Charity or Duty?

24 01 2007

Yesterday evening I read a very interesting paper for today’s Critical Thinking tutorial. The author proposed a somewhat controversial idea I thought I’d share with you. It has to do with how much money affluent people and governments are obliged to give to those less fortunate. The argument goes something like this:

Premise one: We all probably agree that death and suffering are bad things. Suffering in this case is all the negatives that go along with famine and starvation and so forth.

Premise two: If we have the power to stop something bad from happening or continuing to happen, we ought, morally, to do it. He presents an analogy for this premise: if you witnessed a child drowning in a pond, you would be morally obligated to help them. Ignoring this would be morally wrong.

Conclusion: Therefore, if you are aware that there are people dying in the world due to poverty, and your affluence provides you with more than your basic needs, you are morally obligated to give them money.

To sum up: Giving to charity isn’t just a nice thing to do. Not giving to charity is wrong. The author goes on to say that one of the problems with our society is the light in which we tend to cast giving to charity. He insists that we should stop viewing donations to charity as being generous, and start viewing it as fulfilling duty.

Now, this posed some problems for my class because, naturally, when somebody says you ought to do something on moral grounds, you want to rebut. Doing so, however, is something myself and the rest of my class found challenging.

For the sake of interest, I published the whole paper online here. It’s a longish read, but if you have an hour to spare and think you might be interested, it’s there for the perusing.


Gah! And Films.

22 01 2007

I just finished off the previous post and published it – I started it a long time ago. Obviously I’ve been neglecting this blog, but I’m trying to get back into a more regular posting rhythm. This post can’t be long though, because I have to go to Linguistics soon. I want to say a few key things though, mostly having to do with movies:

Pete and I went to see Children of Men recently. We both think it is one of the best movies we’ve seen recently. What especially stood out to me was the camera work. It wasn’t quite like anything I’ve ever seen; or if it was, it was done better than what I’ve seen. Clive Owen is fantastic. Granted, in the limited number of movies I’ve seen him in he’s been essentially the same character, and he’s good at being that character. In any case, I like it.

Anyways, if you’re interested in seeing Children of Men, I highly recommend seeing it at the theatre. It’s one of those films that actually grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you, saying, “Picture this!” I don’t think it would have this same effect if watched on a small screen. In fact, I doubt it would seem much better than a run of the mill, mediocre flick. But really, this is one of the most emotional and refreshingly original apocalyptic visions I’ve witnessed in a long time.

Pete and I are taking Contemporary Cinema, which has its ups and downs. Every Thursday we watch a movie, and every Tuesday we discuss the movie we saw the previous week. The first one we saw was called In This World, (directed by Michael Winterbottom). I think it has merit, although Pete and I didn’t actually enjoy it all that much. Then again, it’s not supposed to be all that enjoyable in the traditional sense of the word. It’s a low budget production, a drama dressed up like a documentary featuring non-professional actors. It tells the story of Jamal, an a refugee from Afghanistan who makes a long and difficult journey to England. There are some filming techniques used that are quite effective and, as our prof pointed out, some very clever and seamless insertions of necessary comic relief that is both simple and effective. Otherwise, the piece is fairly simple and quite depressing.

The following Thursday we watched Dirty Pretty Things. This one was lot better received by most of the class. I was absolutely tickled pink to see Chiwetel Ejiofor, (fondly referred to by me and Peter as “Chewy”) in a movie that wasn’t awful. (As a matter of fact, he played a supporting role in Children of Men as well.) Several wonderful moments of dialogue combined with a fascinating look into the lives of illegal immigrants made for a very enjoyable experience. Oh, and then there’s Audrey. (Are men allowed to swoon? Well, they are now.)
This one is a must-see also. It’s directed by Stephen Frears, who was also behind the recent highly-acclaimed “The Queen” (Helen Mirren), which I haven’t seen yet, but want to. In any case, although the scale of Dirty Pretty Things is certainly smaller, I don’t think it deserves any less praise.

More coming later. Really. You trust me, right?

Act Like You’re Impressed

12 01 2007

All righty readers, I think I’ve finally thought of a path for this blog to take that I’m satisfied with. You know, something to make it more than just my little online diary. I’m going to try making it feature mostly information that I’ve picked up in class. Hopefully this will serve dual purposes: a) it will entertain you more, and b) it will motivate me to think more carefully about my classes because I have to tell it to somebody else in an interesting and succinct way. I’m like my own mother who says, “What did you learn in School today?”
And of course, I’ll keep a running commentary on the events of my life as well.

After only 2 classes, I can tell you that my Acting class will be one of the most enjoyable and challenging things I’ve ever taken part in. Our instructor’s name is Trevor Copp. He tells us to call him Trevor. In class we sit on the floor in a circle; no shoes, no socks. We do exercises that are designed to help us familiarize ourselves with weight distribution and movement possibilities. One of the most talked about things we’ve done so far was attempting to move across the room with the help of a partner, while trying to stay off the floor as much as possible. You’re supposed to take turns helping each other move forward by accepting weight and having them climb across you or whatever. Picture Leapfrog, except you’re not supposed to do the same thing twice. It’s challenging, maybe more than it sounds. I’ll keep you posted.

Hullo, Oh-Sept

1 01 2007

The time’s finally come. I have a couple free hours to sit down and write the proverbial Big Post. I apologize for the large gap in posting, but I’ve really had my hands full lately with moving back to Guelph and starting a new semester.

Christmas with the family was great. It’s always been my favourite time of year, since I can remember. When I was young I know I was totally convinced that all the Santa Claus stuff was real – I had no doubts. I don’t lay awake at night listening for the sound of hooves above my head anymore, but some of those romantic notions around the season still haven’t left me. I saw family I hadn’t seen in awhile, and got to spend a lot of time with Rebecca, Chris and Ava.

I also spent a lot of time over the break doing driving lessons, since I’d missed out on them in August. (My instructor went on a long vacation.) I am happy to say that I have now finished the course and can get tested for my G2 any time. Unfortunately, I probably won’t have the opportunity to do so for quite awhile. I may have to pay for additional lessons to refresh my skills before I can get my license. My instructor was a bit of a pain to deal with at times, but I guess it’s good that I’m now hyper-aware of little details. Whenever I’m driving with someone and they roll over a white line slightly or put their turning signal on too early I find myself scolding them in my head.

On December 29th, The Brotherhood had a dinner at La Luna on King St., which I attended. (The Brotherhood is really just a group of friends, with sisters as well, whose only activity is meeting up to have reunions at times when a lot of people are back in Hamilton.) So it was good to see some old high school chums again. La Luna gave us our own room with one long table. I had an amazing shawerma dish. If you haven’t been to La Luna, I recommend you give them a try. They’re expensive, but worth it. After the dinner and bidding farewell to the other brothers, Peter and Sara and I decided to take a drive. Before long we found ourselves at Webster’s Falls. The night was surprisingly warm for the time of year, and we stayed for awhile watching the blanket of white water roaring down into the dark. Afterward we rented Garden State, which neither of them have seen. I love that movie. I think they liked it too.

The next day the three of us decided to go shopping at Limeridge and take advantage of the post-Christmas sales. The mall was as chaotic as you’d expect, but we had fun. I spent a gift card I’d received for Sears and bought a pair of jeans and a zip-up sweater, and I’m very happy with both. Peter got also got pants and a shirt, I think. Sara was a lot harder to please, but we had fun watching her reject one perfectly good outfit after another. She finally left with some stuff though, so it was a success for all.

The next night was New Years Eve, and Katelin had a get-together at her place. Seeing the old gang again was so refreshing. I’ve met a lot of people I like at school, and as I sit in my favourite spot in the Library writing this, everyone around me looks friendly and interesting. Yet, I’ve yet to meet anyone I like as well as my old gang from high school. (And we were joined by Jeremy’s girlfriend Nicole, who is also very cool.) We started off the night playing Poker, and then moved on to Scattegories – a game involving thinking under pressure and laughing at the outrageous things people think of. At midnight I uncorked a bottle of champaign which was actually sparkling wine, and we toasted each other with best wishes for the new year.

Here are some of my favourite pictures we took that night: [[click for full version]]

A photo I edited of the girls. I like this panoramic view, and the (serendipitous) alternating sequence of the have not and have drinks.

Our wonderful gang.

Pretending to be zombies.

More are available on my Flickr page, and also on Peter’s Flickr page.

I’m pretty excited for this year and all it could bring. Apple’s iPhone just came out, which is pretty exciting for a lot of fanboys. (Rockwell.) I think it’s pretty neat, but I still have no more desire to buy a (very expensive) phone with a lot of features I probably won’t use than I ever did. Still, I’m excited to see what else people will come up with.

On January 2nd I met up with an old friend I haven’t seen since the 7th grade and had lunch at Tim Hortons. While walking through Westdale we were approached by Wendy Wolf from CH TV who interviewed both of us, inquiring as to how we spent New Years. The “story” they were researching was that young people are making NYE a more low-key event that they used to. My description of “a small gathering of old friends” seemed to be just what they were looking for, but of course they edited out my saying that I thought my friends and I were an exception to the norm. But who knows; maybe they’re right. It was an interesting topic.

As the break started drawing to a close, I started feeling the weight of this on-coming semester and the incoming responsibility. With this small surge of inspiration, I began doing research for possible avenues of employment for the summer. (Summer meaning April. University rocks.) One night before moving day my parents took me out for dinner at The Old Mill in Ancaster. I’d been there before, but I’m sure I was too young to appreciate it. I fell in love with the restaurant the moment I walked in, and noticed a lot of the employees seemed to be about my age. I immediately decided I’d like to work there. I’m also applying for administrative work for the City of Hamilton, which I might take over a position at a restaurant strictly because of the pay. I’m also keeping my eye on the listings on, which I’ve mentioned here before.

There’s more to say about my courses and such, but I’ve run out of time; I have class in 15 minutes. Overall, though, they seem like they’re going to be very interesting and somewhat challenging. I’m sure I’ll have a lot of stories to tell about Acting class. More on this later.

And yeah, that’s it.

Big Post Incoming

1 01 2007

Just not today.

UPDATE: I’m not dead!

I have a bunch of notes written out for the big life-update post I’m meaning to write. I was going to sit down and do it once I was settled back in Guelph, but I was pretty much swamped with things to do the moment I got here, and haven’t gotten around to it yet. I miss my blog though, and I’m going to find the time to update ASAP.