Monthly Archives: January 2010

Half-Mast

Flying flags at half mast is supposed to honour and/or show respect for the dead. The flag outside my work is at half-mast, but who or what is this honouring? It could be the recent tragedy in Haiti, it could be Canadian soldiers dying in Afghanistan, it could be an employee who passed away sometime before I started working there, or it could be anything else.

Really, I don’t know anymore. Flags are half-masted* so often now, it seems, to the point where I hardly notice it or draw any meaning from it. It feels like an exclusive nightclub has just started letting in anybody. So what’s the point? Either there should be some higher standard of “mourning” that merits a half-mast flag, or else it’ll just seem everyone’s constantly thinking about people who have died, which is really sad. There’s probably no god, so stop worrying and enjoy your life.

And please, when you do half-mast, don’t forget to put the flag back up! Even a week is pushing it.

Facebook Shouldn’t Have A Dislike Button

For at least a few months now, people on Facebook have been clamouring for a “Dislike” button to match the “Like” feature that’s been rather popular among users. I think this idea is stupid.

Reason #1: It’s been done. Reddit, Digg, and other social bookmarking sites, and probably many more such things, have points assigned to posts. I’m talking posts of all kinds: links, photos, notes, just like in facebook (and this website, even). The points are given by users, who vote up or down. The most popular posts rise to the top of the lists and get more views. It works well in filtering out less interesting and less funny material, and helps a browser (you know, a person who browses) find the best stuff quickly.

But on Facebook, the only posts you see are from friends and pages/groups that you choose to add. And sometimes also 500 other people who you met once but just had to add to Facebook so you can stalk them or appear more popular (omigod you have 879 friends well actually i have 933 i guess i’m just cool like that). But anyway: the whole concept of Facebook is to connect to things you already like. It’s its OWN quality filter. And you probably know what friends are more likely to post stuff you’re interested in.

Reason #2: Online bullying. When they stopped only accepting university and college students on the site, high school students flocked to it like pararazzi to Britney Spears. Just think of the ways to be cruel with this button. Think of your recent status updates or posts, and imagine your feelings if you received even one “dislike”.

And high school students can be mean as fuck. So can adults, of course, but we’re less likely to click “dislike” on everything the unpopular kid does. I can even picture innocuous “dislike”s creating firestorms of rage and broken friendships, due to simple misunderstandings. Yes, I’m being extreme, but a dislike button would have the potential to devastate. And yes, there is already the option to comment, negatively, but the dislike button is a quick-and-easy weapon that requires no thought. That is yet another part of its power.

The dislike button is sought-after in part for quick-and-easy responses to posts like “Ross has to work until 8pm tonight :(” or other things that merit sympathy. But the disadvantages of implementing this feature far outweigh any benefit. Facebook, if you’re reading this, I am available to work in your development department. From home.

Celebrity Death Pool

I’m joining a celebrity death pool, where you submit a list of 25 celebrities who you predict will kick the bucket this year. You get points based on age (100 points minus their age at death), so younger people are worth more than older people. It’s kind of a depressing game, if you think about it. Here’s why:

When a player in my hockey pool scores, I’m pretty excited about it, so I wonder if I’ll cheer if someone on my list croaks. Maybe on the inside at least. Hey, I can’t be a model citizen all the time. Yeah, I’m going to hell.

Getting Around In Toronto

I like how Toronto didn’t give its downtown streets names like 2nd street, 5th avenue, etc. I appreciate how street names give character to streets and neighbourhoods. Toronto also doesn’t follow conventions like “streets are NS and avenues are EW.” Yes, this can be a pretty helpful system, and isn’t hard to implement, though some streets just sound better with “Avenue” or “Street” or “Road”. …Maybe because we already know them, so a change would sound weird.

What Toronto does even more subtly is numbering. Haven’t noticed? Don’t worry, you’d be shocked at how few people know this. Here it is: Even numbers are always on the North and West sides of the street. How can you remember? One major Toronto landmark, Maple Leaf Gardens, is at 20 Carlton Street, at the northwest corner of Carlton and Church Streets. And the Eaton Centre, another Toronto landmark, is at 250 Yonge Street (on the west side). Now you know where to go!

The Breast Cancer Meme

Breast Cancer: a real problem, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 8 women. Can be deadly. Inspires: meaningful action.
Meme: a fad, with little to no substance. Can be boring and overdone. Inspires: bandwagon jumping.

Recently on Facebook, girls have been posting their bra colour thanks to a circulating email, much to the confusion of many girls and most boys. This is purportedly meant to raise breast-cancer awareness. But without reading the email, how are people supposed to know what this is about? When I asked a friend what the colours meant, the answer was anti-climactic. I wasn’t inspired, I was annoyed.

This isn’t because I was jealous to be left out, unable to participate. A slew of sarcastic posts came to mind, but I ignored the idea, because the whole thing is meaningless. This is just a meme. Girls are posting the colour of their bra, getting some “likes” and comments. That’s it. This isn’t raising awareness, this is just basic social networking. I seriously doubt that more than 0.01% of the population will be more aware of breast cancer next week.

So girls, are you going to do something for breast cancer? Self-examine? Donate money? Run for the cure?
Your participation in this meme means nothing.

Not In My Bed

I thought of who, if the situation came up where it might be considered, I would allow to have sex in my bed. To be clear, I mean that I would not be there. This isn’t something that I would want, but it would be like a good favour to a friend, under whatever circumstances would merit such an idea.

It quickly occurred to me that I would be willing to let only my best male friends use my bed. A total of maybe, maybe, 5 guys. I wouldn’t if I thought the female party was dirty or crazy, I guess, but whatever. It’s interesting that I wouldn’t really be cool with any of my female friends using my bed. Not because I like them or think I have some sort of claim to them. It’s probably an evolutionary instinct thing, to not let strange dudes mate where you mate. It makes sense, because it would probably weaken your animal status, almost like a power thing against other guys.

It’s weird though, that I know my best female friend’s boyfriend well, and still would be uncomfortable with that situation. I wonder what the true basic primal instincts are that control this behaviour and thought. It would be interesting to know how, exactly, this works.

If you know the answers, I’d like to know.

Avatar

I saw Avatar recently. Fantastic movie, by the way. Anyway, what struck me as noteworthy was the social commentary. On another planet, a mining company has hired mercenaries to help them procure a rare and valuable metal from the sentient species of the planet. The company manager is only concerned with profit, and the general is a war-hungry American. When the native populace refuses to cede their land, the mercenaries attack mercilessly. The message is essentially, “One way or another, we’re getting what we want.” It seemed like a pretty obvious commentary on the Iraq war, and how the Americans bullied until they got their way.

That wasn’t all, though. A friend pointed out the commentary on the environment. The humans were very destructive, and did not appreciate the connections between species of the planet (one of the main themes of the movie). That was a trait that only the native species seemed to possess. The point is developed further (for instance, why the humans were on this planet, and even social values) and I can’t believe that I missed this at the time. It reminded me of my disenchantment with the human race, especially shortly after the Copenhagen summit, where Canada’s political leaders offered so little that I was ashamed to be represented by them.

It seemed that most nations were either finger-pointing (“They caused this problem, so why should we pay for their mistakes?”, or leveraging (“Are you really asking us to commit this much? Country X has committed far less. We can’t afford such disparity.”) Fine, so money’s a concern. This really won’t do much good unless the whole world comes together.

I need to figure out how I can be part of the solution.