Because we do

I have the dictionary.com app on my iPad. I have a few dictionary apps loaded, but that’s the one I decided to use today to look up a word. While I was in there, I noted that I had five new messages in the dictionary.com app. Curious, I selected the link that took me to these messages.

Contrary to the way they are presented, which I suspect is no mistake, they are not personal messages. Rather, they are links to the mobile version of the dictionary.com blog.

The first link took me by surprise because of its simplicity:

Why do we capitalize the first-person pronoun, I?

Simple question, yet an absolute showstopper. My first answer is the same as the first sentence in the message:

The short answer is because we do.

They go on to say that although it feels natural for English-speakers to capitalize ‘I,’ English is the only language in which this is standard practice. The non-mobile version of the post goes into more detail, but the answer is pretty much the same.

Because we do.

I bet much of E. E. Cummings isn’t the same in translation.

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Mama and her children

20150415-134216 iPhone5s IMG_0639.jpg: iPhone5s, back camera @ 4.14mm, 1/3700, f/2.2, 32 ISO

File: 20150415-134216 iPhone5s IMG_0639.jpg
EXIF: iPhone5s, back camera @ 4.14mm, 1/3700, f/2.2, 32 ISO

And of course, her children are newly sprouted pepper and tomato plants. They’re all out for a little sun.

Posted in happiness, me, photography, show and tell | Leave a comment

Business blunders V

Your social media presence is the face of your business. Make damned sure the person in charge of it knows what they’re doing. Even more important, the people following you on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms, are your tribe. They spread the word about you and are worth more than any advertising or marketing plan you can buy. Treat them as partners, and never forget why they follow you.

While not strictly a business, OpenMedia.ca is an advocacy group that relies on their followers to further their goals. They also treat their followers poorly. Let me give you two examples.

Privacy

They claim one of their principle goals is protecting privacy. Their About Us page states,

Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.

Unfortunately, their behaviour indicates otherwise. They sometimes send e-mail messages to their followers soliciting participation in petitions about various issues. You simply click the button they provide, enter your e-mail address, and you’re onboard. But much like businesses who harvest your information to their advantage, you need to read the small print. If you do so, you’ll often see that OpenMedia provides your e-mail address to their ‘partners’ in these petitions.

The first time it happened, I found out because I received a message on the topic from a web site that I had never visited. I wrote this site and asked where they got my address. They never answered. After thinking about it, I wrote OpenMedia and asked if they gave this site my address. After they failed to answer for about two weeks, I wrote again. This time they answered and explained that the small print said they’d be doing this.

Frankly, I expect businesses to pull crap like that. I do not expect an organization that promises to fight for my privacy to do the very thing they say they’re fighting against, and I told them so. They apologized and said they’d take my comments under advisement. Just as you’d expect, the next time they asked for participation in a petition, the small print was there. I didn’t sign, and I unsubscribed from the mailing list.

Social Media

I did remain subscribed to their Twitter feed, however. Until today. Over the past day or so, they’ve posted 31 (and counting) nearly identical tweets. Here’s a sample of 17 consecutive tweets:

This is asinine, and nothing but clutter. Further, it’s embarrassing. If you have to write to three-dozen celebrities to tell them your message is going viral, it’s not going viral.

I sent them a message through their web site last night before I went to sleep suggesting that their nearly two dozen identical tweets seemed excessive. This morning I saw more and publicly replied to the then newest tweet:

Since then, 20 minutes ago, another six of these tweets have appeared from OpenMedia.

Enough is enough. I stopped following OpenMedia.

Convincing people to follow you is difficult. Pissing off the followers you have to the point they leave is a special kind of stupid.

Don’t be stupid.

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Logo courtesy of OpenMedia.ca

Posted in consequences, consumer life, me, privacy | Leave a comment

Poor pianist

Meet Valentina Lisitsa. She’s a pianist who was scheduled to perform two shows with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra this week. She feels she’s being treated unfairly because she’s been replaced. Despite her still being paid, it’s clearly not fair!

What prompted the TSO’s hand was her performance on her twitter account. See, she’s very pro-Russian when it comes to the Ukraine. Differing opinions happen, but she’s taken it a step further. According to WQXR, Orchestra CEO Jeff Melanson said,

Due to ongoing accusations of deeply offensive language by Ukrainian media outlets, we have decided to replace Valentina Lisitsa.

I went to her twitter account, but it’s such a zoo that I never got back as far as these alleged offensive tweets. She’s draped herself in freedom of speech and accused the TSO of censorship. Frankly, when I saw all that, I thought perhaps she was very young. In fact, she’s in her 40s and should know better.

I’m bemused at her not realizing that the things we say can have consequences we don’t like. The TSO has not censored her in the least. She continues to enjoy the freedom to say what he wants. But those pesky consequences!

To my amusement, one of her supporters lamented that music should be free of politics. Putting aside overtly political music, I agree. I replied and voiced my agreement. But I added, “…so who brought politics into it? Not the TSO.”

The performance, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in this case, should indeed be about the music, but she turned it into a circus. She brought politics into it and I can’t fault the TSO for their actions. Melanson nailed it perfectly when he stated,

Valentina Lisitsa’s provocative comments have overshadowed past performances. As one of Canada’s most important cultural institutions, our priority must remain on being a stage for the world’s great works of music, and not for opinions that some believe to be deeply offensive.

It’s precisely because of this kind of thing that I do not understand entertainers who ‘let themselves out’ in social media. The moment they make their Facebook page, their Twitter feed, or their web page a platform for their views, especially political views, they’re going to drive people away. That’s simply not good business unless what you express is a common belief among your audience. I’m not suggesting that entertainers should agree with everyone, but why not just entertain, and express outrage to one’s friends and family, like most of us do?

I’m also not suggesting that anyone limit themselves if they simply can’t help it, but don’t portray yourself as being wronged when I exercise my freedom of choice and support another artist who cares more about sharing their craft than their politics.

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Photo by Michael von Aichberger, used with permission (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Posted in art, idiocy, int'l affairs, politics | Leave a comment

Weed Man thinks you’re stupid

The doorbell rang earlier this afternoon. Upon answering it, I greeted a young man with a tablet. He told me that he was with Weed Man and the company would be calling me soon to describe their lawn care services. He may have said more, but he was talking so quickly that it was an audible blur. What I did hear is that he wanted my phone number so they could call the right place.

I told him I was not interested and began to let the door close. He explained that if I wasn’t interested, he still needed my phone number so that when they called, I could simply ignore it and they’d remove my number from their calling list.

I don’t think so, pal. With the do-not-call list, they’re not supposed to call me at all, unless I give them permission, or have a business arrangement with them. As soon as I give them my number, I’m certain that they would claim I’ve given permission. Is trickery really the best way to start a business relationship, Weed Man?

Even ignoring the do-not-call list, they need my number so they can call the right place and when I don’t answer, they’ll delete my number? What?

It sounds like the Weed Man is overdoing a different kind of weed.

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Logo copyright Weed Man Canada 2014

Posted in consumer life, idiocy, marketing | 1 Response

Conrad: addendum

I didn’t mention in my previous post, The fall of Conrad Black, that I also forwarded the message I sent to Mr. Black to The National Post ‘letters to the editor’ e-mail address. To my surprise, I received a reply yesterday thanking me for the submission and telling me it would be considered for publication. It must have been an automated response.

Later in the day, an edited version of my message appeared in the Letters column for March 30. It’s the fourth letter on the page, though I posted the full version already.

I’m no end of amused.

Posted in big questions, celebrities, me, religion | Leave a comment

The fall of Conrad Black

Conrad Black wrote an entertaining commentary last week in The National Post titled, “The shabby, shallow world of the militant atheist.” You can imagine the reaction. So he’s back this week with, “A reply to my atheist critics — they protest too much.”

What I find most surprising is his arguments are chock-full of fallacies. I have no doubt that Black is a smart man, if somewhat pompous and didactic, which is why his latest missives take me by such surprise. I can see these fallacies, just off the top of my head: appeal to authority, appeal to consequences, appeal to the stone, appeal to widespread belief, argumentum ad hominem, fallacy of composition, judgmental language, suppressed evidence, unwarranted assumption … and no end of proof by verbosity. Indeed, from end to end Black seems to just hammer his message home, and if you take the entire message as a whole, it’s hard to argue. The problem is that if you think about each assertion he makes, they fall like a long line of dominoes.

I found myself writing a message to Mr. Black because his argument is such an utter mess. But then, I saw what could explain it all:

From: Rick Pali <rpali@alienshore.com>
To: cbletters@gmail.com
Subject: What?!
Date: March 28, 2015 at 8:29:27 PM EDT

Mr. Black,

You wrote: “The atheists’ domination of our centres of learning and information is a great vulnerability in the West: it creates acute resentment and dissent among the more religiously tolerant majority, separates learning and information from the greatest pillar of our civilization’s historic development, invites contempt from violently sectarian societies, especially Islamists, and is repugnant to the entire concept of freedom of thought and expression that our universities and free press are supposed to be defending.”

So among all of the religions, races, and nationalities in our multicultural society, atheism alone is such trouble? Even with this tolerant majority? If atheism is so wanting, as you put it, one must wonder what the religious majority is so resentful about. And feeling free not to believe in a supernatural being is repugnant to freedom of thought? Surely Mr. Black, you can do better than this.

I can’t help but believe you’re just having a lark and enjoying stirring the pot because the number of fallacies you’ve employed in your two articles is more surprising than your conclusion! I can see you winking at us, between the lines.

I expected no reply. Why would I? In his second piece, Black expressed his position clearly:

I have always believed that with religion, as with sex, people should inform themselves and decide their own preferences and precepts, be discreet about them, and respect the practices of others unless they are sociopathic or insane.

Given this thought, one would wonder why he wrote those two articles in The National Post. The only explanation I can see is that he’s trying to get a rise out of his readers.

Then I received his reply.

From: Conrad Black <cmb@blackam.net>
To: “rpali@alienshore.com” <rpali@alienshore.com>
Date: March 29, 2015 at 1:58:09 AM EDT
Subject: FW: What?!

What on earth are you babbling about? Give it a rest; you’re overwrought. CB

Well, he sent me a message, but there is no reply (at all). I wonder why he bothered. Either my conclusion is correct and he won’t admit it, or he simply has no reply because his argument is nothing but a lot of hand-waving.

I’m surprised Black got into this mess at all. One can’t prove the supernatural, yet he rushed in and tried. If he hadn’t replied to me, I would have been certain I knew his true motive. But given the reply, I can’t help but believe he’s lost his edge.

Posted in big questions, celebrities, me, religion | 3 Responses

Spammers. Silly spammers.

Be glad most marketing isn’t done by spammers. I mean, so much marketing is strained or downright idiotic, but not to the level of spam.

I received an e-mail message yesterday from someone named ‘Hemorrhoids.’ That’s a problem right there. Hardly inviting. It got a magnitude worse with the subject line, which read, “Is your hemorrhoid hanging out?” Christ on a cracker, there’s one message I deleted unopened, and faster than you can imagine.

And still, some dingbats must be buying. If no one bought from these shills, they wouldn’t spend money sending these messages. But they do because someone does. It boggles my mind.

I doubt any of you are among these dingbats or I’d tell you to cut it out.

Posted in idiocy, marketing | Leave a comment

Flip-flopping politicians

The first and main concern is the privacy issue… since the information is to be shared by different levels of government and different governmental bodies. There is a risk that privacy can be compromised. The more information is transferred and shared, the greater the risk of security of the information.

The government assures us that it will ensure the privacy rights of Canadians are respected. However, we all know that no system is foolproof, especially a brand new one.

Stephen Harper,
Reform Party MP,
October 22, 1996

Nearly twenty years ago, that was Stephen Harper, then a Reform Party MP warning against the privacy implications of an electronic voter registry and the fear that information sharing within government raised significant privacy concerns. Today, there is a very different Stephen Harper, who as Prime Minister is fast-tracking a bill that eviscerates privacy protections within the public sector and is even blocking the Privacy Commissioner of Canada from appearing as a witness at the committee studying the bill.

Michael Geist
Why The Anti-Terrorism Bill is Really an Anti-Privacy Bill: Bill C-51′s Evisceration of Privacy Protection,”
March 12, 2015

Posted in politics, privacy | Leave a comment

Wisdom from the Reach

When a wolf descends upon your flocks, all you gain by killing him is a short respite, for other wolves will come. If instead you feed the wolf and tame him and turn his pups into your guard dogs, they will protect the flocks when the pack comes ravening.

King Garth IX, of the Reach.
George R.R. Martin, The World of Ice & Fire, 2014

You’ve got to hand it to Garth IX … he knows how to make lemonade from the lemons!

Posted in books, quotes | Leave a comment