Friday, April 29, 2005

"(September 11 was) an occasion to be brave enough to ask some serious questions about America's role in the world. Because it is always useful as individuals or nations to ask how we may have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to this conflict. Not to have the courage to ask these questions of ourselves is to betray the victims of 9/11."
-Maggie Gyllenhaal

These comments and others have been enough to cause angry users to force a Maggie Gyllenhall fan website into shutdown. I wouldn't consider myself a diehard fan of her movies (although I do recognize her contributions to Adaptation. and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind), but I can't help but wonder what all the fuss is all about.

This definitely proves that nothing is truly black or white. Freedom of speech is one of the fundamental rights and freedoms that are granted by democratic societies, but it goes far beyond that. As it stands, judging from the hostile reaction that Ms. Gyllenhaal's comments have received, perhaps our notions of free speech should be re-evaluated.

I consider myself liberal in my leanings, so I'll accept (but not necessarily agree with) any speech or sentiment, just as long as it doesn't promote hate, violence, discrimination, or ignorance. So, blatantly ignorant statements on same sex marriages and the denial of the holocaust get the kibosh. Stuff questioning the War on (T)error? Go for it.

Using celebrity status in order to promote causes is important, although a slightly more informed opinion would be nice. How do we know that entertainers know anymore than what they're trained to do? But, I must say, seeing Brittney Spears' endorsement of the current Bush administration while chewing gum on Fahrenheit 9/11 is actually quite amusing.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, April 25, 2005

Lt. Dan Kaffee: I want the truth!
Col. Nathan Jessep: You can't handle the truth!
-A Few Good Men (1992)

It occurred to me one day that we spend the better portion of our lives being lied to. It happens from the beginning from the day one, where little boys and girls are taught that good behaviour will be rewarded. Give them a few years, and the teachers and parents will be telling them, "It's what's inside that counts" and "It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game."

This follows them into their teenage years, where they are told that hard work and perserverence pays off in the long run. If they're part of the North American school system, they'll likely be told about the dangers of pre-marital sex and recreational drug use, especially with marijuana.

And then they'll go into their adult years. You'll have politicians promising bigger and brighter things if they're elected into office, television ads promoting the American dream, and people that you work with telling you that a task will be accomplished with a specific time frame.

All of these things work in theory, but not in practice. In the long run, people will generally gravitate towards those who are good of heart and kind in spirit. But more often than not, these people get swallowed whole by people with less than honourable intentions. Professional athletes have bad attitudes towards fans and the media, yet are awarded millions of dollars in promotions and contracts. People who are good looking generally make more money than more plain looking people. Products designed to make our lives better and brighter end up just making us fat and poor. Politicians send troops to foreign countries to war over false pretenses.

Lies and truths will eventually be uncovered, but by the time it happens, it's usually too late and the damage is permanent. But on the other hand, if everybody (and I mean EVERYBODY) told the cold, hard, and honest truth, the world would would not necessarily be a better place. As it is, it seems that it is in our nature to deceive each other and people would prefer to live in a lie than the cold hard truth.

If children were told the truth about everything, it'd be crushing. For children to have nothing to believe in would likely do serious harm to their development. What motivation would there to be a good, kind hearted person if they knew it wouldn't get them anywhere? Why would they want to even leave the house if they weren't pleasing to the eye, knowing that everybody would be judging them without even taking the time to know them?

If there was truth in advertising, the economy would shut down. We don't need the fanciest anti-bacterial soap, the biggest SUVs, the perfect body, or the latest fashion. But, the 500-channel universe tells us otherwise. People wouldn't be buying the latest and greatest, financial growth for corporations would shut down, and a lot of people would be unemployed.

If the government told the truth all the time, there'd be anarchy. The truth is tanamount to political suicide. History has proven this. Former US president Jimmy Carter's administration was in the middle of an oil crisis. He promoted conservation, wore a sweater on live television to set a good example among the American public and even had solar panels installed in the White House. Ronald Reagan promoted a Pollyana attitude of hope and optimism, and then would later go onto win the American presidency and then dismantle everything that Jimmy Carter had set in motion. Now we find ourselves in a bigger energy crunch than before. We had about 20-30 years to do something about it, but instead, we just bought bigger houses, bigger SUVs, and ended up with bigger waistlines.

If people told the truth in relationships...well, it's hard to say. There'd be a lot more trust, for starters. But would people take risks? Would people even want to be with each other if they knew the truth about each other? But, I can tell you one thing...women won't be asking men the ever dreaded, "Honey, do I look fat to you?" Plus, it would save the guys a lot of time because women won't be telling them, "I'm not really looking for a boyfriend right now."

But as much as our lives are built around lies, truth is necessary...even though it can only be administered in extremely small doses. But, it does keep the world in some level of balance, even though it is constantly teetering on the head of a pin.

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Today I started my new job with UBC's Applied Research and Evaluation Services as part of my job placement for the Print Futures program at Douglas College. After I signed my NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), I was free to work on ********* ******* * *************** ******** ****** ** ****** * *** **** ** *** ********* ********* ** **** ******.

*** **** *** ****** ************** *****, ******** *** ************ ******* ********. ****** ******** ***************: ********** ***** ** ***** *** ******** *****! *** *********** ***** ********* ******? ************* ***** ** * ** * ******* **** ****.
***** ***** ******.

***** **** ******** ****** ** *** ****** **** ************ **** *****. ******** * ******** ******, *** **** ******. ********* ***** ************* ******** *** *********** ****** ** ****** ** * *** ***.

***** ******* ********** **** ***** ******** ***** * * * ** ***** **** *******. ** ****** ***** **** ******* ******, *** *** **** ****** *****. **** ******** ******** ******** ****** ****** ****** **** ****** ****** ******** **** ************ ******* ********** . ****** ******** ****** ************** *** ***** * **** ********** ****** *************** *** *** ** **************.

************ ***** *****************, ***** * **** ** ************. ********** ******** ** ***** ** ***** *** *********** ****** ******** ****** ***************. ******** ****** ***** ***** ********* *** ****** ****.

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Survey Postmortem

Mortem is correct. After about a week, I have one single response. This leads me to the conclusion that someone has been repeatedly clicking on the "refresh" button on their browser whenever reading my blog.

Wandering Thoughts

Being that I ride the bus or walk to get everywhere now ($1.05/litre? I don't think so!), I now have a lot more time to myself. Some of that time is spent napping, some of it spent reading (almost finished reading The Bourne Identity...after about two or three false starts). But, given enough time spent alone, you start thinking stuff.

Like, has anybody ever noticed that there has never been any television advertisment for hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius or the Honda Insight? Partly due to my schedule and my newfound awareness of my energy impact, I've been watching a lot less television, I'll admit. But even still, I can't ever recall seeing a television commercial for a hybrid vehicle. I've seen lots of commercials for SUVs, trucks, minivans, and sports cars, all of which consume a lot more fuel, but never one for a more fuel efficient vehicle.

Sure, compacts like the Mini Cooper (which gets less mileage than a Hyundai Elantra) and the Pontiac Wave (which can be parallel parked by going in perpendicular to the sidewalk) have been getting a lot of air time, but not for hybrid.

The grassroots movement towards purchasing hybrids is promising, though, as there is significantly more demand than supply (as it is, the waiting list for a Prius can be months). This gives me some level of hope for an energy constrained future. It also gives me hope that I have yet to see a television advertisement for a Hummer, which swallows gas at 10 miles per gallon.

Meanwhile, I'm shopping around for a bicycle.

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, April 16, 2005

In Memoriam: Victor Pui-Kay Yim
July 5, 1937 - April 16, 2004

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

My photo and letter to the editor is featured in today's (Tuesday, April 12) Op/Ed page of The Vancouver Sun. As I've been writing about oil shortages in this space and been doing a lot of reading on the topic, I felt that an editorial reassuring us that the gas prices would go down eventually was doing a serious disservice to the readership and the general public.

Oh, and if you haven't done so already, please fill out my survey for my previous post. Thanks!

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Quick reader survey: Who's reading this thing anyway?

I've been seeing a few more hits than usual over the past week, which is great, because more people read my stuff. So, either I'm getting a lot more readers, people I know are reading this site more regularly, or I have an obsessed fan that keeps hitting the refresh button on the browser. So, a lightning fast survey...

1: Is this your first time reading?

2: If not, do you regularly check this blog for new entries? (eg: once a week, once a month, etc.)

3: If so, do you have a particular favourite entry?

4: What would you like to see me talk about? Name at least two things.

5: Demographics question: what is your age/sex/location?

6: How did you find out about this blog?

Please fill out by leaving a comment. Thanks!

Squeeky Wheels

Today, to finish off my last day of classes and exams, I went with my class to the Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant. A member of my class ordered a Ceasar, which was not made to her liking, so she ordered another drink. To avoid wasting the drink, she passed it off to me. The server assumed I was paying for it and charged me for it, which I wasn't really prepared for (I ended up paying for it). So later, I write up a polite complaint letter and give it to the manager and ended up with a handful of gift certificates.

Now, if this only worked with the government...

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Random Thoughs: A Tribute to the Downfall of Western Civilization

"I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet, you are a plague, and we are the cure."
-Agent Smith, The Matrix

Having really screwed up my brain for the past few weeks by reading news about doom and gloom from an impending oil shortage, global economic crash, and the fall of western civilization, I came to two conclusions:

  1. It's affecting my productivity and my ability to concentrate.
  2. I really have to stop reading this shit on the internet when I have deadlines.
Barring any sort of "Save-the-planet-kill-yourself" type heroics (I actually enjoy life and I think the world is an okay place, thank you very much), I've come to accept that the downfall of Western Civilization is going to happen whether I want it to or not, and probably within my lifetime. And why would that be such a bad thing? We've spent the past few hundred years destroying everything, eating everything in sight, wrecking the environment to the point that it would take an asteroid to wipe out a big chunk of humanity before Mother Earth can begin to reconstruct itself. Intelligent life? Sure, we've made some pretty neat stuff, but most of it's crap (the spray on toupee, the Ab-Tronic, the fast food restaurant). I think we peaked out with the pyramids and the moon landing.

It's been said that the higher you climb, the further you have to fall. Sadly, the quest for the almighty buck and the American dream has left us with nowhere to go but downhill. As holier-than-thou as we Canadians tend to be (I freely admit to it), we're not that much better. Most of the stuff I own is imported (electronic do-dads all made in China, digital camera made in Japan, exotic fruit from the Philipines...heck, even a souvenir Hawaiian piggy bank coconut, which was made in the Phillipines) and I to tend to eat a lot. But, having done a lot more reading about stuff I used to not care about, I'm a lot more cognizant about the impact I have.

With the knowledge that this planet cannot possibly support a population of 6 billion people without natural energy resources, I've tried to minimize my own personal impact by using less electricity, taking 5-minute cold showers instead of the standard 15-minute hot shower (does wonders for the sex drive and cuts your get-ready-for-the-day time in half, by golly!), and walking to the gym when I used to drive (refilled the tank at 93.9/litre, when up the street was $102.9/litre...ouch!). Mom's planning to get a hybrid. Haven't decided if I'm ready to go vegetarian or not.

Sadly, changing my own personal impact doesn't really do much when everyone else blissfully drives their SUVs like there's no tomorrow, buying their imported clothing, consuming their fast food burgers and filling the landfills with dead AA batteries, styrofoam cups, and plastic cups, all of which consume vasts amounts of unrenewable resources.

It seems like short term goals (profit margin, increased values for stocks, increased tax revenue) has blindsided the idiots at control who really have a chance to make a difference. Instead of keeping jobs at home, they farm out clothing manufacturing jobs overseas where workers are subject to inhuman working conditions. Factor in the added transport costs, and it actually costs MORE to get it overseas. But for some odd reason, these costs aren't factored into what you pay at the till.

While we may not be able to slow down the impending crash of civilization, we can slowly get back to basics and lessen the impact...grow more food at home, wean ourselves off of fossil fuels, and learn to be more self-sufficient. But then, that takes a lot of effort and sacrifice, that most people aren't willing to expend. All I have to do is get the word out...

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, April 01, 2005

Area Man dies from Celebrity Overexposure
by Vince Yim

Kip Frost, 30, discovered by his girlfriend two weeks after his death. (photo by Kat Code)

Getting sick to death of seeing celebrity coverage has taken on new meaning as local resident Kip Frost was found dead in his apartment last Tuesday afternoon. His partially decomposed body was found parked in front of the television and was discovered by his ex-girlfriend who came by to return his engagement ring after not hearing from him for a month

Lana Weaver, 28, wasn’t too concerned about the lack of contact, being that they broke up the month previous. “I assumed that he just moved on with his life,” Weaver said in an interview. “Either that, or he was too busy following the Michael Jackson trial or waiting for the next episode of Nick & Jessica: Newlyweds.”

Evidently, much of the serious cooling off period was spent in front of the television, where Frost’s body was discovered. Apart from the fact that he apparently hadn’t bathed for two weeks, his eyes appear to have been clawed out with a ballpoint pen. Further details remain speculative pending a coroner’s report.

Being that the two of them had already started combining assets and had a bank account signed in both of their names, Weaver had an additional reason to contact him, so after a week, she started to become worried.

“It’s not like he was the most stable shelf in the furniture store,” Weaver commented, “He didn’t have much of a life outside of work and he spent a lot of his time parked in front of the television. He always went on and on about how he was getting sick of seeing Paris Hilton getting more news coverage than the current situation in the Middle East or how those parents were asking for trouble for letting Michael Jackson take care of their kids.”

Celebrity overexposure has been cited as a cause of many self-inflicted head injuries, which hit a spike during the infamous Janet Jackson Superbowl incident last year and caused several spikes around the verdicts of Scott Peterson and Robert Blake. More and more people have been admitted to the hospital since the beginning of the Michael Jackson trial.

Dr. Xavier Greene, chief neurosurgeon of Vancouver Memorial hospital for the past fifteen years, is not surprised. “You should’ve seen the people coming in when OJ Simpson’s white Ford Bronco was interrupting the airwaves,” he recalls. “But this would have been the first time that there was actual death from celebrity overexposure. There was a person who gave himself a concussion over the Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez engagement and subsequent break-up, but after he was admitted to our psychiatry ward, we cut off all media exposure for him and he’s about ready to re-enter society.”

When reminded that the whole “Bennifer” thing ended over a year ago, he shrugs. “For some people, the damage is a little bit deeper rooted. He’s one of the lucky ones. Some people end up requiring a lifetime of therapy, and some end up like Mr. Frost.”

Kip Frost was 30.

Oh, and by the way...April Fools.

Sphere: Related Content