Posts Tagged ‘politics’

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#cdnpoli

October 6, 2019

Hello my fellow Canadians!  As we travel towards the polls on October the 21st (you are intending to cast a vote, oui?), once again I would like to bring my experience as a current expat to bear and provide some perspective on one of our national political parties, namely the Conservative Party of Canada.  Living as I am right now in a country that, at a federal level, has been pursuing many of the policies of the Conservative Party (or, perhaps more appropriate to say, the Conservative Party has been all to happy to crib from and adopt the policies from down here), I have a close(r) view of the impacts and end results of these policies.

To which should be our focus.  Like all elections, this one is about policy.  It is not about popularity or pageantry, it is about the theories and temperament of governance, the passing of bills, the direction of our laws, the shaping of our systems, and, most importantly, the results thereof.

And the results of the policies and politics favoured by the Conservative party (and their Republican role models) are not great.  In so many ways and by so many measures they have not brought and do not bring what is best for the country, its lands, or most of its people. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Quote of the Day

February 16, 2019

“I saw Activision’s statement about why they “broke up” with Bungie over at GameSpot, but it’s like…  more than seven billion wasn’t “enough” according to the onyx spire they worship.  I don’t think they can be trusted to determine what constitutes enough.

I own a company, I understand that they have to make money, but the top of that organization is completely divorced from every other part of it.  It’s sick in the particular, unaccountable way that is an accelerant to revolution.  The people who generate the wealth they bathe in are so abstract as to be inconceivable.  I have some experience with this; there are people who will pulp you to get a “good year.”  One hesitates to suggest that they serve Evil Gods, you know, far be it from me to make a moral pronouncement, but their purposes are inimical to human flourishing.  The human being, essentially considered fungible and endlessly replaceable in its capacity to generate value, exists nowhere in their calculus.

The parable of the golden goose has endured for a reason, and that is because none of these motherf’rs ever seems to learn it.”

Tycho (from Penny Arcade)

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The poison chronicles

November 29, 2018

“The lack of regulation meant that companies could pretty much put whatever they wanted into food with no fear of being held accountable. “[Food] wasn’t safety tested, because there were no rules requiring that,” says Blum. “It wasn’t labeled because there were no rules requiring that anyone tell you what was in your food. And it wasn’t illegal even if you killed someone.”

Companies were adding copper to vegetables to make them look greener and 20 Mule Team Borax to butter as a preservative—assuming it was butter and not beef tallow or ground-up cow stomach dyed to look like butter. Spices contained things like ground coconut shells, charred rope, brick dust, even floor sweepings. Honey was often little more than dyed corn syrup. The phrase “a muddy cup of coffee” might date back to this era, when ground coffee typically contained dyed sawdust, tree bark, or charred bone, and fake coffee beans were made out of wax and dirt. “I’m especially bitter about this, because I love coffee,” says Blum.

Dairy suppliers were among the worst offenders, adding pureed calf brains to milk to make it look more like rich cream, thinning the milk with water and gelatin, and then adding dyes, chalk, or plaster dust to correct the color. Worst of all, they added formaldehyde—then widely used as an embalming fluid to slow the decomposition of corpses—to milk as a preservative. (The additives were given innocuous names like Rosaline and Preservaline.) Hundreds of children were sickened, and many died, from the tainted milk. Formaldehyde was also used as a preservative in meat.

That was the driving force behind Wiley’s radical “Poison Squad” project. (He actually referred to it as “hygienic table trials”; journalists gave it the more colorful moniker.)  He recruited several young men to be his guinea pigs—all of whom signed waivers—and provided them with three healthy square meals a day. The catch: half of them also were given capsules containing borax, salicylic acid, or formaldehyde. Wiley started with the borax, thinking it would be the safest additive, and was alarmed at how quickly his squad members sickened.

The results convinced Wiley that federal regulation was necessary to protect American citizens from the dangerous and fraudulent practices of food suppliers. Naturally, industry leaders pushed back against Wiley’s proposed legislation. The National Association of Food Manufacturers formed around this time, along with chemical industry manufacturing associations, as companies pooled their resources to oppose the ominous specter of government regulation. They even instituted a smear campaign against Wiley. One trade journal called him “the man who is doing all he can to destroy American business.”

With Roosevelt’s support, Congress finally passed the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.”

— excerpt from this great article at arstechinca

It’s amazing to me that this was just over a hundred years ago.  That until then you had to spend time and effort and worry to check every thing and even with that work could never know for sure if what you were getting was what you thought you were getting and you or others could easily be sickened or maimed or die.

It’s also a great story about the scientific method, of curiosity, of rigour, of courage in the face of opposition, and a commitment to your fellow human beings.

Definitively makes me want to read the book about Dr Wiley.

 

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Shadow Ballot Addendum

October 25, 2018

I want to take a time out here to note something, even for those who are not in California or voting in the upcoming elections in the USA:  Though I post these infrequently, I don’t want to give the impression that only certain elections are important.  Quite the contrary.

They all are.

To that end I implore you all to vote.  In every election.  For every position.  Not just big elections for federal/national governments, but all the way down to your local elections.  Much of what affects your daily lives is decided at the local level.  Or the provincial/state level.  So-called “not important” or “not monumental” election(s) are rarely not important.  Swings of legislatures happen during these times of low turnout, and you may find things going in directions you don’t want them too.  So please vote.

And please remember that “not choosing” is still making a choice.  If you do not vote, or do not vote with thoughtfulness and care, then you are explicitly stating that you are fine with any outcome.  That whatever happens is fine by you.  Implicitly, you are agreeing with what comes.  So please vote.

If you feel your vote doesn’t/won’t matter, please know this:  it does.  There are those who want to convince you that you don’t matter, because it makes their job easier to game the system, stay in power, or bend things to their wishes.  Don’t listen to them.  Recent elections in many countries have been decided by very narrow margins, and unlike in the past many parties no longer interpret that as a signal to govern from the centre.  They push to the edges.  So please vote.

Protest votes rarely turn out for the better.  Avoid them.  Bring thoughtfulness and care to the polling booth.  And please vote.

If you think it will take too long/it’s too confusing to become informed, I invite you to consider that it does not.  Put aside a day.  One day (I usually spend around 6-8 hours researching my shadow ballot).  That’s usually enough to become grounded.  Then you can build from there, little by little until it becomes big.  Also remember the above: there are those who want to convince you it’s too tough, too confusing, you don’t have time, that it’s no fun.  Again, it makes their job easier to bend things to their wishes.  So please vote.

Thank you.

(And if you are in a country where voting is not permitted, or is wracked by violence, or corrupt, then you have my sorrow.  I push for the day when you will have your voice.  Wherever you can and feel safe to do so, even if things are corrupt, there can come great and surprising change when people band together. If you cannot or if things are just not safe, then stay safe and take care of yourself and those around you.)

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My Shadow Ballot

October 25, 2018

And lo, an election approaches.  Here’s my shadow ballot.

“Since I can’t vote, please allow me to tell you how to vote instead…”

(Needless to say, this will be a long post)

Read the rest of this entry ?

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De-framing the Conversation

March 2, 2017

I’m being specific here in saying ‘de-frame’ rather than ‘reframe’ – because I think the conversation has already been reframed in a misleading way, and I want to bring it back to the centre.

So here we go:  Regulations are, most often, about health, safety, and protection.

I’ve been hearing regulations being thrown about as an epithet, some evil force put upon by malicious entities designed to… well, they don’t really say, do they?  They just keep talking about them like they’re evil and bad and must be gotten rid of or else.

Thing is, they didn’t just come out of the blue.  They’re written into law to ensure a civilized and functioning society that is working to keep all people healthy, alive, and free to pursue what they want.  Without being burdened and oppressed by injury, illness, degraded conditions, financial shenanigans, hoodwinks, or a number of other things to have to deal with.  They are there to release us from malicious actors.

This talk about “regulations are the devil” and “if only there weren’t regulations, everything would be glorious golden roses for everyone” is beyond rose-coloured glasses, it’s disingenuous.

There is an intent.  “Don’t frick other people over.”  Few would have issue with that intent (and if you do, well, that’s telling).  We can talk about the most effective way to achieve that intent.  Please!  Let’s have that conversation. Let’s create that more perfect union.

But let’s not get all BS about it and turn the view about regulations into them being some sort of scourge.

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#cdnpoli

February 12, 2017

Hello my fellow Canadians.  Let’s talk election counting systems.  Not because it’s Sunday night, and you need help falling asleep, but because there’s some traction starting to form around reforming our existing First Past the Post (FPTP) elections that occur in each riding across the country.  While the government seems to have shelved election reform for the moment, I wonder if it is because many of us, when asked, were wary about it because we didn’t know the ramifications, and that wariness sounded like disinterest to opinion gatherers.

But there’s some rather glaring issues and downsides to FTPT, and it we can benefit greatly from a different system to determine our MPs.

Fortunately, CGP Grey has us covered with an excellent series of videos that do a great job of breaking down both the pitfalls but also the workings and the boons of three different potential replacements.

Start here with a reflection on how out of whack the FPTP system can be, with a look at the last UK parliamentary election:

Then begin watching the full series here:

It’ll take you less than an hour.

Note that I’m not talking about replacing the concept behind the House of Commons, just altering the process and tally by which each MP gets elected.

The Senate, and how we might use it to be a more beneficial second chamber, is a whole other post.

Note too that I’m not keen on a purely proportional representational system, at least not as the main chamber of parliament, for it has its own, perhaps even worse, issues and failures.

So please, view the videos, and let’s get the conversation started again about reforming our electoral process to phase out FPTP.

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Side note, there are some great footnote videos linked to in the description of the last video, also quite worthwhile checking out: