Saturday, July 21, 2018

What do you think of the body text colour?

I tweaked the body text of my blog in an attempt to make it more readable.  I'm not sure if I've succeeded.

This is the place to share any thoughts on the matter.

Friday, July 20, 2018

So it turns out I'm not an alcoholic

You aren't supposed to drink when you have a head injury. I didn't have any bottles in the house the day I hit my head, so it was a simple matter to just not go to the LCBO.

Some time passed, with my brain doing a variety of strange things, most of which were extremely temporary (i.e. one day of weirdness), the stickiest of which was vision issues, and none of which were cognitive issues or balance issue or anything that could be exacerbated by alcohol.

But I never got around to going to the LCBO, so I continued not drinking.

After some time, I noticed it was taking significantly longer to fall asleep each night, and I wondered if that was because of the absence of alcohol.  I thought I should go to the LCBO, get just one small bottle, and have just one standard drink under controlled conditions, for science.

But I never got around to it, so I continued not drinking.

The sleep situation stabilized. I started vision therapy. I scaled back and eventually completely eliminated my system of rest breaks.  I spent more days not crying than crying. I started working on waking up to an alarm again (with mixed results).

And I still never got around to going to the LCBO.

It's been five months since I had any alcohol.  It has occurred to me on and off that I should have a drink at home under controlled conditions so I can see how my body reacts, and I just keep...not getting around to it.

In the past, people have expressed concern about my drinking because I like drinking.  People have expressed concern about drinking because I drink alone rather than going out or inviting people over every single time I fancy a drink.  People have expressed concern about my drinking because people have expressed concern about my drinking.

But I'm pretty sure alcoholics don't just...not get around to buying more alcohol, especially when they have already arrived at the conclusion that they should drink alcohol for science.


Normally when people talk about not drinking for a period of time, they talk about how they feel better and don't miss it.

I don't feel better for not drinking.  I don't feel worse, but I don't feel better either.  I haven't lost weight.  I don't feel like I've saved money.  I don't feel in any way healthier.  Basically everything feels exactly the same, except for the residual symptoms of my head injury.

It wouldn't be fair to say I don't miss it either. Whenever I see a mention of someone drinking wine in something I'm reading, I think "Ooh, a glass of wine would be nice!" I kind of miss the feeling of  fun-twirling-around tipsy, but I'm so wary of falling now that I wouldn't risk that anyway.  At the same time, I don't really feel deprived, because it isn't something I can't do or shouldn't do.  It's just another thing I'm procrastinating, and I can stop procrastinating whenever I want.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Let's talk about sex (in 1998), baby!

In the wake of the Ontario government's shameful decision to revert to the 1998 sex ed curriculum, many people have already commented on the deficiencies in that 20-year-old curriculum. It doesn't reflect the existence or needs of gender and sexual minorities, it doesn't talk about consent, it was written when many people had only dial-up internet (if they had home internet at all).

But even if you didn't care about all those things, the fact of the matter is that medical knowledge has evolved. For example:
  • The HPV vaccine did not yet exist.  (I myself either hadn't heard of or had forgotten about HPV, despite my sex education having covered every other STD that my adult self has heard of. I can't tell you whether this is a result of the state of medical science or the state of the curriculum.)
  • PrEP did not yet exist. (I don't know any more details about how HIV treatment has evolved since then, but I'm sure there's lots of other relevant and important stuff in there.)
  • Essure did not yet exist. The only available method of female sterilization was tubal ligation, which is an abdominal surgery and therefore far more drastic.
  • Nuvaring and contraceptive patches had not yet been invented. 
  • Norplant existed, but many of the issues that led to its subsequent reduced availability/withdrawal from the market had not yet come to light.
  • The morning after pill had not yet been approved for use in Canada
  • Medical abortion was not yet available in Canada (I don't know whether or not it existed.)
  • I don't know if home ovulation tests existed, but I didn't hear about them until well into the 21st century.
  • I don't know if puberty blockers existed, but I only heard of them in the past few years.
  • We were nearly a decade away from the first male pregnancy.
And that's just what I can think of off the top of my head, in my capacity as someone who isn't a medical professional and whose sexual health needs would have been served perfectly well with 1998 medical knowledge.  I'm sure there's tons more!

Everyone would be appalled if 20-year-old Geography or Physics or Computer Science were being taught in schools, because the subject matter has evolved.

Everyone would be appalled if they were given cancer treatment or antibiotics or a weight-loss regime that didn't take into account the last 20 years of medical developments.

If nothing else, everyone should be appalled that they're deliberately reverting to a curriculum in which some technical information is obsolete.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What if Star Trek: Discovery could desexualize the miniskirt uniform?

I recently saw an article saying that Star Trek: Discovery should use unisex miniskirt uniforms.  The article quoted Nichelle Nichols:
“The show was created in the age of the miniskirt, and the crew women’s uniforms were very comfortable. Contrary to what many may think today, no one really saw it as demeaning back then. In fact, the miniskirt was a symbol of sexual liberation. More to the point, though, in the twenty-third century, you are respected for your abilities regardless of what you do or do not wear.”
I absolutely agree that, when Discovery inevitably runs up against the original series uniforms (which, being set about 10 years before TOS, it will if it has a full run), it should present the miniskirt uniforms as unisex/gender-neutral, like TNG briefly did before it phased them out entirely. 

But what if, in addition to making the miniskirts gender-neutral, Star Trek: Discovery could make them non-sexy?

Imagine if the most prominent occurrence of the miniskirt uniform was a person whom modern television costuming standards would not normally put in a miniskirt. Someone whose legs are hairier than average.  Someone whose thighs rub together below the hemline of the skirt.  Someone noticeably older than the rest of the cast.

For example, maybe 10% of the background cast is in miniskirts (at least 50% of whom are male), and maybe one or two characters who have "Aye, Captain" sort of lines are seen wearing miniskirts in one or two brief scenes.  And then the most prominent instance of a miniskirt is on a stout, battle-hardened octogenarian admiral, with a reputation for being a brilliant military tactician as well as a bit of a hardass (like Captain Jellico), who is called in for some particularly dire crisis where particular bravery, heroics and expertise are required. And throughout, the camerawork is done exactly the same way it would be if everyone is wearing pants, neither lingering on nor ignoring any particular character's legs.

From a production perspective, this would be difficult to carry off well.  First of all, every actor deserves the dignity of flattering, thoughtful costuming, and non-sexy miniskirts would not be perceived as flattering.  Secondly, there's a history of putting revealing female-coded clothing on performers who aren't women who meet the narrow Hollywood definition of sexy and presenting it as comedic. ("HA HA HA! Look at that dude's hairy man-legs in that miniskirt!")  It would be absolutely essential to avoid inadvertently doing this, and I don't know whether they could avoid having the less-savoury parts of the audience interpret the scene that way.

But if they could carry it off, it would disarm the unfortunate connotations of the miniskirt uniform and reclaim its original empowering intention s in a way that's consistent with woke Star Trek: Discovery values and with Federation values.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

What if construction workers weren't even allowed on construction sites during quiet hours?

The most frustrating thing about all the construction near me is the frequency with which they wake me up by starting work early. City of Toronto noise bylaws state that construction can't start before 7 a.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. on Saturdays, but all too often they're out there making noise before that.

The thing is, I think that most of the time when they're making noise too early, they think they're not working yet.  I think they think they're just getting ready to work.

The noise that wakes me up is stuff like gates opening, trucks being backed up, the external elevator operating, and equipment being moved into position (note to construction sites: moving dumpsters around is the single loudest thing you do!).

Then, at 7 on the dot, the noise picks up - big loud whirring machines spring into action, millions of people start hitting things with millions of hammers, etc.  As though they were waiting until 7 to start all this stuff, as though they thought the stuff they were doing before 7 didn't count.

But, nevertheless, the stuff they were doing before 7 still woke me up.

Idea: what if construction workers weren't even allowed on the construction sites before 7? That way they couldn't possibly make noise to wake people up, regardless of whether they think they're working or not.

It would also be easier for by-law officers to enforce (if we ever get by-law officers working outside of business hours - and I'm strongly confident that such an initiative would pay for itself in fines collected if they patrolled the Yonge and Eglinton area between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.) because if there is any activity or worker presence whatsoever before 7 a.m., that's a violation.  Gate open? Trucks present? Violation.  No debating whether work is being done or not, instead it's a hard and fast "yes or no" question.

On top of that, it would make life easier for workers by disincentivizing the employer from requiring them to report to work obscenely early.  The earliest I was ever woken up by construction was 5:36 a.m. - and this was in the middle of winter!  Imagine how early they had to wake up on a cold winter's morning to get to the construction site in time to wake me up that early!  But if the construction company got fined for workers being on the site early, the employer wouldn't make them come so early, and would in fact order them to "sleep in" another hour and a half so they aren't there before 7.

Monday, July 02, 2018

A new colour

A common thought experiment is "imagine a new colour", i.e. a colour that no one has ever seen before.

But that must have been a thing that has happened in human history.

On an individual level, there's the fact that there's a first time for every life experience, including the first time you see each colour.  If there isn't any orange within your immediate field of vision when you're born, you will one day see orange for the first time.  You probably won't realize that you're seeing a new colour, because you're experiencing all kinds of new weirdness, like eating and peeing and breathing and air and light, but the fact is you did, at some point, see orange for the first time.

But it might also have happened on a societal level. Within the full scope of human history, people have lived (and still do live) in some pretty desolate environments. In the past, where people didn't travel very long distances and didn't have access to dyes, maybe there have been societies living in the Arctic or the Sahara who went years without seeing a particular colour, because it simply wasn't present in their environment.

Then, one day, someone goes on a journey, sees a new flower, and OMG, what is that colour???

Sunday, July 01, 2018

The voice in your head vs. the voice outside your head

The first time I ever heard a recording of my voice, I was completely weirded out. My voice sounds nothing like it does in my head!  (And everything about it is gross, but that's a whole nother story.)

Many, if not most, if not all people feel that way about hearing recordings of their voice.  It just sounds so different!  (I wonder if anyone thinks their recorded voice sounds better than the voice in their head?)

This is why I'm surprised that vocal impersonations/impressions are a thing.  We sound so different outside our heads that I'm surprised anyone can even do a vocal impersonation that is recognizable to anyone outside their head.

Or do they record themselves, see what their attempt sounds like, and adjust accordingly?  Then you'd have to remember what an accurate impression sounds like inside your head.

I wonder if they eventually develop the ability to determine "If I sound this way inside my head, I must sound exactly like Famous Person to others."

Or do people who can do accurate vocal impressions sound the same both inside and outside their head?

I wonder if vocal impersonations existed before recording technology?  I wonder if they were less accurate/recognizable than they are now? 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Books read in June 2018


1. Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick by Maya Dusenbery
2. Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany by Frederick Taylor


1. Thankless in Death
2. Taken in Death

A story for Pride month

When Fairy Goddaughter was about to turn 5, her parents mentioned to me that they wanted to introduce her to social issues (but hadn't gotten as far as deciding which issues).
So when I was buying her 5th birthday present, I took this vague instruction to Mabel's Fables, where the awesome employees cheerfully recommended a wide range of age-appropriate books on a wide range of social issues, some of which had LGBTQ+ characters and/or themes.

Which, of course, is completely unremarkable in 2016 (the year this story takes place).

Which, in turn, is awesome!

Within my lifetime, children's books with LGBTQ+ themes and characters have been non-existent, and, once they came into existence, have been radical.  Now they're just sitting there on the shelf unremarkably.

On top of that, I'm an unmarried, childless adult buying books for someone else's child.  (All of which the employees knew or could conclude - the fact that it's someone else's child came up in conversation, the fact that I'm childless is apparent from the way I talk about kids, and the fact that I'm unmarried is extrapolable from my lack of rings.)

Within my lifetime, it would have been seen as questionable for an unmarried, childless adult to buy books with LGBTQ+ themes for someone else's child (especially with the child being the same sex as the unmarried, childless adult).  But now, it's just one among many valid options.

And on top of that, I don't come across as woke at all! (Even less so in person than online.)  I'm an conservatively-dressed white woman of below-average coolness, with my chronological age and rejection of current trends combining to make me come across as middle-aged to people who for whom leggings have been a valid fashion choice their entire adult life.

Within my lifetime, there have been periods of time where LGBTQ+ themes were safe among woke people, but it isn't safe to assume the frumpy middle-aged white lady won't get all offended and complain to the manager and start a boycott of your business.  But now, we're in a place where the baseline assumption is that even non-woke frumpy middle-aged ladies will see LGBTQ+ themes as benign.

My teenage self could not have imagined a context where an innocent shopping trip for a 5th birthday present leads to a recommendation of LGBTQ+ books, and this is seen as benign and unremarkable by all parties.

For my 30-something self, it was so benign and unremarkable that it went unnoticed in the moment, as I admired the age-appropriate descriptiveness of the refugee experience in one book, and then squeed over the idea of introducing Fairy Goddaughter to another book that was an old childhood favourite.


Sunday, June 24, 2018

The logistics of being rich

When you go through customs, they ask you if you packed your baggage yourself.

But very rich people probably don't - they probably have their personal assistant or whatever pack their bags.

So how does that conversation go?  "No, of course I didn't back my own bags - I had my assistant do it."  Then what happens?  Do they need to question the assistant?  What if the assistant isn't there?

Rich people also probably don't wait on hold - they have their assistant call the cable company. But often when I make these kinds of phone calls, they verify my identity.  So how does that work?  Does the assistant pretend to be their employer?  Does the employer have the assistant added to their account? Do they have to change a whole bunch of accounts every time they get a new assistant?

When I make an appointment, I have all kinds of preferences.  Ideally after 4:30, although I might be able to do earlier if necessary. Afternoons are better than mornings. Thursdays are worse than other days, although not completely out of the question.  Certain medical appointments need to take place at certain points in my menstrual cycle. Certain beauty appointments need to be timed vis-à-vis other beauty appointments and a certain amount of time before the event in question.

Rich people don't make their own appointments, they have their assistant do it.  So does the rich person have this big complex conversation about their preferences with the assistant, and then the assistant has to write all this down and convey it in making the appointment?  Or does the assistant just stick the appointment in wherever the rich person has an opening on their calendar, and their preferences don't get taken into account?

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Things They Should Invent: replace emergency room waiting rooms with beds

I previously came up with the idea that emergency room waiting rooms should be sleepable.

After having been to the emergency room myself recently, I have a better idea: there should be no waiting room whatsoever, and patients should do all their waiting in beds.

You show up at the emergency room, get triaged, and then are put directly in a bed.  Not necessarily admitted to the hospital (in the sense of expected to stay overnight), but, unless medically contraindicated, every patient goes straight into a bed.

Ideally each bed should be in a private room, but that would require extensive renovations, so in the interim wards are fine. At a minimum, each bed should have privacy curtains around it, a chair for a support person, and somewhere for patients to put their shoes, coat and purse once they get into bed. It should be dark behind the curtains by default, but there should be a light the patient can turn on.

Patients wait for medical treatment in this bed.  Whenever possible, the medical professionals come to the patient and do stuff like physical exams and taking blood at the patient's bed, although the patient may be taken elsewhere if particular non-portable equipment is needed.

This way, patients can sleep if they are capable of doing so, and rest comfortably in any number of seated or recumbent positions or anything in between. Patients also have privacy from other patients, and probably less exposure to other patients' germs.

Being in a hospital bed would also make the patients more, well, patient (sorry!) with the situation, because they'd feel more like they're getting care. If you're admitted to a hospital, you're put in a bed and lie there resting, with medical professionals occasionally coming in to check on you.  Waiting in a bed would feel exactly like that, whereas waiting in a chair just feels like waiting.

If I had been put in a bed when I went to the hospital with my head injury, I would have spent those six hours lying in the dark with my eyes closed - as is recommended for concussion patients! Children with fevers or flu symptoms could sleep if they are able while their worried parents wait for them to get checked out. And all manner of patients whose symptoms come on at night wouldn't have to choose between seeking medical care and getting a full night's sleep.

Q: What about patients for whom sleeping or lying down is medically contraindicated?
A: They could continue to do whatever it is they do now. But that's no reason not to make things better for the many patients for whom sleeping or lying down is neutral or beneficial.

Q: Wouldn't this cost money?
A: Probably. And it would make things better. That's what money is for.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Things They Should Invent: paper shredders with multiple plastic bags

Some recycling providers want you to put shredded paper in plastic bags.

Special plastic bags are in fact manufactured for this purpose, designed to fit neatly into the bin of a paper shredder.

But this is a security problem.  If you shred a document into a plastic bag, all the pieces of that document are conveniently grouped together in the same bag, whereas if you dump loose shredded paper into the recycle bin the pieces all intermingle with the other recycling (including other shredded paper).  If someone wanted to reassemble the shredded document, surely it would be far easier if all the pieces were in the same bag!

But what if there were multiple bags in the same shredder? For the sake of argument, let's say there's three bags.  The left side of the document goes into one bag, the middle of the document goes into the second bag, and the right side of the document goes into the third bag.

At first glance, this sounds even worse for security - now you have an approximate idea of where on the page the various pieces belong!

But I think it would improve security in a building with multiple shredder.

For example, let's suppose we have an office building with 10 offices, each of which has one shredder, each of which produces one shredder bin of shredded paper per recycling pick-up period.

With one bag in each shredder, you have 10 bags of shredded paper in the building's recycling bin.  If you can locate the bag containing the document you're looking for, all the parts of that document are there. If you're looking for all shredded paper from a specific office, you find one bag and you've got it all.

But what if each of those shredders had 3 bags in it?

Now there are 30 (smaller) bags of shredded paper in the building's recycling bin.  If you can locate a bag containing part of the document you're looking for, you have to find the correct two of the remaining 29 bags to reassemble the document. If you're looking for all the shredded paper from a specific office, you have to find three of the 30 bags.

Even if you steal all the bags and start going through them, it's more time consuming to find the correct three of 30 bags than to find the one correct bag and disregard the rest.

I still think throwing loose shredded paper into the general recycling bin is best for security, specifically because it makes a mess and gets everywhere.  But if it is necessary to contain shredded paper in plastic bags, a system of multiple bags per shredder would increase security in all instances except where the bad guy is standing right there watching the shredded paper be thrown away.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Post-election roundup


I was pleased that my candidates weren't bickering on Twitter this time around. In previous years I've felt like a kid stuck in the back of the car with soon-to-be-divorcing parents what with the way they kept sniping at each other.  This year, they mostly went positive, and any negativity was about the other parties, not the other individuals. And after the election, I even saw my veteran Liberal MP and my newly-elected NDP MPP being gracious to each other about local riding business. I hope that keeps up.


I saw a significant number of signs this year compared with previous elections - so many that I didn't keep count effectively.  In my riding and each of the two other neighbourhood ridings (they still haven't fixed the riding boundaries to serve the needs of my neighbourhood!) I saw signs in a ratio of about 4:3:2 for Conservative:Liberal:NDP.  One of the ridings went Conservative, one went Liberal, and one went NDP. All three were tight races.


I saw one television ad for the NDP multiple times. It was less negative than election ads usually are, but not completely devoid of negativity.  I also got a letter from my Liberal candidate.

I got one canvassing phone call each from the Conservative, Liberal, and NDP candidates. The Conservative canvasser sounded really snide, the Liberal canvasser was polite, and the NDP caller had the decency to put "Andrea Horwath" on call display so I didn't answer. (I only answered the other two because I was expecting a medical call-back and didn't know which number it would come from - they both used local phone numbers with no name showing on call display.  Normally I don't answer phone calls from numbers I don't recognize.)


The phone call from the Conservative campaign kind of creeped me out, because, when I answered the phone, they said "Hi, is this [first name]?"

I have no idea where they could have gotten my first name from! My phone number is registered under first initial and last name - I deliberately didn't include use my full given name so it wouldn't be apparent that I'm a woman living alone. My provincial riding has been Liberal for the entire time I've had this phone number, so I have never contacted any member of the provincial Conservative party in my capacity as a citizen.  (And I'm almost certain I've never given my phone number to any politician I've contacted ever - I vastly prefer email.)

I can't imagine any legitimate way they could have gotten my first name associated with my phone number!

The letter from my Liberal candidate creeped me out similarly, because it was addressed to [first name] [middle initial] [last name].

And I have no idea where they could have gotten my middle initial from!  They might have my first name from my correspondence with previous Liberal MPPs, but I don't use my middle initial! It's on my credit card for some reason, but they wouldn't have my credit card information. (I don't make political donations.)

Why I'm worried:

And the outcomes of correspondence with MPPs are exactly why I'm particularly worried about the results of this election.

When Rob Ford was mayor of Toronto, I wrote to him several times in his capacity as mayor and my capacity as citizen. And, every single time, not only did he not address the issues I raised, he did the exact opposite. Intellectually, I know I'm not important enough to influence Rob Ford, but the fact of the matter is the correlation is 100%: I bring an issue to Rob Ford's attention, his subsequent actions on that issue are as harmful as possible to me and/or to those I'm trying to support.

The Fords always presented themselves as a package deal, so I'm concerned the same thing will happen with Doug Ford.

Which is highly relevant, because I'm on the cusp of a Great Big Cause: vision therapy.

Vision therapy is like physiotherapy for your eyes. It is my best hope for returning to normalcy since my head injury.  It's expensive, it isn't covered by OHIP, and, unlike the other Great Big Causes of my life, people haven't even heard of it - which means that even just raising awareness could be a huge step in getting it covered by OHIP and thereby made available to everyone.

I thought I'd be a far more credible advocate if I went through the process for long enough to start seeing results, so I've been mentally writing talking points and pondering social media strategy and refining my elevator speech while I contort my eyes and my brain to the point of nausea.

And then, Doug Ford.

And now I'm left to wonder if my plans to raise awareness could actually be harmful under this government.  I mean, it already isn't covered by OHIP, but I can't quite shake the fear that if I tell Doug Ford about vision therapy, he'll ban it or something.

Thursday, June 07, 2018


Beautiful, fresh, breezy weather.

Black, white and purple outfit, with my late grandmother's jewellery (she always emphasized how important voting is, so I bring her with me), and enormous sunglasses to hide the fact that my still-recovering eyes are puffy from overdoing it on work over the last couple of days and I didn't have time (or, frankly, inclination) to do a serious camouflaging eye makeup job.

Encountered a mindblowingly adorable Shiba Inu puppy on my way out of my building and got a good petting in, but that was the only dog I saw before I voted. (Got some sniffs and smiles from various good dogs on my way back home - not sure if those count.)

No line at the polling station. Three people in front of me at the table for my specific poll (howdy, neighbours!). Eccentric surprisingly-young old woman (looked younger than my parents but acted senile) loudly trying to engage an Elections Ontario worker in a political debate over whom she should vote for, while the election worker remained scrupulously nonpartisan.

Put an X in a box with a sharpie, and then it was scanned by a machine. Not a fan of that system. I like hand-counted paper ballots, and putting my folded ballot in the box with a jaunty tap.

Walked out of the polling station 10 minutes after I walked out of my apartment door. Smooth and effortless.

Let's hope for a government that lets everything equally be smooth and effortless for the next four years.

Voters' Resources (Ontario 2018 edition)

This is a postdated post and will be at the top of my blog until Election Day. If Election Day has not yet passed, there might be new posts underneath.

Getting Started

Election Day is June 7!

First, go to the Elections Ontario Voter Information Service to find your voting locations and candidates. Elections Ontario e-Registration can apparently check if you're on the voters' list. (It says I'm on the list but I haven't gotten a Voter Information Card yet, so I can't yet vouch for its efficacity.

Here is the ID you need to vote.

On Election Day, your employer is legally required to ensure that you have three consecutive hours during polling hours during which you are not schedule to work. (Election Act, subsection 6.(3)). This means that if your voting hours are 9 am - 9 pm and you work 11 am - 7 pm, you employer is required to allow to you either come in at noon or leave at 6 pm.  However, if you work 9 am - 6 pm, there are still three free polling hours after the end of your workday.


The platforms:


There's also the CBC Vote Compass, which asks you about your positions on various issues and shows you which parties' positions are closest to yours. I wouldn't trust it blindly, since it said one party's platform was closer to my positions but put me physically closer to another party on the chart, but it's useful as a starting point, for identifying which parties' positions on which issues might not be what you expected and therefore merit a closer look.

Strategy and Predictions

My "How to Vote"
My "Where to Vote
My "How to Vote Strategically"

Riding-by-riding predictions:

- The Election Prediction Project is crowdsourced riding-by-riding predictions
- LISPOP has poll-based riding-by-riding winner predictions, but doesn't give a breakdown by party
- Too Close to Call regularly updates their blog with their latest riding-by-riding projections (including the breakdown by party) and has a simulator into which you can input your own (real or hypothetical) poll data.
- Calculated Politics also has riding-by-riding projections with a breakdown by party.


This post was last updated on June 3, and will be updated as needed throughout the election campaign, right up until voting day.  If there's anything you think belongs in here but hasn't be posted yet, let me know in the comments.

Why this election surprises me

1. I'm surprised how strong the "there are no good choices" narrative seems to be this election. The available choices seem to be within the same range as previous elections, but the "there are no good choices" narrative seems to be way louder.

2. I'm also surprised by the strength of the "obviously the Liberals need to be voted out" narrative.  When you think about the public reaction compared with the outgoing party's record in other elections where a party has been in power for over a decade and the voters have decided it was time for a change, it seems quite disproportionate this time around.

Basically, given the political context going in, this seemed like it should be a routine election, but we're suddenly getting this narrative that it's an Unprecedentedly Big Thing.

This kind of remind me of when Stéphane Dion was leader of the federal Liberal party.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, the media started reporting that people (regular people, not party insiders) found
Stéphane Dion unlikeable. This seemed completely out of the blue to me, so I started asking around - regular people, not politics people - and the worst thing anyone had to say about him was that he was a member of the Liberal party. (Which, call me old-fashioned, but I think that's an occupational hazard of being leader of the Liberal party.)  But somehow the generally accepted narrative became that no one likes him, and ultimately leadership of the federal Liberal party went to Michael Ignatieff.

I feel like the same thing has happened here.  A Big Dramatic Narrative has suddenly been imposed out of nowhere.  And if you had asked around before the Big Dramatic Narrative took over, responses to the same situation would have been far more measured.  "Yeah, Policy A is helpful but could have gone further, Policy Z is pretty bad, I could really go either way depending on what the other parties are doing."

In any case, good luck, Ontario! I hope we win!

Friday, June 01, 2018

How to ethically dispose of vintage pornography

From the Ethicist:
A female friend says she is planning to sell her late husband’s vintage collection of Playboy magazines, which she says are in excellent shape and worth a lot of money. Normally, this woman is a progressive feminist. Selling this “literature” would seem to run counter to ethical values in our “#MeToo” world. Am I off-base here?
A person who wanted to dispose of some vintage pornography while addressing these ethical concerns could do so by being very choosy about the buyer.  For example, they could sell them to people who plan to use them for academic research, or for an art project, or as set dressing for a movie with a historical setting. Perhaps they could even find some relevant organizations that take donations, so they aren't in the bizarre situation of posting a Craigslist ad "Playboy magazines for sale, non-lecherous inquiries only".

Of course, I understand completely if the seller doesn't want to do this. It would take time, energy and work to find a suitable recipient, and screening people to make sure they don't have lecherous intentions towards Playboy magazines could be an unpleasant interpersonal interaction.

But, nevertheless, that is how you would dispose of vintage pornography while addressing the ethical concerns raised in this letter.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Books read in May 2018


1. Dark in Death by J.D. Robb
2. A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

How to make Google News RSS feeds once again work in The Old Reader

A couple of days ago, I noticed that my Google News RSS feeds in The Old Reader weren't working properly. The feed was getting served up to me, but when I clicked through to the article, it took me to the main Google News page.

It turns out this was happening because Google News automatically modifies the URL (similar to how Google search changes the URL from the actual URL of the page to a redirect starting with "" with a bunch of tracking information in it.) Something about the redirect makes it now point to the main Google News page, rather than to the article in question.

After some experimentation, I discovered that a Firefox extension called "Don't track me Google" effectively eliminates this redirect, so I can once again click on the article in The Old Reader and be sent to the actual article.

I previously had another extension for this purpose called "Google search link fix", but for some reason it wasn't effective with the latest changes to Google News.

I have no idea if this works in browsers other than Firefox, or feed readers other than The Old Reader.