Friday, January 30, 2009

VOTE YES TO BC STV. Get the word out.

So, if you're living in BC, you may (or may not) have heard about something called the Single Transferable Vote, or STV. I would like to talk to you a little about why this lovely system has been floating around lately.

In 2001, we had a provincial election. The BC Liberal Party took (quite literally) all but two of the seats in the BC legislature in that election. Thus, the Citizens' Assembly for Electoral Reform came into being, and consisted of one man and one woman from every provincial riding in our wonderful province. This assembly looked into all kinds of ways to fix the electoral system that had allowed such a colossal majority without the same level of public support, and found the STV. They voted more than 90% in favour of this system as a means of fixing our government.

Four years later, in 2005, there was a referendum in BC. When we had our provincial election, there was an extra question on the ballot. The question was this:

Should British Columbia change to the BC STV electoral system as recommended by the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform?

The threshold for changing over to the STV system was 60%, higher than the required threshold for the Quebec separatist referendum in 1995. BC voted in favour of STV by a majority of only a little more than 57%. For this reason, we are still using the First-Past-The-Post system.

Now what is STV, you say? It is a system of Proportional Representation in Government. That means that the number of elected officials in government will reflect the amount of popular support they have among the populace. For example, if the green party has 8% of popular support, they will also have close to 8% of the seats.

The number of seats in parliament doesn't change, but the way that candidates run and that ridings are organized will. For example, an area that currently contains 5 ridings might be amalgamated into one large riding. In this riding, the same number of candidates that run under the current system would campaign during the election; that is to say that each party would run five candidates for this one super-riding. Voters would then pick and choose which politicians they would like to have represent them by numbering them off in order of preference. You don't even have to number off every candidate: if you only want to select eight, four or two of the given candidates, that's fine. Choose as many as you like; just make sure you don't give any candidate the same number. You've all done this before, I'm sure, in one form or another; it's the same as being given a list of films and marking them off in order of preference.

When the votes are counted, they are put into groups. Each person's first choice is initially counted, but if the number of votes for that candidate does not reach the threshold to gain a seat (which would be different in every riding depending on the voter turn out), then the person's second choice would be counted instead. This process would continue until each of the seats for the riding are filled and each ballot has been put towards a vote of some kind. In this way, everyone gets some level of representation, rather than being completely cut out of the governing process, as occurs often under the current system.

In this way, each large ridings would have a group of representatives instead of just one. There would therefore be a level of cooperation necessary to represent each riding, and everyone would have some say in the decisions made, rather than having the views of one party governing all.

If this sounds like a good idea to you (and you live in BC and can vote), then VOTE YES TO BC STV!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Charity and Innocence

what do you think of when you picture a child? 
white dresses? flowers? ducks?
It saddens me that helping others has become a form of childishness. I was telling my friend a story about Frassati. Pier Giorgio Frassati was born into one of the richest families in Italy. He got put up for sainthood by JP2. Thats not the point of this story though, the point is how he lived his life. 
One night in Berlin, with the temperature at twelve degrees below zero, he gave his overcoat to a poor old man shivering with cold. His father scolded him, and he replied simply and matter-of-factly: "But you see, Papa, it was cold."
My friend said it was so innocent, with a negative connotation. my question to her, and all of you is how did putting others in need before ourselves become a negative thing? 

i've been looking into volunteer vacations. don't get me wrong- i love having fun and partying in other places just as much as the next person, but what if i could also help someone? i could build someone a house, or help teach a kid to read.... 
i think i'm just starting to realize the potential i have to help the world.
the friend i was arguing with believes that only people elected into office can help the world, and it is a valid point, i mean, they do have huge potential. I however, side with Mother Teresa: 
"do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

to do

it's the worlds strangest phenomenon: every time i go to start homework i end up getting out the travel books and just plan to go. i have like 8 plans in total, but i think the best one is the simple idea of work where it's safe, volunteer where it's not. 

in class on wed. we had to do a list of 5 fantasy lives. everyone did things like "i want to go here, i want to be this." i really had a problem with it. travel is not on my "fantasy" list, it's on my to do list.  i got reprimanded for believing that fantasy is crap? 

ok, well maybe it's not crap... being able to think what if is always nice. but for me it's more like "what if i had a sister?" "what if i was popular in high school?" fantasy is what i can't change, and i like to keep it that. 

i guess it all ties together-ish. the basic thing, travel is on my to do list. i WILL do it. 
and i probably won't have naturally bright red hair and bigger lips. 
get it?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

hot dam, i love surveys!

today i was greeted by an envelope from the burnaby school district. my first thought was, "oh shit! did i not grad?!" but it was just a survey. Since I go a little crazy with comment sections, I decided to share my response to high school.
enjoy :)

Alpha really was just a crap school, they couldn't even keep my math provincal grades straight which really put me behind and cancelled all chances of me going to a proper university. 

The switch to mountain was the best thing i've ever done, it was really a warm environment. People weren't all about the cliques. 

As for teachers, I had some the really stood out. At Alpha, Ms. Meltzer, Ms. Leung, Ms. Morgan and Mr. Morton rocked, and at mountain Ms. Yakiwchuck gets special mention. 

Speaking of Ms. Yakiwchuck, I recently went back to mountain to attend a drama performance my cousin was in. It deeply saddened me to see that the store was closed. Honestly, the store was the only reason I went to school. I had to do a better job than these two horrid divas in my class. Let the kids have their candy and capitalism. School district, I am sorry, you are not their parents and food control is the job of the parents. 

I also strongly disagree with the P.E system. I do not kick balls and run, I do plies and jetes. I don't want to be in a class with a testosterone driven hoard of boys who want to play hockey/basketball/soccer/volleyball. Some kids hate sport. There is nothing wrong with this. At parent teacher nights we were shoveled all this crap about how PE is about fitness for life. How many idiotic boys and prissy girls do you think still play hockey/basketball/soccer/volleyball? None! they get drunk at "awesome" frat parties and rely on procreation for their main form of physical activity- Go sex ed! 

Which brings me to another segment of this survey. I know abstinence-only sex education is far from effective, but I don't recall abstinence or methods of being intimate besides sex even being mentioned. If FOCA passes in the US there is very little doubt that Canada will soon have similar laws. Abortion rates for girls aged as young as 11 or 12 will rise. 13 year old girls need to be taught that even though people still insist upon a futile debate about whether or not it's murder, one must agree that the emotional and physical side effects of an abortion or sex in general are far too much for a young girl to handle because she didn't know there were other ways to have a good relationship and be intimate. I can gladly speak to virginity and say it works.

I am sure your questions on work preparation are referring to planning 10. Planning 10 was the biggest waste of my life, ever. My teacher- Ms. O'Reilly was absolutely fabulous, but at 15 i wasn't even a little bit prepared to think about what i wanted to do with my life. A course like this is a decent (ish) idea for a 12th grader, but grade 10 is too young. 

As for choosing a career, I don't feel there was much diversity in the jobs presented to me. What if I wanted to be a fabric sourcer? An import/export consultant? A liquor agent? A dog breeder?
Don't get me wrong, high school didn't completely suck all of the time. There are just many opportunities for improvement and very few for me to voice my ideas. Thank you very much for reading and considering my comments. 
S. Smith

P.S: the environment is dying, cut down on the paper and eliminate staples.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

what?!

Have you ever just not understood someones brain? just like actually like wondered what goes through a persons mind? 
this happened to me last night: My brother and his gf came home at 2:22am. i remember waking up and making a wish. oddly enough i woke up at 11:11... anyway, i just have no idea what in his mind thought it'd be ok to come home at 2 am. 
i mean, the alarm went off, monty went nuts and he came in my room and said "get up, i want a sandwich" ok, 1) ummmm no, and 2) his gf was RIGHT there! 
of course after that i couldn't get to sleep, and i mean, honestly, why can't he just not come home?

Friday, January 9, 2009

I miss the nineties...

There is nothing on TV. Ever. With the exception of one set of shows; old (amazing) nineties sitcom reruns.

They're starting to take over TV, during the day at least. Primetime is still full of hospital dramas and reality shows, not to mention horrid gameshows. In any case, I think the resurgence of these shows is proof that human nature should not be made to take its own flaws so seriously all the time. The fact of the matter is that we miss comedy, but the TV industry hasn't quite caught up with that yet, so we're being made to relive ancient episodes of Home Improvement, The Fresh Prince, and Seinfeld, in all their high-waisted-jean and mullet-filled glory. Personally, I'm loving it; these shows are infinitely better than more than half of what is getting pumped out for our "entertainment" these days. However, I'd still like something new... this is why 30 rock makes me happy ^_^ Finally someone's brought back a sitcom... And there are others, like Arrested Development, short lived though it was, bringing back the almost lost, but not forgotten, art of making people laugh and feel good about themselves, because they see their own flaws in these characters. And even if they don't, then they often become so ridiculous that it doesn't matter. These are great shows, and I wish we could have more of them.

Now all we need are the old nineties cartoons to come back, and I might actually watch some TV occasionally.

P.S. I would love Hugh Laurie to go back to his properly comedic roots, too... Blackadder and Wooster Forever!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

fake internet confidence

You hear a lot of negative crap about those people, generally girls, who add everyone they've ever said two words too on facebook. ok, sure it gets annoying getting a friend request from someone you said hi to once, but think about it: imagine how much confidence it takes to add someone and risk not being added back. 
ok, i guess i should explain how this happened, i met someone in toronto that i really would've liked to talk to more, and now i want to, but i can't add them on facebook because it's like, "do they remember me? will they think i'm weird and random?" 
i don't know about anyone else, but it's like that with people i thought were my friends too. it's like "did you really like me? will you ignore me?" i mean, if they really liked me wouldn't they add me first? 
i think the main problem with my brain is that instead of doing schoolwork, i'm thinking about why people don't add people on facebook and singing and dancing to fancy on my bed.