10/29/2004

Seeking public support

(Note: This was supposed to be posted yesterday, but I had problems emailing the post to Blogger.)

Global National

Yesterday, in their Sound Off! section, Global National posted the following questions. They also asked this on the news last evening, and it would appear they are looking for public support and opinion on what to do with hostage tapes.

We're finding ourselves less certain about how to handle the now steady-stream of videos we receive in our newsroom from the people holding others hostage in Iraq.
For example today, two new videos released showing a kidnapped aid worker and a Japanese hostage pleading for their lives again. Both clearly aimed at trying to influence political leaders and the general public.
So should we be showing them to you? We've never had such a steady stream of television images like this before, so we are in the process of developing a journalistic policy on it. And we'd like your advice.
A couple of things to consider on whether broadcasting these videos are in the public interest. Sometimes refusing to cover a particular aspect of a story clouds the viewers perspective of it and prevents informed opinion.
Not all news is pretty to watch and how much should we protect people from seeing the ugly side of a conflict?
On the other hand, hostage video is clearly a shock tool terrorists are using more and more to influence opinion.
Does seeing hostages tell you more than you need to know, namely that they're alive and asking for help?
Should media outlets broadcast hostage videos?


This question, in my opinion comes late. Admittedly, late is better than never, but this issue should have been addressed with the first hostage video ever received. I do not think these tapes should be aired on television. If people are that desperate to see them, then they can download them from the Global National website.
There are lots of arguments for and against airing the hostage tapes. The argument in favour of airing the tapes is centered almost entirely around the people's "right to know." The argument against airing the tapes is centered around the publicity for the terrorist groups. This is the side that I am on.
As much as it pains me to say it, information is not free. I often wish it were, but copyrights, patents and privacy laws all detract from the true freedom of information. You do not have the right to know. There is simply no law in our constitution enshrining your right to know other people's business.
So, it's not an argument to say that the hostage videotapes should be show because people have a right to know.
They do not.
Those in favour of viewing the tapes should show that they somehow benefit our society. No one has done that, as far as I am concerned.
No one has said anything even remotely resembling "Airing those tapes makes us stronger as a nation and weakens the terrorists."
In fact, the argument against airing the tapes says the very opposite. Repeated viewings serve as free publicity for the no-goods, puts fear into the hearts and minds of our people and does nothing whatsoever to further the freedom of the hostages.

10/27/2004

The responsibility of a professor

Professors and teachers are charged with the distinct and very important task of shaping the minds of our youth. In an ideal world, this should also be a parents first responsibility, but many feel they are not capable. This is why we have schools.
Higher education is so valued and considered so important by so many cultures that we are willing to pay for it. Indeed, many often joke that an "education is something people are willing to pay for and yet not receive."

Driving to work today, I was listening to Jazz.fm, as I always do. I was appalled to hear of a professor of Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He was a a guest on Michael Coren Live, a Canadian talk show. Occasionally, I like to watch it, but admittedly this is rare.
I wish I had seen the show in question.
The following exchange took place (and if you google Michael Coren Canadian Islamic Congress, you will find multiple entries on this.)

Elmasry: "The totally innocent people [are] obviously the children, but they are not innocent if they are part of a total population which is the total population of Israel [which] is part of the army... They are part of the Israeli army, even if they have civilian clothes."
Coren: "If Israeli children are killed, that is a valid use of military force by the Palestinians?"
Elmasry: "No, they are not valid ..."
Coren: "What are you saying?"
Elmasry: "I'm saying that it has to be totally innocent. Totally innocent are the children, obviously, but they are not innocent if they are military in civilian clothes."
Coren: "What about women?
Elmasry: "The same, if they are women in the army ... anybody above 18 is part of the Israeli popular army."
Coren: "Anyone and everyone in Israel, irrespective of gender, over the age of 18 is a valid target?"
Elmasry: "Yes."


More searching on Google will show that Mr. Coren told the National Post that "he and the other panelists on the daily talk show, which is broadcast across most of Ontario, were stunned at Dr. Elmasry's comments.
"We've done dozens and dozens of shows on the Middle East and I've talked to probably every Palestinian or Muslim leader in Canada," he said. "And I've never heard anyone say something so extreme."...
The Muslim leader did not blurt out the comments in the heat of the moment, Mr. Coren said. "He completely volunteered this and I gave him every chance to back away from it, but he wouldn't."


Dr. Elmasry is currently under investigation. It is being decided whether or not this will qualify as a hate crime. There is also speculation as to whether or not he will lose his position as the head of the Canadian Islamic Congress.
What I would like to know, and no one seems to have so much as broached the subject, is whether or not he will be allowed to continue as a professor at the University of Waterloo.
After further searching, I discovered that this is not Dr. Elmasry's first indiscretion. As well as favouring a boycott of Israel, he wrote an article which I thought interesting, under the circumstances. Here you will find a reprint of this article, written for the National Post.
Why would any academic support a propaganda machine such as al-Jazeera? Most of the article doesn't even make logical sense, not something one would expect from an academic. How does:
"It seems the CJC is more concerned about potential anti-Jewish hate speech than Israeli Jews themselves."
follow from:
"If what the CJC has alleged is true, would it not make more sense that Israel itself would ban al-Jazeera reporters from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories? So far, it has never done so." ?
How does:
"But the charge makes little sense: As U.S. military bases and armament stores within Qatar's borders demonstrate, nobody can accuse Qataris of working against U.S. interests."
follow from:
"For the past year or so, the Bush administration has also voiced ongoing criticism of the network's coverage in Iraq. Washington asserts that al-Jazeera broadcasts encourage anti-American feeling in the Arab world and accused it of being a co-opted mouthpiece to spread terrorists' statements to the world." ?
Bush denouncing al-Jazeera has nothing to do with whether or not Qatar allows hims to stoer American weapons there.
To ask the question:
"Why target only al-Jazeera? Why not other networks, such as CNN, BBC or even our CBC? "
is outrageously foolish! Why would the government censor the CBC when it is a government funded station in the first place?
Interestingly enough, this:
"In a democratic society, all voices should be heard -- even ones whose viewpoint some of us might oppose." is not what the law says. Free speech in Canada does not mean you have the right to spout whatever you choose. The Criminal Code of Canada has a section for hate speech.
The very first statement in this section is as follows:
318: (1) Every one who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

It is my opinion that, not only should this man be removed from his current position at the University of Waterloo, but that he should not be rehired at any Canadian University at all. Whether the courts find it or not, this man has advocated genocide. Under no circumstances should any undeveloped mind be left in the care of such an individual.
It is dangerous to the future of our society.

According to the Daily Bulletin at the University of Waterloo, a review of Dr. Elmasry is underway. The review will determine whether or not discipline is in order.

The "Who is a Terrorist?" episode of Michael Coren is being re-aired tonight, so it looks as though I will get my wish.

10/26/2004

Quizzes

Sometimes quizzes just seem like the "in" thing to do, and therefore I avoid them.
The extension quiz seemed particularly nerdy, so I had to try it.
The first time, I got

You are .jpg You are very colorful.  Sometimes you forget things, or distort the truth.  You like working with pictures more than words.
Which File Extension are You?

This seems unlikely at best.
I mean, really now. This is my first picture on this entire blog.
Second if you include Minerva over there.
Time to redo the test.
Got it again.
Still a .jpg.
Not that I'm opposed to being a .jpg;
Oh well.
Why don't they have a "None of the above" option for quizzes like this? Or all of the above? If I were a quiz writer, I would ensure that all or none of the above was an option for every question.

Mr. E. Jones

Take a peek at the website...

(I recommend viewing the high bandwidth version).
This is one of the most clever portfolios I have seen. A friend showed it to me quite sometime ago. I don't know why I haven't posted it yet.
It makes me think of a Bogart flick.
I love it.

10/18/2004

The medium is the message

Over the weekend, my husband was playing "Call of Duty." As an aside, that game has killer graphics but a discussion on visual effects is not the purpose of my post.

I was intrigued by a particular feature of the game. In between levels, quotes from famous people are displayed. A portion of Winston Churchill's "We shall fight them on the beaches" speech was given, as was a particularly good quote on war by John Stuart Mill (it has since become my signature). There were others, but those are the two currently impressed on my mind.

I began thinking about Marshall McLuhan's work "The Medium is the Message" this morning. What message do games like "Call of Duty" give us? More importantly, what do they say about our society? Many people of my generation, and especially my younger brother's generation, express a very strong anti-war sentiment. It is interesting to me however, that games like "Call of Duty" are always enormously popular. Movies like "Saving Private Ryan" and "Schindler's List," although very difficult to watch, are also popular. World War Two has been impressed on the societal consciousness as a pivotal point in our history, and with good reason.

And yet, as my husband and I were discussing last night, prior to the war, most people wanted to let Germany be. There was enormous pressure for Britain to disarm... and ironically, she did, much to her detriment later on! How is it that people assume that, were WWII to happen again, we would be able to fight as bravely as our grandparents? There is certainly that underlying hope that we would be as brave, but with the anti-war and peace at any price point of view being embraced so widely, how could we be sure?

10/14/2004

A five minute job

Yesterday I emailed one of the network guys where I work, requesting a new IP address for the machine that will be dedicated to a few apps associated with the project I have been working on. He got back to me this morning with the address, I set up the machine and began installing the Windows updates.

Within about five minutes of being on the network, another co-worker of mine who also happens to be in the network group stops by my office.
"Which of these machine is x.x.x.71?"
"That one," says I, indicating the newly ip'd machine.
"It's port scanning 445."

It took five minutes for my machine to get a worm.
Five only!
It turns out this is a new one, related to rbot. The file, in case you are wondering, is called bling.exe and puts registry entries in Run and RunOnce. I had to get rid of it manually, because Norton doesn't seem to be detecting it. Not sure if Sophos is or not.

But, back to the rant I was going to have.

Why do people bother me with this crap? Why are you writing viruses and wasting my time? I have to find it, clean it and hope I got rid of everything so that the bugger doesn't come back to haunt me in a half an hour. It doesn't make you cool. It doesn't win you any respect from those who actually can program. You're just a random script kiddie keeping Symantec and co. in business. If you hate "the man" or "the machine" so much, why don't you do something useful with your time, like donate to charity or be the next Mother Theresa.
You aren't a hactivist, so quit bragging to your friends.
You're just a loser without a girlfriend and you, whoever you are, are getting on my nerves.

10/13/2004

Quote of the day...

When you steal from one person, you're just a thief.
When you steal from lots of people, it's called research.

10/08/2004

Very punny...

We just purchased a certain piece of software where I work. I have been actively involved in this project on many levels. We went live on Wednesday.
So anyway, yesterday, Co-worker A says to Co-worker B, who had just wandered in, "Do you have Heat?" (The software we bought.)
Obliviously, Co-worker B answered "Yes. It's plenty warm in my office."

10/07/2004

Money, money, money makes you poor or makes you rich....

Driving to work this morning, I was listening to Jazz FM , as is my habit. As usual, about 7:45am or so, they discussed the morning headlines. One of them caught my attention.

Apparently, Howard Stern has just been signed for a 9 figured contract with a satellite radio station. I believe it was called Sirius Radio, or something to that effect. The idea is to put Howard on satellite radio and use him as an attraction. As the fellow presenting the story said, the goal is to convince people to buy what they can already get for free: radio. Of course, now they will be getting it via satellite.

I have no idea if this will work or not.
It might, it might not.
But I would be willing to bet that in 15 years or so we will all be paying for our radio.
People will be convinced that satellite will give them bigger, better and more radio, and everyone will think "Ooh! I want one!" They'll go off and buy their satellite, much in the way they do for television, yet more mega-corporations will form by combining services such as TV, radio, internet and telephone.
And everyone will complain.

How do I know this?
Because I know everything.
And because people are stupid, that's why they do everything.
Worse than that people are greedy. Someone out there is going to have this idea, rub his or her hands together like Burns and think "I am gonna be so rich." Not one person will stop to ask the question "Do we really need this?" or "Is it really going to benefit us?" And the first person who does, will find themselves fired from their job. Millions of angst-ridden teenagers, especially in the west, will rage against the so-called evil corporation and "them" but will then turn right around and plug in whatever mega-device is used to get all their information never even once thinking that thing they just spent $250 on is the very thing they should be angry at.

Maybe it's a great idea.
Maybe it will benefit all of mankind.
I don't know.
But the fact that there is even so much as the hint of "people can be convinced to pay for what they already get for free" makes me frustrated.
Why money?
There's a reason radio is free.
It's for the spread of information.

10/05/2004

What was your point, again?

Read the article...

I read this, assuming the writer was making a very serious point.
...
...
And then I got to the end of the article and read:
Undoubtedly, this sort of critical machinery deepens the cultural experience. But it threatens something precious: disposability, and the confidence that most cultural offerings are things you don't need to think about. I'm pretty sure America could survive the end of NEA-sponsored Shakespeare festivals. But the end of trash culture would really be a loss worth mourning.
So, I changed my opinion for a moment and assumed the article must be a joke.
But I read it again, looked at the title "Improving ourselves to death" again, and realized that this closing "argument" was indeed deadly serious.

I want to look at these two (profoundly stupid) statements:
"The end of trash culture would be a loss worth mourning."
"...Cultural offerings are things you don't need to think about."

I looked up culture on Dictionary.com. Forgive me if my meanings are less than accurate. The word culture comes from the Latin cultus, which means to till, that is to till the earth for growing whatever crop you want. We use the word culture to indicate not only the growth of our society, but the climate in which societal growth takes place. Art, science, technology... this is the soil from which invention and new thought springs. Necessity is also the mother of invention. Combine at least these four and you have the beginnings of culture.
The Latin word cultus also seems to mean worship. Worship is that reverent love and devotion accorded to God, and the ceremonies, prayers, or other behaviours by which this love is expressed. It should not surprise anyone when art and religion are combined as in the Sistine Chapel, philosophy and religion meet in persons such as Sir Thomas More (and others). Many feel that science and religion should not meet... but of course, I would dispute this. Religion certainly makes use of technology; it has since before the time of Gutenburg's printing press and will continue to do so as long as there are preachers.

But here we have, from this guy, "trash culture" and "you don't need to think."
This guy doesn't know what he's talking about!
He's right up there with the guy from my "If I were a rich man" entry who said "I'm not anti-education, I just don't know if economically it makes sense," as though education is best measured in coin!

Please tell me he was kidding.
Someone?
Anyone?

woohoo!

I am listed in Blogs Canada, under the Nerd section... that is, Computers and Internet. You may have to order the page by date in order to see me, as I was only added today.

10/04/2004

How Herrings communicate....

Get a load of this... half way down the page...

And I quote "The Ig Nobel prizes, in typical fashion, represented the best of the worst of scientific research. Winners of the prize this year included researchers who proved the "five-second rule," that it is safe to eat food after it has been dropped on the floor, and those who discovered that herrings communicate by farting."

WHAAAAAAAAAAT??????????
Read the rest of the article.
Although the awards are sort of a joke, the research seems to be legit.
Herrings communicate by farting.
...
...
...
Is now the time to crack a man joke?

Interview tips...

I spent a large portion of Saturday and Sunday driving.
I happened to catch the following "job tips" on the radio. Please note, I have summarized, and taken a fair amount of poetic license.

1. Don't wear jeans on casual day, even though you are allowed. Really, it looks sloppy, so wear khakis instead.
2. Don't wear spaghetti straps if you are a woman. Don't wear Hawaiian shirts of you are a man. (Again, this is a "tip" for casual day). You wouldn't want people to think you are too relaxed or attention seeking.
3. Always wear navy to interviews.
4. Flash your watch during interviews. It shows you are "conscientious."
5. Never be late or early for any meeting at all. Always show up exactly on time. Drive around the block if necessary to achieve this illusion.

There were other tips, but I don't remember what they are.

Just a few counter-tips for those who listened to the same show and thought "Hey wow! What great advice!"
1. It's casual day. If you can't relax on casual day, you are too uptight.
2. Let me repeat that; it's casual day. If your clothes are what got you your job, then you should probably be fired.
3. Comb your hair, brush your teeth and wow them with your skills. Unless you are in sales, your suit will not be what sustains you in the hard times.
4. Never, ever flash your watch during interviews. It makes you look anxious and worried. When you are in an interview, give your future employer 100% of your attention. Focus on nothing else but the task at hand. There is nothing more irritating than people who act like they have somewhere "important" to be.
5. Show up on time. If you are early, great. If you are late, have a good excuse. Don't waste gas.

10/01/2004

A picture is worth a thousand words

And I have thousands of words, but only one picture... and that you can barely see.
I should fix this.

NationStates

I love it

The Rogue Nation of My Travelling Harem is a massive, environmentally stunning nation, notable for its compulsory military service. Its hard-nosed, hard-working population of 3.397 billion are either ruled by a small, efficient government or a conglomerate of multinational corporations; it's difficult to tell which.
Not sure when I made military service compulsory, but ok...
It is difficult to tell where the omnipresent government stops and the rest of society begins, but it concentrates mainly on Law & Order, although the Environment and Defence are secondary priorities. Citizens pay a flat income tax of 73%. A powerhouse of a private sector is dominated by the Gambling industry.
73% tax! Ack!
The problem is, of course, that some decisions you make affect you income tax. You don't get as many chances to give tax breaks as I would like.
Recent protests against birds flying too low have resulted in bloodshed, organ donation rates are among the lowest in the region, My Travelling Harem's educational system is the envy of many and regarded as a pinnacle of educational achievement,
Not sure what decision I made to get that, but hey, I'm pretty good
and moles are considered a delicacy. Crime -- especially youth-related -- is a major problem. My Travelling Harem's national animal is the mole, which is also the nation's favorite main course, and its currency is the dollar.
I keep trying pass laws to lower crime, but it's not working.

Sometimes, the issues you get are just great. There's one on immigration where you can start a show called "Who wants to be an Immigrant?" in order to solve your problems.
One of today's issues is doling out parental licenses... yes folks, if you want to limit who can breed and who can't, go right ahead. We also have an abortion issue today. Here's one of the choices:
"Abortion has to be legal if we're going to last as a nation," says Akira Li, President of the Society of Bitter Old People. "Have you ever thought that with My Travelling Harem's growing population of 3397 million, we soon aren't going to be able to squeeze any more people within our borders? If we use abortion to control the population, we'll make great savings and can spend the money elsewhere. One child per family should just about do it I think. Extraneous ones can be sold to other countries."
Wonder how they come up with that idea? ;-)
Occasionally, you get something resembling a "real-life" issue. Today, one of my issues (I have a buildup of a few days, actually) is privacy: to tap the phones of suspected criminals or not.
If I say no, my crime will increase, I just know it.
But if I say yes, my Civil Liberties will decrease.
I can always dismiss the issue... but is that best?

Oh the pressures of being the leader of a country.
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