Social media resolutions for 2018

More creating, less commenting.

’Nuff said.

Ranting about racism in the media or whatever outrageous thing an outrageous person said is exhausting and it doesn’t change anything and I’d rather just take a nap or whatever. I need to make the stuff I want to see.

More Mastodon, less Twitter.

This is partly because Twitter has become a deluge of terrible news at a scale beyond the human mind’s ability to process healthily, and also on principle. Proprietary platforms funded by ads and venture capital don’t make for good communities. I’ve put my money where my mouth is and joined social.coop, a co-operatively run Mastodon instance. No ads. No algorithms. No Nazis.

This means my coverage will change—less livetweeting, more aimed at people beyond Toronto. What would a German hacker or an Appalachian activist or a Filipin@ K-pop fan want to know about what’s going on at Toronto City Hall? Why should they care?

More iNaturalist and BugGuide, less Instagram.

I’ve been using Instagram for my spider photos, but have been neglecting to upload my photos to iNaturalist and BugGuide. I love the stuff I see on Instagram, but all the ads and the lack of chronological order is extremely annoying. So I’d like to shift my focus and try contributing to different communities.

More PayPal, less Patreon.

In the wake of Patreon’s unpopular and quickly walked-back fee changes, I think a lot of us users recognized the precariousness of depending on a platform we can’t control and whose goals do not necessarily align with ours. I’d like to cut out one of the middlemen and encourage patrons to switch to going directly through PayPal, which also allows for automatic monthly donations.

A platform like Liberapay is more in line with my needs. Right now it’s at a stage where I’d be comfortable asking people to switch to it, but I will be keeping an eye on its development, and on similar open-source platforms.

Less Facebook.

I’m just going to stop trying to “engage” on Facebook. Aside from the ethical and privacy considerations, it’s just plain hard to use. None of my devices have more than 2 GB of RAM! I can’t handle all that! Also, I hate finding out about my neighbours’ terrible opinions.


Adapted from this toot.

Just a Little Sunday Afternoon Rant About Racism In the Media

Because I’m really tired of the clever arguments and coy dancing around double standards, even from my own “side”:

These are the facts as I see them. I am not here to “start a conversation” or provide balance or engage in debate. These are the principles that guide my thinking.

The leading lights of Canadian media are obnoxiously racist. Continue reading Just a Little Sunday Afternoon Rant About Racism In the Media

Park aside

A spring afternoon in Trinity-Bellwoods, at a picnic table with a small bottle of Coke and fries with pepper mayo from Chippy’s. Perfect weather, and the time of day when the sun is so golden it hurts.

Just finished reading Cary Fagan’s City Hall & Mrs. God (Mercury Press, 1990), a vivid tour through Toronto’s richest and poorest echelons as they race further away from each other. Pre-amalgamation. A lot has changed, a lot hasn’t. There are many familiar names.

A trio of chirping robins descends on me, sensing uneaten fries. In the shade of the trees the tightrope walkers are practising.

I ought to be writing things. Most immediately, an ebook on internet privacy, but also just stuff in general, like that essay on urbanism and liberation theology I’ve been meaning to prod into shape. Right now everything is building up to the AMC. After that I can catch my breath.

Poverty infrastructure

In Desmond Cole’s story on the City staff report on homelessness, he concludes,

Toronto’s shelter system was never designed to meet the needs it now struggles to address. According to the report, shelters now sometimes serve as permanent or semi-permanent housing for people who should ideally be in some form of assisted-living housing.

And it occurred to me, not for the first time, that this is a defining feature of our poverty infrastructure, a. k. a. the social safety net. Homeless shelters, food banks, and distress lines were only ever meant to be emergency measures. But all of these services have regular users because there is nothing else there to meet people’s basic needs. Instead of permanent affordable housing, people use shelters. Rent is so high that people are chronically unable to afford food, so they rely on food banks. Because adequate preventative mental health care is inaccessible, they call the distress line number posted up by the Bloor Street viaduct for suicidal jumpers.

It is a strained and unsustainable system that various levels of government, which ostensibly want to wipe out poverty, are slowly divesting themselves of, and “downloading” to private enterprises or individuals.

We have essentially refused to hire family doctors, and if anyone gets sick there is no help until you are in such critical condition you need to go to the emergency room. And because the emergency room is only designed to get you out of emergencies, no one will help you get healthy enough so that you don’t need a doctor at all.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled wankery about transit funding. Good night.

Adventures in poverty: toothache

  • so I’ve got a toothache
  • it hurts. a lot
  • I want to go all tom hanks in cast away on it
  • but I don’t have ice skates
  • so far ibuprofen is working decently
  • phoned the university dental clinic
  • the next screening appointment is in february
  • took an emergency appointment instead
  • first thing on tuesday which is also city council
  • maybe they can just yank the tooth out
  • and I’ll get to city council by the time they’re done the order paper
  • I’m not especially attached to this tooth
  • it’s $44
  • it probably costs extra for x-rays
  • dear god, after this i will floss EVERY DAY i swear
  • just don’t let me have to pay for a root canal
  • kthxbai

City as mental condition

The worst thing about Beijing is that you can never trust the judicial system. Without trust, you cannot identify anything; it’s like a sandstorm. You don’t see yourself as part of the city—there are no places that you relate to, that you love to go. No corner, no area touched by a certain kind of light. You have no memory of any material, texture, shape. Everything is constantly changing, according to somebody else’s will, somebody else’s power.

To properly design Beijing, you’d have to let the city have space for different interests, so that people can coexist, so that there is a full body to society. A city is a place that can offer maximum freedom. Otherwise it’s incomplete.

[…] This city is not about other people or buildings or streets but about your mental structure. If we remember what Kafka writes about his Castle, we get a sense of it. Cities really are mental conditions. Beijing is a nightmare. A constant nightmare.

—Post-detention, artist Ai Weiwei reflects on Beijing. Read the whole thing.