Tuesday, March 29, 2011

For the Love of All That is Holy...

So the other day I was mulling my way around Facebook. Typical time-wasting. A friend of mine though sent me a link and told me to check something out. What I saw wasn't something I was ever expecting to see occur here in my own "backyard"
(Warning: The pictures shown are graphic and can be disturbing.)
The GuZoo Animal "Sanctuary" in Three Hills, Alberta:
This was my face:

For a split second I thought this was some really tasteless, awful joke. Then I kept flipping through all of these pictures of blatant animal abuse and neglect. The pictures of the sad little piggy hiding under a heat lamp with sagging skin, and especially the bloodied goat made me finally end up like this:

I don't rage often, but I sure felt enraged looking at all of these photos. Then of course I calmed down enough to think "Well, maybe it's a bad season?" I know there is no excuse for animal abuse and poor living conditions, but maybe the owners were doing all they could with limited resources. Maybe they needed help? So I hopped over to Google to research the GuZoo. 
And I *facedesked*
Allow me to share with you what I found. Apparently originally this establishment was a fur farm, that in and of itself is a little dis-consoling. It does explain how he has the ability to find these exotic animals though. So I kept plugging along and I came to ZooCheck. And Lo, my rage grew with Awesome Fury. 
This is a report from 2007 listing the infractions that the Guzoo has and its need to come up to code. Okay, so its a repeat offense. 
Well, then I found more. 
That is just some of what came up. I was shocked, horrified and appalled by this obviously neglectful attitude towards moving up standards. They are continually repeating offence and obviously have no intention of bettering their facility. Even when they do reform it, they reform to the bare minimum standard. Evidently, through progressive evidence throughout the years, these people will not change their ways and this years review means nothing to them; other than another hurtle to making their money. 
So this issue has been hitting the news. The Calgary Herald, CBC, GlobalTV. People are trying to make known what is going on and stop it. I'm not what you would call "an animal rights activist" but I do love animals. I also think that animals deserve to be treated better and need love and nourishment, which these people obviously don't give. I think we need to crack down on people like this and make an example. If a criminal kept repeating an offense we don't slap them on the wrist or keep them a meager fine. So why are they getting away with it? Probably due to what many in the government and this "zoo" establishment think is lack of interest. There seems to be a thought that is very common that people who get heated about these issues are simply activists, and that at the next crisis their attention will be diverted elsewhere. However, I think this time they may find that it's not the "activist" stereotype they are facing, but rather a lot of people who are concerned and enraged by this continual charade of "animal protection" in this "lovely zoo facility". 
So I support the effort to see this place meet its end. I think we need to do it with a measure of dignity and not sink to a bickering and mob-mentalities level. 
Although, I will admit that it is hard when the owner himself is saying things such as this:
"These kinds of people don't realize, by trying to stop what I'm doing, all they are doing is depriving some … child or adult … of enjoying themselves," - http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2011/03/29/calgary-guzoo-animal-farm-online-complaints.html
Or this:
“They may not have had water at that moment,” said Gustafson, admitting some animals’ “old water dishes” have sat covered in feces in cages since last fall. -http://www.metronews.ca/calgary/local/article/816712--disgusting-roadside-zoo-under-review
But especially, this:
Gustafson says if he is forced to give up his animals, they will never go anywhere else.
"That lion is worth $10,000 to taxidermy, and if that's what these people want -- that's what they'll get," he said. - http://calgary.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110328/CGY_guzoo_investigation_110328/20110328/?hub=CalgaryHome

Really? Just.. really? Like.. what.. How could you...
You sir, deserve the award of OUTSTANDING DOUCHERY! 
I read a good comment somewhere that someone said though stating that "he's basically holding a gun to the animals heads. If those were people, we would call that extortion." 
This man makes me very, very angry. Well, it did used to be a fur farm. Guess he'll just go back to that if he can't get his way. Oh, and he says he wuvs his furry wittle animals soooo much.

Please Alberta government and judicial systems, please give us swift justice. Is that too much to ask for? I think not. Don't turn a blind eye, again. 

Okay.. I'm still raging after writing this all out. I know it's a super depressing an upsetting topic so here, something to make us all feel a tad better:

 Now let's get out there and do something about this people! 

ETA: Please enjoy a small vindication, and then all hell breaks lose and this guy is seriously one heck of a nut job

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dear Calgary

Calgary, you're truly a lovely city. With your ever reaching upward downtown, the winding shallow banks of the Bow river, the tasty cafes that I sit at often, and the picturesque grandeur of the Rocky Mountain outlining the background borders of this city.
However, we need to have a talk Calgary.
About your drivers....
I know you're a big city these days. Growing up and moving up in the world. You've got a lot of friends, and a lot more going for you. Sure, I know you've had your trials.
But seriously, that's no excuse for the drivers here.
Last I checked, when I have the pedestrian light and I got to cross the street, that is not grounds for honking and nearly hitting me. If this were a one time thing, yeah I'd let it slid. But everyday as I walk from my work, here in your downtown heart, to my bus stop I have somebody honking at my for crossing the street. More than a few times I've had to actually stop and jump back as some person thinks it's okay to turn quickly and cut across my path with their car. Which, by the way, is significantly larger and more heavy than me. I haven't eaten that many cream puffs these days. Do I look like another car?
Now the pedestrian incidents, well I'm kind of starting to get numb to that. Along with everyone else. We all know when to pause because someone wants to beat the walkers and cut across. We all know to just ignore the idiot honking at us because he can't turn in .32748392 seconds, because oh no I'm there crossing.
What rubs my raw everyday is the fact that no one waves.
That's right. I could rant that no one seems to know how to merge here. How people seem to think it's okay to cut me off. How the instant a centimeter of snow touches the ground in this city every single major road is backed up because someone got freaked out SNOWPOCALYPSE and had an accident with 5 other cars. No, my big issue is no one waves.
I counted once. In one day, where I had to drive for roughly 4 hours about 3 people waved.
I remember a time when someone would let you into their lane and you waved to them as a thank you. These days people just shove on into your lane, even if you let them in and then press on in their gas guzzling, obscenely large and decked out SUVs and BMWs. If I'm taking my time to slow the heck down and hold up traffic because your undecided supreme fuel butt can't figure out how to merge in properly, it's polite to at least wave. I think most parents, and people in this culture, teach manners. It's a way of saying thank you. But no, people tend to think everyone owes them, the individual, more than the next individual two cars over. I'm getting pretty fed up of all of this. I still wave when someone lets me in, it's not like its an alien concept. I remember the days when everyone did that.
Calgary, I know it's not really your fault. Although the winding streets, the ridiculous construction and the backed up traffic on the commute to work may contribute. People tend to forget about the other people around them when they're so entirely focused on not being late for their meeting, or hurrying to get to their next destination. We live in a world of instant gratification for the individual, we forget about the other individuals out there.
So Calgarian drivers, the next time I slow down to let you in while you're yaking on your cell phone and drinking your Starbucks, take two seconds to wave to me. I know I'm just the piddly little Saturn behind you're massive Cadillac SUV, but it's just polite. So does that sound good? You wave for me, and I'll wave for you. Maybe with just a little recognition to kindness and a wave we can start making the roads a tad friendlier.

Yours Truly,


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Let us Discuss

So I know I've ranted about my uncontrollable totally justified love of Dragon Age. I still haven't had time to place the second one and it kinda breaks my heart. So people reading this probably think I'm an RPG troll solely. Well, not really, okay probably. There's a reason for that though! When it comes to games like first-person shooters, I have a ridiculously hard time getting into those. Shoot this person, get shot, throw a grenade, throw a grenade back at the person who threw one at you too, run there, jump here, crouch behind that fence, oh look you got shot again. Watch as the person who shot you is a total douche on screen, and let us replay your death for you shall we?
That lemon and salt in the wound is totally appreciated >.>
Mainly the reason I can't get into those game is because I really play for the sake of a) characters and b) story. If a game has a great plot line and terrible graphics and game mechanics, I will still play it. One example being The Legend of Dragoon. I liked the story! The graphics were awful, and the game mechanics felt a little slow and choppy. And asked me to practically be the most dexterous person ever. I like to zone out on my screen when I play and just know automatically what buttons to press, when I have to actually look down to know what I'm doing. We have a problem. But the story line was good, and the characters were cool. The story line was cheesy though. A city called Neet? Really? And stardust that grants your oh-so-wanted-pretty-please wishes? Heh.
Then of course there are games with it is like WOAH EPIC GRAPHICS! The game play has been revolutionized! It has online multi player! You can shoot people through the head from 1232854382 miles away! Squash peoples self-esteem with your epic scores and your epic items and your the best because you have the most head shots! Also, there's a story line in there somewhere. And stereotypical british accent guy, and wtf black guy. I see those game and I do this:
I've tried to play them. In high school my guy friends all played Halo, so I would too. Granted I'm bad at it, but I really didn't like it. It had a story, kind of, but it wasn't important. The multi player was important. Then Call of Duty came out, tried playing that too. My brothers destroy on that game. Seriously, my youngest brother almost scares me with his scores. Once again, kind of a plot, mostly just shooting people and multi player. And people who say "Oh, but it has a great story!" No, just no. Do the characters progress and develop? Only if you count their body count. Actually, the latest Call of Duty: Black Ops plot caught my attention. So I watched my brothers play it through, and played it a bit myself. But I still hate first person shooters just on principle and the plot kinda ended with me going.. What...? So, no. First person shooters = bad, when it comes to me.
Wait, what was my point again?
Right, why I like the games I like.
I like a plot that moves forward and progresses you through the world and progresses your character. I like tough choices, not just tough combat. Moral dilemmas and ethical issues delight me. I also enjoy being able to like my NPCs. If a game has broken or one sided dialogue I'm groaning the whole way through. If the NPCs are flat, stereotype characters, groaning more to the point of facedesk-ing. I want to be engaged in my games, not just looking for who has the best score or the bigger numbers to crush my numbers with. Also, when I say engaging plot I don't mean a freaking movie Final Fantasy! >.>
So yes, I'm kind of a character/plot wench. I want characters that I can relate to, and characters I can hate, and I want a story that I will want to replay over and over again because it's just that engaging. Is that really so much to ask? Not really, I think that a few games have met my needs.
Unless your Oblivion, and have a half baked plot, but at least you please me with your sandbox-ness.
Games coming out this year I am looking forward too!:
Because who doesn't like Portal? Even Yahtzee likes Portal! Also, CAKE!
The Witcher 2. Looks cool, not entirely sure if I will like it. Didn't really play the first one, but hey give it a try.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I'm not totally into Sci Fi, but I like stealth/espionage so I'll give it a swing. Owen made a good point that the menu looks kind of convoluted though.
The First Templar, apparently takes you around Medieval Europe Assassins Creed meets God of War style. I'm only posting this because Owen will probably be all over that like a kid on glue. (Owen note: Assassin's Creed was a crappy game.) Well.. fine then.
Lastly, would I be a true RPG gamer nerd without being practically besides myself waiting for this game?
That's right. Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.
Could they pick a more epic day to release it? Gah! EXCITE!
Owen is also besides himself with excitement, but he won't admit that >.< He has too cool of a demeanor :)

Let's end with an example of greatest NPC of all time shall we (no really, he was awarded that)

Butt kicking for Justice!
Heh. <3 all around.


ETA: OH MY WORD! I already freaking love the Portal 2 robots! They're like... Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Also, GLaDOS makes me laugh, and want to hide all at the same time o_O
Also, also COMPANION CUBES! zomg.. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Oh Silly Ethics.

Controversy at the Smithsonian anyone?
The new Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds exhibit seems to be getting a lot of heat at the moment, escalating especially with its opening date being in 2012. The artefact collection apparently was discovered, and recovered by a private German company in the Java Sea. Being a private company, who also sold many of the artefacts (especially ceramics), most archaeologists are calling into question the ethics of the recovery and the ethics of displaying the exhibit.
Concludes Bruce Smith, curator of North American history at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History: "I think this exhibition would send a very bad message to the public, that the Smithsonian doesn't stand for the preservation of archaeological resources and that mining archaeological sites is OK."
Now, that's just the jist of the article. The Smithsonian is setting up a blue-ribbon panel to debate the ethics over this exhibit. The whole time I'm reading this article I keep thinking two things:
1)Would you rather pirates came and sold all of it and didn't document a thing? Because Indonesia didn't participate with the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (mouthful, right there).
2) What are you going to do about it now?
Like really, that's all I can think. After the debate on the ethics is over, and whether or not the exhibit opens, what will be done about the find itself? I'm sure they're going to document everything about every artefact (which I enjoy, don't judge me!) And I'm sure the company who found it has coordinates so they can go back there and comb over it, and discuss the implications of where it was found and omg soil content. But to me, really it feels a little... redundant.
Now watch as every anthro, arky person tries to drive a stake through me for heresy.
But it does! It feels redundant! These people had an archaeologist on site when they dug it up. It's not like they botched it, or maybe they really did. They don't actually tell you in the article. It just feels like if it's such an ethical issue, then they'll probably want to go back over it. Fine, I get cataloging the artefacts, but I swear if they go back and comb through the site itself before they declare it "ethical" I will facepalm.
Also, side note. The Anthropologist in me snickered, in a trolling manner, and thought: "so who deemed it unethical by their standards. You guys remember the first archaeologist right? You'd call them tomb raiders these days."
But thats just me...
Atlantis? What? What?!
Heh. I personally think Plato was a troll with this comment.

Also also!
Help Japan, give a little love:

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Things We Do To Keep Our Humanity

In the early hours of the morning northern Japan was hit with a 8.9 magnitude earthquake. Hundreds are dead, and hundreds more are missing and injured. Fires are raging out of control and a fire at one nuclear power plant has forced the evacuation of over 2,000 residents. Hawaii, U.S. and Canadian eastern coast are now under a tsunami warning. The coastal city of Sendai has also been submerged, yielding most of the death toll.
A Liveblog of the events:

No matter how many times I watch another world disaster unfold it's no less horrifying. Here in Canada I sit in my home watching whats happening. I don't know what it is like to have the ground suddenly shift and everything around you suddenly falling and shaking; and I don't know what it's like to face a natural disaster of that magnitude.
But there is one thing I do know. It is times like this, when things are literally falling apart, that humanity pulls itself together. You will see the greatest heroes emerge out of the largest trials, and the greatest acts of kindness can come from the moments of great sorrow and fear. It is times like this, that we pull together to help each other.
So may we pray for the people of Japan and the Pacific Isles, and may we send them whatever kindness we can.

Red Cross:
Doctors Without Borders:


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Side Note...

Also, for those who were wondering if my super-insane hype over DAII had died down, since I haven't posted about it.
Total B.A.

Not in a million years baby. 
I just haven't had time to dedicate to playing it. When I have played it I will let ya'll know how super spectacular I'm sure it is.
Unless Bioware lets me down.. In which case. Oh my word I can't even bare the thought >.<


The Things We Do Part I

For those of you who don't know I study Anthropology, cultural anthropology to be particular. Don't get me wrong, I love physical anthropology but there is just too much to memorize. There is no way I could memorize all those bones. So I study the psychobabble of the Anthropology world, and I love it. Learning about other cultures and how other people view the world always has fascinated me. One thing in particular has always been a prevalent interest to me.
Social Norms.
Every culture has constructed social norms, and every person is subject to them. Whether it be that you take them *~super srsly~* or you're a sociopath and you really don't care and/or can't process the thought of them. And every culture has a different variation of social norms, and that is just cool to me. Granted there are universal taboos such as Incest and Murder, but for the most part cultures react differently to human interaction. That is why we construct social norms after all, to mediate how we interact with one another. One of my friends who went to Japan said something totally new and different to him that he had to get used to was that: when someone doesn't want to talk to you they wave their hand sideways in front of their face. He couldn't get over how weird that was at first he said, until he found out that actually outright telling someone to go away was considered incredibly rude and a personal thing. The whole hand waving thing though was a casual, informal way to convey "Hey, don't wanna talk to you." Every culture has things like that. I knew one girl from Samoa who thought it was so weird that Western girls all wanted to be super skinny and eat rice cakes and put plastic balloons in their boobs. One guy I knew in my classes was arranged to be married and said that it was more practical than "romantic love". We all view things differently. We all interact differently. And I love to sit back and watch it. One thing in particular always makes me chuckle, watching people interact in a confined public space, like an elevator or a bus.
I take the bus to work every morning. I see the same people for the most part, and the same bus drivers. We all huddle in the cold waiting for the bus that is late, and we all pile in and try to squeeze into the bus. But we pile in while attempting not to touch another person, because if you do then oh my gosh! Personal space violated! Watch as a scornfully glare at you! Or ignore you, lean far away from you and hope that you get my signal of "Don't touch me!" It's kinda hilarious. Although I do it too. I hate it when someone sits next to me on the bus because then you scooch as far from them as possible and spend the ride trying not to touch the other persons "no fly zone". You don't talk to the people around you, even though you see them everyday almost, and you certainly don't make any sort of commotion. Lest everyone looks to you and Stares The Awkward Stare that will put you Back Into Your Place!
It's kinda funny, and sad, when you think about it.
I also have to take the elevator up to my floor for work. People will actually take another elevator if there are more than 6 people already in that confined space. Unless they're in a hurry, then they'll suffer the "no fly zone" violations. I always stand in the corner and watch people squeeze on and stand "within themselves" so to speak, so that no one really touches. If you do then you either shuffle away or go "Oh! Excuse me!" Because touching someone else is such an offense. Not to mention talking. No one talks to one another in the elevator. Since you were a kid you were taught not to talk to strangers, because it was dangerous. I feel like that carries over into being an adult. You were always taught not to talk to strangers, so why should you now?  That's out of your comfort zone. No one wants to go out of their comfort zone to ask the person sharing the confined space how their day is, that's a little crazy.
But sometimes, you get those people who break the norm. Most people would view it as either being friendly, or being weird. To be blunt, they're breaking social norm, but I want to hug them when they do it.
For example, today on my way back from grabbing lunch. I hold the elevator door for the young woman running to catch it. I push my button, she pushes hers and we stand there in the usual silence. Suddenly I hear her ask quietly "Where's the Subway?" I look down to my Subway bag where I got lunch today and look back at her. I can either frankly tell her and turn away, or have a conversation. Obviously, having a conversation is more fun. Though surprisingly most people opt for the first choice it seems. So I tell her where and how there are a bunch more places if you explore the +15 walkways. She says thanks and tells me about some new places she found. I ask her if she's new to downtown, she says yes she just started. We had a lovely chat until my floor when I got out and we both bade each other a nice day.
It's things like that, that completely make my day. Some social norms are in place for a reason, others are just constructed because we are happy in our bubble. I like it when people pop the bubble, it breaks up the redundancy and makes my day.