Author Archives: ChrisNolan.ca

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I am Chris Nolan.ca

New Arguments

Please take a few minutes to read this observation from J. Michael Straczynski.

“If I might be permitted an observation.

You, reading this on your monitor, or your smart phone or your tablet, you who have the latest iOS or Windows or Linux, you who track the latest apps and sites and watch with rapt attention as the Higgs Particle surrenders its secrets…you, who believes you are living in the twenty-first century.

You are wrong. We are not living in the twenty-first century.

We are living in the 1960s. We’ve been living there for the last fifty years. I don’t care what the calendar tells you, you’re wrong.

How do I know this?

Because right now, at this very second, we’re having the very same arguments, over the very same things, that we argued about in the 1960s, and the 70s, and the 80s, and the 90s, and the Oughts. And nothing’s been done, nothing’s been decided.

It’s just the same old arguments, over and over, for FIFTY YEARS.

We’re still arguing about equal pay for women.

Still arguing about environmental issues versus corporate laissez faire.

About whether or not some sexual practices should be allowed.

About excessive government secrecy and spying.

About voting rights and citizenship for minorities.

About bomb blasts and body counts.

About casual cruelty masquerading as policy.

Arguing about the rights of gays.

About a trigger-happy military.

About who is the latest suspected socialist.

About the media as source of all social ills.

About the war on drugs.

About health care.

About social security.

About birth control.

About evolution.

About nuclear power.

About abortion.

About guns.

And I’m tired of it.

I’m not saying these discussions aren’t important. Obviously they are.

But can we get on with it? Can we actually decide some of the things on the list given above and move on to NEW questions?

Can we move out of the 1960s?

Can we have some new arguments?

I would love to see new arguments.

I would love to see Congress wrestling with whether or not to declare our Mars colony the 51st state.

Would love to see filibusters and debates over whether someone who has received 51% of his body mass from artificial sources still constitutes a human being.

Arguments over whether the new mega-high-speed rail that puts the ones in Japan and China to shame should go from LA to New York or Miami.

About voting rights for synthetic people.

About the FDA’s analysis of mindbridge implants that let two people stay mentally joined forever.

About new safety standards for air-cars.

About deployment of the 45th Robotic Division past their warranties.

Those would be wonderful arguments to have. New, fresh, inspiring arguments.

We’ve been arguing about the same things, over and over, for fifty years. The same drumbeat, the same talking points, the same positions and policies and nothing ever gets done because it’s in no one’s INTERESTS to get anything DONE, because for as long as those same arguments continue, those with a visceral stake in the outcome of those arguments will continue to come out to the polls to vote in those whose viscera says the same thing about the same issues.

And so we roll on, decade after slow decade, with neither side resolving anything even when they run the table, with influence over all three branches of government.

Fifty years. Arguing over the same things for fifty years is like eating the same meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner for five decades. Soon the taste buds diminish and fail and you don’t even realize what you’re eating anymore.

If you’d said to me as a kid in the 1960s that we’d still be arguing over these things in 2013 I’d have laughed in your face. Impossible. We’ll resolve at least some of these things by then. Has to happen. Got to. The alternative is ludicrous.

Do you…you the person who has read this far without going off to tweet or instagram or download, you the person who actually believes you are living in the twenty-first century…want to be having these same arguments fifty years from now? Do you want to still be living in the 1960s in 2063?

Do you want a hundred years of arguing without resolution?

Do you think we can do better?

We have to do better. This can’t be it. This can’t be the end of the American experiment, sucked down into a century of social quicksand.

We have to be better than that.

We have to be.

New arguments.

New arguments.

God of microscope and test tube, god of provender and starlight, stern god who maketh quantum quandaries as much as the architecture of butterfly wings, let us have some new arguments.

I realize it is much to ask.

But it is long past time to ask.”

 — JMS

“Stand tall and proud, if you love this place.”

Having a bad day?  Life got you down? Watch and listen to this song by 15-year-old High River resident Hannah Shields as she sings “When The River Starts to Rise” about hope and resilience in the face of overwhelming adversity.

“Hold you head up.  Put a smile on your face.
Stand tall and proud, if you love this place.”

Most of the rest of the world has already forgotten the devastating floods that affected tens of thousands of people near Calgary this past summer, but the town of High River is still rebuilding and life is far from ‘normal’ for those living and working there.

She started work on the song a day or two after she and her family evacuated their home with little more than the clothes on their backs.  Hopping from friend’s house to hotel every day or two, not knowing what was happening to their home, she was resilient.   After finally getting clearance to return to their home weeks later, her room had been under water and most everything she was familiar with was destroyed.  Except her guitar, which they had managed to store on the top level of the house before they departed.  She retrieved it, and was happy.  She was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and she “will refuse to sink.”

Her song was made a reality with the support of a great team of friends and family, Director Trevor Smith says shooting the video was a way to “keep our mind off the struggle of rebuilding”.  While you may shed a tear (or start to sob) watching When the River Starts to Rise, know that Hannah has helped you to be a bulwark against future troubles.

“Hold you head up.  Put a smile on your face.
Stand tall and proud, if you love this place.”

Disclaimer: Hannah is my niece.  I’ve lived in High River.  My mother, grandmother, and brother’s families are featured in the video.  I’m a proud Uncle.

Maxim Vakhovskiy’s Black Venus Portraits

In continuing the recent theme of portraits of powerful women, here is a selection of Maxim Vakhovskiy‘s figure portraits featuring women and their babies.  Check out his book, Black Venus and many of his other stunning photographs on his tumblr.

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Wolf Whistle and Cat Calling Awareness

Photography student Hannah Price was first catcalled shortly after moving to Philadelphia in 2009 and was thrown off guard.  She reacted by taking the portraits of the men who were doing the cat calling and has put together a gallery exhibit entitled “City of Brotherly Love”.

NPR’s Codeswitch as an interview with her titled A Photographer Turns Her Lens On Men Who Catcall, and the Morning News as a piece titled My Harassers.

A video with the photographer done for her exhibit at the Stockton Art Gallery is worth viewing as well.

stop telling women to smileTatyana Fazlalizadeh took her displeasure of having to suffer this behaviour nearly daily to the streets themselves.  She began a series of posters she put up around her Brooklyn neighbourhood as her way of speaking back to her harassers and this has spawned the Stop Telling Women to Smile project.   After a successful Kickstarter campaign last month, she is taking the posters on the road.  You can also buy some posters to put up in your neighbourhood too.

There are stories all over the web from women who do not appreciate this behaviour: a project last year simply called Catcalled collects the experiences of a set of women over a set period of time, and blogger Nic has a well articulated article on her experiences.

Have you been catcalled or wolf whistled?  How did it make you feel?  What is an acceptable form of compliment in your opinion?  On the flip side, men, do you wolf whistle and if so, why?

Where does a mother end, and her child begin?

Ana álvarez-errecalde‘s latest work, SIMBIOSIS/Symbiosis, shows a mother breastfeeding a child, linked at the hip.  So integrated are these two beings, they are a single identity, that of Spider-Man.

Does a mother retain her self when she has a child?  Is she so completely absorbed into the child’s world that she no longer has her own identity?  Can she find a balance, or should she wait until the child is grown?  Are mothers Superheroes?

Mothers of the world, how does this image speak to you?

ana álvarez-errecalde's Simbiosis

ana álvarez-errecalde’s Simbiosis

I recently shared another piece of Ana’s artwork, Birth of My Daughter, which has been getting a lot of attention around the world.  May her images continue to resonate in the hearts and minds of all who view them.

Teach Me How To Breastfeed Rap Video

Tanefer Lumukanda is a hospital-based Lactation Consultant who wanted to explore new ways in educating and encouraging new moms all over on how to breastfeed.  She came up with a Rap Video: Teach Me How to Breastfeed (also on Youtube).

She writes about the experience at the MomsRising blog.

For more information on Breastfeeding see Jack Newman’s resources and the Government of Canada’s top reasons to breastfeed, or contact your local La Leche League.

Birth of My Daughter

“I open, I transform, I bleed, I scream and I smile.”

In 2005 artist Ana Álvarez-Errecalde responded to a recurring dream she was having and decided to take self portraits of herself, and her newborn daughter.  The resulting images she has titled “Birth of My Daughter (or El Nacimiento de Mi Hija)

Ana Alvarez-Errecalde on the birth of her daughter says: "I open, I transform, I bleed, I scream and I smile"

Ana Alvarez-Errecalde on the birth of her daughter says: “I open, I transform, I bleed, I scream and I smile”

I am moved to share her photos because I feel birth is a monumentally inexplicable alteration of reality and in our culture it is too rarely revealed as such.  If you are having a child, please explore your options of how your family can truly experience the beauty of birth.

If you are curious about the origin of the images, please watch the short documentary “Umbilical Self-portrait” by MiNuShu.

To see some of Ava Álvarez-Errecalde current work, where she has created bodysuits  representing nude forms (called the More Store), review this article at Empty Kingdom and this piece at Elephant Journal.

Visitors to the "More Store" try on different body images.

Visitors to the “More Store” try on different body images.

Thanks to Brooke @ Violicious for bring my attention to Bauhauswife’s post sharing her thoughts on the work.

ana álvarez-errecalde's Simbiosis

ana álvarez-errecalde’s Simbiosis