Archive for the Blogging Category

Defend Our Coast, Effective Protest? Perhaps Not. Lets Talk About It

Posted in Activism, Blogging, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Justice, News, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2012 by animal_static

This is my third post regarding the Defend Our Coast action that took place this past October in Victoria BC.  Time is a funny beast and when it gets mixed up with our notoriously fickle human brains there is a tendency to produce nostalgia or arbitrary associations with past events.  So lets recap shall we?

Very briefly,  the Defend Our Coast event was a direct action located on the legislature grounds in Victoria B.C. with the intention of giving voice to the many people who are directly opposed to the expansion of the oil and gas industry in Canada and more particularly in B.C.  Criticisms were most directly aimed at corporate and fed/prov. governments who are engaging in some pillow talk on how to best get the much contested Enbridge pipeline project put in place.  There were a number of concerns put forward including health for the present and future generations, political corruption, first nations rights, environmental issues, and several other talking points.  The direct action which included “the possibility of arrest” involved the staking of a black fabric picket the length of an oil tanker (235 meters if I am not mistaken) on the legislature grounds.  The arrestability of this seeming offense is up in the air at this point with organizers citing laws prohibiting the erection of such a structure and questioned police not really being aware of such a law.  So what we are left with is the suspicion of some publicity generation on the part of the organizers though we can’t really speak to the intentionality of this action at this point.  The end result was no arrests on the ground though the police have been reported for poaching off site protesters in such a way as to infringe on search and seizure rights mentioned in the earlier posts.  No one really expects much else from the police do they?  Nothing shocking here.

There is some valid criticism out there that this was a largely symbolic event which is often the case when this kind of action is lead by environmental NGO’s.  Well actually, there is always an open possibility for good intentions to translate into a lot of shouting and back patting with little actual “action” no matter who runs the show.  I was talking to someone about this who made the valid point that events like this are the bread and butter for NGO’s who success if often linked to the visibility of their profile and the number of supporters they can claim.  An event like the one that we were just talking about had thousands of physical participants and thousands more virtual supporters and managed to make newspapers, TV news programs and social media buzz for several days.  Impressive stuff by any standard and a home run for involved parties, but did anything tangible come out of it?

The reason for this post is that there is a D.O.C. reflection event coming up on Tuesday, November 6th which will feature a variety of panelists who are going to weigh in with their thoughts on the effectiveness of the event in general and some of the pitfalls that accompany event organizing.  Should be interesting and it can never hurt to be critical of your protesting soul.  Self reflection and critical analysis are crucial components to weighing the worth of social actions.  Click on the above poster for the event info. If there is a pod cast I will be sure to post it.

It is only Monday and it usually takes me all week to decided on blog content but my pessimistic crystal ball tells me that my next post will contain my complaints about the upcoming American election which is sure to end in tragedy no matter who wins.

Comments and sharing are always welcome



Some Anti-Oil Protest Pics From Last Weeks CAPP Sponsered UBCM Convention in Victoria, B.C.

Posted in Activism, Blogging, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Industry, Justice, News, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2012 by animal_static

Last week the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers sponsored a reception event for the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Victoria BC.

Who are these people?

The UBCM is a somewhat complicated organization which aims to bring together delegates from various BC municipalities, First Nations groups, Regional Districts, etc. with the aim of providing an environment where ideas and concerns may be expressed.  This particular conference brought in roughly one thousand delegates form around the province.

If you go to the “about” page on the CAPP website you will learn that this group tout themselves as, “the voice of Canada’s upstream oil, oil sands and natural gas industry” which kind of lets you know what they are about but not really.  CAPP is basically represents Big Oil production in Canada (a very sizable industry) and acts as a lobbyist organization to the government.

Items on this years UBCM agenda included Policing Issues, Cutting services provided by the Coast Guard, Decriminalization of Marijuana, and oil tanker traffic in BC.

So we have Big Oil sponsoring a political event where OIL issues are up for vote.  Here we see a rather transparent attempt to sway votes in BC in favour of the oil industry while Enbridge is still clawing its way towards having their pipeline project go through.  Public opinion vs. corporate interest.

The Powerpoint for the CAPP presentation can be found here:

Note the absence of social impact, First Nations land rights, habitat fragmentation, the under representation of GHG contributions, downplaying the fact that BC sits on major fault lines and the west coast is right under the Juan de Fuca/North American subduction zone, and many other blatant issues.

That’s skinny.  About 100 people showed up to the venue to roll out the red carpet for delegates, offering a visual and vocal reminder that this is a very contentious issue which stands to do great harm to social groups and environs all across the province.  Free edibles and musical entertainment were also offered to sway any who may have been tempted by a free lunch (no such thing right?).  There were a couple of “get a job comments” and there were also some folks who obviously favoured what we were standing for with a few choosing to stay with the community rather than step inside.  One woman stopped to tell us that she was a NGO rep who actually purchased a ticket (not everyone had to buy) and was there to clog the halls and fight from inside” (AWESOME).

The end vote if you are interested was 51.3% in favour of the human race.  Did we impact the vote?  I can’t say for sure but it is certain that people need to speak out and they need to speak loudly.  Our silence is out consent.

Below we have some pics that I shot on my crappy 8 mega pixel wonder cam  supplemented by some links to other folks lovely photo reporting.  I also included a photo of the reception as shot by CAPP.  What you see is a basically empty street with a 6:11 pm posting time on twitter. This is eleven minutes after the scheduled start of the organized protest.  suspicious?  You bet. Surprising?  Not at all.

The odd twitter pic from the CAPP account:

Another photo/twitter oriented report from Liz McArthur on Storify :

UBCM website:

CAPP website:

Comments and Sharing are always welcome,


Don’t Let Google Boss Your Research Efforts – A Friendly Reminder

Posted in Academics, Blogging, Food For Thought, Online, Research Tools, Technology, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2012 by animal_static

Do you have a favourite search engine that you depend on to return those must have research resources?  If you are like the rest of the planet this favourite search engine happens to be Google.  Nothing wrong with Google (actually there is) but if you conduct research on a regular basis it is good to remember that a lot of search engines utilize personal data caches stored on your computer.  Many search engines employ search algorithms which result in a faster return of data sources that the search engine deems most useful and pleasing to you.  Sound Great?  Maybe if you are looking for a new way to add some ‘zazz’ to that potato casserole that your family keeps telling you is wonderful but ends up in the dog bowl more often than not, but if you are making a sincere effort at objective research you really need to remove your preferences from the equation and not let software add bias to your work.

If you have two computers in your home you can test this idea of cache bias by conducting identical searches at roughly the same time.  Chances are good that while there will be similarities you will also be receiving different search results.

Image borrowed from

It is a great idea to clear your cache on a regular basis, or better yet do yourself a favour and explore some of the other search options out there and don’t forget about the Deep/Dark/Invisible Web. There is a vast amount of data out there that you will never find unless you know how to look for it.

You can think of the internet as you think of the ocean; While popular engines like Google and Yahoo! skim that pretty blue or green part and show you all of the colourful fish and white sand beaches, there are some great digging tools out there such as specialized user databases and online library tools that will show you the dragon vents, giant squid, and all of the ugly fish that live in the dark that science gets really really excited about.  Dig deeper, dig differently.

This link: will show some quick alternatives for online searching and there are a couple in here that will do automatic meta-searching within retrieved sources which in my opinion is a pretty cool feature.  If you are a student your school will likely have a list of paid subscriptions to online data bases posted on their library page. These databases are infinitely useful when seeking credible sources. These examples are just a minute sample of the resources out there and not necessarily what you need for a particular task but rather serve as a great starting point for curious minds.

So at the very least clear that cache!  Surely you can wait the extra .16 of a second for a fresh look.

Comments and sharing are always welcome.


I Hit the Idea Wall…Not Dead Just Bruised

Posted in Academics, Activism, Blogging, Food For Thought, Politics, Society, Sociology, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2012 by animal_static

I have been hoping to create an original blog entry for a self-imposed weekly deadline which happens to be tomorrow morning.  The problem this week is that I just started a new semester last Thursday.  The courses that I have chosen will provide me with endless blog fodder but as of this moment I am at the halfway mark for all of my required readings for brand new classes and therefore have a head full of incomplete ideas which not only make for terrible blogging but have also proven to be superordinate to all other competitors.

A posed question might have to suffice for this week.

I am currently taking a lot of Sociology course work to prepare for an upcoming masters program and a question that has come up several times already is whether or not contemporary social scientists have a positive or negative impact on social movements.  In mainstream sociology do you think that the majority of professional scientists are taking a neutral stance in their studies and are therefore complicit in perpetuating unbalanced hierarchical power structures (government, health care system, policing, etc.)?  This would include a more removed analysis of society and social movements, with resultant theory mostly residing in the academe or at best buried in the deep pages of socially useless  policies which serve the minority power holders.  Things to consider are that if you raise accurate criticisms against the power holders in favour of subordinate populations you are inviting harsh professional criticisms from entrenched academic and media institutions and that the REAL money for grants and studies will inevitably lead to more conservative parameters established by whoever is picking up the tab.

The opposite view-point which would truly embrace the intended spirit of contemporary Sociology would be better represented by individuals who recognize that  theory arises from conflict.  Marx didn’t have a template, The feminists of the 60’s didn’t have a template, nor did the student movements of the same time period.  Theory did emerge from various minds and movements and minds throughout history but could never have occurred without ACTION. Ideally, theory would be applied to action and the result would be new ways of knowing and a continual evolution of applicable ideas which would optimally serve future theoreticians and agents of change. This application of knowledge to action is known as Praxis.

“Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways, the point is to change it.” -Marx

Something to think about anyways.  I did manage to make it out to the Anarchist book fair which I featured in my last entry and it was great.  I got to chat with some interesting folk and managed to pick up a few things which  I will be reviewing at later dates.

Comments and Sharing are always welcome


Online Security, Safety for the Mobile Activist

Posted in Activism, Blogging, Food For Thought, Online, Politics, Security, Society, Surveillance, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 4, 2012 by animal_static

I would like to post a brief addendum to my last blog entry which focused on anonymous blogging.  The following article presented by “Access”, a group dedicated to furthering digital freedom and human rights in the 21st century, is an informative guide regarding online security.  Smart usage of Web browsers, proxies, social networking sites, and mobile devices are all discussed in detail.

Image taken from

Link to the text only article, “A Practical Guide to Protecting Your Identity and Security Online and When Using Mobile Phones” can be found here:

This page also contains options for pdf downloads with at least one non-English selection

Please comment and share thoughts and ideas.


Government Surveillance and Flying Stealth With Anonymous Blogging

Posted in America, Blogging, Canada, Food For Thought, News, Politics, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 30, 2012 by animal_static

Your voice might seem to be a small one, easily lost against the noisy backdrop of free speech, but rest assured that as a blogger, the government is worried about what you have to say.  A critical eye can spot the big money bias in popular news media and likewise identify the counterpoint presented by alternative reporting  in the blogging community  as a real threat to mainstream news services via provision of realistic personal reporting of controversial current events to the viewing masses.  More than ever before people can communicate in real-time, effectively dissipating media and government smokescreens of misinformation.

Is the blogging threat real?  As of right now there are 446 918 bloggers on WordPress alone with  932 289 new posts (today)  and 1.6 million comments.  There is a lot of fluff in there to be sure and I am sure that the CIA isn’t homing in on the perpetrators of the newest food photography blog extrordinaire but you can bet that there is a lot of perspective validated by personal experience and insight that stands contrary to whatever whitewashed swill FOX News and CNN will dropping in your lap tonight.

So why would anyone want to blog anonymously when the this particular media might be the key to leveling the reporting on controversial issues?  I live in Canada where dissident voice and action seemingly have no effect on the socio/political/environmental suicide run the Harper government has initiated for our country and rarely draw any kind of serious retaliation, but this is not the case for many other people.  Naomi Klein’s 2007, “Shock Doctrine” serves as a prime example of what government/intelligence (not necessarily synonymous) retaliation against dissidents can look like in social climates where liberty and opinion are obviously coveted by the masses but not constitutionally protected.  We are provided with instances of people being exiled, tortured, mutilated, or “disappeared” by government sanctioned enforcement agencies.  In North America we are still relatively safe in expressing ourselves in the public arena but the American government is zealously pursuing various avenues to rein in the freedom currently enjoyed by the  online information world.  What’s a radical blogger to do?  Educate and protect yourself.

The “Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents” is a great reference on how to establish your blog, increase your traffic, and how to go about your blogging business anonymously should you feel yourself to be in a precarious position.

The Tweet that got me there:

An article of introduction:

And finally, the handbook itself.  Scribd may make you create an account but its free and they offer some pretty cool content.

Check out the summary for “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein here:

Please feel free to comment and share some ideas.