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Enlisting Mouskateers

Politics | Monday, November 27th, 2006 | 10 years, 4 months ago

My girlfriend and I broke our yearlong hiatus from filmgoing this weekend by attending the adorable and surprisingly weighty Happy Feet. We attended a matinee ($12 at Silvercity Yonge & Eglinton, Toronto) where we were welcomed with a full but cheerful theatre full of starry eyed pips and their parents.

In the way of pre-movie commercials the 25 minute double-dip hadn’t subsided much at all since we saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire last year. What had changed, however, was what passes for a commercial:

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Above is a compilation of the Canadian Army recruiting propaganda currently propagating on Canadian television. Despite Canada’s traditional role and image as peacekeepers, these ads unabashedly show individuals carrying and firing assault weapons, tactfully surveying ruins and homes, deploying in hot zones in helicopters, and carting away wounded civilians.

One such advertisement played, in all its big screen and surround sound glory, before a gaggle of kindergartners. And then the penguins started tap dancing.

What does the army have to do with a children’s (rated PG) movie? What indeed.

The purpose behind these ads is that Canada’s Conservative government wishes to transform our military from support and humanitarian troops to a front-line aggressor. The goal: to fill our newly desert-coloured camouflage fatigues (our fighting force was green in more than experience in the early 90’s gulf war) with temporarily warm Canadian bodies.

To glamorize war to children is unnerving and irresponsible. Highlighting action-packed yet safe clips of wartime deployment forcefeeds an unrealistic soft-lensed idealism upon our impressionable youth.

But really, to sell anything to naive children, MUCH less war, is immoral. On this topic, the Canadian Marketing Association has this to say in their Code of Ethics and Standards of Practise:

Marketing to children must not exploit children’s credulity, lack of experience or sense of loyalty.

And what is marketing if not the exploitation of these human traits?

Our Conservatives largely won our vote for putting a megaphone in front of the Liberal party’s floundering following a sponsorship scandal in which corporate and individual political sponsors were overly compensated monetarily for their assistance. They completed this one-two punch with a smear campaign showing Canadian citizens shaking their heads in disapproval while listening to the promises of the Liberal party. In my opinion the Conservatives won the vote by capitalizing on the now active Federal Accountability Act which was claimed, or perhaps just implied, to help enforce policies on campaign sponsorship.

It is therefore confusing to see the same Conservatives, mere months after enacting the policies, propose a loophole amendment to exempt them from having to rationalize millions of dollars in unaccounted lobbyist donations.

Steven Harper and the gang are simply bait-and-switch artists who dangle a carrot in front of the populace and don’t tell them about the maggots within and pesticides without until after they convince us to enjoy a good crunchy bite. The Conservative party is poisoning our government with its lies and sabotaging our youth with its half truths.

After many years of disillusionment I was convinced to cast my vote in the last federal election. By researching the issues and choosing the party that matched my ideals I hoped to assist the increase of mass transit service, preservation of environmental resources, reduction of gun violence in urban centres, assistance to the underprivileged, continuation of social programs, continued abstinence from war, increased unity with Quebec, and strengthening of Canadian identity. The Conservatives were elected and they have worked tirelessly to ensure the opposite of each of my wishes occurs.

Remind me please, why am I voting again?

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Fighting fire with marshmallows

Politics | Monday, June 12th, 2006 | 10 years, 9 months ago

This weekend my girlfriend and I enjoyed our usual romantic night in – a round or three of Guild Wars in the Tomb of Primeval Kings. She and I were chatting amongst ourselves, sitting side-by-side at her desk, mostly ignoring the inarticulate and perplexingly abbreviated banter of our group. A quick glance at the chat window revealed that they were talking about how choppy and laggy the service was that night, while one of them surmised the problem to be the addition of several new countries to the game. I didn’t pay close enough attention to their conversation to see the exact context, but while listing various countries and the reason why they may be the reason for all the lag, two of these people, in response to “Iraq”, said “suicide bombers”.

This really pissed me off. I called them racists and they defended their slander with “It’s just a joke. Dave Chapelle jokes like this all the time.” I asked them where they were from and they both said America. I proceeded to berate them with reasons why America was an intolerant country and how much better Canada was. I inflated my ego a bit and felt good about myself for giving these idiots the business, but I feel a little empty today. I fought fire with fire and now everything’s torched.

So I’ve been thinking about this situation a little bit and will now fulfill my resolution.

I challeneged racists with my own brand of stereotypical profiling which is basically the pot calling the hash narcotic. I chewed out these brainwashed children for being ignorant, all the while proving myself guilty of the same. My penance is to rectify this wrongdoing appropriately and evenly.

My post today is in response to 2 things – to these misguided American kids who have been bred to fear others, and to the alleged words of Osama bin Laden that the “west” is waging a war on Islam. I have dedicated a very short part of my day – maybe 8 minutes total – reading something nice about these dissimilar but, in this case, opposing sides – America and Islam. These tiny insights speak majestic volumes about the whole of these peoples, and I believe that if we all took the time to research as I have just once per month, we would find much in common with the things we fear.

A short tale from the Qu’ran:

1600 years ago before the widespread acceptance of Islam, the Arabian people were pagans and idol worshippers. When the prophet Muhammed, the embodiment of all that is good and merciful in Islamic principle, arrived in Arabia, more and more people became impressed and appreciative of his peaceful and polite demeanour and adopted his way of life. This angered the more devout idol worshippers because their deities lost power as they lost believers.

One such woman lived in a house that Mohammed passed each day on the way to to mosque. She hated him for wordlessly ridiculing her deepest beliefs and for infecting her people with his virus. Whenever he would pass beneath her bedroom window, each day without fail, she would throw her smelly refuse on him to shame and discredit him in his place of worship. Each time, Mohammed would look up at her but would not call our or frown. He remained peaceful and polite and would continue on his way, day after day.

One day, on his way to mosque, the woman did not throw refuse on Muhammed. He looked up at her window and did not see her standing there at all. He knocked on the woman’s door and a man answered. He asked where the woman was, and the man told Muhammed that she was sick in bed. Muhammed asked if he might visit the woman and the man agreed.

Recognizing Muhammed immediately, the woman frowned and prepared herself for his revenge now that she cold not defend herself. Muhammed knelt beside her and told her not to be afraid. He explained that he was the messenger of Allah who had instructed him to show no malice, and to defend and tend to the needs of the sick. The woman broke down and cried, admitting her embarassment and shame, and pledged to serve Allah and Islam for the rest of her life.

A short American tale:

Hurricaine Katrina caused massive damage and dozens of deaths in the southern United States. As horrible as the event was, the aftermath was equally as daunting for families suddenly finding themselves without homes, supplies, and jobs. Thousands of people were forced to live in overcrowded shelters with complete strangers, deprived of privacy, hygeine, and in the case of a Forrest County, Mississippi town, water.

Sherriff Bobby McGee, resident and peacekeeper in Forrest County, had been tirelessly fending for his populace for days on end. Upon hearing of the shortage of clean water, Sherriff McGee, following procedure, called the FEMA information line incessantly for 6 hours in an attempt to track down delayed resources that should already have arrived. Not content to leave babies without formula and lifesaving medications unrefridgerated, McGee decided to forgo FEMA procedures and pay a visit to the nearby staging site at Camp Shelby where supplies were stored and distributed.

Upon arrival at Camp Shelby, McGee was informed that his town’s supplies had been delayed by damaged roadways. When he asked about some nearby 18-wheelers loaded with ice, he was told that these trucks had no set destination but were ordered not to be moved. Incredulous, the sherriff instructed his officers to commandeer 2 of the trucks and bring them to the shelters immediately. The national guard, posted at the site, attempted to stop the Sherriff and his men verbally, and finally by force. One guardsman climbed onto McGee’s truck and attempting to remove the keys from the ignition. McGee stopped his vehicle, climbed out, wrestled the guardsman to the ground, cuffed his hands behind his back, placed him in a patrol car for interfering with an officer of the law, and got right back into his truck.

The people of Forrest County hale McGee for his decisiveness and empathy and wish to nominate him for governer. His eligibility is in limbo, however. Shortly after distributing ice to his thankful jurisdiction (and releasing the National Guardsman), McGee was placed under arrest and thrown into a federal holding area, awaiting trial. And that’s where he sits today.

For taking action as the much maligned FEMA failed him, Bobby McGee is a hero to his state and a criminal to his country. Behind bars, McGee stated “I regret where I am today but I don’t regret my actions.”

And ever a man of faith and charity, McGee told the press, “All the prayers that have gone up on my behalf, and all that’s been done on my behalf only strengthens my resolve to continue to serve the people of Forrest County and do the best I can do. And with your prayers and support, we’ll get there.”

Have you written interesting research articles or stories about other nations, cultures, or religions? Please leave a comment below or email me at briandamage@hyppy.zapto.org and I will be honoured to link to you!

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O beautiful for spacious lies

Politics | Friday, May 12th, 2006 | 10 years, 10 months ago

Gary McKinnon breaks into government and military computers with no passwords and the Bush administration holds 10 million American citizens under the magnifying glass. The government combs the country with a fine tooth comb while an overseas hobbyist easily acquires access to the country’s best-kept secrets. 10 years prior, Mathew Bevan broke into the same agencies with nearly the same tactics. Technology has advanced ahundredfold in 10 years and the government hasn’t adapted one iota.

mckinnon.jpg
Osama bin PERL Script

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but this seems exceptionally suspicious to me. War is an expensive and, for some, profitable venture. Like the vaccination industry, war makes money with treatment, not cures or prevention.

A hell of a lot of money is spent by any government on manpower whose collective work is stored on computer networks. This work contains information about the operation of the country, its populace, its triumphs and shortcomings. Government databases essentially contain blueprints on constructing – or disassembling – a country, step by step.

Any hacker will tell you that the most easily exploited factor in a computer network is people. No matter how tight your security, no matter how obscured your resources, all it takes is a slick talker to convince some corporate lackey that they have the right to important data. “Any hacker” should talk to the US government because they are the one organization ANYWHERE that makes it easy enough for hackers that they don’t even need to talk to a person to gain illegal entry.

There is an ongoing debate over whether accessing private, unsecured wireless networks should be illegal. The internet is an open protocol for any and all to access, and wireless access points provide a means of connection to the internet via the owner’s private network. An unsecured, unencrypted WAP is like putting a cable TV on your front lawn for anyone to watch – a service provided to the community.

The US government provides a very, very, VERY generous service to the community – they allow anyone to log into their networks without a password to do as they wish. They allow you to connect to their networks, log in, access data, convince IT administrators of your authorization through an anonymous text chat, disconnect, and reconnect as often as you like for a year. All for the low, low price of Americans’ right to privacy and national dignity! Act now! … or much later!

“But the internet is a quickly evolving place with dangerous hackers evolving even quicker,” you tighty righties tell me (in my imagination). You’re right, you brilliant beasts, you. However, the government is not evolving with them, despite the fact that the EXACT SAME THING HAPPENED almost 10 years ago. You’d think a military-employed IT security specialist would think to password protect network computers. Connected to the internet. Over the course of 10 years. No.

9/11 has been the grease on the wheels of oppression for the Bush administration for a term and a half now. As a result, the airline industry, already hanging on by a thread, is forced to rectally probe Americans that walk through any doorway in a terminal, and to really toss the salad of any medium-skinned visible minority. It’s all justified. After all, 9/11 was the result of some commercial airliners being hijacked, right? Right? It looks like it from some angles – like the 24-hour-a-day hysterical yammering on CNN. But from the other end of the spectrum, the end with NEWS and FACTS from CITIZENS, a very different story is told. If a supposed plane crashes into the Pentagon, why conceal the wreckage under a tarp?!? etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.

But you Yanks eat this shit up, don’t you? You love being spied on, lied to, and restricted, don’t you? Yes, you do. You’re in good hands, after all. You’ve re-elected a well-loved leader with a respectable family. A president who respects the separation of church and state. A wartime president with a celebrated military record.

It is my opinion that America is addicted to terror. They love it. It’s their raison d’etre. Decade after decade, war after war, always “America, fuck yeah!” And why shouldn’t they love it? It’s a profitable venture. Bush has no qualms trading boys for bucks, and boys are free! It’s the perfect crime!

american_flag.jpg
Your tired and your poor were delish. Pass your huddled masses.

So why spend oodles of bucks defending your country? Preventing war is no way to make a buck. Fortify the pillars of Americanism – Smith and Wesson, CNN, and coffin makers – or you’re a communist!

And hell, while we’ve got a Bush-blowing sock puppet for a prime minister, let’s have Canada secretly fund a war that its citizens unanimously disapprove of. So sneaky, Mr. Harper. “Me love you long time, Mr. Bush! Call me! Please? Me so horny!”

Being born in Montreal, the Quebec referendum upset me greatly. Even though it failed to pass a vote of 51% to 49%, it still troubled me to see how many Canadians felt incongruent with the country’s ideals. Having read the words of a similar-minded American I have newfound sympathy for Quebec separatists. At the time I thought it was just a pantload, but maybe the biggest countries really aren’t big enough for their own populations. After all, I would hate to live in a country full of closed-minded, racist neanderthals like this George W. Douchebag.

I love you, America. I cry for you. I empathise with you. But I will never bleed for you. I cannot respect the republic for which you stand. I don’t know why you do.

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