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Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
Home country: Canada
Current location: Toronto, Ontario
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 04:34 PM
Number of posts: 2,851

Journal Archives

See how they happy they are while repressing people?


Students from Northwestern College share why they are voting yes tomorrow for Minnesota's amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

They look so earnest and happy in their belief and faith. They don't even think of it in terms of people or rights, only their faith and belief. They don't even think of it in terms of personal belief, only that it is unerringly right because it is their belief.

Look at them! They don't look angry or hateful, but they're still repressing people. They're holding one group down for absolutely no benefit to themselves, just because they believe it's the right thing to do. They'll cling to that belief and when the votes are tallied, they won't even ponder the term "Tyranny of the Majority."

I don't even know what to say about these young people. They have been told in no uncertain terms that they are doing the right thing, and they are totally incapable of examining that faith. It makes me so sad to see those smiling faces while invisibly behind them, gay kids are killing themselves because of bullying, because they're being told the same things that these smiling, earnest kids are being told...

U.S. election — It’s all over but for the rage

Here's a very interested article on the upcoming aftermath of one of the most surreal and absurd election campaigns ever. The point of view here is from a Canadian newspaper watching from nearby, but not inside. It really does describe the campaign in terms of the craziness that has led us up to now:

But the message-saturated United States, it seems, is tuning out — minds made up, desperate for the longest, ugliest, most expensive, most lie-infested campaign ever to just curl up and die.

The crowds have thinned on both sides as the candidates go wearily through the motions, a mark of mutually stalled momentum, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Get Out The Vote is becoming Get Off My Television.

That doesn’t mean they don’t care. Far from it. On Wednesday morning, there will be rage.

Rage from Team Romney and the millions behind it, many of whom despise Obama in ways that defy description. Or rage from Team Obama’s half of the country, which will declare the White House bought and paid for by the former Massachusetts governor’s billionaire backers.

“We saw two honourable men absolutely pollute themselves in desperation to be president or remain president. Two serious, intelligent, previously honourable men who told untruths, changed their positions, refused to talk about many of the most serious issues we face, instead following advice of apparatchiks — Mad Men, really — who said tying themselves in intellectual and moral knots was the way to win.”

As a media experience, it all began much more enjoyably, observes Robert Thompson, the founding director of Syracuse University’s Bleier Centre for Television and Popular Culture.

“It did get terribly ugly. But before that the Republican primary race enjoyed a life of its own for sheer entertainment value. Whether it was Herman Cain unable to remember what Libya was or (Texas Gov.) Rick Perry freezing up trying to list one of the three parts of government he would eliminate, the country couldn’t get enough,” Thompson said.

“You didn’t need Saturday Night Live to satirize it. The comedy was built in to the real thing.”

I certainly don't agree with everything he says. He indicates at the end that it may not make a whole lot of difference who gets elected (I do not believe that). It certainly doesn't make as much difference as the fringes on both sides believe it will.

Read the article here:

Stop looking small, focus on the big picture!

To some extent, we're looking at a few of the same struggles here in Canada that you are facing in the United States. However, we are not in an election year right now, so a lot of us up here are watching how the wind blows in the USA right now, to see what's going to become of our biggest trade partner, and our closest neighbour.

Sometimes it seems so futile. It feels like progressives in the USA and North America are fighting a horribly lopsided uphill battle to win hearts and minds, but who are we really fighting against? The people we're fighting against believe that what they're doing is right, but why? How do the myths about government remain propagated?

It's extremely complicated, which makes it hard to talk about in any meaningful way. Are huge corporations to blame? Yes. Are the wealthy owners of those corporations who outsource and downsize to maintain the bottom line to blame? Yes. Is the media to blame? Yes. Are we to blame? Yes.

Wait... what? We need to stop, slow down and look at what's being fed to us. These discussion boards are a good example. We're so busy jumping on every little mistake that a candidate makes (moaning about an Obama misstep and crowing over a Romney misstep) that we're missing the big picture. The small things like what the pundits on Fox think, or Rush Limbaugh's latest calamity are the birdie.

And we're watching the birdie.

In the mean time, corporations are buying and selling our lives using politicians as puppets. We can't even have a meaningful discussion without some of the basic assumptions we've been working with changing drastically. For example:

The government should be run like a business. A successful businessman would be a successful president and lead to a successful country. Except... no.

Here's an article from Forbes:
And one from policymic.com:

The right can argue until they're blue in the face that the problem with government is that it's not run more like a business, but that will never make it true. But this is one of the basic assumptions in many discussions. It needs to be broken down, and we need to be able to actively and intelligently say "No. And here's why..."

Another example:

Taxes are socialist, and lower taxes will allow "job creators" to create jobs. But... also no.

An interesting explanation at HowStuffWorks:

When taxes on corporations and the rich are essentially gone, and there are still no jobs, the fix is in. In countries with far higher tax rates, there are effective and functioning social safety nets. This one goes hand in hand with the profit assumption from the first example. Are social programs profitable? Of course not. Should they be? Of course not.

The Tea Party and many of the regressive policies of the current crop of republicans are in place to break down the relationships between people and encourage everyone to look out for number one. The social contract is breaking down entirely. Everyone's out for their own interests, even if those interests are at the expense of the common good or society at large. Devotees of Ayn Rand are pouring toxic sludge into the mental environment, and we need to work our absolute hardest to clean it out.

Sorry, this was long, rambling, and possible incoherent and directionless. I just needed to get some of this off my chest. We can't allow ourselves to be distracted by the birdies that are going to always be shoved in our faces. Educate yourself. Make sure that everything you say is backed up in fact. As you know, reality has a strong left-wing bias!

George Orwell

It reminds me of 1984 in a big way.

Now, I know people throw "Orwellian" around a lot, and half of them have absolutely no idea what it means. And what they're usually missing is the bit of speech from O'Brien near the end of the novel. Big Brother and The Party don't want power as a means to an end, they want power as the end.

The GOP has completely trained their followers that power is the end, not the means. It's far more important that their guy is in the White House instead of the other guy, even if they -hate- their guy.

My in-laws live in Houston (I'm Canadian). I was in Houston just before W got elected for the second time. I had the opportunity to ask a bunch of people why they'd be voting for W. Most of them -hated- W, but their answer was always the same: It's better than the alternative. They didn't mean Kerry, of course, they just meant "the other guy." It could have been a cross between Jesus and Einstein, but if he had a D after his name, better to have our guy in there.

This is the defining quotation from 1984:

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?

It has nothing to do with constant surveillance or freedom of speech or starting false wars. Those are all just symptoms. Those are just the ACTIONS that are taken in order to reach the GOAL, which is power.

I paid the fifth lowest tax burden in the world but all I got was this lousy infrastructure.

Despite so many in the US believing that Canada is a "socialist" haven of high taxes (repeatedly reported by the RW in the US), it turns out that major Canadian cities have a lower tax burden than US major cities.

The article in The Toronto Standard:
is a little slim on details, but it does link to the original study in .pdf format, as well as the Forbes article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2012/09/25/the-most-tax-friendly-country-in-the-world-is-spoiler-alert-its-not-the-u-s/
that gives a lot more detail.

Despite Canada's reputation as a heavily taxed country, it is apparently #2 in the world based on overall tax burden, with the following methodology:

The accounting giant conducted a major study of the general tax competitiveness of fourteen countries with an emphasis on the climate in 55 major international cities. The study took into consideration the relative corporate income tax, capital tax, sales tax, property tax and miscellaneous local business tax burdens of those countries, along with the statutory labor costs.

With India taking the #1 spot, and the USA coming in at #8, it puts things into a business perspective for the US.

One of the many ways we're screwed.

This news is a little old, but this is the first I've heard about it. It's hard to believe that this could happen, but... then again, it's not so hard to believe.

Here's the story:

To paraphrase, a brokerage employee during a drunken blackout state traded so much money on oil futures that it changed the price of oil globally. One man, while incoherently drunk.

Some excerpts (emphasis mine):
It was 7.45am on June 30 last year when the senior, longstanding broker for PVM Oil Futures was contacted by an admin clerk querying why he'd bought 7m barrels of crude in the middle of the night.

By 10am it emerged that Mr Perkins had single-handedly moved the global price of oil to an eight-month high during a "drunken blackout". Prices leapt by more than $1.50 a barrel in under half an hour at around 2am – the kind of sharp swing caused by events of geo-political significance. Ten times the usual volume of futures contracts changed hands in just one hour.

By the time PVM realised the trades were not authorised and swiftly began to unwind the positions, losses of exactly $9,763,252 had stacked up.

Mr Perkins' trading stopped for a few hours, but in the early hours of the morning, he returned to the oil market via his laptop. He placed an incredible $520m in orders through ICE Futures Europe, where traders can buy or sell crude oil for future delivery and bet on whether prices will go up or down. The first trade was at 1.22am was at $71.40 per barrel and the last trade at 3.41am was at $73.05. During this period, Mr Perkins gradually edged up the price by bidding higher each time, until he was responsible for 69pc of the global market volume.

Mr Perkins told investigators that he has "limited recollection" of the entire episode, claiming he had placed the trades during a drink-induced stupor.

Having admitted to an alcohol problem and received treatment, Mr Perkins was banned from trading for five years and hit with a £72,000 fine, reduced from £150,000 because of potential financial hardship.

Let's put that into perspective. $1.50 increase on a barrel of oil means that some people had to decide between filling their car to go to work or eating that week. Did people their jobs because they couldn't afford the gas to get to them? Did people die because they couldn't afford oil to heat their homes. This one man pushed oil prices up -globally-.

I'd say he deserves a harsher punishment than what is indicated in the article, but the problem is systemic. Brokers and corporations all have their collective twitchy finger on the same button. But no, they want to be deregulated further. They want no oversight. They want the inmates to run the asylum.

A "die-hard conservative Republican" embraces Universal Health Care

Someone on my Twitter feed just linked me to this article. Really excellent read about someone who comes to the realization that they have been lied to for a long time about how Universal Health Care works. The author describes herself as a "die-hard conservative Republican" several times, who was disgusted by the idea of being under a gov't mandated health plan in Canada.

I'm Canadian, so I can't really speak to her experience in the US system, but having grown up in Canada, and having used the system all my life, her experience with the Canadian system rings true.

Some excerpts:
When I moved to Canada in 2008, I was a die-hard conservative Republican. So when I found out that we were going to be covered by Canada's Universal Health Care, I was somewhat disgusted. This meant we couldn't choose our own health coverage, or even opt out if we wanted too. It also meant that abortion was covered by our taxes, something I had always believed was horrible. I believed based on my politics that government mandated health care was a violation of my freedom.

Fast forward a little past the Canadian births of my third and fourth babies. I had better prenatal care than I had ever had in the States. I came in regularly for appointments to check on my health and my babies' health throughout my pregnancy, and I never had to worry about how much a test cost or how much the blood draw fee was. With my pregnancies in the States, I had limited my checkups to only a handful to keep costs down. When I went in to get the shot I needed because of my negative blood type, it was covered. In fact I got the recommended 2 doses instead of the more risky 1 dose because I didn't have to worry about the expense. I had a wide array of options and flexibility when it came to my birth, and care providers that were more concerned with my health and the health of my baby than how much money they might make based on my birth, or what might impact their reputation best. When health care is universal, Drs are free to recommend and provide the best care for every patient instead of basing their care on what each patient can afford.

The only concern I was left with was the fact that abortion was covered by the universal health care, and I still believed that was wrong. But as I lived there, I began to discover I had been misled in that understanding as well. Abortion wasn't pushed as the only option by virtue of it being covered. It was just one of the options, same as it was in the USA. In fact, the percentage rates of abortion are far lower in Canada than they are in the USA, where abortion is not covered by insurance and is often much harder to get. In 2008 Canada had an abortion rate of 15.2 per 1000 women (In other countries with government health care that number is even lower), and the USA had an abortion rate of 20.8 abortions per 1000 women. And suddenly I could see why that was the case. With Universal coverage, a mother pregnant unexpectedly would still have health care for her pregnancy and birth even if she was unemployed, had to quit her job, or lost her job.

Read the whole story here:

Halifax man pepper-sprays teen over gay slurs


A 39-year-old Halifax man says he used pepper spray on a teenager after she harassed his partner for six weeks.

"I actually pepper-sprayed her," said Christopher Whittle. Whittle spoke with the CBC's Elizabeth Chiu because he wants people to know this was not a random act.

The incident happened last Friday, when Halifax Regional Police said a 14-year-old girl was sprayed with an irritant near the parking lot of the Halifax Shopping Centre.

"This was happening every few days. She was coming and making comments about him being gay, and basically just taunting him for who he was, calling him a faggot, fruit whatever," Whittle said.

Friday, Whittle said he witnessed an incident between the girl and his partner. He said he snapped.

Whittle said he was shocked to find out the person he sprayed was a 14-year-old girl. He said she looks older, and assumed she was a woman.

"I do regret how I handled it. I could have handled it differently. But at the time I guess I was just so upset with everything that had gone on, that's how I reacted."

Police say whatever the reason, there's no excuse to pepper spray anyone.

"They should take other means such as calling police, and allow us to deal with it so they don't find themselves in a position of being charged criminally," said Halifax Const. Brian Palmeter.

The American Dream by the Provocateur Network

Interesting little video I was directed to yesterday. It's definitely worth the 30 minute run time to get through it (though the ending is perhaps a bit needlessly jingoistic).


From the information box on YouTube:

The AMERICAN DREAM is a 30 minute animated film that shows you how you've been scammed by the most basic elements of our government system. All of us Americans strive for the American Dream, and this film shows you why your dream is getting farther and farther away. Do you know how your money is created? Or how banking works? Why did housing prices skyrocket and then plunge? Do you really know what the Federal Reserve System is and how it affects you every single day? THE AMERICAN DREAM takes an entertaining but hard hitting look at how the problems we have today are nothing new, and why leaders throughout our history have warned us and fought against the current type of financial system we have in America today. You will be challenged to investigate some very entrenched and powerful institutions in this nation, and hopefully encouraged to help get our nation back on track.

I was going to put it into the Video & Multimedia section, but it seems a little... conspiracy-theory-ish for that department, at times.

Update: Here's a good review of the video, indicating some of its shortfalls. I did notice the absence of Glass-Steagall in the video, etc...

(Canada) Enbridge deletes islands to push pipeline

Canadian energy giant Enbridge wants to put an oil pipeline/tanker route from the already dubious tar sands through waterways and rainforest to move oil. Seem dangerous? Well, in order to make it seem -less- dangerous, Enbridge had 1000 square kilometers of islands deleted from a map in both images and a video showing the project, in order to make it look more appealing.

Enbridge has been in the news a lot lately due to terrible pipeline oil spills like this:

but this latest move just seems that much more offensive, because it assumes that all the people involved are stupid. From the article in the Vancouver Sun:

About 1,000 square kilometres of islands have disappeared from Douglas Channel in an animated depiction of Enbridge Inc.'s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker route.

The project would send bitumen by pipeline from Alberta's oilsands to Kitimat, where it would be loaded onto tankers for export to Asia.

A video on the Enbridge website shows Douglas Channel as a wide open funnel leading from Kitimat to the Pacific, omitting the narrow channels, islands and rocky outcrops that make up the potential tanker access route.

The view of Douglas Channel sprang to public attention after Lori Waters, a Vancouver Island researcher and owner of a biomedical communications company, created overlays and maps showing the real Douglas Channel and posted the images on Facebook.

Enbridge is a dirty, polluting, unsafe company, and is lying through their teeth to get us to just buck up and let them do what they want, and damn the torpedoes. Here are links to some of the relevant sources and resources:

Vancouver Sun article:
Sum Of Us blog post with the images:
The website of Enbridge itself:
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