the importance of “paid journalism” or my response to Sudbury wikileaks.

Something made me very angry today. I read an editorial in one of my local newspapers (The Northern Life). The editorial is defending one of the reporters against accusations made on an anonymous website that calls itself “wikileaks Sudbury.” Wikileaks Sudbury makes me very, very angry. The Wikileaks article lacks anything convincing. Does it say anything beyond that we should take the anonymous person’s interpretation (what the blog wants to call a “lengthy investigation of many reports”) as so-called proof that Darren MacDonald is the on the city’s payroll? Where are the details? The point-by-point analysis of how the articles Continue reading

the complicated problem of sweatshops in Saipan

Have you ever heard of the island of Saipan? It is an American territory in the pacific, which as a Canadian I had never heard of it until an email arrived from Walt Goodridge, who offered me two ebooks to review. One tells the story of a Chinese woman working in textile factories in Saipan. The other is a children’s book about a Philippine boy who wishes to be reunited with his father who works in Saipan. The books are great books. The children’s book, by Bonnie Riza Ramos, is called The Boy Who Dreamed to be With His Parents on Saipan and it captures both Continue reading

Oh no… I’ve been sucked in by Coasterville!

Help! I’ve been sucked into a facebook game Coasterville. Yikes……. Actually, there are many reasons for me to find the game interesting. It fits with my obsessive breaking down of things into their constituent parts.  The value of a purchase on coasterville is a combination of different things: – energy points– coins– thrill points– resources– goods The basic energy points are given to players one every five minutes, even when the game is turned off. So the first time in the day you’ve logged in you’ll find yourself with a full 30 energy points. If you spend those quickly and Continue reading

an open-letter about social assistance in Ontario

The other day I sent off a bunch of handwritten letters. They varied depending on whom I wrote them to. The one to the Ontario NDP leader, Andrea Horwath, went like this. Dear Ms. Horwath, Though I am not personally on Ontario Works, I have many conversations with those who are. They are scared. Rents are increasing and the money they receive is not nearly enough. They need an immediate increase in funding, but that’s not what I’m writing about. I’m writing to say that when someone on Ontario Works ends up homeless and couch-surfing, she should be allowed to save Continue reading

What is social assistance really about anyway?

A few days ago I had a conversation with a woman on Ontario Works (welfare). She described what she goes through in order to get emergency dental care. She has to go first to her worker and a funding card. Then she goes to try to find a dentist that will accept the funding. Not all dentists will accept it since the government will pay the dentist only 50 – 60% of the ODA fee guide rates and the dentists are basically being asked to subsidize the government’s program by accepting half rates. Even once she finds a dentist she has to Continue reading

work: both paid and unpaid

I’m thinking today about work, both productive work like building houses or caring for sick people, and less productive work like packaging bad mortgages for resale or designing marketing strategies for cigarettes. I’m thinking about this because I’ve read a number of comments recently from people on facebook saying things like that work is available for anyone who wants or that there’s too many people not working. I’m thinking about the phrase “all mothers work.” It’s a phrase I’ve heard in response to the idea that mothers are divided between those who really work and those who stay at home Continue reading

Paying for blogs?

“Writers deserve to get paid for their work” says a popular blogger in defense of putting her blog behind a paywall. The arguments and comments made by her fans and detractors alike fascinate me because they touch on several important issues such as what work is and what we use money for. While some online forums, resource webpages and newspapers do use paywalls, the majority of us are unused to paying for blogs. Yet we are willing to pay money for books and magazines, so why not blogs? One could imagine an internet where five or ten cents is automatically Continue reading

thoughts after a visit to the social assistance offices

I went last week with some friends into the Ontario Disability Support Program office (ODSP) and the Ontario Works (OW) office. It was my first time being in the building. I was struck by the difference between the carpeted and better furnished ODSP office and the bare floored empty waiting room of the OW office, as though the very rooms themselves where meant to emphasis worth of one group of clients over the other. Clients on ODSP receive almost double the amount a person on Ontario Works receives, and they are not required to apply for job after job as Continue reading

my thoughts on Paved With Good Intentions: Canada’s development NGOs from idealism to imperialism

I’m getting ready to return the book Paved With Good Intentions: Canada’s development NGOs from idealism to imperialism by Kikolas Barry-Shaw and Dru Oja Jay back to the friend who lent it to me, but I want to make a few notes about ideas I found interesting. I know a different friend who blogged about the same book, so I want to include a link to his blog here too, though I’ve been careful not to read his assessment of the book till I finished writing mine. The book outlines several ways in which development NGOs actually assist imperialistic motives. It talks about Continue reading

safety, efficiency, cost of human lives and work

My children watched part of Back to the Future III a few days ago and afterwards expressed surprise at the amount of walking on train tracks that happens in the show. “Isn’t that dangerous?” they asked and I fumbled to explain how the absolute risk wasn’t that high but that it was still a completely unnecessary risk, and thus why we don’t do it. Then I was watching an episode of Star Trek Deep Space 9 and noting the scenes where the two kids, Jake and Nog, are always sitting on the balcony above the promenade, dangling their legs down, Continue reading