Aug 2017 18

So, this just happened.

 

[phone conversation]

Andrew:  Okay, bye dad.

Andrew’s dad: Yup, bye.

Andrew: You know dad, I haven’t seen you lately. I kind of miss you.

Andrew’s dad: Oh. Bye.

[end of phone conversation]

 

 

When you’re 88 years old, I really don’t see the advantage of playing hard to get.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 2017 18

I love Tina Fey hard.

(this YouTube video could be taken down at any moment cause it’s not SNL’s official account)

 

Aug 2017 16

Some all-over-the-map thoughts on the Trump effect – when you feel emboldened by your leaders to come out and show your true self. A quick post about my morning as I try to write something every day, half-baked or not.

I had an interesting talk this morning with someone I work with.

Like anyone with an actual functioning non-sociopathic conscience, she’s worried about what’s going on down in Charlottesville right now. She feels so helpless and we talked about ways in which we can do something.

‘Do you think this feeling has always been going on, or did Trump cause all this?’

‘I don’t think he caused it. I think these people with these views have always existed, but now they have no fear of coming out and showing themselves because of who is in the White House.’

(betting my friend has never been to parts of Ohio or Pennsylvania where I felt very uneasy just for not being a tall, white male with a gunrack on my truck)

Anyhow, the conversation reminded me that many years ago, when I was lucky enough to work for the NDP doing a bit of writing to try to get Jack in power (and yes, I said ‘lucky enough’, I’m a lefty I think), one of Jack’s left-hand dudes told me that they always read the Toronto Sun and other Sun newspapers.

I was like ‘Wha? But that’s so right-leaning.’

And this person told me ‘If you want to know what the every-person is thinking in Canada, we’ve found that the Sun is a good barometer of what is going on.’

So when I’m consuming my news cycle, I always check the Toronto Sun. It helps me get out of my ‘echo chamber’, something I talked about in a previous post on the weekend. Rather than be fed my own opinion back to me, I want to see what other people are saying. I still ignore all the hockey talk (god, I hate that sport and the culture around it – worse than golf culture – look for a future column on this) but the columns and opinion pieces are always an interesting read. Whether it’s anti-bike or anti-Trudeau or pro oil, I know I won’t agree with what they’re saying for the most part, but at least it’s right there in front of me.

Much like the Trump-effect, but on a smaller scale, I think Rob Ford being Mayor of Toronto gave some right-minded, Toronto Sun-reading people in this town the courage to come out. Maybe not on an anti-ethnic-level (I actually think Rob Ford was very open-minded when it came to cultures and people from other backgrounds – dude was from Rexdale, for crying out loud), but certainly in other ways. I have been threatened a lot less on my bike from motorists since John Tory took office. Rob Ford gave the ‘right-leaning’ the courage to speak up.

And actually, we’re very lucky right now to have John Tory and Justin Trudeau in their positions. I don’t always agree with their policies, but it would be even more troubling to be dealing with what’s going on in the world with Rob Ford and Stephen Harper.

And because of that, maybe that is how we can help. Our leaders can give us the power to speak up as well. We can take a page out of the Charlottesville playbook, and feel brave enough to come out and mobilize right now. I have a tiki torch. Tell me where to go, I’ll be there.

 

 

 

Aug 2017 14

Sam

Posted In Blog,The world

In 1970s Rexdale, today, and hopefully for forever, racism has no place when it comes to the heart.

I adored my first girlfriend.

I was five.

And like any five year old man in love, I adored her freckles, her long sun-bronzed legs, how she picked dandelions, deftly handled her bicycle, and how she threw a baseball.

Also, she had a dog.

Which meant, she was not only my first romantic love. But she was responsible for my first dog love.

‘Sam’ was a sleek, powerful black lab who not only shared my love for this goddess but also loved to hang out with all the neighbourhood kids. There was a four-foot high fence with a gate that separated an area we played in from the street, and Sam could, and would, easily leap over it, eager to hang out with all of us. Slobbery, sweet Sam.

Sam. That’s what my love called him. That’s what we all called him.

Last year while I was packing up the family home to put on the market, and gazing out my childhood bedroom window across the street to the very window where my beloved would wave to me at night before she would lay down on her delicate sandy brown short locks to slumber – so close, so far. – I remembered something. Something horrifying.

‘Sam’.

Her father, Sam’s real owner, a very white-anglo Saxon Protestant man, did not call him this. Her father called him ‘Black Sambo’. A name from a children’s book of the 20th century that has been equally called racist and also paving the way for more contemporary attitudes towards other backgrounds and cultures.

I do not know in which way her father meant it.

But I do know that all the kids on that street in Rexdale that his daughter and dog played with, we were from all over the place. First and second generation Canadian kids. From India to Korea to Nigeria to Brazil to the Philippines to Germany to Scotland to China to Macedonia to Jamaica to beyond.

And the first boy his daughter loved was me, a Japanese-Belizean kid.

 

 

Aug 2017 13

Some thoughts on how I fear an on-demand world has affected my own ability to think and truly learn – at an important time in the world, and in my life, am I actually the dumbest I have ever been ?

“No, put down your phones” I’ll say. “We know this.”

As Gen Xer’s, I admit that what we’re trying to remember is usually something like “Who sang (insert one-hit wonder song of the 80s) ?”. But sometimes it’s something we should really know, like “Who is the President of Mexico?”.

Inevitably, and usually though, no one will be able to access that part of their brain, long atrophied it seems, that houses actual knowledge and we’ll resort to Google or Wikipedia or whatever.

Do we live in an age where we actually know nothing?

Despite living in a time where humans have on-demand access to the (supposed) sum knowledge of all of history, are we actually the dumbest we’ve ever been?

What concerns me about this isn’t the inability to recall who played Commissioner Gordon in the now very ridiculous-seeming ‘Batman’ movie from 1989, but how we rely on our devices to tell us everything. Have we lost the ability to think for ourselves and make connections in our brains that allow us to not only ‘know’ things, but also form new thoughts?

As the world seems to be slipping into more chaos lately, I wonder about my generation, and the ones behind, so quick to turn to the internet for not only ‘knowledge’ but also for what they should think about a certain situation. In the latter case, most people set up their social media with like-minded opinions and this becomes an echo chamber where your already-held view is only positively-reinforced rather than challenged. I do it, too.

People used to know things. When is the next full moon? What cloud formations indicate rain might be on the way, and what type? When was the Korean War anyway?

But don’t forget G.I. Joe said, “Knowing is half the battle”.

Knowing things is great, but more importantly, ‘knowing’ used to mean giving our brains the opportunity to know the ‘whys’ behind something. Why is the next full moon on September 6th? How long is each moon cycle? What is condensation anyhow, and what ’causes’ it to rain? What was the situation that led to the Korean War in the 1950s leading to the peninsula becoming divided? Who were the players? And how does this affect the situation in the world even today?

Only looking at things from such a ‘snapshot’ point of view means we are missing the big picture of what’s going on in the whole frame, or in the previous one, giving us a clue to what’s coming. We don’t learn anything.

In such an on-demand world, I worry my own ability to think rationally and deductively is being affected. My own ‘hot-takes’ in a situation have replaced my true nature to walk away and think before reacting. I’m being positively reinforced to jump to conclusions.

Like Jon Snow, I think I know nothing these days. Charlottesville. North Korea. Good Ol 45. The Toronto flooding. Brexit. I have always been able to consume boatloads of information quickly. And I do it. Coming of age in the era before the internet meant we ‘learned’ how to start depending on it for everything. But now, more than ever, it seems like an important time to not be ‘lazy’ by just doing this. We are the ones who remember our behaviour pattern before this time.

It’s a good time to know things rather than just looking things up. Don’t forget – history can be changed, warped, erased. But knowing how to think – that shit can never be taken away.

And in 1989’s ‘Batman’, actor Pat Tingle played Commissioner Gordon. I think.