Saturday, January 22, 2011

Favourite Strong Female Characters

Favourite Strong Female Characters

Rachel (Berenson?)
From K.A. Applegate's series 'Animorphs,' a story of six youths fighting against an invasian of aliens called Yeerks that burrow through the ear canal and control their hosts' brains. They can transform into different animals, and defend Earth. Rachel is easily my favourite character from the series, and I'm going to expand on her another time. She's the Blood Knight of the group, and looks like a mall rat. Tall, blonde, gorgeous, she's developed into a very dark character, always ready for battle, and, in one epic moment, in bear morph (tw for gruesome violence) has her arm cut off and then PICKS IT UP AND USES IT LIKE A CLUB. /flails in fangirl joy

Penelope Garcia
The tech goddess of Criminal Minds, she's the fan-favourite who helps out the FBI BAU(Behavioural Analysis Unit) with computer hacking, research, and database searching. She's adorable, colourful, and maintains a level of humanity and compassion that is clearly hard to hold on to givthe amount of gore and human darkness that the BAU as a whole is exposed to on a regular basis.

Holly Short
From the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, Holly Short is the first female member of LEPrecon. She's short-tempered, stubborn, fast on her feet, and a completely capable officer. And, of course, the one who has to deal with the Mud Boy Artemis the most often, poor girl. Holly is a great character, with just the right mix of empathy, rebellion and discipline to be a great foil for the main character.

Nico Minoru
The leader of Marvel's Runaways, Nico is gothic, capable, and usually quite maternal. Despite her habit of turning to impromptu romance in times of trouble, she knows how to protect her friends, and has learned through experience when they should or should not listen to adults. I adore her style, and how even when she has doubts, she does her best for the team.

Picture Credits (Top to bottom, left to right.)
2.  Chuck Wickham3. Criminal Minds
4. Crininal Minds
5. Eoin Colfer & Publishing companies

7. Marvel Comics
8. Marvel Comics

Friday, January 21, 2011

Happy Roe V Wade Day!

Today, the twenty second of January, is the thirty-eighth anniversary of the monumental decision Roe V Wade, which helped make abortion legal in the United States. Yay choice! Yay individual rights!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Late/Early Anniversary Wishing!

Happy Belated Anniversary to Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa, along with Anne and Elaine Vautour, the first two gay couples married in Canada! Their tenth anniversary was yesterday, January Fourteenth. I hope that they had a wonderful anniversary!

And, to my parents, Tim Green, and Kim Pape-Green, a happy early nineteenth anniversary! Have fun this weekend!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Update: An Odd Coincidence

[tw for parenthetical abuse.]

Well, I'm now able to access, though it took a couple of hours on the phone. His offices said it wasn't their network, and that it must be in mine. (And also let me know it takes at least two months, usually, to get a response from Public Safety. I'm trying to call Public Safety and inquire as to if I could get a quicker answer, but they haven't responded. and I've tried calling several times over the course of a day. Nonetheless, I shall persevere!)

Now, I was already somewhat certain that it wasn't a problem with my network, after all, I haven't been having any other problems with my internet, and my parents' internet, in another city, with another internet provider(Rogers), also couldn't access his website. The only similarity between the two internet connections is, well, me, and the fact that I've e-mailed Minister Toews office from both locales with each internet connection.

But, in the interests of finding out just what the strange issue was, I called Bell technical support, to see if it was in my network, or in Bells'. We pinged the website (and by 'we' I mean Mark, the guy who helped me. I just corrected his grammar when we ended up sending an e-mail later on. Yay english major! Yay teamwork! Yay for Mark helping me figure out the issue!) and found that on the 9th hop (Ping=Like, sending the data through the route it takes to get to the website, and a hop is the data being taken in and sent on from one place to another /look at Kendra talking all techy. For more accurate definitions, you might wanna use google.) that it was getting stopped. This was three hops outside of Bells' network, and more then out of my own internet connection. Basically, once it pinged to in Winnipeg, Manitoba (since Minister Toews constituency is in Manitoba, I believe it's a safe assumption that it's his network that the ping has died in.) it took in the information, but did not send it out again, causing my inability to access Minister Toews website.

After doing something with my DNS (I'm not attempting to describe what exactly, because I'm not positive I understood it exactly right. xD I think it changed part of my internet address, but I could be wrong.) I was able to access But the ping now went around the problem, the problem wasn't solved, and it could very well crop up again. My parents house still cannot access the website.

Another Bell employee (I'm not sure of his name, but he was also very helpful,) who went over the ping that Mark reccomended I scopy/paste and send in, described more about the issue, said it was weird, that it definitely wasn't on my end or on Bell's end, and that because of that, he didn't know what the problem is. And, strangely, he did confirm that it was a possibility that a website could block a specific user from accessing that website using this kind of method, though there's no way to know if that's the case. After being told very firmly by members of Minister's Toews office that it must be on my side, as there was no way whatsoever that they could or would block me from the website. Not that I accused them of it, and I had to ask the second Bell employee if it was possible they could, since it didn't make sense to me that doing so would be, to quote one of the people I talked to today, on the thirteenth of January, "impossible."

So, tomorrow, I shall hopefully find the time to begin my rounds of phone calls and questions again, and maybe get a little bit closer to uncovering how this happened.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Odd Coincidence

Since my first Sending Concerns post  about how gender reassignment surgery had been removed from Canadian prisons, I've been eagerly awaiting a response to my e-mails, hoping for some enlightenment on the specific procedure of how an MP may override what a federal court says, and hopefully also some information on why this was deemed not an essential medical service, when only four offenders have tried to get the surgery since 2008. This is clearly not a major drain on the taxpayer, plus it helps any transgender offenders that get the surgery be housed with their gender, reintegrate back into society better, and be less prone to abuse.

Now, I have been e-mailing Victor Toews about this on and off since that initial e-mail on November 29th. I sent a follow-up on the third of December, which got a reply on the same day from Cheri Elliott, an Executive Assistant from his office, saying that they had indeed gotten my e-mail,  and that it had been forwarded to Public Safety to be investigated. Then, on the 14th of December, after no further contact, I sent another e-mail making sure that my inquiry was still being looked into and would be answered. Then on the second of January, I sent another e-mail asking the same thing in different words, and restating what I was interested in finding out. Then on the 6th I sent an e-mail to the office of Lois Brown, the MP for Newmarket-Aurora, where I'm a constituent, inquiring about the issue, hoping that perhaps her office might shed light on the issue. On the 6th I also tried to phone two of Mr. Toews' offices and got no answer at either. And then, today, the 12th, I contacted his constituency office in Lac Du Bonnet, Manitoba, and was given the advice to try a slightly different e-mail, and sent yet another e-mail, with the same text as the e-mail I sent on the second.

Also, though, when speaking to the member of Mr. Toews' office, whose name I unfortunately do not know, I let him know that the website,, was down, as I hadn't been able to access it at my parents home during the break, or at my apartment once I was back, both places I had e-mailed his office from. He said he would look at it, and thanked me for letting him know. The e-mail I sent didn't go through, and I phoned the office back, getting the same guy again. He corrected the e-mail, as I'd wrongly put a period where one should not have been, and let me know that there was apparently nothing wrong with the website. I tried it again, and it did not work. Thanking him for the e-mail, I wondered if perhaps it was just this area.

So I phoned some friends, and facebooked some friends, and asked them to do me the small favour of typing in the URL to see if they could access his webpage. And everyone but two could do so. My room mate, who has the same IP and internet as me, and my father, who has the internet I use when I am home on break.

It's just such a strange thing, as I distinctly remember accessing the website when I first looked up Vic Toews when doing some research on the issue before e-mailing him. I even voted on a poll that was on the home page. I'm not very good at technology, so I can only wonder how this inability to go to the Minister of Public Safety's website has happened in both of the places where I have emailed my concerns to Minister Vic Toews about the decision to cease funding to the gender reassignment surgery, and asked about how come once the federal court has made a decision such as this, that an MP have so little official procedure to do something against the ruling.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Awareness of Ableist Language

TW: For offensive language such as homophobic and ableist slurs.

As I've read more and more things on the internet, I've encountered, for the first time in my life, the idea that the words 'crazy' and 'insane' are offensive words. Not in the sense of being offensive as insults, but in the same sense of how 'retarded,' 'gay,' and 'faggot' are offensive. And honestly, it's a concept I'd never encountered before the last few months, which at first made me feel like it was dumb, like it was political correctness going too far, that it was using those words in a metaphoric sense.

But the more I thought about it, I couldn't feel good about using those words when I don't use 'retarded' and 'gay' to mean stupid or boring, and how I hate even the sound/appearance of the synonym for british cigarettes. It's the same thing, it just offends different groups. All of the things I've ever argued for not using gay-bashing words, that applies to words that stem from mental health slurs.

So, I intend to try and avoid saying 'lame,' 'crazy' or 'insane' anymore, excepting the cases where either lame or insane is applicable in the sense of an injured person or animal, or someone with an actual mental health condition. If I don't I can't help but feel like a hypocrite, and I don't want to feel that way.

No, I will not be demanding others stop using the words, yelling at people, or boycotting things that use those words. For one, I'm going to slip up a lot, these words are in my common lexicon. It will take quite a while for my own attempt to censor these words from my everyday vocabulary to become habit. For another, a lot of people don't realize what they're saying. I might let them know that what they're saying might hurt someone, but I'm not going to be angry to someone without attitude/tone setting me off as well. And lastly, this is just my personal decision. I might think it's a good decision to make, but I can't make it for anyone else. For an example, I loved the South Park episode that talked about redefining offensive words that have always had changing definitions, and they make a really solid point-but it's not something I'm personally going to do. (Because, like I said, I hate that word.)

Some other resources that talk about this:
The Crazy Doesn't Equal Series [Carries a trigger warning, written by DesertRose, who has PTSD and schizoaffective disorder, on Shakesville]
Word Profile on 'crazy' [Written by RMJ on Disabled Feminists]
Changing Ableist Language [Written by Jill on Feministe]

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

List of Mass Animal Death

A list of all the mass animal deaths I've been able to find, for those losing track:

500 blackbirds and starlings in LA
Up to 5000 blackbirds in Arkansas
Hundreds of dead fish in South Wales
Scores of fish near Dominican Republic/Haiti border
100k fish in Arkansas
Several hundred birds in Kentucky
Thousands of fish in Florida
Hundreds of Snapper in New Zealand
15 tons of Dead Fish in Brazil
Two million fish in Maryland
Up to a hundred jackdaws in Sweden (DAMN YOU FEMINISTS! DAMN YOU!)
Hundreds of fish in Ontario
Thousands of crabs in UK

The National Post provides some of these mass animal deaths on a map.

A note: There's probably a totally rational explanation for all of this. It's just...incredibly weird. Apparently birds die in the hundreds sometime for various reasons, just not usually this many and in such a short space of time. Let's not forget it was 2012 that the Mayans calculated our inevitable end. We've got a while yet, no worries.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Current Favourite Quote

"As many, many, many a clever Christian have pointed out, if we're descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys...? Well, because you've never read anything, you cretins." -Marcus Brigstocke, on Argumental, Episode Two, Season Three

As someone who's argued this point with people who are entirely serious about it, I laughed so hard at that line I almost bust a rib. My uncle Andrew recommended this show to me, and I'm enjoying it a lot, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys sarcasm and arguing.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Amber Sweet Character Examination

TW: Swearing and discussion of a rather gory movie, with a very sexual character. Also drugs.
SW: Spoilers for the movie.
Images from Repo! The Genetic Opera

"I'll let you fuck my soul for a little of the glow."

In Repo! The Genetic Opera, Paris Hilton plays Amber Sweet, the daughter of a powerful CEO, who's addicted to the painkiller Zydrate and surgery. Her father's company, Geneco, sells organs and surgery to people, and if those customers don't keep up on their payments, those same organs are repossessed, in a delightfully gory way. 

In short, Amber Sweet shares a few similarities with Paris Hilton, both heiresses, both drug-users, and both have very similar public images. Amber Sweet though, is a bit darker, constantly changing her appearance through the advanced surgery of her time, using street Zydrate (presumably to hide from her father just how much she uses, or because she thinks it's more 'edgy,' it's not explicitly stated), sleeping with her dealer for more Zydrate (well, it is Graverobber, the Zydrate might just be an excuse) and wins a fight with her murderous brother. 

People have different opinions on Paris in this role, and I kind of adore the casting choice. She fits the role so well, and turns in a very good performance. That last smirk she gives the camera after the credits has me convinced that she'd inherited more of her father's personality then she ever shows during the movie, especially in how she clearly has her brothers under her thumb, something only her father had been able to do previously.

Throughout the movie, Amber Sweet makes the interesting transition from a scandal-ridden scalpel slut (a colloquial expression for a person addicted to surgery in the repo!verse) to the new owner of GeneCo. Including a symbolic auction of her fallen face to charity, meant to symbolize how the company will change, while her brothers prove they aren't changing, Luigi murdering the top three bidders and Pavi winning the auction. What's perfect about that though, is that they have changed, and their usual nasty behaviour is centring around their sister, and there being no example of her falling to her own old ways. She even pushed Pavi away when he tries to touch her face, illustrating her new position of power and superiority. Luigi screams at the audience to applaud louder for her, threatening to kill them. And she just smiles at the camera. It's a lovely little scene, showing just how she's changing, and how she's presenting herself to the world she now has a perfect opportunity to manipulate.

This change is all the better when compared to the scene in Zydrate Anatomy, when the Graverobber whistles a bit of a tune and she reacts with almost vicious anger, neatly reacting just as the Graverobber seemed to want. (Literally, he whistles a strain of a song that Blind Mag sings, a singer Amber is very jealous of and wishes to supplant.) Her manipulation of her father in Happiness is Not a Warm Scalpel is petty, shallow manipulation, that wouldn't be so effective if she hadn't had a pitiful appearance to pair with her whiny behaviour.

A huge part of Amber Sweet's character, I think, is a thirst for power. For most of the movie, she seems convinced that there is only one way to get it, through fame and attractiveness. One could, and some have argued that her fascination with surgery stems from severe body issues, and I would link that to her attempt to be able to control men with her body. It is clear that women do not have too much power in the Repo!verse, likely only because the man with the most power is Rotti Largo, and he doesn't like to share it.  Every character that would appear to her to have 'power' is a man, and the only one with any power over them is women, and that only in a small, sexual way. So she tries to get that same kind of power through her own appearance.

Her hatred for Blind Mag probably stems from this issue. While Mag is subordinate to Rotti, she is famous, successful, respected, and admired, and the strongest woman Amber would know about. Rotti's guards, while strong and intimidating, speak very rarely, are skilled fighters, and are bodyguards and therefore she would see them as employees. Genterns and female Surgens, while skilled at their work, would also be employees and below her automatically. For a woman that craved some form of power, the only option that seemed to be open to her is the one she takes-trying to be as gorgeous as she could, and to supplant Blind Mag's role.

We see her will to be more powerful several times, though it's portrayed as her willfulness, her cruelty, her capriciousness. But her wearing dominatrix gear is a clue, and the sparkles the outfit has hint even more strongly at her lack of belief in her ability to be truly powerful as a woman. How she punches Luigi in the stomach is a mark of her domineering gift, and the lick of his ear and reinforcement of that power through the way she's most familiar of controlling men. When she and her brothers harass Mag, and her brothers gang up on her, telling her to shut up, she gets even more angry with Mag, calling her a bitch when she hadn't before, clearly reacting in her need to win. And still, while they quarrel over which of them should inherit GeneCo, she doesn't claim it should be her, only saying it would happen in Luigi's dreams. Despite her fury, she lashes out at Mag first, and doesn't try and argue for her right to inherit Geneco, a very telling difference between her and her brothers.

And the cut scene, where she sleeps with Graverobber in exchange for Zydrate, is clearly about so much more then just Zydrate. She is rich, yet she doesn't have the money on her at the moment? 'Can't Get It Up When The Girls Not Breathing' is  great for the hints towards this hidden thirst for real power, she boxes Graverobber into the alley, has a whip, demands Zydrate, and insults him. And as it moves into 'Come Up and Try My New Parts' she simultaneously insults him and debases herself, seems submissive and domineering, as her learned behaviour and instincts battle. She crawls towards him, but when he tries to leave, she shoves him into a wall. She lets him choke her, and kicks him so hard he falls down. And the seduction herself, when successful, is her getting that edge over him, proving she has at least one kind of hold on him that she didn't before.

And then she gets the control of the company, and has the potential to take that power-and she shows no more sign of wanting to sing, and learns how to manipulate her brothers and her audience, partially through the skills she's worked on for seduction, and partially through natural talent.

So, in short, I enjoy Paris Hilton as Amber Sweet, and I like Amber Sweet as a character, despite how shallow she can be, because she has a lot of inner contradiction, because she's power-hungry, and because when you think about her, she's quite the interesting characters.

One last thing I'd like to leave you all with, since I just noticed it on my last viewing of Repo! The Genetic Opera, is the great metaphor of the epilogue. As Amber walks out of the opera house, on either side of the door, her burly guards lie, dead. And her new guardians are the tough tuxedo'd guards of her father, symbolizing her inheritance, her newfound female power, and the strength that she's just unlocked in herself, and will use to get just as much of an iron grip on her world then her father had.

"I look like a crime scene death."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Favourite Strong Female Characters

A new recurring post, where I list a few examples of strong female characters that our some of my favourites. Of course, by 'strong' I do not mean bodybuilders or the like, but characters that have depth, that pass the Bechdel Test, and are basically good characters. These aren't in any special order, just as I think of them.

Starfire (Koriand'r)

Created by George Perez and Marv Wolfman, this Tamaranean warrior has been one of my favourite characters for ages. Balancing a sunny and optimistic outlook with a kill-or-be-killed warrior mindset and a habit of nudism, Koriand'r is hard not to like as a character. I'm mostly familiar with her origin stories, having read my father's copies of the Perez and Wolfman-era Titans, but those were more then enough to earn the powerhouse of a lady a spot in my heart. <3 The best part about her character was the simplicity of it, being very much ruled by her heart. She had to learn not to kill when fighting with the Titans, to restrain herself when angry to fit the Earth standards, and how she learns to fit in on Earth while not losing her openness is very appealing.

Alianne of Pirate's Swoop
Aly comes from the Tamora Pierce books "Trickster's Choice" and "Tricksters Queen." She's the daughter of the first female knight in a century and the spymaster of a kingdom, and wants to be a spy. Her father won't let her, so she heads off for a non-sanctioned vacation, gets kidnapped by pirates, sold as a slave, and spearheads a revolution in the country she's sold into. She's sarcastic, sly, a little too smart for her own good at times, and a very fun character. Seeing her come into her own in the books is very entertaining, and seeing the legacy of her parents carry on is a reward for most fans of Tamora Pierce. I really enjoy how she makes so many little mistakes-she's good at her work, yeah, and that's clear, but she slips up every so often, and that does lead to tragedy. It's really nice to see faults in a character in this kind of story.

Glenda Sugarbean

From Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals, Glenda is the plump cook of the Night Kitchen who shamefully reads romance novels, and acts like a mum despite her best efforts. I adore her, she's got a lot of similar qualities to me, not having much patience for what she feels is stupid, hating being made a fool of, and very quick to defend those she feels has to be defended, whether they're her friends or simply members of her community. There's a lot about Glenda that really appeals to me, and I adore the way her character develops through the book.

Art Credits (Left to right, top to bottom)
1: Who’s Who (loose-leaf edition) #10 (June 1991) - Tom Grummett and Al Vey
2: From Paradisa Wiki, no source given. If you know the credit this should get, let me know, and I'll put it here.

5: By Paul Kidby, on Unseen Academicals cover