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Nemesis v. Archenemy

Nemesis v. Archenemy

By David Bird in Blog on May 22, 2012

I watched the first episode of the BBC's Sherlock series this week (actually I watched the first two, but the second isn't relevant to this post) and I was reminded of an article by Chuck Klosterman, The Importance of Being Hated. In it he contrasts a nemesis with an archenemy: RECOGNIZING YOUR NEMESIS •At some point in the past, this person was (arguably) your best friend. •You have punched this person in the face. •If invited, you would go to this person's wedding and give him a spice rack, but you would secretly hope that his marriage ends in a bitter, public divorce. •People who barely know both of you assume you are close friends; people who know both of you intimately suspect that you profoundly dislike each other. •If your archenemy tried to kill you, this person would attempt to stop him. RECOGNIZING YOUR ARCHENEMY •Every time you talk to this person, you lie. •If you meet someone who has the same first name as this person, you immediately like him less. •The satisfaction you feel from your own success pales in comparison to the despair you feel at this person's triumphs, even if those triumphs are completely unrelated to your life. •If this person slept with your girlfriend, she would never be attractive to you again. •Even if this person's girlfriend was a hateful bitch, you would sleep with her out of spite.Apparently you need both if you're going to be anything in this world. BTW, If you've never read any Klosterman, you're really missing out. Check him out now.Originally Pubished at: David Bird

Nemesis v. Archenemy

Nemesis v. Archenemy

By David Bird in Blog on May 22, 2012

I watched the first episode of the BBC's Sherlock series this week (actually I watched the first two, but the second isn't relevant to this post) and I was reminded of an article by Chuck Klosterman, The Importance of Being Hated. In it he contrasts a nemesis with an archenemy: RECOGNIZING YOUR NEMESIS •At some point in the past, this person was (arguably) your best friend. •You have punched this person in the face. •If invited, you would go to this person's wedding and give him a spice rack, but you would secretly hope that his marriage ends in a bitter, public divorce. •People who barely know both of you assume you are close friends; people who know both of you intimately suspect that you profoundly dislike each other. •If your archenemy tried to kill you, this person would attempt to stop him. RECOGNIZING YOUR ARCHENEMY •Every time you talk to this person, you lie. •If you meet someone who has the same first name as this person, you immediately like him less. •The satisfaction you feel from your own success pales in comparison to the despair you feel at this person's triumphs, even if those triumphs are completely unrelated to your life. •If this person slept with your girlfriend, she would never be attractive to you again. •Even if this person's girlfriend was a hateful bitch, you would sleep with her out of spite.Apparently you need both if you're going to be anything in this world. BTW, If you've never read any Klosterman, you're really missing out. Check him out now.Originally Pubished at: David Bird

Count Down To Official White Status

Count Down To Official White Status

By David Bird in Blog on May 18, 2012

It's official! The number of white births in America has fallen below fifty percent, with the Latino population continuing to make large gains in US demographics. As a Canadian, I have to ask, aren't Latinos white people too? America is the only country in world where Latin Americans are sectioned off into their own little 'racial' group instead of being considered another European ethnicity. Historically, there is some precedence. My father's family came from Ireland. Even though the Irish are a nation so pale that many risk bursting into flame whenever they go into direct sunlight, it is only in the last century that Americans included them amongst the white races. The problem was religion. The US has always been proud of its religious diversity, but the reality is that the diversity was one of Reformation churches. If you weren't Protestant, you weren't welcome. Now you might reply that it is silly to consider religion in determining race, but that's because of the success non-Protestants have had in gaining acceptance. It is silly to include religion in defining race now, it wasn't then. The definition of race has changed. Following the Irish, many others have found acceptance, particularly the 'Latin' and Meditarrean nations. The Italians, the Greeks. But not the Spanish. Maybe the proximity of Latin America weighs on the discussion, making Latinos an Other that is right here, rather than way over there in the 'Old Country'? I don't know, but I do know that when faced with the rise of 'non-white' groups in the past, America has reacted, not by embracing multi-culturalism, but by redefining what it means to be white. I predict it'll happen again. Yes, there are some Latinos that are black, there are even some that are Asian, but most are white. America will simply be recognizing something that every other nation already sees.Originally Pubished at: David Bird

Count Down To Official White Status

Count Down To Official White Status

By David Bird in Blog on May 18, 2012

It's official! The number of white births in America has fallen below fifty percent, with the Latino population continuing to make large gains in US demographics. As a Canadian, I have to ask, aren't Latinos white people too? America is the only country in world where Latin Americans are sectioned off into their own little 'racial' group instead of being considered another European ethnicity. Historically, there is some precedence. My father's family came from Ireland. Even though the Irish are a nation so pale that many risk bursting into flame whenever they go into direct sunlight, it is only in the last century that Americans included them amongst the white races. The problem was religion. The US has always been proud of its religious diversity, but the reality is that the diversity was one of Reformation churches. If you weren't Protestant, you weren't welcome. Now you might reply that it is silly to consider religion in determining race, but that's because of the success non-Protestants have had in gaining acceptance. It is silly to include religion in defining race now, it wasn't then. The definition of race has changed. Following the Irish, many others have found acceptance, particularly the 'Latin' and Meditarrean nations. The Italians, the Greeks. But not the Spanish. Maybe the proximity of Latin America weighs on the discussion, making Latinos an Other that is right here, rather than way over there in the 'Old Country'? I don't know, but I do know that when faced with the rise of 'non-white' groups in the past, America has reacted, not by embracing multi-culturalism, but by redefining what it means to be white. I predict it'll happen again. Yes, there are some Latinos that are black, there are even some that are Asian, but most are white. America will simply be recognizing something that every other nation already sees.Originally Pubished at: David Bird

Count Down To Official White Status

Count Down To Official White Status

By David Bird in Blog on May 18, 2012

It's official! The number of white births in America has fallen below fifty percent, with the Latino population continuing to make large gains in US demographics. As a Canadian, I have to ask, aren't Latinos white people too? America is the only country in world where Latin Americans are sectioned off into their own little 'racial' group instead of being considered another European ethnicity. Historically, there is some precedence. My father's family came from Ireland. Even though the Irish are a nation so pale that many risk bursting into flame whenever they go into direct sunlight, it is only in the last century that Americans included them amongst the white races. The problem was religion. The US has always been proud of its religious diversity, but the reality is that the diversity was one of Reformation churches. If you weren't Protestant, you weren't welcome. Now you might reply that it is silly to consider religion in determining race, but that's because of the success non-Protestants have had in gaining acceptance. It is silly to include religion in defining race now, it wasn't then. The definition of race has changed. Following the Irish, many others have found acceptance, particularly the 'Latin' and Meditarrean nations. The Italians, the Greeks. But not the Spanish. Maybe the proximity of Latin America weighs on the discussion, making Latinos an Other that is right here, rather than way over there in the 'Old Country'? I don't know, but I do know that when faced with the rise of 'non-white' groups in the past, America has reacted, not by embracing multi-culturalism, but by redefining what it means to be white. I predict it'll happen again. Yes, there are some Latinos that are black, there are even some that are Asian, but most are white. America will simply be recognizing something that every other nation already sees.Originally Pubished at: David Bird

Power Honor Grace

Power Honor Grace

By David Bird in Blog on May 1, 2012

I've a new Tumblr account, Power Honor Grace, which concentrates on female comics characters. Today I've posted a review of the new hardcover edition of Ted Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin: The Night Things, but there's lots to check out. Enjoy!Originally Pubished at: David Bird

Power Honor Grace

Power Honor Grace

By David Bird in Blog on May 1, 2012

I've a new Tumblr account, Power Honor Grace, which concentrates on female comics characters. Today I've posted a review of the new hardcover edition of Ted Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin: The Night Things, but there's lots to check out. Enjoy!Originally Pubished at: David Bird

Power Honor Grace

Power Honor Grace

By David Bird in Blog on May 1, 2012

I've a new Tumblr account, Power Honor Grace, which concentrates on female comics characters. Today I've posted a review of the new hardcover edition of Ted Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin: The Night Things, but there's lots to check out. Enjoy!Originally Pubished at: David Bird

Lying With Statistics: The Fat Wars

Lying With Statistics: The Fat Wars

By David Bird in Blog on March 28, 2012

Everyone seems to do it, even normal people. And by 'normal' I mean fat, overweight, the obese. Pick whatever term you like. A favourite tactic in the 'fat wars' is to attack fashion models as being too skinny. They're freaks! They're anorexic! Some people want laws passed. These cultural browbeatings always seem to target women and, while women complain about that in theory, in practice they are often at the forefront, smacking these skinny girls for all its worth.I came across an example recently at Salon.com. The article isn't new, but the site likes to draw attention to older pieces in its sidebar. Entitled "Naked models offer a body image reality check," it draws attention to another article, found in Plus Model magazine. There we are told that twenty years ago models weighed 8 percent less than the average woman. Now they weigh a whopping 23 percent less. The freaks! The author of the article, Mary Elizabeth Williams, does draw attention to the lack of sources for these statistics and to rising obesity rates, but on the whole seems to validate the point being made by Plus Model.But how exactly would rising obesity rates factor in? Over the past twenty years the average American woman's weight has gone from 140 pounds to 160 pounds. A pound a year. If models weighed 8 percent less than the average woman twenty years ago, then the average model weighed 128.8 pounds. If she weighs 23 percent less than the average woman today, she weights 123.2 pounds. That means models do weigh less now-assuming Plus Model's stats are true-but only 5.6 pounds less. Put that way its hardly something to get hysterical over. You'd think.Originally Pubished at: David Bird

Lying With Statistics: The Fat Wars

Lying With Statistics: The Fat Wars

By David Bird in Blog on March 28, 2012

Everyone seems to do it, even normal people. And by 'normal' I mean fat, overweight, the obese. Pick whatever term you like. A favourite tactic in the 'fat wars' is to attack fashion models as being too skinny. They're freaks! They're anorexic! Some people want laws passed. These cultural browbeatings always seem to target women and, while women complain about that in theory, in practice they are often at the forefront, smacking these skinny girls for all its worth.I came across an example recently at Salon.com. The article isn't new, but the site likes to draw attention to older pieces in its sidebar. Entitled "Naked models offer a body image reality check," it draws attention to another article, found in Plus Model magazine. There we are told that twenty years ago models weighed 8 percent less than the average woman. Now they weigh a whopping 23 percent less. The freaks! The author of the article, Mary Elizabeth Williams, does draw attention to the lack of sources for these statistics and to rising obesity rates, but on the whole seems to validate the point being made by Plus Model.But how exactly would rising obesity rates factor in? Over the past twenty years the average American woman's weight has gone from 140 pounds to 160 pounds. A pound a year. If models weighed 8 percent less than the average woman twenty years ago, then the average model weighed 128.8 pounds. If she weighs 23 percent less than the average woman today, she weights 123.2 pounds. That means models do weigh less now-assuming Plus Model's stats are true-but only 5.6 pounds less. Put that way its hardly something to get hysterical over. You'd think.Originally Pubished at: David Bird

Lying With Statistics: The Fat Wars

Lying With Statistics: The Fat Wars

By David Bird in Blog on March 28, 2012

Everyone seems to do it, even normal people. And by 'normal' I mean fat, overweight, the obese. Pick whatever term you like. A favourite tactic in the 'fat wars' is to attack fashion models as being too skinny. They're freaks! They're anorexic! Some people want laws passed. These cultural browbeatings always seem to target women and, while women complain about that in theory, in practice they are often at the forefront, smacking these skinny girls for all its worth.I came across an example recently at Salon.com. The article isn't new, but the site likes to draw attention to older pieces in its sidebar. Entitled "Naked models offer a body image reality check," it draws attention to another article, found in Plus Model magazine. There we are told that twenty years ago models weighed 8 percent less than the average woman. Now they weigh a whopping 23 percent less. The freaks! The author of the article, Mary Elizabeth Williams, does draw attention to the lack of sources for these statistics and to rising obesity rates, but on the whole seems to validate the point being made by Plus Model.But how exactly would rising obesity rates factor in? Over the past twenty years the average American woman's weight has gone from 140 pounds to 160 pounds. A pound a year. If models weighed 8 percent less than the average woman twenty years ago, then the average model weighed 128.8 pounds. If she weighs 23 percent less than the average woman today, she weights 123.2 pounds. That means models do weigh less now-assuming Plus Model's stats are true-but only 5.6 pounds less. Put that way its hardly something to get hysterical over. You'd think.Originally Pubished at: David Bird


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Before Watchmen

Before Watchmen

By David Bird in Blog on March 22, 2012

has surprised some.

The Victims

The Victims

By David Bird in Blog on March 20, 2012

Robert Bales is not a victim. These are the victims, nine of them children:The dead:Mohamed Dawood son of AbdullahKhudaydad son of Mohamed JumaNazar MohamedPayendoRobeenaShatarina daughter of Sultan MohamedZahra daughter of Abdul HamidNazia daughter of Dost MohamedMasooma daughter of Mohamed WazirFarida daughter of Mohamed WazirPalwasha daughter of Mohamed WazirNabia daughter of Mohamed WazirEsmatullah daughter of Mohamed WazirFaizullah son of Mohamed WazirEssa Mohamed son of Mohamed HussainAkhtar Mohamed son of Murrad AliThe wounded:Haji Mohamed Naim son of Haji SakhawatMohamed Sediq son of Mohamed NaimParweenRafiullahZardanaZulhejaOriginally Pubished at: David Bird

The Victims

The Victims

By David Bird in Blog on March 20, 2012

Robert Bales is not a victim. These are the victims, nine of them children:The dead:Mohamed Dawood son of AbdullahKhudaydad son of Mohamed JumaNazar MohamedPayendoRobeenaShatarina daughter of Sultan MohamedZahra daughter of Abdul HamidNazia daughter of Dost MohamedMasooma daughter of Mohamed WazirFarida daughter of Mohamed WazirPalwasha daughter of Mohamed WazirNabia daughter of Mohamed WazirEsmatullah daughter of Mohamed WazirFaizullah son of Mohamed WazirEssa Mohamed son of Mohamed HussainAkhtar Mohamed son of Murrad AliThe wounded:Haji Mohamed Naim son of Haji SakhawatMohamed Sediq son of Mohamed NaimParweenRafiullahZardanaZulhejaOriginally Pubished at: David Bird

The Nominees and Religion

The Nominees and Religion

By David Bird in Blog on March 5, 2012

There is no other Western nation in which a political candidate’s religion is as important as it is in America. It’s strange. I don’t think America is really that religious a nation. In public surveys twice as many Americans say they have attended church in the past week than citizens of other nations do, but deeper research says that attendance rates are only half what people claim. So America is no more religious than most Western nations, at least if attendance is considered a valuable measure (and I think it is), so why do they lie about it? One possibility, put forward by those studying the phenomenon, is that people lie to pollsters about socially desirable behavior, and if they consider church attendance to be socially desirable, then they’re likely to say they do it, even if they don’t.It also seems to be an issue in picking leaders, more for Republicans, than Democrats, perhaps, but being a good Christian seems to be a desirable trait in leadership candidates in America as a whole; certainly more so than anywhere else (the Vatican notwithstanding). So how do the candidates stack up?Mitt RomneyShould Romney win the nomination, he will be the first Mormon candidate put forward by a major party. Not as important as being the first black nominee, but interesting nevertheless. So far all of America’s presidents have been Protestant Christians, except Kennedy, who was Catholic.One question that has dogged him is whether or not Mormons are even Christians? It hasn’t been directly addressed too often out of a misplaced sense of politeness. As if to raise the question were to be intolerant. Now I don’t think that his Mormonism should stand in the way of elected office, and I am very much opposed to some of the darker sniping that is directed towards Mormons as a whole, but I am going to come right out and say what most Christians privately acknowledge: Mormons are not Christians.Yes, they’re good people. Yes, some Christians would be better Christians if they behaved more like them. And, yes, Romney may even make a good president. But Mormonism’s teachings are just too far off the doctrinal map. For example, even though Christians are described as joint heirs with Christ, we are not going to go on to become gods of our own worlds. That may strike some people as an obscure point, but it’s exactly the sort of belief that stands between Mormonism and Christianity and between Romney and the wholehearted support of his party.Newt Gingrich and Rick SantorumTrailing Romney for the Republican nomination are two Catholics, Gingrich and Santorum. Of the two Santorum’s religiosity is taken more seriously. Gingrich became a Catholic because his third wife is one. She is described as a very serious Catholic, but she was also his mistress during his second marriage and no one who has known Gingrich for any length of time seems to think the conversion has made any change in him at all.Santorum’s religious bona fides have not been questioned, but he recently raised some strange questions himself in his attack on the only Catholic to become president. Many Americans were concerned that a Catholic president would follow the instructions of the Pope, that a vote for a Catholic would put America under the rule of a foreign power. Kennedy assured them that this was not true. That his government’s policies would not be mandated by religious doctrine and that, should he ever find himself in a position where he was forced to choose between his religious beliefs and the American constitution, he would resign from office rather than compromise America’s religious freedom.Santorum has repudiated Kennedy’s stand, going as far as to say it makes him sick. Does that mean a vote for Santorum is a vote for the Vatican? It’s not a question that is going to be seriously addressed, of course. Both Gingrich and Santorum are still seen as spoilers and so not given the same amount of scrutiny as Romney. It is interesting to note, however, that a prominent Evangelical leader recently referred to Santorum as a “man of faith.” Not a Christian, a man of faith; a broad term that could encompass a broad range of religious backgrounds.Ron Paul and Barack ObamaThat leaves one more Republican nominee and the Democratic nominee.Religion has never played a prominent role in Paul’s campaign, but he is a conservative Baptist. That might surprise some who see him as a libertarian first, but American libertarianism is a mixed bag when it comes to interpreting what Libertarianism means (and that seems appropriate). In an interview with Christianity Today Paul discussed his interpretation and revealed that his libertarianism is really a very traditional anti-federalism. He is not opposed to governments making laws governing our behaviour, per se; he is opposed to the federal government doing so. As positions go, it’s a fairly common one amongst the religious right and one that can be traced back to the federal government dismantling the Jim Crow laws in the 50s and 60s and to the Civil War before that (yes, seriously).So why isn’t he a stronger candidate? Because he is a fringe candidate, a boutique candidate, if you will, running a campaign in which values are promoted ahead of winning, and as commendable as that might be, in order for the religious right to have an influence over the future of the party, they have to back a winner. Paul won’t be that man.That leaves the Democratic nominee, the incumbent president, Barack Obama. Obama was not raised in a religious family. His father came from a Muslim family, but was an avowed Atheist. Obama started to come to church as a young community worker, attending the same services as the people around him. Not a very dramatic conversion, but it is how most people pick a church. You know people. They go to church. You join them. This is why a Christian’s witness is so important.The church he attended was a politically active, predominantly black church and that activism was used as a wedge issue to paint both Obama and the church’s leadership as radicals. Obama left the church as a result. Beneath the politics, however, was a church organized on traditional Congregationalist lines. Congregationalism, as an organization hasn’t been a force in the US for more than a century, but the nation’s Puritan founders gave rise to the Congregationalists, who believed in putting power in the hands of the laity and not the clergy. So Obama not only came to church in the most conventional way, he joined a church linked to America’s beginnings. Since leaving it, however, he has not found a new church home. Like most Americans he does not attend church regularly.You might think this is a strength for him, he is the candidate Americans are most likely to see themselves in, but if attendance is a desirable factor, then it is not likely to help him. You want the candidate to be the person you want to be. But whether religion helps him or not, he is considered the candidate most likely to win.Originally Pubished at: David Bird

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