The Poplar Tapes
2019 Federal Election Blues

2019 Federal Election Blues

October 18, 2019

In this episode, Kiegan Irish, Mike Fong, and Alex Boos discuss Canada's upcoming federal election with a conversational approach, covering a broad range of topics. We talk through how to orient ourselves towards the different political parties and the political system in Canada as a whole. We talk about voting, not voting, democracy, the concepts of "voter apathy" and "strategic voting," Canadian history and identity, party rhetoric, the Canadian media and the construction of the Canadian public. Join us! And get yourself set straight (or maybe crooked) as you go into the voting booth this Monday! Special thanks goes out to Dan Boos for editing and Jacob Irish for postproduction. 

Han, Byung-Chul. Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power. trans. Erik Butler. Verso, 2017. 

Simpson, Audra. Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States. Duke University Press, 2014. 

Corruption in Canadian Banks: Is There No Alternative?

Corruption in Canadian Banks: Is There No Alternative?

September 10, 2019

In this episode, Kiegan Irish, Alex Boos and Alex Edwards discuss reporting from 2017 and 2018 on corruption in Canadian banking culture and embed these reports in the wider context of our capitalist economy with a reading of Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism. We look at the banking practices of Canada’s banks and the federal government’s response to these banking practices and draw from Fisher’s concepts of market Stalinism and bureaucratic anti-production. What constitutes the discourse around “legitimate” and “realistic” banking practices? How have technologies changed the face of Canada's banking industry? Are there alternatives? We discuss all this and more. 

Books:
Fisher, Mark. Capitalist Realism. Hants: 0 books, 2009. 

FCAC report: 
https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/programs/research/bank-sales-practices.html

Media reports:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/td-bank-employees-admit-to-breaking-law-1.4016569

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/td-tellers-desperate-to-meet-increasing-sales-goals-1.4006743

Special thanks goes out to Jacob Irish and Daniel Boos for post-production work

False Dichotomies in Politics: Hillary vs. Trump; Green New Deal vs. Labour Rights

False Dichotomies in Politics: Hillary vs. Trump; Green New Deal vs. Labour Rights

July 10, 2019

In this episode Alex Edwards, Kiegan Irish, and Alex Boos discuss false dichotomies in our political discourse. We look at how these dichotomies are set up intentionally by those in positions of political power to divide an electorate and achieve their goals. 

We look at three examples of these false dichotomies. First, the 2016 American election of Hillary vs. Trump, second the Green New Deal vs. its detractors who oppose it to the labour rights of workers in the fossil fuels sector, and third the distinction between pragmatic and utopian politics in the face of a climate crisis. 

There’s Nothing Wrong with Counting (Part3: Surveillance and Subject Formation)

There’s Nothing Wrong with Counting (Part3: Surveillance and Subject Formation)

June 15, 2019

The third and final instalment in our series on algorithms and the digital condition. In this episode Kiegan Irish and Alex Boos discuss what kinds of people we are becoming in a world dominated by communication media and surveillance. We talk about some of the implications of data collection for our daily lives and the way that companies and governments use data to incentivize certain kinds of behaviour. In the end, we speculate about ways of living and organizing around digital media that could serve as alternatives to the digital mechanisms of control and domination in the hands of the current ownership class.

Partial Series Bibliography:

Foucault, M. (1979). Panopticism. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
 
McLuhan, M. (2001). Understanding media. London: Routledge.
 
 
Stalder, F. (2018). The digital condition. Trans. Valentine A. Pakis. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
 
Tufekci, Z. (2014). Engineering the public: Big data, surveillance and computational politics. First Monday,19(7).
 
Tufekci, Z. (2016, May 19). The Real Bias Built In at Facebook. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/19/opinion/the-real-bias-built-in-at-facebook.html
 
Zuboff, S. (2019). The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for the Future at the New Frontier of Power. London: Profile Books.

Corrections: It is said that Edward Snowden worked for the CIA when in fact he worked for the NSA, Kiegan gets his acronyms for shadowy government spies mixed up. 

There’s Nothing Wrong with Counting (Part2: Algorithms and the Market)

There’s Nothing Wrong with Counting (Part2: Algorithms and the Market)

June 11, 2019

In the second of our three-part series on algorithms and the digital condition, Kiegan Irish and Alex Boos discuss the relationship between algorithms and the market. We live in an age of social media and to understand what that means for ourselves and for our society it's important to learn about the market forces that motivate and organize the networks we use everyday. How do new digital technologies affect markets? How do algorithms affect the conditions of labour today? What kind of infrastructure is necessary to sustain our complex digital economies? We cover all this and more! 

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/09/big-data-algorithms-math-facebook-advertisement-marketing/

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/03/big-data-drones-privacy-workers

There’s Nothing Wrong with Counting (Part1: Polarization)

There’s Nothing Wrong with Counting (Part1: Polarization)

May 30, 2019

In Part One of our three part series on algorithms and the digital condition, Kiegan Irish and Alex Boos discuss what an algorithm is, the history of algorithms, and the way that algorithms function to polarize our political culture in a digital environment.

Chris Hedges on Hate

Chris Hedges on Hate

April 29, 2019

Kiegan Irish and Pat Case discuss a chapter from Chris Hedges latest book and decide if his criticisms of antifa are warranted. 

Environmental Racism and Pro-Pipeline Sentiment in Canada

Environmental Racism and Pro-Pipeline Sentiment in Canada

April 23, 2019

In this episode Kiegan Irish, Alex Boos and Alex Edwards discuss the movement in support of building pipelines in Canada and the constitutive environmental racism that comes along with it.