Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Extreme Dating

See this story from yahoo.ca:

CHATHAM, Ont. - Police in Chatham, Ont., have charged a woman with assault after her boyfriend was punched twice — the first time in an alleged dispute over a sandwich.

Investigators say a man made his girlfriend a sandwich Monday evening and when she only ate half, she said he could have the other half.

A short time later, police say the woman became infuriated that the sandwich was missing and punched her boyfriend in the face.

Police say later in the night the two became involved in an unrelated argument and she punched him in the chest.

A 27-year-old Chatham woman has been charged with two counts of assault.

She has been held in custody pending a bail hearing.

(end of article)

My first diagnosis of this situation is that this woman's crazy. Now, it's quite possible that I don't understand the full context of the situation, that maybe there are extraneous factors involved in this situation and that a hostile relationship has been formed with her boyfriend with undercurrents of trust issues related to some deep-rooted psychosis associated with some sort of childhood trauma.

Taking that into account, my diagnosis is that this woman's crazy.

On the one hand, this is probably the most domestic of domestic disputes that you could have. It's a fairly simple, straightforward situation in which the solution seems pretty clear. The boyfriend made her a sandwich of which she ate half and then she offered the other half back to him. As of this moment, she has forfeited her rights to that half of the sandwich and therefore has no grounds on which to reclaim or claim theft of the aforementioned sandwich half. Yes, it's true that the entire sandwich was intended for her sole consumption, but seeing as she was unfit to consume the entire sandwich in one sitting, instead of putting it in a Ziploc bag and saving it for later, she willfully forfeited it back to the maker. Therefore, the resulting assault had no seeming justification given the context.

What makes matters worse, is that this woman then punched her boyfriend again, later, for a totally unrelated issue. It's possible that there were residual feelings of resentment from the missing sandwich half debacle, and that it boiled over into a subsequent dispute, quite possibly about laundry or something equally mundane and domestic-centered, and that this led to the situation of this woman's arrest.

Dating is hard in today's world. Everyone's so confused, and men and women have visions and expectations of each other which are so confusing and ever changing. Women have become more powerful in relationships and their demands have changed too. Men, for their part, have mostly been accommodating to these changes and have accepted to do more of the domestic stuff, like making sandwiches. Apparently, that wasn't enough for this particular woman and she might have had an issue with the sandwich itself or some related domestic issue which may have been on the ever-increasing to-do list on the fridge.

My question is: when did it become acceptable to punch people at home over stupid issues? Sure, in the old days, fathers used to rule with the iron fist and give you the beating of your life for doing things like failing math or taking the last Coke out of the fridge. So it would be feasible that something like a sandwich dispute could have led to some sort of assault...back in the 1950s.

Since then, there have been several laws put in place to protect people from domestic abuse. The issues are well-known, the laws are well-known, as are the adverse effects on the victims involved. What was once considered a fact of life and just something that people had to live with, like racism and sexism, has since been actively lobbied against and protections put in place to prevent it from happening again. Things like this aren't supposed to happen anymore, right?

It appears that I'm wrong on this one. It appears that abuse of this kind, which seems as outdated as wood siding on a family sized Buick, is still alive and well and that even women have gotten into the game. True, women are often latecomers to most things, what with them not getting rights for a really long time, but not EVERY frontier has to be conquered by a woman. Making the brave cross over step into domestic violence is really not a field that women had to enter.

How does this sort of thing happen? Who gets punched over a missing sandwich in their own home by the person that they call honey bunny?

Of all the things that we have to worry about in the dating world, I can't believe that getting punched out over silly domestic issues is still on the list. I thought that was out, just like inter-racial dating and the no kissing on the first date rule. What do we have to do to make this issue as obsolete?

The man charging the woman was a good first step. Overcoming the emotional pain and the potential embarrassment are a positive step to remind us that domestic abuse is unacceptable in all circumstances and that the abusers aren't justified because of their gender.

I hope that there aren't too many more maligned sandwich making boyfriends out there suffering in silence.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The White Folk are Alright

The Canadian Conservative government wants to do a review of hiring practices within the public service with a statement that hiring based on ethnicity is unfair and that this practice should be removed. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has made the argument that it's not fair to average white Canadians who pay taxes to tell them that they can't apply for certain jobs because they don't belong to a pre-determined ethnic group. What an argument.

Ignore the fact that affirmative action was put in place decades ago in order to ensure that women and minorities had a fair shake at jobs in the public service. Ignore also the fact that both women and minorities are far from taking over the top spots of government which are generally still reserved for white males (think of all those corner offices and six figure salaries and there's probably not a lot of people named Martha or Valkrim in those places). Even if you ignore all of that, this argument still doesn't hold.

Yeah, favouring ethnic groups for certain jobs in the government is unfair. You know what's also unfair? Favouring white people for those same jobs. You know what's also unfair? History, which dictates that for centuries, women and visible minorities have been the oppressed, the abused and the impoverished. You know what's also unfair? Life.

A quick look around the Cabinet will tell you that white people are doing ok. For all the talk about how affirmative action makes job competitions less about merit and more about race, it's hard to believe that the ethnic or the women will soon be taking over the seats of power. But I suppose it could happen, just one position at a time. It's true that once there were no women in offices. Now, there's lots of women in offices. People used to be afraid that pregnant women would cause trouble in offices and be a distraction. And now there are pregnant women in offices and accident rates have not soared through the roof.

It's funny that while women have done fairly well at balancing out the workforce, visible minorities in the public service have not fared as well. Visible minorities are still over-represented in other fields across the country and under-represented in comparison when it comes to the public service. I'll tell you one place where visible minorities appear to be taking over: Tim Horton's. They're all over those coffee shops. Hardly one white person over the age of 20 among them.

So the government is about to conduct a review to see if all the white people lining up at Tim Horton's in the morning while on their way to their public service jobs are about to be taken over by the visible minorities across the counter who are serving them their coffee?

Give me a break.

This is more over-reacting and pandering to the more conservative conservatives. This is another example of how this government looks to divide people on issues that were settled a long time ago: race, religion, rights.

This is also another example of plain meanness on behalf of the current regime, wanting to take away what grounds were gained by marginalized groups in the past and for which they fought a long hard battle and undo all the good in a day by calling them unnecessary and outdated.

It figures. Social justice is outdated and unneccessary, but meanness always thrives.

Rideout into the Sunset

See this article on yahoo.ca:

Man fined for driving souped-up drink cooler

NEW WATERFORD, N.S. - A Cape Breton man is fighting a ticket he received after being caught chugging along a sidewalk on a souped-up drink cooler.

Neil Rideout of New Waterford was fined $222 under Nova Scotia's Motor Vehicle Act last July for driving his motorized red cooler on a sidewalk.

But the 42-year-old says he only took his cooler for a spin on the sidewalk at the suggestion of police, who told him he couldn't ride the four-wheel contraption on the street.

Rideout says he believes he's being discriminated against and plans to fight the ticket at a trial scheduled for Feb. 2 in provincial court.

Desiree Vassallo, a spokeswoman for the Cape Breton Regional Police Service, says the only motorized vehicles permitted on a sidewalk are wheelchairs and scooters.

Rideout says he purchased the cooler, which is equipped with a radio, cup holders and a 5.5-horsepower motor, to be environmentally friendly.

(end of article)

I love that this man's last name is Rideout. It's so appropriate to the story. Especially considering that this is a story focused on a ride which many of us would have trouble recognizing.

Now, it may seem kooky to have an appliance become a motor vehicle, but when you think about it, it's a good idea. Cars are loud, cumbersome, they take up way too much space and use too much gas. Riding a cooler, which is small, light, and has a tiny engine makes a lot of sense. It would be so perfect to be able to ride a little cooler to a beer store and then pick up a 12 pack and ride home on top of the pack. Your beer would be cold, you would know where it is and you never have to look too far for either beer or a parking spot. And if there's way too much traffic on the streets? You can pick up your car-cooler and just walk.

It seems like everyone wants to talk about green initiatives and doing our part for the environment. And here's this guy, trying a real idea and he's being ticketed by the police? Just because his cooler isn't registered or he doesn't having a cooler driving license? Or cooler insurance?

The way that vehicles are defined and regulated is something of a mystery, but it makes sense that they would have to be, otherwise, a few of us may try to ride fans around town. While the principle is good and many of us can get behind the idea of the creation of a lighter, environmentally-friendly mode of transport, it's understandable that government would want to keep them in check to make sure that they're safe, reliable and don't pose a danger to other vehicles or pedestrians.

Personally, I hope that Rideout is successful in his claim and that his cooler is given license to ride throughout town. Not only would it be a personal victory and a blow in favour of Mother Earth, it would also be a great beginning for improvised small motor vehicles taking the road. Who doesn't want to see a street filled with grown adults on their way to work, riding small motorized household appliances wearing football helmets?

Rev up your microwave ovens and put them in neutral.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When Donkeys Fly and Kids Cry

See article from yahoo.ca:

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian beachgoers got a shock when they saw a donkey soaring in the blue skies over the balmy beaches on the Sea of Azov in southern Russia last week, police said on Tuesday.

Attached to a parachute, the animal screamed in fear as it circled over heads of holidaymakers sunbathing on a beach in the Cossack village of Golubitskaya in the Krasnodar region.

A regional police spokeswoman said the donkey ended up in the skies as a result of an impromptu advertising campaign by several Russian entrepreneurs to attract beachgoers to their private beach.

Instead, they attracted the attention of regional police who learned of the flying donkey earlier this week and launched a probe.

"The donkey screamed and children cried," regional police spokeswoman Larisa Tuchkova told AFP. "No-one had the brains to call police."

Instead, she said, people reached for their cameras and bombarded a local newspaper with phone calls.

"It was put up so high into the sky that the children on the beach cried and asked their parents: "Why did they tie a doggy to a parachute?" the newspaper, Taman, said late last week.

"The donkey landed in an atrocious manner: it was dragged several metres along the water, after which the animal was pulled out half-alive onto the shore."

The incident is stunning even for a country where animal cruelty is widespread and came as a shock to the locals, said Taman newspaper's editor, Elena Iovleva.

"This has never happened before," she told AFP.

The footage of the parachuting donkey was aired on national television Tuesday.

End of Article

I think that there are some important lessons that we can pull from this. First, that entrepreuners in Russia should lay off the vodka before deciding on great new advertising campaigns. That Please Enjoy Responsibly tag isn't just there for pregnant ladies, guys.

Second, that someone has to think of the children. Really, the poor children cried when they saw the donkey flying so high. And that's a bad thing. Especially when you're on vacation. You work all year as a parent to get a couple of lousy weeks off and then you go to all the trouble to take them to this lovely beach where you've fed them, lathered them in sunscreen and took them to the bathroom a hundred times, and just when you're starting to relax, some drunken group of billionnaires with a private beach decide to launch a donkey in the air for free publicity and your stupid kids are crying and your vacation is ruined.

Third, that even a country known for animal cruelty can go too far. This is Russia, after all, the land of the bears dressed as ballerinas riding on unicycles. Perhaps this would have been less shocking if the donkey was dressed in a tutu.

It's incredible that we find it acceptable to abuse animals for our amusement or for self-promotion. In the past, we used to use various groups of people for that very same purpose. The bleeding heart PETA squad is probably appropriately outraged and ready to vigorously defend the rights of donkeys in Russia on behalf of this poor victim.

This senseless act did make for a great story, though. It really shows that despite all of the progress that we've made as a society, we're still the same brutes underneath, using and abusing as we please, often for no other reason than we can. It's a way of showing how dominant we are and how nature is there at our disposal. How animals not only have to die for our nourishment, warmth and protection, but also for our callous need to be entertained and pandered to.

Besides from being an idiot idea, this little prank was unnecessarily cruel, and not the kind of cruel that you get labeled when you dress up your chihuahua in a pink mini sombrero. This animal was half alive when they recovered it and for what? Did the billionnaires get a good laugh? Did it make everyone want to visit the private beach that a flying donkey so well represents and embodies?

It's amazing that it took this stunt to show what kind of asses humans can be.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Gluttony is Not a Sport

Check out this tidbit:

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Japanese eating champion Takeru Kobayashi, arrested at a July Fourth hot dog-eating event, was freed Monday after a night in jail, looking a little weary and saying he was hungry.

Kobayashi, wearing in a black T-shirt bearing the message "Free Kobi" in green letters, was freed by a Brooklyn judge after he pleaded not guilty. The slim and boyish 32-year-old said he consumed only a sandwich and some milk in jail.

A contract dispute had kept Kobayashi out of Sunday's annual Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest, but he showed up anyway.

"I was there as a spectator, just to cheer on my buddies," he said through an interpreter outside court Monday. Fans chanted for him, and "in the heat of it, I jumped on the stage, hoping they would let me eat."

His attorney, Mario D. Romano, said his client was waved up onstage after spectators began chanting "Let him eat!"

"Shortly after he got on the stage, he was grabbed from behind by officers," Romano said.

Kobayashi was charged with obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest, trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Kobayashi, who's currently living in New York, had refused to sign a contract with Major League Eating, the fast food equivalent of the National Football League. On his Japanese-language blog, he said he wanted to be free to enter contests sanctioned by other groups.

But a few days ago, he told Japan's Kyodo News: "I really want to compete in the (Coney Island) event."

Joey "Jaws" Chestnut of California won by downing 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

After witnessing the drama involving Kobayashi, Chestnut said, "I feel bad for him."

Chestnut claimed the mustard-yellow champion's belt and a $20,000 purse but was disappointed with his own performance. The 26-year-old was aiming for a record 70 dogs in 10 minutes. Last year, he ate 68 dogs, four more than Kobayashi.

(end of article, from Yahoo pages)

This is an incredible piece of news. In a world where millions of people, mostly children, starve to death, not only does North America take the (fatty) cake, we eat it too. It's already ridiculous that we have appetizers, the things that you eat before you eat, and portion sizes that are roughly equivalent to frisbees for large dogs, but now, we've gone and made gluttony a sport. A spectator sport, complete with fans, belts, and something called Major League Eating. This thing gets its own league? Well, I guess if poker gets to be a 'sport', that pretty much opens the floodgates to anything you can compete at.

Gluttony should not a source of pride. In a world where everyone wants to be a winner and to be good at something, it's become more and more common to have stupid things be celebrated as achievements. In short, it doesn't matter how stupid that thing you can do is, as long as you're the best at it. It's kind of like everyone gets a trophy day, minus all the self-esteem and goodwill it's supposed to give you.

Are there really that many people interested in competitive eating? Obviously, there's a core group, namely the one chanting "let him eat!" It seems that the television crazed world will readily watch anything, no matter how disgusting or mundane.

What kind of people are interested in competitive eating? They must be the same people who like to watch shows where people injure themselves or try out strange experiments that usually end up blowing up (literally) in their face. Or those who love the train wreck reality tv shows starring clueless, selfish people.

And what kind of contract dispute could have occurred between him and the NFL equivalent of a professional eating league? Really? This guy downs hot dogs in public for prizes and he's looking to protect his independence and his image? How good can your image really be? You're a hot-dog eating champion. You have too much pride to wear some company's t-shirt?

Regardless of the general gripes that I have with the idea of competitive eating, there's also the obvious social contradictions. We're a society that doesn't guarantee basic rights like those of food, water and shelter to anyone, and yet, we're open to creating an industry based on wastefulness in order to entertain ourselves. We're constantly being told to be on the alert for rising obesity, diabetes and liver problems associated with overeating, inactivity and bad dietary habits, and yet, we've decided to bundle those three things together into a sport.

If we need everyone to excel in something, no matter how stupid or useless it is, why not take it a step further and see how greedy people really are and have a greedy contest run by Major League of Greed? Oh, wait, we already have that, it's called Wall Street. Why not see how superficial and materialistic people really are and have a superficial contest run by the Major League of Superficiliaty? Oh wait, we already have the Hills.

Maybe we should bring back the competitive spirit and celebrate achievements that are real, which require hard work, discipline and years of dedication? Why not elevate the qualities that we would like to see in people, such as athleticism or intelligence?

Maybe because that may require us to acknowledge that there are handfuls of people on this earth who have those qualities and that the rest of us only excel at laziness, selfishness, overindulgence and proscrastination?

This is why the everyone gets a trophy day experiment failed. Because the truth is, not everyone deserves one.