Pleeblandia

Thoughts from the front lines


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Far from reality?

In her book The Maddaddams, Margaret Atwood describes the lives of the survivors of the waterless flood. This group of survivors is mostly made up of Gardeners and of Maddaddamites and a few lost painballers. They have no families left, they have to scavenge for food, they are under imminent threat all the times, and they have no beds. Basically none of their basic needs are met. When reading stuff like that, it’s hard to put ourselves in that situation. How do you think you would react to this new life? When I read what Atwood wrote, it’s hard for me to put myself in their shoes and imagine how I would react to having nothing to look forward to. What’s the point of trying if there’s no reward? That’s when I realised, there are people that are currently living like Atwood’s group of survivor. People living in war zones lives in very similar situation than the one Toby is in.

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These images of Syria reminds me of what Toby describes in the book, the wrecked cars, the destroyed buildings, everything is quite similar. This is in no way a coincidence. Like everything else in the book, we are lead to believe that what happens in the book would never happen in real life, we wouldn’t let it. However, it is in fact happening every day. The people living in those conflict zones are in an even worse place than Toby as she currently is. In fact, there is about “five million people in Yemen, Somalia and northeast Nigeria, as well as areas of South Sudan where famine has already been declared” (Yemen and Somalia…). There is five million people that are being denied basic needs as I’m writing this at home, on my expensive computer, eating my expensive food, and after that going to sleep in my expensive bed. Atwood definitely put those similarity in her book to make us realize that they are people right now that are suffering and we are not even aware, nor even acknowledging it.

Cited

Atwood, Margaret. MaddAddam Trilogy. New York: Random House, 2013. Print

“Yemen and Somalia ‘months away’ from famine.” News | Al Jazeera, 22 Mar. 2017. Web

Further reading:

Fleming, Melissa, “The situation in Syria is only going to get worse … and here’s why.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 16 Feb. 2015. Web.

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We Are What Our IDs Says

From what we have gathered from the lives of Toby, Adam, and Zeb, we learn that they have lived under different identities, and it was for all the same reasons: to hide from the authority. Though they have been quite MIA from the Compounds, they still managed to find jobs and they travel around quite easily, which involves showing some kind of identity. This got me thinking of how easy it is to make a pretend to be someone else or to hide from one’s self.

In Maddaddam, Adam and Zeb constructs identities out of cardboard. Then, they replace them with improved IDs by piecing together information of different people, and Zeb even steals one from a man. Though Zeb does say that these cards are not secure, they can still move around safely at some extent. Therefore, it is not that hard to live without a solid identity in their world.

If you google “Fake ID”, the first website it leads to actually sells fake IDs! I have a feeling that this website is a scam, but if it is real, then you can see how accessible it is to get a new age, name, or even citizenship. Although we can’t do much with that kind of uncertified pieces of plastic, the numbers that our country gives us (social insurance number, bank account, etc) can do you much harm if someone gets hold of it. In fact, as our lives becomes more electronically involved, the risks of theft or cybercrimes are rising. Through the works of hackers, millions of data can become accessible for everyone. For example, there was a case in the Swedish Medical Center at Seattle where data of many employees got exposed meaning that anyone could have wrote down their Social Security number, a form of identity. Thus, becoming someone else is pretty tangible, for identity is a physical thing.

This is a record of the amount of cybercrimes in just the United States

As Zeb and Adam are running around the continent with different identities, Toby hides in the Pleeblands avoiding spilling information about her own. She throws away her ID because she does not want to be discovered alive by the Corps, and her resources come from sketchy paying places that do not consult anything from her. Then, to be safe from Blanco and the Pleeblands, Toby is arranged to go back to the Compounds as Tobiatha, a new identity. The last time she needs to be this new girl is when the waterless flood wipes out everyone.

How does changing one’s identity so easy in a world where technology is said to be on the edge of being invincible and where security is apparently so well built up? Is make me think about how we are identified: are we just a piece of paper that proves our existence?

Sources


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Life After Humans

Reading The MaddAddam Trilogy, fictional but based on our cruel reality, I keep wondering if Crake’s reason is right, whether it would be better off for the planet if humans disappeared.

Humans have been around for thousands and thousands of years, still some million years to go to beat the dinosaurs. We have made more progress (assumingly) than those reptiles: we have built structures, we have developed technology, etc.; but what if one day, all of us vanished, what would happen to all of those?

  • 1 day: lights are out. Most power plants without people to generate would shut down (except for hydro: they have limitless fuel to work by themselves). Plus, no worries for any radiation meltdown from nuclear power plants… yet. Subway/metro tunnels would be flooded after 36 hours.subway-flooded-635x357
  • 10 days: hard time for house pets: no one feeding them. Small dogs would be more likely to die first. They are princes and princesses waiting around to be fed. So consider getting a big one as in case you disappeared, they could get out and follow their natural instincts (my advice: huskies).
  • 1 year: plants start taking roots in our structures, and “once the tree roots…take hold, no human-built structure stands a chance” (Atwood 32). Remember those hydropower plants I mentioned? Now they would completely shut down as mussels would block the generators’ cooling pipes.
  • 20 years: wildlife would be thriving already: vegetation => herbivores => carnivores. Look at the Chernobyl disaster 20 years later.chernobyl2
  • 75 years: cars would completely corrode (it would take 20-25 years if they were at coastal cities like Miami). I wonder why there are piles of corroded cars if it has been only 1-2 years after the apocalypse in the books.
  • 100 years: no one (no aliens) would know our modern-time history as books, films would go back to dirt. It is not like they were carved in clay or stone walls like in ancient time.
  • 500 years: all buildings and infrastructure would go down.
  • 1,000 years: cities would become jungles.
  • 10,000 years: Great Wall of China, Great Pyramid of Giza, and Mount Rushmore might be the only evidence of human structures left behind.

Our time on Earth is short: only haft a minute of the planet’s life on a 24-hour scale, but look at the damages we have done.  Do you think Crake is right, about our problems coming from our greed? Everything has a golden age, do you think there would be such things as our replacements?

 

Find out more

 

de Vries, David; Hense, Jim; Cohen, Douglas; Kosa, Frank; Dolan, Sam; and Georgalis, Savas. Life After People. Top Documentary Films, topdocumentaryfilms.com/life-after-people.

AsapSCIENCE. “What If Humans Disappeared?” www.youtube.com/watch?v=guh7i7tHeZk&t=1s

“Nature Is Speaking.” Conservation International, www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmVLcj-XKnM&t=4s

Gammon, Katharine. “A Brief History of Dinosaurs.” Live Science, www.livescience.com/3945-history-dinosaurs.html.


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What would a World of nothing but Perfection be like

The theme of perfection is arisen through Margaret Atwoods Maddaddam Triology. I find it very interesting how this theme is brought up and how her novels somewhat show individuals who haven’t reached perfection while others have been designed to be perfect; they are know as the Crakers.

As I have come across this theme, I have come to think of what would a world of nothing but perfection be like. Would human beings simply be happy? Or on the contrary, would perfection lead to our unhappiness?

Not the pursuit of happiness but the pursuit of PERFECTION

In the long run, I believe that pursuing perfection would somewhat lead to one’s unhappiness which could then lead to their own destruction. We shouldn’t want to attain perfection; we should just accept ourselves. We may want to improve ourselves but we must not want perfection as us individuals are perfect just the way we are. We have been brought up into this world as all being different from one another which is what makes us unique. If we were to live in a world were there was nothing but perfection, we would not be able to evolve nor to learn and to educate ourselves. In life, we fail and we do mistakes and these mistakes are the ones which allow us to educate ourselves. If we were perfected beings, what would be left to learn? What would we learn from? Who would we learn from? I guess by just talking about it, it is somewhat hard to think about.

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Image taken from: https://steemit.com/parenting/@rarcntv/a-photo-of-perfection

The idea of perfection may certainly vary from a person to another. I may have a certain perception of what perfection is while someone else may consider it as being something completely different.

My in class presentation about this topic has inspired me to think more in depth about the topic and to write this blog as I believe that we must all like ourselves for who were are. I know that some of you might think that it seems “cheesy” and that in our world, we all want to attain perfection but I think that that shouldn’t be the case. Why want to attain perfection while we could just strive for progress; just be a better you than being someone who aren’t.

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Our IMPERFECTION is what makes us PERFECT

Personally, I think that it is our imperfection that makes us perfect. The fact that we are all different and unique makes us perfect. We should all embrace our imperfection.

The second book in Margaret Atwood’s trilogy, The Year of Flood, presents the topic of perfection and how at the end, perfection was the route to destruction of humanity rather than it being the route to happiness.

What is perfection? Does it actually exist?

According to me, perfection is just an idea that we have created. It is an idea that does not represent reality. It is not realistic.


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Denial

Global warming image

In The Year of the Flood, we can read about the many consequences of global warming. Obvious examples would be the widespread droughts, coral bleaching, and the rise of sea levels. In our world, the effects of global warming are not as advanced as in the book but we are well on our way there.

During the United Nations conference on climate change in 2015, an agreement was made that the ideal limit would be a rise of 1.5C and that 2C rise would be the absolute limit. (Robertson, 2016)

Global warming

Unfortunately, these limits will be reached much sooner than anticipated. According to some experts, this preferred limit of 1.5C would be reached as soon as 2020! It gets even worse: the rise of 2C should be expected by 2030!

Despite scientific evidence proving that global warming is, in fact, a real issue, many (like Donald Trump) still seem to believe that global warming is “an expensive hoax”. More recently, the President of the United States signed an executive order to challenge the Clean Power Plan. This is a dangerous setback for the US and for the environment. Before signing it, he said:“The action I’m taking today will eliminate federal overreach, restore economic freedom and allow our workers and companies to thrive and compete on a level playing field for the first time in a long time.” (Smith, 2017) While the workers and the companies may thrive, Planet Earth will not. The problem here is that these people don’t seem to think about the consequences of such decisions on the long-term. Yes, some people may benefit from this decision, but we are all ultimately taking a great hit along with the environment.

This is not to say that this decision alone will be our downfall. However, if other nations start to ignore environmental issues to profit their economies and if this form of denial becomes widespread, we can bid our beautiful planet goodbye.

Stopping global warming is a collective effort. What can be done to reduce our carbon footprint as a nation in the long-term, but also on a personal day-to-day basis?

 

 

References

Robertson, J. (2016).  Dangerous Global Warming Will Happen Sooner Than Thought – Study . The Guardian. 

Smith, D. (2017). Trump Moves to Dismantle Obama’s Climate Legacy With Executive Order . The Guardian. 

 


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The Ice is Melting

Polar bears are one of the species who are currently the most affected by climate change. As the earth keeps warming up, the polar bears will have no other option then to slowly start heading south. Is the human race so faulty that we will not realise the harm we are doing until a polar bear moves in next door to one of us. Polar bears are perfectly designed for life in the arctic. Their fur allows them to easily blend in, their bigger paws are built to facilitate swimming between pieces of ice, etc. Unfortunately, due to the warming of the planet their natural habitat is disappearing. The food they have always relied on is becoming harder and harder to catch. Not because their hunting skills are declining but simply because their access to this food is melting. This will eventually force the polar bear to adapt or die. Atwood tackles this subject in her book The Year of the Flood.

In her book the human response to this problem is typical human behavior. Instead of pausing and changing are ways in order to reverse the melting of the polar bears natural habitat. We come up with the brilliant idea of flying in are organic waste to the arctic, in order to feed them. Thus allowing us to continue are destructive behavior, god help us! It is my hope that the real life solution we will come up with, will not mimic anything that even remotely resembles the Bearlift Company.

 

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We as Canadian are the closest human neighbours to the polar bear. What is bad for them will eventually be bad for us. What is good for them is good for us.

When you realise that decisions you have been taking are generating negative consequences. Do you go back and change those initial behaviors or do you find a way to adapt to those negative consequences?

FIND OUT MORE

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/climate-change-eroding-polar-bears-arctic-habitat-studiesshow/article26134453/

https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2499/polar-bears-across-the-arctic-face-shorter-sea-ice-season/


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Your first this, your first that; how about your first love.

Your first love, your first everything. Is that always a good thing?

Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood explores a similar concept towards this idea of attachment to ones very first love.

In the novel, one of the main characters, Ren, develops a serious attachment to her boyfriend/friends with benefits known as Jimmy. The main issue here is when they break up their alliance. Ren goes through a troublesome period she describes as very dark; “I wondered what I was doing on Earth: no one would care much if I wasn’t on it anymore” (Atwood 227). Throughout the novel, Ren just can’t seem to forget Jimmy. No matter the number of years or acquaintances she’s had, Jimmy is always in the back of her mind.

Interesting I thought, why are we so affixed on our first love?

Here are a couple reasons that may answer this cryptic question.

Simply put; no one ever mentions their second kiss, their second car, their second house because your first anything is what’s really special. An analogy given by psychologist Art Aron, professor at State University of New York at Stony Brook says that our first love is like skydiving, “meaning, you’ll remember the first time you jumped out of an airplane much more clearly than the 10th time you took the leap” (McCarthy). This makes sense; jumping out of an airplane is definitely scary and exciting all at once, and so is falling in love for the first time. You’ve never seen yourself in this sort of situation and you don’t know how to handle it like you previously would.

 

first love

Another issue surrounding this fixation on our first love is that most likely we will think back and romanticize about it. How perfect everything may have felt, the butterflies in the stomach, the innocence, thinking how love really had no limits. To this day one might think back to those times and how your first love made you feel. Even if there were moments where you couldn’t stand the site of each other, you’re more inclined to recall the good experiences shared together.

In addition, a first romantic relationship “is the only time you’re ever in love where you’ve never had your heart broken” (Carpenter). Yes relationships after your first can make you think what was I even doing with this person in the first place, but also there will never be again a situation where you haven’t been hurt. Being with that first person was the purist form of love because you haven’t been knocked down yet and ultimately this relationship becomes a template on which we compare everything else with.

Finally, first relationships may be lurking at the back of our minds, whether we realize it or not. This little section of our brain that keeps it stored gets activated with new interactions. There is a chance that you meet someone who reminds you of your ex, even in a subtle way. In turn, that little area of your brain is triggered. Ren experiences this moment exactly when her current love interest, Croze, wants to have sex. She thinks to herself, “I don’t want to have sex without loving the person, and I haven’t really loved anybody in that way since Jimmy” (Atwood 394). Ren can’t stop herself from taking a trip down memory lane because any male will make her reflect on Jimmy.

All in all, it is difficult to not think about that person with whom you’ve experienced so many new feelings and emotions. Everyone moves on eventually but it’s okay to have these brief moments of nostalgia… so long as it is controlled.

 

References

Atwood, Margaret. (2010).The Year of the Flood. Toronto: Vintage Canada.

Hill, Amelia. (2009). Why we can never recover from first love. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/jan/18/relationships-love

Hopkins, Michael. (2016). 3 Reasons It’s So Hard For You To Get Over Your First Love. Elite Daily. Retrieved from http://elitedaily.com/dating/getting-over-first-love/1484465/

McCarthy, Ellen. (2016). Why we never really get over that first love. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/soloish/wp/2016/02/12/why-we-never-really-get-over-that-first-love/?utm_term=.1d3376fadb9d