Rambling Thoughts from a Wandering Mind

Menu

Author: Adam Snider

Bowling Day

Author’s note: Yes, I forgot to post on Friday. It takes time to change habits.

It’s bowling day. Last year, some friends and I formed a (five-pin) bowling team and joined a league. This is now our third season, after playing in the fall and winter leagues last year.

It’s a cliche to say that Monday is the worst day of the week, but I actually look forward to Mondays because Mondays are bowling nights.

In addition to being a good excuse to drink beer and hang out with friends, I’ve started to actually care about being good at bowling. I’m pretty mediocre right now, and I’m mostly OK with that, but I do hope that I’ll get better the longer I play.

Thursday last week was our free pre-season practice night. We bowled three games. I played hilariously bad at first, then got OK. I felt some weird over-stretched-ness in my calves the next day, but hopefully having got that bit of practice in last week, I’ll play half-decently tonight and not walk up with a “sports injury” the next day.

Regardless, it’ll be a fun night.

It’s been a while

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I want to change that. I think I might challenge myself to 30 days of blogging again, as I did a while back.

It won’t always result in stellar posts, but it’ll at least get me back in the habit.

So I’ll do it. Not 30 days, exactly, but every weekday for the month of September. I might post on the weekends, as well, but I tend not to open my computer on those days and drafting blog posts on my phone isn’t ideal, even with the aid of the official WordPress Android app.

Anyway, I’m going to try posting regularly. Likely, this will mean a mix of personal diary entry type stuff — the old school of blogging — and some of the more political and/or newsy stuff that I had been posting last year.

Let’s see how long this experiment lasts…

Whining about Netflix

This article strikes me as very odd, claiming that Netflix is going to be terrible in 2019 because they’re removing some older shows from their catalogue and focusing more on original content.

Netflix wants to start streaming more original shows and movies and focussing less on acquiring programs they did not produce. That means they are taking away the very reason why most of us subscribed to Netflix in the first place and they’ll eventually become just a really expensive glorified TV channel.

Enjoy it while you can, because by the end of 2019, Netflix is going to be horrible. 

While I certainly don’t want to subscribe to multiple different streaming services to get all the shows I want to watch (at that point, I might as well just pay for cable again), I think competition is good and I think it’s a little odd to suggest that most Netflix users are subscribing to the service so they can watch old episodes of Gilmore Girls. I mean, it’s possible that they are — Netflix tends not to release viewership numbers — but most people I know are subscribed to Netflix at least as much for the Netflix Originals as they are for the other shows.

In my house, most of the shows we watch are produced by Netflix or through some sort of partnership agreement with a cable network (e.g., Riverdale, which is published weekly on Netflix after airing on the CW network). Most of the non-Netflix shows could disappear and I’d still be pretty happy with the service. In fact, for the few non-Netflix shows I watch regularly, it’d still be cheaper to keep my Netflix subscription and buy those shows on Google Play than to subscribe to cable.

The same can’t be said for movies, on the other hand. Most of the Netflix Original movies I’ve watched have been terrible and I would definitely be upset if they started dropping popular movie titles from the catalogue at a greater rate than they already do.

We’ve borrowed from the future; a carbon tax is just the interest on that loan

Regarding a carbon tax, Andrew Coyne (who is in favour of such a tax) writes:

But Canadians don’t care what it means for the economy at large. They want to know what’s in it for them.

How about a planet that remains capable of supporting human life? Do we not owe that much to the next generation, to say nothing of the millions of people already made refugees by the effects of climate change? 

Regarding the battle against climate change in mere economic terms is, at this point, a fool’s game. The global economy as we know it will cease to exist in the event of catastrophic climate change. Of course, the global economy as we know it is also the primary driver of climate change, so it needs to change dramatically — perhaps even cease to exist in its current form — to make a meaningful dent in the damage that’s been done to our ecosystem.

A price on carbon is a pittance compared to what’s coming if we don’t make a real commitment to combat climate change — and then actually follow through on that commitment. 

The notion that Canada shouldn’t bother, because other countries aren’t cutting their emissions, is nihilism on a national scale.

I’m hardly alone in this rather stark assessment. Gregory Trencher, of the University of Tokyo, writes:

[…] the political and economic institutions of our civilisation are fixated on enjoying the present and unable to account for the consequences of our actions on tomorrow. This may be all too easily observed in our financial behaviour, where individuals, corporations and governments are forever borrowing from the future in order to improve the present.

In the same way, the fossil fuelled party of our capitalist global civilisation is in the midst of a financial and ecological borrowing frenzy from the future. And not only are the spoils of our mastery over nature enjoyed by only a minority of the planet, but in geological terms, they are being consumed within an extremely short time-span.

We’ve borrowed from the future for too long. A carbon tax would begin to pay the interest on that loan. The principal may be something only time — on a geological scale — can eliminate.

There’s no such thing as a centrist

Hamilton Nolan, writing for Splinter, takes the bold position that centrists don’t exist.

Politics is not a bathtub that seeks a perfect mix of hot and cold. Politics is using power to achieve certain ends. The ends that people want to achieve are, consciously or subconsciously, aligned with broad philosophical beliefs.

I’m not sure I’d agree with the notion that centrists don’t exist. They do and are quite proud of what they see as the most rational, pragmatic approach to politics. But Nolan is right that politics, for the vast majority of people, is about ideals and deeply held values.

Compromise is often necessary, particularly in parliamentary democracies, but if you’re not starting from the point of an actual ideal (or, dare I say, an ideology) then what is the point? If you’re beginning your negotiations from the compromise position you might as well not stand for anything. You might as well, in fact, stand for the position of your political enemy, because when you have to compromise on your already compromised position, you’ll inevitably be giving them more of what they want than you otherwise would have.

The argument Nolan lays out for why the Democrats in the United States should embrace the left and stop being afraid to actually stand for something applies rather well to Canada’s New Democrats.

The NDP establishment seems so afraid that voters will reject the ideals the party is supposed to represent that they’re continually moving toward the centre. Meanwhile, the Liberals won the last federal election by running to the left of the supposedly left-wing NDP.

The centre is not a position to campaign from. In parliamentary politics, it is often the position one ends up governing from, but campaigning from the centre doesn’t give you broad appeal. Often, it makes it look as though you stand for nothing.

Updated on Sept. 28, 2018 to correct some minor typos.

Trying out Wire

Wire messaging app's official logo.

I’m always on the look out for a secure messaging app that is both user-friendly and not Facebook Messenger/WhatsApp.

I’ve been using Signal for a while, but it has some limitations. For one thing, it’s directly tied to my phone number. My account isn’t “portable” as a result, and it doesn’t work on platforms other than my phone. WhatsApp has a similar limitation, as well as being owned by Facebook which makes me skeptical that it’s really as secure as they claim.

Facebook Messenger, though certainly not a secure way of communicating, is nice in that it is cross-platform. It works on phones. It works on laptops. It doesn’t matter what operating system you use (there are native apps for both Android and iOS, and the PC version is browser-based, so it doesn’t matter what operating system your computer runs).

Wire shares the cross-platform nature of FB Messenger, but is secure by default. Phone calls are end-to-end encrypted. Text and images are encrypted between the device and Wire’s servers, rather than end-to-end. This is less than ideal, but it is a design choice the developers made to ensure messages can be accessed from multiple devices.

Best of all, though, since my biggest obstacle with trying to make my communications more secure is getting other people to use the same applications as I do, is that Wire is very user-friendly.

The user interface looks nice. It does group chat very well. And it’s easy to search for and find contacts.

It seems to hit a nice balance between being secure and being easy to use. Is it secure enough for activists or political organizers? Probably not. But for day-to-day communication that you want to keep private from data-harvesters or overly-broad data-mining conducted by law enforcement, it does the trick.

You can create a Wire account by downloading the appropriate mobile app or visiting their website. You can add me as a contact by searching for @adamsnider.

New theme – Thoughts?

I’m trying out a new, very minimalist theme. I was playing around with Brutaldon — a brutalist web interface for Mastodon and Pleroma — and was really liking the very simple aesthetic of some of the themes.

That inspired me to search for brutalist WordPress themes. This theme, called Log Lolla, is the only one that came up. I’m not entirely sure it counts as brutalist (not that I’m an expert by any means), but it’s definitely extremely minimalist.

I quite appreciate the minimalist nature of this theme, so I think I’ll keep it active for a while.

Please let me know in the comments what you think of the new theme.