Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Things They Should Invent Words For

I once saw some photos from a Harry Potter premiere that named every actor, the character they played, and the character's blood status. For example, "Rupert Grint, who plays pure-blood wizard Ron Weasley, arrives at the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

Apart from the fact that they're politically incorrect within the Potterverse (I doubt even the Rita Skeeter would be so crude as to mention blood status of an actor at a premiere!), the problem with those captions is that blood status is only meaningful to fans, and fans would already know the character's blood status. If you don't know that Ron Weasley is a pure-blood wizard, the fact that Ron Weasley is a pure-blood wizard is inconsequential to you.

The name of the actor is relevant if you don't know who the person in the picture is, the name of the character might be relevant if you've read the books but aren't familiar with the movie actors, but there are no circumstances under which the blood status of the character is relevant to a reader who wouldn't already know the blood status of the character.

We need a word for this kind of situation, when if you could use the information you already have it, and if you don't have the information it's not useful.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Things They Should Invent: WhereCanIBuy.com

Last summer I bought a full-length mattress wedge. I ended up buying it online (from overstock.com) because I couldn't figure out where to get one in real life. I searched for it in real life by going to the websites of every store I could think of that sells mattresses and seeing if they had any mattress wedges listed on their site. None of them did. I did a bit of fruitless googling, then ended up just searching sites that sell general merchandise. I'm happy with the product I got, but I seriously doubt that there is nowhere to buy a mattress wedge in Toronto. There has to be an easier way.

They should invent a single comprehensive website where you enter your postal code and the item you want to buy, and it finds stores in your area where you can buy it. You can search either by general type of item ("mattress wedge") or by your specifications ("four-cup coffee maker with timer") or by a particular brand and type("Touche Éclat #2"). It would also be interesting to list the prices and whether the item in question is in stock. To make this as easy as possible on merchants, the website's database should be compatible with the most common inventory management systems, so they can all batch upload their inventory for us to find.

This would not only be convenient for customers, but would also be good for smaller, more local businesses. If we haven't the slightest idea where to buy something, we tend to gravitate towards large department or discount stores, or relevant chain stores. (When I was talking about mattress wedges, you were probably thinking The Bay, Sears, Sleep Country, Walmart.) But what if some little storefront nearby has the product in question, but you've never noticed it before because it's in the opposite direction of your commute? A single central directory would direct customers to the store that's best positioned to serve them, not just the best-known. Win-win.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Clothing drop boxes

I was very surprised and disappointed to hear that some city councillors are considering banning used clothing drop boxes.

I like them. They're convenient for me. Someone who wants my unwanted stuff is giving me a convenient location to drop it off at my leisure. They say some of the boxes aren't for charity, but that doesn't negate their convenience. They also say some of them don't give the clothes to the needy, instead selling them to recyclers to use to make recycled textiles. That doesn't bother me either, because it means I can put things like holey old underwear and stained t-shirts and odd socks in the box instead of throwing them out.

All the problems listed in the article seem to be that existing laws and regulations aren't getting enforced. There are already rules about who can and can't operate them. There are already rules against putting big boxes on other people's property without their permission. To ban the boxes because existing rules aren't getting enforced would be to fall into this trap.

In the meantime, there's a very simple first step to solving this problem that they could have taken in that very news article: name the two organizations who are actually licenced to run clothing drop boxes. Every article I've seen on the subject says there are two legit and licenced organizations, none of them name them. Naming them would cost nothing, take up only a few minutes of time, and allow us to make informed choices about where we drop off our old clothes. The news media could even do this themselves without having to wait for city council to act.

Nivea Soothing Care lip balm is not dishwasher-friendly

Nivea Soothing Care lip balm (the one in the light green tube) is no better or worse than any other drug store lip balm. However, the lip prints it leaves on drinking glasses don't come out in the dishwasher nearly as well as other lip balms. Therefore, I don't recommend it for dishwasher users who don't like having to touch up their dishwashing by hand. A very similar product that comes out easily in the dishwasher is Nivea Hydro Care (the one in the light blue tube).

Monday, January 23, 2012

"You're welcome" vs. "No problem" revisited

I've blogged before about the nuances of "you're welcome" vs. "no problem" as a response to "thank you".

But reading this story from Not Always Right gave me some sudden insight on why the "you're welcome" people don't like being told "no problem": they want it to be a problem!

They seem to be interpreting "you're welcome" as "you are welcome [in the sense of "entitled"] to impose upon me by making this request of me", and see a "no problem" as implying that they are not entitled to that. "No problem" is equalizing, "you're welcome" is subservient.

I use "no problem" specifically because it is equalizing, in an attempt to neutralize the burden of gratitude in the other party. I'm saying "It's okay, we're cool, you don't owe me any gratitude, I'm not putting this on your tab." This is what I like in customer service and in life in general, so I try to give it to others.

It makes me feel welcome in the literal sense, the same way I'm welcome in, say, my parents' home. I'm totally allowed to walk in and fix myself a drink and rummage through the fridge. In a customer service context, it makes me feel like they're giving me good service because I'm just as cool as they are, not because I'm above them. Because they like me, not because they are obligated to serve me. They're saying "Hey, it's you! How are you doing? Do you want a coffee?" rather than doing their job and rolling their eyes at me when I leave. And, while it is totally their prerogative to just do the job and roll their eyes at me when I leave, I'd much rather have them like me.

But the "you're welcome" people don't seem to care about that, they seem to prefer to be treated with deference, liked for their position rather than for themselves.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Things They Should Invent: DoINeedToStartAtTheBeginning.com

Lately I've been thinking that Downton Abbey has started sounding interesting to me, but I don't know if it's something that you can pick up in the middle or if I have to go back to the beginning of the series and catch up.

They need to make a single comprehensive website for every series ever - TV, books, and anything else that comes in series form - tell you whether you need to start at the beginning or whether you can just jump right in. They could take user votes and comments, and it could work like Rotten Tomatoes.

For TV series, they could also incorporate a feature that gives you alerts whenever certain series is starting to air from the beginning on a TV channel in your area, so if you want to catch up the old-fashioned way you can.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Things They Should Invent Words For

We've all heard the expression "privatizing profit and socializing risk". The phenomenon I want to make a word for is similar, but I can't seem to structure an analogous expression. It's a sort of socialization of the requirement for expertise, but not precisely.

One example of the phenomenon is pensions. They seem to be moving away from defined benefit pensions, where experts manage it for you, to defined contribution pensions, where they give everyone a little bit of money and tell them to go manage it themselves.

Another major example comes from from job searching. Based on what my parents and grandparents tell me, employers used to be willing to hire unskilled labour or workers with a lot of potential but no particular experience in the area (and they tended to look upon university degrees as potential), and then let them learn on the job or train them up so they could eventually move up the ladder and do better-paying work. But in my own job hunting experience, I find that most employers want workers who already have the very specific skills and experience required for the position - even when it's something easily learnable like proprietary software. And, on top of that, employers have been known to reject applicants who have education that isn't strictly required for the job.

This also reminds me of how every once in a while you hear employers in the news saying that they can't find enough skilled workers, but these complaints about the lack of skilled workers seem to be reaching my ears far more readily than information about what kind of skills which employers need, and how to go about acquiring these skills, and how to figure out which of those jobs you'd be a good fit for rather than picking some skilled trade at random.

Anyway, the general concept I want to coin a word for is this sort of increasing expectation over time that individuals who are not involved in organizations or fields of expertise are independently responsible for developing knowledge of the needs of those organizations or the skills of those fields of expertise, whereas historically the larger organizations were more willing to make the effort to integrate and orient people.

I'm not explaining this as well as I should be. Coinages and better explanations welcome.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Journalism wanted: why are burqas made from synthetic fibres?

Over the past decade or so, I've read several different articles by different journalists visiting Afghanistan who described their respective experiences wearing a burqa. (Most recently here.) And most, if not all, of these articles mentioned that the burqa was made of some synthetic fibre that doesn't breathe.

How did that come about?

Conventional wisdom is that Afghanistan doesn't have much in the way of infrastructure. A lack of infrastructure should make manufacturing synthetic fabrics difficult, so I would expect people to wear natural fabrics made in traditional ways - whatever it was that people did in the centuries and millennia before industrialization. Synthetic fibres also seem inconvenient for burqas (something that breathes would be better), and more convenient for other things. So why are they using it for burqas? This would suggest that synthetic fibres are more readily available than natural fibres. How did that happen in a country with so little infrastructure?

Obviously not all burqas are made of synthetic fibres. Some of the burqas available for sale on the internet in English are available in cotton and sometimes even silk, although I'm certainly not assuming that what I can google up in English is representative of the general burqa market. I've also seen a number of newspaper articles mentioning in passing (for the purpose of explaining to readers what a burqa is) that they're made of cotton; it's quite possible the people writing these articles have no first-hand experience with burqas or are just repeating what they've googled up. But every article I've read by a journalist who actually wore a burqa in Afghanistan has them describing it as made of synthetic fibres that don't breathe. (Unless they're purposely giving synthetic ones to journalists for some reason?)

There's a story in there somewhere. Even if it turns out to be obvious to those familiar with the Afghan garment industry, there's a story in there for ignorant westerners like me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Whatever happened to cable shows on regular TV channels?

A couple of years ago, TV shows that normally only play on the movie networks were showing old seasons on normal basic or extended cable channels. For example, the first two seasons of Dexter were on Bravo, and the first two seasons of Big Love were on Showcase.

Then they stopped doing that. Why didn't they continue doing that? Both these shows reached five seasons (and Dexter is still going on), but they never showed more than the first two on the channels that I get.

I know they're available on DVD (as well as all the usual unofficial methods), but I find it very easy to procrastinate TV and movies when I know I can watch them any time. If they're on at a specific time, I'll tune in and watch; if they're on DVD or on my computer, I always feel "Meh, I can watch that any time."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SOPA protest idea

I don't know offhand how technologically feasible this is, but just putting it out there: what if the major sites going dark to protest SOPA instead blocked access to their sites from users at .gov addresses? It seems like it could be done on the same principle as geoblocking.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Teach me how arts donations work

From The Ethicist:

I was excited to take my granddaughter, Rachel, to see a local production of “The Nutcracker.” But this season, the production was being underwritten in large part by David Koch, a billionaire who supports numerous political causes that I think harm our nation. He also supports many worthy medical, educational and arts organizations, but I think those good works buy the complicity of the institutions in question. I’m sure my granddaughter would have liked to see the show, but rather than validate this patron’s actions and beliefs, I boycotted it. Should those who feel as I do have joined me?

Does the donor get anything out of higher ticket sales? I was under the impression that he's out of pocket the same amount regardless of whether the tickets are sold or not, and I can't see how boycotting would have any impact on him. What am I missing?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Putting away the childish things

Just before xmas, I had a rough night. My annual bout of strep throat descended upon me rather more quickly than usual and left me unable to fall asleep. All my usual self-care techniques and a dose of melatonin weren't enough to help, and, because I'd already taken the melatonin, I didn't want to take a stronger sleep aid. So I lay cocooned in bed with my eyes closed, planning the fastest way to get antibiotics the next morning and wishing for sleep to overcome me. Fortunately, I had Smurfy with me. Smurfy, as you may remember, is my very favourite stuffed toy smurf who has been with me since I was a little baby. Having the familiar shape of Smurfy there to cuddle with, as I have on countless other rough nights, brought me calm and comfort made it easier to get through. I was awake, but I wasn't fretting about it. I was just lying there, warm and safe, until the walk-in clinic opened.

In the next morning's newspaper, I found that Doonesbury was doing an arc where Sam (age 12) decides to give up her dolls. That made me think of how, when I was a kid, I was constantly aware of the fact that I'd "have to" give up Smurfy. It was weighing on my mind from the age of about 6, and it was utterly terrifying. And all that time, I felt vaguely ashamed that I hadn't already managed to give him up.

I didn't bring Smurfy to slumber parties for fear of being mocked, and never slept well. I trained myself to sleep with other (newer, less worn out, more expendable) stuffed animals so I'd have a more respectable-looking contingency plan for multi-night overnight school trips. I would put Smurfy away when I had a friend over, and obviously he gets the night off when I have human company in bed with me. (An interesting side effect has been that the minimum requirements for sharing my bed have always been you need to be better company than Smurfy. I have met more people than you'd expect who do not meet this requirement.) But, despite all these efforts, Smurfy never became unnecessary. There's still a certain shade of comfort that only he can bring. So I've given up the idea of giving him up. I may choose not to use Smurfy from time to time for various reasons, but that's no reason to abandon my oldest friend and forever eliminate the possibility of enjoying that particular shade of comfort ever again.

But what's sad is that I spent so much of my life thinking I did have to give him up. For years I dreaded the fact that I would one day have to manage without Smurfy, and at the same time felt guilty for still needing him. I'm not entirely sure where this idea came from. I don't remember anyone specifically telling me that I'd have to give him up. It might be an extrapolation from the fact that none of the adults around me slept with stuffed animals. But right now, if I were ever talking to a child who's worried that they'd need to give a beloved toy, I'd tell them outright "You don't ever need to give it up. You can keep it as long as you want. The reason why you don't see a lot of adults with toys is that people tend to find they don't need them as much as they get older, but that doesn't mean you have to give yours up. And even if, as you get older, you find you need it less or don't want to use it every day, you can still keep it for the rest of your life, in a box or a closet or a drawer, just in case."

Being able to soothe oneself to sleep is a useful life skill, and a harmless comfort object that reliably does the job is a good thing to have on hand. No one should ever spend years like I did dreading having to do without when giving it up is so unnecessary and keeping it is not in any way a problem.

I am now happy with UPS

For years and years I've been complaining about UPS and begging businesses I deal with not to use them for shipping.

That has changed. I am now happy with them.

Why? Because now, when a package is delivered by UPS when I'm not home, it's left at the local UPS store, just a couple of blocks away, rather than at the depot an hour's bus ride away. This makes them just as convenient as Canada Post, so I now have no reason to asks the businesses I deal with to please NOT use UPS.

(As an added bonus, it saves UPS time as well, since they now seem to make only one delivery attempt and then leave it at the UPS store, rather than three delivery attempts and then leave it at the depot.)

It's too bad it took them at least eight years to make this change (the first time I had the depot problem was eight years ago), but I'm very glad it's been made.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Excellent customer service from Office Depot and Raynor Group

The armrest on my desk chair broke. I didn't particularly want to shop for a new chair, so I decided to contact Office Depot (where it was bought) to see what would be involved in replacing just the armrest.

Office Depot referred me to the chair's manufacturer (which is called Raynor Group), and instructed me to send them a copy of the receipt and they would send me a replacement part. I emailed them a scan of the receipt, and just a few days received a new armrest by courier at no cost to me!

This is particularly impressive because a) the chair is eight years old, and b) Office Depot is out of business in Canada! I wouldn't have been terribly surprised (disappointed, but not surprised) if they'd told me there was nothing they could do for me. But instead they exceeded my expectations, stood by their products, and solved my problem at zero cost or inconvenience to me! Well done!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Post your facial mask recommendations here

For years, I've been using Bioré's self-heating pore mask. It helps clean my pores, tighten up my wrinkles, encourages any festering cystic acne to come to the surface, and generally makes my skin look and feel better.

But they discontinued it about a year ago. I bought every single box I could find, and now I'm down to my last box.

Can anyone recommend another product that does the same thing?

Things They Should Invent: "people you may know who have died recently"

I've noticed social networks are pretty good at identifying people I might know or people I might be interested in. What if they could combine that with an obituary search and send you alerts of people you might know who might be dead or bereaved?

You could enter your employment and educational history, so the system can identify people who worked with or went to school with you. You could also enter the names of people you're interested in, either in that you'd want to know if they've died or you'd want to know if they're bereaved. You could customize extensively what kind of alerts you get. For example, if you grew up in a small town, you might want to be alerted every time someone in your age cohort is mentioned in a obituary, because it's probably someone you know. If you have an unusual surname, you could be alerted every time someone with the same surname is mentioned.

Unlike social networks, there's no need to be reciprocal. If you want to be alerted if your high school crush or your high school bully appears in an obituary, you can do so without anyone finding out. However, you could have the option of allowing the information you've entered about your age, hometown, employment and educational history to feed other people's alerts, so if you die or are bereaved, other people who probably know you can be alerted, even if only your name is mentioned in a list of survivors.

It does sound like it has the potential for false positives, but this could be partially mitigated with a small message saying why you're getting each alert, like on twitter recommendations. (e.g. "You are receiving this alert because you requested alerts about people who attended Beauxbatons between 1999 and 2003." "You are receiving this alert because it mentions John Smith, whose personal data indicates that he was born in Dog River, Saskatchewan in 1980.") Given the creepy accuracy of facebook, twitter and linkedin recommendations, I think it might work.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

On Canada as a world leader

One thing that has always surprised me about federal governments (the current one in particular, although it's quite possible that I may have forgotten similar actions by other governments) is the extent to which they aspire to make Canada a major player on the world stage and a global leader in many areas. Population-wise, we are a small country. We're smaller than Poland! For other countries to even notice us would be punching way above our weight.

Sometimes as part of the same initiatives and sometimes in the form of other initiatives, they also seem to be trying to contrive sources of national pride, coming up with new slogans and events and heritage minutes as though our existing concept of what we aren't isn't already enough.

That's why it surprises me that the government would allow our same-sex marriage to end up in a legal quagmire.

Same-sex marriage is one area in which we are a global leader and where people around the world look up to us as a role model. And this occurred organically, through the natural course of our internal affairs. It wasn't grasping like Own the Podium or contrived like this recent obsession with the War of 1812 (since when do we commemorate the beginning of a war rather than the end anyway?). It was simply our country correcting a flaw in its existing jurisprudence, creating a fairer and more just life for its citizens. But it resulted in the world flocking to our doorstep, and genuine, spontaneous pride in our country.

The government would be very foolish to fuck this up indeed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How Nortel pensioners can state their case more compellingly

On the radio yesterday morning, I heard an interview with a Nortel pensioner talking about the aftermath of the severe cuts to their pensions and benefits. Unfortunately, he didn't make his case very compellingly. When the interviewer asked him to describe how it affected his life, he said something about how he and his wife have to sit down and budget and figure out if they can afford expenditures. But that's not going to elicit sympathy in those who aren't already onside - people are going to say "So what? That's how real life works."

So here, with, as Col. Brandon says, an earnest desire to be useful, are some starting points for Nortel pensioners and others in similar positions to make their case more compellingly.

What decisions did you make in your working life that you would have done differently if you'd known you weren't going to have the promised pension or benefits? Did you work full-time for the purpose of increasing your pensionability, even though you didn't need the income? Did you stay with the job rather than pursuing a higher-paying or more rewarding alternative so that you'd have a pension? Did your spouse forgo pursuing pensionable employment to pursue their dreams or stay home with the kids or go back to school or have a go at starting a business because you had the security of your pension?

How would you have scheduled your retirement differently if you'd known you weren't going to have the promised pension or benefits? Would you have stopped working when you did? Have you been out of the workforce for 10 years and suddenly have to make money? What about older retirees - is there anyone whose dementia started setting in around the time pensions are eliminated so now they can't work and need more expensive care, but still have a decade or two of life expectancy left?

How would your financial planning have been different if you'd known you weren't going to have the promised pension or benefits? How much money did you pay into your pension anyway? Did you ever get any of that money back? By how much were your RRSP limits reduced each year? How much compound interest have you missed out on? Can you afford your home? Do you now have to live somewhere less pleasant, less safe, less convenient, less conducive to aging in place? Are there now bugs crawling out of your walls?

How would your basic life decisions have been different? Did you pay for your kid's wedding or your parent's nursing home only to discover that now you'd be much better off with that money back? Did you put one kid through university and now can't afford to do so for the other? Are you locked into a three-year iphone contract? Do you now have to ration your cheese intake? Would your family planning decisions have been different?

How does this affect your health? Can you no longer afford the proton pump inhibitors you need to eat adequately or the acupuncture you need to relieve your chronic pain? Have you cut back on dental care? Is your glasses prescription current? Will you have to have your dog put down earlier than you otherwise would because you can't afford the lifesaving veterinary treatments?

Tell people, in specific terms they can identify with, how the pension cutbacks have affected your everyday life. Tell them about choices you made that were sensible and prudent with the assumption that you'd get the pension you were promised, but that you would have made differently if you'd known that you wouldn't get the promised pension. Keep at the forefront of your message the fact that you were promised more, and not only planned accordingly but paid commensurate contributions into the pension plan. That's far more compelling than vague statements about having to budget.

Monday, January 09, 2012

What if your boss goes undercover but you don't want to be on TV?

It seems TTC Chair Karen Stintz went undercover as an ordinary TTC worker as part of a reality TV show called Undercover Boss.

Stintz was introduced to her TTC co-workers as Ruth Bear — her middle name and her mother’s maiden name. To explain the cameras, the TTC employees were told that Stintz/Bear was the subject of a documentary about a woman re-entering the work force.

But what happens if you actually are an ordinary TTC worker (or an ordinary worker in some other workplace) and your boss decides to do something like this, but you don't want to be on TV? Suppose you're assigned to work as part of their team, or you're the person whose job it would normally be to supervise the newbie? If one of your team members is being filmed, it might not be logistically possible to stay out of camera range.

Do they even take this into account? Are people given the option of another assignment if they don't want to be on TV? Or are people forced to be on TV just because someone near them is being filmed?

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Things They Should Study: best use of charitable donations

There is a lot of information out there about different charities from the perspective of the percentage of money raised that goes to the cause vs. administration. And there's a lot of information about how to optimize tax incentives etc. But I'd really like more information about the best general strategic approach to take.

Would you get better results by donating to a charity, or by donating to a political organization that works to obsolete the need for that charity? Would my charitable dollar help more people if I donated it to a third world country (on the assumption that the cost of living is lower there, so therefore they could buy more stuff with it) or if I donated it locally (on the assumption that less of it might get lost in transit?). Callous as it sounds, do you get better long-term results by saving lives or by improving lives? Do you save more lives, or improve more lives, with food or with health care? Or health research? Or education? Or literacy? Do microloans get better results because of their relendability?

The same could apply with volunteering. What's the best use of general volunteer labour? Which sectors benefit most from a donation of time, and which benefit most from a donation of money? What about donations of specialized professional services? What about in-kind donations?

Some might object to this way of thinking on the basis that it might lead to a dearth of donations in areas that, while still worthy causes, are found to not to be the very best use of charitable donations. I'm not sure whether this would be the case, because people donate for all kinds of reasons. People donate to research into the disease that killed their grandparents or the disease whose genes they carry. People donate because a friend is doing a charity run. People volunteer for the humane society because doggies are awesome. People donate because they're asking for a loonie at the cash register and they're getting a loonie in their change. People donate because they have some stuff in their house that they want to get rid of. It isn't all calculated.

But, in cases where it is calculated, it would be useful to have information on the best strategic approach.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Problems with Bluefire Reader

I switched to Bluefire Reader in November, when the upgrade to iOS 5 killed Stanza. Most of the time it works, but sometimes it will just cease to be able to read a certain file. Sometimes this presents as, when I search through the file, the spinner will spin and spin and it will never find anything or stop searching. Sometimes it presents as, after I switch to another app then go back to Bluefire, it will show me the library instead of the page I left it on and then spin and spin when I try to open the book I was reading. On the "info" page, the current page for these books shows up as page 1 instead of whatever page I was actually on.

Every file that this has happened with has been a DRM-free epub. It's happened with three separate files out of a total of somewhere between 10 and 20 files.

Following the instructions for when a spinner won't go away listed on this page doesn't help. Deleting the book from my ipod and then putting it back on doesn't solve the problem. Converting the book to PDF and then back to epub does make it openable by Bluefire again, but it messes with the formatting so it's not as easy to read. (Converting them just to PDF also works, but makes them even harder to read.) I can't find any way to look at the back end of either Bluefire or the epub files either through my ipod or through my computer.

I haven't been able to google up any evidence of anyone else on the internet having this problem, so I'm blogging it. If you google your way here and are also having this problem, I encourage you to post your findings in the comments. (Anonymous comments welcome.)

Fortunately, Stanza has since updated for iOS 5, so I'm back to using it. It should be noted that Stanza is able to open and search the epub files that made Bluefire freeze and crash, so the problem lies in something Stanza can do that Bluefire can't.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Things They DID Invent

1. In 2004, I came up with the idea of library drop boxes that automatically scan the books. North York Central Library just installed those this past month.

2. In October, I tweeted my surprise that there is no googleable evidence that Bruce Springsteen ever covered Bob Seger's Old Time Rock and Roll. In December, that egregious oversight was rectified:

Sunday, January 01, 2012


I learned a new word today: demisexual. The description given in the link is an accurate description of my sexuality. However, I reject the term itself, because I don't feel that my sexuality is less than full and I don't care to have it defined by someone else's standard of what constitutes full sexuality.* I will continue to use my own coinages: "congenitally monogamous" or "orientationally monogamous". Nevertheless, it is interesting and somewhat gratifying to know that there's a name available in case I need it, and that it's common enough to get a name.

*Some might question why I would object to being referred to as demisexual when this term appears to originate from the asexual community, who apparently have no objection to being referred to as asexual. Why the objection to being defined as having half a trait when others have no objection to being defined by the absence of the trait? Here's an analogy: I am childfree, which means I have no desire or interest to have children. That is simply true, accurate, and, in some contexts, pertinent, so I have no objection to being labelled as such. However, there are some people out there who have very few children. I doubt they'd enjoy being referred to as "semi-parents". (Or, for a perfect analogy, "demi-parents", but I think "semi" sounds more natural.) They certainly don't feel they're less than full parents and wouldn't be best pleased if their parenting was defined as less than 100% just because other people parent more people than they do.