Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Christmas lists

Ok, so let me ask you something: list or no list?

See, some people/families I know are in the habit of providing lists of gifts they would like to receive to their loved ones to make the gift hunt easier. Practically speaking, this makes sense. It ensures you get something you want and takes a burden off those who might otherwise spend hours walking the malls at the busiest time of the year.

...But doesn't it take the fun out of Christmas morning? I mean, for me, half the fun is being surprised. Not knowing what's in the box. Of course, this had led to years and years of disappointment in terms of gifts received. ("why did so-and-so think I'd want this?" or "Hm. I guess I wasn't worth the shopping effort if they picked up this generic item.") This has been an accepted risk of my unwillingness to give hints, and it is why I am always so grateful to those who take the time to make an effort and make me feel special (note that "thoughtful" is not linked to expense nor to time spent - simply to the personal nature of the gift).

I've always tried to be a good Santa. I've always tried to give people a thoughtful gift. That seems to take some of the "commercialization" out of Christmas and make it, for me, about really showing someone that you care and have gotten to know them and want to please them. This doesn't always work, of course, as I can't always think of something special or meaningful, especially if giving to someone I don't know very well. But giving someone a token, generic gift has always felt like a #fail to me.

So is it better to be given a list of gifts to choose from, knowing that your gift will be well received, or is it worth rolling the dice on a "blind" gift? For now, I'm sticking with the no list option.

But...um...I might make an exception. To all my potential gift-givers, please feel free to buy me this:


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Academic Research: So Smart, So Dumb

On the surface, this study of the depiction of terrorism in prime time television looks interesting.

Until you watch the video.

If you can watch this without noticing the massive, gaping problems with the methodology, you shouldn't be allowed to utter the word "research". Put the book down. Step away from the beaker.

Despite some levity, this wasn't intended as a joke, it seems; yet the study is comical.

The study is based on 24 episodes? If they monitored ten times that many I would question the results.

And kids are learning this scientific method in university.

Honestly. WTF.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cory Doctorow Strikes Again


I love the conclusion drawn from this article:

Basically, what it says is that people who download files (like movies etc) illegally are amongst the big spenders of legitimate entertainment consumption.

"The study concluded that Kino.to's users were among the entertainment industry's best customers, using filesharing as a sampling method to determine which media to purchase, spending premiums to attend weekend showings of new films, and generally outspending average consumers in their media consumption."

Go figure.

I mean, who would have thought that people would actually go SEE movies as well as download them? It's as if they are fans or something. Weird.

And exactly how the f*ck did you deduce that these folks were using the site to sample media that they might later purchase? Surveymonkey?

I'm pretty sure the big bad entertainment industry is aware that these folks aren't downloading stuff instead of buying it all the time, but when they do download instead of buying, the rights holder is being deprived of potential profit (not all movies make money, you know).

And you wonder why it costs $15 to see a movie...

Friday, June 24, 2011

To Serve and Protect

I don't really have the energy to write much today, but I felt compelled to share/vent the disappointment I am feeling this morning. Depression, really. Aren't I a nice guy?

I was visiting my normal sites today - The Star, Boing Boing, Facebook etc and came across a few stories that related to the police. All were negative and related to alleged abuses by police forces - not just in one city or related to one case, but in three different cities (Toronto, Vancouver and Rochester). This makes me both angry and sad. Seriously: what the fuck is going on around here?

In Toronto, the fall-out continues with regards to the absolutely insane G20 fiasco. No, not the fact the great Canadian Government (The "Harper Government" you say? Kiss my ass - but that's another post) hoodwinked Parliament and misappropriated funds so that they could line the pockets of Conservative-friendly ridings (for which someone ought to be sent to jail - not re-elected!), but the violence that occurred in the city's core. How anyone would think holding a powder keg of a meeting in a busy metropolis as opposed to at the top of a fucking mountain is beyond me. Did the leaders really get a good look at the city? From behind those fences, I doubt it. So what was the point of having it here, exactly?

What is REALLY upsetting about this stupid adventure was the way the police behaved. Not only did they let vandals run amok and uncontested in the city streets, smashing windows and burning cars, they then proceeded to rough up ordinary citizens, violating their rights left right and centre. WHAT THE FUCK?!?! When did the police lose sight of their purpose of existence? It's unbelievably depressing. The police are supposed to be the good guys. They're supposed to protect us. They're supposed to be role models. When you kettle innocent people wandering on Queen Street in the rain, when you beat up people who are gathered peacefully at Queen's Park, when you arrest, strip search and manhandle guys for saying, "good luck with Saturday" you are NOT doing your job. You are FAILING the public. You have LOST our faith.

But at least finally - FINALLY - the chief admits that maybe they didn't do such a bang up job (despite what was being said previously). Of course he blames the fact that they were not prepared. Responding to emergencies is part of the job description, you dunce! You had time to arrange transportation and overtime for cops from all over the province to arrive in Toronto but couldn't figure out - in six months - how to get some of them to Yonge Street when the shit went down? STFU.

In Vancouver, they were a bit more effective, even though they had - what - two days notice that there would be a game 7 in town? Stores got smashed, cars got lit up, but the whole thing was dispersed in 4 hours and at least they TRIED to go after the troublemakers. Oh, but they STILL managed to fuck that one up. Rule #1 - when trying to disperse a violent crowd, do NOT strike the unarmed couple to the ground with your shield and continue to harass them after they are clearly subdued and injured. Oh, and when you realize you've fucked up? Maybe call for a medic instead of just running away to catch up with your buddies. This one was actually caught on video. The initial reports may have been of a "kissing couple" but the true story is far less romantic.

But we can forgive the cops for screwing up a little when they are under pressure in these massive demonstrations, right? I mean, adrenaline is pumping, threats are everywhere... Oh, but then there are stories like this one to remind us of how police can sometimes make the wrong, petty move even when they've had time to think about it. See, first, the police overreacted to a citizen recording a traffic stop. When the shit hit the fan there, did the cops apologize and nip the situation in the bud? Nope, they compounded the issue and embarrassed themselves even further. When citizens gathered to support this poor lady, the cops decided that would be a good time to send out a few patrol cars to ticket any supporters' car that was parked more than a foot from the curb.

To serve and protect.

For years, I have given the police the benefit of the doubt when stories arose that were critical of the way a situation was handled. I've even done so on this blog. I don't think I'm willing to do that anymore. My faith in the force has been rattled too often. Have I changed or has the police culture changed? Is this a sign of the times or the way it has always been?

What the fuck is going on?

Whatever it is, it has to change. The police have GOT to be the role models. They have to be held to a higher standard. They have to be our protectors. They have to be strong, vigilant and just. We have to be able to believe in them. That does not mean closing ranks when one of them does wrong. That means identifying the problem and kicking it off the force asap. You don't tolerate a cancer, you eradicate it.

Is "To Serve and Protect" too complicated? Try this: "Do Right."

UPDATE: Apparently, the charges against the Rochester woman were dropped "for lack of evidence". Considering the whole thing is on FUCKING TAPE, I'm hesitant to buy that reasoning and am even more depressed about the lack of transparency in the justice system.