Orson Scott Card And The Boycott On Enders Game

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about boycotting the new Ender’s Game movie. For those two of you out there who don’t know, Ender’s Game was written by Orson Scott Card, who also happens to be a raging homophobe who writes articles for anti-LGBT organizations’ publications as well as donating money to such hate groups.

I’m not going to see the movie. I’m not going to trash anyone for going to see the movie, but I’m not.

There’s a lot of people saying that we should separate the artist from the art. I don’t believe that’s justified at all. I think an artist is a businessman like anyone else who creates a product, and any artist who think’s they’re not is full of pretentious bullshit. It’s silly to think that the profession of art is just so special somehow, that artists are above judgment from their customers. It makes just as much sense to boycott an artist for bigotry as is does to boycott the convenience store down the street with a sign saying “no homosexuals allowed.”

And sure, there’s the fact that he’s probably already received whatever money he’s going to get for the movie, so what’s the point in boycotting, if it’s not going to affect him financially, or affect any money he sends to hate groups?

It’s not about the money though. The boycott is symbolic. It doesn’t matter how the studio tries to separate themselves from the author and the author’s views. It does matter that the producers are trying to separate themselves, and holding a fundraiser for LGBT rights charities – that’s great, but it doesn’t separate the movie from Card. No matter what they do, the movie is linked with a man who hates homosexuality and thinks it should be illegal, and we (those boycotting the movie) feel a need to say that’s not okay. The boycott is our way to say that in as loud a way possible.

Remembrance Day Thought

I’ve seen this quote before, but I’ll link to where I saw it posted today on the livejournal of Elizabeth Bear: http://matociquala.livejournal.com/2159340.html

I don’t know anyone who’s gone to war, but war tends to be something I write about. I think it started when I read the Westmark Trilogy, by Lloyd Alexander, which is a hearbreaking story of a country in the throes of civil and international war. It always rang very powerfully for me, and when I read later that it was inspired by the author’s own experiences as a ground infantryman in WWII, I understood how Alexander made the tragedy and senseless death feel so real.

By all means, honour the deaths of soldiers who died for an honourable cause, but try to remember that this day was originally set aside to mark, not the day that men died, but the day they stopped dying.

PSA: Sexism and Women in Tech Support

*sigh* I was discriminated against today.

This post is not at all writing related, but it’s about sexism and the ridiculous places it comes from sometimes.

I work in internet, TV and cell phone tech support, and sadly, today was not by a long shot the first time I’ve had such a call: Lady gets on the line, has already worked herself up into a tizzy, and when I answer, and give my name, she says she wants to speak to a technician.

I’m a technician, I say, I can help you.

And then she says “No offense” but she wants to speak to a man.

In the past I’ve argued with these people, and eventually got them to hang up, but I figured I’d try something different. After failing to assure this woman that I could help her as well as any man, I let her rant hoping I could get enough information to help her anyway (at my company, we’re often nice that way, even if you’re being a douche – our bosses like to see it, it’s a job — we’re professionals).

Then when I got a chance to talk, I told her I was sorry she’d had so much difficulty with her service, but (in a very firm and level voice, not my nicey nice voice) that I was indeed very much offended that she didn’t believe that I could help her because I was a woman.

It can be really fun calling people on bullshit – she backpedaled then and said she was sorry, she shouldn’t have said that. We’re Canadians, and if there’s anything we can’t abide, it’s offending people.

Again, it’s sad that I get this “I want to talk to a man” as often as I do. And I honestly don’t recall ever getting it from a man. That’s the screwy thing, it’s always women who will come out with that. I’ve talked to men who didn’t think I could help them, and I could tell they had been expecting and hoping to talk to a man, but they won’t say it out loud. Women will. We’re shooting ourselves in the female empowering foot, ladies, come on.

And I’ll let you in on a secret. Those ladies may think that the girl doing tech support isn’t as capable as the guy, but it’s actually likely to be the opposite, and I’ll tell you why. It’s not because women are smarter than men. No, it’s because of those closed minded individuals who give women such a hard time working in the industry (not my coworkers, not my supervisors – they know I know my shit – it’s the customers on the phone who lack faith in the XX chromosome). It’s because there is so much more tolerance from customers for a man who hasn’t a clue what he’s doing, than there is for a woman. Which means, the only women who stick around are the ones who *really* know what they’re doing. They’re typically above average in know-how in the call center, just because if they weren’t, they’d get twice the abuse a man would take.

And this is why it’s still hard to be a woman these days, with all the laws made to protect us from discrimination, there’s still the asshattery that laws can’t stop people from committing, and other women are just as guilty of holding us down as men.

*sigh* Going back to writing now.  Gonna type out the edits on that chapter where the brothel madam complains about how men oppress her.

Robocall Rally – Winnipeg

This blog was created as my writing blog. I realize that some people don’t like when a writer has an agenda, especially a political one. If you’re one of those people, you’re probably not my target audience, so full disclaimer: I will be posting political stuff on this blog and I will *not* apologize for it.

Today was a day of action for Canadians to protest electoral fraud. Across Canada, we marched, waving flags, and holding signs.

In Winnipeg, around three hundred people, including myself, met at River and Osbourne, where Kevin Lamoureux, MP for Winnipeg North, and former MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis gave speeches, calling for the Conservative Government to conduct full independent investigations into the robocall scandals. A petition was signed, and we marched to the office of the Winnipeg South Centre MP, Joyce Bateman.

The office was closed, and no one has been able to contact Mrs. Bateman. It’s like she didn’t want to hear what we had to say. </sarcasm>

It was not entirely unexpected. Obviously she has no defense, or she would have had something to say to us. Instead, we made do by singing O Canada outside her abandoned office.

The Conservative Government has refused to fully investigate the Robocalls. They’ve pointed the finger at the Liberals, demanded that the Liberals release their phone records (which they did) but then refused to release their own. What kind of person does that if they’re not a bunch guilty bastards? If they’re not behind it, let them clear themselves! But they won’t. The only reason anyone could possibly have refusing to release their own records, refusing to investigate, is if they have something to hide.

That’s the end of the story. They want to pass laws that allow police unlawful search and seizure rights – they want to be able to spy on our internet usage, and they want mandatory minimums for blue collar crime. Lets see some mandatory minimums for electoral fraud!

I am disgusted with our government and ashamed of it. It doesn’t even matter who was behind  the voter suppression calls, they happened, and the Government is responsible for finding out who threatened our democracy, punish them, and correct it by, at the very least, calling by-elections. But they won’t because they’re happy with the results and they know damn well, they’ve pulled so much BS in the last year that they would likely lose their majority.

This is the sort of thing that we send observers into developing countries to prevent. This is what Canada has fallen to. The only way we’re going to get rid of the Harper Government is if we march into parliament hill and drag them out of their offices kicking and screaming, because they’ll just lie and cheat their way out of anything else.

Robocalls: Biggest Election scandal in Canadian History

Once again I have that surreal feeling of being in the midst of history in the making. The short version, for those who have not been following Canadian politics: In the last election, the one where the Conservatives (for the Americans reading, that’s basically our version of the Republicans) won their majority government (again, for the non-Canadians, that’s when one party has more than half of the seats in parliament, which means more than half the votes on any bill they want to pass so that they can do whatever they want, and oh have they been doing their darnest to hang themselves), calls were made from a call centre of some sort telling voters their polling station had changed, and directing them to an incorrect polling location.

The number of ridings this occured in has so far been quoted as thiry-four. That’s thirty-four ridings where the voting may have been affected by this, and many of those ridings were won by under 100 votes. A lot of those were won by the Conservatives. The Conservatives won their majority by 10 seats. Enough ridings were affected to call into question the legitimacy of their majority, and even the legitimacy of their win, especially since they did not get a majority of votes, only a majority of seats, but due to our first past the post voting system, their representation in parliament is disproportionate to the number of votes they got.

The NDP member of parliament, Pat Martin said “The most fundamental freedom that we enjoy as citizens in a democracy is the right to vote in a federal election, free and fair and without interference.” And he’d right. The definition of democracy is the government is voted in fairly, with all citizens given equal right to vote. This kind of tampering with the electoral system is supposed to be something that happens in third world countries, not in Canada. The UN is talking about Canada losing it’s status as a country who can provide independent elections observers, because of our own corrupt, illegitimate government. Canada could go onto watch lists of countries with corrupt and illegitimate governments.

And the Conservative’s response? They would love to be able to just push it under the rug, and they’re trying. The company that apparently was hired to make the calls is threatening to sue Pat Martin for implying they did anything wrong, and trying to force him to state publicly that there’s no evidence of wrongdoing by them or the person (who they refuse to name) who hired them to make these calls.

This all blows me away. I feel again like I’m living in a world of science fiction, some futuristic world where everything has gone to shit. This is supposed to be things I write about, not what’s going on around me. It’s humbling to be witness to all this as I revise a novel about a country trying to overthrow a Monarchy and install a Democracy. My riding was one of the initial group reported to have been part of this electoral fraud. It’s also inspiration – fodder for a sequel as my Avalines set out to conduct an election and people who want to take power do everything they can to take advantage of their budding Democracy.

On that note, I shall go back to my revisions and hope the governor general exercises his right to call an election.

Utopias part 2 – Culture

Back to this;

Culture is what makes a society work – it is the society working. From how we settle differences to how we celebrate happiness – the way we do the things that humans need to do in order to live together.

There’s two poles of culture types – introverted, and extroverted. Introverted cultures value the individual, whereas extroverted cultures value the group, and conformity to the group. Western cultures are typically introverted, and Eastern, extroverted. It seems that an extroverted culture would be a more sustainable model, but does the demand for conformity stand in the way of the happiness that makes a utopia a utopia?

So whatever cultural elements go into the utopia, is there a combination – a system, that can satisfy both the need for individuals to be able to follow their dreams and be themselves, without that interfering with the sustainability of the system?

In Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, the main character says that our system, capitalism, communism, monarchy, what not, would work, if only humans would be better than they have ever been in their entire existence. And it’s true – if everyone was just nice to one another, and the people in power had the interests of their people at heart, rather than taking advantage of those below them, nearly any system in use right now would work.

Where to look for a model that would work?

Well, anthropologists have looked at the question, and they’ve surveyed people in different cutures.  If you ask the average person in western society if they’re happy with their lives, the average person will laugh at you. But, anthropologists asked this same question of people living in tribal settings, and overall, they answer yes, they are happy with their lives.

These are people in villages that often don’t have anything resembling modern luxuries; but anyone who’s thought about it knows that it’s not luxuries that make people happy. The truth is that humans have many needs, and these tribal cultures have evolved organically over hundreds and thousands of years, in the same way Darwin’s finches evolved specialized beak shapes. It’s not something that can be imposed on a people, the way a king’s law can be, and this natural evolution can only happen when people themselves have a say in how they live.

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups, they say. Well, tribal societies were not large groups – not by today’s standards. A typical tribe’s population was far less than the average person’s facebook friends list. While one voice railing at an injustice in the population of say, a small city, let alone a modern country, doesn’t get heard. But one voice calling for justice and change among the average population of a tribe (about a hundred to a hundred and fifty people – twenty five to thirty families) is a voice that matters.

A tribe’s population is adaptable, it changes with the needs of it’s people. Modern governments are not adaptable. Besides the bureaucratic red tape and corporate manipulation standing in the way of change for the better, there is the fundamental requirement of centralized government that the rules be the same for everyone, regardless of their circumstances or environment, and a rule that works for one community may not work for another, and neither group has any power to change it.

These small, autonomous communities are weak, though, and easily driven off their land and resources. Another tribe moves in, and imposes their laws on the other people, and nations are born. And eventually we come to this, and wonder what went wrong. A utopia of small autonomous tribes would be easily conquered, and that, of course does nothing for sustainability.

I don’t know if it’s possible for such a thing to exist for any length of time, but I’d still like to think it is. In any case, I’m not going to be so arrogant as to claim it’s impossible, just because I can’t see a way myself.

The Royal Fool, Jon Stewart Owns Jim Cramer

This is old, but Jon Stewart had Jim Cramer on the Daily Show. It was epic.

It’s interesting to see, when the “real” news networks are muzzled and failing to report accurately and without bias, the Royal Fool of America feels the duty to become a voice of truth. It’s not supposed to be his job. It’s almost tragic when he says, “So maybe we could remove the “financial expert” and In Cramer We Trust and get back to the fundamentals in reporting, as well, and I can go back to making fart noises and funny faces.”

Is it because only the King’s Fool is allowed to tell the truth? He’s untouchable, because he’s comedy, this isn’t real reporting. He can say what he wants, and no one takes him seriously.

But that was Jim’s mistake – thinking, he’s on the Daily Show, he’s going to be made fun of, that’s ok, Jon Stewart makes everyone look stupid. He wasn’t prepared to have an utter fool made out of him when Jon went deadly serious, and asked the questions that Jim had no good answers to. He’s trying to be his childish self, and Jon makes a fool of him just by asking real questions.

For more of Jim’s childishness, watch him pounding pastry on the Martha Stewart show. At about 2:30, Martha tells him to pretend it’s Jon Stewart.