Toronto City Life Thu, 26 Nov 2015 22:42:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 That was quick Thu, 26 Nov 2015 18:42:08 +0000 Early this morning I received an email notifying me that our GoFundMe campaign has been removed due to a violation of the “Not Allowed on GoFundMe” section of their Terms & Conditions.

Although no such section exists I assume that they were referring to this part:

…you agree to not use the Services to:

establish or contribute to any Campaign with the implicit or express purpose relating to any of the following: …

6. gambling, gaming and/or any other activity with an entry fee and a prize, including, but not limited to casino games, sports betting, fantasy sports, horse or greyhound racing, lottery tickets, other ventures that facilitate gambling, games of skill or chance (whether or not it is legally defined as a lottery) or sweepstakes;

This had given us pause when we were signing up for GoFundMe but we didn’t think that asking for support to help us while I write free and open-source game software would be a problem.

Besides, whether it’s facilitating gambling or funding gambling trips, actually asking for money to gamble with, funding poker games, funding poker buy-ins, funding a casino, and funding online gambling software, there are numerous examples on GoFundMe where the “strictly enforced policies” that their email mentions don’t seem to apply. Moreover there’s the fact that a number of these campaigns have been categorized meaning that they’ve actually been reviewed by GoFundMe.

Either GoFundMe’s policies are very selective or they’re sloppily applied. The fact that GoFundMe tends to shy away from controversial campaigns suggests that it’s probably the former.

Of course GoFundMe is free to censor their own services and roughly $50 of the $55 raised so far (thank you!) has been collected so I don’t feel cheated but it sure would be nice if they were consistent. It would’ve also been nice if they had simply halted the campaign instead of just deleting it outright; if we didn’t already have the donors’ contact information we would’ve lost it without warning.

Sarah and I are now looking at alternatives but in the meantime it seems kind of silly not to provide a Bitcoin address for donations:



Thank you again for your continued support and for helping to spread the word!

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Brother, can you spare a dime? Tue, 24 Nov 2015 00:58:51 +0000 You may remember that CypherPoker thing … well, we’re at a crossroads with the project and would like to ask for your support. If you have a few bucks to spare we would appreciate a visit to our GoFundMe page:

If like us you have approximately $0 to contribute but think the project is still a neat idea, you’d be helping us by sharing a link. Try out the buggy but functional first version first if you like, then send me the final link and a name and I’ll send you a TCL shoutout. If it’s not your name, that’s okay too.

And thanks!


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Bad rentals! Greenwin, Sterling Karamar, Capreit, Starlight Mon, 26 Oct 2015 21:18:16 +0000 Over a year and a half ago I brought up some of the issues that we were experiencing with our apartment. In case you don’t remember, the 2 elevators had slowly been deteriorating and eventually stopped working altogether. No matter how many times we approached management about the issues, no matter how many times the TSSA issued “stop operations” orders, nothing but sloppy band-aid solutions were applied. It was only until the tenants got utterly fed up and collectively took the company to court that something got done. But the elevators were just one of the problems, the rest of which persist.

The management of the Startlight Investments property at the time was Greenwin Inc. which was subsequently switched to Sterling Karamar. At least that was the placation; the fact that almost none of the contact information had changed suggested that, indeed, little had changed. In fact, comparing the customer portals of Greenwin and Sterling Karamar shows a remarkable similarity.

This might be easy to dismiss until one looks at the corporate leadership of Sterling Karamar and Property Vista, the mutual customer portal shared with Greenwin. Property Vista’s CEO is Leonard Drimmer, formerly CEO of property management firm Transglobe, a company founded by Daniel Drimmer (no relation, I’m sure), CEO of Starlight. Okay, so Sterling Karamar and Property Vista are connected but where does Greenwin come into it? Well, our building manager has been kind enough to put the pieces together on his LinkedIn profile:


How about that? Looks like Mr. Vorajee worked for Greenwin (the company “managing” 200 Wellesley during their massive fire), right before suddenly switching over to Sterling Karamar – right around the same time as Starlight made the switch from Greenwin to Sterling Karamar at our place. Mere coincidence, I’m sure.

I’m sure it’s equally coincidental that Capreit, where Asad was a “leasing specialist”, was acquired by Starlight. Yeah, sure. I’m equally dubious of Timbercreek’s proximity to Starlight but maybe I’m wrong there. Regardless, when the tenants described Starlight’s lack of action as a “shell game” during our court action, they were right. When Asad explained that he had no knowledge of our property’s problems before he took over, I was right to be skeptical. Besides, how does one become a property manager without knowing anything about the problems with the property that they’re managing?

Just to give you a taste of the services that these people expect us to put up with, we’re now into the 10th day without hot water; we’d probably still be waiting for them to just have a look if I didn’t let loose on them over the phone two Saturdays ago. Of course, Asad claimed that no one had complained and he had no idea! Sure.

Then there’s the problems with the stairwells — see how many you can spot:

nice :|

Although the graffiti’s a nice touch, the real problems are the banisters, slippery-paint stairs on all but 2 floors, and a complete lack of emergency lighting. When the elevators went out this was our only way up 18 flights of stairs. With a wheelchair it sucked. During the rain and snow it sucked more. When the power went out it sucked even more.

The superintended shrugs and walks away whenever these issues are brought up, and despite the continuous torrent of complaints he receives (according to him), he seems quite satisfied to keep his mouth shut and continue in his role. Perhaps it has something to do with the newly acquired BMW he’s been proudly buffing in the parking lot; quite a prize for a lowly super!

Then when we bring up these problems to management, their lackadaisical “fixes” (when they actually bother), leave a lot to be desired:

just don't fall!

Every level of the company claims ignorance of any of these issues. Instead of addressing them they insist that we use their portal to report them, after which they’re promptly ignored. For example, I currently have 16 open maintenance issues which have been sitting idle without any follow up for a week now (they kindly ask for up to 2 business days to set up an inspection). Some of the open issues include a busted bathtub faucet:

no water for you!

…water-damaged ceilings:

the least of our concerns

…no doubt as a result of the newly renovated roof which appears to be about as watertight as the newly renovated windows:

as long as it doesn't rain or snow...

…or the walls on which, contrary to the superintendent’s advice, sticking a piece of tape doesn’t fix the drafts:

not a great solution

Equally ineffective was their “solution” to a lack of hot water in our kitchen sink. For this they broke through the wall into the adjoining unit and connected our hot water to theirs. When the building actually has hot water the water pressure understandably sucks, but on the bright side our cats can squeeze through the hole and make unexpected visits to our neighbour, as can odours and drafts:

howdy, neighbour!

Based on this I think it’s doubtful that the rotting caulking, peeling paint, or crumbling balcony would be a high priority for them:


I haven’t even touched on the grossness in the basement laundry room, complete lack of security, and other problems throughout the building, but I’m sure you can imagine them at this point.

However, it would be unfair for me to claim that management aren’t at least aware of our presence in this building. Yeah, problems don’t get fixed, but they’re quick to let us know how concerned they are:

but it's worth it!

Third increasing in three years. Heart-warming.

But wait, there’s more:

well, if it's for THEM...

Funny, I recall choosing this place specifically because they didn’t require insurance, but the year-long lease that they refer to has long since expired anyways. Still, their honesty about how this is to help lower their insurance costs is refreshing and understandable; they don’t want us suing them for the inevitable destruction of our property as a result of their shoddy service and workmanship.

I’d be willing to be fair and say that we receive other communication from them but, aside from the occasional pamphlet asking us to log into Sterling Karamar’s portal, or flyer asking us to sucker someone else into renting in one of their buildings (for a $300 reward), the only news we currently have is in the landing to let us know that the hot water might be back on by the end of this week. Maybe. Oh, and the roof above the parking area may be “renovated”. Maybe. Next year.

We’re not exactly what you’d call loud or obnoxious neighbours (we’ve had one “party” since we’ve moved in, and that involved a few quiet drinks with a friend), and as you can tell we hold back on our complaints. All of the damages I’ve shown here were either present since we moved in about three years ago, or have developed as a result of daily wear and tear. I like to think that I’m reasonable both in terms of how long I expect things to last as well as how long it should take to fix them (or at least follow up). However, I’ve now had just about enough.

If you’re looking to rent in Toronto and you see properties either owned or managed by any of the companies I’ve rolled off, I would highly recommend that you avoid them.

“High-end rentals” indeed!

not terribly accurate

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Alarmed Sun, 25 Oct 2015 20:00:48 +0000 I had trouble finding a title for this post but I was left with a lingering feeling. Perhaps that was the idea.


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It doesn’t get any lower than this Sun, 25 Oct 2015 17:53:13 +0000 In fairness, they don’t offer proofreading services…

Lowest place in the city

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Cardcapades Fri, 23 Oct 2015 22:30:11 +0000

From today’s Star:

Random and arbitrary carding by police forces across Ontario will be illegal by the end of fall.

Yasir Naqvi, minister of community safety and correctional services, made the announcement during a debate Thursday where MPPs from across the province spoke out against carding. At the time they were considering a private member’s motion from an NDP MPP to ban random and arbitrary carding, also known as street checks.

Naqvi was asked what will happen if police forces do not comply with the ban or the other regulations his government will bring in.

“They will have no option but to comply with the regulation.”

So cops will now be required to make up bullshit reasons to justify their continued use of the practice and if they don’t they will “have no option”.

Problem solved!

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Are flu vaccines effective? Prognosis: negative. Thu, 22 Oct 2015 19:32:05 +0000 It’s that time of year again when government rolls out the “get your flu shot!” propaganda under the usual auspices of “keeping everyone safe”.

Well, you know…government.

Now I know that there are questions about the safety of flu vaccines, some of which (especially those indicated for very young children) contain thimerosal as a preservative, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

flu1 flu2

There are anecdotal indications in the news, and of course I have my own personal experiences with not contracting seasonal bugs while those around me (who proudly got the jab) got repeatedly sick, but these are hardly objective. So for this post I wanted to do a more thorough analysis using the statistics being provided by the very people making the claim that the flu shot keeps you safer:

On the same page that touts the flu shot as “the most effective way to protect yourself and your family from the flu”, the “Flu Facts” page links to Google’s flu tracker to provide yearly data on the infectious disease:

The flu vaccine wasn’t widely promoted by the government until 2008 but has been promoted for kids since 2004. These dates, along with historical population numbers, provide a good basis to work with.

Here are the results of that work:

Date Total Recorded Canadian Influenza Infections Population of Canada Infection rate per population Average per period
2004-12-26 77828 32048000 0.2428%  
2005-12-25 98859 32359000 0.3055%  
2006-12-31 97598 32723000 0.2983%  
2007-12-30 85821 33115000 0.2592%  
2008-12-28 84826 33506000 0.2532% 0.2718%
2009-12-27 141118 33630000 0.4196%  
2010-12-26 67855 34010000 0.1995%  
2011-12-25 73778 34340000 0.2148%  
2012-12-30 101581 34750000 0.2923%  
2013-12-29 104231 35160000 0.2964% 0.2845%
2014-12-28 121388 35540400 0.3415% 0.2940%

I split up the values into two ranges (pre-2008 and post-2008) for which complete data sets were available. For example, although flu data is available for 2003, it’s only for a portion of that year so I excluded it. Similarly, since 2015 isn’t finished yet, I left it out. The above numbers are condensed from a larger data set which you can download as an Excel spreadsheet (.xls / .xlsx), or an Open Office / Libre Office spreadsheet (.ods), and you can always recreate the calculations from the sources I linked to above.

Of course it would be a wild leap to say that you are more likely to contract the flu because of the introduction of the flu vaccine (though this may actually be true), I think that this result demonstrates that the inverse claim is also dubious. In fact, it looks like the trend for influenza infections is actually climbing rather than receding.

What’s unfortunate is that many people, often the same ones that uphold objective science and reject theology, are willing to entirely and instantly reject any such claims when they’re contrary to those pushed forward by the “authorities”. Sounds like dogmatic religion to me, but what do I know, I must just be a bitter anti-vaxxer.

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And the winner is… Wed, 21 Oct 2015 14:59:02 +0000 I know that it’s basically impossible to prove at this point, but I was 100% correct about the results of this week’s election:

Government won!

Real Change No!

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So many feels Tue, 20 Oct 2015 22:31:23 +0000 TCL’s search stats suggest that I may have hit a nerve…


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How did I vote? Mon, 19 Oct 2015 23:24:24 +0000 I didn’t.

Instead of spending an hour to stuff a flimsy paper ballot into a flimsy paper box that’s manned by a well-meaning geriatric every four years and then using the remaining time exercising my “right” to wallow and complain when things inevitably go wrong, I choose to spend 99.998% of my time (yeah…do the math) making an actual difference. Trying to, anyways.

To put it bluntly, if you voted for any politician then it’s you who have no “right to complain” (as statists are fond of blathering), when the government that you implicitly “granted” the ability to fuck you over, fucks you over. I mean, you actually went out of your way to do that!


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Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesy Cakes Wed, 14 Oct 2015 22:00:55 +0000 Uncle Tetsu's, Bay and Dundas

Today I got a chance to try the headliner at the perennially busy (except this morning), Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake.

Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecake

The cakes are a not unpleasant crossbreed between an angel food cake or maybe a soufflé, and a mildly flavoured cheesecake. With the exception of the company name, there wasn’t a lick of English anywhere on the packaging so I couldn’t tell what actually went into it. Allergies? That’s your problem.

The $10 cake should be enough for at least two people, and the $2.50 cupcake-like madeleines are a good alternative if you’re not willing to make the investment. I found both treats tasty and I’d probably get seconds if the hankerin’ hit, but despite the gushing adoration some people are heaping on it, you won’t catch me waiting in a line up for what comes across as essentially a sponge cake with a cream-cheesy taste.

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Not so mobile Wed, 14 Oct 2015 20:00:59 +0000 Public phones, Beverley and Dundas

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Mos Eisle @ Dupont Wed, 14 Oct 2015 18:20:25 +0000 Gates at Dupont Station, Dupont and Spadina

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From the valley Wed, 14 Oct 2015 09:30:33 +0000 Don Valley ParkwaySkyline from the Don Valley Parkway

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Sub way Tue, 13 Oct 2015 22:14:35 +0000 Sherbourne Station entrance, Bloor Street East Sherbourne Station tunnel, Bloor Street East

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Tigerset Sat, 10 Oct 2015 19:38:57 +0000 Looking west from Sherbourne and Carlton

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Around every corner Fri, 09 Oct 2015 23:00:25 +0000 Graffiti at Yonge & Lakeshore

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Ungullible Fri, 09 Oct 2015 20:00:55 +0000 Gull at Sugar Beach / Corus Quay

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Crossroads Fri, 09 Oct 2015 17:31:09 +0000 Signpost at Pier 27, Queen's Quay

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It’s such a such a good deal that… Mon, 05 Oct 2015 23:00:28 +0000

Canada to pay out $4.3-billion to farmers in wake of TPP deal

Ottawa said Monday it will spend $4.3-billion* over 15 years to compensate dairy, chicken and egg farmers, who are ceding what Canadian officials called “limited access” to their now highly protected markets under the TPP deal and the earlier free trade deal with Europe. The subsidies will “keep producers whole,” according to a government press release.

* – Money that will be extorted from Canadians under implicit threats of violence (a.k.a. taxes)

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“Freedom” … LOL Sat, 03 Oct 2015 23:30:33 +0000
  • 4.1 Aboriginal law
  • 4.2 Administrative law
  • 4.3 Human rights in Canada
  • 4.4 Contract law
  • 4.5 Constitutional law
  • 4.6 Copyright law
  • 4.7 Criminal law
  • 4.8 Evidence law
  • 4.9 Family law
  • 4.10 Immigration and refugee law
  • 4.11 Inheritance law
  • 4.12 Insolvency law of Canada
  • 4.13 Labour and employment law

“…there are too many Statutes to even begin to count.”

“Presumed knowledge of the law is the principle in jurisprudence that one is bound by a law even if one does not know of it. It has also been defined as the “prohibition of ignorance of the law”.”

This principle is also stated into law:

  • Canada: Criminal Code (RSC 1985, c. C-46), section 19″

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“Rule of Law” … LOL Sat, 03 Oct 2015 21:00:36 +0000

“Health colleges routinely cut deals to shorten suspensions for members caught making fake billings if certain conditions are met, the Star found.

These conditions include ethics and accounting courses, remedial training and requiring the health professional to pay the college’s costs in building the discipline case.

Most professionals disciplined for false or misleading billing were allowed to continue practising after a suspension ranging anywhere from one month to 18 months.

107: number of health-care professionals found guilty of false or misleading billing

99: number of suspensions issued to health-care providers for false or misleading billing

7: number of licences revoked for false or misleading billing”


“In the last five years, nearly 350 officers from police services in the Greater Toronto Area — Toronto, Peel, York, Halton and Durham — and the OPP have been disciplined for what their own services call “serious” misconduct, a Star investigation has found.

Roughly one in five of those officers was disciplined because he or she had been found guilty of criminal offences, including assaulting his or her spouse, drunk driving, possessing drugs and theft.

Nearly 50 of the officers were disciplined more than once; some were nailed for new offences just months after being penalized for past misconduct. One officer was busted for being drunk behind the wheel twice in one week.

Someone with a criminal record would almost never be hired as a cop. But many cops who are convicted of criminal offences are allowed to keep working. Only seven police officers were successfully forced out of their jobs.

Most police discipline cases don’t get reported beyond station walls.

In decision after decision, the officers presiding over the case — the judges — remark how media coverage of the officer’s misconduct would undermine public trust in the police.”


“Twice in the last six months, CRA agents have admitted to me that Canada’s tax collector agency has broken Canada’s privacy laws.

Nobody seems to notice.”


“According to officials at the ministry of public safety, which releases the report each year on RCMP’s crimes, most of the laws are broken during undercover operations.

The police immunity stems from a 1999 Supreme Court ruling that found that while police officers are not immune from criminal liability, Parliament could decide on some immunity if it were in the “public interest.”

In 2003, Parliament tabled an amendment to the criminal code that allowed officers and agents to break laws – with permission – on the condition the acts “were subject to a legal requirement of reasonableness and proportionality,” the 2012 report said.

In addition to the RCMP, the law breaking privileges extend to customs officers and immigration officers.”


“For example, the rights and immunities accorded to [Parliament] Members individually are generally categorized under the following headings:

  • freedom of speech;
  • freedom from arrest in civil actions;
  • exemption from jury duty;
  • exemption from attendance as a witness.

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“Democracy” … LOL Sat, 03 Oct 2015 18:49:59 +0000

“…there was no chance for public input before rookie Councillor Justin Di Ciano proposed that Toronto reverse its stand. The motion, part of debate on proposed changes to the City of Toronto Act, passed 25-18, with the support of seven councillors who reversed their earlier support for ranked ballots.

Under ranked ballots, a candidate with a majority of first-place votes — 50 per cent plus one — wins, just as in the current system. If nobody meets that threshold, the candidate with the fewest first-place votes is knocked out. The second-place choices of that candidate’s supporters are added to the totals of the remaining hopefuls, and so on, until somebody has a majority.

“The way it happened was entirely undemocratic; it really feels underhanded,” said Katherine Skene, of Ranked Ballot Initiative. “But we’re hopeful that there is still the possibility for change.””

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See if you can spot the problem… Sat, 03 Oct 2015 00:57:59 +0000

Slavery: involuntary subjection to another or others. Slavery emphasizes the idea of complete ownership and control by a master…

“The federal government and the provincial and territorial governments all have laws that provide rights and freedoms: laws against discrimination in employment and accommodation, consumer protection laws, environmental laws and, in the area of criminal law, laws that give rights to witnesses, victims and persons accused of crimes, to name only a few.

Section 1 of the Charter says that governments may limit Charter rights so long as those limits are ones that a free and democratic society would accept as reasonable*. It is also possible for governments to pass laws that take away some rights under the Charter. Under section 33 of the Charter (sometimes called the “notwithstanding clause”), Parliament or a legislature can make a particular law exempt from certain sections of the Charter – the fundamental freedoms (in section 2), the legal rights (in sections 7 to 14) and the equality rights (in section 15).”

* – Do you remember the “democratic” vote that took place for this? And exactly how “free” are Canadians when they need to be “granted” rights and freedoms, need to ask government for permission to marry someone, may not ingest anything that government doesn’t allow, do anything to their bodies that’s not government approved, are indebted to the government for their entire lives (and beyond) based on some non-existent “social contract” that they implicitly agreed to the moment that they popped out of the womb, and so on?

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TOTALLY mental poker Sat, 19 Sep 2015 21:00:49 +0000 A few weeks ago when the HR lady called me and told me that I too was now among a number of people who had been laid off as a result of “business decisions”, I could scarcely contain my enthusiasm. “That’s great!”, I replied giddily. There was a moment of silence before I caught myself. “I mean, that sucks … terrible .. but it’s great that I know about it sooner rather than later”, I sputtered. Good save.

I clumsily explained that, having spoken to colleagues and being aware of the changes, I could now live without the uncertainty, then swung the conversation back around to me getting fired.

“Yeah, no, that’s bad news,” I assured her but added that the severance would be helpful.

I was lying – I was elated.

Thing is, I’d been working on a project in my spare time that it was probably best to keep hush-hush. So it was. The main complication was the fact that the project is an online poker game and I was – until recently – working for a company that had bought PokerStars. It wasn’t that I was “borrowing” code or secrets or clients or anything like that, and I genuinely liked working for them, it’s just that the whole situation felt complicated.

biermarkt on the esplanade

Besides I just thought that the idea was too damn good to risk any potential roadblocks, especially early on. So I assumed an alias and toned down my writing style.

I was asked why I included a cryptographic identity when I first announced the project on Reddit, and this is why. I was probably being a little too paranoid but so far everyone I’ve discussed it with thinks it’s a pretty darned good idea. I’ve even seen it suggested that if such a thing could be built it would be “super revolutionary“, “so obviously disruptive“, “a killer app“, and other encouraging adjectives, so protecting the work by keeping my identity hidden seemed wise.

I hope you can see how one might foresake blogging for a bit in order to concentrate on such a project, but I did at least hint at it when I was starting to see some solid first results. I wasn’t just talking out of my ass there.

So since we’re at the part of the story where I’m unveiled as the guy behind the project I might as well call it by its real name: CypherPoker.

Okay, so it’s an online poker game, right? So what?

Well, for starters, it really is quite unique, disruptive, and revolutionary – it’s almost entirely bass-ackwards to the way that online poker currently works.

I’m sure that I’m not giving anything away when I say that most online gaming sites operate under a “client-server” model. This means that they own and operate computers with big internet connections that “serve” game information to the players’  computers or “clients”. In effect, games take place almost entirely on the operators’ computers; clients are used mostly to display the results of the games in a nice way.

This makes sense. You can see how it’d be problematic if the clients (players/peers) were to decide how cards should be dealt – someone would just need to hack the software to enable all sorts of cheating. In the client-server approach hackers would have to get at the servers which is much more difficult (but not impossible).

Players must also trust that operators are being fair and honest, and when they are, that they are able to properly monitor their systems for cheating. This has not always been the case.

With CypherPoker this approach is turned almost entirely on its head and in a way that seems paradoxical. For example, players play directly with each other (a.k.a. peer-to-peer) – no servers are needed.

But didn’t I just finish talking about how problematic it’d be if players were allowed to “deal” each other cards over the internet?

Yeah. In fact, the problem was described much more succinctly in a somewhat obscure MIT paper entitled “Mental Poker“:

Can two potentially dishonest players play a fair game of poker without using any cards … over the phone?

Even though this question seems like a real mind fuck, there’s actually a viable solution to the problem and the authors go on to show you how it’s done.

Because the answer uses math (cryptography), and since we’re no longer living in the Dark Ages, substituting “phone” with “networked computing device” is a simple but necessary step; I ain’t doing the calculations on paper!

casa loma

Back when “Mental Poker” was still a fresh and new idea, computers just weren’t capable of handling the kinds of computations needed to play a decent game. I remember reading that a card “shuffle” operation in an early Mental Poker implementation required hours of calculation. Can you imagine how long a single game would last? Yikes! Well, it’s 2015 and modern hardware is finally capable of crunching the numbers in a reasonable amount of time.

Paradoxically, visualizing how the game works requires no math skills whatsoever.

First we need to get our hands on 52 identical, peek-proof lock boxes with a miraculous ability to repel any markings (scratches, dents, paints, decals, etc.) In addition we’ll need 52 identical locks with the same miraculous abilities and one master key to open them all. My opponent, you, also has 52 miracle locks and a key to go with them.

Now I start by distributing the cards in my card deck into the boxes – one per – and lock them all. I mix up the boxes for good measure and call Larry’s Super Courier service to deliver them to you. You soon get the boxes and apply your own locks so that now all of the boxes are double-locked. With the way that each box is secured, either lock can come off first. Even though this is easy to achieve using physical lock boxes (just use a big latch), it’s a very important property – we need to be able to add or remove locks in any order for this process to work.

After being mixed up again the 52 double-locked boxes are returned to me.

Since we’re playing Texas Hold’em, I need to select two private (hole) cards for myself so I simply pick two boxes and send them to you. You remove your locks from them so that only my locks remain. When the boxes are returned to me I remove my locks and extract my cards – simple. Notice that even though I locked all the boxes first, I had to unlock these two boxes last – after you removed your locks. Without the ability to add or remove locks in any order this all wouldn’t work.

Of course you need to repeat this process in order to “unlock” other cards, and there are other types of exchanges that are required for a full card game, but that’s the gist of it.

If we use numbers to represent physical cards – 1=Ace of Spades, 2=Two of Spades, etc. – we can use cryptography to “lock” and “unlock” them. As long as the cryptography is “commutative”, or can be applied and removed in any order, we can effectively play a fair game of poker over a telephone. Or maybe over the internet with a computer to do the calculations and display the results.

The “Mental Poker” idea is plenty cool all by itself but if you throw the serendipitous rise of Bitcoin into the mix, the whole thing starts to take on new dimensions. When you add anonymity via something like Tor or I2P to the game and the associated services (for example, introducing random internet players to each other), the possibilities absolutely blossom.

sunflowers @ jarvis and richmond

CypherPoker is well beyond the idea stage; the game exists and is available to play today. I spent the time writing versatile and solid code so the game is functional but the user interface sucks. However, now that I can drop the alias I can also drop the hammer so we’ll see about getting that and other shortcomings rectified forthwith.

In addition, I’m going to spend more quality time with TCL and my other blog again, partially to prevent any future fears regarding my freedom and well-being, partially to put my new camera to good use (other one disappeared a while back), but also to document and discuss the project’s progress more closely and regularly now that I don’t have to censor my output. I haven’t found any “Mental Poker” implementations that are as far along as mine so it’s hard to say exactly what lies ahead but that tingly feeling in my gut tells me that it’s probably going to be awesome.

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Union Station Re-re-re-vitalization Tue, 16 Jun 2015 16:17:06 +0000 From 2009:

“…I also had visions of a Hindenburg-like execution that, on top of stretching the project out to a future when the apes have taken over, includes cost overruns that are certain to result in another new tax.”


From today:

“Renovations to Toronto’s Union Station will not be completed until 2017 at the earliest – two years behind schedule and $160-million over the original budget.

The city’s government management committee met Monday to approve an additional $4-million for the project, bringing the total cost of the renovations to $800-million – up from its original $640-million price-tag. And the project, originally expected to reach “substantial completion” in 2015, now won’t be ready until 2017.”


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Canada is not a democracy, never has been Wed, 27 May 2015 17:30:56 +0000 Although it’s lacking teeth,  an op-ed piece in the National Post fairly succinctly summarizes what I’ve been blathering on about for God-only-knows how long now. You don’t need to have a PoliSci degree to see what’s happening but although I doubt I’ll ever be able to shake my ageing parents’ (and many of their generation’s) scorn at my “naiveté”, “ignorance”, and “radical” views on government, at least I know I’m in fine scholarly company.

…the prime minister seems to have the unchecked power to decide when the House should be in session, when elections should occur, and even, in some circumstances, when their governments do or do not have the confidence of the House.

In the past I’ve referred to this as fascism, sometimes as a dictatorship, and often as a tyranny, but as I’ve tried to point out labels ultimately matter far less than deeds.

In the House, the prime minister and government have considerable control over day-to-day operations. This allows governments not only to set the agenda, but to carry it out with ease. The prime minister commands the steadfast loyalty of his MPs, largely through a carrot-and-stick approach; co-operative MPs might be rewarded with cabinet posts or coveted committee positions, while rogues can be — and at times are — punished with removal from caucus or even barred from running as a candidate for the party in future elections. All of these are vestiges of prime ministerial power. The party caucus has little leverage with which to counterbalance the prime minister’s power because party leaders are chosen (and replaced) by the party at large, rather than by the caucus. Thus, the government’s MPs have no effective mechanism through which to stand their ground against a very powerful leader or effectively represent his or her constituents.

Critics regularly cite our seemingly dizzying array of market choices as proof that government has little control in our day-to-day lives. Although they can hardly provide a straight and articulate answer without sneering derision, state supporters are often stumped by simple facts. For example, all of the so-called “choices” that the so-called “free market” offers are all directly controlled by government.


Okay, name any product or service in Canada that doesn’t require government legal authorization, licensing, approval, etc. In other words, you have only the choices that government allows and you’re coerced, backed by threats of violence and imprisonment, into paying for this through taxes. Yes, you can buy things on the black market but you face the wrath of government if you decide thusly to exercise your “free choice” and of course you’re guilty until you can prove otherwise (which they can still arbitrarily reject).

Because they’re now stumped, government lackeys immediately pivot their argument to deflect by claiming that this is necessary to “keep us safe”. To this I would simply suggest cracking open a newspaper – the evidence of how government doesn’t keep us safe is in the news pretty much on a daily basis. Whether this involves food, healthpersonal safetyprivacy, and a litany of other claims about protections, there are regular and glaring examples of how this simply isn’t true.

The statist argument typically changes course once again at this point to demand that nothing – our hospitals, roads, water and electrical systems, etc. – would exist without government. I’ve addressed these obviously specious arguments a number of times in the past but I will concede that government vehicles with government employees do sometimes drive up to a pothole, and one labourer and three supervisors spend three to four weeks filling it with a cop or two gladly accepting extorted taxpayer money to text or browse the web on their cell phones or chat with the crew, while out of sight pedestrians and cars are left to their own devices to share the dangerous inches left for them. Sounds an awful lot like the lazy welfare whores that government is keen to trot out to justify how we should receive even less state “benefits”, doesn’t it?

In other words, government supplies a few services through a wasteful, overpriced, badly (if at all) regulated process, something that is typically done far more efficiently by the private sector. This makes sense – the private business has to look out for their bottom line, government can just raise taxes and you’ll be brutalized or extorted by “authorities” and go to jail if you don’t like it. There’s no incentive for government to be efficient or benefit citizens in any way, and every single government institution behaves according to this.

Don’t believe? Just try and apply for any government “benefits” to see how hard your loving, benign government works for you. Call up a government “service” phone line and see for yourself how much service you receive. While you’re at it, try calling the cops when you actually need them – I have and that’s why I know better.

Rather than becoming more like a system of presidential executive authority, this situation has left Canadian prime ministers in a position more akin to historical monarchs. The evolution of Westminster democracy in Canada is very much a story about the struggle to wrestle power away from the Crown and shift it to Parliament, and specifically the House of Commons, our primary democratic body and check on unfettered prime ministerial power. The ability of prime ministers to retain and use these Crown powers, alongside other powers over MPs and the House of Commons, is resulting in a situation where prime ministers have the power to make decisions, partisan and otherwise, that limit or negate Parliament’s role as a guardian for accountability in our democratic system.

This is not simply about politics or even personalities. Almost all recent prime ministers have used these powers to try to advance their partisan interests. What it is about is the erosion of our democratic institutions and the effect on democratic governance.

The next rhetorical recourse of any good government lapdog is to state that, yeah, okay, maybe government isn’t perfect but we have “checks and balances” to ensure that things more or less work out for most people. And if we don’t like it we can vote in someone else!

These are other points I’ve addressed at length and are yet more claims that can be factually rebutted with a mountain of evidence to the contrary (this blog is filled with it). And while it’s claimed that the media would surely alert us to these issues it’s easy to demonstrate that this is highly unlikely to be the case. Unless you seek out increasingly derided alternative sources you will only know what government and friends want you to know.

If your final argument is that people are too stupid to know what’s good for them, hence the need for unquestionable government, then kindly shut your ignorance hole – you’ve just brilliantly insisted that you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

Put this all together and the will of the people is entirely irrelevant and, in fact, something to be suppressed.

It’s at this point when state defenders throw up their hands and exasperatedly exclaim, “Oh well! Then I guess we must be living under a King or Queen then, huh?!”

Yeah, smart guy. Flip over your Canadian money or do a Wikipedia search – Canada is a monarchy and whether the titular head is the queen or Harper the effect is the same.

Canada on Wikipedia

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“This organization poses a great threat to Iraq and Syria” Fri, 22 May 2015 22:00:29 +0000

No rape

A lot cheaper than it could be since they’re spending $0 on accountability or oversight.

The RCMP will receive $150.4 million in new money over five years, beginning in 2015-16, and $46.8 million a year after, with the money going to help the Mounties conduct terrorism-related criminal investigations.

The border-services agency will get $5.4 million over five years and $1.1 million annually in subsequent years, with some of the funds earmarked for identifying high-risk travellers.

“The reason the international community has intervened in Iraq is the serious threat that ISIS poses . . . . We’ve had some successes, but, at the same time, it is no secret this is an ongoing battle. This organization poses a great threat and continues to pose a great threat, obviously, to security in Iraq and Syria.

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“…no right to a jury roll of a particular composition” Fri, 22 May 2015 21:36:33 +0000

Kafka's Trial

Clifford Kokopenace, an aboriginal man from the Grassy Narrows reserve, was convicted of manslaughter in the 2007 death of Taylor Assin. Before sentencing, his lawyers learned that the roll from which jurors were selected consisted of 699 potential jurors, of whom only 29 were First Nation on-reserve residents — about 4.1 per cent.

But in that district, on-reserve residents made up 32 per cent of the adult population. Kokopenace’s lawyers argued his Charter rights to a fair and impartial jury were violated. Ontario’s Court of Appeal agreed.

In a 5-2 decision written by Justice Michael Moldaver, the Supreme Court ruled an accused’s right to a representative jury is “not the appropriate mechanism for repairing the damaged relationship between particular societal groups and our criminal justice system.”

The court said there is no right to a jury roll of a particular composition, nor to one that proportionately represents all the diverse groups in Canada. The court found that when Kenora’s 2008 jury roll was formed, Ontario’s efforts to include aboriginal on-reserve residents in the process were “reasonable.”

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“…not charged with any offences” Fri, 22 May 2015 15:40:44 +0000 So is he dangerous or what?

Twenty-year-old Seyed Amir Hossein Raisolsadat of Stratford has not been charged with any offences.

Police allege Raisolsadat had beans needed to produce the deadly toxin, ricin.

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“…not a single worker is protected under the Employment Standards Act” Wed, 20 May 2015 18:53:07 +0000 Foxconn

In Ontario, not a single worker is protected from wrongful dismissal under the Employment Standards Act.

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I don’t use the word “hero” often but… Fri, 15 May 2015 17:00:35 +0000

There are worse crimes you know?

Vaulter Bandit

On Friday, York Regional Police and Peel Regional Police and the Canadian Bankers Association plan to hold a news conference in Aurora to publicize the $100,000 reward.

The robber is known at the Vaulter Bandit for the way in which he jumps over the counter during robberies, and he has been linked to about 20 bank heists over a five-year period across Canada.

He appears to work alone and may use rental cars.

“He’s probably pretty hush hush about it,” [Det.-Sgt. Mike] Fleischaker said.

He has used a silver Jetta and a Chevy Cruz for his escapes, and police are investigating whether they were rental cars.

“These are cars that are frequently rented out as economy cars,” Fleischaker said.

His method of robbery has changed over the course of his career.

Originally, he went into banks during regular hours and jumped the counter, taking whatever he could quickly from tellers.

Since May 2011, he has started to show up in the morning as employees prepare to open branches for business.

Last June, the Canadian Bankers Association raised the reward to $50,000 from $20,000.

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“advocacy groups that encourage boycotts of Israel … the new face of anti-Semitism” Fri, 15 May 2015 09:00:15 +0000 France arrests

The Harper government is signalling its intention to use hate crime laws against Canadian advocacy groups that encourage boycotts of Israel.

The government’s intention was made clear in a response to inquiries from CBC News about statements by federal ministers of a “zero tolerance” approach to groups participating in a loose coalition called Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS), which was begun in 2006 at the request of Palestinian non-governmental organizations.

Asked to explain what zero tolerance means, and what is being done to enforce it, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney replied, four days later, with a detailed list of Canada’s updated hate laws, noting that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of such laws “anywhere in the world.”

In January, Canada’s then foreign affairs minister, John Baird, signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Israeli authorities in Jerusalem, pledging to combat BDS.

It described the movement as “the new face of anti-Semitism.”

A few days later, at the UN, Canadian Public Security Minister Steven Blaney went much further.

He conflated boycotts of Israel with anti-Semitic hate speech and violence, including the deadly attacks that had just taken place in Paris on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket.

Blaney then said the government is taking a “zero tolerance” approach to BDS.

“We’ve asked our lawyers. What does that mean?” says CUPE president Paul Moist. “Is it now a criminal offence to walk around with a sign saying close all the settlements, Israel out of occupied territories?”

In France, the law has for years criminalized hate speech based on national origin, and authorities there have in recent years been using it to prosecute BDS advocates. To date, more than 20 have been convicted.

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“he was 15 … Canadian agents interrogated him in Guantanamo Bay despite knowing he had been abused beforehand” Fri, 15 May 2015 01:00:56 +0000

Kill Team Afghanistan

Although he was 15 when his crimes occurred in Afghanistan in July 2002, the U.S. military commission made no distinction between juveniles and adults in sentencing him in 2010 to a further eight years behind bars.

While the government concedes the sentence for the most serious charge — the murder of an American special forces soldier — can only be considered a youth sentence, it argues the other four — including attempted murder — must be viewed as adult sentences.

No provisions exist for an inmate to serve both youth and adult sentences at the same time, so Ottawa classified him as an adult offender when he transferred to Canada from Guantanamo Bay in September 2012 under an international treaty to serve out his punishment.

The Supreme Court has twice before taken up Khadr’s case, both times siding with him.

In 2008, the court ruled Canadian officials had acted illegally by sharing intelligence information about him with his U.S. captors.

In 2010, the top court declared that Ottawa had violated his constitutional rights when Canadian agents interrogated him in Guantanamo Bay despite knowing he had been abused beforehand.

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“the mayor, the Toronto Police Service and its board have clearly declared black communities collectively a public safety threat” Thu, 14 May 2015 22:00:56 +0000

Krakow ghetto

“We have yet to be provided evidence that carding impacts crime in any shape or fashion,” Rinaldo Walcott, an associate professor at U of T said at a press conference Wednesday. “We have yet to be provided evidence that the database developed from carding impacts crime and its resolution in any way or shape.

“We find this totally unacceptable in the age of information,” said Walcott. “We believe that by ignoring available evidence, that the mayor, the Toronto Police Service and its board have clearly declared black communities collectively a public safety threat.

“The only way to think of such a declaration is to call it anti-black racism.”

Walcott was joined by Anthony Morgan of the African Canadian Legal Clinic, Ryerson University professor Akua Benjamin, Pascale Diverlus who is vice-president of United Black Students Ryerson and a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto and academic Chris Williams, a vocal opponent of carding.

The group is asking for meetings with new police chief Mark Saunders, Mayor John Tory and Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Toronto police defend carding — during which people are stopped and documented in mostly non-criminal encounters — as an invaluable intelligence-gathering tool and say they police high crime areas of the city and not by race.

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“If you do something against the law in the RCMP … they change the law” Thu, 14 May 2015 14:32:01 +0000 ENLIST TODAY

“I find this provision almost Orwellian,” said Fred Vallance-Jones, an associate professor at the University of King’s College in Halifax and an expert in access to information law.

“It seeks to rewrite history, to say that lawful access to records that existed before didn’t actually exist after all, and that if you exercised your quasi-constitutional right of access to those records, well too bad, you’re out of luck.”

The government is setting a precedent to move retroactively on any record it doesn’t want exposed, Vallance-Jones said.

“That to me is the deeper concern.”

Michel Drapeau, a lawyer, former military colonel and access-to-information author, noted there has never been a charge laid under the Access to Information Act, let alone a conviction.

He said the rationale of moving retroactively to prevent a possible prosecution is “a dangerous and unwelcome precedent” that should be as unwelcome to the RCMP and the administration of justice as to freedom-of-information wonks.

“The optics of it are not good: ‘Oh, so that’s the way it works now?’ If you do something against the law in the RCMP, you’ve got your friends in high places, they change the law,” said Drapeau.

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This law’s for you Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:18:13 +0000 Compare:

Crack-smoking scumbag Rob Ford’s privacy is breached when staff access his private hospital records. Although there’s no indication that the information ever left the hospital or was used in any way, the Ontario Privacy Commissioner immediately demands prosecutions. Send a message, she says; this is totally unacceptable!

Around 15,000 people have their privacy breached on numerous occasions by hospital staff with the information being given or sold to third parties, some of whom use the information to solicit patients while others use it for more troubling ideological purposes, with who knows how many other breaches being swept under the rug. The Privacy Commissioner shrugs her shoulders and says, well, guess we gotta change the laws, while downplaying things as best she can: “We have found no evidence to suggest that this information ever left hospital property or was used by the photographer for any other purpose,” said Trell Huether, a spokesperson for the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, in an email.

The result here is that Rob Ford is just another exemplar of how government genuinely isn’t interested in the well-being and protection of its citizens, and certainly not in encouraging ethical behaviour or enforcing the law with any semblance of fairness or justice. It’s main purpose is to prop itself up, protect itself, exclude itself from any accountability, and to utterly destroy you if you don’t go along with their criminal racket. If you’re part of the gang you get a sweet ride otherwise you’re free to go fuck yourself.

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Your state tyranny is ready! Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:49:16 +0000 If you haven’t broken the law, you have nothing to worry about, right? No one in this “democratic” country would be arrested without charges, correct? You have due process and checks and balances, no?

Not in the fascist tyranny of Canada you don’t…

A summons was issued in February for Merouane Ghalmi to appear before a Quebec Court judge in Montreal to sign a peace bond after the RCMP said it feared he would commit a terrorism offence.

No document was signed in the case on Feb. 26 and the case was postponed to give Ghalmi’s lawyers time to review the evidence.

Ghalmi has not been charged with any offence.


And C-51 isn’t even law yet.

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Flying Beaver sessions: Scott Thompson on being first Mon, 19 Jan 2015 11:00:40 +0000 There’s just not much money in it:

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Flying Beaver sessions: Scott Thompson and the Fleshlight Sun, 18 Jan 2015 16:38:03 +0000 Scott and Maggie Cassella discussing equal opportunity sex toys:

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Flying Beaver sessions: Scott Thompson and sexuality Fri, 16 Jan 2015 20:00:53 +0000 Deep in the gooey grey mush of sexual nuance with Scott and Maggie Cassella at the Flying Beaver Pubaret:

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Flying Beaver sessions: Scott Thompson and the Griffin Awards Thu, 15 Jan 2015 20:41:25 +0000 On Toronto’s downtown-east side sits a quiet, unassuming, and intimate little comedy club called the Flying Beaver Pubaret.

The establishment is split into two halves: one a traditional Canadian booze can and the other a sliver of a (usually) comedic performance area. I’d find it shocking if a forty people could find room to watch a show and a hundred would probably fill up the place entirely. These capacity limits have not, however, been big concerns whenever I’ve visited.

Basically, the aptly named Pubaret isn’t spacious or particularly remarkable, and while it features many struggling and up-and-coming comics it’s not the kind of place you’d think to rub elbows with the likes of Kids In The Hall’s Scott Thompson or the incomparable Paul Bellini (also of KITH fame).

Yet the Flying Beaver is exactly the place to experience this juxtaposition in a truly intimate way — “rub elbows” can be taken literally. This is one of those iconic places, those awesome and seemingly undiscovered spots in which you can feel history being made. And did I mention that most of the interactive, meaty, uncensored, off-the-cuff discussions can be experienced for the price of a beer or two (and you get the beer)? That shit still blows my mind.

Here’s an example of the magic in which Pubaret co-owner Maggie Cassella asks Scott to recount his experiences performing at the Griffin Poetry Prize awards:

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The real cost of “free trade” Sun, 21 Sep 2014 18:23:32 +0000 So now that we have Harper basically signing top secret free trade deals with anyone and everyone and in the process directly trying to undermine and sign over Canadian sovereignty to foreign entities without so much as a group huddle (isn’t that treason?), it’s worthwhile to ask what kinds of wonders Canada can realistically expect when all of these agreements are loosed on us.

Chinese companies will be able to seek redress against any laws passed by any level of government in Canada which threaten their profits. Australia has decided not to enter FIPA agreements specifically because they allow powerful corporations to challenge legislation on social, environmental and economic issues. Chinese companies investing heavily in Canadian energy will be able seek billions in compensation if their projects are hampered by provincial laws on issues such as environmental concerns or First Nations rights, for example.

Cases will be decided by a panel of professional arbitrators, and may be kept secret at the discretion of the sued party. This extraordinary provision reflects an aversion to transparency and public debate common to the Harper cabinet and the Chinese politburo.

Patrick Brown, CBC

This isn’t my area of expertise but I did manage to get a sense of what might happen economically — the base justification for all of this — by looking at some Toronto-based data (PDF) around the time when the last two free trade agreements (FTA and NAFTA), were dropped.


Across the board the numbers indicate a major blow to the economy, unemployment rate, number of jobs, housing prices and starts — almost everything was hit hard and most indexes have not yet recovered back to late 80s numbers.

I don’t remember these being part of the promises being heaped on Canadians by the government 25 years go, do you? In fact, we were promised the opposite. Funny how what the government promises and what we get are often diametrically opposite. Well, at least we can stuff flimsy paper ballot boxes to our hearts’ content; tell ’em what we think at the next election! (because they give a shit)

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Government to give monopoly, hardship money, to Rogers or Bell Fri, 12 Sep 2014 18:03:48 +0000 The Toronto Star article opens with this:

The cash-strapped provincial government is banking on a bidding war between Canada’s largest telecommunications companies for its lucrative lottery business.

The lucrative business (why the OLG is selling access to it, obviously), is in the exclusive right to sell the OLG’s products and services through a network of the telecom’s own “specialists”; in other words, to run lottery and gaming operations in Ontario. The two companies currently involved in a bidding war for this are Rogers and Bell. Does this maybe have something to do with the OLG’s unquestioned power to violate privacy laws? Of course the process is fair and open to everyone (with lots and lots of money), so no problems there.

Even better, the government will enforce this private, for-profit monopoly for, obviously, everyone’s benefit.

“The service provider will be responsible for recommending strategies to maximize the growth and success of the lottery business, developing products and marketing plans, operations, and process and cost optimization,” the Crown agency announced in December.

“”It will also serve as a single point of contact for OLG by being responsible for everything subcontractors do and ensuring they deliver on OLG’s modernization requirements,” the corporation said.

“In the future, OLG will continue its role in the conduct, management and oversight of lottery. This includes setting the overall strategy for lottery, managing the market by approving channel strategies and approving products.”

Isn’t that wonderful?

And, because Bell and Rogers are such poor, poor corporations (and because the OLG is itself “cash-strapped”), the Commission will be handing out roughly $750,000 to the winning bidder for the harsh inconvenience of plunking a golden monopoly into their private, for-profit laps (paid for by taxpayers, of course).

Potential new operators will now see up to $650,000 of their costs in making a bid covered by the provincial agency.

OLG will also pay $100,000 of fees that bidders must pay to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to investigate them and ensure they are above board.

Finally, it wouldn’t be government if this wasn’t all kept a big secret:

In an email, OLG’s Tony Bitonti emphasized that “procurement involves information of a commercially sensitive nature.”

“As a result, details of the RFP (request-for-proposal) documents and names of pre-qualified service providers will not be released while the process is ongoing,” wrote Bitonti.

“There will be no further communication about the RFP until a service provider is announced. OLG expects to announce the successful service provider in fall 2015,” he continued.

Bitonti said no potential price-tag for the lottery could be disclosed because that’s part of the bidding process.

Ooh, “pre-qualified” … I wonder how that works, and who decided on the “pre-qualified service providers”.

On the bright side, it looks like karma is a thing after all.

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SocialCastr open sourced Tue, 02 Sep 2014 21:51:21 +0000 sc_col_large

It’s not nearly as thorough as I’d wanted but I did manage to slap that open source license on all of the files and cut out a bunch of extraneous stuff in uploading SocialCastr (the personal broadcasting studio software). You can find the source code here:

This is certainly not for the novice, at least not at this time. There’s some advanced code in there and you need to know your way around Adobe Flash to actually compile it. I’ll be going into much greater detail on the project page but, basically, you’ll need to create (or import), a custom application certificate to sign your code, update the SwagCloud class with your own server address (and optional developer key), and work around any minor issues like missing fonts in the IDE (included).

Eventually there will be very clear details that can be followed verbatim (even by the novice), and by that point I hope to have the project ported over to FlashDevelop (the open source version of Adobe Flash), but until then I’m simply going to include these caveats.

However, if you really don’t care to get your hands dirty and just want to start broadcasting, visit to download the finished product.

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The Canadian Apocalypse Sun, 31 Aug 2014 14:20:05 +0000 Those Australians are on to something…

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Censorship-resistant SocialCastr going open source Sun, 17 Aug 2014 16:07:42 +0000 A couple of years ago I began work on a project named SocialCastr. In a nutshell, it’s a piece of software that enables you to broadcast (video/audio) to an unlimited audience over the internet from your computer or device. This differs from something like YouTube or LiveStream in that you don’t need such services to achieve this. There aren’t many services or software titles out there that do this, mostly because it’s kinda complicated, but also presumably because it’s hard to monetize something that is entirely in the users’ control.

Obviously, some people are fine with using third-party services to store and distribute their content. I often use them so I get it. However, as people are increasingly finding, censorship, the silencing of dissent and competition, and a lack of freedom are alive and well on all the major platforms out there. If you believe in individual freedoms, you’re unlikely to find them in the ranks of the media hosting mega-corps.

It’s probable that your cute cat videosinane content, or asinine replies will be safe — it’s the really important stuff like speaking out against government abuse that might disappear in a digital puff smoke.

With SocialCastr I wanted to side-step some of these issues directly and it was clear to me that the best way to do so was to remove the third-party part of the equation. Luckily, my programming language of choice (ActionScript) has a robust networking system that allowed me to do exactly this.

Unlike something like YouTube where you upload (or stream) your video to them and they take care of distributing it to your audience, SocialCastr broadcasts directly to the audience. In other words, you are communicating directly with peers (audience), no YouTube or LiveStream to potentially block or censor you.

This approach was unthinkable just a few years ago; most computers, even with fast connections, could send video/audio streams to a few people at most. It’s not unlike uploading videos to YouTube — once you’re uploading two or three videos (or any data, really) at the same time, your internet connection is essentially “busy”. Sending video directly to two or three individuals over the internet would similarly clog your connection. YouTube has what in programming parlance is referred to as “fat pipes”, fast and powerful internet connections that can support millions of viewers simultaneously, something that is simply out of the reach of the vast majority of us.

SocialCastr does things differently.

When you broadcast, you only actually send your video/audio stream to two or three people at most. They in turn take care of re-distributing the stream to others using peer-to-peer networking. Your audience quite literally share the burden of re-distributing the content to other peers. Practically this means that you are able to broadcast to a potentially unlimited number of people with a pretty basic computer and equally basic internet connection.

Despite the fact that I have an ongoing wish-list of additional features, SocialCastr is complete so there’s a lot that can be done with the underlying technology along similar lines as above.

For example, distributing files  á la BitTorrent is something I’ve (successfully) tested, and I’m not the only person to do so. Similarly, two-way peer-to-peer chat, including video and audio, are laughably easy to set up within SocialCastr.

Perhaps more interesting than this would be to use SocialCastr to anonymize web browsing much like Tor does — when you want to view a web page, a request goes out to all connected peers who make the request on your behalf. Just as with Tor, it’s the peers that actually get the data for you (encrypted, of course), and return it to you. Spreading a web page load over many peers, a request which typically requires tens or sometimes hundreds of requests to fully complete (i.e. all the images, ads, etc.), could potentially speed up retrieval of the web page in addition to helping you to stay anonymous.

I’ve even opined that it should be fairly straightforward to build a distributed computing platform of some sort. US Berkeley does exactly this when searching the heavens for signs of extra-terrestrial life this with their SETI@Home project, and many Bitcoin miners now work in similar cooperative groups to feed the cryptocurrency with its raw Bitcoin rainbow tables.

And did I mention that because it’s Adobe Flash / AIR, it’ll run on most computers, devices, and browsers currently in existence? PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari … the same code runs everywhere.

This is all very realistic and mostly tested, so it’s far from being merely speculative. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time to make these ideas a full reality so I’ve decided that I’ll be open-sourcing SocialCastr very shortly (just as soon as I’ve cleaned up and commented the source code a bit, you know the drill).

So if you want to download the SocialCastr source code and compile it yourself (detailed instructions to be included), you don’t have to trust me or anyone else to produce the end software. You can fiddle with the code directly and change it in small or large ways in order to learn, or produce something unique, or whatever. If all you want to do is to slap your own logo on there and release (including sell) the software, be my guest!

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Dougie and the chief hug it out, plus a thoroughly scaped goat Thu, 14 Aug 2014 22:00:01 +0000 I remember opining not long ago about what appears to be public theatre between police chief Blair and the Fords. As I recall, I speculated that it had something to do with propping each other up in the media, a backroom friendship publicly laid out for the media as animosity. The purpose is simply to boost each others’ profiles, something the Fords shamelessly pursue.

Now consider the most recent circumstances:

  • Blair is retiring and not considering a run in politics. Even if this isn’t true, he’ll probably need to parlay his high profile into his next gig, whatever that happens to be. In other words: media attention=good.
  • As late as yesterday, Blair and Doug were staring each other down over Doug’s slanderous comments. Despite extended threats of litigation and with no new developments in the intervening 16-ish hours, Blair does a 180 and says everything’s forgiven. Aww, shucks.
  • Blair continues to look like a stalwart law-n-order guy, and the Fords continue to appear to be the poor, beaten-upon “common folks” to their seething, money-trumps-life supporters:ford_support

Against the backdrop of another big corporation taking the law into their own hands (where’s Blair big denouncement on corporate vigilantism?), we get the simultaneous news that one — yes, one 25-year-old person has been found guilty of “orchestrated” and “widespread” voter suppression (election fraud), by the Conservative party during the last election.

What did Harper have to say right after the scandal broke out? Oh yeah…

“Our party has no knowledge of these calls. It’s not part of our campaign,” Mr. Harper told reporters on Thursday. “Obviously, if there is anyone who has done anything wrong, we will expect that they will face the full consequences of the law.”

And that is, of course, why he immediately and deeply cut funding to Elections Canada (the people running the fraud investigation), and then introduced a new law making it harder for people to vote just like they’re doing in the US (because, of course, that was the problem).

You can be forgiven for forgetting the 2006 “money funneling” scam that Harper used to fraudulently take the previous election. Elections Canada investigator Ronald Lamothe described it at the time as, “entirely under the control of and at the direction of officials of the Conservative Fund Canada and/or the Conservative Party of Canada.” The Conservatives went so far as to admit guilt in that case — they eventually conceded to winning through fraud and blowing millions to first deny, then defend it all. 

No one was found guilty, the government paid itself a fine and announced a “big victory”, and we are told to believe that the Conservatives won a second majority, one so overwhelming that Harper is unopposed in governmentWell, I guess there’s no problem then. Nothing to worry about!


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See something say something Thu, 14 Aug 2014 04:41:41 +0000 The corpse of my last post hadn’t even begun to cool when this morning I heard the TTC telling me over the PA that if I “see something” I should “say something”.

In case you don’t recognize this phrase, it’s a verbatim import of the US’ Department of Homeland Security “Turn Everyone Into Snitches” program.

Yup, that is the official video. It may seem a bit ludicrous, but this morning’s commute message was along these lines. If I see any suspicious packages, I should run to the nearest authority type and shit myself.

It’s so widespread that it’s even being introduced to gentle Vancouverites.

That one almost makes you feel good about saying it, doesn’t it?

Except that it has thus far preceded the type of government paranoia that’s playing out in Ferguson, Missouri right now.


I recall getting a face-full of something similar not too long ago:


Oh I know I was pretty critical of the G20 protesters back then, and I still am.

Walking around with signs and screaming at cops / passers-by does nothing. Breaking stuff even less so. Ooh, you broke a window! Take that, corporations!

As I recall, I’d already had some run-ins with G20 cops (and government) about which I wasn’t altogether happy, so I wasn’t exactly rooting for them. But just as much as I’m not a fan of state violence, I’m also not a fan of non-consensual people violence (if people agree to beat each other up, fine by me).

The problem, as I see it, is the forced, one-sided renunciation of violence while guess who gets the monopoly rights…

Besides, I don’t appreciate that sort of jittery message with my morning coffee.


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Flying spaghetti monsters Wed, 06 Aug 2014 00:58:52 +0000 believe! (or else)

believe! (or else)

The ugly.

Harper’s propensities are a toward building a corporate-fascist tyranny in Canada.

It’s tough to find agreement on just how far Harper’s machinations have progressed, but both his actions and his words repeatedly reassure us that this is precisely what he’s gunning for.

Tyranny, according to the people who coined the word, means “one who rules without law, looks to his own advantage rather than that of his subjects, and uses extreme and cruel tactics—against his own people as well as others”.

The evidence of government tyranny can be found all over TCL — just flip through some old posts.

And fascism, according to both original and modern definitions, is generally defined as, “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”


Or, if you prefer war-and-oppression-loving Benito Mussolini’s definition: “The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State–a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values–interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people … Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and economic sphere”.

Lawless and absolute control over economic and societal affairs?

In Canada?

Yes, and it’s obvious: the government is a monopoly that demands absolute obeisance to itself while keeping all of its citizens in debt-bondage to the state (a.k.a. taxes that you “owe” for your entire life and beyond). The vast majority of citizens never agreed to this or its administration; rather, they acquiesced after being threatened with seizure (theft) and jail (kidnapping and imprisonment). Of course, despite the fact that they overtly demand that these are crimes, government flatly rejects any definitions other than that of benevolent benefit when they engage in them. They have to; how could they undermine their own “authority”?


To be fair, Harper didn’t come up with the lie of calling Canada a “democracy” (which it’s simply not), or foisting the apparatus of the state to dominate and control. But he, like most other politicians, engages in stately depravity. He knows that after years of screwing over Canada he’ll be rewarded with a fat pension and lots of gifts from his international buddies for things like looking the other way to systemic human rights abuses. “Important Canadian values” my ass.

What about checks and balances?


Oh, you must be referring to the government-appointed juduciary (or a healthy smattering of corrupt, degenerate, ignorant and incompetent Justices of the Peace), or maybe the equally undemocratic Senate, or maybe the innumerable, undemocratic “authorities” that are imposed on us via the shell game of elections and self-appointed power of the moneyed ruling class.

So the term “fascist tyranny” is not a spurious, knee-jerk reaction or a flimsy propaganda label — it’s a sober definition based on overt deeds.

If it quacks like a duck, as they say.

Okay, so you still don’t like “corporate-fascist tyranny”? Too many memories of Nazi Germany? How exactly could Israel and Canada be such close partners given such strong overtones? How indeedhow indeed.

Very well. So if Harper himself called Canada a “dictatorship” and has been working hard to remove that “benign” prefix from the description, what exactly does that make him? And what does that make Canada?

The bad.

The awful arguments of moral relativism — “at least we’re not as bad as _______!” — imply that anything and everything goes as long as our government doesn’t behave like those animals in other countries.

This means that all that needs to happen is for continuing debasement and destruction of those countries (helped along, of course), for the argument to remain valid. They might behead you arbitrarily over there, so it’s okay for us to torture you here. When they get to doing unspeakable things to children, you being merely beaten and imprisoned for having adult opinions is perfectly acceptable … helluva lot better than what they’d do to you.

Price of freedom, buddy.


And … AND terrorism!

Oh yeah…terrorism. Who’s responsible for that again? Surely we need our government to protect us from all those baddies! Okay, so some (unbelievably audacious and fundamentally illegal), abuses might happen, but surely those people will be held to account.

Yeah, surely.


The moral relativist is in most arguments in favour of a race to the bottom, to the very worst crimes and debauchery that humanity can think up — as long as those crimes are slightly better than the other guy’s. The concept of absolute, inhuman control by the fascist state is mirrored in its mindless apologists, along with all the overt lies about your “protection” and “safety” (Terrorism! Crime! Environment! Lefties! Traffic!)

Even if you don’t believe that we’ve arrived at this point, is this what we should be striving for?

Even if you believe that this is merely incompetence, is it logical to depend on the very same people who created and perpetuated these problems for decades/centuries to miraculously fix them?

Okay, I know I’m hammering this topic pretty hard, but only because I absolutely know that the time to take a solid stand is now. The march of corpo-fascism continues across North America and elsewhere, fully promulgated by our “democratically elected” leaders.

All tomorrows are too late.

The good.

IPViking attack map

The map above is from Norse Corporation’s IPViking Live site where you can see many of the world’s cyber attacks in realtime.

While a map of attacks in the ongoing “cyberwar” (a fear-based buzzword), may seem like utter devastation, it really only shows good old-fashion hack ‘n crack activity with the occasional DDOS attack (nothing more than the target being overwhelmed with too much intentional internet traffic — a very brute-force technique).

In fact, aside from a change in connectivity and some improvements in security, many of the underlying penetration techniques haven’t changed much since I was a pimply-faced, war-dialing teenager.


What the map reveals, however, is that Canada’s internet connection to the world is still somewhat open and unencumbered (net neutrality not withstanding), which is confirmed by the the renewed attention of the copyright goon squad.

Better still, the increasingly brave belief in privacy and anonymity (and moreover simply basic justice), are alive and well in Canada. It is increasingly Canadians who champion truth, justice, and democracy (in the truest sense), around the world.

Take, for example, Montreal’s Subgraph. They come right out of the gate with a firm declaration:

Subgraph is an open source security company.

This means that we believe that open source means the best possible assurance of security at a time when trust is increasingly challenging.

Subgraph takes its inspiration from the domain of cryptography where proprietary algorithms are never trusted, and extends this principle to software.

If a proprietary algorithm cannot be trusted, why trust proprietary, closed-source security software?

I like where they’re going with this. I also like that they’ve taken on the task of creating Subgraph OS and Mail, a much-needed alternative to Tails which is a fully self-contained operating system built around security, privacy, and anonymity that has recently received some skepticism.

Closer to home we find the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, a group dedicated more to threat analysis and neutralization rather than the creation of new products (though they sometimes make those too).

Citizen Lab is lead by Ron Deibert who Sarah informs me often carries himself (and is received as) a rockstar, probably because of stuff like this:

…he was sitting on a panel with John Adams, the former chief of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the National Security Agency’s little-known northern ally. Afterward, he recalls, the former spy chief approached and casually remarked that there were people in government who wanted Deibert arrested—and that he was one of them.

It’s a bit freaky to hear that,” Deibert said when he recalled the Calgary encounter in an interview with Ars. “When people ask, ‘are you worried about the Chinese or some other adversary out there,’ I say I’m always a bit more worried about my own government, because this is the kind of thing I hear occasionally.”

It’s Citizen Lab’s razor-edge stride between academic rigour, establishment paranoia, and charisma that make it both a formidable force as well as a model for what I think needs to happen, at least in the online world. Increasingly, I believe that Citizen Lab is an example of the type organization that freedom and truth-minded individuals will come to rely on — a group of enlightened individuals who know what time it is.


If you don’t go for these freewheeling hippie types, there are older and more established schools of thought that underscore this entire line of thinking; schools like the Rothbard Insitute, another academic but considerably stuffier organization espousing individual freedom through “radical” economic ideas, and the Mises Institute which runs along similar lines.

On the political front we find groups like the Pirate Party which, despite the malignancies heaped on the name by the corpo-state, is ultimately for individual rights and freedoms:

To describe the goal of the Pirate Party in a single word, I would use “empowerment”. The beauty of the Internet and information technology is the ability for a poor child to have the same opportunities to create change as a wealthy privileged adult. It is the goal of the Pirate Party to encourage that strength, and to promote values which will empower every Canadian.

And if Rothbard or Mises are too rigid for your enjoyment, there are many bright, well-spoken, informed individuals out there that help to bridge the gaps; everything from applicable advice to thought-provoking witticisms.

magical democracy

Complacency and continuing acquiescence are, of course, an option. Going along with or supporting the increasingly fascist state are another. We could also worship the flying spaghetti monster, believe that voting makes a difference, trust that government is working for our benefit, etc.

We have some good examples of how such beliefs work out … maybe it’s time for something different this time?

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A Ford by any other name Wed, 23 Jul 2014 01:09:47 +0000 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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Skinworks Wed, 16 Jul 2014 13:24:50 +0000

Racy street advertising for Steamworks, Church Street


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The new gatekeepers Fri, 11 Jul 2014 20:30:09 +0000 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:

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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η: Innovative people power Tue, 08 Jul 2014 21:40:55 +0000 That lowercase Greek letter at the beginning is “Eta” (capital is “Η”), and it might seem like a vacuous headline but some of my recent posts should provide sufficient contrast to mega-corps and government, both of whom view innovation as something to be avoided. Contrast again with something like Toronto’s AeroVelo, a project-based company started by a couple of former University of Toronto propeller-heads.

AeroVelo’s innovation consists of finally turning interesting mechanical concepts into reality. For example, a while back this guy named Leonardo imagined human-powered flying machines.


Humanity got screwed on that idea for a few hundred years or so, no doubt due to government regulations.

Although they didn’t exactly follow the original blueprint, AeroVelo managed to get Leo’s vision aloft:

Before that they did a flappy-style flying craft, also powered by nothing more than gumption (and a guy pedalling):

And now that they’ve conquered the skies, they’ve just passed their goal on KickStarter to build the world’s fastest human-powered bicycle named “Eta”, of course.

To be specific:

Our goal is to build the world’s fastest human-powered vehicle, capable of surpassing the current level-ground speed record of 133.8 km/hr (83.1 mph)! This represents a mind-blowing leap in aerodynamic efficiency and vehicle technology. If your car looked like this, you could drive across Canada on a quarter tank of gas!



I’m not sure if I’d want my car to be this cramped, but I still think it’s neat that true innovation is happening at the individual level, in more ways than one. What’s more, while this all still looks pretty experimental, it seems perfectly reasonable to expect that AeroVelo’s ideas will trickle into the mainstream in a way that will reasonably be accessible to most people. It is, after all, just a very fancy bike.

Publicly-funded government and mega-corp “innovation”,  on the other hand, is not so people-friendly (more anti-people, pro-tyranny, with hints of treason, really).

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Ford & Blair: another theory Thu, 03 Jul 2014 22:30:08 +0000 Now, I have to stress, this is totally just a theory. I have no evidence of any of this — it is a pure flight of fancy.

But let’s consider this: how come Rob Ford is still roaming the halls of City Hall, locking reporters out, and basically being good old RoFo again? And anyone have a pool going on when he officially (documented) hits the pipe again? How far off can it be?

But he does look slimmer, I’ll give him that. His stay in unbelievably picturesque Bracebridge must’ve been good. And not too cheap neither. Bracebridge is one of the jewels in what is basically the Canadian Hamptons.

In any event, and for whatever reason, the Fords are either intimidating to Chief Blair and many others, or they’re (Fords + Blair + others) working together. Whatever the case, the top cop refuses to touch Ford with so much as a fifty-foot pole wielded by a lackey who is on concurrent traffic duty. I’ve already established this point a couple of times.

So instead, Blair decides to shuffle the investigation over to various parties, thereby washing his hands of the situation. Enforcement won’t be involved.

The courts decide that, for perhaps the same whatever reason, they don’t want to deal with this either, so they hang it out to dry like the crusty laundry it is.

The complicit media behemoths provide watered-down analysis to ensure the public that everything and anything in God’s creation that could have been done was done. We’ll simply have to accept that our Mayor is a hard-drug-smoking, prostitute-cavorting, extortion-associating, gun-and-drug-running-related, murder-linked guy; he’s just a regular multi-millionaire like the rest of us except that he’s got a disease! So obviously it would be discriminatory to even suggest that he leave City Hall at this point.

And, of course, it’s completely coincidental that the Ontario Human Rights Commission declared that addiction is a disease just before RoFo made his ignominious return. Right?

Not to put too fine a point on it, imagine going to your office after hours wasted (on multiple occasions), harassing the security, and inviting “unknown persons” in for late night parties. Not only does this not get you fired, but you threaten to sue your boss for discriminating against you because of your “disease” – the criminal excuse du jour that ends up making legitimate addicts (who purposefully hurt no one but themselves), seem like degenerates. Rob Ford is using a real medical condition to legitimize his open criminality, lies, and ongoing scumbaggery. Pretty slimy thing to do, huh? Well, that’s Rob Ford for you!

The cops might be chicken shit for whatever reason, or they may be deferential for whatever reason. The courts may have equal whatever reasons. The end result in either case is that the law was not applied equally and neither was the investigation.

So could they be working together?

Wait, no, that’s no possible. Remember when Rob and Doug chewed the chief out?

Let me offer another theory.

What if there were some secret meetings that took place in which exactly this scenario would be hatched? Rob and Doug would publicly vilify the chief (easy) who would put on a stoic face (easy) and hand the matter off to a less improprietous body, which itself would turn around and just make the whole thing public (easy). Rob and Doug gain fans because they’re under such furious attack, Bill looks like the proper police chief, and the wise court gives the people what they really want — titillating, salacious details.

The whole matter: under the rug, RoFo & Co. are pleased (as are their masters), and everyone looks like they’re just doing they’re job. Except they’re really not.

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BreakOutBox open-sourced Wed, 02 Jul 2014 21:05:55 +0000 BreakOutBox

When I mentioned that I’d be releasing the BreakOutBox source code, I didn’t expect that I’d also be able to figure out how to create a portable version of the application, but I did. :) This means that you don’t necessarily have to install it, as you would do with a standard application, so it can run off of a USB stick or possibly even a DVD.

In a nutshell, BreakOutBox detects any browsers you may have installed and opens them in “Tor mode” — ready and set up to communicate through the Tor network via the included Tor binary. This is likely not as secure as something like the Tor Browse Bundle, but it still makes it so that you’re fairly anonymously browsing the web, seemingly from a whole other part of the world.

Tor exit address

The source code is not something that a novice will want to be looking into at the moment; it’s currently poorly commented, comes with no documentation, and really not much in the way of explanation. At least for now. And it’s pretty buggy.

But if you’re still willing and able, head on over to the new GitHub repo I’ve set up:

You’ll notice a folder in the project called “BreakOutBox_standalone” which is the actual portable app, as compiled by FlashDevelop. It is bulkier than it needs to be but, as with the other pieces, I haven’t yet had much chance to trim down or edit the files. If you want to use the portable version, I recommend just grabbing the whole folder for the time being. Open up the “BreakOutBox.exe” file to run the desktop application from wherever you’ve copied the folder.

Although I’ve included them already, you may also want to check out the supporting libraries that are used in BreakOutBox:


These are necessary for BoB to operate correctly — SwAG takes care of communicating between the modules, as3crypto provides HTTPS support, WRASE allows the application to work with the Windows Registry, and TorAS makes Tor happen.

As I mentioned, these are already included in the GitHub code so they’re included here simply as a reference. Other than grabbing yourself a copy of the latest FlashDevelop (and the BreakOutBox source code, of course), you should be ready to play around with the software.

Please enjoy.

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The Grid TO goes belly-up Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:50:09 +0000 Though there’s still no indication of this on their website, The Grid TO’s last issue will be tomorrow:



What makes this sad news is what appears between the lines:

“It’s a tough time, a really tough time,” Turnbull said in an interview.

“The media landscape continues to be impossible for a start up,” he said, calling The Grid a victim of timing.

Launched on May 12, 2011, three years after the Great Recession, Turnbull said, “nobody anticipated how dramatically print and online revenue would continue to decline after 2009. We all thought it would be a gentle landing. Instead, it’s been violent.

“If the Grid had launched eight years ago instead of three, there’s no question it would be a roaring success,” he said.

In other words, independent journalism (even when backed by a media giant like Torstar), is a real tough sell today (no small thanks, I’m sure, to when they’re dismissed or attacked by corrupt leaders).

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Even more interesting things Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:36:02 +0000 Some people seem to revel in apocalyptic scenarios.

Not me, as I’ve hopefully explained earlier.

I actually rather enjoy city life and, for the most part, my neighbourhood (and the city too). Toronto and its people can be pretty cool.

Worldpride 2014

Worldpride 2014

As I stated earlier, I’m not against police or even government, per se. I’m just not happy with what they and their offspring have become.

If the government ever does something to benefit the people, that’s simply a side-effect of benefiting itself and its buddies first and foremost. Besides, they’ll get your benefits through all of their fraudulent means anyway, whether you like it or not, and they’ll publicize how they crushed you under their boot afterward (“for your benefit!”).

It’s Not All Bad

However, I’m not a “tear it all down” guy. For example, I think cities are the most environmentally sensible, as opposed to the vast wasted tracts of the suburban gated communities and sprawling strip malls (government planning). Cities take getting used to, but there are many benefits too.

And “progress”, in the old techno-oriented way, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s all in how it’s used, something that can can be said of any tool.


Government? Well, if this were a true democracy and the people had direct say into political affairs then I see no reason why government (or any other agency), can’t co-exist — as long as it’s actually selected by, and works for, the people. Same for the police, the military, etc., etc.

After all, there are some good politicians, and there are some good cops, so it’s not as if these institutions couldn’t be run effectively and in the interests of the citizens. It’s possible that no one would lose their jobs if they could justify their value to society. It’s conceivable, though doubtful, that things would stay exactly the same.

Yes, some communities might elect to have absolute government dictatorship. Others might be a bit more relaxed and vote to limit government influence. I imagine that probably there’d be a mix of the two, with a direct focus on the needs of the community (not the government).

This may also mean disparity between public works between communities (roads, water works, electricity, income, etc.), but could someone please explain how that is any different from what the government is imposing right now? I bet strong local advocacy, even direct government participation, would help to equalize the needs of all of Toronto’s disparate neighbourhoods (and way more efficiently).


Give. Me. A. Break.

Electronic Voting

This is 2014!

Has anyone noticed that the internet is pretty much everywhere? And if not, it could/should be. Maybe not everywhere, yet, but in any major urban metropolis it seems doable (at least, I say, we shouldn’t let government failures dissuade us).

Online encryption-based voting systems have been well-studied over the past quarter-century, and numerous super-smart people are further exploring the field. Many of the comments against electronic voting include exactly the kinds of thingsproper electronic voting system avoids (i.e. examples we’ve seen so far have been built by government, so…)

Because of the difficulty of breaking the underlying encryption, when properly deployed such a system would prevent even governments from being able to game it along with everyone else (which is a good indication of why government would never accept it).

The ownership of your decision would belong solely to you and could be verified as a valid, un-forgeable vote, along with being anonymous and inherently fraud-resistant (the “authority” would simply maintain the open-source voting software and public access points).

Perhaps a little prior testing might be nice too.

Here are some other stated goals:

  1. Correctness:
    • Only authorized parties can vote, i.e. registered voters
    • No voter votes more than once
    • No voter can replace votes
    • The party in charge of tabulation cannot change the outcome
  2. Verifiability: universal or private
  3. User anonymity
  4. Receipt-freeness

Consider how the current government system of paper-ballot voting compares:

  1. Correctness: FAIL (Who verifies that the government’s count is accurate?)
  2. Verifiability: FAIL (How do we verify what happens to our vote once in the box?)
  3. User anonymity: FAIL (Voters must vote using real name, in person)
  4. Receipt-freeness: PASS

The “receipt-freeness” part means that people don’t need to walk out with receipts to prove that they voted a certain way. This is a “PASS” for paper ballots, but overall the system gets a big “FAIL”.

While it’s true that electronic voting doesn’t necessarily prevent coercion, the current system in which government provides protection against your evil fellow man isn’t that great in preventing even itself from participating in the same problem.

The reliability concern is something that (in the “government doesn’t work for you” context), is something the state isn’t keen to deal with, and on a side-by-side basis it looks like electronic voting wins out anyways.

Also, let’s keep in mind which group has been tasked with bringing electronic voting into being: government. Would they really want to relinquish their monopoly? Seems unlikely. Would they promote its competition? Probably not. And who, exactly, is nay-saying electronic voting anyway? Yeah, the government, apparently comprised of no one who is able to read scientific literature.

Of course problems will exist, but with electronic voting the system can be verifiably fixed; with government voting we just have to trust them.

Again, the solution here really needs to be extra-systemic. It needs individuals to pool together and make it happen by slow insinuation.

And More

While government is keen to promote the negative uses of encryption (unless, of course, they’re doing it), what appears to be emerging from it is generally very positive — and it’s not all voting, privacy, and anonymity. It is, after all, a tool that can be wielded like any other.

As far as I’m concerned, evil intent regarding encryption as ascribed by government reveals more about the person (or organization) demonizing the tool rather than the tool itself.

The topics I’ve covered in this series aren’t as disparate as I might’ve implied, and individuals’ efforts are often broader than I may have hinted. And despite the negative aspects of this series, I think it’s always a good reminder that the insurmountable government systems of a not-too-long-ago yesterday are today the playthings of children, and that we can always depend on plenty of government incompetence, corruption, and old-fashioned red tape to get in the way of their own innovation.

The revolution will be hidden.

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I’ll explain Fri, 27 Jun 2014 20:30:46 +0000 Sorry for the interruption.

Hopefully it’s at least revealing to know that even as I write these lines I’m in a precarious situation (whatever income I do have is entirely spoken for), so please don’t mistake me for some well-to-do bohemian philosopher. And I know I’m not getting that seized money back so now I have to decide which bills aren’t getting paid.

But let’s not dwell.

I’d like to explain what I was getting at earlier. Because I really do have faith in something, and that something is technology.

Oh, don’t get me wrong — I know my computer isn’t going to hug or feed me tomorrow. It’ll barely keep me warm in the winter. In the summer, it does a shitty job of keeping me cool. It never encourages me, and frankly, it barely acknowledges my presence. But it does provide access to something: digital privacy and anonymity.


Of course government surveillance means that my expectations should be restrained, but based on everything I know about encryption, surveillance, and data collection, I believe that what governments are doing amounts to basically data warehousing — until they can figure out a way to crack some of the heavily encrypted stuff. And that’s proving very challenging.

So that’s a great place to start, for example, by learning how to encrypt your email. See if your friends can read them, just for shits and giggles. This took me a few moments to set up for the first time so I’d recommend giving yourself some time to absorb the instructions.

Don’t rush — misunderstanding is often as dangerous as sheer ignorance. The Khan Academy does a great job of explaining how you and another person can communicate privately when you’re constantly being listened in on (the ideas are initially explained using colours — no math!):

If you stuck around for the math in the second half, you may have noticed that this (the big number stuff), seems like something computers would be good at. Right? And the underlying concepts have many real-world analogues too.

One might opine that it’s almost as if God weaved these mathematical tidbits into the fabric of the universe for us to discover and use.

If you’re not really familiar with practical encryption, it’s a good idea to peruse the more general material. Take your time because encryption by itself isn’t enough. There are many ways that you can inadvertently reveal your personal information (stuff like writing your password on a sticky on your work PC), so an education in encryption is 50% technology and 50% human. Keep in mind that security is often also compromised via “rubber-hose cryptanalysis“.



So we’re also aiming for is anonymity. With everything now living in “the cloud” (a fancy term for “somebody else’s computer”), our anonymity can be ephemeral. If we can be both private and anonymous (eavesdroppers know neither what’s being said nor who’s saying it), then maybe there’s a chance that private exchanges between individuals (outside of the government’s gaze), are possible.

The privacy is done through encryption. Anonymity is provided by something like the Tor network.


Tor is the current crème de la crème of what is lovingly called “The Dark Net”. You know…

DarkNet_1 DarkNet_2 DarkNet_3 DarkNet_4 DarkNet_6 DarkNet_7

Yup, this stuff is out there. Big shock. I mean, don’t we know by now that when something is illegal, a black market will spring up? So law helps to stoke the fires, and government swoops in with a leaky, overpriced, corrupt bucket of water. And that such a market should exist online is equally as un-shocking. That doesn’t mean Tor is all bad — it’s all in how you use it. All it’s designed to do is to keep you anonymous.

How qualified am I to be dolling out Tor advice? Well, I wrote the library for controlling and communicating through Tor using Adobe Flash and AIR, so I’d say I’m fairly well qualified.

On this topic, I’ve written a pretty buggy and totally not-ready-for-public Tor application that you can play with (it launches whatever version of IE, Chrome, or FireFox that you may have installed in “Tor mode”):

I’ll be releasing this as open-source as soon I’ve cleaned it up a bit. Feel free to write me to get your hands on it earlier, or with any of the obvious (or not so obvious) problems you encounter.

Update (July 1): I urge caution when using BreakOutBox at this point — it doesn’t correctly reset your browser’s proxy settings so you’ll probably have to reset them yourself after closing the program. I’ll try to have this fixed in the next version. Also, if you downloaded BreakOutBox before July 1st, it won’t work (I forgot to include the Tor binary!). Download and install again to fix.


What I’ve discussed so far is not that new. They’ve actually been around for a while, and they’ve been open-sourced for nearly as long.

That “open-source” thing is tossed around a lot, and often in totally bullshit ways.

All that “open-source” means is that the author has released the source code, the instructions they wrote to produce the software, for anyone and everyone to look at, use, adapt, and enjoy.

You have to teach yourself that particular programming language to use it, true, but you don’t have to depend on them telling you what their finished software does — you can build (and change) that software for yourself. Naturally, for any popular piece of open-source software there’s a community picking it apart to see if it breaks.

Proprietary or “closed-source” software, on the other hand, depends on you trusting the organization’s motives because they’re not about to share their “trade secrets” with you.

So it’s a choice between someone eager to share their work (in detail), and having equally eager people openly test it for stability and security — or what the corporation tells you is good for you. That’s how come open-source is so popular. It can be quirky — sometimes it takes a while to get used to a unique user interface and shortcuts — but it is, after all, made by individuals.

So what’s with open-source licenses? If you dig in, you realize that they actually turn the standard software licenses on their heads:

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without imitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

Translation: Our software MUST remain free  for you to do with as you damn well please with one exception; we will sic copyright law on you if you try to claim exclusive ownership over it or its derivatives. If you want to sell this software, even as-is, then as long as you include the copyright notice we’re cool!

Sounds a little strange, even contradictory, but what it actually means is that while you’re free to profit off of open-source work (in most cases), you agree that it is open-source and that you will not violate other’s access to the same open-source material. What you do with that material, as long as you give a little nod via the license, is up to you — just as it is for others.

Now that’s a software license I can get behind.

Such licenses are all pretty much the same, more or less, and that same philosophy applies to non-software too (that little Creative Commons tag at the bottom of this site, for example).

And this model (giving stuff away for absolutely nothing), runs directly counter to every inbred economic instinct, and yet has proven to be profitable in very standard economic ways.

So now you have privacy, anonymity, and a some discretion in software (etc.) choices.

Now it starts to get interesting.


Many people have problems with this concept, so don’t feel bad if you have been labouring under the same misunderstandings.

When we talk about Cryptocurrencies, we often talk about one big example: Bitcoin, but there are quite a few more out there.

The “coin” part of the name is unfortunate because there are really no coins involved, electronic or otherwise. Bitcoin is more of a massive, peer-to-peer, public ledger into which transactions between individuals can be placed and verified. The BTC (Bitcoin) unit is simply a representation of worth to the parties involved, and the Bitcoin network makes it possible for these transactions to be done securely and honestly using strong cryptographic techniques.

Sounds kind of arbitrary, but it’s really not. Let’s say I decide that 1 BTC is $1. Do you agree with that? Great — when I want to send you payment for something, and we both agree that that something is worth $20, I’d send you 20 BTC. As long as I honour the BTC’s worth, you can then use it to exchange for another $20-worth of goods or services. Think of it as an IOU (which is basically what money used to be).

That’s fine for the both of us, but what if Bob down the street wants in on the action? Well, we can agree that $1 is 1 BTC, or maybe we can re-jigger our values to make it more accurate for all of us. So Bitcoin — the unit representation of community-derived worth — is more or less what people make of it. The Bitcoin network enables them to do that, and then use that agreed-upon “currency” for exchange.

This is a bit of a simplification, but that’s the gist of it.

Ultimately, using Bitcoin isn’t much more different than using money, and there are plenty of places where you can do exactly that. The transaction isn’t unlike using a debit or credit card in many ways, but the big difference is that you own your own account (usually stored on your device). If you lose access to it or someone hacks it, tough titties; it’s very much like cash in that way.

Bitcoin is pretty easy to integrate with Tor but needs a little help to be safely anonymous. Your Bitcoin wallet address might look like random data (and it mostly is), but without Tor and some additional protections, transactions may still be traced directly back to you, and with enough such information it’s feasible that you could be discovered. You may not think that selling good old-fashioned lemonade would bring the wrath of government down on you, but yeah, it will — they’ll fuck your life over good.

So protect yourself from these criminals as best as you can.

You may have read about some large Bitcoin and Tor-related site busts which, despite the rhetoric, were done using old-fashioned detective work — the technology remains pretty solid. Just don’t forget about the human part of the security and anonymity equation.

Keeping It Real

Having the ability to purchase physical goods and services using a cryptocurrency is great, but most likely those are going to be delivered via the government-owned post office. “And why exactly do you need all these lemons, Mister Bay?”

Unfortunately, it’s not looking like I’ll be able to replicate a bushel of lemons at home any time soon, but there are many real-world, physical objects which can be transferred digitally (and privately and anonymously), and reconstructed on increasingly cheap devices like 3D printers (and they’re not just for plastic trinkets). Star Trek-style gizmos, it turns out, aren’t that far-fetched.

Now do you suppose that with these nifty new 3D printers people will just stop everything and say, “Done! No more innovation!”? I doubt it.

Of course, this technology also has questionable applications, but these come with the territory.

We shouldn’t minimize the import of such uses, but we also shouldn’t focus unduly on what amounts to a drop in an ocean. We also can’t become complacent because the state is constantly working to put us under their thumb, but at the same time we shouldn’t get too paranoid about their capabilities.

There are many good people working hard to make all of this a reality. Some of those evil hackers that the teleprompter readers warn you about are some of the same people building these systems — you’ll need to discern for yourself what their true intentions are.

And that, ultimately, is what it comes down to … freedom. Conscious freedom to choose who you talk to, who you do business with, and to do what you want to do. Of course, with freedom comes responsibility, though most of us probably know that. If only government & friends could get a hint. But forget those fools because there are even more interesting things out there…

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The CRA violates my rights again Thu, 26 Jun 2014 20:56:14 +0000 Today I received my pay stub for tomorrow. Surprise! The Canada Revenue Agency is now taking 66.5% of my every pay! Most ever!!


When was I warned that this was coming? Never. No one from the CRA called me, sent me a letter, or even so much as sneezed in my direction. If it wasn’t for the above pay stub, I wouldn’t have even suspected (until tomorrow, of course). I got HR to send me the CRA letter (dated the 12th) which claims that I still owe around $7,000 (no doubt all interest and penalties), and that they’re now seizing 50% instead of 30%. Period. No explanation.



If it wasn’t for this letter, which I had to ask my employer nicely for (they’re not even sure if they’re allowed to share it with me!), I would have no idea which bright new CRA collections agent was now fucking over my life (they’ve even switched cities by half a continent — most previous CRA contacts were in B.C.). Note the little “c.c.” at the bottom too which they’ll probably use to claim they did contact me and this is my problem. Still waiting for my “c.c”…

Oh, I know, maybe they sent it to the wrong address! And half of it in French!

This comes after I had provided them with a detailed breakdown of my income, bills, etc. So they know that they’re leaving me without the ability to pay my loans, rent, bills, or pay for food. I may be able to do two of those next month, if I’m lucky. They purposefully, knowingly fucked me over, just like the CRA’s other crimes and provable Charter Rights violations.


I don’t know what recourse I have. I can’t hire a lawyer, and even if I could, the CRA will continue to violate my Rights while I attempt to go up against their limitless resources (which they got partially from me). Maybe I should start releasing real names and contact info, and maybe a nice long narrative thread complete with evidence. If there’s a newspaper, magazine, or good cop out there reading this, now would be a good time to jump in!

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

Update: Oh, they did mail it. I found it on the floor in front of my mail slot when I got home today. Makes sense considering they sent it on Monday. Timely notice of 0 days (an improvement!)


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