Saturday, May 31, 2008

What does the library think we're doing with CDs?

The Toronto library lets you take out CDs for 3 weeks, even though it only allows 1 week for DVDs.

What do they think we're doing with CDs for 3 weeks? I'd assume most people take them home and copy them for personal use, and if not they take them home and listen to them once.

What does the library think we're doing that we need 3 weeks?

Because my blogging hasn't been vapid enough today, an iTunes meme

Open up iTunes, if you have it (if not, improvise), and answer the following questions:

How many total songs?

3207 songs, 41.2 days (I think the timing is wrong), 14.97 gigs

Sort by song title - first and last

Abandoned Masquerade - Diana Krall
99 Luftballons - Nena

Sort by time - shortest and longest

Shortest: Silence by Klaatu (really just the sound of a mouse getting caught in a mousetrap): 4 seconds

Longest: Glenn Gould's 1981 Goldberg Variations: 51:19.

Sort by Album - first and last

First: Abba Gold
Last: 1 (Beatles)
(followed by a bunch of tracks for which no album is listed)

Sort by Artist - first and last

First: Aafje Heynis
Last: 69 Charger

Top five played songs:

You Know I'm No Good - Amy Winehouse feat. Ghostface Killah
I'll Feel Amazing By Tomorrow - Lenlow
Mercedes Beck - Lenlow
Ugly - Bon Jovi
Freakshow - Ani DiFranco

(I don't think this thing counts times played on the ipod, only on itunes)

Find the following words. How many songs show up?

Sex: 39 (30 of which are due to the presence of Eddie Izzard's Sexie album, 2 of which are due to the presence of The Sex Pistols. Sorry to disappoint you if you were looking for music about sex, but then all music is really about sex)
Death: 4
Love: 158
You: 327
Home: 18
Boy: 46
Girl: 63

First five songs that come up on Party Shuffle

Just A Girl - No Doubt
I've Got The World On A String - Diana Krall
Luv Lies - Aerosmith
Teeny Little Super Guy - Sesame Street
Promised Land - Ani Difranco

Stop talking about Julie Couillard's cleavage!

There's one very important point that everyone seems to be missing: Julie Couillard wasn't wearing cleavage. For cleavage, the breasts have to touch. Like this:

( . Y . )

Julie Couillard was wearing her breasts down, like this:

( .   . )

Regardless of whatever else happened between Maxime Bernier and Julie Couillard, the fact remains that that is not cleavage. It is merely potential for cleavage

By talking about her alleged cleavage, you're not only a) making it look like we have nothing more important to worry about than someone's neckline and b) embarrassing us on the international stage by making it look like Canadians can't handle cleavage, you're also embarrassing us on the international stage by making it look like that's what we think cleavage is, as though we can't do better.

No wonder Eddie Izzard isn't coming here!

Things They Should Invent: target-shooting guns that can't kill anyone

Whenever there's talk of tightening restrictions on guns, people are always like "OMG, but target shooting! It's a sport, ergo it's a good thing!"

Now my first thought in response to that is "But why don't you just not do target shooting?" But I feel that way about all sports, so let's assume for the purposes of this post that target shooting is a reasonable activity.

What they need are guns for target shooting that fire some sort of special bullet that can't kill a person. I don't know enough about guns to get more detailed than that. But target shooting guns, which would be perfectly legal for sporting purposes, could only fire special harmless bullets and would be incapable of firing bullets intended for killing. Then there would be no excuse for having killing guns.

Added bonus idea: anyone who turns in a gun intended for hunting and waives their right to hunt for the rest of their life gets a lifetime supply of free meat.

The other problem with that polygamist cult

I have a few hairstyles in my repertoire that lift my long hair up off my neck while still giving the illusion of volume. These are good for hot, humid weather when my hair goes perfectly flat against my head and neck at the slightest provocation.

But now, anything I do with my hair that is up and pouffy makes me look like a polygamist! Even with my standard french twist ponytail (which always looks good on me and always gets compliments when I return to it after having done something else) makes me look like a polygamist if I do anything to give it the slightest bit of volume.

And if I don't give it volume, I look like someone from the movie Trekkies. I know, I am a trekkie, but I don't think it's strictly necessary for my hairstyle to reflect that.

Open Letters to my cosmetics

Dear Jolen: Your bleach is without question the best on the market, but your packaging is very user-unfriendly. Please provide proportionate ratios of cream and powder, a larger and bowl-shaped mixing thing, and a larger spatula that's appropriate for applying arm-sized quantities.

Dear Olay Definity Eye Illuminator: You are a miracle and well worth the higher price. I can never use anything else ever again. However, you are egregiously over-packaged. Seriously, it's ridiculous. Please get reasonable packaging.

Dear Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear: I think you have the best cost/quality ratio I've ever met. I've been wearing your Indigo nail colour for a week now, and it has only chipped the tiniest most imperceptible amount and still looks completely civilized. Please get some nice subtle professional-looking colours in addition to the fun colours you have now, and I'll wear you every day forever.

Dear Rimmel Vinyl Gloss: I love you, but your container leaks when it gets tipped sideways in my purse. Please fix this.

Dear Rimmel Professional Liquid Eyeliner: You're a very good product and have the best brush ever. How about a waterproof version too?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Harm reduction

I wonder if people who are opposed to harm reduction have never been on a diet or something? Because if you didn't get your workout in this morning for whatever reason, going for a walk at lunch is still better than nothing.

Open Letter to Riddex Plus

Dear Riddex Plus:

I am more freaked out by household pests than anyone else I've ever met. And yet, I still think your TV commercial is a bit too sensationalist and fear-mongering. Tone it down a bit maybe.


The person who should be your most likely customer in the world

(Commercial can be seen here. Contains life-like drawings of mice and bugs.)

Geordi La Forge

Geordi's best friend is Data. This makes me wonder if there's something wrong with Geordi emotionally or something.

Don't get me wrong, I love Data. He's my favourite. I'd love to be friends with him if he weren't fictional. But I'm just not sure if a person who is incapable of emotion can fulfill the best friend role. So I wonder what's up with Geordi that a person who is incapable of emotion gets the #1 friend spot, over and above all the people he knows who are capable of emotion.


The word essential seems to have become weakened. I was just writing a sentence where I used the word essential to mean "absolutely imperative must-have sine qua non," but it didn't seem to come out meaning that. It felt more like it just meant "yeah, important, just like lots of other things are important." I wonder when that happened?

Possible alternatives: vital, crucial.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

How do embassies work?

So people are sending panties to Burma again. This is good timing - I actually do need to clean out my underwear drawer, and I'm about to get my period.

So you pop your panties in the post and send them to the Burmese embassy. I get that much. But what happens then? Are they actually going to get close enough to insult someone? Or does their summer intern just throw them straight into the garbage and no one notices?

What happens after the panties arrive at the embassy really does affect how I carry this out, like whether the panties are clean, dirty, clean but stained, stained with red or white or brown, etc. (Aside: I wonder if it's illegal to send bodily fluids in the mail like that?) If I knew they were going to end up literally in Than Shwe's hands, for example, I'd be shopping for a menstrual cup and a fine paintbrush and a Burmese dictionary. If they were going to end up with someone not particularly influential but the message will still be noted, maybe I'd send them laundered with some strategically placed set-in ketchup stains. If they aren't going to be effective, I may or may not bother (I do still have to clean out my underwear drawer) but if I send them I'll make sure they're clean, and maybe include a nice note thanking them for helping me with my spring cleaning. I wonder if some (unused) Always would also help? I accidentally bought the wrong kind a while back and haven't figured out what to do with them (you can't donate an open package and I opened it before I realized it was wrong.)

This also makes me wonder if something insinuating that Than Shwe wear's women's underwear would make a good googlebomb? On one hand, I can see how it might be the Burmese equivalent of small penis. On the other hand, it might imply that he's even more powerful if he can continue to rule the junta despite the draining effect of the panties. Any experts on Burmese male insecurity out there?

How far do I stick it in? (or: teach me how to wear noise-cancelling earbuds)

So I've got noise-cancelling earbuds, and I'll review them after I've used them for a couple of days. But first, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to be wearing them. I can just sort of rest them on my external ear without much thought or effort, and they work just like normal earbuds. But if I stick them in my ear a bit more, they're like wearing earplugs. If I talk, I can hear it inside my head way more than outside my head, and I can't tell how loud I'm talking. I can hardly hear myself type. (Although I did just hear my cellphone's text message beep with the earbuds stuck all the way in.)

It could be useful to have both these two options. But am I actually supposed to stick the earbuds in so far that it blocks out a significant portion of the exterior sound of me talking? Or do I just somehow have freakishly large ear canals and have managed to get my earbuds in farther than is safe?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Things They Should Invent: a googlebomb that mocks Than Shwe's penis size

The more I read about Burma, the more I'm thinking this Than Shwe fellow seems really insecure. Like bizarrely ridiculously insecure. After all, a real man who's in charge of a whole country and a whole army wouldn't need to go around oppressing people like that, he could get the people to do what he wants by the sheer strength of his leadership.

So what's the best way to express this sentiment? Googlebomb! Why am I posting this as a Thing They Should Invent rather than just starting it myself? Haven't decided on the optimal phrasing. Small penis? Tiny dick? Smallest penis in the world? Suggestions welcome.

(As an informational aside: in googling for potential phrasing, I found that small penises is a pornography subgenre. Good to know.)

Edit: Would it be productive for the googlebomb to imply that Than Shwe wears women's underwear? Or would that just imply that he's more powerful?

Why on earth would car people be opposed to public transit?

The Globe and Mail has this columnist, one Neil Reynolds, whose overarching thesis week after week seems to be "Public transit shouldn't exist, everyone should drive cars." And a lot of very loud people seem to be agreeing with him.

Now, if you're a car person, I get that. You like cars, all vroom vroom and stuff, you don't want to take public transit with all the smelly proles because that will make your penis fall off, we'll have to pry your car out of your cold dead hands. Message received and understood.

But here's the part I don't get: why do you want ME in a car?

Let's put aside for a minute the fact that I'm a terrible, nervous, skittish driver - let's pretend I'm a perfectly innocuous normal driver. If I'm in a car, I'm turning left in front of you, I'm taking up a parking spot, I'm merging into your lane on the 401 at the last minute, I'm trying to squeeze car in the tiny space next to your pretty shiny new car, I'm in front of you in line at the gas station, I'm taking up an appointment slot at the mechanic's.

But if I'm on the subway, I'm not doing any of these things. I'm not in your way at all, you don't even notice me.

So why on earth would you want me in a car? Why wouldn't you support public transit just because it keeps so many people off the road and out of your way?

Do blind people ever just want to be left alone?

I often see blind people on the subway, and random strangers always help them. Most people have obviously read the same pamphlets I have, because almost everyone does it right. They give them specific verbal instructions ("The subway door is two feet to your left"), they allow the blind person to take their arm and guide them to a seat, basically whenever there's someone with a white cane, everyone's looking out for them and someone almost always jumps in and helps.

I wonder if this gets annoying for the blind people though? If every time I see a blind person a stranger is helping them, then blind people must get helped by strangers all the freaking time! I wonder if that ever gets annoying to them? Sometimes when I'm making my way through the crowded city, I really just don't want to deal with any people at all. I wonder if blind people ever feel like this and wish people would stop helping them?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wherein the LCBO makes me feel like a disenfranchised child

One day, when I was a kid, my family was visiting the zoo when it started raining hard. Since we had already seen most of the zoo and didn't have umbrellas, we decided to go home. I started walking towards the car. My parents started walking in the other direction. I told them that they were going the wrong way - we came in over the bridge, and the bridge is right there! They insisted that I stop dawdling and go with them. (Unfortunately, at this point I was still young enough that being walking away alone without my parents would have been too big and scary.) So we went the wrong way, walked across the whole entire zoo, got directions, then walked back across the whole entire zoo. By this point I was soaked to the skin, and if we had gone the way I said to in the first place we would have been literally halfway home by then. So I was really pissed off, and doubly disgruntled that my parents thought I was unreasonable for being pissed off. I was smart and diligent enough to remember where we parked, I did everything right, but I still got inconvenienced because the people who were wrong were bigger and stronger and louder.

This is exactly how I feel about the LCBO banning plastic bags. I've already solved this problem! I saw the problem coming, came up with a solution has more positive outcomes than a ban and is more convenient for everyone, wrote up a nice pitch, and sent it to the powers that be. I'm the one who came up with the best possible solution. (And this isn't ego, I haven't heard a single better solution. Got one? Post it in the comments.) And yet, I still have to be inconvenienced every single time I buy wine for the next 75 years just because the people who like the suboptimal solution are bigger and stronger and louder.

If I wanted to be treated like this, I'd go to the zoo with my parents!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Things They Should Invent: don't check warrants on people who call 911

This guy calls 911 to save his own life, and the police arrest him on an outstanding warrant.

So now people with outstanding warrants aren't going to call 911. You're thinking "But it was to save his life, of course he was going to call!" And I can see either side on whether they should check warrants on people who call for themselves.

But they should definitely never ever check warrants on people who call 911 on behalf of someone else! Imagine if you're injured or you've been attacked or your house is on fire, and the only person around doesn't want to call 911 because they have an outstanding warrant! Imagine if a driver with an outstanding warrant happens to get in a car accident, and instead of calling 911 to help the person in the other car they drive away so they don't get caught!

People who call 911 to help someone else, or who otherwise get involved with the authorities to help someone else, should have immunity from being arrested as the result of their helping.

Things They Should Invent: retirement homes that AREN'T like high school socially

Apparently retirement homes are like high school.

So someone fix this! Redesign it! Rethink it! Give people more privacy! Locate it somewhere within an easy (for seniors!) walk to amenities and transit so residents aren't dependenton the retirement home to provide their social life!

This only increases my determination to deteriorate and die in my own apartment, forgotten and unnoticed, my automatic pension deposits (if pensions still exist) feeding my automatic rent withdrawal, until someone starts noticing a smell. I quite deliberately left the fishbowl, there's no way I'm going back.

It is possible to make institutional environments not like high school. I lived and worked on campus throughout my undergrad, but I didn't feel like I was in the fishbowl. I can't articulate why it worked, but it did. So someone better figure out how to do the same thing with retirement homes.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Low-flying planes

Today in my five-minute walk to Shopper's, I saw two different airplanes that seemed to be flying really low, like way lower than usual. This was around maybe 3 or 4 pm. I'm in midtown, nowhere near the airport. Anyone else see anything like this?

Things They Should Invent: a place for used cleaning cloths in every home

I use a lot of disposable cleaning materials - paper towels, swiffers, those disinfectant wipes, etc. My parents, whose household I grew up and learned how to clean in, use reusable cloths for almost everything.

So what made me stop using reusable cloths? They have to be washed after you use them, and I have nowhere to put them between when I use them and when it's time to do laundry. My parents put them in their laundry tub, but I don't have a laundry tub in my apartment. I don't want to put them in the laundry hamper because sometimes I put clothes that I intend to wear again in the hamper (pyjamas, bras, my sitting-at-home-feeling-fat pants). I don't have room for another hamper in the bathroom (which, bizarrely, doubles as the laundry room with the laundry machines stacked in a closet in the bathroom), and I don't exactly want a bucket of wet dirty smelly used cleaning cloths in my bedroom or living room. I only have one kitchen sink and one bathroom sink (and nowhere nearly enough counter space) so it's not like there's anywhere else I can leave them for several days. And coordinating all my cleaning so it happens right before an appropriate laundry day just isn't going to happen, not when I also have to earn a living.

If there was somewhere in my apartment that was conducive to leaving wet dirty used cloths, I'd use cloths for cleaning. Because there isn't, I use disposable stuff. If you want me to make less garbage by using reusable cloths, find me a solution.

Things They Should Invent: bottles that easily dispense every last drop of product

How often do you throw something out with the last centimetre of product (moisturizer, shampoo, bathroom cleaner) still in the bottom of the bottle because you just can't get it out, or because it's too much work to get it out?

Now multiply that by everyone in the world.

Imagine how much waste we could save if every container dispensed every drop of product just as easily as the first!

Things They Should Invent: trade a channel that is in your cable package for a channel that's not in your cable package

I recently reduced the number of TV channels I get, to get closer to an optimal cost/viewing choices ratio. Just now I noticed that I no longer get BBC Canada. Now BBC Canada isn't important enough to me to pay any more for it, but I wouldn't mind watching it from time to time. However, while looking for BBC Canada, I noticed I get an all-NFL channel, which I am quite certain I am never going to watch. I also get three versions of SportsNet, which I am also never going to watch, and probably some other channels that I'm never going to watch.

What they should do is let you trade the channels you're never going to watch for channels that you might watch. Or if for some reason they'd lose money on doing this, let you trade two channels you're never going to watch for one channel you might watch. I just can't imagine why it would be to anyone's benefit to have me receiving channels I'm not going to watch.

What I want my elected officials to do with my emails

This started with this article and then went off on a tangent.

When I write to my elected officials, I don't care one bit about whether they send me the standard reply or not. I know that the standard reply is nothing more than an acknowledgement of receipt, and it's completely meaningless to me.

What I really want is for the elected official to look at and actually think about anything that I've introduced in my email that's new to them. See, a lot of the time, I get the impression that they've reduced the issue to A vs. B, and they're set up to deal with people writing in and saying "A! A! A!" and other people writing in and saying "B! B! B!" But a lot of the time I write in and say "Hey, I have a better idea, why not C?" or I say "Actually, here's why A is a better choice to achieve the B people's goals," or I say "Both options would be unfeasible for people who don't have cars, so you should do something about that." I want anything new or extra that I introduce into the debate to make its way to the elected official's brain, and I never get the impression that this has happened.

Don't ever ever ever listen to He Stopped Loving Her Today by George Jones

This is the saddest song ever. Seriously. Don't listen to it. Ever. My iTunes gave it to me just as I was about to go to bed, and it had me weeping into such a funk that that a shot of vodka and never-before-seen Eddie Izzard bootlegs and Cake the band and cake the food couldn't even get me back to neutral.

There is no good reason for a song this sad to be allowed to roam freely thoughout society. It should be carefully restricted as a dangerous weapon.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I wonder if doing speeches in school makes people fear public speaking?

(I just noticed that the noun is speech but the verb is speak. No wonder it took me forever to learn how to spell!)

When I was a kid, we had to do speeches in school. It was like three or five minutes of talking in front of the class on a prepared topic. And this was so scary! You had to think of something, and research it, and make a speech out of it, and hold your peers' attention, and talk in front of EVERYONE! And your appearance and topic and eloquence and interestingness and who knows what else are all up for the very worst of elementary school scrutiny!

I'm wondering if this made us more afraid of public speaking than if we hadn't had to do it until we were older. No adult audience is as judgemental as a classroom full of 12-year-olds. Plus, (as I've blogged about before but can't find now) when you're in school your presentations are all about stuff you don't have any particular knowledge of - you have to do the research and become an "expert" specifically for the presentation - whereas in real life we're only ever asked to speak publically about stuff we are already experts in. I'm a very shy person, but I find that speaking in front of other adults about something that I know enough about that other people might ask me to speak about it isn't even in the same order of magnitude as doing a speech in front of my Grade 3 class. And actually, now that I think about it, doing Show and Tell in front of my Grade 3 class (about something I'm knowledgeable about and interested in, and on a completely voluntary basis) was something I could do without a moment's though, but doing The Speech for the same amount of time was the Worst Thing Ever!

I wonder if by making speeches such a big deal, they inadvertently taught us that public speaking is Big And Scary?

Open Letter to o.b.

Dear o.b.:

Your Mighty Small tampons are a very good idea. I wish they'd been around back when I was first trying to master the art of the tampon! However, why not make an applicator version too? A lot of the people who are in the market for smaller tampons are going to be the people who aren't used to wearing tampons, and if you aren't used to wearing tampons it's extremely difficult to insert them by hand, because you don't know what a properly inserted tampon feels like. An applicator makes the insertion a no-brainer - you push the tube into the other tube and then the tampon is automatically in the right place. You say on your website that finger insertion is easier because many people's vaginas are curved but applicators are straight, but the flip side of this is that you need to be very familiar with the shape of your vagina to do a proper finger insertion, while your vagina will give a bit against the stiffness of the applicator so you don't have to know exactly where you're going. You also promote the fact that the absence of an applicator means these tampons produce less waste, but if a girl can't get a tampon in properly she's going to wear a pad, which makes even more waste. Besides, they are a medical device, and people accept that medical devices have to produce a certain amount of waste.

The lack of an applicator option is the only thing standing in your way of being the tampon of choice for all new users. Everyone starts their menstrual career with the smallest products available and works their way up as needed, but lots of people struggle with insertion early on and need all the help they can get, which sometimes means an applicator. A "too bad, you should be woman enough to do it by hand" attitude is going to send these customers over to Tampax and Playtex, who are just waiting in the feminine hygiene aisle with nice smooth easy applicators. But if you provide an applicator, these customers will buy your product because it's the smallest available and just as easy to insert as anything else. As you know, brand loyalty is built early. Not providing an applicator version is just poor business sense.

Children's classics revisited

1. The Bare Necessities from Jungle Book: a wee bit Freudian?

2. Sesame Street: no comment

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Things They Should UNInvent: webpage code that automatically tells you today's date

I care when your webpage was last updated. That might be useful or relevant. I don't need your webpage to tell me what today's date is. I can get that information from the bottom right corner of my screen, or any number of gizmos within reach. Worst case your page tricks me into thinking it was updated today, which isn't helpful either and damages your credibility.

Things They Should Invent: use "&" instead of "and" in all names and titles

Many times in the text I'm working on there's a list of organizations in a complex mult-clause sentence. Many of the organizations have "and" in their name. It's very hard to keep the sentences clear with the "and" in the organization names and the "and" preceeding the final list item and any other sundry "and"s in the sentence.(Unfortunately, restructuring the sentence or listing the organizations vertically isn't an option.)

If the name of your organization, or the title of your book, or anything else that serves as a proper noun contains the word "and", you should use a & instead. Then if you ever end up in a confusing list, it will be obvious which words go together.

Things They Should Invent: acquaintance-rape-proofing

Most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. We know this, it's common knowledge.

But I've never seen anything telling us what to do with that information. You can easily google up signs of an abusive relationship if it's someone with whom you hve an actual relationship. There's all kinds of stuff about reducing your risk of being attacked by a stranger. But there's nothing about simple straightforward acquaintances.

Whoever's in charge of awareness stuff needs to come up with warning signs or something for acquaintances - people to whom you've been Properly Introduced but you don't actually know very well. A friend of a friend. A new co-worker. A relative's boyfriend. What signs should you look for to tell you you shouldn't accept a ride home from one of these people, and how do you do it politely?

I can't work out a good set of keywords to get me rape statistics for these kinds of relationships, but it has to be non-zero. Why is there no information about it?

Open Letter to Rogers

Dear Rogers:

If #-####-#### is not a valid account number, please do not print it on the bill next to the words "account number." If you want that 12-digit number instead, please label the 12-digit number "account number" instead of "cable account reference."

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Free mash-up idea

Someone needs to mash up the songs Piano Man, Guitar Man*, and Mr. Tambourine Man. I don't know if the end result would have any particular aesthetic value, but it needs to be done as a matter of principle.

*Insert Bread/let them eat Cake joke here, with an appropriate donation to the pun jar if necessary

OMG, this is, like, SO wack!

Author/historian David McCullough in a graduation speech:

“Please, please do what you can to cure the verbal virus that seems increasingly rampant among your generation,” he said, slamming the “relentless, wearisome use of words” such as like, awesome and actually.

“Just imagine if in his inaugural address John F. Kennedy had said, ‘Ask not what your country can, you know, do for you, but what you can, like, do for your country actually.’”

I use all those words. I also translate speeches. But those turns of phrase don't end up in the speeches I translate because they're inappropriate to the speaker and the context. I'll use it when I'm talking to a colleague trying to work out exactly how to word something. "This needs to be, like, more assertive but not assholic. Right now it's kind of, you know, [insert hand-waving to express my point]." But the final product will be intelligent and articulate and the right level of language and even sound masculine if the speaker is male. The fact that I use the linguistic constructions of my demographic in my own everyday speech does not negate my ability to do this.

This isn't new information. Everyone can do this. You can talk dirty. You can also describe a sexual health complaint to your doctor in clinical terms. You could probably talk like a lolcat if you really wanted to. You can also do your job every day without ever betraying the fact that you can talk like a lolcat. Just because you can swear like a motherfucker doesn't mean you can't also have a completely appropriate conversation with a child without a single swear in it. Anything I say or write comes out in English unless there's a reason not to, but I can still throw together a decent business letter in French.

If this were a regular 74-year-old man talking, I wouldn't expect him to grok or care about this nuance. But from an author I expected better. An author should be aware that people have access to different levels and types of language for different contexts.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Why is the percentage completed on my Bittorrent download going backwards?

I'm downloading something on Bittorrent. It said it was 65.2% complete. Then I looked at it later and it said it was 65.1% complete. WTF? I noticed that throughput was a bit slow and the status bar was saying "Online, maybe firewalled" instead of "Online, ports open" so I restarted the program. Then it was 64.8% complete. So I thought maybe I lost something when I closed the program so I let it go for a while. Then later it was 64.9% complete. But then later still it was 64.8% complete.

WTF? Help?

(I know, maybe I should be using another client, but I want to finish downloading this huge-ass torrent first.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I hope virgins don't read penis enlargement spam

Seen in my spam folder: "Your powerful rod will rip her blouse off!"

Now, I'm am open-minded person, I understand that there is a wide variety of sexual practices out there (probably more than I'm even aware of), but I think I can say without fear of contradiction that that is the wrong way to remove a blouse. There are other options that will be far less damaging to both the blouse and your penis.

I get nervous in social situations, muthafucka!

(Language warning, in case you couldn't tell from the title.)

ipod synchronicity

Say what you will about Ricky Martin, but when you find yourself running down a busy street in the rain wearing brighter colours and higher heels than you can quite carry off, carrying a shopping bag of wine and a shopping bag of lingerie, there's no better soundtrack than Livin' La Vida Loca.


Does anyone find the words on FreeRice have gotten harder since it started? I mean sastruga and pith at level 40? They should be at level 44 at least!

Of course, I've also found this game is like IQ tests or Jeopardy. Once you've been playing for a while, you get good at guessing which one is likely to be right just because it's the sort of thing the people who design the game are likely to pick.

And while I was typing this I got "bilabial" at level 43. Bilabial (with its completely transparent etymology) is at 43 but sastruga is at 40?

"Hi, this is Teresa MacDonald calling from the Business Funding Centre..."

I just got a voicemail spam starting with "Hi, this is Teresa MacDonald calling from the Business Funding Centre" and trying to sell me information about federal and Ontario (yes, they actually said "Ontario") business grant programs. They left a 613 (Ottawa) number to call them back at.

Problem: according to my call display, this call originated in the 641 area code, which is Iowa.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New linking practice

I think I'm going to stop making my links automatically open in new windows. I started doing that years and years ago before the advent of tabbed browsing. Despite the fact that it's against good web design practices, I thought (and most people agreed with me) that it's more convenient for the users. But now that we have tabbed browers, some people want links to open in a new tab, some people want them to open in a new window, and some people might want them to open in the same window. So I'm making my links without any target, and you can open them however you want yourself.

If you think thi s is a terrible idea, I'm willing to be convinced.

Cool ads

I was going to post about what my local Starbucks did. They drew a bunch of chalk arrows on the sidewalk, and if you followed them you ended up in Starbucks. I know people don't like advertising intruding into public space, but I thought that was cool. Subtle, non-intrusive, piques people's interest. Although really the candy store up the street should have done it instead, because their target audience is children and children would totally drop everything and follow arrows drawn on the sidewalk.

But then I saw this ad which is so infinitely cooler it makes Starbucks's arrows not worth blogging about. (NSFW warning for the only very strictest workplaces: contains potentially sexy but non-sexualized transvestite imagery)

The reason why it's a particularly effective ad isn't even mentioned in the ad: speaking as the target audience of hair removal products, my first thought is that if it can make a bio-male look like a sexy woman, it can probably do the same on me. "The toughest part about looking like a woman is all my hair." Yes, that's my problem exactly!

Friday, May 16, 2008

If you're looking at a map, do you need help?

The Toronto Star sent people out into the city with maps to see if people would offer them directions.

Question: when you, personally, are looking at a map, do you need help? Because I don't. If I have a map, I'm fine. I just need to look at the map and orient myself. It's like when you walk into a strange mall and you look at one of those big board map things to find out where the foodcourt is. You don't need help, you just need to look at the big board map thing for a second. Holding a map isn't a sign that I need help any more than holding a newspaper is a sign that I need someone to tell me everything that happened in the world yesterday.

So because of this, it might not occur to me to help someone who's standing there with a map. If they ask me, sure. I'll point them, I'll highlight their map, I'll walk them there, I'll carry their stroller down the stairs, I'll help them in their own language and call someone up if I don't speak their language, I've even nagged and argued and debated someone who was utterly convinced that to get from 2000 Yonge to 3000 Yonge she had to walk south (the numbers go up northwards) until I got her walking in the right direction. But I might not help them if they're just looking at a map, because when I'm looking at a map I don't need help.

Do you need help when you're looking at a map?

Synergy opportunity

Toronto is looking to boost tourism.

The morning-after pill is going to be available off the shelf in Canada.

So leverage the morning-after pill thing to boost tourism!

I know no one is going to travel to Toronto JUST to pick up the morning after pill (unless perhaps they live close to the border and need it NOW.) But it could perhaps be the tipping point when trying to decide where to go if you don't have your heart set on any one particular place.

Americans living in rural areas, for example, might want to spend a weekend in a city to enjoy city stuff. Stay in a nice hotel, shop for more interesting stuff than is available at home, try some new restaurants, take in a concert or play or sporting event, and visit a tourist trap or two. You can do all these things in Toronto, plus you can (or will soon be able to) pick up a couple of doses of the morning after pill with no big drama, so you can take them home and keep them in your nighttable drawer just in case. For some people, that might be the tipping point in choosing between Toronto and, say, Chicago. It's not worth driving up here for the pill alone, but could be worth it if you're looking for a vacation anyway.

That could also work for other parts of Canada. Want to visit the Rockies? BC instead of Washington State. Want to go into the woods? Algonquin instead of Adirondacks. Atlantic Ocean? Nova Scotia instead of Maine. Some people already come up here for the lower drinking age, maybe some would also come up to pick up some morning-after pills, not for immediate use but to keep at home in case of emergency.

Open Letter to China

Dear China:

On behalf of the world, I have a proposal for you. You go have a chat with your friend Burmyanmar and let us help all their people who have been displaced in the cyclone, and then we'll also help you out with your little earthquake problem. Sound good?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Any opera singers out there looking for songs to cover?

I think someone should do an opera version of Led Zeppelin's Black Dog. Keep the instrumentation the same, but have the vocals be opera.

What does a helicopter crashing look like?

A helicopter crashed and killed a person on the ground, and now some people are blaming the fact that the guy on the ground was wearing headphones.

I'm wondering if it's possible that he didn't realize the helicopter was crashing. I've never seen a helicopter crash, but I can't picture at all what kind of arc or shape the fall would take. I can sort of visualize the aerodynamics of an airplance, but not a helicopter. Was it obvious to the untrained onlooker that it was crashing instead of just flying low? Was it going in a predictable arc so you could see where it was going to hit the ground? Could you tell even if it was coming right at you? Is it loud enough that if it's coming behind you, you can hear that something's clearly wrong rather than just that there's a low-flying helicopter? How much time does it take for a helicopter to crash? Would he have had time to run away and would it have been obvious from its trajectory where he should have run to/from?

As a person who knows nothing about helicopters (yes, I've translated plane crashes, but never helicopters) I haven't the slightest idea what the answers to these questions are, so maybe it's possible he just didn't recognize that a crashing helicopter was out of control rather than just flying low?

Young offenders

I noticed in passing in the newspaper that Omar Khadr is 21 years old. He was 15 when he went into Guantanamo, and now he's 21 and still there. He must be fucked up. There is no way a person could be in that kind of prison for that portion of their life and come out a functional adult. If he had spent those years in a healthy environment, he might have come out a non-fucked-up adult by virtue of exposure to what a healthy environment is liked. Even if he had spent those years with his family, he might have come out non-fucked-up - I'm sure personally know several cases where people from extremist families came out as moderates as part of their normal adolescent rebellion. Of course, he might have still turned out fucked up anyway, but you can see how the possibility of non-fucked-up would have been there. But by having spent those years in Guantanamo, there's no chance of him not being fucked up.

Then I turned the page and saw that they might start treating young offenders the same as adult offenders. This worries me. I'm worried that if the justice system is forced to treat young offenders the same as adults, then there won't be any room to fix people who can become un-fucked-up by growing up. I'm not saying that all young offenders are innocents who don't know what they're doing - I've been on the receiving end of enough adolescent cruelty to know that! And I'm not saying that they don't understand that stealing things or hurting people is bad, I'm quite certain they do. But you know in that awful stage of early adolescence where the hormones are flying and you just can't grok that this is temporary and that the world is bigger and kinder than the middle school cafeteria, and you're sort of hostile and defensive and ready to pounce because of that? And then as you get older you see that the world is bigger and there are other ways to live and in the real world everyone isn't judging you for the shade of blue of your jeans, and you sort of mellow out and are more able to calmly go about life and let things just roll off your back? I can see how in some cases the adolescent hostility might lead to criminality, and the mellowing out as you see the bigger world might eliminate it. And it would be a shame to eliminate this possibility in applicable cases by forcing the offenders to be sentenced to imprisonment pursuant to adult standards.

I know in some cases society needs to be protected from the offender, but in cases where they would become a better person just by being exposed to a bigger, less nitpicky world than the school cafeteria, prison (even in a juvenile institution) isn't going to un-fuck them up. I don't want to see those who can be un-fucked-up lose that chance just because of political will to further punish the permanently fucked-up ones.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cheap consumer goods

From an article about the US economy, some but not all of which is relevant. I found this bit interesting:

Are people actually spending a higher percentage of their income on the necessities, like healthcare and housing, than they did even in the '70s?

Yes, and that's been a critical shift. Consumer spending is about the same now as it was in the '70s. But we're spending more on items that require regular monthly payments, things like childcare, healthcare, housing, things that we can't give up if money gets tighter, if someone loses a job, or gets a pay cut.

Whereas if we were spending more money on buying new suits, or new dining sets, or just lattes, it would be something we could give up. Obviously, you can't say: "OK, this month I'm not going to pay the childcare, or I'm not going to pay the mortgage."

What's confusing about this is that, thanks to globalization, consumer goods are now cheaper. So, you might be buying more clothes than you were in the '70s, but clothing costs, as a percentage of your income, could be the same.

That's true for clothes and toys and furniture. You can go to IKEA and get a whole dining set for what would have been comparably one chair in the '70s.

Now, I knew that major purchases cost a bigger proportion of your income than they did back in the day. I've gotten numbers from my grownups and played with the inflation calculator and worked out that, for example, my parents could work full-time over the summer for minimum wage and earn an amount equal to their university tuition, but I've never done the numbers for everyday consumer items. It does seem ture that they're relatively cheaper today. My mother used to make her own clothes to save money, but now I can buy a scarf for the same price as buying the yarn to make a similar scarf. That's interesting to me, because I was raised on the don't buy take-out coffee principle of frugality - don't buy little things and you'll save big significant amounts of money. Elders especially do seem to comment on how much Stuff I have as though that's a sign of decadence on my part, but it looks like it isn't as decadent as they think it is. I've always been thinking that the money I spend on clothes and toys and makeup simply doesn't feel like that much, even when I add it up over the course of a year. I guess this might be why.

I don't have on hand any prices of consumer goods from Back In The Day, but if anyone reading this does, try running them through the inflation calculator and see how they compare with the prices of similar goods today.

This reminds me of a recent Heather Mallick column deploring the fact that people buy cheap stuff that wears out quickly rather than more expensive stuff that will last a long time.

Now some people buy cheap stuff because they can't afford more expensive stuff, even if you look at it as an investment. And I do that sometimes. But sometimes, even if I could buy more expensive stuff, I buy cheap stuff because I'm not very good at shopping. I don't actually want the stuff to wear out (I'd be very happy if everything I bought lasted forever) but I don't always know how to tell if an expensive thing is actually of good quality (at this point people always tell me to look at the seams, but I don't know what I'm looking for), or whether it will meet my needs enough to be a long-term investment, or whether I'll keep liking it, or whether it will become obsolete or egregiously out of style. If a pair of boots costs $200, I'd better be certain they're comfortable and attractive and well-made and something I could wear every day for at least three years and constructed in such a way that my shoe guy can rebuild the heel (because no matter how well made they are, I still walk crooked). But if they only cost $20, then "Hey, they look like Eddie Izzard's and I can walk in them!" is a good enough reason. If they're a misfire, it's no big loss. I'd hate to have to research and comparison shop for every single thing, so (politically incorrect as it is to say) I'm very glad there is cheap stuff out there.

Things They Should Invent: voicemail that automatically deletes blank messages

Every day I come home to three or four blank voicemail messages from telemarketing machines gone amok. I wish my voicemail could just detect that the message is blank and delete it, so I don't have to go log into my voicemail and go through and delete the messages myself. Even though I know to press 33 to skip to the end, it's still an annoyance.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chemo or death?

There's an 11-year-old who is being forced by CAS to have chemotherapy against his will. What surprises me about the reactions to this is that a lot of people seem to think that no one could make an informed decision about whether to let themselves die at the age of 11. Now the particular boy in this case has FAS, which might make a difference, I don't know enough about it, but people are saying no 11-year-old whatosever could possibly make this decision, which really surprises me.

Death is serious. It's the most permanent thing ever. You're gone, forever, never coming back. But because it's so serious and permanent, that actually makes this a less complex decision (and a decision more within the range of an 11-year-old's abilities) than some of the other decisions a person might have to make in life. You get survival statistics for the chemo treatment (which I have seen published but can't find ATM), you get a description from the doctor of what death without chemo would be like, then you go home and mull it over for a bit. In light of the foregoing, do you want to cease to exist? (y/n). It's not as complex as having to decide whether to save the life of a pregnant woman or her unborn baby. It's not as complex as house/apartment/condo/downtown/midtown/north york/what if i get married/what if i lose my job? It's not as complex as if you've been kidnapped by the Congolese army and they tell you to rape your child or they'll kill all your children. It's not even as complex as trying to figure out how far to drive to buy locally grown produce and what if it's not organic and what if it goes bad before you can eat it all? If you reduced chemo or death to an algorithm, you wouldn't even need a big chart to work it out, you could use an old-fashioned scales.

Thinking back to when I was 11, I did have some trouble with nuance. I knew I had to leave the church, but couldn't express why. I don't think I could have diplomatically suggested that someone wear something else. I couldn't have seduced someone even if I had wanted to. I probably wouldn't have been able to grok transgender. But I understood that death was permanent just as well as I do today. I haven't had any new information or enlightenment about the permanence of death since then. I don't know if I could have single-handedly made a decision about whether to get my pet put down at that age, but I could have decided whether to get myself put down just as well as I can now.

Actually, now that I think about it, earlier in childhood I tended to see it more in black and white: Death bad, life good. Then as I accumulated age and experience and maturity, I started to grok that sometimes mere survival is insufficient, in the words of Seven of Nine. It occurs to me that perhaps the fact that this boy thought of the idea of letting himself die may indicate that he is capable of grasping the nuances.

Open Letter to the lady on the subway

Dear lady in the red and black skirt and denim jacket, southbound on Yonge just after 6 pm:

Taking your shoes off and then putting your feet up to take up three seats is just not cool, especially not during rush hour when people are standing. Even if your feet are sore, even if you are injured, you just aren't three seats' worth of special. Not during rush hour. If it actually is absolutely strictly necessary to keep your legs horizontal, take a cab or wait until rush hour is over.

By the way, you are very fortunate that my stealth photography skills are not very good, because I did attempt to take a picture of you and fully intended to post it here. Others have since suggested that the stealth wasn't strictly necessary, so maybe next time you will get hollabacked.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Does laminate flooring cause holes in socks?

My previous apartment had parquet floors. My current apartment has laminate flooring. Ever since I moved here, I noticed my socks and slippers have been developing holes much faster. A quick google on the subject suggests that some commercial-grade laminate cause holes in socks because they are rough, but that isn't the case here. The floor could not be smoother, and the holes aren't snaggy holes, it's that the socks are wearing out under the ball of my foot, where most of my weight goes (and where my feet are most callusy). I'm no heavier now than I was in the previous apartment and I don't know of any change to my walking patterns. Could it be that something about laminate floors makes my socks feel the weight of my tread more?

Memes we need: your body is always and constantly changing

I think we sort of have the idea in our culture that your body Changes in puberty until you become A Woman (unless, of course, you become A Man), and then it stays the same and you are A Woman. And then one day, some time in the distant future, you Get Old and your body changes again and then you're an Old Lady.

But in real life, your body changes every single day. As a child, before you've even heard of puberty, you grow every day. Then puberty happens and I don't need to go into THAT mess. But even after you're done puberty, your body still changes every day. Even something small, like you get a zit or a scar. I think we sort of have a tacit cultural expectation that your body stays the same for a huge chunk of adulthood. People are expected to know what they weigh or what their measurements or dress size are, as though these things are constant. So then when your body doesn't stay constant, you feel like something is going wrong.

So maybe everyone would be happier if we standardized the idea that your body is always changing, every single day, and it never stays the same and the fact that it's changing isn't anything particularly special (while retaining compassion for the poor kids who are dealing with puberty).

False piety

This post arises mainly from the massive protests against not doing the lord's prayer in the legislature, but it's an idea that has been festering for a long time.

There are some religious people (hereinafter The Religious People or RP) who seem to have a really strong need to make non-religious (or differently-religious) people (hereinafter The Non-Religious People or NRP) go through the motions of praying in the Religious People's manner and to the Religious People's deity even though the Non-Religious People don't mean it and are only going through the motions. (I think the RP are also collaborating with the xmas junta.) Even if the NRP say explicitly "No, I don't want say that prayer or sing that hymn or put up that cross because I don't believe in it and I'd just be emptily going through the motions anyway," the RP still try to force them to do that knowing full well they don't believe in it. It's like they're trying to bully people into displaying false piety.

I wonder what the RP get out of this? Some random person who's completely irrelevant to your personal or spiritual life goes through the motions of believing what you believe, either because they were bullied into it or to get you to STFU. And you know full well that they're just pretending. Why is that worth the effort? Why do the RP care? And why is the RP's inclination to try to force all the NRP to put on a show (and making the NRP be like the Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector) rather than just living their own values, putting on their own show when they feel the need, and letting the NRP stand as contrast?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Les ananas ne sautent pas en parachute

I've just been watching Téléfrançais on Youtube. I haven't seen it since like Grade 4. It's a lot more fun to watch now that I understand it isn't supposed to make a whole lot of plot sense and is mainly to reinforce vocab and child language acquisition. Back in Grade 4 I thought I must really be missing French skills or cultural knowledge because I didn't understand why there was a junked car and I wasn't getting very much plot out of it.

Opening titles are at 1:57, Les Squelettes are at 5:35

A parallel

This is the story of Maxime Bernier and Julie Couillard.

This is the story of Jessi Lenti and his father.

More information please (labour relations edition)

[the Ontario goverment] voted down a private member's bill that offered one of the best anti-poverty tools available.

NDP Leader Howard Hampton's bill would have rolled back a Harris-era crackdown on unions and restored the right of card-membership to Ontario workers as it existed from 1950 to 1996.


Political leaders serious about helping low-income workers, and reducing widening inequality, would make it easier for workers to join unions, he said.

"Labour unions once were, and could be again, the most effective tool to improve the lot" of workers," he said. And card-membership such as that proposed by Hampton "would be the single biggest step to enable unions to grow again."

Sounds relevant, interesting and important, if only I had some idea what they were talking about. What's card-membership? My googling attempts are hindered by references to credit card membership.

And what exactly did Harris do to unions in 1996? I wasn't in the workforce yet then, and by that point all the grownups in my life who have been in unionized jobs had moved up to management by 1996. I've been in both unionized and non-unionized jobs since, but I don't know anyone who has been in unionized jobs both before and after 1996. I know that there are still unions today, but how is the situation different from pre-1996? The columnist seems to be saying that this is a really important issue, but I can't do anything unless I understand what's going on. A sentence or two of exposition would have been helpful.

On a related note, mentioned in passing in an article about how Catholic school board trustees abused their expenses:

Hartmann also said trustees voted themselves medical and dental benefits despite being told by board lawyers those weren't allowed.

Why aren't school board trustees allowed medical and dental benefits??? I mean, I don't agree with the Catholic school board's existence, but as long as it does exist the trustees are still people with jobs, and if OHIP isn't going to step up then jobs should have medical and dental benefits. WTF?

What if the entire population of Burmyanmar disappeared?

It has become apparent that the Burmese (because I don't know the adjectival form of Myanmar) junta doesn't care at all if the people live or die. And not just in terms of basic human compassion. All signs really seem to indicate that if the entire population just died and there were no more people left in Burmyanmar, that would make no difference whatsoever to the junta. Which doesn't make sense, not just from a human decency perspective, but also from an evil overlord perspective. An evil overlord needs an oppressed population to be evil overlord of, and the junta doesn't even seem to be appreciating that their citizens are there for them to be the boss of.

So let's play make-believe. Suppose every single elite stealth operative in the world descended on Burmyanmar behind the junta's back (they're stealth operatives, that's their job), scooped up the entire population, and relocated everyone to other places in the world, so the only people left in Burmyanmar are the junta. Logistically impossible because of the scale of the operation and completely disrespectful of the Burmese people's human rights (ethics essay topic: how acceptable is it to disregard a person's human rights to save them from someone who's disregarding their human rights worse?), but suppose it happened.

What would the junta think? Would they be cranky that they don't have anyone to boss around? Or would they think "Finally, some peace and quiet?"

Friday, May 09, 2008


Today is the 10,000th day of my life.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

How to boycott the olympics on the internet

Some people are talking about boycotting the olympics because of China's human rights issues. I assume the plan is to not watch the olympics and not buy any olympic merchandise. But I think it might be more effective to boycott them on the internet. For example:

- During the olympics, don't mention the olympics on the internet, not even in passing. (Unless someone comes up with a good googlebombing.) Don't blog about them. Ideally everyone should blog about human rights instead (without mentioning the olympics at all), but that's a very demanding blog topic, so blog about anything else instead. The goal is to make it look like no one cares about the olympics at all. We don't want them to show up as a trend in Google Trends. It would be beautiful if human rights were getting exponentially more internet attention than the olympics, but it would also be quite helpful there were more posts like "Look at my new haircut!" and "OMG PUPPY!" and "Today I ate a sandwich" than there were about the olympics.

- Don't read any online articles about the olympics. Not even in the newspaper. Don't click through to anything. Do read all articles about human rights (or, if you don't feel like reading them, click on them so they get hits) and click on all their ads. No one should get any hits or ad revenue for writing about the olympics.

The beauty of this technique is that, if you really want to, you can still watch the olympics. I think TV still uses the sample household reporting system to determine ratings (please do correct me if I'm wrong) so you can turn on your TV without anyone noticing. You can still read about the olympics in the print version of the newspaper and no one will ever know. But on the internet, where it is remarkably easy for people to gather information about what gets them read, it will look like no one cares about the olympics at all.


The situation in Burmyanmar (I'm not even going to venture into the treacherous waters of what to call it) got me thinking about foreign aid. We're supposed to give 0.7% of our GDP to foreign aid, but the last I heard we don't give the full amount. I couldn't google up any information that's more recent than 2005, so I decided to do some research of my own.

According to Statistics Canada, our GDP is currently $1,558,844,000,000 (i.e. approx. $1.5 trillion, if you don't feel like counding digits).

I couldn't seem to google up information on how much we're currently spending on foreign aid. However, the 2008 Budget says that they plan to bring Canada's total international aid budget up to $5 billion in 2010-11. (If you can find information on our current foreign aid budget for 2008, please do post it.)

So let's work with those numbers. Our economy's collapsing, our dollar is high, maybe foreign aid of $5 billion over a GDP of $1.5 trillion isn't that far-fetched. So if you run the numbers, you'll find that $5 billion is 0.32% of Canada's GDP, leaving us 0.38% short.

Let's play with that 0.38%. Go to Google and type in 0.38% of $$$$$, replacing $$$$$ with your annual salary. Check out the resulting amount.

It's not that much, is it? I mean, it's not nothing. Buying shoes that cost that much would be a splurge, but it would certainly be a good price for Perfect Shoes (i.e. comfy, attractive, timeless, something you can wear every day then get reheeled and wear again next year). It would be too much to spend on a friend's birthday present, but if your best friend lost their wallet the Friday before a long weekend, you certainly wouldn't hestitate to press that amount of cash into their palm, waving away their protests, to tide them over until they can get down to the bank on Tuesday. If that were the price of tickets to something that makes you squee like a fangirl at the prospect of getting tickets for it, you wouldn't think twice before going to Ticketmaster the minute the sale opened and frantically pressing refresh. If something important - house, car, computer, dog - had some kind of emergency and you needed to throw money at it to fix it, you'd breathe a sigh of relief if the total bill came out to only 0.38% of your annual salary.

It really surprised me that our aid shortfall was such a relatively small amount. When you look at it on personal terms, it's an amount that if you had to pay it out unexpectedly and in one lump sum, you might feel it in your budget for a month, but after that you wouldn't even notice.

So I went to the Red Cross website and donated that amount to Burmyanmar. Maybe if our country won't step up, we can each make up our individual share of the shortfall.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

This is surprisingly spot-on

My numerology report. The italicized parts are wrong, everything else is right (although it sounds way ego to say myself that it's true, so let's say that it's right but a bit more enthusiastic than I'd be myself). I'm surprised, there's usually about twice as much that's way off.

The Life Path 7 suggests that you entered this plane with a gift for investigation, analysis, and keen observation. You are a thinker of the first order. You evaluate situations very quickly, and with amazing accuracy. As a result, you are thorough and complete in your work, the perfectionist who expects everyone else to meet a high standard of performance, too.

A Life Path 7 person is a peaceful and affectionate soul. But you guard your connection to people carefully. It's easy for you to detect deception and recognize insincere people, and you avoid them. You aren't one to have a wide circle of friends, but once you accept someone as a friend, it's for life. It's as if you must get to know someone a lot better before you allow the wall surrounding you to be penetrated. Chances are you are a very charming and refined individual with great poise and a quick wit. Nonetheless, there is an exclusiveness about you. You probably aren't a very social person. Your reserve is often taken to be aloofness, but actually, it's not that at all. It is merely a cover up for your basic feeling of insecurity. There's no rush, It takes time for you to warm up to new friends. Clubs and organizations hold little interest for you; you are not a joiner.

You actually like being alone and away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. In many ways, you would have fit in better in much earlier times when the pace of life was less hectic. You need a good deal of quiet time to be with your own inner thoughts and dreams. You dislike crowds, noise, distractions, and confusion.

The overwhelming strength of the number 7 is reflected in the depth of thinking that is shown; you will garner knowledge from practically every source that you find. Intellectual, scientific, and studious, you don't accept a premise until you have dissected the subject and arrived at your own independent conclusion.

This is a very spiritual number and it often denotes a sort of spiritual wisdom that becomes apparent at a fairly early age. A built in inner guide providing a strong sense of intuition may set you up as being a law unto yourself. Whatever spiritual position you take, whether traditional or bizarre, you will cling to it with fervor. Once you have decided an issue, it is almost impossible to get you to revisit the question. Adaptability is not your style, and change for you is a rarity.

You rely heavily on your experiences and your intuition, rather than accepting advice from someone. Your hunches usually prove to be very accurate, and knowing this, you follow the directions they seem to guide.

In the most negative use of the 7 energies, you can become very pessimistic, lackadaisical, quarrelsome, and secretive. A Life Path 7 individual who is not living life fully and gaining through experiences, is a hard person to live with because of a serious lack of consideration for others. There is such a negative attitude. Indeed, operating on the negative side of the 7 can produce a very selfish and spoiled individual and living with one can be a challenge. This may be why some 7s actually prefer living alone. If you have any of the negative traits they are very difficult to get rid of because you tend to feel that the world really does owe you a living or that in some way you are not being fairly treated.

Fortunately, the negative 7 is not the typical 7, at least not without some mitigating positive traits. This number is one that seems to have some major shifts from highs to lows. Stability in feelings may be elusive for you.

The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery

If you only read one book about climate change, read this one. It is astonishingly well-structured and deals with absolutely everything - not only the things that are mentioned in the book and that we hear in the news, but solar flares and colonization and industrialization and coral reefs and that one chart from my OAC World Issues textbook - it's all covered and written in a way that you don't have to make an effort to read.

This book could also be used as a textbook on how to structure a book. I'm reading along and I'm thinking "Yeah, but what about reforestation?" Then the next paragraph is like "Now you're probably asking "What about reforestation?"" It's talking about rising water levels, so I'm calculating whether that would affect where I live and feeling slightly guilty for doing so, then the next paragraph reassures me that it's perfectly natural to be calculating whether this is going to affect me. Even if you don't agree with what the book has to say, it should get a prize for being so well-structured and user-friendly and anticipating the reader's needs.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The religious argument against opening the legislature with a prayer in Luke 18:9-14, if you're interested.

Normally I wouldn't cite scripture to back up my position on public policy, but since that public policy is the rote recitation of scripture, this might be relevant.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Things They Should Invent: Sesame Street kareoke for grownups

I've been having fun with Sesame Street songs, and I realized I would totally kareoke some of these songs. People should do that, either have a Sesame Street-only kareoke for adult children of Sesame Street, or include Sesame Street songs in with regular kareoke

If you've never seen a snuffleupagus tap-dance then you've never been on acid

What shall I blog about on a quiet lazy Sunday afternoon? Oh, I know, let's question all humanity's assumptions about our entire existence.

In xianity, and I think in Judaism too, humanity was created in the image of the god, and basically we're the number one life form in all existence. Which I've never really given much in-depth though to because I don't believe in this god or any other.

But suppose for a moment there is a god, but it didn't intend humans to be the number one life form. Instead, the number on life form is some seven-dimensional being that lives on Mercury, and we are just as relevant to this seven-dimensional being and to this god as, like, dandelions are under the model where we're the number one life form created in the deity's own image.

I think I'd like that.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Things They Should Invent: pun jar

A pun jar is just like a swear jar, but ultimately will result in more social good. You utter a pun, you put a loonie in the pun jar.

Friday, May 02, 2008

How to make comedy history

Apparently Eddie Izzard now has this bit in his act where he reads pages from wikipedia from his iphone.

So here's what you do: go to one of Eddie's shows with an iphone or a blackberry or some other device that will allow you to access the internet from your seat. As soon as you can anticipate which wikipedia page he's going to read, get there before him and edit it to leave a comment directly for him. It will be the world's first live wikipedia heckle!

(Can't think what to write? How about "Hey, Eddie, get yer ass to Toronto already!")

The creepiest picture of Miley Cyrus I have ever seen

Some people have been raising a fuss because there's a picture of Miley Cyrus that suggests that she might be nude under all the cloth that's covering her, but I find this picture much creepier. (It's perfectly SFW, it's a Toronto Star article.) Why? Because of the location of her right hand. She has her right hand on her father's torso.

Now intellectually I realize this sort of thing varies from person to person, but viscerally I'm cringing and squeaming, because I cannot imagine any circumstances under which I'd put my hand on a person's torso like that, unless my intentions were prurient. Putting your arms around each other for a picture, no big deal. A full-on hug, perfectly fine. Small kisses, I can think of dozen contexts in which that's appropriate. Stroking their arm or their back in a moment of sympathy, perfectly normal. Even grabbing their legs, if I'm sitting across from them and they say something that makes me lean forward and squee I could see that happening. But, apart from feeling a baby kick, a hand on a torso simply would never happen in a non-sexual context. If for some reason I had to pose for a picture with my hand on the other person's torso, I don't think I could even strike that pose without making a sultry facial expression.

Snogging a stranger (which, if you're just tuning is, is something I'm not at all into) would be more comfortable for me than putting my hand on a relative's torso. I think perhaps grabbing a relative's butt as a joke would be more comfortable than putting my hand on their torso. Being photographed nude attractively and tastefully would be more comfortable than being photographed with my hand on my father's torso. So yeah, that picture creeps me out.

Things that can Just Fuck Off