That “vision” thing

by Yule Heibel on January 5, 2006

Driving on an errand this morning, I managed to catch a few minutes of the CBC‘s The Current (with Anna Maria Tremonti). Her guests for today’s show were Adam Daifallah, “a former member of the National Post’s editorial board” and “the co-author of ‘Rescuing Canada’s Right'”; also, Judy Rebick of, who “holds the Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University”; and Akaash Maharaj, “former National Policy Chairman for the Liberal Party of Canada.” See this page for more details. The topic was “Why don’t we have vision?” and the conversation intrigued me. The panelists brought up so many aspects that parallel, as far as I could tell in my 10 minutes of listening, what’s happening with the transmogrification of power structures in the networked world — it was fascinating:

Above the western entrance to the Peace Tower on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, this proverb is inscribed: “Where there is no vision, the people shall perish.” And over the next hour on The Current we put that maxim to the test.

Anyway, I haven’t had time to listen to the show yet, but — aha! — The Current’s “current” shows are uploaded as ram files, and for my and other readers’ listening pleasure, I’m posting them here. There are three two sections in all:

Section One

Section Two

This is for anyone interested in politics, or in Canada, or in Canadian politics. And who knows, I might find time to listen to it myself! At least I hope so…!


melanie January 6, 2006 at 5:55 am

Since you’ve discovered me,

I’m so non-techie, how did you find that?
angel80, btw, is the (Taiwanese) brand of motor scooter I own and drive in Hanoi.

Yule Heibel January 6, 2006 at 11:44 am

Ah, so that’s what angel80 refers to! It’s like a Vespa then?

I think you once left a link in your name (or you left your full name) in an early comment, Melanie, which led me to the livejournal page, or it could just be that I was looking at my referer log and noticed a link to my blog from yours — the latter is more likely and would also be really easy (I’m non-techie, too, remember? ;-)). I can’t remember which it was, exactly, but it involved no high-tech snooping. The FBI was not involved! Just garden-variety curiousity.

Yule Heibel January 6, 2006 at 11:53 am

Actually, checking the referer logs is very useful — and scary. It lets me see all referer spam sites I’m getting hits from (some harmless, others utterly yuck), and, looking at it just now, I see two hits from someone’s google dot com, not google dot ca (i.e., not within Canada) search for references to a Nazi who was supposed to be deported from Canada and a local man (whom I’ve known since high school). The search was just their last names. The reason that’s creepy is because after I blogged about this issue, I got anonymous Nazi hate mail delivered, via Canada Post, to my house here in Victoria. A year later, another letter, same typeface, etc. The police determined it was local. If this were a google dot ca search, I’d think, “oh it’s those local goons again.” But coming from the US, presumably (dot com), it’s additonally odd.

melanie January 8, 2006 at 8:05 am

Looks a bit more like a regular motorbike than a Vespa, but only 80 cc. Other popular names are Dream and Wave (both Hondas)!

You’re way more techie than me. I have no idea what a referer log is. I need to switch on the option that logs people’s IP? I thought it only did that for people who actually leave a comment, but given what you’re getting, maybe I should find out more! Mind you, I’m getting emails from sources called and with subject lines like ‘you visit illegal websites’. I assume they contain worms or whatever so I delete them.

Yule Heibel January 8, 2006 at 5:03 pm

I don’t know how other blogging software works, but this package (Manila) comes with the links you need, so there’s no technical knowledge necessary. I just type stats/referers after my url, and there they are: if someone has linked to me and that person or a third party clicks on that link and lands on my page, I can see how often that happened from that page, or, alternately, if someone does a strange (sometimes disturbingly strange) google search on which my page ended up being cited, and they click through, I see that, too.

As for logging people’s IPs, I don’t see any of that in referers, but when someone leaves a comment, I get that comment sent to my email address. There, in the email, I see the commenter’s name (as left by same), their email address (sometimes a fake one, if it’s a spammer or other anonymous coward, their website (if they left a URL, otherwise it’s blank), and their IP address (which is searchable via databases like, where you can find out who owns an IP address, so if it’s a real jerk who is getting nasty or creepy, I can do quite a bit to track down where they’re coming from).  I also see their domain name, which tells me what country they’re in. I can use the commenter’s email address to block him/her from commenting, albeit that’s pretty useless in the case of spammers, because they come up with 1000s of false email addresses. I think that when the Harvard server is sometimes seriously under siege from spammers, they shut it down for maintenance and then also block whole chunks of IPs, which is something I can’t do. But I don’t know for sure if that’s how it works (at the server end I mean).

So you see, there’s very little I need to know or do technically to get the information I do get. It basically lands in my email inbox or else I just go to the URL for my blog’s referer log, and presto-bingo.

And while I’ve had some creepy people surf over here, I have never had email from anyone claiming to be the FBI (“fucking ballbusting imbeciles” — that’s a quote from the movie Hopscotch) or the CIA. But if I did, I would do what you do and delete them, too!

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