January 15, 2021

Let’s begin with a problem. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that global forced displacement surpassed 80 million people in mid-2020. That’s around 45.7 million internally displaced people, 26.3 million refugees, 4.2 asylum seekers, and 3.6 million Venezuelans (whose distinct nation-state crisis finds them in the latter two categories, but so precariously dispersed that their statistics bleed between tiers). In the U.S., hostility toward migrants arriving at and passing through the Southern border has been shaped around the rhetoric of… Read more

January 10, 2021

Let’s begin with a story. This one is annual. Every year certain cultures mark the completion of the Earth’s voyage around Sol — though Earth never notices, and Sol never cares; and although many of us mark the changing of the “year” differently, depending on our communities’ calendars. And we know it’s an arbitrary marker, this flipping of one digit on to the next, but it’s also one into which many of us put a kind of superstitious hope, precisely… Read more

December 21, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. Years back, I read an article arguing that people who only identified themselves as “white” were actively participating in the exoticization of “other” ethnicities, and that “white” people should be much more upfront about their range of ethnic backgrounds to help diminish the racialized hierarchy (white and “other”) in our society. Interesting thought! And so, I started making more of a concerted effort to identify myself as settler-stock Canadian, from English, French, Irish, and Scottish ancestry… Read more

December 13, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. I’m in the middle of trying to do Big Things that are also fairly Small Things, in the larger scheme of Things In General. I soft-launched a literary press website on December 1, and I’ve been spending the last two weeks learning the tricky ropes of professional e-publishing (distributor and e-format variability, non-Western impediments to global-economic participation, marketing) leading into the sale of my first novella in a four-part SF-mystery series. I’ve made a great… Read more

November 29, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. This one comes from science-fiction. One of the most adored episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation is “The Inner Light” (S5E25), a beautiful piece in which Captain Picard is given, by a memorial probe, to experience life as a member of a species that went extinct a thousand years ago, when its sun went nova. I was six years old when the episode first aired, which is possibly why one part puzzled me above… Read more

November 15, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. As noted in a previous essay, this month contained the privilege of my speaking for the first time about humanism. I was invited by Jesse Harden, part of the interfaith leadership team at the University of Virginia Tech, and we set November 13 for this engagement. It was by Zoom, of course — and also set for a Friday evening, because when we were first scheduling this event I was still working in pretty much… Read more

November 8, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. It’s 2017, and women are launching widespread public protests of the new U.S. president and his administration. Gathering to create exposure, they’re certain, will change people’s minds. Only, the research doesn’t necessarily agree: exposure to women’s concerns might bridge the experiential gap with men who don’t strongly prioritize gender in the first place, but among men who do regard gender as key to their identity, greater exposure to such protests only seemed to increase their justification for… Read more

November 1, 2020

Let’s begin with another update. As I write this, Hallowe’en parties — yes, parties — amid COVID continue in other units in my apartment building. I’m home in Medellín, Colombia, after being out of country for a week to rectify my legal status, and these reckless people are just part of the package, alack. But I’m still ever-so-relieved to be back on this side of the border. I’m now on sabbatical, too: a forced sabbatical, seeing as I cannot so… Read more

October 25, 2020

Let’s begin with an update. This past Tuesday, I had to leave Colombia, to fly to Panamá for a week and test how long I have to be out of the country before I can return and start anew. It could be that I can take a tourist permit as early as tomorrow, when I fly back; it could be that I’ll have to wait for the next calendar year to re-enter. Why is this happening? Well, the government’s last… Read more

October 12, 2020

Let’s begin with an update. I paid off my last financial debt in September, which has had a remarkable impact on my sense of personal agency. I’m mentioning this fact first, because I want to be clear that there is no greater virtue in the choices I’m going to outline in today’s post. There is only greater possibility, afforded to me by a tremendous amount of support, which has given me the means to clear my student loans. If I… Read more

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