The world is too heavy.
If you don’t feel like watching the Super Bowl today—strangely, despite being a football fan, I’m just not motivated to head to a party tonight—here are some interesting articles you might want to read:
Today, the personal is political; identity politics is politics. Political stances aren’t just something that we choose to express when we open our mouths in a certain way; they’re a way of living in the world. If I am a gay Yemeni immigrant, or a black trans woman, or a Muslim trans man who’s a survivor of sexual assault, then to be open and unapologetic about my identity is to be a partisan in the most urgent political debates of the day.
But, who gets to determine borders on stolen land?
In the recent protest of the Muslim ban, and with #NoBanNoWall, many people have come together, claiming immigrants made the United States what it is. The sentiment is sweet, but naive. Colonizers weren’t immigrants. They were colonizers.
The labelling of the recent Quebec shooting as terrorism by both Prime Minister Trudeau and Quebec Premier Couillard similarly feels empty.
While naming it an act of terror is an important symbolic gesture of solidarity, how the shooting is adjudicated in the courts and the relationship of right-wing extremism to anti-terrorism laws will be the true test of Trudeau’s words.
If the lack of outrage towards white supremacist terrorism has been any indication thus far, symbols may be all we have to rely on.
The administration is testing the extent to which the DHS (and other executive agencies) can act and ignore orders from the other branches of government. This is as serious as it can possibly get: all of the arguments about whether order X or Y is unconstitutional mean nothing if elements of the government are executing them and the courts are being ignored.
Miller described languishing in a windowless, antiseptic burn unit after his amputations. He heard there was a blizzard outside but couldn’t see it himself. Then a nurse smuggled him a snowball and allowed him to hold it. This was against hospital regulations, and this was Miller’s point: There are parts of ourselves that the conventional health care system isn’t equipped to heal or nourish, adding to our suffering. He described holding that snowball as “a stolen moment,” and said, “But I cannot tell you the rapture I felt holding that in my hand, and the coldness dripping onto my burning skin, the miracle of it all, the fascination as I watched it melt and turn into water. In that moment, just being any part of this planet, in this universe, mattered more to me than whether I lived or died.”
“Any college kid could say: why do they start? Well, there’s availability, they’re risk-takers, alienation, maybe some depression,” he says. “But why do they continue? So I got to the question about the threshold for abuse and the lights went on — that’s when I had my version of the ‘aha’ experience: they could be on the threshold for abuse before they even took the drug, because it was their style of coping that they were abusing.”
Barack Obama was a president who understood not only how technology could transform the way government services worked, but also technology itself. He got it. He could assess an elevator pitch at a small-business fair with the acumen of a Sand Hill Road VC. He could gab with MIT Media Lab leader Joi Ito about artificial intelligence. He even hosted a mini South by Southwest on the White House lawn. And he regarded his tech teams as a pet project, providing them the ultimate air cover when they got caught up in the merciless wheels of government bureaucracy or just plain obstinacy.
He will now be succeeded by a president whose knowledge of what he calls “the cyber” seems limited to late-night tweeting and a vision of hackers as overweight adolescents invading the DNC from their bedrooms.
I don’t have a problem with marking 150 years of Confederation, an important bend in a long, winding river with many tributaries. But 150 is too large a number to mark Canada’s independence, too small to hug the full story of a country of nations that is still incubating. What’s important, I think, is not that we all agree on the same age, but that we recognize the many shifting boundaries we’ve placed on our story, and what each set of boundaries means. Canada is thousands of years old, and it is a day old, and it has not yet been born.
Now you should watch the greatest Super Bowl halftime show ever, ten years ago at Super Bowl XLI.
Finally, if you’ve been wondering how my back is feeling these days, here’s a good description of my state of perpetual soreness.
I’m ending this week with a bout of inexplicably intense back pain, that started last week and crescendoed Thursday morning, when each step I took felt like someone injected a bunch of Best of Big Sean mixtapes up my spine.
Getting old is no fun.