Trudeau is pretty sure you won’t move to Canada


Trudeau is well-known for talking the talk, especially if it’s about women’s reproductive rights, racial inequality, separately singling out Canada’s shitty treatment of the First Nations, and so on. The new Canadian government is still relatively young and many of us are waiting for results. While a sizeable and noisy minority of Canadians who would fit right in with American Republicans bitch and moan about increased taxes (wahh, wahh, my yacht will take a whole extra payment to pay off now!), Americans are looking at Trump and saying they’ll move to Canada if he wins.

Trudeau explains why you probably won’t: this happens, literally every election, and the immigration numbers don’t ever change. But he’s optimistic that Trump’s extremism will move more people to vote. I think he’s miscalculating. Clinton induces a polarized response herself, for some reasons better than others.

I wish I could be more smug about the American election, but they’ve historically kept Canada on a tight leash and I’d rather my country not be dragged into more interventionist shenanigans where we pretend we’re totally not continuing the Cold War by projecting national anxieties onto the Middle East. The way I see it, both Clinton and Trump will drag Canada along; the only difference is whether we’ll be dragged through mud or shit.


The religion of quackery


Amy Tuteur authored a piece comparing the various commonalities between woo and organized religion:

4. Predestination

Just like the Calvinist belief in predestination allowed the spiritual elect to be identified by their wealth and success, quackery has its own version of predestination. In quackery, the spiritual elect can be identified by their good health.

Luck played no role in Calvinist predestination. You weren’t wealthy because you were lucky or even skillful. You were lucky because you had been chosen by God. Luck plays no role in pseudoscience. You aren’t healthy because you are lucky; you’re healthy because you are one of the health elect.

It goes without saying that people who get sick must have done something to deserve it or must have been damaged by demons.

7. Faith

Like all religions, quackery requires faith in the face of the inability to prove that it works or is true. Of course in quackery they call it “intuition.”

Like any religion, quackery has its own priests, the purveyors of quackery goods and services. Instead of offering rational prescriptions for health, quacks offer (for money) superstitions, affirmations, and support in rejecting rationality. They sell substances with no efficacy (herbs, homeopathy) and provide friendship and companionship as a substitute for knowledge.

Andrew Wakefield, the doctor deprived of his medical license because of research misconduct, is one such priest of pseudoscience, though there are many others.

The article seems on point. Many of my woo-soaked peers were/are extremely ableist, had a tendency to victim blame, and often defined themselves by their fitness (read: their skinniness). Intuition is one of those buzzwords that flies well past any conceivably explicable baggage from our evolutionary history, where we had a selection pressure to quickly assess whether something was a threat, and into supernatural “third eye” territory cultivated by… eating organic, apparently. And there’s certainly no shortage of woo hippies trying to make a living by commercializing and whitewashing Indian practices because they sound spiritual, but not in the Western way.

Approaching quackery as a secular religion has important implications for how we address belief in pseudoscience. It is very difficult to reason people out of beliefs that they didn’t reasons themselves into. Hence education in the sciences, or specific disciplines of immunology, oncology, etc. is doomed to be ineffective. That’s especially true when persisten faith in the face of evidence to the contrary is venerated as devotion.

Reminds me of horseshoe theory. That thing where the more extreme along a spectrum you are, the similar to the other end you are. Quacks and cranks have more in common than they’d like to admit.



Please don’t romanticize abuse


I’ve recently encountered people voluntarily identifying as Narcissists.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know I’ve been recently hurt by a narcissist. So my reaction is probably a bit more personal than it could be,


Please don’t do this. There is nothing wrong with being self confident or even admiring your own aesthetics. That is not narcissism. Actually identifying as a narcissist, unless you’ve received that diagnosis and you’re learning Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to mitigate that, is not unlike identifying as an arsonist, or a psychopath. Narcissism is a destructive pathology which requires someone else to break in order to build the narcissist up. Claiming to be one is contradictory–narcissists don’t advertise their condition, because they know it drives people away.

So don’t.

You love yourself. You’re confident in yourself. You think you’re sexy. If this is what you’re trying to say, say that. Calling yourself a narcissist isn’t cute. It’s a personality disorder for a reason.

I’ll file this under “I don’t think that word means what you think it means” and call it a day.


How to flirt: Kinky bootblack edition


I’m on the train. The weather has finally picked up in true Albertan fashion, zipping from freezing to blistering hot over the course of a single day. I dole out compliments to anyone who looks like they’re trying to hold their self-confidence up with shaky hands. “You look great!” “I like your hair!” “Nice choice of sandals!”

Despite the weather, the punks–myself included–stick to our ripped jeans and hipster beanies. Their symbolic importance exceeds any need for comfort. We’ll accept being a little hot. It’s important to set ourselves apart, and our clothing choices are a convenient short hand for that.

The train pulls into another station, the doors opening to admit a wave of heat and passengers. A woman sits across from me, probably somewhere around my age. She’s absolutely my kind of gal. Side shave on her head, large expressive piercings, resting bitch face, and some god damn gorgeous combat boots. She places one leg on the inactive heat vent between us. I look down at her boots. Black Doc Martens. They’re well-loved, the lines of age striking out across the leather like lighting bolts in the evening sky. Covered in mud and dust. Cracks bared like battle scars. Yellow threads make up the perimeter of each shoe, a snake that bobs in and out of the leather. The train might be air conditioned, but I’m getting hotter nonetheless.

“I really like your boots,” I say. Understatement of the year. I’m not a brand snob but black Docs are notoriously responsive recipients of bootblack TLC. I know I’m blushing. I don’t care. Or maybe I do, and I’m hoping she notices.

She looks up from her phone. “Oh,” she says. “Thanks.” Her smile seems sincere, but it fades away as she returns her attention to her phone. I sink a little on the inside. I don’t want to be obnoxious and persist after being brushed off, so I quietly take a breath and settle for staring out the window, pretending I wasn’t fantasizing about an erotic bootblacking scene.

“I like yours too,” she says after a pause. “Are they new?”

I get a head rush, the kind you have to reign in around strangers whose interest in your has not been confirmed. “Thanks! Not new. I black them myself,” I say. “Have you had yours cared for lately? They look like they could use some TLC.”

I knew the answer was no, of course. I couldn’t see any signs of leather care at all on her shoe, so if she had them blacked, it was ages ago. I try to act somewhat aloof, but I think she can tell I’m really into it.

“No, it never really crossed my mind,” she says.

“You can really extend the lifespan of real leather with proper care,” I say. Yes, that’s right, make it about economics. That’s something normal people do.

“I guess that makes sense,” she says. “But how much does it cost compared to just replacing them?”

I pull out one of my business cards. It’s fairly innocuous, to the untrained eye. The job title is ‘Volunteer Coordinator.’ The business name is unassuming, on the surface, although it was filled with code words common in the BDSM scene. I offer the card and she takes it. The entire card is one long euphemism for spends lots of time at a dungeon. “I do it for fun at certain events, actually, so nothing if you went here. Although tips are always welcome.”

“I’ve heard of this place,” she says. “Isn’t that a sex club?”

“Sort of,” I say. “A lot of stuff happens there, not just sex.”

“Like what?”

I grin. I feel pushed by an almost manic confidence, even if the little voice that tells me I’m not good enough begs me to stop. “Like getting your boots blacked,” I say. “If you ask nicely.” Manic Confidence winks. Little Voice cringes and prepares for the worst.

She stares at the card, flicking away at the corners. The train’s announcer buzzes to life, declaring its next stop. She shoves the card in her pocket, sizing me up as the train lurches to a stop. “I’ll think about it,” she says.

“That’s great! Have a good day,” I say. I’ll think about it, too. Maybe I’m just hopeful, but I swear I can see the corner of her mouth lift into a grin. A new wave of heat and passengers filters through the doors. I see her pause in the middle of the platform, looking at the card, turning it over. She eventually inches away as the train starts again. Someone else takes her spot across from me. I look down at their shoes.

Flip flops.

No flirting for that one.


Wildfire rips through oil sands city


A wildfire ripped through kilometers of forest to the point of actually hitting the Albertan oil sands capital, Fort McMurray, prompting an evacuation of 20,000 people:

Fire officials face another day of high temperatures and strong winds likely to fuel a raging wildfire that has led to the evacuation of Fort McMurray, Alta., and the expected arrival in Edmonton of nearly 20,000 evacuees.

Late Tuesday, provincial and fire officials reported several residential neighbourhoods in the oilsands capital that they believe have been lost to fire.

Perhaps surprisingly, no major injuries have been reported. And Fort McMurray’s critical infrastructure — including the water treatment plant, waste water treatment plant, Highway 63 and the Grant MacEwan Bridge — remained intact Tuesday night.

The Canadian and Albertan governments have a history of being fairly reliable in deploying the Canadian military to assist with disasters of this scale, as well as offering notable financial assistance to those affected. So there’s a silver lining–there’s no fatalities (so far, fingers crossed), and the Province already has a framework in place for mitigating financial loss.

If you have the means, consider donating to The Red Cross. In the flood that devastated southern Alberta in 2013, it was the Red Cross addressing the immediate problems, doling out prepaid bank cards to help people cover food, hotels, rent, clothes, and other necessities. Monetary donations are the most effective as they are going to be understaffed and won’t have time to sort through your old shit.

Our best hopes go out to everyone for safe refuge and a speedy recovery.

The Northlands Expo Centre is holding an emergency centre, if anyone reading this needs info on where they can go. Here is a resource for anyone who wants/needs to give or receive help.

PS. Please save the snark about Fort McMurray’s stereotypical residents.




Breaking news: AFA proves it is predatory


The American Family Association says trans protections concerning bathrooms provides predators “no barriers access:

We’ve already had people testing this, going into Targets and men trying to go into bathrooms. There is absolutely no barrier,” she told host Stephen Bannon, who said “decent, hard-working people who don’t want their 4-year-old daughter to have to go into a bathroom with a guy with a beard in a dress.”

Just so we’re clear, you wanted to prove how predators would abuse trans protection policies… by abusing Target’s trans protection policy to send cis men into the women’s washroom.

Well, thanks for making that easier for us.

“Let’s punish trans women for the poor behaviour of cis people.” Accountability? Nah. Innocent until proven guilty? Not in the AFA!


I think I’m going to actually vomit everywhere if I hear any more “concern” about teh womenz from the same political groups that brought us mandatory ultrasounds prior to abortions.


Never expected it from a lover


I expect gaslighting and emotional abuse from people, usually members of majority demographics, who grow defensive in conversations about social justice. They want to preserve the idea that their hard-earned success was due entirely to their work ethic, their merit–and it’s somewhat true. After all, you can’t win a race if you don’t run; but the race isn’t exactly fair if everyone has a different starting point.

For reasons I can’t fathom, it seems tragically common to react like conversations about privilege are deep, personal attacks. Somehow I can access black power resources without frothing at the mouth, I can read about disability without entering the comments with a snide “but actually!”, I can watch Quebecois separatists advocate for their culture without feeling like mine is under siege. But not everyone has this skill. I eventually improved my mental health a great deal when I decided that the types of people to get defensive on the topic of privilege were the types of people I would never convince, and so I accepted that some members of any majority demographic, regardless if they be minorities in other ways, are going to throw me under the bus to preserve their image.

So I expected, when starting a social justice blog, one that I’ll freely admit can get rabid at times, that strangers would get defensive, that they’d unknowingly engage in victim blaming and gaslighting and every form of emotional abuse under the sun to convince me I’m wrong, that my accusations are baseless, that I really am crazy. My therapists can attest to how much effort I spend trying to reject rather than internalize those ideas.

Knowing that my family members, my friends, my previous lovers and probably more of my future lovers are all probably going to be members of at least one majority demographic means I should grasp, on a rational level, that they might engage in this defensive behaviour.

But to actually have an ex-lover do it… I wasn’t prepared. Not emotionally. My brain could tell me I was ready all it wanted, it was wrong. As is wont to happen with an information system that likes to compartmentalize.

So I’ve got two problems coming to a head all at once: I’m out of work, so I have no money to pay for a therapist (although I do live in a socialized medicine system, it does not cover psychologists); and my latest ex is a narcissist, like full on Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and I can’t tell if they’re playing mind games with me or if I’m imagining it–which is exactly what a narcissist would want, because it means their manipulation is working.

One of the reasons it must be working is that I have a very low bar for strangers. I see a cis white man and I’m like “you’re going to say something stupid in a few minutes.” And then I wait for 15 minutes and go, “yep, there it is.” So I’m seldom disappointed when a stranger turns out to be one of the knee-jerk defensive types, because that’s pretty much my expectation for practically everyone I meet. But for me to accept someone as a lover, I have to see something in them. Compassion. A general concern with Not Being An Asshole. Some kind of brain activity that is concerned about the human condition and how fucked we are as a global society and how we don’t have to lay down and accept that.

Prior to this latest break-up, my judgement has been pretty good. Although the relationships still ended, they were for disappointing if perfectly understandable reasons: the chemistry changed or it’s not there; they’re pursuing a career that takes them far away; they need to work on some mental wounds before they’re ready to get serious again. These were all things that left me a little bummed, but weren’t anything I couldn’t grok. And I bump into them again months or years later and sure enough I find them advocating for gay rights or donating sizeable portions of their income to homeless shelters or housing an estranged kid in the family who was kicked out for being x or adopting orphans. Disappointing though things were, my judgement was still correct. They were good people.

So to find out I trusted someone on a very deep level, who turned out to be one of the people I normally dismiss in 15 minutes as clueless, has left me feeling dizzy. Unseated. Like I suddenly can’t trust my own judgement, which is ridiculous, because we should all have permission to make mistakes.

See what I mean? I’ve taken enough CBT to know, at least on a rational level, when I’m being unfair to myself. Of course I trusted a narcissist. That’s their main talent. They win people over with a surgically precise charm. My ex even went so far as to brag about her ability to gain acceptance in any social context. She had a name for it: her “chameleon skin.” She literally bragged about her ability to manipulate people, so why should I feel bad about being one of them? 

Yet I do. It seems I’ve spent so much time spotting ignorance that I forgot to look for anything else. She told me, directly, to my fucking face: I’m a manipulator. And for some reason, I didn’t go “wow, that sounds profoundly unhealthy.” That little voice that tells me to survive was buried under something. It was shouting, in the moment she confessed about her chameleon skin. There was a tiny voice telling me to run, pounding against the walls of whatever concrete cell I built around it. I didn’t listen to it. And that wasn’t the first or only time, either.

I don’t want to reduce my ex to being malicious–it doesn’t seem intuitively to be a healthy means of recovery–yet every resource I can find on narcissists tells me to set boundaries, hard boundaries, and make no apologies for it, because it is a fundamental aspect of her nature to consume and destroy. I’m positive that when I find a job, and thus a therapist, that the focus will be tearing down the walls I’ve built around my little survival voice and turn it into a survival megaphone. But as long as I keep my ex around, she’ll be doing everything she can to keep the walls up, because that’s what keeps me where she wants me.

The solution seems obvious: No Contact. But doing so means giving up my entire local BDSM community. The only other BDSM “chapter” is the one that shielded my rapist; I had already written them off. This other group? The one I share with my ex? It’s got some great people in it. I don’t want to give up my friends, my mentors, my play partners. I’m worried about them, too, because my ex has perfected strategies for dismantling defenses, that they too will be duped, trapped, and then devoured. Again, rationally, I know they can form their own judgements. I just don’t want them to be hurt the way I was hurt.

But I know I can’t even start recovering until I remove her from my life.

So I don’t know what to do. Seek therapy, obviously, but I need a job first, and in the mean time, I can still see the shadow of her hands above me, plucking away at the strings that lead to my mind. Is that paranoia? Or a reasonable thing to expect from a person who views people as little more than sources of nourishment for a bottomless ego?