Divestment and “The Toronto Principle”

An article in The Harvard Crimson focused on the recent report of the president’s divestment committee at U of T:

Last December, a committee at the University of Toronto released a report on the issue of divestment, drawing a clear line by aligning itself with the needs of the Paris agreement. It recommended that the university not finance companies whose “actions blatantly disregard the international effort to limit the rise in average global temperatures to not more than one and a half degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages by 2050…These are fossil fuels companies whose actions are irreconcilable with achieving internationally agreed goals.”

Hopefully, this principle will be re-affirmed when President Gertler makes the final decision. We expect that at the end of March.

iPhones, batteries, and Fido frustration

I got my 16 GB iPhone 4 back in February 2011 and it has mostly worked well. Now, much like my 160 GB iPod Classic, the battery life is badly depleted. I am lucky if it lasts through a 30 minute phone call, or more than an hour or so of poking around with email or web access. It also has a tendency to shut down when used even briefly in Toronto’s cold weather and then need to be plugged into the wall to be re-started.

I called Fido and was told that I could stay on my current plan and get a free 32GB iPhone 5S, provided I sign a new two year contract. Getting an iPhone 6 would cost about $350 with the same contract. The 6S is only available with a more expensive premium monthly plan. The Fido telephone support people sent me to a Fido store where the staff said that they had black and white 32 GB iPhone 5S models in stock, but they couldn’t do the upgrade because they were closing in half an hour.

When I walked back today, the same shop told me that they had been out of the 5S for months because it is discontinued. They sent me to the nearby Apple store, which did have a 5S but which could not keep me on my current phone plan. When the employee there called Fido, they concluded that they could only give me the ‘free’ phone by increasing the cost of my plan from $55 plus tax to $75 plus tax for two years.

$480 for a ‘free’ phone was not very appealing. Instead, I am going to try paying $80 plus tax to have the iPhone battery replaced at the Apple store on Wednesday. I am also going to see whether it would be possible to fix or exchange my iPod. Apple has inexplicably stopped making the excellent 160 GB iPod, without now offering anything with remotely comparable battery life. Only the most absurdly expensive iPhones come close on storage, offering 128 GB for $700+.

I am sometimes tempted to get out of the smartphone system entirely and get a simple model capable of calls and texts only, and with much better battery life. Having constant access to email has both benefits and frustrations, and it’s sometimes nice to be able to tether my laptop through my phone’s internet connection.