Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Predictions for 2012

It is my belief that, while prophecy is impossible, one can predict the future with some degree of accuracy if they simply pay attention. With that in mind, here are a few predictions for the year 2012.

1: The world will not end, it won't even come close.
The 2012 "end of the world" hype will come to a peak sometime over the summer, but by the end of December, we'll all be laughing at the fools who believed this. If I could make a prediction for 2015, I'd say that by then, everyone who fell for 2012 will pretend they didn't, much like they did a few years after Y2K.

2: SOPA will turn out to have nearly no effect at all.
As has been demonstrated by Firefox's DeSOPA add on, it's not hard to get around it. Also, all that the major search engines would have to do to get around it would be to move their bases to somewhere outside the USA. Most people will not be affected at all even without these workarounds (everyone outside the USA will be completely unaffected without any extra work). And this is assuming the bill even passes without significant rewrites and isn't stopped by the US Supreme Court.
Speaking of stupid government moves and courts...

3: The Canadian Wheat Board is here to stay.
Our government has almost passed legislation in Parliament that will end the Wheat Board, which regulates the sale and purchase of Canadian agricultural products. So why am I saying the Wheat Board's in no trouble? Our own courts have decided, through a complex process called "looking at the laws we have in place", that the bill the Conservatives are pushing is illegal and thus can't become a law. See, in 1999, a law was passed saying that Canadian farmers have to be consulted regarding all major changes to the Wheat Board. They weren't consulted, and if they are, the vast majority want it to stay around. So, the Conservatives will lose that battle. If they manage to pass the bill, it'll be (at best) unenforecable and useless.

4: Canada will become less free and democratic.
Well, that's already been going on for a while, so really it'll just be a continuation of a trend. Oh, we'll still vote and all that, but unless people stop voting for the Conservative party, we're doomed.
Speaking of lack of democracy and freedom...

5: NDAA will be shown to be a step in the right direction.
Hear me out.
People are freaking out over the fact that that bill, recently signed into law in the USA, allows the government to detain people suspected of terrorism without charge. Of course, these people have been asleep the last decade, since that has been happening for some time. In other words, this changes almost nothing. Now that it's a law, they aren't doing it illegally, and that's it. But laws can be changed or struck down, and when it's struck down, detaining citizens without charging them of a crime or giving them a lawyer will be strictly illegal. Given time, NDAA can end the Bush era's nonsense.

6: Obama will beat whoever the Republicans finally choose.
But then, that's obvious given what they`re working with.

7: Kim Jong-Un will be just like Kim Jong-Il.
By that, I mean he'll keep his evil confined to his own borders. There is talk amongst pundits and bloggers of him maybe bombing South Korea, but with China backing off its support of North Korea, the USA's support of South Korea, and South Korea's clear advantages in technology and military power, it would be beyond stupid and crazy to actually attack them. The last Kim did boast of his country's military, but since he never invaded anywhere, especially South Korea, I believe he knew exactly how much his ass would be kicked. I doubt the younger Kim is significantly dumber than his dad, especially given that all his dad's advisors are still there to tell him that.

8: The advance of gay rights will slow, but not stop.
Most of the world is still reeling from the multiple recent failures of capitalism (or rather, successes of Reagan/Thatcher capitalism) so social issues have taken a back seat to economic ones. However, I do expect a few more countries which already legalize gay civil unions to fully legalize same-sex marriage, and I actually expect California's Prop 8 to be fully annulled this coming year too. However, we won't see anything major, like the legalization of homosexuality in any country where homosexuality is illegal.

9: The Occupy movement will lose steam and dissipate, having done nothing.
Sadly, that's already happening, but some Occupy camps are still up. The ones that are left will continue for a little bit longer, but the banks will not be significantly harmed by them. By the summer, I expect the Occupiers to become disillusioned non-voters, hostile to all political parties yet unwilling to use their votes to force any of them to work for the people. In other words, this will end up doing more harm than good.

10: Thomas Mulcair will become leader of the NDP
Both parties have no official, permanent leader as of now, and both are holding their leadership conferences in 2012. The NDP does have other options, and picking Pat Martin might be more strategically advantageous in the long term, given his charisma and his Western roots. However, Mulcair, being the first NDP Parliamentarian in Quebec is the best choice if they want to keep their support in Quebec, where most of their seats currently are, and he's a safe bet in general.
I previously had a prediction that Justin Trudeau would win Liberal leadership, under the false assumption that their convention was in 2012 and that Trudeau was running. Oops.

There are a few things in addition to these that I wanted to weigh in on, but they're too close to call. Here they are:

Attiwapiskat (it's basically 50/50 whether we'll leave these people high and dry or help them out, sadly)

The decline of religion (the economic troubles we're undergoing may bring a resurgence of religion, as people may turn to god(s) for comfort or help, or it may help continue the downward trend, as people see that their prayers haven`t been answered. I also couldn't tell you if a recovery would lead to an atheistic revival or a religious one. Too soon to call)

The Republican nominee (it'll be impossible to tell who wins this nomination until about a few days after the nominee is announced)

How much better the Avengers movie will be than every other movie (I'm not sure whether it'll be the best movie of the year, the century, or all time)

Those are just my thoughts on how the new year will be. As always, feel free to leave any thoughts of your own in the comments section. Read more!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What I strive to become, and what I hope to NEVER become

I had an interesting night.
I went to a party with friends I've. It seen in a long time. Mostly writers and artists, people I'm fond of, who despite being old enough to be my parents (or grandparents) I feel I've forged a real friendships with. I was the youngest person there by over a decade and yet I never felt out of place. It was great catching up with these people who, despite their opinions often opposing my own, are intelligent and mature enough to have a casual debate and remain calm and, well...civil.

However (there's always a "however" or else there'd be little point to this post) there was one dude who sort of ruined it at the end. He just HAD to debate at every fucking point, and many of his opinions are what a good leftist, feminist and anti-racist dude like myself would find objectionable. A lot of anti-woman stuff, a lot of stupid religious stuff, and at the end, some racist stuff about the Attiwapiskat scandal that's rocking Canada (blaming them, at one point calling them "worthless"). He stayed until the end, barely spoke except to argue, did not listen to what was said, and used blatantly factually inaccurate and logically indefensible arguments. For example, he claimed the government gave $80 million to Attiwapiskat to fix their houses (they claimed to have given $700,000) and said prayer works because he knows some christians who have succeeded in their goals due to prayer (I pointed out that every study on prayer has shown it to be useless, and another person pointed out that the large "church family" works to help each other in every thing, and we all pointed out that those people work towards their goals as well as praying about them, thus it's just as likely the work they did that got them what they want. He just kept repeating his point with no counter)

This eventually devolved to a shouting match. There were four of us left, and I started a side discussion with the host after 2 or 3 subject changes were insufficient to prevent him from moving to some controversial subject that he was wrong on. Eventually, it got to the point where I had to leave, so I excused myself...and then he blamed the Attiwapiskat for their predicament and called them worthless. I had to lay into the bastard. After a quick couple of sentences, I realized there was no point. I went to the bathroom and the host eventually kicked the guy out. By some sort of coincidence, he was thrown out just before I left and he continued ranting and complaining in the hallway, no doubt for my benefit. He told me "you can't debate with a broad."

I never want to be like that bastard. At all. I've been told I'm an opinionated and argumentative person, and that's not necessarily bad...but I want to never be so opinionated that I'm incapable of seeing other points of view, nor so argumentative that that is all I can do. I definitely have to work on that.

It's interesting that this happened so soon after the death of someone I'd like to think of as the person I'd most like to emulate in my debating: Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens was strong in his opinion, but proved that he was capable of changing his mind after new evidence came to him (famously changing his mind on waterboarding and more famously going from Marxist to neocon to a sort-of mainline socialist) and he was always personable and civil in debates, even when he loathed his opponents. But more importantly: he was more than the sum of his opinions. He could (and often did) have interviews that had little to nothing to do with any of his pet issues, and every person I know who met him spoke of his friendliness. There is a time and a place and a way to argue, and he knew all these things.

We're much poorer without Christopher Hitchens. Until the general populace becomes more like Hitchens and less like the ignorant, bull-headed twat from last night, we will need to keep up the good fight. Educate people, encourage critical thinking, and think for yourself. If you can't do it for yourself, do it for Hitch. Read more!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Adsense Sucks

I know I’ve been off this blog for a bit, and for that I apologize. After my epic three part post, I had no time. I’m going to follow that up with something that may just get me in trouble. I don’t really care, though.


That’s right, adsense is a straight up scam. It’s a great way to make money if you’re unscrupulous, but for the rest of us, it’s a great way to clutter up your site without giving any real benefit.

Perhaps you’ve noticed I currently don’t have ads on this blog. I may try to monetize the blog later with another program, but for now, it’s totally ad free, because on December 2, Google cancelled my AdSense account due to “invalid click activity”. I appealed, and I only write this now because I’ve become convinced that no one at Google will listen to my appeal. This won’t hinder my chances of getting my AdSense account back, not that I even know why I was banned. I minded the TOS in all ways possible.

When I got the notification, I was mildly concerned. I was hoping that when/if the blog got popular, I could get a little money from it, but I’d not been paid and had only earned about $16 all time. (I know of others who had the same thing happen to them as happened to me while having $2000 or more in unpaid earnings, so this does have a real possibility to hurt people who need money) The primary concern was the fact that those who paid to advertise on my blog had their money refunded in full. There were over 100 clicks, and all that traffic was 100% free due to a bogus claim of invalid activity. Someone with more traffic than I could give these people much, much more free traffic if they got similarly banned. If the people who clicked the ads on this page actually bought something due to the ad(s) they clicked, that’s even more free profit. And that, I simply can’t abide.

The real point of this is simple: don’t use AdSense. I only had an account because I was a YouTube partner for a brief amount of time before getting banned on that site for more obviously fraudulent reasons (I had 3 videos taken down, one of which was found to not violate TOS and reinstated after an appeal, and one of which had no offensive material at all, which was the “third strike”) so I wasn’t too attached to it. But if you actually want a real money-making website, don't bother with AdSense.

It would have been nice to have that $16, though. I still haven’t seen the new Muppets movie.

UPDATE: A while back, Google offered me $100 US free to advertise on AdWords. I signed up for it, never putting in any other money into the program, and as soon as my free money was gone, my AdWords account was disabled for not having any money left, and the ads I put up vanished. I never even gave them a way to get more money from me. The day after I wrote this, I got an e-mail updating me on how my AdWords ads were doing and telling me how much I was being charged. It was a tiny amount, and it can't possibly come out of anywhere, but still...what the hell is wrong with this system?

Read more!