“Big Telcos Set To Hit Many Canadians With Internet Price Hikes” – (CBC News)

As a forward, this piece is less about complaining about the price increases than it is about exploring the reasoning behind it. Being that an undiscussed part of both net neutrality and an ever more interconnected world are bandwidth and bandwidth infrastructure costs. The 2 are not inherently connected, but ignoring this aspect can often time lead to that end.

Let’s begin.

Canadians’ thirst for fast, reliable internet service has surged in recent years, and so has the amount we’re paying to stay connected.

For many customers, the cost of home internet is about to get even more pricey as the big telecom companies hike rates once again.

“Internet is expensive enough,” said Rogers customer Eric Polsinelli of Oshawa, Ont. “There’s nothing I see on my end that justifies that extra $8.”

On March 12, Rogers will raise prices for all its current internet plans by $8 a month, with the exception of its cheapest package, which will rise by $4 a month.

On April 1, Bell will increase internet prices by $5 a month for customers in Ontario and by $3 a month for Quebecers. In both provinces, charges for exceeding one’s internet data limit will also go up by $1 to $4 per extra gigabyte.

Rival Telus says it has no current plans to raise internet prices. However, some customers are still feeling the pinch after the company ended its bundle discount in late January, which provided customers who signed up for multiple services a monthly discount of $3 per service.

Rogers, Bell and Telus also hiked prices on some internet plans in 2017.

Though I don’t subscribe to any of the above 3 for any home services (my communities cable company is a co-operative with far superior service), my costs for both cable tv and internet have gone up about 3 bucks a month as of April 1st. Bell is the only provider of the 3 that one can access where I live (thanks to their acquisition of regional telco MTS, creating BellMTS).

If memory serves, the cost also went up at this time last year. It’s not something I pay much attention to (inflation and other costs do change prices on an ongoing basis).

News of the latest round of price increases didn’t sit well with some customers.

“I would rather not pay more, but what can I do?” said Bell customer Larry McLean of Toronto, who also got hit with the same $5 internet price hike in 2017.

“I’m tired of price gouging,” Polsinelli tweeted to Rogers after learning his current $70 internet bill is going up by $8 a month.

I feel for these people. Money is tight, and $8 does seem a bit much.
However, I really wish that the first interviews of news organizations on stories like this (prices on commodity X are rising) were not with ordinary folks annoyed with the price increase. It’s a fact that many people demand a certain level of access or privilege in many contexts even if they don’t want to pay for it. As such, it be nice to have an explanation of WHY these costs are going up before you start giving every angry nobody a megaphone.

Yes, in the days of social media, the media has to incorporate your voice. None the less, there is a reason why these people weren’t given a spot on the screen in past years.

Rogers, Bell and Telus all said they need to raise internet prices — or in Telus’s case, end the bundle discount — to generate the funds required to upgrade their networks and keep up with growing demand for their services.

“We’re continually investing to deliver great value and fast, reliable internet for our customers now and in the future as demand continues to grow,” Rogers spokesperson Michelle Kelly said in an email.

Telecommunications consultant Lawrence Surtees says telcos do have added costs when they expand their networks. However, he’s not certain that explains why internet prices have continued to creep up over the past couple of years.

“They budget that, they figure out how much it’s going to cost, then they do an increase. I’m not quite sure why they need to do second or third increases,” said Surtees, with market intelligence firm IDC Canada.

“I’m a bit skeptical.”

When it comes to corporations, it’s good to have a healthy dose of skepticism towards almost anything that they publicly say. Particularly in relation to the costs of business. However, I do have to wonder if there might be some justification for these expenses due to the sheer number of both telephone and cable cord cutters driven by cheaper online alternatives in recent years.
Both telecom and cable providers (though the distinction is almost nil at this point being that both offer the same services in most markets) lose revenue when consumers cut off phone and/or cable services, yet they still end up delivering both services (VIA broadband channels) despite this revenue loss. Cord cutters tend to use more bandwidth, which then has to be accounted for on top of the other loss of revenue.

Polsinelli says his family uses the internet for everything from their phone service to watching Netflix.

Still, he says he’s not prepared to pay more for what he’s getting.

“I rely on the internet, but I need to be realistic as a consumer here.”

To make his point, Polsinelli informed Rogers on Twitter that he’s considering moving to upstart internet service provider TekSavvy.

“If they’re not going to at least match the prices I can get somewhere else, I will just abandon ship,” he said.

And there you have it, the all for nothing mentality on perfect display.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against people shopping around for the best bang for their buck. And I am certainly not going to come to Roger’s defense (in a nutshell, they are Canada’s Comcast). None the less however, this is a perfect example of what I see as the opposite extreme in terms of the net neutrality debate. On one side, are ISP excuses. But on the other, are those that seem to demand EVERYTHING, but for nothing.

I have to be careful not to look like I am taking a side on this. Because the only thing I can truly say that I am is unsure. It is a benefit for us to do this cost analysis independently because even if we choose not to, the ISP’s will continue to run the numbers for us. Which is almost NEVER EVER going to be for our benefit.

I have already delved into this hypothetical in some detail in my piece Should There Be A General Internet Tax? – An Exploration.
In a nutshell, yes.
Privatization of this all-important infrastructure has created numerous issues with its transition into an all-important public space. From increasing costs on private companies hesitant to make the required large commitments to the so-called Free Speech Crisis of the social media realm.

To conclude, I decided to reference this CBC article because of it’s highlighting of an issue that will only become more prevalent in upcoming years.

We MUST keep our eyes on the ball, because even if we don’t, the ISP’s most certainly will be.

Posted in Opinion, Other, Various Commentary | Leave a comment

A Year Of President Trump – Some Thoughts

The time period is March 2017 (the 14th to be precise). Though I have never really stopped to think much about all of this in the past year (call it chaos on all fronts), it may be interesting to do so now. A year and change into President Trump. To think that some people had issues with saying or thinking about President Bush . . .

To get a full picture of this, we have to rewind a bit. All the way back to mid and early 2016, when all of this shit was just getting underway. Following the numerous Republican debates in which Donald managed to steal the show by exposing the false facade of all of his opposition with simple yet effective distraction tactics, he became the face of the GOP. Around this time, Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) remarked something along the lines of “He could end up being president”. Something that seemed hard to believe, to say the very least.

That summer and lead up to the election were interesting.

I went through a time period wherein the presidency of Trump was a horrifying proposition.  Though it was a period of worry over a period of time, it is encapsulated perfectly by one instance, involving me sitting in my workplaces deli and having a bite to eat. I looked at my table and the various trash items from that lunch that put a timestamp on their time of existence (recite, sandwich bag label, beverage container).

I then pondered the prospect of some future civilization or entity finding these time-stamped items, and if they could end up being a marker of the beginning of the great unwinding. For many decades, this species uniquely mapped out their heyday by burying millions of timestamped items and scripts in all the lands they occupied. Until some point early in the 21st century.

What brought that on? I honestly have no idea. My brain sometimes goes places that surprise even me. Call it a roller coaster that is uniquely my own.

After this period of worry, I went into what one could describe as a period of delusion. Having learned of Trump being a fairly progressive and humanistic man (or at least touting those views for the cameras) in the past, a conspiracy of sorts was hashed out in my mind. Donald the trojan horse!

Like the real-life interpretation in historical times (or the pesky virus that Vipre nabs if I visit the wrong site), it seemed possible. The man may be conning his way up the ladder into the presidency, only to turn around and be a friend of the people!
He had connections with the Clintons for decades after all!

Yeah. Embarrassing. Fortunately, that period didn’t last long (though it was unfortunately recorded on this very blog at some point).

After this, I guess you could say that the worry fell off of my radar. Be it fatigue, other matters closer to home overshadowing it (or a combination of both), I didn’t think much of it for months. In no small part because the thought of Trump actually WINNING the election seemed . . . assinine. Really, this feeling lasted until around 3:30 or 4am on election night, when the writing was so obviously on the wall that there was no denying it anymore.

Enter 2017. The year of the asinine.

As it stands, Trump was not the only factor that made me use this word to describe pretty much the entirety of the 365 days. All in all, it was a boatload of ridiculousness coming from pretty much all fronts. Some more so than others. None the less, all played a part.

Work life went through a transition. Though as with many things, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Or as is more the case, get worse. Without going into to much detail, just getting through 4 or 5 hours (let alone the dreaded 8) became a struggle. In early December at one point, I actually LOST the struggle, my feet carrying me out the door and off the property, despite my brain saying in no uncertain terms that such was NOT a good idea. The culmination of trying to be a pusher of change in the background, only to have a superior utter a stupid comment to my face during a passive-aggressive power trip. I am too old for that shit.
I would end up getting past this, odd as it may seem. Though even in the immediate aftermath, no one truly responsible for spawning the work environment that I ended up reacting to took ANYTHING from it. It was apparent in my first briefing when I was back in the door, and it becomes more and more apparent as the days and months have proceeded.

Like sands though the hourglass, these are the days of our lives

The longer I stay, the more I waste away. Seems a good incentive to take stock of my priorities, doesn’t it?

It has also been an interesting year on the family and friend front (in more ways than one). Also, an expensive one, being that I tend to likely be more liberal with my charitability than I possibly should be.
One relation’s refusal to in any way better themselves (opting instead to just keep bringing everyone else down by wallowing in their own pity) has been a big part of the last year’s agony. Not to mention that the breakdown of an old family bond has made this relation become very manipulative of late,  attempting to use his feelings (“It hurts when you talk to him and don’t take my side!”) to get me to quit contacting this other person. This other person who themselves has a VERY full plate and as such gets a  compassionate ear when they can use it.

Granted, it has been a few months since this has come up. But mostly because I firmly put my foot down on the issue. When the person stooped so low as to question my intelligence after I would not allow myself to become a pawn in their feud, I essentially told them to enjoy the loneliness that they were apparently so DESPRATLY craving, and left the table (we were at a coffee shop). Oddly enough, I got a call the very next day. Same place, same time. Was as though nothing had happened.

Though that would fall apart. Having been busy for a period of 3 straight days, I hadn’t seen or contacted them. Then on new years eve, I get a text from this person alleging (well, stating) that I had disowned them, with the blame, of course, being his now arch nemesis. Being fed up with that bullshit (and with to much other stuff to deal with), I didn’t contact them for a good 10 days. If I am not going to put up with that from a manager, I am NOT taking it from a family member.

We have since spoken again. Though I don’t speak to him nearly as much as I used to. Though my motives and actions aren’t questioned to my face, the guy has the memory of an elephant, so who knows what other people hear. But I don’t care. I am too old to be putting up with more ridiculous bullshit from yet another boomer who thinks they have the god given RIGHT to control everything and everyone in their orbit.

I have compassion for mental illness. But if and when that becomes a tool of manipulation, I will be the first person to say FUCK YOU. Don’t even START with that shit.

Now, back to Donald.

As a backdrop to all of THAT was Donald’s war on intelligence of all kinds. It’s honestly no wonder that I have seen everyone from Contrapoints to Vox political commentators use alcohol and inebriation as a prop when exploring this mess. Hell, I am waiting for the day when someone like Keith Oberman, Jake Tapper or Rachel Maddow cracks a bottle of tequila in the middle of a broadcast.

But, such is likely the nature of many on the left in these days. The feeling of being done with this 8 months ago, yet there is still a MINIMUM of 28 more to go. That is, barring some sort of judicial miracle.
I would LOVE to see that day, but I don’t put much hope in it. I don’t doubt that Robert Mueller can get the job done if unencumbered. But that is just the thing . . . there is no guarantee.
The GOP seems more than willing to aid and abet if it means that they keep the reins. The boomers are known for their stubbornness in allowing anyone else to share in their successes and privilege, but this takes things to a whole new level.

As for my thoughts on Trump the politician . . . I honestly don’t know what to say. Just thinking about it is painful. It’s like everyone’s undereducated but overly opinionated uncle or grandfather now inhabits one of the most important political offices on earth.

Some things are not even worth mentioning anymore. The hypocrisy train is SO far from the station at this point that it’s not even worth acknowledging. Something that the media seems to finally be realizing, considering some of the big stories of late. Namely his war on NAFTA (much of his clothing line was manufactured in Mexico or China), and the Chinese steel tariffs (he built many buildings using Chinese steel).

He is a reactionary puppet, no question about it. Whether or not he EVER had an original thought in his brain is debatable, but he certainly doesn’t seem to have many anymore. Something that may not be AS bad, depending who is in his ear.
But having seen who those people are . . .

Where is this all going? Good question.

Though the man seems far too inept and gullible to be truly evil (compared to say, Vlad the poisoner Putin), one must never underestimate the forces that may well back his whims. Is it going to be a repeat of the last time that the fascists held all the strings?
Many entities would love that. Some out of cluelessness to what exactly they are propping up, their views clouded by social justice issues (albeit for white males), Freedom of speech, Islamic creep in the west, and other cover issues. And some know EXACTLY what they want, and how things are going to be. Like the triggered guppies that happen upon my piece about the European Brotherhood when looking for more information to fulfill their discriminating tastes.

But now, the silver lining. A blue wave and a bunch of pesky high school students.

It’s been hard to see much to latch onto in this past year that wasn’t REALLY grasping at straws. But the positive seems to be slowly making itself more visible. Observations like the fact that a great many lefties seem to have learned their lesson. Though we’re years out from most elections, many happening in the last year have been in the Democrat’s favor. Hell,  Alabama turned blue (though I am sure that Roy Moore had a lot to do with it). And even more assinine, TEXAS may also turn a lot bluer than it ever has been.

Also making waves in all the right ways, are the teenagers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Granted, this story did not start in a positive way. None the less, however, the students managed to harness the loss of their friends and peers in one of the worst school shootings, into genuine resistance.
Looking at the reactions of gun advocates, the NRA, and the right in general, these kids have UNDENIABLY hit a nerve. The reaction to the corporate and public backlash may as well be a comedic sketch. The feet of these psychopaths are good and toasty for the first time EVER, and all they seem to know how to do is pour more gasoline (gunpowder?) onto the fire.

I hope that the momentum keeps going. Expecting to get genuine gun reform out of it might be akin to hoping that Trump will resign voluntarily. None the less, I am good with seeing grown adults become so intimidated by a few teenagers that they make asses of themselves in attempting to prove that the wisdom of longevity is more cogent than . . . reason.
The 2 that went on Bill Maher’s show made for one of my most enjoyed interviews. Not only did they throw his millennial ignorance in his face (albeit politely), they also publicly slammed an entire generation. They didn’t slam the boomers by name, but it’s good enough for me.

In conclusion . . .

How will it all end?

I guess we will find out. Be it elections in 3 and 7 years from now, or a cloud of contaminated particulate and a man-made winter, only time will tell us our fate. Something that should be on the mind anyway, in these days of increasing climate chaos and resource depletion.

Trump is not the final problem. He is just the beginning.

Posted in American, Opinion, Personal, Political | Leave a comment

“Elon Musk: We Must Colonize Mars for Humanity to Survive the ‘Dark Ages’ ” – (Ecowatch)

Elon is at it again.

The worlds least hated opportunistic capitalist is again, pushing for the uprooting of humanity from this rock.  From this rock to, another rock that lacks such important attributes as . . . an atmosphere.

But enough of that (well, for now . . . ). Let’s see what the man has to say.

In the event of World War III, the only way for humanity to survive is to colonize Mars or the moon, according to Elon Musk.

Well, at least he didn’t bury the lead. Straight to the point. If we don’t get to the moon or mars soon, we’re FUCKED!

“I’m not predicting that we’re about to enter the dark ages, but there’s some probability that we will, particularly if there’s a third world war,” the SpaceX and Tesla founder said during a question and answer session at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference in Austin on Sunday ahead of President Donald Trump‘s possible nuclear talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“We want to make sure there’s enough of a seed of human civilization somewhere else to bring civilization back and, perhaps, shorten the length of the dark ages,” Musk continued during his chat with Jonathan Nolan, the co-creator of HBO’s Westworld.

The new dark ages.

The time period sometime between now and down the road that horrified me some 7 years ago. Yet now, a time period that I have grown almost accepting of in recent years. Partly on a misanthropic front, particularly when in a sour mood (my speech has psychopathic tendencies when guppies (moronic idiots) get under my skin). But mostly on a mental stability front. Being terrified of some ambiguously dated and defined future event that it is questionable that ANYONE could prepare for only serves to rob you of the present, the time that matters. Come hell or high water, you could get hit by a truck tomorrow. So make it count.

It may be cliche. But it is more or less how I have dealt with the whole all-encompassing “We are SO fucked” macro conclusion that comes with having a sharp mind in these days of late-stage capitalism.

As for people like Elon Musk that push the Mars/Moon/other planet colonization narrative, I can’t help but think it is the same thing at play. Like many others within our species, they see the writing on the wall, and it’s hard to digest. However, unlike most people, they have the unique access to billions of dollars that they figure can help them actually contribute to a solution to this macro-level problem.

There are many that write and contemplate ways out of our predicament, many of which amount to be mere temporary stopgaps to the inevitable. For example, the efficiency paradox (slightly varied from the Jevons Paradox).
Using non-renewable resources more efficiently only means kicking the inevitable right-hand slide down the bell curve down the road. Something that wouldn’t be all that important if these resources were mere building blocks in the human progress machine. But since decades of greed have made these resources the bedrock from which our entire societal mechanism is built, we find ourselves in a conundrum. The right side of the bell curve is approaching for MANY of these bedrock resources and we’re still stuck in a “Nothing can replace the power of fossil fuels!” mindset. God help us all if you are correct, guppies.

Admittedly, efficiency is just one technological trap that we fall into on this front. Crowdfunding websites are chalked full of Green solutions to all of our problems (for example, solar roadways). Don’t get me wrong, it’s good that some people are looking into these things. However, it’s important to see these things in context. It may make one feel good to develop or support some project such as solar roadways, but feelings won’t do anything in the face of climate chaos. Or for that matter, the turbulent market fluctuations of a world economy running out of fuel from which to continue its perennial growth.

There are many forms of hopeium to be had on the saving the species front (to quote a friend of mine with strong opinions on this topic). However, the only way to truly begin that journey is to accept the big picture.

Elon Musk has brought an interesting twist to this conversation, however. Usually, this dialogue involves humanity running from climate change and other self-inflicted (yet delayed) chaos. However, WW3 and direct human conflict is the given reason for the exodus.

This leads nicely into my next critique of this mindset. Call it the pragmatic misanthrope argument.

If history is good for nothing else, it is a brilliant portrait of what it means to be a human being. generally speaking, we are not wired for peace and tranquility. Though civilization has helped to tame much of the violence of past homo sapiens, we’re none the less not immune to participation in this violence. It’s just by proxy. When democratic nations continually nominate and elect leaders with a strong bent towards military intervention, you see the same dynamic as our ancestors. Were just paying someone else to do it for us.
Given this, it is surprising that many (most?) world leaders can be placed on the psychopathy scale?

Whether it be here on earth or on the Moon, Mars or any other planet, we bring these traits with us. Everything that has led to the predicament that we find ourselves in now, remains the same. We may tell ourselves that this will be different. But I still have doubts.

In the short term, I don’t really doubt that one can keep it up. Having an incident fresh in the rear view serves as a good horizon. However, as years and generations go by, will we stick to these principals?

My worldview is largely filtered through a lens of perennial cynism. As such, I don’t hold much hope for humankind to grow out of its current embedded behaviors. In fact, I take this conversation to the level of ethics. That is, is it ethical to propagate and populate other planets and celestial bodies when we will likely not leave them in any better state than the one we currently inhabit?

I answer “No” to this question. But I know I am in the minority with this response. Even if I know FOR A FACT that many people going the other way are reacting strictly emotionally, there are still many more of them than me. So . . . good luck?

Your future generations are going to need it.


“It’s important to get a self-sustaining base ideally on Mars, because Mars is far enough away from Earth that [if there’s a war on Earth] the Mars base is more likely to survive than a moon base,” he said. “But I think a moon base and a Mars base that could perhaps regenerate life back here on Earth would be really important.”

Musk’s remarks—which you can watch below—are similar to comments made by theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who also thinks that humanity needs to colonize Mars, the moon or other planets in order survive threats such as climate change.

Interesting contemplation on the part of Musk, here. We have to get as far from earth as possible because even the moon is not out of the range of our potential need for mass suicide on a gargantuan scale.

The first thing that comes to mind is, see my last paragraph (is this REALLY worth saving?!). The second is, if someone of this species is determined to destroy ourselves, few places will ever be safe. If some rogue nation (or a formerly developed nation overcome by a plague of reactionary populism) is hell-bent on the destruction of all, nothing is untouchable.

It is interesting that the author would directly link Musks self-destruction hypothesis with that of Stephen Hawking. Yes, they are similar in that they are both directly attributable to our action, even if the ramifications show up in a very different timetable. But that is where the comparison should end. I may have issues with the Hawking hypothesis, but at least his is based on somewhat uncontrollable events. We fucked up, so now we need to find a solution.
The war hypothesis is a different beast altogether. Such a situation will likely be caused by a small handful of individuals. None the less, they would not have access to such godlike power without having been put there by the vast majority.

Musk said it will not be easy for the first people living in space.

“The moon and Mars are often thought of as some escape hatch for rich people, but it won’t be that at all,” he said. “Really it kind of reads like Shackleton’s ad for Antarctic explorers … difficult, dangerous, good chance you’ll die, excitement for those who would survive.”

Uh . . . yeah.

It’s interesting that he uses the phrasing escape hatch for rich people. Followed by it will not be that, at all. Bullshit. When the going gets tough and the civil boundaries that keep law and order within the worlds nation states begin to buckle under the pressure of climate (or conflict) driven chaos, it won’t be the working or middle (let alone, lower!) classes hitching a ride to the new frontier. Maybe a few (maids and such to do the dirty work), but certainly not all.

If there is one bright spot in this picture, it’s that they will most likely abandon all but the most utilitarian minds to the abyss. These minds can keep things running and humming, but they generally aren’t great at predicting future ramifications.
This shortcoming has had fairly few consequences for our species up until recently (the age of oil), and even then, the earth was a fairly forgiving force to be reckon with. But an unforseen Whoops! may well have very big consequences in a world with a much smaller population, and far less freedom of mobility.

Once the space settlers are established, the billionaire visionary envisions a “direct democracy” for Martian colonies, “where people vote directly on issues instead of going through a representative government.”

But of course. Easy to imagine when you are one of the privileged few that is most likely to see this new world if ever it materializes.

No, I do not envision martian colonies as being an oasis of altruism and equality. What I envision equates more too, Dubai.

However, he admitted this interplanetary project, like many of his other grand plans, could be a little too ambitious.

“People have told me that my timelines historically have been optimistic, and so I’m trying to recalibrate to some degree here.”

Just a little, Elon. Just a little.

While far more is wrong with your quests than just the timeline, it’s a start.

Elsewhere in his wide-ranging interview at SXSW, Musk spoke about the threat of climate change and why there must be a price on carbon.

“Anything that pushes carbon into the atmosphere … has to have a price,” Musk said.

I don’t disagree. Unlike the grand schemes involving somehow transplanting from one planet to another, this is not an unrealistic goal. If it takes greed and capitalism to push the world in a more sustainable direction, then so be it. We’re going to be paying for it eventually anyway.

In conclusion, me and Elon Musk don’t see eye to eye on many things. Though he is generally regarded positively by the media and society (much like most big names out of silicon valley), I am not so easily persuaded.  Many modern tech and tech-related firms hide more traditional labor practices behind a shiny progressive veneer. Dig a little, and you will find a bit of this in Tesla’s recent history.

Dismissing the cult of rich pseudo-progressive windbags aside, it’s not all bad. Given the right focus, I think people like Musk may not just be helpful in terms of mitigation of damage already done, but possibly even aid in reversing it. It’s a gargantuan task to contemplate. But so is starting fresh on the moon, or mars.

One thing is for sure, nothing is permanent. If a permanent existence is a goal, then we need to be looking much further than even Mars. Because at some point, the sun will swallow that up. Bringing an end to billions of years of continued flourishing, or permanently erasing almost all that we touched in our heyday.

It’s hard to imagine in this millennium, where even our near earth orbit is littered with our garbage (let alone what is left on the moon and mars). But none the less, all but a few spacecraft flung out of our solar system will be what remains.

You can escape planetary conflict and consequence, but you can never escape entropy.

Posted in Opinion, Other, Social Issues | Leave a comment

Apistevist – The Final Word


This term first came to my attention some 4 years ago. Thought to be coined by one annoying youtuber back in 2010, it turned out to actually originate with another not so annoying youtuber sometime before that (a fellow by the name of Aron RA). I have my issues with him, but unlike the vast majority of other ideological atheist types in the online realm, he actually puts his platform to good use. Highlighting causes of importance, and helping to further scientific literacy VIA a series of premade video lessons made for teachers that have the desire to educate but not the knowledge.

In truth, this term may well have even predated these 2. Secular conversation (and interacting secular cohorts) predated social media. However, the term may not have gone much further out than the university campus (or otherwise, the limiters of interactivity which are no longer applicable).
Either way, Apistevist has been around for at least a good 7 years. Though interest in the term seems to come in waves (as judged by search engine traffic coming into past entries on the subject), it’s relatively constant.

I have explored the term no less than twice. Once out of curiosity, then a second time due to a need for clarification to my argument. A 3ed exploration came during my aviation fascination phase after I realized that air travel is the perfect vehicle in which to argue my case. And yet a 4th came after a fellow wrote a refutation to all of the above, oh which I decided to explore. Because, what the hell.
I have no qualms about challenging my conclusions. As long as it’s something actually original.

Like many other areas of debate, what I constitute as original may not be apparent. To clear that up for this (and any other topic I cover), all I generally look for is evidence that one grasps a topic outside of ideological dogma. In the case of apistevist (much like atheist, its cousin), I look for evidence that one has pondered the term beyond its definition.

Though I used to respond to all comments as a rule, not so much anymore. Call it wisdom or arrogance, I have adopted a new rule of worthiness.
A good way to get ignored is to argue against me based on the contents of my first post alone. I made mistakes there and made the corrections easily available.
The other obvious one is outlined above. Ideological dogmatism. Or to put it another way, if you think that it is a simple concept and are astounded that I just don’t GET it . . . I don’t have much time for you.

Either way, you get the point. Now on with it. Why this term, label, flair (to quote a Reddit user) should go away once and for all.

When I dispell this concept, it is less about mechanics and assumptions than it is about real-world implications. For example, it is less about whether or not there is tuna in the can or water will come out of the tap than it is about the quality of the aforementioned commodities. Is the tuna safe to eat or the water safe to drink.
Or to use the aviation example, whether the many, MANY links in the chain that lead to your flight are all as strong as they should be.  And not just your current flight crew either. I am talking everything from security personnel at present to mechanical personnel in the distant past. Hundreds have died in past incidents due to old botched repairs later disabling (or in 1 case, literally ripping apart) aircraft.

Japan Air 123

China Airlines 611 

Both incidents were the unfortunate end result of a typically non-serious form of damage known as a tailstrike. If the nose of the aircraft is tilted too much on landing or takeoff, the tail can hit the ground. The most serious case of this phenomenon is probably KLM 4805, though that aircraft had a much bigger problem facing it at the time.

When it comes to my deconstruction of the term Apistevist, some may question the methodology. The more philosophically minded in particular may question the approach. While I acknowledge the criticism, I have to give one of my own. That being, if even I have some trouble wrapping my head around exactly what you are saying, then it won’t be of much help in educating anyone else. Such concepts may work in academia or in academic circles, but this realm is far from it.
Thus, I look for ways to make these concepts applicable to anyone and everyone willing to step outside the box. Simplistic as it may seem, a screwdriver is hardly the right tool to use for hammering a nail.

And now, the final word. To put it bluntly, I consider the term apistevist to be ridiculous and frankly, debunked. If you feel this to be a cop-out, I urge to review my previous works on the subject (available in the Apistevist category on your right).

While I could have left it there, I find the continued usage (and growth) of this term interesting.

There is a philosophical component to this (or lack thereof, as the case seems to be). The same uncritical mindsets that turn ambiguously defined terms such as Atheism into rigid ideological dogmas also serve to keep this term relevant.
However, I suspect that there is more to it. In particular, I suspect it is yet another manifestation of the Nones (for lack of a better adjective coming to mind) being so eager to withdraw from all things theism that they end up throwing away some perfectly reasonable conclusions based merely on the word they are associated with.

One of the most obvious examples of this that I have come across involves atheists absolute disdain with association with the term religion. I have seen some atheists go as far as leaving out part of the definition of the word in order to avoid this association. In particular,  a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance. Something that amused me, considering the sacred (yet altered) modern definition of Atheism (lack of belief in).  As contrasted to the former common usage (denial of the existence of). Definitions are important . . . unless they are inconvenient?

Now that I have opened that can of worms, on to a new one.

In the same way that I suspect that many non-believers are repulsed by typically theism centric religion, I also see this phenomenon at play when it comes to the concept of faith (or possibly blind faith).

Like all of the various flavors of Nones out there, I do not disagree with criticism of the concept of faith in the context of religions or deities. I have been there since I was a teenager, and thus we are on the same page.
What I disagree with is the notion that this conclusion can be expanded beyond the context of religiosity and deity. That people can live life without any interaction with faith whatsoever.

The common alternative to my argument is to say that I am talking less about faith than I am about trust. I do not have faith in the safety of tap water, Tuna, or the chain of events applicable to (and preceding) my flight on a given aircraft. I trust in the safety and competency of all involved.

To be perfectly honest, the first thing that comes to mind is “What is the difference?!”. What is being said is basically the same thing, just using different words.

“I have faith that this unopened drink will not poison me”

“There is a high amount of probability that this drink will not poison me”

Here is where many will say that I am being incoherent, or deliberately dense. In a nutshell, one conclusion is based on past evidence, and the other is not. However, even taking that into consideration, this is still relatively easy to dismiss.

Keeping with the food safety example, it is all about knowing the origins of this food and where this trail ends at any given time. I had previously applied this to individual packages, but the trust aspect can be lengthened right to the batch. If one can of tuna from a batch is good, then one can argue that this likely applies to the whole batch. In fact, I suspect food safety testing is based on this principle (being that its impossible to test literally EVERY ounce of food or drink entering a given market).

While the Apistevist can indeed use the above argument to back up their usage of the term, the fact remains that there will always be a cutoff somewhere. Every batch ends and is followed by a new one. Thus, you are back to square one.

But wait!

This is not entirely correct, because of the aforementioned quality assurance testing. Organizations and governments are always testing product quality, therefore it is not a leap of faith to trust any given package of anything.

To which I would respond . . . yes, it is indeed still a leap of faith. One can argue that testing and assurances make a product more trustworthy and less of a gamble, but that just means that your faith is now in the tests. That the procedures are up to snuff and are in no way compromised. Which is a pretty much impossible guarantee to make because even if malicious intent or incompetence are not an issue, risks change.
The human experiment (particularly in the scientifically driven modern age) is littered with cases of “Whoops! We dun fucked that up!”. From DDT to Asbestos to bisphenol A, what was harmless even in my youth is constantly changing.
Who would think that commonly used reusable plastic water bottles that I saw around high school in 2003 would now be viewed as hazardous waste? My peers (and millions of others!) had faith and/or trust in the safety of the bottles. Whoops!

What I am building up to may well be an impossible standard. If you look at everything in this way, then it becomes literally impossible to guarantee the safety of pretty much anything. Therein making participation not just in a consumer society, but really LIFE, impossible.

Thus making the culmination of following the apistevist philosophy . . . insanity?

If there is any rhyme or reason to this series, it is to illustrate how unnecessary the term (and otherwise illustrating ones total and complete lack of faith) is.

Before I brought it up here, few readers probably considered the safety and or quality assurances on food, tap water, aviation or any other aspect of their lives. But that is not a bad thing.
For one, having that on your plate is not good for one’s mental health. And for another, the fact that we can live life without thinking about these things is a testament to how far we have come.

I argue against apistevism due to its incoherence. But I also take issue with the secular community in general for placing far to much weight on labels. A healthier future can only result from being less tied to these barriers and more open to uniting for the good of the commons.

Posted in Apistevist, Opinion, Religion & Atheism | Leave a comment

The Latest Accusee Of #MeTo – Hedley ?!

It’s strange, the fact that I am referencing Hedley in this post, and on this blog. The days of this group having any relevance to my life have LONG since past. I liked some songs off of the first album because it was fairly heavy. But then I moved away from the radio (and intern, popular music), and thus this band just fell into the abyss of the long forgotten.

Well, until I happen to hear one of their newer god awful slow and sappy or otherwise overtly pop-oriented abortions.

It seems that the band is now alleged to have some, shall we say, questionable relationships with some of its fans. Enough of them to prompt their removal from performing at this years Canadian Juno Awards.


First things first . . .

This piece is not meant to take a stance on the removal of the band from the lineup. I don’t care. The organizers can make whatever changes they please. I don’t watch awards shows, have never watched awards shows.
There is more to life than all of that distracting and empty glitz and glamor.

I am not even here to say much about the allegations themselves. Because they are just that, allegations. It’s early in the release of this story, so time will tell how this pans out.

What bothers me is the prevailing attitude in the comments section of the article above. Nothing that really surprises me at this point in my life, but none the less, proof that society has much work to do.

These girls are groupies. They allow themselves to be victims

Meanwhile these same teenagers keep the kardashians rich and on the air knowing the star Kim was pimped out by her own mother via video, it’s ridiculous

Hedley strong

The War on Men continues.

Some of the comments in the thread, the vast majority of which followed more or less the same formula. Indeed, a small microcosm of the entirety of the social media world. But I would not expect to find much difference in opinion on any other platform simply because celebrity worship is ever present in contemporary society.

This is an interesting (and potentially nasty) new twist to this whole equation, however. In truth, the idea of grown adults writing and performing songs specifically tailored for child and teen demographics has always struck me as . . . odd.  I suppose that almost all pop music could go into this category.
However, I think specifically of the boy band type stuff for this category. Hedley, Simple Plan and the like. Yeah, my examples are pretty dated. I can’t be bothered to find out who the new Bieber or One Direction is.

Even when I was young, Simple Plan singing “I’m just a kid, and my life is a nightmare!” struck me as odd. The purpose is obvious (depressed kids in cookie-cutter suburbs have plenty of disposable income, particularly in 2004/2005). But it was still . . . odd.

Fast forward almost 20 years, and I realize that it is far more than that. Not just odd, but a potential disaster under the wrong circumstances. For example, if you happen to be a sexual predator with a talent for song and dance.

It’s an unwritten rule that sex sells, and essentially the whole of the pop music industry is built upon this foundation. Any performer can blend into this environment with ease. And if they have a fanbase that mostly falls below the age of majority, you end up with the very real possibility of a vulnerable group being right at the fingertips of a sexual predator. A risky situation that many of the victims may not realize (or just refuse to accept) because of the circumstances.

No, I am not saying that this is what we are dealing with in terms of Hedley. However, whether it be Hedley or any other artist or group, allegations must be taken seriously.


Posted in Culture, Opinion, Social Issues | Leave a comment

“Missouri Organic Family Farm Faces Ruin After Herbicide Drift” – (Ecowatch)

It has been some time since I have last peeled back the curtain on one of these articles to see what lies beneath.  This one seems to have all the hallmarks of one that is worth diving into.

So let us wait no longer.


Herbicide drift has been a major problem last year damaging millions of acres of crops in the U.S.

An organic farmer in Missouri has seen firsthand how destructive herbicide drift can be as it destroys his crops and threatens his livelihood and farm.

Mike Brabo and his wife Carol own Vesterbrook Farm in Clarksville, Missouri, about an hour north of St. Louis near the Mississippi River. The farm has been in Carol’s family for nearly a century. The couple and their two children have worked the farm since 2008 after Mike survived thyroid cancer.

At that time Mike gained an appreciation for organic foods but found it difficult to afford them. “It’s expensive to buy organic fruits and vegetables at Whole Foods,” he said.

Mike and Carol decided to grow their own. It wasn’t difficult to convert the farm to organic since no chemicals had been used on the land.

“There had been nothing grown on the farm but grass for 15 years,” Mike said.

Here, they have a photograph of the smiling, happy family. It’s a nice touch.

Sell Crops to 150-Member CSA

Over the years, the Brabos have grown their organic farm. A lot of vegetables can be grown on 24 acres, and the Brabos have planted more than 60 including lettuce, spinach, beets, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, peppers, squash and tomatoes, among others. Some vegetables are grown in four high tunnel greenhouses. They also planted an orchard with apple, peach, plum and cherry trees and fruit bushes such as raspberries. They also grow herbs such as sage, parsley and cilantro.

Vesterbrook Farm uses organic practices but is not certified through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. Instead, Mike chose Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) as their certifier.

“Their standards meet or exceed the USDA’s,” he said. “CNG has a much greater emphasis on sustainability with planting areas that bring in wildlife and beneficial insects.”

The Brabos have seen growing success with their organic farm and CSA with sales increasing 10 percent per year.

I omitted a small part of the original text, not seeing it as necessary. But you get the pretty little picture. Things were going well, and life was good and bountiful.

Then came the menace.

Herbicides Damaged Crops, Loss of $300,000

That is until this year. In June, a conventional farmer neighbor sprayed his soybean field with herbicides. Wind blew the herbicides over the Brabos’ land.

This happened despite Mike having signs that say “Organic Farm, No Spray” signs and registering his farm with DriftWatch, a communication tool that enables farmers and pesticide applicators to work together to protect specialty crops using mapping programs.

The damage from the herbicide drift was total. “We found damage across our farm, which is 500 yards wide, including on the far north side of the property,” Mike said.

Crops damaged included peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, basil; fruit trees were also damaged. “Everything on the farm, even ornamental trees, was damaged,” Mike said.

The herbicides also killed half of the farm’s bees, an estimated loss of $12,000. Mike estimates the total loss at $300,000.

Tests revealed that the herbicides responsible for the damage were glufosinate, clethodim and metolachlor.

Their Certified Naturally Grown certification was suspended, and the Brabos must essentially start over to remove the herbicide contamination from their farm. It will take three years at an estimated cost of $1.6 million to remediate the damage and regain CNG certification. According to Mike, they will have to plant cover crops and replenish the soil with beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi.

First off, some herbicide research (since I have never heard of the 3 listed).


Though glufosinate looks to be naturally occurring by way of some bacteriums, companies (such as Bayer) appear to have synthesized it with ammonium for use in crops genetically engineered for coupled usage with the herbicide.

As for the specifics (as described by Glufosinate-Ammonium manufacturer Bayer):

The primary mode of action of Glufosinate-ammonium is the inhibition of the enzyme glutamine synthetase. This enzyme catalyzes the synthesis of glutamine from glutamate and ammonia and plays a central role in plant nitrogen metabolism



This one appears to be mostly used to keep annual and perennial grasses in check, primarily in broadleaf crops. Being a systemic herbicide, it works by moving through the structure of the plant. Though the exact mechanism is still a mystery to me.

Not for lack of digging, either.


This is an organic compound that is also used as a selective herbicide. Like Clethodim, it is a selective herbicide in that its also primarily used to control grasses.


The latter 2 herbicides appear to be fairly benign, at least in their potential impact in this instance. Being that they are selective herbicides, their target organisms are fairly niche. In this case, mainly annual and perennial grass species. Not to mention that they have a fairly short half-life cycle in terms of residual activity in the soil.

The obvious culprit would seem to be the Glufosinate. Being a broad spectrum herbicide (like Glyphosate), it takes out everything. And being that it is a combination herbicide (to be used alongside glufosinate engineered crops!), the picture looks really bad. Logic seems to dictate that if it kills where it is supposed to, it will likely also kill where it shouldn’t be either.

But let us dig a little deeper.

“Worst Case Scenario is We Lose the Farm”

Mike could grow vegetables and sell them as conventional but he refuses for fear that a customer would become sick because of the herbicide contamination.

“As a cancer survivor I’m not going to be complicit in putting something in the food supply that could make someone sick,” he said.

Keyword there. Could.

Millions (me included) are purchasing vegetables that have been grown in the very same way. No one has yet been able to link any health issues to such vegetables. Not to mention that most of this issue can literally be washed away by simply washing fruits and vegetables before consuming them.

That should be a given. It’s not just scary chemicals that can hide in fresh produce. Do you know how many people exit public washrooms without washing their hands?

Consider that next time you are thumbing through pretty much any consumer product in any store, anywhere.

For now, the Brabos are out of business for three years. “We aren’t sure what we are going to do,” Mike said. “The worst case scenario is we lose the family farm.”

The Brabos are working with attorneys to reach a settlement with their neighbor’s insurance company.

“We just want to be rightly compensated to grow healthy food for ourselves and repairing the soil and ecosystem so we can grow food for the St. Louis community,” Mike said.

Taking into account both the situation as described and the chemicals involved, I find myself picturing a giant dead zone in and around this little plot of land. A place where not even a blade of grass was spared the burning death of the chemical herbicide. I would think that , though (not finding any photographs of the damage).

I don’t doubt that the farm may have sustained some damage due to herbicide drift. A particularly problematic set of events when it comes to an organic farm (depending on the residual half-life of the various herbicides, anyway). However, I do have a couple of criticisms.

One is how they handled informing the neighboring farms. It’s all well and good to have  big yellow DO NOT SPRAY signs around the perimeter of your property line. However, that only helps if they are seen. One would ASSUME they would be. But a safer bet would be to talk to your neighbors and community and give a heads up.

When it comes to awarding damages from insurance, that one is also questionable to me. If the sprays were applied in what could be deemed questionable conditions (such as during high winds), then yes. Though good luck proving it.

And also on the subject of damages, is the produce itself. Though the veggies are poisoned (as defined by the farmers and others of such a persuasion), they are perfectly good (and salable!) by conventional commercial standards. Even if the family does not want to sell them on principle, I don’t accept that as a good reason.
It’s not contaminated by petrochemicals or radioactivity. It’s got a small amount of herbicide.

If the farm were to go after the insurance company to make up for lost revenue in having to sell the produce as conventionally grown (as opposed to the more labor-intensive and profitable organic), I could see that. But wasting the produce was not necessary.

To close, this story was not what I suspected it was, for once (fortunately). It wouldn’t be the first time that I looked into one of these farmer as a victim articles, only to find questionable actions and narratives beneath (Monsanto suing over GMO crop drift, anyone?).

While I do have some criticism for the Brabos family, they do seem to be the victims of an unfortunate situation. And as such, I wish them all the best. One certainly shouldn’t lose their farm over holding to their personal principals.


Someone set up a crowdfunding campaign in benefit of the Farm. Do whatever you may with this link.


Posted in Alternative Media Criticisms, Big BioTech / GMO's / Other Eco-Alternative Media Criticisms, Opinion | Leave a comment

In A Time Of Mourning, Don’t Be A Dick


One of the first things that jumped out at me with this (even before reading the comments) were the reactions. Some were rightfully sad. But the laugh one was most noticeable.

I know that he is a Fox News host. I am unfamiliar with him overall (though judging by the reaction, he must have fit right in at the network). It looks like he lost his son to a terrible turn of fate that could really impact almost any parent . . . his son died of a drug overdose. Street pills laced with fentanyl ended up killing the kid, who unfortunately was alone in his apartment when taking the tablets.

This could happen to someone I know. This could happen to someone you know. Hence, this is not a time to pull the karma card. Sure, you can. But it just makes you an asshole, no better than anyone on the right that would do something similar should the same fate befall any prominent leftist figure.

If anything, this is a great time to start a conversation about the insane culture that surrounds drug enforcement in the United States. We knew it was inefficient and ineffective before. But cases like this prove that this status quo is also dangerous.

Instead of spitting in the face of the grieving, show some compassion.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment