I’ve Got Some Food For Thought

Gill likes the Olympics. For all their faults, so do I.

As for her question about which sport I’d want to be involved in were I good enough at sports to not get laughed out of the country, I think my answer would be one of the sliding ones. They look terrifying, but they’re great to watch.

Have you been watching the Olympics? I have, it’s been fun to watch the thrills and moments that have one holding their breath.

Daring to Dream

It is 1984 and I am wearing my Osh-Cosh jumpers and little white socks. I am watching Gaeton Boucher speed around the oval in a distant place called Sarajevo. I am mimicking his heart stopping movements while my mom and dad cook dinner. Eight years later when Karen Lee-Gardener wins the gold I give myself that little push out there on the slopes, and my team comes seventh.

Question

If you could represent your country doing some sport at the winter or summer games what would that be?

Gillie saying congratulations to our bobsledders

Let’s Play Some Basketball! Instead Of Singing? Good Idea!

Nelly Furtado, Fergie…I’m beginning to wonder if maybe the NBA should stop having folks sing national anthems at its All-Star games.

Yes, I defended Nelly Furtado at the time and I stand by that decision even though her shaky start was quite a bit more jarring than I remember, But I’m not defending this.

I don’t think I’d go as far as to say that “a goose being strangled in your living room would produce a much more pleasant series of noises” as Deadspin did, but hot damn is this ever no fucking good.

If you were to ask me to pinpoint exactly when things went off the rails, first I would ask you what rails it started out on, but then, because I am fair, I would say that up until the part where our flag was still there things were merely awful. It’s at that point when everything just goes straight to irredeemable hell. Oof. I mean just listen to that!

I understand the urge to put a new spin on something old. Jimi Hendrix became legendary for doing that very thing.

But here’s the thing. Most people aren’t Jimi Hendrix. And evoking imagery of rockets and bombs with nothing but an instrument is a whole lot different than turning your country’s national anthem into something you’d hear in a jazz lounge that deserves to go out of business. I appreciate the effort, but let’s maybe stop overthinking things so much.

Be My Eyes Launches A Specialized Help Feature, Which Will Be Amazing If Enough Companies Go Along With It

If you’re a smartphone having blind person and you haven’t used Be My Eyes, I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that your life is at least a little more frustrating than it needs to be. And if you’re a smartphone having sighted person and you’ve spent any time at all volunteering as a helper, thank you for making our lives a little less frustrating than they used to be.

In the years that it’s existed, I’ve either used or seen it used to do everything from identifying details about a package that’s stumped the automated scanning apps to making sure medicine is mixed correctly to getting registration numbers off of electronics to reading room numbers in hotels to answering some of the dreaded questions about lights and silent error messages that the blind kid can’t possibly answer for the friendly tech support agent.

Long story short, there’s not much it can’t help with. But even so, it’s still trying to make itself better, and if enough companies get behind this new plan, it could be a hell of a thing.

As you know, Be My Eyes is here to help you tackle a wide range of visual challenges as you go about your day. Until today, Be My Eyes has randomly connected you to a volunteer to solve daily tasks. Some tasks, however, require specialized assistance.

Contacting customer support through email or by phone isn’t always ideal. Direct communication with a business’s customer support agent could be a more vision-friendly alternative and less time consuming for you. If someone from the company could see the issue in real time, issues with their products or services could be resolved more efficiently.

So we’ve strategized a way to better assist you: enlisting the help of representatives from companies whose products you use all the time. It’s our sincere pleasure to introduce Specialized Help. This new feature means that a trained company representative is available to answer questions or help you tackle issues with speed and in-depth solutions. Maybe you need help figuring out how to use an unfamiliar product, or you might want to interact on a company’s app or website while on the phone with their representative. With Specialized Help, it’s easy to get in touch with businesses and organizations when you encounter a challenge with their products or services. And as always, it’s completely free.

The next time you update your Be My Eyes app, there will be a second button added to the main screen to take you to the Specialized Help Menu. Clicking “Specialized Help” will lead you to the list of companies with representatives available to answer your call and assist you through a live video connection. Each business profile will include descriptions of their services, hours of operation, and supported languages.

So far the only company officially announced as participating is Microsoft, but the hope is that over time that list will grow. To that end, if you have thoughts about companies you would like to see added, Be My Eyes is looking for feedback. You can write to them at Info@BeMyEyes.com. I’ve already suggested internet and tv providers as a priority, but maybe you have an idea that’s just as good or better.

Hmmm Can You Analyze Love Too Much?

Somebody posted this on Facebook, and I had a good chuckle, and decided that it needed to go up here because putting brain structures and hormones in a love song was the funniest geeky idea I’d seen in a while. I’m pretty happy with myself, I only had to look up a couple word spellings so I could put the lyrics down. I love being able to check the Youtube captions to see if I can trust them. No, Youtube, dopamine is not doctor.

Enjoy, and I hope the warm fuzzies still feel as warm and fuzzy, even if they’re made of oxytocin.

When you looked in my direction, I thought my heart might explode (my heart was racing and I thought it might explode)
Because my sympathetic nervous system caused Norepinephrine to stimulate my sinoatrial node.
When you looked in my direction, when you first looked in my eyes (when you looked into my eyes),
My stress response diverted bloodflow from my stomach and intestines, and it felt like butterflies.
I knew I wanted to marry ya, as my ventral tegmental area sent signals to my nucleus accumbens,
and oh, oh, oh my lord, the anticipation of reward, that do do dopamine starts pumpin’

[chorus]
I know oxytocin is the potion of devotion, gimme that dose of dopamine, hold the serotonin.
still goin’, growin’, stronger all the time.
I love you, and I’m never gonna change my mind.

When you first smiled at me, I did foolish things (really really really really stupid things),
because my judgment was impaired, by a reduction in activity in my amygdala and the frontal cortex of my brain.
When you first smiled at me, I began to fall (one smile and I began to fall)
and so did my serotonin levels, producing anxiety, I couldn’t eat or sleep at all.
Then a year or two went by, with serotonin on the rise, til I was feeling comfortable and calm.
Now every single time we touch, I get that oxytocin rush, our bond has never been so strong

I know oxytocin is the potion of devotion, dialback that dopamine, here comes serotonin.
Still goin’, growin’, stronger all the time.
I love you, and I’m never gonna change my mind

Lady, we’ve been together for a while now and things are starting to mellow out. But that’s ok because we can still get those sparks of dopamine back by experiencing new things together.

[key change]
Oxytocin is the potion of devotion, a little bit of dopamine, a lot of serotonin.
Still goin’, growin’, stronger all the time.
I love you, and I’m never gonna change my, never gonna change my, never gonna change my mind.

Thank Goodness For Modern Medicine, Part 4

Gill returns once again with another look at why life expectancy used to be a whole lot shorter.

You may or may not have asked for it, but from moldy bread for infected wounds to a junk shocker belt here are some more treatments to make you thankful for the 21st century.

  • 1 Moldy bread – Straight out of ancient Egypt this rather progressive treatment was used especially for infected cuts and scrapes. They unknowingly had something there.
  • 2 Snail slime – Got a sore throat or ear infection? Don’t fret, just go to the garden, rob some snails of their slime and consume it.
  • 3 Chloroform – If you’ve ever watched a show where someone throws a rag over someone’s face and drags their unconscious form away they just might have been given chloroform. Now picture this, it’s 1850, and you need surgery, your doctor could give you ether, but chooses instead to give you this just as dangerous solution.
  • 4 the Impotence belt – in the middle of the 19th century when electricity was just becoming a thing doctors were trying to harness its benefits. Apparently one of the benefits was a cure to a man not being able to perform. He would wear this belt and a shot of voltage would go through his member to get shall we say things going.
  • 5 Shock Therapy – In the 1930’s a doctor came up with the idea that a person, such as myself, would benefit from being electrocuted. Although still used today, side effects are common. Thankfully my bipolar disorder is treated with a pill and not potential brain damage.

Question

What home remedies do you remember from your childhood, or that you have created yourself?

Gillie saying stay well

I Hope You Drop Your Stupid Phone In Your Stupid Selfieccino

I should stop typing right now. I should pay this no mind. I should move on and let it die like I hope happens to anyone who legitimately thinks this is a good use of money and bandwidth. But sometimes my get off my lawn impulse shouts down my if you ignore them they’ll go away impulse and we all wind up with posts about some asshole paying eight dollars to print photographs into his goddamn cappuccino foam.

Hello magazine reports that the Tea Terrace cafe on the top floor of London’s House Of Fraser department store has a special printer that allows imprints of photos in cappuccino foam. Customers send a photo to the barista, who then prints out the image in foam using a fine art printer. Many people are going with the tried-and-true selfie, hence the name. But the machine can also upload pictures of a beloved pet, for example, which you may enjoy looking at right before you drink its foamy head off. The visual drink costs £5.75, or about $8. Tea Terrace owner Ehab Salem Shouly explains to Hello: “Due to social media the dining experience has completely changed. It’s not enough to just deliver great food and service anymore, it’s got to be Instagram worthy.”

To each his own and all that, but this sounds like a really good way to become my former friend. I still haven’t been able to accept people who would rather film their food than fucking eat it, and now we’ve managed to make it worse. Seriously, just go away.

Apple Will Soon Let You Decide If Your Ancient Phone Should Be Slow Garbage Or Fast Garbage

You might recall Apple catching some hell at the end of last year when it came out that the company was intentionally slowing down some older iPhones in order to protect their batteries. Since then, there have been lawsuits, apologies and a promise that come the next update to iOS 11, you can take the life of your old ass phone into your own dumb ass hands if you so choose. Basically, Apple has decided to do now what it should have done in the first place. As far as I’m concerned at least, slowing down the phones was never the problem. Keeping quiet about it was the problem.

In an interview with ABC News, Cook said the update will arrive next month in a developer release before a wider public rollout. “We’re going to give people the visibility of the health of their battery so it’s very, very transparent,” he says. “This hasn’t been done before.”
Cook also says the update will more clearly inform users when their iPhone is automatically reducing its performance in an effort to prevent unexpected shutdowns. “If you don’t want it, you can turn it off,” Cook says, though he maintains that this is not recommended — something Apple stands by in its apology letter that addressed consumers after the backlash in December.

Black History Minute

And now, Gill would like to take a second to recognize Black History Month.

You’ve probably heard of those challenges on youtube, it seems there’s one every five seconds. Now imagine it’s 1896 and your a person of color trying to patent your device to improve farming or get a loan for your business. Sadly the door gets slammed in your face, but you do not give up.

Heart Of The Matter

Before 1893 most heart wounds proved fatal, but Dr. Daniel Hale Williams came up with a technique to save a person’s life with a procedure he created called open-heart surgery. The stabbing victim survived.

Question

Although we have come along way in relations between the races we still have a long way to go, what can you do to help this process toward a better world?

Gillie wishing you peace

Happy Shawinigan Handshake Day

Today is Flag Day here in Canada. It’s a time to celebrate the day in 1965 when the Maple Leaf replaced the Red Ensign as our country’s new official symbol.

Strangely, an event of such significance didn’t always have its own day. Believe it or not, it took us until 1996 for a government to decide hey, maybe we should recognize this anniversary in some way. And so it was that on February 15th of that year, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Governor General Roméo LeBlanc declared that National Flag of Canada Day would be celebrated for the first time.

The first ceremony was held in Hull, Quebec, because when you think national Canadian pride, Quebec is totally the first place that comes to mind…especially so hot on the heels of that whole should we stay or should we go thing a few months earlier. Although to be fair they did stay, and if memory serves that was part of the reason for choosing that location.

And what a day it was.

All the nice happy flag stuff happened which is great of course, but there was also this, which is what I’ll forever remember it for.

The presiding Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, was confronted by protesters demonstrating against proposed cuts to the unemployment insurance system.
While walking through the crowd Chretien grabbed one protester who had approached him by the neck and pushed him aside, later downplaying the incident.
“I dunno, what happened?” the PM from Shawinigan asked reporters in a media scrum right after. “I had to go, so if you’re in my way, I’m walking. I dunno what happened. Somebody should not have been there.”
Later, the Prime Minister’s Office said Chretien was simply trying to protect himself.
The incident went on to be known as the Shawinigan Handshake.

And Jean Chrétien went on to remain my favourite Prime Minister of all time.

CRTC To Canadians: Your Service Provider Lied To You? Tough Shit!

In January, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) asked the CRTC to look into the possibly shady sales practices of Canada’s telecommunications companies. Not a bad idea, considering that I, a fellow who knows his way around these sorts of things fairly decently, can sometimes find himself a little lost in all of the intentional and unintentional unclarity. Surely anyone who doesn’t run a phone company would be clambering to be first in line behind this plan.

Well, you’d think so.

Yesterday the CRTC responded, and did so in the form of a big fat nope.

In a February 14th, 2018 letter addressed to the PIAC’s executive director and general counsel John Lawford, the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission’s chairperson Ian Scott declined the PIAC’s request, arguing that Canadians already have several avenues to seek redress for telecom concerns.
“If Canadians consider that their wireless, internet, home phone or TV service provider has not provided clear and accurate information to them about their [contracts], or is not acting in a manner consistent with the CRTC’s Wireless Code or Television Provider Service Code, they should first try to resolve the issue with their service provider,” said Scott, in the February letter. “If the matter is not resolved to their satisfaction, they are encouraged to escalate the complaint to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS).”
“…they should first try to resolve the issue with their service provider.”
The CCTS acts as the CRTC’s complaints department. Canadians are able to submit complaints to the CCTS, which will serve to remediate those concerns by working as a bridge between consumers and carriers.
“For example, the CCTS can resolve disputes about what is included in the contract, how the contract should be interpreted, and whether the service provider’s conduct meets its obligations,” said Scott, in the same February letter.
Scott further argued that if directly contacting carriers and submitting complaints to the CCTS fails to resolve any issues, Canadians can contact the Competition Bureau.
MobileSyrup reached out to the CRTC for comment, and a spokesperson responded that the Commission’s letter speaks for itself.

That’s all fine and good, aside from the part where it’s neither fine nor good.

Yes, those dispute resolution options do exist, but they’re designed to interpret contracts that have already been signed, not to prevent consumers from entering into those contracts due to deception. Yes, there are plain language provisions in the wireless code of Conduct, but they don’t stop a company from being plainly dishonest because they know that most people won’t bother to complain and often have no idea they’re being tricked until they’ve already been separated from hundreds or thousands of dollars. And even if somebody does manage to successfully complain on those grounds, the money raked in is worth taking a slap on the wrist, assuming the commission can even be arsed to dish one out.

Sometimes the CRTC does seem like it’s trying to get this stuff right and genuinely wants to help consumers, but this is an area where it’s missing the mark. I realize that there are some complicated, subjective issues here (one man’s obnoxious asshole is another man’s salesman of the year), but there are very clearly things going on that are objectively not ok, and the commission owes it to everyone to at least take a look at them and try to find a way forward. Corporations often don’t make good citizens until they’re forced to, and whether that force comes in the form of penalties that actually fit the crime, more robust compliance monitoring, criminal prosecutions for fraud and theft or all of the above, it absolutely needs to come.