Category Archives: Opinion (Editorial & Commentary)

jian

The Strange Saga of Big Ears Teddy and Jian Ghomeshi

Wednesday was an explosive day in the saga of Jian Ghomeshi, so much so that there’s now an online graph depicting his “likers” dropping like leaves in a fall windstorm.

Much occurred, but I want to focus on one major development: Big Ears Teddy, a stuffed animal so valued by Jian Ghomeshi that it merited thanks in the acknowledgements of his 2012 book called 1982.

Last night, Twitter exploded with the news this account had been sitting there since April of this year, when, for only three days, it levelled massive allegations against Ghomeshi.

There are a lot of similarities between one of the eight accusers detailed by The Toronto Star and the newly notorious teddy bear of Twitter. It’s an interesting aspect to this saga and one I wanted to look at more closely.

CONTINUE READING over at the Vancouver Observer.

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My Latest on Ghomeshi

I’ve written another entry in this scandal, but it’s running over at the Vancouver Observer. 

It starts off…

We have the stupidest trend in word history going on, one that makes me want to jam a fork in my eye and twist every time someone starts it up again.

It’s this fad of using “-gate” as a suffix in order to denote scandal. Such as “Ghomeshi-gate.”

You know the origin of this, right? 1974’s Watergate?

The short version: basically burglary, doxxing, and invasion of privacy, plus a little cover-up on, oh, you know, a scale never before seen. Oh, Nixon, you dirty dog.

Phew, that’s some pretty impressive stuff. But you know what didn’t happen there? Women weren’t reported to have been shoved up against a wall, choked, thrown, beaten upside the head, or basically abused in every other way, including verbally.

To continue reading, please check me out at the Observer. Thanks!

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Smells Like Sexism, Playtex

It’s been pointed out to me that the wipes discussed below are aimed at both sexes, which I already knew, but since I’m used to advertising telling me my vagina is foul, I’ll leave it up to boys to defend themselves.

***

What fresh, steamy hell is this?

I’ll give you a clue: It ain’t lavender-scented, bitches!

That stanky pile of shit you’re getting a whiff of is the latest advertising campaign by Playtex.

Like other beauty and hygiene companies, their cash-cow is in the form of hyping up our insecurities.

Wanna get laid? Make babies? Fulfill your dreams of love and destiny?

Better clean your snatch, baby. No man will have you if you smell normal. You’d better be smelling like roses and unicorns down there, girls, or you’ll die alone and wretched.

In short, Playtex wants you buying their wipes so you don’t offend the masses by smelling like a human being. You know, that smell that biologically is meant to attract men and signal our arousal? BAD. DON’T DO ITEVER.

A clean beaver always finds more wood”? No, a wet one does.

Their campaign has sent their misogynistic advertising company to the library on a quest for every dated, tired euphemism for “vagina,” because god knows the censors would never let any female bodyparts be uttered on daytime TV, and they’ve cranked out a series of offensive slogans, thinking women would find it cute, adorable, and true.

Because, hey, everyone knows women will respond positively if you use nice colours and pretty pictures. Lord knows we’d do anything to avoid taxing our pretty little heads with big thinky words or complicated concepts like empowerment, independence, or confidence.

Funny enough, there’s no proof these things do anything positive other than masking bodily odours with chemical ones. It doesn’t STOP the source, it just hides it for a while.

In fact, the odds of your getting yeast infections SKYROCKETS if you use these products.*

Then what happens? More shame over being human. More use of the product that actually causes the problem. Desperate use of yeast-infection products to solve the infection you’ve caused by using something unnatural to fight something natural. Either way, more money for the industry.

Whether it’s anal bleaching, vaginal wipes, or other cosmetic/chemical fixes for twats and penises, it’s all a sign of just how stupid we’re becoming.

Bleaching your ass  because it looks like ass? Pretty dumb, people. Getting surgery to make your snatch look like a porn star’s? Infinitely stupid.

And using wipes doused in chemicals and maxed out with scents so you can avoid smelling the way you’re supposed to smell? Yep. Stupid.

If you’re not pissed off by this advertising campaign, then you’re a part of the problem. Period.

*As opposed to wiping with, say, apple cider vinegar, under $5 a bottle, whose smell evaporates in 30 seconds and which actually fights, and kills, yeast, and is good for you. Want portable wipes without giving into this misogynistic bullshit? Papertowel dampened with apple cider vinegar, carried in a Ziploc bag, will fight any infection-induced odours & help CURE you rather than perpetuate the problem.

______________________

Don’t forget to check out my new Victoria Lifestyle Blog, about my new city and home of choice: http://VanIsleStyle.com.

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Jumping the Gun: Irresponsible Media After the Shootings

I can’t say I’ve followed the Aurora Tragedy all that closely in the 64 hours since that all went down, but what I’ve seen on Twitter in the limited time I’ve been online this weekend has left me ill and angry at those in the journalistic field who should know better, demand better, and do better.

There are those who, like me, feel that saying the shooter’s name more than absolutely necessary is giving the sick fuck exactly what he’s looking for. There are those who are sitting on details until law enforcement confirms or denies the findings. There are also those who don’t want to “be first” with the details, who realize their value now isn’t in the speed of sharing information but is rather in assigning context to one of the worst domestic acts of violence in history. (There are also those like Anderson Cooper, who try not to say the shooter’s name, who are not speculating, and who do not want to be a part of this circus. Thank goodness for ethos.)

Much of the news media has social media and news in 2012 wrong. The business interests running the industry just don’t get it.

We need context now. The time for objectivity and passive reporting is gone. So too is the time for sensationalism and over-selling a story.

Unfortunately, many in the media disagree. They deludedly think being the first and telling the “most stuff” is what resonates long-term.

But we live in a world now where a man buys some weapons, can wear a costume, walk into a theatre, and shoot 70+ people.

We live in that world.

I read today where @ProducerMatthew Keys, a Deputy Social Media Editor for @Reuters News, was posting photos of the Aurora Shooter’s parent’s San Diego home. I’d link to the tweets and all, but then I feel I’d be committing the same borderline ethical transgressions. He seems to think it’s all well and good, that the license plates and house addresses were blurred. True — but the address is not blurred where it’s painted on the street curb.

Still: Really? This is “news”? Why does it matter where they live? Why do we need to see their home at all? Why do we care that the shooter’s car remains parked in front of their home? What value does the picture have over merely telling us the car is parked at his parents’ home? Where is the context provided for why this “news” is relevant to the story overall?

And where, most importantly, is the commentary that says his parents didn’t shoot anyone, and his mother acquiesced and said they had the right person when media and authorities first called her?

Oh, right. There’s only 140 characters, and 21 of those are absorbed by the photo’s URL, so, clearly in the remaining 119 characters, none of the Other Stuff That Can’t Fit matters.

Clearly, every consumer of content on the web is an upstanding and reliable individual who will take such information and behave as a civilized soul should. Right?

Most people are horrified by this crime, therefore all are equally horrified, and thusly we should reveal all we can about the atrocity so all can collectively mourn. Right?

Are you KIDDING me?

This shooter was a nutbag.* Who’s to say some off-the-deep-end family or friend of a victim doesn’t track down that Google Streetview address of the  shooter’s parents’ home and then go teach them what “they shoulda taught their son” or something?

We live in THAT WORLD now.

We live in the world where economies spanning the globe teeter on the brink. We live in the world where the rich get richer and the poor foot the bill, and are fed up.

We live in a time when people are angry and getting angrier.

These spree-killing crimes aren’t just an American phenomena now. They’ve spread, but America remains the leader.

Somehow, the ridiculous American legal system seems to think “freedom to bear arms” in an age where killing is high-tech and big-biz equates that same freedom granted 223 years ago, when a firearm required complicated loading and was slow, cumbersome, and often dangerous fire.

Today, weapons are out of control. There’s no need to fire dozens, even hundreds of rounds per minute. I don’t care who you are, where you are.

No need for such efficiency in death unless you’re a psychopath trying to make the biggest kill you can.

No need unless you’re big business trying to prove you can do it bigger, faster than before. New! Improved! Able to kill entire congregations with one continuous fire-burst! Fun for the whole family!

And yet the media wants to jump the gun, so to speak, on spilling the details about the killer. They give into our baser instincts and seek out all the dirty little details, pushing it on us like an overzealous Italian grandmother. Eat! Eat! Oh, sure you want more! Eat! There’s always more. Eat!

Some members of the media this weekend remind me of this guy I knew as a teen. He told me he was gonna trying to make a bird explode by feeding it nonstop. He’d heard that a gull would eat until the food source vanished. So, he’d feed ‘em and feed ‘em and feed ‘em, hoping they’d go POW, with guts flying everywhere.

In recalling this messed-up kid and his feeding fetish, I find myself wondering when that day comes that journalists stop reporting on happenings and start becoming a part of the story by distributing information they have no ethical business distributing, and who’s gonna be the one who takes their information and acts from that place we all have inside — that place where we want to see these sick bastards get what they got comin’.

No shortage of Americans thought Lee Harvey Oswald got his due. That’s who we were 50 years ago. I’m sure we’re further evolved in vendetta-wishes by now.

And then there’s the likely innocent peripherals. What about the parents of these shooters? What about their family, their friends? The people who had nothing to do with it, who knew them before they went all mad and wanted to kill innocents, who maybe tried to get them to find help, who tried to be a part of the solution when they had no idea the magnitude of the problem? What about them? What if they were spurned by a system when they sough help, a system lacking support for sicker individuals, a system that often never sees the signs that are all too plain to see?

When will those family and friends begin being the retribution committed by someone connected to victims in a spree killing?

These aren’t unthinkable scenarios. Many have been written in the annals of TV and fiction. We understand retribution and revenge. It’s an entirely human reaction. It’s there in the Bible — an eye for an eye. We blame parents for children, but not every parent is to blame when we have chemical dysfunction, doctors overprescribing, and other possible neurochemical factors. We don’t know who’s to blame. That’s why we wait on the investigation, to be sure we’re not jumping to conclusions that come consequences.

Let the amateurs speculate. Journalists’ jobs ought to be to aggregate the available information, put it into context, and dispel the sensationalist details that give nothing to the real story, which we the consumers do fine conjuring on our own.

But we all know that’s not in the media’s interest. It’s big business now, and it’s tough to be a dinosaur in a digital age.

They’re the kid at the party who’s trying too hard. Only, the kid at the party never gets anyone killed.

Journalists, and the news media, owe us better.

*If you’re gonna get on me about calling a shooter “insane” because you’re a proponent of mental health, well, good for you for defending mental health issues, but no one sane picks up a weapon and fires, wounding 70 innocents. Nobody sane does that. So, let’s call it what it is, and instead of getting all offended he’s being called nuts, fight for the care he should have had long before he snapped. I’m not gonna fucking mince words.

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A Carnivore Ruminates: Thoughts About Balance

Food. Some eat to live, others live to eat. Either way, it’s the source of life.

The Chinese believe in the Chi of food. Eat food from the place you’re from, and you get Earth-drawn energy to live upon the place you’re in. It’s a circle-of-life thing.

Me, I clearly live to eat. Lately, too indulgently and without balance. Sproing goes the waistline this summer, I’m afraid. And that’s no good.

Living to eat and doing it badly is an ironic way to embrace death. I’m certainly better than I’ve likely ever been as an eater, but it’s a constant act of re-education, and the more I learn and deprogram myself on the white-food-rules upbringing I had, the further I’ve yet to go.

I had a bit of a Twitter spanking as I tongue-in-cheek suggested I get great pleasure from seeing former Vegan/Vegetarian people going back to meat. I explained that it vindicates my belief that vegetarianism and veganism are somewhat unnatural.

Then again, entire cultures, like the Hindu, go their whole lives without food that comes of taking a life.

I get that. But I’m Irish and French. It’s just never gonna happen chez Steff. I mean, really. If we weren’t supposed to eat meat, it wouldn’t be so tasty.

It’s that simple.

But it’s good meat that’s tasty. Meat raised under ethical conditions, raised eating real food, not stuffed with commercial feed, who have access to pastures, live naturally, and are slaughtered compassionately, then processed with care by people who value the product and the life given to provide it.

Give me a steak by a grow-factory, slaughtered en masse without empathy, processed on a conveyor belt, versus a local farm-raised product, slaughtered the old-school way, and hand-trimmed, with both prepared and cooked the same, and I’ll tell you on the first bite which is which. Easy. Done. It’s right there. That je ne sais quoi of having been raised ethically and killed compassionately.

There are lamb in Spain who get walked — WALKED! — on a 650+ kilometre trek across the mountains, feeding on grass as they go, birthing, mating, living like they should, being sight-seers for many weeks before they meet their end. That’s something you taste. Real grass grown from valley to valley, by river and stream, under olive trees and by grapevines. It’s all there in that lamb.

The French believe in terroir and how it applies to not just wine like most people think, but to everything from meat through to oysters. You taste the land that the food comes from. Like where you’re born imprints you, so too does it to the meat and seafood and everything else we consume. Like those Spanish lamb I think would surpass any I’ve ever had.

Yum.

It’s a beautiful thought, that this interconnectivity runs through everything around us, and that we can choose to focus on more seasonal, local produce and it’ll not only be of better quality, but also of better Chi, of better terroir, and even just better for the environment, and ultimately more fulfilling for our soul.

As I reflect on food and what it means to me this week, I know where I’m going wrong with my diet is simply too many carbs and too much meat. I won’t go paleo or Zone or Atkins or any of those faddish diets. I just want to find a balance that works for me — ethically, tastefully, healthily, and financially.

I will never eat what I don’t enjoy, and I’ll never omit things like juicy steaks, cheeses, or other great food-of-love things that transport me when I eat them. Life’s meant to be lived, not survived.

There’s a perfect balance of finding flavour yet eating a diet that makes your body happy, and that’s the balance I’ve lost.

I’ll be eating less meat, less cheese, but when I have them, having far better quality. At the same time, I want to explore vegetarian dishes from around the world, particularly from places where they manage to go entire lives without meat, because clearly they’re doing it properly.

I’ve known people who’ve been extreme vegetarians, who did it balanced as best as one can, but who ultimately returned to the Meat Side when they ran into energy problems when being more active (like a boxer I knew, and a hardcore mountain cyclist). I don’t believe one needs to omit anything completely (except when allergic, obviously) to live an “ethical food” life.

Yet we as a society in the West eat meat to excess and a compromise would be good. I’ll attempt a 50% vegetarian week. I’m sure there’ll be weeks I fail, but I’m probably meat-eatin’ 6 days a week now, if not 7. That ain’t no good.

There’s one thing I can’t argue. That’s the issue that raising meat, farm or factory, creates a lot of methane, which is hugely responsible for global warming. If the world went vegetarian tomorrow and commercial meat production ended, we’d probably see a drastic difference in climate change quickly. This is true. Irrefutable.

So, mandate methane capture and conversion. Let’s solve that problem. Let’s have our cake steak and eat it too.

Because, to me, every cow is sacred, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it salted and grilled.

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Having a Blog vs. Using It: Some Thoughts

I don’t follow analytics much with my blog. You’re reading it. That’s all I give a shit about. Following the traffic, I don’t do much of that.

I’ll check once or twice a month, see if my daily visits are holding up, and if there are massive spikes, I see what posts were near that day. Pretty chill, but I’ve done this for enough years to actually have a grasp on who you, my reader, often is. Or the readers I care about, anyhow.

And while my old sex posts drive my traffic the most, it was actually politics and current events that became my stratospheric posts over the years. When I get pissed, it seems to resonate. Apparently my anger reflects the frustration we feel both in Canada and the USA, and even England, because most of us are living in a classist divide that’s becoming increasingly religious.

So, over the weekend at the Pride events here in town, I chatted with friends about social media conferences, and how, for me, it seems more about selling tools than encouraging propagation of debate and discussion.

When it comes to blogging, I feel it can, and does, change the world. I don’t wanna talk about WordPress, metrics, and all that shit. The message is the message, for me, not the medium.

I feel an obligation to put ideas and content first, design and discussion-tracking last. I believe my voice matters. (And so does yours; whether you choose to use it is your drama.) I don’t really need to host the discussion here, I just need you to leave this page with a few thoughts percolating in your brain, and then I’ve done my job — that’s always been my take on things.

Sunday’s conversation kind of ended with my thinking that I’ve betrayed my ability to write, my strong beliefs on where we’re going wrong today, and my desire to see the world live according to my ethos (since I’m super-inclusive and secular), all by failing to continue blogging in a more frequent way.

I give good debate, baby. And I’ve been letting myself and my readers down at a time when I think we need more discussion, because if anyone can be the spark to a good fire, it’s me.

The Past’s Shadow is Long

Part of the reason I don’t watch my traffic today is because I don’t want to feel beholden to numbers. I’m cranking out some 1,500 unique visitors a day, and without doing a lot of work to sustain it. It’s what I call “legacy traffic.” Google had lost me for a long time, but now it points anyone looking for sex tips and smart writing here. Good job, Google!

Still, it bothers me a little, because I haven’t been writing about sex for about 3–4 years.

To have so many of you still turning up, with questions arriving in my inbox (which I’ve been ignoring in my life chaos), it tells me there’s a dearth of great information out there, and that mine’s standing the test of time on the web, a hard thing to do.

These days, I’m a-thinking. I don’t want to be writing about sex and relationships, because I’ve more or less been celibate since all the trouble began with my back, except for, you know, a dalliance or two. My head’s not there right now, and I haven’t wanted it to be, either.

Maybe I underestimated the voice I bring to the sex discussion, and maybe I need to rethink my role and the validity of my place in the fight for a smarter world that’s sex-positive in a way that doesn’t mean we have to jump the “taste” shark. Maybe I also underestimated how much we have devolved into an orthodox society with increasing hangups about sex and sexuality.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

But if the Shoe Fits…

I’ll be doing a lot more thinking about this. I’ve avoided talking about sex or sex news because I was tired of being pigeon-holed as a “sex writer,” since I feel that’s about 8% of what I’m comprised of, but if it’s not getting done properly by others, maybe it’s time I dust that conversation off. Just something I’m considering, and not a promise. Your thoughts are relevant to my thinkin’, so feel free to persuade me on this.

Maybe combining sex and politics in this same post is indicative of who I am/have been as a blogger and a person.

I think sex and love are basic human rights. I believe who we are as a society is something that shifts and changes through the ages, like a river carving a canyon. Change and evolution is constant, but often only visible on a wide, long view, and while I see the massive changes we’ve had for the better, I see how far there is to go.

Born Under A Bad Moon Risin’

I’m of that generation that came of age in the analog times but made the digital world our bitch. I was my college’s last journalism class to lay out a newspaper with glue and paper, and the first to do so on the computer. I was born at a crossroads, with one foot in old-world news, and the other kicking toward the future. My head of journalism was a former editor who ran political campaigns, so I learned about the press from both sides.

I’ve blogged since 2004, about sex since 2005, and I’ve been political since my teens. I live in borderlands and know more about America than most Americans will ever know about Canada, and I bleed maple syrup.

I was raised Catholic, rebelled against it after I learned of molestation scandals and cover-ups in my own Archdiocese and high school. I identify as a feminist but love men and deplore radical thought in any vein, especially if feminist.

The Alchemy of a Writer’s Voice

Somewhere, in the midst of all those qualities and attributes lies the reason why I too have a voice that’s important to the mix of who we are and where we’re going.

We have the ability to stand up and be counted, to leave our prints on the windowpane of the world, thanks to the internet.

For those of us who can do so, yet don’t do so, we’re betraying a gift of being born with talent in this time and space. We’re at a point in evolution where we have the means and the ability to project our lonely voice around the world, free of corporate interference, free of investment, and yet we’re mired in a complacency that sees our society devolving almost daily.

While the 1% keep getting richer, we applaud and watch the Bachelorette while reading TMZ, glorifying the division of our classes, because glamour is somehow more significant to us than protecting our dwindling average-citizen quality of life.

We belittle the intellectuals, want leaders we can have a beer with, and seem to do everything we can to avoid the realities of what’s going on as economies around the world teeter on the brink.

We delude ourselves into thinking change can’t come, that we’re just the little guys. We pretend that if we keep watching TV, shopping for “Made in America” products, and praying to the good God above that we’ll be just fine when that high-water mark of society gets overrun.

I don’t buy any of it.

In a span of three years, with no technology, no automatic weapons, no electricity, nothing, the working class of France brought down the nobility and monarchy, and modern democracy was born. Three years. By people with HOES and SHOVELS, with the occasional dagger for good measure, for crying out loud.

Shit started rolling last year, but I don’t respect the Occupy movement a lot because there are too many dumb-assed anarchist fucks in the mix. But they’re heading in the right direction, as long as they leave anarchy out of the debate.

They’re right, though. Anger, frustration, these aren’t things we should be feeling fleetingly. These should consume us.

There’s a disparity of income distribution that is a mockery of what the USA was founded under, what Canada should exemplify, and it all comes down to legislation by politicians who are bought and sold by the interests of those they mainly seek to protect, the upper-upper-class.

We deserve better.

And the only way we’re gonna get better is if we never, ever let the matter drop.

Me, I’ll never be that guy on the street with a placard, but I have this soapbox.

I think it’s time I start seeing this blog as an obligation, not a hobby, because I loathe the world we’re becoming, and I cannot respect myself if I don’t shout out loud about why I feel it’s all going so horribly awry.

And that’s what blogging can be. That’s what it should be.

If you want the latest scoop on TomKat’s Divorce, maybe it’s time to aim higher, expect more, and become a part of these discussions we really need to stop avoiding.

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