Justin Beach is a Toronto-based freelance writer, political activist, web producer, agitator and sometimes final rinser at large. He has dabbled for more than two decades in theatre, television, politics and web tinkering. In 2009 he founded and remains the lead cat herder at the crowd sourced Canadian music site NxEW.ca.
Justin has written for a variety of on and offline publications, in Canada, the U.S. and England, primarily on politics, music, the arts, technology and media. In his spare time he enjoys parenting, live music, existential crises and contemplating novels he should write someday when there is more time.
Hillary Clinton could not be in a better position for the November election. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, who appear to stand in her way, are actually helping her to position herself for victory. Issues and ideology aside Hillary is way ahead of the pack in the the game of political chess and should have no trouble winning in November.
It is frequently said that Hollywood is "out of new ideas" and the rash of sequels and reboots attest to this. The reality though is that a small subset of a small subset of the global population is running out of new ideas.
If we were running things "like a business," we would be doing something like a cost-benefit analysis. Somehow, we became obsessed with cost and swept the other half of the equation under the rug. Everything that government does, or does not do, has consequences that go beyond the number of tax dollars spent.
Right now, public interest in STEM and scientists is on an upswing. So, it seems to me, that now is the perfect time to continue that upswing by putting some of science's latest and greatest achievements on a big stage once a year. I'm not suggesting that the Nobel prize should be more commercial or should be dumbed down. I'm not even suggesting that the Nobel prize change in any way but there should be another set of awards that is meant for the general public, that is meant to be understood and that helps the people to understand.
Recently two very intelligent and well known individuals, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, have made headlines by warning us about the 'dangers' of artificial intelligence (AI). While I hate to disagree with such brilliant people, I'm not as worried about the future of AI.
We don't know what happened after Matt Santos was elected, because the series ended. Elizabeth Warren would have to start ad libbing shortly after taking office but I find the similarities interesting and something about repeating television plots instead of history seems so very, very American.
There is a great deal of debate about whether or not technology will revolutionize education. To me the debate itself points out a problem. With the number of free and low-cost educational resources that technology has made available it should have, at least to an extent. The fact that it hasn't points to a problem with the system overall. If we want to get the most out of our schools, the education system should be designed exclusively for children and for the world in which we currently live.
If the CBC has indeed fired an employee for private behaviour in the bedroom then Ghomeshi deserves the entire 50 million dollar settlement and those who made the decision at the CBC should immediately resign. If, on the other hand, there is a legitimate victim of a crime who is driven into hiding because people like a radio host, it will be a great miscarriage of justice by the Canadian public.
I haven't seen any surveys that say definitively how many five to twelve year old girls are frequenting comic book stores and watching Star Trek. I'm sure that the number, whatever it is, is higher than the numbers were in the 1970s but I'm willing to bet that it still disproportionately less than the number of boys.
Currently, Canada is operating a temporary foreign worker program under which employers may bring foreign workers into Canada to work for a set period of time. The temporary workers are bound to their employer and may not quit for any reason or seek other employment. As it turns out, the control employers have over the workers runs far deeper than that at least in some cases.
I always thought that when the United States elected its first female president that it would be a nail biter -- a down-to-the-wire race that would keep us up late on election night before it was official. But Hillary Clinton's presidency is shaping up to be a coronation.
It is a good time to be a political junkie. I'm a dual (US/Canadian) citizen and the next three years will feature almost constant elections. The year 2014 will bring local elections here in Oshawa, Ontario as well as Congressional elections in the US. It is not likely that much will change in terms of personnel, incumbents tend to win and that rule is pretty universal. Elections though do provide an opportunity to raise issues and there is a long list of issues that require attention. Here are the most important issues I'd like to see addressed.
According to a recent study from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology nearly half of all U.S. jobs could be replaced by computers over the next two decades. However, this assumes that "creative skills" can be easily taught and it may underestimate the pace at which artificial intelligence is developing.
Conservatives have cobbled together a strange world view. They do not, largely, believe in biological evolution but they do believe in 'social Darwinism' (which Darwin himself did not). At a very basic level, the problem with 'survival of the fittest', as an ideology, is that it directly contradicts the basic principles that modern, western democracy was founded on.
The fall TV season is almost here. One of the shows I'm looking forward to the most is Sons of Anarchy. I never would have suspected, even last spring, that this would be the case. After reading summaries of the show I didn't think that it was the kind of thing I would like. I was wrong. Over the summer I decided to watch a few episodes and ended up bing watching the first five seasons.
On Thursday Justin Trudeau admitted to smoking marijuana while serving as a member of the Parliament of Canada and, for the most part, Canada gave a collective shrug. It has, after all, been more than 20 years since Bill Clinton "didn't inhale" and Woodstock was almost 45 years ago. Admitting to smoking marijuana cost Justin Trudeau nothing. The only people likely to be upset or offended by it are people who were unlikely to vote for the Liberals anyway. He may have actually gained some support.
I talk a lot on Twitter, Facebook and my blog about science, science fiction and progressive politics are regular topics. Some people who seem interested in one and not the others get annoyed by this....
Recently, juror B37 in the George Zimmerman murder trial got and quickly lost a book deal. What is confusing to me, is that such deals are legal in the first place. A book deal potentially creates both a prejudice and a stake in the outcome of the trial.