Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Is it Art?

What defines a masterpiece? Do we survey the number of people that enjoy the work? Does it have to change how its medium is defined? What makes Picasso and Van Gogh both master artists, yet both have wildly differing types of work?

All I know about art, be it audio, visual, or a combination of both, is whether or not I like it. How do I distinguish a multi-million dollar work of art from a $50 piece produced by some wannabe art student?

In a Washington Post experiment, it seems that I am not alone. There are so many people who are too busy in the hustle and bustle of life to take a moment for themselves and enjoy art for what it is. One of the world’s top musicians played in one of the busiest subway stations in Washington D.C. and went largely unnoticed. When I heard the audio clip of this man playing his Stradivarius, I couldn’t get over how well he could play a quick melody on one string while seemingly accompanying himself with the most exquisite vibrato on the adjacent string. If the article is too long to read, at least listen to the audio clip while you’re on your computer!

Without somebody telling me that the Mona Lisa is worth millions, would I come to that conclusion on my own? I’m not even sure I like Monet all that much… but I’m really not sure. I don’t know if I could have appreciated the finest musician of our time if I were to walk past him on the subway. However, I do know this; if it sounds good, it looks good, it must be art.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

My Rights are an Unintended Consequence

On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the repatriation of our Constitution, I wonder what life would be like without the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. My father immigrated to this wonderful country before the Charter came into effect and from what I am told, the world was very different then. The Charter forced logical debate over people’s rights and forced out the emotional, racial, and historical biases. I am a female of Chinese descent, and I challenge anyone to find me one country on either side of any ocean that would have granted me basic civil rights as recently as 100 years ago.

When the founders of the New World got together and came up with this idea of democracy, it is no secret that “equal” was restricted to white men in the upper echelons of society. However, they had also laid the foundations for me to vote… perhaps it was an unintended consequence.

Freedom of religion once meant that one was free to choose which sect of Christianity one would like to follow. The inclusion of Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and all the other religions in our society ruffled many feathers I am sure. Would our MPs 25 years ago have been as enthusiastic about the Charter if they knew it would give a woman the right to an abortion and homosexuals the right to marry? Was this foresight or a serendipitous case of myopia?

It boggles my mind that there are those even in my extended family that question gay rights. If it were not for this beautiful thing called the Charter, many of our communities may not even have rights. If we expect equality, should we not treat others as equal? Should we not stand shoulder to shoulder as Canadians regardless of our backgrounds? Thank goodness for the enshrinement of our basic civil rights regardless of sex, race, or religion. As tolerant as we Canadians are, we only tolerate that which we have learnt to accept. I wonder what else society may have in store for us next.

Thank you for the right to vote, free speech, and religion. I also thank you in advance for all future rights that others or I may receive that no one has yet conceived of. That is the beauty of enshrining universal rights for all.

I would like to think that Pierre Trudeau had this foresight… but I cannot say for sure.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Don’t judge a book by its cover, but what about its first chapter?

Very few people need convincing of the importance of the internet when it comes to communications. In fact, if you don’t have an online presence, I will likely not even purchase from you. So when it comes to the sales pitch, your webpage (not to mention coming in number 1 on Google) does a huge part of your selling.

In politics, the rules are no different. If you want my vote, you have to sell me the reason why. Partisanship aside, I invite everyone to take a look at the main websites of all 5 major parties. If the website is your front door, what would you think of the homeowner? The Liberal, Green, NDP, and Bloc websites have messages from its leaders , and news articles of issues they want people to know are important to their respective parties. All seem to have positive messages (although my French isn’t great, so I won’t vouch for the Bloc site). When I go to the Conservative site, the most obvious deviation is that the site hardly has a picture of Harper. Instead, front and centre is an unflattering photo of Stéphane Dion. They spend more of their online real estate ridiculing Dion than they spend on pushing forward their own positive ideas (assuming they have any). When I see this site, I think that its creators are hateful people. Rather than proudly strutting their own stuff, they make a mockery of others. Do I really want a Prime Minister who lacks his own ideas? A Prime Minister obsessed with proving that he’s better than his opposition? I can’t get over how childish the website is and how full of hatred the Conservatives must be. Go get an idea, or at least steal one and admit to it.

I don’t want to judge the parties by their covers, but their website is at least their first chapter. The conservatives should consider a revision.