Sunday, October 31, 2010

Memories 3: Good Morning

[Dedicated to Grandma Del and Grandpa Brian.]

A slow slide into wakefulness, my eyes
opening to the bright Gabriola
morning, stretching on the floor as I rise
and shine. Good morning, good morning, Grandma
quietly sings from the window. And how
are you this morning? I smile and raise my
head, noticing my cousins who just now
are stirring from their sleep. I breathe a sigh
of contentment.

Grandpa's in the kitchen
with a bowl of cereal, smiling and
giving me a hello on my way in,
in to orange juice and butterhorns, a grand
way to start the day, with the family
all around and a smile: Here, I'm happy.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

True Colours

I teared up a bit.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I'm going to ... MACAU!

To answer the question on your mind: it's next to Hong Kong. And I'm going there this weekend to judge at a debate tournament (the North East Asian Open). I love my new job already, and I haven't even started it yet.

Unpopular Science

The NYT has a cute series of sketches explaining the real effects of some laws of physics:

Based on supercomplicated physical observations, Einstein concluded that two objects may perceive time differently.

Based on simple life experience, I have concluded that this is true.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

California Prop 19

There's a good argument that legalizing marijuana won't totally hurt the drug cartels (by analogy: the end of Prohibition, which took away gangs' main source of revenue, didn't evaporate the black market nor destroy the gangs; they moved on to other sources of revenue) however, on the whole legalization seems very sensible.

The polls are close. This will be interesting to watch.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The thing about carrying the camera...

... is that you're not in many of the photos.

So, for those of you who don't have Facebook or don't dig through my photos, here are a few photos of me (after the jump).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It gets better update

From an NYT article:
Thousands of people like Mr. Stowell have posted personal testimonies to YouTube in an online campaign titled “It Gets Better” that has, in Internet parlance, “gone viral” in the four weeks since it started. The campaign is intended to help gay teenagers who feel isolated and who may be contemplating suicide, and it coincides with a rash of recent news stories about bullying and the suicides of gay teenagers and young adults.

Mr. Stowell says he has received 23 e-mails from teenagers who said they had felt suicidal. He has referred them to the Trevor Project, a toll-free telephone line and online chat site for gay youths at risk. The YouTube channel for “It Gets Better” is the third largest source of traffic to the Trevor Project, and there has been a “great increase” in calls in the last month, a spokeswoman for the project said.

Hop on the Seoul Train

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What Steve's reading...

... and listening to.

MGMT - Kids

It's been in my head this weekend, which has been OK. As you play it, you should imagine me in Seoul this Saturday night, dancing at a little bar in Sinchon with an eclectic but somehow coherent group of cool people.

Too Sexy #2-7, The Ubyssey, 2010. Some friends of mine have a sex-advice column in the UBC student newspaper. In the latest column, one speaks openly about her choice to have an abortion. As she says:
But that politicization also dichotomizes it, and in some ways prevents people who’ve had this experience from talking about it honestly. You either have to pretend you have no regrets so that the pro-choice camp will accept you, or you have to be totally ashamed so that the “pro-lifers” (I hate that term) won’t reject you.

The truth is somewhere in the middle, as it almost always is. It’s a small wonder that most people choose to stay silent about it altogether; it’s also a small wonder that although one in three Canadian women have had an abortion, I don’t know any of them. At least, I don’t know that I know any of them, because no one talks about their abortion.

But I wanted to talk about it.
I find her openness brave and inspiring.

The Unrepentant Whore - The Walrus, 2010. A profile of Jamie Lee Hamilton, a Vancouver activist. I had heard of her before, but this piece was illuminating and fascinating. From the profile:
If missing women are silenced women, Hamilton has made it her mission to be fully present and accounted for. An aboriginal, transsexual sex worker from one of the country’s poorest neighbourhoods, she’s a kind of activist polyglot, able to speak with whatever voice best suits the situation. She presents as insistently at ease, adding “dear” and “honey” to her sentences like dollops of crème fraîche. Still, mention her name, and journalists, politicos, and armchair commentators turtle in their heads with alternating fear and exasperation: she’s infamous for her public and embarrassing arguments with anyone who crosses her.

Parliamentary Haiku

An amusing project from Open Parliament: finding haikus in the Hansard of the Canadian House of Commons. One of my favourites:

More after the jump.

Benoît Mandelbrot, 1924 - 2010

Mandelbrot was the father of fractal geometry. May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

...but it gets better.

A photo mosaic I made with images from all the "It Gets Better" videos, all compiled to make the logo of the project. I feel better now.

This shit still happens

This is so disgusting I feel an expletive is the only appropriate way to describe it. Carl Paladino, GOP candidate for Governor of New York:

Where to start? He rolls out one of the most offensive tropes against gay people: that we're perverts out to get children. He claims to "live and let live" but in the next breath passes derisive judgment on the "option" of being gay, which is of course premised on the ignorant notion that it's a choice. He equates being gay with having one's life destroyed. He attacks gay teachers.

Perhaps most offensive of all is Paladino's attempt at concealing his blatant bigotry: "Don't misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexuals, or people in any way." Is he so naïve to believe that his words can be interpreted in any way other than legitimizing an attitude that permits gay teens to be bullied to committing suicide, and creates an atmosphere where this attack -- which happened in New York days before Paladino's remarks and by itself makes me want to vomit -- is possible. Is he so blind that he can't connect the dots between the derogatory slurs he and other leaders throw at the gay community and the impressionable young people who act upon the cultural stigma created?

I'm filled with so much animosity that I feel I could write for days, but I know I don't need to convince you, my audience of this, so I'll end on a more personal note. I am so thankful to my parents, grandparents, wonderful gay aunt, and everyone else I grew up around for creating an environment free from the hate spewing from bigots like Paladino. I am proud to be gay, a concept which is obviously so foreign to him that it sticks on his tongue. I am hopeful that the tide is turning swiftly, so that hatemongers will no longer have even islands to stand on, much less a plurality of votes. I am inspired by the Trevor Project and Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" project. I despair that this shit still happens, but also see hope and love.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I've got Seoul but I'm not a Seouldier

Memories 2: Piano Lessons

A poem for my parents.

Not one but many memories, layered
like a composite image.

The basement
suite stuffed with mics, 8-track setup, record
player and piano, that instrument
of grandness and repetition. Playing
well beyond the half-hour, trying to
get it right, laughing, jamming, departing,
me behind the wheel of EAT 992.

Then, time in the car with just my dad; we'd
let the night air rush through and crank up the
tunes, letting the familiar road lead
us home.

Home, mom curled up comfy on the
couch, an episode of the West Wing on
and a certain sense of: Here, I belong.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Thanksgiving dinner

In the true McCarthy and Bowman tradition, I shall take a moment to regale my audience with my Thanksgiving menu! (Actually, knowing my readership, I expect this post to be a big hit.)

Thanksgiving dinner came together fortuitously. It started when my coworker Mandi and I were checking our bank balances on Friday night. This was not a particularly odd thing to do at midnight, and we were investigating an alleged bonus deposit, so it was quite the thing to do.

The state of the world, 10/10/10

A sampling of the news of this numerically cool date after the jump.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my family and friends, my thoughts are with you and I give thanks to you. Happy Thanksgiving from Seoul.

Memories 1: Pic a Flic

A poem for Grandma Marni and Grandpa Jim.

Cook Street, downtown Victoria, back when
the oaks still towered, reassuringly
tall. A Science Venture summer, me 10...
ish, with Grandma to return a movie.

I couldn't tell you what film we had seen
but left in my mind are the dog and man
outside the Pic a Flic - hungry eyes, lean
bodies, a pleading voice: spare some change, ma'am?

Though I'm now a city hand and have passed
by my share of panhandlers, part of me
is still the little boy, so much impressed
with his grandmother, answering gently
and with what seemed like infinite wisdom:
no, but I'll buy you a sandwich. Here, come.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Postcards away!

I've now sent out postcards to all the people who commented on my previous post. Enjoy!

Reflections on 7 months in Korea, Ctd.

I realized at some point that my previous post was more of a summary of seven months in Korea than a reflection - hey, I had to leave for work - so here's the conclusion of that post.

So... how do I feel about being in Korea?

It's a question with a complex answer, and one that changes slightly depending on the day and time, and the proximity of friends, an episode of Modern Family, or a beer mug. For the most part I feel the same: I don't (yet?) feel that Korea hasn't fundamentally changed my outlook on life, though I've certainly learned lots. I've found out that the activities I want to do (volleyball, debate, exploring the outdoors, culture) and the groups of people I like to hang out with (the gays, debaters, people who have interesting things to say) haven't changed magically, and for the most part I've found my niches here, in the same way as I did back home.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Reflections on 7 months in Korea

I am currently waiting, and frustrated. As many of you know, I'm starting a new job soon in another part of Seoul. I'm tremendously excited, but the person replacing me (for whom I must wait) has had a few delays, so I'm waiting and frustrated.

I suppose, then, that it's a good enough time as any to look back at my 7 months in Korea.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chicken Soup for the Seoul

The kitchen window of a restaurant in Seoul.