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Archive for May, 2010

What I was up to last week

So last week I was fairly incognito and this was because I was doing the Yes + course put on by the Art of Living Foundation. As a born cynic I was fairly skeptical about this course, the first day I was convinced I might be selling flowers at the airport with a shaved head by the end of the week.

This was not the case and after the week I can honestly say I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. I am now actually able to accomplish things in a timely manner without having to be burdened with anxiety. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my chest. I also have an amazing amount of energy and no longer need to sleep all the time!

It is hard to describe the class, but one of the main focuses is on the breath. We were taught ancient Indian breathing and meditation techniques, which honestly have an unbelievable effect on the body. It may sound simplistic but learning how to breath properly is really one of the most beneficial tools I have ever learned in my life. Believe me, I was skeptical about all of this but is has really improved my life immensely in just one week. A small example of this is that this morning in my bootcamp, I was able to run. I have never been able to continuously run in my whole life, and somehow this morning I just did it.

The course is not cheap at $300, but you get four hours of instruction during the week and seven hours on the weekend. It was in total 6 days, and after the course you are in the community for life. Once a week we have free  update sessions and our instructors are on call anytime and are totally there to support us. It has my seal of approval!

You can find out more at http://www.artofliving.ca/ and there should be another class soon in Toronto. Also, they are in 150 countries so it is easy to find a class near you.

Miss Arab USA

I had trouble sleeping tonight so I thought I would watch something on our trusty DVR. My mother has a penchant for beauty pageants and recorded Miss USA. I had read this morning in the paper that this particular pageant was historic as the first Arab-American, Rima Fakih had won. Apparently indicating some sort of sea change for beauty pageants in America.

It should be noted even though all the news agencies are saying she is the first Arab-American winner according to my friend Wikipedia, Julie Hayek who won in 1983, was also of Lebanese descent (same as Rima). I also found out that Julie Hayek was on my favourite show of all time Twin Peaks so shame on you news agencies for forgetting her!

Julie Hayek as a model in the "Stop Ghostwood fashion show"

So was this pageant an indication of tolerance and inclusion? One word, NO.

Rima Fakih is breathtakingly beautiful and from the very limited talking in the pageant she seemed pretty smart. I liked that she advocated for insurance covering birth control because as she said “it is just like every other medication” (BTW isn’t it crazy that in the US that is even a debate?). While I commend Rima Fakih for seeming to be an intelligent and interesting person, her win does not shift anything in the dominant culture of the US.

Rima getting her crown.

Miss USA is probably one of the worst beauty franchises out there as it relies purely on looks (they do not have a scholarship or have a talent competition) and the creepy Donald Trump owns it.

The franchise is also not known for having the smartest contestants

One of the first segments in the show was swimsuit. The swimsuit is actually the reason Miss USA was created because early feminist Yolande Betbeze refused to pose in a swimsuit after she won Miss America in 1950 (she was pivotal in moving Miss America to focus more on intellect and leadership skills rather than simply beauty). Catalina Swimsuit Company withdrew their sponsorship from Miss America and created Miss USA to show off their swimsuits without needing to worry about women competing solely for scholarships or talent.

The viewers were told to pay close attention to this part as it “is live TV and mishaps happen”. All of the women pretty much looked the same, as they were all extremely skinny with suspiciously large breasts. Spray tan was very prevalent making it next to impossible to detect difference in ethnicity (it seems there is now a new race of orange glamazons). They also all had to wear the exact same string bikini that gave a new meaning to skimpy (not that I have a problem with nudity but I feel the semi-nudity was imposed because the girls did not seem to have any choice in their attire).

Basically the rest of the show was the girls prancing around making “sexy face” to the camera.

What I got out of the show is that if you conform to the western ideals of beauty then you too can one day become Queen. All the other finalists were blonds and I honestly couldn’t tell most of the contestants apart. They were all skinny with big boobs and small noses.

Four Finalists

Even though I really don’t think Rima’s win is a cultural shift, it has been funny to watch the reactions from the right of American politics. Fox News was particularly concerned that a Muslim who likes birth control won. Their headline was “Miss Oklahoma named First Runner Up After Answering Immigration Question”. Basically Fox News is trying to create another Carrie Prejean.

This whole headline is bullshit anyway as Miss Oklahoma wasn’t even in the lead leading up to the question and answer period. While Miss Oklahoma’s answer was stupid (States rights should not allow for racial profiling unless you want to get rid of all civil rights legislation and perhaps bring back slavery) she did not lose because of the content of her answer. Rima was the clear winner in the Q&A because she was the only one who had fun with it and was by far the most personable.

Rima answering her question with my favourite part of the show, Curtis Stone

My favourite criticism of Rima came from conservative radio talk show host, Debbie Schlussel who stated: “Now, Hezbollah has the chief USA bimbo”.

Yeah racism is totally dead in the USA.

Surprise!

Guess what is on the first page of the BBC website this morning?

Bff's

Clegg and Cameron have reached a deal!

According to the BBC website the Liberal Democrats have agreed to 6 billion pounds of public spending cuts, scraping the “mansion tax” on properties over 2 million pounds, a cap on non-EU immigration, and renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent. In return, they will have 5 spots in the cabinet (including Deputy Prime Minister for Clegg) and there will be a referendum on the voting system. I guess Clegg really is the UK Obama!

Musings on the UK election

A story that has intrigued me over the past week has been the outcome of the British election. It is striking the similar electoral situation in both Canada and Britain. The British election in many ways has mirrored Canada’s most recent election.

Both the Labour and the Liberal parties were mired in scandal and both electorates decided to split the vote leaving the conservative parties with the ability to form minority governments (the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives are currently working on a deal in the UK). It also appears that like the Liberal Party, the Labour Party will be catapulted into a leadership crisis, as it was announced today that Gordon Brown will be stepping down.

In my opinion, the major issue in both the UK and Canada is the lack of a viable left (not dissimilar to the situation in the United States). The Labour party is technically the most left wing of the three major parties, but New Labour has largely aligned itself with the ruling class, not just with its foreign policy (supporting the invasion of Iraq) but also with its domestic policy. The Labour government supported has largely supported “big business” and cut social programs. The Labour tenure has overseen an increase in the divide between the rich and the poor in Britain as according to Sunday Times the 1,000 richest have increased their fortunes by 30 per cent under Labour, the largest surge on record.

While both the Conservative’s and Liberal Democrats have criticized Labour’s stance on Iraq neither have made the war a major issue in their campaigns. The so-called alternative, the Liberal Democrats have a fairly moderate platform (more can be found about their platform here http://network.libdems.org.uk/manifesto2010/libdem_manifesto_2010.pdf) and the platforms of all three parties are not very different.

The current debate seems to be surrounding electoral reform, and this is the major issue the Liberal Democrats are pursuing in their role as “king maker”. I am all for proportional representation instead of the antiquated past-the-post system, but find it somewhat troubling that this is the only platform initiative that the Liberal Democrats are pushing the Tories on. The Tories have offered to support a referendum on the matter in exchange for Liberal Democratic support in forming a government. I predict there will be a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition formed in the next few days, and we will see few policy changes by this government.

I think the only solution to this problem is to vote for pop sensation Craig David as new Prime Minister as his solution is to freestyle political policies while cruising in his whip.

Doctor Who

My current obsession is Doctor Who. I have always been an anglophile and have mad love for everything from BlackAdder and Faulty Towers to Peep Show and Being Human. I tend to discover a British series and watch each episode obsessively in my free time (which I have a lot of at the moment just finishing my last year of University and waiting to start grad school in the fall). I started Doctor Who and its spin-off Torchwood a few weeks ago. It can be a pretty cheesy show, but I have always been one that enjoys a bit of camp.

I have to say the first season was my favourite mostly because of Christopher Eccleston’s portrayal of “The Doctor”. I have grown to enjoy David Tennant, but he lacks the ability to demonstrate the raw power of “The Doctor”. Who am I kidding? I just find Christopher Eccleston damn sexy.

I do love all the assistants, but Donna Nobel (played by the fabulous Catherine Tate) was the most enjoyable, as she is just damn funny.

Last but not least is Captain Jack Harkness who is basically sex on a stick.

I am not usually turned on by gay kissing (not that I don’t love my gays) but Jack’s homosexual kisses make this girl swoon.

This show has my Seal of Approval

Hello world!

This is my new blog. It is basically meant to document my crazy mind/life.

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