Representative Lauren Boebert and the Latest Conservative Renaissance

More than three weeks ago, news outlets announced United States Congress Representative Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) announced, at a CPAC event, that her seventeen-year-old son and his girlfriend are going to be parents in April, making her a grandmother at thirty-six years old, then she praised the teen birth rate in rural areas of the United States, stating people in those areas “value life” (notwithstanding it’s difficult for women and girls in those areas to get adequate reproductive healthcare). Representative Boebert is against abortion and comprehensive sex education, even in taxpayer-funded public schools, though studies demonstrate comprehensive sex education is effective and necessary, whereas abstinence-only education is counterproductive–and reinforces rape culture..

Ignoring, for now, that Representative Boebert violated her son’s and his girlfriend’s privacy for cheap political point-scoring, here’s at least a couple of examples–real-world–of what’s wrong with trying to force your worldview on the rest of society.

Savita Halappanavar was a thirty-one-year-old married woman with a career (she was a dentist) who was excited to be a first-time mother–before she started experiencing health complications caused by her pregnancy. Her daughter, Prasa, was stillborn, and she herself died, because of a mismanaged miscarriage and–because she lived in Ireland–was denied an abortion when she requested it, being told that she couldn’t abort her pregnancy because Ireland “is a Catholic country.” Both woman and fetus died in this situation, so what have the anti-abortion movement and abortion bans gained?

Becky Bell died at age seventeen because of complications caused by a septic abortion, which she obtained illegally because of parental-consent laws in her native state of Indiana–I’m guessing she didn’t want her parents to know she was pregnant because she was afraid of how they would react (very typical of so many girls in similar situations). For years afterwards, her parents have decried, and campaigned against, parental-consent laws.

There are other Savita Halappanavars and Becky Bells and everyone in between in the world, including the United States.

It’s not fair to force people to take care of others–especially those who never asked to be here–if they can’t even take care of themselves. And given how much of a shit Western society at large actually gives about people and their kids–especially those who are struggling–demanding people become parents before they’re in any way, shape, or form ready for it is the height of irresponsibility. As the late George Carlin once put it, “Pre-born, you’re fine. Pre-school, you’re fucked.” So, once again, we see the true aim of the anti-abortion movement and abortion bans–to punish people, especially women, for daring to exercise autonomy over their own bodies. The thing is, there’s always been abortion, and there always will be. It just goes underground whenever and wherever it’s illegal, and, since most of those abortions occur in unsanitary conditions, women who have them die.

But Representative Boebert and the anti-abortion movement are only part of a larger attempt to turn the clock back to a time in which everyone–especially those who are not wealthy, white, able-bodied, cis heterosexual men–knew their place and those in power experienced no consequences for abusing their positions and the power that came with those positions, which just goes to prove that, for people who hold conservative views, freedom is a zero-sum game–in short, when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.


M3GAN: Some Impressions

For the first time in seemingly eons–and probably against my better judgment–I went to the theatre, and for the sole purpose of seeing the film M3GAN, which, to me, is a cross between the 2019 Child’s Play reboot and Frankenstein, with robotics and artificial intelligence. And, much like my post on Child’s Play, there is some social commentary.

Spoilers ahead

I won’t talk too much about the storyline or the plot of the movie, but I want to comment on some scenes. Gemma, who works for a toy company, is working on the prototype for M3GAN (Model 3 Generative Android) while working on a toy her boss, David, told her to work on. David sees the android under construction in Gemma’s workshop at the company headquarters; Gemma and her team demonstrate what the android can do, but it malfunctions, resulting in David telling Gemma to put it on the shelf and work on the project he assigned her.

Meanwhile, Gemma’s sister and her husband die in a car crash, and Gemma is stuck taking care of their daughter, Cady. After seeing Cady interact with Bruce, Gemma’s previous robotics project, Gemma is inspired to finish M3GAN. She introduces M3GAN and Cady, and Cady is immediately taken with the android. Gemma and her team show M3GAN–this time interacting with Cady–and David, though skeptical at first, is so impressed he wants Gemma to show M3GAN to investors and other higher-ups. All the while, Cady continues to interact with M3GAN, who demonstrates more and more human qualities, while essentially acting as a substitute parent as well as friend for Cady.

But it isn’t long before M3GAN shows her dark side. You see, Gemma has a next-door neighbour, Celia, who she isn’t too fond of, who has a dog, Dewey, who keeps crawling through a hole in the fence between their yards and getting into Gemma’s yard. Well, one night, after he injures Cady, Dewey disappears, and a cop shows up on Gemma’s front stoop asking her about Dewey’s whereabouts. Later, when Cady attends an alternative school–bringing M3GAN with her–she is bullied by a boy named Brandon (whose mother is clearly in denial about what he’s really like), and M3GAN arrives on the scene to save Cady and dispose of Brandon–though a motorized vehicle makes it look like he died by accident. It is after Brandon’s death that Gemma realizes there is something wrong with M3GAN, and takes her back to her workshop to try and fix her–especially seeing as M3GAN’s launch is that night, as per David. But M3GAN goes haywire, and goes on a killing spree before returning to Gemma’s home and fighting with Gemma and Cady, and, Gemma realizes she has to destroy her own creation.

The first thought that entered my head as I watched this film was the question of what would have happened if Gemma had listened to David and put M3GAN aside. Now I’m wondering if Gemma had given herself and her team enough time to work out all the kinks in M3GAN before allowing David and the investors to put her on the market–as well as if there’s any such thing as ‘more human than human.’ Also, I wonder if it’s possible for manmade mechanical objects to deliberately take on lives of their own. I’m no scientist or robotics expert, but these questions enter my head whenever I take in stories like M3GAN. From where I’m sitting now, M3GAN is yet another cautionary tale about over-dependence on technology, and–much like the Child’s Play reboot–a commentary on how technology and artificial intelligence are double-edged swords.

All of that said, M3GAN was an enjoyable film, and worth every nickel I spent to see it–and in the theatre.

Another Chance to Make Good

Another year, another chance for me to make good on everything and to realize my heretofore unrealized potential–even as I indulge in bad habits at the same time as I try to start good ones. I feel I’m already off to a good start: I’ve started revising a novel I’m currently working on, and did some house cleaning. I was going to post a video to my vlog, but realized just as I was about to do so that the batteries in my camera were running low, and I don’t have any more. The best-laid plans…

I’m also undertaking a cookbook challenge this year, but, because I didn’t research any of the recipes I want to work on, it will be like diving head-first into a body of water for me, in terms of buying ingredients as well as finding recipes and cooking. But I won’t make excuses for not following through on this, but rather, I’ll find a way to make it work under the circumstances.

So far, I’m doing better than last year in terms of having prepared for this year–not much, but I still feel good about what I’ve done. One thing I realize I need to work on is not beating myself up whenever I mess anything up.

Granted, I don’t have everything I need right now to accomplish everything I want to accomplish, but the year has just started, so I’m not too worried. Everything will fall into place as the year progresses–I’ll make damn sure of that.

Here’s to the start of a new year, and another chance to make good.

New Year, New Book, New Page

I realize it’s been just under a year since my last post; I could make a bunch of excuses for my dormancy, but the truth is I’ve just been lazy. This year, I plan on curing my laziness–I have a lot of plans for what I want to do this year, and I’m making what I hope are proper plans for how I hope to achieve what I want to.

I’ve always known that aspects of my life needed to change, but, over the last year or so, I’ve come to realize what I have to do to change them. I also need to find ways to keep myself motivated to stay the course. I’ve declared a moratorium on impulsivity, and I intend to make out a roadmap for my life, so I can take it where I want it to go. In other words, for the next little while, I’m developing tunnel vision.

I’m slowly but surely trying to shed old habits and develop new ones; some of the new habits will be a long time coming, but I’ll get there.

Joe Biden and Inauguration Day 2021

Joe Biden is being inaugurated today as the 46th President of the United States; even before being sworn in, he has faced accusations of winning a rigged election, his predecessor Donald Trump’s refusal to concede defeat and begin the transfer of power, and an attempted coup d’etat. What will he face once he’s sworn in?

I understand Biden won’t be much different from previous Presidents of the United States–like them, he’ll uphold the status quo while maybe tossing the occasional stale crumb to marginalized citizens. And there are the small matters of the COVID-19 pandemic and the insurgence of neo-fascism in the United States…

All of which leads to the rhetorical question of whether Biden will clean up Trump’s messes, or just enough of them that he seems comparatively better than Trump…while making some of his own.

Why am I, as a Canadian, so interested in the swearing-in of a new President of the United States–especially if it’s going to be more of the same? Well, like it or not, U.S. politics has long influenced world politics, often in its own favour, and at other nations’ expense, and that of the majority of U.S. citizens. And Canada and the United States are on the same continent, ergo President Joe Biden will have to do business with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from time to time. I’m watching and waiting to see how that goes–for Canadian as well as U.S. citizens.

A New Year of Uncertainty and Hope

A new year has begun, and a cloud of uncertainty mixed with hope is hanging over it. 

For the last year or so, the world has been in the grip of a pandemic, with responses thereto varying from one political leader--and one person--to the next. In the midst of COVID-19, people of Asian descent and black people have faced violence, the latter of which brought Black Lives Matter back into the news for a time. As well, reports of celebrity misbehaviour related to the pandemic have leaked into the headlines (see Bryan Adams and, most recently, Tom Cruise). COVID-19 has presented the world with an opportunity--mainly for businesses to stop trashing the planet to make a buck--but it's up to everyone at all levels of society, including political leaders, to take advantage of this particular opportunity.

On a personal note--without going into details--I've made a mess of my life within the last year and a half or so, but the arrival of 2021 has presented me with an opportunity to make things right, and to maybe get even the tiniest bit ahead.  I know there are circumstances beyond my control, but I'm determined to make things happen this year.

I don't know what 2021 will bring, but I'm cautiously optimistic about...everything.

Mary Ann Shadd Cary: Another Buried Story Unearthed

October 9, 2020 is the first time I’ve heard the name ‘Mary Ann Shadd Cary’–and I only came across it because of a Google doodle in honour of her 197th birthday.

Such is the quality of the education I received during my years of compulsory education here in Canada.

Mary Ann Shadd Cary was an anti-slavery activist; the first black female publisher in North America; the first female publisher in Canada; the first black woman to vote in a U.S. election; and the second black woman in the U.S. to earn a law degree (at 60 years of age) in the United States; her former Washington, D.C. residence was declared a National Historical Landmark in 1976; the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women’s History Alliance) designated her a Women’s History Month honouree in 1987; and she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1998. In Canada, she was designated a Person of Historical Significance, with a plaque in Chatham, Ontario dedicated to her; she features in Canada’s citizenship test guide, which was released in 2009 (page 16); Library and Archives Canada has a Mary Ann Shadd Cary collection, archival reference number R4182 (formerly MG24-K22); Heritage Toronto has marked the place where she published her newspaper, The Provincial Freeman, with a plaque.

Mary Ann Shadd Cary is an important figure in American and Canadian history, but I never learned about her in school, even in the American history class I took in high school. Shadd Cary is yet another example of how the accomplishments and achievements of people who are not white cis heterosexual men (preferably of means) are erased from history’s pages–or at least have been until recently. Now that she features in Canada’s citizenship test guide, I hope schools here in Canada are teaching students about her–or at least allowing students ways of learning about her.

It’s true that history is so often written from the point of view of the victors and those in power, but it’s high time we acknowledge the past in its entirety and the achievements of everyone who lived and did important things, not just a few who fit a certain mold.

I’m Still Alive

…and writing a long-overdue post.

Since the advent of COVID-19, I’ve had plenty of time to post, I know. But I’ve allowed myself to be distracted–mostly by Netflix. I was going to post something on COVID-19 a while back (my thoughts on everything that’s happened since it hit us), but, for reasons known only to my subconscious, I lost my nerve.

Now I’m forcing myself to post something.

I’ve been: out of work and on CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefits) for the last little while; looking for gainful employment, and had a couple of near-misses; working on my novel–for the last month or so, I’ve focused on writing a chapter outline for what, hopefully, will be the last draft, and I still have to edit that before getting to work on the book itself. I’m also planning other books: my next novel, a young-adult book or two, a graphic novel, what could possibly be a YA graphic novel (truth be told, I still haven’t determined if my YA book will be a graphic novel or not), and I’m also thinking of writing a children’s book–I’m thinking middle-grade for right now. Oh, and I’ve started sketching again.

I’m also preparing to move house; right now, I’m sorting through my things, and have even done some packing. I’ve done some sorting and packing in fits and starts within the last year, but, seeing as I have to be out of my current place by February of the coming year, I’m focusing on getting my belongings sorted and packed within the next couple of months…when I’m not working on my first novel.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to for the last few months. I’ve been keeping safe, and I wear a mask whenever I’m out in public, and taking other measures to help curtail the spread of COVID-19. Going forward, I plan to post here, and on my other platforms, than I have until now.

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn: Some Insights

I saw the movie Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn the first day it hit theatres in Vancouver. I know this movie sounds like just another comic-book superhero flick, but this one has elements I would like to comment on–possible spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen it.

The movie focuses on Harley Quinn, her breakup with The Joker, and the aftermath; from where I sat, the women who would form The Birds of Prey were merely props in Harley’s story, an afterthought, while Harley did most of the work, especially against Black Mask. I read in one magazine interview with star Margot Robbie (who portrays Harley Quinn) that she wanted to create a girl gang in this movie. Granted, in the comics, Harley only occasionally worked with the Birds of Prey; in the movie, the four women work together only once, and–again–Harley does most of the work. Renee Montoya and Black Canary, individually, work well alone, and Rebecca Bertinelli/The Huntress makes the occasional appearance on her own before all of the title characters are trapped together, and even helps Harley in a chase scene. But there’s no mention of the Birds of Prey until near the end of the film.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie but have read the Birds of Prey comic books, there is a change: Jurnee Smollett-Bell portrays Black Canary. In the comics, Black Canary is a white blond, but in this movie, she’s, well, black. So the creators of Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn changed the race of at least one of the characters, and perhaps that’s a good thing–and it’s appropriate that Black Canary is that character, and her new race is black.

It’s nice to see the ladies of the superhero comics (besides Wonder Woman) are getting a fair shake at the box office–and as heroes of their own stories. I enjoyed Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, though, as a storyteller myself, I would at least tweak some things about the storyline. (But, then again, there are things I’d change and tweak about every story I read and see.)

Janus, Part Two

Happy New Year.

I’m starting 2020 with mixed emotions, mostly because I’m carrying thoughts and emotions about last year over into today. One lesson I’m trying to teach myself is to let things go, while learning from my past decisions and experiences.

I have plans, and high hopes, for myself this year, while trying to be realistic about everything. I’m thinking, right now, I’ll have to create a schedule for everything I want to accomplish this year–but I’ll see what happens.

So, here I am, at the beginning of 2020, with quite a few plans and high hopes for the year, while trying to keep a level head.

P.S.: I meant to post this on New Year’s Day, and I thought I did, but I double-checked, and clearly I didn’t. Oops.