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Electronic Elasticity

Sunday, February 26, 2006

"At the Speed of Government."

Slooooooooooooooow, eh.

I was handed some work reviews in the morning today whih required single word changes in order to be correct. Single. Words. Two of em.

I made the changes in 4 minutes, printed the papers out again, and my Team leader had them sitting, still hot and smoking, on the desk of the review in the next 2 minutes.

So. 6 minutes. 2 words changed.

The reaction?
Whoa man. That was toooo fast.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Dr. Chandra

I am distinctly not a fan of Television in general. I prefer entertainment that is more *interactive* per se.
However, The National <http://www.cbc.ca/national/news/chandra/> recently ran a story about one Dr. Chandra, recently retired medical researcher from Memorial university, and one of the dirtiest sheets of laundry I have ever heard of in Canadian academia.

If you click on the link above, it will take you to the coverage of Dr. Chandra’s malpractice, which is spread out over more than two decades and dozens of studies. This man has misappropriated millions of dollars of academic funding, authored a pile of fraudulent medical research studies (!), attempted to sue his former assistant after she blew the whistle, and is currently living in rich retirement in Switzerland. What. The. Hell? He is clearly guilty of academic fraud of the highest order, and speaking of orders, guess which one he got? That’s right, Chandra has an Order of Canada. He was a “national jewel” and, apparently, untouchable.

My burning Question now is why is that still possible?

Why was Dr. Chandra allowed to simply walk away from years of business and academic fraud at Memorial University? His studies were apparently so faked that they may as well have been sold in the fiction section of Chapters. His goddamned NURSING ASSITANT caught the lies. People that KNEW him caught the lies. THE UNIVERSITY KNEW HE WAS DOING IT! They didn’t even try to touch him, because they were “afraid of a civil suit” against them. Suit? Over WHAT? Loss of profits? Those profits were not legitimate. Income? Fraud is a pretty damn good reason to fire a professor. No, I Do Not Care if he has tenure!

I guess this issue strikes close to home with me because I aspire to enter that world of academia, and in my innocence I assumed that it was slightly less dirty than the world of business. Guess not. Chandra gets an A+ for assholery on this one.I would like to clarify something in closing. I know that professors are human, and just as likely to be a jerk as any other human being. But to me there is a distinct line between jerk, and human shite-bag, and I was kind of hoping that the academic world would have a low tolerance for that kind of person. Memorial has really shot itself in the foot on this one, and I personally would need to see something seriously awesome come out of there before I’d consider giving them my money (for any reason).

A complete administrative overhaul might do it. Or Chandra’s head on a well-worded ‘pike’. That would do too.


I do say, this blog hath gotten ratha stale. I hereby propose a facelift!

So in keeping with that plan, I am going to be spending some time updating the links column, styling, annoying ad location, and Layout of the blog, going for a more professional, viewable, readable layout.

I havent decided where the nude pics should go yet though! Hmm tough one.
In any case, look for improvements to the site in the upcoming weeks. I may add my revamped resume (the serious one), and my "other" resume (The leisure and interests one) as links.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Women in the Gaming Community.

In the world of games development (for computers, pen and paper, console), creators of new products are constantly seeking new audiences to sell to, a new population segment to inculcate into game culture. The holy grail of new audiences for these people is the young woman. I mean come on... 50% of the market is untapped by and large. That's a hot opportunity, if you can find a way to cater to their interests.

Regardless of how many sports I play, or other things I do, I'm a nerd. I can tell you that the "gamer girl" is a rare breed, and something to be treasured when you find one, not just due to rarity, but also because games and their players of all stripes will really benefit from having more female players, and a market with more interested women. When I analyse my personal motives, several seem a bit selfish really.

I like and enjoy games and women both, therefore games and women added together should equal something even better in my opinion, yes?

And in my experience this math usually works out. When I play videogames, card games, sports or social games of any kind, and the ladies are involved and having fun, I have more fun, and I think everyone involved does too. Really nerdy games like Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering are so. much. more. fun. when both sexes are involved, compared to sports. The reason this is so is not because the guys now have eye candy, far from it. It is because humans come in two sexes, each of which thinks and understands concepts and events somewhat differently. When you play a game with only males, you only get one half of the human perspective on any given event or idea. Your social interactions are gimped. Or at least, that is how it seems to me.

Another side of this issue is that since we currently have a male majority playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, arcade games, and card games, when a woman is interested and enjoys playing one of these games, it is wonderful and socially attractive to the 'nerdy' guys nearby. It's actually kind of a gamer culture-shock!

Personally, I would rather not be shocked or consider it "out of the ordinary" to see a girl play a 'nerdy' game like Magic or DnD. Thing is, these games do currently have a rather limited appeal to the sexier sex, or at least it seems that way. I think the barrier is partly cultural, and partly inherent in the product itself, and I don't feel that these types of games make much of an effort to appeal to women:

Regardless of a divergence of interests between men and women when it comes to games and entertainment, I still optimistically believe that games and girls can get along, and that it can become an accepted social norm for a teenaged gal to role-play anything from battles to politics to a love affair in some fantastical setting, or to play a racing videogame or whatever takes their fancy.

The key really is including what takes their fancy into new games. I think that the next generation of games needs to make a concerted effort to be very fun for both men and women by appealing to the fundamental interests of both sexes. I can guess at some of the interests of girls in games, but knowing them as truth and working them into games is the real challenge.
I'd hazard that many girls enjoy immersive and detailed relationships not between things necessarily, but between people.

I'd guess that more girls would be entertained by appearances and what lies beneath them, rather than function or rules. That's a big issue, because games need rules. So perhaps the way that rules are written and followed needs to change.

I believe that the more open-ended and detailed a game is, the more likely a girl will enjoy it, over a game with strict rules and functions. An open ended and immersive game that stresses social interaction, communication and appearance versus reality might appeal more than a chess-like game. Right now, those kinds of games are found on the far end of the gamer spectrum: MMOs; games like Second Life.

I guess I just hope that the rising tide of female interest in gaming continues and is encouraged in a healthy way.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Scottish Brogue, a Paycheck and the End of A Week:

Many ah Laird an Lass 'ave kept ken on mah toils of late. T'is ah feine provender o'warmth to knew tha' this Laird 'as been stood fer an' accounted gracious. Powerstha' ben sae gie ah bonny ward taday, shewing grate attent ta mah State o' Fanance.

An' a right good sum twas an twain, e'en ah righ proper anding te a feine dey. Tha' comin dawn shall seeh feine Esqueah midst mah bread an' feine company athwart mah wain, e'en be at onleh en mah fancies.

Freedom of Speech versus Freedom of Religious Expression?

And Some Other Random Stuff:

By the by, it is time for me to insert yet another round of fascinating keywords related to me into my blog, for external searching purposes of course. In summary: I currently work for the Canada Revinue Agency (CRA) in my second coop work term. I am a History student at the university of Ottawa in my third year of studies and I am an avid reader, ardent nerd/gamer, fan/player of volleyball, badminton and squash, and opinionated aspiring polymath (Thanks Robertson davies).
Hello! We all have more interests than we can list in a single comma filled sentence, but I wont prattle on. My main topic of discussion today is the distressing reaction in the Muslim community to the cartoon depictions of the Prophet, which are forbidden traditionally in order to prevent idolatry. I myself am no muslim, and so I wind up learning more about this situation from non-muslim sources, simply because I fail to identify with the muslim ones. Hence, it is natural that I would have a bias for the newspaper side of things, right?


Both sides are acting in an incredibly stupid manner.

Secular Europe is defending "Free Speech" in the worst manner I can conceive of; deliberately antagonizing millions of people and stirring up violence and death. If you KNOW that publishing the cartoons and continuing to talk and write and debate onthe cartoons will cause violence, as we do know, then why, regardless of your RIGHT (read: You dont HAVE to) to do so, would you publish them? Human decency is implicit in secular western democracy, or so we are told. If everyone upheld the general social contract, society would be idyllic. Many notches down from that ideal is where we currently are, but the princple remains. Citizens abide by LAWS and have RIGHTS bacause combined they represent the collective expression of how a society wishes to live. Go read your goddamned Rousseau andMontesquieu (sp?), France! "Spirit of the Laws" and "The Social Contract" came out of French minds.

On the other side, I see evidence of one of the worst aspects of human history: Religious Fundamentalism.
"Freedom of Religion" DOES NOT mean that you are allowed to impose the rules of your religion on any other party. The taboo against depictions of the Prophet does not apply in any fashion to any non-muslim newspaper, dutch or otherwise. I agree that the original cartoons are incredibly bad taste, and that the subsequent re-printings are stupid and arrogant, BUT they do not impinge directly on Freedom of Religion as I understand it.
Even provided that "freedom of Religion" is a western, secualr,"non-muslim" (I disagree) concept, my argument holds, because it is impossible for the Nation of Islam to impose its rules on the West. They are not our laws. If I ever divorce a wife, she gets treated equally (compared to me) under any law system in this country, thanks. Am I wrong to argue that point? Does a paper cartoon showing Muhammed with a bomb in his turban somehow interfere with the Hajj? With the 5(3 if you are Shi'ite) daily prayers? Ramadan? No? Okay. Does it topple some pillars of Islam? I doubt it, they seem sturdy enough. Yeesh.

Clearly very Offensive yes. Obviously very arrogant and stupid on the part of the West. Interfering with muslim religious practices, no.

Something like France's ban on obvious religous articles in public schools runs far closer to that line. Just because the Muslim world forbids it, doesnt mean the West should. We should have some common decency and knowledge of other societies, and avoid offence by that method instead. Muslims in turn should re-evaluate how they express their outrage. Killing people and clashing with police is essentially the antithesis of productive in this case.



Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Gun Violence, Gang Culture and CBC News:

I was inspired to blog about gangs and guns today by an arts, 4 part series article written for the CBC website. It follows the evolution of gangsta rap and hip-hop culture, and asks many questions about whether violent lyrical topics inspire actual violent behaviors. Now I am not going to get all Nature&Nurture™ on my blog today, but I would like to get my thoughts on paper regarding CBC's view, and its relation to the other views out there, and which views are legitimate / useful.

Seems to me that there are a few big points of view on the whole hip-hop gangs thing, and please bear with my terrible generalizations and ignorance, kthx:

1. The Young People™ who DONT really listen to it.

The young, non-black, absent-minded, post-secondary, urban, scholastic incarnation of our "future". Hah! Lets hope not...

ie: me.

points for Me:
a. Has listened to some hip-hop, mostly the stuff that defined the genre or made headway (according to *gasp* much music)
b. Vaguely in touch with music's "young person's section". / can identify with
listeners tastes and can play "name that band!"
c. Hates mainstream CHFI music.

points against Me:
a. Closest exposure to a real ghetto was the word written on a university
chalkboard, and then discussed.
b. Closest exposure to a real gun and live ammunition was in a cop-shop, watching my dad fire it for 30sec at age 9.
c. Closest exposure to real and dangerous violence was a series of high-school tussles and some cool police stories. Not to be under-estimated, but certainly not
relevent experience of real violence.
d. Ability to voice a well-articulated and valid opinion worthy of dicussion = negligible. (This is where most would stop reading, you masochist)

2. The Older People™ (who won’t listen to it).

Points for:
a. They gets to shape the public opinions!
b. They ARE the public opinion (one side, obviously) on issues like these.
c. They finance the music and make money from it, and also freely denounce said music upon the death or injury of someone from category 1.
d. Some of them actually try to understand to roots of the music. These people are generally found in Arts/history classes or coffee shops, chewing on baguettes.

Points against:
a. They actually went to a live beatles (or insert equivalent "antique" cultural powerhouse) concert. J.S. Bach who?
b. They have children who listen to that darn rap music (ruh roh!). They do not listen to the music. They eventually listen to or read the LYRICS. (semantics, given the worrying content of rap music really is in the lyrics, duh Lanky....durrr)
c. They do not pay, employ, or generally associate with the avid listeners of this music.
D. :. Identification with the culture is limited or nil.

3. The Mini-thug Fanboi's N' proste-Toddler Gurrls (who haven’t attended nor graduated from ghetto school):

points for:

a. Limited access to the following:
bling (Watch your wallet dad!)
Cars (ditto)

b. Plenty of access to the following:
The White Picket Fence Institution

Points against:
(See points for)

c. All that and a bag of Doritos plus xbox360.

4. The Actual Ghettos (Complete with Gangstas in Training):
Now I was taught, in some white-washed room containing mostly middle-class white academics, that the United States bears the real marks of ghetto culture. I am nominally inclined to agree. Dont discount Canada and its T.Dot, though, as Boxing-Day 2005 proves in a rather terrible fashion...

In any case, if I wanted to really try to understand what rap, and its association with guns REALLY MEANT to people, or to re-phrase, where it has actual bearing and relevance for real-life, would ask people in LA, 'Liberty' City (Miami), the Bronx, inner Chicago, most of Detroit...

I would not ask Richmond Hill, Markham, Young St, Rideau street, the Bayshore Mall...my 95 bus companions (at the back).

unless I was polling group 3 on something.

I'd ask about the big inspirations of the music, not the money. I can reason out why rappers sing about steaming, sexualized objects labelled women, cars fashioned out of gold and diamonds with mounted machine-guns, and large parties with erupt into simultanious sex and gunfights.

Its pretty easy to figure out. You belt out some rhymes about that shit, call it a gangsta's (not er's, Al Capone was pretty damn racist thank you) life, kinda explain how you got it all, and proceed to actually get it by selling the instructions slapped on a mediocre mixed or sampled beat.


But just because thats what we see and hear doesnt mean that there is nothing more to the genre. I have heard too many interviews of intelligent rap artists to believe that they all willingly propigate a violent culture. There should be more to it.

In a ghetto, are the settings too immediate? Is life so close to that pit that you must simply end situations with finality? Historically fear and lack of understanding (viz. 'convictions') spawns the nastiest breed of violence. So is that what I am seeing when I turn on rap city? A depiction of the terrible immediacy of ghetto existance? Who is equipped to handle that message? Kids from suburbia? Other gangstas? Thugs in Training?

Free Speech?
The thug can speak freely to your child.
Now you must speak carefully to your child, so that he does not emulate said thug.

Do I make sense?


Recent Musings on Canadian politics:

Well I have now had two weeks to truly think about the shift in Canadian politics,and my vote, and I have managed some conclusions;

Item: I voted for the Green Party, or rather; voted AGAINST every other party.
Item: Contrary to my previous opinions on the Conservative win, I am now pretty surethat I "wont mind this government."

Those are the two things I have really been thinking about politically. Friends ofmine who are interested in politics generally lament Harper as our PM. Personally, Ido not like the cut of his jib. But he stands up to scruntiny quite well on manypolicy issues, and seems to by and large have a level head. Hes also from the West,and so I see it as likely that we will have an increased Federal presence of westernCanada soon, which I agree with.

Money is much heavier than initially percieved, and when Harper says that he wishesto examine the "fiscal imbalance", I take it to mean he wants to address the insane amount of federal debt dealt with by Alberta and her surplus. The West is generally more prosperous than the Centre / East of Canada, in terms of raw resources and growth especially. Ontario and Quebec obviously have the financial / commercialadvantage, and probably move more dollars around. But I doubt they actually produce more raw capital. The truth lies in the shares. Check the prices on oil and steel company shares, then go look at the prices on Financial institutions and high techcompanies. With Google as an exception, these are generally low. Oil comapny shares go for more than 100$ each usually, with steel close behind.

With the diamond development in Northern Canada, even that part of our country is beginning to shine in comparision to our more urbanized provinces. In my Urban History class this past semester, my professor predicted that British Columbia' surban centers would produce far more general prosperity and growth than Toronto /Montreal in the coming decades, especially as "entertaining cities". He did not go so far as to say that headquarters of large banks or institutions would move... butaside from that limiting factor, prospects seemed golden, in his opinion, for theWest in general.
That seems like a safe bet to me, despite my very limited (read: none) knowledge of economics. Production of real capital is the only thing allowingmovement of "virtual" capital, or speculation. Marx was right about that at least.

By the by, if you the reader disagree with my incedibly ignorant generalizations and rantings, I'd like to read it! Seriously, post a comment calling me on my terrible tendancy to generalize and pretend I know my shit. FYI, I dont know my shit. Im about as authoritative as any independant source on the Internet...