Writer Chat – Silver Screen

Confronting haters on their justifications

additional note:

their church is below 40 people, all related by blood or marriage, so they don’t recruit and while people seem to support their freedom of speech, no one is lining up to join them. so that’s something at least. so far, they have not been allowed to cross into Canada to stage their little theatrics. every time they announce they are going to try, Canada tightens the border security. they and their ilk are not welcome here, we are a multicultural society and we have hate speech legislation. because freedom of speech is not unlimited and there are responsibilities that come with it. and advocating genocide and blaming groups of people for natural events like disasters or for the tragic and predictable outcomes of war…….. seriously…..word just fail.

Department of Redunancy Department





Things To Never Talk About


Sure, intellectually, we all know that we will each die; but that’s decades away and nothing to concern ourselves with.

That people who know and love will die. Again, it’s tempting to wave it away as being long off, but often, it’s not. It could be as direct as a vehicular accident or as sudden as discovering end stage cancers.

In many ways, a quick, sudden and unexpected death is the best – you have the sudden shock and the aftermath to deal with.

No watching a person waste away for months or years, dying slowly and being removed from life activities by degree – limited by energy, stamina, lucidity. Worse, not even a steady decline, but a rollercoaster of being unwell, stabalizing, getting worse and that becoming the new normal.

Always in denial, always with a smile, pretending as if the new normal is here to stay. Until it doesn’t.

It is a difficult situation, coming to grips with death.

The news is full of brave people fighting and losing battles with failing health, and while good for them, I have to wonder, what’s the option? What is the alternative to being brave and fiercely cheerful, ready to battle to the bitter end, to face the dark night, to take the dirt nap unafraid.

Attitude doesn’t change the outcome, but it might impact the quality of the journey. To feel like you’ve not left any unfinished business; to ensure that no one you love has unfinished business with you.

That’s the rub. Do you talk over the past, no matter how painful? To make sure there was no misunderstanding, to apologize, to justify, to make amends.

Worse, what if there is no memory of the events that haunt you on the part of the other family or friends. Can you let it go? Remind them?

Perhaps death is the perspective needed to remind us of how unimportant that conflict, separation, differences, even long standing family arguments and battles really are.

Which begs the question, when faced with the loss of a loved one – immediate or more slowly, is there a point to rehash the past or should you just get on with the facts on the ground of the present and future?



Disasters, politics and religion

I just finished watching 2 documentaries. One on the current Haiti post earthquake and the other on the Boxing Day 2004 Tsunami. Last weekend, I had watched a tsunami one using footage filmed by people at the sites while the waves destroyed everything and they were interviewed about what they went through and who they lost.

It’s impossible to watch these without crying. It astonishes me how in the Haiti one, the geologist who’s the on camera narrator and main character, insomuch as documentaries about events and science have a main character, is able to go about his photos and observations without crying.

I guess at some point the horror is just too overwhelming, but I couldn’t help but interprete some real glee and excitement in many of the geologists in talking about we knew this was going to happen, we just didn’t know when.

And I know that data is critical to gather while it’s fresh, but it’s just a bit hard to take watching a calm man get excited over cracks in the ground, upthrust areas and sunken areas, while in the background of the shots, people are digging through rubble trying to find loved ones or some in tact item from their former life.

The geologist talks about the overwhelming stench of death in the air, and it strikes me that that isn’t all that has a bad odour.

A huge part of what caused the enormous death toll and destruction wasn’t the heavily populated area on a fault line, but the lack of a building code and no infrastructure to enforce any.

Most heavily populated areas are in some kind of disaster zone. The next time Vesuvius blows like it did for Pompeii, and 2 million + people live in the immediate area…… well, it would be the worse natural disaster in recorded history.

It’s the word, natural, that kept jumping out at me while watching the documentaries.

In the Five Years later, one village had been reduced from 6000 people to 1200 – with only 400 women and 8 children five years later. The older children who had survived were now teenagers, orphaned, and largely leaving the village without an education for other places for work.

While the village had been rebuilt – and to new stronger building codes, the tourists were not returning. Partly because no destination hotel or resort was rebuilt and this was largely owing to a fundamentalist Islamic group that had descended on the site in the immediate aftermath to help clear debris, bury bodies and begin the rebuilding.

But, they didn’t leave. They remained and told everyone that the disaster was divine punishment. They put Sharia Law in place and they police the village. Some villagers became devote, others, not as much and for the most part, these are the ones who are leaving.

And them staying and enforcing the law to anyone within the village means that the one industry that could ensure the villaige’s economic future and existance – tourism – is not going to happen.

Tourists do not go to romantic beaches to sit 3 feet away from each other and control their bodies and hands. Women tourists certainly do not go the beach to cover up.

Saving a people’s souls while destroying their bodies and ability to be self-sufficient, isn’t a help to them.

How do you make sense of the senseless? The destruction, the loss of life, not even being able to bury the body of your loved one.

My mind goes blank trying to comprehend it even.

But, what doesn’t make sense is to accept that the disaster was somehow caused by human social or moral behaviour. Nor does it make sense to then turn to the very deity that, let’s face it, pretty much allowed the disaster to occur.

Disasters really should spell the end for deities. If deities are all powerful, then why allow a disaster to kill so many, destroy so much. Do you really want to beleive that all the dead babies were going to be evil? Or that their parent or sibling are, so the baby had to die to punish them?

Really? Evil babies?

We know what causes disasters – the tectonic plates shifting, subduction, releasing pressure and the earth quakes and when that shift displaces water, we have the tsunami.  Wind and differing water/air temperatures cause hurricanes, and wind conditions tornadoes. Volcanoes are welling super heated magma from the earth’s mantle.

There is no reason to think that any deity is using this natural events to punish people.

There’s no reason to think that a deity spared particular people either. What kind of so called loving deity picks and chooses?

When Katrina happened, many religious leaders claimed it was to punish sinners and because abortion was legal and gays/lesbians were tolerated.

Imagine hearing that – you’re in New Orleans, your city is under water, your home is gone, you are separated from your family, there’s little in the way of water, food or help.

And some moron in a suit’s biggest concern is Roe v Wade and gay marriage?

One of the underlying issues of disasters is being prepared for them. And most of us are not.

Cities need to prepare with building codes and enforcement to minimize damage before it happens. With infrastructure, disaster routes and an informed population.

At higher government levels, there needs to be first responders and aid agencies on call. And that needs funding.

What it doesn’t need are fundies of any religious bent.

Consider a fundie politician who genuinely believes that disasters are divine punishment.

What this means is that he is certain that the disaster is the deity’s plan. Is he really going to vote for funding to mitigate a disaster and thwart a deity’s plan?

Is he going to be willing to vote to spend money on aid to help people the disaster missed?

Is he going to be willing to spend money on large scale mitigation, like proper levees, water barricades, public disaster shelters?

And then you have to wonder, will these same politicans also vote to protect the environment locally and with climate change on the horizon, especially when that conflicts with business?

After all, if the rapture is coming and the deity is going to fix it all, why should we now?

Or, if we’re all or most of us are doomed, again, they are going to interfere with that?

So, as much as I thought that the geologists weren’t emotional about the disaster because they were too focused on learning what they could about the disaster in front of them, I realize that the reason this focus is there is so that they can learn and save lives in the future.

Something that the religious zealots are not interested in. They want to hurry the endtimes and be rewarded now. Because they fear dying and things like the rapture are along the lines of Don’t Pass Go, Don’t Collect $200, go straight to jail – only the opposite good mean – don’t die, go direct to heave where you get to look down and see everyone suffering on earth.

And it’s really funny to me that people who believe that there’s an afterlife, fear death and dying.

Funny weird and to a lesser extent, funny ha ha.

People who understand that disaster are natural and arbitrary, know that life is precious because it’s the only one we have.

We have to learn as much as we can to prevent and reduce future deaths. We have to see that disasters are natural. And we have to spend money to mitigate and reduce disasters before they happen, whether they are going to happen in 10, 50 or 100 years.

We need to look at cities that are below sea level and vulnerable and build the safety systems to a 500 year standard – if we ensure the defenses can withstand a category 6, then anything else below that is inconvenient, not utter destruction.

We need to look at cities in any danger zone has appropriate and enforced building codes, exit routes, close by disaster relief resources, and capacity to evacuate if there’s an ability to give notice or after to relocate and reunite people (and their pets).

We need warning systems that span regions, not just here and there in an uncoordinated manner.

The earthquake in Alaska in the 1960’s caused tsunami damage down the coast of British Columbia and into California – where deaths occured. No one at the time knew that the event were related.

We improve technologies, we conduct research and explore new ideas about disasters and we can  save lives and the property and infrastructure damage is minimized to help those lives carry on.

It’s okay for people to turn to a faith for personal comfort, but it’s not okay to rely on those religions to help us avoid or recover collectively from those disasters.

Death Panels

Seriously so what if there are?

What if there was a board that would review the patient file and decide that there’s no hope, no quality of life and yes, we should allow the person to die?

Whether that’s simply removing all medical support and allowing the death to be slow and painful on everyone or actively providing a morphine or drug overdose so the person slips quietly into the long sleep and saves a lot of horror for the surviving family.

(How can we treat our pets life end better than our family’s?)
Allowing the person – for whom there is no hope of any semblance of recovery – means that the bed, the staff and medical resources are  available for someone who’s life could be saved – a family to be spared or maybe just also comforted that their loved one’s last moments were not in the hallway or waiting room.

More importantly, it allows the family of the person to have closure and be able to return to a normal life. It’s hard to be a zombie walking through your day, waiting for The Call to either race to the hospital or that there’s no point to visit later. Or it allows them to not sit by the bed, touching, talking to a non-responsive person who is not going to wake up, who is not going to even know they are there.

I don’t know if you’ve had a family member who’s beyond hope and dying by slow degrees but it’s a terrible thing to watch – there is no comfort for anything.

That person is just being left in a state of death, their body functions being performed by machines and,  as far as you know, it’s a waking hell – they can’t move, can’t communicate and worse, they can’t die.

It’s rather disgusting for the pro-life faction who insist on god’s will being done to then thwart that will by using machines to ended the existence – not the life – of a person who’s for all intents and purposes already dead.

I remember reading in some horror that Texas mother who’s baby was born with so many genetic defects that death would have occured within 24 hours of birth – and yet she insisted on medical intervention. After a year, a million dollars in medicaid funds, and absolutely no change to the infant – the hospital advised the Mother to find another facility as they were withdrawing care.

She insisted that the care continue that her child be allowed to die as her god intended.

Well, that would have been a year and a million dollars and thousands of hours of care by hospital staff ago.

People die, it’s part of life

It really shows how immature the religious right is that they can’t accept that and what’s really at the bottom of their religious belief – fear of death.


I’m not saying that atheists are not afraid of death – every few people want to die and few want their family and friends to die.

But, nothing we do in our lives can change that we all will die – and that’s why it’s important to live your life to it’s fullest and most meaningful to you.

it’s the only one we know we have.