Opinionated Lesbianhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/default.aspxen-USCommunityServer 1.1 (Build: 1.1.0.50615)I heart Darfurhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/07/10/4937.aspxMon, 10 Jul 2006 18:19:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4937eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4937.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4937<a href="http://www.darfurisdying.com/" target="_blank">"Darfur is Dying"</a> is a <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5153694.stm" target="-blank">video game</a> designed to make you learn and to make you care. You live in a refugee camp, and your first task is to get water.<br><br> Is this just too darned earnest to be a good game? Another question: "We must not be afraid of putting people in the shoes of groups or people or individuals that are not comfortable, that we don't like, or think we don't like," says video game critic Ian Bogost.<br><br> "It's very easy to look at any one side in this conflict, and say these are the good guys and these are bad guys, but if we've learned anything in the 21st century already, it's that maybe there are no good guys and bad guys anymore."<br><br> So villagers who join a murderous militia might do so to avoid starvation.I'm sure that's absolutely true for many. Heck, we all hope that's the reason for everybody who's toting a gun, eh? But they might be killing people because, well, they like to kill people. Which is, much as we might hate to admit it, sometimes true. Evil exists, and we need to be able to see all realities, not just hope for the best one.<img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4937" width="1" height="1">Stuck on youhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/07/04/4908.aspxTue, 04 Jul 2006 22:07:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4908eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4908.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4908Vaclav Havel is a poet and playwright whose resistance to tyranny in Czechoslovakia <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaclav_Havel" target="_blank">helped destroy it.</a> Then he became a politician.<br><br> All go boom. "Václav Havel, great dissident political intellectual, he goes into politics and finds that he can't -- to use his own phrase -- live in truth.<br><br> "You have to make compromises in what you say, you have to censor yourself, you have to tell half-truths, and above all you have to go on endlessly repeating yourself," states <a href="http://www.macleans.ca/culture/books/article.jsp?content=20060626_129568_129568" target="_blank">a recent interview</a> that takes Havel's name in vain. "I think that at different stages in your life it may be possible to be a critical intellectual and to be an engaged politician, but you certainly can't do both at the same time."<br><br> This reminds me of <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/campaigns/wh2000/stories/goremain100399.htm" target="_blank">Al Gore,</a> the former "next president of the United States," defeated <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._presidential_election,_2000" target="_blank">by George W. Bush.</a> Gore notes in his enviro-scare movie, <a href="http://www.climatecrisis.net/" target="_blank">"An Inconvenient Truth,"</a> that the near death of <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Politics/story?id=1993393" target="_blank">his son</a> forced him to set priorities in life, helped him separate the small stuff from the big. But it was the (probable) end of his political career that allowed him to focus fully on one issue. To live his truth, I guess you could say.<br><br> Gore's obsession is the pollution being poured out into air and water and soil by humans. Gore believes it's going to destroy the Earth, and us along with it. <br><br> It's all very earnest and nice (in a terrible way, of course), but I doubt this would have happened if Gore had become U.S. president. The environment would just have become one of the 40 million thingies he had to worry about. And single-issue people are bad anyway, right? When they have to run the whole shebang, I mean. There's just so much more out there.<br><br> And yet.... I'm beginning to wonder if the problem with politics is that we don't have enough single-issue people elected to office. At least that's what I got out of <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060624.ROCK24/TPStory/National" target="_blank">a recent interview</a> with <a href="http://www.international.gc.ca/canada_un/new_york/mission/press_releases-en.asp?id=5043&content_type=2" target="_blank">Allan Rock,</a> Canada's outgoing <a href="http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/canada_un/new_york/about/ambassador-en.asp" target="_blank">ambassador</a> to the <a href="http://www.un.org/" target="_blank">United Nations.</a><br><br> The UN is a nightmarish mess of opposing opinions poised to stymie any change at all. Rock said that he was forced to become obsessed with one or two things, focussing on them at the expense of all others, in order to extract any change, even as small as it was.<br><br> "There cannot ever have been a place where more and better use was made of committees and studies and commissions to slow things down. It's extremely frustrating," said Rock.<br><br> "But if you choose your spots, if you pick your issues, and focus like a laser on those issues, build coalitions, work with NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and are persistent, you can use the process to make, albeit modest, progress on some of these issues."<br><br> Obsession, it turns out, might be good for us. <img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4908" width="1" height="1">Ethanol R ushttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/30/4887.aspxFri, 30 Jun 2006 20:01:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4887eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4887.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4887The new energy crisis: <a href="http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/columnists/14916259.htm" target="_blank">Will there be enough corn to go around?</a><img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4887" width="1" height="1">This bloghttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/30/4886.aspxFri, 30 Jun 2006 17:56:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4886eleanor2http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4886.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4886Ah well, the best laid plans.... I want to say hello to the new folks who are discovering this blog. It's a mix of things, this odd creation. Some dumb jokes, a few fun discoveries, reviews of literature, movies and other readings. Lots of questions, and a few opinions.<br><br> The opinions are my own, of course, not those of employers. Although, to be truthful, even some of these opinions are not my own. They are ideas thrown out for discussion. Some I discard, some I keep. That's one of the delightful things of debate, both with readers and with myself. Ideas are for the joy of them.<img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4886" width="1" height="1">tooooo sweatyhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/28/4880.aspxWed, 28 Jun 2006 21:10:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4880eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4880.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4880Yer scribe is hot and in a bad way. I'm taking a break until Monday. Read ya then!<img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4880" width="1" height="1">Giving Margaret Somerville the last wordhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/24/4844.aspxSat, 24 Jun 2006 21:45:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4844eleanor2http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4844.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4844The good doc (both earned and hon.) has <a href="http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/politics/news/shownews.jsp?content=n061961A" target="_blank"> received her award.</a><br><br> She favours queer civil unions, but not marriage, where the rights of children and of adults clash. "I'm pro gay rights and I'm anti discrimination against gays…. But I think same-sex marriage is one of the things where children's rights trump gay rights," she said recently on CBC radio. And yeah, she had the opportunity to go on about what a martyr she is (your scribe rolls her eyes: <a href="http://www.opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/08/4661.aspx" target="_blank">I told ya so),</a> claiming that younger colleagues are afraid to speak out against gay marriage because they won’t get cushy university jobs or tenure. As if.<br><br> But here's the very bestest part of her interview, as transcribed by moi: Somerville is fine with being despised. "I'm prepared to put up with that… it's really part of my job."<br><Br> So far, it's all good. "I've often thought, you know, I live not in the country of my birth, I've got no children or partner, and I don't have any relatives in Canada -- and I've lived here for 30 years, and I'm a great believer in destiny, and I sort of think that you'd have to be almost designed in the situation I'm in for someone like me in order to give them the freedom, to do what I can do, is to take that and let that anger and often hatred come out."<br><br> Wow. One of the country's biggest names in philosophy and ethics believes in destiny -- that she was <i>made</i> to be alone and strong. Read her lips: There is no such thing as free will.<img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4844" width="1" height="1">For the junkies: Media madnesshttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/22/4831.aspxThu, 22 Jun 2006 19:38:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4831eleanor7http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4831.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4831The Canadian Senate's <a href="http://www.parl.gc.ca/39/1/parlbus/commbus/senate/Com-e/TRAN-E/rep-e/repfinjun06vol2-e.htm#TABLE_OF_CONTENTS" target="_blank">"Final Report on the Canadian News Media"</a> is out. I'd call it a heckuva doorstopper, but that's sooo old technology. It's a memory hogger. (See my past report on the committee <a href="http://www.opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2005/02/15/257.aspx" target="_blank">here.)</a><br><br> There's not a single mention of the queer press in Canada in there. I haven't finished reading it (that'll take hours), but searches for "queer," "gay," "lesbian" and "GL" turned up nuthin'. GLBT publishers ignored this commission at their peril. You're part of the milieu, and hiding your head in the sand won't work. (And the fact that out senators <a href="http://www.parl.gc.ca/common/senmemb/senate/isenator_det.asp?senator_id=165&sortord=&Language=E&M=M" target="_blank">Laurier L. LaPierre</a> and <a href="http://www.parl.gc.ca/common/senmemb/senate/isenator_det.asp?senator_id=2775&sortord=N&Language=E&M=M" target="_blank">Nancy Ruth</a> helped out for the hearings isn't enough. Neither has a foot in the queer community press.)<br><br> "Blog" is mentioned once, by a reporter who told the commissioners: "The information on the Internet may not always be just the unreliable, opinionated bloggers. I think that, increasingly, people might be turning to more mainstream or established websites like the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/" target="_blank">New York Times.</a> Personally, I almost never watch television any more because it is so slow to sit through a newscast when I can go to the <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/" target="_blank">CBC</a> or the <a href="http://www.ctv.ca/" target="_blank">CTV</a> website and find all the stories on the line-up and just scan them within a few minutes."<br><br> Bloggers also ignored this commission at their own risk.<br><br> Oh wait. That's me. <img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4831" width="1" height="1">I am down with the young peoplehttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/22/4829.aspxThu, 22 Jun 2006 14:27:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4829eleanor1http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4829.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4829Can a 40-something lady wrap her degenerating neurons around them fancy video games? I'm flapping my thumb as fast as I can. But the truth is, the ole brain ain't what she used to be.<br><br> Not that I'm out of touch with the young people. Not I! A pop culture zealot and aficionado of the youth zeitgeist, I started hanging in arcades at the age of 30. There's nothing like watching a group of testosterone-charged teens whooping over a sound card to get a sense of what's important to a group I'd not normally connect with.<br><br> And if the youth love video games, I can love them, too. The first one I fell for was <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Area_51_(video_game)" target="_Blank">Area 51,</a> the shoot-em-up where you save the world from invading alien beings. Those faux bullets saved my sanity.<br><br> Hate your boss? Best pal eyeing your dream date? Corner store cashier crassly rude? Blow'em all away. Area 51 required only a trigger-happy finger and some semblance of aim. My path through the hallways of death was preprogrammed -- no need for fancy backflips or complex strategy. Just focus every brain cell on exploding the bad guys and feel the headache dissipate, the shoulders lower, the muscles calm. I traded in massages and acupuncture for the simple satisfaction of wanton destruction -- and the only consequence was the loss of a pocketful of quarters.<br><br> One pocketful led to 40, then to 102. So I adopted the fiscally responsible route and bought a portable game console, the <a href="http://www.playstation.com/" target="_blank">PlayStation 2.</a> And picked up one of the most popular franchises to go with it, <a href="http://ww2.capcom.com/ResidentEvil/" target="_blank">Resident Evil: Dead Aim.</a> It too, was a point-and-shoot, and I was looking forward to destroying a new generation of personal nemeses.<br><br> But darned if those new-fangled thingamajigs weren't all different! I had to navigate on my own, constantly worry about finding band aids and bigger guns, and pick up hidden pass keys to open locked doors. I had to keep a pen at my side to jot down an up-to-date map of the maze in which I was losing myself. This hi-tech program wasn't about the quiet satisfaction of wrecking things, it was about multitasking. I got enough of that at work.<br><br> Yes, ridding the world of evil murderous zombies bent on eating human flesh was just too hard.<br><br> So I downgraded. I went from rated M for Mature ("blood and gore, violence" and, not mentioned on the box, dagnabbed difficult), to something a bit less challenging. A kid's game, rated E for Everyone and starring a cute <a href="http://www.answers.com/topic/crash-bandicoot-character" target="_blank">furry creature.</a> After a month, I'd barely advanced at all. <br><br> Look, this stuff is hard. If the penguins touch you, you freeze up into an ice cube. Nasty! And there's a horrible dragon -- and jumping over that big hole is really tough. I then discovered that a bored eight-year-old boy at the tail-end of a baby shower could reach level 29-million in 12 minutes flat.<br><br> I downgraded again.<br><br> I switched to a first-generation PlayStation game (possible with the additional purchase of an old PS1 memory card). I bought the very first <a href="http://www.tombraider.com" target="blank">Tomb Raider.</a> The graphics are painful, with the hotsy relic hunter Lara Croft easily walking through solid rock by accident. But I was happy; I knew I'd found my proper skill level.<br><br> (What I'd also found were Croft's freakishly -- and giant -- pointy gazongas. The game's at times uncontrollable camera angles often focus on the hooters. Hmmm.)<br><br> But moving the rest of Croft through the cave-filled mountain of an ancient civilization proved tougher. I found myself at level 2, drowning. For three days. Even after I'd downloaded the complete <a href="http://www.tombraiders.net/" target="_blank">cheat sheets.</a><br><br> Thank goodness for <a href="http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/ps2/katamaridamashii" target="_blank">Katamari,</a> the newest craze. All you have to do is roll the sticky ball, gathering up household objects into an ever greater mass in order for the King of All Cosmos to toss it up into the sky, eventually replacing all the stars he blinked out during some sort of drug trip. Only two controls to maneuver! No buttons or complicated moves! Katamari, the perfect game for toddlers, seems middle-aged-lady-mistake-proof.<br><br> Oh. It turns out there are time limits on how long you have to make the ever-larger clumps.<br><br> There go my shoulders -- the muscles are getting all tight. Ow. <img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4829" width="1" height="1">Never miiiiiiindhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/21/4823.aspxWed, 21 Jun 2006 16:16:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4823eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4823.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4823"Cape Breton fiddler <a href="http://www.opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/03/21/4309.aspx" target="_blank">Ashley MacIsaac says he won't be</a> jumping into the race for the federal Liberal leadership." <a href="http://www.therecord.com/news/national/n062085A.html" target="_blank">Here.</a><img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4823" width="1" height="1">Moving from gay liberation to mere gay rightshttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/20/4821.aspxTue, 20 Jun 2006 16:36:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4821eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4821.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4821The problem with some AIDS activists and researchers is that their (understandably) desperate need to stop the pandemic is leading them to demand conventional morality as a panacea.<br><br> <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Wainberg" target="_blank">McGill University AIDS Centre</a> director <a href="http://www.aids2006.org/subpage.aspx?pageId=274" target="_blank">Dr. Mark A. Wainberg</a> is a bit of a Canuck hero. But his op-ed in yesterday's <a href="http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/index.html" target="_blank">Montreal Gazette</a> (can't find it online) is a step backward: He supports same-sex marriage because instilling in gay men a belief in the importance of monogamy will save lives.<br><br> "The reasons for the high vulnerability of gay men to HIV have included higher-than-average rates of promiscuity and non-practice of safe sex. However, the loss of hundreds of thousands of gay men to HIV throughout the 1980s and 1990s had a transforming effect in regard to those same practices as younger generations rapidly understood that safe sex was an essential component of good public health policy aimed at limiting the spread of the virus. Many gay men implemented the safer sex practices that set standards for the prevention efforts that are now being implemented worldwide.<br><br> "Yet new infections continue.... Stopping HIV transmission is not a static problem but an unending battle, and one we might lose."<br><br> Wainberg says that same-sex marriage is good for gays because it will encourage them to settle down and stop screwing around. "The hope should be that young men and women, mostly in their teens, who struggle with sexual orientation, will understand that being gay is acceptable and that marriage will foster a culture of monogamy and/or stable long-lasting relationships among gay men that will reverse the trends of recent decades." Wainberg hopes that gay marriage will contribute "to increased monogamy and diminished rates of sexually-transmitted disease, values that conservatives have long claimed as their own."<br><br> Geez. Where do I start? Sleeping around is about self-hate? Marriage keeps people monogamous? We should give up on education and safer sex in favour of monogamy? In favour of fear?<br><br> <a href="http://www.opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2005/08/02/2470.aspx" target="_blank">No.</a> And <a href="http://www.opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/articles/464.aspx" target="_blank">no.</a> And <a href="http://www.opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2005/09/14/3222.aspx" target="_blank">no again.</a><img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4821" width="1" height="1">The new common languagehttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/20/4818.aspxTue, 20 Jun 2006 15:44:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4818eleanor1http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4818.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4818... or i$ it just the old, made new again? Twelve countrie$ in the <a href="http://europa.eu/" target="_blank">European Union</a> have $witched to <a href="http://europa.eu.int/euro/" target="_blank">the Euro,</a> fir$t introduced in 2002. That'$ almost half of the EU'$ member$hip. Now Agence France-Presse has <a href="http://www.cyberpresse.ca/article/20060616/CPACTUALITES/606161014/5024/CPDMINUTE" target="_blank">moved a story</a> noting that: "The United States has announced that it's ready to accept a common Asian currency" (my translation from the French). This is an about-face, as the U.S. has previously seen this as creating a rival to its almighty dollar. The one-Asia idea won't come to pass for a very long while, but it's on the radar. (And like it or not, the American opinion matters.)<br><br> How much longer before all of North America adopts the U.S. dollar? Or will there be enough crabbiness that the continent will adopt a new currency? I think that's the only way a common currency would work here. I do believe in common currency -- a global currency, in truth, though such will take time, to allow different economies to equalize (might also help encourage it?). But it's gotta be something new. If the US dollar goes continent-wide, I fear its culture will as well -- even more so than now, I mean.<br><br> Is this too utopian a vision? Can we have a global currency and maintain the glorious diversity of our many independent cultures? <img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4818" width="1" height="1">On written languagehttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/19/4814.aspxMon, 19 Jun 2006 19:57:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4814eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4814.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4814The stunning <a href="http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/directors/02/zhang.html" target="_blank">Zhang Yimou </a>flick <a href="http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1808404384/details" target="_blank">"Hero"</a> tracks an assassin's plans to take revenge upon the would-be conqueror of China and parts of Asia. But -- spoiler alert -- <a href="http://www.jetli.com/" target="_blank">Jet Li's</a> character instead is convinced to spare the king for the good of the continent.<br><br> The argument <a href="www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/h/hero-script-transcript-jet-li.html" target="_blank">goes like this:</a> "The people have suffered years of warfare. Only the King of Qin can stop the chaos by uniting all under Heaven."<br><br> "He asked me to abandon the assassination for the greater good of all. He said, one person's suffering is nothing compared to the suffering of many. The rivalry of [the kingdoms of] Zhao and Qin is trivial compared to the greater cause."<br><br> The 3rd century B.C., <a href="http://www.heromovie.org/" target="_blank">it sez here,</a> "was a time of endless brutal wars and much hardship and suffering.... The King of Qin (Qinshihuang) was most ruthless and ambitious of all. Historically chronicled as a brutal tyrant, the Qinshihuang was determined to conquer and control all of the states."<br><br> Can there be <a href="http://www.opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/14/4753.aspx" target="_blank">a just war?</a> "Hero" suggests that there can (from the modern Chinese viewpoint, anyway), though the ends justify the means.<br><br> "Political power, generally conceived as the power of constraint and command, was seen in China as the principle that gave life and order, even if this conception did not exclude recourse to force and brutal interventions," notes French historian <a href="http://www.college-de-france.fr/site/ins_pro/p1001684811195.htm" target="_blank">Jacques Gernet</a> in his monumental work, "A History of Chinese Civilization." (My translated copy is in two volumes, amended, corrected, and published in 2002.) "But constraint is always accompanied in China by the idea of moral correction. It would be a mistake to see in the insistence laid on the regulation of morals only a pretext, a sort of alibi for a tyrannical regime; it is in fact the expression of a privileged mode of political action which has lasted down to our day. Thus we should only be deceiving ourselves if we thought that we had torn away the mask from a power that was simply autocratic."<br><br> (I did up look up author Jacques Gernet in watershed academic <a href="http://www.edwardsaid.org/" target="_blank">Edward Said</a>'s <a href="http://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Orientalism.html" target="_blank">"Orientalism,"</a> an endless and cantankerous overview of offensive Western stereotypes of the East. Gernet, although a force in sino-studies for some four decades, was not listed in Said's index at all. That's a good sign, I think. It's always possible that the indexer missed Gernet's name, but frankly, it will have to do because I'm not ever rereading Said ever again. "Orientalism" is an important work, a ground-breaking work, but also a repetitive and not terribly well-written book.)<br><br> Gernet continues: "This remark leads us on to the dangerous ground of the general characteristics of Chinese thought. [...] China does not know the transcendent truths, the idea of good in itself, the notion of property in the strict sense of the term. She [sic] does not like the exclusion of opposition, the idea of the absolute, the positive distinction between mind and matter; she prefers the notions of complementarity, of circulation, influx, of action at a distance, of a model, and the idea of order as an organic totality.... for Chinese thought, the order of beings and of the world is best translated by systems of variable, dynamic symbols. Her logic does not proceed from an analysis of language. It is based on the handling of signs with opposing and complementary values. Perhaps Chinese writing is not unconnected with these deep-rooted tendencies which have ended by giving a privileged position to the written sign at the expense of the spoken word."<br><br> And then Gernet looks at the King of Qin (or Ch'in) and written language.<br><br> "There are close links between writing and civilization. Without this means of recording and transmitting facts and ideas, which gives man a hold over space and time, the great civilizations would not have been able to develop. But the sort of writing used has had profound effects on the general orientation of these civilizations. Chinese writing enables us better than any other to appreciate this very important fact. It provides the only example of writing totally original in its principle -- every sign corresponds as a rule to a semantic unit -- and consequently extremely complex, which has nevertheless served as means of expression to such a large part of humanity."<br><br> Now we get to the movie: The king forced his many subjects to learn to communicate with each other -- his way. "After the unification of the script imposed by the Ch'in in the Chinese lands at the end of the 3rd century B.C., this writing became one of the most effective instruments of political unification.... Chinese writing became a sort of universal means of expression in every part of Asia subject to Chinese civilization or influence.... Written Chinese remained the cultural and administrative language of Vietnam until the French conquest and that of Korea down to the Japanese annexation, just as it had been a part of Japan during the centuries when the influence of China was preponderant in that country. Thus there exists a whole literature in Chinese whose creators -- poets, historians, novelists, philologians, and philosophers -- were not Chinese at all, but Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese. It is consequently legitimate to say that in East Asia there was a real community of civilization characterized by use of the Chinese script."<br><br> So, was this Qin conquest good or bad? We have no answer, because we cannot know a different future. We can only marvel at what written language has done, and wonder at what might have been. <img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4814" width="1" height="1">The bridge! The bridge! Pick the bridge!http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/16/4769.aspxFri, 16 Jun 2006 12:13:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4769eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4769.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4769Many will already know what they need to know about the upcoming Montreal <a href="http://www.montreal2006.org/home.html" target="_blank">Outgames</a> sporting event. Sports are good; community is good. Add as much mom and apple pie as you want.<br><br> But there are also things you should know. Because there are some problems. Like the fact that the Outgames are pushing out a bunch of homeless kids from a public square the young people have made into a place for themselves, in their own search for community. I touch on <a href="http://www.fabmagazine.com/features/296/outgames.html" target="_blank">the contradictions here.</a><img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4769" width="1" height="1">Eyes glazing.... glazing....http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/16/4768.aspxFri, 16 Jun 2006 11:10:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4768eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4768.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4768A quick admin reminder that comments can be accessed by clicking on each post's headline.<br><br> That is all.<img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4768" width="1" height="1">Happy Pride!http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/15/4763.aspxThu, 15 Jun 2006 13:35:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4763eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4763.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4763Heh heh. Pride <a href="http://deadlysins.com/sins/pride.html" target="_blank">is a sin.</a> And we must revel in it!<br><br> Including in its commercialization. Here's <a href="http://www.opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/articles/4762.aspx" target="_blank">my argument.</a><img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4763" width="1" height="1">