Provincial election 2018

I’ve complained about politics recently which is why it will probably surprise some that I just donated to the Ontario Provincial Liberals and will volunteer for the campaign.

The reasoning is that this election is very important to me in terms of the values that the OLP brings and the socially progressive changes they’ve made or are making.

  1. Pharmacare for everyone under 25 and over 65. In a perfect world this would be for everyone but this is a really good start. I wasn’t able to afford my medication when I dropped out of college and had I not had family who could afford it I could of easily ended up on the streets.
  2. Basic Income Trials: There are currently 3 pilot trials going on in Ontario and I basic income is I think one of the most important changes that we will need to make in our society to adapt to this generation’s industrial revolution.
  3. 2.1 Billion in new funding for mental health as well as more money in general for healthcare.

This being said, I can understand why some would be reticent to vote for them. They’ve been in many scandals, some of them truly dishonorable. So I understand anyone who feels they need to be punished for this. In that case I hope you’ll consider the NDP over the Conservatives as I feel like rolling back the Carbon tax, repealing the new sex ed curriculum, cancelling the planned minimum wage hike, and lacking support for the three priorities above (no specific policy on any of them that I know of) would really set the province back.

If you’re interested you can donate here: or volunteer here:

Talking about Mental Health

I did a talk on Mental Health for a government department recently and a few days before someone asked me “Why do you talk about mental health? It’s an important topic to talk about sure, but why you?”. The root of the question being what qualifies me to talk about mental health. It’s a good question, I don’t have a degree in psychology. I haven’t practiced counseling. I haven’t even lived any traumatic experiences, I’m just a regular person who had a relatively run of the mill experience with mental health over the course of his life.

And I replied saying that was exactly why I was talking about it. Because it’s so common and I’m not special or different. I remember before comparing my depression and anxiety to others who spoke about mental health. Roméo Dallaire, for example, talks about his depression and PTSD. And well when I read that, I was like, well, obviously he’s going to be depressed, that’s some really messed up stuff. I don’t have any of that, what right do I have to be depressed? I should be able to just appreciate life. What’s wrong with me?

Often when we talk about mental health, it’s in the abstract. Bell’s Mental Health campaign rolls around and we all post about how we support mental health and we should talk about it. I think it’s a great start, but we don’t often talk about the details and the real life implications of mental health. How ridiculous it can feel to be depressed. How much despair there can be. How painful it is. How mundane it can be and feel.

So that’s why I talk about mental health. Because I want to help normalize just plain old run of the mill mental health problems.

If you want to learn more in a humorous way, I encourage you to read:
which is where the image at the top of this post comes from 🙂

The Ends Justify the Means (politics)

So the “whistleblower” Chris Wylie fell back to earth. it’s a shame because I was cheering for him. We worked together for, I don’t know, a year or two(2010-2011). He was a nice guy. A bit arrogant, but very smart.

He was always frustrated with how so many others inside the party just didn’t understand what data could do. He was always a few steps too far in front. I usually thought he was right but he would lose people by jumping too quickly ahead of where there thinking was at. We needed to slowly change minds, not try to blow their minds. Needless to say he would usually not get very far.

It’s strange because all of the nasty things about politics are exactly the same in those emails that Buzz feed talks about. The biggest sin of them all is the ever present “The ends justify the means” that is so prevalent in politics. His quote “Then we will cleanse our souls with other projects, like using the data for good rather than evil. But evil pays more.” is pretty much the common thinking. Destroying people’s careers, attacking people personally, releasing dodgy information to the media, creating companies to bypass election rules, making questionable uses of public funds for partisan purposes. It’s so prevalent. Often the excuse is “the other team is doing it, so we have to do it” or “We’re doing it for a better country” or “You have to pick your battles”, the last one implying that we couldn’t actually just do the right thing all the time and we shouldn’t focus on those.

I think something I fear is that it’s not just in politics. That it’s like that in many other places. I guess it really wouldn’t surprise me for some industries, investment banking for example.

It’s just become apparent to me that some people might think I’m talking about a whole bunch of secrets I might have. I’m not, all the stuff above can be found by in a few minutes via Google :).

It’s a Jungle in Here!

I’ve started a grow op in my office. For vegetables. The only problem is that I’ve now overwatered by seedlings and it smells like “jungle” all upstairs. Also, the humidity is a bit high so it kinda feels like I’m in a rainforest. Except that instead of trees it’s 30 tomato plants.

Why so many tomato plants you may ask. Well… I don’t actually have a good reason. I mean, I’m telling myself it’s in case we do a community garden near my place and then I can just be like the tomato farie and give everyone a tomato plant. Don’t worry I’ve also got peas, peppers, Spagetti squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, watermelons, sunflowers. I’ve also got a few flowers, mostly Morning glories and coleus.

I’ve still got 72 empty cells so I’m going to see what else I can grow. Any suggestions?


I read over (full disclosure I’ve met Ian at least once and chatted with him a bit on twitter and had offered to do non-partisan [but values driven] work with him in the past). And I was struck by how close to home it resonated.

The toxic culture of Ottawa where you can’t disagree with anything the party you support does. You can’t have a nuanced opinion on anything. I remember exploiting this often. We created so many petitions. With being one of the most successful (I mean just look at the SEO of that url) with good intentions but certainly not fair, we intentionally positioned Harper as being in support of this motion, while in fact Harper voted against it. And on top of that, the motion calls for “a 12-member, all-party committee to study the definition of when a newborn can legally be considered a human being.” You can disagree with it, but this was a far cry from “opens the possibility of re-criminalizing abortion.” As we put it.

The people who are promoted and idealized in party politics are unwavering zealots that senior staff could count on to repeat the talking points. It’s very sad in a sense. But while lot’s of people will blame politicians, or the staffers, I think we should look inside ourselves to see where the problem lies.

Everytime we jump to conclusion, everytime we stick to what we know and dismiss the other opinion out of hand, everytime we try to shout down things we don’t like and stick to things we do, we enable it. This can be very simple things like pressing like on a FB post that by reading the title we know we agree with to arguing with others and not leading with compassion / giving them the benefit of the doubt.

It’s easy to blame others for this. But the media, FB, twitter, are just giving us what we tell them we want by our actions. The only way for this to change, is for each of us to change.

Religion & Community

I was talking about the positive aspects of religion with someone and they kept coming back to community as the best aspect of religion. I thought that was really interesting and something I could definitely understand. I personally have a skeptical view of the benefits of religion but the community aspect is something I hadn’t thought of and that I feel is missing living in a big city. In a small town, it’s relatively easy to find a community. I’m not sure why that is, but folks are very welcoming. In a large city, if you approach folks, they think you “want” something. Religion does seem like it could help people join a community of like minded people.

Now all that being said, I’m not sure if rather the conclusion shouldn’t be that we should be more open and willing to accept new people into our daily lives and incorporate them into our social circle. Why is it that it’s so hard to find a good circle of friends outside of work or school? If you think about it, a great majority of people share the same values. Most of those are actually the same shared by folks who are religious. Helping others out, compassion, friendship, making the world a better place.

And yet, when we meet people, do we assign those values to them? Why does there need to be something that links us (be it school, workplace, religion, board game community) before we open ourselves up and are open to people? Why are we so “scared” of the “others”? Is it really all the negative media? If so why do we keep wanting that kind of media? I’m a big believer that media doesn’t tell us what to think with what it gives us but rather that we tell media what we want it to feed back to us (especially online, where we can easily tell the difference between what people say they want to read or see vs what they actually decide to read or see).

All that to say, how can we create better communities? Thoughts?


I’m working on hiring recently. I’ve come to think that many things people base themselves on when judging applications are pretty useless.
There seems to be this focus on a few checkboxes. I understand why. there’s a sea of candidates, if you don’t have a list of objective criteria it’s hard to decide.
That being said I think most people go for criterias that don’t really mean much. For example years of experience or having a degree. One that really bothers me is people who ask questions about a gap in job experience. I don’t even understand why someone would think that not working for a few months or a year would be a valid indicator.
If someone took time for health (physical or mental) issues for themselves of a loved one, that’s a good thing in my books.

The most important thing that I look for in a CV is did they really want to apply here. Is their cover letter generic? on each job posting we ask 3 questions and we clearly state applicants who don’t answer the questions in the cover letter will be rejected. Still, only ~30% of applicants answer the questions.
It seems those candidates are at least qualified enough for an interview.
The interview is tricky and while it can weed out some folks, I worry it’s too hit or miss. Does the candidate know the answer or have they encountered the specific technical problem you ask about?
The interview stage is the one I’m the less certain about right now.

The one that gives the most insight is the trial. Seeing someone work in action is so much better. In a way I wish we could send folks directly there after the application but I suspect it would be too time consuming. At least in how we currently do it.
Perhaps there’s a way to implement it in a way that makes it scale-able.

Basic Income

I haven’t talked much about basic income here. But if you want to know if you should learn about it I’d recommend reading about the current trials going on in Ontario:

If you’re interested in learning more:

Has a great walkthru.

Being Disconnected

I seem to write more blog posts while on a plane.
Perhaps it’s the notion of being disconnected.

I feel like that’s something I should look into. Am I more productive while not connected to the internet? Would setting my phone on airplane mode for a few hours a day make me happier?