Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation; redundant, and a headache for everyone

Canada's Federal government passed an Anti-Spam legislation that will go into effect on July 1, 2014. While it may sound great at first, it's really not. If anything, it's a redundant headache for everyone; legislation for the sake of legislation. 

The gist of it is that companies that using email to promote their products and services have to now get express consent from everyone they send out email to, or IM, SMS, or call. However, think about it for a second. If you are already on the emailing list for a particular company, chances are you like what they do/sell, and signed up on your own accord to stay up to date. That's pretty much the exact same thing, no it is the exact same thing as this nonsense piece of legislation. 

Retailers that acquire their emails at the cashier checkout also ask for their customer's consent. It's not as if they are placing a gun to their head, forcing them to hand over their work or personal email addresses. Instead of making the process easier, cashiers now have to ask for the email, ask the customer to read the consent statement, type in the email, and then accept, making an already painfully slow process even slower. The only impact that this will have is far fewer people signing themselves up because it will be easier and quicker to say no than to agree and have to go through that million step process for something that should be incredibly simple. 

The end user has the power to already grant consent and take it away, by giving their email or phone number to whomever they choose, or by simply unsubscribing or not handing over that information. 

If the federal government wanted to pass an effective anti-spam legislation, they should have targeted the ISPs. Before iOS 7 was released, my dad had no way of blocking the spam phone numbers that would call him, and I'm not joking with this number, 17 times a day. I had contacted Rogers, and they wanted to charge him $20/month to block only three phone numbers. The best part is that his cell phone number, the one that was plagued by spam calls, isn't listed anywhere. So, rather than placing the onus on the end user that's constantly under attack, why not make it so that the ISPs have to stop giving out their customers phone numbers to the highest bidder? Why not make it so that the ISPs have to provide a flat rate service in which the customer can block as many calls as s/he wants? Why not make it so that every phone has to have a call blocking feature enabled? Why not do a million other things that would actually benefit users and businesses, rather than making it harder?

Source: https://plus.google.com/+TapasEaswar/posts...

Crazy Town II: Electric Boogaloo (the dumbing down of Canadian politics)

Just under one month ago, I wrote about how Toronto, the city that I call home (even though I live just north of it in the suburbs of Newmarket) has completely lost it’s mind. I talked about how Rob Ford halted his mayoral re-election campaign, and how I had no idea who to vote for in the upcoming provincial election. However, over the last 22 days, I’ve had some time to reflect on something that has been particularly troubling to me.

When I lived in Etobicoke for 16 years, I knew who the candidates were, and more or less what they stood for in their platforms. They would hold rallies, do door-to-door canvassing with their constituent volunteers, and were annoying enough to call my house when I was trying to have a peaceful dinner with my family. Sure, they only really showed their faces whenever their jobs were on the line, but at least they put in the bare minimum requirement for me to say, “Okay, sure, yeah you can have my vote.”

However, that all changed when I moved up to Newmarket. Most people think that it’s incredibly far away, and if you use Toronto as a starting point, it’s no farther away than Pickering. Frankly, it actually feels closer, but that’s besides the point. In Newmarket, all the candidates have done are put up signs telling people to vote for them, so that they can either keep their job, or be hired for the first time. The problem here is that all I can see is a see of red and blue, with some orange and keep here and there, but the names don’t stand out to me. The candidates have yet to even do the bare minimum to get my vote. They haven’t held rallies, haven’t canvassed door-to-door with their constituent volunteers, and I thought I’d never say this, but I miss their annoying dinnertime phone calls to tell me about their platform and why I should vote for them. It’s a problem so much so that I had to search for the names. Yes, when it comes to politics, I should be involved and do my own research supplementary to what the people who want to be elected are telling me, but when the candidates aren’t even doing that much, I take issue with that.

If the candidates aren’t willing to put in any effort now, then chances are they won’t put in any effort when in office.

Gone are the days of inspiring, if polarizing, leaders like Tommy Douglas, Pierre Trudeau, and Jean Chrétien, and now are the days of hapless fecks like Tim Hudak, Justin Trudeau, and Andrea Horwath.

But that’s not even the biggest problem. The biggest problem that we face as a province, and country as whole, is that we have lackluster, non-charismatic politicians that pander to every possible audience just to get votes, saying one thing to one group and something contradictory to another. It’s become our culture to sigh, and say, “well at least my candidate isn’t nearly as bad as your candidate is,” or that, “s/he’s the lesser of the evils we have to pick from.” Why, and how, has that become the state of Canadian politics? How is it that the only time a politician places ads on TV it’s to attack their opponant in the race to re-election? How is it that we can even consider electing someone who’s math is so horrible, he thinks that cutting 100,000 jobs will create one million.

How?

I’ll tell you how. It’s because we’ve dumbed down politics to historic lows. Think about this for a second. John Tory, the former Conservative heavyweight, is running against Olivia Chow (who’s only claim to fame, much like Justin Trudeau’s, is that she’s a family member, in her case a widow, or a famous federal level politician). The man running his campaign is the person that helped Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford, get elected using the simple slogan of wanting to “Stop The Gravy Train.” It’s simple, but in actuality, it meant nothing, except for playing into the hearts of those who were tired of David Miller’s antics as Mayor. The same thing happened when the Conservatives beat out the Liberals in the 2006 federal election, by using the sponsorship scandal to sow the seeds of doubt into even the most ardent of liberals.

Politics has become a game of who can seem like they’re the most relatable to the “common folk.” Look at Rob Ford’s campaign. It was all about getting the vote of those who have always voted for conservative values, for the “simple minded, non-elitist” group of people out there. The issue with that is that yes, politicians should be relatable, and we should be able to take comfort in the fact that they too are humans and not heartless killbots, but we should also hold them to a higher standard. Gone are the days of inspiring, if polarizing, leaders like Tommy DouglasPierre Trudeau, and Jean Chrétien, and now are the days of hapless fecks like Tim HudakJustin Trudeau, and Andrea Horwath. Gone are the days when you actually votefor someone, rather than against someone else.

We should hold these politicians, and the leaders of our cities, provinces, and country, to a higher standard, and they should too as well. They should inspire us to reach ever higher, rather than being brought down to the lowest denominator. They should make us want to vote for them, by having platforms based on real issues, not attack ads and the ever present issue of cutting taxes. We should have politicians who aren’t afraid of doing things that will end their political careers, as long as it means helping the public at large for generations to come.

But we don’t, instead we have a system of having to choose the lesser of the evils with incredibly weak platforms. We have a system we pander to every possible audience, watering down any and all effective change for a few votes, and to me, that’s an incredibly sad state to be in.

I don’t know. I’m probably being overly hopeful, overly optimistic, but what I do know is that we need a change of politicians who talk less and act more.

Source: https://medium.com/@tapaseaswar/crazy-town...

Crazy Town (how Ontario has completely lost its mind)

My home province of Ontario, has completely lost its mind over the last 48 hours. Let’s break it down, shall we?

The mayor of Toronto, Canada’s largest city, Rob Ford, in the midst of his re-election campaign was once again filmed smoking what looks to either be marijuana or crack cocaine. Finally, he admitted to having a substance abuse problem and put a stop to both his re-election campaign and what little was left of his mayoral duties. While I am glad that he is seeking help, all I am left with is praying to all that is holy that Giorgio Mammoliti does not decide to run for Mayor, as he is basically Rob Ford Lite. And this is a direct comparison to a man who has been publicly intoxicatedmade lewd remarks about several womenthreatened his staff, and has driven drunk, and still has yet to be charged with anything by the police.

Crazier still is that Robyn Doolittle, the person who arguably has controlled the entire story behind Rob Ford since first breaking the news of him smoking crack cocaine in May 2013, left the Toronto Star and joined the Globe & Mail, taking with her, the Rob Ford story. This led to the her new home purchasing stills from that new video of Ford clearly smoking something for around $10,000…from known drug dealers. What makes this even more hilarious? The Toronto Star having to print a screenshot of the Gawker website to avoid the Globe & Mail watermarks.

And that brings us to today, where the NDP government, headed by Andrea Horwath, rejected the proposed Liberal budget. What baffles me about this is that Kathleen Wynne’s proposed budget for 2014 was designed in such a way that Horwath would have nothing negative to say against it, as it was very much an NDP budget. Yet, Horwath, decided to vote it down, propelling Ontario towards a June election, did not have much to say against the budget, but rather pointed towards the scandals that Wynne inherited from her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty, as the main talking points against Wynne.

So now we have a scandal plagued minority Liberal Premier, an NDP leader with no clear plan who’s blasting the Liberals for having a plan, and a PC leader, Hudak, who barely has support from within his own party and says absolutely crazy things on a regular basis (while wanting to cut 100,000 civil worker jobs including firefighters, EMS, meat inspectors, and sustainable energy initiatives, to create one million jobs over eight years. The math speaks for itself). While Wynne may not be perfect, she’s by far the lesser of the three evils. She assumed power a little over a year ago, and to claim that her provincial government is the worst in Ontario’s history is egregious at best. Let’s not forget Mike Harris and his PCs who killed off the Eglington West Subway in 1995, spending $40 million to fill in the already dug out tunnels, and killing close to 35,000 jobs.

What’s scares me the most is that for the first time since I became eligible to vote, I don’t know who the best choice is. I know the lesser of the evils, but is that really the best that we as a nation can produce; a collection of politicians with no human connection — who simply pander to accumulate votes? With both provincial and municipal level elections in 2014, what happens next in Ontario is going to be extremely interesting to watch.

Source: https://medium.com/@tapaseaswar/crazy-town...

Searching for Jobs (and the problem with the current education system)

Ever since I graduated from university a year ago, with my degree in Environmental Studies, or more specifically, Environmental Politics, I’ve been stuck in a routine of wake-up, go to my part-time retail job, come home, apply for jobs (if I have the energy), and sleep. What scares me the most, however, isn’t the fact that it’s been a year and I really have nothing to show for it, but rather the toll that it’s starting to take on my psyche. While normally I’m a fairly happy and mellow person, I’ve been finding that the more I talk to my friends the more I say things along the lines of, “searching for decent paying, non-retail jobs has to be the single most demoralizing activity in the world.”

When we were growing up, we were an extremely privileged generation riding along the coattails of the greatest economic boom in recorded history, and to an extent, we still are. We were told that specialization was no longer the key, that we needed to be more rounded out, so we took up soccer and tennis and swimming and volunteered, because without that cultural grounding, we’d be laughed out of the job we wanted and would have to apply elsewhere — somewhere second rate. The problem with this is two-fold. First, we’ve burnt ourselves out doing everything we can to create a mile-long resume that says nothing of who we are as people, and secondly, the first rate positions are no longer hiring and the second rate companies have gone bankrupt.

It’s easy to point fingers, blame others for being accepted because the fit the role of being ethnically diverse, but that’s not it at all. The problem lies within our education system. The cost of getting a formal education in Canada is about $27,500 for a four year program (and is slowly rising), which pales in comparison to America, which ranges anywhere from $27,000 to $60,000 per year. It makes obtaining a formal education a seemingly unreachable goal financially. f every student could, I’m sure that they’d declare bankruptcy if it would allow them to wipe their debt away and start fresh.

“A bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma.” — NY Times

We’re an incredibly capable generation of students, eager to learn and studying everything from English to Psychology, partly because we can, and partly because we wanted to be well-rounded heirs to the economic throne. Maybe it’s the over-abundance of choice that prevents us from being able to settle into any one field, for the fear of feeling stuck in something you don’t like, or maybe it’s the fact that while we live in the 21st century, our educational system is stuck, preparing us for the century past. Rather than giving us the tools to be successful in the age of the internet, universities are more concerned with their profit and rankings amongst each other, making it ever harder to find even the most basic of entry-level positions in 2014.

I’ve spent much of the last year searching for jobs, applying for just about any position that’s open, and I’ve had a few callbacks, but nothing successful. They all require a one year commitment with no guaranteed hours or pay, nor a guarantee that they’ll keep you on past the one-year contract, all as an entry level casual worker/intern. Perhaps it’s my approach and mindset to this that’s preventing me from finding that a semi-decent paying, non-retail position job I so badly want, or perhaps it’s not know where exactly my heart lies. Whatever it is, I’m beginning to feel demoralized, and I’m not exactly sure when that will change for the better, but I hope it’s soon.

Source: https://medium.com/@tapaseaswar/searching-...