Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Seriously, Though, Who AM I Going to Call?

Yesterday a friend phoned me in moderate need and since I was right in front of my computer (I an concerned it is becoming part of me) I figured I could oblige. I Googled to see what the nearest police station was to my friend's location. Simple, right?
In my quest to simply find the closest station, keep in mind I could do this calmly from the safety of my desk, not desperately on my smart phone, I Googled

Police Bonnie Doon
Police Bonnie Doon Edmonton
Police Station Bonnie Doon Edmonton
Police Stations Bonnie Doon Edmonton
Police Station near Bonnie Doon Edmonton
Police Stations near Bonnie Doon Edmonton
Police Edmonton
Police Station Edmonton
Police Stations Edmonton
EPS Edmonton

To my dismay none of these resulted in pointing out any police stations. The results varied from the unstaffed and purely training oriented Police Recruiting Center downtown, which I'm pretty sure was a restaurant last time I passed it, to the Milarm Retail store because they were listed as providing police equipment.

I am disappointed that something this important, finding a police station, can not be found with the most simple Google searches. Is there a magic phrase I am missing? (Police Bonnie Doon Edmonton Please) I don't want to tell the police how to do their jobs but I'm going to: it might be useful for them to clean up their online presence.

Perhaps if I had the Siri system I could simply scream at her and she'd find me a police station. Or singing lessons. Either way.

It appears the magic words were "Edmonton Police Locations"! Try to remember that, everyone!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Honorary Baby Steps

I was not going to post today - this week is finals week and I find myself drowning- but then I read this post by The Reformed Patriarchy Whore, and decided to post my own baby steps into feminism as well.

This past Friday I was giving up my turret, that I work in every night every day of the week, to the weekend worker, who had been in the turret occasionally before and had been trained in it. As I let him in the door he said something that I have forgotten since and I responded that "I knew everything." he chuckled and said that "Of course you're supposed to; You're a woman."
Feeling incredibly annoyed, I controlled myself enough to give him a blank look and say that we should "ride right past that", and launched into a business-like description of anything he needed to know about the turret for the weekend. I made sure he was all set and took off for the night.

It might sound like an overreaction, but consider this; this person had been employed for about three months - I have been working at this job for four years. Further to that I am explaining to him how to do this job. I don't appreciate being patronized in this fashion, especially when I will need to assume a management capacity in coming months. Ordinarily I am the type of person who just chuckles, regardless of whether I consider it funny, and ignores it, but I have noticed that this tends to spiral out of control into working dynamics that I don't like. So here's to setting a line and nipping it in the bud.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wildcard Weekend: Well Done, Sister Suffragette!

Did we forget this? Did we ignore the gift that was given to us? I wish I had wanted to be Missus Banks more as a young girl; seems she did some pretty serious butt-kicking.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Nuclear War can Ruin your Whole Day

As someone who has a vested interest in knowing if there is someone out there targeting women, one thing I cannot stand from the media is crying wolf. Maybe it was just a slow news day, or maybe the good people at the news agency just really want to make sure we all stay safe and secure with a man guarding us, but either way it just dampens my alarm about the real psychopaths targeting women, assuming it's just more crying wolf.

Further to this point, what exactly is the criteria for designating a 'targeted attack'? Two women have been attacked, and so it was concluded that the attacker was targeting women, and the media responded by interviewing women in the area to make sure they were properly frightened. If it had been two men, they would have called it 'a series of attacks', but since they happen to be women, they are 'targeted'.

This is because being a women is considered a novelty. The most obvious place to see this, and possibly the place where it started, is in Hollywood. Think of an action movie that stars a group. If it isn't all men, there usually one black guy and one woman. Because being a woman is an interesting novelty - something that defines an individual. A man, well, that's just a normal person, but a woman, that's a woman.

Anyway, what I am laboriously getting to is that I haven't felt entirely safe (except at work - guns do that) since the discovery of the Russell Williams case, and so if the media is going to alarm my concern that some misogynistic asshole is trying to stage a sequel here in the City of Champions, they better have solid gold proof.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Dear Loss

I am sad to report that my Grandpa, Kenneth Haywood, passed away peacefully on Monday. He was a fantastic businessman who never let success go to his head. He stayed grounded and empathic even into his retirement, remaining active in the Rotary Club, building a school in Malawi, and championing the Auto Theft prevention movement. He and my Grandma, Sheila Haywood, were often found jetsetting around the world, enjoying life. The staff at Grey Nuns Hospital and St. Jospeh's Auxillary were caring and patient with us, even when we had to steal chairs from pretty much everywhere to seat his well-wishers.

Grandpa was often quiet, content simply to connect people and watch the magic. Family gatherings were often characterized by him snoozing gently in a chair while we surrounded him, chattering like pigeons. Although he would often get up and wander off suddenly, deciding by some internal clock that it was time for bed, he made sure we all had the chance to say Goodbye at the end. That consideration and patient interest in everyone he met are the traits that I will remember him for, and hope that I can emulate in my own life.

Thank you for everything Grandpa. You changed more than we will ever know.

Monday, November 21, 2011

For Whom the Road Tolls

One thing that I have always hated is reading polls that tell me what Canadians want. Especially when I disagree; it makes my opinion look less important. As if I am some radical, wild card with my novel notion that I shouldn't have to pay for things I have already paid for. Like roads.

Apparently, thanks to an online survey of Canadians (my first thought, 'how do they know it was all Canadians?') at least 50% of us would support road tolls. The article paints this solution like a miracle cure saying it will, "ease gridlock and shorten their commute", "get rid of gridlock in our cities", "reduce strain on roads and increase overall efficiency", and "encourage drivers to take public transit". Read that last one again, "encourage drivers to take public transit". What they mean by that is the want to put the squeeze on drivers, to make driving less pleasant and so make transit seem more pleasant by comparison.

The problem is for those of us unwilling or unable to take transit, we feel the squeeze anyway. One commuter surveyed said he had added $1,200 to his annual driving costs. This, at a time when filling up at the pump can be harrowing. Just like that guy who advises lonely men to 'tactfully insult woman to bring them down to your level', it is ridiculous that we should be threatened into taking transit. We should find a way to enhance the transit system until people genuinely want to use it.

The other tactic that is suggested by tolls is that people will find alternate routes, and thus "Ease gridlock". Ignoring the fact that the major roads, the ones eyed for tolls, are the ones that are fully equipped to handle that much traffic, this plan is not going to be effective because with gas how much it is, it is not worth it to divert because the extra gas money will sink you anyway.

I really want to tag this one under "stupid ideas", but I will settle for just learning how to counterfeit coins in case I ever run into a road toll in the great country of Canada.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tweeting Asterisks

It's long been obvious that we hold our members of parliament to a higher standard than our regular chums, especially in the House of Commons. It is with this higher standard in mind that we approach the situation of MP Pat Martin, whose name is so close to Paul Martin's that every time I read this story I get a little thrill that Paul has beefed up.

The event in question, of course, is the use of profanity in a tweet issued while Mr. Martin (the Pat one, not the Paul one) was sitting in his place in the HoC. He was frustrated with the budget proceedings and so tweeted that; "This is a f--king disgrace ... closure again. And on the Budget! There’s not a democracy in the world that would tolerate this jackboot sh--." in another tweet he invoked the phrase "god damn". When he was called out for his foul mouth on twitter, he replied "F--- you." which has earned him some Internet cred, but not so much admiration from the populous.

The detail that I feel makes a difference that is often glossed over in the press is that the tweeter who 'called him out' did so by saying he expected a foul-mouthed socialist to capitalize the word 'budget' but not the word 'god'. It may not make a difference to some people, but to myself, the fact that he was being criticized for not being religious does make a difference. The main criticism was not about his language, but about his lack of respect for another tweeter's God.

As for the debate about his language, it seems ridiculous to claim he should not be allowed to write profanity on twitter while in the House. Either he can write profanity on twitter or he can not. The tweet is not magically going to change because his physical location is one place or another.

Personally, I don't care what kind of language politicians use, just so long as their message is not obscured. In this case he was simply expressing distaste with the budget proceedings, and that came through even more effectively because we all gasped and thought, "Bad words!" But let us not obscure our message. He did not cuss out a citizen who was criticizing his language or politics, but one who was commenting on his religion.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Leaking the Leaks

Imagine this; you've been scanning the files available on Wikileaks all afternoon, whether for interest or just boredom, when you get up to take a quick bathroom break, taking your cellphone to play some angry birds. Halfway through your constitutional, however, you receive a phone call, which you answer, despite being on the toilet, you gross person.

It's an automated voice, tonelessly telling you that your Internet provider has been notified that you have been found on Wikileaks. The voice continues on to tell you that you may be fined $2500 if you are convicted of looking at government files, then gives you a chance to record a defense.

What would you do?

Answer? Hang up. It's complete garbage, propagated by these idiots, Prankdial, in the hopes that they could make a quick buck, although where exactly they acquire the money from is pretty vague. (Maybe in your haste to lodge a defense you blurt out your credit card detail and SSN?) The site includes such gems as "Why you callin' my boyfriend?" and the phone call from the ring saying "seven days" which I'm not going to say would make me pee myself, but I still check the TV for well water stains and that bitch is about 8 years, 4 months, and 12 days too late. The uncomfortable thing is that they can also impersonate the RAAA, claiming you've been found guilty of piracy, and could be fined some exorbitant amount.

Let alone how offensive some of these recordings are, playing on stereotypes and other offensive depictions, I can't understand how impersonation is illegal, but this is legal. I can't wait for the day when someone is actually contacted by the authorities and ignores them because they believe it's just a prank. Or more likely, someone just tries to ignore them and claim that they thought it was a prank. Fun is one thing, but is this really something we should tolerate?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Yet Another Sacrifice

Although I have often enjoyed them, I always feel slightly sad about pictures of gravesites. It has been considered rude to photograph graves, but that tradition has gone by the wayside in history, as have many niceties that unfortunately became inconvenient for our own selfish purposes.

One further thought on this is the publicity of soldiers' gravesites. It almost seems that their final sacrifice was their privacy in death, is to remind us of the heavy cost of war. It is doubtless that most would have no qualm about our publicizing their gravesites, but it is just another thing we give them no choice about.  We will remember them.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

If We Like it, Then We Better put a Ring on it

I hate being led by the nose. I hate being offered shiny baubles to distract me from something that has started to smell. Most of all I hate when the shiny baubles are only a tiny fraction of a giant pile of gold that is currently sleeping under a smiling dragon.
Just recently Edmonton held a giant forum to discuss the proposed, now confirmed, arena that would cost an additional 100 million that we do not exactly have. Although it was not unanimous, the feelings of the city were apparent; No arena. Not with the current financial plan that was laid out. When the provincial government, the people we had planned to ask for 100 million dollars, reneged on a 92 million that was allegedly promised to us for a new museum (whether actually or by simply implying they would pay and then changing) I, for one, reevaluated my assessment of the probability that the province would 'chip in' to zero. But the arena progresses.

So now, in the Edmonton Journal, we are offered a choice; Would we like to finish the Anthony Henday, the celebrated ring road encircling the city that even Yours Truly has used in the past 24 hours? Or would we like to finish the LRT that has long been a source of embarrassment for a city our size? We have to pick one. Maybe we should just paint two balls, white and black, then let Mayor Mandel pick one from a bag?

How about both? Is that an option? Can we have both internal and external convenience when it comes to transportation in the city? Especially when you consider the Arena would be considerably hampered by a lack of effective transportation to and from the site. Apparently not. Truth be told, I retain a fondness (bafflingly and in flagrant defiance of the evidence) for our Mayor, but I really believe he needs to step back from this arena deal and revisit it in 5 to 10 years when we have the ability to travel around our city without busting a blood vessel. This is not a case of having my cake and eating it too, this is a case of having a plate and some utensils to eat my cake before making the icing. Otherwise it's just going to be a huge mess.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Mother of Hubris

The story on the CBC is pretty convincing; the majestic Golden Eagle, which has long graced our skies (the only territory it is not endangered in), has come under threat. The birds, which are listed as in a 'sensitive' condition by Alberta Fish and Wildlife (a word which here means "please stop using them for tennis"), have been dealing with a severe lead poisoning issue. The Wildlife Rehabilitation society of Edmonton has been forced to euthanize five in the last year from severe levels of lead in the birds' blood.

The society believes the lead comes from spent cartridges left by hunters during the hunting season. A quick search on google shows this is a common belief throughout the pacific northwest with numerous studies documenting the issue. A phone call to my source confirmed the use of soft lead for hunting species such as grouse or other small game, but not big game such as deer or bear. And although it is rare for a wounded animal to get away and provide a movable lead feast for other carnivorous animals, it is common that lead pellets miss their target and are left to move swiftly into the food chain.

Although I had begun this story with the plan to discredit the society's theory and supplant in the theory that it was the birds' habitats atop lead-lined telephone wires that were causing the poisoning, the overwhelming evidence, such as the California ban on lead shot that heralded in a dramatic drop in wildlife lead poisoning, points to the fact that it is a big problem.

So why don't more hunters choose non-lead shot? The fact is that it is just not available for purchase in small enough sizes for use. Whether this is due to non-demand or some sinister plot to make Golden Eagles endangered, the fact is this is a perfect point for the government to step in and get its 'regulating on'. So although it is pretty embarrassing to gear myself up for a story, only to be completely stymied, it is better to get the issue out. Maybe the money we save from disbanding the long-gun registry could be used for providing non-lead alternatives.

The title refers to the fact that Athenian Aeschylus, "the father of Greek tragedy" was killed when an eagle dropped a turtle on his bald head, thinking it was a rock. 

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Jacking the Sound to Noise Ratio

With Remembrance day coming up the usual slew of once-a-year politicos come out of the woodwork to voice their opinion on wars and the military in general, sometimes in the mast passive-aggressive, tasteless way possible.

An 86 year old veteran who volunteers his time to sell poppies arrived at one of the iconic poppy boxes that are endemic this time of year to discover someone had stuffed a political cartoon underneath it. The cartoon mimicked the old Herman cartoons (thinking of them reminds me of my wonderful great grandmother's basement) and contained the text,

"May I suggest that we declare war, invade and rob another rich country with an army of hired killers, soldiers that is, like we did in the past to Germany and a dozen other countries."

A sentiment so awkwardly written that I am left wondering if we are all being trolled. I mean, it takes a lot of bravery to stuff a bit of paper underneath a box instead of confronting the octogenarians that service it, (not to be ageist) and obviously a lot of commitment to have done it twice; what kind of person could possess these qualities? Only the most die-hard, staunch anti-war protester.

In case there is any doubt left at this point in my writing career, let me remove all doubt: I absolutely support people's right to freedom of speech. In making this statement, however, the protester removes the objection from war and places it on objecting to soldiers. Pretty much everybody agrees war is bad (Mm-kay?) Few positive effects came from it, and by and large, it's a last-ditch effort for achieving goals. But soldiers are a different story. Having soldiers does not imply violence. Being a soldiers does not imply being violent, or even pro-war.

When making your statement obfuscates the more well developed and relevant messages, you can't be surprised when people want to collar you. Not 'the man' but your fellow protesters. You ruin our credibility, and make it difficult for people to find the best message to support their goals. It's like what happened to feminists. Their message became more and more confused until now only the bravest call themselves feminists, since to do so invites ridicule. If the anti-war/anti-violence movement wants to keep it's tread, it must guard against mixing the message with anti-soldier sentiments; to do so would spell it's downfall.

In activism, the medium is the message, and the message from this 'activist' is perfectly clear: "I'm a joke"