You are here


Campus Activists From A Bygone Age

Writer and commentator Elamin Abdelmahmoud. There's a weekly CBC News segment hosted by Rosemary Barton called At Issue which I watch every week when I'm at my parents' house and many weeks when I'm not. It features four political commentators discussing recent events from Parliament Hill and sometimes getting into heated arguments about them. The panelist in the "lower right corner" rotates periodically but someone who watches for any decent length of time will see Elamin Abdelmahmoud in that spot. Elamin is the host of another CBC show and a writer for BuzzFeed who recently released a memoir called Son of Elsewhere about his family's experience of moving to Canada from Sudan. While I was hearing interesting opinions of his on and off for the last two years, it didn't take me long to find out that his undergrad is also from Queen's University in Kingston. But it was only last month that I flipped to a profile of him in the Queen's alumni magazine and began learning much more. The two facts that helped me the most sounded quite innocuous at first: that he attended from 2005-2011 and that he used to go by the nickname Stan. But this made me think more about whether I had ever crossed paths with him and it turns out the answer is yes. So now I get to have fun reminiscing about these exact circumstances and the wider cast of characters that they involve.

Unable To Bet On The Election

Do we know what's going to happen during the 2020 American Election? I can tell you what's going to happen after. If Trump wins, streets with fill up with protesters in close to 100 countries. If Biden wins there will be protests as well, but largely confined to the US. How many other American elections have made this a near certainty? While not always for the right reasons, frequent voters have spent Trump's entire first term being heavily invested in the question of whether or not he will get a second. Here is why I think he won't.

  1. Biden is way ahead in the majority of swing states. To be sceptical of these pollsters, you would have to not only dismiss the claims that they improved their methodology in response to 2016 but also believe that they have accumulated several additional errors since then.
  2. Biden has displayed an almost Trump-like ability to make all criticism go away simply by saying "come on, man". While Biden's gaffes are very different from Trump's deliberate lies, both have a willingness to go off-script which a certain type of voter finds endearing.
  3. Institutional support has turned Trump into a standard-issue Republican devoid of any economically populist streak he may have once had.
  4. A sudden improvement in Trump's messaging would not do him much good since the number of people who have already voted is possibly half of what the eventual turnout will be.
  5. There's also a little thing called the coronavirus. Voters who have taken it upon themselves to analyse Biden's platform or compare the US to other countries probably don't need much convincing. But for everyone else, there is a stark difference between this politicized pandemic and past war-like crises which have usually served to bring the population together.

I tried to act on these suspicions by signing up for PredictIt but I cannot get them to accept my account. It looks like I will have to forego hopes of monetary gain and be satisfied with the modicum of relief that Biden's election brings.

Got A Website Uncensored

There are a few things that Internet users in the UK (where I have just moved) need to know.

  1. The close brushes Canada has had with censorship are nothing compared to the UK. It really matters whether you get an ISP that wants to fight this trend.
  2. Some companies, such as Andrews & Arnold, have filled this niche by providing broadband of a quality that's hard to find on the other side of the pond. I first became aware of this company when I checked for the ISP with the top rating on ISP Review. My impression just got better and better as a I spent more time on their website. It is remarkable how many resources they put at your fingertips — SIP services, an IRC channel, a wiki on how to use many different modems and routers, a blog that advocates for digital rights, numerous references to xkcd, the ability to pay every full moon, etc.
  3. If the appointment to set up your line doesn't happen right away (which is inevitable with a small company like AA), you will probably come across the "Cloud" wireless hotspot run by Sky News. This is a pretty slow option that even has some bugs with how packets are handled. I don't know whether it's a keepalive connection, persistent connection or referrer check but some basic property of web forms failed most of the time when I tried to edit Wikipedia.

Anyway, on one of the good days using the free wifi, I tried to go to MEGA only to find out that it had been blocked. Blocked for copyright reasons you ask? Because its controversial founder launched the site in order to make it more resilient to the types of infringement cases that took down Megaupload? No, the network said that it had been listed under the blocked category radicalization.

Podcast Cameo

There's a "podcast" I listen to called The Biggest Problem In The Universe which is full of useful information, in addition to politically incorrect humour. It is hosted by two satirists Maddox (George Ouzounian) and Dick Masterson (Dax Herrera) who bring in perceived problems with society and put them on a list. At the time of writing, the top problems are Slacktivism and the epidemic of FGM. The two things least likely to be considered a problem are Tesla Motors and Maddox himself.

Dick and Maddox regularly play voicemail from fans so I decided to contribute one three weeks ago. Just when I thought they had decided not to use it, I heard my own voice on the air when I listened to the end of episode 45. I left a voicemail mocking a self-righteous pansexual hoping that they would touch on this problem.

My Definition Of "Was" Is "Was Never"

Many people I know only watch torrented TV shows, but not me. Even though I'm a proponent of torrents, I still watch regular television quite a bit. And as a Canadian, that means the biggest topic I see now is the upcoming American election.

Bill Clinton giving his famous speech.

I recently watched Bill Clinton give his long speech endorsing Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention and it was really something. I agree with the sentiment that it's making some people miss Clinton but I'm sure it was eloquent enough to convince many people that Obama is the next best thing.
Subscribe to RSS - politics