They keep trying

A little while ago, I received a text message from “Management Team” at Toronto phone number 437-240-6722 telling me a restriction had been placed on my TD Visa card. The sender quoted a Visa card number that, while it had the correct prefix for TD cards, had no other relation to my actual card number. The message stated my card was “immediately blocked, because of “Security Limitation. Then followed some nonsensical, but intended to sound official, numbers. Finally, the text read “Please text ‘Y’ to initialize removal of holds.”

Right, sure, anything you say. First of all, this is not the first text I’ve received of this kind. Some of them come from banks I don’t even deal with, so I am aware these are just looking for information. I’ve never texted “Y” back, but I presume that if I did, I’d be asked all kinds of questions to “confirm my account” when really all they want is my information. So, what did I do? I did what any reasonable person would, or should, do – I called Visa and reported the attempted phishing to them. I know the state of my account, so wasn’t fooled by the message.

If you receive a text message like this, or anything similar, don’t just blindly answer “Y”, check it out. You could save yourself and your credit rating a whole lot of financial hurt. I also suggest you keep tabs on your Visa card (or any other credit card) balance. That way you won’t get fooled.

Cat.

Such a waste

Last week the Toronto trans community lost a shining light. Trans activist Julie Berman was murdered by a man who, according to news reports, was not known in the LGBTQ community. Toronto Police Service have changed him with second degree murder. His name is available in news reports, but I will not use it here, for I don’t think he deserves any notoriety. Autopsy results revealed the cause of death was blunt force trauma. Police have not so far suggested any motive, so unless it comes out at his trial, we may never know whether that Julie was trans had any bearing on her death.

It is only within the past year I’ve become involved with trans issues and did not know Julie, partly because I don’t live in Toronto. Interviews with people who knew her show that she was extremely active in the fight against transphobia and now that voice has been silenced. Even though I didn’t know her personally, I feel her loss. She was a sister in the broadest sense of the word and as with any extended family, the loss of one is a loss for all.

I noticed one encouraging sign in the media coverage of this terribly sad event. Whether it be radio, television, online or print, not once was Julie misgendered. While it is to be expected that those from the community who were interviewed would identify her correctly, the media also did so. From my readings I know this is not always done in American reports, so I wonder if this is one more example of the differences between Canadian and American reporting.

The trans community in Toronto and beyond has had a powerful voice taken from us and it is up to us to see that her work continues.

Cat.

From the bus

I had to go into Toronto yesterday. On the way home I was fortunate enough to get the first seat on the right side of the vehicle, which gave me a chance to observe things that looking out a side window might have been missed.

I’ve previously railed against people who will stand at a bus stop for ten minutes and wait until they are on the bus to fumble around to find their electronic pass. I discovered yesterday these are the same people who will wait until they are at the exit to fumble around to find that pass so they can “tap off”. The system in the Greater Toronto Area works on zones, so on the intercity coaches it is necessary to tap on when you board, and tap off when you leave, otherwise, you’ll pay to the end of the line. Why people, why do you do this? You know you need the pass to both get on and get off, so why can’t you have it handy?

In the far east of Toronto, I noticed a sign I’ve never seen before on a lamp post, so naturally I had to read it. Doing so didn’t clear things up one bit. The sign read “monolith sidewalk begins”. It didn’t look any different from 100 other sidewalks I’ve seen both in Toronto and the area I live, so what the hell is a “monolith sidewalk”? It can’t be referring to some archeologic site for it was next to an empty field at an interchange from Highway 401. And there was no huge black rectangular monolith anywhere is sight either as described by Arthur C Clarke.

Finally, when did chrome bumpers on vehicles become a thing of the past? My trip covered about 20 miles during the early part of rush hour so I got to see many vehicles of various makes, models and years. Of the fifty or so vehicles I noted, exactly two – both of them Ram pickups – had chrome bumpers. The rest all had the current molded, coloured body panels. Is it for safety reasons, or aesthetics?

Okay, now that I’ve given you some questions to ponder, enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist, we need love (and answers) too.

Cat.

A very fine line

There can be a very fine line between free speech and hate speech but there are times when it can be difficult for the audience to determine whether the speaker crosses that line. In some cases, the listener’s perception is shaped by their personal views on the topic being discussed.

Last week a woman named Megan Murphy spoke at a public library in Toronto, and then later in the week, spoke at a venue in Vancouver. Both events were met with protests by the LGBT community regarding the content of her speeches. From what I could find on the website for her magazine, it appears she is very anti-trans, if not anti-LGBT in general.

Full disclosure here: I’m a transwoman. According to Ms Murphy, I am therefore not a woman by any definition. From articles I’ve read, she persists upon misgendering transmen and transwomen. But what really upsets me about her attitudes and pronouncements is that she has stated that when Ottawa passed Bill C-16, which, in essence, made trans people equal, in all ways, to the rest of the population, it diluted the rights of ciswomen. I could find nothing on her site to support her claim.

I spoke with two women on this issue. One said that I now had the same rights as she, and it in no way weakened her legal protections. The other said the following: Giving trans women, or trans people in general, doesn’t take away my rights; in fact, it does the opposite, because by pushing for the rights of another group of people, I am pushing for the rights of ALL people.

There you have the views of two women, one an artist and one a chef. That I now enjoy the same legal protections – and by extension, the same responsibilities – as do they, makes no difference to their lives.

Members of the transgender community already face discrimination on a frequent, if not daily, basis. There is enough violence directed toward the LGBT community and we don’t need people like Megan Murphy stirring up more animosity toward us, which her views have the potential to incite.

I have always been a proponent of free speech. It is because of that right I’m able to write some of the things I do in these blogs. At the same time, I am aware that using that right can be a balancing act because, as I wrote above, the perception of the reader can determine whether or not my words are hateful, or just mean-spirited. In my opinion, if Ms Murphy wasn’t guilty of hate speech in her presentations in Toronto and Vancouver, she was certainly skating very, very close to that fine line between free speech and hate speech and needs to be taken to task for her words and actions.

Cat.

Please explain your statement

Yesterday there was a murder on the Toronto subway. According to both news reports and interviews with the investigating officer, a man deliberately pushed another individual in front of an oncoming subway train. Based upon video evidence provided by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and statements from witnesses, the police have charged this man with first degree murder, but the investigation is still active.

As is usual in cases such as this, the media has interviewed people who were either on the platform at the time, or were affected by the closure of the station. Naturally people were upset with having to use shuttle buses, or walk a block to the nearest open station, but their upset usually subsided when they learned the reason for the closure. One man however, had a different view. His comment was “it’s the TTC’s fault.”

Pardon me. Would you kindly explain how you figure it is the TTC’s fault that one person deliberately killing another on TTC property is the fault of the transit service? I readily admit that there are times I’m not a fan of the service provided, but generally I find the service to be efficient. And what was the TTC’s fault? Was it that they let a person onto the system who may have been angry at the world? Or that they had to close the Bloor/Yonge station for the police investigation, which caused you some inconvenience? Granted yesterday was hot (92F, feeling like 109F [33C and 43C]) but a one block walk to an open station wouldn’t have been too uncomfortable.

City Hall has conducted a study on the feasibility of installing barriers such as Tokyo uses to prevent passengers from falling/jumping/being pushed in front of trains. The cost of upgrading stations and installing these barriers is currently estimated at over a billion dollars. Would our man who blames the TTC be willing to see a fare increase to help offset this cost? I doubt it.

Blaming the TTC for the actions of one individual, not an employee of the system, for something beyond the control of the TTC is childish. The ease with which he made that statement makes me suspect he is one of those people who constantly blames others for any inconvenience he encounters. About time he learned the world isn’t out to get him.

My sympathies to out to the family and friends of the man who died.

Cat.

Who got it where??

This will be a short piece today. CONTAINS DISTURBING LANGUAGE!!

I think we’re all familiar with the current idiocy being perpetrated by men on female television reporters. If you’re not, here’s a thumbnail sketch of what happens: A reporter – female as I wrote – is doing a live spot from some location. A young man, or group of young men, will spot this going on and approach the reporter and shout something obscene into the microphone.

That happened to Shauna Hunt, a reporter for CP24 news in Toronto, this past weekend. She was doing a live spot outside BMO Field, the home of Toronto FC, on the occasion of their home opener. Some young men came up behind her and shouted “fuck her in the pussy” into the microphone. Things didn’t go as the men had planned after that. She confronted them on their behaviour, with the camera still running. Because she confronted them live on television, naturally the video has gone viral.

The repercussions of the stupid actions of these young men have been far-ranging. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the owners of Toronto FC (and I believe the stadium as well) have announced that these men, when identified, will be banned from all MLSE facilities, which includes several other major sports teams. They also state they will provide additional security guards for media personnel doing reports from their venues. But it doesn’t end there. Oh, no.

Since the incident went viral, one of the men, apparently the one who did the actual yelling, was recognized by his employer. The company has a zero tolerance policy for this type of behaviour and the man was fired, According to news reports, up until Sunday afternoon, he had held a six-figure job.

So, to repeat my question in the title, “who got it where??”

Enjoy the rest of your week; be careful what you say and where and remember to hug an artist – we need love (not obscenities) too.

Cat.

The name’s the same

Yesterday Rob Ford, Mayor of all subway-loving Torontonians, withdrew from the seemingly never-ending election campaign for personal reasons.   Earlier in the week, he was admitted to hospital where a tumour was found in his abdomen.  The results of a biopsy are expected next week.

Now, pay attention here, for there may be a quiz later.  Rob Ford, the current Mayor has withdrawn from the race for Mayor.  Current city councillor Doug Ford, Robbie’s big brother, decided to be Rob’s campaign manager rather than run for reelection in Ward 2. A nephew of Robbie, Michael Ford, was running in Ward 2. Here is where it gets complicated (or weird – your choice): Doug yesterday evening, announced his intention to run for Mayor in his brother’s place (more on this later).  Rob decided that rather than leave municipal politics all together, he will run for city councillor in Ward 2.  This was the ward he represented for 10 years before being elected Mayor.  Nephew Michael has withdrawn from the race for city council in Ward 2 and will instead run for school trustee.

Now, Doug has several problems.  First, the election is about six weeks away, so he’s getting a late start (the campaign officially began in January, hence my “never-ending” comment.  He cannot use Rob’s campaign war chest, but must raise his own money.  Neither can he use Rob’s campaign office, but must find his own.  It seems the only bright spot for Doug is that he can use Rob’s “Ford for Mayor” campaign signs.

Interviews conducted by local media seem split.  Some people – usually members of what is called “Ford Nation”,  those who have blindly followed Robbie – believe Doug will do just as good as Robbie.  Those who think believe he would be worse than this brother.

Based on what I’ve seen of City Councillor Doug Ford over the past four years, I personally think he would be just as much a disaster as Chief Magistrate of Toronto as was Rob.  Doug seems to be more of a loose cannon than was Rob.  For example, a man filed a complaint against Doug over some comments he made regarding a group home for autistic children.  Doug claimed the home had “ruined”the neighbourhood where the house was located and called all the residents “criminals”.  All of this without proof of course, as seems to be standard operating procedure for the Brothers Ford.  The man who filed the complaint is the father of an autistic child and felt Doug’s comments unfairly maligned the residents.  Doug’s response was to tell the man to go to hell.  Doug appears to shoot from the lip, often insulting reporters and the public without justification or even reason,

I sincerely hope Toronto voters come to their senses and see that four more years of having a Ford as mayor will be a disaster of the first magnitude.  But, he won’t be releasing a platform until Monday at the earliest so we’ll have to wait to see if he’ll be his own man or Rob Ford the second.

Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist, we need love too.

Cat.

One final thought: The biopsy on Rob’s tumour is about a week away, yet to hear Doug, he seems to think it will be cancerous.  At least that’s the impression Doug’s comments about chemotherapy would give.

I told very few people, but last December, I had to have a tumour removed from my stomach.  Nobody went around talking about chemotherapy or anything like that.  My friends and family adopted an attitude of “we’ll wait and see what the biopsy says, then deal with it.”  Wouldn’t that be a more sensible attitude for Doug as well?   Oh, silly me – I used “sensible” and the name of a Ford in the same sentence.

C.