Tom’s supernatural experiences, and the bizarre change of character he undergoes to find some answers. The ghost is pretty freaky-looking too.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
What could be scarier than being stranded at a haunted hotel when your own family is trying to kill you? Or running into twin little-girl-ghosts (the worst kind of ghosts) while you’re innocently roaming the halls on your tricycle? Or seeing a tidal wave of blood hurling towards you? Aside from these hair-raising scenarios, this movie has so many memorable lines that it couldn’t not be in this list. “All scare and no help makes The Shining a creepy movie.” I tried.
4) The Sixth Sense (1999)
This Oscar-winner is about a kid who can see and communicate with dead people, and a child psychologist who devotes all his energy to help the poor boy. There were quite a few scenes that made me jump the first time I saw this, and the entire movie just made me feel all tense. But rather than being just an average ghost movie that uses predictable scare tactics, The Sixth Sense was nominated for six Academy Awards (coincidence?), made nearly $673 million worldwide, and had one of the best twist endings ever.
3) The Ring (2002)
Remember VHS? Remember how annoying it was to have to rewind your rentals before returning them to the store? Well, a video tape that kills you a week after you watch it is even worse. After a journalist and her creepy son watch the tape, they have one week to discover how it was made and why it’s killing people in order to stop their own demise. I think The Ring is one of those movies that sticks with you; I still get freaked out if the TV goes fuzzy.
2) Event Horizon (1997)
In 2047 a rescue team is sent to investigate the reappearance of a spaceship that has been missing for seven years. One the ship they discover a supernatural evil that uses their own fears and torments against them. This movie is certainly NOT for the squeamish or the easily-scared; it will traumatize you.
1) The Exorcist (1973)
When 12-year-old Regan begins conversing with “Captain Howdy” via Ouija board, a demonic spirit takes over her body. Unlike most movies that were made before special effects could barely be called mediocre effects, The Exorcist is still super-freaky. Who could forget the part when the possessed 12-year-old crawls backwards down the stairs, or the entire exorcism scene? And I thought pea soup couldn’t get any more disgusting.
Monday, February 9, 2009
The Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club claims Phil, the groundhog that’s supposedly been predicting the weather for over 100 years, is accurate 100% of the time. This year, according to the life-giving-elixir-drinking Phil, we’re in for six more weeks of winter.
But...the snow is melting...the days are longer...the spring seems near. *knock on wood* Has anyone considered that Phil runs back into his hole because there are so many people watching him, making tons of noise, and forcing him to take pictures when he just woke up and isn’t necessarily looking his best? Maybe the little guy just gets scared. Six more weeks of winter? Ha! I’ll leave that up to global warming.
Just one final question: Why do we trust the word, so to speak, of a furry little rodent who has supposedly been given the secret to ever-lasting life? If a person claimed to possess such powers, you’d think they were crazy! (Then again, if someone had a magic potion like that, they would probably keep it a lucrative money-making secret, Death Becomes Her-style.)
Maybe Phil is the Santa Claus for grown-ups – only they never seem to grow out of it.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Here are a few genius quotes/reasons why:
"Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream."
"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act." (on Michael J. Fox)
"You ever heard of the need to blow some steam off?" (on Abu Ghraib)
"The only way to reduce the number of nuclear weapons is to use them."
"The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it."
"There are more acres of forestland in America today than when Columbus discovered the continent in 1492."
But he can’t be a complete moron right? After all, he’s the highest paid syndicated radio host ($33 million in 2007) and "the number one voice of conservativatism".
Wait – does that mean ALL conservatives defend torture, promote sexism, encourage homophobia, uphold racism, abuse drugs, mock other people’s illnesses, and possess the inability to fact-check? I just can't believe that, but with the powerful influence Limbaugh has, I really hope no one starts to.
Not surprisingly, and in addition to Limbaugh’s “magic negro” and “I hope he fails” comments, Barack Obama has urged Republicans to stop listening to Limbaugh’s show because he believes it will only separate the two parties – and Americans – further.
Of course, this caused Limbaugh to retaliate: “Now this is the great unifier. This is the man who’s going to unify everybody and usher in a new era of bi-partisanship and love.”
Granted, Obama may be considered a hypocrite for promoting unity while asking people to separate themselves from this brand of thinking, but how can a country be unified (change) when there’s hate for all those non-male, non-white, and non-American spewing out through the airwaves?
If there’s one more reason not to admire Limbaugh (there are several, but I’m just naming one), it’s his “clever” attempts at rewriting the dictionary. For example: “Bigot: someone who wins an argument with a liberal.”
Being a fan of the old-fashioned dictionary myself, I feel I should point out that if Limbaugh labels himself as a "bigot," his picture would also appear beside the word "maniac."
And bigots don’t win arguments. They start them.
(Chart: Pew Research Center)
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Do you ever tire of opening the newest issue of your favourite magazine only to have to flip through 30 pages of ads just to get to the index?
Do you ever start reading a captivating article, turn the page and – UGH – it’s gone, replaced by some perfectly perfected supermodel you hope is simply the result of extensive airbrushing?
I know I do.
In my feeble quest to find alternative ad-free magazines, I made a rather shocking discovery: there are a lot of them. (So, on second thought, I guess it wasn’t really that feeble of an attempt.)
The slightly higher cost aside, there's an ad-less magazine for almost every audience out there, audiences that are currently being targeted and captured by the mainstream – and even ones that aren’t.
There are magazines for Christians, and divers, and poetry writers...And butchers, and bakers, and candlestick-makers. Okay, that last one was a joke (as far as I know); it just seemed to fit so well.
If you want to break free from the pressure to BUY! BUY! BUY! here are some alternatives:
- for Christians – Geez
- for Scuba Divers – In-Depth
- for Feminists – Bitch
- for Gardeners – Garden Gate
- for Science-Fans – Greater Good
- for Literary-Lovers – The Sun
- for Design and Photography Buffs – U&I
- for Political Junkies/ Environmentalists/ Culture Critics – Briarpatch; Adbusters; could also include Bitch
- for those who Like to Laugh – The Funny Times
- for a Little Bit of Everything – YES!
…and one last thing for Bloggers – Ad-Free Blog
If none of these sound like you, check out NewPages.com.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The Paraplex, a former funeral home located on the famous Canal Street, is fully-loaded with 4 ghosts and 40 thermal and infrared cameras, which parapsychologist Dr. Larry Montz will use to “prove these things exist.”
In the mean time, visitors can participate in “fear experiments,” private séances, and psychometry tests to see if and how psychic they are. (If they are psychic shouldn’t they already know?)
The Paraplex is also part museum, featuring the Freddy Kruger glove, the Honey Island Swamp Monster footprint, a vampire hunting kit, and dolls from vampire-writer Anne Rice’s collection. How appropriate.
But if all the lab is using to catch ghosts is cameras, how would this “proof” be better than that already found on Ghost Hunters or Paranormal State (assuming, of course, that those investigators aren’t just actors with a sweet team of Photoshop pros)?
I wonder if “scientifically” proving every haunting and ghost story as true – knowing the unknown – would make the whole idea of paranormality more scary, less intriguing, or make any difference at all.
On the other hand, say if Montz and his team actually catch these ghosts on camera, maybe the “paranormal” would no longer exist.
If the existence of ghosts, UFOs, and psychic abilities is proven, thus becoming scientific fact, wouldn't that render the paranormal...well, normal?
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Have you ever heard the expression, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”?
Yeah, I guess that saying has a ring of truth to it, and as most of those wise old sayings go, they can be applied to just about everything. For example, just replace “old dog” with “journalism,” and “can’t” with “can,” and what do you get? BLOGS!
I’ve been aware of these things called “blogs” for a while, read them occasionally, and wrote for them never. Now my first one is just one among millions – 70 million according to The State of the Live Web – so it’s hard to imagine that anyone would find mine in the vast sea of civic journalism and actually read it. Then again, Perez Hilton did pretty well for himself, as did Arianna Huffington.
But with a massive jump of 40 million new blogs in less than a year, I have to wonder why so many people are hopping on the blog-wagon. Being one of those people, here are some of my own reasons:
- Need for personal expression
- Desire to know, understand, and connect with others
- Distrust of the mainstream media
- Love of writing
- Had to find out what all the fuss is about
Another motive for the blog craze could be out of a need to understand and deal with real-life issues. Techorati suggests this through its graph of Daily Posting Volume, which shows spikes in the amount of postings during such events as the 2004 US election, Hurricane Katrina, the Israel/Hezbollah conflict, and the time now-V.P. Biden called Obama “clean.” (Isn’t it strange that most of those are US-based?)
But if you think about it, the growing popularity of blogs can also help explain the increase in tagging and the trend towards folksonomy.
Folk (common people) and taxonomy (categorization system) collide in this modern and fun-to-say word. And just as categorizing everything and everyone – from gender, to religion, to political leanings, to food groups, to movie genres – helps us organize and better understand our world, so do blogs. Blogging and tagging allow us to search, link, share, debate, connect, and learn.
Their popularity has also given the mainstream news media some unexpected competition, even making it feel threatened enough that they had to incorporate our medium into theirs.
If you ask me – although, I guess if you’re reading this you want to know what I think – this brand of news, ie., blogging, is the most reliable news we have (for the moment anyway).
Bloggers don’t hide under journalism’s guise of “objectivity;” they tell it like it is and as it ought to be. But right or wrong, left or right, bloggers’/our ideas are flowing, leaving marks on a world we live, learn, and write about.
New tricks indeed!
One last relevant, timeless (yet slightly updated) saying:
“The blog is mightier than the Military-Industrial-Media Complex.”
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Guess what? They’re doing it again! But unlike Apollo 13, Titanic, World Trade Center, and Hotel Rwanda, the disasters in Roland Emmerich’s 2012 haven’t even happened…yet.
The hype-filled movie, which is scheduled to be released later this year, is based on none other than the Mayan prophecy of 2012. According to the ancient Mayan calendar, December 21, 2012 is the EXACT day the world is going to end!
Actually, some believe the date will bring with it a new age of enlightenment.
Some claim extra-terrestrials will come.
Others – and by others, I mean scientists and astronomers – predict 12/21/2012 is also the first time the sun will align with the Milky Way in 26,000 years.
If you're not a scientist, you might be wondering, "What the hell does that mean?" Well, I'll tell you (but I can't be held responsible for any panic that might ensue).
This once in a lifetime event (oh boy, lucky us!) may cause the Earth to undergo a polar shift and begin spinning in the opposite direction. This in turn would result in countless natural disasters all around the world, which you’re sure to witness in 2012.
While the movie, the trailer, and the release date are being kept very hush-hush for now, I imagine 2012 will be a mix of The Day After Tomorrow, Deep Impact, Daylight, Dante’s Peak, Twister, and maybe even War of the Worlds with a hint of Independence Day – if they decide to throw aliens in there too.
All this and John Cusack? I can’t wait! I just hope that when December 21 rolls around three years from now, we’ll still be able to say Emmerich's 2012 was "only a movie.”