A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for February 2005

[BLOG-LIKE POSTING] On American Imperia

piratehead‘s post about Le Tigre got me thinking about my reaction to Le Tigre’s song “New Kicks” (downloadable in mp3 format here).

The music remains compelling, and so long as I don’t listen to the lyrics Le Tigre’s sampled anti-war speeches are fun.

The Lyrics.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2005 at 11:58 pm

Posted in Assorted

[GNXP] New Post Up: Dutch Migration Figures

I’m afraid that my most recent post on GNXP, “The allochtonen are leaving” wasn’t very original, merely a publicization of Silt 3.0’s “Witamy!”. Said worthy blogger noted that, yes, a hundred thousand people half left the Netherlands in the previous year, but half of them were ethnically non-Dutch. Which, considering that at most a tenth of the Netherlands’ population is non-Dutch, and that most of the incoming immigrants were Europeans, undermines the thesis of the Islamization of the Netherlands rather dramatically.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2005 at 10:59 pm

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Protected: [NON BLOG] On the Parents

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Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2005 at 11:06 am

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[NON BLOG] Unexpected Visit

Dad came to Toronto Saturday night, following the unfortunate but expected death of a relative.

We spent Sunday afternoon together, brunch at the Coach House and then walking down Yonge towards the Eaton Centre.

It was odd to see Dad in the places I’ve grown familiar with.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2005 at 11:01 am

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[BRIEF NOTE] More on Coupland

I rediscovered Ryan Bigge‘s 2000 essay “What Else Can I Say? Everyone Is Gay” recently.

I’ve always found something rather peculiar — queer even — about the ruminations of Douglas Coupland. It was shortly after Microserfs was released that a nagging, indescribable unease started buzzing about my cranium. There was something, well, wrong with his fiction — the literary equivalent of watching a slightly out of focus film.

It was only after reading Girlfriend in a Coma that I pinpointed my problem with Doug’s oeuvre. None of his heterosexual relationships rang true for me. In any of his novels.

There are a limited number of explanations for this perceived shortcoming.

Door Number One: I’m an idiot unfit to breathe the same brilliant air as Sir Doug.
Door Number Two: Doug is a bad writer, despite the big advances he commands.
Door Number Three: Doug has had limited experience in the romantic world, a contingency which has been accurately reflected in his writing.
Door Number Four: Doug has violated the first commandment of fiction: Write about what you know.

Bigge’s 2001 review of All Families Are Psychotic goes into somewhat more detail.

[K]icking the irony habit maybe impossible for Coupland. A few years ago, Oliver Bennett, writing for London’s The Independent, pondered the popularity of irony and sarcasm during the 1990s. Bennett namechecked the fiction of Coupland and the ironic detachment within. The same article noted that “[T]he ironic attitude as we know it today probably started as a Masonic code among like-minded people — often gay, and bound up in camp — to differentiate themselves from lumpy, literal straights.”

As Bigge notes quite correctly, the question of Douglas Coupland’s sexual orientation is largely irrelevant to his novels. When I first read Microserfs, the question of sexual orientation came up rarely, and always in connection to Microserfs‘ larger theme of the need to be fulfilled personally, particular after long periods of self-denial. Even so, footnotes are fun.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2005 at 10:14 am

Posted in Assorted

[META] Blogroll Addition

I’ve added Bronx Bound, an interesting group blog concentrating on urban geographies including the contributions of our very own satyadasa, to the blogroll. Go, visit.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 27, 2005 at 10:41 pm

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[BRIEF NOTE] Positive Liberty on the Origins of Same-Sex Sexuality

Over at Positive Liberty, Jason Kuznicki has posted a typically incisive article, “Biological and Ethical Mistakes.” He argues that sexuality may well be determined by a constellation of genes comparable to that which determines race, all interacting to produce slightly different outcomes (in this case, different locations on the Klein Grid). He also makes the point that, regardless of whether homosexuality is an evolutionary dead end or not (a difficult argument to make, given the presence of same-sex behaviour throughout the animal kingdom), people who engage in same-sex behaviour should be treated not on the evolutionary outcomes of their sexual activity but rather on its moral implications.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 27, 2005 at 11:32 am

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[BRIEF NOTE] Douglas Coupland Comes Out

Via Opinionated Lesbian:

Advocate reporter: Doug, are you gay?
Coupland: Well, only if you’ll be my date at the Tonys.
Reporter: It’s a date.
Coupland: [Laughs] There was a funny… do you ever watch “Will and Grace”? The minstrel show?
Reporter: Occasionally.
Coupland: Karen says to Jack, “You’re gayer than a clutch purse at the Tonys.” [Laughs] I thought that was one of the best lines. How come The Advocate has never called up before?
Reporter: Well, frankly, it’s because you’ve never gone there in interviews before. But I heard you had a new book coming out, and I thought, ‘Damn it, I want to ask.’

I’m not surprised. Reading Microserfs back as a teenager, there was something about Coupland’s voice–a certain sort of flatness, a lack of resonance relative to the inward lives of his characters–that struck me as queer.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 26, 2005 at 11:45 pm

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[META] Blogroll Additions

I’ve added RESEAUNATE.90, a blog commemorating the 90th anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide to my blogroll. I’ve blogged in the past about other genocides (the Holocaust, Rwanda). I’d be remiss if I didn’t do all that I could to point people to the 20th century’s prototypical genocide.

Non Tibi Spiro and Silt3 have also found their way onto my blogroll.

Go, visit.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 26, 2005 at 11:01 pm

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[BRIEF NOTE] On Criminalizing HIV Transmission

From the Toronto Star:

An HIV-positive Hamilton man is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of two women who had been his sexual partners.

Johnson Aziga, 48, is believed to be the first person in Canada to face that charge in an HIV-infection case.

He had originally been charged with endangering the lives of 12 women who had been his partners.

Both of the women Aziga is accused of killing were from Toronto. One died Dec. 7, 2003, and the other died May 19 of last year.

Their deaths have been classified as first-degree murders because they are alleged to have resulted from sexual assaults, which automatically elevates the offences to first-degree murders.

All the women in the case are considered to be victims of aggravated sexual assaults because they are said not to have known they were having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive person. Previous cases have established that one partner cannot give true consent if the other fails to disclose an HIV infection.

Googling last night, I found two hits on his name. The first one was from the website of the Sex Trade Workers of Canada.

HIV ALERT!!! HAMILTON, ONTARIO There’s a guy who has seen many women in the Hamilton area. He is HIV positive and knows it. The latest info we have on him is that he does not specifically target sex pros. But 18 women he has seen in the Hamilton area have reported that they are now HIV positive.
His real name is JOHNSON AZIGA. His birthdate is 1956-06-06. He is BLACK with short hair, medium build. Hamilton police are concerned he may have seen women in Sault Ste. Marie, Toronto, Brantford and Peel Region.

The second? From issue 36 of Cell Count (PDF format), official newsletter of the Prisoners AIDS SupportAction Network, responding to the Toronto Star‘s article “Needle Swap Needed in Prisons; report says” (28 October 2004). Sample paragraph:

Prisoners or ex-convicts need to be informed about the use of criminal sanctions to prosecute persons who engage in activities that risk transmission of HIV. It needs to be stated explicitly that criminal sentences could be used as punishment or deterrence of HIV transmission even though the National AIDS Strategy is not to criminalize HIV/AIDS transmission.

Two articles cached at the website of The Globe and Mail (1, 2) and another at UgandaNet go into greater detail about the case.

The case of Charles Ssenyonga, a Ugandan immigrant to Canada who was brought up on criminal charges for infecting women with HIV comes to mind. June Callwood, in 1995, published Trial With End, detailing the case.

My immediate reaction? If–and this is a big if–Aziga did know that he was infected with HIV, and if he allowed himself the luxury of unprotected sex with people who didn’t know about his HIV seropositivity, the book should be thrown at him. His partners should have insisted on safer sex, true; but the ultimate responsibility lay with him. And yes, this goes for homosexual sex, too.


UPDATE: 4:35 PM: ponycow has a discussion at her livejournal, and there is a discussion thread at rabble.ca.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 26, 2005 at 4:35 pm

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