It seems a bit odd to me that the country would have started discussing changes to the Canadian national anthem only after we just were host to the world for the winter Olympics, singing it for all to hear.However, the fact that the issue seems to have died in parliament due to disapproval from much of the country makes the timing rather irrelevant now.Even though the topic may seem to have “died,” I’d still like to spend a bit of time on it.
The idea of changing the lyrics to more gender equal ones actually started well before the recent Olympics – by many decades.A woman named Nancy Ruth (formerly Nancy Jackman) has been leading the fight for many years now.The line in particular that she would like to see changed is “In all thy sons command” to something along the lines of “Thou dost in us command.”Not exactly a major remodeling of the lyrics.In my opinion, her suggestion actually makes the English clearer.
Some of the negative response she has received, some of which has been rather hateful from the sounds of it, is from people who don’t like the idea of change to the anthem because it has become part of the history of the country.I think the argument is a bit silly.First off, compared to many countries in the world, Canada is rather young so our history is only just beginning.Even compared to the age of our country, the national anthem is even younger.What we know of now as the lyrics only date back a few decades to the 1980s, much younger than many Canadians themselves.I hardly see small changes to the anthem now as being a major upset to its “history.”
Well, despite anything we say here and now, the issue is dead to parliament for the moment.Who knows, Nancy or a successor of hers may eventually win their fight for gender equality in the lyrics, but at the end of the day the amount of such changes will necessarily be limited by public opinion.
I recently filled out a survey for a student conducting research.The form wasn’t subtle at all to the topic – unmanned commercial planes.It asked the standard questions to stick me in an age, gender, and education category.It also checked how often I fly, how much I knew about flying itself, and of course how aware I was of previous unmanned aircrafts.Despite an intellectual realization that with the right testing, this could very well be possible, I still had to admit in the survey that I would not feel comfortable unless there was an actual human pilot present in the cockpit.
Despite what you may think, the earliest unmanned aircrafts were built almost a hundred years ago.They probably don’t resemble the image that you have in your mind, and they are nothing like what would be required for commercial passenger flights, but it is important to realize that the ideas and engineering of such devices have been worked upon for quite a long time now.If you think that any remote-controlled flying toy embodies the basics of these, then it becomes more obvious to see that they are relatively old ideas.
What gets me, and I’m sure I’m not alone here, is the idea that electronics can fail; devices break or malfunction.They are certainly susceptible to many different types of attacks, include computer viruses.Despite what we may think of ourselves or our fellow human beings, the human body is actually quite an achievement in terms of design and functionality.What could bring down an electronic piloting system may be easily withstood by a human pilot.So, based on perhaps an irrational fear of an electronic system failing, I still feel the need for a “backup” pilot.
Requiring a human pilot of course begs the question why bother with a computer pilot in the first place if you’re going to require a human one to be there anyway?
The 82nd Academy Awards aired last night… and maybe you saw it?If you didn’t, let me not keep you in suspense and give some of the highlights:
Best Picture – The Hurt Locker
Best Director – Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Best Actor – Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
Best Actress – Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
Best Animated Feature – Up
Apparently viewership has been a major issue for the awards ceremony in recent years and much effort was dedicated this year to try woo the audience back.The show was made a bit shorter, they increased the number of nominees, and even looked at changing the voting system.
I’ve never really been a fan of awards ceremonies, especially when they become as hyped up as the Academy Awards.That said, if you are going to make a serious effort to pick out the best and acknowledge them, I’d hope that keeping true to their goal is the primary concern.However, when I hear of them making changes to increase viewership, I start to doubt that.
I know one of the big issues is that more “artsy” movies tend to be awarded rather than the blockbusters that the public choose at the box office, which alienates some of the potential viewership.There will always be a difference between the taste of the critics and the public.Considering that Avatar did not win as many awards as one might expect might be a sign that they are remaining true to their intention.However, I almost feel that they pushed for more commercially successful movies to be included in the nominees in the first place, which would definitely just be a change to cater to the masses.Either way, they’ve now doubled the number of movies that can boast “Academy Award nominee” in their advertising if nothing else.
As for the rest of the changes to the presentation and format, cutting back on the pomp and show a bit is certainly fine with me.Either way the award is still given out and the public becomes aware.To put it in perspective, when was the last time most of the public tuned into the Nobel Prize awards ceremonies?
Before I go further, it’s rather interesting to note that I found the news story on a UK source, but it is referencing a University of Toronto study.Score one for the global nature of the internet, and I guess I’m bringing the story “full circle” to Canada.
Back to the actual story itself.The study involved a bunch of tasks with money, and the honesty of the participants is tested as they are left to complete tasks, mark themselves, and reward themselves with real money.Those completing the tasks in dim lighting or with sunglasses on tended to be less honest, prompting the conclusions above.
The big question with research like this is always how does it translate to the real world?Cheating for a few dollars on a “meaningless” test that they had to complete may not reflect day to day living.Then again, if they’re willing to cheat for just a couple of dollars on these meaningless tests, maybe it does give a rather good measure of what lies deep in their hearts and what they may try to deny even to themselves.I’ll leave it for the peer reviewers of the journals to debate that one out.
There might also be a bit of “chicken or egg” question associated with this type of behaviour.Negative behaviour (e.g., crime) is often associated with the dark.Perhaps we tend to this behaviour in the dark because we have been conditioned this way.Then again, this may be a bit of a stretch.
What I do think I can say is that studies like this show that the connection between anonymity and bad behaviour isn’t a product of the internet, but rather the internet just gives us anonymity to then tend to bad behaviour.Sorry, I don’t have actual data to present to support this last statement!
I’ve seen it a few times while flying: people with their pets on their laps.I’m sorry to all the pet lovers out there but I think that allowing this is a horrible idea.The Canadian transport authority might agree with me on this as they examine Canadian airline policies regarding pets.
First off, animals smell.You may like the smell of your pet.I don’t.Planes are small with recirculating air.If your pet stinks (and hey, even if just you stink), a lot of other people have to suffer with it too.If your pet gets over exciting or can’t hold it in, that would really stink and might land up on other people too.Nasty.
Pets can also get restless and noisy.Luckily I haven’t experienced this one myself on a flight, but let’s face it, most animals won’t sit still and calmly for the duration of a longer flight.I know many pet owners use sedative medicines to ensure this, but such measures are by no means mandatory.
Most importantly, many people have allergies to animals.Forcing them to sit near a pet can be like placing a cloth over their face and forcing them to breathe through it.The resulting suffocation can hardly be fair or pleasant to the person.I don’t know how anyone could consider the rights of pet owners to have their pets with them to be above the rights of a person to breathe!I’m pretty sure it is this basic violation of rights that the Canadian transport authority is examining.
All I can say is that if a person sits down next to me in a plane with a smelly squirming pet in their lap, I’d make one hell of a complaint to the airline and expect to be reseated immediately.I don’t pay for first class, but I do expect a certain level of pet-free comfort even in economy.
The latest politician to embarrass herself is Helena Guergis, Status of Woman Minister of the State in the Conservative government.What did she do?Showed up for her Charlottetown to Montreal flight last minute and threw a tantrum as she went through security etc.This included swearing, calling Charlottetown a “hellhole” and yelling at flight staff as they told her what they would have told any customer.I see just a “few” problems with this.
Problem #1 – and let’s start with the more minor one – is that she was actually allowed on the plane and flew to Montreal.Many people, including people in the aviation security business, are speculating that it was only her VIP status that enabled this.Any normal passenger would have not been allowed on the flight.Differential treatment between government officials and the public never sits well with people.They’re supposed to be representing us, not abusing their power.
Problem #2 is obviously the way she behaved in public.Nobody should be behaving like she did, and the blatant abuse of the airport officials or of any other citizen of Canada especially by a government official should not be tolerated.Someone who can’t keep her temper in check and behave in public is not someone who should be in politics.
Problem #3 is that her role is for the status of woman so she is therefore representing woman to the public.I think every Canadian woman would agree that this is not the image of a woman that they want to be displayed to the public.Guergis’s actions are singlehandedly helping to unravel the equality that woman have worked so hard for in the past.
A number of people have been calling for her resignation (or that she be fired), and I’m one of them.I certainly don’t want someone like this in government representing me and abusing power.
We’re living in more and more of a digital world where we have become more and more detached from our physical finances.I’ve heard figures thrown about saying that 90% of the world’s money exists only on “paper” in the form of bank statements and only the remaining 10% exists as physical money.I think a basic question to ask is if this is a bad thing.
Arguments for cash include the psychological effect of feeling like you actually have and are using money.I’ve heard that many people get themselves into serious debt using credit cards because they don’t feel as if they are actually spending money and then lose track of what they will owe.Having hard cash and handing it over lets the reality set in and keeps them more financially responsible.There is also the idea that if your money only exists digitally, then you run the risk of it disappearing with a simple computer error or stroke of key.
On the other side of the fence is the world of credit and digital money.I think many would argue that a digital balance is safer than your life’s savings hidden under your mattress. You also tend to go through an extra “barrier” between you and your merchant, especially when dealing with credit cards.A recent news article explains of a couple from Halifax who lost their vacation money because the company through which they had booked and paid went out of business:
The couple technically didn’t pay in cash but rather in cheque, which is almost the same these days.However, had they paid via credit card they would be able to get a refund through the credit card company.
With Canadian credit card companies favouring customers over vendors and adding the extra level of security, I find it hard not to lean towards credit over cash.Then again, I’ve never had a problem of overspending with a credit card either.
Before I begin, let me just take a moment to focus on the tragedy and horrors that must have been visited on patients who have to deal with serious medical mistakes.They literally have to live with the day-to-day consequences, some of which can leave them disfigured, partially paralyzed, and even incomplete.Because it is my nature, there may be sarcasm and humour implied in my post, but none of it is intended to be aimed at the victims.
With that said, let me get to the point:physicians at a Windsor hospital have been put under the microscope because of recent accidents.One surgeon in particular has been involved in two unnecessary mastectomies (removal of a breast).While these procedures can be life saving for patients who have cancer, in these incidences no such live threatening disease was actually present.One mistake, while tragic, could perhaps be understood in an otherwise extemporary career, but two starts to look like plain carelessness.(Yes, I’m stealing a line from Oscar Wilde.)
The “problems” seem to focus on pathology reports that were either not read properly by the surgeon or not properly given/presented to her.As a result, the pathologist is now also under inspection.These mistakes have obviously caused a commotion in the media (and probably much happiness that they have such a story to report on), and new hospital protocols are being proposed to try and avoid them in future.
I’m not against new protocols to avoid mistakes, but I still am left wondering why these mistakes here and now.More specifically, if these protocols are really needed, why haven’t we seen more cases of a similar nature in other places with other physicians?There may be more cases that are just hidden by a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.Then again, it may just be problems isolated to these physicians and this attention may just be adding to the bureaucracy of the healthcare process.I wish I knew for sure.
We all started off life thinking things were either black or white.We learn of good and evil, and right and wrong.Then gray starts to seep into our lives.We found out that everyone can want to be good, but end up doing bad.More than that, we also learn that following the letter of the law and what we have been told is “right” doesn’t necessarily do the most good, and can even do harm.
The extreme example I like to think about is that of the code breakers during World War II.They were able to understand the coded German messages but were left with the dilemma: do they use this knowledge to save people and risk the Germans realizing their code had been broken? Obviously not saving the people is “wrong” but could still serve the greater good in winning the war.
Okay, returning back to reality from the high horse, let me get into a more mundane but also more relevant application:pirating and misuse of the internet in general.Copyright holders are obviously sending out lawsuits in a hope of curbing privacy.Internet service providers (ISPs) are being dragged into this fight as well.They also have a fight of their own against users who do other illegal activity, or misuse the connection affecting all others that use the network.
What is right dictates that anyone can accuse or defend and that everyone should get their day in court.The big problem with this is cost.It can bankrupt an individual and introduce a whole new stream of expenses to a business.Sometimes businesses or even individuals get away with things because of the associated cost to stop them, rather than being right.
I think copyright owners should earn money giving incentive to continue to produce works.I don’t think that they should be allowed to sue random people as “warnings” and then bullying their victims into paying to make it go away.I like the freedom to use my internet connection as I wish without restriction.However, I don’t think that people blatantly abusing their connection should be allowed to waste money and company resources “appealing” the decision.
I’m sure not all of what I want is “right” or even “good” (and I’m sure it’s not consistent), but I hope it all falls just within a nice side of gray.
UK movie theaters have been boycotting Disney’s new Alice in Wonderland movie because Disney is trying to shorten to time between its initial theatrical and home releases.The industry standard is to wait 17 weeks, but Disney wants 12 to enable them to maximize their profits from the film.They’ve now relented to 13 weeks, enable them to win back the Cineworld who will be showing the movie in their theaters.I’m probably not the only the one wondering what the fuss is about?Let me spend a few words trying to figure it out.
Like all things, I’m pretty sure this has to be about money.All these things have to be about money.Disney is upsetting the theaters by trying to release their DVDs/Blu-Rays/etc. earlier.So the theaters must be losing money if they do this early release.It makes a bit of sense; if people can buy their own copy to watch at home as many times as they wish, many would not bother to pay to watch it only once in the big screen.Let’s not forget the extra content you’d get on the home releases as incentives to invest your money there.
It’s not all black and white though.A big Disney movie like this is likely to be a cash cow.We’re more likely talking about a difference in the amount of money they’ll be making in the theaters rather than if they’ll be making money.So, boycotting might be a financially stupid decision on their end.More than that, if they damage their relationship with Disney, they may lose more than the potential profit from this movie alone.Considering Disney is negotiating in an attempt to woo back the theaters, this situation probably isn’t that dire.
At the end of the day, I think the theaters are deciding between standing their moral ground or bowing before Disney in favour of profits.Cineworld has decided to bow.
You may have paid for your plane ticket, made it through security, and even started to board, but be careful that you showered.Smelling bad is enough to get you kicked off a flight.Being too fat can also get you bumped from your flight.And I bet you were just worried about weapons, liquids, or even “inappropriate” clothing preventing you from flying the friendly skies.It’s a harsh world out there.
These “crimes” didn’t happen at the same time.
Kevin Smith, famous for his Silent Bob movie roles, was bumped from a Southwest Airlines flight because of his weight.Following airline policy, he had purchased two seats to accommodate his large size, but problems arose while getting on a flight with only a single free seat available.The airline used the excuse of safety regulations when forcing him off.
More recently, a passenger was forced off an Air Canada flight between Prince Edward Island and Montreal because of his foul odour.Safety was again cited as the reason for the airline’s actions, but it was complaints from fellow passengers than initiated the situation.Unfortunately the details that are currently available about the incident are very vague, and the severity and source of the odour is still unclear to me.
In both cases, the passengers weren’t barred from travelling and were eventually put on different flights.The foul smelling one flew out the following morning, likely after taking care of his hygiene problems.However, I can’t help but think that the airlines are walking a very tight rope and risk crossing the line into human rights abuse.
I feel that we are only a lawsuit or two away from radical changes to airline policies or even the laws governing the means of travel.Safety is always important, especially when being trapped in a steel can high in the sky, but using it a thin veil to cover human rights violations will only lead to trouble.
Am I the only one who is a little embarrassed by the way Canada has handled the Olympic hosting?Bad weather, unfortunate death of an athlete, and some other small things are out of our control, but many things are not.
The “Own the Podium” attitude is 100% our fault.I really wonder how this idea could have passed the scrutiny of what must have been many people at many committee meetings, and even then, why didn’t someone with a bit of common sense didn’t just tap an organizer on the shoulder to give them a reality cheque?National pride and wanting to shine bright when hosting are perfectly normal, but this slogan and attitude really feels like we’re lifting our middle finger to the rest of the world rather than inviting them to a friendly competition.The statement is clear:we’re here to win and not make friends.Not exactly the heart of the Olympic spirit.
And this isn’t even the worst of it.A bad slogan is one thing, but apparently we even stooped to cheating a bit by abusing the home team advantage.I’m referring to giving preferential treatment to Canadian athletes when it comes to the Olympic courses and venues for training.While this isn’t cheating per se, actively blocking athletes from other countries from familiarizing themselves with the courses certainly skews things in our favour a bit.Do we really want to win because of unfair advantages rather than actual athletic ability?
I know that I seem to only be harping on the negative of the Olympics.I’ve pointed out the flaws, the bad luck, and problems surrounding our hosting of the Winter 2010 Olympics.I’ve tried to look at the good too.Really, I’ve tried.But when something as blatantly as wrong as this comes forward, I can’t help but again spend a bit of time throwing in my two cents, even when it’s so negative.
A recent story has come to light that highlights some of the dangers of genetic testing.The parents of a newborn baby in Florida were warned that their baby had a gene putting her at risk for cystic fibrosis.The problem was that the parents had never asked for any testing to be done.The State had done it without permission and as standard procedure.
The first problem with this is that the choice as to whether to be tested for certain genes is very personal.In some cases, knowing about it can help treat and even prevent a disease.However, in many others there is absolutely nothing medicine can do for you, so knowing about the disease can actually have a negative effect if it leaves the person in constant fear of the onset.In these cases, the decision to be tested is very personal and really should not be taken away from a person.
The second problem it highlights is one of privacy.If the government is taking DNA samples and testing them, it can only be assumed that they are keeping and tracking this information.While we don’t yet have the ability to know everything about a person from their DNA, we can still learn a lot, including whether they have genes that put them at risk for certain diseases, and can also later be used to identify the person.In the not-so-distant future, there is also the possibility of cloning the person.All of this leaves a very nasty taste of “big brother” and all the extreme possibilities of loss of freedom with it.
Right now we are still in a situation where our technology is ahead of the laws.I would not be surprised to see court cases in the near future that more clearly define when it is okay to perform genetic testing, and even when and what genetic samples may be taken and stored.
I recently was witness to a very personal and very mean attack on a friend conducted from an anonymous Gmail account.Free services like Google make it very easy to anonymously send messages.No personal information is required.No real proper verification is needed as to the purpose and use of the account.And obviously no payments are needed either.The account can be used the once and then thrown away.
Okay, technically it is possible to track down the person who sent the message.Accessing the account left behind a trail of IP addresses and given the right access and information, this would be tracked down to an internet account and physical address.But let’s face it, you need a lot of money and help from the law (i.e., a warrant or equivalent) to gain access to this information.Unless you plan to use the account to break the law – and something serious enough for them to make an effort to find you – we can still call this anonymous.
What I think is most relevant to ask is whether easy access to these anonymous services would increase attacks such as the one I witnessed.A veil of anonymity always makes actions, especially wrong ones, easier.But simply writing a note left in the right place could achieve the same.With e-mail though, the same message can be sent to a lot of people.Leaving the note in a public place or writing it very large across a wall or billboard would also achieve the same.Then again, that would take a lot more effort and you would be much more likely to be caught in the process.
I certainly don’t know the truth as to whether our anonymous internet services encourage these attacks, but my gut says yes.The internet makes it a lot easier, a lot less risky, and a lot more convenient.This is not to say that Google and other services should start limiting access or gathering more information for verification.
Toyota has enjoyed a lot of world-wide success and much of it has to do with the care and effort they put into building up their brand name.Their cars have a reputation for being gas efficient and reliable while still remaining affordable.However, the company’s reputation has taken some damage recently due to faulty gas pedals.
The first problem was a more general one, affecting their cars by causing the pedal to stick to the floor mat in some cases.This would result in the car continuing to accelerate unintentionally and led to some accidents.The problem is a bit more subtle than my description would make it seem, and so the number of accidents and problems were limited and would explain how the problem was not noticed before the cars made it into the public.Nevertheless, Toyota had to issue a widespread recall on their cars to fix the problem, and the plant where the faulty parts came from has been put under inspection.
A more recent problem has occurred specifically with their hybrid Prius model.It again involves acceleration problems, but this time it is an issue with the cars braking system. The problem is actually more of a software one dealing with how the car handles its dual system that switches between traditional brakes and the type it uses to recharge the car’s battery.Toyota has once again had to issue a recall to deal with the problem.
What is interesting out of this is that despite the company’s recent problems, consumers still seem to have faith in them.Much of it must be due to the companies past success that has built up customer loyalty.However, part it is also likely due to the way the company has handled itself during the problems.They’ve acknowledged them and issued recalls to deal with them.More than that, the company has shown modesty by declining a recent award for their Prius model.
First all, a big congratulations is in order for Apple for managing to get so much viral advertising, hype, and excitement before they even announced the existence of their product.I was amazed at just how many articles and even web comics that I could read about it.(I managed to restrain myself from adding to the preannouncement confusion.)Apple has, of course, now made the official announcement for their tablet computer dubbed the iPad.After looking through the official (and unofficial) information that I could find on it, I have to say that I just don’t get it.
The iPad is supposed to be filling the niche between smart cell phones and the world of laptops.While trying to not damage the sale of other Apple products, Jobs claimed that smart phones are too small, laptops are too heavy, and netbooks are too slow for some applications.Just like Goldilocks and the three bears, the iPad is supposed to be just right for these tasks.
The iPad to me just looks like a giant iPhone.It doesn’t look convenient to hold and I doubt it any weight differences between it and many laptops on the market would matter to most.It also seems to run the same operating system as the iPhone.To me, when I buy something on the level of a tablet, it really needs to behave like a computer and the functionality of their mobile operating system just doesn’t cut it for me.
The input interface is also very important to me.Without a proper keyboard, even a reduced-size one as found on netbooks, I can’t see the product being very effective.I also have not seen any secondary, handwriting or voice controlled interface to make up for this.An onscreen keyboard, especially ones that makes you switch back and forward between letters and numbers, is unacceptable to me for what is supposed to be more of a laptop environment.
I may be pleasantly surprised when I finally get a chance to hold one in my hands and play, but for the moment, the iPad just looks too big, too bulky, and too lacking in the interface to make me want one.
Wow.Just wow.I read about it a few days ago, had the time for it to sink in and adjust, but I still find it really weird.The concept of a vending machine for pharmaceutical drugs sounds more like a joke than “the future” to me.But seems to be the way things are going.
In truth, the idea sounds more like a remote controlled pharmacy than an actual vending machine.Essentially when a patient comes up to the machine and activates it, it contacts a pharmacist on the other side. The pharmacist checks to ensure the patient has a valid prescription, then ensures that the machine counts out and vends the correct type and amount of drugs.(If the machine is doing all the work, kind of makes you wonder what you pay the pharmacist so much for…)In theory, the machine will have stored within all the crucial and typical drugs that are needed.
The pluses of such a system for patients is that they’ll have 24-hour access to a pharmacy, and they will likely be located in very easy and convenient locations, such as the emergency room of a hospital where they would have obtained their prescription.For the pharmacist, it could enable them to cut down on overhead costs of running a pharmacy and even increase the number of customers that have access to them.
Some of the things that would worry me would be attacks and damage to the machine as people attempt to steal drugs.If something goes wrong and the vending malfunctions, what can the pharmacist really to fix the problem in the short term, especially if the machine incorrectly just gave access to potentially harmful drugs?
This hardly sounds like the future to me, but to be fair, I think I’d have to see a few of these machines in action before I make too much fun of them.
J. D. Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye, died 27 January 2010.If you grew up in an English-speaking nation, odds are that you had to read this book at some point in your academic career and either praised or cursed Salinger in the process.While his passing away at the age of 91 is perhaps not shocking, it certainly does bring with it a few interesting possibilities.
You may think me harsh and cruel for not dwelling more on the loss to the world and literary community.You may also think bad of me for not reflecting more on him as a person and coming to the end of his life.The truth is though that he did live to an old age and he wasn’t contributing to the literary world much, having chosen a life outside the spotlight.
It is Salinger’s reclusive nature that leaves so many possibilities in his death.Salinger actively prevented information being gathered about him for biographies and also blocked his work from being modified or built upon, such as a sequel or a movie based on his book.Depending on the attitude of the new copyright owner of his work, this may change drastically.Those close to Salinger are also more likely to come forward with personal information after his death.
I would be very surprised if we do not see biographies that are more thoroughly researched, with more details, and that are more accurate, coming out within the next couple of years.I’m sure there are also people within Hollywood and even indie film companies that are already putting together their updated proposals for the movie adaptation of The Catcher in the Rye.
Would these things upset Salinger?I’m sure he’d be rolling in his grave over every biography released or attempt to adapt his work.But hey, this is the world we live in.
Making its way around the internet is the story of prisoners being banned from playing Dungeons and Dragons. (I’m helping of course.) Apparently it encourages gang-like behaviour and perhaps even encourages inmates to try escape from prison just like they escape from reality through the fantasy worlds.Yes, just a couple of jokes have been made over the whole situation.
Okay, some more details:This ban was effected in 2004 in the US in a prison in Madison Wisconsin.It’s recently come to light because an inmate serving a life sentence for first-degree intentional murder challenged the rule in court and lost.
To me, the most obvious question is why would they ban a (mostly) nonviolent game that focuses more on storytelling and rolling dice when violent video games are allowed.Not only allowed in some areas, but actually provided with government money.I’m not trying to get people up in arms over violent video games, but if you’re worried about the effects of games on inmates, perhaps ones that actively have the player killing and performing violent acts should be considered first.Each wave of video game system also strives to make the experience as “real” as possible with improved graphics, sound, physics, etc.
My second question is what is next?If they can ban games like this, censorship on books and movies might be on the horizon.Public Enemies with Johnny Depp’s character continually escaping from jail can’t be good for the image and morale of prisons.
Honestly, I would have felt better and understood what is going on more if they had simply used the reasoning that losing the freedom to play these games is just one of the many that are denied with being imprisoned.Prisoners are in jail as part of punishment and rehabilitation, and not necessarily to be entitled to any form of enjoyment they wish.
After my last few posts on the rather heavy topics surrounding Haiti, I think I need to take a break with a more lighthearted topic in this one.A recent xkcd comic (over at http://www.xkcd.com for those who haven’t discovered it yet) focused on the idea of childhood fantasy worlds.The basic idea is that if a child ever did visit such a world, the person would only be left with two options:1) pretend it never happened and live a normal life or 2) have people thinking you’re crazy.Talking about this on its own would be fun, but I actually want to extend the idea one step further to the different types of fantasy worlds.As I see it, you can divide them into two:“secretive” worlds that exist alongside our “normal” one, and complete fantasy worlds that are separate from ours.My question is which is better?
J. K. Rowling with her Harry Potter series and C. S. Lewis with his Narnia series are perfect examples of secretive worlds.You have your average person who stumbles on this wondrous new world existing under the noses of everyone.Within each fantasy world is the mechanics to keep it secret.The reasoning behind this is simple; if you want to capture people’s imagination you need to weave in the idea that these worlds are possible and exist, and explain why the reader hasn’t discovered it yet on their own.It is this type of world that the xkcd comic was poking fun at.
The second type of world exists more in stories like Tolkien’s Lord of the RingsOur is replaced by one filled with magic, elves, etc. novels.
Obviously both types of worlds can give you best sellers.Both can also include the similar types of elements in the forms of magic, different races, and mythical animals and objects.Where they differ is that the secretive world stories still leave children with that glimmer of hope that it is real and could happen to them.It probably even lets many adults feel that way.I know many people have very good imaginations, but, to me, this definitely helps draw one into the story much better.
Of course at the end of the day, a good plot and story-telling ability trump everything.
It wasn’t my intention to dedicate so many blog posts to Haiti, but the more there is about it in the news, the more topics that are worth covering come to the forefront for me.In particular, reports of people robbing, abusing, and hindering aid workers and aid organizations come to mind.My initial response to this was less than positive.How could you do that to people who are there to help you and are doing so at such great expense and risk to themselves?
I still can’t condone such behaviour and “accepting” it only encourages more.However, on some level I think we do need to at least understand it, and before we judge the “nature” of these people so harshly, we have to truly ask ourselves if we would be different considering what they have been through.
To really understand what they have been through, we have to touch on the past of the country a bit.Haiti as we know it is generally a result of black slaves who revolted against their former masters, fighting and winning their freedom.Prior to this crucial event, the area was merely a possession of the great colonial countries, and, as you guessed it, their French language is a result of France’s role.During the colonial periods, Haiti was a rich and lucrative area, but all of this was shipped back to Europe and didn’t stay in the country.Their freedom also cost them dearly as they were boycotted and hindered by other countries, including America, for fear that other slaves would revolt.
In modern times, Haiti itself has remained a very poor and politically unstable nation.The vast majority of people lived in poverty, unemployed, and in houses that are more akin to shanties.This was very well known and very few people helped or even cared.It is only in the wake of the earthquake that the world is taking note of the area and helping.The earthquake caused many problems, but many were already there long before the disaster.
If you were living under such extreme conditions of poverty and political instability with the world ignoring you, can you really say that you wouldn’t resort to extremes to stay alive?
In a previous post I tried to focus on the good of the earthquake and how it has enabled people to put aside their problems to provide aid to Haiti.In retrospect, I think it was pretty awful of me to gloss over the harsh reality of what people in Haiti have endured and even continue to endure.
Even at the best of times, before the earthquake, Haiti is among the poorest countries of the world.Access to the basic necessities of life including food and health care are certainly not guaranteed to all.Because of this, the rate of infant mortality and even the chances of a woman dying from childbirth are many times high than what we have in Canada or the USA.
After suffering through the massive earthquake, much of the country lies in ruins, including the presidential palace.As you might expect, this left many people badly injured and/or buried under debris from fallen buildings.Unfortunately among the many buildings damaged were the hospitals, making helping the sick and injured even more difficult.As a result, many who managed to survive the earthquake are finding themselves unable to find medical help, and in a cruel twist of fate, these injured people are now being sentenced to a slow painful death due to lack of medical aid.
In the background of all of this is a shortage of food and water, and compromised means of communication.This lack of communication has severely hampered the ability of the Haitian government to function (on top of any deaths of government officials).The country is also experiencing aftershocks that have many afraid to sleep in their houses – at least with houses that still managed to be standing.
As I indicated in my last post, many individuals from many countries are making a great effort to send aid.However, even with this, the Haitian people are still suffering through a very rough period.
Google has taken a step towards freedom on the internet by telling China that it would rather pull out of the country than continue to bow down to the government-imposed censorship.While we may not really think about such things much in Canada, true freedom of information does not exist in some parts of the world, including China.Google’s position has has put the communist government of China in a very dangerous position.
Despite the shock and horror instilled of a communist government that is instilled in the minds of the citizens of democratic governments, many Chinese emigrants equate their quality of life in China with their quality in their new and democratic homes.For the most part, the Communist Party flexes their control and power, including censorship, but still tries to ensure its citizens remain happy, especially wealthier and better educated classes within the society.
However, this duality is at stake as the government continues to insist that they need to censor Google for the well being of their citizens.If Google goes through with its threat, the Chinese population will be deprived of their services, and this could upset those within the wealthier and better educated class, making them question their quality of life under such a controlling government.
While such an action is hardly likely to initiate a revolution within the country, it can certainly start to sow the seeds of doubt in a class of society that had previously found itself happy within the country.More than this, this is a class of people that can potentially wield great influence and power within the society.
So the government is left with a problem:do they give up their censorship on Google and, by doing so, lose a bit of their control, or do they lose Google and potentially create a bit of social unrest among their citizens?
We are now into day six since the devastating earthquake struck Haiti.We are starting to realize the full reality of the damage done to country, and the lives lost within the disaster are starting to sink in.However, amongst all this disaster, we see so many people trying to offer help, and it is these acts of goodwill that I want to focus on.
Fundraising to help victims of the earthquake is in full swing.From individuals to companies, provinces, and countries, a lot of money is being pledged – even though many are still hurting from the recession.Support in the form of soldiers, aid workers of all kinds, and equipment are also making their way to the country.So much is being sent that the airport is being clogged, planes are told they must expect to circle for a while before landing, and planes are making their way to airports of the neighbouring country, Dominican Republic.Even on a more personal level, Google has set up a page where information can be posted on the status of Haitians and others can check if any information on friends and family is available.Ever our own Acanac has lifted calling restrictions to Haiti for VoIP accounts to enable families to try get in touch with each other.
But more amazing than any of this is the way countries have been able to put aside their conflicts and problems to provide help.The strained relationship that has been building between Haiti and Dominican Republic melted away quickly as they were the first to offer help and are taking as many sick as they can into their hospitals.Support for basic food supplies and infrastructure, including cell towers to try restore communication.Even the US and Cuba are putting aside problems to help with aid; Cuba is removing restrictions on their airspace to enable US aircrafts to effect medical evacuations more quickly.
I would hardly wish such tragedies on the world to bring out the better side of humanity, but it is nice to know that when tragedy does strike, the world can still respond with kindness.
With all the emphasis I’ve put on importance of water for the future, I thought another blog post dedicated to purification is in order.I’ve explained how reverse osmosis and over the counter water filters works, but this doesn’t really describe what happens to the city tap water that comes out of your faucet.
Generally speaking, water goes through a few steps.Coagulants like lime are added to the water to cause particulates to clump together.This is allowed to settle and physical filtration gets rid of it.Chlorine is then generally used to kill of biological contaminants.It’s this chlorine that people complain about affecting their health and giving the water a bad taste and smell.Some cities with more sophisticated systems use ozone in place of the chlorine.(Yes, this is the same ozone of ozone layer fame, and it’s quite toxic to biological organisms, including humans.)This doesn’t stay in the water and doesn’t leave the same smell or taste to it.A final step of aeration is typically performed.
What’s missing from this is the removal of harmful molecules and particles coming from such things as pharmaceutical drugs, cosmetics, and pesticides that make their way into drinking water sources.This is where the activated carbon filters and even personal reverse osmosis systems come in to play as a means to remove them.However, if these could be removed prior to reaching your faucet, wouldn’t it be nicer?
Supposedly a new cheap and easy to implement technology is on the horizon that promises to help filter these out.The basic idea consists of using polymers (similar idea to polymers used to create plastics) into the water that will bind these impurities.These polymers in turn are easy to remove, and removing them takes with them all bound impurities.
I have no clue how close this technology is to widespread use or even how rigorously it has been tested.It does sound appealing though!
“Location, location, location.”Heard that one before?It’s a bit of a joke in real estate, but it’s also the truth.Many in the Whistler and Vancouver area are trying to take advantage of the upcoming Olympic games to make some extra money.And I’m not talking about the local businesses.Home owners in the area are trying to rent out rooms and even their whole houses and apartments to those visiting for the games.Sad thing is, the housing market isn’t so hot.
This certainly isn’t the first time I’ve discussed real estate.Let’s also not forget the role that the U.S. housing market and mortgage scene had in the global recession.So how does this translate into the Olympic real estate market?Well, with the recession there is less money floating around for sponsors.(I believe I’ve discussed this too.)There is also less money for companies to send representatives to the games.This means that more hotel rooms are available for tourists and more competition to those trying to rent out their homes.The recession also hits individuals hard, which means there are less Olympic enthusiasts who can afford to attend the games.All of this comes down to the simple oversupply and under demand.
I’m sure most people aren’t feeling too bad for the Vancouver homeowners though.Most of Canada does not get the same opportunity to rent out their house for major money.Even without the Olympics to boost it, much of Vancouver real estate isn’t doing too badly either.Many who are even remotely close to the ocean find themselves in the unique position where their land is worth much more than their house.I can only imagine how fun an “open house” would be when you know that the prospective buyers don’t care about anything since they’ll likely just tear the house down.
This house rental situations overall isn’t such a good sign; It a to foreshadow Canada losing money over hosting the games rather than making any and boosting the economy.
So you’re at Futureshop or Best Buy (or one of many other similar types of stores) and you just bought your <insert newest toy here>.The first thing the salesman tries to do?“Would you like to buy the extended warranty?”
Manufacturers admit that not everything product that comes off their assembly line functions up to standards and there are some that can break early, well before the normal lifespan of the product.From this point of view, a warranty makes sense.It protects you from the chance that your product may be defective compared to the rest.
But most warranties only extend so long; Most end well before you’re “done” with the item.Let’s call this your “desired lifespan.”
The length of that warranty marks the end of what the manufacture thinks is the “trial period” where defects can present themselves.By buying an extended warranty, you are betting that the normal life span of the product doesn’t extend much longer than this trial period and well before your desired lifespan.In fact, this indicates that you feel the stores and companies are justified in charging you more for a product that actually meets your desired lifespan.
Doesn’t really make sense.Companies don’t give us quality goods and rather than complaining, we pay more money.
The idea of life insurance is pretty similar.You are betting against yourself and your health.If you die early, you “win.”Big money is paid out (to someone else of course), more than paid in through the premiums.Die horribly or really young and you win even more.So, when you buy life insurance, it’s saying that you expect to die young and perhaps even horribly, well before the end of a normal lifespan.
I know that these forms of insurance are sold to you using terms like “peace of mind” and “better safe than sorry,” but the truth is that you are just betting against the new items and even yourself.
Breaking news:Schools across the U.K. are closed down because of snow and it is even disrupting travel!Yeah, this actually made it onto the front page of the BBC website.Can you imagine this being printed the front page of the CBC website as major news?B.C. may sympathize with the U.K., but I think most Canadians get a chuckle over the “chaos” being caused there over the snow.So it begs the question, what is “normal”?
Obviously countries can handle decent amounts of rain and snow while still functioning.It’s happened plenty of times in Canada, and I think that is proof enough.Snow plows, access to salt or sand for the roads, and experience are key to making this happen.This costs money and, well, experience is “priceless” I guess.So enter Captain Obvious to tell us that countries that don’t get much snow won’t spend much money oo snow removal equipment etc.Nor will they have much experience.Yes, that’s exactly what the U.K. is going through.
A little on the comedic side (at least to me), countries that don’t get a lot of rain struggle with it too.Their streets are not designed to channel the water properly and quickly flood.Flooring easily gets slippery when wet, buildings and even public vehicle are not maintained to be water proof and you get flooding everything.A big rainstorm brings the country to a halt just as a big snow storm does in other countries.Now I can only imagine what would happen in such a country if they had a major snow storm like you can get in Canada.At the very least, there would be a lot of people that would freeze to death.
So I guess the answer in this case boils down to normal is what mother nature gives you.Not a shock to most of you, I’m sure.
I think everyone remembers at least one time in elementary school or even at home where there was just the one person misbehaving that really got the teacher or parent upset.In frustration they utter a threat to take away some privilege if the behaviour doesn’t stop and those little words come out: “You’re going to ruin it for everyone else.”Usually they feel bad for punishing the group for the actions of one and relent in the end.I can’t help but thinking of this mentality when it comes to airport security with each new attempted (and sometimes unfortunately successful) terrorist attack.
When you think of the sheer number of people that pass through airports everyday and get on planes compared to the number of terrorists, it really is an amazing ratio.I know that many people are probably raising their hands at this stage, wanting to point out that the security measures deters many would-be attacks.I’m pretty sure you are right.If security at airports and planes were taken away completely, we would see a massive swarm of attackers.That said, the reality is still that the physical searches, intrusive scans, restrictions, requirements, etc. are physically there to weed out only the tiny tiny fraction of people that actually pass through them, and just inconvenience everyone else.
It’s a hell of a catch-22.Airport security stations could probably wave through a large number of people without bothering to check them and nothing bad would happen.The fraction of terrorists is so low that the probability of these people being one of them is almost zero.However, if they do this, word will get out and the fraction will suddenly grow making this dangerous.
So, in the end we are all straddled with tons of rules and restrictions that only increase with each attempted attack that are mostly there to deter would-be attackers from trying in the first place.
The road rage I want to talk about is not your traditional use of the word.I’m not talking about the anger expressed by a driver being cut off or not getting a parking spot.I’m thinking of the rage experienced when you’re stuck sitting in traffic knowing that you won’t be moving for a while, knowing that you’ll be late, and all the associated repercussions.This is not limited to drivers, but includes passengers in a car, bus, train, and subway.It certainly includes people waiting at a public transit stop for the next vehicle to come to get on with their day.This also included me very recently.It was past 1 am after a long flight.I was at the airport taking a taxi home.We hit stand still traffic.I got to pay extra for the privilege of sitting in a stationary car.
I bring this topic up because the vast majority of times these traffic problems arise from a serious accident.Someone is probably seriously hurt and scared.Someone may have just died and their loved ones may be in the process of finding out... and we’re usually sitting upset because we’ll be late or have to pay a bit extra.
Does this make us bad people?I don’t think so.It’s part of our nature to deal with extreme situations.When we are not personally linked to the event and people, we don’t feel as strongly about it.It is also part of our nature to put ourselves first and so the effect of these events on our lives and plans are part of our initial reactions.
That said, I do think that the next time you are stuck in such a situation, you can take a moment to reflect what is actually happening.Think about the real victims in the situation and maybe your problems won’t seem so bad after all.
Here’s an interesting “problem” that I’ve been pondering.We know that Chinese and Indian people make up approximately half of the world’s population, leaving Caucasians with all its subclasses, Natives, Blacks, etc. as the remainder.So how exactly did the world’s population become so heavily skewed to these two groups?
I can’t see it being something along the lines of natural selection or competition, since these populations were separated from each other for the most part.I don’t think traditional family size plays much of a role either.(Realistically speaking I think all races and communities have traditionally encouraged very large families.)Current family size probably doesn’t play that large of a role either.China’s one-child rule certainly would not support such an idea.
One idea that does come to mind is simply the speed at which the countries have developed.We know that growth rates of developed countries are much much smaller than those of undeveloped.When we compare the population size differences between the different groups that I’ve been pondering, we’re probably looking at a difference of two to four times the amount, corresponding to one to two doublings of the population.Populations with “normal” growth rates tend to double roughly every 40 years.If we think that the growing nations of China and India are lagging behind many Western countries by maybe a century, then these disparities between population sizes would simply correspond to the fact that these nations growth rates didn’t slow down at the same pace and nothing more than that.
Some luck and other factors must also come into account too of course, such as lack of fatal diseases, otherwise we should have seen such a skewing of numbers in all parts of the undeveloped world.I’m sure diseases like AIDS has been contributing to the suppression of populations within Africa.
I have no clue if this idea is even remotely correct, or even if the numbers I’ve listed are right.Please feel to correct me on any of the details and if you have any idea of your own why the world’s population may be distributed as it is, feel free to add your two cents.
I recently read a statement that said something along the lines of “if popular vote decided what is best in the entertainment industry, Twilight would have won all the awards for the year.”And I’m sure it’s true.The Harry Potter franchise wouldn’t be very far behind either.While many people obviously enjoy these works, there are many more that completely abhor it.I would hope that even among the fans, people would be able to differentiate between a work that would entertain them and a work that will truly stand the test of time.
So if we can’t really rely on pure entertainment or what we feel towards a work and even an artist, how should we judge what is “best?”Many argue, and perhaps rightfully so, that only those who are the peers of an artist can truly appreciate what is good versus bad and what is truly skilled because they themselves have striven towards it and tried to accomplish the feat.
If this is true, then it really brings into question all of these “let the audience decide” contests, with American Idol and its progeny being in the forefront of my mind.How many times has a winner been selected more on their looks and their rapport with the audience rather than their actual skill and talent?How many times has a contestant been rejected because of their sexual orientation or other irrelevant factors?
I’m certainly not saying that public opinion has no place in deciding what is good art, but there is a big leap between the work of Stephanie Meyer (of the Twilight series fame) and the work of William Shakespeare.And let’s face it, I don’t think most of can truly understand Shakespeare’s work well enough to appreciate it without help.Had it been left to modern audiences, his work would have been ignored and left to sit in the dark corners of libraries, rather than being taught to each new generation.
With so much emphasis being put on global warming within the international spotlight and so much push to prevent the global temperature from rising more than a couple of degrees centigrade (or less), you might think that a decision would be easy; either you believe the predicted catastrophes associated with global warming and would try to do your best to prevent them from coming true, or you don’t believe it and will not change your ways.Yet this doesn’t seem to be the case.
No country has outright denied the existence and reality of global warming.Yes, there are those within each country that believe it to be a myth and try to debunk all data related to it, but no country’s government has taken such a stance.However, when there are global meetings to discuss the problem, trying to solve it, there is always resistance from many directions.At the heart of this resistance is a simply “it’s not fair” type of attitude.
As countries have risen to power and global dominance (and eventually lose it), there is necessarily a progression of events.(I’m definitely thinking of England and the U.S.A. as I write this.)Becoming a cultural center that other countries try to emulate and a military power that can protect itself (and force its will on others too) are part of this.Being a rich country is also important.In the past, industrialization was an important step in this process.Industrialization requires lots of raw material and of course energy and emissions, which is at the very heart of global warming problems.
Countries only starting to develop now and wanting to do it in the most direct and cheapest manner (not to mention “traditional” as well) now are being told they shouldn’t and can’t by the very nations that did it themselves.While they may logically be able to agree and support the notion that their development is wrong, it can also easily seem that other nations trying to hold onto their power and suppress a new nation from overtaking them.
So a recent (albeit small) study showed that people who “buy green” are more likely do something a little less morally approved afterwards.Specifically, the test used the concept of sharing money with a stranger, lying about the results of a test to make money, and outright theft of money – only very small amounts of course.
The most likely conclusion from this is that those feeling smug about doing the “right thing” by “being green” felt justified enough with their good actions to then go do bad ones.(Those that didn’t go green supposedly didn’t lie or cheat as much.)Then again, since the study was so small, it could simply be that less honest people happened to fall into the “green” group.
The goal of the study wasn’t really to look at the limited habits of those trying to be environmentally friendly; the study is more a reflection on our individual morality and how we can justify actions that we are less-than-proud about.The results probably aren’t a big surprise to most people.It think a lot of people have justified to themselves about what they view as “minor transgressions” because deep down they feel they are a good person and will make up for it later somehow.(Giving to charity?)The reality that one action has no connection to second becomes irrelevant.
We know intellectually that if we steal from one person and then give to another, the two actions do not cancel each other out or justify each other.Yet within our minds, and especially within our conscience, we do this a lot.There is just something about the way that we are wired that tries to draw connections between everything, even when they aren’t there.While it’s hard to argue that we can “lose” from these compromises we make with our conscience, I think it is exactly this same wiring that has us thinking that we are “due” for something good when we’ve been down on our luck for a while.This mentality, on the other hand, has lead to many a person has lost a big chunk of money gambling...
Okay, maybe this isn’t so much of a revolution as much of a game of catch up.Remember all the scares about the plastics in kid’s toys and how they could be leaching out chemicals that mimic human hormones and other bad stuff?Yeah, that’s been going on for a while.These fears spread into the bottle industry, from baby bottles to our water bottles, and, well, almost anything made of plastic.This fear has now made its way into the sex toy industry.
Supposedly sex toy providers are looking across their shelves and seeing products made with the very same plastics that have instilled fear in the other industries.Promoting the slogan of “safe sex” – or at least safe sex toys – they’re sending these products back to distributers and instead opting for ones made out of safer materials.This switch is of course advertised on the packaging and labels so that the public knows they are being protected.
I jest, but this is actually a very wise idea, and much of it was probably driven by customer demand rather than the innate desire of shops to protect their customers.Let’s face it, these toys are going to very sensitive organs of the bodies.
To add further publicity to the industry, apparently environmentally friendly sex toy makers have already gone green.Since so many of the toys use batteries (think vibrating features), these batteries can add quite a burden to the waste of a community.(Oh the things we keep hidden in the closet – including toxic garbage.)Enter the idea of a wind-up vibrator.Yes, you heard right.It’ll take about 4 minutes or so of work, but you can be rewarded with about 30 minutes of vibrating action for your efforts with no need to buy or throw out batteries… Makes me wonder what the implications of this on “foreplay” will be.
There’s a secret world of kidnapping out there.And I’m not talking about the people doing the kidnapping, although I’m sure they’d want to keep their identities and operations well hidden from law enforcement and similar agencies.I am actually referring to those who have been kidnapped, their families, their home towns, and their home-country governments.In these cases, keeping the kidnapping a secret can be a good thing.
The stereotype that Hollywood has reinforced with kidnappings is always “tell no one and don’t involve the police.”If you’re trying to capture the kidnappers and bring them to justice, telling the police and even creating a manhunt is probably the way you’ll need to go.This assumes though that the kidnappers are operating in the same country as you, or at least a country where law enforcement has a strong control and that something could actually be done should they be caught.
When we’re talking about Canadians being kidnapped halfway around the world in third-world countries where local authorities can only do so much, bringing the kidnappers to justice isn’t very realistic.Cooperation is the only realistic way of getting back a loved one.
Now here is where keeping the secret vs publicizing the incident comes along.If the media, especially world-wide ones, get a hold of the story, it becomes a very big incident.The kidnappers know that with the world watching, people must be even more careful with how they tread and they may be able to not only extort money from the family, but the world at large.A ransom demand that can be achieved can easily skyrocket out of the means of the family as the kidnappers get greedy with the world watching.
Even worse than this, if the kidnappers start to panic with so much media attention, they could abandon the project and tie up any lose ends by killing their victim.
Is it just me, or doesn’t that statement seem a bit obvious?Sure I’m ignoring a lot of things.Perhaps the girl was armed and dangerous.Perhaps she was overpowering the Mountie and he needed to do what was necessary to regain control of the situation.Then again, these possibilities are not so likely.
Tasers are recent inventions and so their use in police forces is necessarily new.I’m just curious as to when they became so mainstream in terms of protocol.We went from policing forces that didn’t even have access to them to ones that seem to be using them excessively – or so all the wrongfully-tasered stories would have you believe.
I see a pattern in most cases of wrongful use; the taser isn’t used out of necessity for protection.It’s used out of convenience and, unfortunately all too often, as a means of punishment and even torture.If the person won’t listen properly or cooperate, taser them until they’ve “learned their lesson.”
The big problem with this attitude is that policing forces are not supposed to be punishing people.Those arrested or detained are supposed to be subject to some form of trial where they can defend themselves and their actions.If they are found guilty, then they are punished, and this punishment is certainly not decided by a Mountie or a policeman.
So why are we hearing about taser-abuse stories, but not firearm ones?Well, there are certainly more regulations on the use of firearms, including paperwork and explanations.Misuse of a firearms is also taken very seriously and can result in a very heavy punishment.
There is obviously a line that must be drawn between protecting the misuse of tasers and making them a useful tool to law enforcement agencies.Right now I don’t think that line is standing in the correct place.
I think my topic for today reveals a colossal fail on two fronts.Let me explain.Ashley Madison is a dating website, not too different from plenty of others, but with the “special” twist that it is designed to help people have an affair.(Their motto is “Life is short.Have an affair.”)The site wanted to advertise in Toronto through the TTC, which controls the public subway and buses.At the end of the day, the TTC rejected the offer because it did not meet “moral” standards.
So, fail one:We have this amoral site promoting adultery that wanted to advertise through public businesses.The public business said they would not help advertise because it is amoral.In the process of rejecting it, it has brought the company and website to the attention of many potential users.(Yes, I know, by writing about this I am adding to their advertising and this very failure in itself.Life is just a vicious cycle, isn’t it?)Supposedly the increase in visitors from this incident is very noticeable and appears as a nice spike in their page views.
Fail two:The company was actually offering a rather nice sum for the advertising.We are talking on the level of subsidizing a bit of money for each TTC user’s ticket and more money for the company to spend however these wish.(Perhaps some upgrades?)Rejecting the deal meant that the city and transit users get nothing from the company.And let’s not forget that the whole incident gave them the advertising anyway for which they had been looking.
I’m not really sure what could have been done differently.I think the city made the right decision to reject the advertising contract.Short of issuing a gag order to prevent the media (or maybe even people like me) from writing stories about the incident and company, there probably wasn’t much that could be done.So we are left with a question:Is this really something that warrants a gag order and so much effort?
I recently watched the recent documentary film Food Inc.It follows in the same vein as others such as Bowling for Columbine, and Fahrenheit 911.After having watched these, in my personal view, they all overdue it a bit.I’m not saying that the films are bad.I am not saying that they are actively going out there to lie and mislead their viewers.I do however think that we can’t quite take everything they say at face value.
The simple fact and very nature of the beast is that the makers of the film are investigative reports and, well, movie makers.They certainly are not experts in the fields nor do the vast majority of them have first-hand experience in the incidents.They try to talk to experts and those with first-hand experience, bringing their stories into the film, but they do get to – and even need to – pick and choose what goes in and even what is said to some degree.Just like the viewers, they will not understand everything told to them.These misunderstandings creep into the movies and can very easily lead to a slippery slope where things get “over done.”
One topic in particular stands out to me in Food Inc.There is a scene where they are discussing the legal need for labeling genetically modified foods.The movie leads you down a road where you are meant to think that these foods are “bad.”The government obviously does not pass a legal requirement for such labels and an argument of “it will confuse the customer” from “evil lobbyists” is heard in the background and meant to sound insulting.The truth though is that it will confuse many consumers.When people see warning messages on their food they assume that consuming the food is bad for their immediate health.The case made for genetically modified food was how it was changing farming, the use of pesticides, and even the control of our crops.Eating the genetically modified food versus non-modified food in itself does not lead to bad health.
Again, I am not saying that Food Inc. is bad or “lying.”I actually rather enjoyed it and recommend it.I just suggest taking everything said with a grain of salt and don’t trust it to be the absolute truth.
With Obama accepting his Nobel Peace Prize today, it has again drawn the issue of whether he deserves it or not into the spotlight.A lot of people are finding irony in the fact that a leader involved in two wars is receiving an award for peace, and are opposing his right to the award.In this blog, I thought I’d try to step into his shoes a bit.
Winning the award was probably very problematic for Obama.He has stated numerous times that there are many others much more deserving of it, and I’m betting he is not just saying that for good politics but does actually believe it.Add to the possibility that he doesn’t think he deserves the award is that it now raises the bar for what critics will expect of him and his legacy.Rather than being the proof his supporters want for their decision to elect him, it has almost become an aid to those who don’t like his policies as it has brought all his actions under even greater scrutiny.As a military leader, a peace prize almost undermines his role and the commands we needs to issue within the war.
Even his possible responses were rather limited.Should Obama have tried to turn down the prize because he did not feel he deserves it, he would have greatly insulted both Norway and Sweden.(The prize was turned down by Lê Ðức Thọ, a Vietnamese politician, in 1973.)The fact that he currently represents an entire country means that his actions could have alienated diplomatic relations for a long time to come.Even his truncated visit, lasting only a single day rather than the full three days the ceremony usually comprises, has been criticized and threatened to insult both countries.
Whether he deserves it or not, wants it or not, the fact that the Nobel committee chose him gave him little choice but to accept it.
In a normal relationship, if someone cheats, it hurts the relationship and possibly ends it.When very rich celebrities like Tiger Woods cheats, money tends to start passing hands – and I’m not talking divorce lawyers here.I already mentioned his possible actions of “buying off” his wife by transferring money into her account and changing their prenup so that she gets more if she stays with him for another two years.Enter in a new twist in the form of “alienation of affection” lawsuits.
The idea behind it is that a spouse can sue his or her partner’s lover because their actions have interfered with the marriage.These suits aren’t allowed everywhere, and are actually limited to seven states in the US (Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota and Utah).I would hope that we maintain enough sanity in Canada to not allow these types of things, but I really don’t know for sure.You don’t have to live in these states to file a suit though, as long as some of the “sins” occurred within one of them.
Suing someone like this obviously only makes sense if the lover is rich – such as Tiger Woods.(Was his lover married?)Whether or not they are justified, they tend to pray more on the desire of the defendant for privacy and not have their actions and name dragged further through the mud in the public eye.The end result is usually an out-of-court settlement with a strict agreement to keep all details away from the media.
I find the idea of these types of lawsuits to be quite ridiculous.They certainly just seem to be a money grab for jilted spouses.A person being sued would certainly need to know the marital status of their lover, and the possibility of couples scamming rich potential victims seems a bit too high.Then there is the simple question of what do these cases achieve?Airing out the dirty laundry of a married couple who potentially have children can’t really be good after an “alienation of affection.”
I recently watched the movie The Time Traveler’s Wife.Yup, definitely a “chick flick.”As far as chick flicks go though, I’d say it was one of the better ones.I haven’t read the book on which it was based otherwise I’m sure I’d be saying the movie ruined the book.I do know that the movie pushed the emphasis off of the wife and onto the “time traveler” himself, and probably lost some of the points the author was trying to make about relationships.None of this is really what I want to talk about though.So here we go…
The focus of the story is on a man who has a “gene” that causes him to randomly travel through time.What is glossed over in the story is that he actually lands up in a different time and place in each instance.It is the fact that his travelling through space is so easily overlooked that makes me interested.Why is it so easy to overlook?
Is it because jumping around in space is something we’ve almost come to accept?“Beaming” in Star Trek or the theoretical physics concept of black holes – perhaps even the recent movie Jumper – might have helped with this.Maybe it’s the idea that time travelling somehow seems harder that we tend to focus on it.(I believe that anything that physics predicts would let you “jump” through space would also have a big effect on time too.)I admit that the ideas and the story of the book have little meaning without the time travelling, and the space travelling that accompanies it just makes the story more convenient and easier to write.
I guess where I’m going with this is that yes travelling through time is a cool idea, but there really should not be any reason for us to be more impressed with jumping through time than through space – in terms of a “technical” point of view.