Wednesday, December 21, 2005

No, I'm not your mommy...

I work in an office where women are in the majority and, at any given time, it seems that a majority of them are pregnant. It's a really weird phenomenon, actually - it's become an office joke (there must be something in the water, etc.).

Even my boss recently left on maternity leave. She came back into the office today for a visit with her two week old daughter, Georgia.

I joined the circle of women gathered around the baby to say hi to my boss and it was a cute-fest, with everyone commenting on how adorable Georgia is (actually she is very cute, even for a baby).

Georgia was being passed around the circle, each woman taking a turn cradling her. At one point, Georgia started to whine and the young girl holding her got noticeably nervous. She asked if I wanted a turn and I said, "Sure".

I took Georgia and rested her against my chest, thinking that maybe she wanted a change of positions. She quieted down, but began to fidget. I couldn't quite figure it out until she made her way further down my chest and it became obvious that she was trying to feed!

We broke out laughing. I explained to Georgia that that wasn't my job and handed her off to mommy for some nourishment.

My sweater was covered in saliva.

It was a Kodak moment.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Impeach Bush NOW

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Am I the only one who, when hearing Bush talk about "America", substitutes "the Roman Empire"?

"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." - Declaration of Independence


So I'm having lunch at the Eaton Centre today and of course it's busy as all heck 'cause it's the south food court with the Harvey's and KFC...and it's Christmastime.

Anyhow, this girl is walking around, obviously scouting for a place for her and her friends to sit. She comes upon the table next to me (no, not that way - get your heads out of the gutter) and she says, "I don't mean to be a vulture, but are you guys leaving?"

Does everybody use this term? My friends and I have been using it for years, usually at this time of year, and usually when trying to find a parking spot.

See, when you're trying to find a parking spot in a mall lot at Christmas, it's often best to forget about searching for a vacant spot. Instead, drive up to the mall entrance, wait for someone to come out, and then follow them in your car as they walk to their spot. Boom: guaranteed spot.

Of course, you might freak some people out by creeping behind them for 100 feet, but screw it, you want to park.

We call this "vulturing".

My experience today got me thinking: where do we get these expressions? Are there any expressions that are unique to your circle of friends? How long would it take for an expression you made up to become commonly used?

See, many many moons ago I knew a guy named Ian. When you'd ask Ian what he was up to, he'd reply "Oh, just pullin' pud."

Okay, so maybe this isn't exactly charming, and if you don't know what it means, I ain't about to explain it to you, but I picked up on this expression and came up with my own variation. Soon, people would ask what I was up to and I'd say, "Oh, you know, just pullin' the goalie."

Now I thought this was kinda funny and very Canadian. It became one of my catchphrases.

A few years later, though, I heard someone else say it. Now, I'm not saying I was the first person ever to use that expression, but I had definitely not heard it before I said it. So this got me thinking: maybe I did make it up. Maybe it's made the rounds. I mean, someone has to make up every expression, right? So why not?

I mean, who came up with "Butter Face" or "fubar" or "screwin' the pooch"?

What if I didn't make it up? Can independent groups come up with the same expression at roughly the same time? Is there an anthropology paper in this?

What would Darwin say?


Review - King Kong **spoilers**


Caught King Kong on the weekend. I liked it, overall. Definitely a thumbs up. As I've been saying for a lot of movies out these days, though, it could have been so much better.

As my buddy Zaib always says, I'm reductive, so here's the breakdown, point by point:

1. First off, the movie is way too long. I didn't mind the length so much, but it would have been a much tighter movie had it not had certain dumb storylines and over-extended fight/chase scenes. Read on.

2. The storyline between Jimmy and Mr. Hayes was rushed, underdeveloped and completely unnecessary. Dump it. The dialogue was awkward (it came off way more as a potential homosexual relationship than a father-son one, and I couldn't tell which one Jackson was shooting for) and the characters served no purpose other than to add another story arc. Why waste time on them?

3. Plausibility. Ok, I know, I know, it's a movie about a giant gorilla. I get it. But there's still a way to sell it without having the audience say, "Wtf?" every two minutes because something really silly happens on screen. Here's the breakdown:

- Ann is starving to the point of stealing an apple, but has no qualms turning down an opportunity to shoot a movie in Singapore until the director sells her on the story.

- Ann is ripped from her bindings by Kong. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, folks. Since she had been struggling mightily with the ropes, one can assume that the weakest point would not be between the ropes and the wood, but between her shoulder and her arm. She would have snapped like a twig.

- Speaking of which, Kong holds Ann is his hand as he wings his arm back and forth at great speed across his chest as a show of strength. Again with the twig. This time, her neck. Fuggetaboutit.

- The brontosaurus chase scene. Worst part of the flick by far. First of all, the green screen looked horrid. I thought I was watching one of those bits from Whose Line Is It Anyway? They'd all be dead if there were that many giant feet running by them. And despite the danger and the massive pile-up of brontosauruses (sp?), the raptors still chase the itty-bitty humans. The guy with the tripod must've smelled real good...

- The itty-bitty human bit applies to all the carnivorous dinosaurs who chase Ann or any other human despite the ample meat in front of them. One T-Rex actually drops half a dinosaur from his mouth to chase Ann. I've heard of skirt chasing before, but this is ridiculous...

- Jimmy shoots bugs off Jack with a machine gun. 'Nuff said.

- And just how the hell did they get Kong on the boat? The thing's a gagillion pounds of dead weight barely sticking out of a cave.

- The end scene takes place at sunrise (I thought it was sunset, but since it was night two seconds before...) which means that either the show started at 5 in the morning or that chase scene went a lot longer than it looked.

4. Unlike many other folk, I didn't mind Adrien Brody. His character is necessary, since you need to have something on the other side of the equation - something has to be appealing about NY and someone has to be willing to risk their lives to save her on the island.

5. The fall. I was watching the last scene and, since it went on for so long, I wondered how they would show Kong's demise. We all know the guy falls. Do we need to see it? What kind of shot will they use? I prayed they wouldn't do a Hans from Die Hard-type thing. It occurred to me that we didn't need to see him fall. We all know he falls. The shot of him disappearing over the edge, followed by Ann's reaction was clear, moving, and not crass. Jackson, always wanting to add as many shots as possible, had the top view of Kong falling (and spinning) all the way down (sans splat, thank goodness). The only nice thing about this shot was the planes going by in slow mo. But this might have worked better in the shot of Ann's reaction (if the planes had passed in the background then). But that's just me.

But like I said, overall I liked the movie. You really couldn't go wrong, considering the subject matter. But the acting was decent (kudos to Watts for her acting in front of a green screen).

Jack Black was not as annoying as he could have been (I liked him in High Fidelity, but he has been wearing on me ever since), but I thought the role would have been better served by an older actor.

As one would expect, though, Kong was the true star. They did a fantastic job with his animation and facial reactions. I'm betting there's a few Oscar noms in store for this movie, but, like Titanic, I think they should be limited to technical achievements.

...of course, Titanic sucked my bum.

NFL "Power Rankings"

We have this football pool going at work. Every week, you make your selections based on win/loss straight up. No spreads.

If you've been following the NFL this year, you know that the season started off a little strangely. As a result, I was taking a serious bath in the pool. As of week 6, was sitting in 9th place out of 13 players.

Considering some people were picking teams based on team colours, this was really bruising my ego.

I've managed to turn things around though, and as of last week, was sitting relatively comfortably in 3rd place. Anyone finishing 4th or better recoups their money at least.

One of the bottom-dwellers joked that they choose their teams based on team monikers - who would beat who in a fight. Since I was absolutely bored to tears at work on Friday, I actually worked out an unscientific (but, wow, I'd love to be part of that research team) ranking of NFL teams based on their monikers and who would win in a gladiator-type fight.

Here are the results:

Titans (I mean, come on, they’re the original gods for Pete’s sake)
(big enough not to be killed by bullets, but not a Titan)
Bills (inspired by “Buffalo Bill” Cody – reportedly a fantastic shot)
Cowboys (six shooter)
Patriots (musket)
Buccaneers (they have pistols)

Bears (black, not grizzly)
(swords, no guns)
Redskins (assuming they only have a tomahawk)
Steelers (forgers, not warriors)
49ers (they had pick axes and pans!)

Seahawks (talons get edge over hoofs, despite size)
(named for the cavalry cry – the original emblem is a horse)
Broncos (untamed but not battle proven like the Charger)
Texans (no implication in name that they’re armed)
Browns (named after their first coach)
Packers (named after a packing company sponsor)
(don't ask how they get in the Coliseum)
Cardinals (the bird, not the guys in the hats)
Saints (I’m thinking folks who’d rather die than hurt anything, not St. George type)

Discuss amongst yourselves...

Friday, December 16, 2005

Song in my head...

I've had this song stuck in my head today. It's a song from when I was a kid, growing up in a bilingual household. Here are the lyrics, sung to the tune of Au Clair de la Lune:

Au clair de la lune
Je pettais dans l'eau
Ca faisait des bulles
C'était rigolo

Ma grand-mère arrive
Avec des ciseaux
Elle me coupe les fesses
En dix mille morceaux.

Which, translated, comes out to something like this:

By the light of the moon
I was farting in the water
It made bubbles
It was funny

My grandmother arrived
With a pair of scissors
She cut up my bum
Into ten thousand pieces.


No wonder I'm a little messed up.

And I never turn my back on my grandmother.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Shopping Etiquette

So I'm taking care of some Christmas shopping last night and...ugh.

Sometimes Christmas shopping can be fun and exciting (an excuse to spend money and bask in consumerism - yay!) but sometimes it can suck big donkey you-know-what.

Here are some of the headaches that can come with shopping:

1. The Crappy Cashier - I'm in one of the checkout lines at a major store, and I'll be darned if I didn't have a 5 foot slug as a cashier. Holy crap was this lady slow. My line was as long as the others, but by the time I got to the front, the other lines had cahsed out double the customers. It was nuts. I just shook my head.

2. The Cellphone Walker- Look, folks, if you insist on using your cellphone every minute of every day (gosh you're popular!) at least be considerate of those around you. I swear, people walk with cellphones the way they drive with cellphones: they slow down, become unaware of their surroundings and are slow to react. Yesterday, a girl stopped dead in her tracks in the middle of a crowded sidewalk to fumble with something on her cellphone. Maddening.

3. The Inconsiderate Walker - You know these folks. They stroll three or four abreast in a crowded mall, holding up everyone behind them. They come to a dead stop or turn around without glancing over their shoulder or stepping aside, causing those behind them to have to stop suddenly as well, causing more traffic congestion. They stand side by side on the escalator (stand on the right, walk on the left folks). Walking in a mall is just like driving. The same rules apply. It ain't rocket science.

75% I swear...

There are other headaches, too: warm stores, bad service, lack of price tags, loud kids, lack of parking (sometimes I'm glad I got rid of my car).

But, all in all, I still like Christmas. The snow, the gift giving, egg nog...

Thank goodness it's only once a year, though.

No more beating around the Bush

From today's Toronto Star:

“It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq,”

“And I’m also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities. And we’re doing just that.’’

“We are in Iraq today because our goal has always been more than the removal of a brutal dictator,” Bush said. “It is to leave a free and democratic Iraq in his place.

“My decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision. Saddam was a threat and the American people and the world is better off because he is no longer in power,” the president said.

Ok, at this point, I had written a whole diatribe about Bush being a freakin' moron, the hypocrisy of his administration vis-a-vis global threats and the need for demoracy (China, North Korea), and terrorism being war by other means, but frankly I don't want to get into it.

We all know Bush is a moron. I'm not going to waste my time or blog space stating the obvious. And if you don't think the guy's a complete douchebag, well, I'm probably not going to be able to convince your redneck ass otherwise, so why bother.

I'd rather keep my blog on the lighter side of ranting and raving. Unfortunately, Cory isn't pissing me off right now.

I'm just glad the cracks in the lie have gotten so bad that even the "Red Devil" himself is forced to fess up - if only a little.

Worst. President. Ever.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Five Finger Discount

I did a little Christmas shopping this weekend with my dear friend Paula. We've known each other for something like 14 years and she can read me like a book.

So we're at Fairview Mall and I picked up a roll of wrapping paper at the Bay. Paula was waiting for me just inside the mall and as I approached her she looked up at me and said, "what's wrong with this picture?" I had no idea. "You're sitting?" I offered. "No, what's wrong with this picture?" she asked again, indicating the roll in my hands.

It took a few seconds for the synapses to start firing straight and I realized: I hadn't paid for the roll.

Here I was, in the mall, beyond the Bay entrance, with unpaid merchandise in my hands.


I turned around, walked back into the store, found a cashier and paid for it.


This story came to mind today when I read one of Cory's latest pro-P2P posts.

Here's a quote:
I wonder what fraction of unauthorized P2P service users would cite hatred of the litigation-happy bullies of the music industry and fear of DRM crippleware as their reasons for avoiding the authorized stores?

That's nice. Meanwhile, I wonder what fraction of unauthorized P2P service users would cite an unwillingness to pay for something they can get for free as their reason for avoiding the authorized stores?

Memo to Cory: offer a solution or shut your yap. Yes, DRM is evil, yes, attacking your client base is stupid. But these are reactions to the problem, they are not the cause. Don't cite the Sony rootkit issue as a reason people flocked to Napster many moons ago.

No business model exists that will get morally-flexible folks to pay for something that they can get elsewhere for free. Period.

So, tell me Cory, if DRM weren't an issue, would you walk back into the store and pay for the roll?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Meaning of BlogLife

Ok, so I've had this blog for a couple of weeks now and none of my original beliefs about blogs have really changed.

One of the main issues I have with blogs is the sheer number of them. What would make a person read one blog over another? How do you find a good blog? How many great blogs are there out there that remain undiscovered? Let's say you find a blog you like: how likely are you to search out more blogs? Do you search out more blogs and "expand your horizons" or do you simply keep reading the one you like and therefore become a drone for that blog? What the heck is the point of all this, anyways?

I hadn't created a blog before because I figured, well, who the heck would wanna read it? And would I really want to take the time to write anything out?

These thoughts were brought up again today by a post I read on boingboing (speaking of being a blog drone...) about web comics. It could very well be applied to blogs as well. Here is the passage cited in the post:

"If you make a comic and put it on the Web, it's because you want that comic to be read. And if a comic deserves to be read, it deserves to be found. Especially by people who are looking for something like it. It deserves to be searched. If it can't be searched, a feeling of futility condenses in the air."

You can imagine how it might be annoying, then, to find that a variety of Google searches yield no results when trying to find this blog. I mean, I typed all sorts of full length sentences verbatim and still couldn't get a hit for this site.

So what's the point?

I guess the only people who will find it are the people to whom I say, "hey, have you seen my blog"? Kinda sad.

I wonder how many other blogs out there are in the same boat and just don't get read? I have been checking out Denis McGrath's Dead Things On Sticks pretty much daily (I told you - I'm bored at work). It's a blog aimed at writers, mostly, since Denis is, well, a writer. It's a very well written blog though, (go figure) and quite often has an interesting point to make. But as I look at the comments section, I see there aren't a lot of posts and it got me wondering how many people have seen his blog. It would be sad to think only a handful of us know about it. Denis obviously puts a great deal of thought and effort into some of the posts...

And that's why I think blogging is a form of cyber-masturbation.

If you are engaging in this solitary experience strictly for your own enjoyment with little or no feedback/witnesses...well...

Once I decided to actually create a blog myself, though, (to keep the cyber-pipes clean, I guess)another debate sprung up in my head: do I blog anonymously or make my identity known from the start? Each has pros and cons. If I blog anonymously, I can write whatever the heck I want without worrying about what people might think about me after having read it and I can even take on a dramatis personae. The major drawback to this is that no one will know about your blog unless you tell them about it, and telling your friends about "The Phantom Blogger" who writes stories eerily similar to your own life might tip your hand and the whole alter-ego thing becomes pointless.

Having decided that I would write as myself, I was free to mention friends and locations without having to disguise my tracks. I am free to give a shout-out to my housemate Dan's blog or Tristan's projects and attempt to give them a boost.

But my content and writing style were defintiely cramped.

I got shit to hide, son.

Like most people, I have my fair share of skeletons in the closet or things I'd just rather not be known to certain people. I'm a gemini, which means I'm pretty much Sybil - I got personalities like Imelda Marcos has shoes. As a result, different people know me in different ways. Some circles of friends think I'm loud and confident, others think I'm quiet and shy. Some think I'm a jerk, and others think...wait a, actually they all think I'm a jerk. Bad example. But you get my point.

In this arena, given the fact that people I know will (might?) be reading this, I have to watch what I say to a certain extent. There are already some people I can't mention this blog to.

I mean, geez, I'm only two degrees removed from Cory Doctorow and I've been ragging on him pretty good. But, you know, I still think that boy needs a bitchslap so I won't repent on that one.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that, while some people use their blogspot like a diary, you're not likely to find that here. I have to restrict myself a little.

Kinda like masturbating with the wrong hand, you know?

(great, now I can't tell my mom about this blog...)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Six degrees of separation

I don't believe it...

From time to time I like to Google old friends' names to see if they're up to anything of note or to see if I can track them down. (I'm a stalker that way)

Yesterday, I seached for a friend of mine who I have not heard from in a couple of years. Since she seemed media-savvy and searching for fame, I thought I might get a hit on Google.

I did.

I came upon this blog from a guy who lives in Toronto and seems to have a connection with the Naked News amongst other bizarre circles.

Sure enough, this guy had pics of himself and this friend of mine from a party they had both attended a while back.

That's not the weird part.

The weird part came when I read part of the actual blog. Turns out this guy is buddies with, and used to work for...

...drum roll, please...

You guessed it: Cory Doctorow.

Well, f**k me gently with a chainsaw. I couldn't believe it.

Two degrees...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Aeon Sux

The verdict is in: Aeon Flux, the new scifi flick with Charlize Theoron and a decent cast got mercilessly panned by critics. It scored a 15% rating on, which is pretty darn rotten, but not unheard of this year, given the bumper crop of crapola appearing on screen these days.

...And it finished in the #2 spot for revenues with $13M.

Only four movies out of the top 12 in box office revenues received "fresh" ratings on rottentmatoes: Harry Potter, Walk the Line, Pride and Prejudice and Zathura.

Amazingly, Cineplex Odeon still feels $15 for a movie is a fair price...

Friday, December 02, 2005

Movies then and now

Again with the boingboing archives...

Came across some articles which heralded the release of trailers for Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and War of the Worlds near the end of last year.

In case you didn't see them, both movies were all flash, no substance. The oompa loompa (sp? whatever...) segments were virtually unwatchable, thanks in no small part to the utterly talentless Deep Roy and the manner in which Burton decided to shoot the bits (see painful DVD extras).

Funny to think how blockbusters can seem so amazing when the trailers come out but the movies themselves can be so ridiculously disappointing.

By the way, Aeon Flux is NOT being screened for critics. No points for guessing what that means...

Don't worry: it'll still make undeserved millions.

Oh, and if you lament the number of remakes and books-to-movies or tv shows-to-movies out there, you can blame some of that on Mr. Doctorow and his downloading buddies. As the profit margin for movies shrinks, only two types of movies will be made with increasing frequency: sure-fire recognizable "brand" movies and el-cheapo bare-bones snore-fests. Yay.

p.s. if you don't know it, check out It's a great movie review site that gathers reviews from a multitude of critics and gives the movie a percentile rating based on thumbs up vs. down. Movies over 60% are "fresh", under makes them "rotten". What's sad is that the top 10 grossing films are usually made up of no more than 3 or 4 "fresh" flicks. If that. Blockbusters will always find the lowest common denominator.


Hunting baffles me. Who digs this? What kind of person enjoys going out into the woods or wherever and killing a beast that cannot defend itself?

Sure, I understand the need for culling, but is it required that the person ENJOY the kill?

If some creature population needs to be controlled and you're going to eat your kill, ok, I can maybe see some reasoning in that, but for Pete's sake: killing for sport?

Hunting is like cheerleading or poker or bowling: don't ever call it a sport. (Poker and bowling are games, competitions at best. Cheerleading is just eye candy for sports fans, synchro gymnastics at best)

As I dug through some more BoingBoing archives, I came across this post about a shark hunt off Nova Scotia where a giant mako was killed. Was it eaten? Are 1,000+ pound makos overpopulated? I doubt it.

"Sport hunters" should do the world a favour: take your raging testosterone and go to your local paint ball arena. Almost as fun and none of the blood.

Leave Jaws alone.

"How does it feel to be hunted?"
"You tell me!"
(Hard Target - 1993)

Copyright gone copywrong?

So today, a subject came up on BoingBoing that I had actually been thinking about the other day...for the life of me I can't remember why...

Anyhoo, my favourite poster, Cory (wouldn'tchaknowit?), posted this article about a lady who was successfully sued by Starbucks because she named her coffee house Sambuck's...'cause, well, her name is Sam Buck. Cory is quick to point out that she had her store open before a Starbucks opened down the street (like that matters - the brand was obviously known to her) and that this woman will have to change all of her signs and cups etc.

Here's the thing: the sign clearly shows that the store is not called Sam Buck's Coffee, but rather sambuck's coffee. While there is the apostrophe there, it is quite clear that Miss Buck was mimicking the Starbucks name for the purposes of her shop. Hence, I'd have to say Starbucks has a point. Had it been sambuck's waffle house it might not have been so bad.

That said, I must say I object to the use of copyright to protect names like McDonald's. I mean, hell, McDonald's is a freakin' common last name. If I'm a McDonald and I wanna open a book store named McDonald's I should be able to. My daddy gave me that name. I didn't rip it off your cheeseburger wrappers.

To that end, I believe a company like McDonald's should only be able to copyright a more unique/specific brand such as McDonald's Big Mac or the exact patter of the golden arches. (why am I suddenly thinking about "Coming to America"?)

But if you're gonna us Mattresses 'R' Us etc, then you should be prepared that you're gonna get a letter from some big shot corporate lawyers. While I don't so much object to that example, it's fairly clear you're capitalizing on a more famous brand. Use your imagination and come up with your own.

But I'll never forgive the World Wildlife Fund for making wrestling icon WWF change their name to WWE. It sounds so lame now...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Dumb Idea: one laptop per child plan

Holy sweet lord...

Sometimes I read an article, shake my head, read it again to make sure I got it right, then shake my head again.

This happens a lot with boingboing, since they have obvious social/political/ideological leanings and tend to stray from the rule of Phil: always play devil's advocate. But maybe that's what makes them a blog.

In this post, Cory (yup, him again) mentions that "Nicholas Negroponte and other MIT luminaries" are pushing for "every child in the world whether they want one or not" to get a $100 hand-cranked laptop.


If you're a firm believer that we should become a computer-enslaved society.

Ok, that aside (attention cybergeeks: not everyone WANTS a f***ing computer! And, guess what: that's not a bad thing!) the major problem with this plan seems to have evaded everyone, including the project's prime critic:

Isn't this gonna lead to an awful lot of trash?

Computers are not easily disposable and, if I'm not mistaken, aren't necessarily made with the most environmentally-friendly materials. We're talking about hundred of millions (billions?) of computers here. What would happen to all these computers in 5 years when they start crapping out, slowing down, or are otherwise deemed obsolete?


Someone thinks this is a good idea?

And kids should get one whether they want one or not because "they may not know they want one"?

Uh, arrogant much?

Let me guess: you're American.

And what poor, starving family in Honduras is gonna hold on to this marvel when they can sell it for something FOOD? Do you really think that many of these third-world citizens that you're looking to rescue are clinging to the dream (whether they know it or not) that one day they will get a POS computer (no, that doesn't stand for "point of sale"), spend hours learning its inner workings (and not working themselves), in order to one day provide for their family by starting their own internet porn site?

Does MIT stand for Most Intelligent 'Tards?

In many ways I envy those places on the planet where the citizens are not attached to their technology in a twisted symbiotic (parasitic?) relationship.

I do not own a cellphone. Although it might be nice to be reachable in the bathroom at Wendy's, believe it or not, I get by without one. The vast majority of folks in Europe do not have internet in their homes (unlike here). So who are these MIT gods to tell the world that they should all embrace the mighty computer and learn its language?

Give your heads a shake.

I did.

Am I smart? I forget...

Came across this post on boingboing:

It explains my mental state to a tee. I like to think I'm a pretty smart guy. But, man, I have the worst memory.

This article explains that that may actually be a good thing and, in fact, may be INDICATIVE of the fact that I am intelligent. See, it would appear intelligent folk are adept - not at remembering important things - but disregarding unimportant things.

My friends would tell you that includes things like their favourite bands or what they told me they were going to be doing this weekend...

But I never forget birthdays and I can quote movie lines like nobody's business.

It's all about priorities, baby.

The Future of Music

To all those who think downloading songs off the net is a super-duper idea and will change the recording industry as we know it:

Congratulations, Cory et al. Welcome to the future you knobs.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Canadian election insanity

So the Canadian parliament is being dissolved today. Last night, the minority Liberals lost a no-confidence vote. So we're headed for a holiday campaign. Yay. Just when we were enjoying a campaign holiday.

In today's Toronto Star, James Travers wrote a decent article outlining why this election is important - and why voters will likely vote Liberal once again. He was pretty much right on, except he used a turn of phrase that has always irked me.

Here's the email I sent Mr. Travers, with apologies to those unfamiliar with the Canadian system:

Dear Mr. Travers,

In today's article ("Why this election matters") you did a fine job of articulating the issues facing voters this time around - including why a larger number continue to choose Martin over Harper.

However, I'd like to point out a habit that I have noticed among analysts that I find quite irksome.

In the article, you state that voters might "opt for a majority".

Surely you are well aware that our current political system does not allow for this sort of event. We don't vote en masse. We don't collectively decide who will vote which way in order to "send a message" to governments. We each have one vote. I might WISH to give 60% of my vote to Martin and 40% to Layton in order to tell Mr. Martin I am displeased with the current state of affairs, but this is simply not possible. With my one vote, then, I must vote entirely for Mr. Martin. If everyone in Canada felt the same way I did, then Mr. Martin would get 100% of the vote. Does that mean we are not displeased with him? Of course not.

Why is it then that analysts constantly refer to the electorate as if it were one person? We don't "choose" percentages of the vote. Our system is something akin to rock,paper, scissors - you don't know how things will turn out until everyone shows what they chose.

Further blurring the issue is the fact that we vote in ridings. So if I vote NDP to send a message, outcome be damned, that message might still not be delivered if my riding goes Liberal. In the end, the seats are what count and no one really remembers how close the riding vote was. So again if 40% of every riding votes NDP, while 60% votes Liberal, the Liberals get 100% of the seats. Does THAT send a message? Of course not.

So, in the spirit of rock, paper, scissors, what we end up with is people voting based on how they think OTHERS will vote. If the west is largely going to vote Conservative, well then, Ontario will largely vote Liberal - not because they WANT to, but because it will keep the Conservatives from winning.

I don't want to vote Liberal. I want to vote for the alternative. But I will NOT vote Conservative while Mr. Harper and his uber-right wing policies are the fashion. Since the NDP have no chance of winning, (and such a vote would open the door for the Conservatives) I must vote Liberal.

Think Mr. Martin will get the message? Neither do I.

Philip Sullivan

p.s. Doesn't all this Harper talk merely highlight the tragedy of the Conservative party? Had they simply stuck to their guns and NOT joined forces with the Alliance/Reform, I have no doubt that they would be a force to be reckoned with right now and the Liberals WOULD be suffering. Mr. McKay, much as he may seem to be a decent man, brought about the death of that party. Perhaps if he were at the helm he might be able to revive it. He may have to grow a spine and become his own man first, though.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Cory Doctorow needs a bitchslap

Some of the threads/posts on Boing Boing piss me right the hell off.

It took me a while, as I made my way through the archives, before I realized many of these posts were written by the same contributor: Cory Doctorow.

See, I just finished a stint at Ryerson University (don't worry if you've never heard of it, the term "university" is misleading) in the Radio and Television Arts program, where many of the students were cybergeeks. Or at the very least very cyber-literate. Considering "hotmail" was a word I learned in the second year of my undergrad (1994...oh man, that is way too long ago), I am not quite at their level, though I speak the language (my first computer was a Vic20...oh man, that was way too long ago - part deux).

Many of the "kids" there (and they were kids - especially since Ontario got rid of OAC/Grade 13 - another subject for another day) were advocates of downloading music and movies. No matter what you told them, they thought it was their right to have access to that content.

That's the biggest crock of shit I've ever heard.

Yes, I've downloaded a few CDs worth of tunes myself, but I make no bones about what I've done. It is infringing upon the copyright of the artists I selected and I have that on my conscience. But don't feed me this argument that "music belongs to everyone" or "well, if it's on the net, it's fair game". Hogwash. You're stealing the music. Admit it, deal with it, go to Hell if that's what the Plan is, just don't make excuses.

My own personal guilt is somewhat assuaged by the fact that I would not have bought those CDs. I don't buy CDs. I don't care for music enough to pay $15-$20 for the 4 or 5 songs I might like by one artist. My tastes are eclectic enough that I actually prefer compilation CDs and refuse to buy albums at that price point. So, in effect, I might argue that, in my case, the music industry benefits from me downloading the music, since I am exposing myself to an artist to a greater degree than I otherwise would have. As a result, that artist is more likely to get my attention when it comes to concerts or endorsements.

But that's pretty weak, too. I stole it. I know it. I'm going to Hell. At least it's warm.

See, this is where my good friend Cory comes in. He advocates this piracy crap. He mocks those who think it's theft. He is one of those guys who thinks the industry should change to suit his habit. The industry should adapt to the technology, copyright be damned.

(uh, oh, my blood's starting to boil...)

I'm a supporter of copyright. People should be rewarded for their creations. The point of copyright was to allow an inventor a monopoly over their product for a period of time, so that they might reap the rewards of their creation in any manner they saw fit for its marketing and distribution. After that period, the invention was fair game.

And it worked.

Yeah, a lot of people make crazy amounts of money of it, but boo-effing-hoo. They created the thing? They deserve the cash.

And don't even think about quoting Betamax to me. Have you actually READ that ruling? The majority judges were way off base and had no foresight. I'm not going to bother pointing out the flaws in THAT decision. Read the dissenting opinion. That judge was spot on.

Back to Cory. Cory's from Toronto. Which should make me want to cut him some slack. But, damn, son, you should know better. Stop advocating all this hacking and piracy, man. Yes, the entertainment industry is a juggernaut and makes a boatload of cash and does stupid things like put DRM on their product, but it don't make the cybergeeks right.

My housemate Dan gets the brunt of my Cory rantings. Every once in a while I'll send him an email about something I saw on Boing Boing and why I'm losing my mind over it. Here's a recent example:


> It never ceases to amaze me the ridiculous arguments (typically young) media content rippers will come up with to justify their actions and accuse the content providers of being old and stupid.

I've heard this argument before and it is ridiculous. It is indicative of the type of person who says "well, they should come up with new business models" (as if it's THEIR responsibility to react to thieves) and in fact, cannot come up with suitable ones themselves.

So let me get this straight. The content provider/studio/whoever should make a deal with sites like Napster etc to "regulate" the distribution of the content THEY ALREADY OWN.

Sure. Let's do that.

Napster makes a killing for coming up with this thievery, but at least the "industry" has some control, right? Uh....but then Grokster comes along. Does the industry "cut a deal" with them, too? And any other "ster" that comes along to blackmail them? This is stupid. Where would it end? Every computer geek on the planet would be lining up to get their piece of the pie.

Bottom line: content creators should be able to control how their content is distributed. Period. They've earned that right.

Mark Pesce should be lobotomized. And if he thinks that's unfair, well, he should quit bitching and come up with a "new thinking model".


If I ever go off for Dan again, I'll try to remember to post it here, too. Why waste a good rant? Or a rant, at least...

I wonder if Cory or Mr. Pesce will discover my blog if they google their own names? Hmmmm...

Coooooory! Come out to plaaayyyy!

(ah, yes: "The Warriors" - 1979)

Boing boing for Boing Boing

My name is Phil and I have a problem.

I am addicted to Boing Boing.

Haven't heard of it? That's ok - I'd say most non-cybergeeks haven't. And since I consider myself to be a non-cybergeek, well, you're ok by me.

See, Boing Boing is this blog-type site (though I don't consider them a "blog" so much as a wacky news/magazine site - but that's another argument for another day) that has all these interesting news bits and links to the World of Weird. It's a decent time-killer if minesweeper is getting old for ya.

Considering I am terribly bored at work most of the time, my buddy Dan put me onto the Boing Boing scent and it's been a raging mad-on ever since.

See, my boredom was so profound that waiting for new items to appear on the site would not quench my thirst for mental stimulation. I went back in time. I began to read the archives. And then I continued to read the archives. I'm currently sitting at December 2004.

That's pretty messed up.

I need help.

Someone needs to put me onto another site or I'll be Boing Boinging my way back to January 2000...That's as far as the archives go, unfortunately.

I figure I'll get there by Valentine's Day, depending on workflow and covert naps.

Seventy-five percent

Since highschool, some friends and I have had the theory that 75% of the world is a waste of flesh.

I'm running into many "seventy-five percenters" today.

I'm being tested, I swear.

My blood is beginning to boil, my brain is turning to mush, my hands are turning to stone. The voices are getting louder.

Losing my virginity

There. My first blog. Done.

Just had to get it out of the way.

Now I can blog all I want without debating whether to start a blog or not.

(I can't say I'll blog every day, or that you'll like what I write, or that I'll write for more than a couple of minutes at a time --- gee, it is just like sex)

Unfaithfully yours,