Friday, July 30, 2010

Guide to Stumbling Quickly

This guide is for any Stumbleupon user who wishes to stumble faster and more efficiently, or anyone who just enjoying Stumbleupon and wants to mess around with the toolbar. For most Stumblers, this isn't necessary: it's only useful for things like webcomics, quotes, etc, where speed is helpful while you trawl through the pages that are suggested to you. Over time, Stumbleupon's accuracy will increase, but until then you will want to move quickly as you teach it what you like.

If you are new to Stumbleupon, or have never heard of it, then a good place to begin is here:

To begin, you will need to: 
Feel free to familiarize yourself with it, and then when you want to stumble quickly, on to this:

 Go to the shortcuts tab. My favorite configuration is to use Ctrl + the arrow keys to stumble and rate pages, so that hand only does minimal movement, although the same thing can be done with other keys. 

Hit "OK", and you should be good to go.


This is a crime committed by a government official, and they should be reprimanded appropriately. It is a deliberate attempt to mislead the Canadian public. I may personally consider the stealth fighter a mistake (the only ones that we need to worry about invading are the Americans, and chances are they won't openly, and a handful -or even hundreds- of aircraft would be unlikely to deter them). But people have a right to be informed, and this is not a child making fun of someone famous, it is someone altering the information to stand in line with their personal opinion or to secure their own professional gain

Blog update.

I've broken one of my rules of design and am currently using a white font on a black background.

This is a crime, and in the words of Shepard Book: 
"you're going to burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater."

Corporations in early Dystopian novels.

The most famous Dystopian novel of all time, 1984 , contains not a single reference to corporations, or any form of privatized industry that I can recall. Come to mention it, neither did Brave New World. Obviously, when these novels were written and published, no one could have predicted the rise of corporations: sure, there was big business, but the government was seen as much more of a threat to privacy, as it probably was. 

Now, however, the government is held in check by the interests of industry - little change is conducted without the blessing of the monoliths that we have chosen to lift above our heads. Without the recording industry and it's associated groups and lobbyists, how much interest would the government have in cracking down on piracy? Sure, creators would complain, and then developed new ways to make money. Big Brother doesn't watch us: that outsources to security firms. Big Brother doesn't educate us: that's left to television and advertising. 

When you examine the roles that corporations now play, buisness seems to resemble Big Brother more than the government.

In honour of this, I will be referring to it as Big Brother Inc. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Huxley's Society of Infants and modern society

One of the primary components of the society in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is that of the continuation of infant behaviour well into adulthood. People never develop self-control, since they see no reason to delay gratification any longer than is absolutely necessary. Sexually, they conduct themselves with the reckless abandon inherent to any childishly simplistic social system. They are conditioned throughout their youths by endless repetitions of slogans to keep them dependant on soma: a mind-altering drug that allows them to escape the world around them for something perfect. Heresy is anything than runs against the not just predominant but inescapable dogma that has become inseparable from the population at large.

At the time he wrote it, his personal opinion was that this twisted utopia was still hundreds of years away. However, the relentless pace of technological improvement has rendered this date obsolete: by his own admittance, it could well occur within a century of his time. The standard fearful cries would usually be cued at this moment, but I will refrain from doing so. We are not living in Brave New World, but our society had developed some rather parallel behaviours.

Instant gratification has become the mantra of the developed world: to consume is a nearly religious experience, and to be successful is transcendent, since such success is defined and celebrated by the weaker and stupider amongst us. Our children may not be produced in test tubes, or have recordings played while they sleep, but it would be moronic to believe that the constant blast of advertisements doesn't condition them for consumerism – if it didn't then the corporations certainly wouldn't waste the money – they may be many things, but stupid is not among their traits. Sex may not be viewed as a passive form of social bonding yet, but it is well on the way: it's persistent presence in the media is by popular demand: if sex didn't sell, it wouldn't be sold. Capitalism 101. The same white noise that conditions people into consumers prepares them for a life spent as a percentage point to the pharmaceutical companies: Ritalin, Tylenol, Viagra, Levitra... ask any child, and they know exactly what these products are, if not precisely what they do. A life of chemical dependency is the only kind to be had. To be different is to be labelled: “nerd, faggot freak, loser” are just a few of the titles so cleverly bestowed upon anyone feared for their individuality. After all, if those people are one of them, then they aren't one of us.

It's easy to look in the mirror if you get to choose who looks back at you. It's even easier when the drugs and static from the television prevent you from seeing anything.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cory Doctorow Interview.

A interview with Cory Doctorow over at his website.

Awesome guy who writes great books. He's got a new book out, For the Win, and I'm just about to order it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A failure of our intellectuals.

What do you think that Plato or Socrates would have though of this? I would never attend a class conducted by someone who had decided that ideas were his, and his alone.

Do I think that it's right to be able to copyright a plan, or an object? Absolutely. But an idea? An undefinable, ethereal image of a dream! How can one learn and grow if all ideas are owned?

Just another step in the ever-advancing corporatism of the modern world.

What they should be doing

Now, I may often feel frustrated with the government. OK, my general state of existence is frustration, but why is it that they're so blind as to not recognize an excellent opportunity?

Now, if you gave these people a few million to buy land and equipment (or either, if the government already owned it) they could do a lot: in one stroke, people would have something resembling a job, a sense of something happening, and food. But not just any food: fresh, healthy, local, likely organic food. This is food that could be used to replace the corn-syrup carbohydrates that seems to pass as food these days that most of the city is consuming. It wouldn't be a ton, but it would be a good start to rebuilding the community.
Or, you could give some businesses a bigger stimulus package. I would like to say something sarcastic, like "your pick", but it would be wrong: because it's not your pick, it's a bunch of the wealthy and the powerful deciding exactly how they plan to launder the money this time. And it makes me angry, because these are some people that would actually do something with it, instead of just squandering it on more corporate profits.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Time to pass on a few important bits:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Open Email to HP This article got me considering yet another privacy issue, so I went to, and got the info for my printer. I am aware that non-lasers do not have embedded tracking... yet. This is simply an exercise to see how they handle the inquiries. If enough people are aware, care, and ask/complain about it, then they will remove it.  

I sent the following through the internal HP system:
I've been a customer of yours for quite a while now, and own a laptop and printer. My family all use HP products.

My concern however, is that there are tracking measures embedded in my printer. I understand the need to prevent counterfeiting, but I somehow doubt that my Deskjet D4360 could actually be used to print money.

Is my printer taking part in a practice that I consider very concerning from a privacy standpoint? If so, do you have any printers that do not?

 EDIT: I will post the response. (If I receive one, that is.) 

G20: The Fall of Democracy in Canada begins

An opinion that I can very strongly relate to. Any pride that I had in my country has faded beyond recognition.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A power that we should have.

The power to tax is the power to destroy. – John Marshall
That is a power that we should have over corporations: the boot should be held to the throat of every BP, every Wal-mart, every Monsanto.

Fear Campaign

Sometimes, it's just amazing how stupid the media must think that we are. 
But the more frightening problem is that it seems to work. 

Credit for image:


I'm ashamed.

I, a Canadian, am standing by while the police that are supposed to protect us are brutalizing (innocent) people. When you hear about a rapist getting smashed into a wall, it's hard to feel sympathetic. Same when a child molester is attacked in jail. I mean, I know that even the lowest among us deserve safety, but a part of me is cheering the karma. The socially conscious part of my brain apparently isn't capable of winning our over my more base feelings. 

Ands that's just the beginning. 
It's a sad day to be a Canadian.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Too many Vaccines

I'm sure that it wasn't the pharmaceutical companies that overstated the number that needed to be purchased.

And I'm pretty sure that the error margin that they have just happens to be oh, 25%.

After all, it could've been worse.

It could've been 50%. 

Site Updates

Just pointing out that there have been a couple additions to the site.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Review: "The cult of the amateur" by Andrew Keen

I was browsing through the shelves of the library when I came across this book. As I've always been a fan of the immense changes that the Internet has made in the way that we produce and share information, and am a strong advocate of examining both sides of any argument, I decided to give it a read.

In a perfect world, I would be able to say that I read it, disagreed with many of the points, and then would go on to calmly recite exactly on which points I diverged from the author.

(To clarify a quick point, I rarely start a book and then leave it unread: it may be a few weeks before I get around to finishing it, but well over 90% of the time, I eventually do.) 

In reality, I made it to page three, at which point I encountered this sentence: 

          "If we keep up this pace, there will be over five hundred million blogs by 2010, collectively corrupting and confusing popular opinion about everything from politics, to commerce, to arts and culture."
This may not be the most frustrating sentence I have ever come across, but it certainly does rank up there. 

Politics: I hardly think that this website can be accused of corruption and confusion, especially when compared to the fear machine that is the mainstream media and the communications arm of the Republican Party known as FOX news. 
      I may not be a reader of "commerce blogs" (I actually might have a hard time picking one out), but somehow doubt that they are any less valid than the wild speculation that seems to take place in print sources.
      Andrew Keen seems to be unaware of one very fundamental lesson concerning art: it's nearly impossible to define, and even harder to place limits upon. He can hardly say that brilliant modern computerized illustrations isn't art... or at least not any more than I can say that all Michaelangelo did was hack at a bit of rock. In fact, the internet has created democracy in music on an unprecedented scale (a likely topic for another post.)
Culture is something defined by it's very definition: a hundred years ago, it was white linens, opera, and expensive coats. Nowadays, it's quite different, to say the least, and people generally consider "culture" synonymous with snobbery.

Of course, his justification for these "exceptions" is that simply enough, if you give an infinite number of monkeys (read: computer users) and infinite number of typewriters (internet enable computers) they are bound to come up with at least a few worthwhile objects.

I beg to differ. None of those sites are accidents, and precious few of their creators would have had their talents put to nearly as significant use in the mainstream media. If they were given a chance at all. 

No longer can only a few create, and count on everyone else consuming what they produce simply because that's all that exists. Now, everyone has a voice, and an intelligent voice has a much better chance of being listened to. 

For that, I'd put up with some apparently useless blogs and a few million pointless YouTube videos any day.

What is the G20?

Today, someone asked me what the G20 was.

I really wasn't sure what to do: do I give him the condensed version from Wikipedia? Or do I reply with my standard sarcastic, rather cynical interpretation?

So, what do I think about the G20 summit in Toronto? Annoyed by the massive waste of money on "security" and embarrassed by the way that Canada's police force has behaved, and cynical about the purposes of the meeting.

First of all, the waste of money. Really, why can't this meeting be held in an out of the way lodge in the Swiss Alps? "Oh, transparency!" we all cry. Yea, well, a billion dollars later, and all we have are a bunch of cops making sure that not a single individual can get within sight of the meeting. How's that for transparency? And doesn't that say something when the government needs police that are increasingly resembling a paramilitary combat force?

The police abuses that make me ashamed to say that I'm a Canadian:
 So what do I think that the G20 is all about?

It's a gathering of the richest, most powerful leaders in the world coming together in an orgy of self-importance to discuss their own success, and decide how to move forward with keeping the rest of the world underneath their heel.