Sunday, 8 April 2012

A Chrushin' Conversion: My 8 Months as an Evangelical Christian

              Yes, for a brief while and the noblest of reasons, I became a Canadian-style evangelical Christian, although with minimal proselytizing on my part. It all began a few years earlier when I started attending an evangelical summer camp, known as Ontario Pioneer Camp, because a few friends also went. I was a stranger in a strange land, experiencing a shock program of worship singing, bible study, praying, and strict moral regulation. But it was ineffective: I still lacked that all important born-again experience where I would repent and begin speaking in tongues.  But I returned in the following years, partially because they allowed frivolous activities such as sports, card playing, and laughing, and partially because I didn't know camp could be much more enjoyable, owing to my lack of exposure to drugs, alcohol, and women. I decided to sign up for their leader in training program, which to my delight allowed boys and girls in the room. It was there that I met her, a funny born-again Christian, and soon enough, the spirit was willing and the flesh on fire: I was saved!

"These pews have really brought the room together."
                After camp had ended, we started attending an evangelical church called the Meeting House, which oddly enough held church at famous players movie theatre. They broadcast a feed from the real Meeting House in Oakville, headed by Bruxy Cavey. This long haired, overweight forty year old bears more resemblance to the Big Lebowski than to any preacher I've encountered. But, describing itself as a church for people who aren’t into church, he fits the mantra. In an attempt to shed associations with the institutionalized Christianity of the past 1000 years, they have taken post-modernism to the max, which meant we often took part in some unorthodox activities. One time in bible study we were asked to draw a picture of god, an activity I found difficult. The best one pictured a cloud holding a crucifix; mine looked like E.T. without any arms.

These hunks put the erection in resurrerection
Yet nothing epitomizes Christian post-modernity more than worship music, where people sing about how much they love god to guitars, bass, and hip female singers. Unfortunately, the stereotypes of rooms packed with Christians halfway between mourning and orgasm singing "our god is an awesome god" is true. As a reserved young man, self-conscious about any display of emotion, I struggled to summon such great enthusiasm. The popularity of this music is astounding. One popular group is Hillsongs United, whose hit songs include: Jesus loves me, I love Jesus, and their latest, nobody loves me but Jesus. Despite mediocre vocals, predictable lyrics, and uninspired chord progressions, they are still able to fill stadiums of believers worldwide. There is better Christian music in the world, but they lost a lot of street cred when Sufjan Stevens came out of the agnostic closet.

They get beamed to the sun
In addition to indoctrination by singing, we were also taught about theological issues. I enjoyed this, although some of these people were not theologically savvy. They are biblical literalists which has a profound effect on their thought patterns: any argument with non-believers can be won by stating: "O ye, of little faith" followed by a relevant bible verse. But at least they have settled the age old question of free will: they believe god has a plan for you, but you have the free will to follow it or not, but God knows what choice you will make, but he still lets you decide. Also, despite inroads made by third wave feminism, god is still a man, although there is debate over whether he has a penis.

In the end, my faith lasted little longer than the crush which had created it. Yet, that wasn't the only reason I wanted to believe. The comfort and sense of purpose that comes from belief in a supreme being was reassuring in a morally ambiguous universe. It is easier to know right and wrong with someone telling you what to think. But sometimes, at night and alone, my newly formed Christian worldview fell to pieces while staring into the infinitely empty darkness of space. I believe Carl Sagan said it best in Pale Blue Dot: "Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us."

Thursday, 29 March 2012

10 Signs Your Passive-Aggressive Roommate Is Angry

Note the use of colour to emphasize different moods
           It can be difficult to identify a passive-aggressive roommate. They are often in good spirits, but during certain moments their mild mannered facade gives way to subtle hostility. It is hard to say why they act this way: some wish to avoid the ensuing days and weeks of awkwardness that a confrontation can entail; others simply prefer to let out their anger in small, calculated bursts. Yet whatever the motivation, it can lead to a breakdown in the roommate system, with its accompanying messes, smells, and sinks rendered unusable. So here are 10 telltale signs to show that everything is not "fine", before it is too late.

1.      They get angry while playing video games against you

2.      Things you left lying around the apartment have been gathered in a neat pile outside your door

3.      You find notes sprinkled with underlines, all-caps, and exclamation points

4.      They thank you for things you haven’t done yet

5.      Furniture starts disappearing from the living room

6.      You find the food segregated and a line drawn down the middle of the fridge 

7.      They start learning the saxophone

8.      They have autographed their toothpaste, shampoo, and toilet rolls

9.      A pile of dirty dishes has been assembled on your desk.

10.  You are no longer their friend on facebook

Friday, 16 March 2012

The Art of Internet Arguing

Is this you?
          Frustrated about having to argue with nitwits on the internet? Wish there was some magical way to make them see the superiority of your point of view? Well, you can all rest easy now. Disturbed by the regular descent of internet arguments into a fury of insults and condescension, I decided to do something about it. 50 hours of forum trolling and 5 migraines later, I was able to unlock the secrets which propel the best internet arguers to success. And even better, my methods do not discriminate based on political orientation. So whether you are a crass conservative, waffling whig, or sassy socialist, they will work for you. So come now and learn how to effectively silence and dazzle opponents through the sheer magnificence of your intellect!

1. Avoid poor spelling
           In the heat of the moment, people get so riled up rushing from one point to another that they forget the second letter of every word, rendering great ideas incomprehensible. Rather than racing to respond,  take a deep breath, google pictures of baby deer, and remember: if they can't understand you, you can't prove them wrong.

2. Pull rank based on your degree
           The more higher education in the liberal arts you possess, the better your opinions are.  So arts students: point out to those management, science, and engineering students how they don't understand society as well as you. Graduate students: you are at the top of this pile and should enjoy as it won't come often. So make sure to mention you spend your time crafting opinions more complex than puny undergraduate minds can even fathom.

3. Do not work for less than 30 minutes on any post
            The last thing you want to do is make a fool of yourself on a public forum. You need to devote time into crafting your great argument. It may seem tedious, but it's worth it. At the end of the day, you will feel good for having properly educated someone.

4. Exploit All-Caps
           Nothing drives home a point more than capital letters. It has the equivalent effect of raising your voice during an argument with none of the ramifications involving pushing and shoving. When you reach the crux of the point, smatter your sentences with all-capped words to let your opponents know this won't be a typical cruise through cyberspace.

5. Acknowledge the validity of someone's view before ripping it apart
            Being diplomatic goes a long way. Begin your counter-points with phrases such as: "Yes I hear you, but....." or "That is a good idea IN THEORY; however......." That way, your opponents will know that you have objectively compared the two arguments and deduced yours as superior.

6. Have links at hand
            Establishing fact often requires a source outside of your own personal experience. After elaborating on your position, link a website which supports it. You will add much authority to your point if you can find a person on the internet who agrees with you.

7. Theorize first; philosophize second
             An argument without theory is like a 40 of Colt 45: it makes up in volume for what it lacks in sophistication, but will never be taken as seriously as those craft beers with fancy labels. So add some sophistication to your arguments by referencing great theorists and thinkers of your ideology. For the left, name Mill, Chomsky, or Keynes. As for you conservatives, don't feel left out: believe it or not, you have thinkers too! So don't be shy and name the great ones, like Burke, Huntington, or Flanagan, and watch those lefties go crying all the way back to their nanny state. 

8. Accuse your opponent of being racist
            Opportunities always arise to use the R word, whether your opponent supports western imperialism or discrimination at government jobs against white males. So call them out. It is a great way to discredit anything they may say afterwards and the rest will be too scared to oppose you by fear of association

Take that Cynics! We will bring Kony to justice because of our actions

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Sunday, 19 February 2012

How to Fit In At a Hipster Party

I promise they are less intimidating than they look

              It is Saturday night, 10:30 pm and a girl you met in the campus rec room has invited you to her party. A feeling of anxious excitement flutters around inside of you, but it is brought on by the prospect of success rather than failure. Checking yourself out in the mirror, you feel like Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Match Point: you are sporting your favourite purple polo and brown loafers; your hair is gelled into that ideal faux-hawk position; and your jeans are tight enough to show off a bit of your fine form, but not too tight (you don’t want to give it all away on this first night).  With a six pack of Heineken and a confident swagger, you head out into the night certain of the prospect of success.

             Upon arrival, she greets with a smile, a hug, and a kiss on the check. But as she leads you inside and you scan the interior, you can’t help but notice some odd behavior: everyone is wearing skinny jeans, plaid and oddly large glasses, smoking belmonts and drinking Colt 45, and dancing in a strange fashion to music which is not house. Then it hits you like an occupy protest: you are at a hipster party! Don’t panic, situation is still salvageable. If you like this girl enough to not immediately take flight for the exit, here are some steps to help remedy the situation. 

The Entrance:
             It is important to remember that hipsters have a different value set than you are used to. The chest pumped-up, biggest dick in the room masculinity will only earn you ridicule here.  To blend in with this crowd, you need to relax your posture, take smaller, less imposing strides, and look down at the ground frequently, because nothing says you are cool like not making eye-contact. 

            You are going to have to meet a lot of people who have probably judged you as a bro the moment you entered the room. But that is OK: you can turn it on their heads by assuming a semi-ironic posture while still embracing the traits you know and love. Refer them to as bro while conversing. Stick you fist out and tell them to “pound it.” Enjoy their confused expression as you call them a duster.

             Hipsters get drunk like everyone else. Might I suggest some ironic shotgunning to break the ice. However, as these people are not yet your friends, do not talk about how much you have had to drink. No one cares. 

            If you have made a few friends after a group shotgun and one of them offers you a cigarette, you need to partake. Inhaling toxins into your body is emblematic of that “I don’t give a shit” attitude these people are well known for. So smoke up buddy-boy.  

            This is a tricky subject and you need some confidence in your musical tastes to succeed. Don’t think that saying, “hey, have you heard that new arcade fire song?” is going to impress anyone. You need to dig into the more obscure.  I suggest the most unknown classic rock song you can think of.

            Usually some dancing breaks out at these parties. To blend in, you need to keep it low-key. Jumping up and down and fist pumping suggests the kind of enthusiasm these people despise. Might I suggest a dance which I call the hipster shuffle: alternate sliding your feet to the side and back, each movement taking two beats; as for the upper body, move it around in some irregular fashion while ensuring that you return to a normal position every 8 beats. And remember, eyes on the floor.

           That's all the help I can offer. Stay faithful to this guide and by the end of the night everyone will be saying: “I thought that guy was a total bro when he walked in, but he is totally a hipster.” And as a final note, please remember not to ask: "So why did you decide to become hipster?" You will destroy all of the evening’s progress.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Benefits of All-Boys School

Learning to fist-pump at a young age

My fellow alumni: are you tired of people saying all-boys school must have sucked? Want to be able to stand up for yourself and say more than: “No, you suck.” Well next time, you can back up your angry response with this list of reasons why it was actually great. Afterwards, I’m sure they will be left wishing they had spent 10 years there as well. 

1.      Deodorant is optional

2.      Nobody screams if while changing in the hallways your penis slips out of your boxer shorts

3.      At middle school dances, physical contact while slow dancing is the best  (yes, girls are allowed)

4.      The lunch ladies look a lot hotter than they probably should

5.      You get to dress up as a woman for school plays

6.      There are few repercussions if you openly fart in class

7.      In class, it looks like you are paying attention while ogling your female English teacher (there are usually a few lookers in the bunch)

8.      Nobody worries about the ratio because every night is bros night 

9.      The best part of the day is when the moms arrive

10.  You can use it as an excuse if you make a sexist comment in university

P.S. If you like what I write and want to encourage me to do so with great frequency, follow my blog!

Monday, 13 February 2012

10 Signs You Are Already a Bro

A bundle of bros in their natural habitat

Due to the great success of my previous post on hipsterdom on reddit, I have decided to dive back into the world of cultural stereotypes. This time the target of my disdain is brodom: a peculiar form of white male young adulthood seemingly omnipresent across our cultural landscape.  Yet brodom, because of its existence as a large and hegemonic cultural phenomenon, possesses more minute differences on the level of taste and style across regions. However, the most common strand is an uncritical acceptance of the norms of white masculinity (although superficial embracing of black masculinity and ghetto culture in general are also observable).

            The most striking contrast between hipsters and bros is that hipsterdom requires a certain level of self-reflection to ironically play off of cultural symbols and meanings, and thus is produced by a highly conscious choice; few bros, on the other hand, have ever made a conscious decision to become bros:  it is simply a cultural norm of which they have always been a part and have never seen any particular reason to deviate from. I am not sure if bros are really aware of their own cultural world: many likely see themselves as just “chill dudes who like to party.” Even when bros travel abroad, they usually do so with other bros in large bro bubbles to ensure that nothing disturbs their neatly packaged cultural universe.  So if you have suspicions of being a bro, refer to the list below to find if you are a cultural stereotype.

1.      You consider yourself a beer connoisseur because you sometimes drink Stella 

2.      When a car passes blasting electronic music, you unconsciously begin fist-pumping

3.      You spend time with your gym buddy critiquing the other’s muscles while coming up with a plan to “get big” for beach season

4.      Your Dave Matthews Live in Central Park album has not left your car’s CD player in five years 

5.      You wear a backwards cap and Ray bans in the pool

6.      You find hockey lingo such as “duster” and “chirp” regularly seeping into your vocabulary 

7.      By the end of a party, you usually find yourself without a shirt on

8.      You like the blackberry commercial about the “music innovator”
9.      You have worn a Speedo as a Halloween costume
10.  Even when sober, you still like house music

Ryan MacKellar now works as an SEO Consultant here. This is purely for a cheap backlink.