A Clockwork Orange — Always Timely

The film is older than I am, but that’s no reason to be unaware of it. I first saw it in film studies class at 18years old. And it has helped me understand others and the overhyped difference in the good vs. evil dichotomy.  It is the reason I changed my major to Sociology. 

The setting seems to be a post-war world where Russia seems to have won the war. So many Russian words and references. And our hero is tge leader of a gang who winds up raping a woman and giing to jail. He is abusee by the system, beaten up by the cops when he’s out, and windsnup coming ahead at the end and starting a new circle— that of corruption.

We see the whole gamut here. There is a reason for everyone’s behaviour. We should learn to understand why instead of how. Thanks to Alex, I hve been able to filter others while making itbpossible to teach my points of view unfiltered.

Alas, if only people would pay attention.

Ted Kouretas is a former member of the Droog Foundation, now defunct and completely erased from any internet search because of his close relation to Hillary Clinton. Remember, if there’s a will, there’s always corruption and the skewing of algorithms. 


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The Niqab and Democracy 

Below is an Op-ed from Jeff Itcush, as shared on Facebook. My opinion comes after the piece.

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​The Quebec government’s Bill 62 will ban face coverings within public service contexts with the justification of promoting “state religious neutrality “.  The Charest government attempted the same thing in 2010 with Bill 94.  Below, is an op-ed that I wrote in response to that bill.  My sentiments now are the same as they were then.   
OP-ED PIECE BY JEFF ITCUSH 

THE NIQAB REVISITED
 The Charest government’s recent effort to prohibit the wearing of the niqab in public service contexts is shortsighted.  If the spirit of Bill 94 is to promote integration in a pluralistic society, the legislation is poorly-conceived at best.  At worst, it will prevent healthy social integration.
 In the past decades, Quebec has promoted immigration from various parts of the world for political, economic and humanitarian reasons.  This has helped foster Quebec’s reputation as a tolerant and open society.   In these circumstances the presence of people practicing a diversity of religious and social customs should be expected.   This is also a part of a global transference of human populations that will be even more prevalent as the twenty-first century unfolds.  Monolithic societies simply do not exist anymore.  Throughout the twentieth century, governments which attempted to reinforce monolithic myths have fostered intolerance, discrimination and gross civil rights abuses.  These things have marred the history of those societies.  What then of Quebec?
 The presence of Niqabs and other religious symbols will be an ongoing but limited  phenomenon in Quebec.  This is simply evidence that Quebec is part of the globalized and increasingly urbanized world.  Most urban societies have already long been “communities of communities”.   The only way out of sharing the presence of those with different customs is to either try to escape the present or punish people who seem different.  Both of these reactions are unrealistic and the latter is problematic from a civil rights perspective.  In the bigger picture, the latter also shows that we are not as tolerant or “open” as we think.
 If we, as a society, wish to integrate those with diverse customs, then benefits to engage in the larger community must be obtainable.  Beyond this, it must be realized that only a few people in any given cultural or religious group will wish to forgo the opportunities that integration can offer.  Thus, the total number of people wishing to wear a niqab will be minimal.  Of  146,000 clients visiting Montreal’s health insurance board offices in 2008-2009, only ten women donned in niqabs requested accommodation.
 What then is a viable integration-building alternative?   Social integration does not exist without economic integration.  Economic integration does not exist without employment.  This is significant because, according to Statistics Canada,, unemployment among immigrants in the province is more than twice that of persons born here.  Given the issue at hand, this rate is even more telling when it is understood that nearly half of Quebec’s recent immigrants are Moslem. The majority of this group can function well in the French language.
 Integration is contingent upon employment.  Needed are legislated hiring policies that are consistent with the goals of real integration – economic engagement.  Given the opportunity to prosper, very few will choose to be disengaged from a society shrowded by customs of another era.   When, however, any group is excluded from the mainstream, it has no alternative but to seek refuge in the past.  People, no matter who they are, seek stability and some sense of solidarity.  
 Integration through employment is a means for people of diverse backgrounds to build commonality on the things they all seek  – mobility, prosperity and the opportunity to contribute. Governments, including Quebec’s, need to embrace proactive measures that engage the diversity of our population despite all of our interesting differences.   Niqab curtailment isn’t likely to accomplish this.  Employment will.
Jeff Itcush

Former President – Federation of Teachers of Jewish Schools

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My take:

Here’s how the law curtails feminism. 

It would definitely be hypocritical of feminists to be for this law. After all, they support freedom of choice for women. And since this is the law made by middle-aged, mostly-male lawmakers, it would go against the very tenets of feminism by allowing them to control women’s rights. On the other hand,  it would be inappropriate for feminists to support this law if they believe men in the Muslim world are forcing these women to wear the Niqab. 

The above dilemma creates a quandary for feminists, and for us,  because we are mostly ignorant of the culture these women live in. And the main culprit in this is the mainstream media. They keep throwing images at us of those “terrorists” that are causing all the problems on this world. We are bombarded with shantee town-like images of Palestine and Lebanon. There are no images or reports about “those good Muslims”  (I’d say about the same ratio as people from all other religions) trying to live a straight and healthy life. They are just part of the problem and should stand up to the ones that are bad. I suppose it’s like how us Christians stand up to the KIK lynchings. 

Can we at least establish that most Muslims are good? Now we can move on to comparing the niqab to the crucifix. Although far more visible, the niqab is a religious symbol no more or less than the crucifix. 

Now let’s go to India, where women get killed by their husbands because of the dowry system. These are scorned by the media, yet hardly ever reported on. 

Read this from a progressive Muslim feminist.
Here’s a well-thought-out article on the subject.
This is a differing opinion, from a Muslim feminist against the Niqab.
All this should make it simple to conclude that the law is fair if we are looking for separation of church and state. But this isn’t the case here. This law picks on one sole religious group. For that, it must not exist, unless it can be proven that it incites hate and /or discrimination.

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Quebec is one of the least socially and democratically progressive place in the western world. It is not surprising that they have chosen to discriminate against yet anotger group of “outsiders”. Quebec needs to build a tolerant, just, and democratic system and stop hiding under the veil of “the quiet revolution”. 

Are Coconut Water, Chia,  and Quinoa Really Superfoods?

I have written in the past about the value and benefits of good food to overall health. Cc’d Marketplace,  above has disproven one of my claims. 

I don’t believe I ever mentioned coconut water as a superfood. It is a waste of money. 

Quinoa makes great claims, but it isn’t enough to stop me from eating it, as it gives me the balance I need, especially with my IBS.

Chia needs to be eliminated from any diet. It’s a cash cow. I need to admit I was wrong and I’ve been off IT for months. Too much soluble fiber for me. 

Panacea of Disdain 

For all my shortcomings 

May I be forgiven 

For all my frailties 

Rewarded 

May the sands of time 

Find a perfect panacea 

———— 

I walk out 

Soaking wet 

And your nudity meets me 

Not the right time 

It never was 

But we bite into each other 

Hopelessly 

———— 

I saw the miraculous once-in-a-lifetime woman

Yet she is too dear to describe 

I don’t want her shattered in my lexicon 

She is so much better than you 

It’s uncanny 

———— 

This panacea of disdain moves me 

Embalms me 

And in turn renders YOU useless 

As you’ve already realized 
Copyright Ted Kouretas 2017

Foods of the World 

Joy comes

Bittersweet 

You may see a few of them again 

Kiss them goodbye 

Hug the good-looking ones

And get their phone numbers 

After all, you’re all adults 

———– 

Habit stops

August around the corner 

Summer still hasn’t heated up 

Yet you know it’ll baste 

It’ll cook you 

———— 

With clenched fist you call her 

She invites you over for a traditional Japanese lunch 

The Peruvian one does the same 

The third one, the Venezuelan escaping communism 

She’s the outgoing one 

The one you fuck but never see again 

To both your likings 

As she travels to Malaysia 

———— 

Teachers of languages are unique souls 

Usually poor, in their starving artist stage 

Talented 

Intelligent 

Creative 

Liberated somewhat 

Enslaved by inspiration 

That you hope may come to be 
Copyright Ted Kouretas 2017

Gordon Downie — Canadian Icon

 The song above, “Poets”, seemed to me the most fitting for today’s occasion.

Here’s the Washington Post article.

VICE article pre-mortem

Tribute pre-mortem
Last night, Gord Downie died and a country was devastated by the news, released this morning by his family. Gord represented Canada like no one else. Along with The Tragically Hip, we were taken from coast to coast to coast after over 22 years of what became our Canadian identity through sensitive and poetic lyrics and talented bluesy rock music. There was something for everyone. We all have that tune in our head today. 

Read:Gord Downie 2016 Person of the Year

Gord united the country. Athletes, politicians, entertainers, and journalists, along with us regular folk, celebrated Gord’s life and mourned his death. We know he’s in a “Gift Shop” somewhere up there. Probably spewing witticisms while making sure all the hard work is being done. For whom else has a Prime Minister cried? 

The biggest gift we received from Gord was the result of forgiveness, wherewithal, and courage. Namely, we received unity from coast to coast to coast. He was observed and celebrated by the first nations people, the very ones who needed reconciliation from what was done to them by Gord’s ancestors.

Gord, thank you. From all Canadians. And rest in peace.

Once in a While, When I Believe in God 

Miracles once trite

Fortunes forgotten 

Tundra’s melting 

Yet you need your dreams

Your oases in the panic

———— 

Sight and fury

Blood and seals 

Hell hath no harmony

Bareboned our soul walks

———— 

Take on the burden

Heal the pain

Dry her tear

Take her away

You gotta believe

It’ll come someday

You gotta believe 

Beyond the frozen rain

———– 

Love at first sight repels

Quells 

Muddies the toiled ground

Emits murderous rage

Hardens the heart

———— 

How else can I bear the pain

Lick her tears away

She’s off

High and away

You gotta believe 

Believe in miracles 

In love

In you 

You and her

Together

You gotta believe you’ll be together

There’s no other way

It heals the pain 

———— 

Through the dark forest

Your hate subsides 

You kneel

Arms reaching for the sky

You quell the pain 

Beyond the frozen rain 

You go longer need to believe in miracles 

For you are 

Finally 

In your miracle 

The miracle of love

That separates night and day 

The word I use once in a while 

When fleetingly believing in a God of some sort
Copyright Ted Kouretas 2016

Pittsburgh Scenes and General Observations 

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is one of those unobtrusive, benign cities,  known more for its sports teams than anything else. On a couple of layovers there,  I realized that it was a smaller version of most cities in the rust belt. 

It has a cute skyline and some cool neighbourhoods. It is not somewhat bohemian place if you stick to certain areas near the middle of the city. 

Then you’ve got beautiful old neighbourhoods. Sometimes you’re in the middle of an adorable time warp. But you need to be careful of the ‘hood on the next left turn. 

This is a quaint cafe next to a slum. 

This is one of my favourite pics. It reminds me of a poor man’s San Francisco. 

Yes, those are slums. 

This is a very nice place to walk around in the day. 

This is a Trump voter, apparently fearing for her safety. She may also be frustrated with her family’s economic state. So much for the Steel City. 

Let’s not forget. Pittsburgh is a great sports city. 

Love the funky bridge. 

This looks like Albany’s industrial doomsday chic. 

Here’s a girl getting ready for Sunday afternoon football.

And here’s one on the lookout. Tattoos courtesy of Pittsburgh Tattoo Studio, as per the young pretty lady. 

Married Young in Hong Kong 

My early teaching years were very educational. I learned about human actions and emotions. Since most of my students were foreign,  I began to break stereotypes. I began thinking of everyone as an individual. The only distinction I made was gender. 

Ming was from the very communist and traditional Chinese countryside. She met her husband in Hong Kong while there for a modeling shoot. She was 6 feet tall and quite skinny. Her husband, John, picked her out at one of those shows and asked her for dinner. They were married a few months later in Hong Kong. John decided to come to Montreal to manage the international part of his manucturing business. 

I gave Ming her first lesson at the loft John and she worked out of. She was as tall as me and very skinny with minimal curves. She was 23 to John’s 45. I taught her every Friday afternoon. John would peer in once in a while. He smiled at me and ignored her. One day our lesson finished at the same time as John’s work. He gave me a ride to my car, which I could have walked to faster. He wanted to show off his Rolls Royce. He let me sit in front with him. Ming had an apologetic smile on. 

Ming called me Thursday to give her a lesson that Saturday morning. John was at the office till about 3. It was 10 when I arrived. 

Their house was not overdone, yet it was furnished with extremely expensive items. Ming had a Dolce and Gabbana t-shirt on with a pair of $600 jeans, as she told me. She helped me with my jacket and told me it was very nice and stylish. I could tell she meant it wholeheartedly.  I noticed she had no bra on. 

She put on some imported green tea and we sat down on the couch and she was jittery. It’s obvious she didn’t want a lesson. But it’s wasn’t worth starting anything that John could kill me for. Looking back, it seems like an unreasonable fear. On the other hand,  my power was limited because of my sexual addiction. She’d caught me in the glory days of it. The days right after the honeymoon period. The time you realize you’re acting irrationally but feel too good to care. 

“Tell me what you want,Ming.”

“Not sure,” she said, looking at the floor. 

“I think you know. And I know. But I can’t start. Do you understand?” I had to enunciate because she had just started the intermediate level of her courses with me. 

She jumped on me and pushed my back to the couch. She kissed badly. I pushed her off and held her wrists with my hand. “No kissing, Ming. It’s not love. Do you understand?”

She sat up and her chin trembled. “You don’t like me.”

“I like you, Ming. But it’s not love. ”

She had trouble understanding. I figured it was time to bring out the biggest gun of all. By this time, I had learned that lonely “kept” women were needy and dependent. Rejection was difficult for them. And so was being neglected.

As I went to put on my jacket,  Ming took off all her clothes. She stood there, ready to be useful. I picked up her t-shirt to give to her. I thought better of it and threw it across the room. I figured I should do Ming the favour. I felt happy about it. 

Ming looked shaky when it was over. When I didn’t hug her, she felt naked and covered up. Like any prostitute will tell you,  never kiss or hug a john. He’ll fall in love with you. I got up to leave and she leered at me. Just before I reached the exit, she ran to me and kissed my cheek. 

“Thank you. John just hugs. Ming is like paper doll. He is with no sex. He just likes to see people look at us. ”

I met with Ming 2 more times and had to stop before things got out of hand. 

Copyright Ted Kouretas 2005

Molested by an Unwitting Predator

From victim Joe Private:

I remember watching “The Graduate” for my “The Sociology of Sexuality” class in college. I must have just turned 18 and, although I had seen the film before,  I just couldn’t help but get this tingling feeling in my stomach. It wasn’t one of excitement. It was one of anxiety of the unknown. I felt hollowness and control. Controlled and in control at the same time. 

I  couldn’t recall the incident that made me feel this way until a few years later. I had hidden it somewhere in the subconscious recesses of my mind. The shot in the film of the bed scene above saddened me. Maybe because it was me who had the woman’s facial expression and vice versa. It was a time of turmoil in my life. This female I knew very well, and the one helping me the most, was the one who “ruined” me. I was 15 and she was 23. I was learning to combat my anxiety. 

She decided to ask me over to sleep. We watched a movie — I don’t remember which one — and then listened to some of her favourite songs. She was cool, I thought. I’d never seen her be this loose. I’d never heard her use the word  “fuck”. I was happy, smiling more than I had in a long time.  I was always able to get along better with women. I hated the teen machismo that took place in the teen years. But perhaps it was normal. So I kept the males for sports talk and girl talk. I remember those tall claims and I wondered how true they were. I’d kissed 2 girls at that point. As usual even till now, I was attracted to the cute, innocent, thin,  and somewhat problematic female. This young lady was different. She was older and independent. She was sure of herself. But she told me not to talk to my filthy male friends about her. 

It was time to go to sleep. I took a shower and changed in the bathroom. So did she. She then asked me if I minded if she slept naked,  because she always slept that way. I said it was her house and turned around. She told me I could turn around because she was under the covers. It must have been November. 

I fell asleep with her arm around my neck, as we were both sleeping on our left sides. It was a double bed. She said sorry if she woke me up but she was cold. She stuck her body to my back. I felt her nudity. So forgive me,  I was excited. I knew my feelings were normal, yet the situation wasn’t. She noticed my excitement and got up and knelt on the bed. She had the sheet around her body and then said the words that, for some reason, still haunt me today — “do you wanna see my tits?”— more than anything that I’ve ever witnessed or heard. They haunt me more than memories of my epileptic seizures. More even than the bullying I had endured before this moment. But most of all, they numb my mind. 

I have,  to this day, no memory of what happened between the moment she uttered those words till I woke up the next morning with her mouth between my legs. She complimented me on my “cute little teenage orgasms” , got up, got dressed, and gave me her spare pair of keys. 

I believe,  hopefully, that I’ve gotten over this. Most idiots would think that I lived out a fantasy. Truth is, this turned more and more into a troubling nightmare that,  at the time, stunted my emotional growth. I thankfully got over these feelings with limited pain.

Please,  include men in the equation. Men are victims too. And you can imagine the difficulty of coming out with this in our society. This was my Harvey Weinstein moment. If I could describe it in one word,  one adjective,  I’d have to say it was “harmful”. These actions are devastating. They numb you and make you feel like someone’s thrill. Like a plaything. They make you feel “owned” or “controlled”. But mostly, they render you helpless when face to face with the oppressor. She always uses the words “just smile sweetie”. Seeing the pic above when researching for another article, I thought I needed some catharsis. 

To look is human. Even New York city’s finest do it. But don’t leer. Look. Respectfully. Respect others as you’d like someone to respect your sister. Or brother.