Author Archives: Connect ALL the Dots

Another Unjust Attack on Jordan Peterson

Here we go again. A bunch of sanctimonious virtue-signallers in Durham were no doubt patting themselves on the back for setting a straw man on fire, when the actual human being they lied about exposed their malicious ignorance. The far left keeps doing this and it seems to have some utility for them. Whenever Peterson expresses his perfectly understandable righteous indignation, they get to call him a ‘divisive’ and ‘polarizing’ figure for justifiably defending himself. While Peterson’s thorough shellacking of his detractors could be subjected to the petty criticism that it may exceed his own ‘minimal necessary force’ guideline, its still a great read.

Perhaps Peterson ought to know by now he does not need to defend himself, not because he has an alleged ‘army of alt-right trolls’ but because there are thousands and thousands of reasonable people who will rain down valid criticisms of the ridiculous smears that emerge from the ideologically blind far left. That being said, he can really fire off a devastatingly masterful rebuttal when he’s been lied about. It seemed to be taken down at one point, – perhaps for further editing – but the link seems to work now.

If you’re new to Peterson’s ideas, please don’t think he’s some angry guy for no reason. Listen to the long conversations he has with Joe Rogan or other podcasters, listen to him helping real people with real problems during his Q&A sessions, and watch some of his lectures on Youtube.  I’m a pro-choice feminist who once thought there was nothing wrong with identifying as an SJW, but I’ve always done my homework and it blows my mind how often the mainstream press lies like a rug and deliberately misrepresents Peterson’s ideas.

He admits to having a ‘temper’ and his family and friends doubtless try to ensure that it doesn’t blow up in his face. This does not justify the reprehensible personal attacks that the left stoop to. Even if you don’t like Peterson or his views, you should have the balls* to admit that he’s been right about many things that the left wishes were not true.  (*I mean that in an inclusive, gender neutral and figurative way.)

Text of Peterson’s rebuttal:

Durham City Council Purchases Unearned Virtue with the Currency of Denouncement

A few days ago (July 6, 2018) Mayor Pro Tempore Jillian Johnson and her colleagues on the Durham city council saw fit to release a statement on FaceBook concerning my upcoming 12 Rules for Life Tour appearance September 10 at the Performing Arts Center in their city. These are the signatories:

Steve Schewel, Mayor: Steve.Schewel@durhamnc.gov
Jillian Johnson, Mayor Pro Tempore: Jillian.Johnson@durhamnc.gov
Vernetta Alston, City Council Member, Ward 3: vernetta.alston@durhamnc.gov
Javiera Caballero, City Council Member At-Large: Javiera.Caballero@durhamnc.gov
DeDreana Freeman, City Council Member, Ward 1: dedreana.freeman@durhamnc.gov
Mark-Anthony Middleton, City Council Member, Ward 2: Mark-Anthony.Middleton@durhamnc.gov
Charlie Reece, City Council Member At-Large: charlie.reece@durhamnc.gov

The entire council can be contacted here: council@durhamnc.gov

Lest anyone accuse me of doxing, let it be known that all these email addresses can be found on the Durham city council website.

The City of Durham’s statement is one of the purest demonstrations I have yet seen of the tendency for the ideologically possessed to use denouncement tactically as a means to amplify and exaggerate personal or identity-group virtue. To lay this bare, I have composed this analysis of the psychological motivations and narrative structure of the statement.

It opens with what appears to be a purely objective account of my upcoming 12 Rules for Life tour lecture/discussion in Durham, but is in fact an outright lie, as well as an act of betrayal (quite the accomplishment for a single sentence): “We recently learned from coverage in the Indyweek [a local newspaper self-described as ‘progressive’ and one founded, by the way, by the mayor Steve Schewel, a signatory to the statement] that the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) has invited Jordan Peterson to speak in the venue this September.”

The lie? The Durham Performing Arts Center did not invite me. I rented the theater. There is a world of difference. But, of course, without the allegation of ‘invitation’ there is no one to cast into disrepute. And that leads us to the betrayal, which is the purposeful and motivated casting of aspersions on the character of the people who run the DPAC, who are in any case directly or indirectly under the supervision or jurisdiction of the mayor and councilors. So the perpetrators have been identified.

It’s so interesting in a very dark and terrible way to observe this happening. Why? Because it’s a great example of the tendency of radicals to devour their own. Consider this: people who run theatrical operations are likely to be high in openness to experience (the very trait that also best predicts left-leaning political views). Thus, the DPAC administrators being thrown under the bus for committing a crime (inviting me) that they didn’t even commit are likely of similar political mindset to the councilors and mayor/mayor pro tem. What could possibly motivate such an act? (other than desire to deflect responsibility for my appearance in Durham). Here’s an answer: There is little self-aggrandizement involved in claiming moral superiority to me (particularly given my reprehensible characteristics, as outlined below). But if the mayor/mayor pro tem and the councilors can claim moral superiority even to their left-leaning compatriots, then they shine forth from the background ever so much more brightly and purely – better as they apparently are even than those already on the side of the true and the good.

That first sentence is followed by a statement specifically disavowing any responsibility on the part of the council for my invitation (this is also the first and comparatively most subtle indication in the statement of the absolute and self-proclaimed moral purity of the authors): “Though the DPAC is owned by the City of Durham, the theater’s management companies, Nederlander & PFM, are entirely responsible for the choice of shows and performers who appear at the venue.” Simply put: “the fact that this person is appearing is not only someone else’s responsibility but someone else’s fault.” This statement has the dual advantage of alerting the reader in an initially subtle manner to the reprehensible nature of the speaker (without having to take the risk of saying so in a forthright manner so early in the argument) as well as reminding the reader once again of the poor character of the theatre management (already thrown to the dogs in the opening sentence).

The next three sentences are a conceptually brutal mishmash of self-righteousness, indignation and utter moral and political confusion:

“We would like to be clear that we respect Mr. Peterson’s right to hold his opinions and to freely state his opinions without government interference.”

First, that’s Dr. Peterson to you all, bucko. Second, why is this proviso necessary? Such a right, granted by elected officials, should be respected without saying. The next sentence reveals the necessity: “However, we wish to emphasize that a person’s right to free speech does not include the right to a platform or an audience.”  What “right to a platform or an audience” are we talking about here? I don’t have and am not claiming any “right to a platform.” I RENTED THE THEATER. What of my “right” to an audience? People can either come and see me (tickets available here, by the way: ) or not, as they see fit. But none of those fine details matter, because this sentence was only written to justify the next, the kicker—around which the statement truly revolves in its entirety:

“As many in our community have been disturbed and angered by Mr. Peterson’s racist, misogynist, and transphobic views, we would like to use this opportunity to reiterate our commitments and values to all of you as your elected representatives.”

“As many in our community…” — Who? Best that they remain anonymous, I suppose, for their supposed safety and peace of mind. How many? That is not something that needs to be stated or known, apparently – and how convenient for the denouncers that such is the case.

“Have been disturbed and angered…” Why? Justifiably or unjustifiably? Because of their sensitivity, or because of what was said? What was said that was so disturbing and angering, by the way? Of course, none of that matters in the least, because if anyone anywhere is “disturbed and angered” about anything whatsoever then whoever is blamed for that disturbance and anger is deemed in keeping with such thought as (1) guilty and (2) reprehensible.

“Racist, misogynistic and transphobic views…” That’s quite the evil triad. I’m a racist and I hate women (or disapprove of them, or something of that sort). I’ll ignore “transphobic” as it’s a word I despise, although trans people are welcome to go to hell in a handbasket or ascend to heaven in their own particularly manner, as far as I am concerned, as long as those of them who are activists keep their damned mitts off the rights and responsibilities I bear in relationship to my words. Note as well (and this is also of primary import): this statement is not written merely to denounce me. No: it’s written to denounce everyone who has the temerity to buy a ticket to this event. If my views are “racist, misogynistic and transphobic” then clearly everyone who wants to hear me express them is deplorable in the same manner.

Note that the writers provide no documentation whatsoever to indicate that these allegations are true: no quotation, no sourcing, no evidence whatsoever that any of the denouncers are familiar in the least with anything I have actually said or done. Furthermore, since the allegations are put forward merely as a matter of fact, the statement is written to imply that all those who are good will unquestioningly hold such opinions (since no proof of their validity is necessary). And then, a mere two sentences later, this claim: “Those who seek to exclude or deny the humanity of others will find no comfort here.” I presume by “others” the writers mean “groups of others” because they certainly have no problem generating and distributing serious allegations against identifiable and particular individuals (myself, the DPAC administrators and all those who wish to attend my lecture) when they feel warranted to do so)

So far, the writers aimed at the following ends:

1) To avoid responsibility and point a finger of blame at erstwhile colleagues.
2) To denounce me and my hypothetical audience (and claim moral superiority)

This does not yet satisfy their ambitions. Next, a little egregious and self-serving electioneering is inserted, based upon that avoidance, blame and denunciation, in case the readers have failed to notice that the writers were career politicians: “we would like to use this opportunity to reiterate our commitments and values to all of you as your elected representatives.”

Even that does not suffice. Following that, in sequence? A lengthy and cliched declamation of the self-evident virtues of the left, written to ensure that the writers and everyone who encounters the article is left with no doubt about just who is on the side of the angels and who is not – complete with all the requisite gestures, identity-politics references and ideologically appropriate buzzwords:

“We believe that Durham is a place for all of us – black, white, Asian, Latinx, indigenous, and mixed-race, trans and cis, gay and lesbian, queer, and straight, disabled and able-bodied, young and elderly, women, men, and non-binary, native and immigrant, secular and people of faith.”

“We believe that everyone in our city should have the opportunity to thrive in an equitable and inclusive community.We understand that this opportunity has been intentionally and unjustly denied to many of our residents on the basis of race, class, gender, and other aspects of their identities.”

“We honor single parents, non-nuclear families, gay, lesbian, and queer families, and chosen families who are building lives full of love and support for each other and for the children in our community.”

“We believe that all types of families raise healthy children who are prepared to succeed and make a positive contribution to the world.”

“We believe that men and women are equally competent leaders and thinkers and that women should be in leadership roles in our community. We believe that violence against women is horrific and unacceptable under any circumstances. Women do not owe anyone access to or any level of control over their bodies or sexuality. We honor trans and non-binary residents and believe that respecting each other requires a commitment to using the names and pronouns that each of us identifies with. We will do all that we can to ensure that trans and non-binary people feel safe and respected in our community.”

“We invite the Durham community to recommit ourselves to these values as a city and a community and to reject and resist bigotry wherever we encounter it.”

Everything that is reprehensible about the radical and ideologically-possessed left – all the moral self-righteousness, the platitudes, the clichés, the mindless celebration of diversity for the sake of the demonstration of tolerance, the naivete, and the appalling malevolence of casual denunciation – is on painful display in this missive. Exposure to such a piece of writing left me with a strong desire for a hot shower accompanied by plenty of soap and a scrub brush.

 

 

 

Remembering the Dead we Betrayed

Every November I listen to The Green Fields of France, but I rarely sing along because I can’t even listen to it without weeping. I weep because we have broken faith with the unquiet dead who lie under Flanders fields. Not just because we’re still sending our sons and now daughters to die in foreign lands, but because so many have died in vain. We told them they were spreading democracy, but we have failed to protect and preserve democracy here at home.

Every time a Canadian dies in battle, we have a chance to make sure he or she is the last to die in a pointless foreign entanglement to ‘increase shareholder value’ for transnational fossil fuel corporations. However, we cannot accomplish this unless and until we reclaim the power to do so, and electoral reform is the best solution to the erosion of our democracy.

To us they threw the torch from failing hands and we dropped it.  Its time to pick it up again and hold it high the next time the government tells us Electoral Reform is not a priority.

 

 

 

 

Previous Remembrance Day blog post:

Red Poppy, White Poppy. Different Colours, Same Flower

 

The Power of Sexual Predators

I’ll never forget the day my co-workers asked me if my boss had ever “tried anything” with me. I’d been working for a mining engineering firm for several months and I told them he probably suspected – rightly – if he ever crossed that line with me I would have socked him in the jaw. I really don’t know how I would have reacted if it happened to me, though. Its possible I would have simply frozen like a deer in the headlights, just like millions of other women have done while lapsing into stunned silence. I know what that feels like too – from a different job in a different company.

I  was appalled to learn women who worked there for years had been kissed and groped without their consent. A “liquid lunch” over the holidays is no excuse. Even though it was a criminal offense, these women were afraid they’d lose their jobs if they reported the assaults to management or police. They weren’t wrong. I wrote a list of the offenses, and how to avoid them, in a document called “Office Etiquette for Dummies” and posted it in the lunchroom for everyone to see. When word got around, there was an immediate outcry, questions were asked, clues were uncovered and the perpetrator was quickly called in to see the dragon lady in charge of Human Resources … who fired me immediately.  The lesson here is that HR isn’t there to protect workers from sexual predators – their function is to protect the corporation against lawsuits from victims.

I didn’t reveal the identities of the victims and HR didn’t even want to know about the abusers. I went home and wrote a very long letter to the human rights commission, with copies to president of the firm, and the president of the parent company. A small cheque was issued and promises were made to educate the deviants and when last I heard from one of his victims, my former boss had been sent to work on a job site in Siberia. That sounds like a happy ending, but there are women working on that job-site in Siberia too. 

I consider myself a feminist, but placing blame on an abstraction like “the patriarchy” does nothing to help victims of abuse, nor does it change the behaviour of perpetrators. Instead of trying to separate men with empathy from men without conscience, maybe we should look at the differences between people who have power and those who do not. Perhaps addressing this problem at the basic level of power dynamics illustrates more clearly how and where sexism is connected to racism, colonialism, capitalism and all the other odious ‘isms’ that make the this world suck so badly for so many people.

One way to do this is to consider is the pareto distribution as it applies to abuses of power. This is the sad arithmetic behind #notallmen and #yesallwomen both being true. Most men would never dream of groping colleague, but of those who do commit the offense, there is a significant minority who will do it over and over and over again to dozens or even hundreds of women. If the pareto distribution applies to sexual assaults per perpetrator, there is no reason to think the distribution would differ much for other offenses, like racial discrimination.

Having more power than conscience can make ‘good’ men go bad and bad men much worse. I don’t think most people understand what corrosive effect power can have on character.  In 1870 there was a debate about a proposed new doctrine in the Catholic Church. Implementing the doctrine of papal infallibility was one of the worst decisions the Catholic Church ever made. In opposition to this travesty, here is what one it’s sharpest critics wrote:

“I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. ” -Lord Acton

Those who use #metoo stories to score partisan political points miss the mark because both parties are corrupt and both sides are guilty of hypocrisy. This isn’t a problem endemic to the left or the right, or to any particular industry, although it makes sense that you should expect to find more sexual predators in jobs where they would have easier access more victims. The majority of people arrested for sexual assault are men, so having more women in positions of power might reduce sexual abuse in the workplace. This is not to suggest that women can’t be sexual predators,  even if those who are have flown below the radar until recently. The way Hillary Clinton attacked her husband’s accusers proves that women are not exempt from the corrosive effect that power has on character.

We live in a world where billionaires have used their money to get more power and their power to get more money. More than half of the wealth of the entire planet is in the hands of six men. These elite, untouchable multi-billionaires have subverted democracy and rigged the economy to enrich themselves while pushing millions deeper into poverty. This “late-stage capitalism” is clearly economically unsustainable, but people occupied with hand-wringing about wealth redistribution continue to ignore the far more important problem of the concentration of power.

Every problem has a solution, most have several and you don’t have to pick just one. However, you first need to understand the nature of the problem and to articulate it clearly. We are finally articulating the pervasive problem women have with sexual harassment in the workplace.  Perhaps the biggest challenge we face in our once thriving (but now former) democracy is that sexual harassment is only one among many problems we will be unable to solve unless and until we reclaim the power to do so.

Trudeau is Not the Problem

The problem is that you don’t live in a functioning democracy. People criticize Justin Trudeau for all kinds of reasons that are useless distractions from the most serious problem this country faces: the loss of democracy. The fact that Canadians fail to comprehend how badly democracy has been damaged makes it harder to solve the problem. Electoral Reform is the most fundamental issue facing Canadians because we cannot hope to solve any of the other serious problems we face unless and until we reclaim the power to do so.

“First past the post” (FPTP) electoral systems are fundamentally unfair because they can give parties 100% of the power with support from less than 50% of the voters. In addition to unfair elections, Canadians really don’t understand the corrosive effect ‘party discipline’ has on democracy. Party discipline means you don’t have to buy a boatload of MPs if you want to shape legislation. All the billionaire plutocrats need to do is use the access that wealth affords and exert their considerable influence over the handful of people at the top of the party in power who tell our MPs how they must vote. These people are friends, neighbours and colleagues who rub shoulders at social events.

In 2014, Gilens & Page published the Princeton Study which proved the U.S. is an oligarchy, not a democracy. If you replicated that study here, you’d get the same results. If you want a solid example of Canadian politicians ignoring the will of their constituents, look at 1988’s single-issue election where the majority of Canadians voted against NAFTA, but one party 57% of the seats with only 43% of the vote. If you think only the Tories break promises to their voters, look at the GST.

Noam Chomsky said this about the U.S. political system:

In the US, there is basically one party – the business party. It has two factions, called Democrats and Republicans, which are somewhat different but carry out variations on the same policies. By and large, I am opposed to those policies. As is most of the population.

When flawed electoral system gives people more power than they deserve, bad things will happen. Power can make ‘good’ men go bad and bad men much worse. I don’t think most people understand what power does to people.  In 1870 there was a debate about a proposed new doctrine in the Catholic Church. Implementing the doctrine of papal infallibility was one of the worst decisions the Catholic Church ever made. In opposition to this travesty, here is what one it’s sharpest critics wrote:

” I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. ” -Lord Acton

This fundamental property of power explains most of what is wrong with the world, from Harvey Weinstein to income inequality to war and genocide. If you think Canadians can relax because we aren’t ruled by Donald Trump (yet) you need to wake up because we’re headed down the same path.

 

In Praise of Disagreeable People

Here we go again. The far left is baying for Dr. Jordan Peterson’s head on a platter, but there are compelling reasons they should pipe down and think this through. I’m a left-leaning feminist myself, and when Peterson popped up on the radar last year over the issue of Bill C-61, I did some research before jumping on the bandwagon. Peterson was and is correct in his unpopular assertion that Canadian law can now compel us to use language dictated to us by others.  This is fundamentally different from telling us that certain language is unacceptable and cannot be used.

Under Bill-C61, it is possible for unreasonable people to abuse the law and target people unfairly, and it is already happening. As an example, I know a young person with mental health issues who went through a period of gender dysphoria whose gender identity and expression seemed to shift into something new every couple of months. I can tell you that it is possible to weaponize your preferred pronouns and use them to make your family ‘wrong’ for slipping up and referring to you as the gender they have perceived since before you were born. One hopes that adjudicators of the new law will take this into account.

Plenty of people seemed to think that Peterson was a bad person for pointing out a serious flaw in the proposed legislation, and assumed incorrectly that his views were based on bigotry, despite all evidence to the contrary.  Those too lazy to think for themselves adopted the flip-side of the view that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” because they assume that someone who is admired by the alt right must be an enemy to anyone on the left. This is ignorant and short-sighted because the conservative views that Peterson holds are based not on prejudice, but on careful thought and sound scientific evidence. Having watched many hours of his classroom lectures and I can’t help but admire the brilliant mind and well constructed arguments behind even the views I don’t share.

It makes no sense to tear down one of the most intelligent people on the right, because his influence can have a positive impact on the extremists and lead them back from the edge. The advice he gives to juvenile, racist, misogynist trolls is to clean your room, sort yourself out and become a better person. In this respect, Dr. Peterson is a positive role model, and considering the available alternatives, it would be daft to knock him down.

The most recent kerfuffle centers on a short video clip extracted from a much longer conversation with Camille Paglia. Peterson, used the term “crazy” in the colloquial when referring to radical feminists with views so extreme they’re unable or unwilling to have a rational debate. He wasn’t referring to women generally, or even those who generally disagree with him, but those who attack without giving any consideration to opposing viewpoints. You would have to be crazy to think that psychologists never use that term in the colloquial.

Peterson, speaking as a man, pointed out something that underlies conflict between men generally: that when having a serious verbal dispute, the “option” of resorting to physical violence lurks under the surface. This possibility can temper a man’s behaviour because he knows if he goes too far, he might get punched in the face. While it is true that a woman who ‘goes too far’ may suffer the same fate, – notwithstanding the depressing facts behind domestic violence statistics even for women minding their own business – Peterson is probably correct that a woman is statistically less likely to be punched in a similar situation. However, critics need to understand the difference between acknowledging violence and endorsing it. I think its worth pointing out to those who enjoy life in safe bubbles, where violence only happens on film, TV or video games, that the direct experience of physical aggression is a daily reality for millions of people – men, women and children. However, some of the women who recoiled at Peterson’s comment about men holding back may have experienced men who didn’t.

Perhaps the statement that was most offensive was the idea that you have absolutely no respect for a man who will not fight you under any circumstances. Although swords or pistols at dawn is no longer considered an acceptable way to settle a disagreement, men still use their fists when they ‘take it outside’ but this usually happens only when they’re drunk. Christians will point out that Jesus refused to fight when they came to arrest him and also refused to let others fight on his behalf, and he seems to get plenty of respect. Pacifists like Ghandi and MLK are certainly worthy of respect, but Peterson’s comments were directed at conflict between two individuals, not the phenomenon of non-violent resistance on a grand scale, which can be an effective method of fighting injustice. People who freak out at any mention of physical aggression need to appreciate that the threat of violence by the state is what creates the safe bubble they live in.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Peterson’s comments was the way he used the word “control” as applied to “crazy women.”  This got backs up for pretty obvious reasons. The long history of men exerting control* over women, coupled with more recent memories of men who still try to do so, makes many of us feel hurt and angry. This comment could be considered insensitive, but I would give Peterson the benefit of the doubt and assume he’d reconsider the way he phrased that particular thought. If this was the only thing I’d heard from Peterson, in a hit piece intended to paint him as a monster, I might think he was one, but having listened to the way he talks about his own family, its clear he isn’t. He expresses profound admiration and respect for his wife, loves his family deeply and is very grateful to and for them. Jordan Peterson says lots of things very well, so if he sometimes says something poorly, I’m not going to get my knickers all in a twist. Jordan Peterson has become a public figure who has many, many admirers and a few loud detractors. Those on the far left dislike that he makes reasonable arguments against their most extreme views. It’s fine to attack his ideas, but calling him a ‘nazi’ is unworthy, unhelpful, unkind, and incorrect. On the other hand, calling a critic who calls him a nazi “crazy” is not an entirely unreasonable position. He may be a public figure, but he is also a human being and his critics are no less flawed.

I don’t know Peterson’s big five personality profile, but I suspect he might score below average on the ‘agreeableness’ trait. Agreeable people are nice, and easy to deal with, so its natural that we all want other people to be agreeable. However, I can tell you from personal experience that people who are too agreeable tend to be doormats and others tend to walk all over them. If a couple is having a dispute with a landlord or tradesperson, the partner who is less agreeable is the one who is best suited to handle that conflict. As a society, we prefer agreeable people because they are easier to control**, but we need to understand the dark side of being agreeable, and develop more appreciation for the utility of disagreeableness. If Rosa Parks was more agreeable, she wouldn’t have been arrested.

Its fine to appreciate agreeableness, but those who demand political correctness and seek to police and prohibit disagreeable speech and thought are on a very slippery slope. We already pathologize introversion and celebrate extroverts. Demanding that everyone behave in an agreeable way is very dangerous, and legislating it is far worse. When George Orwell wrote “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” the person under that boot would be an agreeable person, so be very  careful what you wish for.

 

* see reference in next paragraph marked “**”

** see reference in preceeding paragraph marked “*”

 

 

DriveTest Fail Rate Mystery Solved

The wide variations in pass/fail rates at DriveTest centers throughout Ontario aren’t news, but what causes those variations?  The worst fail rates are in and around Toronto where one assumes there may be worse traffic,  but there’s another significant difference in that land values are much higher.  I studied the problem after my son failed his first road test before he even got out of an incredibly small parking space and noticed the problem presented by poor parking lot design. This is a problem which can be fixed and should be remedied, but that won’t happen overnight. Meanwhile, understanding the parking lot problem may help new drivers save the time, trouble and expense of re-booking a failed road test, not to mention preventing damage to vehicles.

The parking spaces nearest the entrance to the Port Union DriveTest location in Scarborough don’t even come close to meeting the basic space requirements laid out in municipal by-laws.  Where parking spaces are too shallow and drive aisles too narrow, driving examiners are deliberately asking people to back into parking spaces that are too small to maneuver into safely, even though management has been alerted to this problem by driving instructors who bring their students for testing. The problem would be less pronounced if the spaces were wider to make up for the narrow drive aisle, but they squeezed the maximum number of spaces in by keeping to the minimal width of 2.6 metres.

The city zoning bylaw says that where the parking spots are perpendicular, the drive aisle should be at least six metres wide. The width of the drive aisle at Port Union’s DriveTest facility varies, but along this stretch it narrows from 5.5 m at the wider end to a mere 4.3 m at the its narrowest point. In addition, parking spaces in the same section are only 4.3 m deep, although the bylaw says they should be 5.6 m in length. Shortly after I took the photo below, a transport truck had a heck of a time squeezing past the SUV with the bike rack. Notice where the yellow stripes end. Where drive aisles are too narrow to allow perpendicular parking, spaces should be raked to a 45 degree angle.

If you are taking a road test at Port Union, do not park in the first few spots, or those numbered 17 through 36. Here’s a Google map image with red x’s showing the locations of the parking spots you should avoid because there is insufficient room to get in or out cleanly. If you park there, not only is it harder to park, there is a risk someone else will pull in so close beside you that you cannot get out without scraping paint, which will end your test before it begins. Fortunately, there a number of parking spaces available that have a wide enough drive aisle in front of them.

While many DriveTest facilities suffer from poor parking design, I spotted another variant at Downsview. Try to avoid using the drive aisle nearest the entrance because a lane marking there decreases safety. When traversing a parking lot, the safest place to drive is down the middle of the drive aisle because it increases visibility and also the distance between your vehicle and others’ bumpers. Insisting that drivers keep to the right increases the chance of a fender-bender, and kissing fenders will end your driving test immediately. I don’t know if examiners are faulting people for not staying in those lanes, but feel free to share your experience in the comments.

If you’re going to take your test at another center, scope out the parking area first to determine if there are problem areas to avoid. I took a tape measure to Port Union, but you can get a pretty good idea by holding a ruler to the scale at the lower right of a google map image and doing a little math. (On my monitor 1mm = .25 m, but your mileage may vary) Perhaps the lower fail rate at the East York DriveTest can be attributed to a more spacious parking area. (upper left of the photo below) At some facilities it may be impossible to find any parking spot with adequate space.

The nature of driving tests makes it necessary to have dedicated parking spaces available and these should meet some basic standards just as we should expect a roof to keep out the rain. Parking lots that fail to provide adequate space should be re-designed to meet code or rejected for use by a DriveTest facility. Municipalities may have standards that vary, but the MTO should establish minimum sizes for parking spaces and drive aisles so DriveTest facilities are consistent across the province. The Minister of Transportation is responsible for these facilities, so if your car was damaged as a result of inadequate parking space, feel free to send your concerns to the Honourable Steven Del Duca.

Given the high price of land in Toronto, the Ministry should not assume that commercial landlords provide parking spaces that meet the minimum requirements now specified in municipal by-laws. The current landlord may assume the lot meets code, but the municipality that approved the parking lot may have done so prior to the establishment of minimum space requirements.

Solving the parking problem will improve safety, reduce fail rates and long wait times and ensure new drivers are not subjected to unfair testing. Reducing a DriveTest location’s failure rate “norm” will also make it more attractive to new drivers booking road tests. The MTO should take ownership of this issue and work with Serca Canada (the company that operates the facilities on behalf of the province), their landlords and local building inspectors to redesign problem areas. In the meantime, unfair testing can be avoided by having DriveTest instructors refrain from requiring clients to park in areas without sufficient space where better options are available. This issue may similarly affect drivers in other jurisdictions as well.

If you’ve booked a road test, I hope this information helps you pass the first time. Good luck and happy trails!

 

 

 

 

Note:  I share this research freely for the public good, but if you find my work valuable enough to consider rewarding it with a wee gratuity, here’s a link:

paypal.me/solvealltheproblems

 

 

We’re All on the Same Side

Some Game of Thrones philosophy to counter those who play the polarization game in order to divide and conquer.

 

How We’ve Been Played

The penny just dropped for me on how the ruling class get away with maintaining the illusion of democracy.  If you’re not familiar with the Princeton Study (Gilens & Page, 2014) , this short video explains how the wishes of billionaires are reflected in public policy, while the wishes of the average voter have “NEAR ZERO” influence on the actions of our elected representatives.  The probability of any particular bill becoming a law is 30%, whether the average voter is opposed to it or supports it. You would think that being ignored 70% of the time would piss people off enough that they would take action, but you’d be wrong. Professor Jordan Peterson explains why in this lecture about how rats play (skip to 3:30). Adolescent rats like to wrestle, and Panksepp discovered that a rat that although a rat that is 10% bigger will trounce a smaller rat every time, if the big rat doesn’t let the little rat win 30% of the time, the little rat won’t play. If the little rat doesn’t play, the big rat can’t have fun. When I heard that “30%” the light went on over my head because I realized that the ruling class are big fucking rats, and the rest of us have been played. Making connections between different fields of knowledge is called consilience. We need more of it and not just in universities.

What is Fame Good For?

Last night I was celebrating a friend’s birthday downtown when Kiefer Sutherland and other cast and crew of Designated Survivor (ABC, CTV) came into the bar to blow off steam after a long shoot in the Royal York Hotel. Maybe my assumptions reflect my own introversion, but I would not feel comfortable approaching a celebrity in a public space because, in keeping with the golden rule, I wouldn’t want to be pounced on every time I went out. However, the birthday girl is considerably more outgoing than me (OK, to be fair, probably 99% of planet is more outgoing than me) so pics were taken.

Kiefer Sutherland was a great sport who not only posed with us for a group pic and wished my friend a Happy Birthday, he also, admirably, tolerated some behaviour that’s described in Cards Against Humanity and probably should have stayed in the deck. My friend dragged me over to get a pic with Kal Penn too, but I’m not sharing the whole thing here because we were in front of a planter and it looks like I was wearing orchids in my hair. I told Penn I admired his work on House, but it wasn’t until I Googled him later that I remembered why I liked him enough to tell him so and it has more to do with his activism than his acting. Penn, who also worked in the White House Office of Public Engagement under Obama, supported Sanders in the primary and this is also the guy who made a racist’s tweet backfire by using it to raise over $850,000 in a crowd-funded project called “Donating to Syrian refugees in the name of the dude who said I don’t belong in America.”

When Penn won “MasterChef Celebrity Showdown” recently, he donated the $25,000 prize money to Palestinian Refugees. Having your face on TV speaking words written by others isn’t something admirable in itself. Reputation is what other people think about you, whether they know you or not. Character is who you really are and actions speak more clearly than the cleverest words onstage. I admire Kal Penn not for his reputation, but for his character, because he’s trying to make the world a better place. This is what fame is good for. Thank you, Kal, for being a such a good sport last night. But for being a compassionate citizen of the world, thank you very, very much.

TPP is only Mostly Dead

mostly-dead

You may have been under the mistaken impression that the wolf in sheep’s clothing known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was dead. Unfortunately, the TPP isn’t all dead, its only mostly dead, and mostly dead is slightly alive. The TPP is not a lone wolf, there are others in the pack.  The TTIP and TISA are still lurking in the dark, waiting to pounce on what little is left of democracy and tear out its throat.

This video, made by Wikileaks in 2015, is only 8 minutes long, but what it says is terrifying and so difficult to digest that I had watch it more than once in order to comprehend the massive scope of the danger we face. The information it contains is so important it should have 7 billion views, and yet it hasn’t cracked a million yet.

World War Three is underway right now and we can’t even see the weapons used against us in boardrooms we have no access to. Einstein had no idea how hard he nailed it when he said:

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”