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“All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon.”

  While I appreciate living in a place that has representative democracy, because there are worse alternatives, I think we could do better. There are many things that make our electoral system unrepresentative and irresponsible. Look at the options one faces when voting. We do not get to make any actual decision regarding legislation or policies but pick a person to make decisions for us. These people once elected then have no legal obligation to follow anyone’s wishes but there own and until the next election there is nothing we can do about it. And when we vote for a representative we have to vote for them and their party on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. If one agrees with part of one platform and part of another there is no choice to represent that because, once again, the people are not empowered to make actual decisions. All we can do is just throw in our lot with someone else and hope for the best, that they do what is good for us. If they don’t, maybe in four years we can hope someone else will win and do what we want. In a representative democracy one forfeits their judgement to someone else. Even if a voter has a candidate that reflects their viewpoints, that voter still may not have any influence over the make up of the government. Only the votes for the winning candidate matter in the end, whether the margin is one or a thousand. If one votes for a losing candidate then they do not have a chosen representative in the legislature and their views do not influence the make up of the government, they can just hope candidates from the same party in other ridings were elected. In my riding the MPP and their party is the furthest from my views so I do not have someone from my area who is even close to representing my views. When I candidate loses an election it does not matter that a substantial portion of the population may have voted for them, they lost, by one vote or a thousand. That is why I say only votes for the winner matter. In our last federal election thirty-something percent of the popular vote translated into a majority of the seats. While a majority of the voters voted against the current government, that one party completely controls parliament. Given that voter participation is seen a a source of legitimacy for an elected government every time one votes one offers tacit approval of this system. In light of that we could not vote, spoil, or decline our ballot. I believe this to me a legitimate option. But this option has its problems too. It is often assumed that anyone who does this is just lazy, stupid, apathetic etc not that they are trying to send a message regarding their stance on our electoral system. The other problem is that is takes away one’s rare and opportunity to formally participate and influence governance.

  Here is a summary of the dilemma a voter faces: if one votes and one’s chosen candidate wins there vote has made a difference in getting that candidate elected. But the candidate could still do many things that the voter does not desire or may not have a significant impact on legislation in the situation where there is a majority and that candidate is not part of it. The voter could vote for a candidate that loses and because the win/loss margins do not matter there vote has had no impact on the outcome and that voter does not have a chosen representative. The voter could abstain from voting or decline or spoil their ballot in which case they do not provide approval to the electoral system, but they give their chance to participate in governance.

So what do I want instead? I want a participatory or direct democracy to the greatest extent possible. The general principles I want society to move towards in regards to the electoral process and government structure include:

-formal participation of the public in decision making

-use of temporary project groups

-representative positions held in rotation

-federalism

-proliferation of diversity in decision making bodies, and of centres

-division/fragmentation of power

-representative structures developed on both geographical and economic lines

With these in mind here are three things I think can be done in the immediate future:

-Liberal use of referendums and ballot questions, possibly requiring a certain level of participation for legislation to be changed. The Swiss do this, even the Americans to some extent.

-Ranked ballots.

-None of the above option on ballots.

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Where I Live Is Nice

It has been a long time, here are some pictures from near where I live.20140522_151622 20140522_144043 20140522_162555 20140522_152914 20140522_155656

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It’s been a while…

…since my last post. I was working lot’s and recently was on course getting my Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors level 2 certification. I’ve been finished work for a week now so I’ve just been taking care of errands I have to do, cooking, and trying to make decisions about the direction of my life. In the short term I am trying to spend some free time in Toronto while in between jobs to catch up with friends, go to good restaurants, attend some Ashtanga classes, and see the final shows at Siesta Nouveaux. On the cooking side I was really stoked on these banana-oatmeal scones I made recently, some are filled with Saskatoon Berry jam, some with homemade apple sauce, one with almond butter, and one plain. They are probably one of the best things I’ve ever baked, up there with the sandwich bread I always make now. I also made what I think was my best go at sushi recently. The rice was well flavoured, the ingredients fresh and tasty, and the rolls were the right size and fairly tight. I won’t be hired by a restaurant anytime soon but it’s getting there.

 

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Aside from making my own calzones from scratch recently I haven’t had too much time for cooking interesting things recently, among the other things I have less time for. I’ve started back to work as a snowboard instructor recently so I’ve had less time for my regular pursuits but I have done a lot for Christmas/Boxing Day dinners. I made a creamy rice and broccoli casserole, lentil and mushroom cottage pie, pumpkin pie (including the crust) and short bread, all vegan of course.

In between these things I am trying to find time to finish reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace as well as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and The Chimes. I also recently had my bike, easily the most expensive thing I own, stolen.

 

 

 

 

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Blank Stare

A while ago a wrote a piece for a zine my friend was working on, entitled Blank Stare: Distractions From Everyday Life. The new issue (number two) has my article, and Agnostic Front interview, Vile Intent tour diary, plus more. He and a friend are also running a record label also called Blank Stare. Until I got my copy of the zine I wasn’t aware of the stuff they had out already but it looks like they’ve already racked up a few releases to their name. More can be learned about this here: Blank Stare Hardcore. The label is unrelated to the band of the same name but they were good so I thought I’d post a song.

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Youth of Today – T.O. 11/11/11

I used to think that labels were a symbol of pride, but overtime I’ve seen they only serve to divide.

It’s so easy to judge people by the way they seem to be, we must overcome these judgements to live life peacefully.

Break down the walls

We’ll break down the walls.

Break down the walls.

We’ll break down the walls, we will.

Look beyond the fashions or the crowd they hang in, look beyond riches or the colour of their skin.

Look beyond appearance and the truth you will find, look for what’s inside before you make up your mind.

Break down the walls

We’ll break down the walls.

Break down the walls.

We’ll break down the walls, we will.

I saw Youth of Today this past weekend. They were awesome. They sounded great and had great energy but what makes them special in my opinion is what the band is about. It was important for me to see them because although there are many bands out there that I think make good music I can’t say there are a lot that I find personally inspiring, but Youth of Today in one that I do. Look for my kind of crappy stage dive during the first verse. I also had I really good time catching up with some friends I haven;t seen for a while and eating out at the kinds of restaurants that are hard to find in small towns.

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New Books, Travel Memories, and Soup

I bought a couple George Orwell books from a used book store in town, Down and Out in Paris and London, and Homage to Catalonia. The copy of Down and Out In Paris and London I think is neat because of its old fashioned adds that include, among others for Jiff shaving stick, Cadbury’s, and a journal evaluating the ongoing war effort (the book is dated 1940).

Reading the book reminded me of being down and out so to speak in Cinque Terre (Monterosso al Mare to be specific) and Copenhagen. I guess it wasn’t that harrowing in the end but it gave me a glimpse into another kind of life that I am fortunate not to have to live day to day. It increased in me the feeling that it is criminal to allow people to live in such a way. However, it made having a comfortable bed with a great view over Corniglia even better after spending a night on an outdoor train platform with trains in transit blasting through every five minutes. It also reminded me of talking all evening with two Frenchman and and young woman from San Francisco at the hostel in Bergen. I talked quite extensively to the older of the two men, who was probably in his late 30s or early 40s and from Paris, about Orwell. It’s funny how I remember so many of the details of the conversation and where each of them was from, what they did etc, but do not remember any of their names. Meetings were a significant part of the travel experience. These conversations went on for hours at times and would being quite engaging, leaving me with a feeling of actually knowing the person. Afterwards we parted ways, and will likely never see each other again.

 

It is now getting into soup season. I’m sure everyone likes soup, it is such a versatile food that can be pretty much whatever you want. I personally enjoy having a simple pureed soup in combination with a sandwich or salad (non pureed some, due to the different textures in the soup I think are better soup to having with some some fresh bread). Today I made a green pean with mint soup, with sauted onion and garlic, soy milk, dried peppermint, green peas and salt and pepper. And to go with it, open faced tomato sandwiches on homemade English muffins. I spread hummus on the muffins, put the tomato slices on, topped with a pinch of salt and pepper, fresh oregano, a few drops of olive oil, then got them hot in the oven.

 

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