Friday, February 21, 2003

the friday five

1. What is your most prized material possession?
I have several odd little things which I'm proud of--one is a sistrum, another is a little blue glass salt-cellar with silver ornamentation on it, and another is a white china toilet from a dollhouse. They're quite useless, but I bring them everywhere when I move and never lose them (quite a feat for me). In terms of what item I can't live without and value most, I'm typing on it.

2. What item, that you currently own, have you had the longest?
My dresser, which my grandfather built and hand-carved out of ashwood. Since my grandfather died before I was born, I don't really know how old it is, but it's definitely older than me. He also built our kitchen chairs and a few other things we still have.

3. Are you a packrat?
I am, but not as much as my parents. I buy useless things, and keep them too long, but I am capable of throwing things out. We have about a hundred boxes full of old model-airplane magazines of my dad's, dating back to the fifties. He has photographic chemicals in the basement that are older than me. My mother still finds my baby blocks in the drawers.

4. Do you prefer a spic-and-span clean house? Or is some clutter necessary to avoid the appearance of a museum?
It's kind of a moot point for me, since I'm not even capable of keeping a house spic-and-span. I like things to be neat, but...I can't do it. The bathroom and the kitchen should be absolutely clean, though, or else things get nasty and out of control.

5. Do the rooms in your house have a theme? Or is it a mixture of knick-knacks here and there?
Ha! It's student housing! Are you crazy? Even at home, the only conceivable theme in the furnishings would be "eccentric Ontario old money fallen on hard times due to frivolous hobby spending".
I just find this so cute: the CBC calls its coverage of the impending war Ultimatum Iraq. Doesn't have the ring of "showdown" or "countdown", does it?
I also recently got an email from a very dear friend of mine at U of Southern Ontario City Which I Will Not Name. She's hanging with the Trotskyites and Lenin-Luvrs and Marx-Mackers now, and went to the antiwar protests on the weekend.

Anyhow, apparently the Canadian police are keeping a clandestine eye on the antiwar protestors. My girl says the cops started a conversation with them at a restaurant on the way home, asking where they'd been and who'd been there. Not interrogating, I understand, but asking all the same.

I know that she has problems distinguishing flirting from threatening behaviour, so I'm inclined to chalk it up to bored cops wanting to chat up some university chicks. Still, interesting tidbit.

And she wants Michael Moore to win an Oscar. Dear God, but this can certainly try a friendship!
U.S. Bolsters Philippine Force, WaPo tells us, to root out militant Muslim group Abu Sayyaf.

Sounds like a pious idea, but can the U.S. spare 3,000 troops right now? I'm sincerely asking--my Canadian upbringing has warped my sense of military scale.
I had a dream the other night that Saddam Hussein was following me and some friends. He was pretty short, and wearing khakis, but still I felt the need to say, "Excuse me, sir, please stop following us." And I think we lost him when we turned a corner.

This has no significance at all, but I do occasionally have dreams about world leaders. Saddam has also appeared as a guest speaker at a peace protest in one dream, proving that conservativism has penetrated even to my unconscious.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Den Besteweighs in on "freedom fries" (which I find harmlessly amusing), and adds:

I'm afraid my generation is largely responsible for foisting this on America. The ultimate manifestation of this idiocy is "Imagine world peace", the idea that if enough people just think hard enough about something then it will magically appear without anyone actually having to do anything serious about it (like, say, fighting any wars along the way). Maybe so, but only if the tooth fairy can find time in her busy schedule to deliver it.

I thought I'd take this opportunity, as I so often do, to talk about John Lennon. "Imagine" is not my favourite solo song of his--that would have to be "Mother", "I Found Out", or the Lennon Anthology version of "Goodnight Vienna". Imagine (the song and the album) was not one of John's favourites, either: he liked that it sold and that people liked it, but thought it was a sugared-over version of "God" (on the raw, passionate album Plastic Ono Band).

However, "Imagine" has become the song everyone thinks of when they think "solo John Lennon", and the ideals in it are what they think of when they think of him personally. I've said this before on Marybones, but that's not the case. He wrote "Give Peace a Chance" and "Imagine", sure--he also wrote bitter, angry songs like "I Found Out" and "Working Class Hero". He wrote "Steel and Glass", and "How Do You Sleep". He was not just a hand-puppet for peace, and most of all, he was never really a campaigner for literal, political peace. John never suggested serious alternatives to war, and was certainly not a non-violent person himself (although he went through some phases like that). Peace activism was performance art for him, a game or a costume. Yoko felt more strongly about peace, and she has been partially responsible for downplaying John's harder side since his death.

The fact that John's major contribution to peace was "Imagine" (or "Give Peace a Chance") is significant--he was always talking about ideas and concepts, ways of thinking rather than ways of acting. The litany of -isms in "Give Peace a Chance" strongly resembles the lyrics of "God"--I don't believe in this, I don't believe in that, I just believe in me. Both songs are negative: no heaven, no hell, no countries; everybody's talking about ..., all we are saying is ... . The peace that John was advocating was not appeasement of a dictator or diplomatic solutions to political problems; it was a paring away of ideologies and -isms until you're left with only yourself, your own desires, your own compassion for others and your own contempt for the selfish and cruel. It's internal, and imagining can make a difference in that kind of struggle.

John was disgusted with people who couldn't think for themselves, not least because of his own natural tendency to trust authority figures (Maharishi, Janov, Yoko) who then betrayed him in one way or another. Sometimes he acted as a mouthpiece for others (Attica State, Luck of the Irish), but inevitably he got tired of being erased by ideology and denounced it all. My point (and I do have one) is twofold:
1. Lennon was much more complex than the anti-war protestors who use his name, and his work deserves more consideration than it's getting, by hawks and doves alike.
2. Beliefs eventually swallow the believer. This does psychological damage which is hard to undo. It happened to John a number of times, so take his advice: think about the other side's ideas, imagine what it would be like if everything you count on were to disappear. If you're antiwar, play hawk for a day, and vice versa. And then, think about who you are underneath all those beliefs, and try to see the world without them.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Chirac lashes out at 'new Europe' - Oh, man, I loved this story, if only for the last line.

Branding joint letters signed by Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic with EU members Britain, Spain, Italy, Denmark and Portugal, and by the so-called Vilnius 10 group of EU and NATO candidates "infantile" and "dangerous," Chirac said: "They missed a great opportunity to shut up."

That's my new favourite smackdown, right there. Way to be a diplomat there, Jacques.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Matthew Spalding on Presidents on National Review Online - Sometimes I think conservatives are just as bad about PC as liberals. They get far, far too angry over issues of wording and insist that it's symptomatic of some larger breakdown in society. Matthew Spalding doesn't like it being called "Presidents' Day", because Washington deserves his own holiday or he doesn't want to honour liberal presidents or something. I kind of zoned out while reading the article, just like I do when someone up here says that "O Canada"'s wording should be changed to "we stand in readiness to non-violently defend thee" to avoid glorifying war.

Yeah, Washington should have his own holiday. Lincoln should have his own holiday. And I bet Matthew Spalding would still sleep in if Clinton got his own holiday. Why do we only get Queen Victoria's birthday? Why not the reigning queen? Why not Elizabeth I? Or Henry V? Why don't we just stay home all the time, pondering the greatness of our ancestors?

It's not an issue, so I wouldn't bother mentioning it, except for this paragraph: "Two members of Congress, Reps. Roscoe Bartlett (R., Md.), and Tom Tancredo (R.,Colo.), have had enough of this convenience. They’ve introduced legislation that would direct all federal agencies to refer to the holiday as "George Washington’s Birthday" and return Washington to his rightful place above all other presidents."

And Republicans call Democrats wasteful? How is this going to do any concrete good? Why don't you allocate some tax dollars to history books for public schools, or better yet, trash the beaurocratic shit that tells teachers how much classtime to spend on Washington and how much to spend on underappreciated female legislators?**

** Note, I don't have a problem with female legislators, or with teaching about the achievements of minorities. However, when you're in school, you learn the major and influential first, then learn details and nuances and undervalued sources. This is common sense, and removing politicised curricula would ensure that more of it goes on in schools. I don't know how big a problem it is in the States, but it's a huge time-waster here in Canada. Save yourselves, Yankees, before it's too late!

Sunday, February 16, 2003

I'm a tarot fiend and deck collector, so this caught my eye: LEGO Tarot.