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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday 25 December 2014

What Price, Freedom?

Watched The Winter Soldier this Christmas eve and, as always, this line stood out in what's already a pretty poignant film. 
Freedom isn't gained at the expense of other people's lives, whatever side of the line you're on.
No paradise can grow in a tightly controlled state, whether the tools are rape and torture or social media monitoring or profile cards. 
True freedom is about individual agency and the willing participation in common cause.  Emphasis on willing
When the conservation switches more towards security, it's entering the foggy territory often feared by those who mistrust mention of the public good.
To be free is to take personal risks in the moment and be prepared to live with their consequences.
I cannot ask you to be free - that's a choice only you can make. 
The price may be high, but I'm willing to bet we can whittle it down a little together.


Tuesday 23 December 2014

The Phantom Elf

Laura Pinto, a digital technology professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, caused a bit of a snowstorm recently when she and Selena Nemorin -- a colleague at Australia's Monash University -- >wrote a paper suggesting that "Elf on the Shelf" may be in the service of the surveillance state.
Elf on the shelf?  Come on, that's small fry. 
Santa has been keeping his eye on us for far longer than shelf-elves have had reign over our lives. 
He knows when you are sleeping?  He knows when you're awake?  Checking lists?
Forget the Nanny State.  It's always been the Santa surveillance lurking in the backround, sneaking in chimneys - and clearly, he's in the pocket of the coal lobby.  Rumour has it he's fueled by Coke and cookies, too.
Be warned, mother's and fathers.  He's indoctrinating your children with this whole be good and be rewarded for it thing.  It undermines the foundational principles of free market capitalism.
I once had elves, but now I'm free... there are no lists on me...

It's insid


Monday 22 December 2014

Social Hygene on Government's Radar

Stephen Harper believes people need to be responsible for themselves.  If they're not, it's their own fault, full stop.  It's as true of missing aboriginal women as it is seniors without pensions.  If they'd played their cards better, they wouldn't be where they are - it's not government's role to fix their problems for them, right?
There are distinct consequences to starving education, inciting strong emotional reactions and generally playing populism.  In fact, there are historical and modern-day precedents for how this all comes about.
Does Harper think it's some sort of immaculately conceived phenomenon that extremism and horrifically violent crimes in the name of ideologies that are anti-establishment are on the rise?  That the people themselves are somehow uniquely monsterous and inhuman?
That's a bit like Europeans in the throes of the bubonic plague directing rage at Jews for not suffering to the same degree, except in reverse.
Jews practiced cleanliness to avoid getting sick - they were proactive, they avoided problems.
In this case, it's society that's getting sick because good social maintenance is being neglected.
That's the thing the low-hanging fruit crowd don't understand, don't want to understand - extremist violence is a symptom, not a disease.
And it's going to get worse.

The Spin Stops Here

What a ridiculous statement made by a clearly delusional hack.  Vikas Pota is clearly one of those social leaches who profiteers off of the backs of others through insidious social schemes.
Plus, his diatribe is so long - if what he had to say was important he'd be able to squish it into an elevator pitch.
Pota clearly has everything backwards and is putting his ideology before sound economic policy.
A sound economy is based on the principles of laissez-faire capitalism; you need to get liberal arts out of the way and minimize, if not entirely eliminate social programs - except for the retarded and the like.  The best social program, after all, is a job. 
You don't create jobs by investing in people - that weakens their natural resolve and makes them dependent on costly welfare states.  No, the real way to foster growth is to throw our youth in the deep end and make them compete for opportunity.  This competition leads to low-cost jobs and, in conjunction with low taxation (easy when you've no services but security and prisons to pay for, right?) means that companies can focus more money on wealth creating and, as a result, expansion. 
See, inward investment isn't the state to this nonsensical notion called society - it's corporations investing in themselves.  It's like how a baby will eat when it's hungry, right?  Make people hungry, make corporations hungry, and they'll all compete for the resources that exist.
Which is why this skills thing is overstated.  Natural resources is the real ticket; if you got 'em, harness and sell 'em.  Whether it's oil or trees, everyone else wants them and for your economy to succeed, all you really need to do is focus on carving them out and selling them off.
You don't need a ton of book-learning to cut trees or mine ore.  Oil companies will pay to teach their employees whatever minimal skills they need.  This is what economic efficiency looks like - spend less on the front end, focus on low-hanging fruit and have a system competitive enough that people will work harder to hear advancement.
Anyone who doesn't thrive in such a system is clearly lazy, or communist, or stupid, or a social menace.  Anyone who speaks out against such a system clearly has a hidden agenda, one that presents a risk to the natural order of things.
You have to keep an eye on such people.  You may need to put them in their place.  Heck, you might even need to throw them in jail.
If they start organzing and fighting back, well, then you've got a real problem on your hands - not one of your own creation, clearly, because that implies people aren't rational actors able to fend for themselves.  It suggests the entire frame of laissez-faire capitalism isn't compatible with actual human reality, which is ridiculous.
No, what it really means is that you have some bad people on your hands.  Bad people aren't really people, they're monsters - it's okay to eliminate monsters, or to threaten them.  Domination works better.  In fact, if you can completely break their spirit, then they become another resource.
So you want to single out these potential risks in advance, because clearly, they're born-and-bred to be anti-economic growth.  You can't do anything but remove them, but we're being efficient, so why not coral them and put them to work?  No reason your societal vermin can't add value to society, right?
We're being efficient here, so of course you want a system that requires as little maintenance as possible so as to minimize your costs and maximize your profitable opportunities.
Who could possibly have a problem with that?

Sunday 21 December 2014

News Flash: No One Ever Thinks They're the Bad Guy

This is the government that has taken active steps against any group that attempts to provide Canadians with perspective other than their own - including Parliament.
Even as cracks show in their policy framework - like his oil as Canada's economic anchor idea - Stephen Harper holds stubbornly to his ideology.  He's Father Knows Best.  What other people tell us is bad for us, but we need to accept as fact every bit of narrative his team feed us.
I think there are many malicious bones in Harper's body, but I don't think he is actively out to sabotage Canada.  That is what he's doing, though, but doing so in good conscious because he is functionally fixated on his own perceived superiority.
The United States invasion of Iraq was based on information received from torture.  Of course, we know now that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq and that the information provided was false. 
This is what happens in torture.  When you break a human being with pain, it's not about fearing reprisals for not being forthright, it's about domination and as a result, pleasing your captor with whatever you think they want to hear.
The evidence has told us this again, and again, and again.  But the Dick Cheneys of the world are adamant that, as history's actors, what they did in good conscious was right, produced valuable information - and that they'd do the same again.
In any other story - in our own stories - these individuals would be the bad guys.
As with any good story, however, the bad guys exist so that the protagonist may learn something about themselves.