Sarah Palin, the science wannabe

Sarah Palin ripped into Bill Nye Thursday at a Washington event for a film to discredit climate scientists. According to The Hill, she claims he has no authority to say climate-change skeptics are wrong.

Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am. He’s a kids’ show actor; he’s not a scientist1.

The only reason I can think she singled him out is that he’s one of the most recognizable science popularizers right now. He simplifies the science for the regular joe. If she was as much a scientist as he is, she wouldn’t be attacking him at all. She’s be going after the climate scientists directly. But she’s not.

Let’s take an abbreviated look at her claim. To simplify things, compare their education and first jobs:

Bill Nye earned a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University, after which he worked at Boeing where he developed a hydraulic pressure resonance suppressor for the Boeing 7472.

Sarah Palin earned a bachelor’s degree in communications after attending five universities, after which she worked as a sportscaster for KTUU-TV and KTVA-TV in Anchorage and as a sports reporter for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman3.

So who will you believe when they talk science?

  1. Timothy Cama, The Hill, “Palin: Bill Nye ‘as much a scientist as I am’,” April 14, 2009
  2. Wikipedia, Bill Nye, retrieved April 15, 2016
  3. Wikipedia, Sarah Palin, retrieved April 15, 2016

The Force Awakens? I’ve already seen too much.

The closer we get to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the more the Disney marketing machine cranks up, and the more fatigued I get. My second-decade self would think that I must have fallen and hit my head to utter such heresy! The truth is, we grow more discriminating as we get older and it seems that Disney is throwing a hell of a lot of ads and marketing tie-ins at the wall and hoping some of them stick. The result, as I mentioned, is Star Wars fatigue.

I felt a disturbance in the force when Disney bought Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise. Disney does make some good products, but their overriding skill and focus is marketing. They’re also ridiculously zealous in protecting their properties. Every time the copyright on Mickey Mouse is about to expire, their lobbyists talk to their pocketed congress people and the limits are extended.

Another more pertinent example? A reader of the Star Wars Action News Facebook page posted a photo of the Rey Star Wars figure he bought at Walmart†. Soon afterward, the photo was removed from the post. Facebook explained that a copyright claim was filed against the image. Jeremy Conrad at Star Wars Unity tweeted the photo and found himself the recipient of a DMCA notice about it. About a photo of a legally purchased figure in a post that basically says, “Look what I got!” The overreach is ridiculous in its extent.

So far, in my own television viewing and from articles about the marketing machine attached to this seventh Star Wars film, I’ve found fourteen marketing tie-ins! Among them is the particularly perplexing Kay’s jewellers Star Wars charms. They didn’t mention the Star Wars charm bracelet, but I bet it’s on the way! Many are nothing but an attempt to hitch their wagon to Star Wars, without actually offering anything but a Star Wars photo or logo on a package with the same old stuff inside, like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Coffee-Mate, Band-Aid bandages, and Cover Girl lipstick.

It’s marketing run amok and the more I see, the less I want to reward Disney for their getting in my face to this degree. As it stands, I’ll likely be seeing The Force Awakens in the spring when it comes to Netflix.

In the meantime, it’ll get much worse once the film is released and the toy ads start. Lovely.

The image is no doubt ©2015 Lucasfilm Ltd.

†”Lucasfilm Uses DMCA to Kill Star Wars Toy Picture” by Andy, posted on Torrentfreak, December 10, 2015

Cab drivers gone wild!

I was just watching Diana Swain on the CBC News Network. She was reporting on the large cab-driver protests against Uber that took place this morning in the Toronto downtown core. In particular, a CBC cameraperson managed to record1 a cab driver beside a white Honda, claiming “This is UberX,”2 as he gestured at the car. The cab driver then started pounding on the driver’s window, and then tried to open the driver’s door. The Honda driver, seeing the clearly aggressive actions of the cab driver, took off. The cab driver somehow managed to hook his arm forward over the side mirror and got it to bear his weight so he went along for the ride. Perhaps twenty metres later, the Honda driver stopped for a red light, the cab driver let go, and the Honda took off through the red light, leaving the cab driver standing in the middle of the street. Frankly, I don’t blame the Honda driver. I would have done the same thing.

A reporter talked to the cab driver and when asked about his ridiculous and dangerous behaviour, he explained it by saying,

We are trying to get a point across, that’s what we’re trying to do3

I’d suggest that his means of getting the point across is entirely inappropriate.

Swain also interviewed a taxi company owner. In particular, she said to him that she was in traffic downtown for two hours because of their protest and asked if this was the way to get support from the general public. His answer, and I kid you not, was “I’m sorry for any inconvenience we may have caused you.” I call bullshit. The whole point of the protest was to cause inconvenience. Like Swain, I question the means they used because I wasn’t even in the traffic, but what they did lessens any small feelings of sympathy I may have felt for the cab drivers.

They’re not doing themselves any favours as Toronto Mayor John Tory asked cab drivers to “stand down.” He went on,

There is no excuse for putting the safety of the public at risk, for blocking ambulances and first responders, for police officers being knocked to the ground.4

Sajid Mugha, of the iTaxi Workers Association said “If someone was stealing your food, how would you feel?”5 This is the crux of the drivers’ argument, but they’re attacking the problem in the wrong way. Consumers who use Uber see it as more convenient and cheaper. People want value for their money and the employees behind the more expensive entrenched system will find no sympathy by claiming the new service is stealing their food.

This is just the beginning of the problems for the taxi drivers. The taxi industry will be fine, but once self-driving cars make their debut, it’s only a matter of time before taxi companies have them outfitted with payment systems and dispense with drivers entirely.

  1. Taxi driver confronts Uber driver” video posted on, December 9, 2015.
  2. Cab driver pounds on Uber car, dragged 20 metres in Toronto protest” by CBC News, posted on, December 9, 2015
  3. ibid
  4. Anti-uber taxi drivers’ tactics ‘not acceptable,’ Mayor John Tory says” by CBC News, posted on, December 9, 2015
  5. Cab driver pounds on Uber car, dragged 20 metres in Toronto protest” by CBC News, posted on, December 9, 2015