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I am nothing more than a crossroads of arbitrary signifiers. Just like you.

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Someday, maybe I'll be an Adorable Rodent... Someday...




Movie Reviews:

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

More Filler Poetry

This one did extremely well at last class. Nobody had any complaints, just compliments. That doesn't happen often with this group, which seems largely negative...

It was written as part of an exercise to engage a poem, or a poet, in a poetic dialogue -- a response poem, if you will. The source material should be obvious. Or, if it isn't, there's that hyperlink I just added.

The Muddle of the Snark

Long have I fought, understanding I’ve sought,
Oft putting my sanity in peril.
And yet here I still stand in quite uffish thought;
Ah, that canny old Dodger named Carroll!

A puzzle lies here for the taking apart,
I am sure that a puzzle lies here.
Yet this Snark is elusive and most hard to chart,
And I may lack the art I fear.

The five rules of Snarkdom, I know each by heart,
I’ve plied all my cunning and wits,
And still I can’t seem to get past the start:
This Agony has me in Fits!

Might the answer be found on a mapless map?
Or perhaps in a court of law?
These clues you give me seem almost a trap;
Wrong conclusions they seem to draw.

Is the Snark found in doorknobs and toasted cheese?
Is the answer somewhat more surreal?
The Bellman said one needs guts in degrees,
And thus my courage must I steel.

Are arithmetic principles the key to the Snark,
Or elusive antediluvian talk?
Do its frumious jaws bite worse than its bark,
Or is that a Boojum I stalk?

The clues you offer are maddening, I declare
Them to be terribly muddled.
It’s enough to make me outgrabe in despair
At the plight of being so befuddled.

Alright you old Dodger – you’ve outfoxed me, it’s true
– you’ve outfoxed me with this riddling speech.
I’ll say it three times, you’ve outfoxed me, Adieu,
I’ll give up and go read Dover Beach.


Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 8:11 PM
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Saturday, November 27, 2004

Some Good News, For a Change

From CommonDreams. Arms Control Activists Hail Bush Setback. A highlight:

The defeat over the weekend of President Bush's attempts to fund research and possibly development of a new family of nuclear weapons was hailed Monday by arms control advocates as their biggest success in more than a decade.

They were reacting to the approval by the Senate and House of a spending bill that eliminates funding for the nuclear "bunker buster" as well as other "advanced concept" tactical nuclear weapons.

"This is the biggest victory that arms control advocates in Congress have had since 1992, when we were able to place limits on nuclear testing," said Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), one of the leading opponents of the Bush administration's nuclear arms program. "If we are to convince other countries to forgo nuclear weapons, we cannot be preparing to build an entire new generation of nuclear weapons here in the U.S."


And Some Bad News

Of an Orwellian flavour. Seems that Clear Channel has put up a Billboard advertisement depicting Bush. Why is this so disturbing? Well, take a look at the billboard ad in question.



Try comparing that with, oh, every "Follow Our Leader" poster that's been used in the history of totalitarian regimes.

Now, the GOP didn't put these billboards up themselves. Rather, it was paid for by Clear Channel, which is the company that owns the vast majority of the radio airwaves in the U.S. Which has also benefitted from tax breaks Bush has pushed through for large corporations. Not to mention favourable legislation with regards to media regulations (though not as much as Bush would have liked -- he openly supports total media deregulation). And when a company with huge media dominance acts in an overtly partisan way... Well, it's problematic, to say the least.

The oddest thing about this is that the billboard wasn't put up until after the election. This makes it not a bid for votes, or even a sales pitch, but branding. They want people to think of Bush as the only option. When one considers that the U.S. government is set up so that it is only the position that should be important, and not the man (or, theoretically, if not in practice, woman) who occupies this position, this sort of leader-cult-think is highly disturbing.

And if you want to be disturbed even more, check out Eternal Fascism by Umberto Eco.

The al-Qaeda / Goldstein joke just got a lot scarier in my mind.

Personally, I think that one of the best ways to defeat this sort of message is to subvert it. So here's some satire by Rhombus of RPG.net:







And my personal favourite...


The previous four images by Rhombus of RPG.net. I make no claim of ownership.


Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 1:27 PM
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Friday, November 26, 2004

Ratkin Like You

I received an unexpected e-mail yesterday from persons unknown. Apparently, someone out there has actually been reading the stuff I've written and put up on my UNBSJ web page. More specifically, this individual had been reading Chavo's Journeys, the story of a werecoyote (Nuwisha for those who know the lingo) who decides to live with some wererats (Ratkin) for a while, in the hopes of learning their ways and discovering if they hold the secret, as they claim, to saving the world.

Since there was actually a little bit of interest, I've put up Chapter 11; a relatively massive chapter. Last time I updated was back in February, so it's been a long time in coming.

Still no Foreword or Glossary, though, so if you feel like braving this collaborative writing project, you may be a little bit lost regarding some of the concepts and lingo at first.


Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 3:07 PM
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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Fascism at UNBSJ

While I was riding on the bus to campus this morning, I was contemplating what I'd blog about today. My strongest options, it seemed, was another one of my finished poems, commentary on Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King, or drawing parallels between the current Bush administration and The Party of Orwell's 1984. Of those, poetry seemed the most likely, since I'm still digesting King's novel, and I get tired of picking on the U.S. Administration sometimes.

However, as I was getting back on the bus to come home, I picked up a copy of the latest issue of the campus newspaper, the Baron (I would link directly to the issue in question here, but for some reason issue 7 isn't up yet...). Amid the usual stories about bad cafeteria food and ways to deal with exam stress, there was an actual, genuine story there.

Seems there's a bit of a controversy going on at this school -- one that's gotten attention by Amnesty International, no less. UNBSJ has a lot of Asian students, the vast majority of whom are foreign students from China; they make up about 18% of the campus population. Now, a fellow by the name of Adam Ainsworth approached the Student Representative Council to gain permission to start a club on campus for people interested in Falun Gong, a religion "based on Taoist and Buddhist teachings" originating in China in 1992.

It was also outlawed in China in 1999, and there's a great deal of evidence that the Chinese government is persecuting people for following this faith.

Now, personally, this faith ain't for me. As a Taoist Baptist, I can appreciate the Taoist side of things (which is really a philosophy, not an actual religion, but that's beside the point), and I've got plenty of respect for Buddhism. The foundations of the faith strike me as pretty sound. However, there's this habit that followers of Falun Gong have to refuse to take medicine or accept modern medical practices even when their lives are on the line, and this habit, I must admit, disturbs me a little. Nevertheless, Falun Gong isn't alone in this sort of practice, and religious tolerance is very important for a healthy society.

Anyway, like I said, this Adam Ainsworth guy... He wants to start a club for people who are interested in Falun Gong. It's worth noting (as is noted in the article) that he was given permission to do so at our sister Campus, UNB Fredericton. Yet here he was denied.

SRC's VP Finance, Xiaolin Zhan, was pretty up-front about his reasons, too, as quoted in the article:

"Let's assume the Chinese government found out about a student practicing Falun Gong on campus. What happens to him and his family? I don't want to put any student at risk."


This is, of course, a reasonable perspective. But it's also wrong; this isn't China. This is Canada.

Moreover, it takes a particularly singular view -- Falun Gong and its potential problems related to the Chinese student population -- and applies it to the whole. What about Canadian students who might be interested? Why deny them a club, as well?

Amnesty International was pretty blunt about the matter:

[Amnesty International] says UNB Saint John's Students' Representative Council (SRC) may have violated the Universal Declaration of Human rights when it rejected a spiritual club here last month.

"They can't just arbitrarily deny the freedom of expression and association," said Amnesty International Canada spokesperson John Tackaberry. "That's a direct violation of human rights."


Of course, Zhan had to admit that "he [had] never heard of Amnesty International." The idea of Religious tolerance might very well be, if not an unknown, at least somewhat alien for him given his background.

Other people, though, don't have that excuse. Like the Editor-in-Chief, David Shipley.

Shipley once again proves that he is, deep down, a fascist asshat who would be much happier if the campus population, not to mention the rest of Canada, were goose-stepping their from class to class. He comes down firmly in favour of Zhan's decision, and essentially pooh-poohs Amnesty International's concerns (y'know, about all that silly "Human Rights" noise) as being irrelevant to the situation on the ground (if I might borrow a phrase from Shipley's favourite political party).

"It's not that I'm opposed to having people practice the religion of their choice on campus" he says, which sounds an awful lot like the way most racists talk about their beliefs by saying "Now, I'm not a racist or anything" and then following up with some horribly vitriolic attack on a particular racial group. "It's a great ideal and it's an essential freedom in Canada. It's also not that I'm opposed in particular to Falun Gong. I'm even considering exploring it a bit further just to see what it's all about.

But I can do that without fear of being sent to prison or having my family members sent to jail."

Way to miss the point, Shipley. "It's wrong that people can go to jail for following this faith" is a good premise. How you reach "So we should keep people from learning about it" from there is a display of thought that, frankly, sickens me. Shipley calls it the difference between "idealism" and "realism."

No. It's the difference between freedom and totalitarianism.

As long as these Chinese students are in our country, we have a duty to provide them with the freedoms they lack back home. This is the best way to promote freedom, democracy, and universal human rights -- not through the warfare that gives you, Mr. Shipley, such a hard-on, nor through the cultural hegemony that you seem so inclined to support, but through a genuine interchange of ideas. Show people how things could be, and they'll be able to fight for change themselves.

Turning UNBSJ into an extension of the Chinese government is not a viable solution.

Incidentally, I'm not alone in my displeasure of Mr. Shipley and his editorial opinions. There's currently a movement on campus to start an alternate campus newspaper, largely out of displeasure from the way the Baron is being run. This strikes me as a wonderful idea, and I hope it actually happens, because that way I'd be inclined to get involved with writing articles for it. As it stands, I refuse to have anything to do with The Baron as long as David Shipley runs the show.


Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 1:26 PM
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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Flipper & Family vs. Jaws

From the Sydney Morning Herald (requires registration, though you can just use the username "davidboring" and the password "sydney"):

A group of swimmers has told how a pod of dolphins protected them from a great white shark off the north-eastern coast of New Zealand.

Rob Howes and three other lifeguards were on a training swim about 100 metres offshore at Ocean Beach near Whangarei when the dolphins raced in and herded the group together.

"They started to herd us up, they pushed all four of us together by doing tight circles around us," Howe said.

When he tried to drift away from the group, two of the bigger dolphins herded him back.

He then saw why. A three metre great white shark was cruising toward the group about two metres below the surface.

"I just recoiled. It was only about two metres away from me, the water was crystal clear and it was as clear as the nose on my face," he said, adding he then realised the dolphins had moved in to protect the swimmers.

The group were surrounded by the dolphins for 40 minutes before they were able to reach the shore.

Another lifeguard, Matt Fleet, was patrolling nearby in a rescue boat when he saw the dolphins' unusual behaviour.

When he dived out of the boat to join the group he also saw the great white.

Fleet said he was keen to get out of the water after the sighting, but didn't panic.

"I just kept looking around to see where it was."

The incident happened about three weeks ago, but Howes and Fleet said they had kept the story to themselves until they had a chance to catch up and confirm what they had seen.

Auckland University marine mammal research scientist Doctor Rochelle Constantine said dolphins were normally vigilant in the presence of sharks.

The altruistic response of the dolphins was normal, she said.

"They like to help the helpless."


I never thought this sort of thing actually happened... I always thought it was just folk tales people liked to tell. I think it's really cool that I was wrong.

Incidentally, if you ever find a news site that requires registration but you're not interested in the time it takes to actually jump through the hoops (or the spam e-mails that frequently follow jumping through said hoops), try using BugMeNot.com. Saves a lot of hassle.


Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 6:08 PM
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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Musings on the War on Terror

Lately, I've been reeling from the news of what is apparently a blatant and brutal war crime on the part of a US Marine in Fallujah -- if you haven't heard about this yet, you might want to go check out George Paine's take on Warblogging. Or perhaps the less detailed but more emotionally poignant take by Riverbend at Baghdad Burning. Or you could read both, which is what I recommend.

That's not what I want to talk about though, it's just part of what led me to my present ponderings.

I've also had to deal with acknowledging some of the fallout from this event, such as the tendency of some to defend the actions of this Marine who, by all appearances, intentionally shot and killed a prisoner of war, by chalking it all up to "yeah, well, that's war for ya." This attitude horrifies and offends me. For a truly disgusting example of this sort of ethical and moral decrepitude, you can look at Matthew Heidt's blog, Froggy Ruminations.

Yet this isn't what I want to talk about right now, either. Though I may in the future.

My thoughts also come on the heels of reading an editorial in my university newspaper in which the Editor-in-Chief tells everyone on campus how good and wonderful Bush is and how we should all just stop complaining that those evilbadwrong terrorists are dying in that other country way over there. Which really pissed me off, and saddened me to know that fascism is alive and well even in Canada (at least thanks to that utter fucktard David Shipley) You can peruse the issue in question here.

And once again, this isn't what I want to talk about. It merely helped spur on my current musings.

So, without further ado, here's what I want to wonder out loud:

Where the hell is al-Qaeda?

Okay, allow me to clarify... Why isn't al-Qaeda doing anything right now?

Granted, I'm well aware that, strictly speaking, al-Qaeda probably does not exist and never has. Bin-Laden is little more than a bankroller of terrorist acts and plans that meet his approval -- certainly not some criminal mastermind at the head of a global terrorist cabal bent on world domination. I mean, he's not Cobra Commander, and al-Qaeda is not Cobra. The US Military sure as fucking hell ain't G.I. Joe.

For one thing, G.I. Joe tactics make a whole lot more sense. Knowing is half the battle and all that. But I digress.

Yes, I know al-Qaeda is really more than an idea. But bear with me. Every indication tells me that Iraq is fast becoming a quagmire, and unless by some miracle the elections in January fix all that (and if you believe that, I've still got this bridge in Brooklyn I'm looking to sell), it's going to get harder and harder to pull out as time goes on. "Peace with Honour" is fast becoming little more than a pipe dream.

Now, I'm also aware that 9/11 was a huge fluke. A lot of terrorists had to get very, very lucky, and a lot of security and administration folks had to get Godzilla-sized brain farts, in order for it to go down as swimmingly as it did (unless you buy into all that tinfoil hattery which suggests Bush purposefully allowed it to go down... which I don't believe myself, though the idea nevertheless disturbs me.) Still, where are all the terrorist threats within the US borders?

I don't believe that bin-Laden or any other media bogeyman (NOTE: Not saying that's all bin-Laden is, just saying that's how the media's been using him since, oh, Rambo helped him out back in Rambo III) actually cares all that much about the fate of Iraq. I also don't believe that a conveniently colour-coded fear system does anything to actually deter terrorism. With the US Administration's attention elsewhere, it seems like the ideal opportunity for another attack. It would cause Bush, and all his gung-ho cowboy fakery, to become even more reactionary, engage in more devastating bombing campaigns, and align the middle east even more solidly against the West. Terrorist groups would be getting even more recruits than they're enjoying at the moment.

So, why aren't they?

Don't get me wrong... I'm glad it hasn't happened. I just can't, for the life of me, figure out why they haven't really put any major efforts in this direction. Obviously, there's something I'm missing here, or perhaps I'm mistaken in my assessment of the motives of such terrorist groups. It's puzzling for me.


Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 1:06 PM
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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

How To Kill A Mockingbird

A Flash book review.

Funny, but I don't remember the book going quite like that.


Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 10:43 PM
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Sunday, November 14, 2004

Lovecraft-esque Links

I'm currently trying to plow through the remaining two hundred pages of Such a Long Journey, so I can't really do anything in depth (like, say, the Incredibles review I've been wanting to write ever since I saw it this past Tuesday). Instead, here's a couple of links for Lovecraft fans that were pointed out on the RPG.net forums:

There's a Flash game based on Lovecraft's books. Frustratingly difficult, though that only makes sense given the subject matter.

Also, take a look at this fan-made trailer of Call of Cthulu, the movie. The 30 meg file is definitely worth the download, even for folks with piddly little 58.8 baud modems like myself.


Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 7:27 PM
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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Update on Apology

Remember that site I linked in which some of the good folks south of the border apologized to the rest of the world for the ill that is going to be inflicted for the next four years? Well, it didn't take long for the other side to really drive home the fact that they're real assholes.

http://www.werenotsorry.com/

But then, from where I'm standing, that most Bush supporters are assholes isn't exactly a surprise.


Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 11:13 PM
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Friday, November 12, 2004

More Poetry

A recent poetry assignment was to write a poem utilizing ekphrasis, that is, a poem based on a painting. Below you'll find what I came up with for the exercise; general consensus is that it was too insistent and unsubtle. Only problem is I can't figure out how to reign it back, since the theme is, by its very nature, rather unsubtle. Oh, well... They can't all be winners (personally, my favourite poem that I've written thus far remains Kitsune).

Athena Apprehended

Your peach perfume pales before
The intoxicating oilsmell of my palette.
Wistful, mistful dark owleyes searching nowhere;
Your entire world will soon be my canvas.

Hold your hand to your breast in perpetuity
While I freeze the folds of your green shawl stroke by stroke,
Your Aegis is your freedom – needless, discarded.
I have made you perfect. I have made you slave.

You are You no longer, but goddess forevermore.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Painting by Richard Franklin


Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 2:52 PM
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Thursday, November 11, 2004

Remembrance Day

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Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 2:43 PM
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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I Know, I Know...

...it's been, what? A week since my last post? Bad me. My only excuse is that I've been high on distraction and low on energy. That, and I haven't really had anything I desperately felt the need to share with the world.

Problem is, I still don't. So, as I type this, I'm fishing around my brain for something insightful to write.

Um...

er...

Okay, I give up. Instead, I provide you links:

A Wikipedia article on 2004 US Election Irregularities (Didn't take them long to put up, did it?)

And Sorry Everybody wherein the good America apologizes to the world. For those with the time and inclination to browse the site, it's kind of heartening. At least, it was for me; it helped remind me that 2% of the voter turnout isn't *that* big a majority, no matter how much damage it may prove to do.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
(image found on teh intarweb. I make no claim of ownership. I just think it's funny.


Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 7:46 PM
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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Ruminations on The Election

Damn. I should be wrapped up in my own angst right now, but... I can't let this go without comment.

In the biggest voter turnout since 1968, USians voted for hatred, bigotry, fundamentalism, and war. They voted for attacking countries who looked at them funny. They voted for sacrificing the future of the environment for the sake of the present, denying their children the right to a healthy world. They voted against women's and gay rights, and against holding people responsible for their actions.

They voted against a sane foreign policy, instead preferring to alienate as many international allies as possible while simultaneously making as many international enemies as possible.

They saw what Bush had done and what he'd said. They saw all that, and they still voted for him in droves.

Over the past several years, I've been defending the US around here. "Yeah," I'd concede, "their president is a screwball. But that's not who they voted for; they were tricked. Their election was stolen. USians are still just like you or me -- they're good, smart people who want to do the right thing."

I still believe that for some USians. I've had many relationships with folks south of the border that were quite important to me. Good, smart people. But defending the US as a whole? As a generalization? As an ideal? I can't do that anymore.

The one good thing I see about this is that it will quicken the US imperial decline. The hegemony is cracking, and the economy is falling. The bad part about this silver lining, of course, is that Canada's economy is pretty much joined at the hip, so the US will drag our economy down with them unless we figure out a new way of doing things soon. But then, even that price is worth it -- looking over the past sixty years of Western history and US actions towards its neighbours, that economic and military might ain't done much good for anybody (save the US bourgeouisie).

At the risk of sounding a bit chicken littlish, somehow I think the world just got significantly darker. With two supreme court judges due for replacement (just enough to give the neo-cons a fully conservative, maybe even fundamentalist, dominance of the judiciary; I expect Roe v. Wade to be overturned in short order), and a Congress very likely to retain a Republican majority, the setting is very ripe for a fascist regime very close to where I live.

I think I need a drink.

And before I forget, for all of those Americans (what, all four of you?) who read my blog and who are as concerned as I am about what is going to happen over the next four years, with a Bush who doesn't actually give a damn about being re-elected (or, in some ways worse, manages to somehow have the two-term limit extended), here are some helpful links:

Emigrating to Canada.

The Skilled Workers Self-Assessment Tool.

And Working in Canada under NAFTA.

(which reminds me of another silver lining... At least my own country's that much more likely to get a lot of very cool American expatriates.)

My apologies to anyone whom this blog entry offends. If it's any consolation, my first draft had a great deal more vitriol.

UPDATE: And now I learn that, not twenty-four hours after the election, a Republican spokesman on BBC is saying that the administration views Iran as the next priority to be resolved. Isn't that just the best idea in the world?


Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 1:34 PM
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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

If Only It Were True

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Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 7:23 PM
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Monday, November 01, 2004

Warning: Angst Ahead

Facing one's inner demons, trying to face up to and let go of the past in order to grow as a person? It sucks.

I know, I know. Really vague. I just don't have the energy for anything more in-depth right now. I'll give some actual details next time, though I'm afraid that it'll spill over into the realm of the angst. So, I guess my loyal readers can consider this a fair warning: if you, like me, have a low tolerance level for angst on the internet, avoid my blog for the next week or so. Things should be better by then (or at least, I'll have gotten bored blogging about them and have moved on to something else).

Ciao for now.


Jesse R enlightened the masses @ 5:34 PM
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