Friday, May 29, 2009

Just for the fun of it...

Sorry, Bonnie...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What is an optimist?

I stumbled across Lawrence Shorter’s "The Optimist: One Man's Search for the Brighter Side of Life": upon checking out Brian Cormier’s blog. Brian writes from Moncton and has a weekly feature called “Hump Day” in the Moncton Times and Transcript. His postings are often very funny, insightful and make me nostalgic for my hometown.

Being an optimist is something that I have always wanted to be. But as a chronic "worrier", I have sometimes found it an immense challenge to not be anxious about the future. This is probably why I'm such a planning freak - it's much easier on the nerves to execute a plan than to improvise one.

So, is looking at life optimistically something that comes naturally to some people or does it involve an attitude adjustment? I want to be someone who can see a spark of light in the darkest situation. Is that being delusional?
The optimist fell from the top story of a skyscraper. As he passed the fourth story, he was overheard muttering:

"So far, so good!"

An interesting incident that Mr. Shorter relates is his encounter with Desmond Tutu whom he described as an optimist. Dr. Tutu very strongly rebuked this label and said that he is a "prisoner of hope". That if he had been an optimist, he would never have survived those years of imprisonment or apartheid.

One of the reasons that Mr. Shorter started this book in 2006 was that the world then, and even more so now, seemed very bleak. The media thrives on bad news, if we're not all going to die of a new virus (the bird flu then, the swine flu now), then our whole economy is collapsing. He, at that time, lived with his father, a very proud pessimist. I can relate, I live with someone who wears his cynicism like a crown. It makes for a dynamic and bipolar relationship.

I believe a typical pessimist views reality as "that's just the way things are and will always be", whereas, an optimist sees reality as what "is" but believes that he holds the power to change it for the better. A pessimist chooses to expect the worst so that he won't be disappointed when shit happens; a self fulfilling prophesy I would think.

I can accept that things suck at the moment, but if I didn't believe that they could improve, then as the Divine Miss M says: "Why Bother?"

Though I don't see myself as a "Cockeyed Optimist" - the whip-poor-will is after all becoming increasing rare; however, I do see myself as hopeful (most days, I think, well sometimes...).

Indulge my Babs moment with these two clips from her concert which speak of both optimism and hope.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sometimes you just need to laugh

How the Mormon Stole Everything, from the folks who bring you LOGO's Big Gay Sketch Show.

Warning: NSFW.

Of course, The Mormons aren't the only ones to blame for the rollback in civil rights in California. There's lots of blame to go around. But this "tax exempt" religious institution continues to use its power and financial resources to campaign politically against the civil rights of a minority. That this crusade prohibits the rights of fellow citizens to enjoy the full community benefits that their own church members receive, make them an appropriate target for ridicule.
(Is it just me, or does he look a bit like Stephen Harper?)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Are somethings too important to put to a vote?

The California Supreme Court today issued a decision that upheld Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in the state.

While some say that this isn't all bad news, that at least the 18,000 same-sex couples that had gotten married before the November vote get to remain "married", I disagree.

This is a set back that presents a clear reason why issues that address individual's civil rights should not be put to a general vote - tyranny of the majority.

Could you imagine what would have happened in the mid 1960's if the right to vote for blacks and school desegregation were put to a vote? Both the US and our constitution are based on the premise that citizens are to be treated equally under the law. Now, unless your actions or being threatens the security of those around you, you are owed equal treatment when it comes to matters of basic human rights i.e. the right love someone of your choice.

I won't go into the reasons why same-sex marriage deserve equal treatment as that debate hasn't subsided and won't for some time. But I do have to wonder given the wave of states that have ratified same-sex marriage since the Prop.8 vote in November, is there a sea change in America. And would that change happen more quickly if we weren't using the word "marriage"?

Because, it seems to me that what all the religious wing nuts are harping about: "Don't redefine marriage, marriage is a sacred institution etc.". I won't go on about the hypocrisy of that argument. I will say, however, as long as a couple can be joined in a partnership that grants them the same rights and obligations as anyone else you can call it tapioca if you like.

There is no civil reason to prohibit same-sex marriage, being homosexual is not a criminal offense (In Canada, since 1969.) There is no logical reason to withhold very basic rights to millions of people but, unfortunately, logic has no place in the minds of religious fundamentalists who have no problem tyrannizing the rest of us with their particular take on the universe. Not having to pay taxes, churches such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can amass quite a tidy sum to mount an aggressive crusade against their heathen foes.

Democracy can only survive when there is true separation between church and state. In the meantime, the battle continues.

And now for a little political levity, a mini-musical:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

And furthermore...

As a follow up to the Harper Attack ad posting, here is an excerpt from one of my favourite Globe and mail columnists, Jeffery Simpson who writes a piece following Harper’s address at a fundraiser in Montreal.

(photo from Montreal Simon)

“The formula they have used, and still use, has six fundamental elements. In no particular order, they are: cater to Quebec nationalism; demonize the leader of the Opposition; impose tight internal discipline; string out announcements across the country that flow from budgets; woo multicultural Canadians; and throw the occasional piece of red political meat to the right-wing core.

They've been deploying this strategy from the beginning and it hasn't worked, at least not in moving Conservatives to a majority. If anything, the party is now further from majority territory than the day the Conservatives were elected.

When in doubt, the Harper Conservatives reach for attack advertisements, backed by the chorus line of Conservative MPs, constituency mailings and, of course, prime ministerial speeches.

As always, these ads contain gross policy distortions and nasty personal attacks, as we saw in the ads against former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion. They reflect far more on the mentality of the makers than the portrayal of the victim.

This time, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff stands accused, among other things, of preparing massive tax increases (including a carbon tax), having lived too long outside Canada and speaking French with a French accent.
Happily, for those who care about decency in politics, these attacks are all misplaced.

Of course, Mr. Ignatieff would raise taxes as prime minister, as will every government in the Western world once the recession is over - including Mr. Harper's, unless he is being grossly irresponsible, as is possible from someone who weakened the fiscal underpinnings of Canada by cutting the goods and services tax. The huge deficits in Canada and elsewhere cannot be reduced without tax increases, the only question being which kind, how much and when.

… As for his French, well, francophones won't much care about his accent, knowing he's an anglophone, especially when they stack his accent against Mr. Harper's.

Forget the attack ads, because this set will fail. They're just part of the wider, failed strategy to move the Conservatives to a majority. The rollout of announcements; the formulaic, mind-numbing prime ministerial speeches; the failure to impress Quebec; and the government's right-wing instincts - these are the real culprits in their receding majority prospects.

Mr. Ignatieff responds (CBC)

"If you mess with me, I will mess with you until I'm done," Ignatieff said Saturday.

Ignatieff told his audience in Gander he plans a different approach as he takes on the prime minister.

"Let's be clear how we carry the attack, because I will not attack Mr. Harper's patriotism. I will not attack his character. I will not attack his family. I will attack his record, and God knows, there's enough to work on," he said.

Seems Harper may have just met his match.

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