My name is Joe Van, and I am filled with absences, though that statement doesn’t track grammatically. Instead, I will simply say that I AM NOT most things. This line of thought is nothing new to me, nor is it new in general, nonetheless, as a kid I remember asking myself what would happen if I wished for everything. At first it would grant me wealth and fame, great things for any aspiring young boy to strive toward, but then I began to worry. It would grant me all forms of mental disorders. I would also become every person and every animal. Not just that, but every object, like a shovel, the dirt being dug up by the shovel. I’d be a balloon and the wind sucking the balloon away from a crying girl that would also be me. I’d be a bed where a couple would perform an affair. I would be a knife used by a serial killer, me slicing into other people who were also me. To be everything would be a curse.
The reason I’m writing all this now is because I’m reflecting on my own ignorance. I recently found out how to count in ASL. It’s not the typical way for those who don’t know. In the wake of my ignorance, I’m again thinking about what it would be like to embody more than myself, but instead of everything, I’m wondering what it would be like to experience everyone. In my attempt at mapping out this human-centric train of thought there will be general experiences too terrible to describe, and countless more I’ll simply miss, whether it’s because it slipped my mind or because I simply don’t know what I don’t know. The human experience is so vast that we can say with certainty, some experiences were surely had that would have made the greatest stories ever told, but it wasn’t recorded and thus lost to time. This vastness is why we can create endlessly new tales to put into books, podcasts, or films. So, without further adieu, let’s begin.
I’m not someone kissing the forehead of their newborn child for the first time.
I’m not an orphaned Indian child running from the hands of human traffickers.
I’m not a First Nations woman being harassed for her inherent traits.
But I’m also not opening my eyes after a gender-affirming surgery, knowing that I will finally feel at home in my own body.
I’m not believing a story depicting victims of gun violence as actors.
I’m not feeling the bliss of heroin come over my body.
I’m not at the cusp of finishing a gene sequence with my team of scientists after months of harrowing work.
I’m not the owner of a business shutting down due to the new global recession.
I didn’t just successfully land a backflip for the first time.
I’m not living in a nation under attack.
I’m not walking down the aisle toward the love of my life.
I’m not nor ever will be under the belief that my leaders are cannibals.
I’m not someone successful in the entertainment industry.
I’m not struggling with anger management issues.
I’ve not experienced the loss of a parent.
I’m not sitting by the beachfront of my new property.
I’m not fighting for my freedom to free my hair in public.
I’m not feeling the joy seeing my child find romantic love for the first time.
I’m not someone looking into the eyes of their parents that just accepted my sexuality after years of estrangement.
I am not most people. I have not experienced so many things both good and bad that are happening around the world to specific people, and likely never will. I have the privilege of ignorance to not know what I don’t know and not be affected by what I don’t know. Things like oppression, prejudice, and ridicule by others for inherent traits and innocent hobbies should never exist, but for all the other experiences humanity has to offer, some possible for anyone to have and others specific to gender, culture, language, interests like food, sports, religion, stories, music, social events, work, or ideas; they are all things deserving equally of admiration, representation, and celebration. Each are valid and deserving of presentation.
I haven’t travelled much in my life, and while doing so can broaden one’s horizon to countries and cultures they might never experienced before, stories too offer a glimpse into the vast world of humanity, and that’s why I love stories. Life is so short, and the world is so big. It’s hard for one person to live a full life on their own, but to know others is what makes this crazy thing all have colour to it. Life is a dance, and your partners are everyone you engage with. Family, friends, neighbours, commuters, co-workers, passersby. You dance with them all. And not just them, but the stories you hear, the animals you see in documentaries, the Earth you climb, and the fictional characters you root for. Every memory you make throughout your whole life is what makes you, and it’s all but a blink in the grand scale of time. It’s not enough to meet every person, share every conversation, or learn everything. But, with our fraction of time, we can just do our best to understand people in general and show them the respect you’d want in return. We can’t know what every person we encounter is going through, but we can know that they have had an entire life leading up to each moment, just like us, and that’s worth something.
In that commonality I will hang my hat and close this off. Thank you for checking this out and as always, I wish you nothing but love in your life, and ask you to remember to keep on thinking. Until next time, ciao for now.
In #60 of Thoughts I dive into three specific thought experiments relating to Artificial General Intelligence. I weigh the ideas and validity in the concept of AGI and the hold it has on our future. Enjoy!
Impossible places. It’s a vague title, I know, but I didn’t know what to officially call this one. Today, I want to go over the concept of impossible places, but ones you desire deeply to go to. Kind of like the inverse to liminal spaces. Where one gives an eerie sense of familiarity, one that hints toward a nightmare scenario of a real childhood experience you had in a specific environment that you buried deep in your subconscious, only now for it to come back to haunt you, the OTHER is one that has no connection to anything you know, and is almost always an environment you can never go to, but deeply desire to.
Welcome back everyone to another Thoughts piece by me, ya boy, Joe Van. So I want to start things off by giving you guys an example of this topic through my first brush with it. Considering I hardly have the words now to define this sensation, you can imagine when I first felt this as a child. I think I was in grade 3 or 4. I finished reading the Deltora Quest series and their subsequent spin offs by author Emily Rodda, and learned about another series she had written called Rowan of Rin. While reading it she described the land Rowan lived in. It had Irish-style rolling hills with a monumental mountain on the horizon line. At this point in my life I wasn’t drawing Canada as just a circle anymore. Hold the applause, thank you thank you. I knew the basic layout of the world. I was also previously exposed to other fictional lands like middle earth and the afore mentioned Deltora, so the concept wasn’t alien to me, yet for some reason with this specific place of Rin… It did something to me. It gave me a longing I had never felt before. I had dreams about being in that land. I told my mom about it and asked her if such a place existed, and she shrugged, suggesting Switzerland or the UK without such high mountains, but it settled in my mind that I would never truly be able to visit a place I had such a vivid imagination of. It was disappointing in an existential kind of way, like when you truly grasp that you will die one day.
I was able to get on with my life, but the feeling of longing for impossible places never went away, it just moved on. I found infatuation for places like 2005’s The Fountain’s future spaceship bubble, or Halo’s ring. It gave me a love for clouds, and space, these places I will never go, or maybe I had this love all along and I’m just attributing an initial trigger to Rowan of Rin because it’s the first time I felt so strongly for such a thing, but however you spin it, it has become an integral part of my personality. Films like the Matrix, Cube, and the YouTube series of the Back Rooms all scratch that larger than life itch I have.
I’ll regularly download pictures of nebulae or illustrations of otherworldly environments from the internet just to look at in admiration. What am I doing when I do this to myself? Am I a masochist? Am I exercising my own restraint? Humbling myself? Reliving that strong childhood feeling I had in late spring? All of the above? Who knows for sure. Even if I spent an extensive amount of time with a psychoanalyst, I feel like they would just come up with their own meaning to explain what I’m feeling just to shut me up about it. The whole thing is otherworldly at its core so how can it truly be locked down in a digestible explanation?
The best I can do with this video is give a theory or two to scratch at the itch of having an answer. We humans have certain instincts, like hunger, sexual desire, defending family and friends, and having fun at musical venues. These are all generally part of what makes us human. Another instinct I think we have, that comes out in today’s culture with the travel freaks, is a sense of exploration, a sense of entering the unknown. Other animals show similar activity like those that migrate, following the foods and seasons, but with humanity there’s clearly something more existential going on. We were all once homeless, in a sense. Before agriculture existed, there was little reason to settle down in one location, and so we ventured out into the unknown. At first it was with nothing but the newly invented meme that would be called clothing. It kept us warm in the colder climates, which had essentially life hacked our biology. We were now unlocked, able to go anywhere we dared. And that’s what many of our ancestors did. They explored never-before-seen lands; grassy hills, pine woods, beaches, swamps, rocky cliffs, mesas, seas, and mountains, Gandalf, mountains! This period in our collected history of constantly experiencing new incredible landscapes lasted tens and tens of thousands of years. It effectively changed the way we think. Evolution is a slow process, but incremental change can occur in a timespan like that.
Our psychology, as the smartest creatures on this planet, are rightfully complex and hard to crack, especially for our own selves. So it goes that I tip my hat to the universe, time, and all things and inventive people that changed the course of our species’ lives forever, bringing us to this point. While I wish I had all the answers, to both the universe and my own psyche, there is a strange sense of admiration and awe in the face of the unknowable, in a longing for impossible places, and in the drive for exploration.
And that’ll wrap up today’s Thoughts piece. As always thank you so much for listening, I wish you nothing but love in your life, and remember if any topic or concept peeks your interest to make sure to dig into it further by doing your own research, and finally remember to keep on thinking. If you liked this thoughts piece you might also like the final frontier. Until next time, ciao for now.
It’s late at night, and you’re home alone. You’re young and this is the first time it’s happened. You were excited at first but as the sun’s light faded beyond the horizon and darkness covered the outside world, you were compelled to turn on every light in the house. An urging sense of fear overtook you, and now you’re checking every room to make sure you really are alone. Next are the windows. You pull every drape and drop every blind. If a window doesn’t have one, you close the door to that room. You check for any slight crack in the coverings, and now become acutely aware of every subtle sound there is to hear. A ticking clock. Distant traffic from the main roads. A faint sound you can’t label. It was a wisping sound, or was it a whisper? At this point you are terrified, but you don’t know what about. You hear the sound again. It isn’t the wind. It can’t be. It isn’t consistent enough. What is it? You feel like you could die as you stand still in the living room, you head bowed, your fists clenched. All you can do now is listen. The sound comes again. It lasts for no more than 2 seconds, but it echoes in your mind on a constant loop.
You will not survive the night. You are certain of it. You can imagine someone breaking in, or they are already inside, waiting to simply reveal themselves to you. The sound comes again. It is beginning to have a pattern. Maybe it is just the wind, coming in small gusts, or maybe that’s just what it wants you to think. It is no longer an imagined person. It could still be human, but now it could also be a creature, one that has the same intelligence as humans, maybe even more, and it is a predator. Right now, it is slowly driving you mad before taking its action. Is it an alien? A vampire? A demon? An eldritch god? Some other form of entity so terrifying and unknowable that to even fear such a thing doesn’t make sense. You are already dead and don’t even know it. Could this all be a dream? Or are you in purgatory? The sound comes again. This time it brings a wave of relief. At least the sound is something real. It brings you back to the present. Your fear seems to revert. You imagine a human intruder again, come to kill you. But then that fear slowly fades away too. You raise your head to find yourself where you’ve always been, alone in your house. You feel foolish to have let yourself become so psychologically vulnerable. You take your first step in a while to realize that your muscles are sore from standing.
You make your way to your bedroom, sick of the night and wanting to sleep it all away. You close the door behind you, thinking you should turn the lights off, but won’t fear creeps back into your mind and you do everything you can to push it back down. You turn your lamp on and turn the main lights off. It seems darker than it should be, but you know your eyes will adjust. You get in bed and distract yourself by listening to music. It works profoundly well, carrying you off to sleep. But then, you hear a sound. It’s not a wisp, it’s a creak. You look down the length of your bed and your room has become longer than you remember. It stretches away from the lamp’s light into pure darkness. In that darkness you become aware of a presence. It doesn’t make a sound. You can’t see it. There is no way you can know anything is in the darkness, but you know with complete certainty that your gaze into the void is being met right back.
It’s not right, none of it is right. It shouldn’t have come to this. If you were always going to die tonight, why couldn’t it have been when you were standing in the living room? Why did IT wait until you asleep in bed to come for you? IT must have wanted that fear to subside. Maybe it makes a fresh wave of fear even greater? The thought is sickening. It seems sexual- like the act of intercourse being prepare beforehand by foreplay. It’s evil. You hate it. You hate this thing with everything you have. You want to kill it, trash at its throat, screaming the whole time. But as you lay, you are still, and silent. Your mind is on fire. And then…
You wake up. Natural morning light cascades into your bedroom, even against the muffling of drapery, and you blink to assure that you really are awake. The light beside your bed isn’t necessary so you turn it off. You feel like a spell is lifting. You remember how terrified you were last night but can’t pin down about what. Against your own wishes to forget the whole ordeal, you rethink what happened, trying hard to relive every moment. It started with lights, then the windows, then sounds. The fear appears again. It trickles down your spine like a faucet turned off that still had a few drops to release. You catch yourself attempting the same self-destructive imagining that cause you to become so afraid before. But as you do so you still question your own thinking, wondering why you tried to hard to make yourself afraid. And afraid of what? You couldn’t pin that down either. It wasn’t exact. It was a shapeless, out of focus fear. The main thing was that you didn’t know. Whatever it was you feared, you simply didn’t know.
Thank you for stopping by for to another thought piece by me ya boy Joe Van, and the topic today is: Fear of the unknown. I’ve covered fear before, but not like this.
Halo Infinite is the latest mainline instalment to the Halo video game franchise. It has come to us six years after the last main instalment which had most fans feeling like the new developers, 343 industries, missed the point of its story and thus lost the spirit of the original Halo games. For most, including myself, Halo’s campaign was an introduction to concepts like giant ring worlds, alien zombies, and lying leaders losing their grasp on power. Halo was at its best… in the original trilogy. Saying this should not be controversial. The first three games were what created the fanbase and set the standard with which all future titles had to try and live up to. And the most interesting thing about that in my mind is how Bungie went about making their stories. They did the very same thing that 343 had done, just with more liberty. 343 was tasked / obligated with emulating past Halo games, something they seemed not wanting to do. Bungie on the other hand, used other science fiction concepts and storylines to create their vision, without the restraints of expectations. And now, it seems, with Halo Infinite 343 has taken that expectation approach fans have wanted all along while also continuing to craft their original, different, storyline.
Before going on may I just say, hello everyone, and welcome back to another thought piece by me ya boy Joe Van! Today’s subject is, well, pretty specific. A single game. I’ve never done a thoughts piece on such a specific subject, so I want to take a different approach other than just giving a simple review. Mix things up a little.
To start with that I want to dive into how Bungie borrowed themes and ideas from elsewhere, and shook them all up to create their own story. The first Halo game did this the heaviest. Its opening roll call was ripped straight out of James Cameron’s Aliens. The concept of a ring world itself was taken from the Ringworld novels by Larry Niven, published in the 1970’s. And other written influences include: Ender’s Game, The Vang, and Armor. For some people, this is nothing new. Fun facts-tidbits of their favourite franchise. And to all you literarily cultured academics, good for you! But to me, I didn’t learn about these influences until recently. Like even the ringworld books. I saw the movie Elysium and thought to myself, hey, that’s Halo! My boy Blompkamp ripped off that movie he couldn’t get enough money for! Now I know better. -Side note here but isn’t it crazy how business comes before art in cinema? The whole thing’s a business parading as an artform. But anyway, I DID know about the Aliens rip-off because I saw that first hand. Then when Avatar came out and there were names for things like banshees for the aircraft I was like ‘oh this is James Cameron hitting back at Bungie taking his things’.
Back on point, further huge influences were such works as The Bible and other historical texts. Spartans, Elites, Brutes, Jackals, Arbiters, Ghosts and Banshees; all these terms come from Abrahamic/Roman times. Tales were spun back with the same names used. I bring all this up not to point out some kind of unoriginality taking place in the Bungie games but rather how the games’ stories were at their strongest when they used outside sources to bolster the tale they wanted to tell. Halo, even that word, taken from another meaning.
So what about 343’s Halos? Well, they aren’t entirely going for their own thing either. Those games are based heavily off of literary material too, only instead of it being outside sources, they’re based off of their own books’ series! Now in saying that accusatorily, several extremely talented novelists have made Halo books over the years. Eric Nylund, Joseph Staten, and Greg Bear are my personal favourites. The stories they’ve created are easily worthy of film adaptation in my opinion, though only if it were done right of course which wouldn’t happen because execs would only green light it if it was injected with basic dialogue and topical comedy and other stuff that would alien both a casual viewer and a fan- but I get away from myself!
Halo as a universe is a vast and rich pool full of story potential. There are so many different factions and histories and mysteries and perspectives. It makes for great reading, however, when then taking story inspirations from said fountain of novels, ya gotta be careful to properly adapt. There are examples of successful novel-to-game adaptations, such as The Witcher and Metro, witch show that such a feat is possible, but in this case you have a weird game-to-novel-to-game switchiroo thingamajig going on. It could have led to an easy pull, but did it stick the landing? It’s up to each individual person. I can’t tell you that, but what I can tell you is that the popularity of Halo unfortunately began to see a decline after Halo Reach. Is it the authors’ faults for this? No! It’s just bad implementation, again, in my opinion. Many can, and have, said these newer Halo games are better than the original, so all this talk is just my perspective.
But from my perspective I feel like there was no ONE thing 343 did to lose Halo’s status of greatness. My theory is hearing Bungie leave played a role in viewer concern, and then having a multiplayer desperate to be like other shooters did them in. Campaign-wise my biggest gripe were the prometheans. They were not fun to battle against. I missed the scarabs, warthog runs, and sheer stakes involved in the OG campaigns. These new games felt unnecessary.
After defeating the didact, then facing a new evil Cortana, Halo Infinite found itself at a tough starting point. It was the third part to a story, but one that felt like just a part two to Halo 5. This trilogy 343 made felt far more disjointed than Bungie’s trilogy. Where would this final act in their trilogy lead us? Well, some including myself theorized it would finalize the Chief’s story, having him die or retire. Others speculated Halo Infinite would see the flood return by Cortana’s hand and force the banished and the UNSC to work together against prometheans to stop the flood. Where the story DID end up going was definitely unpredictable, but also incomplete.
343 made a concerted effort to bring back what people loved about the Bungie games. They did so in a way that didn’t take away from what they added, but steered the boat to find that nostalgia fans like myself were so desperate for. The art style was the biggest overhaul, and one half of their greatest achieve in my mind. The other half was the gameplay style. Halo looked and felt like Halo again. Rejoice! They kept mechanics like clamber, sprint, zoom for all guns, and slide, but did so in a way that didn’t take away from the core sandbox mechanics. Equipment was reinstalled from Halo 3 days and Chief no longer received fall damage. RIP to his knees but thank the forerunners for it. All of this in one word is: Freedom. But now where did the story go? That’s the biggest impact for me. A game can have the world’s funnest mechanics, but if the story is doo doo, that’s what I’ll remember the most. And infinite’s story, by comparison to Halo 5, is absolutely amazing. It’s a palette cleanser. It’s a return to basics. It does its best and damned-est to reinvigorate the main story thread, and it did so, superbly. However, it is far from perfect. Infinite’s story served to achieve several goals and in doing so didn’t have the same kind of freedom the gameplay had. It wasn’t able to spread its wings and soar.
The biggest blunder is that it is unfinished, though talk of story DLCs should mean that that feeling will not… be infinite. It’s story is hyper focused on the Chief, waving goodbye to the plethora of characters introduced in Halo 4 and 5. If 343 wanted… they could have had a soul crushing campaign where you start off fighting alongside all the characters you’ve come to know and love but against overwhelming odds, and level by level you witness each and every beloved character die off until only you, the chief, stand as the last chance at stopping Cortana. It would be brutal, and leave the story truly at an end, but work at giving weight to and concluding this new galactic threat known as Cortana once and for all. But I can see why they didn’t go for that. Instead, the campaign serves us a message of hope against dire odds, and those dire odds are simply: The Banished.
I appreciate from a gameplay perspective their focus and use of the aliens we love to kill as the main enemies. It was the right move to switch away from using prometheans, but the story now had to have them be the main antagonist, a threat far smaller than the one Cortana was meant to be. Another faction is introduced later in the campaign known as skimmers, an off-brand drone variant, and sentinels make a return so we still get some variety, but nothing would have been better than facing off against the flood again. I would have sacrificed the open world if it meant having the flood return! Just sayin’. But back on track, we are introduced to a new (other than the skimmers) alien species known as the Xalanyn with one single individual: the Harbinger. She works to give us that biggest threat imaginable vibe we lost from Cortana. The Xalanyn are said to be worse than the flood by the forerunners, a heavy statement, especially because we never end up seeing why! The campaign ends with us stopping the threat before it comes. After defeating every local spartan-killer, we take out the Harbinger. Not seeming worse than the flood, honestly. But that’s not the end of the threat! Once we finish her off it is revealed to just us the audience that the banished leader thought dead (by no one) is actually alive! And he is seen awakening the Xalanyn. So the story is far from over.
The original campaigns had a lot more going for them story-wise. They had fun, adventure, fear, and stakes like you wouldn’t believe! But as far as a 343 Halo game goes, this is my personal favourite. Infinite does an incredible job showing us Chief’s strength, AND short comings. It shows us his love for humanity through Fernando, and his fear to trust with the Weapon. It even shows us a side to him he only really saw in Halo 3, with his respect and understanding to an enemy, Escherum. In Halo 2 and the very start of Halo 3, Master Chief was ready to fill the Arbiter with bullets, but in Halo 3 we see his understanding toward a fellow soldier. We see his respect and even kinship develop. And that form of story telling is the main through-line of Infinite’s story, relationships. Threats loom over every crest, but so does hope. Hope for a better tomorrow, hope for trust and respect for our fellow people, and understanding of even our enemies. That was my main takeaway from its story, and what I love most about Halo infinite.
Oh, and it’s fukin’ grappleshot! WEEEE!
Thank you guys so much for listening to this thought piece! I appreciate your time, wish you nothing but love in your life, and ask you to remember to keep on thinking. Until next time… wake me when you need me.
I was born into a opened, burning world. Its wrath is old, tenable, and ceaseless. My fingers coil and brow furrows. I struggle to rise. The air weighs heavy on me. I pain to see through muddied light, but it seems, sadly, only the same sits staring on the horizon.
Yet something stirs. Now change comes. I feel a breeze. Wind brings new feelings. But it is a chill. My skin prickles. I wince and recoil, left only with one choice; I must construct a carapace for the long road ahead.
Nowhere is safe. Both burning and chills pass all obstacles to meet me. They breach the external self, and the internal. I am consumed by it. The carapace is all I need. Day and night I toil under the weight of it all.
Yet its construction will never end. Nothing can save me from the struggle. Momentary relief enters between waves, but are only destined to end. The pain persists. I may never complete my carapace, may, but I CAN do one thing. I can only persist. Persist, until my time is done.
Evening ghouls and ghosts, and welcome to another special Halloween episode from me, ya boy, Joe Van! This year we shall dive into three chilling scary stories that were told to me in my youth. Enjoy! And let me know if any of them got to you 👻
Welcome everyone to episode #39 of The JAD: Unplugged! Joe, Aidan, and Derron are here with special guest Michael to give you insight on the topics covered in today’s episode: -Technology -Ghosts -Couch Guy
Hola Primate Nation! Welcome to another addition of Monke in Review, where we go over monkes both big and small across history! Today I present: Kanzi the bonobo! Kanzi is known to this day as the world’s smartest bonobo. Let me know below if you’ve already heard about this monke or just learned today!
So, what the heck are pigs, I hear you ask. A pig is any of the animals in the genus Sus, within the even-toed ungulate family Suidae. Pigs include domestic pigs (Sus domesticus) and their ancestor, the common Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa), along with other species. Pigs, like all suids, are native to the Eurasian and African continents, ranging from Europe to the Pacific islands. Juvenile pigs are known as piglets. Pigs are highly social and intelligent animals. With around 1 billion individuals alive at any time, the domestic pig is among the most populous large mammals in the world. Pigs are omnivores and can consume a wide range of food. Pigs are biologically similar to humans and are thus frequently used for human medical research.
NAME ORIGIN – It probably comes from Old English *picg, found in compounds, but the ultimate origin is unknown. Originally “young pig,” (the word for adults was swine) apparently related to German bigge, or Dutch big. (“but the phonology is difficult”) Another Old English word for “pig” was fearh, related to furh “furrow,” from PIE *perk– “dig, furrow” (source also of Latin porc-us “pig,” see pork). “This reflects a widespread IE tendency to name animals from typical attributes or activities” [Roger Lass]. Synonyms grunter, oinker are from sailors’ and fishermen’s euphemistic avoidance of uttering the word pig at sea, a superstition perhaps based on the fate of the Gadarene swine, who drowned.
PHYSIQUE – A typical pig has a large head with a long snout that is strengthened by a special prenasal bone and by a disk of cartilage at the tip. The snout is used to dig into the soil to find food and is a very acute sense organ. Each foot has four hoofed toes, with the two larger central toes bearing most of the weight, and the outer two also being used in soft ground. Adult pigs have a total of 44 teeth. The rear teeth are adapted for crushing. In the male, the canine teeth form tusks, which grow continuously and are sharpened by constantly being ground against each other.
SAVAGERY – Occasionally, captive mother pigs may savage their own piglets, often if they become severely stressed. Some attacks on newborn piglets are non-fatal. Others may kill the piglets and sometimes, the mother may eat them. An estimated 50% of piglet fatalities are due to the mother attacking, or unintentionally crushing, the newborn pre-weaned animals.
DISTRIBUTION – The ancestor of the domestic pig is the wild boar, which is one of the most numerous and widespread large mammals. Its many subspecies are native to all but the harshest climates of continental Eurasia and its islands and Africa as well, from Ireland and India to Japan and north to Siberia. Long isolated from other pigs on the many islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, pigs have evolved into many different species, including wild boar, bearded pigs, and warty pigs. Humans have introduced pigs into Australia, North and South America, and numerous islands, either accidentally as escaped domestic pigs which have gone feral, or as wild boar.
RELATIONSHIP – Most pigs today are domesticated pigs raised for meat (known as pork). Miniature breeds are commonly kept as pets. Because of their foraging abilities and excellent sense of smell, people in many European countries use them to find truffles. Apart from meat, pig skin is turned into leather, and their hairs are used to make brushes. The relatively short, stiff, coarse pig hairs are called bristles, and were once so commonly used in paintbrushes that in 1946 the Australian Government launched Operation Pig Bristle. In May 1946, in response to a shortage of pig bristles for paintbrushes to paint houses in the post-World War II construction boom, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) flew in 28 short tons of pig bristles from China, their only commercially available source at the time. Human skin is very similar to pig skin, therefore many preclinical studies employ pig skin. In addition to providing use in biomedical research and for drug testing, genetic advances in human healthcare have provided a pathway for domestic pigs to become xenotransplantation candidates for humans.
CULTURE – Pigs have been important in culture across the world since neolithic times. They appear in art, literature, and religion. In Asia the wild boar is one of 12 animal images comprising the Chinese zodiac, while in Europe the boar represents a standard charge in heraldry. In Islam and Judaism pigs and those who handle them are viewed negatively, and the consumption of pork is forbidden. Pigs are alluded to in animal epithets and proverbs.
ENVIRONENTAL DAMAGE – Domestic pigs that have escaped from urban areas or were allowed to forage in the wild, and in some cases wild boars which were introduced as prey for hunting, have given rise to large populations of feral pigs in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and other areas where pigs are not native. Accidental or deliberate releases of pigs into countries or environments where they are an alien species have caused extensive environmental change. Their omnivorous diet, aggressive behaviour, and their feeding method of rooting in the ground all combine to severely alter ecosystems unused to pigs. Pigs will even eat small animals and destroy nests of ground nesting birds. The Invasive Species Specialist Group lists feral pigs on the list of the world’s 100 worst invasive species. Because of biological similarities, pigs can harbour a range of parasites and diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Examples of such zoonoses include trichinosis, Taenia solium, cysticercosis, and brucellosis. Pigs also host large concentrations of parasitic ascarid worms in their digestive tracts. Some strains of influenza are endemic in pigs, the most significant of which are H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2, the former of which has caused several outbreaks among humans, including the Spanish flu, 1977 Russian flu pandemic, and the 2009 swine flu pandemic. Pigs also can acquire human influenza.
INTELLIGENCE – Pigs are believed to be one of the most intelligent animals, following chimps, dolphins, and elephants. We might think our dogs are the smartest animals when the can roll over or shake on command, but they surpass even man’s best friend. Their intelligence was first discovered in experiments in the 1990s. Pigs were taught several tasks using a cursor on a computer screen. They learned these tasks as quickly as chimps. They could move a cursor on a screen with their snouts, as well as use the cursor to distinguish between scribbles they knew and those they were seeing for the first time.
CONCLUSION – When we look at the traits that make pigs unique, we see a traditional farm animal, but when we look at the traits pigs share with us humans, it is impossible for us to hold that blindfold over our eyes that these guys are nothing more than mere food fodder. Whether you always understood the intelligence of pigs, or just learned today, what one could walk away with after reading this is the knowledge that… should we the nations of humanity ever begin handing out intelligence-related sovereignty to non-human animals, pigs ought to be one of the first five species. They evolved pretty separated from us, and that can be seen in their shape, but their minds and attitudes are right up our alley. So next time when you think about choosing pork, beef, or poultry- AH like hell I’m about to tell you to consider your diet. Philosophy is one thing, but practice is another. I have the philosophy of a vegan, but don’t act on it. I act on what’s cheap and convenient. Life is hard enough for me, but as the growing popularity for meat alternatives grow in our western world, so will the convenience to choose NOT pig for dinner. Maybe then, the pigs of this world will have a chance to make their way into our homes as pet, instead of into our bellies. Thank you for listening to my TED talk. Bye bye.
Hola Primate Nation! Welcome to another addition of Monke in Review, where we go over monkes both big and small across history! Today I present: Georgie Boy the capuchin monkey! Georgie Boy found incredible fame on TikTok during the 2020 lockdowns by opening presents, and by he himself just being a present to be around. Let me know below if you’ve already heard about this monke or just learned today!
Searing combustions bombard my insides in a fit from two things that don’t mix having to share the same space.
I hold them inside me in an unstable alliance that neither wish to hold.
One part of me wishes to rip my skin off and be free, smoke, drink, fuck, and spew out any words or actions I desire as they come in to my head.
The other side wishes to work a 7-5 without complaints, not have any urges or desires, and live a clean, by-the-book existence where I return home every day with a smile feeling satisfied.
I live in a waring paradigm of my own making, for at any point I could relinquish my philosophy, yet I cannot do the same with my urges.
And yet, I do not wish to be only urges. I wish to be as by-the-books as one can be with such feverish, obsessive, addictions.
To understand oneself is to understand the paradox of trying to exist with both features. It is an unending struggle, something intrinsic to life itself. One cannot escape it, only accept it and hold a détente.
Hola Primate Nation! Welcome to another addition of Monke in Review, where we go over monkes both big and small across history! Today I present: Harambe the gorilla. He changed the world, sadly, in his martyrdom. But with his loss the collective internet began paying more attention to primate treatment in captivity. However, it was not enough. God saw what we did, and we’ve been living in his judgement ever since.
Hola Primate Nation! Welcome to another addition of Monke in Review, where we go over monkes both big and small across history! Today I present: Crystal the Monkey. She is as famous as she is talented.
Forged in secret, on the savannas of Africa, mutations saw fit to make another primate; one more powerful and cunning than the rest. In this ape, evolution poured its brutality, it malice, and its will to dominate all life!
I come to you, a mere Diddy Kong among kings, to present: Primate Nation! Home to King Kong, big foot, IKEA monkey and more! Come with me, fellow primates, to the promised land! Return to monke, and welcome, to thejoevandotcom!
It’s time… time I told someone else about the tunnel. Or maybe not- I- I don’t know… No, no, I do. It’s been days now and I haven’t been able to make any head way as far as identifying the soldier that talked to me. I need help. Out of anyone I could trust, one name comes to mind first: Bianca. She’s a lady in her thirties or forties, someone who was alive before the war. She’s kind, quiet, but has a fire still behind her eyes somehow. She’s a social recluse like me, which is why I think it’s perfect. I’m gonna attempt to let her in on it tomorrow at lunch. In the meantime, I’ll keep dreaming about Jenn. Her smiling face flows into my mind, beckoning me to her, wherever, and when-ever she is.
Okay, deed’s done. Seed’s been planted. The Pandora’s box of telling others about the tunnel has been opened… no going back now. You light a piece of paper on fire, can’t expect it to come back if you change your mind. I asked Bianca about the soldiers, if any hang in the tunnels. She said none, then asked why. I told her about my run in with one, and she asked why I was down there. I could have lied, but honestly, she deserves the tunnel more than me. Bianca acted exactly how I’d expect anyone to act. I tried to tell her slow without losing her interest, and at first she denied it. Then she hated me for telling her about it. Now she’s agreed to follow me there tonight. The foot traffic on the street’s calmed down for the night, so I’m gonna head out now. Wish me luck, and that I’m not just insane.
// Bianca says hello! We’re here together! I didn’t know it would happen like that, but I’m glad it did. I’m writing to you from somewhere sunny and tropical. I feel really good about bringing Bianca here. She’s ecstatic. I’m not gonna write too much more, just wanted to jot this down in case I don’t remember. We’re exploring the zone together, stopping now for lunch. I’ll write back soon. //
// I think I can see him! The man! He’s back! I told you to stay out! Why are you back?! Who are you?! Tell me who you are!… What? (fades away) Bianca! Wake up… We have to go. //
The zone Bianca and I visited last night was Boracay: a small island in the central Philippines. It’s known for its resorts and beaches. We woke up on the west coast, on White Beach. Absolutely stunning. It was backed by palm trees, bars and restaurants. On the east coast of the island strong winds made Bulabog Beach a hub for water sports. Nearby, the observation deck on Mount Luho offered panoramic views over the island. Offshore, coral reefs and shipwrecks were home to diverse marine life. The population of the island was last recorded to be 32 267. I, uh, think I’m going to stop assuming there was a war anymore.
Bianca and I have decided to add another member to our group. We’re both on the same page regarding hesitancy on deciding who. This kind of thing should be treated as it is: sacred. We both decided it should be someone who was alive before the war. We need wisdom on our side, and someone with know-how. Bianca knows most of the soldiers in our district of the city by name, but there are ones that don’t interact with citizens, ones who patrol the boarder. The soldier we seek would surely be one of those soldiers. I’m certain of it. As certain as I can be.
Bianca and I’ve narrowed down our pick for who the next member will be… to one. There is a man who goes by the name of Tarzan. He’s seen by everyone as a fool, one who doesn’t work, is regularly beaten, and lives day to day on scraps. No one respects him. He doesn’t speak unless prompted, and doesn’t say much. He’s reportedly been seen writing on occasion. That tells me everything I need to know about him. Tarzan, while looking like a madman, is secretly one with resolve in how he conducts himself, merely choosing to present a wild man to the public. His rational must be that there’s really no reason to do otherwise in our world’s condition. It makes me wish I had that kind of freedom, but fear and shame still grip my mind like most people.
// FUCK! I just had a run in with Raj. He’s my peer and one of the last kids to get a job before me, at 17, but we aren’t chummy. What are you doing? That’s what Raj asked me just an hour ago. He said, What are you up to? I’ve seen you and Bianca act like you have a secret for weeks now. I want to know what it is. I can’t have this kind of attention! We were careless not to think of how spending so much time together would look. This is the last thing we need right now. Soldiers might be on their way to the library as I write this. I’d have no way of knowing. God, what would they do? Conduct torture integrations? And then what? Kill me? If I make it through the night, Raj and I are going to have a real talk. //
Bianca had a scowl on her face the entire time. We met with Raj instead of Tarzan at lunch and I explained the situation to him. That cocky little bastard laughed at us before threatening to sic the soldiers on us, unless we really told him what we were doing. God damnit all to hell! We… we’ll have to do something drastic. I didn’t want it to come to this, but… he just had to snoop.
We promised to take Raj to the site… If you don’t hear from me again, it’ll be because we failed.
// I… I can’t believe what we just did. I feel sick… We brought Raj down to the tunnels, at the boarder… but, we took a different path. We told him we really planned on escaping, and… asked that he help clear the rubble. He put his back to us… and I… I… I can’t write it! FUCK! I’m sorry Raj! //
Tarzan finally joined B and I to the tunnel last night. We told him about it the day after… what I did, and Tarzan rejected us. B and I reserved ourselves, making sure not to been seen interacting with each other as much during the day, but still, we’d individually find time with Tarzan day after day to plea for his patronage. It took weeks, until finally, he said yes.
The zone we landed in was Times Square, New York, New York. What a zone for a first drop. Even for me it was overwhelming! Times Square was a major commercial intersection, tourist destination, entertainment centre, and neighbourhood in the Midtown Manhattan section of New York City, at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue. Brightly lit by numerous billboards and advertisements, it was sometimes referred to as “the Crossroads of the World”, “the Centre of the Universe”, “the heart of the Great White Way”, and “the heart of the world”. One of the world’s busiest pedestrian areas, it was also the hub of the Broadway Theatre District and a major centre of the world’s entertainment industry. Times Square was one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions, drawing an estimated 50 million visitors annually. Approximately 330,000 people pass through Times Square daily, many of them tourists, while over 460,000 pedestrians walk through Times Square on its busiest days. Tarzan was understandably shocked at first. Then B and I lost him in the crowd! We looked for him for a bit, but figured it didn’t matter, seeing how we’d all meet up in the end, and we did. We all had a buzz about us after the fact. It was such a stark contrast to go from all that noise and all those lights to a dark tunnel. I still feel the buzz now. The kind of life that used to exist… man. Aside from that, no word this time from the figure, whoever it may be, but the mission stays the same.
A thought has been stuck in my mind for days now, and I haven’t been able to shake it. I’m sure I’m just being naïve, but now that our numbers have grown, I’m beginning to think if we shouldn’t expand even more? Why should we all grovel and fear the soldiers so much, when there are so many more of us? I’m gonna run it by B and Tarzan to see what they think.
Hey journal, it’s been a while, sorry about that. We’ve been busy, really busy. Our team’s grown to over thirty people and counting every day. Tarzan’s not a fan of attention but with B at my side, we’ve been conducting nightly meetings at the library as far as documenting patrol paths, sharing tunnel time (which mostly goes to recruits only now), and constructing a viable resistance against the soldiers. We don’t know anything beyond our city limits! It’s too soon to risk digging escape tunnels, or engaging directly with the soldiers, but the more we know, the more confident our people will get. It’s all just a matter of time now. I better get some sleep, another busy day tomorrow. ///
Welcome everyone to episode #17 of The JD: Unplugged! The topics we cover in today’s episode are: -Taking time to understand ourselves -Dealing with anxiety and forgiveness -Location situation -Our histories watching H3 -Double standards and exhaustion PODCAST: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/jd-streams/id1541025716
Welcome to episode 62 of Joe Van’s Secret Podcast! In this episode I talk to a new secret guest about their work, rebellious adventures online, the power of optimism, finding peace in the randomness of our seemingly endless multiverse, and understanding human nature as natural. Enjoy!
Welcome everyone to episode #12 of The JD: Unplugged! Today we have on a new guest with a wide array of work experience, both inside the film industry and out. The topics we cover in today’s episode are: -Location situations -Nicknames -Work situations -Derron’s lost tooth -Tiff, working out, and work space -Joe’s journey to the film industry -Hard work trashed -Joe’s parking lot fight, New York mentality -“Treat every conversation like your last one.” PODCAST: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/jd-streams/id1541025716 #Canada #Podcast #Unplugged
Welcome everyone to episode #11 of The JD: Unplugged! The topics we cover in today’s episode are: -Location situations -Wisdom teeth -Cleaning Dave & Busters -Savage gifts -Game stonks -Foodies -Female hygiene products overpriced! -Reopening for the virus -Breaking into NASA #Canada #Podcast #Unplugged
Welcome everyone to episode #10 of The JD: Unplugged! We have two new guests on this week as we dive into the ever-changing landscape of exponential growth. The topics we cover in today’s episode are: -Location situations -Gaming iterations -Cell phones -Marketing -Napping and isolation -Progressive countries and conservative ones -Mounties and inequality -Hope and change #Canada #Podcast #Unplugged
The topics we cover in today’s episode are: -Location situations -Business independence -Politicians failing -Finding work -Helping others -Onlyfans -Sound of Metal and finding stillness -Karma -Visual information #Canada#Podcast#Unplugged
Welcome everyone to episode #7 of The JD: Unplugged! The topics we cover in today’s episode are: -Location situations -Festival food (raised without crans) -Politicians going on vacation -New Year -A 15-year-long dream -Daylight savings -Vaccines -Overthinking -YouTube doc and Sorry to Bother You -Lifetime of work -Art and business #Canada #Podcast #Unplugged
Welcome everyone to episode #7 of The JD: Unplugged! The topics we cover in today’s episode are: -Location situations -Edgy horror movies -The Wilds, peak boredom -What constitutes true struggles -Moral dilemmas
Welcome everyone to episode #3 of The JD: Unplugged. Today we welcome a creative savant to the conversation! The topics we cover in today’s episode are: -Our locations -‘Rona vaccines -Eras -Aliens -Space -Neighbours -Bidets -Wiping -Parting words of wisdom
Welcome everyone to episode #4 of The JD: Unplugged! The topics we cover in today’s episode are: -Our locations -Auditory hallucinations -Food Poisoning -The Paranormal and unknown -Destiny giving Joe an Xbox -Murmuring
Welcome back everyone to the AA EH, also known as the Triple A podcast! Where we talk everything AA from alcoholism to recovery. On today’s podcast, we go over the changing seasons and how that affects people in Canada and abroad. Enjoy!
Welcome back everyone to the AA EH, also known as the Triple A podcast! Where we talk everything AA from alcoholism to recovery. On this episode we review the sequel to The Shining: Doctor Sleep, and discuss our takes on its portrayal of alcoholism. Enjoy! #AAEH #Alcoholism #DoctorSleep
Welcome back everyone to the AA EH, also known as the triple A podcast! Where we talk everything AA from alcoholism to recovery. Today’s episode is special in that we have our very first guest on to talk with us! You’ll soon find that he comes from quite the distance away but it does nothing to hinder our connections, relating to personal experiences. Enjoy!
I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey.(The Rocky Horror Picture Show) Be afraid… Be very afraid.(The Fly) It’s Halloween, everyone’s entitled to one good scare.(Halloween) Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble!(Macbeth) The ghosts are bad but the one that’s cursed, is the headless horseman; he’s the worst.(The Legend of Sleepy Hallow) Magic is really very simple, all you’ve got to do is want something and then let yourself have it!(Halloweentown)
Welcome back everyone- hey- wait a minute, how did you get behind me without me seeing? Say the line? Uh… right- welcome back to another Thoughts piece by me, ya boy, Joe Van! And man, oh man! Are we in for a great piece: Halloween! What a holiday! I wonder why I love it so much? Could it be like a death denial thing through faking scary killers? Eh, who knows? Either way, whatever it does, it does so different than any other holiday. There’s something truly magical about pretending to be a monster you would otherwise fear if you saw it at any other point throughout the year. So, in honour of this glorious holiday, I plan to do a deep dive into its history… to find out how we got to have it in the first place.
Let’s start with the word, because of course that’s what I’m going to do! The word Halloween dates back to 1745 and is of Christian origin, as I’m sure we all know. The word itself means “Saints’ evening”. In Scots, the word “eve” is even, and this is contracted to e’en. Over time, (All) Hallow(s) E(v)en evolved to: Hallowe’en. The phrase “All Hallows’ Eve” is first found in 1556. That means it took us 189 years to abbreviate it! Now-a-days things can’t get abbrev’ed quick enough! This is just the word, though. Surely the practice is much older. Where does IT originate?
As I’m sure y’all caught on, Christianity may have named it but it was really a relabel. The tradition came from a pagan, Celtic, origin near the 10th century until being consumed by the all-powerful force of Jesus. Christianity was like the Disney of its time, consuming other peoples’ content into one homogeneous house. Before this happened the records were sparse, but it clearly stemmed from the tradition of Samhain. Samhain was a festival to celebrate the new year of ancient Ireland. Their new year started at the beginning of winter in their medieval Gaelic calendar, which for them was October 31st to November 1st. Not only Ireland followed this, but Scotland and the Isle of Man. For the Celts, a day ended and began at sunset; thus the festival began on the evening before November. So, does that mean we’ve really been celebrating a new year twice this whole time? Who knows. All we can say for sure is that although the traditions we now know as Halloween traditions, dating back to the ancient Celtics, came from that time and area, the basic idea of honouring the dead on one night spans much farther back in time and across the globe of almost all cultures of humanity. An easy other example is the Day of The Dead in Mexico on November 2nd.
In the recorded beginnings of Samhain there were household festivities, which included rituals and games intended to foretell one’s future, especially regarding death and marriage. They included apple bobbing, nut roasting, mirror-gazing, pouring egg whites into water, dream interpretations, and others. Along with that, special bonfires were lit. Nothing was materially special with them, though. It was just special due to the night. Their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers; using something called sympathetic magic. To the Celtics, the special fires mimicked the Sun, helping the “powers of growth” and holding back the decay and darkness of winter. In Wales, their bonfires were lit to “prevent the souls of the dead from falling to earth”. In Scotland, these bonfires and divination games were banned by the church elders in some parishes. Later, thanks to Christianity, these bonfires served to keep “the devil away”.
Now before going on, I gotta spit my opinions about the occult and ghosts. While I love the idea of them, and love how spooky it all is, I do not believe in supernatural entities, ghosts, and the like. And when I say I do not believe in them, I am NOT saying I believe they are not real. That’s an important distinction. It’s not on me for not believing in unsubstantiated claims, the same as it wouldn’t be on you to prove me wrong on my (totally legitimate) claim that all ducks are secretly stalking me! Leave me alone duck species!! And I’ll add, it not like I didn’t try to believe. When I was a teen, my friends and I went on several ghost hunting expeditions into abandoned buildings, scaring the hell out of ourselves! But… not finding even a hint of paranormal activity.
Now here comes the actual crazy shit. From at least the 16th century, Samhain included mumming (a word to describe what we now know as LARPing) and guising (a word that has now been replaced with the term ‘trick-or-treating’). That means the traditions of Halloween at its core have actually been the exact same for 500 years! So even wayyy back when, people went house-to-house in costume, usually reciting verses or songs, in exchange for food. These were people who still practiced hunting and gathering, but would somehow make time to do this shit. Dope. I guess for them this was their only way to unwind. The only difference I found online to separate our dressing up now versus then is it may have originally been a tradition whereby people impersonated the Aos Sí, or the souls of the dead, and received offerings on their behalf. Now-a-days it’s movie characters. Back in Scotland, youths went house-to-house with masks, painted or blackened faces, and often threatened to do mischief if they were not welcomed. In parts of Wales, men went about dressed as fearsome beings called gwrachods, (I’m assuming the ‘g’ is silent) A.K.A. witches or sorcerers. In the late 19th and early 20th century, young people on the English outskirts used Halloween as an opportunity to cross-dress. Wearing costumes and playing pranks at Halloween was now spread far and wide, including the idea of patrons using hollowed out turnips or mangel beets carved with grotesque faces as lanterns. They were made to both represent the spirits and be used to ward off evil spirits. By the 20th century they became generally known as jack-o’-lanterns.
Spreading to America, Anglican colonists in the southern United States and Catholic colonists recognized ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ in their church calendars, although the Puritans of New England strongly opposed the holiday, along with other traditional celebrations of the established Church, including Christmas. It was still seen as pagan to them and thus, evil. Almanacs of the late 18th and early 19th century give no indication that Halloween was widely celebrated in North America. It wasn’t until mass Irish and Scottish immigration in the mid to late 19th century that Halloween became a major holiday over here. Though first confined to the immigrant communities, it was gradually assimilated into mainstream society.
While the first reference to guising in North America occurred in 1911, that soon evolved with the earliest known use of trick-or-treat appearing in 1927, in the Blackie Herald from Alberta, Canada. Thousands of Halloween postcards were produced in the 1900’s. They commonly showed children in costumes, but not in the act of trick-or-treating. Trick-or-treating didn’t become a widespread practice until the 1930’s, with the first US appearances of the term (trailing behind Canada,) in 1934, and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939.
A popular variant of trick-or-treating, known as trunk-or-treating (or Halloween tailgating), occurred around the same time and is still practiced today. Children are offered treats from the trunks of cars parked in a church parking lot, or sometimes a school parking lot. In trunk-or-treat events, the trunk of each automobile is decorated with a certain theme, such as Happy Potter, Finding Nemo, Noah’s Ark, or job roles like plumbing or teaching. Trunk-or-treating is popular is rural areas due to its perception as being safer than going door to door, as well as the fact that homes are built a half-mile apart.
Another trend that grew in the 1930’s was Halloween-themed haunted houses! And people loved them. They grew so popular, in fact, that by the late 1950’s haunted houses as a major attraction began to appear in fairs, circuses, and the like. Regulations at the time were essentially non-existent, but all that changed in 1984. On the evening of May 11th, in Jackson Township, New Jersey, the Haunted Castle in Six Flags caught fire. As a result of the fire, eight teenagers died. The tragedy was immense, resulting in backlashes found in the tightening of regulations relating to safety, building codes, and the frequency of inspections of not just Six Flag, but attractions nationwide. Facilities that were once able to avoid regulation because they were considered temporary installations now had to adhere to the stricter codes required of permanent attractions. The smaller venues, especially nonprofit attractions, were unable to compete financially, and other, better funded, commercial enterprises filled the vacuum. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, theme parks entered the business seriously. Six Flags and Universal were the big players. Then Disney threw their name in the hat, popularizing it even more. With places like Canada’s Wonderland and the others today, ‘theme-park haunts’ are by far the largest Halloween-themed frights, both in scale and attendance.
To pull ourselves back to the main idea of Halloween again, while Christianity owns the metaphorical copyrights to it, what do the other religions of the world think about the holiday? In Judaism, Halloween is not permitted by Halakha, because it violates Leviticus 18:3; which forbids Jews from partaking in gentile customs. For Islam, Sheikh Idris Palmer, author of A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam, has argued that Muslims should not participate in Halloween, stating that “participation in Halloween is worse than participation in Christmas, Easter, so on… it is more sinful than congratulating the Christians for their prostration to the crucifix”. Javed Memon, a Muslim writer, has disagreed, saying that his “daughter dressing up like a British telephone booth will not destroy her faith as a Muslim”. For Hinduism, they have their own thing. Hindus remember the dead during the festival of Pitru Paksha, during which Hindus pay homage to and perform a ceremony “to keep the souls of their ancestors at rest”. It is celebrated in the month of Bhadrapada, usually in mid-September. Finally, amongst those who describe themselves as Neopagans or Wiccans, some do not recognize Halloween, but instead Samhain on the following day.
Now to end with a global outlook. How does the world see Halloween? Mass transatlantic immigration in the 19th century popularized Halloween in North America, and celebration in the United States and Canada has had a significant impact on how the event has been observed in other nations. This larger North American influence, particularly in iconic and commercial elements, has extended to places such as Ecuador, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, most of continental Europe, Japan, and other parts of East Asia. In the Philippines, during Halloween, residents return to their hometowns and purchase candles and flowers to prepare for All Saints Day. And finally as I mentioned earlier, in Mexico and Latin America they celebrate The Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos. Most people from Latin America construct altars in their homes to honor their deceased relatives and decorate them with flowers, candies, and other offerings.
Now I pass the question off to you! How do you celebrate Halloween, if you even do? What did you know about the holiday? Did you learn anything new with this little dive I’ve done? And the most important question of all, what are YOU going to be this year?? Let me know wherever you can! Thank you again as always my beautiful fellow humans! I wish you nothing but ghoulish love, and ask you to remember, to keep on thinking. Goodbye, and happy Halloween!
In episode forty-six of Thoughts, I continue our journey through the deep history of our species. What did we create on our own and what came instilled in us? How long did we wonder, and what traces of our ancestors can be seen in us today? I hope you all enjoy this take! It was a blast to make and turned out to be my longest video yet. I hope it educates and entertains!
Welcome back to the AA EH, also known as the triple A podcast! Where we talk everything from alcoholism to recovery. Today’s episode we dive into the Kubrick classic: The Shining. We review the film under our alcoholism lens to dissect how possession is played out in the movie for Jack Nicholson’s character. It’s a scary flick, but one worth watching at least once. Enjoy!
Welcome back the AA EH, also known as the triple A podcast! Where we talk everything from alcoholism to recovery. Today’s episode we do a movie review of the film: Flight, starring Denzel Washington. It a harrowing film of the effects alcoholism has over those suffering. While Denzel’s character is a high-functioning alcoholic, it still destroys his life in more ways than one, and we go over it. Enjoy!
Welcome to episode 61 of Joe Van’s Secret Podcast! In this episode I interview a newly acquainted gentleman and professional who specializes in the therapy of the body. In his words, he ‘beats people up until they’re better’. I couldn’t have put it better myself. Enjoy!
Welcome back everyone to the AA EH! Also known as the triple A podcast, where we talk everything from alcoholism to recovery. In this episode we go over societal norms around drinking and how smoking has changed. As well as the potential inclusions of parties for the future. Enjoy!
In episode forty-one of Thoughts, I read to you guys from the beginning page of my four completed novels. I start the narrative with a mini thought piece to prime y’all for the what the story will cover. Let me know if you guys liked this video however you can! It’s greatly appreciated. Enjoy!
Everyone welcome the 3rd and newest series to this RSS feed! The AA EH, also known as the triple A podcast! Where we talk everything AA from alcoholism to recovery. Co-hosted by Joe Van and Derron G. In our 10th episode, we catch everyone up to speed with the two of us and how we’ve been since Canada’s lock-down. Enjoy!
In episode forty of Thoughts, I talk about the one thing we all perceive yet all perceive differently: reality. I go over how much we know or could know about reality, along with how our minds construct the reality we all personally experience. Enjoy!
Well, once upon a time, Adam and Eve were made by God. According to the creation myth of the Abrahamic religions, they were the first man and woman. Okay, okay, I’m just messin’ with you, but for the longest time this story and others (where we all came from one pair) was the only answer we would get when asking about our origins? I mean, how could we possibly imagine what it really was before hard scientific work was put to it. After all, as magical as creation myths are, they don’t really answer the question, do they? So where did we really come from? Some fun folk suggest, or imagine, that we were once Martians before we nuked the atmosphere and fled to Earth. That’s why we have back pain and childbirth can be so lethal, because we were once from a planet that had less gravity. But, that still doesn’t work with what we know about reality, does it? So, where in the heck did we TRULY come from?
Most people can clearly see that we hold several similarities to chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas. They have opposable thumbs, expressive faces, and bipedal tendencies. The reason for these similarities is because… of these four great apes, we are the fifth! That’s right. There are five great apes on Earth and humans are one of them. An ape, or great ape, is any tailless primate, and seeing how we are primates and tailless, we fit in that category. So how did we come to be so clearly different from our discursive species cousins?
Wayyyyyyyyy back 85 million years ago, before the extinction of the dinosaurs, a common ancestor for every primate existed: Purgatorius. Then evolution did what it does, as it had always been doing, and diversified. Purgatorius migrated to separate areas and occupied different environments. These hominoidea then mutated through hundreds and thousands of generations, and completely new species developed. This is where a separation from monkeys and apes began. Certain primates stayed small with long tails while other grew big. Lemurs and Lorises were the earliest ancestors to branch out, around 60 million years ago.
Tarsiers split from our common ancestors 55 millions years ago.
Then 30 million later the final connection between monkey species and ape species would be forever separated. New world monkeys then old world monkeys (Yes it’s in reverse) continued to diversity on their own. Let’s take a moment to press ‘f’ in the chat to pay respects, and wave goodbye to all the monkeys we will forever drift further away from in lineage.
Gibbons were the next species to delineate, being labelled not as monkeys but as the one and only lesser ape, most closely related to orangutans.
Which means orangutans were the next species to splinter from our common ancestors, nine million years ago. Then gorillas parted ways around eight and a half million years ago, putting us closer and closer to human-looking creatures. The present day is catching up to us quick!
Six and a half million years ago, the genus ‘pan,’ which became bonobos and chimpanzees, forever delineated from our common ancestor. For this reason, they are our closest inter-species cousins. There are many physical mannerisms and sociological traits that mirror humanity’s because of this. If you’ve ever had the luxury of seeing these guys in action you can catch them doing things we would do, like flinging feces- wait, wait… actually… that is something people have done throughout history. Okay, chimps, you do you.
At this point our ancestors were the hominin category of species that we are still connected to today, but our lineage kept changing. Human still wouldn’t exists for another five million years. The famous ‘Lucy’ fossil was from around three million years ago from the species Australopithecus. They were still very chimpanzee-looking but at that point only led to us. Homo habilis came about one million years ago, leading to homo erectus. Homo erectus as the name suggests were the first stages of a purely upright species. They were around from one million to 600 000 years ago, leading to homo sapiens.
Now you might be thinking, “We made it! It’s us- who we are today! Hooray!!” And listen, I don’t wanna rain on your parade, but I’m just gonna stop you right there! Take a step back from that cheer and calm down, partner! We’re not there yet. Homo sapiens are discovered to have come about around 400 000 years ago, but it’s still early days. Believe it or not, the ancestors we refer to as cave-people: Neanderthals, actually came about more recently than homo sapiens!; around 200 000 years ago. However, they no longer exist today. Some would suggest it was due to their inferior communication skills to the homo sapien sapiens- whos’ anatomical ability to form vowel sounds (with their larynx lower in the throat, allowing for better resonance of vocal waves) kept them going. I am not one of those people, though. I haphazardly subscribe to another theory, as it is currently undecided in the scientific community, one which brings us to an uncomfortable truth about ourselves: our capacity for genocide.
According to Canadian scholar Adam Jones, if a dominant group of people had little in common with a marginalized group of people, it is easy for the dominant group to define the other as subhuman. As a result, the marginalized group might be labeled as a threat that must be eliminated. He writes, “While history today is generally written with some fealty to ‘objective’ facts, most previous accounts aimed rather to praise the writer’s patron (normally the leader) and to emphasize the superiority of one’s own gods and religious beliefs.” Hypotheses which suggest that genocidal violence may have caused the extinction of the Neanderthals have been offered by several authors, including Jared Diamond and Ronald Wright. This capacity for brutality can be found in our cousins, the chimpanzees, so it’s not a uniquely human trait, but it is nonetheless one- if not THE- worst trait we possess. 30 000 years ago, after homo sapiens spent thousands of years interbreeding with Neanderthals, they went extinct. All we have to go on is fossil records so it’s not like we have detailed accounts of a great war being fought, but it is clear that they were blinked out of existence and we were not, so it’s unlikely they suffered some rare disease or environmental disaster because it would have happened to us as well.
Moving on from the darkness, we will pedal backwards to 40 000 years ago. Cro-Magnon appeared; the most human-looking ancestor yet, and even this subspecies faded from time about ten thousand years ago. Now for one final backward pedal, our current lineage of humanity: homo sapien sapiens first came about 120 000 years ago, though it’s still debated if it could be older. For a long time, ancient structures like the lining of houses gave us hints at human-kind’s first civilizations back around 100 000 years ago in Africa, but that too is in debate as more recent findings might point us literally double as far back in prehistory, around 200 000 years ago. Our inability to glimpse the past other than through bones and scraps makes it all so mysterious.
What exactly was it like back in the earliest known civilizations? As we find ourselves now, humanity records everything. We created religions, migrated across the globe, created businesses, and governments. If anything jumping into the question of ‘where did we come from?’ grants, it’s a scale of time that we rarely glimpse and still won’t be able to comprehend even after going over these biological facts. The vastness of time dwarfs humanities entire history. Everything we currently know through teaching, from philosophy, to art, to mathematics, and physics, all comes from this long trial and error effort of survival from our countless ancestors. The world we know today has been given to us by great minds and everyone else who did their best to utilize the knowledge and spread it across the world.
Our quest to understand where we come from is not done, however! The vastness of what brought us to being biologically human is complete, but what about our lost civilizations to our current recorded history? I shall make that a part two of this! So stay tuned for that article to know when it comes. Until then, I appreciate all of your time, wish you nothing but love in your life, and ask you to remember, to keep on thinking! Byebye.
In episode thirty-eight of Thoughts, I talk about growing up, from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. Life holds so many changes for us and we’ve charted them to great detail, save narrowly for the ending of adolescence, in my mind. I go over this and what it means to really grow up. Enjoy!
What starts as something almost too simple to even think about, reality is so secretly perplexing that doing a deep dive into what we know will leave one floored. The truth is, we know very little about how we are here. The Big Bang theory is still the best possible take on how our CURRENT reality came to be, but it does little to explain how something can come from nothing. Or how our laws of physics sustain themselves in the matrix of our seemingly unbounded universe. String theory is a set of attempts to model the four known fundamental interactions—gravitation, electromagnetism, strong nuclear force, and weak nuclear force—together in one theory. String theory is thusly a theoretical framework in which the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings, and describes how these strings propagate through space and interact with each other.
But this, just like the Big Bang, is a theory, and these theories simply do not work the same way answers do; the way we would want them to. They are debated rigorously and to no current end, as we simply cannot know the answers to these things. ‘Why can we not know the answers to these things?’ I hear you ask. The reason is because we can’t perform the necessary testing to get the answers we seek. We are but merely physical, three-dimensional primates with minds evolved through survival and suspended linearly by time. It makes certain testing completely impossible. Our greatest strength against all these odds and obstacles, are our abilities to apply math to concepts. Then to simply have the creativity to imagine possibilities within the rules of the universe we know. A fun philosophical theory that fits these perimeters is: Last Thursdayism. It’s the proposition that the universe began to exist last Thursday, with the appearance of age and history leading to where we are now. Last Thurdayism was used as a response to claims of young-earth creationism that the Earth was created to look old, that, by the same logic, the world might have begun last Thursday. It’s a claim that can’t be disproved but also can’t be proved, like a God of the gaps situation.
Solipsism, for those who don’t know, follows the beginning of my Being Alone thought piece. It is the philosophical idea that ONLY one’s mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one’s own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind. Sleep deprivation and the disorder of schizophrenia muddy individuals’ perception of reality. When one is not sure if something is a hallucination of the mind, or if it is physically real, the best bet is to not act on what you see, assuming nothing is real. That can lead to dangerous situations though and of course is never recommended, but if you ever feel like you can’t tell what is real and what is illusory, I personally urge you to seek professional help or seek a shelter where one can properly assess or care for you.
Now with that being said, it may sound crazy to suggest that everything we currently experience IS actually an illusion! I mean, wouldn’t that spit in the face of my previous statement? Not quite. Cognitive scientist Anil Seth proposes (in the TED Talk: Your Brain Hallucinates Your Conscious Reality,) that every brain lives in an entire reality that it has created for itself. With all the signals our brains receive from our senses and all the prior experiences it has organized into expectations, each of our brains construct a coherent image of reality. To quote Anil Seth, the brain constructs a “multisensory, panoramic 3D, fully immersive inner movie,” for us to perceive. Seth then uses optical illusions and classic experiments to underscore the point that “we don’t just passively perceive the world; we actively generate it. The world we experience comes as much from the inside-out as the outside-in,” in a process hardly different from that which we casually call hallucination. As hard as it is to comprehend, we are all always hallucinating. “It’s just when we agree about our hallucinations, that’s what we call ‘reality.’” And as for what, exactly, constitutes the “we,” our brains do a good deal of work to construct that too.
The concept is one to galvanize the curiosity of anyone with even a mild interest in mind-bending subjects, like myself. He leaves us with implications of his and others’ research to consider, one being, “just as we can misperceive the world, we can misperceive ourselves”; and another being, “our individual inner universe is just one way of being conscious, and even human consciousness generally is a tiny region in a vast space of possible consciousnesses.” It is said generally that ‘our loved ones know us better than we know ourselves,’ like the other saying, ‘the closer you look, the less you see.’ As we can all imagine, reality would look very different from the multiple eyes of a fly. We know infrared vision exists, hinting at an entire world we simply cannot see with the naked human eye. What would the world around us look like if we had eyes on the sides of our head instead of directly in front, or if we had multiple optical cones instead of two specialized ones? What even is reality if there’s no one way to see it? It’s like our individual sense of self. We imagine it as one solid thing, but in reality our consciousness’ are more like a cloud of mini consciousnesses coalescing to make it seem like one coherent self. Same with the universe. It has no one visual state, and it is mostly made up of anti matter, something we cannot see, hear, smell, taste, or touch.
So all in all, reality is as complete of a mystery as anything else we find mysterious. The ocean floor, what lies beneath Jupiter’s clouds, gravitational time dilation, the afterlife, human consciousness, or secrets our loved ones hold, these things, especially the questions we don’t even have the imagination to ask, will be the things forever at the deep end of the pool of experience. Should we as a species continue to make progress, chipping away at individual questions and find better hypotheses, we would all be better for it, but we should accept that there will be things that can never be answered like the origins of reality itself. Either way, we are all still here to live our life, so let’s do what we can with this mystery by just loving as many others as we can. Thank you as always for being here. I love you all, and until next time, keep on thinking. Good bye.
Welcome to episode 59 of Joe Van’s Secret Podcast! Today I have on my fifth guest post COVID-19. We waste no time jumping into Ang Lee’s discography, conspiracies- both ludicrous and true, how separation leads to hate, the new viral ‘woke and racist’ skit on Twitter, Oakville’s checkered past AND present, why Canada should not compare itself to America, personal philosophies, and anime. It was a full episode that I’m happy to have had. I hope you enjoy!