Just this week, Canada approved usage-based billing for the internet. What’s this mean? Now, Canadian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can place caps on the amount of bandwidth subscribers can use, and charge them heftily for crossing that cap. While this may make sense in the abstract, the implementation is where it’s all shot to hell: Bell Canada is switching to an incredibly low 25GB monthly cap, and is charging almost $2 for each gigabyte past that cap. (The cost to Bell to deliver a gigabyte of data is far less than a penny, for reference.)

This is bad in so many ways. Continue reading

According to numerous sources, last night, outside a political debate in Kentucky, a group of Rand Paul supporters threw a MoveOn member to the ground, incapacitated her, and one person stomped on the back of her head.

You read that right. Stomped on her head.Political activist being stomped upon

So, let’s be clear here, America. Maybe there’s been some confusion as of late. Not many people have stood up and opposed this sort of behavior. We’ve kind of let it slide. Continue reading

Let’s say you’re a parent. Let’s say that one day, under pressure from a bunch of acquaintances who are convinced you’re doing something wrong by neglecting to do this earlier, you start giving your child dessert every night– not only that, but expecting her to eat it. You keep the practice up, night after night, and you see no harm in it, since she seems perfectly happy with it.

Your daughter grows up with this practice. One day, when your daughter is fifteen or so, a friend points out to you that expecting your daughter to eat dessert every night is definitely a bad parenting choice. It’s bad for her health, it fails to teach her how to act with responsibility– in short, it goes against many of the values you had when you became a parent. In light of this, you decide to stop making her eat dessert every night, and instead, to keep sweet options available without pushing them. Your daughter can choose to eat dessert, but you’re no longer pushing it on her. From your perspective, and from the perspective of an outside observer, you’re respecting her right to do what she wants, giving her options while remaining consistent with the beliefs you hold dear as a parent.

Your daughter, though, has grown up expecting this. She hasn’t been unhappy with it; her whims have been catered to for a good chunk of her life. She expects that you’ll provide her with dessert every night. To her eyes, what you’re doing is not an exercise in liberty, in fact she it as the opposite. She feels entitled to her dessert every night. What happened? She was given a privilege so long she began to view it as a right.

This, in a nutshell, is the National Day of Prayer. Continue reading

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This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

I am not currently a happy Spencer.

For a month or so, I have been trying to find a job. It’s summer and I’m about to be a college student; there are things I really need to pay for and pay off. Among the items at the top of my list are a new bicycle and a number of accessories for it, as well as various items for my computer, new clothes… the works. I could definitely use a bit of an income, for a number of obvious and logical reasons.

Unfortunately for me, it feels as though there are a million and a half things stacked against me. For starters, I have no experience. I’ve been so busy being a high-achieving high school student in the last four years that I haven’t actually had time to hold a job. This is problematic by itself, but when coupled with the current state of the economy, it’s downright nasty. Continue reading

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This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

Dear Disaffected Youth of America:

What haunts you?

I see you every day, walking down the street in your heavy black jackets or your baggy skater clothes. I’ve watched you angrily kick over the sign of a local business simply because it was nearby. You’ve shouted at my car, “What the fuck are you looking at?” when I took a look at you to see if I recognized you. You’ve tried to break into my theatre department late at night, and almost succeeded.

So what haunts you? Continue reading

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This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

Come on, people!

What’s happened to our conversation? We’ve become a bunch of spineless, light-footed lemurs, afraid to say anything that might step on someone else’s toes or offend anyone else in any way at all. All of us. We’re caught up in modifiers and justifiers, constantly making excuses in order to keep ourselves from pushing people too hard.

It’s too late at night to come up with examples, but watch your discourse with others. Watch others’ discourse. We’ve become ridiculously self-censoring, myself included.

I’m not advocating going out and being rude, that’s absurd. Manners have their place. But there are manners, and then there’s simply regularly cutting your feet out from under you, and the latter is happening one hell of a lot.

Random thought of the night.

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This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

You see, the funny thing about other people is that they’re human.

Everyone messes up. Everyone has faults; everyone makes mistakes. And when they do, they often inadvertently end up causing someone else grief. It will be you at some point in your life. It may be you often in your life, if that way land the dice.

We get frustrated with the things other people do. We look at them and say “Oh my God, why can’t you just X?” or “Jeez, why do you Y?” But how many times have you been on the other side? How many times have you used the defense, in your own head or out loud, that you’re only human, or something to that extent? The fact of the matter is that sometimes people mess up. Continue reading

Got this from my friend Billy, who got it from Dumb Little Man, where it was written by Leo Babauta. Please, I implore of you, take a moment to read and consider this. I think it’s really, really important.


“The proper function of man is to live – not to exist.”— Jack London

Too often we go through life on autopilot, going through the motions and having each day pass like the one before it.That’s fine, and comfortable, until you have gone through another year without having done anything, without having really lived life.That’s fine, until you have reached old age and look back on life with regrets.

That’s fine, until you see your kids go off to college and realize that you missed their childhoods.

It’s not fine. If you want to truly live life, to really experience it, to enjoy it to the fullest, instead of barely scraping by and only living a life of existence, then you need to find ways to break free from the mold and drink from life.

What follows is just a list of ideas, obvious ones mostly that you could have thought of yourself, but that I hope are useful reminders. We all need reminders sometimes. If you find this useful, print it out, and start using it. Today.

1. Love. Perhaps the most important. Fall in love, if you aren’t already. If you have, fall in love with your partner all over again. Abandon caution and let your heart be broken. Or love family members, friends, anyone — it doesn’t have to be romantic love. Love all of humanity, one person at a time.

2. Get outside. Don’t let yourself be shut indoors. Go out when it’s raining. Walk on the beach. Hike through the woods. Swim in a freezing lake. Bask in the sun. Play sports, or walk barefoot through grass. Pay close attention to nature.

3. Savor food. Don’t just eat your food, but really enjoy it. Feel the texture, the bursts of flavors. Savor every bite. If you limit your intake of sweets, it will make the small treats you give yourself (berries or dark chocolate are my favorites) even more enjoyable. And when you do have them, really, really savor them. Slowly.

4. Create a morning ritual. Wake early and greet the day. Watch the sun rise. Out loud, tell yourself that you will not waste this day, which is a gift. You will be compassionate to your fellow human beings, and live every moment to its fullest. Stretch or meditate or exercise as part of your ritual. Enjoy some coffee.

5. Take chances. We often live our lives too cautiously, worried about what might go wrong. Be bold, risk it all. Quit your job and go to business for yourself (plan it out first!), or go up to that girl you’ve liked for a long time and ask her out. What do you have to lose?

Continue reading

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This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

Having been home for a week, I figure I ought to actually write something of content. Here it is.

On July 5th, 2007, I left Portland, Oregon at 7:30 am with a group called People to People. I boarded a plane, which ascended above the clouds and flew for an hour before landing at San Francisco International Airport.

After a 4-hour layover, I then got on a bigger plane and took a ten-hour flight… to Japan.

I spent two weeks in Japan, traveling all around the country. I saw the unbelievably large megacity of Tōkyō, and experienced the slow life in the little community of Hirado. I discussed world peace with students my age at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Memorial Museum, and walked around downtown Kyōto as preparations for a summer festival were being made. I spent two nights living with generous homestay families. The trip was amazing beyond belief, to the extent that the first word I use to describe it when someone asks is always “life-changing”.

And now I’m back in the United States, and it’s horrendously difficult to readjust, partially because there’s so much that I simply can’t take for granted anymore. Continue reading

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This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

O, my Brothers and Sisters—

What has become of us?

Generations before us strove for excellence. Our great-grandparents lived through two of the most massive wars in history as well as the Great Depression, and still pulled through to keep our nation alive. Our grandparents survived the Vietnam War and launched men into space, a concept never before even conceived of as possible. Our parents saw the rise of ever-increasingly powerful computers. The generations before us faced terrible challenges, yet not only pulled through, but were able to contribute immensely to the building of our modern world today.

I write about this because something is growing increasingly obvious with each passing day. Put simply, our generation is afraid to try.

I see this every day in school, both in myself and in others. We have grown noticeably reluctant to take risks or try things. We all live in our own self-shaped worlds, and rarely actually come out. We are afraid to take risks, because it means stepping out of our safe haven for a moment and risking failure. Continue reading