Social Ponders

Why are people shopping online?

18 April 2015

Because most local retailers suck.Linen Jacket

I have wanted an ivory linen jacket for years and decided to stop waiting for that ‘someday’. So I went on a walk-about to see what is out there and how it fit (I won’t get into my rant on who they measure men’s clothes on these days). Because of the fit problem, I will gladly spend more at a local shop where I can try on the items and know they will fit when I get them home.

I went to about a dozen shops that might have had what I was looking for. Only 4 of those shops bothered to speak to me, three of which only because they had to and got back to prowling at the first opportunity. You DO NOT get to complain about someone taking a job that you can’t be bothered to do; customer service means that you have to interact with customers, and hiding in the corner doesn’t count.

So did I make the purchase at the final place? No, they didn’t have my size (or anything near large enough). Fair is fair though, that salesman was very good; I would have bought there even though the same jacket was significantly more expensive.

I’m not a Calvin Klein fan per se, but it was the jacket at each place

What does a murder, car crash, house fire and collapse all have in common?

9 October 2014

Story at Owen Sound Sun TImes

Someone has to respond.

First responders witness the horrors of life every single day; the things that common people don’t even want to hear about on the news. You can justify that they get paid well, have great benefits, or don’t work enough, but what they also take home are nightmares, guilt, and depression.

First responders are largely ignored when these horrors get too much. Mental health issues are taboo enough in the general public; they are completely unspoken demons in the realm of emergency services.

One of my crew brought this initiative to my attention. It has been featured on the other social networks, but not a word on Google+. I’m going to try and change that.

There have been 24 known first responder suicides in the last six months in Canada. Police, Firefighters, Paramedics, Search and Rescue, and many volunteer support agencies are all affected and this needs to change. Insurance companies do not recognize clearly diagnosed conditions as essential, and too often find a way not to assist the people affected. The public looks away from a uniformed professional that is obviously overwhelmed. The services don’t want to admit that there are weaklings on their staff. The stigma is everywhere. Can we stop it?

Burn Out
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Do you support the men and women that suit up to face what the public doesn’t want to see?

(This is not just a Canada issue. If emergency services don’t support each other, who will?)

11 November 2013

Remembrance Day


Standing in the snow and rain at the cenotaph, I thought what it would was to be a soldier. I knew that they would not be the ones to complain about the weather, just as none dared do so today. I thought of my stepbrother that served so recently, the stories he told, and the ones he did not. I remember him talking about how he learned too well how unfriendly friendly fire could be.

He told me of his apathy as to why politicians sent him to a far off land, but rather the importance of the sentiments of the people recently oppressed.

He spoke of the horrors of the day shrapnel tore his flesh but would not allow any ill.  He was a soldier.  He fought as hard against lingering hatred as he fought for the freedom of a people he would never know.will to the one who brought it.

He taught me that every soldier’s decisions were immediate actions that could never be forgotten. Finally, he taught me that soldiers are meant to be forgotten on every peaceful day save one.

Remove your hats and bias for that one day; honour the veterans that gave you the freedom to forget the need for soldiers on this, one day.

Social Networks, Big Data, and You

20 September 2012

On the most recent episode of This Week in Google (TWiG), co-host Jeff Jarvis was making his trademark point about social networks like FB having the ability to provide benefit to their users by knowing more about them.  Mr. Jarvis is quite candid on his views of openness and the benefits that can be derived from being open.  Typically, I agree with Mr. Jarvis with some reservations.

Something occurred to me this time as I heard him speak.  It is true that many social networks do know a lot about their users from the content that they provide; and yet targeted ads still have a track record of being ineffective on those sites.  Russ Pitts (of the fame) said on Tech News Today (TNT), he encounters the rubber hose effect, which means that if you buy a rubber hose, the only thing you will see for the next while are ads about rubber hoses.  Add to this the complaints of ads that people find irrelevant, and a problem arises.

So, if these social networks know so much about us, why is there this problem with targeted ads?  The thought occurred to me that the social networks knew a lot about its users but failed to understand them.  Put another way, the companies are hearing about us without understanding.  I confess to dislike the thought of anyone looking at a significant amount of data and getting the results wrong, but that is what appears to be happening.  It also appears that it is a familiar problem with context.  Just because I do a search, post a photo, or share my thoughts on a subject, there is little understanding of how that fits into the consumer’s world.

The easiest rebuttal to this situation is that the system will get better with more data.  I am not convinced of this.  It already takes massive servers to parse what is already known; enough information that it is not that difficult to find the specific people through the piles of anonymized, aggregate data.  The whole situation leaves me to ponder why it is that there is enough data to know who I am and where I live, but not know that I already bought the rubber hose and don’t need any more.  This pondering also leads me to wonder about the entire assumption that knowing so much about us really is beneficial to the advertising revenue models of the Internet.

Back in the Saddle

17 October 2011

Hello again!

For those that have wondered what on Earth happened to me, I’m finally back.  It has been an insanely busy summer with working nearly every weekend.  To add to matters, an older site on my account got hacked and started doing horrible things.  The whole works was taken down until every issue could be addressed.  When all was said and done, the summer was over and my Internet work was neglected.  I’m sorry to anyone that might have come around looking for the site and a place to strike up some ponders.

And what would a post be without a ponder?  So here’s something to occupy your mind.  Spammers create spam (and hack into websites) in order to send out their messages to anyone who will listen, and then some.  Why do they do this?  The answer is simple – money without conscience.  The spammers are trying to fool you into giving them money one way or another; whether it’s fake products or your personal information for sale, they won’t stop until they squeeze a dollar out of you.  So here’s the ponder, why do people keep falling for this stuff?  Do you really believe that you can get cheep Viagra and would you buy medications from people that can’t check for spelling and grammar mistakes?  You could support your local con artist by buying your fake Gucci bag downtown so why do so many people continue to click these links and put their money down?

Pondering on Japan

18 March 2011

Like most people, I was watching the events occurring in Japan.  It was horrible and fascinating to watch earthquakes and Tsunamis causing devastation across the proud, little island.  I thought of writing a post but there was nothing to ponder, nothing unique for me to discuss.  That was until something was brought to my attention.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why there were so many reports and videos coming out of Japan?  Maybe you found yourself thankful that so few lives were lost.  Maybe you felt mixed feelings of fright and relief at the nuclear power plants causing so few deaths (1 crane operator that I know of past the initial problems).  All of those thoughts passed through my mind giving way to a ponder.  Why was such a horrible event so manageable?

The answer is in the people of Japan, or should I say the culture.  They are managing the unthinkable, where many other areas would have crumbled.  I don’t believe it had anything to do with race, but with the culture.  Simply put, they were prepared.

When Katrina slammed into New Orleans, it was a disaster that just kept getting worse.  The people, the representatives of New Orleans, and even FEMA were unprepared for disaster of that magnitude.  One might make racial or economic arguments but the common difference was preparation.  The people of Japan may worry just the same about bills and television programming, but they also knew what to do in an emergency.

I urge you to think about this as you watch the news.  Would you even know where to start if an emergency happened in your area?  If not, then may I suggest you do some research on the 72 hour initiative; there are great resources in both Canada and the US for free.  I’m also encouraging myself to continue working on a project to make getting prepared easier and maybe even fun.  Until then, be safe and do not panic.

Snow, Grounhogs, and Government

2 February 2011

I was wondering what to post today and thought of the hot topics; the snow, Groundhog Day, or the controversial ruling by the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).  All I could come up with when I pondered the snow was that this is Canada, it is snow, next topic.  That left Groundhog Day and the CRTC ruling; then the idea struck me.

I think Wiarton Willie should be the next head of the CRTC.  He’s all ready on a government expense account (albeit a municipal one) that would be easy to transfer to the Feds.  Then there are the qualifications; as a groundhog being able to remember complex tunnel systems, he would be able to remember that Bell did not spend their hard earned money building out infrastructure.  Bell spent taxpayer’s hard earned money to do it. Groundhog Willie would see through the phone giant’s pleas to take measures for recouping infrastructure expenses.

Next is Wiarton Willie’s ability to see his shadow.  This qualification would be more than enough to see that Bell’s request to implement data caps to 1/10th of the existing targets for the same cost as anti-competitive.  This proposal would not only cripple the re-seller’s ability to compete for Internet service, but would essentially prohibit online entertainment services like Netflix from coming into Canada and threatening Bell’s satellite television service.  With the conflicts are easily as apparent as a shadow, Willie would be up for the task.

There are those of you that might think that putting a groundhog as head of the CRTC is a foolish idea.  There are those that might believe it couldn’t get worse.  Sure, Wiarton Willie might keep us waiting for 6 weeks until Spring but that’s over 6 months faster than the CRTC will review it.  The commission appears to want to wait until competing companies are forced out of business before it hears any appeals.

Those that know me know that I try to remain politically agnostic, reserving equal disdain for all politicians equally.  However, Prime Minister Steven Harper has the chance to be my hero this month by reviewing the CRTC’s decision and coming to the same conclusion Wiarton Willie would have – it is a bad deal for Canadian citizens.

The “New Unconditional Love”

28 January 2011

Unfortunately, I have the displeasure of admitting that I know girls that intentionally faltered on their birth control to become pregnant. When the truth came out, I asked the obvious question, “Why would you do such a thing?”

The reply I always got was, “I wanted an unconditional love in my life.”

I say unfortunately because the notion of starting a family by deceiving the potential father never sat well with me. I had trouble believing that a loving relationship started with deceit, but I kept quiet as I certainly did not know what did start a loving relationship and believed it was not my decision. Many years passed.

This week the topic was accidentally brought up when I listened to a co-worker talking about how her mother wouldn’t be bothered with her until a new baby was involved. She suggested that her mother was just interested in the joys of being a grandmother without any obligation. This is something I’ve heard many times from younger girls that I’ve worked with.

I began to wonder if the girls I knew gave back the love that they so desperately sought. Was deceit really a means to an end or a preview to an unloved child? As an adult that never had the life circumstances to have a family, that question bothers me.

In no way am I passing judgment or being righteous. I have committed my share of sins and bad choices in my time. I just had to stop and wonder for a moment what was the true cost of “unconditional love”.

Is WikiLeaks the Modern Magna Carta?

7 December 2010

Though some historian viewers may be bringing out the torches and pitch forks for this blasphemous statement, we need to ignore the hype for a minute and think about what we are talking about.

The Magna Carta was an English document written in the early 13th century. There have been countless documents created throughout history, but this one stands out from the rest because it was brought into law and stripped the English Monarchy of much of its power. It was a crucial document that changed the English power structure forever.

The Magna Carta was also an agreement that was signed under such duress that not even the most liberal of Western Courts would ever hear it inside a courtroom. I won’t even get into the discussion on whether or not the average person really benefitted from changing decisive power from whimsical Kings to a group of revolting Barons. Whatever side of the fence you sit, the Magna Carta represented an idea, a new perspective, and a change in power. Those ideas would eventually form individual rights and parliament.

In contrast, WikiLeaks is a website that launched in the early 21st century. What sets this site out from all of the rest is that it has the potential to strip world governments of their secrets, information, and power over their subjects. Average people are suddenly able to challenge government propaganda by leaking out the original facts. If knowledge is power, the governments of the world have unwittingly surrendered their power to the people via the Internet. The poster child of this shift in power is WikiLeaks front man, Julian Assange.

Ironically, nobody really knows what Julian even does for WikiLeaks aside from evading governments and acting as spokesman. The power and influence isn’t from anything that WikiLeaks has done, it comes from the ideas enabled by the Internet. The scandalous content comes from the people that have access to sensitive documents and feel that governments and big businesses are misusing the information and their power. WikiLeaks just provides a place for these escaped packets of information to seek refuge.

I am a believer that not every piece of information should be released. There are certainly times when an idea seems good in the beginning only to find out how horrible the consequences would be; if released out of context to the public, this could result in witch hunts and other bad outcomes. However, I cannot get past the number of times that the “powers that be” have said, “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, then why be afraid of us having a look at what you are doing?” Now that the public is getting a peek into what they are doing, it is an international threat!

Whatever history says about the Internet, WikiLeaks, or Julian Assange, it seems clear that the World’s Governments have to face another major shift in power and rights because of an information revolt. The resistance to this change is getting uglier all the time. I have even mused that Julian could change his name to Moriarty with all the credit the media has poured over him.

The change is here. Could it be Magna Carta 2.0?

Where Have I Been?

3 October 2010

Well folks, I want to apologize to all of my reader(s).  Life has been doing it’s darnedest to get in the way lately.  I’ve thought of a number of things to write about, like how I’ve been able to find a house for sale on every street but no single apartments, but just haven’t had the time to sit down and put my words in logical order.

Life is still working against my every move, but I’m taking a stand when it comes to sitting down and writing a little every week.  Hopefully I’ll get up to a daily blog entry on things to think about, but for right now I’m working on weekly.

Remember, keep pondering!

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