Thursday, 27 November 2008

Obligatory Update

We recently discovered something else that the "low-life scumbags" took from our garage. The $20 ham from the fridge. They left us the wine. Go figure. Apparently we're not great connoisseurs.

Meanwhile, the anti-abortion display on the uni again today. We'll see what comes of that. I haven't been down to campus yet today, but apparently there is another group (I'm not sure what they're called) standing in solidarity with the pro-life club. The interesting thing is they disagree completely with the message, but, in the words of Voltaire,“I disapprove of what you say, but will defend, to the death, your right to say it.”

I've never particularly trusted newspapers, but what little trust I did have is now gone. The story I read about the protest today was badly mistaken. First off, the reporter wrote Casamay instead of Casamayor, and secondly, way more than six people stuck around after 11 a.m. Eleven o'clock is when things first started getting crowded and noisy.

I'm in the picture with the Casamayors, but my head is obscured from view by the barricade they're holding. Oh, well. I guess none of this is really about me, anyway, is it?

“I can take umbrage, I can take the cake, I can take the A-train, I can take two and call me in the morning, but I cannot take this sitting down. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna take five.” Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H*

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Campus Stand

I doubt I have much, if any, new material to add to the abortion debate, but I feel I have to report on the situation on campus.

So here's the deal. Every year, in a high-traffic area, the campus Pro-Life Club sets up a display consisting of graphic images of aborted fetuses that are compared to Nazi victims, slave lynchings, and dead Rwandan children. Every year, the university tries to stop them from doing so.

This year, since the university couldn't find grounds to not allow the display, the club was ordered to turn their signs away from easy view. This would allow the display to go up, but would keep students who didn't make a particular effort from seeing it.

The club set the signs up facing the path, just like always (and I am proud to say that I helped in that regard).

The university began to issue trespassing notices to its own students, and set up signs warning people of the graphic images. The signs also said that the university was "pursuing appropriate legal action". Several of the ringleader students may be expelled or suspended. An obnoxious pro-choice group came to protest the display, dressed in dumb clown costumes with whistles, stopping people on the paths and warning them to take a different route to class. TV crews showed up to interview people. Police arrived to make sure things didn't get out of hand.

Now I'm not technically part of the pro-life club, I just happened to be on campus when they were going to set up, and they needed a few extra hands. Some to hold the signs before they were set up because the pro-choicers kept trying to steal them if they were left unattended, and some to set up the display.

My friends the Casamayors held the signs (even though they aren't actually attending the school - they were just there to support the club), and Talia and I helped a club member set it up. As we moved the first sign into place, the many cameras in the area all crowded to the barricades to film it.

It was kinda weird being in the spotlight, seeing as I had only just learned of the intended display the day before.

Now, I think the university is being absolutely stupid. Their official reasons for not wanting the display visible or on the grounds is that a) it might offend people's sensibilities, and b) it might lead to a confrontation.

While I agree that perhaps people should be warned when they're about to see something "graphic", the uni's first "reason" to suppress the display is complete BS (although I said it more nicely to the Global News cameraman). During the orientation week, all the new students were herded into the campus theatre and shown, on the giant screen, disgusting and very graphic pictures of STDs. There are paintings of naked people in the cafeteria. Obviously the university does not care very much whether they offend people's sensibilities, and neither does it care to warn incoming students that they might be offended. I doubt there's an official policy on what to do with "graphic" images. Not mention that these pictures were no worse than what you see on TV except that they were real and not digitally-created.

The second "reason" is also ridiculous. There would be no confrontation or publicity if the uni didn't make such a big deal of it, drawing the camera crews to the place. As soon as the TV crews left, the place simmered down. The only people to cause a ruckus would be over-exuberant pro-choicers, in which case, the pro-choicers should be removed, not the pro-lifers. Plus, I doubt that the women with babies or the elderly woman holding the "I regret my abortion" sign would be very willing to throw themselves into the mess if things looked like there were going to get out of hand.

I guess this is as much about freedom of expression as it is about abortion.

I am quite pleased with how all the pro-lifers behaved, with the exception of one amateur cameraman from off campus, who was trying to preach while he was arguing for the cause and consequently getting himself laughed at. Now I imagine there'll be a number of people who associate "Jesus' love" as pertaining to everyone but women. With the exception of him, all the pro-lifers were very calm, collected, and well versed in friendly discussion and debate. Even the Pro-Choice Clown Squad was mostly well-behaved, though very very loud in general, and very very quiet when pro-lifers tried to talk to them.

The main people causing problems were the middle-aged nay-sayers and amateur camera men from off campus, who then fired-up some of the students.

So let me relate to you some of the things I heard there:

"You don't deserve to LIVE, you SON OF A B****!" screameth a pro-choicer man (not sure whether he was from the uni or not). Even the ahem *bitchy* off-campus woman who was firing people up corrected him for yelling that one.

"Get your rosaries off my ovaries!" Pro-Choice Clown Squad (at very high volume).

"My body's nobody's body but mine. You can run your body, and I will run mine!" Pro-Choice Clown Squad and the bitchy woman, very loudly and in a sing-song tune.

"I'm not here to persuade you, I'm here to see where your heart is!" the preacher-dude making me cringe.

One observation, however. It's pretty rare that I hear a female verbally debating the pro-life cause. It's usually a guy, though I don't know why. I do know, however, that women are more likely to accept a personal point pertaining to women if it's made by women.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

When School Rocked

Oh, my. Does this bring back memories or what? I miss Howard.

"A philosophy professor walks in to give his class their final. Placing his chair on his desk the professor instructs the class, 'Using every applicable thing you've learned in this course, prove to me that this chair DOES NOT EXIST.'

So, pencils are writing and erasers are erasing, students are preparing to embark on novels proving that this chair doesn't exist, except for one student. He spends thirty seconds writing his answer, then turns his final in to the astonishment of his peers.

Time goes by, and the day comes when all the students get their final grades...and to the amazement of the class, the student who wrote for thirty seconds gets the highest grade in the class.

His answer to the question: 'What chair?'"

Quoting Whitney, a philosophy classmate, "Ten bucks says Howard destroys a chair before the end of the year."

Quoting Howard, my philosophy prof, "Oh, s***, I think I broke the chair."

Good times, good times.

Try to define a chair. Come on, I defy you. THEN you can try and convince me I'm more than a parasitic personality of an evil genius.

Don't LOOK at anything in a physics lab.
Don't TASTE anything in a chemistry lab.
Don't SMELL anything in a biology lab.
Don't TOUCH anything in a medical lab.
and, most importantly, don't LISTEN to anything in a philosophy department.

"I accept bribes. They won't affect your grade, but I do accept them." Howard Hopkins

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Dumb Luck

Yeah, so we were robbed last night, sometime between 10 pm and 6 am. I was heading out to work (to get there by six - kudos to me!), and noticed the rather blatantly open garage door. That didn't particularly alarm me, but I also noticed two boxes on the concrete, where they should not have been. I had to get to work, so I just shut the door and left. It seemed rather odd that two boxes would have flown off the shelf into a space usually occupied by a vehicle, so I fired off a couple texts from work to say that the garage door had been left open all night and Dad should check to make sure everything was still there.

My sister got the text, but Dad didn't check his phone because it was charging (all morning, apparently. What a lousy phone). My sister came home, and also noticed the boxes on the ground because they prevented her from pulling in. She moved them and pulled in anyways. A while later, however, my dad went in to the garage and noticed a screwdriver lying where it shouldn't have been. He couldn't find the toolbox to put it away. And then he noticed my old junky (but nice looking) computer was gone, too. That's about when my sister mentioned my text.

The thieves took (at least)
1. Snow blower
2. Pressure washer
3. Tennis/badminton rackets
4. A nigh useless computer with school projects on it
5. Dad's tools

Luckily, the bikes were in the shed. Dad just showed me the police report he's filing.

I'm not too worried about anything on my old computer that they might be able to get (assuming they can get that hunk of junk to work long enough to get anything off it). In fact, I kinda hope they try to use it, and realize they were gypped. And if they steal my essays... well, I suppose I should be flattered.

Funny thing is, the neighbours keep their garage door open on a regular basis, and we haven't heard of anything of theirs being stolen.

As for those thieves, “If man makes himself a worm he must not complain when he is trodden on.” Immanuel Kant

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Proud to Be Canadian, but...

I really would like to travel somewhere sometime. Somewhere very different from Canada. Maybe more than one place. Peru was super neat, but that only lasted a month. I'd like to leave for longer. Problem is, after traveling like that, I think I'd be forever torn between staying with friends and going to new places. What is that called, wanderlust?

Wanderlust, n. a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about.

But when am I going to do that? How could that work with school? And what would I actually do while I traveled. And how could I make it so that I'm there as a part of the culture, and not as a tourist?

Well, seeing as I don't really know if I want to go to grad school anymore, I guess there are lots of options (as long as I don't mind being dirt poor and being in debt for a while).

And I would want to go with someone. Oh my sweet, dearly hypothetical plans. Maybe I should just wait until I am hypothetically married to a sweet, dear hypothetical man and go on a several year honeymoon.

"It is a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, 3 November 2008

Powers that Be

Tomorrow is election day in the US. About time. I expect Obama will win. I have become thoroughly disillusioned with the Republican party, so having the Democrats get in might not be a bad thing, although the insane fanaticism of Obama's followers is a little disconcerting. I'm quite happy to live in Canada right now.

While I'm discussing politics, I've always been somewhat fascinated by the ideas of totalitarianism and fascism. Machiavelli and Hitler and all that. Currently I'm reading the Art of War by Sun Tzu. There's something kind of entrancing about the idea of so much power and authority. Maybe that's why I like the book of Isaiah so much:

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spread them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on the them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no saviour.

(segments from chapters 41 to 43)

But while it is kind of terrifying that God has that kind of power, it's reassuring, too. It would be the furthest thing from reassuring if any loser king (or queen, if it happened to be me) had anything similar to that kind of power, which is why I believe so strongly in personal rights and freedoms even to the deficit of personal security.

Oh, and Leon died this morning just as I had to catch the bus.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Fish Killer

So I had this little betta fish, M. Poisson, for the longest time. He was half brain dead due to a little jumping accident, and anyone interested in cryogenics may have theorized that he lived twice as long as a normal fish because he died for twelve hours every night before thawing out and living during the day. I loved that little fish, despite his tendency to do nothing but bob along near the top of the water.

But eventually all good things come to an end, and he died. So I replaced him. The little guy promptly turned an ugly dull colour and passed on. So I took him back to the pet store and got a free replacement. They tested the water for me. The ammonia level was a *little* high, but considering the fish had died and stayed in there for a few hours afterward, that wasn't very surprising.

But then the same thing happened to the replacement. It looked like the fins were rotting, and within three days he died, too. It's not like I was sitting idly by. I changed that water, made sure it was absolutely clean, and the chemicals were all removed. It was a proper temperature. Yet it still died. I pretty much gave up then, and didn't get another one.

Now a little girl down the street has a new pet betta, Leon, and I'm pet sitting for them while her family is at DisneyWorld. They suspected the fish was sick before they gave it to me. The reasoning was that if he died, I'd be better able to handle it than the other little girl they were going to give it to, and also that I must be fairly pro at identifying sick betta symptoms. Maybe I'm not. At first I thought it was just a dumb fish, not a sick fish. It was anorexic, and seemed intent on burying itself alive.

But yesterday it started showing the same symptoms that my other fish showed during the two days prior to their deaths. Fins essentially rotting, turning a dull colour, covered in little white dots, doing nothing but bobbing along the water's surface. It's a little girl's fish, for pete's sake! I don't expect Leon to live. I hope she's not too heartbroken.

It turns out that when fish try to bury themselves, they're actually just trying to scratch because they're itchy with the parasite ich. Not eating is another symptom of ich, as are the other things I mentioned. So I've cleaned the whole fish bowl as well as it's ever been, changed the water (for the second time), and added a little salt. It's supposed to help, but like I said, I don't expect much. Too little too late. Poor thing.

What really bugs me is that I can't find any good info on what causes ich. Stress, supposedly, but M. Poisson and my sister's fish, Finneus, had PLENTY of stress and lived to tell about it. So I don't know why all these other fish can't handle a move from the pet store.

Perhaps evolution is playing a role and these dudes just aren't cut out to survive, like university students who can't handle red "x"s on their assignments, only purple circles.

Sigh. Maybe one day I'll figure it out.

And speaking of fish, did you know the Nemo was actually a sequential hermaphrodite? Protandrous hermaphrodite, actually. They start out neutral, then the head honcho turns into a female, and the second toughest turns into a male. If the female chief dies, then the male turns into the female, and one of the neutrals turns into the male. The things I learn in psych class.

Dory: You mean you don't like me?
Marlin: No, of course I like you. It's because I like you I don't want to be with you. It's a... complicated... emotion.