Monday, October 31, 2005

Isonzo del Friuli i Feudi di Romans Merlot

Unfortunately my Italian isn't good enough to know what the name of this wine means. Beppi Crosariol in the Globe and Mail described it as a merlot for that guy in the movie Sideways who hates merlot. I'm not quite sure why - it seems like a standard merlot to me - but then I'm not sure why anyone would hate merlot in the first place. Besides, wasn't that character like an adulterer or something? I would take great pride in having my taste in wine be the polar opposite of an adulterer's. Anyway, it's good merlot.


Conventional wisdom has it that manhole covers are round because that's the only shape that won't fall down the through the hole.

I don't think this is true, because subway grates are rectangular, and those grates found in the gutters of suburban streets are square, and they don't fall down. Just thinking it through in my mind, it wouldn't be that hard to create a ledge around the inside of a square (or triangular or hexagonal) hole to stop the cover from falling down.

I think the reason manhole covers are round is because manholes are round.

So why are manholes round?

Because they're made of sewer pipes, and sewer pipes are round.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Look, I'm rich!

My blog is worth $2,258.16.
How much is your blog worth?

Angst! Drama! Telecommunications!

Dear Look Communiations,

I am very disappointed in your decision to introduce a package system for your television service. I chose Look in the first place because you had one flat rate for all the channels. I stood loyally by through two failed installation attempts because I believed so strongly in this flat rate policy. I recommended you to other people out of sheer principle, because I thought it was so important to have an alternative to the exploitive package system. And now you've gone and turned away from the very policy that drew me to you in the first place.

If I continue to use your service, it will be simply because you are the cheapest. I feel used, exploited and betrayed, and have no loyalty to Look any more.


Dear Rogers,

I recently found myself disgruntled with my television service provider, so I went to your website to see if you had a better offer for me. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the information I was looking for.

I wanted to see a list of your packages that stated the channels available in each package and the cost of each package. I could not find this. I could find packages specially designed for sports-lovers and movie-lovers and owners of leaky dogs, but I find this all rather patronizing. I am familiar with the available television channels, and I know which channels I need. I simply want to know how much it costs. It felt almost like your website didn't want to tell me upfront which channels were in each package, which seems highly suspicious to me.

You have therefore lost a potential customer. If I can't find what I'm looking for when I come to your website disgruntled with your competitor, credit card in hand, hoping to switch, how can I expect you to give me the help or information I need when I'm locked into a contract and owe you money for two years no matter what?


Dear Bell ExpressVu,

I recently found myself disgruntled with my television service provider and considering switching. Unfortunately, because I have had so much trouble getting Bell and Sympatico to tell me how much money I owe and when it's due and what my account number is so I can pay said amount, I am not even going to consider using ExpressVu. Keep your call centre open 24/7 (or at least evenings and weekends) and empower your employees to help your customers find the information they need rather than responding to them like robots, and then we'll talk.

In Defence of Yonge & Eglinton

Paved pointed out this Ask Metafilter thread where someone asked for opinions about whether they should move to Midtown or the West End. I was very surprised to see no one speaking up to sing the praises of Midtown, because I cannot fathom why anyone would want to live anywhere else. I'm not a Metafilter member, and I'm not going to join just so I can get in a pissing match with people who are dissin my hood. Oh no no no. That's what blogs are for!

So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Yonge & Eglinton

It isn't hip, it isn't trendy, it isn't edgy.

It is easy, it is comfortable, it is convenient.

Yonge & Eg has everything. Every single product or service you could possibly want is available here, all within walking distance. I can go to the drug store, bank, library, post office, LCBO, and grocery store, all on foot, and be back home within an hour. I can do my errands on the way to or from work without going more than a block out of my way.

To travel north-south, we have the Yonge subway line. To travel east-west, we have about 10 bus routes. If you aren't going too far east-west you can get on just about any bus, so you don't have to wait more than 2 minutes for a bus.

My commute to work is 17 minutes, door-to-door. I can leave the apartment at 5:45 for a 6:10 class, and have time to do my homework on the subway and before the prof arrives to class. I can leave the apartment at 1:00, and be on a GO bus departing Union station at 1:30.

Despite its location in the dreaded "north of Bloor", this neighbourhood hasn't surrendered to the seductive charms of the car. You can do your shopping without ever having to walk across a parking lot. You can walk straight into stores from the sidewalk. Even the stores in the Yonge-Eglinton Centre have outside storefronts. There are enough chain stores to be convenient, and enough small independent stores to keep things interesting.

Despite its location at the intersection of two major arteries, the neighbourhood still retains the best aspects of its former life as a suburban bedroom community. On small, quiet, tree-lined side-streets, you can find detached houses, duplexes, townhouses, low-rise apartments and high-rise apartments, for rent or for sale. You can step out your front door and see a familiar neighbour walking their dog, then walk two more minutes and be in a subway station. I feel perfectly safe walking down the streets at night because there are so many businesses open that I could just duck inside a pub or restaurant if things got weird. There are so many people out and about at all hours - not just people going to and from bars and clubs, but people walking dogs and jogging and going out for a late-night coffee run - that I'm never walking alone along a dark street.

This is a neighbourhood for people who want to spend their time doing whatever they want, whenever they want, instead of spending their time getting there. That may not be what everyone is looking for in a neighbourhood, but that's why I love it here.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Things They Should Invent: a search function for the Sims

Sometimes when I'm playing a large or complex house in the Sims, I can't find things. Did little Arthur not get any homework today, or did he just leave it somewhere other than in the usual place? Is there a newspaper in the house, or do we have to wait until tomorrow to find a job? Do we still have a Thinking Cap around here somewhere, or did it burn out? It would be rally convenient if I could do a search for these things, and the game would point out their location for me.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Deen De Bortoli Vat 7 Chardonnay

This is a bit more melony than your average chardonnay, which doesn't work that well since I'm not fond of melony flavours. It does acquit itself at the end with a smooth creamy ending, but really I've had better chardonnays that don't make me go "huh?" at all.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I'd rather not be welcome, thanks

"Thank you"
"No problem!"

For some reason this response really bothers some people, and I don't understand why. I know that "You're welcome" is the standard answer, but it doesn't really have any meaning to me. When I say it, I'm saying "Insert standard answer here." When I say "No problem!" I'm really being more effusive. It's shorthand for "Oh, that is so NOT a problem whatsoever, it's no trouble, I'm happy to do it, please don't go around feeling you've imposed on me!" I have a friend who communicates this with a non-verbal noise and a dismissive wave of the hand, and it certainly makes me feel more "welcome" than the words "You're welcome."

I find that in general when I use standard formulae, I'm doing so because it's socially required. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - it isn't begrudging or anything - but what I mean when I use standard formulae is "I am asking" or "I have been received a favour" or "Someone has thanked me". However, when I use variations on standard formulae, that means I'm putting some thought into my response, which means I'm actually feeling what I'm saying.

If I say, "Could you pass me that pencil please?" is standard, so I'm just using the "please" because it's required. If I say, "Um, I was wondering if you would possibly be able to do me a big favour and help me with changing my vacuum bag? I'm sorry, I know this is a strange thing to ask and a bit of an imposition, but I think the bag is full and I really am not able to change it myself, and I just don't know who else to ask," I'm obviously asking in a more deferential way. I'm not even saying "please" here, but my sentence structures and tone of voice indicate proper deference to the fact that I am asking a bigger favour to which I am not at all entitled. I could stick "please" in anywhere, and that wouldn't make it any more deferential.

When someone passes me the salt or the cashier hands me my change, I simply say "Thank you!" This is the standard formula, and is appropriate for such small niceties. If someone does me a bigger favour, I'd say something more along the lines of "OMG, thank you SO much, I really do appreciate it!" But I can also communicate effusive thanks without ever saying the words "Thank you." For example, if someone does me a surprise favour: "OMG, you ROCK!" For something extremely kind: "Oh wow, this is like the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me!" (said on the verge of tears). For a really good gift, I could be effusive about the gift itself. I did this once when I was a kid and my aunt gave me this little light for reading in bed. "Oh wow, it's so tiny, but it makes so much light! Like I took it into the bathroom and turned off the lights and it lit up the WHOLE ROOM! But you can't see it through the covers! This is so cool!" My mother then came along and nagged reminded me to thank my aunt, and my aunt said that I'd already thanked her several times. I never once actually uttered the words "Thank you," but my sheer enthusiasm for the gift made my aunt feel thoroughly thanked.

"I'm sorry" is the standard apology, and it's appropriate for normal incidents of crowd navigation or conversation interruption, but a real apology requires something more. "Oh no, I am SO sorry! I had NO idea that would happen, it was totally not what I intended to do! I really did not mean to cause any trouble for you! Please tell me what I can do to make it better!" The words "I'm sorry" sort of have more need to be uttered during an apology, but you can do it without. Wide eyes, hand covering mouth, gasp, "OH NO!" "Oh wow, I had no idea..." For smaller offences, a suitably self-effacing "Oops" and an attempt to figure out how to not make the same mistake again can be effective. Again, the use of the words "I'm sorry" need to be inserted here more than "please" and "thank you" do above, but it's the rest of the context that really communicates the speaker's remorse.

So back to "You're welcome." You're in the coffee shop, the person behind the counter hands you your coffee and your change:

You: "Thank you"
Worker: "You're welcome. Have a nice day."

Compare this with:

You: "Thank you"
Worker: "No problem! Enjoy your weekend!"

Isn't the second one better, even though the words "You're welcome" are never uttered?

The Society of Others by William Nicholson.

The biggest problem with this book is I don't know how it ended. I read it, but I didn't understand at all what was supposed to have happened at the end.

The other problem is that I somehow got the impression from the jacket blurb that the protagonist was psychotic. It never said he was psychotic, but for some reason I got that idea in my head. So I was reading through thinking "This author is very clever, making a psychotic seem so rational and sympathetic," until I finally realized that he isn't psychotic at all. So I probably should reread it without thinking the guy is psychotic.

So to the plot: a 22-ish-year-old British guy keeps being nagged by his family to do something grand and adventurous with his life, so he spontaneously decides to take a trip, which he does by hitchhiking on a truck, which takes him to some unnamed unknown Eastern European country.

Then things get Kafka-esque. This is some kind of totalitarian military state, and they're after him and he doesn't know why, and he's helping the resistance and he doesn't know why, and the plot mostly but not entirely makes sense until it reaches a grand, violent ending that I still don't understand while the protagonist reaches a heavy-handed, preachy revelation of what an ungrateful little brat he's been and all those other things elders tell youth when the youth aren't spending every single moment of their lives lavishly thanking the elders for giving them access to such obscene luxuries as indoor plumbing.

I'm rather disappointed, because this book could have been so much better. If we'd had an explanation of who and where and why and the revelation wasn't nearly so heavy-handed or something, then I would have enjoyed it. But as it is, it didn't work for me. It's possible that the whole book is intended to be a metaphor, but if so it's way over my head.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Open letter to Bell Canada

Dear Bell,

The fact that your call centre is open only 8-5 Monday to Friday is far worse customer service than I would expect from such a major corporation. Those office hours are such that many people with full-time jobs will be unable to contact your call centre from home at all, as they'll be at work or commuting during all your office hours. This is particularly problematic if they require technical support for internet or satelite services, in which case they have no choice but to call when they're in front of the computer. Furthermore, some people are not able to make any phone calls from work at all due to the nature of their jobs, so they may have no possible way of reaching you by phone, at all, ever.

While being open 44 hours a week is certainly acceptable for small businesses and many professional services, the standard in North America in the 21st century is that major businesses and utilities are open longer, preferably 24/7. I can reach my banks and credit card companies 24/7, I can reach my TV and cell phone services 24/7, I can reach a representative of my property management company 24/7, I can buy groceries or drug store products 24/7. Phone and internet services are just as important, so your users expect to be able to reach you 24/7.

While I'm not the type to go around switching services at the drop of the hat, your very limited call centre availability has certainly reduced my loyalty to Bell and Sympatico. It is now no longer a given that I will get my landline from Bell when I next move. And if my phone and/or internet gets disconnected because I can't pay my bill because I don't know how much it costs or when it's due because I can't access it online because I don't know the account number because the account number is printed on the bill which I can't access, I will be seeking out another service provider rather than attempting to get my Bell and Sympatico services reconnected.

Brilliant Ideas That Will Never Work: Sabbaticals for all!

I read an article recently that said that for the economy to survive the coming decades, people are going to have to work longer, perhaps doing away with retirement entirely.

I'm not sure whether I believe that or not, but if it is necessary, I have a simple solution:

Let everyone take sabbaticals.

Professors can do it. They get six months or a year off every X years, and they can use the time to travel or research or veg or whatever.

I don't know if sabbaticals are usually paid or unpaid. If they're usually unpaid, then they'd be self-funded, maybe with a little something to help lower-income people, but the workers could still keep their employer benefits. If they're paid, their funded however universities do it.

Simply make it a universal employment standard that workers get X months of sabbatical every Y years. Then they can use the time to write or travel or study or renovate or whatever. If I have to spend 80 years in the workforce, the idea of getting regular sabbaticals makes it much more palatable.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Nobilo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Rather zestier than most sauvignon blancs. This would be really effective in the summer, when you're drinking it chilled for refreshment purposes, but it's less effective in October. It's not actually bad or anything, it would just be better appreciated in a hot, sticky, oppressive day that makes the glass sweat, and I'm glad it's not that kind of weather any more

Things I Don't Understand

1. There have been a couple of recently-publicized incidents of hazing, one in an OHL team and the other at McGill University. In both cases, measures were taken to punish the wrongdoers and prevent future hazing. In both cases, people complained about the fact that measures were taken to stop hazing. WTF? I seriously cannot wrap my mind around that. Even if someone personally does not think hazing is a big deal, I cannot fathom why they would go to all the trouble to write a letter opposing stopping hazing. Why would someone want so badly to make random other people undergo abuse and humiliation that they would speak out in protest if the abuse and humiliation was stopped?

2. The grocery store was selling Hallowe'en-themed cakes. One of the cakes was decorated with rubber spiders. WTF? I know not everyone is an arachnophobic like me, but is there anyone for whom that sort of decoration would actually improve their cake-eating experience? I'm sure even people who think those . . . THINGS are cool would prefer not to have them on their cake.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Pop, Six, Squish, Uhuh, Cicero, Lipschitz

Cell Block Tango from Chicago is a damn good earworm. Unfortunately, since it's about murder, it isn't always appropriate for singing while you work.

Family and Friends

I read an article about allegations of nepotism in City Hall, and it mentioned in passing the possibility of a blanket rule against hiring family or friends.

Now, family is reasonable. You can define family. You can write a list of family relationships, tag on "or anyone residing in the same household," and someone either is a family member or isn't.

But "friends" is a more nebulous concept. I know who my friends are, I could provide the conflict of interest office with a list of every friend I had if they wanted, but part of conflict of interest is perceived conflicts of interest, and different people have different definition of "friend". Therefore, it is quite possible for some member of the general public to perceive a conflict of interest because their definition of "friend" is different from mine. For example, I don't consider most of my acquaintances to be my friends. Classmates, co-workers, neighbours, people who lived in my res. in university, people I know in online communities - these people aren't my friends. Some of my friends fall into these categories, yes, but not everyone in these categories is my friend.

In most cases, I could avoid a perceived conflict of interest involving these people, but I couldn't necessarily do so in every case. For example, I would refuse to translate a text that could harm or benefit someone I went to high school with, even if I've never spoken with that person in my life. But what if that person went to the same high school as me at the same time, but I never knew them and didn't recognize their name? It's certainly a perceived conflict of interest, but I'd have no way of knowing that. I'm not involved in hiring in my job, but if I were I would ask to recuse myself if one of the candidates was someone with whom I'm acquainted. But what if it's like the sister of my roommate from res, or someone whom I unknowingly was in a class with? What if I couldn't recuse myself from the hiring process because there's no one else to do it?

The other problem with perceived conflicts of interest is that it might be perceived as a conflict of interest if a candidate is a friend of a current employee, even if that employee is not involved in hiring, and even if the alleged friend is only an acquaintance. This could be a real problem in small professions. When there are fewer than 100 graduates in your field nationwide each year, it's quite likely that one of the employees went to school with one of the candidates, even if they didn't know each other too well.

I'm all for measures to eliminate bias in hiring, but they have to be careful not to go to far and punish people whose paths happen to cross with someone they've met in the past.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Helpful household hints learned through sheer laziness

The instructions on the Zero bottle say to use cold water and soak for like 15 minutes. However, if you use warm water and soak for a couple of hours because you don't feel like attending to your laundry, your delicates will come out noticeably cleaner.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Felix Solis Los Molinos Gran Reserva

This is quite smooth for a red. I don't know if it's typical of the varietal or if it's the longer aging process (it's 8 years old, which is older than $15 wines usually are), but it is smoother than I expected. The label mentions "silky tannins", and the tannins are, in fact, silky. However, it is quite complex if you swish it around your mouth looking for complexities. I think this is one of those wines that would change depending on the food you paired it with.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Even though they're the comics, basic logic still applies.

Dear Mike from For Better or For Worse,

There is a HUGE flaw in your hare-brained scheme to buy the house you live in:

You are currently living in the biggest apartment in the house.

Your children are currently sharing a room.

Your children are one boy and one girl.

Your children are soon going to need separate bedrooms, thus requiring you to get a new place to live, thus eliminating any possibility of your making a profit off this stupid investment.

Why on earth would Lynn Johnston present a character who's supposed to be sympathetic as so DUMB?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Things that don't make sense

My bathroom smells like cigars.

I don't smoke.

Mi cielito doesn't smoke.

No one who smokes has ever used my bathroom.

There has never been a tobacco product in my apartment the entire time I've been here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

An idea, free for the taking

If you happen to be female, and you ever find yourself in a situation where someone who happens to be male calls you any intending-to-be-derogratory name based on the physical attributes of being female, the correct response is "Oh, sorry, I didn't realize you were gay!" This must be delivered in whatever tone of voice you would use if you had honestly mistaken someone's sexual orientation and are honestly sorry about it. The logic here is that a straight man would be stupid to use a reference to female genitalia as an insult, but the kind of straight man who would do so is more likely to take offence at the suggestion that he might be gay. And if he does turn out to be gay, hey, no harm done.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I'm PROROW (or: IMBY!)

I support the boycott of businesses that oppose the St. Clair streetcar.

I have been a big fan of rapid transit ever since I was first exposed to it. As a child, I was greatly impressed by the hop-on-hop-off ease and convenience of the London Underground, and wished my own home and all my potential destinations were served by a subway. It seemed to me the ultimate freedom, even more so than a car. As an adult, I deliberately arranged my life in this way, so that the vast majority of my travels would, in fact, be by subway. As such, I greatly support building rapid transit anywhere and everywhere, as my vision of the ideal Toronto is like a super-efficient city in the original Simcity: you can get anywhere by train alone.

I have never lived or worked on Spadina, but I have had to visit there a few times for various reasons, and each time I was highly impressed by the streetcar service. Because of the quality service provided on Spadina's dedicated right-of-way, a trip down Spadina is no more of an expedition than a subway trip. Generally, if I need to do an errand, I think first "How can I do this in my immediate neighbourhood?" and then "How can I do this using only the subway?" Going down Spadina feels the same as using only the subway. Going down St. Clair does not. I rarely have any reason to go down St. Clair, but I know that if the street had a dedicated streetcar right-of-way, I would consider a trip along St. Clair to be no more difficult than a subway trip. I might even use the St. Clair streetcar to cross over from the Yonge line to the Spadina line when my intention is to go back north. (I currently find crossing over via the Bloor line takes up no more time than crossing over by bus, so I tend to ride down to Bloor since I can read on a train but not on a bus.)

If St. Clair doesn't want ROW, I would like to humbly suggest that they consider building it at Eglinton. I, personally, would welcome it enthusiastically, although I can only speak for myself. IMBY!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Terra Barossa Eden Valley Pinot Grigio

This is breadier than the other pinot grigios that I've sampled lately, but not unpleasant. The breadiness makes it go well with various foods (I guess like bread goes well with various foods?), which is good to know and keep in mind.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Hogue Pinot Grigio

Very smooth for a pinot grigio - tastes almost like a chardonnay. I quite enjoy it, but I think it might be overwhelmed by some types of food.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

I didn't like this book as much as the original Persepolis. I think this is because the original book dealt more with the socio-political situation in Iran, while this sequel dealt more with the author's personal coming-of-age story. While it is perfectly valid for an autobiographical story to deal with the author's coming of age, it's just not as interesting for me personally. Nothing against the book - it's still perfectly decent - I just happen to prefer the first one.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

I enjoyed almost all of this mystery novel, right up until the ending. The gloriously interlocking plots were all resolved satisfactorily, but the resolution happened off-screen and the reader was kind of told about it later. I would have preferred to be shown the denouement, not told about it.

There were also two subplots that didn't seem to contribute anything to the rest of the book. They sort of vaguely touched the other plots, but they didn't progress or resolve or add anything.

Despite these problems, the process of reading the book was quite enjoyable. I knew the plots were going to intertwine and I had fun reading along and guessing what would happen next (I guessed some things but not everything, and my correct guesses came along early enough that I felt smart, but late enough that I didn't feel cheated.) I just would have enjoyed seeing more of the resolution rather than being told about it after the fact.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Someone confiscate Lynn Johnston's sledgehammer!

Usually I enjoy For Better or For Worse, but today's plot device just made me gag.

We're supposed to believe that Elly managed to drive away without noticing that she didn't have her sunglasses? Prescription sunglasses are FOR driving! That's why she needs them! She would have noticed the instant she sat down in her car, if not within an hour or two of driving.

If Lynn Johnston seriously cannot come up with a better way to get Elizabeth to meet this police officer guy, she should have at least had Elly mention in passing that it was raining the entire way home or something, to justify her not having noticed the lack of sunglasses. This is like having the metaphorical gun tucked away in a drawer instead of sitting on the mantlepiece.

(Not to mention that they have either John's home email address or Elly's webmail address in their computer, and not to mention that there is only one school in Mtigwaki so they could have just called up the school to talk to Elizabeth. Gah!)

How to stop the violence

This past summer, Toronto had an unprecedented heat wave, and an unprecedented number of shooting deaths.

I think I have the solution.

Provide free air conditioning in all the apartments housing at-risk individuals.

This will serve the dual purpose of soothing hot tempers (it's amazing how much a hot, sticky, sleepless night can put one in a bad temper) and making the thought of hanging around outside (which various authorities peg as part of the problem, although I'm not sure I agree) less tempting.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Corten Pinot Grigio

This wine is from Moldova, which I hadn't even heard of before, but they were kind enough to include a map on the label showing that it's on the Black Sea, and is possibly a former Soviet republic.

The wine itself is described on the label as crisp and dry, but it also has a sort of warm tartness to it, which is kind of a strange thing to say but is the best way I can describe the taste. The colour of the bottle makes the wine appear slightly greenish, like certain Sauvignon Blancs, but in the glass it is a warmer yellow, which is a more appropriate colour for a Pinot Grigio. I think this wine could stand up nicely to food containing onions, and I intend to test it out on Thanksgiving stuffing as soon as I have some on hand.

Wherein I take it upon myself to define a nebulous concept

The definition of "cheating" in a romantic relationship is not really about any particular limit of physical activity. It's more about doing something that denies your partner something they need or deserve by giving your attentions to someone else.

So having sex with someone else instead of with your partner is cheating.

Going out with someone after work and having a long, intimate conversation with them when your partner is at home wishing you were there to share a long intimate conversation is cheating.

But what you're taking away from your partner doesn't have to be the same thing you're giving the other party.

For example, having sex with someone else when your partner is physically incapable of having sex because she's just given birth, but still badly needs you to come home and watch the baby so she can have a shower and eat something is cheating.

Looking at porn while your partner is lying in bed wanting to be cuddled is cheating.

The thing you take away from your partner doesn't even have to be tangible or direct attention.

For example, having sex with someone else denies your partner the trust and security of monogamy.

Being seen "canoodling" (as the tabloids say) with someone else in public denies your partner the dignity of a respectful relationship that presents a strong united front to the world.

Linguistics poll!

Consider the following two sentences:

1. Not all of these ideas are good
2. Not all of these ideas are bad

Which sentence describes the situation with the higher percentage of good ideas? Approximately what percentage of the ideas are good in each situation?

Anonymous comments are welcome, but please indicate if English is not your first language

The Common Theme That Shall Not Be Named

1. Pet stores really really do NOT need to be decorated for Halloween.

2. What happens if you spray Peter Parker with Raid?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Thoughts and value judgements from the commute home

1. There is a hemorrhoid (thank you Blogger spellcheck) product called Anusol. This amuses me greatly, despite the fact that I don't usually go in for toilet humour.

2. There's something a bit...I don't know...trashy? tacky? cheap? about going to a supermarket and buying just once single lemon.

3. My biggest public transit pet peeve is people who try to shove past people who are going in the same direction. Like they're trying to get off the train, so they try to shove past other people who are getting off the train. Or they're trying to get up the stairs, so they try to shove past other people who are going up the stairs. And it doesn't even seem like they're in a hurry - they just don't seem to grasp the concept that these other people are going in the same direction too rather than standing around trying to be obstacles.

4. It is far too hot out for October.

Monday, October 03, 2005

America: The Book by Jon Stewart

The book was generally witty and made me laugh out loud an average of twice a chapter, but any enjoyment I might have gotten from the book was negated by two unpleasant attitudes the kept cropping up:

1. The writers seem to believe that having sex with someone is some kind of ultimate way to insult or degrade them, and they were using this metaphorically throughout the book. While I think this strange attitude would be excellent fodder for psychology research, it's just bizarre and vaguely unpleasant in a comedy book.

2. The writers (all male) had a strange attitude towards women. I don't want to use the word misogyny because that's a bit strong - it's more that it appears to never have occurred to them that someone reading this book might a) be female and b) be a human being with thoughts and feelings. In some parts it felt like they were deliberately trying to be as unpleasant as possible for the express purpose of making me stop reading the book, like you sometimes hear that workers in mostly-male workplaces do to push out female co-workers (something I've heard of but never experienced).

Now these two attitudes weren't 100% pervasive, it's just that they kept popping up here and there, frequently enough to make reading the book a not entirely fun experience. I don't quite understand why they did this. I watch The Daily Show somewhat regularly and I don't find these attitudes are present on TV. I know the writers are smart, and they are, after all, writers, so they should be able to easily make the text not feel exclusionary to the reader. The fact that neither the writing team nor the editing team chose to make the few editorial changes necessary to make the book not feel exclusionary rather ruined the experience for me.

Again, the vast majority of it was amusing, and it was only a few ill-chosen words, phrases, images and "jokes" that felt exclusionary, but it was enough to alienate me and, consequently, make me think twice about whether I should watch The Daily Show or just go straight to bed.

Toilet paper

Charmin Ultra > Cottonelle Cashmere

That is all.