The Gender of Business

Business is male. Make no mistake. Everything about it smacks of the male mentality.

First, the obsession with competition. You have to be #1, you have to outcompete your competition. So hierarchy, rank, is everything. As is an adversarial attitude. It doesn’t have to be that way. Business could be a huge network of co-operative ventures, each seeking to better the whole. But no, we have to be better than, stronger than, faster than – Read the rest of this entry »

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An Open Letter to Summer People Everywhere

This is not “a recreational paradise” or “a summer playground”. This is our neighbourhood.

Those labels are marketing ploys used by real estate agents and business owners eager to make money on sales. They do not speak for us. We live here; they do not.

Many of us have lived here for five, ten, twenty years. Half of us are retired; half of us still work. We live here because we want to live on a lake in a forest. We love to look out at the water and see the sun sparkle, the moonlight shimmer. We love to hear the birds and see the squirrels at our feeders; we stand in awe when we see the occasional moose or bobcat. We sit out in the evening and look up at the starry sky. We open our windows at night to hear the loons as we fall asleep. We love the peace and quiet; we bask in the solitude.

So when you ‘summer people’ come here on the weekends and do whatever the hell you want, of course we consider it an invasion. And of course we want our neighbourhood back.

When you come here, you’re not leaving the city and driving to a place where you can ‘let loose’ – you’re simply leaving your own neighbourhood and entering ours.

When we have asked, politely, that you not drive so fast in your pick-ups, we were told we don’t own the road. (And to prove it, you sped up as you passed us, spraying gravel in our faces.)

When we have asked, politely, that you not come so close to us on your seadoos, you have screamed at us “You don’t own the fucking lake!”

True enough. But this is not a public campground: it is not empty before you arrive, it does not exist solely for your pleasure, it is not empty when you leave. Did you really think no one lives here?

Right. Okay. Read the rest of this entry »

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Permitting Abortion and Prohibiting Prenatal Harm

I think abortion should be allowed. And I think prenatal harm (especially that caused by ingesting various legal and illegal substances while pregnant) should not be allowed. Some accuse me of hypocrisy or, more accurately, maintaining a contradictory position: either women have the right to control what happens to their bodies or they don’t. No problem. Women, and men, have that right except when it causes harm to someone else: I can move my arms any way I want except straight into your face.

Ah, you may jump up and down, you said ‘someone else!’ So the fetus is a person! That’s why you’re saying prenatal harm is wrong! So that makes abortion wrong too! You can’t have it both ways!

Yes I can. The fetus can be a person and it may still be okay to abort. Killing in self-defence is permissible; killing in mercy is permissible. So if the pregnancy or birth poses a risk to me, I can kill the fetus. Or if the fetus is discovered to have some awful excruciatingly painful genetic disease, I can kill it. (I should kill it.)

Not only Read the rest of this entry »

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To the Morons who wear Make-Up

First, there’s the ageism you’re perpetuating: make-up is intended, to a large degree, to make one look younger. In many respects, younger is better, but in many respects, it isn’t (and anyway, make-up merely gives one the appearance of being younger). True, at some point in time, being old is completely the pits, but hey, that’s life, deal with it – without delusion or deception (or implied insult).

Second, Read the rest of this entry »

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Drugs and Sports – What’s the Problem?

Here we go again – drugs and sports. What’s the problem? No really, what exactly is the problem?

Some say those who’ve used cocaine should be banned from the Olympics because it’s illegal. Well, there are many things that are illegal – shouldn’t we therefore ban every athlete who’s ever done something illegal?

But why? Haven’t they already paid the penalty determined by whatever country they live in? The IOC is not a criminal justice system.

Then some call upon the moral character point: athletes are expected to be of high moral character – or at least of higher moral character than the rest of us. Why? Read the rest of this entry »

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My Job, My Self

I’m intrigued by the psychological devastation that seems to accompany layoffs, not to mention ordinary unemployment, as well as underemployment. It doesn’t seem to be just a matter of money – it seems to be a matter of self-worth, self-esteem; personal identity seems to be at stake.

It’s an intriguing claim: one is what one does for money. And I suppose that insofar as one chooses what one does, it’s valid. But Read the rest of this entry »

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Women’s Fiction

I finished a novel by J. D. Robb the other day and also happened to read the back inside cover blurb: “Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than one hundred novels. She is also the author of the bestselling futuristic suspense series written under the pen name J. D. Robb. With more than 145 million copies of her books in print and more than sixty-nine New York Times bestsellers to date, Nora Roberts is indisputably the most celebrated and beloved women’s fiction writer today.” Why the qualification women’s fiction? My guess is that with those numbers, she’s a well celebrated and beloved fiction writer, period.

And what exactly is ‘women’s fiction’? Fiction by women? Unlikely. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird would be women’s fiction then. As would be Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

Fiction for women? And what’s that, fiction that women are interested in? As if all women are interested in the same things. Read the rest of this entry »

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Politics in Government: The Problem with Representation

Long ago and far away, I was one of several high school students to participate in a Federal-Provincial Government Simulation. Each of us took on the role of a provincial or federal minister and met for three days of plenary sessions, committee meetings, and caucuses.

I was the federal Minister of State for Science and Technology, and I remember well the instructions of our Prime Minister: be vague; don’t commit yourself to anything; if you don’t know what they’re talking about and have never heard of it before, tell them they’re out of order; constantly assure them with such phrases as ‘We will consider that’, ‘You have our support’, and ‘That will be discussed at a later date’ – in other words, don’t say ‘I don’t know’, ‘That’s a good point’, or ‘This is a weakness with our policy, any suggestions?’. I was to represent and defend the federal government’s position. Period. (That and always disagree with the opposition’s position.)

I did my job well. And I guess because so many others did the same, it was three days of go-nowhere achieve-nothing head-butting and face-saving. Any strategizing at caucus was not to solve a real problem, but simply to protect ego: insist, and be confident about it, that our way is the best way. Obviously there weren’t any real discussions.

I went away disillusioned and discouraged. But I realize now that it was a political simulation, not a government simulation.

Then again, who am I kidding: after reading one Hansard or watching one televised parliamentary session, I knew it was a government simulation. So my question is, how did government ever get mixed up with politics? Read the rest of this entry »

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What’s so funny about a man getting pregnant?

I recently read The Fourth Procedure by Stanley Pottinger, in which, during a surgical procedure, a man is given a uterus containing a fertilized egg. He is enraged when he finds out, afraid that if it becomes public knowledge he’ll be a laughingstock. Turns out he’s right. But I don’t get it. What’s so funny about a man getting pregnant?

Is it like laughing at the guy who slips on a banana peel – laughing at another’s adversities? For when pregnancy is unwanted and occurs in a world without abortion, it is certainly an adversity. Forget going to college, forget that career. You’re screwed. (The double meaning of that phrase is no coincidence.) Even if you give the child to someone else, a good year of your life has been derailed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Baby Androids

It finally dawned on me after reading one too many ‘failed android’ stories. I can’t remember whether it was sci-fi or AI, but suddenly I saw the problem: they always try to create an adult without a childhood.

If it weren’t for Mary Shelley, I’d be tempted to put the blame on our sexist society: leave it to the men to ‘forget’ childhood, to forget that we don’t come out of the womb fully formed, to forget that we are as much a product of our nurture as our nature. After all, the most men aren’t responsible for it, they don’t participate in it, they don’t work at daycares, they don’t teach elementary school.

You want to create an android? An artificial life form that can think and feel, that can respond to questions, to situations, like an ordinary human being? Then create a baby android. One with the capacity to learn, to benefit from experience, to grow, to develop. In fifteen or twenty years, eureka!

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