Mommy Who Is That Big Baby?
You know, I don’t miss Farcebook. But I do miss changing my profile pic regularly. I was going through some of my old profile pics and I saw this one, which remains one of my favourites. It’s several years old now, and my cousin’s son would probably be mortified if I showed it to him, as he is now quite comfortably bipedal:
And while I’m mentioning random things, the latest Separated at Birth is an eerie one, IMHO.
Don’t Trust Google Translate
At least not for your restaurant menus….
Enough jokes have been written about this cover of MacLean’s that I won’t bother rehashing the obvious. Talk about tone deaf.
I will point out, however, that Doug Ford looks a lot like Bilbo Baggins from the 1977 Rankin Bass animated version of The Hobbit:
You can’t unsee that shit.
I’m A Wanted Man
A few days ago, the Blonde One woke me up and said, “I’ve got bad news for you.” Then she alerted me that Hamilton police are searching for this man:
This was very concerning because this is what I look like in my parka:
I spent the next few days avoiding the Hamilton cops. That’s not suspicious at all!
Luckily, I spend most of Hamilton days in the company of this Caucasian fellow, who grants me legitimacy in the Land of Whitey:
Did I mention that he’s psychic? The Blonde One tells me that he seems to know when I am on my way into town. At the appointed hour, he goes right to the back door and waits for me, like so:
Bootleg Athletic Wear
I think this might not be a genuine Puma(TM) shirt. What do you think?
Epicuriouser and Epicuriouser
Sometime last month I saw a brief televised confrontation between Canadian journalists John Ibbitson and Tanya Talaga. I didn’t catch all of it, but what got my attention was Ibbitson’s (correct) claim that most measurements of global poverty show definitely positive improvements over the past couple of decades, followed by Talaga’s (bewildering) response that her lived experience was more accurate than Ibbitson’s objective quantitative data. I tweeted this in reaction:
I was thinking about that again today as I was contemplating the writings of 3rd century BC Greek philosopher Epicurus, who said, among other things, “If thou wilt make a man happy, add not unto his riches but take away from his desires.”
Epicurus taught that there were static pleasures and kinetic pleasures. Static pleasure (aponia) arose from a state of rest and satiety, while kinetic pleasure (ataraxia) was the result of satisfying desire. A static pleasure was like having your survival necessities met, whereas a kinetic pleasure was gained through the dissolution of discontentment. He argued that kinetic pleasure could not satisfy static desire.
If you’re starving to death (a static need), a brand new iphone (a kinetic pleasure) will not make you happy. Static pleasure comes first.
His further implication, I believe, is that when static pleasures are achieved, they are rarely acknowledged or even realized. Were you thankful today for your full belly and paved roads, streets free of wild animal predators and for your roof that will not blow over in the evening wind? These were mighty accomplishments of our forebears, a gift from giants of the past so that we could have more kinetic pleasure today.
And yet I feel there is more unhappiness today than in the past, as Talaga’s comment to Ibbitson alludes. This is because all of our static needs have been fulfilled (for most people; of course, there are exceptions). And yet our kinetic desires continue to multiply, and are impossible to fully slake.
I am a very very happy man, and I ask myself regularly why that is. I think it’s because I know and understand the data. I understand deeply that, despite the challenges we have in the world, this is still the absolute best time in human history to be alive, especially living in a wealthy country like Canada.
And I really have very few kinetic desires, possibly because I remind myself regularly that my primary task is to make sure I don’t lose my static pleasures!
All of this to say that I’m troubled by how increasingly difficult it is becoming to convince people of the truth of data that offends their political sensibilities. It is possible to both acknowledge that there is less poverty, crime and war in the world now than in any other time in recorded history, while at the same time working hard to help those who do not yet benefit from the world’s increasing wealth.
(I know, I know, I know, the gap between rich and poor is widening, and there is ecological collapse around the corner. I know. We’ll get to that in a later post.)
What Am I Doing On Sabbatical?
Is a question I get almost daily. The answer is that I’m trying to write papers. The going is slow, since I have lost much of my writing engine. I have some things to say about that, but ironically I don’t feel like writing down those thoughts right now.
In practice, much of my day is spent at the Blonde One’s home in Hamilton, taking care of the dog while she is at work. And occasionally I get to examine a thesis defence via webconference, which is my absolute favourite way of doing it…. because pants are optional:
But also I am watching a LOT of Netflix. I mean, a LOT. Most recently I’ve been binge-watching Archer. How have I never seen this brilliant show before? Here’s a taste:
It’s not all about office sex, firearms, and blurred out dildos, but there’s a healthy dose of all three.
Bannon vs Frum
Did you catch the Munk Debates last week? I understand all the proper folk were protesting that we should not allow people like Steve Bannon (and for that matter David Frum) onto grand stages to infect the world with their hateful speech. I respect that point of view and will not argue against it. But I will offer my perspective, which is that I am not afraid of words, nor of the possibility that words might stoke actions.
Frankly, I am more afraid of those who wish to control what words I am allowed to hear. This is why book burners are more offensive than the books that are being burned.
I had planned on writing a long screed about this, about how de-platforming is akin to book burning, but then it occurred to me that I’m not going to change any minds by writing such a thing. These days, the political sides are so entrenched in their beliefs, that any opinion I might express on pretty much any matter just encourages many to put me into a particular box of beliefs, never to be retrieved. I fear the era of discussion might be at an end. This image sums it up nicely:
I despise Steve Bannon and almost everything he values. And I have not forgiven David Frum for his role in the greatest war crime of the 21st century. But I enjoyed their exchange, and I think I learned some useful things from it. So I’m glad it happened.
In fact, I would argue that the most fascistic action of the night was performed by a protester who attempted to shut down the debate just as it started. I will say it again: to my mind, the most authoritarian action one can take is to control the words, thoughts and ideas that I am allowed to let into my mind. It’s an infantalizing kind of fascism, and I will not tolerate it.
As Lincoln once said, “There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.”
Here’s a picture of comedian Ron White, who looks a lot like Steve Bannon. I don’t want an actual photo of Bannon infecting my blog, so this is as close as I will get:
A mentally deranged non-white woman, while on a schizophrenic psychotic break, stabbed to death a total stranger, and was found not guilty by reason of insanity. The distraught family of the victim, also non-white, understandably expressed regret at the verdict, with one of them offhandedly commenting that “the system is broken.”
That was enough to let this piece of shit tweet the following racist comment:
The lesson is that pieces of shit never pass up a chance to express their piece-of-shittiness.
My medical adventure continues, with an attempt to fix an issue (which I will come clean about in due time) being exercised via food. Here are my most recent “overly complicated breakfasts”….
Nov 3 – The same day, I made a giant vat of vegan chili, with onions, garlic, kidney bean, chick peans, fava beans, cremini mushrooms, red peppers, fresh tomatoes, cumin, coriander, paprika, and cinnamon:
I Will Leave You With This