Salad Fingers 7

Not much time to post lately, but here's a heads-up that Salad Fingers 7 is finished and has been posted. Always a source of humour and inspiration, Mr. Firth, and a big thanks for the unexpected Vera Lynn/Dr. Strangelove homage.


A Plea for the NDP

Well, most of the people who read this blog will be voting on Monday in the Canadian federal election. I guess I'm going to do my part and encourage everyone to vote NDP. Other than the NDP, there are four choices, and I will give you my quick rationale as to why those choices are wrong.

1. Conservatives
If your vision for Canada is one which looks alot more like the United States, you should vote Conservative! Their neo-conservative policies are very similar to those of George Bush (domestically). This entails cutting taxes and emptying government coffers and giving this money back. It would mean that the government would, in the long run, have to go back into deficit, or cut back on programs. With all the problems that we see in Canada at the moment, and the things that need fixing, is this the best course of action? Certainly, everyone would like some free cash back from the government, but at what cost? They also hold homophobic policies, support the weaponization of space, against abortion rights, etc. etc. The Conservatives are also filled with a bunch of sexist, racist, and homophobic zealots. Don't take my word for it, here are a few quotes from some candidates who are about to be elected:
“Nelson Mandela is a terrorist.”
- MP Rob Anders
“Immigrants are choking welfare systems, contributing to high unemployment, and many cannot read.”

- MP Art Hanger
"Let's lower the age to ten."

- MP Myron Thompson, commenting on the age at which he believes one should be tried as an adult
"There's a particular reason why Jesus called men only. It's not that women aren't co-participators. It's because Jesus knew women would naturally follow. Men, on the other hand, had to be called."

- Conservative Candidate David Sweet
"We saw that young American having his head cut off. What's happening, what is happening down there no different."

- MP Cheryl Gallant at a 2004 pro-life rally on Parliament Hill, comparing abortion to the beheading of American Nicolas Berg by insurgents in Iraq
2. Liberals
The Liberals are a well-oiled machine that has somehow gotten really rusted as of late. After 12 long years of rule under mostly majority governments (ie. no opposition), they have many achievements to be proud of. Balancing the budget was no easy chore, but I believe we are in a better fiscal position because of it. Mulroney previous Conservative government left the coffers in shambles, and something needed to be done. However, we cannot forget the dozens of promises that the Liberals have broken. Removing the GST, Kyoto emissions targets, etc. We live in a country under which health care has deteriorated under their rule, and tuition fees have risen sharply. Infrastructure is failing because of cut back transfer payments to provinces. On top of this, we have the persistent scandals and mismanagement. The Liberals have some accomplishments to be proud of, but they always tend to campaign on the NDP platform, and govern as Conservatives. The proof is that the Conservatives supported the last Liberal budget, because it was a Conservative budget.

3. Bloc
If you're in Quebec, the Bloc appears to be the majority choice. There are a few fundamental problems with the party. Even if you believe that sovereignty is the best way to advocate and sustain Quebec's unique culture, it is not at the federal level that you will achieve this. The Bloc will never have the power to do this at a federal level, and they are not a party that seeks to compromise and perhaps work toward mutually-beneficial solutions for everyone. They claim they are there to "protect Quebec's interests", without ever defining what those interests are, specifically. Only the Bloc can get away with this. They are supposedly socially progressive, and claim they do whatever is in Quebec's best interest (clearly a matter of opinion), and yet they persist in voting against bills which bring positive changes to Quebec. I won't begin to list details here, but you can look up their voting record and question whose interests they are fighting for, exactly.

4. Greens
The Greens' only real platform is to advocate environmental issues. The environment is obviously extremely important (see my recent post on global warming). However, the Sierra Club of Canada has openly endorsed the NDP's environmental platform instead. Essentially, this transforms the Greens into a useless party which people vote for as a protest toward the other four. It's like the old joke from the 70s and 80s in which people said they would vote for the Communist or Marxist-Leninist or Marijuana parties out of contempt for the main parties. The Greens cannot deliver even close to what the NDP can, has, and will in terms of environmental issues. They do not hold a seat in the House and won't hold one this time either. If the environment is important to you, NDP is the way to go.

Having said that, I'll just say a few words as to why I think that the NDP is the best option. Before the election, there were countless polls conducted asking Canadians what their positions were on specific issues such as health care, education, and taxation. Time and time again, these values fall in line more with the NDP platform and NDP values than any other party. Now, why Canadians don't vote more for the NDP remains rather unclear. I would suggest that it could be because of strategic reasons (the first-past-the-post system), and maybe because the NDP has some sort of mantra of "tax and spend" which, as we saw last election, is untrue. The NDP will not increase taxes, and has proven that it can advance its priorities (and, of course, Canadians' priorities) in the context of balanced budgets.

-The NDP advances real progressive values. The same values that the Liberals promise and never deliver. The NDP will address the decaying public health care system and not allow the American-style privatization. We have a public system that we are proud of and worked hard for. Let's not let it go to waste.

-Postsecondary education through the lowering of tuition fees, and increased funding for professional training programs, amongst others.

-Addressing the democratic deficit by introducing proportional representation. Last election, the Bloc Québécois got about half the votes the NDP did and yet got almost three times the number of seats. The parties in power also tend to benefit from the current type of electoral system. In the end, we end up with governments that do not truly represent the will of Canadians, and this has to change.

-The environment. As I discussed a bit in my post on climate change, the environment is a growing issue. For too long have we taken it for granted with our systematic rape and pillaging. The Conservatives want to scrap Kyoto and the Liberals have done nothing. It's time to act and actually do something about it.

-Affordable housing. Canada has a ridiculously high percentage of homeless people. Just walking around cities that I know well, Ottawa and Montreal, the number of homeless is shocking. We have a higher homelessness rate in Canada than in the US. The NDP proposes solutions to the housing problem that faces some 1.7 million Canadians.

-Child Care. The NDP has proposed a national day care program which would follow the model of the excellent system that Quebec has had in place for years. The Conservatives also have a policy on the issue, but theirs consists of a tax break of a few dollars a day. Not only is this far from being enough money to pay for day care, it is not a "child care" policy, it's a lack thereof. Those who would suffer the most under this system are precisely those who need it the most.

-Foreign Aid. The NDP will invest in foreign aid so that we can achieve the 0.7% of GDP that we are supposed to. We are currently well below what most other industrial nations give in this area. Also, there should be an increased focus on a peacekeeping role for our military. This has been our strength and traditional role for years, and it is what we need to focus on. Our peacekeeping troops have always played a central role in UN and other aid missions around the world, and have been a source of admiration and pride. This is what we need to look to in the future.

-Ethics. After all these money-scandals during the Liberal reign, and the growing distrust of Canadians in the responsibility of government, it is clearly time to clean things up. The NDP has proposed a whole package of ideas that would clean up how government business operates.

-Human rights. The NDP is the only party that unilaterally voted for the gay marriage bill. We don't live in the 17th century anymore, it's time to drop these ridiculous homophobic religious values and give equal rights to everyone. It's not even a matter of opinion, it's a matter of constitutional rights. The Conservatives will have to use the notwithstanding clause to reverse this, and they have stated that they intend to bring up this issue again.

To me, the choice is clear. Even if the NDP is not elected (and obviously, I don't think they will be), the NDP deserves my vote and your vote because they represent what I believe are closer to traditional Canadian values, and they represent a positive vision for change and for a strong future. The Liberals have simply stolen NDP ideas for years when running for office, and have rarely put forwards and delivered on their own ideas. The Conservatives are not the direction that I think we should be heading in, and I don't believe Canadians want to, either. While they have ran a great campaign that has turned many heads, I think people will be surprised at exactly what they intend to do. The NDP was able to exert a great deal of influence in the last Parliament and push forward some of their policies, and there's no reason why the NDP will not stand up and do the same this time around with even more MPs elected.

I could go on and on, but you would probably be better off checking out the NDP's website, and read all the details of their platform. Even if you don't want to vote for the NDP, I still urge you to check out their platform, it might give you a clearer picture. And, even if you are not convinced, and still do not want to vote for the NDP, the least you can do is go out and vote, no matter what party. Voting is a privilege and a civic duty that we all too often take for granted. You have a voice. Get informed, speak up, and use it!


A theory in mental evolution

The subconscience has always been the object of many theories when it comes to studying psychology. This is mainly due to the fact that the subconscious seems to be like religion is to society. It's there to explain everything what we can't explain about the human psychological experience.

For a bit more information, anyone should check out Freudian theories.

On my side, I believe our subconscious is what seperates us from the animals. At least, to the extent of our current knowledge of animals (which is very little). Our subconscious is what is responsible for art, and any form of expression that can be considered less ethical. Dreaming, and especially sleep is still object to many research, something psychology is currently being taken care of. So it is normal we'd assosiate dreaming with the subconscious. Again, many theories, especially of the sexual variety(see Freud damnit), are still being worked on today. Aside from fucking your mother, the other popular idea is that dreaming is an expression of the many facets of our lives, things we often don't care enough to notice consciously the first time around. So if you were to walk by a park without a care to notice, your dreams might have parks in it.

The entertainment departement has been working on using dreams to predict the future.

For my own theory, the subconscious is our interpretation of the real world. Our set psychological rules, the way we see things unfolding and explain them without thought. Art is the process by which something is made abstract. It's creating a 'world' in which rules are bent and distorted.

What we call maturity is the seperation from reality and illusion (our subconscious). This happens when we abide by more and more rules discovered. The more we know how the world work, the less we can dream about what it's not and the rules that haven't been found yet.

I read an interesting book entitled 'the pig that wants to be eaten' and a comment made in it stuck. It basically explains that reality is subjectif because it is always interpreted. The example explained in the book is that a woman would meet a man in a cofee shop. He drops a lucky bunny foot which she picks up and gives to him. Later that day, she witnesses an accident in which the man she had seen early is involved in. She explains to the cops that the only thing she knows of the man is that he takes cofee at the cofee shop and has a lucky rabbit foot. The next week she walks into the cofee shop and the man who had died the week early walks in. She is suprised and he explains that he and his twin brother often get confused. She inquires as to whether or not the man has a lucky rabbit foot. He answers yes. So when the woman told the cops what she knew, was she telling the truth or was she lying. The information checked out by the cops, the dead man had the same habbits as his twin brother. At the time the girl gave the information, what she said was thought to be real and true, but was it anymore? Might it have been the other brother?

So this just to explain how reality is also distorted.

Idealism vs Reality

Steve Jobs

I was reading the other day how there are rumours that Steve Jobs might sell off Pixar to Disney in exchange for a seat on the board of directors. He would hypothetically use his leverage there to, among other things, release more Disney content onto the iTunes Store. This would be rather significant, considering that Disney owns ABC and about a gazillion other things. It is one of the largest companies in the world.

Regardless if these rumours are true or not, the idea itself raises some serious questions about vertical integration in the computer world, as well as conflict of interests within the business community at large.

Is it ethical or reasonable that one man controls so much? This isn't just about Steve Jobs, but it's what I stumbled upon most recently. We can look at Google as another new-ish example. Google has been buying companies left and right and offering their products under a single banner. They have also been picking off well-known engineers left and right. There is all types of information coming out now that Google wants to move into other media areas such as television, and we all know that there have been rumours for a while now that they might design their own web browser or operating system, however unlikely that might be. What is very probable, however, is that Google will want to compete with Microsoft in this emerging world of online operating systems.

Microsoft is currently in the beta stages of Windows Live, which will be a type of customizable online portal for news, mail, and there's even the possibility of remote access to applications like Office. They have made very clear that they believe this is the direction in which the web will move in the future, and have been trying to do so ever since they integrated Internet Explorer with the Windows shell years ago. They have intermittently released all types of operating system concepts which are more server-based than anything, and in which all your data is stored remotely so that you can access your virtual home from any computer in the world.

As Google is slowly gathering up new companies, designing new online services and technologies, it is increasingly clear that they have stakes in almost every area related to computing. Personally, I see the main problem with their offerings to be in the area of integration. How many Google products are you aware of? Not too many, probably, and yet there are many areas where they are active. To me, at least, the next step is clear. Google will want to compete in this type of area and are definetly in a position to be the leaders in this. If they play their cards right, it could be big.

Getting back to Steve Jobs, and the central question I was asking, should we really accept this type of behaviour and is it desirable in the business world? By integrating companies vertically in this manner, we are restricting market competition. This is the Wal-Mart model applied to technologies. Compared to retail stores, computing is still in its infancy as a consumer medium. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that so much of what we see and do with computers will end up being controlled by large giants who just seek to grow more and more. Is this what we want to see in the web? Is this how those who designed the web imagined it?


I was thinking about this last night and it struck me as being something very interesting. As a kid, living in Ontario, I recall there being a huge variety of expositions at the local level. There would be all types of old car shows, model trains, whatever hobby you could think of. I was always very interested by these types of places because it seemed that for something cheap like $2 entrance, you could get to meet all types of people that were really interested in their hobbies and let them show off their hard work to you. I specifically remember being in awe at the train ones because everything seemed so elaborate and over-the-top.

The Quebec model for this is very different. Generally you get these yearly "salons" in which exhibitors (generally companies) try to sell you and show off all their latest and greatest products. This is very much in line with the type of large expos that they have in the United States. Looking back, I can't help but recall how unique all these fairs and expositions that took place in Ontario were very culturally unique and interesting, as well as being a perfect venue to build a community around certain hobbies and interests.


Evidence of Global Warming

I was watching the BBC earlier and they had this very interesting report on some research being conducted in Antarctica. These British researchers have gone into dozens of crevasses and ice caves, as well as drilled countless core samples of the ice. What they have been analyzing are the little air pockets within the ice. In fact, they can analyze the air in these little pockets and determine, based on the ice, the conditions of the atmosphere at the time.

Based on all the data they have collected so far, they have been able to map out the levels of CO2 and other gases in the atmosphere over a period of 200,000 years. This data tells us that CO2 levels, are at the highest point ever. This is responsible for the extremely massive melting of ice that is going on in Antarctica (and also in the north). They were saying that they can often walk along beaches because the ice has receded so much in recent years alone. We also know that the northern ice cap is melting, which has extremely dire consequences for the environment and ecosystem as a whole. Just a one degree rise in ocean temperatures can change the entire ecosystem. An even large change can kill off a lot of the plankton and other life in the water, which has effects on the fish that depend on it as a food source, and eventually moves up the food chain to us.

I say, to the Bush administration and others who say that there is not enough evidence to conclude that we are destroying the planet, you're fucking stupid. There is mounting research that demonstrates exactly the opposite, and we don't appear to have as much time as we initially thought. Recent estimates have said that it may be less than 100 years before we see the ice caps completely melted, based on current rates. These projections also indicate that, between now and 2100, there will be an average of 4 to 7 degree increase in temperatures over land, and 2-4 in the oceans. In some places, such as over the northern ice caps, increases of over 8 degrees Celsius are predicted. These average numbers are based on models by 7 different independent climate change research organizations. The margins I just indicated are due to slight discrepancies between them, but the trend is very clear.

It is clear that the industrial revolution and our increased reliance on fossil fuels has caused this problem. While it is generally understood, and especially argued by those who refute the proven theory of global warming, that the Earth has undergone large periods of warming and cooling over centuries, the data shows that the past 60 years are a complete anomaly and show temperatures far higher than they have ever been.

For more information and very detailed graphs, see the Wikipedia article on global warming.



I have nothing better to talk about tonight, so I'll vent about my long-term frustration and annoyance with sweatpants (sorry). As a child, I must have been raped by a pair of sweatpants or something. I have this horrible aversion to them and anyone who wears them. Personally, I haven't worn sweatpants since kindergarten, I think, and you shouldn't wear them either. It's quite difficult to pinpoint, but here are a few problems I have with the garment.

First of all, I think sweatpants demonstrate the least class of all garments. They tend to look dirty all the time. They're baggy and so you're floating around in them. I always get this image of people working out with these things on. To me, sweatpants just show a person who doesn't care about their appearance too much. It's like a Saturday around-the-house type of garment at the very best.

Secondly, sweatpants are for people on welfare. They don't show any type of physique whatsoever and it looks like you're just draping your bottom with a roll of fabric. Also, I somehow associate sweatpants with bargain-basement used garment sales or something of the sort. You know, the kinds you find with the ironed-on logo of some shitty football team that has been washed so many times that it's peeling off. Some guy probably was going commando in those sweatpants and whacked off in there.

Finally, sweatpants look even worse on guys than girls. I've seen them look on on a girl in the right, rare circumstance. However, on guys, you look like a fucking homo. I had a neighbour in Montreal who also went to the same CEGEP and he as this typical greaseball Italian who hung out with typical boring West Island-type girls. He drove an Integra with an oversized muffler, probably just so I could hear him driving down my street at 3am. Now, on top of this, the guy would wear sweatpants all the fucking time! I would just look at this slob and be absolutely disgusted. To me, sweatpants belong in a really nasty gay porn flick with these dirty bald guys with moustaches licking each other's sweaty ballsacks. Sweatpants are that bad and, if you wear them, you might turn into those guys.


Good Day Sunshine

I have a completely distorted view of what waking up is. For whatever reason, mornings never turn out to be quite like I hope they would be. Here is a slight contrast of my vision and reality.

You wake up, the sun is shining, The Beatles' Good Day Sunshine is playing softly in the room. You jump out of bed and get ready for an exciting new day -- a fresh start. The smell of eggs and bacon envelop the room, and you can hear the coffee percolating. The morning shower revitalizes your energy, and you enjoy a very satisfying breakfast meal which sets you off for the day. You leisurely get ready for school and head out the door with a smile on your face. Outside, there are birds chirping.

The alarm goes off seemingly far too early, and after too few precious hours of sleep. You lay in bed listening to a bunch of old, fat white guys on the radio making completely unfunny and inappropriate jokes about prostitutes and celebrities and whatnot. Your eyes are burning so much they just might dry up and fall out of their sockets. You hit the snooze button a few times, thinking that you've still left yourself more than enough time to get ready. You wake up again and finally realize that you need to get up now. You jump from the warm comfort of your bed to the cold room. In the shower, you spend far too much time (washing your ballsack, of course), and essentially almost fall asleep again. Once out, you realize that there's barely enough time to get finish up before you have to leave. There is a moment of hesitation and calculation where you try and figure out if you have enough time to eat and, if so, if it is quicker to eat a granola bar or a yogurt. Nobody has made breakfast for you, and there is no coffee left. After rushing to get your shit together (which you easily could have done the night before, but were too lazy), you run out the door. It's fucking freezing. If there were birds chirping, they're all dead.


On Art

Here is a great quote from Kurt Vonnegut (the author) that I stumbled upon and thought it important to share with you.
If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practising an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

Sexuality and talking shit

Here's a little thought that's been stirring into the back of my head for some time now. I haven't really made it concrete so this post will be a little less informative then predicted.

An issue I've been having are with people who speak of their sex lives on a regular basis, thinking they are somehow "out of the box" when they do speak of it. Now, I'm not talking about those who only speak of it, I'm talking about those who have a wide smile when they do and somehow believe themselves to be so wild. I've often thought these individuals to be the equivilent of those who, when we were younger, never got over the shit and piss phase. Always talking about shits, and taking pisses. These individuals were considered immature as kids, so why is it that individuals doing the same thing with sexuality is considered ok?

If you ask me, most adults are simply big kids who haven't figured out how to be adults yet. This take on sexuality is their way of being able to still speak about the 'unspeakable' (although very easy to speak about without having a big giggle and smile about it). These are the same people when prompt, go all wild and start a fucking monologue about sex. Of course, when you say something slightly off their range of experience, they no longer know what to say.

Something else, as a side note, just to make this blog even less cohesive. A funny anecdote, and I'll explain why it's mentionned. A friend of mine's girlfriend isn't very good at pronouncing things in english, she usually misses her 'h's when she speaks. So in her cegep english class, when asked 'What is love to you?', naturally, she wants to respond with 'Love to me is hapiness.'. She misses the 'h' and ends with 'Love to me is a penis'. The whole class bursts out laughing. Somewhat a funny story, now depending on whom I tell this one too, I get several reactions that helps me gauge the level of the people I'm interactng with. The worst I got came from this girl who took offense to the fact that somebody called her an 'easy girl' five minutes prior to me telling this anecdote. This girl, before even realizing that hapiness without an 'h' is practically pronounced 'a penis', bursts out and says "It is!". Then she goes on to speak about penis' she's ecountered. Good job, you fucking cunt.

Oh, and can we get the expression "Tie it in a knot" out of our damn expression repertoire please? It doesn't work that way jackass'!


CD Mastering, Sound Levels, and More

This is an article that I've wanted to write for quite some time now. I kept pushing it off for whatever reason, but I feel the need to try and enlighten some people on the topic tonight. That, and I'm tired of having these stickies on my desktop reminding me to write this damn thing and the points that I want to cover. I was planning on posting it directly on the blog, but it's far too long and would just flood the page. I hope your attention spans are a bit longer than 10 seconds. Your comments and feedback are much appreciated. The article can be found here.


How to screw the system in 10 easy steps

There's a funny thing about school. The smart people always end up being marginalized because school caters to the lowest common denominator (more on that in the next post). The funny thing, though, is that the smart people find ways around this and use it to their advantage. Not to sound completely arrogant (though I am, and will), but I'm going to take myself as an example.

My spare time is kind of like school is for most people. I enjoy reading as much as I can, and all that kind of stuff. My school time is a bit of a refresher on topics I tend to know a good deal about already (or enough to easily build on without too much effort). Words cannot explain how easy this makes things.

For example, my Canadian Politics class. I got my mid-course (it's two semesters) exam back, to a surprising 96%. Now, I thought I'd do well, but 96% is outstanding considering that this guy is a tough grader (so I hear). The funny thing for me is that I barely did any of my readings, missed several lectures, didn't take very good notes, and missed a lot of discussion groups. Obviously, I should have been completely fucked over, and it's what I deserve for not following the system.

On the contrary, time and time again, I am rewarded for this type of behaviour. In high school it was the same. I wouldn't do half the work, and I'd get away with it. Had I done more, I could have gotten over a 90 average, for sure, but 80s were good for me, considering I put in no effort. I would study for tests the night before, quickly reading over my notes, and move on to something more interesting. I realized that the smartest ones were those who put in the least effort to get the desired results. If I could get into university with an 80-something average, why strive for 90s? I would end up exactly in the same situation as all those who had worked harder than me, and to little gain.

One example that I will always remember was a book report we had to do. I didn't even open the book because the topic didn't interest me in the least bit. One of the other classes had to read another book which I had, incidentally, been forced to read the year earlier in another class. I had read about 50% of that book, so I decided that I would do my report on that, even though it was completely the wrong thing to be doing. I included a note explaining that I hadn't read the assigned book but read the other one during my "summer holidays". I ended up getting a great mark, mostly because of my creativity and craftiness. I guess the fact that I ate out the teacher's MILF cunt might have helped, too. Oh wait...

Another example was that, in Sec. 5 (11th grade), I actually managed to get my Physics class removed from my schedule. I had started off the year by making an effort, as it wasn't really the most complicated stuff in the world. I quickly realized that I hated it, however, and slacked off. I would spend the whole class time goofing off and doing all kinds of random crap. At the end of the year, I was no longer even forced to attend, and the grade didn't appear on my transcript. The same year, in Chemistry, I ended up failing, for lack of effort and interest, and I still ended up in exactly the same spot I wanted to. Time and time again, I was rewarded for this type of behaviour.

In CEGEP, I found the subject matter to be more interesting, but it was always the same thing. I'd tell myself each year, and at each step of my educational career, "This year, it will be different!". Of course, old habits die hard. I did the bare minimum of work, again, but the work that I did do was good. I always handed in all my assignments on time, and they tended to be good. The thought was that students would be working on this in bits and pieces over several days or weeks. That implies, however, that most students still don't know how to write proper essays or research a topic. I tended to approach the assignment the night before it was due, finishing the work in a few hours. It's far more efficient to do a block of work like that as opposed to spreading it out. And hey, why not? I always got rewarded for this type of work. A reward that was disproportionate to the effort put in.

Moving on to University, I actually ended up getting a fucking scholarship for academic performance. Well, performance is a really loose term, isn't it? For me, performance is isolating what they want out of students, and giving them exactly what they want in the most efficient and least time-consuming way possible. As I said, I'm doing really well so far, and putting in only about the same effort I did in CEGEP. I only do half my readings, at most (I have hundreds of pages each week). I am rewarded with 96%s and scholarships, and there's no end in sight. When I do love something, I can concentrate and focus all my energy and attention on a single topic, but that rarely comes in the context of school, as I'm never motivated by the system, which I have huge problems with, and have probably already discussed on here.

So, my path continues. I am rewarded time and time again for all the shit I do. It's not to say my work doesn't deserve it, because I do good work, when comparing to what I see of my colleagues. However, I kind of squeeze through the cracks in ways that the system wasn't designed for because the system doesn't allow me to choose my own intellectual, social, and educational development as I would like.

I am reminded of a Kubrick quote that I really enjoy, and it's sort of a philosophy of mine. I think it applies perfectly in this case.
"If you can talk brilliantly enough about a subject you can create the consoling illusion it has been mastered."
This is not to say that I believe I know nothing about nothing, but it applies to a certain extent in regards to school. While I'm on the topic of Kubrick and education, I will end with a final quote.
"I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker."

The Fatal Flaw

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. It appears that both of us have been busy, or uninspired. Eric has been tied up with some drunken prostitutes and money laundering schemes, and I was in a coma for a week or so. They woke me up like Ariel Sharon. Oy vey!

Getting to "serious" matter, now. I was in class the other day and couldn't help noticing the girl next to me. Of course, because of the proximity, it's kind of difficult to actually turn your head and get a good look without seeming sleazy. The body language was pretty good, though, I could tell she kept looking in my direction. toward the end of the class, I stand up, look at her, and she had just rolled up her sleeves. Bad move! Her arms were pretty much as hairy as mine... and I'm a pretty hairy guy! That's the fatal flaw. It always seems so promising, and then something unforeseen cancels the show.



A recent conversation with Pat got me to concentrate some thoughts and feelings on the topic of the West Island, its culture (or lack thereof), and social elements. If there is one word that could accurately describe the West Island microsociety, and especially teens, it would be contentment. The social norm is that everyone lives with their middle-class parents. It's no surprise that the majority of the people who live there end up mooching off the system. Give a poor person a shot at a good education and they'll try their hardest (well...to a certain extent). So many West Islanders end up stopping school after High School, or are perpetually in adult school or changing programs in CEGEP, at the expense of the government and taxpayers.

Now, this culture of contentment is best looked at from the perspective of hobbies and interests. There is a type of mainstream culture in just about everything. In music, cinema, gaming, literature, whatever. The main problem with most people in the West Island is that few people actually have hobbies or interests. Instead, they hang around the mall, get drunk, enjoy the "prestige" of going downtown, "chillin'", and other random crap. The West Island is a wasteland of people who are sustained by their well-off parents and, at best, minimum wage jobs which is caused by a culture their parents have created, though I won't elaborate on that too much. All this to say that it creates a culture of young people who have no direction and don't seek one.

When I was living there, it never ceased to amaze me that, when meeting new people, and engaging in a random bullshit conversation, I'd always be curious to know if the person had any interests or hobbies. The standard conversation is:

-Uhhh....what do you mean?
-You know. What do you do in your spare time? Any hobbies or interests?
-You know, hang out with friends and stuff...I guess.....just chill...

My personal favourite is when someone tells me they listen to "every kind of music, nothing specific....except country!". Really? Then I guess you're well-versed in Gentle Giant's music? Do you listen to any music that wasn't a top 20 chart hit? Do you listen to anything other than mainstream rap, hip-hop, rock, and pop, past and present?

Everyone does things in their spare time, of course, but it is the level of interest and commitment that make it actually a constructive use of time. This is relevant to any form of artistic expression, but cinema is the one that I know best, so I'll use that analogy. You have films that are created for the masses, and they are created specifically with the goal of appealing to Mr. Average Joe's needs in order to clean out his pockets. On the flip side, you have other films which are at a higher level but can't be appreciated by everyone.

Contentment comes in precisely because it is the conscious unwillingness to jump to the second level either because it requires too much effort, or people see no need or interest. This is fine, as not everyone will be interested in everything. Just as I haven't developed an interest in medieval Russian fiction, many will not care for the films of Andrzej Wajda or Ingmar Bergman. The problem with 99% of the people I have met in the West Island is that people are content with the status quo in every possible area. Nobody questions anything and nobody seeks to improve. It is precisely the quest for something a little better than the mainstream that makes a person unique. Few people look at what is popular and ask to themselves: "Is this the best that is available? Can this be improved on in any way?". People therefore are just average in every possible way.

Finally, one of the consequences of this culture of contentment is communication problems. More specifically, for people who do have hobbies and interests of some kind. I often end up getting the feeling that there's nothing I can learn from a person, so it's almost worthless talking to them. It becomes uninteresting for me. I have spoken to some others and they also understand this phenomena. When I start talking to a person, it's clear that there's always a lot of filler and bullshit in a conversation, and this is fine and normal. After a while, though, I begin to ask myself: "OK, we're both fucking adults, do you want to talk about something a little concrete? Something with a bit of substance?"

In the end, it comes down to the fact that people want to conform to a certain norm. They want to be told what to like so that they can easily blend in. I guess people are insecure about things in this way. When I tell people I did a lot of urban exploration this summer and that it opened my eyes to alot of things, the reaction I often get is "That's weird..." or "Why?". It's strange because it's outside the status quo, and that is an anomaly in the West Island. The problem of contentment isn't specific to that region, but it seems especially prevalent in suburbia, and especially, from what I know, in the West Island.