Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Being a Gadfly or Just a Bitch

Or perhaps we should be casual observers watching the end without comment. Hmmm....

A few years ago, a friend with a similar house as mine in a similar neighbourhood complimented my laundry line, but bemoaned the fact that it wouldn't be possible for her to have one. As I provided ample rebuttal to each point of opposition that started with "I'd would, but", she eventually stopped me with, "I'd would, but I just don't care enough about it. I wish I wanted to more, but reducing electrical demand is not a priority for me."

We need to get to a point where people make it a priority, where people are shocked into action.  Hailstorms in Mexico might be a start. But some of my travel-loving friends, and one of my own kids, still have no intention of slowing down despite further evidence that air travel is even worse for the environment than we thought. Denial in the form of "I'll just drive a little less to compensate for a couple air trips each year," isn't going away fast enough. Or, more recently and disturbingly, a friend's solution: "Travel more and have lots of kids and grandkids and enjoy life, and then we can all just take suicide pills when it gets too dark out there." Her only concern with her plan, if I'm remembering correctly, was if her kids died before administering doses to their children, leaving the little ones behind. Yikes.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Bigotry and Violence in K-W

I stayed in the small town I was born in, and it got big around me. Like parents of young kids, who fall into the trap of continuing to see them as they were so many years ago, I still think of K-W as a really safe, little city. But now we have bigger buildings, and faster transportation, and violence. Gun violence even!

The latest stats show that police reported hate crimes here have decreased a bit since last year, down to 6.7 per capita, on par with London, Toronto and Montréal, a bit more than Calgary, a bit less than Guelph, Thunder Bay, and Ottawa, but WAY less than Hamilton at 17.1. But it's possible that people are just on it more in Hamilton, reporting every little thing in order to keep the city safe. It's hard to say. Regardless, it feels worse now than it used to. It doesn't feel safe to be out on certain streets at certain times.

Yesterday there was a rally held to protest the "bullying" of an anti-LGBTQ protester who was charged with assault with a weapon after beating people with a helmet a month ago.

Cancer and Lymphedema: Two Year Update

In the span of one year, from August 2016 to July 2017, I was told I had three tumours in my left breast which led to three surgeries, which provoked lymphedema, and my dad died, and both my adult kids moved back home in the winter, one at the end of a five-year relationship, the other because of a profound mental breakdown that kept him in his room for months afterwards, possibly exacerbated by a family trip I insisted he attend and will forever regret. Both of them were far too forlorn to be able to help with snow shovelling or kitty litter or dishes. They were there for comforting, not to comfort.

I soldiered on through it all, tending to the housework and taking minimal time off work. After the first surgery, I was berated by an administrator, in front of my class, for the inadequate midterm report comments left by the LTO who replaced me, so I was back in the classroom after two days following the next surgery. Getting told was just one too many things to tolerate on top of everything else. Being considered incompetent after leaving copious notes and coming back early felt like an undeserved cruelty I couldn't adequately handle at the time.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Odell's How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy

Or maybe we'd recognize Nietzsche's last man as ourselves:
"Once blasphemy against God was the greatest blasphemy; but God died, and therewith also those blasphemers. To blaspheme the earth is now the dreadfulest sin, and to rate the heart of the unknowable higher than the meaning of the earth! . . . The earth hath then become small, and on it there hoppeth the last man who maketh everything small. His species is ineradicable like that of the ground-flea; the last man liveth longest. 'We have discovered happiness'—say the last men, and blink thereby. . . . With the creators, the reapers, and the rejoicers will I associate: the rainbow will I show them, and all the stairs to the Superman. . . . What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal."
Nietzsche's last men are contemptible because they aren't really alive. They have their basic needs met, but there's no spark in them, no spirit. They're merely content to exist with conveniences they had no part in creating. They need to be awakened from this sleepwalking! 

That's a nutshell version of what I heard from Jenny Odell's lovely and compelling read, How to Do Nothing (but with a lot less Nietzsche in it).

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Eleanor Oliphant? Not So Fine

I rarely read fiction, so maybe just ignore this rant. I know little about this kind of thing, but it might get me writing again after a dry spell, and it's at least a distraction from the world at large. Tra la la.

I was recommended this book, and it's being optioned by Reese Witherspoon. I loved Wild, so I thought this might be worth the Kindle edition at least. I was horribly mistaken.

Many spoilers below in my top six reasons why I really hate this book: