Monday, June 30, 2014

It's every man, er, every woman and child for his or herself!

My fellow (North) Americans,

The internet blew up today with people voicing their reactions to the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling on Hobby Lobby versus the Affordable Care Act.

I think a lot of the anger directed towards SCOTUS, and Hobby Lobby for that matter, is misdirected.  Those five conservative judges were installed in their positions to be able to carry out partisan work just like this.  The owners of HL are crazy right-wing Christians who believe all sorts of silly stuff and would love to rid their great country of liberals and non-believers.  Hey, they’re allowed to be crazy.

What I think people are missing is that what happened today is perfectly in keeping with the desires of the Republican party.  There are countless other examples throughout the States (and I won’t even pick on the low-hanging fruit of AZ) of Republicans trying to dictate what women should or should not be allowed to do with their bodies – especially when it comes to procreation.  This too, is perfectly ok.  The GOP is a party that’s run by rich, heteronormative, white men for rich, heteronormative, white men.  There’s no avoiding that fact.  Sure, they tolerate women, gays and brown people so long as those people know their place and behave accordingly.  Just don’t get all uppity or step out of line.

What does have my blood boiling however is the number of women, immigrants and members of the LGBTx community that belong to, support and defend a party that openly wishes to marginalize them.   Now, if you’re a self-hating ______ and support these policies then go nuts, but, if you’re going to tell me that you “overlook” these things because you’re a fiscal conservative, that not *all* Republicans are like this or that you’re “working from the inside” to change the party.  Oh, wait, but you’re a Republican because you believe in small government!  I’m sorry cupcake but small governments don’t spend trillions of dollars waging wars around the globe; we all know how much the GOP loves their defense spending. Seriously, folks, get a grip.  You’re not changing the party from the inside; YOU make it possible for them to behave this way!  You’re who they point to when it’s time to win over your demographic so they can be empowered to further subjugate you.  You’re not one of them.  They haven’t accepted you as one of their own.  They own your ass and soon you’ll be picking their proverbial cotton.

Imagine what would happen if the GOP only put forth candidates who are truly representative of their platform?  Imagine all the Kochs the public would be faced with at the ballot boxes.  The porcine 1% who would be forced to be seen to be doing their own bidding.  The GOP is a party of elitist bigots and racists who are hell bent on pushing their own agenda; an agenda that does nothing but harm the vast majority of Americans and particularly targets those most in need of protection and support.  Leave. Leave in droves and watch the party implode; maybe then there’ll be an opportunity to start something fresh from the ashes.  But until that happens, you’re the problem you keep bitching about.

Feel free to vehemently disagree below.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Why I hate twitter today.

Lately it seems as though twitter has been overrun with people who are out to set the record straight.  These people, and only these people, know what it means to be a feminist.  Only they know what kind of privilege everybody else is obliviously basking in.  They, and only they know that everybody else’s opinion on the Dylan Farrow tragedy is complete and utter crap. And they just wish the rest of us would shut the fuck up already (actual tweet from my TL today: “If you're convinced that "we can never know what happened" then SHUT YOUR MOUTH. Why are YOU even talking?”).

Twitter started to seriously rot my shorts as the Dylan Farrow tragedy picked up steam online.  The
common theme that danced through my TL was that “victim blaming” was in full effect and some people should die.  Apparently some folks had the nerve to suggest that perhaps Woody hadn’t assaulted this young lady in the way that she had described and that none of us would likely ever know one way or another.  Ah, “victim blamer”, the sweet catch-all phrase used to immediately dismiss folks as evil and put a stop to any conversation.  I dove into the matter and read as much as I could find from the original case some 20ish years ago, as well as a few interesting pieces on the weeks and months leading up to the release of Dylan’s letter and some mechanics behind how it got published.  It’s my opinion that Woody probably did not assault Dylan in the way that Dylan remembers.  Having said that, there can be absolutely no doubt that Dylan has been victimized and I suspect she absolutely believes everything she put in that letter.  I think this poor woman has been through hell and to the extent that publishing that letter helps her to heal, I support it.  I’ve not shared this opinion on twitter because these are the sorts of issues that tend to attract more name-calling than intelligent dialogue.  That and the fact that my opinion couldn’t be less relevant to the people affected by this tragedy and fighting over facts that likely only one or two people alive know, is pointless and ridiculous.  Having said that, my opinion on the matter is no less valid than yours and I’d bet it’s a hell of a lot better informed than most.

Aside from the Allen/Farrow disaster, I started to notice trends along similar lines.  Everybody claims to know what feminism is and that everybody else is “doing it wrong.”  Everybody else is abusing and misusing the term.  We have folks sitting home in their PJs on a Wednesday afternoon sending out tweets from their iPhones about how everybody else enjoys “privilege” and how this affects their lives.  Much omniscience.  So enlightening.

You want to share your opinion with the twitterverse?  Awesome!  I know I’m incredibly opinionated and frequently spew forth my views on any number of topics – some of which I know little about, but, I’m not going to let that stop me.  Sometimes, I’ll even do this in an inflammatory way, hoping to trigger some opposing viewpoints.  What I try not to do, is to tell you to “shut your mouth” because your opinion differs from mine.  I suspect there are many (equally valid) definitions of feminism that are anchored in common themes.  I suspect that the biggest privilege that folks are blind to is the privilege they they enjoy themselves on a daily basis.  And there’s not a single person on twitter who does not enjoy some level of privilege.  Does Trump enjoy more that most?  Sure!  Kanye? Of course.  But so do you, just maybe to a lesser extent.

My beef is that twitter seems to be heading towards a binary world.  There’s right, and there’s wrong.  There’s black and there’s white (it was actually a tweet about black v white families that pushed me over the edge earlier).  Rich and poor.  Fat and skinny.   That’s the kind of world that most kids live in, but as adults, we should be able to see that everything falls on a spectrum somewhere between 0 and 1.

I realize that my follow list is in urgent need of surgery to cut out these cancers if I’m going to continue using twitter and I'll spend some time doing this in the days ahead. 
It’s important to remember that the entire world, with one trifling exception, is made up of others.  Others who also have opinions, many of which are far better informed than your own – so listen up, engage in conversation and be open to revising your views.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

On Privilege & Parking

A few weeks ago, at the grocery store, I called somebody out for parking in a spot designated for pregnant women or folks with small children.   I did it rudely (shocking, I know).  She was a little older than me, I'm guessing early 50s, and slightly overweight (or possibly just bundled up in a bulky coat) and as she got out of her car and saw me standing behind mine (I was parked next to her) I asked “When are you due?”  The tweet from me that followed read:
50ish overweight woman parked next to me in the expectant moms/mmall [sic] kids spot. I asked her when she was due.
The next day I lost a tweep, but, before she unfollowed I received the following messages from her “The blatant display of privilege and policing, neither of which are your right was too damn far for me. Those pregnant/kids spots are a curtesy [sic] not an actual protected right. Whether she parked there and for what reason. Not for you to judge or say anything about.” My response was that I was sorry to see her go (we had been interacting regularly for quite a while on Twitter and insofar as we have “friends” online, I would have considered her one) but that I understood why and I wished her well.

The truth is, I would have understood if she said that I was a rude asshole and she didn't have room for that garbage in her life, but calling me out on my “blatant display of privilege and policing” rubbed me the wrong way, and it still does. I think we can all agree that the way I went about it was wrong and unnecessarily rude – honestly it’s just what popped in my head in the split second she made eye contact with me; so let’s just move on past that for now.

Our society works based on a fairly delicate balance that we citizens make an effort to uphold.  Some things are so important to this balance that we write laws to deter people from certain behaviours, and should they cross that line, they get punished. However, the vast majority of what makes our society civil is how we regulate our behaviour with and toward one another when the actual rule of law is not at stake.  There’s no law stating we can't butt into line ahead of somebody, take a parking spot that somebody has been waiting for, or sneeze in somebody’s face.  We choose to not do those things because at our core, we want to be good citizens.

As my tweep said, those spots are COURTESY spots and there’s no law against parking in them (unlike with “handicapped” parking spots which will earn you a hefty fine).  The store manager isn't going to come out and chastise you, the cart boys wouldn’t say shit if they had a mouthful, and 99.9% of other customers will simply shake their heads but say nothing.  Again, to quote her, it’s not for us “to judge or say anything about.”  I disagree vehemently with that opinion.  The individual with the galling display of privilege was the person who chose to disregard the multiple signs for these “courtesy” spots (in addition to the posted sign, the stalls are painted pink) so she could save herself an additional 20-30 foot long walk to the doors (the parking lot was mostly empty).  I think it’s precisely on us, as fellow citizens, to call this woman out on her abject lack of courtesy.  We should do it in a civilised and polite way (I didn't) but we should do it.  I genuinely believe that she will never park in one of those spots again and I think that will contribute in some minute way towards making this a better community in which to live.  A community where we give a damn about each other and do “the right thing” even if nobody is looking or no laws will be broken either way. Yeah, I know, it’s just a parking spot…

When somebody breaks one of our unwritten rules if we don't make the conscious decision to point out to them the error in their ways, then we all get just a little bit closer to living in a place that nobody will want to call home.



Sunday, December 8, 2013

The xmess spirit!

I've been asked a few times over the past week what my problem is with Christmas (or, as I've taken to calling it, xmess).  I could tell you that I loathe how it has become a giant orgasm of consumerism, which is true, but that doesn’t really begin to scratch the surface of why I truly hate this time of year.  My reasons are quite personal to me so what follows is likely to sound very whiney and ‘whoa as me’ (yes, I know, but that spelling of it has become an inside joke around here) so please stop now if you’re as sick of that crap as I am.

My loathing of xmess goes back to my childhood; see, I’m a Christmas baby – not the 25th but close enough.  As far back as I can remember I always felt like my birth(day) was an afterthought.  I would often receive “one big present” from my parents for both occasions, and my birthday cake more than once was a yule log (apparently it’s all they had).  Now these are petty, childhood reasons, I admit but they laid a solid foundation for me turning my back on the entire season, birthdays included.  I couldn't care less about my age – my 30th, 40th birthdays came and went without any existential angst.

While my early childhood ensured I would not get all warm and fuzzy about this time of year the icing on my loathing cake was to come later.  I’ve written a bit about it in the past so I’m not going to delve into it again; I miss my kids.  My daughter turned 20 a couple of days ago and my son is 14.  The kids I've not set eyes on in years and have had no contact with over the last year.  I feel cheated.  I’m bitter about what has happened and while I cope quite well throughout most of the year I find December to be brutal.  Everybody is talking about their kids and what they want and how cute they are/look/etc. because THAT is what this season is about.  It’s watching our kids experience it all that gives us joy.  From oblivious babies to reticent teens; our joy comes from the reflection of the season in them.  That was stolen from me.  I’m bitter, and I’m angry and this time of year it tears through me every fucking day.

DrJ and I have had the pleasure of raising her boys together and for that I’m grateful and I love them like they were my own, but… well, you know.  There’s a gaping hole in me that can’t be filled, so while I can bury that deep for most of the year, the pain sometimes overwhelms.  It’s a shame because neither DrJ nor Spawn v1 & 2 deserve a bitter Brad.  But. I try to do the best I can, with what I have, at any given time and right now at least bitter Brad still makes a conscious choice to wake up every morning in the hope that that day will be different.

Peace, and sorry if you've stuck it out and actually read this…


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Prompt 2 - Family

Family - 'Tis the season for family gatherings

Who do you most dread having to see at family gatherings, and why?

I think I’ve arrived at a fairly healthy place when it comes to my immediate family.  I get along very well with my siblings, and so long as I limit my “home” visits to no more than a day or two, I get along quite well with the parentals (it helps that I live 2000 miles away).  When it comes to extended family, well that’s a different ball of wax entirely.

My mother had 13 siblings that lived past infancy and I believe there are still 12 of them alive today. Most of them are pretty awesome, kind, interesting people. But there are a few, as you’d expect with a brood that big I suppose, that are bat-shit fucking crazy. Not funny crazy either. The kind of crazy where you have no idea what they’ll do or say next.  I recently ran into one of them at a funeral and though she seemed to be doing much better, I would still prefer to keep a safe distance.

However, all of these folks pale in comparison to another close family member who shall rename nameless.  This is a woman who ripped a kettle out of my hand a few years ago, quite angry that I hadn’t first measured out the amount of water I put into it (I was making a cup of tea). This is a woman who wasn’t invited to our wedding and in fact was kept in the dark about it until after we had all come back.  She’s mean, spiteful, unbending and she drinks too much.  I’ve never known an asshole whose behaviour improved with the addition of booze.  It’s really a shame too because the rest of the members of her family are quite interesting, decent human beings – most of whom have largely cut her off as well. And it’s sad. While DrJ and the boys continue to see her roughly once a year, they have to go to great pains to craft the encounter so that she’s sober and likely to be on her best behaviour (which really, isn’t saying much).

I haven’t set eyes on the woman in a few years and I have no intentions of changing that anytime soon. I have little patience at the best of times but I’ve got absolutely none for her.  She’d have a tough time pulling that kettle out of where it would end up if she ever tried ripping it from my hands again…



Prompt #1 - #DEverb

Facebook, or as we call it in our house - Fessebook: 

  • ·        How many “friends” do you have on FB?
  • ·         How many would you have if you actually had to hang out and interact with them regularly?
  • ·         Who would be the first to go, and why?

First a quick word of thanks to everybody who has taken the time to get involved with #DEverb.  For those that were curious, fesse, means butt cheeks in French.

Is of today I’ve got 170 “friends” on Facebook.  As a rule I will not ‘friend’ anybody I work with or am likely to work with in the future – my personal life and my work life are two very, very separate worlds for me.  I want to have a space where I can vent about anything and not have to worry about who’s reading.  I also haven’t ‘friended’ anybody from the Twitter world; not so much because I don’t want to expose my twitter friends to my “real life” but because I say all kinds of stuff on Twitter (and post stuff here on my blog) that I’d rather my FB peeps not see.  I’m mildly terrified of those two worlds intersecting.

I’m slowing becoming one of those people who bitches about FB.  I used to love it back when I was flying every week – it was a great way to share things with my friends and for friends/family to keep up with my travels.  But now that I’ve put away the suitcase, I find I’ve got very little use for FB and have been going on it less and less.

I’m not a very social guy.  I mean I love a party but I find social gatherings to be difficult for a number of reasons, some of which I've talked about before. So for these reasons, I’m not big on hanging out with a lot of people, but out of that 170 there are probably a dozen or two that I’d love to see on a more regular basis.  A small handful live within 30-45 mins of me and the rest are scattered around the globe so hanging out with them really isn't a realistic option for me.

I feel bad “unfriending” people so as a rule I ‘hide’ them instead but there are a few folks who are on my very last fucking nerve.  One guy posts nothing but those bullshit pics about “If you think your daughter is, blah blah blah” And it takes every ounce of energy I have to not post a truly nasty comment.  There are a few others that regularly post the “share this if you support…” or “click like if…” and I really want to punch those people in the face.  Liking a goddamn FB post does sweet fuck all and NO, Bill Gates is NOT going to send you a fucking cheque for sharing it!!  I mean how bloody stupid do you need to be!? <dismounts soapbox>

OK, off to work on lowering my blood pressure…complete mystery as to why it's so high. :(



Monday, December 2, 2013

#DEverb - because venting is healthy too

It's been a very long time since I've really felt like writing but over the last few days I've actually felt the NEED to write.  Having said that, I have a really tough time trying to organize my thoughts and staying on topic for more than a few seconds at a time.  It was many years ago when I first discovered the Reverb project and through that I found a voice.  I can't even begin to describe what those prompts did for me, both in terms of helping me to find a voice but maybe more importantly by helping me to work through a lot of stuff I had been struggling with for years.  Which brings us to today...

Naturally I tried to return to the fount and decided to look into some of the prompts being offered for Reverb13.  The problem was that none of them resonated with me.  I'm in a different place now and quite frankly it's anything but upbeat and I'm not in the mood for celebratory or inspirational posts.  Please understand that this is NOT meant to take away from the hundreds or thousands of you who ARE. I applaud you and honestly wish things were different for me this year, but they're not.

So I've decided to do something about it.  I've decided to relaunch my own Reverb type project but to focus on all of the stuff that so often goes unsaid. I want to give my fellow curmudgeons and xmess haters a safe place to express how they really feel. I'm going to pull together some topics in the next few days and start to send them out to an opt-in mailing list (Click HERE) and if I can find the time and brain power I may create a separate blog to host whatever mess I end up creating.

I can appreciate that there's a lot of love and goodwill built up around the Reverb movement and I've certainly benefited from that so I hope you all understand this isn't any kind of rebellion or backlash against it or against those who have decided to carry on the tradition (FWIW, I was one of those people in 2011 and it's a bitch of a job so they all deserve a great deal of thanks for what they're doing.)  This is me and this is the space I've decided to create for myself and like-minded individuals who want to have a bit of fun.  If you sign up, obviously you can write whatever the heck you want to - serious, funny, sad, angry or some mix of all of these things.  My posts will be heavy on bad words and sprinkled with humour (I hope).

I'm just doing this off the cuff so it won't be professional or pretty or well organized and I have no idea how many prompts I'll have or on what kind of schedule I will send them out but The Flying Spaghetti Monster willing, the first one will go out tomorrow.  If you're deeply offended (or shit, even appreciative) please feel free to email me, comment below, unfollow me, burn me in effigy, or whatever else feels natural.  I've blathered on way too much now so there's no way I'm going to go back and proofread this so... yeah.

In case you don't already have enough crappy looking "buttons" on your blog or car or pet or whatever then feel free to add this one:

The dedicated site will be at