Monthly Archives: September 2011

An Open Letter to the ICV

There’s been something going around the internet over the last few days that alarms me. A lot.

It’s this. Click to embiggen.

It ran in the National Post a few days back, posted by the Institute for Canadian Values (apparently, Canadian values are homophobic, transphobic, pro-Israeli, and anti-prostitution) and it’s been bouncing around the internet since. I get why. From my perspective, it’s pretty heinous. Misinformation. Bigotry. Etc. So I’ve done something I haven’t done often. That is: write back directly. I think it’s opened a can of worms. It took more time out of my afternoon than I wanted, but I feel better, personally, and I hope my approach is received by the ICV folks who have run this ad.

So here is my open letter to the “ICV.” I encourage everyone who reads it to also write to the ICV (full contact info at the bottom of the post). Call them. Email them. Send physical letters. But rise above whatever gut reaction you’re having and for the love of God be civil.


Ekron Malcom
Executive Director
ekron@canadianvalues.ca
Tel: 416.391.5000 EXT 344

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Re: “Please! Don’t Confuse Me!” ad, National Post.

Mr. Malcom,

I must preface this letter, in fairness and full disclosure, that this will also be published as an open letter to the Institute of Canadian Values at spillway(brain). The full posting can be found at https://spillwaybrain.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/an-open-letter-to-the-icv/.

As a recent graduate from a teacher education program and a volunteer with high-risk youth, I am deeply offended by your “Please! Don’t Confuse Me!” advertisement.

In my work, I frequently encounter youth and young adults who have not had sufficient education to understand their own sexualities, gender identities, or spirituality. When special-interest groups push for the reduction of what children are exposed to in controlled, responsible educational environments, we are effectively reducing their ability to understand and cope with their peers and themselves. Education on a topic is not the same as enforcing an agenda. Teaching a child about Communism and Stalin is patently different from indoctrinating them with a manifesto or justifying genocide. Similarly, educating children about alternative sexualities, family structures, and gender identities has not been proven to encourage their adoption nor has there been significant evidence that education on these topics confuses or distresses children more than learning about normative or normalized behaviours. By actively normalizing these sexualities and identities, it actually reduces the potential for confusion, hostility, and distress later on when confronted with them later in life.

I would like to point out as well that discrimination based on sexuality is expressly forbidden under Canadian law, and an attempt to make invisible these demographics is akin to silencing the voice of any other demographic.

Given my earlier point regarding the pedagogical and psychological nature of this kind of educational practise and the further point about discrimination by exclusion, I have to conclude that the effort on the part of the ICV is not based on genuine concern for student welfare, nor is it grounded in Canadian values. It must, then, be motivated by sheer bigotry.

Mr. Malcom, I find your use of the modifier “Canadian” to be an egregious liberty taken on the part of you and your organization. Bigotry and prejudice is simply not a Canadian value by any passable definition. You have appropriated an entire nationality for your means, and I as a Canadian citizen object. Your Institute is not reflective of Canadian values, but the values of a subset of the radicalized political right. I suggest modifying your organization’s name or posting a disclaimer in the banner at the top of your site.

Further, you claim to operate your Institution under Judeo-Christian values. If, sir, you read your Bible, there is a simple message preached by the Son of your God Jesus Christ. That message is love, Mr. Malcom. Love, charity, community, understanding, and the spreading thereof. Don’t forget that. And don’t forget, too, Mr. Malcom, that Christ also preached redemption. It’s not too late for you to be redeemed for the blatant appropriation, ignorance-mongering, and hate-speech you have indulged in.

I encourage you to retract your ads, cancel any upcoming placements of said advertisements, and discontinue the stopcorruptingchildren.ca campaign. Further, in the interest of fairness, I applaud your efforts in some camps–fighting human trafficking and ending the spread of child pornography are laudable objectives. Please do not sully these legitimate efforts with the hateful, underinformed rhetoric found in the aforementioned campaign.

If you would like to discuss this letter further, I encourage you to write to me at the email provided. I will be encouraging as many as will listen to contact you as well and to approach you in a measured, articulate fashion. After all, everyone, regardless of gender, sexuality, gender identity, or family structure, deserves respect, Mr. Malcom.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to any response you have.

Yours,

Trevor LaForce
[personal email redacted]


ICV Contact info
Ekron Malcom
Executive Director
ekron@canadianvalues.ca
Tel: 416.391.5000 EXT 344
Fax: 416-391-3969

Charles@word.ca
Canada Christian College
50 Gervais Drive
Toronto, ON M3C 1Z3


For Science!

Occasionally, there arises a question so profound, so maddeningly incisive, that you can’t help but go to all possible lengths to answer it.

Tonight’s question: What cookie makes a better ice cream sandwich?

Before dinner, my favourite lady wondered aloud whether we could build a passable ice cream sandwich with Rocky Road, or whether we’d need to hunt some soft vanilla. It seemed to me that a chunky, lumpy ice cream might require a similarly crevassed cookie. Lumps shift into lumps and it all sort of locks together like a puzzle made of delicious and guilt-induced exercise.

Math. Chunk + (-chunk) = cookie and ice cream harmony.

A simple, flat cookie might result in air pockets, inappropriate chunk distribution, structural failure, and then sadness.

Flat cookie. As you can see, the physics don't work out.

So we set out to decide which would be the best way to go. Fortunately, Natalie’s method of making cookies is such that she makes at least four dozen at a time. On her more liberal days, she makes so many cookies that the universal cookie constant is exceeded, and cookies actually vanish somewhere else in the world to accommodate her production. So there were, fortunately, two types of cookie dough  in the freezer, already sectioned into batches and ready to go.

With two types of cookie ready to rock, there was no doubt. There would be no vanilla. Challenge accepted.

It was time for SCIENCE.

Two batches of cookies. One ice cream. And a head-to-head better than any UFC matchup you could hope for.

The Perennial Champ

Batch #432032 of infinity.

Chunky chocolate chip cookies are a universal fave (and also a strikingly large percentage of the universal cookie constant). The chocolate here was milk chocolate buttons and bittersweet chocolate chips. Very chunky cookies. These would be our lumpy candidates. Packed with chocolate, a bit of crunch with a soft centre, and built like a puzzle.

The Newcomer

See that? That's the face of FLAVOUR.

Banana. Peanut butter. Chocolate chip. Flat, full of strong flavour, and chewy. That’s it. Done description. Commence salivating.

The Experiment

TONS of ice cream sandwiches.

For the head-to-head comparative study, we built two of each sandwich in order to compare and contrast their various qualities. Check it out.

First Category: The Chunkster

You know, it occurred to me as I was putting together these sandwiches that it really made absolutely no difference which cookie we used, since both were flat on the bottom after baking.

So... flat and chunky are all kind of flat. So... yeah.

See? And the Rocky Road wasn’t actually as chunky as we’d initially thought. Seemed like all the stuff was somewhere in the middle of the tub… and we’d already eaten it.

MASSIVE ICE CREAM CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE SANDWICHES. YES THIS REQUIRES CAPSLOCK.

So how did it stack up?

Pros

  • Incredibly chocolatey. Like, almost oppressively so. But really tasty.
  • Crunchiness is pretty awesome. Made for lots of texture variation.
  • Ice cream flavour was very apparent–the vanilla of the cookie balanced the Rocky Road nicely.
Cons
  • Holy crap, those cookies were really large. I had difficulty fitting the sandwich in my mouth, and I have a large mouth.
  • Cookies went tall, not wide, meaning less ice cream could be placed on the sandwich.
Second Category: The Cacophany

Other posible names: The Upstart, The Naughty Metaphor, The Reese+

I was seriously looking forward to this one. Banana? Peanut butter? Chocolate? AND ice cream? How could it possibly lose? It was like the Reese cup found a long-lost lover who then invited a really open-minded friend along.
Pros
  • Flat, wide, great for keeping hold of the ice cream.
  • Chewy texture was fantastic.
Cons
  • The big, bold flavour actually detracted from the experience. The banana flavour of the warm cookie was so strong compared to the other flavours that the cold ice cream was totally lost.
The Takeaway
So the BAM of the banana–or, BAMnana, if you will–meant that what was the clear winner in my head about five minutes before I stuffed the sandwiches in my face slipped to second place. But still:

So.. much.. cookie... just barely too much for us.

It was all totally freaking delicous. And super filling. But amazing.
The takeaway? Science is delicious.
Paddle your own canoe, guys and gals.
-Trevor

On Definitions: Conservatives and conservatives

I don’t get the right.

If the point of being a small-c conservative is that you demand more personal responsibility, smaller government, less intrusive government, a more libertarian approach, then do that.

If the point of being a big-C Conservative, especially in Ontario, is that you’re going to confuse the hell out of the centre-left, then congratulations. You’ve succeeded.

Also, screw you.

Here’s the deal. Being conservative–being fiscally conservative, especially–means getting government out of giving things to people for free. Being conservative means making people pay for what they get. It means less handouts. More private industry.

So why is it that Tim Hudak in Ontario wants to get rid of smart meters–which effectively make people pay for what they use? That sounds a lot like offloading financial responsibility onto individuals to me.

Why cancel the Samsung green energy deal when it’s successfully brought in private industry to create jobs?

Why be a fan of tax cuts to industry when there’s no substantive proof that this approach creates jobs–but directly incentivizing job-creators with per-job subsidies and tax credits does seem to work? Sounds like choosing handouts over earnings to me.

Since the death of the federal Progressive Conservative party and the subsequent Tea Party-ization of the Ontario PCs, I have increasingly described myself as a Blue Liberal. Economically centre-right, socially progressive. Full-day kindergarten gives young families an opportunity to get out of the house to work–I’ve seen numbers along the lines of 50,000 kids are enrolled. I’m not a statistician, but that implies a LOT more available man-hours for parents to work during the day–meaning more employment, more tax revenue, less EI and gov’t handouts as people take on the financial load themselves. Also means more primary teachers employed full-time.

It’s confusing. It’s hitting a moving target. I want to see conservative Conservatives–not a party that plays at large-scale consequence-free handouts and tax dodges and socialism cleverly hidden under the name of cheaper hydro for families. This late in the game it should be time for the parties to nut up or shut up. And like it or not the Liberal Party’s track record is one of proven growth. More new jobs in Ontario than the rest of the country combined. More better education. More better hospitals. Shorter wait times on surgerys. Over a million more Ontarians have family doctors.

Change is not the same as growth. Let’s not mistake that. And let’s not mistake these Conservatives for one minute as true conservatives.


The Radical Moderate

Antonia Maioni wrote an article called Grits: Be bold, or get lost in today’s Globe and Mail. I agree with the premise of her article, that is, that boldness is required for my dear Libs to get back on board as the natural governing party, but I can’t help but think that she may be a little bit off-base in her recommendations. Take this one, for example:

Move away from the middle of the road: For years, Liberals have fed off the notion of moderation and centrism, of being neither here nor there. But the middle of the road can be a dangerous place – especially if you don’t know where you’re going. The Liberal Party’s challenge is to reimagine the political spectrum as a multidimensional space, not just a flat line where they struggle to hold an imaginary middle position.

What?

Let’s ignore the multidimensional space comment for a minute (I’m not entirely sure what the implication is, although I think I kind of manage to address it) and attack the conceit of the first sentence.

Centrism doesn’t mean being in the middle of the road or being “neither here nor there”—not by definition, at any rate. To suggest otherwise is to be suckered by campaign rhetoric and, maybe, some of the campaign performances of the recent past. The political centre isn’t about not knowing which way you’re going, either. That’s skewing the stance with partisan rhetoric, too.

Centrism is about moderation, but moderation doesn’t mean caution and hand-wringing. It means understanding what you’re going to do, making sure it’s the best choice, supporting your argument, and then acting after measured thought.

Centrism is about shrugging off the accepted notions of the left and the right, about looking at an issue, researching it, learning, talking to the parties involved, and making the best decision.

Centrism is about being firm in your conviction that to accomplish great things, one must understand what it is one’s trying to accomplish, and trusting the facts to be the force to guide you to those great things.

Centrism is about basing policy on dialogue, research, and truth.

Centrism is about doing what’s best, not about what’s doing what’s best for your base.

Centrism is about social justice, and making sure that .

Centrism is about what’s fair. Not what’s equal: what’s fair.

And you know what galls me most of all? This stance has become the third choice of Canadians. Basing policy on facts instead of feelings? How is that a bad thing? Wanting more information? Having a history of surplus and strong economies? Building jobs while improving health care? Finding more money for programs in ways that don’t bankrupt the taxpayer? How are any of these things bad?

There’s a lot of rancor surrounding the idea that the Liberals think of themselves as the natural governing party. And yeah, that’s arrogant, and it has to go. But really, when you look at how the other parties base their platforms and policies – the right on what feels conservative and traditional and sounds economically sound (even though it actually isn’t), and the left on what is most socially just (but fiscally unsustainable) – then you start to see the strength of a centrist position.

And centrists can be radical, too. Knowing that this country needs a major shift back to a strong middle-class and energy sustainability past the life of tar sands, building more jobs at home and ensuring that those retiring from their jobs are going to have the health care they need, and a better focus on social justice, as Bob Rae put it in his speech at the Summer Caucus… this is a pretty radical departure from what has been the status quo. It would require a major economic restructuring, serious information gathering, teams of professional consultants from all sorts of fields, and a major push for social stability.

That doesn’t sound like a party that doesn’t know what it wants. That sounds like a radical centrist to me.

Paddle your own canoe, guys and gals.

-Trevor

PS: Check it out! Our riding has a Young Liberals club now, and I’m the secretary! Our website, lean as it is right now, is right nyah.