Human Rights vs. Hurt Feelings?

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Section 2(b)  “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: … freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.”

I love this country.  Here we have the Charter which says that this is a free country, and we have places like the Human Rights Commission to make sure that no one’s rights or freedoms are violated. And then I read something like this.  Ezra Levant is being taken before the Alberta Human Rights Commission for publishing the Danish cartoons that caused so much hubbub for their portrayal of Mohamed.  So apparently someone felt offended that someone would publish a news item in a news paper…. Ya know, I saw the cartoons in my university paper and they weren’t offensive at all.  Nor were they inciting hatred or anything similar.  They were just political cartoons, rather tame ones even. So this is actually being heard by the Alberta Human Rights Commission, even though they are essentially saying that the “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication” only exist if you’re not offending someone. So this suit has gone forward, one which would have been dismissed by any actual judge in a split second, and Mr. Levant has had his first day before the Commission, which was taped and is available on his blog.  If you don’t have much time, at least read his opening statements here.

Cool new tech

There are currently some very cool technologies out there. When I was young we had a computer without a hard drive.  You put the OS disk in one drive (the big floppy disks) and the program disk in the other drive.  The only way you had a colour screen was if it was green and black, or orange and black, instead of white and black.  Colour monitors were cool.  CD-Roms were even cooler.  And I remember when we bought a second hard drive and it pushed us up to over 100 mb.  And of course the move to four mb of ram from our previous two. We got a modem and that was cool.  I could play on the local BBS’s.  Then came the Internet.  I got my first e-mail address back when Hotmail was not owned by Microsoft.  I learned about HTML and made some crappy web pages.  Then I learned more and made better ones.  Then I learned about CSS and XHTML and made even better ones.  And finally I learned about WordPress and for the first time ever I started using an editor other than Notepad. I now sit here in my room, writing on my laptop.  My laptop which is more advanced than I could ever imagine when I was young. But what is coming is the stuff of science fiction.  Everyone’s heard of the Microsoft Surface by now if you haven’t click HERE.  It will likely have very little use beyond casinos, but that’s not the important point.  The important part is what they’re promising:

  1. a multi-touch screen that’s bigger than a handheld
  2. another commercial use for multi-touch technology
  3. fast and easy wireless connectivity

But there’s other up and coming technology that’s going to be important.  Projected multi-touch is going to be very cool, along with the new multi-projectors.  Imagine sitting down to a desk, and having a screen projected both onto the wall in front of you, and also onto the desk in front of you.  You reach up and move things around the “screen” by touching it on your desk with your hand and dragging.  Whatever you do on the “screen” on the desk happens on the “screen” on the wall.  You open up a word processor and a keyboard appears on your desk but not on the wall. In Japan laptop sales are being impacted by cellphones.  Cellphones can be used as a web browser, for e-mail, for word processing, music, and who knows what’s next.  There’s a new product nearly on the market, the cellphone projector.  There are already ones with very few colours designed to be part of the cellphone, but there are also full colour projectors that are external, but are the same size as a phone.  Perhaps in a few years having movies on a cell phone won’t seem like a useless undertaking. Now imagine the multi-touch multi-projector I discussed earlier mixed with the cellphone projectors.  Imagine taking out your cellphone, putting it on the desk and having your computer appear. The future is coming, and it looks cool.

Loneliness at UBC

I wish I was still on practicum.  Part of it is that I don’t quite get the reason for being back here so soon.  I was learning more, faster, while I was in the high school.  I’ve come here where we now “reflect” on our experiences.  Like I haven’t already done that?  I’m a Theatre student; reflect is one of our major modes.  So instead of learning how to write a unit plan, or improving on our teaching style, we’re sitting in desks trying to pay attention to information that is either useless, already known, or easily accessible.  Regardless it does seem like a waste of time.  But more than that, I have another reason for not liking being back at UBC.

It’s lonely.  There are tens of thousands of people here, but no one talks.  I know maybe 100 people here.  Actually talk to maybe 40, and spend time with less than 20.  At the high school there may have been less than 40 teachers, but I knew a large number of them.  They talked.  They interacted.  They were real.  Not always trying to seem to be a perfect teacher, lest someone notice that they have doubts.  I love teaching, but I have problems with the program.  I don’t like how they tell us to do one thing, but model something else.  How they tell us that people will react to your expectations, and then treat us like elementary school students.  How they tell us to access prior knowledge in our students, and then tell us that our prior knowledge is wrong.  Why are we jumping through their hoops to join a profession that is completely different from what they are portraying?

Maybe it’s the area?  Maybe surrey is just a more accepting and open area than UBC?  Could it be because of the large number of people on campus that no one talks?  I miss UCFV, I miss everyone talking.  I miss not having an oppressive silence on the buses.  The feeling that I’d be breaking some social norm to talk to someone I don’t know and who may not be in my program. 

Varying Shades of Beige?

At UBC there is a change that occurs when one walks inside.  While one is outside they are connected to the world.  There is nature and beauty surrounding them.  Then you step inside and it all changes.  Narrow hallways are common.  The temperature is obviously controlled.  The walls are stark white, as is the ceiling.  The carpet or lino of the floor is a sharp contrast to the bright colours outside. There are windows, but they tend to be small and barred, as though the room is afraid of being too influenced by the outside world. At UCFV one could walk in and out of buildings without loosing the warmness of natural light.  Without loosing the warmth of colour.  The walls are not white.  The carpets and lino is not designed to be as far from nature as possible.  There is a connection.  We seem to be only one step ahead of SFU here.  At least the outside is pretty, even if the inside is awful.


Well it’s taken a bit, but I seem to be getting back into being home from pilgrimage.  Two days after coming home I graduated with my BA in English Literature (Medieval and Renaissance primarily) and and Extended Minor in Theatre (with focus on Lighting and Directing).  I then went straight from my grad dinner to an SCA event which I was running.  The event ran wonderfully, and now I’m going back to work.  It’s odd to be back home after being gone for several weeks. Enjoy.