Xenophiles and Xenophobes

April 28, 2011

Almost all the way through the alphabet now – just two more days left after this in the A-Z Blogging Challenge.  So for today, the letter “X”: xenophiles and xenophobes, two sides of one coin, or perhaps more literally two sides of a gaping chasm.

Those who know me IRL will be able to tell you which side of the gap my feet are firmly planted on:  I think they’d say I’m a certified (or perhaps “certifiable”…) xenophile.  Yup, I do love me some foreign stuff.  Foods, drinks, fillums, books and the places they come from – oh, and the people in those places too.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the stuff closer to home – plenty of things to love here too.  But you can carry that a bit too far… and end up on the other side of the Great Divide, over in xenophobia land.

Now, I’m not talking about just being disinterested in that stuff over yonder, but full blown mistrust and hatred of foreign things, people and their cultures.  It’s just not right.  And it doesn’t even need to cross a border to show its ugly face – as a person of mixed race parentage (i.e. part of a visible minority), I can assure you I’ve experienced it often enough throughout my life even in the country I was born and raised in (that would be Canada, eh?).

Xenophobes are fearful of anything not like themselves – foreign countries, their peoples and cultures are all targets of their irrational prejudices, but so too is anyone or any group that doesn’t conform to the xenophobe’s image of “just like me”.

In some respects, things have improved over the course of my life – the advent of the Interwebs and the WWW for example, have opened new horizons and peoples’ eyes to what lays beyond the edge of their metaphorical garden; at the very least the exposure will help desensitize them to foreign things and perhaps understand them better with the resulting realization that they’re not really threatening after all.  But there’s still lots of progress to be made, and as the song by the band War says “Why Can’t We Be Friends?



April 7, 2011

Friendship not only
Is just another word but
A kind of magic


Not exactly a headline…

July 21, 2007

…but it does make you smile. Well, once the extremely puzzled WTF? look leaves your face after reading it.

Let me back up a little in the story. Today was S’s last day at work before going on her maternity leave. So to send her off, we went out to lunch, to a Chinese restaurant not far from the office.

And at the end of the meal they served the obligatory fortune-cookies. Now, some of the folks got fortunes that were mildly amusing for their deep, philosophical sounding mottoes.

Me? Here’s what I got:

The rubber bands are heading in the right direction.


I swear, that’s word-for-word what it says.

Now, maybe there’s some deep, philosophical saying in Chinese that has this as a translation… but it seems rather unlikely. Doesn’t it?

So K says “Why don’t you google it and see if it really is a translation of some Chinese saying.”

I didn’t really expect to turn up anything at all, let alone a reference to a Chinese saying. But I entered the phrase on Google’s search page, with it in quotes to see if an exact match would turn up.

And it did, although there wasn’t a citation of some ancient Taoist or Confucian pearl of wisdom. Apparently, I’m not the only one struck by the Beckettsian absurdity of the phrase — have a look a the search results here.

With that, I’m off to bed, where perhaps I’ll have some revelatory dream that will make the meaning of the fortune clear.

And monkeys might fly out of my butt

Docudrama or Everyday Heroes Redux

April 7, 2007


Turns out the YouTube video I mentioned a couple of days ago, that I found via Bob Goyetche’s blog and The CatFish Show, was a hoax according to a CBC report on it.

However, according to the CBC item, the two men (Claude Landry and Martin Thibaudeau) responsible for the video:

…admitted Thursday they planned the whole thing to recreate an experience Landry had 15 years ago…

OK, so that means it’s not a hoax, it’s a docudrama!

And look at it in the perspective of technology: fifteen years ago, there were no cell phones with video cameras to record everyday moments and there was nothing like YouTube for sharing those videos; now, it hardly takes longer than 15 minutes for something to happen, hit the net, create a media storm and then become like, so yesterday already.

So, if the everyday hero originally acted at a time when only the people within arm’s length knew about it, does recreating and distributing it with today’s technology diminish the relevancy of the act?

I don’t really think it’s up to me to judge… but maybe if it inspires someone to be a little more socially responsible (or deters someone from being socially irresponsible), well, is that such a bad thing?

Everyday heroes

April 5, 2007

Now, I’m still undecided on whether or not some of the current Social Networking schemes are A Good Thing or not (I’m not even sure yet that I’m all that comfortable blogging…), but sometimes the power and immediacy of the technology that empowers these networks is undeniable.

What’s got me on to this tangent is a video on YouTube, one of those aforementioned social networking thingies, that shows off an everyday hero: someone who, quite literally, takes matters into hand to… well, watch the video — I’ve linked to the post on Bob Goyetche’s blog where I watched the video (I had, in turn, found the link to Bob’s post from the CatFish Show podcast’s blog — see over in the sidebar for a link; it’s well worth a listen).

The events unrolled in Montréal, in Québec where Bob lives, so the people in the video are speaking French — not a problem for me (après 4 ans de séjour en France, je suis bilingue, ou presque…) but even if you don’t understand French, the actions speak for themselves…

So, whatever you feel about the Social Networking trend — YouTube, MySpace, FaceBook, Second Life and so on — maybe if it helps, even in a small way, to encourage Everyday Heroes to set a few small things right, they’re Not Such A Bad Thing After All.

What the heck? There’s someone out there reading this stuff?

March 26, 2007

Busted… looks like a few people have discovered my blogging efforts (according to the visitor stats WordPress supplies anyway), probably through Katherine’s knitting blog (where she mentioned this, um, thingy here), or maybe also from Craig’s Jefferson Airplane podcast site.

One thing to remember about my blog: it’ll always be worth just what you’ve paid for it. 😉

Still finding the editing page of WordPress a bit quirky, like how the backspace key seems to take out the space preceding a word when you make a correction by backspacing over the word. Not a bug, per se, just something that takes getting used to (BTW in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m really picky about human interface and user experience design — comes from having done software development In Another Life; you can bet that I made sure that I ironed out any quirkiness — or worked around as best I could any quirks inherent in the underlying system — before turning any code loose on the users).

Time to go for today. Started reading Sun Tzu‘s The Art of War, as an adjunct to my job hunting knowledge and I’d like to get back to it. I have recently picked up some useful job hunting stuff from The Smart Interviewer by “industrial psychologist” Bradford D. Smart; that’s what prompted me to read The Art of War (which is a notable omission from my knowledge base anyway, and is now being rectified).

If the connection’s not immediately clear to you, don’t worry… it has to do with knowing both your adversary and yourself, as counselled by Master Sun; time to find out what other tactics and strategies I can apply to the job hunt.

BTW I’d suggest it’s just a canny nom de plume to tie in neatly with the book title, but it seems he has a brother, Geoffrey H. Smart, who’s a Psychologist To The CEOs — they market stuff together under the topgrading® banner; no endorsement implied as I have some philosophical differences with some of the methods described in The Smart Interviewer, but it’s useful to know what you may be up against in an interview — so I suppose they really are a couple of Smart cookies…

I’m also reading Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters by Jay Conrad Levinson and David E. Perry, which was sent to me by a friend (thanks, Ted!) who works for a company that does employment counselling (erm, I think I have that right?).

Anyway, from it I’ve picked up some good pointers that have helped me refine my résumé a bit, and there are some other tactics that may be useful. It’s definitely not a “one size fits all” book, though, but then I think that it’s not meant to be — it’s intended as a toolkit and you need to select the right tool for your situation. (PS to Ted, I still owe you some more thoughts on the book, take this as a down-payment…)

I’m finding that a lot of the tools don’t really apply to me, or my situation, or to the current hiring landscape — companies are relying more and more on internet-based application systems that seem to do an effective job of filtering out the best candidates (based on some feedback I’ve heard from some managers), and just getting the attention of a real live human being to even read that well crafted résumé is about as likely as winning the lottery…

Sigh… just when exactly did they decide to take the Human out of Human Resources? Oh, right, it was about the same time that Shareholder Value became the New Mantra of Business.

Sorry, did that last bit sound just a bit cranky? Um, but isn’t that why you came here in the first place 😉

OK, so now I’m really outta here for tonight…