Subtle Thoughts

I had no idea broad brushes came in this massive gauge:

The UK is steaming towards a “National Information Registry” — one big database of everyone’s personal information, tied to biometric IDs. This system won’t fight terrorism, but it will compromise the privacy of British people. What’s more, the system will be impossible to implement, resulting in widespread harm to people who get screwed by the errors it generates.

Bad. Bad, bad, bad and bad. Boing say BAD!!! So certain yet so disconnected from law and privacy policy…and stuff. Good thing Cory is hitting the beach to recover from whatever tensions a newly aging futurist might need to recover from.

Friday + Bullet Points = Chat

That is the magic formula, the secret to all idle thought and a crushing blow to economic production. Even though this is the shortest weekend of the year, it is still worth anticipation and therefore chattery:

  • British Columbia is passing an Apology Act. Here is the text in first reading. It is a little wee law that basically says you can say you are sorry for something without that being used against you. It does not mean that you are excused for the thing you are apologizing for but it does also mean the apology in itself does not serve as a GOTCHA! sort of thing. It is an interesting idea as ultimately there is no real barrier to legal action and, frankly, if you do apologize you are still highlighting that there may be a case to be brought against you if someone were to investigate further. But it speaks to civility and also levels the community so that, say, a professional who has done something they are not comfortable with but which is within the realm of normal non-perfection can actually say “Oops” or maybe something even kinder.

  • It’s been a rather adult week around here between applying for a mortgage and growning out my sideburns. I am under orders on the latter point. The trouble is I do not have the most robust near-ear fuzz and what is there is snowy white as is my whole beard now. That is why I shave – to look more 37 rather than 57. But apparently the suggestioning of a mini-moutasche near each of my temples is an important fashion statement so on I go.

  • Speaking of manliness…am I the only one who is noting our new Prime Minister is getting rather large rather quickly? As a fellow traveller in this regard, it concerns. Heaviness especially at pace is not necessarily good for you. I know, I know…but some people actually are saying so. Here is my evidence over time. He has even taken to wearing gut covering vests when he is in the stinking hot jungle while the guys from Texas and Mexico wear thin searsucker. I don’t expect he is a devotee of the beery world so what is he up to? Is he a secret pastries man? A two litre a day of Coke guy? What does a nerdy policy wonk do to get out of shape this fast? But if he wants to do it well, he really should get in touch with me. Two words: boston chocolate.  Again, the man needs my help.

  • Oh, yes. I went on a cable TV splurge just to check it out. Last year, I signed up for a movies/super-station package and got the Friday night Red Sox game. OK, I signed up for the Friday night Red Sox game and happened to get a movies/super-station package. But then the Super station lost the Friday night game rights. What to do? Well, dump the uber-transmissions and get the sports. 1600 baseball games. Seven bucks more. But what about the east coast stations? Nothing like watching Carl Wells on CBC Newfoundland tell about how the Burin is getting battered by storms again this week. One day I fully expect him to have a panicked look mid-hurricane and turn to the camera screaming “SWEET JESUS IN THE MANGER! WE’VE LOST FOGO!!!”. So that’s another seven. Then for another four bucks or so they guy on the phone said – I clearly heard him say this – “we can turn the tap on full.” Best value, too, said he. So now we have 247 channels. Including One, the channel so generically named you can’t find it on Google unless you use the counter-intuitive long form of the name: One – the Body, Mind & Spirit channel. My leafy green consumable and skin balm awareness is expanding as I sit here. I know it is.

Ten Digit Dialing

Apparently we move to ten digit diliang soon. I have a computer in my house. It uses the phone to dial in even though it is a high-speed connection. I have set the password automatically. Years ago. I have no idea where it is. I think I have to change my dialing from seven to ten numbers. I have no idea if I can do that. I have no idea of whether I need to actually know the password. So I don’t check. I don’t want to elevate my irritation. That is my pesky irritation of the day. Thank you for listening.

Update: I looked. I had no idea. I ran away. I hate anything under the word “properties”.

#21 – Memo To Cratchit


From: Methuselah

To: Cratchit

Re: Stirrings of Tory Life At Last.

Date: 28 March 2006


Seeing as you have so little to do during these days of the great silence, perhaps you could contact that chum of yours in the office of the Finance Critic to find out why the hell nothing has been said yet about this article in the Globe yesterday. Notice this sort of wording:

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty signalled Monday he will not eliminate the capital gains tax in his first budget. The Conservative government had campaigned on eliminating the tax for individuals on the sale of assets when proceeds are reinvested within six months. But Mr. Flaherty told reporters the government is still considering some election commitments, including when to eliminate the capital gains tax. He wouldn’t elaborate on which other promises are under consideration.

One wonders whether this sort of back stroking by the government before they have stood before Parliament for a single day is a little more important than the sorts of considerations I am hearing about on booking the proper hotel room in Montreal in December and who’s best placed to come second to Mr. Smarty Pants. Get on that thug pal of yours and get something going, would you!

And get a haircut!

Click Fraud Revisited

I just noticed this article on click fraud in Wired care of Boing and found a very odd thing – a moral argument for the rights of property holders:

By splitting revenue with the sites that host the ads, search engines have become, in effect, the Internet’s venture capitalists, funding the content that attracts people to the computer screen. Unlike the VCs who backed the boom-era Internet, search engines now provide revenue to thousands of wildly diverse sites at little up-front cost to them – PPC advertising is one of the few income sources available to bloggers, for instance. If rampant click fraud overwhelms the system, it will muffle the Internet’s fabulous cacophony of voices.

I don’t know how click fraud actually qualifies as fraud in the legal sense. I don’t know of a crime being committed or a contracual relationship being breached. The main example given in the story is one of extorsion, the threatening of Google with release of a autobot clickotron unless payment was made. Sadder still is the illustration of slogs – spam blogs – who exists only to generate traffic click throughs for a wee cheque:

Thousands of splogs exist, snarling the blogosphere – and the search engines that index it – in spam. Splogs are too profitable to be readily discouraged. According to RSS to Blog, a Brooklyn-based firm that sells automatic-blog software, sploggers can earn tens of thousands of dollars a month in PPC income, all without any human effort.

Imagine. Vacuous blogs created for alternative purpose. Whoda thunk it? The problem, of course, is the seduction of the technology generally and what it does to one’s thinking and one’s ethics. How much different is the new economic moral thinking compared to, say, actual legal regulations like copyright and the intellectual property of others. Is it because this clicky activity undermines the beloved as opposed to the actual rights of others? It is primarily the violation of the new moral crime against technological advance that is decried by Wired – we have a new plan that demands new thinking, new commerce and new crimes for the old thinkers…and we will tell you what the new thinking is after we get to it, thank you very much.

Isn’t the real problem the false valuation? Isn’t it incumbant on a firm presenting a new mode of advertising to prove its effectiveness in the marketplace as a mechanism for setting the price? Is it that the clicks are invalid or is it the mechanism which clicks which is. Isn’t the real question whether a click ad represents or ever represented value for money. Interesting to note that the one realistic alternative mentioned is micro-payments…about ten years after they were laughed away by the new think.

Take My Junk Mail…Please

What do you notice?

Paul Lima had a vague feeling he wasn’t getting any mail. When his mother phoned wondering why he hadn’t cashed his birthday cheque, “the penny dropped,” the Toronto freelance writer says.

He called Canada Post, which said he had changed his address in person on Nov. 17.

“Not me,” he said.

I noticed how little the guy must have been getting in the mail. But how long was the person not noticing the daily junk mail and bills? There must be something that would have been noticed if two days went by. What do I get in the mail? Banks statements of sone sort or another. Bills. Magazines. The Child Tax Credit mailbox money. Yet – what a drag to have it happen.

The Two-IPA Challenge


I’ve wanted to try this comparison for a while. Sgt. Major’s IPA from Fitzroy Harbour in the Ottawa Valley is a unique beer in at least the eastern side Canada in that it attempts to take on the US style on its own chewy hoppy terms. Hop Devil IPA from Victory in Pennsylvania is one of the classic northeast US IPAs – balanced but big.


The two beers pour deep amber under fine off-white heads but the Hop Devil is darker while the head of the Sgt. Major holds its fine head with almost Guinness-like will power. In the mouth, the Canadian is hoppier by a long shot but the American presents raisin notes and is richer but by only a notch. Both rely on American hop strains to provide an unsweetened grapefruit twang thang. Both have a good grainy profile from a honest quality malt bill and both use fairly softish water compared to the amount of bittering – no sulfate cheating here. The Hop Devil uses a creamier yeast strain. The overall quality of the beers is extremely similar which is a real tribute to the small Ontario brewer.

I like them both and will have some confidence in picking up a six of Sgt. Major next time I am cranking in my mind about the lack of variety at the local beer suppliers.