Don’t cheat the Empress!

I’m almost finished reading Robert B. Abrams’ The Colosseum: A History, which is a pretty good book, especially since I managed to purchase the Kindle edition for $1.99. In it I came upon this gem of a story that I had never heard before:

The third-century emperor Gallienus, upon learning that a jeweler had sold the empress counterfeit jewels, punished the man by ordering him thrown to the lions. The terrified charlatan was led into the arena, where a cage was wheeled up next to him. But when the cage door was opened, a capon strutted out. The crowd roared with laughter. The emperor’s herald proclaimed that the trickster had been tricked. Then the benevolent Gallienus let him go.

That jeweler got off easy. Cheating people is bad enough, but who cheats the emperor’s wife? Not smart.

Seth’s Candy Diet

The bestselling novel of 1961 was Allen Drury’s Advise and Consent. Millions of people read this 690-page political novel. In 2016, the big sellers were coloring books.

Fifteen years ago, cable channels like TLC (the “L” stood for Learning), Bravo and the History Channel (the “History” stood for History) promised to add texture and information to the blighted TV landscape. Now these networks run shows about marrying people based on how well they kiss.

And of course, newspapers won Pulitzer prizes for telling us things we didn’t want to hear. We’ve responded by not buying newspapers any more.

The decline of thoughtful media has been discussed for a century. This is not new. What is new: A fundamental shift not just in the profit-seeking gatekeepers, but in the culture as a whole.

Seth Godin,
The Candy Diet

This crushes me with sadness. Where will it lead? Where does it end?

Brexit

What is a country, exactly? A group of like-minded individuals living together? I think this is increasingly untrue. Part of my own definition would involve a recognized border the inhabitants control. After all, if the people living in the country can’t control who leaves, and especially who enters, it’s not a sovereign country at all.

To me, this is exactly why the European Union’s unimpeded flow of goods and people sounds great until you really think about it. Goods can come and go within the Union, which is terrific for trade. People can come and go within the Union, but they can also stay, and you have no control over who chooses to exercise this option. That may not be so good.

It’s got nothing at all to do with racism, or xenophobia. Does locking your door any only allowing the people you choose inside make you a xenophobe? I should hope not, and the same goes for your country. It is for this reason alone that I would have likely voted leave if I were living in the UK.

Last Sunday on The National, Jonathan Kay was a part of the panel discussion regarding the Brexit and he described how proud he was that Canada has no significant movement that is so racist and xenophobic as some other countries. That’s so easy to say since we do have control of our borders and our country. I’d heartily suggest the situation would be very different if all of the borders were open within North America and the rules over much of what goes on in our country were handed down to us from an unelected group outside of Canada.

The more I think about it, the less I can conceive how the countries that comprise the European Union ever sold the loss of their sovereignty to their citizens to join the Union in the first place. If you agree to give up jurisdiction on trade, agriculture, fisheries, regional development, environment, treaties and international agreements, defense and security, and monetary policy (for those countries that have adopted the Euro), why not just agree to become a single pan-European country and be done with it? At least citizens could then elect the people making these policies…which they currently cannot.

Entitlement is alive and well. I saw a young English man interviewed regarding the Brexit results and he stated that the exit is the fault of the older folks and pensioners and they need to figure some way around it. Translation: we don’t care for democracy when it doesn’t go our way so we need to get around this vote somehow. Pesky democracy!

In the same spirit, we have this petition that showed up on the UK Parliamentary web site:

We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum.

This would conveniently force another referendum…so as long as the two conditions are not met, the population would be facing referendum after referendum. That also makes staying or leaving more difficult than the simple majority required to become part of the E.U. in the first place, and that’s supposed to be fair?

Even worse are all the demonstrations. Tens of thousands of young people are out wanting their voices to be heard. This is laughable because only 28% of young people voted. The ballot box was the place to voice their opinion, but almost three-quarters of them couldn’t be bothered. Now that things didn’t go their way, they’re not happy. Even worse, some blame the older folks. You know what? The older folks were smart enough to get off their asses and vote!

Bullshit sexism

Lauren Wiggins is a New Brunswick high-school student who was doing nothing but minding her own business when she received a detention for breaking her school’s dress code. When she wrote a letter to the vice-principal expressing her opinion, they added a one day suspension to her detention.

Yes, she did break the dress code. That much is true. One can argue whether it is reasonable or not, but that isn’t what has me incensed. It’s what they told her. Unfortunately, the school is refusing to answer media enquiries, but the CBC reports that

says she was told the full-length halter dress she wore to school on Monday was considered “inappropriate” and a “sexual distraction” to fellow students.

The dress Wiggins was punished for wearing.

I call bullshit. High school is the last stage of preparation that young people receive before going out into the world or pursuing higher education. Telling a young woman that she can’t wear certain clothing because of how the boys will react is a big problem. The school is telling the boys that they are not responsible for their actions, and even worse, that the girls are responsible for the boys’ actions. This is a very dangerous message to give to young people. Not only dangerous, but absolutely wrong.

Young people need to understand that they are responsible for their own actions. More importantly, they need to realize where their responsibility ends and other peoples’ begins. The school has this one entirely wrong and they’re enabling the boys’ poor behaviour.

If her dress was inappropriate, that’s fine. Say so. Don’t blame her if the boys haven’t been taught how to behave. Teach the boys how to behave and stop enabling their poor choices! But on the topic of the dress, I saw much worse in my high school days. I might be dating myself, but remember designer jeans? Like I said, much worse.

I’m also terribly disappointed that Wiggins was suspended for expressing her thoughts about the situation to the vice-principal. She posted her letter on her Facebook page and it’s entirely polite and reasonable. Suspension for expressing her thoughts politely is ridiculous. She ends her letter,

If you are truly so concerned that a boy in this school will get distracted by my upper back and shoulders then he needs to be sent home and practice self control.

Then she thanks the vice-principal and wishes him a nice day. Not only is she entirely correct, but she’s polite and eloquent… and for this she’s suspended? Ridiculous bullshit.

I’m glad she’s making a big stink about the situation and I hope the staff who handled this so poorly are taken to task for it. She deserves and apology and the way they handle things needs to change.


Photo from Lauren Wiggins’ Facebook page

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.


Logo courtesy of OpenMedia.ca