September 22, 2004

Additional contributors/ syndication

If anyone actually reads my blog and finds it in the very least compelling, I want to invite you also become a member and contribute to it. I don't care if you want to talk about politics, your day, your dog, books you've read, etc. In the same vein, if you already have a blog, then I wish to invite you to have it syndicated through my blog as well. in the comments area, leave your email address and what you want to contribute and I will respond to you with an invite if you're new. If you want to syndicate, leave me your blog address. Kyle "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter" - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Masculinity

I am currently attending the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). And while I am here I get the pleasure of taking a course known as "Games Boys Play: Masculinities in Multicultural Classrooms". The title says it all. I can't complain however - at least not too much - because I chose this course as my only given elective. Our discussion today focused around trying to define what masculinity is and, to a lesser extent, why it still prevails despite changes in social constructions. The latter is what I found more fascinating. Through our discussions it was derived that the hegemony of masculinity probably still prevails because of either; 1) Women have been able to broaden their own roles and the definition of what it means to be feminine to the point of 'encroaching' on the realm of masculinity. In response men have moved into a realm of 'hyper-masculinity' to further stake their claim as masculine men; they have entrenched themselves further into their roles as a method of defence; OR 2) Some contemporary males have become more sensitive - have allowed their emotions to be exposed, willingly - and/or taken on roles or positions that were once were seen as predominantly female. Therefore these men have become more effeminate. In response, as to preserve the concept of masculinity, 'manly men' have defended there ways by trying to subordinate the other in an effort of defence. Essentially, both scenarios have the same result. The difference is found in the 'why'; why the defence and entrenchment of classic masculinity - the power, the brawn, etc. - still prevails despite all the societal efforts and progression to open it up. It occurred to me though that it may actually be a combination of the two. Not a combination in the sense that both scenarios are why's. My thought is that the first scenario occurred - with the growth and acceptance of women's liberation - and that the second scenario is actually a response from men to the first scenario. That because the definition of masculinity has seen a shift in its dimensions in the past- which can be seen as it went from physical power to social power and between cultures, etc - that the second scenario is also another shift. While some men constantly struggle with their own identity within masculinity and try to further entrench themselves in the concept while holding onto what's left of their power. Other men have shifted the definition to adapt to the first scenario. Contemporary masculinity evolved rather than marginalize themselves any farther. The shift is meant to enter the realm of the new feminine, re-establish itself and eventually assert its power within this. It is still essentially a mechanism of defence and a grapple for power, by men, but it has adapted rather than cling to the dying breed. Since gender identity is, as it always has been in contemporary history, a struggle between the masculine and feminine with the masculine clinging to control, I believe I can rationally assume that this struggle will continue to exist in the near future. Therefore I can make the assumption that any change in the concept of masculinity is not actually a breakdown of its identity but rather a shift in its assertion.

September 20, 2004

Banning Assault Weapons a Slippery Slope

On my daily commute to Union station I was reading about this American hunter who thinks America should allow the private ownership on assault weapons and will not vote for Kerry because Kerry supports the ban. This man argued that banning assault weapons, under Kerry, will lead to the banning if handguns and rifles and then probably anything that can be used to hunt or defend yourself. Essentially this man believes Kerry will enter the U.S. into a slippery-slope. He even said that if that is allowed to happen, the U.S. will be more like CANADA. I must have missed the memo that said Canadians couldn't own any guns and I guess that means my father owns contraband! Actually, it is more likely that this hunter missed the statistic reports that there are actuslly more guns per capita in Canada then there are in the U.S. (despite us not being able to own assault weapons).

Dick Cheney - Fear Mongerer

Dick was on the attack again. According to Dick, America will face another terrorist attack on American soil if Kerry is elected President. I assume this is because he'll break down the military, make America passive, ban public ownership of assault weapons, etc., etc. Somehow I doubt that terrorists will attack just because Kerry is president. They are just as likely to attack if Bush is president. They actually might be more likely if Bush wins the election because he is the one that has initiated the attacks in Iraq. But to claim Kerry is more likely to allow an attack is just as bad as a prediction that Gore would have cowered under a table and did nothing in response if he were president during the 9/11 attacks. The truth is that attacks are likely to continue under any president as long as American Foreign Policy is prejudice, destructive and gives no concern to those outside of the U.S. Only when the U.S. stops only going after its own interests at the expense of foreign nations will the threat to America cease.

September 17, 2004

Ernst Zundel - White Supremacist

CSIS intercepted Zundel's mail, ex-agent says "Extremism" - from Warren Kinsella's blog I thought this whole case was over. So much for that belief. At this point in time, Zundel's lawyers are trying to show that CSIS' evidence against Zundel was collected illegally and that his status as a 'threat to national security' is a forgery by the intelligence agency. However, I think it to be quite obvious that he is a threat. He produces hate publications and networks white supremacist groups. He is a threat. If not to national security, then to minority safety. And that is just as important, especially in a country that is largely made up of minority groups. My opinion is that Zundel has no right being a citizen of Canada. If he cannot respect the make-up and the laws of Canada then why bother wanting to live here? Well, because he is not allowed in the U.S. (he was deported recently) or Germany (his native country). Zundel is a known threat and whether or not CSIS illegally monitored his mail or not is the least of our concerns. Zundel's being a proponent of hate and being connected to neo-Nazi groups is documented all too well to be ignored and that should be the only concern.

September 16, 2004

Powell and Russia

Powell: Russia Pulling Back on Democratic Reform Just a quick thought. I found this position interesting coming from the U.S. They claim that in light of the terrorist attacks taking place in Russia, that the Russian government has begun to take steps to make "sweeping political changes to fight terrorism". The U.S., after September 11th, passed a bill called the Patriot Act. This act essentially allowed the government and law enforcement agencies to override constitutional liberties of the public. The rationale is that it is necessary to be over look some rights of the people in order to better fight terrorism. This Act has been followed by the proposal of the Patriot Act II that essentially builds upon the first Act but extends the allowance of the government's and law agencies' ability to ignore essential rights of the public. This is why it is fascinating to me that the American government would be concerned about the rights of Russians when they are not overly concerned with the rights of their own people.

September 13, 2004

Exporting Toronto's Trash

Kerry would ban Canadian garbage shipments There are two very good examples of alternatives to garbage dumping that should be considered by not only Toronto but also all of Ontario if Kerry wins and goes ahead with plans. One is in Alberta; the other is in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia has a very extensive recycling and composting program. They recycle almost all of their trash with the exception of materials that are essentially un-recyclable and compost everything from fruits and vegetables to coffee grinds and toilet paper. They even have a list of items that are banned from being in the landfill that essentially includes the majority of items that can be recycled or composted. Though the system is not perfect, it has allowed Nova Scotia to cut back on their landfill waste by over 50%. The program in Alberta, though not used provincially, used a co-composter plant based in Edmonton. The idea behind the plant is to mix sewage, trash, river sludge, etc. and in the end come out with useable compost. The goal of the plant is to separate and breakdown as much garbage as possible. Anything that cannot be broken is removed and that which can be recycled is. The rest is essentially 'cured' and the compost is sold-off. The plant is co- owned by the City of Edmonton and a company called TransAlta Utilities. Much like Nova Scotia, the result has been a 50%-plus reduction in landfill for the City of Edmonton and surrounding area. Basically, Edmonton's venture is a mechanical version of Nova Scotia's. If Kerry is to win the election and go ahead with banning Toronto's garbage export I believe that these are two ideas that not only Toronto should use but all of Ontario. First, Ontario should implement the same level of restrictions and regulations as Nova Scotia has concerning garbage coming out of all areas of Ontario. Second, a plant, such as that found in Edmonton, should be built to directly deal with the trash coming out Toronto and the GTA. Why the two-part implementation? Even with strict recycling and composting regulations there is still a great amount of trash that would come out of the GTA, just due to the amount of people in this area. To speed up the process of composting and recycling, a plant would help deal with the excess flow of trash coming out of the GTA. The rest of Ontario, which is not as populated or even densely populated as the GTA, could be managed well enough by the tighter garbage regulations.

September 09, 2004

Powering Ontario

Province hungry for power from Bruce - Toronto Star It appears the Ontario Liberal Government is putting their faith and our money back into private hands and nuclear energy. Despite all the problems that are well documented, globally, with private energy and nuclear reactors our government thinks this to be a smart move. The cost is $2 billion-plus. What does it take to prove to our government that this money could be better off being spent on something productive and beneficial for Ontarians? Another black-out? Or maybe more price-gouging on the part of private energy? Or the constant flow of bills after the generators are up and running again? Who knows? If the Ontario government is determined to spend a boat-load of cash on power than do it rebuilding a public power utility company which has shown to be, when managed properly, always more reliable than private. Possibly build a nice, big wind-generator farm that is more reliable than nuclear power plants which are just money holes and what got Ontario Hydro into trouble in the first place. This money could be better spent on starting a retro-fit fund as well. Strategically retro-fitting large buildings, homes, etc. can save on energy and reduce the concern about running out of power or having to buy it 2nd hand at very expensive rates. There are so many better alternatives to private power and nuclear generators. Our government, if it has found $2-billion to spend on energy, has to be smart. It needs to do its homework and not look for the easy way out. The easy way is what got Ontario into trouble in the first place, mainly under the previous Liberal government, and what set-up the easy sell-off under our previous Conservative government. This is a time to look to viable and clean alternatives other than nuclear and look to take power away from the private sector whose main concern is revenue and not the citizens of Ontario.

September 06, 2004

Hurricanes

As Hurricane Frances is being downgraded to a tropical storm after smacking Florida around, the Caribbean is getting ready to face their next assailant, Ivan. Ivan will be the 9th tropical cyclone in the Atlantic this year. I was surprised at the persistence of Frances. I had been in the early part of a trip to the Dominican Republic when it began and at that time it was predicted that Frances would head north towards the Carolinas and pitter out due to its slow speed. Instead it grew to be over 200 km's wide, it hit Florida and it did all of this over a week after I looked at the hurricane reports on the net while in the D.R. The constant stream of tropical depressions is unnerving. Somehow my friends and I got lucky and were able to hit the Caribbean in between storms. I couldn't imagine going through the hell that Floridians and the residents of the Caribbean have of late. So far they have been hit by several minor storms and 2 class-4 hurricanes, with another on the way. The reports about the storms and satellite feeds can be viewed at the National Hurricane Center website. The discussions about the storms, with the exception of early Frances reports, are quite accurate and the satellite feeds give you a good idea of how big these storms can get.

September 05, 2004

Books/ Reading

I just wanted to share some of my favourite books or those that I have recently read and would recommend to everyone. If you want post some books you would recommend in the comments section feel free. I would really like to know what everyone else is reading or likes to read. On Equlilibrium by John Ralston Saul (philosophy) The Rights Revolution by Michael Ignatieff (politics) Public Power by Howard Hampton (politics) No Logo & Fences and Windows by Naomi Klein (politics) Of Mice and Men & The Pearl by John Steinbeck (general interest/ social commentary) Republic by Plato (philosophy) Utopia by Sir Thomas More (philosophy) Age of Extremes by Eric Hobsbawm (history) 1984 & Animal Farm by George Orwell (general interest/ politics) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (general interest/ politics) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (general interest/ politics) On Liberty by John Stuart Mill (philosophy) A Theory of Justice by John Rawls (philosophy) Various books by Terry Brooks (general interest/ fantasy) King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild (history)

September 02, 2004

question about blog template

Since I gave up on learning HTML and other programming stuff years ago, I was wondering if anyone could help me. I was wondering how I can add a sidebar for links? Any help would be appreciated. Also, if anyone has a suggestion for a better title, that would be of great help as well.

Comments on Republicans

I figure since I am a political science graduate (though doesn't mean much) that I should begin with a political post. And since the RNC is going on right now, and that I flip-flop between contemporary liberal and social thought, I thought the Republicans would be a good place to start. Let the whining begin! What I don't understand about the RNC is the collection of 'moderates' they have speaking at the forum. Noteables such as McCain and Schwarzenegger have spoken out in favour of Bush. The former has been critical of Bush in the past and the former doesn't support the far right agenda of the Republican party. I realize that after four years of extreme conservatism that the party needs to come across more like the democrats and actually seem like they care about the American public but does this not mean they are "calling the kettle black". They criticize Kerry for 'flip-flopping' but isn't this essentially that the Republicans are doing themselves? On one hand they talk and present a moderate conservative game but support hard-line conservative policies. Maybe this isn't them flip-flopping, maybe it's just them blatantly lying to the public. Let's be honest here, how much does the Republican party really care about the American public? Their environmental policy is 'let's not have one', they have no real health-care or pharma-care programs - unless you count bending over for insurance and drug companies as a policy - and no matter how much they say they support their troops and are not occupiers in Iraq, they are wrong on both accounts. When you extend soldiers tours on a regular basis and rip apart their health and pension plans, I don't think you're truly supporting your troops. And despite Cheney arguing that they are liberators and not occupiers, the truth is that you cannot call yourself a liberator when the people you are supposedly liberating consider you an occupier. I beleive they are in a better position to decide what you are to them then you are. If we could make such alls about ourselves then the majority of conflicts around the world would have the same type of justifications. I don't understand why anyone would want to support a party that has made its connections to big corporate money and its self-interests so apparent, and its lying so blatant. They lied to the public about WMD and Iraq's ties to Al-Quaeda, they pillaged the public coffers for corporate friends, they cut off the foundation of support for the needy - which has grown considerably since the Republicans have taken power due to lack of jobs and social programs - and they have allowed right-wing religious fundamentalists to tell people how to live their lives. But hey, if that's your thing and your ideal government/society than I say all the power to you. However I have a lot of trouble understanding how anyone would want to support a government that is anything but for the people that 'elected' it, especially when it had to follow up an act (Clinton) that proved it could work for the people and not just its corporate backers and itself.

Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)

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