Is This Progress? This Is Progress.

What Is Kaputall?

Oxford defines Kaput as "broken and useless; no longer working or effective" - similar to our unbalanced economic system. This is a page dedicated to the intersection of capitalism and social, political, and environmental problems.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

On Facebook

I've been thinking a lot about Facebook lately, perhaps because I've been more active this summer than normal; perhaps because I've been talking to people (in real life) about Facebook. I've come to discover that Facebook's utility is very subjective. Some have indicated to me that they use it to keep in touch with people they no longer have contact with. Some people really enjoy being able to see what's going on around them. Some feel like they are always connected. Some like to share and enjoy having a platform.

I think that, fundamentally, Facebook is for all those things. However, as much as I appreciate those sentiments, I've very much come to view Facebook at my own personal newspaper. Friends and pages that I follow provide me with a nearly endless stream of articles, blogs, videos, pictures, and statuses that I use to know what's going on.

The wider context is that print media is dying. In particular, young people aren't subsribing to their local newpaper or national journals of record. Despite this, I still have a desire, like most people, to know what's going on in whatever communities I identify with. Some of these communities are geographic, such as finding out what's going on in Québec or Ottawa or Kitchener. Some of these are imagined, like what's going on in feminist, socialist, or queer circles. Some of it comes in the form of more 'traditional' articles, usually actually linked to a real newspaper article. Some are opinion pieces from friends, such as blogs or memes, which are similar to editorials. I very much enjoy reading that original content.

I feel like I have acess to a news feed, which is like a newspaper. Ostensibly the more important stories come first, followed by whatever is next in significance. While this doesn't necessarily always follow, it's similar to a newspaper. I get to choose what I like to read and I get suggestions based on my preferences. In some way it's like picking a newspaper based on its particular slant.

I feel like I use Facebook a fair amount - at least an hour every day. It's rather active use, scrolling through and clicking on external links. I get the impression that I'm a moderate user of Facebook, and I don't feel like I use it too much, mostly because I feel like it's time that I would otherwise not use in such an enriching way. I hope that in the future Facebook remains accessible and that my friends still continue to make me think!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Jour des Franco-Ontariens

Today is le Jour des Franco-Ontariens, a day to celebrate the culture and heritage of French speakers from across the province. 25 September was designated Franco-Ontario Day in 2010 when the Ontario Legislative Assembly unanimously adopted the motion. According the province's Office of Francophone Affairs this day will "officially recognize the contribution of Ontario's Francophone community to the cultural, historical, social, economic and political life of the province".

My school took a field trip to London today to experience a morning of activities alongside over a thousand other students from French-language public and catholic schools. I was happy to see that it was truly a celebration of inclusion, focusing on the fact that we can all belong even if we don't necessarily a share a common heritage.

The notion of language tying us together is really cool and is personal to me. It's important that access to the identity is not limited to native speakers, but to all who wish to communicate despite their ability levels. I've long been confused about whether or not I feel closer to Ontario or to Québec, and this question will probably continue long into my future. I know I'm an anglophone, but speaking French, sharing secular French traditions, and sharing certain community values has always been something important to me, particularly in the past few years.

I first discovered Franco-Ontarian as an identity when I moved to Ottawa. I became aware of the community, even if I didn't feel necessarily connected to it. A few years in Québec and a few contracts in the Conseil scolaire Viamonde and I'm now feeling strong ties to other Franco-Ontariens, who are my colleagues, my students, my friends, and my community. It is with a fair amount of pride that I feel welcomed in the Franco-Ontarian community as an anglophone. I've spent my whole life being interested in the French language and culture and I'm lucky to be able to participate in it so fully.

The future of French schools in Ontario is bright as enrolment is steadily increasing as more people discover the value of diversity and cultural experience. Cultural exchage benefits us all I am really happy to be a participant and facilitator in this regard.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Talking Sovereignty

Unless you've been completely absent for the past few weeks, you should know that Scotland is going to the polls tomorrow to decide if they are going to secede from the United Kingdom. It's been a significant race of late, especially given how dead in the water the movement seemed mere months ago. Polls have indicated that in the past week a majority of Scottish voters would vote in favour of independence. Given that Canadians have spent much of their lives being concerned about the so-called Québec-versus-the-rest-of-Canada issue, I want to briefly talk about the connections between theses two sovereignty cases.

Both cases involve the dominance of the English over another ethno-cultural group. Scotland became part of Great Britain in 1707 with the Articles of Union. It was a somewhat voluntary union and somewhat forced. The same can se said of the union of the united provinces and colonies that took place in 1867 - Canadian Confederation. Again it was a negotiated, mostly voluntary, agreement amongst four constituent parts.

While there is certainyl a similarity between cases (British imperialism) the modern realities are rather different for a few reasons. The first is that the United Kingdom is a unitary state. This means that all members of the United Kingdom are subservient to the united government which makes the vast majority of decisions on their behalf. Contrast that with Canadian federalism where each province has more influence on the day-to-day lives of its residence than does the federal government.

This didn't happen by accident: Canada was structured this way in the British North America Act (1867) and since has continued to grow based on the individual needs of the provinces, notably Québec. The effect has been that provinces have considerable autonomy - or sovereignty. They control spending in important fields like infrastructure, health, education, and social services. They collect taxes and regulate financial institutions like co-operatives. They mandate work legislation.

Is Québec the only benefactor in this situation? Absolutely not. Alberta has been a significant winner because of these agreements, as has Ontario and British Columbia at some time or another. Canadian federalism strengthens all of Canada, and we owe a large part of this to the sovereignty movement in Québec.

So what of this movement now? And of Scotland's case? Good questions. It appears that for all intents and purposes the Québec sovereignty movement has collapsed in on itself. Most Quebeckers are content with the autonomy that their government has (immigration and citizenship are current issues) but the movement lives on, perhaps best embodied by former premier Pauline Marois. Marois, for her part, failed to stimulate a discussion on sovereignty because most Québecois are over it and many of the goals sought after were achieved (see maitres chez nous). When she went, last year, to Scotland to support the independence movement, she was sequestered because she was seen as a dinosaur from a dying movement. Scotland's movement is vibrant, and with good reason.

The vote takes place tomorrow, so there's not much time left to talk about Scotland's future. But the reality is that either way Scotland will have difficulties ahead. The rhetoric of the YES campaign (for independence) claims that an independent Scotland will be better off as it will be in control of its own affairs. Why not be in control of the vast majority of your own affairs and remain in the UK? Some of the offers from London have been weak, admittedly, but this process of negotiation, not a simple yes or no choice, will ultimately best serve Scotland and the United Kingdom's future.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Hacktivism and Patriarchy

Yesteday afternoon a video surfaced on social media that clearly showed Ray Rice, a Baltimore Ravens running back, brutally attacking his fiancée. The reaction was swift, both on the internet where he was criticised openly and in the media where he was shamed. In a matter of hours his team had confirmed that he was indefinitely suspended from the NFL and cut by his team.

While violence and abuse are not uncommon among professional athletes, a culture of denial and silence is. So naturally I found yesterday's events surprising for how quickly and positively it was handled.

What's interesting to me is that in the age #womenagainstfeminism and other backlashes against progressive feminist ideology there are few issues as unifying as violence against women. I don't mean to say that everyone is on the same page, but by comparison it's an issue where most people can appreciate that there is a problem and that we need to find a solution. Issues like access to abortions or contraceptives, the pay gap, and rape are all issues that are highly political and polarised, with many claiming that these are not actual problems.

By virtue of this video coming out, it has highlighted the power of hacktivism, particularly around an issue that will provoke almost ubiquitous outrage. Social media has very much accelerated the use of hacktivism (hacking activism). As more people have both the tools to record and the skills to post and find information, hacktivism will continue to be a force that fights back against hegemony. Hacktivism sometimes gets a bad rap because it is seemingly poorly understood. Some people are aware of Anonymous but are more inclined to think of hacktivism in the context of the NSA spying on American citizens, identity theft, or blackmail. There are certainly enough examples of this circulating right now.

I think it's very important to make the distinction that hacktivism is not about exposing people's personal data, it's about exposing injustice. Often, this includes sharing information that was obtained in a public space, such as an elevator. Hopefully, as more people are capable of exposing criminal acts our legal system will evolve to keep pace.