Moved (IRL)

The last month or so has been pretty hectic. 

In mid-February The Wife™ and I pulled up stakes and moved from Peterborough to the Niagara region.  It’s now mid-march, and we’re finally getting settled down.  The last month has included such delights as:
–Moving into a house with a broken furnace. In February.
–Figuring out how to change the codes on the “keyless entry” to the garage after someone (presumably one of the adult children of the former owner) gained entry to the garage.
–A downed Bell line, followed by several days of Bell customer service, followed by a city worker saying “to hell with it”, cutting the line and coiling it up at the base of the pole, where it remains four weeks later. (We are not currently Bell customers and after the last four weeks of their bullshit never will be again.)
–Repeated trips back and forth to Peterborough to pick up stuff from the old house, including The Dogs™ and the contents of my old workshop (which the movers declined to bring.)
–Repeated trips to IKEA. Love their furniture and household gadgets, hate their customer service. And the crowding in the store.
–De-skunking The Dogs™. De-skunking the back shed. De-skunking every textile in our house. De-skunking the upstairs bathroom. Doing it all again three or four times until the last lingering burnt-rubber skunk-stink has finally faded.
–Moving furniture and boxes around the new house, unpacking them, debating where they should go and then moving them around again.
–Freezing rain and accompanying power outages.
–Car troubles.
–Computer troubles.
–iPhone troubles.

The month has also included many good things:
–Getting three months’ worth of backdated EI in a chunk; I was entitled to it and was cut off early due to a clerical error on their end. It came in very handy during the weeks of moving. (Good on Service Canada for catching and correcting the issue, by the way: I had no idea.)
–Helping my youngest sister slip quietly into Canada from her home in the UK for a two-week visit, thus setting up an absolutely epic surprise for the rest of my family. (Seriously, short of concealing a pregnancy there is no way to top that level of family-surprise, ever.)
–Spending Family Day weekend with my actual family, including playing Cards Against Humanity with my siblings and my mom.
–Christening my new wet bar with my sisters, my brother, my brother-in-law and my brother-in-law-to-be.
–The Deadpool movie. See it. Laugh. A lot. (Also, Happy International Women’s Day!)
–The purchase of a 55-inch, ultra-hi-def TV and a Bluetooth-enabled soundbar for the new rec room, something that The Wife™ has been wanting (and saving) for quite some time now. Followed immediately by figuring out how to stream movies and TV shows off our home server. Followed by a large and loud re-watch of de-specialized edition of Star Wars Episode IV.
–Lots of MechWarrior Online time, now that PGI is actually enforcing their Code of Conduct (back when I played in Beta, they didn’t) and have fixed the toxic, homophobic culture within the player base. Applying to join an elite MWO unit. Going through the month-long application process. Making the cut.
–Many puppy snuggles, both pre- and post-skunking.
–The ongoing exploration of the Niagara area, with thorough investigations of local grocery stores, liquor stores, and pet supply stores to make sure we can find all our favorite things. Being generally successful in finding said things.
–Finding the local farmer’s market.
–Spending much time with my twin sister and my brand-new niece who only live three blocks away from our new house.

There’s much else to add, I suppose. I’m hoping, now that we’re much more settled in, to get back to writing on a regular basis. We’re also hoping to get out to the local SCA practices, although until the garage is organized my armour isn’t really all that accessible, and will doubtless need some work done to it before it’s combat-ready again.

I also want, now that the weather is better, to do some driving around the area and get a feel for things in general. I’ve gotten to know the area between our place and The Wife™’s new job very well, as well as the route along the QEW towards Burlington and Hamilton, but I’d like to spend a day just meandering around the area and getting a feel for the off-the-beaten-path stuff.

Life is getting back to normal, just in a new place.

The Are No Jobs In Peterborough

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This morning one of our local papers published an opinion piece by Lois Tuffin titled “‘No jobs’ in Peterborough? Quit griping and help keep the ones we have.”

No, seriously.  That is actually the title, and speaking as someone who’s been looking for work in the Peterborough area for coming on a year now, this entire article pisses me off.  A quick summary of the piece works out to I’ve got mine, so shut up about not getting yours.

With all respect for Ms. Tuffin, the truth is there are not enough good, steady jobs in Peterborough which pay a living wage.  Even in her article, the very first example of an available job was serving coffee at Tim Hortons.  And good or bad, what jobs there are in Peterborough are snapped up pretty quickly. I’ve been looking for almost a year and I’ve found nothing but temporary, precarious work… usually for employers who take advantage of the poor job situation to treat their employees like shit because they know their workers won’t complain for fear of being thrown back into the crab bucket of unemployment.

I was especially irritated by Tuffin’s backhanded criticism of Maryam Monsef’s town hall meeting on job creation, decrying the “buck-passing to government” attitude that is apparently holding us all back.   Invoking the magic of “entrepreneurial spirit” and suggesting people become self-employed does not fix the very serious problems that workers — especially young workers — in this town face: a stagnant economy and a lack of steady, livable-wage earning positions in the area.  Give Monsef credit: at least she’s trying to address the issue, which is something her predecessor, convicted electoral-fraudster Dean del Mastro never even bothered to try.

But it’s Tuffin’s concluding sentence that really set me off: “Want to make the jobs climate better? Do something; don’t just say something.”

I am doing something.  The job situation in this town is so fucking bad that it’s a major reason my entire family is pulling up stakes and moving to the Niagara region next month.  For more than a decade the government — municipal, provincial and federal — have utterly failed to revitalize this region’s economy and that failure is forcing me, a young worker, to move elsewhere to look for work… and I’ll have to take my spending with me, to the undoubted detriment to the local businesses I’ll be leaving behind.

Tuffin’s implication that as a job seeker it is somehow my fault for not being inspired, that I’m somehow letting this community down by lacking the proper “entrepreneurial streak” is downright insulting.  Until this time last year I had a good job at a small local business. I’ve always tried to support local business… and now, I’m going to have to support them in a different locality, because there are no jobs in Peterborough.

Perhaps my situation is typical.  Perhaps it’s not.  But when people have to make the deliberate decision to abandon a community in order to look for a decent living elsewhere, there’s definitely something wrong in that community.

That’s not “griping”, Ms. Tuffin.  That’s a diagnosis.

 

Year End

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2015 has almost ended, and 2016 is about to begin.   God, I hope the new year qualifies as an improvement, because the year just past has not been a good one for us.  Looking back, I can say that only three really good things happened to us all year.

Let’s get the shitty stuff out of the way, first: I got let go from my job without cause in February. This is, apparently, entirely legal in the province of Ontario. It was sudden, unexpected, and although I tried to take it in a professional and adult manner, it was a real slap in the face after a couple of years of working very hard for that company. I’m going to admit to some hard feelings, even coming up on a year later.

Then, of course, has been the incredibly frustrating and fruitless job search here in Peterborough. There are very few jobs (and almost no good jobs) available in this town, which led me into more than one shitty temporary situation which fast became intolerable (some of those situations faster than others.) As of the writing of this piece, I am still unemployed, although I’m hoping the upcoming year will offer new and exciting opportunities in our new situation… but more on that later.

Life problems, health problems, stress in our marriage, frustrations with the SCA… it’s been a rough year for us, so I’m going to be glad when it’s over.

I don’t know if the election outcome counts as good or bad against the big tally sheet. I’m certainly happy the Stephen Harper Conservatives got the axe in such a publicly emphatic way, but I really wanted an NDP government… or at least an NDP opposition. It was a tough year for progressives in Canada, and even though Trudeau seems to be saying a lot of the right things, I’m harboring some reservations about his long-term commitment to (small-l) liberal politics once supporting those policies becomes politically expensive. We’ll see.

But back to the good things: probably one of the better things was getting back out on the water and sailing again, even if it was only for a few evenings and afternoons over the course of the summer, catch-as-catch-can.  The folks at the Port Hope Yacht Club were friendly and welcoming and I thoroughly enjoyed sailing with them — especially on one particularly rough and windy Wednesday race night which proved to be an excellent introduction to the exciting sport of sailboat racing. I’m really going to miss sailing with the PHYC… but more on that later.

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Port Hope Yacht Club on Lake Ontario

The second good thing was our trip to southern California to spend time with The Wife™’s family in person; I’d never actually physically met her stepmom, brother and sisters, so it was a really nice way to spend a week. We all got to know each other and I feel like we made some real connections. We also got to explore southern California, and it proved to be an amazing place. I like L.A., and I wasn’t expecting to. But the people were friendly, the climate was congenial, the food was amazing and the scenery spectacular. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and I’m very much looking forward to our next visit, which we hope will be sooner rather than later.

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Joshua Tree National Park in California

The third good thing, and unquestionably the best, was the birth of my new niece. My twin sister and her husband had their first child about three days after we returned from California, and despite the fact that she’s spent most of her four months weighing less than ten pounds, she’s got me thoroughly wrapped around her adorable little finger… as babies do. This is the first grandchild for my parents, as well, so there’s been a lot of family time the last few months. There’s going to be quite a bit more time with her in the new year… but more on that later.

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She’s really tiny

But three good things measured against a backdrop of a year of frustration, stress and belt-tightening isn’t much. I’ve been struggling with depression because of it, and the clearest evidence of that has been the absence of activity on this blog. When I feel down, I have trouble finding the energy and creativity to write. I’m going to try and overcome that inertia in the new year, and hopefully our new situation will help with my emotional state.

I keep saying that “but more on that later.” Well, I guess this is later: Long story short we’re moving out of Peterborough to the Niagara area, and are currently packing up the Peterborough house in preparation for an early-February move and a March listing. There’s a lot of reasons for the move: Proximity to family is high on the list since The Mother-in-Law™ has family in the area, The Wife™ has cousins and friends nearby and the new house is only a couple of blocks away from my twin sister’s place — an easy walk, even pushing a baby-stroller (we’ve tested it.)

There are also far more job opportunities in the Niagara region: when we decided to make this change we looked hard at the job listings for the area compared to Peterborough.  There were more jobs posted in a day for the Niagara than in a week for Peterborough; filter it with a minimum salary requirement equal to what I was making at my old job and the ratio jumps from day vs. week to day vs. month. Plus The Wife™ already has a job lined up, starting the week after the move.

And yes, we have already bought a house; the The Mother-in-Law™’s real-estate-fu is as effective as ever.  The new house is about the same size as the current house, but somewhat better laid out for us. There’s a big (and high-ceilinged) garage suitable for a shop. There’s a wet bar in the rec room, of which I plan on making full and enthusiastic use. There’s a nicely fenced back yard for the dogs and lots of nearby parks. There’s bike paths and hiking trails and many, many historical sites and two lakes within easy reach.  There’s lots of stuff to do: museums and farmers’ markets and wineries and distillery tours. There’s an active SCA group within a fifteen minute drive. There’s family and friends to share it all with.

I’m excited about the move, in a way that I haven’t been excited about stuff for a while, and hopefully that excitement will carry over into all other aspects of our lives. In the meantime, however, we do have a lot of packing to do. We’re splurging on a professional moving company for the Day itself — the new house is a four hour drive on the other side of Toronto, so traffic is going to be a consideration. Better to have a big truck and an experienced driver to cope with that crap, but we’re putting all our stuff into boxes ourselves as a cost saving measure; the moving company will pack for you if you chose that option, but it ain’t cheap.

I think the move is going to be good for us. I am going to miss people up here, but Peterborough itself… no. This town has gone pretty sour for me over the past year or two. I’ll miss our current house and all the greenspace we have here, but it’s not enough to hold us here anymore. A change, as they say, is as good as a rest, and at this point I think we’re enthusiastic about either option.

Boat Thoughts

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I suspect I’ve been annoying my friends with a Facebook feed full of politics over the last couple of weeks, and I suspect it’s not going to get better until the 19th. Suffice to say the ugly, dog-whistle racism that has been embraced by Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party of Canada has infuriated and sickened me, and I’ve been venting that frustration with a huge wave of re-posts of political stories and out-of-context Rick & Morty quotes. So I’m not going to do any of that today.

I’m still unemployed, but there’s been some hopeful developments which I’m not going to jinx by discussing. While I run out the clock on those I’ve been playing a lot of classic WoW, mostly random-dungeons with complete strangers, which has led (in conjunction with election news) to a growing suspicion that all people, everywhere, are horrible.

The other thing I’ve been doing is window-shopping for used sailboats. I recently splurged on a copy of Don Casey’s book This Old Boat, which I promptly read cover-to-cover and heartily recommend to anyone planning on doing what I want to do: refurbish and sail a boat on a shoestring budget. The window shopping, which is primarily happening through Kijiji, reveals that there are literally hundreds of project boats for rock-bottom prices in Ontario alone (including a Tanzer 22 here in Peterborough that was posted this morning for $100!) There’s also a number of “sail away” boats posted for well under $5000, which is not unusual for this time of year: people want to get rid of their old sailboat before having to pay for a winter’s haulout and storage.

Alas, I won’t be helping someone get rid of an old boat this year. Despite being unemployed, I’ve managed to save about $500 towards my someday boat, but that’s not enough to commit to even the cheapest project boat, even in the short term. I did consider that Tanzer 22, but from the description in the ad it’ll need a couple of thousand dollars worth of crane rental and new trailer just to get it out of the current owner’s driveway before a couple of years’ worth of time- and resource-intensive refitting.

I’ve had a couple of people who know about my boat dreams ask me why I’d be looking at boats that are, in many cases, older than I am. It isn’t just because of economy (although brand-new boats are indeed hideously expensive) but because, by and large, older boats are of considerably better quality than newer ones. It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s true. In order to understand this, you have to understand the history of yacht building.

Until the 1960s, yachts were hand-made of wood and not mass-produced. Building, crewing and maintaining a custom, one-off wooden-hull sailboat was (and still is) breathtakingly expensive. Wood, in fact, is a piss-poor material to make a boat hull out of, especially in the tropics where rot, marine growth and teredo worms actively begin attacking wooden hulls as soon as they’re placed in the water. Making boat-hulls of other available materials, such as steel, just trades one set of material and maintenance costs for another. Anyone who’d commit to maintaining a wooden sailing yacht would have to be rich, obsessed, or both.

Enter the new miracle material, fiberglass. It’s cheaper to build with, it’s easier to work with, it requires minimal maintenance, and with even the slightest amount of care a boat made out of it is virtually indestructible in almost all reasonable conditions. And best of all, fiberglass hulls can be mass-produced. A small boat shop with half a dozen employees could turn out a couple of hulls a week relatively inexpensively, and by the late 1960s that was exactly what was happening around the world… especially around the Great Lakes. Dozens of boatbuilding companies churned out tens of thousands of fiberglass sailboats during the 1970s, and because they were still learning about the new wonder material, they overbuilt those hulls… in some cases massively so. Most modern fiberglass sailboats have hulls that are — at most — 3/8th of an inch thick. Some of the early fiberglass boats had hulls that were built up to the same thicknesses of an equivalent wooden hull, sometimes a full inch of fiberglass. This made for heavy but incredibly strong and durable hulls.

These boats were often “classically styled“, that is, they were designed to look like traditional wooden sailboats in their hull form, so these older, 1970s-era boats were often quite graceful and beautiful… although some not so much. During the boat boom of the 1970s boat manufacturers started experimenting with various designs, and ended up with some pretty weird configurations, such as the double-ended Halman 20 or the flush-decked Tanzer 28. There were also some downright ugly and ungainly sailboats built (anything by S2 Yachts, for example.) Full keels, fin keels, fin-and-skeg, full-keel and centreboard. Aft-cockpit, center cockpit, pilothouse, flush-decked. Sloop-rigged, yawl-rigged, ketch, cutter, cat-rigs… even junk-rigged. A bewildering variety of boats flooded the market… and every fiberglass hull would last decades or possibly even longer. Every couple of years the boatbuilding companies would come out with longer and larger models of boat, and some boat owners would sell their old boats and trade up for a model with two or five feet more length (and correspondingly more interior space.) Their smaller used boats would be sold to someone with a smaller budget and the cycle would repeat, apparently indefinitely.

If you’re into economics, you can see the inevitable in this situation: There’s a finite limit to how many sailboats the market could absorb, and if the old boats last then that limit is going to be reached pretty quickly.

The crash happened in the mid-1980s, roughly about the time of the oil crunch and its associated economic downturn. People didn’t stop sailing, but they stopped buying bigger boats every couple of years and the boat-building industry was in bad trouble. In 1987, the Royal Bank of Canada virtually destroyed the Ontario boatbuilding industry in a single panicked day by calling in every loan and line of credit for boat manufacturers (even those who might have remained financially stable with support.) Yacht-building languished for much of the 1990s, and when new yachts really started being built again in the early 2000s there was not nearly the diversity of design that flourished in the heyday of boat-building back in the 1970s. Like any ecology that’s suffered an extinction event, only those species which proved to be viable in the new circumstances survived.

A “modern” yacht is usually a simple sloop rig, lightly built, with a fin keel, a broad beam and high freeboard for maximum interior space. They’re designed to do exactly what 90% of yachties tend to do: stay parked in a marina as a sort of floating cottage, with the occasional day or overnight sail in protected waters. Their interior layouts are almost carbon-copies of each other and the details vary only in the number of luxuries piled aboard. Multihull luxury sailboats are a prime example of this trend: any sailboat with a sliding glass patio door isn’t, in my personal opinion, what one could call blue-water seaworthy but I bet a 40 foot catamaran’s comfortable as hell in a sheltered anchorage someplace warm.

Real, rugged, blue-water, ocean-crossing seaworthiness is not a priority for modern boatbuilders, unless they’re building kevlar-and-carbon fiber professional racing hulls. That’s not to say that there aren’t a few 1970s-style sailboats still being made (such as my own lottery-win dream-boat the Dana 24) but they’re very much the exception, not the rule. Partly that’s because the market is geared towards the maximized profit-potential of floating luxury palaces, but mostly it’s because the blue-water market — even decades later — is still glutted with cheap, seaworthy, virtually-immortal 1970s-era “plastic classics.”

And every autumn, like clockwork, the plastic classics start getting posted online for cheap. I can only wish I could afford one this year… and I just hope I can afford one next.

False Start

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This past week I decided, in the continued absence of employment, to try my luck at a temp-slash-job-placement agency. On Wednesday of last week I submitted my resume and was contacted — within a couple of hours! — to come in and do an interview the next day. The interviewer was polite, professional, and seemed concerned that I was “too experienced” for this sort of work. I politely replied that I rather needed to eat, but was looking for temp work in office management, preferably something that would lead into permanent full-time employment. She looked worried and thought that she might be able to find something. I went to fight practice on Thursday evening in a hopeful mood.

On Friday morning I was offered work at the placement agency itself, “sorting out” some “filing issues” they had. If after a week things went well, I’d likely be offered a permanent job with the company to fill a recent vacancy. They seemed quite eager — indeed, almost desperate — to have me, which in retrospect should have been my first warning sign. But at the time I thought it sounded great: I’m not too proud to turn my nose up at a week’s wages at honest work, however low those wages were; and the possibility of long-term employment seemed pretty damned good to me, even if it was as filing clerk for less than I was making at my old job. It was something, at least, in a year that hasn’t offered many opportunities.

On Sunday night, I posted an optimistic note on Facebook: “I start work tomorrow morning at my new temp-that-will-hopefully-turn-permanent job. Office management for a staffing company. Should be interesting, at least.

Oh yeah, it was fucking interesting.

On Monday I was employed for a grand total of about ten hours — that’s ten hours solid, without breaks or lunches. It was, and I’m saying this without exaggeration, an absolute shit-show of unprofessional behavior: borderline workplace harassment (spiraling rapidly into blatant and then textbook workplace harassment); clear violations of labor law; casual contempt for both employees and clients alike; in short, a generally toxic workplace environment. I was also a bit creeped out by huge number of electoral signs promoting the local Conservative candidate which had been hung up all over the place.

And their filing system was an absolute shambles.

I’ve worked some bad jobs before and frankly every work environment has stuff that could use improvement, but this was the first time I’d been exposed to a job that set off all my warning bells, one after another, on the very first day of work; It was like I was running down a checklist of sketchy behavior. You see, it wasn’t just a filing job that was open: they had restaffed the entire office. Everyone, except management, was on their first day. Apparently at about the same time I was being interviewed next door the owner was firing everybody in the office, except for one elderly gentleman who was on light duty after an injury.

Yep, they fired everybody and had to staff up from scratch. For the second time in three months.

Ding. Warning bell.

The specific incident, however, which made me decide that this was not the “opportunity” I had hoped for was pretty egregious: That elderly gentleman was being made to sit in the corner (literally in a corner) for his entire eight-hour shift and shred boxes of unused copier paper as make-work. He’d been doing so every day for two weeks as an apparent punishment for being injured on the job due to the negligence and carelessness of his — no, gods help us, our — employer. I figure the owner was trying to get him to quit; his WSIB claims had somehow gotten lost or misfiled, so this was the “light duty” he’d been assigned: Day after day of unboxing reams of copier paper and then running them through a home-office-grade shredder until it overheated and he’d have to spend twenty minutes waiting for it to cool down. When I quietly pointed the unfortunate fellow to some labor advocacy resources I knew about from my days in the IWW, he turned pale and warned me that if the boss found out I’d been involved with any sort of union I’d be fired on the spot.

Yeah, that reaction set off another warning bell, and it wasn’t a quiet one.

It was around that point I resolved to tough out the week from sheer professional pride… but that I was going to turn down the promised “permanent position” when (if!) it was offered.

I finally managed to go home (later than expected because “quitting time” got revised repeatedly throughout the day) had dinner and a stiff drink, and had a serious discussion with The Wife™ that this was by no means the feast we were promised, and she concurred with my “finish out the week and move on” plan.

And then my phone beeped. At ten-thirty in the evening. It was the owner.

What followed was forty-five minutes of harassing and bullying texts over a mistake he had made that afternoon, implying that it was my fault and that I had bailed on him. I attempted, professionally enough, to explain that I would address any issues immediately upon my arrival at the office in the morning at 9:00am. I even apologized for any misunderstanding, since it was my first day.

The apology was ignored, I was to stop making excuses, fix the problem and who told me I could leave with it unresolved? I was to get myself to the office at 8:00am in the morning if I wanted to get paid. This ultimatum was delivered at 11:00pm.

That was the last straw.

Yes, I need a job but I sure as hell don’t need one that badly. I was not going to give this guy another week of my skill and experience. Hell, I was not going to give him another hour.

I indicated (politely) that if that was the situation I would not be in at any time the next morning since I had decided not to continue further in his company.

Why?

Because (and this is a direct quote from my phone’s messaging app) at this stage in my professional career I require a certain degree of professionalism in the workplace, and his company frankly does not come close to meeting that reasonable standard. Thank you for the opportunity and I’m sorry it didn’t work out, best of luck re-staffing the position.

I then received several messages into the small hours of the morning demanding to know (apparently unironically) what I found so unprofessional about his company. I eventually turned off my phone.

I considered sending him a detailed analysis via email the next day, and decided against it because I genuinely think a clean break would be much healthier than continuing to engage that level of crazy. What it boils down to is this: If an employer thinks it’s acceptable to treat their employees like that, then I’m better off not being employed by them. It’ll save everybody time, aggravation and possible legal complications if I just walk away now.

So the job search continues, and I’ll chalk up a few hours of lost wages as the price of a valuable lesson in how low the workplace bar can sink. In fact, that one day at a temp agency managed to dethrone cutting up and packaging 1.3 metric tonnes of feta cheese as the nadir of my workplace experience. And believe me, that takes some doing.

A Long Time Coming

So… I haven’t written for a while. Several weeks, in fact. Shortly after my last post, way back in July, life got very busy, rather complicated, and kind of shitty. And as I’ve mentioned before, I have a hard time writing when I’ve got a lot of distractions and problems to deal with… which is kind of ironic, I suppose, since I often find writing about my life often helps me sort through the problems in my life.

But in any case, I’m not going to talk about most of the shitty stuff publicly, although there were good things that happened in the past two months: our trip to southern California spend time with The Wife™’s family in person (not just via Skype); swimming in the Pacific for the first time; discovering the weird, heartbreaking, unearthly beauty of Joshua Tree National Park; returning home just in time for the birth of my brand-new niece (healthy and happy, although a few weeks early); and especially the trip to meet our little niece (emphasis on little, the first time I held her she was only a bit over six pounds. I weigh around 300.) It’s been a busy summer despite our tight budget, is what I’m saying.

But the thing that’s been largely dominating my attention, aside from my still-not-successful job search and the money problems related to it, has been the federal election. I was enjoying a quiet breakfast on our fourth morning in San Clemente, reading the news on my iPad, when Stephen Harper dropped the writ on the longest campaign in modern Canadian history, trying to leverage the huge Conservative war chest to outspend his opponents and win another four-year mandate.

It looks increasingly like that isn’t going to happen. The Conservative campaign has been a tightly-controlled, highly disciplined and extremely regimented machine that has proven to be completely unable to cope with a series of public-relations gaffes and disasters, starting with an absolutely damning editorial in the New York Times, the ongoing train crash of the “Duffygate” scandal, proceeding through several Conservative candidates committing high-profile gaffes requiring their removal from the election, to the callous mishandling of the heartbreaking story of Aylan Kurdi a three-year old Syrian refugee whose drowned body shocked the world… and whose family were trying to get to Canada.

The Conservative campaign has been an embarrassing shambles, so much so that they sacked their campaign manager in mid-race and hired an Australian fixer with a shady reputation to get them back on track.

Michael Harris, one of my favorite Canadian political bloggers, has summed up the absolutely disastrous Conservative campaign in his amazing piece The Week that Stephen Harper Lost the Benefit of the Doubt and I highly recommend it.

Basically, Canadians are fed up with Harper’s dictatorial style and want a change. Historically we tend to do that about nine or ten years into any government mandate, but this time it seems to be different. Harper’s vicious, uncaring, anti-democratic style has been laid bare and it looks like Canadians want no more of it. Another Conservative majority is out of the question (barring massive and obvious electoral fraud) and even a minority government is highly unlikely. Polls vary, but right now it looks like a horse race between the Liberals and the NDP… and the NDP seems to be winning.

It’s hard to call an election five weeks ahead of time, so I’m not going to. Anything can happen between now and then… but I suspect that if these trends continue we’ll see an NDP minority government, a Conservative opposition, and the Liberals holding the balance of power.

That would not be an ideal situation: The NDP have a mandate that I want to see passed, especially electoral reform to bring in proportional representation. The Liberals under Trudeau favor “alternative voting”, a style of election which would heavily favour centrist parties as everybody’s second choice… which of course means the centre-right Liberals. But it’s amazing to me that everybody, everybody, except the incumbent Conservatives, agree that something needs to be done about our electoral process.

And that leads into another point I feel strongly about: I’m rejecting the notion of “strategic voting” this election. There’s been a lot of discussion of the “ABC” tactic (Anyone But Conservative) and I strongly disagree with it. I’m pretty sure that whole attitude has contributed to the breakdown of Canadian democracy, and in any case I’m sick to death of compromising my principles in the faint hope that things will maybe get better.

It’s not enough to just vote against Harper, you have to vote for something you care about.

So I’m committed to voting NDP for three reasons:

First, I believe the NDP can beat the Conservatives both nationally and in my riding. I like the local Liberal candidate on a personal level (and indeed I endorsed her strongly when she ran for mayor) but I don’t like Justin Trudeau’s lack of a stance on Bill C-51, nor his seeming willingness to compromise his principles based on the whims of polling data. I genuinely don’t believe that he’s the Prime Minister this country needs… and that has nothing to do with Conservative attack ads.

Second, I believe in the NDP platform, especially their call for electoral reform. If there’s one thing the last twenty years in this country has proven, it’s the “first past the post” is profoundly broken, and exploiting that broken system is what gave Stephen Harper a majority government without a clear mandate from the voters. We need to fix our electoral system, our environmental regulations, and rebuild our economy and our social safety net — and of course shitcan Bill C-51 immediately. The NDP have a plan to do that.

Third, I actually believe the NDP will follow through on their promises, which is something I can’t say for the Liberals. The NDP, even as recently as half a year ago, was the underdog and seen as unlikely to ever form the government. Its ranks are full of young, idealistic people and its leadership is full of politicians who haven’t yet held enough power to be corrupted by it. The NDP is a young, earnest party filled with young, earnest people who honestly believe that they can change the world… and that’s exactly what this country needs right now.

My ideal outcome for this election: I’d like to see the NDP have a majority government (or even a strong minority) bolstered by the Green Party. That would be the progressive government this country needs to heal ten years of Harper-inflicted wounds and get us back on the path to a stable, responsible and prosperous country.

And for the first time in my adult life, it looks like we might actually have a chance to do it.

My First Sailing Race

After yesterday’s post about saving up for a sailboat, I took advantage of the fact that our weekly fight practice has been put on hold for the next three weeks (due to Pennsic) and went down to the yacht club to see if I could get a crewing seat during their Wednesday night race. It was a beautiful, clear day with lots of wind, so I figured I’d have a good chance.

I was right, and it ended up being an evening of firsts. I was invited aboard Bahala Na, an old wooden sloop of about 28 feet; I’d never been on a wood-hulled boat before, nor one with a wooden mast and boom, so that was fascinating, especially when her skipper explained that the creaks and groans were “perfectly natural” and “nothing to worry about… much.” I learned pretty quickly that wooden boats “talk” constantly, especially in the kinds of conditions that waited for us outside the harbour mouth.

I’d also never raced before, or at least in a serious, organized way. A couple of times back on Lake Erie we’d been travelling to the same direction as friends on other boats, so we ended up “racing” each other, (because it appears to be a law of nature that any time you get two sailboats going in roughly the same direction, they race) but I’d never had the opportunity to see how sailors who officially race set things up.

It was an education, to put it mildly.

The club’s race course is about half a mile south of the harbour mouth, and consists of five buoys in a circle, each about a mile apart from the next. I arrived just as the “skippers’ meeting” was going on, where the skippers found out what the course would be and which side of the buoys they’ve have to pass on. Last night’s course wasn’t around the circle of buoys, but back and forth across the circle in a complicated pattern, further complicated by alternating requirements to pass port or starboard of various buoys as one made the turns. The course meant that every boat would, at some point, be sailing on every point of sail — fun and challenging for all participants… and almost impossible to describe coherently. There were about a dozen boats of various sizes and types in the race, so the pack was pretty spread out; at times the lead boats would be crossing the path of the trailing ones.

Fortunately, sail conditions were amazing — it was crystal clear, the wind was blowing hard and steady at about Force 6 from due north, although the waves were steep and tall from the southwest, which made for some rough seas. It was wild enough to be exhilarating without being (too) dangerous; life jackets were a definite requirement, although I’m happy to report that none were actually needed during the two or three hours were were out on the lake.

Pre-race we set out on the course, got ourselves sorted out, worked out who would be doing what (one of the challenges when a new crewing member — myself — is invited to join an experienced crew) and got used to the sea conditions. Bahala Na is a very old racing sloop, so she has a quaint rig wherein the boom clears the cockpit by less than a couple of feet — which placed the boom at head height for me. She also lacks preventer or boom brake, which meant that every time we tacked or jibed, the boom would cross over the cockpit at high speed and with skull-crushing force. I spent the entire race (especially on the downwind runs) keeping one wary eye on the varnished bludgeon of face-level death. On a jibe we would bend nearly double to get under it… while simultaneously hauling on (or letting out) various sheets or cranking winches as quickly as possible so as not to lose way.

All of this was challenging, athletic sailing. All of my sailing experience has been relatively leisurely — more cruising than racing. I’m used to cautious, carefully-planned manoeuvres with lots of sea room and time to think. Racing is not like that: bowling along at seven knots, five feet from a competitor’s windward rail, trying to pass a bobbing buoy as close as possible (without hitting it!) before coming around on the opposite tack while getting inside the other boat half a boat-length ahead of our bow (the bastard!), without fouling (or worse, hitting) your opponents… leisurely isn’t a word which applies. Exhilarating, yes, but definitely not leisurely!

Fortunately, we had an experienced skipper and a crew who knew what they were doing… and I didn’t get too badly in the way. It was an education to see the clear, concise orders that the skipper gave — and whenever possible he let the crew know what he planned to do ahead of time (if and when I ever have my own boat, I’m definitely going to follow his example.) He was also patient and kind to me, as the rookie crewman, and I did my best to do as I was told with a smile. I suspect I did that reasonably well, since when we returned to the club at sunset he told me that I was welcome to sail with them any time.

All in all, it was a fantastic evening: I had a hell of a lot of fun, made some new friends, and learned a great deal about sailing all in one go. I even remembered to put on sunscreen this time. My only regret about the whole experience is that I left my cellphone in the car. I really wish I’d gotten some photos or video of the race… but then again, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Memories are always superior to photos.

Hopes and Dreams in a Coffee Tin

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I’ve had a hard time catching the right mood for writing lately. Partly, I suspect, because I’ve been so busy around the house and yard. Despite literally everywhere else in North America having a shitty summer (either too much rain or too little) our summer in central Ontario has been nigh on perfect. Every few days we get a good steady rain which soaks things nicely, then two or three days of fine, steady sunshine. We’ve rarely had so much as a thunderstorm, and those haven’t been severe. (Cue desperate knocking on wood.)

So of course The Wife™’s garden has gone insane, and I’m mowing the lawn twice a week. On the plus side, we’re taking a pint of raspberries off the fence every day or two and the local farmers’ market has some amazing stuff available, so it’s not all bad. Even the heat hasn’t been too overwhelming — it’s been breezy and dry most days without much humidity let alone air quality alerts. All in all, it’s been an almost-perfect spring and summer, and this year I’ve had the free time to enjoy it.

Things progress. We’re planning a quick trip to California next month in order to visit The Wife™’s siblings, who she hasn’t seen since their father’s funeral, and whom I haven’t technically met at all (Skype and Facetime are handy, but not exactly a proper introduction.) That trip will follow next weekend’s visit to the home of my twin sister and her husband so that we can drop off an antique dining room table (which we don’t use anymore but which is far too nice to just toss or donate.) Our visit is also likely to be the last chance to spend time with my sister before her baby arrives on or around Labour Day weekend (I’m going to be an uncle for the first time!) so that’s some good news.

The bad news is, despite my best efforts, I haven’t gotten so much as a job interview this summer — and the clock is ticking on my EI and the economy is sinking ever-further into what the government resolutely insists is not a recession, so it’s starting to get a bit stressful. I worry that a good job isn’t going to come along and that I’ll have to settle for another bullshit, low paying, no-future call-centre job… if I’m lucky.

In the meantime, however, this means that certain long-term goals aren’t progressing the way I wish they would. Primarily, the boat. Even though I’ve not been able to get out on the water since before the Canada Day weekend, I’ve resolved that my lack of employment is not going to stop me from pursuing this dream, so I’ve decided to start lay the groundwork despite a lack of resources. The impetus for this came from a rather odd place — I bought an e-book.

There’s this guy who calls himself “Cap’n Fatty” Goodlander; he’s a liveaboard sailor, a writer, and what is kindly referred to as a “character.” A self-described “sea-gypsy”, he’s written several books on cruising which are entertaining, informative, and irreverent, sometimes to the point of being offensive. Political correctness is not in him, but he’s got a marvellous way with words and can yarn a sea-tale with the best of them. I’ve enjoyed his books and articles for a couple of years, so I purchased a Kindle copy of his book Buy, Outfit, Sail, which is about getting a sailboat in the water on a very tight budget.

Well, that certainly fits my circumstances. So I had a good read, and one of the best suggestions he comes up with, right at the beginning of Section 1: Buying The Boat, is the “boat charm.” The most important attribute of the small-boat sailor is tenacity, he claims, far surpassing even intelligence: “You can’t lose if you don’t quit.” The boat charm is literally that — a small metal boat, such as would go on a charm bracelet, or a pot-metal Monopoly piece, or something similarly nautically-themed. It has to be small enough (and cheap enough) to stay in your pocket or on your keychain so that you’ve always got it with you… preferably mixed in with your pocket change. And every time you pull out your pocket change you see it and when you see it you think about the boat. And then you ask yourself, do I want to spend money on this, or do I want the boat?

This is not to discourage you from living your life, it’s to encourage you to think twice about how you allocate your meager funds. The example he uses is drinking with your buddies on a Friday night: sure, go out and have some pints with the boys, but when the second or third pint is gone, he says, look at the boat charm and ask yourself “What do I really want to do — drink tonight or sail tomorrow?” And then you make your decision. There’s no wrong decision there, but the boat charm is designed to keep you mindful of the eventual purchase of the boat.

I happened to have a suitable boat charm lying around the house (it’s a tiny metal viking longship, used as an SCA site token a few months ago) so that’s covered. And I’ve decided, when I ask myself that question, if it’s at all possible, I’m going to take the money I would have spent on that fourth pint (or that candy bar, or that book, or whatever) and throw it in the big coffee tin in my office I’ve marked “BOAT FUND.” Add those deposits to that the fact that, come hell or high water, I’m putting at least $10 a week into that tin regardless of my personal financial straits and it should start adding up. No money comes out of that tin, period. (Once I’m working I hope to increase that minimum amount, but we’ll have to see how it goes.)

BOAT FUND

Emptying the tin for use is an entertaining story. For years I tended to buy my coffee in those big 1kg tins because I went through a lot of coffee. And an empty, metal, 1kg coffee tin is a damned useful item to have around the shop, so I would often keep one or two out of the recycling. And then most coffee manufacturers switched from tins to cardboard cans, and suddenly the few old tins I had lying around became incredibly precious. They hold tools, bits, bolts, screws, whatever, and they don’t disintegrate under their weight of their contents like a cardboard can will.

The BOAT FUND tin was being used as a coin dump. Like most men with a billfold wallet, I have to keep my spare change in my pocket, so when I get undressed for bed I’d gotten into the habit of dumping it in a small bowl on the nightstand, or on my office desk, and I rarely bother to put the coins back in my pocket in the morning aside from the occasional loonie or toonie for parking. Every once in a while I’d decant those containers into the coin tin (or the change jar) and then forget about it. A couple of weeks ago I realized that the coin tin was almost full, the change jar was overflowing, and I had little piles of change everywhere. We’re talking years worth of pocket change. So I gathered up all the coins, dumped them into a bucket, and took all 15kgs of it to one of those machines in the supermarket that automatically counts your coins, rakes off an 11% surcharge, and gives you back cash. I got back $183.63, a Bahamian quarter, a Jamaican 10-cent piece, an a 1960s-era Ontario tollgate token. The $180 got put in the tin. The $3.63 got dumped in the change jar which will, in the fullness of time, be run through the counting machine and then dumped into the tin. The foreign coins got added to the foreign coin collection, and the tollgate token got laughed at.

And I’d gotten a head start on my sailboat purchase.

At this rate, it’ll take two or three years to raise the two or three thousand dollars I’d need to even start thinking about buying the boat since I’m looking at something like a Nordica 20 or a Halman 20 (which can be found for well under CDN$5000 at the moment… so long as you’re willing to put in some work into it) or maybe something smaller like a Siren 17 which can go for as low as CDN$2000, including a trailer. I just have to bear in mind (as Cap’n Fatty says) that every dollar I save on the purchase price is likely to be several dollars’ worth of sweat equity during repair and refit before the boat is seaworthy.

So even if I get a good job sooner rather than later (oh please, let it be sooner) I’m probably looking at a couple of years of saving before I can even buy a sailboat, much less launch it. At minimum. But it feels good, really good, to have something concrete in place and a plan for the future.

It’s Progress, Of A Sort

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Yesterday’s post, My Morning Dose of Homophobia, continues to go viral. It now has the third-highest number of page views of any post I’ve written (just below After My First Crown Tourney, but far lower than Tragedy and Solidarity). It’s received views from more than fifteen countries, as far away as the UAE, South Korea and Australia. I haven’t — and I genuinely feel weird saying this — I haven’t received so much as single negative comment or complaint about the article.

I was not the only one who disliked Johnathan Buck’s opinions: the backlash was so strong and overwhelming that it actually made the local TV news.

In response to the wave of outrage, from local organizations and private citizens alike, the Peterborough Examiner removed Buck’s article from their webpage around 5:00pm yesterday, although of course they couldn’t recall the thousands of hard copies of their newspaper which featured the article on the front page. This morning’s front page featured a rebuttal by Kim Dawson of the Peterborough AIDS Resource Network, and today’s Letters to the Editor is chock full of responses to yesterday’s article.

Aside from the emailed comment to CHEX News in the video linked above, Mr. Buck is apparently refusing to give any interviews on the matter.

Thanks to some information from a reader and a couple of web-searches, I’ve managed to learn a bit more about Johnathan Buck; he’s a writer, he’s contributed to the local paper repeatedly in the past… and he’s the pastor of the Grace Communion International Church here in Peterborough. The GCI Church is, perhaps unsurprisingly given it’s pastor’s anti-gay, anti-evolution opinions, a pretty right-leaning evangelical denomination, although to be fair I did find an article from the president of their church specifically spelling out their position on homosexuality: it’s a sin, gay marriage is illegitimate, but church members “are opposed to verbal or physical abuse of anyone in the LGBT community or any other community.” (That’s some pretty textbook “love the sinner, hate the sin” hypocrisy.)

Well, that’s fine. I’ve been accused of having an anti-Christian stance on this blog before, but I honestly don’t believe that I do; I have an anti-bigot stance. I know many Christians who are genuinely sincere, decent people whose faith strengthens and empowers them to work for social justice and to take a stand as queer allies; based on my experiences as an activist, pretty much anyone who’s a member of the Religious Society of Friends gets automatic credit as a decent person with me, and I have many friends who belong to the local Unitarian Fellowship. If I seem to have a problem with Christians, it’s largely because so much reactionary ugliness is dressed up in Christian terms.

Draping their intolerance in religion is a long-standing tactic of bigots which is almost as offensive as the intolerance; it is an insult to religion and, for that matter, to drapery. Such so-called “Christians” often manage to co-opt Christianity’s public face and present themselves as the only true voice of their community, to the discredit of their coreligionists and their faith. While I might wish that more moderate Christians would be more vocal in their opposition to such people — and I have, often — I’m very much doing so from the outside looking in: I am not myself a Christian despite (or in some ways because of) being raised in a devoutly Roman Catholic household. I do have a personal spirituality in the neo-pagan vein, but I rarely discuss religious matters as I regard my faith as far too personal for public analysis or debate. However I am certainly not, as I was once accused, an anti-theist nor am I an atheist. Heck, I’m not even an agnostic.

What I am is a bisexual man, a leftist neopagan, an environmentalist, a social justice and queer rights activist, and a freethinker. I also hold, as anyone who reads this blog is aware, some very strong opinions and a skill at writing which allows me to express them; I pride myself, as one high school guidance counsellor memorably opined, “on a healthy contempt for authority.” I do try to be a good person, not out of fear of damnation but out of a genuine sense of solidarity with my fellows, and I like to think that I succeed in that effort a great deal more than I fail.

And to a certain percentage of the Christian community, that all makes me a horrible sinner, one destined to burn in Hell for all eternity.

But I am gratified to note that attitude is increasingly unpopular, both in the general public and the Christian community. Once, people would have turned a blind eye to blatant homophobia, or at least been afraid to publicly condemn it; yesterday’s furious backlash against Pastor Johnathan Buck’s article is a good example of the change in public acceptance of LGBT people and the increasing refusal in our society to allow homophobia to slide. Yesterday I mentioned the cab driver in Calgary who was suspended for refusing service to a gay couple; his employers suspended him immediately because they knew any public outcry would be large enough to seriously damage their business.

Equal marriage has been the law of the land here in Canada for a decade (as of last month, an anniversary which passed almost unremarked in the media) and it’s become so successfully integrated into our societal fabric that not even the most die-hard Conservatives in government will even hint that it be repealed. While there are still bigots opposed to equal marriage, by and large they keep their mouths shut… lest they suffer the same fate that Pastor Buck did yesterday. I don’t take any particular pleasure in Buck’s public lambasting, but I am happy to see further proof that there’s no longer any profit, at least in the general community, in being openly homophobic… although of course there are the ugly little echo-chambers of the fanatics where one can still get away with it.

And thus we progress. Once upon a time it would have been unimaginable that LGBT people should have the same rights as “normal” people. Now it is unimaginable that we shouldn’t. There are still many problems that need addressing — especially for transgendered people, the often-ignored “T” in “LGBT” — but we are making progress.

I just wish we were making progress a bit faster, is all.

My Morning Dose of Homophobia

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This morning our local paper published an opinion column by a local writer named Johnathan Buck. In this piece titled “Evolution and Same-Sex Marriage Don’t Mix” Buck postulates a theoretical eight-year old boy, whose friend is the child of a same-sex couple, contemplating the “puzzle” of same-sex interactions in light of the fact that evolution requires all species to reproduce. His theoretical eight-year old doesn’t understand, his “socially progressive” teacher can’t explain, and he concludes that evolution is “trying to weed out humans as a species.”

“What could happen to humanity” he asks, “if homosexuality really catches on? It’s like a death wish, and people are actually choosing it.”

Wow. Even for a back-asswards, hyper-reactionary conservative bastion like Peterborough, that’s offensive.

Hidden behind an the awkwardly-contrived narrative conceit of the “puzzled child” the author demonstrates a homophobic stance, an anti-sex-ed sentiment, and an appalling (possibly deliberate) misunderstanding of the processes of evolution, the question of whether sexual orientation is a “choice” (spoiler alert, it isn’t), the roles of marriage and sexuality in human culture, and the structure of Ontario’s new sex-ed curriculum.

Bluntly, this article is a smarmy, ugly, and deeply offensive piece of gaslighting*, and I’m appalled the Peterborough Examiner published it.

I’m not going to address the numerous and serious logical fallacies in the article (nor the narrative failures of the author, however grating they might be,) I’m going to address the bigotry. Because make no mistake, it doesn’t matter how erudite or scholarly the author thinks they’re being, it’s still bigotry.

And yes, I know I’m going to be triggering an absolute shit-storm by using that word, bigotry, because every time I call homophobic bullshit and hypocrisy what it is, I get complaints and gaslighting and sometimes even death threats. Conservatives, in particular, seem to have a hair-trigger reaction to being called bigots, even though most bigots seem to be conservative. They aren’t like that. How dare you call them that. It’s not bigotry because they don’t actually hate anybody, they just have a different opinion than you, so you’re the bigot, really.

Yes, yes, yes everyone has a right to their opinion; it’s just that sometimes those opinions reveal the fact that someone is a bigot.

Doug Muder, who writes the excellent blog The Weekly Sift, recently published a post titled You Don’t Have to Hate Anybody to be a Bigot which included a phrase which elegantly sums up the hard-to-express difference between bigotry and hate:
Bigotry is not the same as hate. Bigotry just means believing that certain groups of people do not deserve the same kind of consideration you want for yourself.

Johnathan Buck’s piece reveals the deep-seated anti-gay bigotry that we in the LGBT community face every single day. Sometimes it’s blatant and overt, like the ongoing fallout from the recent SCOTUS ruling in the United States, or the BC politician’s assistant who was the victim of a homophobic attack last year, or the recent incident in Calgary discriminated against and verbally abused a gay couple, but more often it’s far more subtle, like the persistently homophobic culture in Canadian sports, which serves as a deterrent to LGBT youth from getting involved in athletics, or the fact that many Conservative politicians in this country receive support from openly anti-gay churches, or the ongoing prejudice against gay and bisexual men institutionalized within Canadian Blood Services.

Frankly, as a queer person, I prefer the overt homophobia. It’s easy to condemn someone refusing to issue a marriage license to a same-gender couple or verbally abusing a gay couple (and I’m pleased to note that Calgary cabby was immediately suspended by his company because overt homophobia is increasingly becoming bad for business) but it’s a lot more difficult to call out people on the subtle shit. I have no doubt that Mr. Johnathan Buck of Peterborough, should he read this post, will be deeply and vocally offended by my characterization of him as a homophobic bigot, and that he’ll find defenders because he was polite about it.

Well, fuck that: Bigotry is bigotry, homophobia is homophobia, and I really don’t care if you think you’re being polite when you do it. You want to gaslight us with a pseudo-scientific fiction about a confused eight-year old who can’t understand same-sex marriage? Allow me to retort with some sadly non-fictional stories about suicide rates among LGBT youth, or the rates of LGBT youth homelessness and the risks LGBT youth face in shelters, or the fact that hate crimes against LGBT youth represent 18% of all hate crimes in Canada… and that homophobic hate crimes against LGBT youth is the only growing demographic of hate crimes in this country.

A hypothetical eight-year-old might be confused about equal marriage? Cry me a river. I’m more worried about all the real-life twelve-year-olds worrying that they might be weird or sick because they’ve started noticing their peers of the same gender, or the sixteen year-olds who skip school because they’re afraid of being bullied for their sexual orientation… or the twenty-year-olds being disowned by their families for coming out of the closet.

The “evolutionary” argument against equal marriage is complete bullshit. LGBT people have been with us throughout human history and presumably before that, and it certainly hasn’t prevented us from becoming the dominant species on this planet. Invoking that argument is either a sign of blatant ignorance or (more likely) a smug disingenuousness on the part of the author. The implication that LGBT people are somehow less fit to survive, that they’re letting down our species because all we are is reproducing machines is not only incorrect, but profoundly insulting.

Such arguments aren’t promoting a dialogue, they’re not raising the level of discourse, and they sure as hell aren’t helping to resolve the very serious problems facing LGBT people in our society. All they’re doing is providing yet another self-righteous justification for the prejudice of asshole bigots who are trying to put the brakes on social progress.

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Update 11:45
*I’ve had a couple of people ask me on Facebook what “gaslighting” is, and reading back over this post I see I’ve used it a lot. The term comes from the 1944 film Gaslights, in which Charles Boyer’s character, as part of a campaign to make the female lead (played by a young Ingrid Bergman) think she’s going mad, constantly changes the settings of the apartment’s gaslights and then denies doing it.

Gaslighting someone, in the modern usage, means to retroactively change the parameters of a debate in order to shift the blame onto the actual victim. By accusing LGBT people of making humanity less evolutionarily competitive through same-sex marriage, Johnathan Buck is implying historical and present-day discrimination against LGBT people is therefore justified.

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Update 17:15
The Peterborough Examiner appears to have taken Johnathan Buck’s “Evolution and Same-Sex Marriage Don’t Mix” off of their website. It now returns a 404 message.

I find myself wishing I knew whether the Examiner’s editors decided to take it down because they realized it was offensive, or whether Mr. Buck realized he’d gone too far and asked them to. I suspect I’ll never know.

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Update 19:05
Thanks to a reader, I have screenshots of the original article I was commenting on. In the interests of being able to showing both sides of the story, here they are. Nothing has been omitted or edited from Mr. Buck’s original opinion column.