sabotabby: (doctor who)
 After this piece of dreck.



I would describe my political views as the new right.


I'd say that I'm left.



She believed that she was a full person entitled to human rights. He believed that she should be making him a sandwich. Is it possible that the truth lay somewhere in the middle?

A buzzer, much like one you might hear in a prison, buzzes.



Each pair faces each other over a pile of flat pack IKEA boxes.


Feminism today is man hating.


I would describe myself as a feminist 100%



I don't believe that climate change exists.


I drive a Prius with Bernie Sanders stickers on it!


I'm, like, a person and stuff.


I'm more obsessed with strangers' genitals than a normal person should be.




The pairs are presented with the flat pack boxes.


I got this. I am a man and therefore an expert in IKEA.

Montage of each pair struggling over the instructions.


I think this is in some kind of furrin' language or some such.


What *is* a KUGGALLÂ, anyway?


I think this is missing a piece. Maybe all the pieces.

Close-up of shelf, assembled with all of the pieces facing the wrong way and some random bit dangling.


Aaaah, just hold the—this thing—for an—OWWW.


This has to go in that hole, there's no other hole that it can go in.

DOUCHE, screaming his head off, tosses a board into the wall.

SMUG ENVIRONMENTALIST sinks sadly into a pile of cardboard boxes, his face in his hands.

TRANS WOMAN stabs TRANSPHOBE in the eye with an Allen key.

Sooooo much for the tolerant left...


I...can't. I just...can't do it.

Long shot. Everyone is crying and/or bleeding. Clawing herself across the floor, FEMINIST finds a case of Heineken and cracks one open. DOUCHE reaches for her.


You! Stay away! I will fucking glass you.

Montage of everyone sobbing into a beer amongst the wreckage of half-assembled furniture and battered cardboard boxes.



sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Today, in a fit of pique, the following occurred to me (prompted by me posting a leftist pop culture critique, only to be told that the author of said post was being called out at the moment, though for reasons that had nothing to do with his post):

Politics, but instead of doing anything about it, we just post “your fave is problematic” over and over again.

Okay, that's not completely fair, but I'm increasingly of the opinion that the left has become even more of a toxic and humourless wasteland than it was the last time I was regularly going to protests, with less effect. Say what you will about grim Stalinist and Maoist dystopias, at least they were effective. What passes for activism these days is not, largely because call-out culture, about which many pixels have been spilled, targets our friends rather than our enemies. 

Also, I am pretty sure that there is not much overlap between "people who are heavily, or even slightly involved in real-life activism" and "people who call out problematic people over the internet." I can't prove it, though.

That's not to say that we should pretend that problematic ideas and people don't exist in our movement. Of course they do. And we shouldn't tolerate sexism or racism and transphobia from our allies any more than we tolerate it from our enemies, but the perfect is the enemy of the good. A rigid adherence to standards nurtured in academia and inaccessible to the vast majority of people who feel that shit is fucked up and wrong is not productive, and it's not like we have so many friends that we can afford to alienate most of them.*

At the root of this, I think, is an overabundance of seriousness. We have focused so much on creating the perfect political terminology, actions that walk the line between confronting capital and creating a safe space**, ensuring that our meetings take place under appropriately sterile circumstances, that we have failed to create a lively, dynamic culture that extends past the protest and meeting and Facebook re-share and into our daily lives. In short, we have forgotten that this struggle should be fun.

"But wait," my straw-activist† exclaims. "You're not taking this seriously! Not everyone has the privilege of being an activist because it's fun."

Of course, no one's an activist because it's fun. It's not fun. Even when you get to fight with a Nazi, it's much more scary than anything else. I would vastly rather marathon Netflix on the couch than wake up at ass o' clock to march in the streets, and I really do it because I'm compelled, because I don't have the privilege of ignoring the world's drunken flailing towards fascism. Because if we lose, I die and my friends die. Fun isn't the end goal here; it's part of the process.

If you look at movements throughout the world and throughout history, you'll see that desperate times and privation and hard, often fatal struggles, did not stop people from having a sense of humour or building community and culture. Witness the dark satire in the plays of Brecht, the poetry of the Zapatistas, the songs of Joe Hill. What I see missing on the left is the hopeful alternative, the shared art and music and theatre, the giant puppets in the street protests, the creative actions, the meetings in pubs†† that bleed into social gatherings. The idea of fighting for and not just fighting against. Even totalitarian state communism had its enjoyable moments; strangely enough these days the only people I see really creating an active, vibrant political culture are tankies. The very people who you'd expect to be the most uptight and humourless are the ones manufacturing memes like they're boots for the revolution. And good on them; it's why I like tankies more than most people whose politics I, on paper, agree with.

It's a matter of pragmatism, not warm fuzzies. Seriousness is unsustainable. Most of the young people currently calling out this that and the other thing††† will not, long-term, be involved in activism. Anger is a good temporary fuel, but it burns out quickly once jobs and kids come into the picture. The way to retain people and to draw more into the movement is by building links that are less easily severed—those of friendship and community.

Among the most effective groups I was ever a part of had as its core members myself (then an anarchist), a Trotskyist, two MLMs, and a Cuban revolution fanboy. We did not have much political common ground with each other, much less with some of our allies. What we did have was a simple shared goal and debriefing sessions at skeezy bars that degenerated into drunken giggling that had nothing, superficially, to do with politics. I don't doubt that these types of connections are happening now, on an individual level, but I don't see it happening at a larger scale. I don't know how to make it happen—most of the new comrades I meet manage to piss me off within 30 seconds of interaction—but I think it needs to. I know it needs to.

It's worked for the far-right. Their schoolyard humour got Cheeto Benito elected. People who like the spadgebasket like him because, for whatever reason, they find him funny. They're in no small part desperate, jobless, broke, and suffering, but they can find the space for a laugh.

In other words, more giant puppets, people. More biting satire and music and graffiti and I don't care what, just lighten the fuck up and stop trying to make everything perfect and safe.

P.S. If you hadn't noticed, I'm under the same name on LJ and DW. I'm not jumping ship on the latter, ridiculous TOS or not, seeing as I have a paid account at least through next year. But if you wanna add me on DW for the same fun content and fewer icons, by all means do so.

* I say this as someone who holds a lot of grudges. There are people on the left who, for reasons of offences committed recently and otherwise, I cannot be in the same room with.

** This is impossible BTW.

† Not really. I've met loads of people like this.

†† You can't do that, Sabotabby. That's ableist!

††† Today I learned that Love Life of an Asian Guy is racist and misogynist, and that PissPigGranddad—who as far as I'm concerned is a fucking hero—is a "war tourist."

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Just when you thought the political landscape couldn't get any worse, CrimethInc is back, kickin' it like it's 2001. The third most irritating tendency in anarchism* has announced its return in a typically relevant fashion:

The website is powered by an app built with Ruby on Rails. If you’re a designer, a developer, or an adventurous explorer and want to help us build a better world, send up a signal flare—we’ll be waiting for you. There’s still plenty of work to do (and always will be until we finally destroy empire). Front end HTML and CSS—backend Ruby and Rails—UI/UX design—copyediting—language translation. There’s something for everyone.

I hate to hate on fellow leftists**, but are you shitting me? Whatever made someone wake up and go, "the US has elected to give a racist, sexist, slobbering monument to the Dunning-Kruger effect the codes to the nukes, the climate is permafucked, Syria is no longer a desert because it's basically an ocean of blood, Russia's gone all tsarist again, and the bumblebee just got declared endangered—what the world needs right now is a troupe of edgy anarkiddies declaring themselves post-left all over the internet." The only silver lining here is that practically no serious person will notice this. I mean, I noticed, but I'm not a serious person, and I'm sick of blogging about the fascist orange bezoar. 


I mean, I'll give credit where credit is due—CrimethInc have some sick graphic design skills and catchy slogans, but you know who else had sick graphic design skills and catchy slogans? Maoist China. Aesthetics does not a political ethos make.

Speaking of edgy, though, it's not all doom and gloom out there! U2 have delayed their latest release in the wake of Trump's election, and they might even not push it on your iPhone this time. Nevertheless, look forward to seeing Bono on stage shaking hands with Trump at the next G8/G20 summit. You know I'm right.

* Anarcho-capitalists at number one, anarcho-primitivists at number two, because someone asked. As if primitivists' "let's kill off most of the world's population and also fuck disabled people" excuse for a political ethos wasn't bad enough, Fake Goth Cathy Brennan has emerged as their strange bedfellow—possibly literally? Who knows, who cares? Plus they ruined a perfectly nice couch I once owned.

** Just kidding. That's basically my favourite thing to do.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (socialism with a human face)
I don't actually think it's World War III or the end of the world at the moment, so more ranting about the problem of balance in politics. Two positions I've taken, both in response to stupid comments by supposed centrists:

1. Trevor Noah would never invite an ISIS member onto his show to “get the other side’s perspective.” That’s why the liberal narrative of free speech is so ethically vacuous.

I don't remember the last time I encountered an ardent defender of the concept known as "free speech" who wasn't a raging racist. I'm not sure how the right managed to snatch that one out from under our noses, but like "libertarian," I don't think we're gonna get this one back. Sorry guys.

The reason why ISIS is not included in debates about free speech is because we're all sensible people and we know where that kind of discourse leads. Yeah, a certain percentage of people reading/watching/listening to an ISIS ideologue's opinion—let's be generous and say most people—are going to say, "wow, that guy's a real shithead, listen to him say shitty things, ugh." But a not-insignificant number are going to react in the opposite way—this fellow's saying something I've felt deep in my heart for a long time, and look, he's saying it publicly, it must be socially acceptable."

This is how the Alt Reich gained ascendancy. The media gave them a sympathetic narrative, stopped portraying them as fringe freaks not even worthy of an interview, reported on their hairstyles and suits, demanded that the liberal elite sympathize with their plights. (Can you imagine a similar discourse around ISIS? Even though for the average fighter—not the ideologues—there may be a much more compelling reason, such as starvation, forcing their hand?)

An ethically consistent liberal or centrist would fight as valiantly for the rights of terrorists to be heard as it does for the rights of racist white dudes to spout off hate speech, but there is no ethical consistency in liberalism or centrism.

2. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing people who don't know very much about politics that the horseshoe theory has any sort of intellectual merit.

I was halfheartedly debating with a self-described centrist who was insisting that fascism could be either a right- or left-wing ideology, and that neo-liberalism was a left-wing ideology. I guess 227 years of political history, fought for and bled for by countless Very Smart People, was just not good enough for this fellow, who like so many on the internet, believes that a 15-second Google search qualifies him as a political scientist. (To be fair, I'm not even sure he did that.) The horseshoe theory is referenced commonly amongst the walking Dunning-Kruger effects that inhabit certain corners of the internet, and I'm sick to death of it.

There are, of course, common features in the extreme left and the extreme right. However, all of these commonalities can just as easily describe those in the centre (not to mention that the centre is a rightward-drifting moving target). Probably more so—anecdotally, the most authoritarian types I've encountered in meatspace described themselves as centrists. A conservative may have some moral convictions, even if I disagree with them; a centrist is merely politically and ethically avoidant. It is the perverted sense of balance that led to the above problem wherein the Alt Reich were given a platform rather than being sent scuttling back to the sewers where they belong.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
Hopefully a continuing series where I criticize the left, but from a place of love. You know, if people are interested in that kind of thing.

Today is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. That's something I wholeheartedly support, being an unapologetic man-eating feminist myself. But like many good ideas that are too good for the moderates to fully ignore, it's quite often watered-down and turned into the merely symbolic, especially in public institutions like schools or quasi-public spaces like Facebook.

Dec. 6th is the anniversary of the massacre at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal. Fourteen young women were murdered at the hands of a maniac, simply for the audacity for being female engineering students. In a country where mass shootings really don't happen often, it was shocking and horrific and leaves a deep psychological scar on any of us who remember, vividly, hearing the news.

Dec. 6th is a day for ritual now. Any well-meaning person of any gender dons the white ribbon (even though the original point was for men to show that they were against violence against women*). Schoolchildren make handprints on banners that declare, "these hands will never be used in violence," even though that is statistically unlikely to be the case. Posters go up, most with roses on them.

On Facebook, every other post is a list of the names of the dead, now with the requisite likes and hearts and crying faces and sometimes angry faces (from the leftists).

It's not that I don't think that these are all important rituals to have, or that these 14 women are not worth remembering. They absolutely are. But I'm uncomfortable when something I feel passionate about is reduced to a cut-and-paste of names and ages so that everyone can show how they remember, how important the ritual is, and how very not-sexist they are. It becomes an exercise in form over function.

Violence against women in Canada does not, by and large, look like a lunatic carefully sorting the female students from the male students and then gunning down the former. That has happened, but that is not what usually happens. Women are more likely to face violence at the hands of a loved one than a stranger. The dead are less likely to look like photogenic young students and more likely to look like this:


Oh, you probably can't see that too well. That's the 1181 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada between 1980-2012, who rarely get spoken about on the one day that we get to talk about violence against women. Marc Lépine is dead, and beyond the reach of justice, but there still might be justice for the women pictured above. We won't know if we don't do anything about it.

It's not a day to talk about the women and girls in prison and foster care, or even victims of domestic violence. Not sex workers or trans women or non-status immigrants, who face a greater risk of violence and exploitation than the general population.  It's not a day to talk about women who have been raped by men who are deemed more trustworthy than they are, and thus are re-victimized in the press and the courts. If we took today to look at those things, we might look at violence against women as something other than a horrible event that happened once but is now safely in the past to be ritualized. We would have to see it as something ongoing, something in which all genders are complicit.

It's not a day to talk about misogyny, today, as rampant and widespread as ever, to shut down any number of MRA and Alt-Reich groups who have seized the zeigeist by the pussy. That would be politicizing things, and the National Day of Remembrance and Action is a hashtag, not, like, a political thing.

My beef is institutional, not individual. On a personal level, listing the names of the 14 victims of Dec. 6th is understandable, even laudable. On an institutional level, however, framing violence against women as a rare, dramatic act rather than a routine and persistent symptom of a patriarchal culture is not productive. I'm not going to lie and tell you I have an answer to this, or even that I know with certainty that it's a problem, per se. I guess I just want a louder, angrier, more complicated discussion. Not symbols, and not copy-and-paste. Ugly, unvarnished truth that moves towards action. For starters.

* Gender is, of course, more complicated, but a lot of us didn't know that in 1991 when Jack Layton was first promoting it.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (clean all the things)
Imagine you've fled unthinkable horror in your homeland to journey over 9000 km to a country where you don't speak the language. You have nothing but what you've managed to carry with you. Maybe you're living in a hotel, maybe some stranger's basement. You are desperately trying to get your life back together.

After all that, would you want to be reading Twilight?

(Fun fact: Twilight is the most frequently donated book.)

If you don't want used binders and notebooks that your kid has scribbled on with half the pages missing, why would a Syrian refugee?

Same with rusty kitchen stuff.

No one wants your dictionaries. Paper dictionaries are obsolete. That goes for people who donate to my Little Free Library too, by the way.

If you donate dirty kitchenware and appliances and don't wash them, I am silently judging you out loud to the other volunteers. Have some self-respect.

How about that trend for making French onion soup in French onion soup bowls? It was kind of weird, wasn't it? I see we all regret that phase of our lives. I'm craving French onion soup, though.

Unlike the refugees, you allegedly speak English. Why not read what we do and do not accept, and thus save a volunteer (i.e., me) a trip to Value Village in -30°C weather to drop off clothes we can't accept?

If at any point in this blanket's history your baby has puked on it, I guarantee that I will be able to smell it. I don't care how much you washed it. I don't care if no one else can smell it because they all have kids and are used to it. I still smell it and it will haunt my nightmares.

How can one man amass so many kitchen tongs? And yet it all came from the same guy. Are kitchen tong horders a thing?

People who donate pillows still in their packaging: You are my fucking heroes and I hope you get all the Valentine's Day orgasms you want.

People who donate anything still in its packaging, especially if there is a picture of the thing on the packaging: We love you and I hope you are showered with unicorns and puppies and love.

Whoever brought the red velvet and white chocolate cookies: I could fucking kiss you.

People who raid hotel rooms and donate the little bottles of shampoo: What is wrong with you? Reconsider your life choices.

Companies who give out water bottles with their logos on it: You know where those things end up, right?

The moral of the story: Don't donate trash. You know what happens when you donate your trash to charity? Some volunteer has to throw it out or donate it to another, less discerning charity. And they'll probably throw it out. They might even need to pay for junk removal. So you are hurting the cause, not helping. You know the difference between useful things and garbage, so why not donate useful things and throw the garbage out yourself?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (go fuck yourself)
Why do people write "f'ing" and "sh*t" on the internet?

It's one of my minor irritations with the rather frequent flamewars that I get in. People want to swear at me and somehow can't bring themselves to do it. I don't know why this is; I swear like a sailor myself and I am hardly going to get offended by someone else's potty mouth.

If you want to say "fucking," say "fucking." If you want to say "shit," say "shit." Putting a symbol somewhere in the word is not going to make it somehow less offensive. I can maybe see why you might type "N-Bomb" or something, to avoid triggering racialized people, but that's a special case.

Or, if you are of delicate sensibilities such that you cannot type the word "fucking" without blushing, why not say "flipping" or "frakking" or "frelling" or any one of a number of sci-fi or old-timey swears designed for the ears of children and/or network TV. Yes, you will sound like a church lady and/or a mega-nerd, but I guarantee it's 100% less embarrassing than writing "f'ing."

The most befuddling thing to me is when I'm in a perfectly fucking civilized conversation (this is sarcasm) with a gentleperson of differing beliefs (this is most people) and they say something like, "I hope u f'ing get beheaded by ISIS u f'ing b***ch." It's fine to utter death threats but God forbid someone types a swear.

I really don't get it; can anyone explain?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat flaming death)
If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know I have serious issues with Free the Children and its corporate wing, Me to We. I have issues with them because they take jobs away from the very communities they claim to help, because they appropriate the language and form of activism to guide impressionable children through meaningless activities designed to make them feel like they're "raising awareness" rather than self-organizing, because they are a for-profit company allowed to set up franchises in publicly funded schools, and because the smug faces of the Kielburger brothers are the very reason why the Germans coined the term backpfeifengesicht.

But you know me, I'm an extremist of the loony left, so of course I'd have issues with liberals. However, this organization is so perfidious even liberals should have problems with it. Case in point: They are litigious bastards who quash every critical media piece published about them. Seriously, try Googling "free the children + controversy" and see what happens. No supposed charity is free from controversy—except this one. Reason being that they are very good at getting criticism of themselves scrubbed, up to and including pulping a Toronto Life exposé about their corruption.

Now they've managed to get a CBC documentary about voluntourism, Volunteers Unleashed, yanked. The very excellent Canadaland has the scoop, including the two clips that the Kielburgers don't want you to see.

Just a little reminder that censorship doesn't need to look like jackboots and burning books to effectively silence dissent. Go watch them before Canadaland gets sued too!
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (teachthecontroversy)
It's almost New Year's! I don't do resolutions or year-in-review posts anymore; I guess I just don't see much of a point. I always end up roughly the same person, if drastically more hungover, on the 1st as I was on the 31st. Case in point: I'm up, drinking my morning coffee with a cat on my wrist, and arguing about conspiracy theories at The Other Place.

This is mostly a post about Monsanto, if you are going to be upset by my opinions about Monsanto and/or GMOs. A lot of people tend to be.

A fellow educator posted a link, with his added commentary, "Very disturbing."

unsourced facebooksharing

The original post linked to an article from Health Impact News (no, I'm not going to give them the hits), a site which boasts that it brings you, quote, "News that Impacts Your Health that Other Media Sources May Censor!" Sounds legit, right? The headline, "MIT Researcher: Glyphosate Herbicide will Cause Half of All Children To Have Autism by 2025" sounds even more so.

Wake up, sheeple!

The cool thing is that I don't even need to read the article to know it's bullshit. I can just look at the headline. I read it anyway, but it was exactly what you'd expect. I posted a quick response last night, "On the plus side, it's almost certainly not true!"* and left it at that.

The fellow responded, Eeyore-like, "I hope you're right."

I replied that I was, because it was pseudoscience. The thing with the conspiracy inclined mind, though, is once they get a bone, they don't wanna let go of it.

Gets a bit long. )

So, eh, don't know if it'll get through. But maybe I planted a little seed of critical thinking, there?

And since that seed is a GMO, science and skeptism will almost certainly triumph!

Happy New Year, sheeple!

* I'd take out the "almost certainly" if I hadn't been hungover at  the time.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (bat country)
The internets, and my little corner of it, are full of big-hearted liberals professing concern for the health and welfare of our Honourable Wife-Beating, Crack-Smoking, I-Did-It-In-A-Drunken-Stupor Mayor. Yes, there's a fair amount of schadenfreude among my friends and to some degree among the media, but the heartfelt pleas for him to "get the help he needs" and all the bleeding-heart sympathy for his addiction problems actually do seem to predominate. Maybe that's why he's had a bump in the polls (as opposed to his usual bumps of coke); people feel sorry for his teary addict routine. At the heart of this loud-mouthed, sexist, racist, homophobic, austerity-pushing pig-rapist is a broken man. Pity him.

I don't.

And let me be clear: I believe that drug addiction is a health issue, not a criminal issue. I believe in the decriminalization of all drugs, including crack. I do not believe that addiction is a choice per se.

However, I also believe that the addict has agency, and that addiction can spiral well beyond the life of the individual afflicted and destroy the lives of others, and to that extent, an addict must be responsible for him or herself. Addiction isn't an excuse. Plenty of addicts live lives of quiet desperation, damaging only themselves; the ones who use their sickness as a bludgeon against others, against their consent, bear some responsibility.

Amidst all the public concern for the Laughable Bumblefuck on the part of the chattering class, I hear little concern for his wife and kids, and their physical and emotional safety. We know he's assaulted his wife. I can't imagine that his kids will grow up undamaged. Where's the sympathy for them?

Amidst all the wishes that he would get the help he needs, where are those volunteering to help addicts who are less white, less rich, less famous? The ones that Ford blocked harm-reduction initiatives for, the ones he suggested dry out in a jail cell, the ones he wanted to run out of town? When are they going to get the help they need?

What about the city? The kids in Scarborough who, because he's run the city for the past three years in a drunken stupor, are still cut off from educational, work, and recreational possibilities because he blocked the expansion of a functional transit system? The working poor who need affordable housing, the destitute who need shelters? Where's the sympathy for all the ordinary people he's fucked over?

Addiction's a tough ride no matter who you are, but Ford is a man who's had literally every possible privilege handed to him and every chance to get clean. He's insanely rich, politically connected, white, male, and heterosexual. If a guy like that can't get his shit together and check into a rehab, fuck him. Even if he did, fuck him anyway. Sobering up is unlikely to make him less of a jizzbag. I work with people who came to this country with nothing, who've had to scramble up to barely surviving and get shat on by the SUN for doing so, and the most out-of-control violent gangbangers I've ever met have destroyed fewer lives than this piece of shit.

At the risk of getting personal, I've been at the receiving end of someone else's drug addiction. Multiple times, actually. It's not pretty. It's not a victimless crime. I see my own experience writ large and ugly and all the guilty mushy liberals praying for his recovery.

All of Toronto is Ford's battered spouse, begging him to get help when we should be booting him in the ass. Let him dry out in a jail cell. Let him beg for change in a cardboard box. We owe every single junkie and dealer and petty thug in Toronto our sympathy and aid before we throw one iota of it in Ford's direction.

Let him destroy himself. The world will be a better place.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
There is no one better equipped to advocate for the rights of girls in Third World countries than girls in Third World countries.

There is no one better to make a statement like this than two incredibly rich young white dudes from Canada.

Oh, Kielburgers. You are your own parody. The term "Backpfeifengesicht" was invented just for you.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (go fuck yourself)
It's really hard to have a thoughtful and nuanced discussion on What Is To Be Done About Syria. (For the record, I desperately want to see Assad's regime go down in flames, but I'm not convinced that U.S. military intervention is going to accomplish that without making things much worse. And no, I don't have a solution. I'm Sabotabby From the Internet, not a geopolitical mastermind.)

Facebook is particularly bad in that I have a wide spectrum of opinions represented on my feed, most of which are quite stupid. There are also a wide spectrum of opinions represented on my LJ friends list, but even when I disagree with you guys, you've at least got the brains to back up your opinions with facts and arguments instead of posting memes.

But hey, you know what I think that we can all agree won't work? Fasting for peace, then posting about it on Facebook. Fuck a bunch of smug, pretentious hippies. Did I fall asleep and wake up in the fucking 60s or something? I'm sure the multitudes of starving Syrian refugees honestly give a shit that you're forgoing food on their behalf. I am amazed that, of all of the bad options presented to deal with this humanitarian clusterfuck, someone I know has managed to find the worst one.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
Dear FB friend, I am not interested in learning about "natural birth control." Wow. Is it just me, or is left-wing DIY increasingly indistinguishable from crunchy conservatism, anti-vax pseudoscience, and barefoot-and-pregnant reactionary bollocks? I'll take Big Pharma over that nonsense any day.


Jul. 9th, 2013 11:01 am
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (quit your whoring now)
Remember when Orson Scott Card was going to overthrow the American government if gay marriage became legal?

Now he's pleading for tolerance. Um. OSC, you're on the board of an organization that has, as pretty much its sole mandate, intolerance.

A boycott is not censorship. No one owes OSC, or anyone else, a living as a writer. No one owes him a platform from which to spew his bigotry. Man, I hope this movie flops harder than a dying fish.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Jenny Sparks)
Interesting discussion on FB that started from me posting that link to Alex Jones losing his shit (watch it if you haven't already; it's hilarious) and suddenly became about something else. It's old meme in anarchism to declare oneself off the left/right spectrum (no; anarchists are at the extreme of one end or the other), and of course that gets picked up by other Folks With Opinions, most notably many of the Occupy-related groups.

And it is this idea, that one is somehow above the old divisions, that allows whackjobs like Jones and the Truthers to slip into the discourse, muddying the waters with a toxic mixture of paranoia, anti-Semitism, and general asshaberdashery. They proclaim themselves part of the 99%, the champions of the proverbial little guy, even anti-corporate, while the vision they present is some sort of Mad Max libertarian dystopia with every man for himself (women are out of sight; probably making babies because you need a certain amount of civilization to make birth control happen).

Now, I happen to find said whackjobs highly entertaining, but I take umbrage at the suggestion that because they, perhaps, have some opinions regarding Palestine, war in the Middle East, or corporate hegemony that coincide with my own, I should therefore consider them allies and make common cause. They aren't allies; not where Jews, racialized people, women, disabled people, and queer people are concerned. I have to point this out every so often when someone on one of my mailing lists or FB feed posts InfoWars articles—even if the article itself is good, we do our own causes a great deal of harm when we promote the opinions of nasty-ass douchebags. And I find the suggestion that I should overlook the poisonous beliefs of someone like Jones because he's Speaking Truth to Power Against Our Elite Corporate Overlords.

No, sorry. The beliefs he represent are just as harmful to me personally (if not more harmful) and to people more marginalized than I am than those of the dominant right-wing. It's always straight white men who insist that he's worth hearing out, too; people more likely to survive said Mad Max scenario than I would be.

The answer, I'm afraid, is a certain level of ideological rigour and purity. Not, of course, to the point of sectarianism—I am friends with, and do political work with, a number of people with incorrect political lines—but to the point where we at least exclude the voices of people who are fucking idiots and make us look bad. And it means declaring for yourself a position on the left-right spectrum. You are not above it, you are not beyond it, you can certainly explore its nuances and flaws, but you must engage with it.

At any rate, I hope that Jones' latest outburst will help the less discriminating among us on the left to be, well, a bit more discriminating in our choice of information sources.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (sad panda by a softer world)
Just finished reading the very much hyped The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking. Since I have this issue with people telling me to "stay positive," I figured it'd be up my alley, but no. It pays lip-service to a critique of the cult of positive thinking, then goes on about the Stoics (or a pop psychology version of the Stoics, anyway; I have too many friends in philosophy to not cringe at that chapter), Zen Buddhism, and Eckhart Tolle. I know next to nothing about Eckhart Tolle besides what a co-worker said about him this one time, but I'm already sick of him.

Basically, it was "live in the now" type advice that I'm sure is very helpful for people whose now sucks less than mine does. I'm so sick of that crap. It's just as useless and privileged as the turn-that-frown-upside-down nonsense that pervades Western culture. And it ends up, despite protests to the contrary, ultimately just as disempowering.

Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America by Barbara Ehrenreich covers the same basic concept (and is referenced in the book) but is a gazillion times better and 99.99% woo-free.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (go fuck yourself)
"Oh, my son has cancer. Colorectal cancer. He's treating it naturally."

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (the beatings will continue...)
Almost everyone has some reason to care about the Olympics. Whether it's the one event that they watch or some record-breaking something or that picture of the Black Power salute in 1968 or they just think some famous athlete is hot. Or they think the opening ceremony was cool/awful/loltastic. Even I am contributing by making this post. I can't avoid it, even with my Olympic content blocker (for some reason it also blocks references to disco).

Non-sports people are frequently apologetic when I bring up the fact that I feel like an alien during times like this. "I'm not interested, except...” It's like the Scumsucking Parasite Wedding, except in that case I at least had the rest of the extreme left on my side. But not so here. Even those who object to the totalitarian measures required for the Olympics to happen get misty-eyed over its ideals.

Fuck that.

Things that make me care about the Olympics:

• The purging of the poor and mentally ill from London.
• Surveillance cameras everywhere.
• The godawful branding (seriously hilarious).
• Rocket launchers on the roofs of apartment buildings.
• Banksy doing Banksy things.

Of course, even if these things were not an issue, I would still be apathetic at best, as the Olympics involves two things I could not possibly give a less of a shit about: sports and nationalism. It's not that I hate sports—I would be loathe to fall into the nerd-vs-jock dichotomy–I just don't care. It's probably how some of my fandom friends feel when I start going on about politics, or vice versa. Or any of you when I talk about home decor. (Or how the people at work feel when I start spouting off about any of my interests.) You just skim over those posts, right? Which is cool. There's always something that someone is Just. Not. Interested. In. It's fine if you're into these things but it's about as interesting as someone reading a calculus textbook out loud.

Nationalism is a different matter. I resent the implication that I'm supposed to "support Team Canada." What, by praying to the Sports God? With my tax dollars? Is this how ordinary Tim Hortons-swilling hosers felt about $1.8 million to buy "Voice of Fire" for the National Art Gallery? Borders are arbitrary and demarcated by violence. I have an opinion on nationalism and it generally involves me making angry faces.

Anyway, it is irritating me profusely that I can no longer easily read the news, or even be in a public space and avoid this stuff. You can't even sit down in a pub these days and not have the TV blasting or people talking loudly about some 'roided out athlete. It's a low-level but persistant irritation that gets worse when I think about how ordinary people's lives are shat-upon to turn London into a playground for rich fucks.

So. How much longer am I going to have to be pissy about this?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (science vs religion)
So Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, died today. In a startling coincidence, this was the day everyone in my class had to do their presentations on various habits (they were actually pretty funny because my classmates are cool, but I think the book is bollocks).

One thing that struck me is how often that book, which is ostensibly about leadership and management, segues into religious claptrap. Same with most self-help books, even some of the better ones I've encountered. Of course, they don't call it "religious claptrap." They call it spirituality.*

Everyone, I am told, is spiritual.

No offense to people who are religious, but this one grates. Big time. Especially because "spirituality" outside of the context of New Age nonsense almost always means "Christianity, but we don't want to alienate Jews who might want to buy our book." In this case, there are direct references to "your church" and "reading scriptures," which is pretty specific to one religion that happens to be the dominant one in this part of the world. It's another way that non-Christians and non-theists are erased: "Oh, 'church' could mean 'synagogue' or 'mosque' too! Oh? You don't go to either of those? Well, walk through Nature-with-a-capital-N to renew your spirit. Everyone is spiritual."

Nope. I'm not. I'm completely grounded in the material world. I don't believe in a God, or gods, or fairies in the garden, and haven't since I was a wee child. That's cool if you do, but your assumption that my experience is just an exotic variation of your own is annoying as all fuck. I've never had any sort of religious experience, and it's pretty hard for me to comprehend how people can have religious experiences; I imagine the reverse is just as alien.

I've often been told–and it's generally meant as a compliment—"[ profile] sabotabby isn't religious, but she's one of the most spiritual people I've ever met." Which, yes, is also pretty offensive, and untrue. It makes me think that people just think that I'm lying when I tell them about my beliefs. I think maybe they mean "ethical," maybe, but again, the conflation of ethics with belief in the supernatural is problematic. I do the stuff that I do because I believe that there's no afterlife, no judgment, no punishment, and no reward. Because the here and now is all that matters. To suggest that I'm an activist because subconsciously I'm doing what someone's God wants me to do is to negate my agency as a human being.

To be told that my spiritual wellbeing is an essential part of my fulfillment as a person is to tell me that I'll never be fulfilled as a human being. Fullstop. That's okay, I guess. I might be happier if I were religious, but then, I'd also be happier if I were a billionaire, but we live with our limitations. The problem is I don't think it's actually true. I suspect that religious people live with the same kind of gnawing doubts and empty spaces as atheists do, get just as terrified when their relatives die or when their bodies fail, are just as awful when they get into positions of power and responsibility, and so on. It would be like me suggesting that everyone should be politically involved; that if you're not out on the streets marching with signs, you're neglecting a vital part of your personhood. It's something that I'm into, a lot, but I don't think you're lying to yourself if you're not into it. You probably find it as boring as I find Nature-with-a-capital-N.

So that's my rant for the day. If you should happen to find the phrase, "everyone is spiritual in their own way" bubbling up in your head, clamp a lid on that baby and I'll be quiet about the opiate-of-the-masses thing.

* It's been awhile since my rant about how I respect religious fundamentalists more than cafeteria New Agers, but I'm sure I don't need to go into it again. Right?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (commiebot)
There's much to detest in the corporate culture of late-stage capitalism, but its failure on an aesthetic basis is something that really fascinates me. Driving home from Niagara-on-the-Lake—a town with some truly lovely architecture—[ profile] bcholmes and I passed a rather fascinating building. I wish I'd snapped a picture because there's no way I can adequately describe how ugly this building was. It was this sprawling complex with a green roof—not green as in full of plants or carrying an aged patina, but a deliberately bright green roof meant to evoke an aged patina, kind of. Because aged patinas are stately and sophisticated, even when rendered in plastic. It was impossible, at a glance, to look at this building and determine its intended use. It looked halfway between a mega-church and a shopping mall (as I put it, "a perfect symbol for our age") and fully hideous.

I'm currently reading (for class, obviously) Steven R. Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and given how vigorously this book is pushed in our education system, it's a goddamned miracle that I haven't had to read it until now. I'm finding it impenetrable. I say this as someone whose favourite author is James Joyce. But I can't read this. My eyes skim over and bounce off of the page like pebbles on the surface of a lake. There's nothing to grasp on to, just made-up businesspeak and mangled prose. My assigned chapter begins with a quote from Bush and, early on, hits the reader with this abortion of a sentence: "Synergy is the essence of Principle-Centered Leadership."

That is not writing. Someone swallowed jargon and vomited it all over a page, and then a publisher published it because that's how so many people speak (and think) these days.

I'm reminded of the contrast between the writing just before and in the early stages of the Russian Revolution, and the clunky, bureaucratic, heavily stylized prose that followed when Stalin came to power.* This shift is, of course, mirrored in the visual; think of the two impossible architectural projects, Monument to the Third International and Palace of the Soviets. You don't need to know anything about Soviet history to guess which one was designed right before purges were about to happen.

I'm no religious sort, but I remember hearing something—probably from an art history prof—that really stuck in my head about how, at one point in Western history, the tallest and grandest buildings were churches, and now they're bank towers. Think of the Gothic cathedral and the mosque versus the big glass box. Today, we can barely imagine what an inspiring building ought to look like; the best we can do is crumple up a piece of paper and call it architecture.

It's the same with prose. We're trained to believe that graceless, clunky writing with a maximum number of "impactfuls" and "bottom-linings" thrown in will somehow make us better, effective people. I don't think it does. The worst thing about aesthetics is that they come out of nurture, not nature, so if you're trained to think via ungainly prose, your very thoughts become ungainly over time. Remember, the people who crashed the economy were all about synergy.

I don't, of course, expect that every book be written in clear, graceful language, any more than I expect every building to be beautiful. But I do wonder why we promote rather than bury this sort of aesthetic. It says something ugly about our culture. How do you inspire anyone to believe in anything with buildings, and books, like these.

(Shorter [ profile] sabotabby: But I don't wanna do my homework.)

* The best analysis of how and why this happened that I've come across can be found in Alexei Yurchak's Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation. Highly recommended.


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