Monday, June 28, 2010


I was flitting back and forth between three potential topics, so I decided to split the difference and do a paragraph on each. They're wildly different in terms of tone and scale, so bear with.

1) Squinty McGee rides again. Due to unfortunate circumstances over the weekend, my glasses have been rendered irrevocably unwearable. That means I've had to revert back to the circa 1990s model. They're largely inefficient, since I've gotten way more nearsighted since then, as well as bizarrely scratched, and, as I'm now recalling, pinch the right ear in a particularly unpleasant way. I've booked an eye appointment, but apparently thirty seconds after the optometrist opens is too late, as I was informed that the last slot for today had just been taken. They can fit me in on Thursday. I just hope I'll be able to order some new contact lenses immediately. The salt in the wound (besides losing an expensive frame) is that the missing glasses themselves were only meant to be temporary; if I had renewed my contacts as I was supposed to months ago, I'd have been wearing them, and everything would have been fine. I should probably count my blessings that I found the giant 90s glasses--the next step back after those is the 80s style glasses, which look a little something like Bill Haverchuck's spectacles from Freaks and Geeks. And note I got these 80s glasses in 1994. Today at Experimental Progress: how to be retro before it's cool.

2) G20 Summit. I've been publishing links to this site on my facebook status--I don't do it for all the posts, because I don't want to inundate people with the things, but I like to spread word when I think I'm talking about something interesting. This is the first time I've hesitated to post that link because I'm worried it may get me in trouble with a few friends; all I can say in my defense is that I'm not just baiting for the fun of it here. I've got some honest concerns, and I'm more than willing to listen to anyone's arguments to the contrary. So... here we go.
I've never been in a protest before, myself. There are a number of reasons for that, ranging from the pathetic (there's a part of me that's almost sycophantically loyal to a given system) to the practical (a protest in rural Saskatchewan is a protest of one, more often than not) to the honest (there's very few topics I don't feel ambiguous about at some level, and thus I'd feel uncomfortable protesting on either side). Being a disciple of the liberal arts, however, I've got some friends who have a pretty established history of protesting, including the summit, and I've got nothing but respect for their dedication to the principles and their actions. That said, let me go on to say something entirely disrespectful to protesters en masse: I've got serious doubts that they do any good. Especially in terms of the G20 protest--between the reports on violent protesters and violent police reaction (or preemptive violent police action, in some cases), I haven't really heard a clear statement on what they're protesting. Given the numerous different factions involved, I'm not sure there is such a statement.
It reminded me of Norman Mailer's account of the March of the Pentagon in 1967. In that case, the goal was a little clearer (anti-Vietnam), but there were so many groups involved that success becomes an uncertain thing to measure. Mailer's participation seemed to boil down to two main reasons: he was asked to raise awareness through getting a public arrest, and he wanted to prove some sort of point to himself about his own masculinity. Strangely, it's that second one that resonates most with me. Not the masculinity, so much--we all know you're a male, dear, stop fretting, it's starting to look silly--but the involvement because there's some deep personal goal or even quest that's being pursued. I don't know if there's many topics where I can claim that personal connection, but I've got a great of respect for anyone who is willing to follow wholeheartedly a cause he or she is passionately committed to following.
If nothing else, the protest has shown how draconian our police force can be, and if that's all that's all we learn (besides the relative inefficiency of the G20 concept, but we knew that already), that's worth knowing, and responding to. I'm pretty sure that Mr Harper et al will find that Canadians don't really like storm troopers in their major metropolitan areas, and hopefully, in the future, they'll think twice before volunteering to host the conference in our backyard.

Okay, that went on way longer than I thought it would. Seems kind of silly to launch into a review of the last season of Doctor Who. So... tomorrow, then.

Later Days.


Scott Stevens said...

I think what you're seeing here re: protester messaging is more perhaps a symptom of what the Chomsky, Nader types talk about; the news media isn't interested in addressing the issues the protesters want addressed.

peaceful protests don't make for great action photos or obvious injustices or abuses of power. As a result, the coverage is disproportionately focused on the hooligans, and not those with actually articulated concerns. The other thing is that people don't want to READ the news. They want a quick blast of current info, not something to contemplate -> [infotainment ]

As for these protests in specific, I think there's something to be said for the fact that thousands of people were displaced for the sake of 20. It makes a lot of sense to me that the thousands would want to assert their ownership of the city, through simply being there.

What do the protests accomplish? They show that people care about their public space. That you can't just push people out of the way, without them pushing back.

Person of Consequence said...

Thanks, Scott. Good points, on the media coverage and displacement both. You're right; on that level, I can see a purpose for the protesting.