Plea to vote for Barack for the environment’s sake. November 4, 2012.

It seemed so possible that Mitt Romney could win. Especially since for a lot of us lefties, Barack had a less than shiny point of view on matters of the environment, the criminal justice system… This facebook post shows my nervousness.

“Vote, American friends: for G-d’s sake vote for Barack.

I know he’s conservative and I know there is Jill Stein, the Green Party alternative.

Consider the long game however. Voting in a battle ground state for JS is voting for Mitt Romney. And no way Romney will even look at renewable energy let alone tackle global warming- Frankenstorms are G-d’s punishment, you know.

The environment is incredibly important and it’s also not a one day ‘take a stand’ issue.

We can/must occupy a bank or climb the coal plant’s fence when something has to stop *now* or when we need to catch the public’s attention to get the discourse happening. And besides those, we have to work at taking a stand every single long day and we have to be strategic when the principled move would take away all our progress.

I really wish you all the wisdom to know the difference. Anyway. Please go vote. VOTE.


Chinua Achebe passes away. The great author of ‘Things Fall Apart’ remembered.

So many beautiful words over a man who shaped literature out of Africa.

“This was a life lived in the heart of a continent at a time of great political and social change.

Chinua Achebe, Comment

When Achebe published his first novel in 1958, Nigeria was two years away from independence. It was a country blessed with the economic promise of rich reserves of oil and a vast, ethnically diverse population.Though Achebe chose initially to write of the past, he did so with a realism that eschewed romanticising and challenged his readers to recognise a contemporary truth – that we were still far from regaining what was lost, and were in danger of losing still more.”

Wade Smith, November 19th, Toronto.

Last night with Wade Smith was surprising. (long cranky post warning)

Choice quotes and reflections:

1. “England, that small island, never set out to rule the world, but ended up doing so… And with such a flair.”

Now I do love Rudyard Kipling’s Plain Tales from the Hills like everyone else, but wasn’t that a particularly callous, murderous flair? Also: what part of the name The British EMPIRE tells you it was *unintentional*?

2. “England was really what held India together.” I guess since The British Empire practiced Divide and Conquer, that counts as holding it together.

3. Wade has unresolved homosexual urges. Poor man. “This will make you laugh. Sandy Irving was said to have had a homosexual encounter -people thought at the time why else would he have gotten such a great book deal- but there is no evidence for that and my research showed that there hadn’t been a Oxford boy whose mother hadn’t been bedded by Sandy.”

Logical fallacies -who doesn’t love them.

4. “These were men not threatened in their virility and could paint a water colour, chase butterflies at breakfast and read Shakespeare after lunch before doing preparations to climb the mountain.”

5. “Outward Bound is so important for boys […] It reflects initiating rites in other cultures […] where any signs of fear or pain brings shame on the family.”

6. Wade had four anecdotes of how women fit in mountaineering history. Every time he set it up as a funny.

– A woman’s infidelity after her man’s absence for 8 days. 8 days! (audience laughs).
– Same woman breaks her wedding vows after 8 weeks.
– Same woman becomes pregnant and gives birth to a child. Wade tells us the first child is a cuckold child, second one is his.
– Same woman is forced to divorce her man because he let himself be caught publicly in the act of adultery. “That is how men in those times got rid of their wives.”

Hilarious, right?

Why is this woman mentioned at all? Wade is speculating why one of the greatest English mountaineers of that time looked out of sorts on a particular day and was not deemed fit enough for the Mount Everest expedition. He had girl trouble… That’s why!

Was there anything to redeem Wade last night?


Queer Activism in India, Nais Dave, book launch, November 25, 2012.

Fun reading, especially the part about lesbian sex offered through beauty salons. Red ears.


Blurb: “In Queer Activism in India, Naisargi N. Dave examines the formation of lesbian communities in India from the 1980s to the early 2000s. Based on ethnographic research conducted with activist organizations in Delhi, a body of letters written by lesbian women, and research with lesbian communities and queer activist groups across the country, Dave studies the everyday practices that constitute queer activism in India.

Dave argues that activism is an ethical practice comprising critique, invention, and relational practice.


She investigates the relationship between the ethics of activism and the existing social norms and conditions from which activism emerges.

Through her analysis of different networks and institutions, Dave documents how activism oscillates between the potential for new social arrangements and the questions that arise once the activists’ goals have been achieved.

Queer Activism in India addresses a relevant and timely phenomenon and makes an important contribution to the anthropology of queer communities, social movements, affect, and ethics.”

Pink Carpet Project- queer elderly in the Netherlands.

It gets better. Queer elderly in the Netherlands: Pink Carpet project.
Retirement Homes in the Netherlands receive a certificate if they are deemed welcoming, diverse and equally as accepting to queer elderly as they are to their straight elderly.
(Pink is the colour for Queers in most European countries because it was the colour the Nazis used to designate sexuality.)


Photos, Roze Loper uit voor Osse ouderen, Brabants Dagblad, 21 Augustus, 2012.

What would it mean for art to be accessible?

An event at city hall: round table conversation about Accessibility and Art with Erica Brisson, Eshan Rafi and David Yu.

They wanted wild and crazy ideas. 149183_4582108024661_1870786330_n

Unfortunately the artist’s work did not have to do much with Accessibility at all. Mostly they addressed the amount of foot traffic. There were however some great opportunities for their work to actually address accessibility. One project dealt with sound underneath a bridge. While the project as it was set up would be inaccessible to anyone with hearing difficulties -blaring sound with bad acoustics- and in a part of Toronto where the diversity of the population isn’t great – I’ll hunt down the neighbourhood-simple changes would make it more accessible or have something to do with Accessibility.

Points of Access series presented by Whippersnapper Gallery. Curated by Maggie Flynn.

Nandini Sundar, Tenuous Sovereignties; Precarious Citizenship: Civil War in Central India.

Fascinating talk by Nandini Sundar, about sovereignties, citizenship and the civil war in central India between the central government and the Maoist rebels/governing body, Friday November 30, at the Munk School of Global Affairs.252380_4586347930656_512619429_n

It is difficult to ascertain where the lines of influence are drawn because both sides terrorize the population into choosing sides on a ad-hoc basis.

The lines resemble ebb and flow.

Researchers like Sundar say it may not even matter what is in the hearts of the people since the military conflict in that state is now a considerable source of income for not only the police as the enforcing arm of the state, but also for the police as a private security apparatus, for the state-sanctioned paramilitary groups, for the security forces of international corporations (!) and for the Maoist rebels.60505_4586348090660_1957776766_n

And yes, with the emergence of the government organized village/neighbourhood watch, vigilante is now a form in which politics takes place inside the the normal system.