Wednesday, March 31, 2010
why? because she's naked? well, lots of people have naked music videos. there are naked ladies in pretty much every single music video ever.
according to hip hop wired, police in texas are investigating whether or not to file charges of indecent exposure against badu.
from hip hop wired:
"According to NBC affiliate, Dallas KXAS while police were not on the scene, if one witness comes forward to police, she can be charged with indecent exposure."
the video was shot in dallas at dealey plaza, which is where JFK was assassinated.
my guess is that police are investigating not because they believe a crime took place, but because a crime DID take place.
but the crime wasn't indecent exposure, because we all know that if badu was half-naked, gyrating in the background of some other music video no one would care. the crime is that this video is fucking political.
she says at the end of the video:
"They play it safe. Are quick to assassinate what they do not understand...This is what we have become. Afraid to respect the individual."
her message is a dangerous one in times like these.
in her book demonic grounds, katherine mackittrick writes:
"produced alongside and through practices of domination, black women's expressive acts spatialize the imperative of a perspective of struggle."
struggle. this is a message about struggle, about resistance.
in the wall street journal badu is quoted as saying "Window Seat' is a song about being liberated from I think mostly ourselves," ...in the video I shed a lot of emotion, a lot of baggage by way of shedding clothing. I do this in the middle of a busy street which is totally probably something that is not accepted in society, thus the definition of not conforming to what society would expect you to do."
this isn't just some cliche 'taking back space' video. this is a video about the nature of space, the un-nature of space, that we have to just stop and think for once about who and what are around us.
i fucking love this video.
Monday, March 29, 2010
remember the poll the excalibur did, which overwhelmingly 'proved' that students wanted vari hall changed(we wrote about that here)?? guess the sample size of that poll?
go ahead. guess. 50,000 students are at york, so how many people do you think they polled?
doesn't really seem like a good representation of what 50'000 other students would want, does it?
i had to do a little digging to get that number, but i had to do a whole lot more digging to get this little tidbit: the university probably isn't allowed to renovate vari hall without the blessing of the varis. that sometimes happens when philanthropists make massive contributions to universities and have their names put on buildings.
so the varis and the vari foundation are a key factor in this whole "save vari hall" fight. i'd be willing to bet that if the varis knew students were opposed to this reno, they wouldn't back it.
i got this anonymous comment the other day about vari hall:
"It would look horrible if it had tables and chairs in it and it wouldn't have nearly the same outstanding effect to new students. I remember that first time I came to York and walked into Vari Hall and looked up; it had that "wow" factor....[renovations] would be a slap in the face to the prestigeous architect who designed it. No, renovation would not be a good idea."
it's true. vari hall is the one spot at york university that actually looks decent. in fact, it's a beautiful space that only york university would try to ruin. it's a student space, and at a university with such a massive student population, a wide open space is necessary.
have they thought, even for a second, about what renovating vari hall would do for congestion? imagine chairs and plants in your way when you walked through vari hall at 2:30?? it would essentially be like trying to get off the titanic, but worse.
so, if you go to york/work at york you should let george and helen vari know that this renovation is NOT in the best interest of students and that students haven't been asked(well, except those 50).
this is the phone number and email for the george and helen vari foundation(this is not a personal email address OR phone number, and both are available on the internet).
save vari hall!!!
Friday, March 26, 2010
this is a cool idea: moss terrariums.
the one on the right was created by amy shriner and sold on etsy. these little terrariums are a self-contained ecosystem and basically all you have to do is water it every two to three weeks.
you can order one that's already established, or you can learn how to make your own here.
i LOVE scrabble. i'm not very good at it and pretty much everyone who plays against me wins, but i still think it's the best game around.
so, imagine my excitement when i saw this fucker:
that is an 8 ft scrabble board, OUTSIDE. it was built in 2008 by the two geniuses in the photo. the ohio couple, both teachers, just decided one day to build the most awesome thing in the world in their backyard... it's beautiful.
"The Doro-ta-bō (“muddy rice field man”), a monster found in muddy rice fields, is said to be the restless spirit of a hard-working farmer whose lazy son sold his land after he died. The monster is often heard yelling, “Give me back my rice field!” Anatomical features include a gelatinous lower body that merges into the earth, a ‘mud sac’ that draws nourishment from the soil, lungs that allow the creature to breathe when buried, and an organ that converts the Doro-ta-bō’s resentment into energy that heats up his muddy spit. One eyeball remains hidden under the skin until the monster encounters the owner of the rice field, at which time the eye emerges and emits a strange, disorienting light."
"The Kijimunaa is a playful forest sprite inhabiting the tops of Okinawan banyan trees. Anatomical features include eye sockets equipped with ball bearings that enable the eyeballs to spin freely, strong teeth for devouring crabs and ripping out the eyeballs of fish (a favorite snack), a coat of fur made from tree fibers, and a nervous system adapted for carrying out pranks. The Kijimunaa’s brain contains vivid memories of being captured by an octopus — the only thing it fears and hates."
you can check out more here.
you can read her guest blog here:
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I never thought a university provost would be on my shortlist of favourite people of the week. But, after Francois Houle wrote a letter to American conservative hate-monger Ann Coulter this week warning her not to engage in hate speech during her visit to the University of Ottawa campus, I must admit that for once, the University of Ottawa seems to have done something right (for a list of everything that it’s done wrong, check out this gem of a website ).
To be honest, I think the letter’s hilarious. Houle writes to Coulter: “I would...like to inform you, or perhaps remind you, that our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or "free speech") in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States...You will realize that Canadian law puts reasonable limits on the freedom of expression. For example, promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges...Hopefully, you will understand and agree that what may, at first glance, seem like unnecessary restrictions to freedom of expression do, in fact, lead not only to a more civilized discussion, but to a more meaningful, reasoned and intelligent one as well. I hope you will enjoy your stay in our beautiful country...”
Forget ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ – this guy needs to be outfitted with a reality TV show *stat*. His letter basically boils down to “So Ann...we’re a bit different than you...we don’t tolerate hate...you might think this makes us bad but it actually makes us more intelligent and civilized than you...have a lovely visit.” That sort of material shouldn’t be wasted in the ivory tower – this dude could make Nigel Lythgoe cry.
Unfortunately, Canadian media commentators don’t seem to agree. The furious outcry from media commentators in both countries has been overwhelming. I’m not surprised the American media doesn’t agree with Houle, but the Canadians? That’s what surprises me. Instead of being proud that somebody has actually pointed out that our definitions of ‘free speech’ ARE different from country to country (go read the Charter of Rights if you disagree), they act like they’re ashamed of it. Forget that it’s the law, what are you ashamed of?
Yeah, I understand that defending free speech is everybody’s favourite pastime these days. It’s easy and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and self-righteous inside. Sort of like all those heroic “give me liberty or give me death” types in the movies, risking danger and persecution for their beliefs.
But the fact is, these defenders of free speech *don’t* face danger and persecution for their beliefs. They’re white, predominantly male, and – since spouting opinions in the media is lucrative business these days – pretty well off in the pocketbook. The ones who face danger and persecution are the ones Ann Coulter is bashing. Muslims, gays, and all those other people who don’t fit her image of the perfect American. (and for all those ‘gimme liberty or gimme death’ types, where were you when American media networks refused to air tampon ads for using the word vagina? Would you prefer a country where it’s illegal to talk about the human body but legal to call for the deaths of all Muslims, or one where we can talk about the human body but not espouse murder and genocide? I know what my choice would be...)
Now Ann Coulter says she’s being discriminated against and having her rights suspended because she’s a conservative. She’s not. Canada tolerates plenty of Conservatives that nobody likes. We even let one be prime minister. Coulter is having her rights suspended because she calls on her public to murder Muslims and beat up people for their sexuality.
The fact is, commentators shouldn’t be so quick to defend Ann Coulter’s right to hate speech until they’ve had the experience of turning on the radio or television, and hearing somebody say to a public audience that they’re worthless, less than human and ought to be killed. Because that’s precisely what Ann Coulter does. Sound like a joke? Well that’s exactly how genocide has been launched in countless countries around the world, time and time again. Check here for a chilling example).
The truth of the matter is that hate crimes, murder and genocide don’t begin with somebody going on the radio and saying “Ok, bring out your guns and shoot your neighbours.” They begin with HUMOR. They begin with making fun of people. And they’re facilitated by people who help it along by saying “oh, lighten up” instead of by saying “give it up, murder ain’t funny.” They begin with Ann Coulter yelling at Muslims in her audience to “go ride a camel” back to where they came from – and hundreds of audience members LAUGHING because they’re too cowardly and lack the courage to do anything else. Seeing somebody of her stature make fun of Muslims (or gays, or French-Canadians, or whoever) teaches other people that they can make fun of them too, and become popular for it. Making fun of people teaches us that we don’t have to respect them. That we don’t have to treat them the same. That we can make jokes about them to their face, like Ann Coulter does. And if we can do that, then maybe we can trip them up on the way to the water cooler. And then maybe spray-point jokes and slurs on their cars. And then maybe if we’re having a bad day, burn down their houses and take their possessions. Hatred grows incrementally. But it grows quickly. Just ask anybody who grew up in Nazi Germany and saw their country go from a modern, constitutional European democracy to a genocidal fascist police state in UNDER. FIVE. YEARS. Doesn’t take long when you let your guard down.
And in North America, we’re starting to let that guard down. In the wake of media hate-mongers like Ann Coulter, there’s been a 10% rise in hate crimes in the United States in the past five years. A 2007 report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reported 2430 victims of anti-LBGTQ violence in the US in that year: a 25% INCREASE from the previous year. Murders of LBGTQ persons – committed as hate crimes – DOUBLED (from 10 to 21). In other words, we’re sliding down a dark path backwards, and we’re sliding quick. Given a choice being letting Ann Coulter speak to a public audience, and saving even one of those 21 lives, which would you choose?
You wanna be *really* courageous and “liberty or death”? Then consider that maybe it’s not free speech that needs defending so much as the fellow human beings whose lives are threatened at the hands of those who abuse it.
Free speech and free expression? Yeah, I believe in those things. As an anarchist punk, I was raised on them. I believe in graffiti on private property, loud music after midnight and drinking in public. I even believe in pirating music and smoking around children. But I draw the line at words that are designed to hate and kill.
werner herzog is the voice of a plastic bag, searching america for its maker: "i wish you had created me so i could die."
go HERE to learn more about the great pacific garbage patch.
there are a handful of libraries across north america that have added video games to their collections and it's a great idea for toronto to get on board for a lot of different reasons.
for one, libraries are all about accessibility. although books aren't as pricey as they once were, buying every book you want to read is out of the question for a lot of people. it's important that libraries allow people to have access to books, music, films, and now video games.
any literacy tool is a good literacy tool. a lot of research suggest that video games can promote literacy not only through text in game play but also through comprehension, and problem solving. so maybe kids aren't reading the same kinds of books, or even learning to read in the same way, as their parents did but with plummeting literacy rates any way to get a kid to read works for me!
having a video game collection will bring people into the library who may not have considered going before. city councillor adam vaughan said that coming in to get a video game "may be the only time a young person comes in, it can act as a magnet to attract people" and once they're in the library the "librarians will be hard at work to introduce them to everything else the library can offer." in guilderland, n.y, the number of books taken out by teens went up 20 percent after the library launched its video game collection.
eli neiburger, an associate director for the ann arbor library IT department, says that organizing gaming events and having a video game collection turns "non library users into library users, it's not so important how they use the library, it's that they use it."
i agree, aside from the library being somewhere that kids can get books and movies it's also a safe space. a library is somewhere you can go if, say, you can't go home for some reason.
one commenter wrote:
"It’s not so important how they use the library, it’s that they use it."??? What a stupid comment! If they use it to snork cocaine, would that be OK? Kids spend enough mind-numbing hours mesmerized in front of a video screen, and now the taxpayer is now going to fund it? Good grief!"
they're not going to come to the library and "snork" coke, they're going to come and play mario kart racing with their friends. they're going to take out games that they might not ever play because they can't afford to buy them. maybe while they're picking out a game they'll peruse the books and find something they like. or maybe a librarian will mention to them that the lord of the rings was actually a book first, and they'll want to read it.
it just seems fair to me that if i can go to the library and take out a sketchy v.c andrews paperback that i should also be able to check out a video game or two. just sayin'.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
i will, however, point out a comment made by the phantom observer about the whole ann coulter/university of ottawa thing.
awhile ago seamus wolfe, the president of the u of o student's federation, tried to get the university to book coulter's "lecture" somewhere off campus because she practises hate speech and a university isn't the place to spew the garbage that comes out of her mouth.
wolfe stated that “the federation does not support Ann Coulter speaking on our campus. We’re trying to work with the administration to see if we can ask her to do her speaking event somewhere else.”
the phantom observer wrote :
"Mr. Wolfe apparently believes that Ms. Coulter practices hate speech. The closest I’ve seen her get to what I’d call hate speech are arguments for Middle East profiling at airports. And keeping Muslims from boarding an aircraft isn’t quite in the same league as sending a Jew to a concentration camp. "
right, because violating the human rights of people based on their religion(which is, by the way, fucking illegal) isn't "hate speech" because they aren't being sent to concentration camps.
phantom observer is clearly in the same league as ann coulter: so stupid it's embarassing.
well, there are two cats who need to be adopted urgently, or else they are slated to be euthanized on march 27th--saturday.
these two little kitties need homes by then, so if you or anyone you know has been thinking about getting a pet maybe you should consider getting one of these by saturday!!!
phone: 416 538 8592(press #3)
after tonnes of really vocal opposition to the policy, the committee has revoked the policy!!
here is the letter they released today:
"Open letter to the Community
The Board of Directors of Pride Toronto has listened to feedback from the community, and the proposed plan for an Ethics Committee to review and approve all messaging prior to the Parade, Dyke and Trans March has been withdrawn. The process followed during the 2009 festival will remain in place for 2010.
This summer as we recognize 30 years of expressing our pride, we hope you will join us to celebrate the history, courage, diversity and future of Toronto's LGBTTIQQ2SA* communities."
hurray!! congratulations dissenters! and a thank you to rick telfer and jeffrey andrus, who started the "don't sanitize pride" and didn't back down(yet again)!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
laila's article is perfect example of good research into your own community and what you can find, read them!!!
because vari hall was designed to be an open and democratic space, alot of people thought that renovating the space(ie: making it democracy "unfriendly") was a stupid and bad idea, myself included.
well, vari hall could potentially be saved by an intrepid group of alumni and students who had this GENIOUS idea: they nominated vari hall for heritage site status.
brilliant. due to the fact that the property is under threat the nomination gets put on a priority list for investigation and if the heritage site nomination was approved and vari hall was made into a heritage site, the university wouldn't be able to renovate it.
foiled again, york!!!
Monday, March 15, 2010
pride toronto released its terms and conditions for the 2010 pride events/parade and it includes groups participating in the pride parade and dyke march having their signs approved by pride toronto.
in their press release co-chair jim cullen wrote that all messages of participating groups must "support the theme of the 2010 festival: celebrating 30 years of pride in toronto."
apparently this new policy is aimed at curbing hate speech at pride.
according to tracey sandilands, the executive director of pride toronto:
"the real purpose of this is to ensure that if someone turns up with real hate messaging - which has happened before in the history of pride toronto - that the mechanisms are in place to remove them and we don't all stand helplessly by. its not about preventing freedom of speech at any time. it's about being proactive to ensure the measures are in place to protect everyone that takes part and everyone that comes to watch."
and the terms and condition already have a section dealing with hate.
7) Messaging in the Parade : a) The Applicant will not present any messages - verbal, written, in imagery or otherwise - that promotes or condones violence or the incitement of hatred as defined in the Criminal Code of Canada.
so, if someone is presenting a message of hatred then all of the billion volunteers, security, and police officers can kick them out. so if i show up with a sign that says "god hates fags" then i'm guessing some intrepid volunteer will ask me to leave.
so what's the point of this new policy when there's an already existing no tolerance policy for hate speech/signage/messages?
a lot of people, and i happen to be one of them, are pretty sure it has everything to with pride 2009 and queers against israeli apartheid(quaia). --which you can read more about here--
last year reports went out stating that pride might try to prevent quaia from marching in the parade--afterwards pride backpedaled and said they only wanted quaia to register before marching(let's try to ignore for a moment how problematic it is to have to register for this parade...).
quaia's involvement in pride has drawn a lot of heat from zionist groups, however, and i'd guess with the majority that a big reason for the new policy as well as the bullying of quaia was/is to protect corporate sponsors who are affiliated or who ARE zionist groups.
in the xtra article that first discussed the new policy, gary kinsman(one of the founders of the original pride day in toronto as well as a former active member of the simon nkodi anti-apartheid committee) stated:
"i'm really quite disturbed about this...that [pride has] new types of criteria that can be used to bar people — rather than welcoming people into our movements to express their political views, as long as they're not expressing hatred or bigotry, it's a bit frightening."
in response to the new policy a facebook group was started by jeffrey andrus and rick telfer called "don't sanitize pride: free expression must prevail" and it already has 931 members.
i asked rick how he would respond to people who want to know what's wrong with trying to prevent hate speech at pride and he said that he agrees that there's nothing wrong with it, "so long as hate is clearly defined in keeping with canadian law." he pointed to hate crime law
http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/hatecrimes/) , noting that "the process is simple, and there's no room for misuse or abuse."
so what's going on here?? is this an attempt by pride toronto to "sanitize" pride events? to de-politicize pride? to keep corporate sponsors happy?
Thursday, March 11, 2010
however, stephen harper will only answer a select few and i can guess now that mine will not be chosen.
so i'll pose it here, my question for stephen harper, the burning question that everyone wants to know:
Mr. Harper, how long does it take you to do your make up in the morning?
love, love, love general strikes.
today 30,000 people in greece demonstrated during a general strike against the government's newly announced austerity measures.
the general strike, which is the second this week, has completely brought the country to a stop--no flights are taking off, public transport isn't running, hospitals only have emergency staff, and all of the news broadcasts have been suspended because workers are walking off the job for 24 hours to protest spending cuts and tax hikes.
the measures were announced as part of the plan to combat the countries debt, but many are criticizing the europoean union's role in pressuring the greek government to improve their fiscal situation right away(and we all know how well that generally works).
a greek default would undermine the euro for all 16 countries in the EU, which is why the EU is putting so much pressure on the government.
the greek government has already announced cuts, but just announced an addition 65.33 BILLION dollars in saving--by cutting public sector salaries, freezing hiring and pension, and increasing consumer taxes.
everyone from anarchists to regular greek employees are protesting today including about two hundred uniformed police, coast guard and fire bigade officers.
even the police are protesting!!
like i said: i love, love, love general strikes.
you can read about the economic "crisis" HERE
see some really great pictures HERE
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The word on the street is that general counsel & university secretary Harriet Lewis is being investigated by the Law Society of Upper Canada for professional misconduct.
Doesn't this raise pretty serious concerns about her ability to run/work for York University while she's under investigation???
We think it does and we would imagine that a lot of faculty, staff, and students at York might agree with us.
Friday, March 5, 2010
(Open to the entire university community)
Thursday March 18, 2010
12:30pm – 2:00pm
Stong College, Stong Masters Dining Room (Rm. 101)
presented by the centre for human rights, professor kenneth westhues will lecture on respectful academic workplaces.
kenneth westhues studies conflict in academic workplaces, "with the goal of producing knowledge that is empirically sound and of practical value for resolving conflict fairly and constructively...his research on the distinct phenomenon of "mobbing" produces knowledge that is essential to the building of a respectful workplace at the university."
it sounds pretty good, but the best part about this event was who we received the invite FROM.
this event was sent out on a listserv by linda briskin, of york university. we hope that professor briskin herself is planning on attending the lecture, considering she is currently at the center of a harassment grievance launched by one of her former TAs which means she is responsible for creating the opposite of a respectful academic workplace.
ah academia.. so full of hypocrisy.
you can stream an interview with that TA here:
Thursday, March 4, 2010
apparently the newest issue of the fulcrum came out today and the paper didn't even cover its own scandal!! talk about missing a sweet, sweet opportunity to have the inside scoop!!
but, they also tried to cover their asses on this whole "we work for allan rock" thing by including this:
it's kind of hard to read, but basically it says that they found a typo in their consitution and so their disgraced and so their business manager, frank appleyard, is in technical breach of the constitution.
but here's the best part:
"In an effort to clarify its [conflict of interest] policy, the Society is in the process of making amendments to the Constitution..."
what the motherfucking fuck yo!? they're CHANGING the constitution so that this dickface doesn't get into trouble?! after he obviously broke the rules, reported biased news, and took orders from university administrators instead of acting with any journalistic integrity?!
they got it right at u of o watch then they wrote:
"Why not just state that Appleyard had a peanut butter stain on his copy of the Constitution when he accepted the job under Rock while he was Business Manager of the Fulcrum and that Rock forgot that he was no longer a Liberal MP."
it's true. they should have gone a more honest route to subverting the rules. this is ridiculous and hilarious, what a joke the fulcrum has become.
you can read more on uofowatch
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
well this week on uofowatch blog they've disclosed even MORE crazy information.
according to uofowatch:
"The Ombudsman of the Fulcrum Publishing Society (FPS), Mr. Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, has released a damning interim report about journalistic and editorial mistreatment of former physics professor Denis Rancourt by the student newspaper The Fulcrum. reported breaches of professional journalistic ethics by staff and journalists at The Fulcrum (U of O student newspaper) regarding Fulcrum staff and journalist treatment of former U of O physics professor Denis Rancourt."
very well documented, the two posts (which you can read here and here) have apparently upset the staffer in question who is now threatening to sue professor rancourt (you can read that one here).
what is actually ridiculous is not that the indiscretion happened in the first place, because student newspapers and politics are seedy dealings always, but that this frank appleyard character is even considering suing professor rancourt. a fulcrum journalist was hired to SPY on professor rancourt and now this dude is acting like somehow being a student journalist automatically makes his character impeccable? someone we're all supposed to be like "what?! a student newspaper has bias practises and shitty ethics? well i never!!"
you can read the actual report on bias here and decide for yourself, but it just sounds to me like this is another instance of the university of ottawa getting caught doing something really stupid that they can't hide anymore.
and you know what, they can say whatever they want about professor rancourt, but really they're just pissed off that he makes them work for it.
johnny weir said it best himself in response to the offensive remarks: "um, it's figure skating."
yeah, it's figure skating. what did they think they were commentating on, hockey in tights??
at one point goldberg stated that weir gave skating a bad name and a bad image because parents seeing him would decide against putting their boys in the sport: "they'll think all the boys who skate will end up like him..it sets a bad example."
if i had a son, i'd want him to turn out exactly like this figure skater--he would be the most fun kid ever.
how do idiots like this even get jobs? they clearly incapable of logical thought. did they even consider for a second that saying something homophobic on the radio would get them into trouble? or are they just two, white, straight dudes who feel entitled to making themselves feel more macho by saying offensive things about an incredible athlete(who could probably out macho them, by the way).
johnny weir said on the joy behar show: "i just wish they would think before they actually said it. there are so many kids like me, coming after me, whose parents might repress them just because they saw what they said about me, that their kids are going to turn out like me. and i think me is pretty fabulous."
parents aren't going to stop putting their kids into skating because of johnny weir, they're going to stop putting them into skating because assholes like goldberg and mailhot exist.
and do they think that gender testing is a joke? because it isn't. being forced to undergo gender tests can ruin athlete's careers and their lives. it has a long and seedy history at the olympic games and sport in general. case in point: caster semenya of south africa.
anyways, i didn't even like the olympics but i think johnny weir is seriously making those sportscasters look bad by obviously demonstrating that everything they said is ridiculous, offensive, and homophobic but also that it won't stop him from being fabulous and won't stop him from competing.
and now for a little figure skating throwback. remember elvis stojko? victor plushenko?
i dare those little radio weiners to call either of these men too gay for figure skating:
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
a nasa scientist has been studying it says that his research suggests that the day may have been shortened by 1.26 millionths of a second!
the change in day length possibly would have been a result of a shift in the earth's axis caused by the earth quake.
for those of you who are a bit confused by this, there was an earthquake during the olympics. you were too busy watching stupid sports and cheering along national lines to notice the tragedy.