Entries from April 2008

» Paul Watson: Hero or terrorist?
» One cool bookstore, the Chinese intelligentsia, best comedy ever
» Bidini: China's concrete welcome mat
» Nepal: shining future or end of the path?
» Instant cities, France fights to save the semi-colon, Obama big in Gaza

Entries from March 2008

» Poor Mexican emos, news on a shirt, one angry author, what's the Eiffel Tower wearing?
» High heat on Iran
» The world's most powerful blogs, Starbucks gets caught stealing from the tip jar, Look out! Cyclists!
» Shopping cart races, that's a lot of home-grown terror, turning urine into fertilizer
» The Dalai Lama on Tibet protests
» From the frying pan into the fire
» Torture and hypocrisy
» International Women's Day: Afghanistan
» The TED conference, can a billionaire be 'exploited,' Cambodian oldies

Entries from February 2008

» Algonquin leader faces six months in Ontario jail
» North America's pollution problems, Ottawa's copyright slip-up, Don't mess with Texas students
» New China's catch-22
» Moving environmentalism forward
» Oceans in rough shape, schools for social justice, the copyright battle over Harry Potter, looking back at Wired
» 12 Years of Revolution in Nepal
» Segregation or inclusion?
» Guerilla tree planting, mocking Ahmadinejad, inadvertantly funny headline and Goo goo ga joob
» Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten
» 4th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week
» From pages of a magazine to the jailhouse: Gay men in Senegal
» Weekend links: Bikes can do anything, chopstick accessories, Mom, where do blog posts go?

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Previous Entries

» Weekend Links: Tracking whales, media concentration, free Booker books
» Leave no one behind
» Is My Dad Pro Global Warming?
» Throne Speech 1.0
» Weekend links: Bikes to Rwanda, biodiesel jet, algae as biofuel
» Bible Beefcake - More Men for Mormons
» I Ran So Far: Andy Samberg's love letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
» This season's new Black? Racism.
» Weekend links: Parking ain't free, more songs about biking and food?, wither the BookMobile?
» Friendster begot MySpace begot Facebook begot WTF?!?
» Throne Speech must address environment, Afghanistan, 'prosperity gap,' Layton says

October 26, 2007

Dominion tackles tar sands

Posted by mason at 12:13 PM ET | Comments (5)

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One of the biggest mining endeavours in the world, the tar sands development in Alberta, is changing the face of that province and raises several issues around the environment, aboriginal rights, corporate taxation and more.

Our friends at The Dominion have put together a special issue examining the tar sands development from several angles. In one article, a writer checks out Fort McMurray's work camps, while in another a local First Nations activist explains why the fossil fuel regime in Alberta is a threat. There's even a transcript of a speech the Prime Minister gave to the Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce in July 2006 on the tar sands.

PHOTO: GORD McKENNA (CREATIVE COMMONS)

More entries on: Planet Earth

October 25, 2007

food for the brain and body

Posted by jesse at 02:04 PM ET | Comments (5)

freeRiceLogo.gif

So you're sitting at your desk pretending to be hard at work, staring attentively at the screen while you put yet another jack of spades on top of the stack to complete your three hundredth game of solitaire. While you're busy looking busy, why not do something useful?

Freerice.com helps to end world hunger and increases your vocabulary at the same time. This highly addictive site donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program for every word definition you get right. The words gradually get harder or easier as you get answers right or wrong, and the unobtrusive advertising on the bottom of the screen pays for the rice while you improve your vocab. Know what it means to filch something? Go to freerice.com and you could actually put that knowledge to some good use.

More entries on: From the intern desk

October 23, 2007

webcomic relief

Posted by nora at 12:10 PM ET | Comments (2)

One of my favourite webcomics out there is A Softer World -- it's sweet and acerbic and uses real-life photographs in place of drawings. Also, it's done by two excessively talented individuals who are unfurling their artistic fronds in multiple directions. Transplanted Maritimer Emily Horne (pictures) is currently a photographer, blogger and graphic designer in Victoria. Her Toronto-based cohort Joey Comeau (words) has published novels and short story collections. That's totally part of what I love about this burgeoning scene of online comics, that their creators are rarely anything but jacks- and janes-of-all-trades, unafraid of new territory, as well as constantly propping up any neat work their colleagues are doing.

But back to A Softer World. Emily takes pictures and quite artfully zigzags them into panels (sidebar: nothing like the "Comic Life" application that comes on the new Macs, if that's what you're picturing). And Joey writes words over them. The result is dark and adorable, and often LOL funny.

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Also on the site is "Overqualified", ostensibly a collection of job application cover letters to major corporations. This premise is more of a front than anything, however, for Joey's inappropriate existential musings. As he sees it, "looking for work is an exercise in selling yourself. You write cover letter after cover letter, listing the parts of you that you respect the least, listing the selling points that make you valuable in a buyer's market ... And then maybe one day you just snap a little. You sit down to write a cover letter, and something entirely new comes out."

Here, Joey urges BBC to can the kookiness and glamorize Scrabble and cold beers for a change.
Here, Joey tells Google executives the story of how his grandmother coerced him into signing up for Gmail.

Joey's most recent collection of short stories, It's Too Late to Say I'm Sorry, came out this summer. Right now he is working on a novel called The Summer is Ended and We Are Not Yet Saved, "about a young boy with special powers and a young lady who is perhaps too violently enthusiastic about environmentalism." He's also working on a book based on the Overqualified letters, which he finds a ridiculous idea, and one that he believes has been going very well. Joey will be reading from his recent work at Canzine in Toronto this Sunday (the 28th) at the Gladstone Hotel. It sounds like a scene, and totally worth it -- either he just photographs well, or Joey's actually hell of cute. Trust me.

photo by e. horne and j. comeau

Nora Tennessen
is an ex-pat Nova Scotian and current This Magazine intern. She likes science fiction and comic strips and sexy, sexy secularity.
Current boycrush: Michael Cera
Current girlcrush: Ellen Page
Political compass: Economic: 8.38 Political: 6.31

More entries on: From the intern desk | Interweb

October 22, 2007

Canada takes World Press Freedom Awards (division IV)

Posted by jesse at 07:13 PM ET | Comments (0)

Congratulations Canada, for being ranked in the top 20 by Reporters Without Borders in their annual World Press Freedom index. Canada rocked the competition, finishing just behind Hungary, Austria and New Zealand... no, wait, there was also Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Latvia, Switzerland. They also did better than Canada, but other than that we outshone. That's if you don't count Portugal, Ireland or Denmark either-- ok, how about just all of Europe. Minus Europe completely, in a Europeless world, Canada is the creme de la creme, a beacon of hope for freedom of the press everywhere (AKA 18th). Trinidad and Tobago (19) put up a good fight, but they'll have to ride our coattails yet again as we storm forward, trailblazers of the free press.

Here are some Canadian examples of exceptional merit that other countries can learn from, such as the UK (24. And we used to be part of their empire. Who's laughing now, UK?), the US (I can't believe we share the 49th parallel with a country ranked 48) and Eritrea(169), who nudged out defending champ North Korea(168) by a nose to take the Worst World Press Freedom title for 2007.

Example 1: A recent story in the Globe and Mail states that the Canadian government received 29,182 requests for access to information. They managed to disclose all of the information 23.1 percent of the time, using the "international affairs and defence" exemption to black out information 14.5 percent of the time. Apparently, public release of information generally decreased and slowed down since the Conservatives came to power. In fact, Montreal's La Presse reported that the government responded to one of their access to information requests saying it would cost them $500,000. Way to go Canada!

Example 2: Canada is one of the most concentrated media markets in the world. Only four corporations distribute 70 percent or our dailies, three control most of the tv news market and one company owns the majority of all our radio stations. So what does this mean? A 2006 Senate committee said it best when they stated the "concentration of [media] ownership has reached levels that few countries would consider acceptable." A recent CRTC hearing on media diversity has recognized that our media market is so concentrated that it is seriously damaging Canadian's access to more than one opinion.

Example 3: As we all know Prime Minister Harper loves the media as if they were his own children. To show his love he has plans to build us a brand new press gallery, right in an old shoe store a few blocks away from the current one, where the government can control the whole show. Maybe they can just write the stories from now on and feed them to the newspapers, which should be easy since the same company owns most of the papers anyways. I guess the current press gallery isn't cozy enough, which would explain why Harper's only ever had one press conference in it. During that monumental day Harper had his own people handpick the reporters who were allowed to ask the questions, a practice usually handled by the gallery. Talk about freedom: freedom to only ask polite questions, freedom to sit nice and quiet on your hands while the government dictates who gets to ask questions. I can only imagine how special those few reporters who were picked must have felt, as if it was the first day back to school and the teacher picked them while all the other kids frantically jolted their arms straight into the air, shouting "me me me me me me." Harper's office has said plans to build the shoe store press gallery are off, conveniently after this story came out in the Toronto Star.

So if Eritrea wants to challenge us for the World Minus Europe title next year there's a few things they have to do first. Have one massive company buy all the major media organizations and continually pump out corporate friendly fluff; gradually censor more and more access to information requests, until eventually all government documents look like a giant black line; and hold one press conference a year, dictating who gets to ask what questions. It seemed to work for Canada.

More entries on: From the intern desk

October 21, 2007

Alternate Routes: Epilogue

Posted by mason at 04:47 PM ET | Comments (0)

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Dom and Shayna -- the pair of cross-country travellers filing reports from their road trip in search of community -- have posted a final batch of photos and an entry entitled "In Celebration of New Beginnings" over on the Alternate Routes blog. An exerpt:

"... the people with whom we choose to interact and exchange ideas have a substantial impact on our own thoughts. I feel like this journey has expanded the realm of possibilities that exists within my community of thoughts."

For a look back at the journey, check out the archive of Alternate Routes.

More entries on: Alternate Routes

October 20, 2007

Weekend Links: Tracking whales, media concentration, free Booker books

Posted by ron at 08:08 PM ET | Comments (1)

First the bad news you already know, the mainstream media is an awfully concentrated place, with most of the stuff you watch owned by the same batch of people. Case in point, this chart and article done by U.S. lefty mag the Nation.

Now, bad news you don't know. Apparently emo-pop band Death Cab for Cutie are a risk to the safety of the U.S. A hard disc containing the next album by Death Cab guitarist Chris Walla was confiscated at the Canada-U.S. border. It must be all those angst-fuelled lyrics and Ben Gibbard's high-pitched voice.

Not to be a complete downer, here's a Greenpeace google map mashup that lets you track whales in almost real-time. Just think of all of those whales, swimming around, munching on krill and herring and what not. There, feel better?

No, well, what about the fact that you'll be able to download every book on the Booker shortlist. That includes this year's winner The Gathering by Anne Enright. The story of a brother's suicide forces a woman to weave through her family's troubled past.... hmm, on second thought, I'll stick with the whales.

More entries on: Weekend Links

October 18, 2007

Leave no one behind

Posted by Ariel Troster at 01:43 PM ET | Comments (0)

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Wait your turn. I'm sure we all heard those words as children, as we stood in line for rides at amusement parks, or impatiently allowed siblings to play with coveted new toys. But in the fight for human rights, should we be telling anyone to wait their turn when it comes to such urgent matters as hate speech protections and workplace anti-discrimination laws?

This is a question that the queer rights movement in the United States is grappling with right now, in regard to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a piece of legislation that has been on the books in one form or another for over 30 years. Because believe it or not, it is absolutely legal to fire someone for being gay under U.S. federal law, and in 31 states. And this is the first time in U.S. history that the ENDA has enough Democrat votes to make it through the House of Representatives relatively unscathed.

The most recent version of the bill, which has been floating around for several months, included language that would protect people based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. This version of the ENDA had wide support from hundreds of queer and trans organizations in the U.S. But on September 28, Congressman Barney Frank announced his intention to split the ENDA into two bills -- one that would protect sexual orientation (and would likely pass), and another to protect gender identity (that would surely fail).

Frank's argument is that it's better to pass the partial legislation and protect millions of gay and lesbian people in the workplace, than to sacrifice the ENDA at the alter of trans rights. He argues that the American public hasn't had enough time to absorb and understand trans issues, and that if the gender provisions were to be struck down at this stage, it could force politicians into a corner. Because if they were to vote against trans rights due to a lack of understanding or constituent support, they could be forced to stick to that position in the future, due to intense scrutiny of perceived "flip flopping" on issues that are brought to the House for a vote.

"Antidiscrimination legislation is always partial," Frank writes. "It improves coverage either to some group or some subject matter, but never achieves everything at once. And insistence on achieving everything at once would be a prescription for achieving nothing ever."

Frank's decision has ignited what several writers have referred to as a "family feud" within the U.S. queer community. Hundreds of bloggers are grappling with the question of what's more important -- pragmatism or principle -- in regard to the ENDA. But after an absolutely deafening outpouring from hundreds of queer advocates, the consensus that seems to have emerged (even belatedly supported by the squarely mainstream Human Rights Campaign), is that people want to see a united ENDA, and will not stand for gender protections being parsed off into an un-passable bill.

The arguments in support of a united ENDA vary. Many people simply refuse to leave their trans friends to fight another decades-long battle for employment protection on their own. They argue that the trans community has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with gay activists since Stonewall and have been instrumental in the fight against AIDS and in support of same sex marriage. They recognize that the political climate in the U.S. is so hostile to gays and lesbians, that it's virtually impossible to conceive of a stand-alone trans rights bill passing during their lifetimes.

Others argue that the gender protections in the ENDA don't just protect trans people -- they protect everyone. Lambda Legal recently released an analysis of the stripped-down ENDA, arguing that it is riddled with loopholes that would erode any protection of gays and lesbians in the workplace, specifically "lesbians, gay men and bisexuals who may not conform to their employer's idea of how a man or woman should look and act." In other words, "straight-acting" queers might be offered come level of protection under the split bill, but butch women and effeminate men could easily be fired, if their employer claimed that "their conduct was actually based on gender expression, a type of discrimination that the new bill does not prohibit."

In Canada, employment rights for gays and lesbians have been on the books for more than 20 years, and some argue that the provisions in the Charter of Rights and in provincial human rights codes based on "sex" provide sufficient protection against gender-based persecution. But trans activists are working hard -- particularly in Ontario -- to see gender identity explicitly protected in provincial and federal laws. Their campaign is gaining momentum, and it seems likely that unlike our allies in the U.S., we will see this legislation passed within the next decade.

Unfortunately, the deep soul-searching over the ENDA in the U.S. really boils down to a matter of semantics. Because the bill probably doesn't have enough votes to pass through the Senate, and if it does, President Bush will veto it. Given that the decks are so stacked against U.S. queers, doesn't it make more sense for the community to stand together and let no one be left behind?

-- Cross-posted to Dykes Against Harper

More entries on: LGBT

October 17, 2007

Is My Dad Pro Global Warming?

Posted by jesse at 05:48 PM ET | Comments (2)

So my Dad just bought an RV. I have no idea what RV actually stands for, but I have a feeling it might be something like Roaming Village. As I write this my dad is driving back from Cincinnati in his new Death Star, but alot of other things are happening too: two major wars are being fought over oil in the Middle East, the Alberta Tar Sands development is destroying a chunk of Alberta the size of Florida, polar bears could very possibly wash up at our front step any day, and Stephen Harper has said that Canada will not meet Kyoto protocols. That's fine though, my dad's retired, and he definitely deserves it, right?


But...this is no ordinary RV. I'm pretty sure it's a hybrid, so that saves gas. One part gasoline, two parts baby seal pelts. I believe two baby seal pelts and one gallon of gasoline will allow the RV to travel two kms below the speed limit in the passing lane for approximately three kms.


And the features this thing has, never mind the seals, emissions, gas, polar bears, Alberta. It has a satellite dish that picks up over 500 channels! The dish actually shoots a signal into space so strong that it rips new holes in the ozone layer as you watch Dancing with the Stars. As the small planet on wheels drives along, the signal from the dish, like a loose thread on a sweater, gradually pulls the ozone directly out of the sky, allowing us down here to get more direct sunrays. So that's good, isn't it? Winter is overrated anyways.

So why did my dad buy the traveling apocalypse?

Because he can. Now he didn't actually say this was the reason, but I know it is. And the truth is, that's the real reason behind most bad decisions made that will effect us in the future. Take any given man-made problem in the world, and somewhere there is somebody responsible for it who is candidly telling his/her son, Cus I can.

And I accept it, because he's my dad, and blood is thicker than water, even when that water buries downtown Manhattan. As long as people continue to accept this answer, until Cus I can no longer cuts it, I guess we're going to be eternally stuck behind that metaphorical 40 foot RV driving slow in the passing lane.

Jesse Kinos-Goodin is a Toronto-based journalism student and intern at This Magazine. He is counting the seconds to graduation when he can finally fill out something other than student on all those forms.
Current girlcrush: Anybody with the First name Jessica and the last name Biel or Alba.
Current boycrush: Radiohead, for figuring out how to stick to tha Man
Political compass: Economic -8.12 Social -6.00

More entries on: From the intern desk | Planet Earth

October 16, 2007

Throne Speech 1.0

Posted by calvin at 07:43 PM ET | Comments (4)

"Canada's emissions cannot be brought to the level required under the Kyoto Protocol."
Tough on crime, but apparently not tough on white collar crime.

More entries on: Planet Earth

October 13, 2007

Weekend links: Bikes to Rwanda, biodiesel jet, algae as biofuel

Posted by ron at 03:51 PM ET | Comments (2)

Every single time I see an abandoned bike in Toronto I'll think of this project that sends bikes to Rwanda.

This week on the frontier of biofuels... The first biodiesel jet takes flight!
What about using algae... to fuel the plane?

Finally, can we turn some of those shipping containers into homes?

More entries on: Weekend Links

October 09, 2007

Bible Beefcake - More Men for Mormons

Posted by calvin at 10:30 PM ET | Comments (8)

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Luring unsuspecting Mormons with exposed manflesh is typically the tactic of the unwashed secular masses. But Mormons exploiting puffed-up Mormon beefcake in a racy pin-up calendar for Mormon charity? This demands ridicule. It is so self-immolating in religious irony, so oiled with homoeroticism, it almost demands categorization as novelty kitsch. Or condemnation. Or church group stocking stuffer.

PS- add them on MySpace!

More entries on: Religion

I Ran So Far: Andy Samberg's love letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Posted by mason at 01:23 AM ET | Comments (1)

If you haven't seen this video yet, do yourself a favour. Well worth repeated viewings:

More entries on:

October 08, 2007

This season's new Black? Racism.

Posted by calvin at 02:28 PM ET | Comments (0)

While the tidal wave of F/W 07/08 floods retailers with fresh stock, inciting everyday consumers to buy and accessorize for this seasons latest must-have fashions, there is a growing concern of the whitebreading of fashion to levels not seen since the 60's. Paris, long the bastion of pomp and pretension, recently presented the latest collections and angry industry watchers are already crying foul. A foul of blindingly white proportions.

Asia's return to global significance, largely in part by the robust consumer base in rising China, has lead to notable Asian beauties into the fashion pack. Few girls have achieved the unbiquity of household-name, supermodel status, and fewer still are male, but there is at least identifiable progress from years ago when there was not a spot of Far Eastern heritage on the catwalks of Paris, Milan nor New York. Yet, with the launch of Chinese Vogue, it was indeed a white supermodel, in the form of Australian Gemma Ward who centred the premier cover issue. Admittingly strange, but perhaps an artistic contrast? Unfortunately not. India, the latest country to enter the Vogue fold, has recently launched and featured the exact same formula- a white model flanked by local ethnicities. And that white model? Again, Gemma Ward.

Not to personalise this against Ms. Ward, who has quite a reputation as a lovely girl aside from being ridiculously good-looking, but does it not obviously reak of "beauty colonialism?"

Never to be outdone, feisty supermodel Naomi Campbell is also focusing here formidable energies towards the issue with the recent decline of assignments for black models in editorial work. Rallying equally high profile support from a racial justice league of supermodelfriends, including Iman, Liya Kebede, and Tyson Beckford, she chides the industry of the rapidly decline of black exposure, confessing even her own obstacles against the closed industry.

"There's a fine line between artistic vision and discrimination," Anna Park, a regional attorney for the Los Angeles District office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, told the New York edition of Metro. "If a designer chooses to define a certain vision as all white or all black, you run the risk of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964." With the increase of heightened global interconnectiveness, it seems a bit last season to envision something so sadly undiverse.

More entries on: Cultural industries

October 06, 2007

Weekend links: Parking ain't free, more songs about biking and food?, wither the BookMobile?

Posted by ron at 01:43 PM ET | Comments (0)

There's lots of great links this week so let's get to it.

Shawn Micallef on the Spacing blog points out this article about the very high cost of parking. No, we don't mean the $5 an hour you pay in Downtown Toronto or Vancouver.

In other traffic related news, the Guardian has a bike blogger! Even better, he writes about David Byrne of the Talking Heads on cycling in the Big Apple.

The Quillblog lets us know that Conrad Black is signing copies of his latest book via LongPen, the contraption championed by Margaret Atwood that lets authors sign books remotely.

Finally, if you have lots and lots of cassette tapes lying around here's a DIY project for you.

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy that Fall weather.

More entries on: Weekend Links

October 03, 2007

Friendster begot MySpace begot Facebook begot WTF?!?

Posted by calvin at 08:09 PM ET | Comments (1)

With the popularity of social networking ripping across the globe like a fast mutating hantavirus, is it not an eventuality that niche social networks would evolve to address every self microcosm of lifestyle? Compiled below is the unofficial This Magazine list of social networking sites and their respective niches. Enjoy and feel free to add you own!

FRIENDSTER
original audience: silicon valley screenheads with low real-time social skills
revision 2: celebrity fakersters and their respective starf*cksters
current: tumbleweeds

MYSPACE
original audience: indie bands defected friendsters
revision 2: underage tweenster hunting ground
current: indie bands and friend request spam factory

FACEBOOK
original audience: academics and alumni
revision 2: tagged in last nights frat party photo
current: you, your parents and anyone else too old for MySpace

FRUMSTER
original audience: jews for marriage
future: jews for remarriage

NEWSAXON
original audience: "for whites by whites" (no kidding)
future: anti-hate crime police division

LINKEDIN
original audience: business networkers and job seekers
future: headhunters galore

VAMPIREFREAKS
original audience: goths, industrials, cyberpunks
future: satan

More entries on: Interweb

October 02, 2007

Throne Speech must address environment, Afghanistan, 'prosperity gap,' Layton says

Posted by mason at 01:54 AM ET | Comments (7)

U of T's The Varsity has just posted a broad-ranging interview with Smilin' Jack Layton, in which he says the NDP won't support a Conservative Throne Speech unless it includes new directions on the Afghan mission, the environment and what he calls the "prosperity gap."

"We want to see a fundamental change of direction on the war, we want to see a fundamental change of direction on the environment, and we want to see some real action on the growing prosperity gap, the issues that your average working family is grappling with," Layton said.

Say what you will about the federal NDP leader's style (I find him a bit smug, personally), he is extremely knowledgeable on a wealth of issues and consistently holds the government to account in areas of interest to Canadians.

In the end, I don't much care how personable I find politicians; if they have policies that back up the things they say and logic behind their words, I'll give them the time of day.

More entries on: On the Hill

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