Bring journalism back

As a journalist, our credibility is largely due to our sources and how accurate they can be. But in a technological age where anyone and everyone can be a journalist AND a news source, it is hard to decipher which sources are true and which are not.

A source that is true, and as a result accurate, would necessarily be one that is intent on showing the truth and ALL objective facts. This source should display little to no biases, give or take human error, (it is nearly impossible for a subjective human being to have zero biases) and should not be the voice of another entity.

So, as a journalist, when I look at all these possible news sources out there, whether it be the Toronto Star, or Al Jazeera or even Worldstarhiphop, I have to recognize the reason behind the video or article that is being shown. What is the purpose of showcasing this piece of news; to incite fear, sensationalism, create pandemic, cause a riot, what is it? Every news outlet, be it a newspaper, a blog, a magazine, a book, a website, a radio station, a television show, an app, or any of the other outlets that have yet to be born have an inherent hierarchy within them. This is as simple as saying that there are people on the top who ultimately control what journalists and writers can or cannot say.

This is by no means a knock on technology in saying that it has ‘diluted’ journalism. In fact, I strongly believe that the new era of digital journalists can bring about a whole level of accuracy that has never before been seen. In fact, you can see it now, fact checking has grown exponentially. Nowadays the comments section of YouTube videos are patrolled by fact checkers let alone the actual content itself. Creators will quickly be disregarded if the content they produce is mildly inaccurate. And God forbid someone make a stupid comment in the comments section or else a shit storm will ensue.

But technology and the internet are important. As journalists, we can use it to ensure that mainstream media is no longer a propaganda machine. We can lambast and heckle those major newspapers that spew out whatever their masters’ please. We can use technology to see if what mainstream media prints is accurate. We can decipher which corporations fund which news outlet and more importantly we have a free forum to tell the masses what is perpetually being hidden.

With reddit forums that showcase ALL the articles on one particular topic, it truly gives an informed reader ALL sides of the story and enables an informed reader to generate his or her own informed opinion. Too common are people’s viewpoints and world philosophies constituted of the images that are portrayed by mainstream media. It is time to show the world that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

 

Basic Income Guarantee in Ontario

Basic Income Guarantee…and how it is beneficial to Millennials and Generation Y

 

Toronto is regularly ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world but every year, without fail, Canadians are forced to pay an increase in Hydro or TTC fares and along with ballooning gas prices and inflation, disposable income is no longer so disposable.

Basic Income Guarantee is set to combat this financial dilemma as it is set to begin its pilot project in Ontario of April 2017. Basic Income Guarantee or BIG is a supplementation to anyone’s income that is below the poverty line of $19,930 for adults working full-time.  It simply ‘tops up’ the individual’s income so that they are above the poverty line. For example, if someone is working full-time and is not making $19,000, BIG will cover the difference so that the individual will have more than that baseline amount. During the pilot project, other social services or welfare programs will NOT be cancelled, and as a result, BIG will work with these existing programs to help individuals reach above the poverty line.

Jenna Van Draanen of Basic Income Canada Network revealed to me the benefits of Basic Income Guarantee and who it can potentially benefit the most. ‘We saw women taking longer maternity leaves; spending time at home with their kids and we also saw young men in high school staying in high school and finishing their diplomas.’

‘So those are the things I think represent positive changes in the labour market participation and it does combat what we typically think of you know; that people will quit their jobs or stop working.’

Basic Income Guarantee is a program aimed to benefit those in the low to middle income families. It simply produces an equal platform for all citizens of a developed country to play on. It endorses education for all those despite their economic backgrounds and it allows for healthcare and social services to all people. For those making above the poverty line, they will not be distributed any additional money and those in the high income bracket will not be allowed to participate in the program. Along with the revamping of OSAP and the redistribution of student loans, it may actually seem like the Canadian government is making an effort to shrink the gap that is income inequality.

At first glance it seems too good to be true that the government would hand out money to those who decide they don’t want to work. But upon further review of previous projects (in India, Libya and Finland), things tend to be a little more optimistic.

‘And I think the other thing that is interesting about the labour market participation in some of the international experiments in Libya and India, [is that] we’ve seen people be more likely to be entrepreneurial and start small businesses because it’s a little bit of protection,’ Van Draanen adds. ‘If the business fails and [has] to go bankrupt for some reason, you’re guaranteed at least to have the basic necessities and you don’t need to worry about losing your life.’

So essentially, Basic Income Guarantee is a safety net for those who do not have a steady income or who do not participate in the work force year-round. For instance, a real-estate agent who works solely off of commission, is judged based on their merits, and their income reflects that. If the real estate market is slow, or a family emergency prevents them from working, their ability to make a living and subsist will be severely hindered. But BIG will guarantee that this broker will not have to worry about being below the poverty line since BIG will ensure that this individual will never stray under $19,000 a year. Furthermore, BIG tends to incentivize entrepreneurs and small businesses since it provides business owners with the safety net they desire. Given that a business fails, they do not have to worry about sleeping on the street since BIG will ensure that they have food in their stomachs, water to drink and a roof over their heads. Van Draanen adds that since most labour jobs are beginning to be mechanized, the amount of jobs are slowly but surely diminishing and it is up to the government to stay up to date and to create infrastructure and programs that will combat these situations.

According to the Basic Income Canada Network website, it’s goal is to provide individuals with enough money to live above the poverty line, achieve basic necessities and to live with dignity. But what does ‘basic necessities’ cover and what does ‘living with dignity’ entail?

‘We believe that a basic income would simplify all of that and allow people the assurance of just the basic amount of money, nothing glamourous, but something that will allow for basic needs to be met and that will not have some of the restrictive things of the current welfare system.’

‘[It will allow] people to make choices best for them in their own lives. They can choose to invest in their education, they can spend a little bit more on housing, a little bit more on food, whatever meets their needs.’

These basic necessities would cover food and a place for shelter but it doesn’t cover some of the more modern necessities. It doesn’t include internet usage, a cell phone plan let alone a cellphone, and certainly not a computer or laptop; which for many Canadians, these things would be considered essentials.

Van Draanen explained to me that the current Canadian welfare system imposes a lot of restrictions on what individuals can and cannot do with their money. Moreover, welfare systems and social programs tend to incentivize individuals NOT to find work since a part-time or full-time job would decrease the amount of money they receive.

‘It’s an insurance policy, it’s a way to sort of stimulate the creative sectors, give people a chance to do something that they love without worrying about whether or not they’re going to end up on the streets.’ Van Draanen added.

I believe that the BIG program will be greatly beneficial to millennials and those employees who are filling in the gaps left behind by the Baby Boomers. Van Draanen is certainly correct in her assessment that the work force is being taken over by machines. Thus, it is important for the new, upcoming workers to carve out their own niche. This may be creating an app (Twitter, Uber, Snapchat, etc.) or building their own businesses, but it is certainly not the traditional path of working 9 to 5 until retirement. Basic Income Guarantee will allow the younger generations to take risks and pursue passions. It will give the newcomers the insurance that they crave to go out and take a leap of faith. Innovations and inventions weren’t made from a comfortable place; they were created from risks and alternate thinking. Without a safety net we will be forced to waste time and money creating our own, but given one by the State we can instead focus our time and energy on the betterment of society and the improvement of mankind.

For the full audio interview with Jenna Van Draanen please visit my YouTube channel, Basic Radio and for more information on Basic Income Guarantee, visit their website at http://www.basicincomecanada.org/.

 

 

 

 

Interview with Ted Trush of BodyAthletica

In this modern day and age where FitBits are gaining traction (on pavement or treadmills) and fitness advice can be sought on YouTube free of charge, trainers and coaches alike have experienced competition like never before. With free apps like Myfitnesspal and a healthy portion of the public tracking everything they eat, it was a shock for me to hear a professional bodybuilder and coach tell me that he ‘doesn’t track calories at all.’

Ted Trush is a Canadian bodybuilder with over 25 years of experience and 12 competitions compiled under his career. His last victory was a 1st place trophy in the Superheavyweight Open Division and 2nd place in the Heavyweight Masters division at the 2011 Ontario Bodybuilding Championships. He is also the co-founder of BodyAthletica which helps athletes and individuals get in shape for competitions, big events, photoshoots, or simply for personal fulfillment.

So on one windy August evening when I called Ted and he told me that he didn’t track any calories, I thought I was going to be in for a ride on the ‘Bro science’ train. In his calm, controlled demeanor, he quickly followed up by saying that different macronutrients affect individuals differently and that the human body is akin to that of a soundboard or a radio with different dials and knobs.

‘Let’s say a radio with a bunch of dials and an equalizer…when you adjust just one dial, you have to adjust all the other dials as well, in order to get the sound you want. And that’s the way the body works, if you have an increase in insulin, it affects other hormones and it cascades down.’ Trush told me over the phone.

‘The body runs and produces hormones and it has a lot of hormones acting on each other. It’s been proven that you have to keep insulin levels low because [that’s] a fat storage hormone,’ Trush reiterated. ‘Let’s say you have someone on 1500 calories of protein and someone else on 1500 calories of carbs and no protein. I can guarantee you that the person eating carbs is not going to lose the weight. Because you’re basically giving [your body] a ton of fuel and the body doesn’t have to burn body fat as fuel.’

‘It’s not as simple as saying, well its physics, energy in and energy out kind of thing. It doesn’t work like that.’

Although current, updated studies have shown that flexible dieting or IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) does indeed work, few to little studies have shown the implications on athletes that resistance train (over a long period, 3 to 5 years or more) and the efficiency of a diet composed of mostly whole and ‘clean’ foods versus a diet with an emphasis on staying under a caloric limit.

Studies have shown that both flexible dieting and the generic ‘Bro’ diet do work, but they have not yet deciphered which one is more efficient, allows for better adherence and is most optimal for the individual. Is the rate of fat loss in a generic ‘Bro’ diet, with mostly micronutrient- based food, faster than that of a flexible diet? Do ‘Bro’ dieters tend to maintain more of their muscle mass during their fat loss phase as opposed to a flexible dieter? Is it easier to adhere to a flexible diet in the long run than a bland bodybuilder diet? The philosophy of the flexible diet seems to be founded on the principle that one calorie is the same as another calorie.

But Trush seems to think differently, ‘different macronutrients will affect you differently…say you eat 100 grams of carbs, you are going to get a lot of insulin release. If you eat 100 grams of protein, you won’t. So that means the carbs will affect you a lot differently than the protein. So 100 calories [of carbohydrates] is not the same as 100 calories [of protein.]’

Trush continues, ‘I don’t generally count calories, I count macronutrients…..because there are two essential nutrients. You have essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, no such thing as essential carbohydrates. Carbs are basically used as fuel and that’s it. It’s like putting gas into your car. Some people can have a full tank and still burn a lot of fat, others need close to an empty tank in order to burn a lot of fat.’

‘So it really depends on the person, I start people high [on carbs] and then cut their carbs back slowly and see how they react. [With] some people you have to cut them way back, like for myself, I know I have to cut my carbs way back in order to lose fat. And I didn’t really know that until I started to compete and worked with a few guys who knew a lot and that I learned off of.’

Intuitively it seems right that certain foods, being that they are natural and from this earth, will be absorbed much easier by the human body and thus digested easier. Wouldn’t the body recognize 30 grams of carbs from a sweet potato or white rice differently than 30 grams of carbs from say Swedish Fish or Oreos? Moreover, from a biological standpoint, the consumption of food requires energy and as such, certain foods require more energy to be digested and other foods require less energy. Some foods have negative calories because it requires more energy for the body to digest the food than the caloric value of the food itself. For example, the body burns more calories digesting celery than the amount of calories the celery contains. So, adhering to that philosophy, eating certain types of foods would not only create a hormonal response but also a digestive response where the body burns calories to digest the food.

For Trush, who put in a lot of hours in studying nutrition and the human body, he was also gifted with the expert guidance of a Canadian Powerlifting Champion in Al Young. Young taught a beginner in Trush the fundamentals of the Big 3 (bench press, deadlift and squat) and soon his progression as a powerlifter reached a point where he needed multiple spotters to ensure his safety. Just like every other professional bodybuilder, Trush’s encounter with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Pumping Iron soon forced him to switch over from powerlifting to bodybuilding and he has been competing and coaching clients ever since.

‘I want to be more of an educator. I’ve learned a lot from the people I have worked under and studied and I believe in a science-based program so I try to give the best advice [I can] and answer the questions that a client has,’ Trush explained. ‘And by doing that, I really never had to market myself or do whole tons of social media. I get clients through word of mouth and that’s been hugely successful.’

Compared to a lot of fitness giants these days, Trush’s approach is a drastic contrast to how they build their business. Nowadays, fitness YouTubers are gaining momentum and macro coaching has reached a new level of popularity. Along with Instagram and Facebook, coaches and trainers have been popping up digitally like never before. So how does a traditional coach like Trush still manage to keep his business afloat?

‘A number of reasons, the guys that are online, the kind of Bostin Lloyd type guys, they reach a different demographic. They’re going after young males, uneducated, no knowledge of how to train or nutrition and these guys like Bostin have no knowledge either.’

‘[They reach] the microwave demographic, they don’t want to spend 10 years in the gym doing things correctly. They want to spend 6 months in the gym and look like those guys. How much drugs can I take, what shortcut can I take to get there? I don’t want to cook it for 20 minutes, I want to put it in for 1 minute and be done with it, [the microwave demographic.]’

Trush goes on, ‘I don’t attempt to go after that demographic, I don’t want those clients because they don’t listen anyways. They go on YouTube to find ten different things and then say this guy says this and that guy says that. I always tell my clients, if your trainer tells you something make sure if you ask him a question, he has an answer for you. Because 98 per cent don’t have an answer because they don’t know, they’re just spewing hearsay and advice that someone told them.’

‘The more people that you satisfy and help reach their goals, [the more] they are going to tell other people and then your reputation will speak for itself.’ And with all the transformations and testimonials on the BodyAthletica website (www.bodyathletica.com) it is safe to say that their reputation is still going strong.