A Ford by any other name

 Posted on July 22nd, 2014
 by Patrick – Won't you help brighten a lonely comment box's day?

Thanks to the keen eyes of the interweb along with a little follow-up research I discovered today that Rob Ford’s nephew Michael Ford (currently running for mayor), recently changed his name from Michael Stirpe To Michael Ford (with the name Douglas A. Ford thrown in there for good measure).

Much like the Fords of yesteryear, it appears young Michael has adopted the Ford name to disassociate from a shady past acquired via his father Ennio (the Heroin addict who shot his mother in the face). Because the name Ford is so much better.

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 Posted on July 16th, 2014
 by Patrick – Won't you help brighten a lonely comment box's day?

Racy street advertising for Steamworks, Church Street


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The new gatekeepers

 Posted on July 11th, 2014
 by Patrick – Won't you help brighten a lonely comment box's day?

You ever get those existential pangs in your stomach? You know, the kind that make you question why you do things?

I look over at the side bar here on TCL and notice that I’ve been doing this, on and off, for almost six years now. At the beginning we were getting hits from all over the world, but now we’re seeing predominantly Canadian traffic. Just in time too.

As I’ve noted many times (and I’m not alone in this), most big-name media have little interest in really getting their hands dirty with really exposing what’s going on. When’s the last time you saw the front-page headline, “Government of Canada repeatedly violates the law and all of our Charter Rights“? — because it’s quite true. Or is the problem that this might cause people to start to ask too many uncomfortable questions? I can’t imagine that the government would allow such incendiary commentary about itself, no matter how true and urgent it is, so I suspect it’s a convoluted mix of pressures keeping media giants stupid and silent.

As with any large organization, of course it’s not true to say that everyone is in on keeping stark reality relegated to the OpEds, but by virtue of “I need that paycheque”, really, they kind of are.

Sometimes the media dissent is very public, as was the case at RT. While it’s absolutely true that RT — Russia Today– is deeply funded by, and works for Russia, it’s important to consider that this thinly-veiled propaganda network (as are all major news outlets, let’s be clear), is more free here than pretty much any western media outlet.

While RT is, understandably, free and open to criticize the west, we find that domestic big media openly rejects balanced discussion and trumpets western government propaganda while at the same time deriding critics and spreading even more misinformation and often just flat-out lies about their own country and rest of the world. Domestically, RT’s cousin is probably a lot like this too, so it’s not as if I’m saying that this sort of thing doesn’t happen elsewhere.

While it’s certainly reasonable if not accurate to say that a Russian-funded network is biased, it’s also true that it probably reports on way more, and in a far more balanced way than our so-called “balanced” domestic media. Even the word and subject of “propaganda”, most people are surprised to learn, was created by an American for the stated purpose of “conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses” — for corporate/government benefit.

Most people are equally surprised to learn that many ghastly Nazi war criminals were repatriated and handsomely rewarded by the American government after the Second World War. America’s late entry into the conflict was hardly about liberating the world from the “Nazi menace”, protecting America, or even helping to protect people against the barbarity of things like the Concentration camps. In fact, American Capitalism directly contributed in many ways to the Jewish Holocaust and to Nazi Germany itself.

That war, like any other, was about one side’s dominance over another — one government cabal demanding that its subjects die en masse against another for their personal ideologies, which are typically not mass opinions, and which are often strikingly similar. The fact that no American president has answered for any of their obvious international war crimes at the ICC, the modern Nuremberg (or any court, for that matter), proves it was and is merely a mock court where the United States owns and operates a public podium to vilify the opposition.

The problem isn’t that the Nazis didn’t necessarily deserve it, it’s that similar and numerous international crimes have been perpetrated by world leaders since then, and to date only America’s enemies (and anyone standing in the way of their plans), have ever been brought before this ridiculous, contemptuous court of The Hague. The fact that America defends its crimes at the highest levels further demonstrates that these were never “crimes” in their eyes.

So to expect honesty, fairness, justice, balance, or even correct information from either government, mega-corporations, or behemoth media is an exercise in abject futility. That’s not what they’re about.

Consider, for example, how loudly new Bitcoin-related legislation is being trumpeted, one that affects all Canadians directly and is in everyone’s best interest to at least be aware of. Oh, you haven’t heard?

The news itself is misrepresented (“Bitcoin is now money in Canada!”), and I have yet to see even a passing mention of it in any of Canada’s main dailies. There is plenty of news on something that all Canadians are engaged in though: legalized prostitution.

Apparently, between your ability to legally fuck hookers and your ability to get timely, accurate government information, the hookers win pretty much exclusively.

Okay, so you don’t own any Bitcoin and couldn’t give a toss. Fair? So is it fair to say you frequent prostitutes way more, thereby making this news of greater importance? The media seems to think so.

More often than not, I find that I have to rely on non-Canadian news sources to discover what my own government is up to, and even then it takes a while to sort the wheat from the chaff. This assumes I can find any information at all — the government regularly violates its own citizens’ Charter rights to just be aware of what’s being done directly to them.

To make matters worse, information from agencies like the Canada Revenue Agency is unclear and unhelpful, ensuring that no matter how good and honest (and legal), your intentions may be, they (the government) will find some way to find you in violation of some law or another, and summarily destroy you five ways from Sunday before you’ve had a chance to blink.

For example, the CRA treats Bitcoin transactions as barter, and they completely fail to define this according to their official web page: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/tp/it490/it490-e.html

Notice that this page is “archived” (is it even valid?), is over 30 years old (has it been updated since?), makes no mention of any related documents or information, and lists no useful information for any taxpayer. Stuff like this:

 In arm’s length transactions, where an amount must be brought into income or treated as proceeds of disposition of capital property, that amount is the price which the taxpayer would normally have charged a stranger for his services or would normally have sold his goods or property to a stranger.

So if I say I would’ve charged someone $0 for my services, is that acceptable? Apparently I’m left to my own devices when determining any such amount, the CRA doesn’t think it’s important to include any detail, but this is legally binding and will be used against me at their earliest opportunity.

Besides this, depending on who you speak to in the (at best) dysfunctional government, you will be provided with something resembling either the truth or truthy misinformation. What, you think it’s up to the government to provide you with accurate, honest, timely information?

In effect, the Canada Revenue Agency (and, really, all of government), often resort to citing documents like their “policies” to justify whatever overt crap they’re engaged in now. Policy is not law, has never been through what are claimed to be the rigours of the legislative process, and so on.

Some document that some agency drafted up as a public document is no more a valid law than anything I write on this blog. Of course, they won’t tell you this, and they will use whatever law-violating policies, sideways nods of approval, and sticky note directives to justify their actions. Regardless, the ultimate result is always that you obey now and you can take up your complaint with some dispassionate dick that works for them at some later time. Your objection will be noted and filed in a special bin along with discarded pizza boxes, rotting vegetables, and yesterday’s cigarette butts.

These are the same for government and the mega-corps who regularly make absurd, ridiculously illegal demands which are often simply accepted as the status quo. Unless some concerned citizen complains (and even then it may be swept aside), few in the government-corporate cabal even thinks to bat an eyelash. After all, when it comes to mass fraud or mass murder, they are entirely exempt from even a stern glance while it’s you and me who are forced at government gunpoint to pay for their crimes. Our tax money is even used to provide proxy support for human slavery. If it’s depraved, you can be sure that government and its corporate buddies are engaged in it.

Okay, I know, this is all disjointed – I can link to examples here or there, and I have plenty to back up my own situation — but does this theory accurately model what corpo-government is?

I say yes. In fact, this model accurately explains most if not all of government’s decisions, corporate maneuverings, and so on. Others have made similar observations.

That’s why your cell phone costs so much. That’s why your cable service costs so much. That’s why the state demands that you must go through a bank (at your loss / their profit), to deal with government and why they refuse to accept their own legal tender. In other words, they have no interest in putting their obvious activities to scrutiny, they want to maintain them; they have no accountability to you or me, they work for the rich and powerful.

Why does the government claim “banks are too big to fail”? See above.

Why does the government claim that some drug use is so illegal that you should be locked up for engaging in it, that seat belts are legally mandatory “for your own good” while at the same time happily continuing to allow the sale of cigarettes, a product that exists for no other purpose than to bring about your untimely death along with a slew of awful health problems, massive costs to the healthcare system, etc.? See above.

Whatever argument they make about “protecting public health”, or trying to keep down “systemic healthcare costs”, etc. are all horrendously ridiculous – they’re there to protect the big-money people: tobacco, drug cartels, police enforcement, etc. Through the wonders of taxes, we pay for this obvious hypocrisy while they work to maintain it. You and I will barely benefit from what they take from us.

This seems nonsensical, the result of a broken and dysfunctional system or ineptitude, but the fact that example after example shows benefits and rights predominantly skewed toward them proves that this is not the case. This is purposeful, planned, and prepared, often over the course of many years or even decades. As murder, it would be in the first degree.

It explains why Harper is able to be so openly hypocritical about things like China’s human rights record while importing those very same abuses directly into Canada under the tired old lie of “economic prosperity”. If he’s a bit of a sociopath who genuinely doesn’t give a toss about his fellow human beings, it explains why he’s able to lie so easily, be publicly hypocritical by claiming he’s doing it for your benefit (when in reality, it’s really not), and so on. As messed up as that may seem, it not only makes complete sense but fits as a model for much of what comes out of the corpo-government establishment. Seriously, take any emotion out of it and weigh all of the available facts dispassionately — I believe you’ll come to the same conclusions I have. Then you can get upset again.

This model also explains pretty much any other form of government, including why they all seem to resemble each other so much. Whether state power is some form of National Socialism, Communism, or Capitalism, the end result is always the same: human misery, suffering, death, slavery, destruction, and everything else dark and evil. Some hang in there in an idealized form longer than others, but eventually the badness creeps in. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it mostly government that wages war? Isn’t it government that incarcerates people? Isn’t it government that claims the exclusive right to violence? That government may not always be legitimate, but it’s in power so…

Along the way they always have little golden moments, examples of how it all might’ve worked if yet again we didn’t have a system that could be usurped by corruption and evil. The utopian ideals weren’t bad, it’s practical government that’s the main problem. If it weren’t susceptible to corruption, it would probably work okay (still probably way too inefficient though).

Government is also natural and, in my opinion, unavoidable. Some sort of government will just happen, because I really believe that this is our natural idealized state. If it only worked as well as we imagine.

People will naturally organize and, yes, it makes sense to cede some responsibility over some things to others. Those others should ideally be good at those things for which they’re responsible, and equally ideally be civic-minded — working for the people under their care, not their jurisdiction. A view of dominance or superiority over those people is the wrong attitude; seeking to extend centralized power rather than distribute individual power is the wrong approach.

Of course, there will always be people who assume the wrong attitude and take the wrong approach.

The idea that corruption will ever truly be distinguished is childish. The belief that power such as that wielded by governments, mega-corps, or any large institution won’t be attractive to said corruption is equally childish. The answer must therefore be to put a democratic and unassailable clampdown on any such organizations, providing near-instant checks and balances by and for the people, not more corruptible agencies and organizations. The moment that power or influence start to amass, they should receive extra scrutiny. If such collectivized power is truly good for its democracy, it will be directly supported by that very democracy. If not, it will be ejected.

The voting systems involved are something I discussed earlier, but the part about people being in the dark is something I haven’t touched on yet, at least not directly.

That introduction at the beginning of this post where I mention how long TCL’s been online, that isn’t to boast, it’s intended to demonstrate that focus and perseverance can make a difference. That Canadian traffic I mentioned is regularly in the four-digit, sometimes five-digit casual-visits-per-day range (not taking into account any external feeds), and I have to believe that among those visitors has to be one or two who are now aware of something they weren’t before.

What I’m trying to get at is that independent media — the blogs, the community newsletters, the guys on the street corners handing out pamphlets — these are the new gatekeepers of information. Much as my own experiences with the Canada Revenue Agency mean that I’m probably more knowledgeable in the ways of the agency than many tax lawyers, I’m finding more and more that true subject matter experts are those who took it upon themselves to educate themselves. Sure as shit isn’t some of the morons the media parades around whenever they need a talking head to fill up some space.

I share my insights and advice for free right here and elsewhere on the web; lawyers charge you an arm and a leg for access to laws and regulations that you are legally required to understand yourself. It’s perverse.

Yeah, I sometimes change my opinions; and what’s wrong with that? That means that I continue to weigh the available evidence and I’m not closed to new information. Sometimes that information tips my opinion in a different direction, which is exactly what one wants from reasoned discussions. But when those discussions are entirely absent, as they are in government, big media, and mega-corps, we are left with – at best – one very biased side of the story.

You’ve probably already guessed at where I’m heading with this — I really believe we all need to be our own producers and distributors, specialists in one field or two, focused, determined, passionate, willing to listen to detractors (sometimes they make some really good points!), and dedicated to sharing with each other. The freedoms of information that are under siege by corpo-government, freedoms that are often a matter of life and death, must be something that we have to undertake for ourselves. There are, of course, some things that really should be kept secret; but for the rest, what corpo-government won’t share, professionals and knowledgeable individuals can (and should).

Edward Snowden went somewhat above and beyond, but considering that to date no harm has been proven (glassy-eyed government supporters simply gobbing off via propagandized media is not proof), except to the trust and reputation of a government agency, it seems that we can entrust such decisions to individuals.

If they transgress, they should have the opportunity to be judged fairly by as wide a base of people as possible. I’m not expecting any waving of magic wands, but this is the direction we should be heading, not away from it.

That government often publicly proclaims the triumph of profits over human life is, to me, reason enough to stand in public opposition. I may be misguided, I may have it all wrong, someone might school me something fierce tomorrow, but I know that no matter what I was standing up for the right things for the right reasons. I’m willing to make such mistakes again because I know that they’re the signs of strength not weakness, adaptivity not rigidity, increased clarity not opacity, and a willingness to get at the truth — not reject it.

Some people say the truth is malleable, that it’s a matter of perspective, that it’s all about context.

This is not correct.

Truth is obscured by these things. It is very real and very much in existence beneath all the bullshit and lies and garbage. Government & friends seek to bury inconvenient truths beneath their “context” and it’s up to us to unearth it again for everyone. But even if political discourse isn’t for you, and even if you find that all you have to share is a really effective method of getting red wine out of white clothing, that’s the kind of thing that empowers individuals – so it’s a good thing!

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