Thursday, April 30, 2009

I had to pay f&#*in' taxes this year!

I just finished filling out my tax forms and went to two different postal outlets in Toronto to try to mail my tax forms. Thankfully the post office at the Shoppers Drug Mart at Lawrence and Don Mills was open. It will still be open until midnight.

Support BC-STV (Single Transferable Vote).

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bill Tieleman: manipulateur for the unmentioned First-Past-the-Post voting system

I read an opinion piece that Bill Tieleman, the pro-First-Past-the-Post chief, wrote for the online magazine, Straight Goods. No, I am not going to dissect all his arguments that he writes against the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system. What I will do is question why he has nothing good to say about his beloved First-Past-the-Post voting system.

Tieleman criticizes STV by quoting former BC Green Party leader Colleen McCrory who stated that STV was not proportional enough. He doesn't offer any suggestions about which proportional voting system he would favour. There's the Pure List system and Mixed Member Proportional. The Pure List system would create one super-sized riding for BC. MMP would approximately double the size of the constituency seats and create list seats for the whole province. I don't think Tieleman would favour either model.

Tieleman loves the antiquated First-Past-the-Post voting system. However, he won't admit it. He writes, "STV would create enormous ridings of up to seven MLAs and 350,000 people that would take away local accountability and responsibility of MLAs to voters." Never does he defend First-Past-the-Post. Never does he promote First-Past-the-Post. It would be nice if Tieleman could say, "First-Past-the-Post maintains small ridings with only one MLA for 50,000 voters. That MLA is locally accountable and responsible to his/her voters (and the MLA will toe the party line according to his/her leader's demands thereby negating local accountability and responsibility)."

Tieleman complains about fractionalizing of STV votes. I wish I could understand his concerns about fractions. Maybe, he did not like doing fractions as a young boy in elementary school. I wish he could mention that under his cherished First-Past-the-Post voting system, someone's vote may be worth zilch if that person wishes to vote for a candidate who has absolutely no chance in winning. I would rather have my vote fractionalized under BC-STV than have it worth nothing under First-Past-the-Post. At least if my vote is fractionalized, its fractional parts are still worth a sum of one.

"If you want change, work for something better than STV," Tielman writes. I can understand someone who may oppose STV because he or she wants Mixed Member Proportional or honestly advocates to keep First-Past-the-Post. Tieleman doesn't do this. He just complains about STV.

Mr. Tieleman, I do not wish to know which system you are against. I want to know for which voting system you advocate. Besides your unmentioned First-Past-the-Post, which system is better than STV?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

DVP closed in Toronto; speed traps on Don Mills Road

Watch out for the speed traps.

No, I did not get caught.

If you are travelling southbound on Don Mills Road, watch out for the speed trap at Moatfield Drive just south of Hwy. 401.

Many people are driving on Leslie Street, Don Mills Road, and Victoria Park Avenue because the Don Valley Parkway is closed this weekend for repairs.

View Larger Map

Saturday, April 25, 2009

BC-STV vs. FPTP: Men and women's representation

Based on the current results at, people who have tried the sample British Columbia Single Transferable Vote (BC-STV) ballots for the British Columbia election have chosen 59 men and 26 women out of 85 positions available. That's about 69 percent men and 31 percent women.

In the BC Legislative Assembly, there were 60 men and 17 women out of 77 sitting members at dissolution. That's about 78 percent men and 22 percent women. These members of the legislative assembly were elected under the antiquated First-Past-the-Post voting system.

While the poll on is may not be 100 percent accurate as the sampling is not random, supporters of the antiquated First-Past-the-Post voting system who claim that BC-STV will result in the election of fewer women are likely misleading the voters of BC. In the Australian Senate, about 35% of the senators are women. After about one or two BC-STV elections, it is likely that the percentage of women in the BC Legislative Assembly will increase.

Vote for BC-STV on May 12.

[Remember to try my sample STV pizza poll above and the FPTP polls to the right. Currently, the STV poll results show a range of chosen pizzas that will satisfy the meat lovers, vegetarians, and cheese-plus lovers. On the FPTP polls, the meat lovers are winning in each poll.]

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Globe and Mail thinks a mixed PR (Parallel) voting system is best for BC. I disagree!

The Globe and Mail has an editorial explaining why some sort of mixed proportional-representation system (Parallel Voting) is better for British Columbians than the proposed Single Transferable Voting system. I wish I could agree if I could add that only men of at least 30 years of age with net property assets of $100,000 can vote using the Parallel Voting system.

Come on!

I can't understand why The Globe and Mail would suggest that British Columbians reject the BC-STV voting system which 58% of them supported in the 2005 election and go with a half-proportional voting system that is sort-of-similar in structure but way less proportional than the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system that 38% of Ontarians supported in the Ontario's 2007 referendum on voting reform. MMP is a great highly proportional voting system. Unfortunately, the opponents of proportional representation exploited the list issue by stating that the political party "hacks" in Toronto would choose the candidates that would get on the party lists. While this was false, people living outside Toronto believed this line of thinking.

If British Columbians were to vote on The Globe and Mail's suggested mixed PR Parallel Voting system, the opponents of proportional representation would exploit the list issue again. The would falsely state that the party lists would be created by party elite hacks who come from Victoria and Vancouver. Why would the people of Dawson Creek or Prince Rupert support a mixed PR Parallel Voting system that the opponents state would give voters less say over electing their members of the legislative assembly?

The Globe and Mail's hidden suggestion that BC voters reject BC-STV and wait to vote for some crappy Parallel Voting system is really a way to keep the antiquated First-Past-the-Post voting system in perpetuity. The Globe and Mail seems to prefer to keep power centralized in the premier's office with the leader and his/her inner staff having total power over the people of British Columbia. If British Columbians want better representation and a stronger voice in the legislative assembly, support BC-STV in the referendum on May 12. If BCers want to support some sort of Parallel Voting system, do so after one or two BC-STV elections. The people won't get a chance to change the voting system if less than 60% of the people support BC-STV this time. It will mean keeping the antiquated First-Past-the-Post voting system in perpetuity.

[Please remember to vote in my STV pizza poll on the top of the web page. Also, vote for your favourite pizzas using the First-Past-the-Post voting system using the polls found on the right side of the web page. Three imaginary pizzas are being offered in both polls. Which way is better? For FPTP, roll a die. If a one, two, or three appears, you will get the pizza from that poll. If a four, five, or six appears, roll again. ]

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Vote for your favourite pizza using STV and FPTP

You have the right to vote for your favourite types of pizzas among the selections that I have chosen. Click the link above to vote using the Single Transferable Vote (STV). Click the polls to the right to vote using First-Past-the-Post (FPTP). On May 12, you and your friends will be able to enjoy three imaginary pizzas as chosen by the people taking these polls. For the STV rank order poll, there are three political parties with three candidates each and one independent. The three political parties are the Meat Lovers, Vegetarian, and Cheese Plus. In the FPTP polls, each party has one candidate. The independent candidate is running in one of the Pizza Order ridings.

Vote for your favourite pizza parliament using STV and/or FPTP. Three imaginary pizzas will be offered based on the results for STV and FPTP.

Vote for your favourite toppings!

Skinny Dipper

PS: You may pick off the imaginary toppings if you wish after you receive your pizzas.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Try BC-STV voting online

Chrystal Ocean from Challenging the Commonplace posted a link to an amazing website that lets people vote in a British Columbia provincial election using the Single Transferable Vote system. It's easy to use. Just go Try BC-STV, click a riding, and rank your candidates from first preference to last. Once you submit your choices, the results are tabulated showing how others voted in that particular BC-STV riding and the candidates that would get elected.

Go to Try BC-STV. Have fun and tell your friends about the website and BC-STV!

H/T: Challenging the Commonplace

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Who is the better actor and singer? Billy Bob Thornton vs. SpongeBob Squarepants?

I have two polls on the right side of my blog. The first is "Who is a better actor?" Billy Bob Thornton or SpongeBob Squarepants? The second poll is "Who is a better singer?" Billy Bob Thornton or SpongeBob Squarepants?

Take the polls to your right and leave comments below.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Parental demographic reform in public schools. No ESL students please!

H/T: Peterborough Politics

The Ministry of Education in Ontario is posting demographic information about students attending publicly funded schools in Ontario.

Don't think that parents don't use this demographic information in deciding which schools their children should attend.

[My edited comment posted on Peterborough Politics]:

Here's an excellent article on how parents use statistics to get their children into certain public schools in Toronto:

Parts of Toronto Life article:

"While the public education system is usually touted as the great equalizer, many neighbourhoods have a Jackman-type [public] school, with better amenities and better test scores than the others in the area. Often, those schools are closed to kids who live out of district. As the troubled schools in this city get more troubled, and the schools with the best scores generate better reputations, parents feel more pressure than ever to give their kids the best the public system has to offer. They’ll lie, cheat and go into extreme real estate debt to make it happen."


"'There’s a large ESL component there,' says one father of two who lives in Chester’s catchment. 'There seems to be a lot of Yugoslavians. We spent some time in the schoolyard but couldn’t real­ly relate to the other parents, and we didn’t want to put our kids in that situation.' They enrolled their kids in Frankland, a school similar to Jackman in demographics and test scores. 'We’re not prejudiced. We just didn’t feel comfortable, and people don’t go to schools where they’re uncomfortable.' Jill Worthy, the TDSB superintendent for most of the schools in the Danforth and Riverdale area, said much the same thing: 'What some parents want is a more homogeneous environment, a less multicultural situation. They fear their children will be a minority within a school’s majority culture.'

I will add also that parent councils at different schools raise various levels of funds.

Update: Information about two different schools: #1 & #2.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Doha Debates: Time to get tough on Israel--play by play action

Debate held at Georgetown University

Motion: This House believes it's time for the US administration to get tough on Israel.

Michael Scheuer, founder and former head of the CIA's Bin Laden tracking unit, supported the motion by mentioning that the new [Obama] administration needs to break ties with both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No nation as a right to exist. Israel is the most arrogant and treacherous of US allies. He also commented that democracy building is a silly foreign policy goal that the US should not be pursuing. Countries have a right to defend themselves; they don't have a right to exist.

Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, spoke against the motion. He mentioned that one should not assume that radical organizations will disappear should the US choose to get tough with Israel. The US needs to smartly support Israel. The biggest threat comes from Iran.

Avraham Burg, former speaker of the Israeli Knesset and a senior member of the Labour Party, also spoke in favour of the motion. The US must get tougher with Israel, but not indifferent. He commented that the relationship between the US and Israel is like a parent who doesn't know how to say no to a child.

Alan Dershowitz, the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, also spoke against the motion. He said that the US should not single out Israel as this will weaken Israel's security. He supported US engagement with Syria, Iran, and Hamas. Mr. Dershowitz did recognize that Arabs in Israel do face discrimination. However, they are better treated than Arabs anywhere in the world.

During the question and answer session, after Mr. Gold mentioned that he was not for the 1967 boundaries should there be negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, Mr. Berg rebutted on why the Palestinians would not be willing to come forward. Mr. Gold replied that the demographics have changed in the West Bank.

Mr. Scheuer argued that both Messrs. Dershowitz and Gold are arguing for the status-quo. He also said that the US is under threat by others in the world by supporting Israel.

Mr. Gold quoted an editor-in-chief of a London based Arabic newspaper that the biggest threat to Saudi Arabia and the Middle East region comes from Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons(--not Israel).

A Canadian student, Kelly Spitz from Toronto, asked a question about the US needing to improve its international reputation. Both Dershowitz and Gold mentioned that voters in western democracies have elected pro-Israeli governments. Mr. Gold boldly declared, "And the Prime Minister of Canada is the strongest supporter of Israel in the world!"

Mr. Scheuer said that the US should make them grow up by stopping support for Israel. The US has no business building democracies around the world.

Hopefully, the Doha Debates will have video (March 25, 2009) on its website.

Update: Doha Debates on BBC World: Time to get tought on Israel

Update: re-broadcast of Doha Debates on BBC World airing at 11:10 a.m. Eastern and 3:10 p.m.

More info:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Doha Debates: Time to get tough on Israel

Update: re-broadcast of Doha Debates on BBC World airing at 11:10 a.m. Eastern and 3:10 p.m.

The Doha Debates (Don't click the Doha Debates link if you do not wish to view the results of the motion.)

Motion: This House believes it's time for the US administration to get tough on Israel.

I encourage everyone interested in the Middle East to watch this debate. It airs on BBC World on Sunday at 3:10 a.m. Eastern Time, 11:10 a.m., and 3:10 p.m.

The Doha Debates, a forum for dialogue and free speech in Qatar, took place in Gaston Hall last night for a discussion entitled “This House believes it’s time for the U.S. administration to get tough on Israel.”

In its first event in the United States since its founding in 2004, moderator Tim Sebastian, founder and chairman of the Doha Debates, was joined by Avraham Burg, former speaker of the Israeli Knesset and senior member of the Labor Party, and Michael Scheuer, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Bin Laden Issue Station, affirming. Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and current president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, spoke against the motion.

The Hoya (Spoiler alert!)