For me, Thanksgiving is about being thankful for sanitation. It is the most beneficial human achievement. It is taken for granted by everyone who has it, but is the single greatest contributing factor to human quality of life. So Thanksgiving is the day I reflect on being thankful for, primarily, clean water and sewers.
So, I thought what actual thing could other holidays be seconded to represent?
The February statutory holiday, which is, I think pre-appropriately, called “Family Day” but which we all know is for Valentines, shall henceforth be a day in honor of women’s reproductive health services. Not as important as potable water and a general absence of cholera, but a close second.
That is all.
I am happy to see Senator Lynn Beyak “kicked out” of the CPC Senate caucus. I would not however go so far as to say that it represents any moral rectitude on the part of Andrew Scheer or the CPC. They did not rebuke her, indeed they were vocally supportive of Beyak, when she humiliated herself and all Canadians by suggesting, in the House, that residential schools were a net positive if some of the children who survived were Christianized. These racist letters that she posted to her parliamentary website were letters of support for exactly that stance.
So, what has changed? Well, Ontario is having an election this year, and there is an upcoming federal election in 2019. Conservatives will want something to point at to show they are not the racists they have been for years, even if they actively court that base.
But there is another factor to consider. Lynn Beyak is a stupid white woman. The stupid and white are important, not only because her privilege has befuddled her critical thinking, but because her being white is the only reason someone so stupid could have achieved such high office. In the last CPC leadership race candidates were running on xenophobic ignorance and hate, so don’t tell me that these ideas are unique to Senator Beyak, they are common tropes both within the party and its racist base. Nope, Lynn is not especially racist for her party, but she is also a woman. And at this point in time a party that is also misogynistic has looked around for a public relations scapegoat and thrown HER under the bus.
People who want blastocysts, embryos, and fetuses to have ‘rights’ create an unreasonable dilemma.
Either women have rights, or you can require them to carry a child.
Either women can choose to terminate a pregnancy or they do not have a right to security of their person. There is no way around this.
No matter how deeply you feel about the life of an unborn child there is no practical way for it to have rights that supersede or restrict those of the mother.
No matter how distressing you find this reality there is no moral choice that assigns rights to a pregnancy where that would deprive the host of her rights as an independent human being, which blastocysts, embryos and fetuses are not.
No matter how impractical a method of birth control abortion is, disenfranchising pregnant women, and therefore by extension, sooner or later most women, is a repugnant option.
This is why it is intolerable for a political party to advance members who take an anti-abortion stance or who advocate any measure that would tend to limit women’s access to reproductive health services. It is simply not acceptable that any person in a position of authority could stand behind a policy that inevitably diminishes women’s hard-won legal personhood and still moderate gains in equality.
But the distress and hand-wringing is entirely unnecessary. Ask, “Do women have rights.” It’s a simple question, with a simple answer that must be, “yes.”
Every so often, someone buys a shitty backpack, catches a ride to the end of some logging road, heads off into the “wilderness” with high hopes, and ends up leaving their broken corpse somewhere inaccessible for future generations to find.
No one can survive alone outside the community of people. Our species has been specializing in interdependence for hundreds of thousands of years. To survive and prosper each one of us needs the fellowship and cooperation of our community.
This allows individuals to specialize in, for instance, plumbing. You can become an excellent plumber because you can rely on bakers to bake, firefighters to extinguish fire, dentists to cause you periodic discomfort and etc. That way they can also become excellent specialists because they can rely on you to be great at plumbing for them.
And everyone cooperates. They may superficially resent or disparage this, but everyone needs help in order to move house, to hold a ladder, to let them do a lane change.
This is what society is made of. Everything about everyone’s survival and prosperity is based in social cooperation and mutual support.
Survivalist libertarian nut-job vloggers do not ride a bicycle strapped to a generator for 10 hours to make the electricity to charge their cellphone to record their latest every-one-for-themselves podcast. Not any more than they maintain a unique personal GPS satellite system so they can find their car after.
Almost every aspect of everyone’s life is intricately entwined with the efforts and good will of the members of their society. Where this breaks down, death follows.
Which is why it makes me so angry to listen to ranters deride socialism, for socialism in its fundamentals is just this cooperation and specialization of everyone, for everyone, that no one is apart from unless they are face down in a ravine waiting to die.
No matter what humans do within society we are all socialists. Humans are social animals. It is our one true strength and the source of all our adaptation. If you cannot understand this you are either eligible for the gold medal in self delusion or are alone, cold, wet and unlikely to make it til morning.
Like most people my age, I grew up watching lots and lots of TV, with 4 minutes of commercials every 15. As soon as cable came along anyone who could afford it left those commercials behind. When commercials followed viewers to cable they found other ways to watch content without.
Commercials are almost universally insulting, stupid and irritating. Once you have stopped watching them, you are going to have a strong WTF reaction when you are waylaid by some inane barking bullshit trying to get you to buy junk you do not need.
I stopped watching television, after about 40 years of being used to it, because if I have to watch commercials, I have other things to do.
Honestly, no matter how grim another task is, for instance cleaning the toilet, it is more interesting than almost any commercial.
So, YouTube has found a way around AdBlock Plus. It is interrupting videos to show me commercials for new-agey supplements, woo for geriatric dogs, cereal etal. And I cannot be asked to sit through that shit.
I have given up video, to which I had been long indoctrinated, before to avoid the indignity of advertising. If this keeps up, I sure can find other things to do than sit through some flaky charlatan barking about cleanses and herbal supplements.
Is YouTube committing suicide? I guess we will see.
Today I saw a person praying openly and at considerable length, and I was reminded of what freedom of religion is.
I was reminded because prescribed ritual behaviour makes me quite uncomfortable. However religious freedom, freedom from religious persecution actually, means that my discomfort was my problem, not his.
Centuries of monotheists persecuting people of different faiths necessitated that secular societies advanced the principal that you should not attack anyone just because they do not conform to your views on religion.
So while I sat their and the praying continued I was not only aware of my irrelevant discomfort, but of the climate in the room as people whispered and pointed and checked to see if, in an historic context, there was something intolerant they needed to do about the “other.”
I remember IRA bombings in the news. I am belatedly aware that there are conservative senators in Canada who think the cultural genocide of my country’s first nations was not so bad if some of the victims were successfully indoctrinated to Christianity.
So, what is my point? I am not very certain. I am dismayed by the surge in public religiosity particularly among white Christian evangelicals in North America, which I can only put down to a failure in education. However what I am certain of is that the whiff of intolerance I experienced today is not a healthy response to anyone’s faith.
A couple of weeks ago my mum, 98, asked me what made men gay. To which I answered nothing makes men gay.
Consider this. About half the people in the world prefer women, and about half prefer men. And most of the people who prefer women are men and most of the people who prefer men are women. If those two statements are true then it is inevitable that some people who prefer women are women and some people who prefer men are men. These are not even different sexual preferences. If I am attracted to the same person as a female friend, we are having the same sexual preference.
The problem we have as a society with sexual preference and almost any other LGBTQ2 issue is that we have created artificial communities through historic persecution and cultural prescriptivism. My grandparents would have told you that all men prefer women and, I suppose, no decent woman wanted anything other than to submit to one man. Both those assumptions, dictates really, were false; both products of narrow minds and ignorance.
When we talk about gender, it’s binaryness or spectruminess we are missing the point. These terministic screens we are constructing depend on the divisions we have inherited in our societies that are based in a worship of conformity. Primarily they are based in the repulsive human proclivity of defining criteria for damnation.
All that is really true is that there is variability. If humans are not statistically uniform as my Salvationist ancestors desperately wanted to make them, then gender identity variation is just as inevitable and unremarkable as the imperfect correlation between sex and sexual preference.
If intolerance, persecution and religious prescriptivism were to ebb away, the only time you would ever need concern yourself with another person’s gender identity or sexual preference would be if you were trying to get together with them.
Imagine if every time you did this, when you flipped a light switch off, the light stayed on and the switch asked, “Do you want to turn the light off?” requiring you to flip the switch a second time. No one would put up with that annoyance. It would be the most infuriating passive-aggressive bullshit ever. This is the kind of thing someone would implement to drive you mad.
But this strategy is commonplace in software interfaces. As an example, on a Mac the default setting for Empty Trash is to ask you if you want to empty the trash. Properly then the menu item should read, “Ask me if I want to empty the trash.” This is messed up.
You can, and should, change this particular default behavior. Putting items into the trash is a deliberate operation. The trash is not a storage location. No one would, or perhaps I should say should, ever put any file they want to keep, in the trash. And putting something in the trash and emptying the trash is already a two-step process. If you can mess that up, adding a paternalistic, “Are you sure?” dialogue is not going to help you?
And how is this useful interface design? Every time my workflow is interrupted to repeat an instruction this way, I immediately think something like, “Why would I have asked you to ‘Empty Trash’ if I did not want to?”
At the very least interfaces should allow you to disable such warnings whenever they come up. Some do, but making users repeat themselves seems to be a core strategy in interface design..
Command-shift-q opens a Log-Out dialogue on a Mac, and this is fine. However if I deliberately navigate to and choose ‘Log Out User Name’ in the menu, up pops the same dialogue, asking me if I want to do the thing I just told the machine to do.
In bizarre contrast, command-option-shift-q effectively pulls the plug on a mac shutting down unceremoniously without giving you the option to save anything. This cannot be disabled and can be very upsetting if you are working in a 3D app where command-option-shift-w is a thing.
These two examples represent diametrical strategies and are inexplicable as they occur in the same OS. On the one hand we have the passive aggressive insistence on making you repeat commands you could not have chosen accidentally. On the other hand is the impossibility of disabling a keyboard shortcut you could not possibly want to use, and could quite easily enter accidentally. These choices are both dreadful design. I would be ever so pleased if designers stopped putting such in software.