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Monthly Archives: August 2009


When I come home after working overnight, the last thing I do before I fall asleep is peruse the morning’s news from my iTouch. I usually find at least one or two articles to ‘read later.’ Sometimes I read them, sometimes I don’t. Almost two weeks ago, I came across an article in the Globe and Mail titled “Canada’s literary community gets religion all wrong” by David Adams Richards. It sat in my iTouch browser until today, when I came across another article: “‘God’s verdict’ outranks history’s, PM (Harper) says.” To me, it was a sign that I needed to read the Richards article.

The tagline of the article says it all: “The derision toward anyone who believes is swift and non-negotiable among many writers today.” But I think it’s fair to take Richards’ premise and cut off that last part about writers, because it seems that anyone who believes in the year 2009 is one brick short of a full load.

A couple of months ago, I overheard a conversation between a guy and a girl who were talking about the guy’s new girlfriend. He said he really liked her, but was having trouble dealing with her belief in creationism (the girlfriend was a good Catholic girl). He said he couldn’t understand how someone could still believe in something so archaic; he even wondered if she’d ever actually thought about what she believed in. I was quite alarmed at the guy’s contempt for his girlfriend’s beliefs; he was basically calling them infantile and questioning her critical thinking skills. I really wanted to go find his girlfriend and tell her to RUN.

However, the conversation left me thinking about my own beliefs. I do believe in creationism, however, I don’t think it all happened in a literal seven days, although God could definitely do it. I find it very difficult to believe that we’re all here by chance. Every time I look at a baby, I can’t help but be awed by how we evolve from a tiny, microscopic egg into a fully-developed human within nine months. The intricate systems of the body, from the nervous system to the circulatory system, how our fingers move and our eyes can see – it blows my mind. I can’t see how there CAN’T be some Master Planner out there.

I’ve recently started attending church again after a smattering of attendances over the last couple of years. I wasn’t having a belief crisis; I’ve questioned the Seventh-Day Adventist church’s beliefs many times over the years and have made peace with those things I agree with and those I don’t. Besides, no church is perfect. If it was, what would the purpose of it be?

But I digress.

I am a small ‘l’ liberal (duh). While I hold dear to many of the tenets of liberalism (equality, the rule of law, limit of government power, human rights) I find myself increasingly troubled with liberalism and the idea of religious tolerance. To me it seems that liberals are becoming more INTOLERANT of religion, ridiculing and scoffing at those who would dare to believe.

It’s certainly true that Christianity, and religion in general, hasn’t helped its image. The presidency of George W. Bush highlighted everything bad about organized religion. And while I’m not about to blame GW for Christianity’s problems (goodness knows he’s got a lot of other things to answer for), the ‘religious right’ he was a member of did not help its own cause. The problem with the ‘religious right’ is that its members have forgotten the two most important lessons of the New Testament: tolerance and mercy. How can those on the left see religion as anything BUT bad when the ‘religious right’ is full of hypocrites, racists, homophobics, and misogynists?

Unfortunately, some liberals have exploited the bad behaviour of the religious right and taken the opportunity to promote another kind of intolerance. It’s very difficult (or I least I find it difficult) to find any sort of critique of Christianity that doesn’t basically question its existence. It’s hard to have intelligent conversations about religion with people because to believe is to be naive, ignorant and, well, stupid.

I believe in God, I believe in creation, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in his resurrection and I believe that there is a heaven. But I don’t think I’m stupid.

The problem is that there are lots of people who believe what they believe WITHOUT having thought about it; people who put themselves and their own agendas first instead of their beliefs; people who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk; people who use their religion to justify their own actions; people who take advantage of obscure biblical passages to further their own intolerance.

I am not one of those people. So, my liberal friends, quit making me feel like one.

(Note to self: DO NOT write on a blog for 5+ years and NOT TAG A SINGLE POST. I was looking for a blog I wrote quite awhile ago on Afghanistan. I have no idea when I wrote it. I thought I would take a look at it and see what I thought about the war over there before I wrote this. But I can’t find it and I’m tiredhttp://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=8483456 of looking.)

Last week elections were held in Afghanistan. A winner has not been decided, and irregularities and complaints are mounting. At this point, incumbent Hamid Karzai is winning, but final results will not be available until mid to late September.

I’m not in the least surprised that the election has been problematic; trying to turn a country into a democracy isn’t exactly easy. There will certainly be growing pains as Afghanistan’s fledgling (and that is probably too generous a word for it) democracy takes hold (or will it?) and grows into its own.

While many are hailing elections as a positive step for the people of Afghanistan, most have forgotten, or ignored, what a giant step back gender relations took when Karzai quietly passed the a controversial family law that allows men to withhold food and money from their wives if they do not have sex with them.

The law also:

  • forbids women to work unless their husbands grant permission for them to do so;
  • bans women from trying to gain official guardianship of their children;
  • lets rapists avoid prosecution by allowing them to pay money to women who have been injured during rape.

And this version of the family law is much less harsh than its predecessor which basically legalized rape within marriage, and sought to keep women housebound and uneducated.

In late March, when news of the family law was broken, there was a large global outcry, so much so that Karzai announced that the law would be reviewed.

Where is that outcry now?

Women in Afghanistan initially protested the new law, but were stoned as they demonstrated.

Is this really what our soldiers are fighting for?

We are supposed to be fighting to create a better life for ALL Afghans – not just those ‘blessed’ with male anatomy.

I find it beyond appalling that next to NO ONE spoke out about Karzai passing the family law in order to get a few votes. But maybe that’s because that’s just the way politics is done, right?

I am sickened by our government’s inaction on this matter. Harper condemned the initial law back in April, but has not responded to Karzai’s strike at the rights of women.

Violence is one of the world’s greatest threats to women. We need to use our presence in Afghanistan to ensure that women are treated equally. To not do so desecrates the memories of all those Canadian soldiers who have died trying to free all Afghans.

Source: Global Health Magazine


So today I did nothing but try to sleep and watch TV.

No wonder I feel so lazy.

I work overnight tonight and tomorrow night, and then Saturday and Sunday night before I start LAW SCHOOL!!

However, there is that little matter of a thesis to deal with first.

I have lost any and all interest in Thesis (I decided to turn the thesis into a person. Makes it easier to talk about). While I have no experience with relationships, I think my relationship to Thesis is akin to one. It started out with both trepidation and excitement. Then the excitement waned, I felt comfortable and things just continued on. Then I was too settled; other things came along and I stood Thesis up on many occasions and turned my attention towards other things/people. And now I want nothing to do with Thesis. I would really like to breakup.

I’ve been thinking about ‘why’ for the past couple of days instead of actually working on Thesis. After much thought, I realized ‘why’: I don’t care about the conclusion of Thesis.

Let me explain. Or try to.

I still find myself interested in Arctic affairs. When I started, I thought Thesis was going to be about why the Canadian government continually ignores a region that encompasses 1/3 of its landmass. But along the way, Thesis morphed into a study of Canada-US relations, something I’m not as passionate about as I used to be. While I used to focus on Canada-US relations, I now find myself more concerned with internal Canadian politics. And I even find it difficult to get excited about that these days due to the ridiculousness that passes for ‘politics’ these days.

In other words, idealistic me has been beaten into submission by realistic me. And when that happens, idealistic me revolts.

It also doesn’t help that I’m very good at starting projects but suck at finishing them.

And that I don’t know when I’ll finish Thesis now that I’m going into law school. The College of Graduate Studies and Research hasn’t given me any guidance.

I’m going to try very hard to finish my first ‘official’ draft of Thesis (I say ‘official’ because the chapters have already gone through various drafts themselves) before September 1st.

After that, it’s law school and nothing but. I’m sure Thesis and I will rekindle our relationship next spring.

THIS is what I accomplished this evening (BTW: I know that a sharp-tailed grouse has more brown on it. However, I’m not an artist and settled for just following the pattern).

I was feeling a little down, so I headed over to The Escape Plan and looked through the challenges for something that would brighten my mood.

Being the somewhat-orderly person I am, I decided to stick with the numbered progression of the challenges and settled on #3: Says You – Do something that is typically seen as inappropriate for someone of your age.

So I decided to colour.

The last time I coloured was on US election night in November. I came across an electoral college map created especially for colouring while election results pile up. It added a fun twist to the night and helped pass the time while the commentators blathered on and on.

Anyway…

After browsing a few pages, I went to Crayola’s website and downloaded a Saskatchewan colouring page. I could have downloaded a picture of Kim Campbell to colour, but the pictures of Canadian Prime Ministers weren’t terribly challenging (NOTE: There’s no picture of Stephen Harper to colour, but there is one of Barack Obama under the US Presidents. Hee!).

I turned on the TV and watched ‘Lie to Me’ while I coloured. Tomorrow I’m going to head out and buy some new pencil crayons, as most of mine are no longer pencils but stubs.

I forgot how relaxing it is to colour. Mental note: do this more often.

Who cares if you win games when your coach says “Our men played their fannies off and I’m proud of them”?

Maybe I’m cranky or expecting more than I should, but congratulating professional athletes on playing great in a loss when they are paid to win is silly.

There’s a lot of talk about last night’s Rider game being a ‘moral victory.’

Moral victories don’t count in the standings.

Many are saying Durant had a solid game.

He had three interceptions.

And then there are the special teams. They’re horrible week in and week out.

No changes have been made.

The Riders keep thinking they’re better than they are. While it’s nice to see that they have confidence in themselves, I sure as hell do not share it.

There are definite problems on this Rider team, and the team doesn’t seem to care.

Thank goodness next week is a bye. I need a break.

OFFENSIVE STAR: #7 – WESTON DRESSLER, SLOTBACK
8 catches for 179 yards
3 punt returns for 38 yards (one of which a big gain called back because of a penalty)

Just when I think I can’t love Dressler anymore, he goes and puts in a performance like he did last night and I fall in love a little bit more. Everybody’s freaking out about making sure Andy Fantuz is re-signed. As far as I’m concerned, Dressler should be the priority. RE-SIGN HIM NOW!! Too bad the Bombers’ Fred Reid had a record-breaking night on Friday. If not for him, Dressler would have been the offensive player of the week, hands down.

DEFENSIVE STAR: #90 – STEVIE BAGGS, DEFENSIVE END
10 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble

Since John Chick has returned to the lineup, Baggs’ gave has gone to another level. He’s become a real leader on the defence and was one of the main reasons why the Riders still had a chance to win last night’s game in the fourth quarter. Baggs continues to make a case for defensive player of the year.

SPECIAL TEAMS STAR: NO ONE

[…………..]

NEXT WEEK: The Riders have a bye and don’t play again until Labour Day when Winnipeg comes to town. Lots are predicting an easy win for the Riders, but after the Bombers’ great performance last night I don’t think a win is a given. I think it’ll be close, but the Riders will send former Rider QB Michael Bishop home with a loss.

Two boys sleep outside a grocery store in Iqaluit (Picture from The Globe and Mail).
“If press clippings and and newscast coverage could only count toward legitimizing Canada’s historic stake over the melting Arctic…Harper might well be onto something.”
Don Martin, National Post, August 17th, 2009

On December 28, 1967, CBC Radio broadcast Glenn Gould’s radio documentary, The Idea of North. The documentary took 5 people who had spent large amounts of time in the north, and weaved their voices contrapuntally into a vocal fugue of sorts (but of course no Aboriginal people were interviewed).

I only bring Gould’s work up because I think of it every time I hear news about the Arctic. This week has been no different. Our beloved PM Stephen Harper is up in the north, paying his annual respects to a piece of Canada that has long been forgotten.

As someone who has spent much of the past year reading about Arctic government policy, including that of past prime ministers, I feel like I have a decent amount of knowledge to draw upon in order to comment on this week’s activities. However, I am no expert.

The Globe and Mail has put together a picture diary of Harper’s trip to Iqaluit. Maclean’s Aaron Wherry says Harper is “on Arctic parade.” The choice of phrase is both telling and accurate. For each of the past three years, Harper has travelled up to the Arctic, making bold pronouncements of Canadian sovereignty over the vast Arctic and promising to put in place the infrastructure needed to make sovereignty a reality rather than a nice thought.

I certainly applaud Harper’s yearly visits and what seems to be actual care and concern for the North; he’s certainly shone more of a spotlight on the area than most prime ministers. Arctic issues certainly don’t help get votes at the ballot box. However, most of the sudden interest in the North has more to do with the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice than with the myriad of social problems plaguing the region’s people.

A couple of weeks ago, the Harper government released it’s Northern Strategy document. Entitled, Canada’s Northern Strategy: Our North, Our Heritage, Our Future, the 48-page booklet features a lot of pretty pictures and a lot of maps – maps of the northern region complete with little circled numbers that mark the locations of important towns and cities that underline most Canadians’ complete ignorance of the North. The booklet is printed in landscape orientation and only features writing on the bottom 2/3 of the page (need space for those pretty pictures and quotes!), and those 2/3 are broken up into further thirds as each page features writing in English, French and Inuktitut. So if my math is correct, the booklet is really only 10 and 2/3 pages long.

Pretty much every government in the past 50 years has produced a similar booklet. But none has gone to the lengths Harper has to promote it and sell it.

To that extent, he has succeeded. I’d suspect that most people think of Harper as a protector of the North. That is credit to Harper’s media team, because they’ve been spinning the same policy announcements and funding promises for three years.

Harper’s big Arctic promises all stem from the Conservative Party’s election platform back in during the 2005-2006 election campaign. Two days before Christmas in December 2005, Harper pledged that his government would earmark $3.5 billion to build three new icebreakers, an army training centre, and a deep-water port. The money would also be used to fund new air patrols and unmanned drones to provide surveillance, as well as increase the number of Canadian Rangers operating in the Arctic. The plans also included the creation of a new Arctic National Sensor System which would place “listening posts” at various points under the Arctic waters that would track ships and submarines. Furthermore, Harper said he “would demand…that any foreign vessels travelling in Canadian territorial waters seek and get the consent of the federal government.”

So what happened to those plans? Every year new details have emerged. The deep-water port will be built in Nanisivik. There will be only one, not three, new icebreakers. It will be named after John Diefenbaker, the first Canadian prime minister to have a vision of the north – “Roads to Resources” was his idea. But other than those few details, apparently “very little” has happened – surprise, surprise.

Then there are the massive social problems throughout the North. While Harper has put a lot of time and effort into trying to ‘solve’ the sovereignty problem, the same cannot be said of his effort in trying to help the people of the North with the problems of day-to-day life. For all its talk about wanting to create a North that is self-reliant (and that phrase is everywhere in the Northern Strategy document), the Harper government doesn’t address the issues of substance abuse, extreme poverty and housing.

In academic circles, there is an increasing belief that Canadian sovereignty in the North is dependent on a vibrant and healthy Northern population. Former Nunvaut Premier Paul Okalik wrote that “Northerners are the embodiment of Canada’s Arctic sovereignty. We are its human dimension…The time has come to exercise sovereignty by investing in its human dimension.”

I couldn’t agree more. Our southern idea of sovereignty is much different than the idea of sovereignty that exists in the North. To the Inuit, their mere presence in the North is all that matters; indeed, it is all that should matter. But international law doesn’t work that way. And, neither does the Harper government, it would seem.

In Tuesday’s Globe and Mail, Marie Wadden warned that “there’s a new colonial era unfolding in Canada’s North.” It was a brilliant choice of words, as the word ‘colonial’ conjures up so many negative images; yet I’m no so sure that the choice of words is an accurate one.

But – as long as the Harper government continues to focus on securing sovereignty over land and building military infrastructure rather than focusing on and building sovereignty through the futures of thousands of Northern people, maybe she’s got a point.

It’s been quite a few years since I read The Time Traveller’s Wife. I bought it when I lived in Vancouver, at the Chapters on the corner of Broadway and Granville (I sure miss that Chapters). It was in a display with a number of other books. I don’t know why I picked it up; time travelling = science fiction – not my genre. But I picked it up and read the synopsis. And I bought it then and there. I started reading it that day and read it within two days. I fell head over heels in love with that book.

When I first read that the book was going to be adapted for the screen, I was wary. The book is so complex, mostly because of all of the time-travelling, that transferring it from book to movie screen seemed an almost impossible task. And it was.

I liked the movie; but I didn’t love it. Too much was left out; however, this is understandable considering the book is 550+ pages and there’s TIME-TRAVELLING involved. Gomez plays a far larger role in the book; and the character of Ingrid was completely left out. The character of Henry was romanticized quite a bit for the movie; in the book he’s not nearly as amiable in the book as he is in the movie. In general, the book just had a lot more heat and more of a punch to it.

The casting worked for me. Rachel McAdams is the perfect Clare. I did want to see more of Clare’s feistiness, but the script didn’t bring that part of the character out. When I heard Eric Bana was cast as Henry, I cringed; I’m not a fan. But after seeing the movie, I’m not sure if anyone else would have worked. His looks made the aging of Henry quite beliveable. I LOVED the girl was played young Clare; what attitude! And the girl that played Henry and Clare’s daugther was also pretty cute.

It was only near the end that the movie finally seemed to find its footing – and then it was over. The book is not nearly as linear as the movie; if the movie had not been stuck on following Clare’s life but rather Henry’s, maybe it would have flowed better. I don’t know. But the ending! GAH! COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than the book. I didn’t like the movie ending; it was too neat and tidy (if you want to know how the book ACTUALLY ends, you can read about it here).

The movie tries to create a storybook romance that doesn’t exist in the book. In the book, there’s a lot more focus on the problems between Henry and Clare; these are glossed over in the movie. While the book makes it clear that they were ‘meant for each other,’ there are many temptations and frustrations along the way. I would have liked to see more of this reality than the rose-colored fantasy love that the movie portrayed.

BUT – it still made me cry.

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