Monthly Archives: April 2012

You Cut the Crap and I’ll Cut the Crap

My Friends,
   Recently I saw this picture floating around the facebooks:

This bothered me for the obvious reason that it was being thoughtlessly shared by most of my fellow army guys.  This type of gung-ho propaganda is odious to me on the best of days, but something about this particular pic struck me deeper.  I think I have finally figured out what aspect of it bothered me so.
   First, let me ask a couple of questions:

   Have you ever been deployed with the military to a war-zone?
 
   Have you ever attended a post-secondary institution?

Many of you will answer “yes” to one of these questions.  Many will answer “no” to both.  A few will answer “yes” to both.  I count myself among this last group, and thus consider myself well-informed to speak on this picture.
   Basically, my feeling is that I have never been as stressed as I was in the middle of a busy semester.  Even during my very worst times in Afghanistan (which were very mild compared to many others) I never dealt with the all-consuming stress of a full academic workload.  I don’t expect military types with a high-school diploma or less to understand this (although maybe they should understand better than anyone because obviously school was kicking their ass), but the military existence, or at least the “grunt” existence which I am qualified to speak on, is relatively simplistic and stress-free.  Let me illustrate the difference between these two lifestyles so you can better appreciate where I’m coming from.

Stresses of the Student Mid-Semester
-“How am I ever going to get out of this mountain of debt?”
-“I am never going to be able to read all of this assigned reading”
-“I have to stay up and keep refreshing the course-selection screen or I won’t get into this class I need, which means I will be ineligible for a masters, which means I will be homeless on the street”
-“Since my parents are helping me pay for my education they scrutinize all of my marks”
-“If I don’t make a good impression on this professor I won’t get into this program and will end up homeless”
-“I have to buy that book from the bookstore before it is sold out or else I fail and end up homeless”
-“I have to stay up all night and finish this assignment/studying otherwise I will fail and end up homeless on the street.”
-“I have to study, but if I don’t work I can’t make rent and I’m fucked”
-“Wow, I wish I was back at home; this whole being an adult shit sucks”
-“If I don’t pay $XXX by the end of the month I am going to get kicked out of school”

Now let’s contrast that with…

Stresses of the Deployed Soldier
-“I hope me and my friends don’t die or get injured today.”

   Now I realize that there might be other concerns for the soldier, such as an overbearing NCM who insists you shave even though you’re in the fucking desert,

PO-LICE THAT MOO-STACHE!!!”

but provided you go through the motions and make all of your timings, you can otherwise coast through a deployment.  
   “But doesn’t the risk of death/injury trump all of the student’s concerns,” you ask?  Well no, at least not in my opinion.  It may be anecdotal, but I found I was able to adapt rather well to the threat of imminent death.  So were those around me.  And if googling “funny military pictures” is any indication, so are a great many other soldiers.  
   Now if you have read this and understood me to be saying that “war is a cakewalk,” you have misunderstood me completely.  War is a horrible thing which should be entirely abolished and I’m glad I made it through unscathed.  Many did not and they deserve the full support of the government on whose behalf they went to war.*  All I am saying is that war consolidates all of your stresses into the most basic stress of all, survival.  Once consolidated, that stress is much easier to handle, because you actually have a pretty good chance of surviving a NATO tour of duty.
   Similarly I think it is disingenuous of military types to paint other occupations (academics/students in this case) as less prone to stress.  When someone’s whole future very realistically depends on the outcome of one test or the predisposition of the person marking their paper, it is ignorant to say that they don’t know what stress is.
“You don’t man cause you weren’t there…”
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo
*Military Minds is a great new site started by a Canadian soldier which offers a support network and spreads awareness of the very real stresses faced by soldiers.

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The Bastard Cause

My Friends,
   A few years back I took a political science course which related to how power and influence are wielded and consolidated in Canadian politics.  And though it dealt specifically with Canada, the lessons of the course had universal implications.
   To add a practical aspect to the course, the professor decided he wanted the class to choose a representative (I put up my hand and was picked) who would act as the student voice and help to organize agitation for change we wanted to see in the course.  Basically he gave us carte blanche to organize and demonstrate so we could make changes to the marking scheme of assignments, the weighting of assignments, due dates, etc…  It turned out disastrous; people were not simply apathetic but generally scared to be involved in walkouts or any other disruption which their parents might disapprove of, even though the professor had said that’s what he wanted from us.   I’ll take blame for failing to inspire them where blame is due, but I think their lack of enthusiasm was a product of something more fundamental than a lack of charisma on my part.
   However, the result of this experiment is not what I want to talk about today.  Rather I wish to segue into the matter at hand by recalling an important lesson I learned in my first couple of days as class rep.  Basically, I had worked with the sub-representatives and had gotten a survey of what the class of 150+ students wanted to see regarding change to the curriculum.  I made a list of our modest demands and when I went to ascend the dais to communicate these ideas, the professor refused to let me have the floor.  He explained that I was not the legitimate, duly-elected leader of the class because I had simply put my hand up when no one else had.  For him to recognize us we would have to have a formal election.
   This fuckery put us behind two weeks because I had to go about organizing an election and urging my peers to nominate/self-nominate.  In the end, the consensus was that I should have the job because I was the only one who showed interest.  So there I was, representative-acclaimed, still at square one with 14 days less to work with in the semester.
   This taught me that perceived legitimacy imparts great power to a group.  It may not seem that profound, but keep this in mind next time you read the newspaper.  There are sound-bites and quotations aplenty in any news publication from individuals representing one interest trying to discredit, decry and deligitimize representatives from other interests, or other interests as a whole.
   A recent news item which conceived the kernel which became the idea which became this post is Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews’ condemnation of the hackers from Anonymous making public all of his personal information in response to his proposed internet-privacy infringing legislation, Bill C-130.  Of the hackers from Anonymous, Toews said:
 
   “These are individuals, as far as I can understand it, who can choose to belong to Anonymous whether other members of Anonymous want them to be there or not…So in many respects, these are individuals acting on their own.”  –24H 28 March 2012

Do you see what he did there?  He called into question the membership status of individuals belonging to a group with no membership requirements, save for self-identification as a member.

But in the bullshit department … a businessman can’t hold a candle to VIC TOEWS.  Cause I gotta tell ya the truth folks … when it comes to bullshit, big-time, major-league bullshit, you have to stand in awe … in awe … of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, VIC TOEWS”

   Ironically, he gives an amorphous and loosely-associated group like Anonymous a certain credibility by virtue of tangibility: By recognizing that there might be some kind of membership process by which the hackers interfering with his privacy have not yet gone through, he is imparting recognition to the group.  Still, this inadvertent nod to the group should not detract from his aim, which was to attack the credibility of the group’s individual members.
   Another example of this kind of marginalization would be when the British government withdrew Special Category Status from IRA prisoners in the 1970s and mandated that they would have to wear normal prison uniforms instead of their IRA uniforms.  The Brits were looking to take them down a peg from “political prisoner” to “ordinary criminal,” which is basically like spitting on them and their cause.  Obviously, the IRA prisoners didn’t stand for it, but that’s a different story.
   While this calling into question of membership status and group structure is an effective means of delegitimizing an opponent, I feel the most oft-used (and often readily believed) method is to remove a group’s ownership of a cause, or simply to blame foreign interlopers.  Let’s go back to the early 1960s when the Portuguese were fighting to maintain control of their African colonies, primarily Angola.  The Salazar government maintained throughout the conflict that the Angolans were happy as Portuguese subjects and that the war was being waged by Soviet proxies trying to destabilize the balance of power in Africa.  I have a great-uncle who was on the Portuguese side in that war and when we have talked about it, he still insists that the Angolans loved the Portuguese presence and that the enemies they were fighting came from abroad.  If that was actually so, then whence cometh war?
   Even a superpower like the USSR would have had marked difficulties discreetly waging a proxy war against the Portuguese in Angola if both the Portuguese colonists AND the Angolan natives didn’t want them there.  If the Angolans were really on the same side as the Portuguese then they would have done a better job of reporting these interlopers who would materialize in and out of the civilian population much like the Taliban materializes in and out of groups of our Afghan “friends” today.
   However, saying that the war/cause is being waged by foreign belligerents is an expedient way to cast doubt on just how disaffected one’s own people are.
   Which brings me to the G20 conference in Toronto during June 2010.  I have had conversations with cop friends of mine who were doing security at the summit about the morality of preventing Canadian citizens from  marching into the streets.  One of the worst justifications I have heard for violent suppression of these protests is that the so-called “Black Bloc” were all foreigners and professional agitators who riot for pay.
   There is so much I take issue with in this defence, so let’s just break it down into three main questions:

1) Whether Canadian or foreign, if they are rioting for pay, who is paying them?  No one seems to ask this question although the trope of the “agitator-for-hire” is one I have heard from different police officers.  It seems to me that someone would only pay these people to violently demonstrate if they had something to gain from it.  So what is there to be gained from violence in the streets?  Justification for over-reaching legislation?  Larger budgets and greater powers for police forces?  Who might profit from these things?

“You follow drugs, you get drug addicts and drug dealers.  But you start to follow the money and you dont know where the fuck it’s gonna take you.”

2) Even if they are foreigners, it IS a multi-national summit.  Its seems a bit presumptuous to invite the leaders of the nations over and then get mad when their constituents follow as well.  Multi-national protestors at multi-national summits are as natural as multi-national spectators at the Olympics.
3) Do we really think that all of the discontent that was expressed was the work of these agitators?  Is there actually no angry Canadians who wanted to be heard throughout these protests?
   Obviously this last question is the most pertinent to the discussion at hand.  Its as if the mention of foreigners should convince the masses watching at home that all Canadians are happy with the way things are and that they should be too.  
   But to illustrate how preposterous this assurance is, let’s look at a current example: Bashar al-Assad is claiming that his people, who have been revolting for a year now, are not the problem.  instead it is again foreign interlopers trying to destabilize his government.  If we find his claims about Syrian contentment so ridiculous, why should any other government’s claims about its idyllic domestic situation be deemed any less so?
   I apologize if I seem a bit disjointed, and in the case of the G20 stuff, a bit tangential.  Overall, what you should take away from this wall of text is that whether its a grassroots movement or an elected leader, an opponent will always try to chip away at their legitimacy.  If you can delegitimize an opponent you take away their ability to play ball on your court, so of course you’re gonna win.  
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo


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The Spectacle: Breivik’s Sanity

***As of when I posted this article, Anders had been deemed sane.***

My Friends,
   The latest media debacle to catch my eye is the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian O.G. who shot/blew up 77 people, including children, because he hates Islam.

Looks like my friend, Nick

The debacular (sic.) aspect in this instance is that the prosecution is trying to argue that Anders was sane when he committed those actions and remains sane today, while his defence claims he was insane.  Now I will preface this by saying I understand that the prosecution would like him deemed sane so they can push for jail-time/harsher sentences, but really, how do you argue that a man who massacred several people is sane?
   You don’t.  That motherfucker is crazy.  I mean have we really set the bar for crazy so high that mass murder isn’t an instant qualification?  Is crazy an exclusive club now?  The way I see it, if you wanna call him crazy but also label him the Norwegian equivalent of a Dangerous Offender so he can be locked up indefinitely/executed,* do that.  But please, whatever you do, don’t insult the families of the victims and their memories by trying to prove this man was sane when he went on a killing spree.

On the other hand….


   Now I have been wrong before, and now that I think about it perhaps the prosecution is on to something.  Nobody does anything without seeing potential gain in it, And perhaps after examining Anders’ testimony and statements they saw that he was acting as one who was/is of sound mind and body and simply trying to achieve a goal.  Anders himself is a proponent of this view:

   “Breivik himself has insisited he is mentally stable and demanded that the
   attacks be judged as a political act rather than the work of a deranged man.”

Certainly a diagnosis of sane, though it would carry a harsher penalty, would render the man a tad more credible.  If deemed insane we could dismiss him as an aberration,** ignore his cause and go about our lives.  However, if we deem him sane we should examine his motives and try to understand him: it is a serious cause indeed that would drive a sane man to massacre people.  We probably won’t do this.  Instead, Norwegian society will want to have the best of both worlds: punish him as a sane man but dismiss him as a crazy one.  This is a mistake in my opinion.  Certainly most people would be reluctant to give Anders a forum to spread his views in light of his crime, as it presumably sends the message “if you commit atrocities you get to have a voice.”  There is merit to this view and I don’t think bad behaviour should be rewarded, but it occurs to me that Anders probably felt voiceless long before he committed his crime.  People like him (“terrorist” is what they are calling him) are screaming to be heard and when no one listens they might start to feel like they have to make a big noise to get people’s attention.  Or 77 big noises.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

*I’m not sure what Norway’s laws are on capital punishment, and I’m too lazy to google them.  Please don’t take my casual allusion to the death penalty as a cavalier attitude toward life.  I will explain myself in good time, but that will be another entry.

**I don’t believe crazy people should be wholly dismissed either, but that also is another entry.

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What I Learned From Playing Batman: Arkham City

My Friends,
   I just returned from spending the weekend at my older brother Alex’s place.  My younger brother Adam was also in town from Montreal, and it was good to have a long weekend with all three of us together.  One thing I did a lot of this weekend was play Batman: Arkham City with Adam.  I had tried some of the challenge stages a few weeks back but this time around I started a file and began the story-line.  If you don’t know, this is the only game I have had any real urge to play in the last while.  It came out while I was travelling and such was my anticipation to see/play the game that I watched a 25-part walkthrough of it on youtube while staying at my cousin’s place in Italy.  A couple weeks after that I dreamed about the game while sleeping/freezing near a highway on a cold November night in Turkey (see “Turkey by Thumb,” 16 November 2011).  Basically, I had a raging boner for this game, and it didn’t disappoint.  You can basically do whatever Batman does.  And the sheer variety of moves allows you to be very inventive and deal with problems like Batman would.
   But anyhow, this isn’t a review of the game.  As the title suggests I learned a few things, both from the game and from the conversations me and Adam had while playing the game.  Allow me to share:

Revenge is Not Sweet
   A substantial portion of the game revolves around Batman infiltrating the Gotham Museum to free Mr. Freeze from the Penguin, as Mr. Freeze is the only person who can concoct a remedy for the sickness which The Joker afflicted Batman with.  As you make your way through this part of the game, the Penguin is there at every step with his Guy-Ritchie-gangster-movie voice taunting you, killing cops in front of you…

…and trying to feed you to his shark.  

As the coup de grace, he forces you to fight Solomon Grundy, a fucking Superman villain, before submitting to Batman and a well-deserved slap-fucking.

Skip to 0:55

   Yet even though you eventually best him in combat I found I still wasn’t satisfied.  I could have done with beating him some more.  In fact I would have liked that as a mini-game included alongside the main story: How much of the living-fuck can you beat out of the Penguin in 60 seconds?  But even then I have my doubts about whether or not my lust for vengeance would be sated; he’s just that annoying.  I think this begs bigger questions about revenge in general.  For example, even though Batman beats up the Penguin he hasn’t really addressed the larger problems of trash-talking super-villains or British accents in general (more on that later).  Batman is just setting himself up for more disappointment by using his fists as a band-aid solution.  Speaking of which…

Perpetuating Cycles of Violence
   The in-game combat system is both easy to learn and challenging to master, and the animations for the fight scenes are equal parts brutal and beautiful.

However as I dealt out punishment to the denizens of Arkham City (an area of Gotham City quarantined for the purposes of incarcerating the inmates of Blackgate Prison and the now-defunct Arkham Asylum) I began to wonder if the beat-downs I was doling out were really what these ne’er-do’wells needed most.  I don’t doubt for a second that knocking them unconscious is the most expedient way to deal with them in the context of a crisis, but Batman’s 1-2 special of fisticuffs & incarceration seems to be a throwback to earlier times when (abnormal) psychology wasn’t understood as well as it is now.
   For example, while prowling the rooftops you can overhear the conversations between groups of thugs.  One particular conversation stuck in my mind as very telling of the motivations of violent criminals.  One thug alludes to how his mother got up to no good at her prom.  The other thugs, thinking he is alluding fuck-making, start to bust his balls about hooking up with his mom.  When he sees the misunderstanding, he explains that his mother actually killed a bunch of people at her prom and has in fact gone on subsequent prom-night massacres, including the thug’s own prom.  Given this type of upbringing, do we then really wonder why this thug is here in Arkham City, doing dirt for one of the various super-villains and generally waiting to get his ass handed to him by the Bat?  I don’t.
   Now I’m not sure if in his capacity as Bruce Wayne, Batman subsidizes any kind of programs to rehabilitate criminals and alleviate poverty (the Nolan films allude to the Wayne family nearly bankrupting themselves to better Gotham), but from the very day he decided to don the cape and cowl, his whole M.O. has been striking fear into the hearts of “evil-doers” and punishing them.  Surely, someone as intelligent as Batman (often touted as “the World’s Greatest Detective”) would realize that he isn’t stopping crime by beating the fuck out of people and turning them over to the authorities.  The criminals just get more inventive and brutal for the next cycle of escape-crime spree-capture.
   Ironically, Batman’s one cardinal rule, to never kill, would, if broken actually see a reduction in crime.  It’s weird to see his progressive stance on killing juxtaposed against his barbaric beat ’em up and let ’em rot in jail attitude.  However, this is not intended to be an essay on Batman’s efficacy and complexity, just what I learned from the game.  And what I learned in this instance is that as much fun as punching, kicking and bataranging (sic.) bad guys is, I don’t see it as a solution to crime.

Inexplicable British Accents are VERY Hit or Miss
   While playing the game we lauded how they had used the voices of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill (Batman and the Joker respectively), as these two had done the voices in Batman: The Animated Series in the early 90s.  Then we must have got to talking about other classic Warner Bros. cartoons because Animaniacs came up.

Pictured: The Animaniacs being ‘zany to the max’

We talked about how the show had several instances of adult humour and references which the average child would not understand.  Then we talked about what the deal was with Wakko’s (bottom left) voice.  Adam felt his voice was pretty much an imitation of George Harrison’s while I concurred that he was definitely some kind of Beatle tribute.  While we didn’t talk about this explicitly, I mulled over how this had always kind of annoyed me; even as a kid this use of a British accent for an American character had always seemed misguided to me.  
   Less misguided, but no less inexplicable is the Penguin’s aforementioned accent.  I have to say that I can appreciate the fresh direction, and by all means they pulled it off well.  Certainly someone doing their best Burgess Meredith impression for the game’s voiceovers would have taken away from the serious mood.
“YOU’RE A BUM, ROCK!!”

Definitely one of the few cases where British-accent-out-of-fucking-nowhere (BAOOFN) worked out okay.
   An instance where BAOOFN didn’t work so hot?…
Cut that shit out; it’s pretentious and annoying

Then again she’s selling records like a ma, so what do I know, really?

‘Diddling’ is Always a Bad Touch
   To explain this I need to go back to Saturday night where we were drinking at a friend’s place.  We started playing this game where you give a clue which is a synonym for a rhyming set of of words.  So for example, “Catching an STI from a 7-11 drink” would be Herpes Slurpees, “An evening of quarrel” would be Fight Night, and “A Kick to the Vagina” would be Cunt Punt.  
Any questions?

   Anyhow, this game was such a barrel of fucking monkeys (I feel like I’m dropping too many F-bombs) that we decided to keep it going while playing Arkham City the next day.  We decided all the answers had to use the name of a Batman villain.  Here’s how the conversation went:
Adam: Okay a villain who likes weed
Me: “Smoker Joker”
Adam: I was gonna say Toker, but yeah…
Me: Okay, A Batman villain with a giant stereotype for a nose
Adam: uhhhh….
Me: “Jew-Face Two-Face”
Adam: lol, okay, a villain who molests little kids
Me: uhhhhh… (a few seconds pass) …I have no idea
Adam: Diddler Riddler
Me: Diddler? That’s a pedophile thing?
Adam: Yep
Me: Hmm, I always thought it was just another word for finger-banging
Adam: Finger-banging a minor, yes
Me: So you’re saying that ‘diddling is always a bad touch?’
Adam: Exactly
Me: Fascinating…
I refuse to believe that this upstanding gentleman has ever ‘diddled.’

This guy I’m not so sure about.

This seemed profound at the time although the ramifications of this new knowledge have proven meagre.  It really hasn’t changed my life in any way, but it did give me a pause to reflect on a guy I worked with on an army base a few years back.  His name was Didiano and, well, you can guess what his nickname was.  
   It seemed a really benign thing to call him at the time.
I Can Not Own a Video Game System
   When I think about how much sunlight I missed out on this weekend I kinda get mad.  Now I don’t have any regrets because at the time it was awesome and chilling with my brother all weekend was dope.  But if I had a gaming system and a ballin ass TV with surround-sound at my place like my older brother has at his, I would be spending many a sunny day in shady isolation.  Funnily enough, I actually do have a PS3 but I lent it out to a friend so long ago that at this point I don’t even care anymore.  Besides, PS3 is the most disappointing piece of shit gaming console I ever bought, and you can quote me on that.
   Back to the matter at hand, I think it is far better for me to not own a cutting-edge system, but rather just make frequent trips to my brother’s place.  Not only can I get my gaming fix but I am also ostensibly visiting family as well.
So thank-you Arkham City for all you taught me.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo
   


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LOL, Health-Care Fraud

My Friends,
   A week or two back I tweeted the following:

It’s not like I went into the hospital attempting to play devil’s advocate with this broad, but the small talk we were making got a little heated when I decided I felt some type of way about the way she was running her hospital.  I’ll give you the transcript of the conversation as I remember it.

Me: Hey, I’m here for a PFT (Pulmonary Function Test).
Clerk: Health Card Please
Me; (Handing paper-copy over) I only have this one because mine is getting replaced.
C: Oh good, you’re switching to a new one?
Me: Well, mine got stolen… (“Make a Little Somethin Out of Nothin,” 27 September 2011)
C: Oh, well did you have the green one or the red & white one?
Me: I had a green one
C: (Happy with this news) Those ones are better
Me: Yeah, but the other ones are good for your whole life though aren’t they?
C: Well yes, but I have a lot of problems with those ones when people use them at the hospital
Me: Oh…
C: We prefer photo ID.  We can prevent fraud that way.
Me: I like the idea of never having to renew the card
C: Well, we had a case last year of three people (immigrants) using the same card to have babies
Me: Awesome!
C: We’re a small hospital.  We can’t cover the costs of fraud on a large scale
Me: Well that’s a structural problem then with the system as a whole.  There’s no reason why anyone in the world shouldn’t have health-care.
C: (Visibly taken aback) Those people are costing you money by using your health-care that they don’t pay into
Me: I hear ya, its just that I can’t really get too upset about my fellow human beings getting a minimum standard of healthcare
C: Do you have a job? (implying, none too subtly, that she thought I must be a deadbeat as well)
Me: Yes, several
C: And that doesn’t bother you
Me: Not really, people need to get better
C: (Giving up on me) You can wait for your PFT in that lobby over there

  Now I don’t mean to unduly paint this clerk as an evil bitch, but when your job is to nickel and dime every patient that comes in its perfectly natural for you to start looking at human beings strictly in quantitative terms.  Nothing she was saying was logically wrong, but she was unmoved by basic human compassion which should transcend cold, hard, monetary logic, especially when you work…

IN A FUCKING HOSPITAL!!!

   Sorry for shouting.  I actually wasn’t mad from this exchange.  I rather felt a warm sensation that I had shown this woman a light which she caught only a brief and unsettling glimpse of before she turned away terrified and buried herself in the comfort and familiarity of hospital routine and bureaucracy.
   I sat and waited for my PFT.  The nurse informed me she was running a little late.  “No Problem.”  I waited some more.  The nurse came out and apologized again and informed me she would be ready for me in five minutes.  “It’s Cool, I’ll be here.”  Finally, after a half an hour delay I got in for my test.  She nurse was very apologetic and although waiting was inconvenient I assured her it was okay.
   We did the test, I passed, and as I was leaving she apologized again for the delay:

Nurse: Sorry again for the wait
Me: It’s okay
Nurse: The gentleman before you was older and his breathing was really bad.  We had to get him emergency oxygen.
Me: Its really not a problem,
Nurse: (Eyebrow raised) Yeah …most people would be pretty mad
Me: That’s what a hospital is for; to make people better
Nurse: I’m glad you see it that way

   I don’t mean to portray myself as some Christ-like figure with a raging hard-on for my fellow man, but I would like to illustrate the difference in perspective between the two ladies I dealt with.  One deals with people, the other with money.  Not surprisingly, one does not give a shit about sick people (Hint: Its the one who deals with money).  With that mindset, why should sick people without insurance/OHIP give a shit about the hospital’s budget?  Hence, health-care fraud, one of the many excesses of our competitive monetary-market system.  In the world we live in, sometimes fraud, theft and leeching off the system just make good economic sense.
   Unfortunately, in Canada, lack of health insurance typically means immigrant/illegal alien, so any dissatisfaction an insured, tax-paying Canadian may have about their lot in life will find a fertile, racially-charged spawning ground to develop into outright racism and xenophobia.  Really, its not the aliens people should be mad at, its the system perpetuating the inequality which makes people desperate enough to take what isn’t theirs.
   Basically, don’t hate the player, hate the game.
   However, before I go into a tangent about how the current paradigm we live in promotes racism and other prejudices, I want to rein it back into the conversation with the hospital clerk.  She pointed out that the fraudsters (literally, one who commits fraud) are costing me money.  Now this is true, and my apathy toward this point of hers had less to do with the infinitesimally small amount each incident of fraud costs me personally than it did with my knowledge of a very important secret.
   The Secret of Why I’m Not Rich.
   Now I can’t just up and tell you how I got “not-rich,” or poor as some people call it.  To learn that you’ll have to attend one of my seminars or purchase my series of cassette-tapes.  But I can give you a few hints:

First off, I didn’t get poor from rampant health-care fraud, as the hospital clerk would have had me believe.  The income I may ultimately lose out on due to fraud is so negligible that I don’t factor it into my monthly costs (hopefully you caught my facetiousness here).

It’s not a drug addiction, past or present, either.  Future? … we’ll see.

It’s not cause of the terrorists.

Its not from laziness; I work full-time and then some.

Its not from lack of ambition; I have plans, and I tend to set out in earnest for whatever I want.

Its not the people on welfare who keep me poor either.

Its not my extravagant lifestyle.  I don’t own a car and my biggest monthly expense is groceries.

Its not unions driving up the price of goods and services which keeps my wallet light, nor is it my job being outsourced to China or India.

Its really not even taxes that keep me poor; they’re just inconvenient sometimes.

It’s not interest on debts either, although I can see how that would be a problem for many.

Its not cause of immigrants.

Its not cause of ponzie schemes, recessions or bailouts.

Nor is it legislation which widens the socio-economic divide.

Its not the government freely spending my tax dollars.  In fact, being an army-fag, a large part of that spending (Defence) goes back to me directly or indirectly.

  So what is it then?  Like I said, I can’t tell you.  But I think you might have a hunch even if you don’t know for sure, because its keeping you poor as well.  Next time you get frustrated with something or someone’s adverse effect on your financial well-being/lifestyle ask yourself if that thing or person is really the problem.  They are probably no less of a pawn than you are in a much bigger game, driven to seek out their best interests, necessarily at the expense of yours because that’s the rules of this game.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo




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So Many Identities…

My Friends,
   Right off the bat I gotta say that leading a double-life is hard.  You might recall in a previous post (“Identity Crisis,” 21 march 2012) I discussed creating a new online identity using my actual name for the purposes of job-huntery.  The plan was not only to eschew all excesses of jackfoolery tomassery I indulge in as my rad internet self, Andre Guantanamo, but also to go to the opposite extreme and present myself to potential employers a ruthless, power-hungry opportunist all-too-ready to sell his own grandmother into prostitution for capital gain.  But alas, this endeavour proved to be too daunting; when I finally got around to making the actual profile (under my real name) I couldn’t bring myself to portray myself as the huge douche that the idea would have called for.  It is my name I would be besmirching after all…
   Then I had to add a bunch of people who were already friends with me on my original profile and they kept remarking about my “new profile” and “alter ego” on my wall.  If an employer saw this they would know something was amiss.
   Finally, I had to create a new email address for the account.  I then decided I wanted to standardize both FB accounts with gmail addresses instead of hotmail addresses cause “g” sounded slightly more professional than “hot,” so I created another gmail address for “Andre Guantanamo.”
   But since I mostly check my email on my phone during the day and its a pain in the ass to switch between two gmail accounts or two hotmail accounts I decided that one of my gmail accounts and one of my hotmail accounts would forward to a second hotmail account under my actual name which would allow me to rapidly check all my mail from my phone without re-entering passwords.
   As you can imagine I am rapidly losing track of which account is forwarding to which and which account I should be giving out as my “primary personal,” “primary business,” “secondary personal” and “secondary business.”
   This whole experience has taught me that leading a double-life is not for the faint of heart.  I have heard that a prudent man should set up a completely separate identity (email, name, business card, etc…) if he wants to successfully be adulterous.  I can’t see any vagina being worth the frustration of it all.
   Ironically, Ayn Rand, whom I had meant to quote extensively in my douchebag professional profile, had an interesting opinion on lies.  Her view was that lying is self-abdication; as soon as you lie you become the slave of the person you lied to.  All your efforts go toward maintaining the deception you have wrought.  I am feeling it now.  Its so tiresome having 2 lives.

   So instead I will have 1.5.  Let me explain: it occurred to me that while an employer may do a google search for my real name, they wouldn’t find Andre Guantanamo, I have seen to that.  However, what they do find does not have to be a Facebook profile.  Instead, I have been crafting a Linked-In profile.  Linked-In is optimized for business anyhow and its different enough from Facebook that it doesn’t constitute a double existence (its weird when FB suggests that you add your other profile as a friend because of all the friends you have in common).
   One sticking point is Twitter.  Andre Guantanamo does have a twitter account (@dreguan … follow me and I will show you truth you won’t be able to unsee) but my real self should also have a twitter account linked to my Linked-In account.  Due to twitter being much less encompassing of all aspects of a user’s life, I think this is a dual existence I can endure.
   And so ends the tale of what was to be the ultimate FB troll account.  I will close it in the next few days and if Facebook’s separation anxiety regarding closing accounts is as bad as I have heard (basically, you can never leave) I may have something else to write about in the next few days.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo
 
   

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