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Gender: Male
Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
Home country: Canada
Current location: Toronto, Ontario
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 04:34 PM
Number of posts: 3,012

Journal Archives

Black Friday Revealed How Poor Americans Really Are

From Business Insider:

After weeks of declining gas prices, many analysts predicted the biggest holiday season ever. Industry groups like the National Retail Federation reasoned that Americans would use their fuel savings on gifts.

Despite encouraging forecasts, Black Friday weekend sales were down 11%. Cyber Monday sales rose 8%, falling short of many predictions.

So where are the customers?

They're probably broke, according to some analysts and executives.

It's almost like not paying people enough might have no positive effect on the overall economy afterall. Turns out that consumers are the real job creators. Who knew?! (oh right, lots of people)

Read the whole thing here: http://www.businessinsider.com/black-friday-revealed-how-poor-americans-really-are-2014-12#ixzz3KqD2cFZ7

Want to know what #gamergate is really all about?

Here's an excellent discussion on the topic starting from base assumptions and building up from there:


At its root, the #gamergate controversy is about sexism and homo/transphobia that is so engrained in the gamer culture that it has become a base assumption of the gamers involved. The apologists and defenders who claim it is about ethics and journalistic integrity see no dichotomy between those statements and the idea of harassing, exposing, doxxing, or threatening women, gays, trans, and their allies in order to silence them.

Perhaps the most important thing in this video is where he says that even though it may be a small minority that is involved in these activities, all of the apologists benefit from the environment created by those violent and harassing activities.

So, if you've been curious about what #gamergate is really all about, this is an amazing summary.

What's really going on here?

There's been a larger-than-usual amount of vitriol being spewed around here lately, combined with a stronger and stronger us-vs-them mentality within the left. What's going on? What's happening here? A couple of things, as I see it:

Among progressives and liberals, our best attribute is also a weakness, not a strength. Part of what makes progressives progressive is that we're all progressive in different ways. We've all got our pet causes and we're trying to improve things for everyone. This is laudable, but is also a weakness. When you face an opponent like the right that maintains rigid ideological purity, a movement that doesn't have one head or one direction seems like an unfocused mob. The difficulty comes when one group becomes single-mindedly focused on just one issue. It is inevitable that clashes between groups will happen. Sometimes this manifests as the "Social Justice Warriors" who will explode and belittle another group over even the tiniest slight, however unintentional. Please, use those moments as "teaching moments" and don't attack. And please don't insert your own anecdotes to invalidate others' experience. We all need each other to go forward. I'd love everyone to be a perfect ally, but there aren't any of those.

Also, the left is bad at being in charge. We're very good at looking at leaders in the movement (politicians and civilians both) and seeing what they're doing wrong, but we're very bad at giving them kudos for what they're doing right. In some ways, it's almost as though we feel we don't deserve to be in charge. Honestly, there's not much to be done on this from our side. It's another attribute of the left that I think is important, but also a weakness.

As well, we are listening to the press releases of the other side... and believing them. It's not our fault, really. It comes back to ideological purity. The right has this in spades, and they're always on-message. They're organized and they've got conviction behind what they say, even if (especially if) it is utter bullshit. Sadly, it's easier to believe something that is repeated over and over and over again. It's how human brains work. We may not believe it, but still, that constant repetition induces little dark doubts into our minds. From there, one or two well-placed little trolls here and there can foment the worst kinds of infighting. Pro-Obama, anti-Obama. Pro-Hillary, anti-Hillary. Doesn't matter.

But here's the thing, even if it's a weakness, it's still our best attribute. We need to gather the ragged flag and wave it proudly and say, "Yes! It's ragged and a little threadbare, but it's the best part of me. I want to make things better for everyone. The poor, the dispossessed, women, new immigrants, LGBT, at-risk youth, every colour of the rainbow, EVERYONE!" It makes us hard to love, it makes us hard to find, sometimes, but it makes us who we are. We have to struggle a bit to get by with our weakness, but it makes us stronger, while the right glides by on their most loathsome attribute, their ideological purity. It is by their strength that we will pull them down.

Gordon Lightfoot in 1968

He sang about the 1967 Detroit Race Riots:

Who will sing about Ferguson in 2014?

Americans have no idea where their oil comes from, in one chart

From a story on Vox: http://www.vox.com/2014/4/21/5636522/americans-oil-imports-chart-middle-east-canada

You can hardly blame Americans for believing that the vast majority of our oil imports come from the Middle East. Ever since the 1973 oil crisis, when Middle Eastern countries refused to sell oil to the United States as punishment for backing Israel in that year's Arab-Israeli war, the American political conversation has dominated by calls for "weening ourselves off of MidEast oil." What most Americans don't know is that we've mostly succeeded.

The University of Texas, as part of its annual energy poll, asked Americans where they think US oil comes from. A staggering 58 percent of Americans think that our top source of foreign oil is Saudi Arabia and another 15 percent say it's Iraq nearly three quarters of Americans. Meanwhile, only a tiny share 15 percent of Americans think we get most of our oil imports from Canada or Mexico. But the truth is almost the exact opposite: we get far more oil from our North American neighbors than we do from the Middle East:

Can we talk about a Maximum Wage?

As long as we talk about minimum wage which will never affect the rich CEOs and captains of industry, they'll be able to keep saying how bad of an idea it is. It'll never even touch them in any way. So, what we need to discuss then, is a Maximum Wage.

The CEO of a company can make no more than a certain multiple of the lowest paid employee. Including benefits, stock options, bonuses, etc... the top brass can only make a certain multiple of the lowest wage they're willing to pay.

I suspect that we'll see a couple of things happen. Either the CEOs will start wanting to raise minimum wage to maximize their own salaries, or we'll see companies starting to make bumper profits when they aren't being dragged down by onerous bonuses and CEO salaries.

Just spitballing, here. Until there is something that affects those with the money, nothing will change.

Tories torch and dump centuries of priceless, irreplaceable environmental archives

I'll x-post this to the environment group, too. And General Discussion if people think it's worthwhile.
From BoingBoing:

From the article:
Back in 2012, when Canada's Harper government announced that it would close down national archive sites around the country, they promised that anything that was discarded or sold would be digitized first. But only an insignificant fraction of the archives got scanned, and much of it was simply sent to landfill or burned.

Unsurprisingly, given the Canadian Conservatives' war on the environment, the worst-faring archives were those that related to climate research. The legendary environmental research resources of the St. Andrews Biological Station in St. Andrews, New Brunswick are gone. The Freshwater Institute library in Winnipeg and the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland: gone. Both collections were world-class.

Honestly, this may be some of the worst news I've heard in a long time out of Ottawa. How did they decide that they could do this? How did committee discussion and group action lead to this information being irrevocably lost forever? It's baldly obviously why this is a good idea for the Harper gov't. Without the historical data to put the current environmental conditions in context, it's easy for them to continue to deny global climate change and continue to support the wealthy corporations whose best interests are served by loose and weak environmental regulations.

Time for Harper to leave the house. It would be great to see the Conservatives destroyed as they were in 1993.
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