Angry Robot

The Milk You've Never Heard of That's Rocking the Dairy World

Donald Trump and the Ku Klux Klan: A History

John Oliver on Trump: “I say that knowing that every time you say his name out loud, he has a shattering orgasm”. Here’s the Drumpf website.

Something Important Happened 2

[Continued from here. All articles in this series will be archived here]

After the first trip to the hospital you went back home. You said, “you really did it! You rebuilt it!” You thought it was a perfect replica of your house. I looked this up, it’s relatively common. it’s called reduplicative paramnesia.

Caregivers now came a few hours a day to help my mom.  It wasn’t enough. After a few weeks you nearly attacked one of them, and then you collapsed. So back to emergency.

After the second trip to the hospital you never went home again. The second time, it seemed like no one could find the records of the first time. They kept on asking the same questions.

There was no way to bring you back home. My mom was exhausted. You had a bizarre sleep schedule that involved early morning roaming, which given your shaky limbs (also part of the disease) meant my mom would have to wake and keep an eye on you, which meant that by the time of this second stay, she hadn’t had a good sleep in weeks.

They moved you to a place called Toronto Rehab, which had a floor for geriatrics. They took all the problem cases from nursing homes. The first time my girlfriend visited there she burst out crying. Many of the patients were far gone, difficult and screamy. There was a smell. But it was not a bad place – the nurses were incredible.

Your roommate Brian was deaf, blind and demented and he would call out to his dead wife in a boomy, old-style radio DJ voice. One time he started masturbating during dinner. A lot of us laughed.

They had you on anti-psychotics which made you much less prone to the sort of paranoid visions that had caused the two hospital visits. These were so uncharacteristic of you; it was a relief when they abated. You were quiet, withdrawn, and often amiable. Your awareness took on a multi-day cycle, from sleepy and unresponsive to borderline agitated a few days later. At your most aware you were unhappy with your situation. Who wouldn’t be – as a solidly independent man for the majority of your life, being so helpless must have enraged you.

Toronto Rehab was merely a temporary stop on a trip that would take you to a “long term care facility”, i.e. a nursing home. These things are often privately run, but in our province anyway the admissions list and the funding is administered by the government. You can choose three homes and then you go on a waiting list. My mom and I toured many facilities across the city. There are tons of them, huge buildings nestled into every community that you somehow never notice until you are looking for them. Most are horrible. Some are beautiful. The former have short waiting lists. The latter can take years. Of course we wanted the best for you, so we had you signed up for three homes with long waiting lists, the shortest being six months to a year.

In emergency situations – and in our province taking up a hospital bed like in Toronto Rehab is considered an emergency – you go on the ‘crisis list.’ This means you get priority placement ahead of anyone on the normal list. So you were on this special list, but even after two months passed there were still no openings for you. The government representatives started saying we’d have to choose somewhere with less of a wait or they would send us to the next available facility, meaning one of the horrible places.

We had seen a place in Scarborough that was a new building, beautiful and bright, that an older, previously all-female facility was in the process of moving into. It was far from us, but it seemed like a good place. They weren’t afraid to show us the dementia ward on the tour, which seemed refreshingly honest. So we signed you up, and a few weeks later you were moving in.

There turned out to be something wrong with this place.

Hillary Clinton, ‘Smart Power’ and a Dictator’s Fall

Part 2 here=

Something Important Happened 1

Editor’s note: this is the first part of a five (maybe six?) part series about the death of my father that I started five years ago, shortly after it happened. It’s heavy! I won’t feel bad if you avoid reading it. But, the reason I share it here is that it might be helpful for those of you who have not gone through the death of a parent. It will probably happen to you at some point! It will not be exactly like my experience, but there may be similarities.

[All articles in this series will be archived here]

You’d complain about your memory. My role was to reassure. Don’t worry about it, I can’t remember anything either – it runs in the family. We’d laugh about the times we’d run upstairs to get something and then find ourselves standing there, trying to recall exactly what it was we had needed.

But on that trip you forgot your passport. So then they called it Mild Cognitive Impairment. They gave you exercises, and a book in which to write everything down. I tried to get you to play a brain-age game on my DS.

It was too late for all that. You stopped emailing because it took too much time. It could take you a while to string sentences together. After my weekly visit for dinner my mom would insist on driving me home, and would use the time to talk about how worried she was about you. Again, I was Captain Reassurance.

Finally it was Dementia with Lewy-Bodies – I joked darkly to myself that it sounded like a fast food order. Do you want the side order of muscle spasms or of hallucinations? it comes with both. Upgrade to aphasia for a dollar more.

The long retreat continued. Already a quiet man, you became even quieter. We told ourselves you were happy even if you weren’t talking. We said, if it was that hard for us to talk, we wouldn’t talk either. But when you did talk you were rarely yourself. When you did become animated, your words slipped so that your language became strange poetry. A Parkinsonian glaze covered your expression, and your body became frail – as if someone else, someone withered and wraithlike, was moving in to your body.

You saw things. You asked about my twin, said he had been around. You described coming down to the living room and seeing a group of strange people in it, silently staring at you. We realized later that it was much too late for you to go on that trip to visit with your daughters and their kids, and when you came back you were upset, muttering fearful things about shadowy officials foisting conspiracies. The Judge.

A few weeks later you freaked out. You ran out of the house screaming that someone was taking the children. We took you to the hospital. They began to tell us we should “consider” “long term care”.

The whole couple of days we were in there, you kept on trying to leave. You’d say, “c’mon, let’s go,” or “let’s get outta here.” It was so tempting to agree, to say “sure,” that word we so associated with you, that was so indicative of your easygoing nature – sure, let’s go, let’s leave this mess behind.

Postmortem 2021: How AI Won

Maybe don’t buy the Amazon Echo.

The Rise of Weird Facebook

How America Made Donald Trump Unstoppable

Great Taibbi piece

Oh the Humanity

We used to be told that the use of language is what distinguishes us from the animals. That was before we realized that dolphins were basically talking… and whales, birds, etc. etc. Or, humans use tools, no animal does that. Except chimps. And then was it opposable thumbs? Whoever thought that didn’t have raccoons prying open his green bin every night. I’ve also heard empathy proferred as the trait that earns us our “human” membership badge. Except… goddamn dirty apes again.

The Netflix doc series Cooked, an adaptation of Michael Pollan’s latest book, argues that cooking is what makes us human. Animals all eat raw food. Gorillas spend half their waking hours masticating. (And the other half masturbating? Sorry. Could not resist the punny punch-up opportunity.) Humans have smaller jaws and slenderer gut-zones and big juicy brains because it’s easier to ingest cooked stuff so we can get more energy into us to make our brains all big and juicy.

It’s a nice theory, and especially comforting for those of us who actually cook – but how long until they discover a raccoon who is loading garbage into a castoff crock pot? A chimp roasting chestnuts over an open fire? Fire Eagle, the Fire Breathing Eagle and Southern Barbeque Pitmaster? Or fucking bees, does that count?

Let me get ahead of this potential fiasco and list off some things that are still exclusive to humans so we can use it in our brand positioning:

Alternately we can stop fooling ourselves and just admit we’re stinky animals like everyone else, albeit better dressed.

The Apple Case Will Grope Its Way Into Your Future

Cartown Part 1

I have mixed feelings about cars, which really comes from my parents. My dad grew up in the midwest; when he was a teen he was a real gearhead and used to basically build cars from scratch. But he lived in NYC for ages and then downtown Toronto and was definitely fond of cities, bikes, walking etc. My mom grew up in Europe and her tastes for the different modalities of urban transport basically reflect that. When I was a kid we always had a car, but only one, and it was always an econobox, often used.

I grew up loving cars, being especially fond of identifying the different makes and models on the road. That was my go-to road trip game. In high school we all wanted them; we all had that traditional north american thing where the car is the symbol of adulthood, freedom, (social) mobility etc. We were jealous of the rich kids who got their own cars for their 16th birthdays. Yet maybe around university I stopped caring about them, and through a young adulthood of living in the city cores of Montreal and then Toronto it never seemed to make any sense to get one. I could have had a beater Dodge Colt hand-me-down from my folks in the mid-2000s and I tried it out for a bit and just got too many parking tickets and generally found it expensive and unneccessary. Not being much of a sportsman, I had come to rely on walking and biking for my exercise, and if I drove everywhere I’d have to either join a gym, take up a sport, do a shit ton of pushups at home, stop eating so many burgers, or get pretty fat? No thanks.

I think if you spend a lot of time in a car, you start to internalize the car’s point of view. The same is true of bikes, transit and walking. So over the years I developed a rather strong non-car perspective. Why was it ok that car “accidents” were the leading cause of death for young people? Why were street lights timed to cars and not pedestrians? Why did 150 people in a streetcar have to wait 1 minute for a single occupancy vehicle to turn left? Could the relationship between our relatively low gas taxes compared to Europe, our relatively high car dependence and our relatively high obesity be any clearer?

More tomorrow. Thrills, I know. But also, I promise this isn’t a car hater post (skip to 6:40 ish)…

Speed Racer 26  The Car Hater by clist007

I love Primitive Technology

Evolution of Webdesign


Artists Covertly Scan Bust of Nefertiti and Release the Data for Free Online


Play nice! How the internet is trying to design out toxic behaviour

At Bunz Trading Zone, you can swap old items for a sense of community

My wife is totally hooked on this.

Nor a Lender Be, by Thomas Frank


Butterscotch Shenanigans: Beating Cancer With Video Games

One of the creators of the game I have been getting lost in lately is struggling with cancer. He is 25 years old.


If there were a scene in which the line “forget it, Jake, it’s Leslieville” were uttered, it would take place in front of a cupcake bakery, with a smokestack in the far background. We moved here five years ago when we bought our house, when it was one of two reasonably walkable neighbourhoods in Toronto that first-time buyers could afford (now, there are none). Originally one of Toronto’s streetcar suburbs, at the time we moved in, Leslieville had a lot of hype (NY Times article comparing it to Brooklyn and shit!), that left this city kid a little disappointed.

I grew up around Bathurst and Bloor, and post-college lived in apartments a little west of there. That area has plenty of bars and restaurants but also markets, supermarkets, flower stores and  stationery stores. It’s dense, and there’s a mix of uses (jobs as well as houses). In short, it’s a well-functioning, diverse urban environment. Leslieville five years ago seemed a little short of that. It had lots of pricey restaurants, mid-century modern antique stores, and cupcake bakeries, but no markets to speak of save for the massive, car-centered Loblaws along Lakeshore. Stores tended to be closed at odd hours. Weekday nights were deadsville. It was cupcake urbanism, more of a recreational destination for nearby neighbourhoods (I’m convinced half the patrons in Leslieville restos are actually from the Beach) than a functioning liveable hood.

That’s changed for the better since then. Condos have sprung up along Carlaw and elsewhere, and rental prices further west have gotten out of hand. The net result is more millenials moving in, which has helped the neighbourhood get denser and more lively. There are more options for smaller walkable markets now (and there not even all super-expensive!). Leslieville still doesn’t have enough jobs, which means fewer people here during the day, which makes it harder for local businesses to sustain themselves. But the studios along Eastern have been busier with the slide of the Canadian peso.

And there’s something nice about the concept of the streetcar suburb, a walkable area that is nonetheless less dense than the city core. There are several parks within walking distance of my house, and the beach a quick bike ride away. During these cold winter days I think longingly of the cycle tracks along Lakeshore. 

Editor’s note: I hummed and hawwed about this post because I don’t love it. It’s true, what it says, but it leaves too much out. Leslieville has a lot of interesting history, for example! Also, shitty ending. But, I’m doing a post a day, so gotta ship it out anyway! Sorry

Apple Fights For Precedence In iPhone Unlocking Case

Grammys 2016: Watch Kendrick Lamar's stunning performance

Yeah but I guess Taylor Swift had the better album…….??

My Unicorn Problem

Krugman has been hating on Sanders pretty hard of late. Is the US really the only developed nation where single payer health care wouldn’t work? Why?

US Primaries 2016

This the most entertaining and terrifying US election I remember. It’s fascinating from a Canadian POV. Bernie Sanders could be a middle-of-the-road member of two of our major parties (he’s pushing for single-payer health care, not nationalizing any industries – other than health care I guess!), and I feel like policy-wise he’s closest to what I want. But is he electable? Conventional wisdom would say the dems need a centrist, and a Clinton-Trump matchup seems to favour Clinton, whereas Trump vs Sanders scares me. But maybe the emerging Democratic majority has finally emerged, and it’s possible an avowed social democrat (democratic socialist?) can win…? Question mark? It still seems like that sentence needed a question mark.

On the republican side, it’s especially entertaining and terrifying. Part of me thinks Trump can’t call Mexicans rapists and win the election (if Republicans can’t win over Latinos, they can’t win Florida, which basically means they can’t win). So in some ways I want him to be the candidate. But having a crypto-fascist making it all the way to the general election is very scary. And most of his competitors are equally scary, especially “melting goblin” Ted Cruz (I did not invent that slur nor do I remember where I saw it – somewhere on Twitter – and I don’t like making fun of people’s looks, and that’s not why he’s scary, but it’s kinda funny – man this is an absurd parenthetical).

It just feels unpredictable, which is exciting. And terrifying.