A friend of mine and I travelled into Toronto’s Canary district over the weekend to make some photos. Normally I take photos on solo walks, and it was a nice experience to be in the presence of someone else who was also focused on making images. Some of my highlights are below.
All images were shot using an Olympus E-M10ii and and Olympus M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 R and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R Lens. They were edited using a combination of Apple Photos and Polar.
It’s a profoundly strange experience knowing that my work was cited in the development of a US Presidential Executive Order (in this case, on the relative merits of cyber security transparency reporting).
It’s one day after the 2018 Ontario provincial election. The winning party ran on a semi-platform that is designed to actively undermine the province’s climate change reforms, dismisses the importance of raising the minimum wage, and is actively hostile to efforts to improve sexual education. In the stead of these values, the party asserted they would reduce the cost of beer, reduce taxes, reduce energy costs, and otherwise work to promote ‘business friendly’ policies. The ways in which these values and objectives would be reached were never explained in a rigorous and methodical way: people voted for values and out of anger at the former governing party.
On days like today, it’s easy for progressives to get upset, angry, and/or depressed. But such emotions are reflections of our own dark and often unproductive states of mind. While a government can significantly affect the policy landscape, damage can be undone and most harms repaired or remediated. Instead of falling into dark states of mind, we are in a time when it is essential to evaluate where we can contribute to our societies and advance the values that we think with enhance our lives, and the lives of those around and affected by us. To promote a more progressive society we might actively promote, support, and elevate the roles of persons of colour, indigenous persons, and women in our communities so that they are better situated to accomplish their personal and professional goals. We might volunteer for causes that are important for progressive politics. We might even actively work to support a political candidate or party that didn’t accomplish the results we wanted.
In effect, it’s during times of change that it makes the most sense to get actively involved in our world, to influence the persons and organizations we’re involved with, and seek to effect change that extends and supports civil rights protections and equality amongst all people. Now is not the time for getting angry, per se, nor the time to lay down and wait for the next four years. No, if anything, today is just like yesterday, and is just like tomorrow should be: it’s a day to actively work towards improving the communities we find ourselves within so as to ensure that all persons enjoy equal rights and are able to thrive in their personal and professional lives.
I absolutely am floored by the reality that Anthony Bourdain killed himself in a hotel room. I’ve watched him from afar for many years, as so many have, and I’ve always appreciated the vigour and honesty that he projected in his public life. His frank discussions about troubled pasts and the difficulties people face everywhere around the world, and how North American and European activities endanger the lives and wellbeing of persons everywhere else in the world, were and remain important assertions and lessons. But rather than remembering him most for his travels I think I’ll remember him for the positions he unwaveringly took in the face of bad actions. His essay on #metoo struck me as particularly powerful, and specifically the paragraph where he wrote:
In these current circumstances, one must pick a side. I stand unhesitatingly and unwaveringly with the women. Not out of virtue, or integrity, or high moral outrage — as much as I’d like to say so — but because late in life, I met one extraordinary woman with a particularly awful story to tell, who introduced me to other extraordinary women with equally awful stories. I am grateful to them for their courage, and inspired by them. That doesn’t make me any more enlightened than any other man who has begun listening and paying attention. It does makes me, I hope, slightly less stupid.
This was the kind of language and public assertion that needs to be made. Bourdain himself was a deeply flawed individual, and he at least presented the image of someone who was trying to work through those flaws and present them as things that can overcome in the course of life. However, while those facets might be worn down over time they were unlikely to ever be entirely eliminated. Rather than showcasing himself as having overcome his past he, instead, presented himself as a man involved in an ongoing narrative, without a clear conclusion, but with an intent to rectify and avoid the sins of his past. There are far worse narratives to carry us through our lives.
Inspiring Quotation of the Week
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
Where Have the readers gone? // [T]he new media is giving birth to. But it annoys me that it’s the first media revolution in the history of mankind to first and foremost serve economic as opposed to cultural ends.”
Kindness Prompt Cards // In theory, we are all interested in being kind. In practice, a lot gets in the way: tiredness, anger, bitterness. These new cards are intended as a prompt to our better natures.
It’s great that Apple is supporting these issues. But it’s equally important to reflect on Apple’s less rights-promoting activities. The company operates around the world and chooses to pursue profits to the detriment of the privacy of its China-based users. It clearly has challenges — along with all other smartphone companies — in acquiring natural mineral resources that are conflict-free; the purchase of conflict minerals raises fundamental human rights issues. And the company’s ongoing efforts to minimize its taxation obligations have direct impacts on the abilities of governments to provide essential services to those who are often the worst off in society.
Each of the above examples are easily, and quickly, reduced to assertions that Apple is a public company in a capitalist society. It has obligations to shareholders and, thus, can only do so much to advance basic rights while simultaneously pursuing profits. Apple is, on some accounts, actively attempting to enhance certain rights and promote certain causes and mitigate certain harms while simultaneously acting in the interests of its shareholders.
Those are all entirely fair, and reasonable, arguments. I understand them all. But I think that we’d likely all be well advised to consider Apple’s broader activities before declaring that Apple has ‘our’ backs, on the basis that ‘our’ backs are often privileged, wealthy, and able to externalize a range of harms associated with Apple’s international activities.
Millennials are known as entitled, but as a group, I don’t think we could have lower expectations.
I’ll go: I don’t expect to own a home. I don’t expect to retire well, or at all. I don’t expect anyone to give me anything I haven’t explicitly asked for, and even then. I don’t expect it will ever be affordable to continue my education in any formal way. If a package gets lost in the mail, I don’t expect to see it again. I don’t expect the government or the banks or the universities to do anything that benefits regular people. I don’t expect them to hold each other accountable on our behalf. I don’t expect them to expel abusers from their ranks, or to put my safety over their legacy. I don’t expect to feel safe in large crowds or alone late at night. And I don’t expect that my privacy will be respected, online or in general.
We get to make decisions about how we react to unpleasant or unfortunate news. For some, that means getting angry and holding onto that emotion in order to focus the anger into ‘productive’ work energy. For others, it can lead to deep frustrations and a sense of being incapacitated. And in yet other cases it might involve both of those reactions — anger and frustration — that is quickly followed by letting go and appreciating the positive aspects of often difficult situation.
Letting go is strangely both easier and harder than either of the other emotional reactions, largely because it entails confronting why those emotions are being felt in the first place. Anger and frustration tend to represent outward manifestations of our own fears, concerns, worries, or other personal traumas. Engaging with them internally means dealing with those demons, whereas using them as energy or letting them consume ourselves externalizes such emotions in ways that prevent us from dealing with our own traumas.
At least one challenge is that social norms often inform us that it’s ok to just be angry. Just be frustrated. And that such emotions are normal and needn’t necessarily be ‘moved on’ from. It’s those situations, where those you’re encouraged to return to that trauma zone after it’s been dealt with, that can be the most challenging; those are cases where the puerile desire to experience our worse is often most challenging to rise above. Rising above it, however, is a kind of active work that promotes self-reflection and self-revelation. It’s not easy, but it’s perhaps some of the most important emotional labour that we can undertake.
Inspiring Quotation of the Week
“Concern yourself more with accepting responsibility than with assigning blame. Let the possibilities inspire you more than the obstacles discourage you.”
– Ralph Marston
Great Photography Shots
The idea of routinely capturing the same location, and tracing change, is something that is incredibly attractive to me. I often find myself pulled back to the same locations to see them at different times, with different light, and different natural coloration. And, so, I was incredibly impressed with Jani Ylinampa’s photos of a Finnish island through the seasons.