Sunday, November 11, 2007

Debbie does something more Meaningful

Whether we openly acknowledge it or not, we live in a sexually charged society. Sex and sex related ideas, images, and facts take up a large amount space in the information superhighway that has become our society. Musicians, advertisers and businessmen all realized long ago that sex sells. This can be seen in the sexually suggestive dances of singers like Christina Aguilera, the seductive look of the model on the bus stop, and high proportion of women in service jobs such as waitressing. More explicitly, the internet pornography business has grown to be a multi-billion dollar industry. Indeed, the sexual revolutions of the past few hundred years have allowed sex to transform itself from a taboo subject to one that pervades almost every area in our lives. Few would argue that this transformation hasn’t been a positive change, after all humans are sexual beings and to hide that fact is to partially dehumanize ourselves. But the unfortunate fact is that this transformation has occurred in a world where despite the invaluable accomplishments of feminism, men continue to hold the measure of power. The result has been disastrous. Much of the sexual expression in our society degrades woman and relegates them to objects of men’s sexual desires. This is seen in women’s “fashion” where every year the amount of clothing seems to get smaller and smaller exposing more and more skin. Beauty product advertisements and shows like “America’s Next Top Model” subtly purvey the nearly unattainable physical and sexual image that women need to achieve in order to have value in male dominated society. The consequence has not only been an epidemic of eating disorders and other manifestations of low self-esteem among young woman but also a reinforcement of women as merely sexual objects in the male psyche, continuing the cycle of male dominance. The viewing or pornography of all types which has increasingly become a normal and accepted activity amongst males reinforces this cycle exponentially. I believe this is simply unacceptable, not merely because of what it does to women, but also because our society is largely missing in out on a more meaningful way of relating to each other. If we allow value and respect and not sexual exploitation to become the common basis of male and female interaction many of the dominate problems in our society will become solvable. We need to allow a re-emergence of family values (which for some reason we’ve allowed the Republican Party to have a monopoly on) to enter into our discourse. The ideas of feminists such as Andrea Dworkin, and Catharine MacKinnon and the anti-pornography movement offer us much to learn on the way forward. This movement has shown us the violence, degradation and humiliation towards women that is apart of the pornography industry. I’d also apply a similar critique to the beauty industry and the methods they use to sell their products. We need to find to be creative in constructing images, messages and social arrangements that reflect and promote the dignity of everyone in our society, especially women. The government, business and ordinary people would gain a lot from encouraging and enabling women to enter into roles or true power and leadership in our society. The benefits are too many to explain here, but a quick overview of what feminism is about may help. The dangers of pornography are very real, and our society norms that keep it and its use taboo, need to be changed to allow it to become more open where it can effectively be dealt with. Consumers need to change their consumption patterns to send the message to advertisers that the current standards of beauty that they portray are harmful and need to stop. Not only do women need to be more involved in the upper echelons of business but men also need to be more involved in the lower echelons. There are thousands of small but effective changes that can be made to promote a society built on equality in all areas especially in our sexuality.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Here is a preview of what (if everything goes well) will be published in the up coming edition of "blueprint", Laurier's campus magazine.

Learning To See
The expression on Brad’s face quickly turned into one of sadness and pain. The wrinkles on face and the look in his eyes showed that Brad had been through more than his fair share of rejection and pain in his life, and the question I just asked was making him relive hard memories. Brad had just finished telling me about his childhood and his days in the Yugoslav army. Born and raised in Yugoslavia, Brad was proud to fight for Tito and communism. “In those days” he said, “we felt like we were actually living for something, together we were fighting for a better life” Then, I asked him why he came to Canada. And with the look of sadness and pain in his face, Brad vaguely replied that he came to escape the ethnic violence that was tearing apart his country. But what Brad found in Canada was not much better than the world he had just left. Shortly after Brad came to Canada he started suffering from what was later diagnosed as schizophrenia. His disease prevented Brad from being able to maintain employment, or establish a solid foothold for himself in Canadian society. His schizophrenia and lack of social supports left him to weather a spiritually and sexually abusive church leader, the chaos of our under-funded dysfunctional mental health care system, the nearly non-existent social support programs of Ontario and finally the streets of Kitchener. By the time I had started talking with Brad, he had been in Canada for more than 15 years. In the two years that have passed since I met Brad I’ve learned many things. I learned that the values of democracy, freedom and individual rights that our politicians proudly proclaim had done little for him. Brad has an experience of life that is very rarely engaged in academia, in politics, in business or in any consign of power in our country. As I’ve gotten to know Brad and his life, I’ve realized that he and his story is one that carries great lessons for us to learn. But unfortunately, Brad and his story are inevitably left out of the narrative most Canadians live their lives in. I think that this fact might be ok, if Brad’s story was completely unique; a rare exception. But I have discovered through my experiences of people whom I met at St. John’s Kitchen, in Vancouver’s downtown eastside and in poor areas of Scarborough that this is simply not the case. The stories of the forgotten, of the poor, oppressed, afflicted, lonely and the broken leave me with the burning question of, How do I honour these? Even worse, the friendships I’ve formed with Brad and a few others in Kitchener have forced me to examine what it means to love “the other”. You see, increasing the Ontario Works and ODSP rates may help, but what Brad needs is people who willing to take a risk in being in relationship with him. Not just psychiatrists, social workers or nurses, but rather people who just want to be friends and are willing to endure all the shit that friendship entails, its really just people who are simply willing to remember Brad and his story as they live their lives. That idea is new and revolutionary and the great thing about it is that its not a hopeless one. It’s simply a fuller expression of what it means to be human. There is no bureaucracy to navigate, no tuition dollars to pay, or quorum needed, all that’s needed is a willingness to meet someone and hear something new.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Drink Up, Dreamers, You're Running Out of Time

I have 4 days left of work, before another summer or work is over, and another few thousand dollars is made. In many ways this summer has been my hardest summer yet, but I've also seen fruitfulness and faithfulness in areas I would least expect. I come out of this summer understanding myself in a much more comprehensive way. I have learned that I am a pessimist and for some reason I like being one. I find it very very hard to have a bright outlook on the future, and will often downplay the importance of the good things in my life. However despite this, I have grown in self-esteem, I didn't suffer the huge lapse in it that I suffered last year. I do my job with the knowledge that I am as capable as anyone else in the factory. And I have come to see myself as a significant part of factory life for my co-workers. This summer has confirmed how fragile my mental stability is. If I was stuck in the situation I find myself in during the summer, I know I would not be able to survive. There is little to engage me and I end up just being tired all the time with no motivation. But, interspersed amongst this constant lies a few moments/days where I find relaxation, meaning and/or joy to an extent that I rarely experience during the rest of the year. 4 more days.

Monday, August 6, 2007

In This Life

The strong will survive, the weak shall perish
Y'all need more courage, I
keep y'all nourished
Get in line, I let you know right now
You need to slow right down or you get blown right now
From what I see it's systematic how we push to addicts
Demographics make the street life hell or drastic
In the hood we see oppressive genocide
Cause if it's on it's on, you know at least 10 men'll ride
But on the other side, corruption runs deep
I'm aware of the conspiricies, discussion is brief
They're building more prisons, spendin less on schools
On the block Smith & Wess-ons and Teflons rule
It's hard to escape it, certain laws are sacred
In this life my friend, it's mad hard to make it

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Systems Breakdown

When pieces of machinery start falling out of your loading machine, you may be running into problems as I discovered yesterday. I was innocently loading Hela Phos into the loading machine when a bolt and the thread it was on decided to come rolling out where the belt is. I shut down the machine and called over Tim, and the usual volley of swear words followed. In the end the machine had to be shut down for repairs and I had to screen all the materials into the bin by hand. This may have been bad news, but I like overtime so it worked out well. The other thing I learned that day, is that when the floors get really wet from the night shift guys washing the machines, it may be fun to slide around and do cool donuts in your 2-ton forklift, but it can also be potentially dangerous to the people and objects around you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Morning Blessings

Somewhat of a tradition has formed over at Herman Laue Spice Company. Every morning, Loading Station 1 (the station I operate) has blessings said over it by a number of people. They generally start with me when I arrive in the morning to find the machine completely dismantled and I have to put it together. Generally I mutter them, but they get louder when I can assemble the machine, because generally it takes two people, although I have done it by myself before. Then I can over Adrian, who is somewhat skilled in assembling these things. When we can mount the sieve, he too gives blessings to the machine, and but his are usually a little more explicit and said at a regular voice decible level. Eventually he gives up, and with a final blessing leaves and says "call Tim". I call Tim over, and when he sees the state of the machine he yells his blessings so that the whole mix room can here them. Sometimes a few kicks to the machine ensue. Then he and I set about trying to assemble the machine, all they while he yells his blessings to the machine, and the occasional ones to the night shift guys who disassemble the machine to clean it. (We have a suspicion that one the night shift guys wants to work in a mine, and is trying out his sledgehammer skills on the machine). Generally after some trying, and some more creative blessings given by Tim, the sieve is mounted. However, when Tim tries to put the wing-nuts on, and he can't because they are really stripped, more blessings flow from his mouth, and then some are muttered at John the mechanic. In a few situations, John the resident mechanice is called in, where he too gives his blessings. John says his blessings in a low tone, and he usually looks at the ground when he says them. And then he leaves to get his tools. So after a 45 minute blessing of the machine by up to 4 different people, and the occasional passer-by who sees what we are attempting to do. The blessed machine is ready to work for the day, and await further blessings the next morning, or sometimes it becomes impatient and decides to stop working half-way through the day.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


There's something when guys get around a campfire, and there's beer and other munchies. It's really nice. Doesn't happen much at Laurier.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Workplace Injuries

I get into weird states at work where I welcome pain. Its kinda weird, but its like this recklessness where I don't really care if what I'm doing will hurt me or not. Most of the time I don't get injured but inevitably I do end up and getting injured and regret it when I feel bad that night, but the next day I'm right back into that state again. In the state pain feels good, because its feeling, instead of the mindless work I do all day long. None-the-less, I've come to the conclusion that injurying myself (even if it isn't totally on purpose) is not a good thing, so I'm more aware when I get in these states and try me best to endure them without further injury. My left hand has endured the brunt of work place injury. It has a puncture wound on its left side from when i hit it hard on a sharp metal object, (it has since become infected), it also has to scrapes there as well. My pointer finger is really hurting after I mashed with a mallet on thursday, and lastly my thumb (as pictured above), has a nice deep slice wound to it, after I had a mis-hap with an exacto knife. When I cut it, I stared at it in mild amusement for a while, then reality hit, i said a few explatives, then waited for some alot of blood to come out before I went to get some first aid, so I could impress Brenda with how I was able conduct myself with such calmness in the face of such an injury (the first aid station is by her)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Three Thoughts of The Day

Laziness: Working a manual “unskilled” labour job for a certain period of time is extremely valuable for those who are privileged in society (like those in university). We have forgotten the pain and fatigue that such labor causes, and are weaker because of it. Those running society need to understand the experience of the working poor. I am sick and nearly every part of my body hurts, I get home with barely any leisure time before I have to go to bed. I couldn’t imagine doing this my whole life. Calvin reminded me again and again today about the importance of getting an education so that I wouldn’t be confined (like himself) to such a job for the rest of my life. Its remarkable that in the midst of his curse, he could wish someone like me who has never felt the struggles he has endured something better than he wants for himself. These is however value in the job outside of the experience of it. You realize what it means to work hard for extended period of time. Its really healthy. People pay thousands of dollars to avoid being stuck with such a job, and then pay thousands of dollars again for a gym membership, and then pay thousands of dollars of maids, grass cutters, landscapers, etc. I think its time we hop out of our cabin of convenience and rediscover the value and joy in manual labour.

Expressions: its amazing how much power simple expressions that a certain person always says has in defining who they are. Its really remarkable, to the point where when you hear the same expression elsewhere it reminds you have strongly of that person. For instance, whenever I hear “watch it, I’m in a bad mood”, I will always think of Richard, its who he is. Or “Nooo Broda,” or “Zip-zap” I will always think of Calvin. Think of your friends what expressions do they use that define them for you.

Sex Everywhere: I honestly think western society is the midst of an epidemic. The epidemic is the sexual objectification of women by men. Its really everywhere, soo many guys do it. It has infiltrated every area of life, including Christian circles. I’m not sure what exactly the cause is, perhaps a breakdown of traditional social structures. But what ever the cause, it is indeed amplified by the communications technology and the easy access men have to means of objectifying women. Pornography, solicitation of prostitution, casual sex, and sexual abuse are rampant. They now estimated that the current slave trade in sex slaves has eclipsed the Atlantic slave trade in size and scope. The problem is enormous. The remedy for this is even harder to think of. I don’t necessarily think it’s the empowerment of women as some suggest. (not that that is a bad thing, it just isn’t the solution) Men are cultured to deal with problems independently, they do not gather in groups to solve problems often, perhaps the solution needs to start there.

The Power of Lids

So I was loading salt in the loader along with oil today, and it was near the end, and visions of home were dancing in my head. Then the loader which is a loud mother, just went quiet and stopped. It appeared to be broken. And I wondered, why? I went down and told Tim our foreman. But he was busy and said he'd be a few minutes, so i returned to my station and did an inspection and realized I had forgotten to take the lid off the bin which the loader was putting the salt into. this meant that the salt and hit the lid and piled up the discharge chaft and into the machine and jammed it. I sheepishly notified Tim that the problem was that I had forgotten to take the lid off the bin before I loaded the spice into it. So we somehow got the lid off and the bin and opened up the loader (which has all these spinny things inside) and tried to unjam it. But we were unsuccessfull. Tim, after swearing like a sailor for 10 minutes, concluded that the machine had to be washed and then fixed, meaning that it was useless for the rest of the day. I had broken the loader in my hurry to get home. Well Tushar the Terrible (my boss) had mercy on me, and didn't fire me, he said accidents happen. I have found favour with the lord and with Tushar. I ended up having a reunion with my old working partner Richard, and we stayed till 6:45, meaning I had a 11hr and 15 minute day, which was long. The moral of the story, when loading spices into a bin, it is best to take the lid off the bin first. Other amusing things: when I was talking with Richard about the pending acne explosion that always hits my face when I work at the Spice factory his prescription was: lots of Sex & lime. According to Richard, Acne is the result of pent up sexual energy. I think he is right, I don't get lots of sex, maybe I'll change that, I don't get alot of lime either. When I asked Calvin if he was dating the wrong guys (as he was reading an article in the Sun by that title), he replied, "No Broda, I's a clean living fella"

The starting of the season of work

I started work today. Being home even for such a short period of time has been hard. I feel great "Homesickness" for Waterloo and my friends there. However, I have a summer of copeing already under my built and I am capitalizing on the experiences there. One of them is the establishment of a routine that is both physically and mentally healthy. The bike ride in the cool morning to the factory, the death ride up the huge hill of destruction back from the factory, overtime (1 hour today), the end of the day crap (good way to make extra money), the scenic evening jog, and the just-before-bed e-mail session. These all help to keep my sanity. My senses are heightened at times like these so the miserable times are really miserable and the joyful ones are really joyful. I was received at the Spice Factory as if it was the second coming (and indeed it was). Everyone was really glad to see me, and I them. Unfortunately I'm working alone at Loading Station 1 for the summer, but none-the-less it will probably a good time of reflection and accidents with the forklift. Speaking of which, I drove the forklift today, and its harder than it looks. But I think I did well. Only a bag fell from 20 feet in the air when i was getting the skid down from the racks, fortunately it didn't land on anyone, but it did make a cool explosion of dextrose when it hit the floor. I am not sore which is nice. Home will take some adjusting, "watch it mon"