Thursday, 4 December 2014

This One's Political



On October 22, 2014, a man with mental illness shot and killed a Canadian soldier at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. This attack set in motion a variety of serious discussions. "Terrorism" was number one on the Conservative's table of discourse. How convenient that they were on that very day about to release a bill that would expand the powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. And this was amidst the ongoing controversy over the activities of the CSEC, Canada's national spy agency. Not to mention Canada's imminent descent into the Middle East to fight against ISIS. The timing could not have been better. You can find Harper's response to the shooting online, but my friend Parker summarizes it pretty well:


This was "terrorism" and not the actions of an insane individual who identifies with radical ideologies and has a verified history of drug use and domestic criminal activity. Please don't ask me for any more social spending because I don't believe in evidenced-based research or prevention and support systems for people with problems. Everything we do is right, and this is not an attack on the government or the military, but on "Canadian values" (incidentally, MY exact value system). For now, please prepare yourselves for a new round of draconian security and privacy laws, and we'll get back on track with bombing the ever loving fuck out of people half the world away who are probably just as scared of what this will mean as the rest of us here are. We're going to "get them", and that gives me the biggest right wing boner right now. Also, democracy, freedom, and my Christian God.

An article that caught my attention at the time was Marc-André Cyr's Le Terrorisme Utile in which he draws parallels to the massacre at L'École Polytechnique as well as the shooting at the Parti Québecois victory celebration. Cyr demonstrates how such acts of violence, which we often struggle to understand, are intentionally framed to serve political agendas. His article is poignant, well written, and its translation appears at the end of this post.
With the 25th anniversary of the Montreal massacre upon us, our government continues to display ignorance and dismissal. 
Justice Minister Peter MacKay yesterday in the House of Commons:  

"This week, we remember the horrific events that took place in Montreal at École 
Polytechnique 25 years ago, and while we may never understand what occurred — why this happened, why these women were singled out for this horrific act of violence, we have to stand together."

To which opposition leader Thomas Mulcair responded:

"We know why these women were singled out. It's because they were women. That's what Marc Lepine wrote in a manifesto."

The ensuing social media storm in response to Mackay's comments makes me hopeful. It suggests that people are paying attention. That they aren't as quick to dismiss the deeper issues at hand. Just as the attack in Ottawa back in October begs us to look at the treatment of mental illness in this country, the Montreal massacre continues to remind us that misogyny is real and ongoing and must be dealt with, no matter how inconvenient.

Marc-André Cyr's article maintains relevance as we approach the 25th anniversary of the tragic shootings at L'École Polytechnique.


Convenient Terrorism
By Marc-André Cyr

When an enraged gunman killed 14 women, now 25 years ago, many so called thinkers tried to convince us that it was not an “antifeminist” attack. Despite that the killer had written a letter stating he wanted to “kill the feminists who have always ruined my life,” a letter that was censured by security forces. Worse still: the day after this tragic event, many journalists put the blame on feminism itself. 
As early as the next day, on talk shows men claimed to “understand” the killer, though they condemned his actions. Jean-Claude Leclerc from Le Devoir purported that the changes brought about by the feminist movement “has created male victims” (Le Devoir, December 11, 1989); F. M. Christensen denounced the alleged tendency of “extremist” feminism to hate men (Globe and Mail, May 19, 1990); and Marcel Adam added that “experts have noted that in recent years, feminism has led to many acts of violence against women, especially in the States. How could it be otherwise?” (La Press, December 9, 1989).  
Morbid, but true. A man kills 14 women in name of hatred and it’s those who defend women who are put in the prisoners’ dock. In terms of victim-persecutor reversal, it doesn’t get much worse. Even today, at every commemoration of the event, journalists in Quebec are quick to remind us that it was an “isolated incident”, “non-political” and carried out by a “crazed gunman”, etc. Obviously, statesmen could not find material to exploit this tragedy for their own purposes.
A few years later, when Richard Henri Bain tried to take the life of the former Quebec premier Pauline Marois and killed stage technician Denis Blanchette, we were told about an act of a “lover of Canada with a troubled soul” and an “admirer of Céline Dion” (La Press, September 5, 2012) and the Coalition Avenir Quebec, like many media outlets, claimed it was a “deplorable incident” (Radio Canada, September 5, 2012). Several days later, the CJAD station in Montreal gave airtime to the “primary suspect” when they presented his “vision for Montreal” (La press, September 5, 2012). The Conservative Party of Quebec would even so far as to suggest that “Marois should take the blame for this incident” (La Press, September 5, 2012). 
Hardly anyone—with the exception of the sharp and sagacious Claude Poirier—spoke of “terrorism” and even less of “federalist” terrorism or “Canadian”.
This is obviously not the “analysis” that is oozing from our screens and staining our fingers concerning the attacks in Saint-Jean sur Richelieu and the parliament. The acts had barely taken place when conservative ministers started talking about an “Islamic” attack. What is troubling is that the RCMP appears to have confirmed this “fact” to the conservative party before confirming it to the public. And don’t forget our honourable premier Couillard, who was already talking about an attack instigated by the group “Islamic State” only a few hours after the event (JdeM, October 21, 2014).
Talk, even from journalists, is about “objectives”, of an “Islamic attack” and “terrorism”. The charismatic Gilles Duceppe even wanted to “bring to justice anyone who supports the Islamic State” (JdeM, October 21, 2014). The charming Denise Bombardier affirms that “Yesterday, Saint-Jean-sur-Richlieu became the vestibule of Quebecois caliphate” (JdeM, October 21, 2014). And the ever popular Daniel Girard argues that the “terrorist is close to home” (JdeM, October 20, 2014).
Lépine’s murders were beyond redemption. The one committed by Bain was disturbing for the Canadian Confederation and had to be subdued. Meanwhile, the attacks committed two days ago are different, convenient in fact.
Like Pavlov’s dogs responding to the bells of propaganda, journalists and belligerent politicians mark the four corners of the public arena by pissing the usual drool of security over our sheer inability to grasp this level of extreme violence. They take advantage of death and of the fear of death to advance their security, military and colonial agendas. Incapable of considering that this violence represents an asymmetric response to their arrogance, to their self-seeking politics and imperialism, they are constantly setting the stage for its renewal. 
Bellicose politicians want war, they want terrorism. These attacks, even when committed by home-grown citizens, allow them to bomb a country situated thousands of kilometres away.
War begets terrorism begets…war. We must resist the cries of resentment and fear that will only lead us to perpetuate a never-ending loop. This is our only hope to finally live in peace. 

(Translated by Nisha Coleman)
 

Friday, 26 September 2014

The Unfortunate Incident with the Hash Cupcake

To be fair, I knew there was hash in the cupcake. But I was just so hungry. And also curious.


Let's back up a little. I was 17 and living in rural Muskoka, Ontario. My boyfriend at the time lived 15 km away in a house all by himself (his older siblings had moved out and his mother had taken his younger sister to live in the States). As you might imagine, a 17-year-old with a three bedroom house to himself can lead to a variety of interesting scenarios. It was basically like youth drop-in centre but with no rules and no adult supervision. You never knew what you'd find.

One Saturday I biked over there, and as I walked through the front door, I noticed two unusual situations. One was that the house was filled, floor to ceiling, with high-grade marijuana. Now, I'm no connoisseur. I didn't even smoke pot, but something about the sharpness of the odour and the tight, dark buds indicated that this was good shit. The other thing I couldn't help but notice was that the kitchen had been transformed into a chemistry lab. Funnels, boiling liquids, strainers and tubes. On the counter, in amongst the science equipment, was a bag of flour, eggs, milk and cocoa powder.

My boyfriend and his best friend (let's call him Luke) peered at me through their safety goggles. "Hey!" they grinned. "Check it out! We're making hash cupcakes."

Of course I wondered where the mother load of pot had come from, how they knew how to make hash (pre-Google!) and where they had scored the science equipment, but I knew better than to ask. They were resourceful dudes. So I went outside with the cat and read my novel for English class.

The following Monday, at lunch hour, there was a small crowd in the parking lot outside of our high school. At the centre were the new science/culinary stars displaying their wares.

"Here," Luke put a huge chocolate cupcake in my hand.

Let me say here that I had been in a habit of going to bed terribly late. I slept in my clothes so that I could rise at the last second and walk out the door to catch the bus. This was no city bus. This was a big yellow school bus that came past our house only once, so if you weren't on it, you didn't go to school. This technique did not allow time to eat breakfast or prepare a lunch, so by the time noon rolled around, I was starving. This is the main reason I could not resist the giant chocolate cupcake placed in my hand. The other reason is one that often gets me into trouble: curiosity. I ate the cupcake while Luke watched with a look of glee and pride, and as I took the last few bites, concern.

"There was a lot of hash in there," he said when I had finished. Then the bell rang. 

My first class was Shakespeare. For the first 20 minutes or so, things were normal. We were studying Richard III and as we often did in class, students were chosen to read the parts aloud. Luckily I was not selected and could simply follow along. This started out fine, but the longer it went on, the more ridiculous the text became. The whole play was suddenly a comedy, each line more hilarious than the next. I put my head down on the desk and began to laugh silently into my sleeve.

Then one of the students read, "Mine eyes!" and my laugher roared forth uncontrollably.

"Nisha!"

The teacher was shocked. I was the quiet, studious one. I'd never caused any problems before. Ever. She stared at me with a blend of horror and confusion, as if she'd just witnessed a bunny feeding on a bloody carcass. This kind of stuff just wasn't supposed to happen.

I put my head down on the desk and tried to control myself. My brain ached from the effort and things were starting to get weird. My body hummed and I felt increasingly detached from the classroom, from the school even, as if I was slowly floating away. But the punch lines kept coming:

Alack, my lord!

O excellent device! make a sop of him!

Toucht you the bastardy of Edward's children?

Suddenly I was aware that I had been laughing wildly and that the class was silent anew and the teacher's eyes once again focused in my direction.

"If you can't stop, Nisha, you'll have to leave."

The look on her face was more wistful than angry, as if mourning her once tame and serious student.

"I'm sorry!" I half laughed half yelled. I put my head back down on my desk and concentrated on breathing until the bell rang. Then I got the hell out of there.

How I remembered the combination of my locker or knew where my next class was, I'm not sure. I was flying, too high to even know that I was high. I jostled through the hall amongst the hundreds of other teenagers. Like a leaf dropped into rapids, I was at the mercy of the flow and movement of my surroundings. I could focus on nothing. It was a chaotic mess of bodies and smells and sound. I do not know how I made it to my next class.

Luckily for me, it was drama with an exceptionally lenient teacher. The class that day was devoted to presentations, so all I had to do was try to stay quiet. That I was supine in the centre of the classroom did not seem to alarm anybody.

I wasn't laughing anymore, though. Things had gotten a lot more serious. The guy presenting, who in everyday life was a normal, nice looking boy, now looked like this:


I covered my eyes and hoped it would go away, but when I looked back, he remained unchanged. Other classmates started to transform into robots. Worse than their hard emotionless shells was the fact that they were controlled by a central force, a highly intelligent but entirely indifferent force. It controlled everything from what people said to the simple scratching of an itch.

Then my hearing got ultra sensitive, so much so that I could hear the beating of each classmate's heart. The pounding got louder and louder, the offbeat thuds assaulting my ear drums. I could hear everything: swallowing, shifting, scratching. And none of these movements carried out by freewill. Every minute gesture was controlled by the force. Life, I now knew, was meaningless.

I had to get out of there. I think I just got up and left, walking swiftly to avoid contact with the robots. I left the school and walked into town. All the cars that passed by were also controlled by the force. Everyone I saw on the street were robots, mere empty shells going through motions as if asleep. I took refuge in the Huntsville Public Library. Feeling a bit more secure now that I was surrounded by books, I went to one of the couches at the back and promptly passed out.

Since then, I've noticed similar concepts portrayed in popular culture. The zombies on Dawn of the Dead. The borgs on Star Trek. Shopping centres, especially around Christmas time will illicit the same sense of horror for me. What is it exactly? This sinking feeling that it's all for nothing. That we're all running around in useless circles with no true, meaningful purpose. It's no coincidence that the human psyche is so stuck on zombies and robots. Maybe our ultimate fear is not that we succumb to some dark force, but that there is no light or dark. It's all just grey, indifferent matter. The fear of nothing.

A few nights after the cupcake incident, back at my boyfriend's place, I sat on his bed and told him all about the robots and the central intelligence force and how it had seemed like were all just mindless beings, unconsciously going through life with no deeper purpose. He listened patiently, his smile, as it often was, a sort of empathetic smirk.

When I had finished he put his hand on my knee. "Welcome to the dark side," he said. 



Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Confessions of a Lazy Vegan

When I have to describe myself, lazy is not an adjective that typically comes to the top of my list. Unless, of course, we're talking about cooking. In the kitchen, I am a hopeless case. I eat combinations I am embarrassed to describe, let alone serve to others.

Alone, a perfectly acceptable dinner might be a bowl of cereal, a flabby carrot, a handful of olives and an apple. Not exactly something you would serve at a dinner party.

It isn't that I can't cook. I just can't muster the energy to cook if it's just for me. If invited to a potluck or cooking for somone I care about, I'll pour over recipes, make a purposeful grocery run and happily spend hours preparing. Without this incentive, however, I'll wait 'til I'm hungry enough to eat whatever random morsels remain in the fridge and cupboards, and when those dwindle, I'll reluctantly head out to a grocery store where I circle about aimlessly, uninspired and anxious at the overwhelming choice and my stark ambivalence. If those fortified bowls of mush featured on The Matrix were available, I'd be an avid consumer.

Many people take pictures of their meals and post them proudly on Facebook and other social media sites. I once tweeted a picture of my meal because it was striking in its sheer pathetic-ness.


Yes, that is a plain bowl of lettuce.

It's not that I don't hold nutrition highly. It's just that my laziness trumps everything else. I don't eat processed food or--heaven forbid--fast food. The things I eat are technically "healthy." They are just poorly arranged, with little to no thought. I justify my shoddy habits by the fact that the soy milk is fortified, that all the toast I eat is from whole, organic bread, and a bowl of lettuce might be pathetic, but no one could argue that it was harmful. Once in a while I'll make some big thing, then eat it for every meal, like the time I had steamed cauliflower and baked beans for a week (please, for the love of the sweet baby jesus, never do this!).

Recently, my laziness reached a new low. I was subsisting on coffee and fruit and seriously considering mono-fruitarianism. Then my friend Jessie gave me a new cast iron pan, which inspired me to curb my poor eating habits. At least a little bit. I decided to try an exercise: plan, shop for and prepare a meal. A real meal. Just for me. The idea made me very uncomfortable, which seemed like even more of a reason to go through with it.

I decided on dal and coconut rice. I made a list of ingredients, but as soon as I entered the grocery store, a familiar feeling overtook me. Annoyance, ambivalence, fatigue. Why cook when I could just have a Clif bar, a pile of spinach and an apple? It would save so much time! It would be so much easier!

Fighting the urge to bail, I quickly sought out lentils, rice, coconut, onions and ginger and got out of there. Upon returning home, before I even realized what I was doing, I had texted a friend to come over for dinner, nearly sabotaging my plan. As it turned out he was busy, so I made my way, albeit reluctantly, to the kitchen.

Why is it so hard to cook for myself? Why am I such a lazy vegan? I don't know, but the effort required was epic. The cutting of the onions arduous. The mincing of the garlic and ginger enraging. The constant stirring exhausting.

But a meal was made. And it was alright. Not picture worthy, really, but here it is:


It's a small step on the path of becoming an un-lazy vegan. My next challenge? A tweetable, facebookable, instagramable, pinterestable meal. Nothing too complicated, though. Baby steps. 

Recipes welcome!



Thursday, 7 August 2014

It's Over: Reflections of a Rookie Geriatric Tree Planter

After age 30 or so, most people stop doing things they are bad at. They also tend to stop trying new things for the simple reason that trying something new requires that you pass through a time when you suck, and sucking at something isn't fun.

In May I began a new job as a tree planter. I knew it would be hard. I knew I would suck at first. I knew I wouldn't get rich. But I also knew that I would improve, would make some money, and at the very least, I knew it would be an experience. That, at least, was guaranteed.

Hard. Writing the word is one thing. Living it is something else entirely. At first I couldn't believe that anyone could ask such a thing of their body. It didn't seem right. Something so physical and so unnatural as bending in half, over and over. Throwing the shovel again and again. I kept glancing into the distance, watching my crew members as they performed the motion repeatedly, without pause. Then I'd hear their numbers. 2K. 3K. How did they manage? It didn't seem possible. But it had to be. They were doing it; I had to as well.



And before long, the unthinkable became normal.

I threw the shovel all day, forcing the earth to open its dusty mouth so I could stuff a spruce inside. I ate with the voracity of a teenaged boy. I devoured donuts and wine gums and ice cream and felt my metabolism sear the calories like water on a woodstove. I ate enough sugar to render at least two adults diabetic. I watched my hands become swollen and calloused, sometimes bloody, always filthy. My muscles swelled. I tossed ferociously at night, dreaming of planting the motel room, and woke up repeatedly with aching muscles and joints. I learned to prioritize the morning tasks. Lacing my boots and cleaning the sleep out of my eyes could be done in the truck. As could breakfast and coffee, as my friend and co-worker Mel often demonstrated. Anything to gain a few minutes more of slumber.


Each morning drive, I fought anxiety induced nausea and each evening drive I was overcome with elation.

I hate this! I love this! I hate this! I love this!

We careened sideways through muddy logging roads. We piled onto the quad, holding on with one hand, boots dangling over the side. We planted through pouring rain, lightning, heat waves and snow, urging our bodies to adapt, willing our muscles to comply. We stumbled and fell daily, over logs or sticks or rocks. We urinated wherever, whenever. We got sun-fucked, snow-fucked, hail-fucked and rain-fucked. We tangoed with heat exhaustion and hypothermia. We were massacred by black flies and mosquitoes. Harassed by horseflies and deerflies. We got our eyes poked, smashed our shins with our shovels and drained our bodies of electrolytes.

To avoid unpleasant surprises, I learned to expect all horrors from a new piece of land. When it surpassed my imagination, I cried or sang or both. I swore, threw branches and kicked at rocks and roots. I growled. I begged. I sobbed. And I grew obsessed with trees--first planting them perfectly and then planting them faster. Always faster. And yet I was always the slowest. The rookie. The one who had trees left in her bag at the end of the day. The one with the most improving to do.


All nice land is alike. Each shitty land is shitty in its own way. 

On days off, we gorged on diuretics: coffees, beer, more coffees, more beer. At the planters' party I dropped acid and danced under the pouring rain to the DJ's steady beat. We baked cakes on motel beds. Ate supper sprawled on the floor in front of a Seinfeld episode. We longed for massages but lacked the energy to give them. We passed out before every sunset, stomachs groaning as we slept. 

I learned to skim above my thoughts and emotions as if surfing a wave, observing the stuff underneath the surface but with no direct contact. If I were to allow myself to feel these moments fully, I'd have been pulled under. I'd have drowned. I wouldn't have been able to set my alarm each night. To pull back the covers each morning and do it all again. It would have been too much. Far too much.

The planting season is a bit like being suspended on a slingshot. Time becomes something else, as life is on hold. Months go by. And then, one day, WHAM. The trees are done. It's over. Your foreman gets you a 60 of whisky to pass around and the next morning, the people you shared everything with are gone. You return to the life you had. Sort of. You become the person you were. Sort of.

So, would you go back? Everyone asks the rookie.

And in spite of myself, in spite of it all, I find myself saying yes. I'd go back. Absolutely I would.










Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Adventures in a 1990 V40 Volvo: An Exercise in Reframing

It was July 16, and I woke up with that signature tingle that marks the anniversary of one's first breath. The plan for the day was simple. My roommate Danika and I were to drive from Williams Lake, where we had been tree planting, to Kamloops, where we would resume planting. Her vehicle? A 1990 burgundy V40 Volvo called Victor.


A heat wave had been pummelling the province with record breaking temperatures and Victor had little to offer in the way of relief. Every 10 minutes or so we'd roll down the window to allow a blow dryer-like wind to blast our faces. I rarely sweat, but perspiration was seriously pooling that day.

We were two thirds of the way to our destination when the engine suddenly lost power.

"Shit," Danika said. "I think Victor is over-heating."

We coasted onto the shoulder and waited for 10 minutes, hoping it would cool down and we could resume our travels.

It's worth mentioning at this point that we were on a narrow, winding highway that featured large transports, steep cliffs over looking the Fraser River on one side and rock cuts on the other. You can't just pull over anywhere. Luckily, we were able to coast into a safe area. Since there was no cell service and we weren't sure about the nature of the car trouble, we crossed the highway and climbed up a steep crumbling hillside with cacti and sage bushes. No cell service awaited us at the top, just this view:


So we resumed driving. Before long, Victor lost his chi again. This time we coasted over to an abandoned fruit stand, helped ourselves to some plastic chairs and sat in the shade. At this point, the temperature was well into the 40s. The sun was unforgiving and we had just one jug of water that was now as hot as tea.


Still no cell service, so after 20 minutes we set off again. This time Victor lost consciousness in a more precarious place, on a turn between two steep hills. Luckily the highway widened out with a passing lane, so we were able to avoid collision as we pulled onto the narrow shoulder. The situation was clearly unsustainable, however. Using the one shaky bar of cell service, Danika called CAA and we were assured a tow truck would be summoned.

We waited on the side of the dusty highway in the sun as transports whizzed passed us and occasionally a helpful man stopped to ask if we were OK. We'd peer wearily into their AC chilled interior and say, "Yes, we'll be fine. A tow truck is on its way."

But where was this tow truck?

After an hour, Danika called the CAA again and was told that the tow truck was out of cell and radio range and had not yet been notified of our situation. We'd have to wait. We sat on the trunk of her car and continued to bake as transports barrelled past, causing Victor to shudder.

"So is this the worst birthday you've ever had?"

"No way," I said. "We're together at least. And it's a sort of adventure."

And here's the thing about reframing: as soon as you start spinning a shitty situation into something positive, it gets easier and easier. Suddenly I could think of all kinds of reasons to be grateful:

- It was unbearably hot, but at least we weren't planting
- Nice and generous people were stopping to see if we were OK
- Extreme situations allows for deeper discussion and bonding

Suddenly things weren't so bad anymore.


And then the tow truck arrived.


And we were whisked the remaining hour and a half to Kamloops. The sky was smoky from all the surrounding forest fires, giving the parched land an apocalyptic feel. Our driver pointed out where all the local lunatics lived and told us tidbits about the geography of the area. I found myself soaked with gratitude. Not just at being rescued from slowly baking to our deaths, but from the empowerment that comes with the simple but profound realization that nothing is anything but a perspective--something that tree planting has emphasized. Any situation has the potential fall into the worst or best category. The deciding factor is one's mind.

Oh, it's cliché when you spell it out like this. But during those rare moments when your own reality is splayed in your hands, waiting for direction, and you realize you hold the power, there is nothing more satisfying.

Best birthday ever!








Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Example of a Postcard Written by a Geriatric Rookie Tree Planter



Hey mom!
How are you?
Things here are good and getting steadily better.
Being a rookie tree planter is like buying an instrument and joining an orchestra without knowing how to play. You learn as you go. And I’m getting faster, more efficient.  
We see bears almost every day, usually from the truck. A few weeks ago I learned how to smoke pot out of an apple. It made the shale and brambles bearable. The bugs are obscene. Even my bug bites have bug bites. 
In a few days there will be a gigantic party here marking the end of the spring trees and the start of the summer trees. With copious amounts of drugs (I am told). I haven’t decided whether to experiment or remain sober for observational purposes. Such bashes are said to be truly epic. 
Tree planting is really tough, but the other night I had a dream that the season ended early and I was sincerely disappointed. So maybe it’s not so bad after all, eh?
Love you! Talk soon,
Nisha

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Mosquitoes are Smart. Black flies are Dumb. Both are Terrible.


I grew up in a swamp. I know black flies. I know mosquitoes. But tree planting has allowed for an involved, on-site research opportunity to confirm what I have always suspected to be true: mosquitoes are methodological and clever whereas black flies are simple-minded insects with little to no thought process.
Mosquitoes are cunning and careful. They insert their stinger with the precision and the professionalism of a physician. They take their time. They go for the veins.



Mosquitoes work in organized structures and use tactics to maximize blood yield. For example, if they happen upon a dude doing some gardening, it would not be advantageous to swarm the poor bastard as he is more likely to get frustrated and either retire inside or apply a poisonous concoction. In such a case, the mosquito swarm team would use a different technique. They might hang out in the tree line, sending out only a carefully calculated amount of frontrunners to assess the scene. If the gardener appears tolerant enough, they’ll send more, but gradually so as not to push his threshold too much too quickly. If, however, the victim is swatting and cussing, they’ll hold off until their compatriots have been executed, at which time they will be replaced.
Indoors, mosquitoes take their time. They hang out on the ceilings and walls, waiting. Then, one by one, they descend, hover above their victim until they have selected an optimum target spot. They are tidy and leave their victim with almost no trace (until the itchy welt a few hours later).
Black flies, on the other hand, don’t possess a scrap of intelligence. Their sole technique seems to be a sort of cluster-fuck blood feast. Each one for themselves, driving their victims either indoors or insane.
Black flies are sloppy. You reach behind your neck in a black fly infested area and your hand comes back bloody. They are impulsive, like starved vampires, mowing on their victims with wild urgency. And indoors, while the mosquito simply adapts to the new environment and changes tactics, black flies forget their ultimate purpose and can be found clinging to windows, confused and desperate.
Now imagine a group of tree planters working out in the middle of nowhere with a job to do and no chance of escape. The bugs get excited. This is their chance to flourish! The mosquitoes engage in a frenzied blitz, sending out all team members at once, and when they discover the optimum spot of penetration, the information is quickly shared, resulting in repeat injection sites.
Black flies use their usual (only) technique of flying at full speed and dive-bombing their victim with very little precision. They fly up noses, down throats, into eyes. Inevitably many of them succeed in extracting the blood nectar they so desire. The tree planter, who is busy tending to the trees and is no match for the swarms, ends up looking like they lost a fight at the end of the day.


In conclusion, mosquitoes are of superior intelligence, with their tactics, patience and precise injection practice. Black flies are stupid, lack reasoning skills and attention to detail, but with their sheer number and exuberance they can really fuck you up.