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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: 657

Journal Archives

Church of Scientology owes City of Toronto over $100k in property taxes

... and the city's actually going to go after them for it.


As someone retweeted on my Twitter feed today:

Scientology owes the city 100k in back taxes, so I guess we should raise TTC fares again

Ain't that the truth. My only hope is that the city is as diligent going after any other back-tax-owing corps with that prime real estate in the downtown.

Ted Cruz’s crazy climate theories, debunked

Ted Cruz appeared recently (March 16th) on Seth Myers' late-night show and started talking about climate change (natch).

Turns out, Cruz is totally out to lunch about the whole thing. Who'd've thunk it, eh?

Grist has a great article thoroughly debunking the densely packed bullshit in Cruz's statement:


An excerpt:
CRUZ: I just came back from New Hampshire where there’s snow and ice everywhere. And my view actually is simple. Debates on this should follow science and should follow data. And many of the alarmists on global warming, they’ve got a problem because the science doesn’t back them up. And in particular, satellite data demonstrate for the last 17 years there’s been zero warming, none whatsoever. It’s why, you remember how it used to be called global warming, and then magically the theory changed to climate change?


CRUZ: The reason is, it wasn’t warming. But the computer models still say it is, except the satellites show it’s not.

We totally agree with his point that debates about climate “should follow science and should follow data.” Right on! But according to Kevin Trenberth, a leading climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, everything else in Cruz’s quote is “a load of claptrap … absolute bunk.”

Cruz is a strategy

I was reading n2doc's roundup of political cartoons here:


(BTW: Thanks n2doc, I love reading those every day!)

and saw this one:

and realized that this is part of the plan. The right in the USA (and to a lesser extent here in Canada) have been framing the dialogue SO FAR TO THE RIGHT that they can still take an extremely hard-right stance and claim moderation and compromise. Cruz is a boon to far-right candidates who can say, "Well, at least we're not THAT crazy."

This has 100% been the strategy of the right wing. Take an extreme right wing position, and then back up from it just a little and call it compromise, and call that new position moderate or centrist. This is what is dragging the discourse so far to the right.

So let's counter that. We can say that over $1million in annual income will invoke a 75% tax rate, and over $10million will invoke a 100% tax rate. No? To far to the left? Okay, we'll compromise and say that over $1million will only be 65% and over $10million will only be 85%. See how moderate and centrist that is? We backed up a whole 15% on that second one.

From Cracked.com: 6 Weirdly Conservative Messages Hidden in 'Ghostbusters'

Just a bit of silly fun, but these guys are pretty damn funny:


Are those 47 senators pulling an Ann Coulter?!?

It just occurred to me! Those 47 senators who signed that letter to Iran and called it a "cheeky" joke? (as here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10026349846)

They're saying terrible things and then saying it was just a joke! They're doing the Ann Coulter thing. Saying terrible horrible things and then just saying, "Oh, I'm just a satirist, you're taking it too seriously."

Trouble is, Ann Coulter is actually in the entertainment industry (though how anyone finds her entertaining I'll never understand), and the senators are GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS!

Do your satirizing on your own time. Maybe they're all just putting together a "greatest hits" reel to get a job as a pundit later.

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:

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