Hey folks, just want to let you know that I am currently celebrating Christmas in Toronto with my family, which means that my traditional blogging vacation is on. I will have new stories for you in the new year, including an account of my experience at an #IdleNoMore rally, a first-ever (for the blog) book review, an audio book review, in addition to the usual thoughts and news stories you’re used to.
Whatever you’re doing over the next few days, I hope you are able to find some joy and laughter in it. You’ll have me back to join you in the new year!
As a gift, here is a video of an otter that I shot myself at the Vancouver Aquarium:
Here’s another one:
And here’s a picture of what I looked like when I saw the otters for the first time:
I was asked to contribute my ‘deconversion’ story to a book project about black non-belief. Since it’s (in my opinion) a pretty solid piece of writing, I thought I’d add it here. You can compare it to a previous occasion when I wrote this story, albeit in less detail. Read part I here.
I had been enamoured of Greek mythology as a kid. Dad used to read an adapted version of The Iliad called “Black Ships Before Troy” (a book that I am pleasantly surprised to learn that has survived several moves and sits on my bookshelf as I write this). I devoured the stories of Theseus and the Minotaur, Apollo, god of the sun, and his fiery chariot, the several trials of Hercules, and the punishment of the titan Prometheus, cursed to eternal suffering for having the temerity to bring the fire of the gods to lowly humans. I read mythology from the West Indies as well – Anansi the trickster, and Tiger, king of the jungle. I read mythology from various First Nations within Canada; I read African creation mythology.
And so, when I opened my Bible and read the stories of Cain and Abel, the Exodus from Egypt, the punishment of Onan for failing to impregnate his dead brother’s wife, the flight of Lot from the damned city of Sodom, I found myself disturbingly confronted by the familiar syntax of myth. These were no lessons handed down from an almighty god; they were the oral histories of a group of nomadic tribesmen. It was myth mixed in with parable mixed in with law mixed in with fable. The similarities forbade me from seeing it as holy writ. … Continue Reading
I was asked to contribute my ‘deconversion’ story to a book project about black non-belief. Since it’s (in my opinion) a pretty solid piece of writing, I thought I’d add it here. You can compare it to a previous occasion when I wrote this story, albeit in less detail.
I can’t tell the story of my ‘deconversion’ – my escape from faith – without telling the story of my father. Dad was born the youngest of seven in Guyana, a country geographically located in South America, politically located in the Caribbean, and geopolitically located in the third world. A British colony, Guyana was home to a simmering political dissatisfaction (which would be resolved during Dad’s adolescence with independence), ever-present racism, and serious poverty.
Dad, taking one of the few opportunities available to a bright young man, entered the Catholic priesthood. He was educated at the seminary, growing up with other priests in training. Dad also grew during this time as a musician and photographer. His missionary work took him all over the Caribbean, and eventually to Toronto, Canada as part of a foreign mission organized out of Scarborough.
Facing his own doubts, particularly around the church’s teachings on birth control (he would tell me, many years after I was born, that he felt as though he was contributing to the suffering of people he was supposed to help), Dad left the priesthood in the late ‘70s. It was also around that time that he met my mother, although he has repeatedly assured me that those two developments were not related in any way. … Continue Reading
While my earlier summary was a bit more formal, I thought I’d give some more personal thoughts on the way I thought the conference went. First off, the TL/DR version of this post is “I enjoyed the shit out of the conference”, so there’s that for people who don’t want to read that much.
Circumstances have once again robbed me of the time and energy to dig too deep into blogging. Part of this is a massive paper that I have just finished – it looks at whether or not mandatory childhood vaccination is legally, ethically, and scientifically justified in a Canadian context. Part of it is prepping for my Eschaton2012 presentation that I will be giving in Ottawa this weekend. Part of it is prioritizing my personal relationships above blogging, given how much of a time suck these other two things have been. At any rate, no post for you today.
I am irate. Look, I realise that I am in a position of privilege, and I realise that I’m not angry about this all the time because I’m male and that this is something that I have the privilege of simply not-concerning-myself-about for the vast bulk of my life.
I rationalise this as that I pay attention only insofar as harm is brought to my attention. And Ireland has ever-so-slowly been moving towards legalising abortion since 1992. Oh, that’s right, you didn’t know that abortion was illegal in Ireland. My bad. Did you know that it was actually illegal for doctors to tell patients about their abortion options in other countries? And that it was illegal for people to travel to another country for an abortion? No? Well, anyway, we were focused on my privilege, so let’s keep on topic.
Many of you probably know that I am a musician. Perhaps fewer of you know that guitar is my second instrument (third, if you count voice). I am actually probably better identified as a classically-trained viola player. In my relatively short career, I played 5 years in the Mississauga Youth Orchestra (3 years as viola section leader), 2 years with the University of Waterloo Symphony, and another 2 years with the Kingston Symphony. I was also a member of various string quartets through the years – one of our most notable achievements was playing at a dinner hosted by the Metro Toronto Chamber of Commerce and attended by the then-deputy premier of Ontario.
I wasn’t a particularly good player until I came under the tutelage of Mark Childs, a viola virtuoso who had a reputation as a strict disciplinarian and a wizard at teaching technique. To work with Mark was to re-learn the viola – he literally brought me back to the very beginning: learning to hold the bow, learning how to place my fingers on the fingerboard, learning to listen to notes, learning to make the right sound. It was an unbelievably frustrating process, coming as I was from nearly 8 years playing experience to return to a beginner level.
One of the most obvious differences between an instrument like a viola and an instrument like, say, a guitar, is the absence of frets on the fingerboard. While there are fretted viols, those mostly fell out of favour in the classical era, meaning that it is theoretically possible to produce any and all possible pitches within the span of an octave. Of course, you only want to produce one of twelve at any given time, meaning that anything other than the right note is the wrong note. Unlike a fretted instrument where as long as you stop the string somewhere between the frets you’ll hit the correct pitch, classical viols require your fingers to know where the correct position is within fractions of a milimeter. … Continue Reading
I feel I owe you an explanation for the disrupted service that’s been going on for the past weeks. Maybe you haven’t noticed, in which case “great”, but if you’ve been missing the schedule of posts, here’s what’s been going on.
As I mentioned some months ago, I started a PhD program at the beginning of September. This means that, in order to fit my class schedule into my work schedule, I have moved to longer days at the office. As a result, I have been trying to bang stuff out on my lunch hour instead of working on it the night before as has been my habit for the past year or so that the blog has been running. Hence why, for example, most of the last couple of week’s posts have been going up at 1300 PST rather than their usual 0600 PST. It also explains why there are fewer posts.
As I’ve also (I think?) mentioned, I have just started dating someone. Because she and I are both busy people, we covet the time we get to with each other, meaning that on weekends I am usually preoccupied with enjoying the living shit out of her company. Weekends were when I was able to get most of my substantive writing done, but that time is now being used for something else. … Continue Reading
I am (at least physically) back from Tofino after an unbelievable weekend, only some of which I am comfortable describing on the internet 😛
It’s going to take me a couple of days to have new content up here, so unfortunately my hiatus continues for a while but (as always) I will get back to my routine as soon as I can locate my frontal lobe. Until then, you can check out my photo album from the trip. I haven’t yet had a chance to resize these pics for those of you without ludicrous-speed internet, so please stay tuned.
There is video, however:
What happens when you throw naphthene on a fire?
We bought fire colourant packages from a park administrative office. Very pretty result:
When our fire got shut down, we started a mobile beach dance party:
I’ve also freed some people from comment jail. Again, my apologies, but it was either that or get spammed to hell. New stuff up soon!
I’ll be in Tofino this weekend, which means no phone, no e-mails, and best (or worst, depending on your perspective) of all, no blogging. I will be complontly unplogged for 4 glorious days. This means I will not be supervising comments or posting new stuff for a few days, which means y’all are on your own. I’m sure I’ll come back to a bunch of people with comments in moderation complaining about how I’m “censoring” them and how un-“freethought” that is of me. I won’t care though – did I mention I’ll be in Tofino?