Thursday, September 12, 2013

Barak Obama is a Jedi

Secretary of State, John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov met in Switzerland today.  They were there to negotiate a potential deal that would see the United States and Syria avoid a conflict, and to contain any violence that may spawn off an attack on Bashar’Al Assad.  As the world watches to super powers convene over a catalyst to another war in the Middle East, I couldn’t help but think back a few years to something I heard.

It was on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  He said, “I can’t figure out if Obama is playing on some jedi level of thinking 20 steps ahead of everyone, or if he’s just struggling to get by.”

I think Barrack Obama is a jedi.

The left and right broadcasting companies are jockeying for position over what’s more American, strikes on Syria or not getting dragged into another Iraq.  Meanwhile, President Obama sits in his office and looks at the data that is coming into him.  He is in a position of scrutiny.  No matter what positions or stance he takes, domestic or foreign, someone out there will declare why he is the worst president ever.  It is this clatter of 24 hour news broadcasts, and left vs. right interviews, which leads me to believe we are all being manipulated by the president.

Let’s look at what’s on the table.

Obama has stated since August of 2012, that a red line for action against Syria would be the use of chemical weapons.  When the gas attack on August 21, 2013 happened, it was almost a year to the date.   Obama’s foreign policies since he’s been in office have been decisive.  It started out just weeks into his first term in 2009, a US cargo ship was attacked and boarded by pirates.  The US Navy intercepted, shot and killed three Somali pirates.  According to CNN and the New York times, the decision to act took less than 24 hours.  He shows this decisive attitude in other incidents around the world.

When the location of Osama bin Laden had been confirmed, the president took 48 hours to confirm and organize a raiding party in Pakistan.  He and his staff informed no one of the plan.  The Pakistani’s were left in the dark, as were all of NATO and the UN.  When the sun began to set in the capital, the world had learned that Osama bin Laden had been shot and killed by Navy Seals.  He saw his chance and took it.  This is a common theme with the administration.  Let us also look at the countless drone strikes around the Middle East that gets the green light from Obama.  There have been over 350 confirmed drone attacks in Pakistan alone.  That number is more than twice the number of strikes former president George W. Bush had ordered.  This is a pattern that follows a specific attitude towards direct action.

We saw it once more in Libya.  The US Congress voted against action in Libya, and Obama went and proceeded anyways.
One of my questions now is, why is taking his time to ask now?
My own personal opinion is: He never wanted to attack Syria in the first place.

I believe that Obama got Sec. John Kerry to leak the proposal during his speech.  

Oh, what a gaffe the secretary made.  I think it was planned.  

If Obama had wanted to bomb Syria, he would have done it.  He’s showed that if Congress doesn’t think it’s a good idea, he’ll do it anyways.  Now, let’s look at what this has sparked.
Bashar’al  Assad has come out and confirmed that Syria owns a chemical weapons store.  Something they have denied in the past.  It also puts Russia into play.  Any type of ruling the UN would try and pass against Syria would have been shot down by Russia or China.  By getting Russia involved in the negotiations, they are now invested in the efforts.  If a deal comes to the UN they help sponsor, they can’t vote no on their own idea.  They are also acting as a buffer in the Middle East.

Regardless of what the US does on the Arabian Peninsula, there will be a faction, a government, a sect, who is not happy with the results.  The US will always be in a no win situation in any conflict there.  However, if Russia is the one taking the lead, this changes things.  There is no more knee jerk anti-US reaction.   We don’t know how the region will react.  There are so many factions involved, you’d need a scorebook just to keep track.  We do know what type of reception there would be if US was involved.  Someone would be upset.  This ranges anywhere from Iran, to Russia, to any one of the faction of rebels fighting, it even would affect Israel, Palestine.  I’m willing to bet, that whatever reaction there is to the Russians, it will be a lot better than that to a US plan.  This leads us to the final point.

People are talking.  The long people talk, the less chance there is people will die.

For the first time ever, we are seeing open communication between Syria and the West.  Albeit, through Russia, but it is still happening.  As of Thursday, September 12, 2013, Syria is stating they will sign the United Nations Charter on Chemical Weapons.  A charter that states they will dismantle and destroy all their chemical weapons, with the threat of a Chapter 7 action, if they break the treaty.
A lot of this now depends on the players involved.  The ball is kicked into Putin’s court.  He now has to deal with it.  He has been put in the global spot light, if he succeeds or fails will be televised and broadcast around the world.  If he now states he is going to help disarm chemical weapons from Assad, he now has to do it.  Or else, Russia loses a lot of traction internationally.  Even now, Russia is under immense international pressure for their human rights abuses.  One gets the feeling that as soon as Vladamir Putin opened his mouth, someone put a microphone, with loud speakers, right in front of him.

As it stands, the world is backing away from a potential conflict.  I believe this is the first time in years, we as humans can say this has happened.  I place it all on what Sec. John Kerry said in England, when he made his “gaffe.”  Barrack Obama is a smart person.  He thinks a few steps ahead of the plan.  It is in the realm of possibilities that he got Kerry to say the line, to open a door to diplomacy.  This is how world diplomacy should work.  Conflicting sides coming together and negotiating a deal with something everyone can live with.

“I can’t figure out if Obama is playing on some jedi level of thinking 20 steps ahead of everyone, or if he’s just struggling to get by.”

 It may have been risky to put war on the table, when what you are after is to stop the use of chemical weapons.  He may be getting slammed from all sides on how he handled this whole incident.  I don’t believe he thinks about that at all.  He’s already thought about it, long before we have, and is now working on the next problem.  He may not be Obi-Wan-Kenobi, but he definitely took on the persona of the Emperor, when using some Machiavellian dealings with Syria.  Let’s not forget though, even Palpatine was trained in using the force. 

 Let’s hope this works out, and no further bloodshed will come from it.

*fingers crossed*

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Let's Talk

I have been dealing with depression in my life for close to seven years.

It came about in 06'/07' after fighting cancer in my parotid gland.  It could have been caused by the radiation therapy or just by having to fight.  It took a long time for me to realize that I was depressed, and it would take even longer before I would share that information with anyone.

In 2012 a new cancer showed up.  It was Melanoma.  It was small but it had done things it wasn't supposed to do.  It was a shallow invasion, but it had jumped to my lymph nodes with four cells.  I had massive surgery on my leg and groin.  They got it all and life went on.  This time the depression was back with a vengeance.  This time, however, I wasn't keeping it to myself.  I was going to share this with everyone, because we are not alone.

I knew I wasn't alone, but I also started to hate my body.  Two things that will damage the male pysche are major scars to the face and groin.  I had both in spades.  I saw it as my body turning on myself.  I didn't hate my personality, I hate the physical me.  When I talk to my shrink, I often talk about wanting a new body.  One where the immune system wouldn't betray me.  One where my leg was healthy and strong, one where my face wasn't oblong and asymetrical.  What I wouldn't give to be healthy again and stop the parade of doctors I have to see.

The important part to take away from that is: I'm talking to someone about it and I'm getting help for it.  Before that, I felt ashamed and stupid.

"I feel sad because I had cancer.  I don't want to bring anyone else down.  I feel alone."

That's the wrong way to think about it.  Everyone has problems and your feelings are valid.  I had an eye opening discussion with Peter Kelly back in November.  I'll never forget his words regarding depression.  "This is a real thing and it can be countered.  You just need to know you need help and can get it."

It is something that can be handled.  It takes recognition and it takes the people around you.  I wouldn't be where I am now, mentally, without my wife Lindsay.  She's the one who convinced me to go see someone.  I look back now and ask: "Why did I not do this sooner?"

I had a hole in me.  I tried filling it with food and with video games and escapism.  That hole never fills up with physical things.  It will just empty out again and you'll want to fill it up, just to feel normal.  Ask anyone in construction or contracting, the way you fix a hole is by patching it up.  We need to put the pieces back together.  It's not easy, nor is it quick, but with help it can be done.

So here I am now.  It's 2013.  I have depression still, I still resent my body, I still want things to be back to normal.  But, I am dealing with it.  I am working hard to keep my head in the present and to keep moving forward.  To make progress and not let myself get bogged down.

It's hard.

It's hard for anyone to admit they have a problem with depression, or anxiety or with OCD or anything else our brains does to us.  This is my message to you.  You can do this and you don't have to be handcuffed trying to fill that hole inside you.  I've tried, it doesn't work.

You can get help.  You just have to ask.  There's no shame in asking and people will want to help you.  You are not alone in this.  There are a lot of people out there who sometimes feel the way you do.  Fighting together is always better than fighting alone.

My name is Jon Robertson and I battle depression everyday.

But, I don't do it alone.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Open Letter to Tony Harris: Why you fail at things.

Dear Mr. Harris,

Let's get silly.
You are in this mindset so let me join you.

You have a problem with your marketing campaign.  You have caught a bad case of Pedes Terminus, or shooting yourself in the foot.  Your recent rant on what ranks a true comic geek has hit the intertubes and the response has not been positive.

What were you thinking?  You called working Cons your office.  That's what it is, your work place.  Why are you trying to throw people out of your office who want to buy your goods?  The artists you share your office with at the cons shared a beginning like you.  Getting your stuff out there is hard to do.  It is a life time achievement to land a job at the big publishers, where millions upon millions of people will see your work.  Every person who walks into a con is a potential customer to you and everyone else.  Why would you dismiss anyone who walks through those doors?

Why is it that you think only women are the ones who make costumes to go to cons and get attention, but you don't mention anything about men doing that?  Maybe it's because we're all too busy fapping our virgin selves at the women showing some skin.  This is the bigger issue.  Yes there are women who come to cons in cosplay and some of them don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of the characters they are portrayed as.  There are men and women who do know every detail and minutia of the characters they are playing.

There is nothing wrong with either.

The idea of "Faux Geek" is false.  Do you like something?  Do you think about it?  Does it get you up to do things about it?  You are a geek.  This is true for someone who doesn't know anything about Emma Frost, but sees an image of her and wants to wear the costume; the same as it is true for someone who details and logs every date and time The Doctor travels to. They took the time to look at images and create a costume.  They got involved with an artists work.  That's amazing.  They may not know origin stories or birth dates of characters, but they know your work.  Why isn't that amazing to you?

There's an appropriate saying: "Every comic is someone's first."  Apply that to the cons.  Every con is someones first con.  So what if they "DON'T KNOW SHIT ABOUT COMICS!"  Everyone starts somewhere.  Everyone has that first hit of inspiration from a comic that gets them going.

Mine was Retro Girl.

Not actual cos play I saw.
At FanExpo in Toronto, many moons ago, I saw someone cosplaying as Retro Girl.  It was fantastic.  She had the goggles, the cape, the hair in a pony tail.  This girl had done her homework.  Did she know who she was playing and the story behind her?  I have no idea.  It doesn't matter.  What matters is this:  I went out and I bought the first issue of Powers.  This triggered off a chain reaction.  My friend saw me reading it and said: "If you like that, you'd really like Rising Stars."


Picking up an issue of Rising Stars led me to see a comic named: "The Adventures of Barry Ween: Boy Genius."

All that, because of a woman in cos play.  What didn't come to my mind when I saw her was: "Oh man, I hope she knows the whole story behind her, or that's an insult to Powers fans everywhere.  How dare she promise me the moon and stars as Retro Girl."

Why you think that they shouldn't come to cons or even be considered a geek is Greek to me.

We know you're above drawing women in a sexualized way in comics.  Lar DeSouza said in a U-Stream broadcast: "Unfortunately, the only question asked about breasts in comics is: How big do you want them?"  It's good to see that you agree with that ideal.

Until I found this set of tig ol' bitties you drew as a cover.

I hope you got fat on your earnings, because if the geek community speaks (all of us,) you may end up feeling hungry for the next little bit,

Friday, March 2, 2012

Waiting for Joshua

There is a popular saying: "The worst part about an ass kicking, is waiting for it to happen."

I sit here again, late at night, stewing over the weekend.  Monday is the 5th and an important day.  I feel like Caesar.  I've been scheduled to see the man who's going to direct the next few months, years and possible life time.

I've gone through all the emotions and have beat myself like washing a sweater against a rock.  Reading and research can only fill in small holes, but the biggest fear of all still comes back to basic human fear: the unknown.  I have the nerves of a hockey player before a big game.  Someone who fiddles with their laces, because they just don't know what to do with their hands.

I'm nervous like a sky diver about to fall out of a plane; going from safety to tumbling tumult.  It is all the extreme of human emotions.  You go from fear, to anxiety, to readiness to exhilaration.  At least there will be answers.  The monsters under the bed will fade when the lights come on. 

I hope.

Am I getting more sleep?  No. 

Am I sleeping better? Yes.

It has come to the point where I'm sure the surgery will happen.  The tone and language of doctors has changed, yawing on a wave of reconsideration.  My choice, the "no wrong answers," my decision has been made by unknown quantities.  The ship is listing to one side now.  I don't know if it was always listing that way, or just rolling with the waves.  I hope it doesn't sink.  I hope my one man empire doesn't crumble.

Beware the ides of March, or at least the quarters of March.  A lot can happen in a day.  I hope for no surprises, or secrets lurking in the shadows.  The thing I know for sure is: I'm going to get my ass kicked. 

How and for how long still needs to be written down.

There is one benefit to being awake, when even the street sweepers have gone home.  I get to look out my window at the sky.  Sometimes my problems just don't seem big at all.  We are all hurtling through space at the same velocity and in the same direction.  If there were any way to link all the people on the planet, it's that we're all going the same direction.

If there's anything we share it's that.  We all sleep under the same moon and we all catch ourselves looking up at it sometimes.  We all walk on the same crust and we all have the same thoughts looking at the moon.  Thinking like that makes it less scary, but a little more melancholy.

There is still so much to do and see.  It just depends on how bad my ass gets kicked.

Until then, just sit back and stare at the sky.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fearful of my Future.

I sit here late night staring at my screen.   I'll share what I'm feeling these days.  Venting is better than keeping it tucked in.

I haven't had a full night sleep in weeks.  The skin under my eyes are dry and cracking.  I flip between moments of fear, optimism and worry.

 It overwhelms me sometimes.  I'm running.  Something is chasing me and I can't see anything in front of me but trees.  Every breath in is like pulling a rasp over my lungs.  My sweat sticks to me and chills.  Perspiration leaves a trail of despair through the forest.  I'm easy to find.  The snow crunches beneath my bare feet.  It numbs what should be pain, but I can't feel it anymore.  I vault myself past trees, their bark sloughs to the ground like skin off old bones.

 I don't know where I'm going.

I can't stop moving.  Each moment to stop and breathe, it gets closer.  I can't see it, but it whispers in my ear.  It is always moving towards me.  It is relentless as it chases me.  It doesn't stop and I'm getting tired.  My leg is bruised.  It feels like someone has sewn a tennis ball between my hip and my leg.  It makes running hard.

There is no shelter.  There is only room to run.  It's patient, it knows it can take its time.  It just has to wait for me to get tired.   It can wait a day, it can wait a year, it doesn't matter.  It can pick up my trail again when it wants.  Keeping pace with it is winning, but I get tired and have to stop to catch my breath.  Balls of acidic phlegm build up in the back of my mouth.  My mouth is too dry to spit.

It is getting closer.  I can feel it.

I can stop to fight it.  It's a stop gap, hacking off a piece to sate it; then back to running.  It buys time.  It will keep tracking me down.  Waiting until I can't run anymore.  There is no shelter here.


What does it all mean?  I don't know.  I find myself trying to figure out what I should do.  This decision of doing surgery/treatment or just leaving it be is insane.  I'm angry, but I can't be angry at anything except myself.  The thing I'm angry at is microscopic and a genetic makeup of me.  My body has already attacked itself.  It's getting better at landing the punches.

The choices are do the surgery.  Have a long and complicated recovery, with a high chance of therapy afterwards.  They can find nothing and they'll still want to do it.  They can find some more cells and then will have to do it.

Or do nothing.  I can roll the dice and hope I get lucky.  Optimism hasn't visited too often.  I'm cynical and angry, which is a bad combination.  Most of the time, I want to be left alone.

This is me trying to share what's going through my head.  Trying to help you and myself understand what's happening.  Is it a plea for help? No, because there's nothing anyone can do.

March 5th is the day.  I lean towards surgery right now.  That will be followed by a treatment of Interferon, depending if everything comes black clear or positive.  If it's positive, then I will get napalmed with chemicals.  If it's negative: only scorched.

Let's go on this journey together.  I don't know what's going to happen.  I don't know where I'm going.  I just know I'm tired. 

I feel ancient.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Up in Space

When you look out at the night sky in Toronto, what do you see? What can you see? The green glow of fluorescent lights gives a small buzz to the sky. It pulses and and spreads as the sky gets darker.

There is an interesting quirk in people, we usually don't look up. It may be a result of living in a city center for most of their lives. When we look up into the sky now, we just see a black sky with few stars. We used to look into the cosmos and be captivated by a vast opera of stars and planets. Living in a city has its distinct advantages. It does put a greater strain on opening up our imaginations. Where were the boogie men hiding in the shadows, where is that pull of adventure to see what's over the next hill? Where do we find that sense of adventure again?

We find it in the stars. It's looking out into space that we find the great unknown. Looking at the same photons of light, that Einstein, Sagan, Hawking, and Newton looked out on. Why have most of us stopped looking up? If you're reading this, you have some homework. Take one week, and just look up. What do you see? What do you think about? Do it at night, do it during the day, but look up, and see the world above you. You never know what will inspire you to move or to create. One of the hidden beauties about the sky is this: It is the same sky that everyone else on the world looks at. Kennedy said once: "We are all united on this world, not as Americans or as Russians; but as people. We breathe the same air, drink the same water, and look at the same sky and moon."

It's something that can unite us all, looking into the night sky. Wondering, "what is out there?" Maybe we'll find out one day. Maybe as we stretch our eyes beyond our own galaxies, we'll catch a glimpse of something out there.

We should always be looking to the sky. It's one of the few things that can unite everyone together, regardless of race, religion or creed. We all share the same home, and we should be working together to maintain it. We don't have a lot of options of going anywhere else. The one thing that everyone should pull from looking at the stars is this: "We are all connected." You, me, the trees, the rocks, comets and nebulas around the solar system. It's made of all the same materials that there are here on earth. The next time you look into a night sky, and can see the stars, recognize that, the light you are seeing, hitting your optical nerves, took light years to travel to you. Light years, being pulled by gravity in multiple directions, to hit your optic receptors and show you their image. You are also doing the same. It may seem large, empty, big and overwhelming. It's not, though. We're all connected, you just have to look and see the basic building blocks that put us together.

This star scape has been made for wallpapers, if you have some troubles getting it to fit, let me know and I'll adjust it for you.




One last great piece of wisdom

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembering a regular ol' Joe.

November 11th has rolled around once again. Most Canadians have a routine that follows the day. Some go to ceremonies, some take a few minutes to remember, and some make a pilgrimage. I usually attend the ceremony at the cenotaph outside Old City Hall. Unfortunately, I had a doctors appointment at 10:45 (what!?) and missed most of the ceremony. I had just got home and was watching the tail end of the wreath placing in Ottawa, when Peter Mansbridge let loose an unsettling stat.

Canada loses, on average, four hundred world war two veterans a week. There are only one hundred and forty six thousand veterans left alive in Canada; "You do the math," he put it.

It was a sad realism that most had in the back of their mind, but not many have dealt with. So, to keep the tradition alive and going, I grabbed my camera and headed for the Cenotaph to place my poppy on the grass.

When I got there, the chairs and barricades were all but folded up. The wreaths still remained on the grass, and just a few Torontonians wandered about, looking at the various tributes left on the grass. Then, something remarkable happened.
A wonderful man named: Joe was wheeled next to the grass. He wanted one last look, with his grandson, at the tribute the city had left. A small crowd began to gather, to thank and talk with Joe. A few people had turned into a handful, then a handful turned into small crowd, and then that small crowd kept growing.

CityTv was in the area, and saw Joe was still around, so they sat down and talked with him. They got his story, where he had fought, and how he felt today about the state of the world. There is a reason why he is from the greatest generation. Because he said the same thing hundreds of thousands before him had: "It just felt like the right thing to do."

The crowd was compromised of students and young kids. Their eyes were locked on Joe, only moving to see his medals, as he described what each one was, and what it meant. It began to look like a football huddle, with Joe directing knowledge and history into their minds. Everyone squeezed in tighter, just so they could make more room, so more folks could get in closer and hear Joe talk. We were all just people, gathered for the reason. No differences, no divisons, all united to hear one mans story.
We all remember things our own way. We all mourn, and think about conflicts past and present in a way that is unique to us. Joe made sure I'd have a strong memory of that day. When the crowd disperesed, and everyone was giving their thank yous and good lucks. I got to shake his hand and say: "Thanks." He waved me off and smiled and said: "No, no, thankyou!" I was a bit confused by this, and I asked: "What for?"

"You're taking pictures of this. It'll be nice to know I was here, and people can remember. I don't know if I'll make it out next year." The tears just came rolling out. I didn't know what to say except: "You're welcome."

That was the first time I ever cried at a rememberance day ceremony. This fills me with a want an urge to make sure the more people come out every year, and that folks are proactive in saying: thanks, and talking to our veterans.

You never know when you're going to get lucky, and run into an average Joe, just like I did.