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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: 899

Journal Archives

Ontario plans to trial universal basic income

Edit: Doh, someone linked me to this, and I totally missed that it was already posted on Breaking News. Sorry.

From the Independent:

Ontario has announced it could soon be sending a monthly cheque to its residents as it plans to launch an experiment testing the basic income concept.

While officials in the Canadian province are yet to release any specific details of the project – including how much will be given to residents who participate – the finance ministry has published a report confirming the government’s intention to roll out the experiment.

Proponents of the idea say it would save on welfare administration costs, reduce the poverty traps of traditional welfare states, be fair to people who have jobs, and give people more autonomy in general.

“As Ontario’s economy grows, the government remains committed to leaving no one behind. Maintaining an effective social safety net is one part of the government’s broader efforts to reduce poverty and ensure inclusion in communities and the economy,” Ontario’s budget statement said.

It added: “The pilot project will test a growing view at home and abroad that basic income could build on the success of minimum wage policies and increases in child benefits by providing more consistent and predictable support in the context of today’s dynamic labour market.

Whole article here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/ontario-to-pilot-a-universal-basic-income-experiment-a6916571.html

Showing up on Twitter right now: #VoteBlueNoMatterWho

Some interesting images showing up, too (I'll link to them to save bandwidth):






Full disclosure, if I could vote in a US election, I'd be feeling the Bern in a big way, but there's no way to pretend that if Hillary got the nom, that Rubio, Paul, Cruz, or Trump would make a better leader. No way at all. Hillary may be more of same, but the alternative is almost totally unconscionable.

Check out the hastag #VoteBlueNoMatterWho and SUPPORT your candidate, don't TEAR DOWN the other. And yes, supporters on both sides are doing it.

From Cracked: Attacking the gun culture with humour:

And a reminder: Don't read the commends.

No, really. Don't read the comments.

New "Stolen" app allows people to "buy and sell" your Twitter without your consent

There's a new app out there that's letting people accrue "social currency" with which to buy and sell people on Twitter, also allowing people to write messages on their profiles, etc...

Gadgette.com has an article about one of their writers discovering the app only after someone had bought her: http://www.gadgette.com/2016/01/13/stolen-app/

As it transpires, it’s from an app called Stolen. I’d never seen it before, was entirely unaware of its existence, and certainly hadn’t opted in. Stolen is a new iOS app that allows you to buy and sell real people’s Twitter accounts as if they were trading cards. Now, before anyone gets too panicky, this doesn’t give you access to their account – it’s more of a bragging rights thing. “I now own @Jack! Yeahh!” – like being the Mayor of somewhere on Foursquare.

Still, it’s tremendously unnerving to have someone tell you out of nowhere that they “own” you now. That your name and likeness is being traded on an app you had no knowledge of and hadn’t given permission to. The whole concept of people being able to own, buy and sell other people without their consent is absolutely abhorrent to us, and raises a slew of problems that it’s clear the team at Stolen haven’t anticipated.

As someone who’s received a fair amount of harassment and trolling over the last few months, I can’t tell you how disquieting it was to see a total stranger’s name plastered across my Twitter account as my “owner.” And worse, once someone buys you, they can write whatever they like on your page, giving you a ‘nickname’, advertising their products, whatever they want. There doesn’t even seem to be a swear filter in place – someone sent us this screenshot of what they were able to write on a company’s account:

Anyone who’s been on the internet for more than five minutes can immediately see the problems with this. Any platform – no matter how well-meaning – will be used to abuse and harass people, and Stolen seems an absolute gift for the trolls of the world. This app allows men to buy women, racists to buy minorities, Gamergate supporters to buy games journalists – and so on and so on.

At the time of writing, Stolen has 40,000 users. Rather than use an opt-in system whereby people can CHOOSE to be traded on the app if they so wish, anyone who signs up automatically adds all the people they follow to the service. So I’d been added without my knowledge or consent, and at the time there was no way of opting out. Stolen has since added one – see our note at the end.

So far it's a closed beta, and you require a code to get in, but the app does not require you to opt in to be bought and sold. There is a page to opt out, but it still requires a Twitter authorization to actually opt out.

Just a heads up, in case anyone suddenly starts seeing notifications that they're bought and sold by strangers.

You don't need to be guilty of anything for the police to ruin your life

From Desmond Cole at the Toronto Star:

In the security state, you're innocent until investigated: Cole
The sad case of Ayaan Farah demonstrates that, in the terrifying surveillance state we live in, you don’t have to commit a crime to be criminalized.

All of us know someone who has been charged with or convicted of a crime. Most of us don’t think this connection could cost us our employment. This is exactly what happened to Ayaan Farah a couple of years ago. She lost her security clearance at Pearson airport, and the job that went with it, after police claimed she had connections to a local gang, and was a potential threat to airline safety.

The RCMP says Farah, now 31, is connected to members of the Dixon Crew street gang in Etobicoke, but won’t name her alleged associates. When Farah couldn’t explain her relationship with people the government would not identify, she lost her livelihood. Her experience shows how racial profiling, carding, and excessive surveillance threaten people who shouldn’t even be on the police’s radar.

The RCMP says two of the three men connected to Farah were passengers in a car leaving the funeral of an alleged gang member in 2014. The car is registered to Farah, but her father is its primary driver. Farah was not in the car when these passengers were spotted. When officials questioned her about the incident, she stumbled to describe an interaction she was not part of. Her hesitation was deemed suspicious and used as evidence against her.

Farah’s father, Mohamed Ali, is a well-respected figure in the Somali-Canadian community. He attends many funerals, and recalls one afternoon in 2014 when he was leaving a funeral, driving the same car identified as carrying “Subject B” and “Subject C,” and was stopped by Toronto police — they never told him why. “They asked me for my license and ownership of the car,” Ali told me in a phone interview — documentation that was later used to ruin his daughter’s career.

Although the RCMP made the security case against Farah, its information seems to have come from Toronto police. Ali’s interaction after the funeral is consistent with the practice of carding, which has targeted black civilians and branded them as either criminals or their associates. “The only thing I have in common with these people is that I’m Somalian, and I used to live in Dixon,” Farah said of her alleged criminal associations.

If the police follow any one of us long enough, they can connect us to crime. The folks they most often choose to follow, document, and share information about — because of race, religion, or social location — are at greatest risk for bad outcomes, even if they are innocent. This is the consequence of racial profiling, carding, and draconian new laws like Bill C-51.

Desmond Cole is really good at seeing the big picture, and tying it all together. His primary concern is young black people in Toronto, but it's part of a bigger pattern, too. Definitely worth a read. I follow Desmond on Twitter, and it's frequently interesting, though sometimes frustrating when idiots start attacking him.

Read the full article here: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2016/01/14/in-the-security-state-youre-innocent-until-investigated-cole.html

A plea to abandon tribalism

I've always said that one of the biggest positive aspects of progressives and liberals is that it's a big umbrella that includes a lot of different people all being progressive and liberal in their own way, pushing and reaching out for their own individual goals. By contrast, the regressive right is all regressive (and oppressive) in the same couple of ways.

Sadly, the best feature of the left and the worst feature of the right are our weakness and their strength, respectively. We get infighting, and they get ideological purity.

But lately, the biggest highlight I've seen in so many political (and other) discussions is an increasing tribalism. An us vs. them attitude that is poisoning the political discourse. The worst thing about it is that this kind of rhetoric strengthens the right while it weakens us on the left, specifically because we have so many diverse and equally valid viewpoints.

In short, things are getting ugly. I'm seeing Bernie supporters and Hillary supporters not just butting heads, but building walls. I'm seeing dog piles, dismissive language, anger, resentment, aggression, and sometimes hatred. Look, people: We're all supposed to be on the same side. Hillary supports obviously support Hillary, and Bernie supporters obviously support Bernie, but can we stop acting like they are the Evil+ and Evil# groups respectively? Name calling, call-outs, it's all just too much, folks.

Hillary's taken a lot of money from big corporations, certainly. Her track record on Wall St. is questionable. Is she qualified for the job of POTUS? Yes.

Bernie's got a very narrow focus in a lot of his campaign. He doesn't have an answer for every issue that's plopped in front of him. Is he qualified for the job of POTUS? Yes.

Please stop pretending that having Hillary in office would be the same as having Trump or Cruz in office. Please stop pretending that having Bernie in office would be like having Ross Perot Lite(tm) in office. We all know, intellectually, that the democratic platform has a lot of different planks. Let the progressive candidates be progressive in their own ways. Let's bring back civilized discourse. You know what's stopping us from engaging in civilized discourse?


There is literally nothing stopping us from deciding that starting now, I will not name-call, I will not tear down, I will not rant and scream and belittle. I will not discount the voices of people different from me who have experiences I will never have. I will not expect perfection from my allies, so long as they are willing to listen, learn, and improve.

Please, please, I beg you: Build up instead of tearing down. More and more in the last few years, I think of former Canadian NDP party leader Jack Layton (tragically taken from us) and his final public statement: My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

This has been rambling and directionless, and I apologize for that, but thank anyone who read this far. Lots going on in my life, and I'm trying to look into 2016 with optimism, but I'm having a hard time. I know it's a bit of a paradigm shift without a clutch, but let's get in gear, can we?

Every once in a while, I feel like I need to post this:

I've brought this up before on my journal, but right now, I feel like it bears repeating. The word "Orwellian" gets tossed around a lot, usually in the context of a surveillance state, or in terms of the thought police. I always feel like that's a simplistic reading of 1984, and that the true core of that novel is O'Brien's speech near the end of the book when Winston is in his office.

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.

We can point to the NSA wiretaps, CoIntelPro, gov't shutdowns, changing the meanings of words, etc... and say that they are Orwellian, but what I fear most is the attempt at ideological purity, mostly seen on the right and far right. The main purpose is to impose that will on the people. Another quotation from 1984:

The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy — everything.

All you need to do is point yourself towards Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, or Glenn Beck in order to see all of these things. The general attention span of the TV public makes it hard to have a more nuanced discussion, so all they can jam into that time are the simple jingoistic buzzwords of fear, hatred, rage, and triumph.

The emperor hasn't had clothes for a long time now. Things are changing. Unrest is bubbling up from beneath the surface and showing up here and there. Occupy Wall Street. The riots in Greece. The riots in Brazil. The G20 protests. The Arab Spring. But things are going to get worse before they get better. We need to keep the conversation open and make sure that people are informed. Remember that reality has a well-established left-wing bias!

The far right Tea Partiers really are only in the game to win it. Their ideology isn't to win to help people, it's only to win because they have to win. The greatest thing about progressives is that we all tend to be progressive in our own ways. There are so many different ways to go forwards. The opposite is not true, the far right can all be regressive in the same way, and that is why it's easier for them to frame the us vs. them. We need new strategies to educate and inform. It's like the episode from The Newsroom where Will and Mac tried so hard to get the new debate format. Of course it was doomed, because they couldn't use their talking points. We all need to beg for that level of discourse, and people who are willing to hold people to a real answer.

More random ramblings that I just need to get off my chest.

Please stop telling me that corporations can always do it better than government

Here's something I ranted on Twitter about last night (imagine this divided across 10 separate tweets):

Please stop telling me that "private enterprise will do it better than government." How often do you complain about companies Companies with monopolies like Rogers and Bell, or Comcast and Verizon in the US. The tired old argument that the invisible hand will lift companies with better service and better products is baloney. The "invisible hand" lifts companies that have no ethics and are willing to predatorily drop prices to corner a market. Then you vote with your feet because you're saving a few cents, and ignore that the service isn't so good. Guess what? Stuff costs money. So, the company willing to take a short term loss and cut service will eventually BUY the company that isn't, because people will take the service cut to save pennies. I've seen it personally in travel booking. I had someone literally take a flight with two 4-hour stops instead of 1 2-hour stop to save $.24. Yes, twenty-four cents. And now we elect governments the same way? Who's going to save me $.10 at the pump? Who's going to save me 1% in taxes? Hell, we might as well just vote the Koch brothers in directly if that's going to be the case. If you figure they're going to screw you anyway, wouldn't you like the option to possibly vote them out every half-decade or so?

Just something that was weighing on my mind, I suppose. It's the attitude that brought folks like Rob Ford to be the mayor of Toronto, and the same attitude that constantly causes Toronto's transit plans to fall through, because we forget that things cost money. I realize people vote with their feet because every penny counts to far too many people. That's a systemic problem that is only being made worse by corporations holding increasingly huge segments of the market in a dwindling number of hands.

Just my $.02

Police officer shoots man climbing out of wrecked car. No charge.

CAUTION!!! The video attached to this article is extremely graphic:

From the article:

The Paradise police officer who investigators say accidentally shot a suspected DUI driver in the neck last month will not face criminal charges, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey announced Thursday.

Paradise Police Officer Patrick Feaster, a five year veteran of the department, was parked on the Skyway around midnight Thanksgiving morning, when he saw a Toyota Four-Runner speeding out of the Canteena Bar parking lot without headlights on.

Feaster followed in his patrol car, as the Toyota ran a red light and turned onto Pearson Road where the driver, 26-year-old Andrew Thomas struck the median and flipped, ejecting his 23-year-old wife Darien Ehorn from the vehicle. Ehorn was killed in the crash.

Ramsey said Feaster drew his gun when Thomas “popped” out of the car, believing he would flee. As Officer Feaster moved towards Thomas, the gun discharged and struck Thomas in the neck. The shot hit Thomas in the C7 and T1 vertebrae and could lead to him being paralyzed for life.

According to Ramsey, several factors led investigators to believe the shooting was accidental. “The dash cam video shows Officer Feaster was not prepared for and was surprised by the guns firing. The pistol discharges in mid-stride and the officer both flinches his head to the right and does a stutter step indicative of an officer not prepared for nor intentionally firing his pistol. Additionally, officers normally train to fire a minimum of two shots. There was no second shot and the officer immediately holstered his weapon after the discharge.”

I'm no expert, but it looks like two shots to me. Regardless, the justification for the shooting is spurious in the extreme.

Erick Erickson disliked NYT cover story on guns so much, he shot the paper

Right wing columnist, radio, and TV commentator Erick Erickson (RedState, CNN, Fox News) shot his copy of the NYT and encouraged others to.

From his own Twitter account:


I shot holes in the NY Times editorial - This is what I think of the New York Times edito... http://eepurl.com/bIJb3f

And from the linked blog:

This is what I think of the New York Times editorial today. The United States suffered its worst terrorist attacks since September 11 and the New York Times' response is that all law-abiding citizens need their guns taken away. Screw them. The New York Times wants you to be sitting ducks for a bunch of arms jihadists who the New York Times thinks no doubt got that way because of the United States.

I hope everyone will join me in posting pictures of bulletholes in the New York Times editorial. Send them your response. Put them on Instagram and use the hashtag for my radio show and I may give you a shoutout. #EERS

Doesn't that just sum up the right's reaction to this sort of thing in general? I don't have the wherewithal to actually debate you on this point, so *bangbangbang*

Nothing says "responsible gun owner" like someone who gets SO ANGRY at a newspaper column that he SHOOTS the newspaper!
(edit, to give credit as Tom Tomorrow used the same line: https://twitter.com/tomtomorrow/status/673261376140419073)
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