Something I have observed: Conservatives often like to call people like me—social democrats, communitarians, people who believe that the job of society is to help us better take care of each other—"naive," as though over my entire life, I hadn't had ample opportunities to watch people treating each other pretty badly, hadn't had ample opportunities to see how the world works.

 

Cut for politics )

The small garden in front of my house. A patch about 2 metres long by one metre deep, growing end-of-season lilies (leaves only -- the flowers are long gone), 2 rose bushes in mediocre health, a spill or orange nasturtiums, some lavender, and two bushy sage plants. On the steps to the house are pots of herbs.

Two woman were walking ahead of me up my street as I was coming home from the library.* As they walked past my house, one of them bent down and broke a leaf off my sage plant.**

"Hey!" I called to her back, "Hey! That's my plant you just damaged! That's my garden!"

"It's only half a leaf," she said.

"It doesn't matter," I explained, "This is a very busy corner. If everyone took a leaf as they walked by, I'd have no plant left! How would you like it if I went into your garden and picked your plants without asking you?"

"I don't have a garden, but if I did, I'd give you the plants," she said, apparently thinking I was being unreasonable.

"Stuff," I said, "Listen, lady, I went to a Catholic school. If you think I can't recognize an attempt to shame me, you've never known anyone who had a nun for a principal. Just don't go picking people's plants."

"Do you want the leaf back?"

"No, enjoy what you stole, please. Just don't go damaging people's gardens."

She shrugged and walked on.

You know, on Friday, the Cremini Kid and his dad were over. The Cremini Kid was looking at my nasturtiums and asked me if he could try a petal (he likes nasturtiums on salad). I said "Of course!" Because the seven-year-old Cremini Kid knew to ask. He recognized that as the person who planted and tended that garden, I might have other plans for my flowers. Because the seven-year-old Cremini Kid has some basic socialization and because his dad is doing a good job at teaching him about getting along in a community.

My garden is not a big garden. It fronts directly on to the sidewalk on a very busy corner—there's no lawn or fence separating it from the casual passer-by. So my poor garden sees a lot of abuse. People throw their rubbish into my plants. People steal plants. People barf on my lilies.*** I think all of these actions are signs of moral turpitude and the general unsuitability of the perpetrators to community life. I mean how difficult are these basic principles:

don't take stuff that isn't yours without asking;

clean up your messes and don't leave your rubbish or bodily emissions on other people's property; and

stay the heck off my lawn?****


Sheesh.

Bushy, lush tip of a branch of a healthy sage plant. Three or four leaves have been broken in half, and their ends removed.


* Whither I had betaken myself to escape the siren song of the arboreal armageddon (read chainsaw shrieks and woodchipper gronching noises) taking place directly across from my house.
** The very sage plant that grew from the tiny sprig of sage left when someone ripped the entire sage plant out of my garden this spring. Said sage plant is now a large and healthy specimen, with many tasty leaves.
*** Yes, this really happened. I leaned over to smell my lovely, just-bloomed rose, and noticed that my lilies had quite a different odour. Sigh.
**** Or tiny front garden. Unless I invite you to frolic there.

I realize that this may come as news to you, so I shall break it gently.

There are volumes other than floor-shakingly loud.

Really.

Look at the volume control on your music player. It has options for louder and for softer. You can play your awful music at a volume that I can't hear through the shared wall.

Now turn your attention to the television, and examine the volume control on it. You will notice the same options. I recommend trying the less-loud versions. You will still find yourself able to hear the dialogue, honest. But I won't.

And when you speak—when, for example, you tell your yappy dog to STFU, or when you express your anger and displeasure as you so often do at 10h00 while I am getting down to work—you can do it without raising your voice, and sharing the details of your discussions with me, through the aforementioned shared wall.

Amazingly enough, this also applies to closing doors–it is possible to go into and out of rooms without informing your neighbours that you are doing so. And to walking!

I am sharing this information with you, because it seems clear to me that nobody ever has before. It cannot possibly be that you really have failed to consider that your neighbours might not appreciate your taste in music, television, movies, and that we might prefer not to hear your discussions. I believe that you must feel deeply torn, every time you want to listen to music or watch a movie, knowing that you are inflicting your taste on your neighbours. It is entirely likely that you fervently hope that we are not home, so that you can indulge in your preferred entertainment without disturbing us.

I know that if I had not known about this marvelous ability of modern technology to replay music at less than wall-shaking volume, it would be much more difficult for me to enjoy my love of fine opera.

But now, with this new information that I am sharing with you, you no longer need to worry about us! You can simply turn the volume down, lower your voices, and close the doors instead of slamming them.

I do hope this makes it possible for you to get through your days in a more pleasant, less stressful fashion.

Best regards,
Your neighbour, who works from home.



zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)
( Feb. 17th, 2010 11:41 am)
Dan Wineman explains why the Flash on your retail website needs to go:

Me: (tries to visit a local restaurant’s website via iPhone)
Restaurant website:
I require Flash. Fuck off.
Me: I just want to know how late you’re open.
Website: Nope.
Me: But I’m on my phone. Don’t you have a little “HTML Version” link up in the corner or something?
Website: I’m ignoring you.
Me: What if I’m on my phone because I’m out, looking for a place to eat? Didn’t that ever occur to you?
Website: Fuck entirely off.

YES! YES! YES! 

That is all.

Mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi is the sort of candidate my dad would have voted for: his proposed policies are ideologically right-of-centre, pro-business, pro-suburb.

The Empire Club apparently loves him.
Cut because Toronto is not the centre of the universe. It's just where I happen to live. )
Dear Co-workers,

No, thank-you, I didn't want or need any help unloading the dishwasher and loading all the dishes from this morning into it. How nice of the five of you who came in and out of the kitchen while I was doing so to ask me. I really do enjoy putting other people's dirty away—it makes such a nice break from my day. I especially appreciated the non-assistance from the person who saw me sorting the cutlery, and put her own dirty plate in the now-empty dishwasher, apparently unaware of the mountain of other people's dirty plates and bowls and cutlery on the counter. After all, it's a shared kitchen, so we should all do our part creating a mess for someone to clean up. And I had absolutely nothing better to do—I didn't have more than 152 e-mails to deal with, or 24 features to check, and my schedules are all totally up to date. I was just emptying and reloading the dishwasher with other people's dishes in order to pass the time.

So, thanks so much for asking the way you didn't. Your concern and fellow feeling totally made my Monday.

No love,
-z.
Dear Friend, Colleagues, and Fellow-Travellers,

Can we knock it off with the puerile snickering over People of Wal-Mart, already*? Also with the classist Wal-Mart slang—"Walmart children," "Walmart creatures," etc?

I mean, sure, it's really easy to feel superior to a population of largely poor people, many of whom are fat, many of whom may be on social assistance, many of whom do not share our values, fashion sense, or resources. These people aren't like us. So we mock them.

But really? Is there any glory at all in mocking the poor, the dispossessed, the fat, and those who might be in ill-health? Somehow, I'm failing to see the humour.

Cut for ranting. )

Scientific knowledge is based on empirical evidence, and is appropriate for understanding the natural world, but it provides only a limited understanding of the supernatural, aesthetic, or other ways of knowing, such as art, philosophy, or religion.1


Here follows a very short rant. Maybe a rantlet.

This bothers me. It's a clear nod to the godbodies—we don't have apologia or disclaimers in the math standards, the history standards, or the geography standards. We don't have to say that an understanding of literary conventions in English will help you to understand and interpret texts written in English and literary traditions that share a similar cultural background, but may not be easily applied to an understanding of the narrative traditions of a non-literary culture (though perhaps we should!).

What do you all think of this?

1 From the Florida Standards for Science Education, Grade 7. It is, of course, not the only standard, nor even the most important.
I recognize that health emergencies, surgery, and life-saving procedures are very sexy, engaging, and generally fascinating. Tales of citizens of the U.S. who cannot afford chemotherapy or surgery, or who get turned back from emergency rooms rightly set people's blood to boiling.

I wish, though, that discussions of health care, and in particular, socialized health care would pay some attention to the less glamorous, less dramatic advantages of providing health care to citizens: the health part:
  • Annual checkups and tests, so that you have a baseline from which to track changes to your body
  • The ability to visit a doctor and have an ailment diagnosed and treated before it becomes life-threatening and warrants a hospital stay
  • Hassle-free sexual health exams and counselling
  • Pre-natal and neo-natal treatment for moms and babies
  • Adequate follow-up from surgical procedures and emergencies
In a lifetime of living in a country with socialized medicine, I've visited the ER possibly a double handful of times (stitches when I was eight; a broken arm when I was 9 or 10; a few rounds of dangerous dehydration and distraught boyfriend when I got sick in university; stitches after a bike accident when I was 21; a large first-degree burn (with some second) when I was in my mid-20s). I've had minor surgery three times (to remove a chelazian from my eyelid when I was 7; to remove my tonsils when I was 11; and to marsupialize a cyst when I was in my mid-20s). I've never had any serious surgery or a stay in a hospital longer than one night. I'm a healthcare lightweight.

But I'm in the system! Boy, am I in the system! )
.

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