After reading an article in the Vancouver Sun today regarding proposed legislation that would give Canadian authorities the right to, without warrant, monitor our online activities, I wrote the following letter to my local Member of Parliament. I urge all Canadian readers to do the same and support our privacy commissioner in putting an end to this legislation before it is too late:
Dear Honourable MP, Cathy McLeod,
I am writing to you concerning news I just read that Vic Toews and the Harper Government are choosing to ignore privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart’s warnings regarding the unethical monitoring of citizen’s online activities. I do not support this type of behaviour from my government and I urge you to listen closely to Jennifer Stoddart’s warnings. Canadian citizens need to support her on this one. I wouldn’t want the government to have access to a video camera in my home watching my every move: In a similar regard, I don’t think they should have access to my online life. Any attempt to circumvent our rights by condoning the authorities to not require warrants to search our homes and online communications, is essentially unfair, unjust, and undemocratic. It does not make me feel at all safe to know that my government would willingly choose to have the power to be so invasive into my personal affairs. What I do in my spare time online is of nobody’s business but my own. To illustrate my point by analogy: If my neighbour killed someone, this wouldn’t give the police the right to search my home without warrant. Likewise, if someone breaks the law online, this shouldn’t give the authorities the right to intervene in my affairs without warrant. This isn’t merely of concern only to myself; this extends to you and your personal affairs as well. Do you feel confident that your political opponents found in positions of such authority would not, without warrant, search through your affairs online for personal or political gain? Believe it or not, providing authorities with the right to monitor all citizens to such degrees leaves ample room for all sorts of privacy abuse: Your own privacy included. So, whether or not you feel safe allowing such intrusive laws to flourish in this country, I am not alone in feeling, without reservation, completely against this form of authority. I assure you that I will be sharing this letter with as many people as possible and urging them to write their local MP’s as well. I hope you will not support your party leader in this proposed legislation by voting against it in parliament.
Justin Allen Philcox
Kamloops, BC, Canada.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged 1984, Internet Freedom, Jennifer Stoddart, Letter to MP, Privacy, Stephen Harper, Surveillance, Vic Toews | Leave a Comment »
It is often difficult to speculate on the future of world trade patterns. Things change. There are many factors to consider. What appears to be a possibility in the next several years, however, is a movement away from western trade with China for trade with a country that offers cheaper goods. Perhaps, because of the decrease in the value of Vietnamese Dong relative to the increase in the value of Chinese RMB, we may see more trade with Vietnam and less with China. It is hard to say for certain; but, the consumer market will gravitate toward the cheapest products available. People will naturally move away from investments that show smaller gains.
While the Western economies are rather stagnant over the past several years, the Chinese economy has been making steady gains. The products that the west once got for cheap in China, are slowly becoming more expensive for us to purchase. Many of the goods that were once “ultra cheap”, are now just “cheap”. People who want the cheapest goods around will start asking themselves if trade with other countries, like Vietnam, will be more beneficial to western consumers than trade with China. If the possibility of “ultra cheap” can come from somewhere other than China, the market may naturally find its center there. If trade patterns begin gravitating away from the Chinese market toward the Vietnamese market, there is a likelihood that Chinese growth will slow, consumer goods in the west may get slightly cheaper, and the Vietnamese economy will begin rising.
Economic growth due to trade eventually has a tipping point. When growth leads to higher priced goods, trade patterns will naturally shift to economies that offer more lucrative consumer product possibilities.
It is only a matter of time before the Chinese economy reaches its tipping point and makes way for disinvestment. This disinvestment will eventually lead to a slower growing Chinese economy. Once the Chinese economy begins to decline again, investment will likely return if it offers the cheapest alternative. But one thing appears to be true of the nature of trade: Economic Growth depends on it.
Another factor to bear in mind in this regard is: Who will the west sell its goods to? Is it more beneficial to allow the Chinese economy to continue gains so that the West can sell its products back to it? Or will consumerist ideology allow for such mutual exchange? This is a complex question indeed. One that will surely define politics and economics in the years to come.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged business, Chinese currency, Dong, economics, RMB, trade, US Dollars, USA, USD, Vietnam | 2 Comments »
Life is almost entirely about deliberation. The choices that we make in each moment affect the choices that we can make in the future; they affect the choices that others make. What I do now is almost inextricably linked to the choices I have made in the past. My choices were put before me not merely by my own accord, but also by the choices and actions of others in this world. I am as much a product of my own deliberation as I am a product of circumstances created outside of my own deliberation; I am a product and a producer. I will revisit these ideas shortly. First, I would like to tell a story about the world and my conscious and unconscious actions within it.
I have a deep appreciation for diversity. Diversity is color. Diversity is plenitude of experience as opposed to one experience. I could constantly see blackness and all that I would experience would be a kind of blind existence. I could constantly see white with similar result. It is only when the kaleidoscope of colors unfolds before me that I can distinguish all of the various shades in between; between the extreme opposites of black and white. Diversity is worth fighting for. Being able to choose a favorite color from the existing colors is in every regard superior to being fated to an existence without free choice.
In this world, East and West are as extreme as the opposition of black to white. Knowing both directions, reveals various shades of existence; it reveals subtle cultural nuances; East and West together reveal the subtleties of human nature; the varying modes of human action; and the otherwise unviewable truths of human potentiality. China and Canada together reveal this East/West divide more than any other two countries I have spent considerable time in. But, we are all still human. The Orient and the Occident really are different; but not so different that we cannot know or understand one another.
There is a whole world of difference between our ways of being. Our ways of governing and our ways of acting and reacting to situations is different. We can line up in neat ques a mile long; or we can fight for our place at the front of the line. We can act as if there is only one mind among many; or we can act as there are many minds directed at individual pursuits. We can eat with chopsticks; or we can eat with a fork and knife. We can eat off of our own plate; or we can share the same plate with many. Our ways of acting and deliberating are diverse. Our cultures are unique.
Since we share this planet, and since the East and West need to know each other as black knows white and up knows down, my deliberations find me both consciously and unconsciously enamoured with the possibility of having a life in both countries: One life in Canada; and another life in China.
Our countries together will decide the fate of this world that we find ourselves in. It is integral that some people know both worlds in order for us all to recognize the importance of diversity. I do not want to exist in a world of mono-culture. Westernizing or Easternizing the world, or choosing only one shade rather than all the colors between opposite shades, will not do diversity any justice.
Many have asked me recently, why I am so drawn to a country like China. My answer to this is that it is partly by my own choice to choose a color that I like in this world; and it is partly because of the difference in the Chinese way of life, their people, their society, their different way of being and existing that appeals to my innate desire for diversity. I want, more than anything, to be exposed to as many shades as the extremes present between East and West can offer; knowing our similarities and our differences is so valuable to understanding the nature of being human. I would like the freedom to deliberate about my existence from the vastest shades available to me in this world; shades brought to this world by deliberation not of my own but of a culture and a people so different (and yet so similar) from the shade I find beneath the great Canadian Maple.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Canada, China, Choice, culture, Deliberation, East and West, Free-will, globalism, multiculturalism | Leave a Comment »
When I was younger I liked to write a lot of poetry. I don’t find the time to do this anymore. I am just about to graduate from university and I have decided that one of my options is to move back to China for a couple more years and teach. I’ve been looking through old journals that I wrote when I was living there almost a decade ago. I’ve been trying to remember what it was like to live in a foreign land. The memories flush over me as I sift through the pages of journals full of travel poetry and random ideas that I had almost all but forgotten. This one poem jumped out at me and I would like to share it with you in this blog posting. It is partially a concrete poem; meant to be symbolic of the winding railroad tracks; and the slopes of tea out the window; and the inside of the train car. It is a glimpse into a third class seat aboard a train crossing China. I took the cheap seats to see what it would be like. It took me almost three days to get from northwest China to southwest China. Here is a .pdf copy of what I wrote in my journal:
China Train Car
I also found a video that reminds me of what it is like riding third class on a train in China. Check it out:
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged cheap seats, China, concrete poem, poetry, trains, travel, writing | Leave a Comment »