March 13, 2012 08:39 +0000  |  Capitalism 10

Just before the end of 2011, I went ahead and did a couple drastic things in an effort to enter the new year somewhat "cleaner" than I was before: I paid off my student loans, ditched my Big Bank for a credit union, and after considerable thought, deleted my Facebook account.

The Facebook thing actually happened because Facebook changed their rules (again). Suddenly, when someone "recommended" that I join a group, I was automatically added to said group -- a move that resulted in a new email sent to me every 10minutes or so: "Friend X said this on Facebook! Click here to read more!"

Imagine checking your email after only an hour or so and finding a whole wack of useless emails directing you to a site you detest... and now imagine blaming the friend for sending you those mails, rather than the contemptuous corporation that did so on her behalf without informing either of us.

That's the key to my disdain of Facebook: they use my friends to manipulate me.

I've lost count of the times I'd been tagged in a terrible photo, or was invited to join some game about zombies and vampires. I was "friends" with people I hated because not accepting their (constant) requests meant even more social awkwardness in real life than we already had, and despite all of the so-called connectivity Facebook allowed, I still had 50+ messages from people that roughly boiled down to: "How have you been?"

Facebook is a tool I never liked using. The interface was crowded and ugly, it innundated me with emails, and censored my posts (just try linking to the Pirate Bay). It cheapened my interactions with people I love, and was constantly pushing my friends to have me use it more and more.

So in a fit of logic I realised: I had friends before Facebook. For thousands of years people have managed healthy social relationships with people they like without the aid of amoral corporations. It followed therefore that I could conceiveably drop Facebook and keep the relationships ... at least the ones worth keeping.

And you know what? It worked. I don't miss that social vampire at all. If you really want to keep tabs on what I'm doing, there's still three sources out there on me: this blog, my many Twitter feeds [1], [2], [3], and Google Plus. And honestly, if you can't be bothered to read any of those, don't worry about it. We don't need technology to maintain our relationship.

This isn't a pitch to try to convince you to do the same. Maybe you like Facebook, and maybe you don't have issues with how they treat you and your friends. I just wanted to explain things better for those who might be curious. I will however, leave you with this:

November 01, 2010 10:30 +0000  |  Canada Capitalism Corporations Democracy NDP Politics 0

I will post details about this year's Hallowe'en stuff soon, but I wanted to share this for now. Below is a video clip from 1978 of Tommy Douglas addressing the House of Commons. There's two things that I'd like to point out to you before you watch it:

  1. This is a man talking about energy independence in 1978.
  2. Note the remarkable lack of noise and heckling in the room. Thirty years has changed much.

November 22, 2009 22:30 +0000  |  Capitalism Ethics 0

I've been thinking about my own views on capitalism lately. It makes sense, I suppose when you consider that I'm co-founding a for-profit company with an intent to build something so useful that my shares in it would be worth a great deal of money. Add to that the fact that I've been re-negotiating my employment contract with Work [at] Play so that I might better apply my time & energy to this new venture and how I view capitalism becomes pretty important.

Basically, I see my role in a capitalist system as one of maintaining fairness for those involved. In other words, I don't want to make millions of dollars (honestly, what would I do with it?) Rather, I just want to be sure that the profits generated from my work aren't being disproportionately distributed.

To me, any capitalist model should be founded on the understanding that all parties involved stand to profit from their work equally based on the risk endured and the effort applied. In an employer-employee situation, wages are more than the trading of time for money (though they're that too). Wages are also a statement that the employer acknowledges that they wouldn't have a company without the employee and that in recognition of this fact, a reasonable portion of the profits are allocated to them.

I think that a lot of people share my views on this, but don't realise it. They're bitter that person X is paid more or less than person Y but can't explain why. In a co-venture, a lack of understanding can kill the partnership, so knowing the motivation behind those involved is always a good idea. My partner and I are on the same page on this, and I honestly think that it relieves a lot of potential tension.

On a related note, I found this link today that I thought I'd share. It's loosely related, titled "How to Fix Capitalism".

November 28, 2008 01:10 +0000  |  Capitalism Technology 0

My friend Melissa called me the other day with questions regarding how to setup a blog with profit in mind. Since I obviously don't have any experience with this (I've never had, nor do I ever intend to place ads here) I wasn't sure if I could really be any help, but I offered the following. If you have any ideas of your own, or think that I'm wrong, please comment below:

Here are some good Vancouver blogs:

And here are some excellent Toronto blogs:

There are also a number of blogs out there that specialise in a subject rather than a particular location:

These are off the top of my head but there are literally thousands, if not millions of them out there. All of the above however are profit-driven while the majority of blogs out there are not.

Some of the things I know they do:

  • Focus on readership:
    • Post every day to keep your site fresh, this keeps search engines happy.
    • Don't do anything too personal, but don't be too professional either.
  • Link to everyone else in your sphere
    • If you have an environment blog, link to other environment blogs.
    • If you have an urban blog, link to people who blog in your city.
  • Tap into the multiple other social networking tools out there:
  • Advertise using a tasteful ad broker.
  • Collect statistics on your traffic.
  • The trick to all of this is to:
    1. Be interesting. No one will read your stuff (or link to it, thereby increasing your search engine rank) if what you're writing isn't either fun or witty, or accurate.
    2. Be current. Your search engine rank is based partially on how often your content changes.
    3. Use Wordpress. It's a software package designed explicitly for blogging. I don't use it because it's not as powerful as I like (and I'm a control freak, I like to roll my own code) but most of the big bloggers out there use it. Either that or Drupal.

So, did I miss anything?

August 18, 2008 07:01 +0000  |  Capitalism Money 10

A financial adviser and friend of Noreen's sent me a message a couple weeks ago as a sort of follow up to previous conversations we'd had in the past. Obviously, he was looking to expand his client base and had found my name while flipping through his contact history and so I got a polite email asking if I was interested in investing with him any time soon.

Knowing that having an investment portfolio is supposed to be the smart thing, I gave it a shot. I replied that I had reservations about investing any of my money in funds where my money could be used for "evil", so if I were to do any kind of investment, I'd need fine-grained control over what money went where to ensure a clear conscience.

Like a professional, he responded with a few suggestions based on my tastes, but then he let that professionalism slip when he went on to defend Microsoft as a liberator of the impoverished. He did point out though that even the most ethical of funds he could find leaned heavily on Canada's "Big Five" banks -- institutions which would only re-lend my money to companies like Bruce Power, Shell, and Sony. This, coupled with my less-than-mainstream ideas of "good" and "evil" corporations leaves me with few options.

So I won't be joining the investment train. At least, I won't be going there until I can find a way to square it with my morals. Two things just keep repeating themselves over and over in my head, and until they're satisfied, mutual funds and the like are pretty much off limits:

  1. Capitalism rarely, if ever, does the Right thing
  2. The money we get from investments isn't free. Someone, somewhere is paying for that dividend and it just doesn't feel right to profit from it.

July 10, 2008 21:17 +0000  |  Capitalism Movies 4

In the space of two hours today I've received two messages from two different people on the same subject:

My coworker has good deal for movie tix. she can get them for $6.95/person. Expires in 2010. If you want, let me know how many asap.

Upon hearing the question the first time around, I was interested, but now... now I smell a rat. Could it be that the Cineplex folks are looking to do any or all of these?

  • Lock out any competitors with cheap pre-paid tickets
  • Lower the price to cut competition while simultaneously securing clientele

I'm sure that there are more things they could be doing behind the curtain but at this point I'm highly suspicious. They do, after all have a well-earned reputation for monopoly maintenance and exploitation. Has anyone else heard of this?

May 30, 2006 15:54 +0000  |  Capitalism Ethics 0

So what do you do when you're a multi-million dollar company stuck with product you know to be contaminated with HIV? Well the most logical thing of course: pack it up and ship it off to Europe where you know it will kill thousands, even millions.

But big companies can be trusted, oh yes. They do, after all, "have a brand to protect".

Thanks to Laura who found the above link as well as the corroborating story.