So You’re Telling Me Her License Is Suspended? But She’s Such A Careful Driver!

I’ve seen so many dumb criminal stories over the years that it generally takes something going pretty spectacularly wrong to get my attention anymore, but now and then a simple event like the one detailed in this Ontario Provincial Police news release just strikes me the right way at the right time and I can’t help but laugh and laugh and laugh.

By the way, I don’t know who wrote this thing, but I know who edited it. Nobody. All below typos are theirs, not mine.

TOWNSHIP OF GUELPH/ERAMOSA – On Monday, Sept. 17, 2018 a Wellington County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer was monitoring traffic on Highway 7, west of Guelph.
At approximately 5:30 p.m. the officer observed a female operating a blue pickup with authorized plates and attempted to pull the vehicle over. The driver initially pulled onto the shoulder of the road as if to stop but then rapidly accelerating away from the officer and fleeing through dense traffic.

Shortly after, police were notified of a vehicle that had entered the ditch that matched the description of fleeing vehicle. The driver was seen walking away from the stopped vehicle.
Police attended and located the woman and arrested her. Further investigation revealed that her licence was suspended and the licence plate was reported as stolen.
34-year-old Shannon C. Payette of Kitchener has been charged with Flight from Police, Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle, Possession of Property obtained by Crime, Drive while Suspended and two-counts of Unauthorized use of a Plate. She is scheduled to appear in Guelph Criminal Court on Oct. 23, 2018.

I can’t end this without giving a few bonus points to Guelph Today for making me not skip right over the rather boring headline “Kitchener woman drives away from police” by adding “Police catch up with her in a near-by ditch”. That may be my favourite part, the more I think about it.

Let’s Do A Grammar Quiz

The Globe and Mail has put out a grammar quiz. Apparently it’s the third annual, but this is the first time I can recall having seen it.

I did ok. I scored 12 out of 16 which according to them is a well done, but I’m going to go ahead and be mad at myself anyway because it should have been a little higher. There were a couple that straight up caught me, but at least once I hit the button and immediately yelled “dammit!” I can’t be too disappointed though, because at least it means that our country’s best known national newspaper doesn’t consider me a complete idiot.

You can try your hand at it here, and then make fun of me because you scored better than I did even though I’m the one with the website and god I suck below.

Welcome to the third annual Globe and Mail grammar quiz. This list of 16 questions includes spelling, usage and grammatical errors published in The Globe and Mail and noted by our clever readers. It’s a sampling of both common and not-so-common mistakes.
The test is multiple choice. If you score 12 to 14, well done. Higher than that makes you a charter member of The Globe’s good-grammar fan club. Good luck!

Wroute Will Drive You Between Kitchener And Guelph In A Tesla For Cheap And On A Pretty Sweet Schedule

This is certainly interesting.

A new service called Wroute, which you’re supposed to say like “Root” because it’s the law that every startup must have a nonsensical name, is going to start offering frequent, daily Tesla rides between Fairview Mall and Guelph Central Station for $20.

Each shared Wroute trip can carry up to six passengers and two bicycles. The all-electric Teslas run emissions-free.
Wroute (pronounced “root”) is launching with an ambitious schedule that will see its vehicles departing the two stations every 15 minutes, seven days a week. The service will begin at 5 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends, winding down at 11 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and at 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

“The idea there is that instead of building your day around how you’re getting to Guelph, you just fit us into your day,” Hammond said.
Each one-way trip will cost $20 including tax; a reduced price for daily users may be introduced as the service grows. Reservations and payment will be made online in advance, and no tipping is required as the drivers are salaried.

Other routes could be introduced in the future. Hammond said he doesn’t intend for Wroute to compete with existing transit options. Rather, he believes Wroute will enhance those options, especially for commuters and students. “It sort of sits in the middle in terms of cost and convenience.”
Taxis or Ubers cost more but take you door-to-door, Hammond said. Buses or trains are cheaper but don’t run as often. “By filling in the gaps with this high-frequency service, we want to build up the marketplace.”

I like the idea. I just hope it ends up being sustainable. They’re making a ton of trips which is exactly what this sort of service should be doing to make itself attractive, but is there that much actual demand there? I hate asking that because there are times in our lives when both Carin and I would have used the bejesus out of something like this and they’re in a tight spot between overdoing it and not doing enough, but my gut says the schedule might be a touch ambitious, at least starting out. Obviously the fuel costs will be lower, but even with that working in your favour there’s only so long you can pay people full-time wages to drive themselves back and forth.

I wish them well though and look forward to trying it out sometime. I’ll bet Carin does too, especially if they’re not going to be dinks about her guide dog like the Uber folks so often are.

Update:
I wasn’t able to find it on Friday for some reason, but I’ve since found the company website. There looks to be quite a bit of information there, but you’ll want to pay particular attention to this things to know page before you take your first trip. It even has a service dogs are good and please don’t pet them section, which sounds promising and which I have no doubt Carin will totally be holding them to.

OUR FURRY FRIENDS ONLY COME ALONG WHEN THEY’RE WORKING.
We love our pets, and we’re sure we’d love yours, too. However, our passengers may have allergies that mean they can’t enjoy the journey if others bring animals along for the ride. So, we only board service animals. Remember that they are working to keep their humans safe, so resist the urge to spoil them with all the affection they totally deserve.

Global News Is Doing Bad Things That Might Make Everything Else Worse

Global Television used to produce a pretty good newscast. I spent many a night listening to the Toronto one over the radio as a kid and even into my adulthood (Hey Carin, imminent death!) until that frequency went silent several years ago.

When I say used to, it’s not because Global no longer produces newscasts. They absolutely do. They’re cranking them out several times a day all across the country. The important bit is the pretty good part.

It’s rare that I flip my TV to Global at all these days, but when I do happen upon the news there it’s quickly apparent that it’s not what it used to be. Part of the reason for that is obvious, and it’s the same reason why so much big media owned content tends to be so poor, especially on the local level. Money. Specifically that these companies don’t particularly care to spend much of it on producing and airing a quality product.

I think it would be hard to find a media outlet in the world that isn’t guilty, to some degree, of cutting corners. These organizations are businesses, after all, and sometimes tough choices have to be made in order for them to continue to function. We aren’t always going to like those choices, but some of them are at least understandable if we’re being fair. But the other part of the problem is that Global isn’t just cutting corners. They’re dismembering the frame, bludgeoning it in case it somehow survives, setting it on fire and then dumping whatever might be left over into the swiftest river they can find.

The things that Paul Tadich describes in this piece for Canadaland are astounding. Basically, Global has taken the methods used to create so much of the bad, centralized automated radio to which we’re subjected and applied them to TV news. But while it’s one thing to use those principles on a program where the biggest things you need to worry about are often generically talking about Survivor for a few seconds or pretending to know the first thing about the pumpkin festival in a town you’ve never been to before letting the computer throw it to the latest from Justin Bieber, pulling it off in an environment where things are constantly changing is quite another.

A software technology called Mosart had just been installed. This production control suite automated many of the technical positions required to put on a live newscast — a dedicated audio engineer was often no longer needed, and other positions were either lost or concatenated. Local producer jobs were also slashed so that shows could be remotely produced. Signals that controlled robotic cameras were relayed from the main Toronto studios to studios in several of the other Global markets, so camera technicians were no longer needed in each of the individual cities. By the end of 2012, I often produced the Winnipeg news from Toronto, alongside a remote camera operator, a teleprompter operator, and a director.
This system had its faults — mainly that producers in Toronto often had little knowledge of the cities they were responsible for, so street names, neighbourhoods, and local politicians were sometimes misidentified. However, this was considered by employees to be the cost of progress, and they worked long, hard hours to learn as much as possible about their adoptive cities to make the new system fly.
But that wasn’t enough. In 2014, someone in management apparently got the idea that 11 p.m. newscasts were simply not worth the time and expense to produce live: they cost too much money, and not enough people — especially young ones — were watching them. But Global still wanted to produce newscasts that would air to a dwindling number of people at 11 — so how to slash costs even further? The idea would be to dispense with live news at that hour altogether in favour of a pre-recorded newscast that would appear as if it were transmitted live. Many of these pre-recorded news segments were to be duplicated across each of Global’s markets in an effort to wring more cost-savings from an already rather scrunched-up mop. This idea became the basis of a troubling concept called “news sharing” — using technology to make it look like local news could be coming from a studio in downtown Winnipeg, when in reality it was a pre-recorded chunk of info emanating from a green-screen studio in Toronto. This was the birth of the MMC concept — which stands for “Multi-Market Content.” Once Global figured out the enormous savings this offered in terms of slashing jobs, there was no going back. Every Global station from Saskatoon to Halifax now uses the MMC set-up, with most relying on Toronto-based anchors for at least one nightly newscast.

This is every bit as bad as it sounds. In fact, it’s probably worse. Doing local news well isn’t always the easiest job at the best of times, so just imagine how hard it must be when you have to do it while overworked, under-resourced and under-educated.

I don’t use under-educated as an insult, in case that isn’t clear. I use it as a fact. No matter how hard either of us may try, I have as much business putting together a daily news hour from my living room in Kitchener that’s going to be locally relevant to Steve in Moose Jaw as Steve in Moose Jaw has doing the same for me. Unless you’re Global management and don’t care about things like these, this is not an arguable point.

And speaking of not caring about things…

But because the playout process is buggy, and because the technology that controls the system often goes on the fritz, tremendous howlers would occur, often going unexplained to the viewer. Some examples of these errors: the output for two cities is mixed up, meaning viewers in Montreal see the first five minutes of the Winnipeg newscast and vice versa before someone notices the error and restarts both shows from the top; the weather forecast for Regina is slotted into the news for Montreal; late-breaking sports items are fed into the show at the last minute, causing the playback software to freeze, forcing the producer to cut to commercial early, messing up the timing for the remainder of the show. On one weekend last summer, a software update caused the playback machines to go completely bananas, spitting out random content into various cities across the country, including making viewers watch an inexplicable live feed of CBS golf coverage instead of a local news item.

No matter how buggy the system got, management seemed hell-bent on expanding the implementation of the MMC model to subsume more and more content. Evening broadcasts increasingly became pre-recorded affairs: by the time I left the department in August 2017, most of the 6 p.m. newscasts on weekends, and several during the week, had ceased to be produced live. There were several occasions, also during weekends, when the Toronto assignment desk was left unstaffed. This meant that, on top of their already crushing workloads, MMC producers working on the Toronto show had to monitor Toronto police and fire department Twitter accounts to ensure any breaking news made it to air. On more than one occasion, serious incidents made it on to the newscast only because a Global employee happened to catch sight of a clutch of cop cars on their drive in to work.

I have never worked for Global and it’s unlikely I ever will, but reading this has me feeling embarrassed as though the place were my life. I can only imagine how it must feel to have to rely on a situation like this for my livelihood and convince myself that I’m proud to be doing so.

Canadaland also went to Global for a response, and it got one in the form of a chat with Troy Reeb, senior vice president of news, radio, and station operations at Corus, which has owned Global since 2016.

One of the concerns Paul Tadich raises is that, in his experience, the centralization of production leads to errors in pronunciation and local knowledge because Toronto-based producers and anchors aren’t typically familiar with the local details for a given city. Do you find that the “Multi-Market Content” model creates more opportunities for errors than locally produced newscasts?
No, I don’t.
Let me wind this back for you: Before we made this move, we were facing the same challenges as every media outlet across the country. Linear television viewing is on the decline, including for traditional newscasts. The old days of having newscasts at 6:00 and 11:00, that doesn’t serve the audiences of today. People want content on the device that they want, and they want it at the time that they want. So in order to keep up with that, we have to be able to provide more news at more times of the day.
So we came up with MMC, so that once the main, daily 6:00 newscasts are done, rather than having a local production team and anchor hanging around the building all night, just to rerun the same stories at 11:00, and maybe add one or two new ones, we’ve turned those people back into reporters who are serving online, as well as creating more content that can then be reported through the centralized anchoring.
So we’re actually super proud of this. It’s a model that last year won the first-ever Edward R. Murrow Award for innovation. It’s been looked at by broadcasters from across North America and around the world, who come in to study what we’ve done. Because what we find is that by freeing up the staff in the local market to actually do reporting — instead waiting for a red light to go on and start talking — that we’ve produced more journalism.
And to the specific question of, you know, does it increase the risk of errors, in terms of pronunciation or local knowledge? I would say that was a major concern of mine when we first launched it as well.
But to be quite honest, the problem with errors has much more to do with junior people — you don’t pronounce a name wrong twice. And what we find with anchors in small markets, unfortunately, is that you had massive turnover. So not only were people repeatedly pronouncing the same things wrong, but people didn’t stay long enough to not make that same mistake twice. But now our MMC anchors are the longest-serving anchors in many in the markets that they serve.
So no, I don’t think that the error rate is higher. We have incredibly experienced people who are handling the news for these markets.

There is merit to some of what he’s saying, of course. The world is a different place than it was ten or fifteen years ago before everyone had a computer in their pocket, and the demands and to an extent the financial realities of the job are somewhat different now. It doesn’t hurt to try to keep up with the times, and if you can do that while somehow putting more boots on the ground to chase down stories in all these places, great. You’ll never hear me arguing against the hiring of more journalists. But even though I can’t dispute that Global has actually gone and done that, something about it doesn’t feel right. If you’ve truly hired enough people, why do assignment desks in cities the size of Toronto have no one working them? What good are all those extra reporters if they don’t know from where they should be reporting?

And even though things have changed, I still feel that one of the things that hasn’t, won’t and shouldn’t is the importance of a newscast looking, sounding and feeling local. Obviously there will be people who don’t notice or care, but one of the most important things that local media does is connect people to and engage people with their communities, and if you care at all about those connections, there’s no excuse whatsoever for not having real live people being there to tell those stories at all times. To management maybe an anchor is just some guy waiting for a red light to come on, but to the consumer, that person is one of them. Even the most experienced MMC anchor can’t replicate that feeling. The best centralization in the world is still centralization at the end of the day, and eventually people will see through it and stop caring especially if the product is avoidably shoddy. And people not caring is the last thing anyone, even a vice president in charge of efficiencies, should want.

On a business level, if people don’t care about or feel they can’t trust your local content, why should they be inclined to feel any differently about what you’re producing nationally and internationally?

But in a broader sense, especially if you’re going to sit here and talk about how much local journalism matters, why would you want to take even a sliver of that responsibility out of the hands of the locals and risk alienating people? That’s how stories start falling through the cracks. And when stories start falling through the cracks when they’re small, they eventually get bigger and the rest of us end up with things like the Doug Ford Rights Trampling Traveling Shitshow And Corruption Jamboree slithering out of Toronto and taking over the entire province. Yes that’s a rather partisan and perhaps imperfect example and maybe truly local news by itself wouldn’t have stopped it specifically, but given how many people seem to be caught completely off guard by the things he’s doing, it sure as hell couldn’t hurt.

What it comes down to, quite simply, is this. The big national stories get most of the attention, but every national story starts out as somebody’s local one. And when you take that context away in the name of corporate greed, it does all of us, no matter where we live, a great disservice.

Anony-Something

Like I’ve said before, our house is bugged, so this shouldn’t surprise us. We were having breakfast and “The House” was on, and they had a clip of Trump butchering the word “anonymous”.

Immediately, Steve said that somebody should set that butchery to the tune of that muppets song, you know, this one.

I thought it was a great idea and was going to make it. Then Steve wondered if somebody already had, and…

Yup! So, thanks, YouTube person, for saving me a ton of work. But you probably won’t remain…anomma…nomomma…amo…you know the word I’m going for…

The Ballad Of Billy John

One night, we were sitting out on the balcony enjoying a Spotify daily mix. It was a pretty good mix and we were having fun. Then, this song came along.

Boom! All conversation stopped cold and the music wasn’t just the background, it was the focus. I don’t think either of us said much through the next song while we thought about it.

Billy John was a simple man, worked in the fields most his life
He provided for his wife and kids and left his dreams on the side
One day when the kids left home billy picked up his guitar
It had been awhile but his fingers still knew how to reach the heart
Played a song about life and love, his hopes and regrets
Then with a little proddin’ from the Mrs. he put it on the internet
When the views started pouring in, tears of joy started to fall
Then they scrolled to the comment section and this is what they saw
Eat a bag of shit cuntface
Go blow your fucking dad
This shit just raped my ears never heard nothin so bad
I hope you fucking die
And I hope you get aids
You should just kill yourself
You’re a fag
Lol gay
Billy John’s wife watched her husband as he shrugged and tried to smile
He put his guitar away and stopped and stared at it for awhile
She knew he felt like a fool and he’d never play again
So she turned on her webcam and let her message begin
She said
The man you’ve hurt tonight, I’ve watched for 35 years
He’s got a kind and gentle soul and thanks to you
That soul is in tears
And the people said
Shut the fuck up fatty
Show us your tits
One out of ten I wouldn’t bang
I bet she’d try to eat your dick
You should go get sterilized
So that you cant have kids
Then they photoshopped a bunch of pictures of her covered in jizz
Well the video went viral
Fifty-seven million hits
Billy John’s wife became a meme on the internet
They played the clip on cnn and read tweets about her weight
Cause I guess that’s the sorta thing that the news does nowadays
Billy John and his wife did nothing wrong, and they weren’t dumb
They just hadn’t paid attention to what we’d all become
But a couple weeks later, after avoiding it for some time
A broken down and changed Billy John finally went back online
He found a page of a blogger, still makin’ fun of his wife
He signed up, made an account and this is what he typed
Eat a bag of shit cuntface
Go blow your fucking dad
Your shit just raped my eyes, never read nothin’ so bad
I hope you fucking die
And I hope you get aids
And the world lost a Billy John and it gained more of the same.

Are you having the same experience we had?

I had to ask Steve if he thought he was being more funny than serious, and we decided he was being funny to make a point, and what a sad point it is.

I only have one question. Why haven’t I heard of Trevor Moore? We listened to his whole album “High in Church” and there is some serious gold on there. Come to think of it, I think I might have seen him doing “Drunk Texts To Myself” on the comedy network once, but it’s a very hazy memory. Give him a listen.

More Like Fraud Nation

Much like Donald Trump has never met a lie he wouldn’t tell, it seems our shiny new Ontario government has yet to meet a courtroom through whose doors it will not be dragged. So I give you this because it’s important, plus let’s face it, it’s the only way we might have a chance of being able to frigging keep up.

Government lawyers are getting busy in Ontario.
Over the course of two days in August 2018, Tesla won its case against the Progressive Conservatives, the government was slapped with a notice of action from basic income recipients and then named in the City of Toronto’s challenge to council cuts.
The Minister of Education also faces three separate actions over her decision to revert to a health curriculum first introduced in 1998, which doesn’t teach students about consent, cyberbullying, gender identity or gay relationships.
Here are all the lawsuits, challenges, and applications for judicial review filed against Premier Doug Ford’s government. This story will be updated as decisions are released and more documents are filed.

They aren’t kidding. In fact, since I first saw it yesterday it’s already been updated once.

All since the end of June, everyone. All since the end of June. The Ultimate Guide To Legal Actions Against Doug Ford’s Government

A Couple Updates From Gill

I’ve gotten a couple of updates from Gill recently that I’m just getting to now. In this first one, “today” = Sunday because I was busy long weekending.

Community Service

When one thinks of church sponsored events, one of several things probably comes to mind. Fish fries, revival meetings and forced conversions, or in rarer instances carnivals put on by the youth to attract and convert. Today I participated in something that would turn church sponsored events on their heads. From three-on-three basketball tournaments to health screenings, here’s just a few unique things about my volunteer experience.

Breakfast For The Servants

In my church we are often told to have a “servant’s heart,” meaning that we must go and interact with the community. I know what your thinking, but we have a model that instructs us to go to where people are at. After a short devotion, we went downstairs to the fellowship hall to have some sustenance before today’s event. Like I have mentioned before I attend a mostly black {Caribbean} church, and the food tastes like more. For today’s breakfast we had calaloo and dumplings.

The Corn Just Wouldn’t Husk Itself

Before the short devotion, after the short devotion and while the breakfast was being prepared, several people, including yours truly, husked four boxes of corn.

My Station

Once the early stuff was done and we set up the tents, I went over and manned several games and tables. There was ring toss, kind of a plinko game, and connect four.

What Else Was There?

There was a food tent where you could get cotton candy, popcorn, burgers, corn, etc. There was also face painting for the kids, health screenings like blood pressure checks, a tent where elders from the church explained our belief system, and so much more.

Now

Today was a long, hot, but very rewarding day.

And in this second one, “tomorrow” = today because yesterday evening unexpectedly went nice and sideways on me. Not sure today’s looking much better, but here’s hoping I won’t need to get into that.

Good luck, Gill. I’m sure you’ll come through just fine.

Letter To My Readers

Dear Readers:

Remember how I told you I would be having surgery? Well, tomorrow’s when it occurs.

What am I having done? I’m having my tear duct unblocked, and they will be going in through part of my nose. The surgeon doing this is an othoplastic surgeon, meaning that he specializes in tear ducts and other delicate structures near or involving the eyes. The surgery itself will take around an hour, and I will have a bit of a shiner and some dissolving stitches. I also will be over at my parents for some of the recovery. I will tell you how things are in about two weeks.

Thank you all, and may God bless and keep you. Chat soon.

Update:
She’s written in with some news, and it’s not the greatest.

Hi there! I have had the surgery, and unfortunately complications have set in. The tube that was to be a defacto tear duct rerouter has slipped and broken. Things were looking good until the end of last week when this happened. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers. I love you all out there.

Update two:
Some better news has just arrived. Hopefully she’s truly on the mend this time.

Hi friends! Here’s some good news, my complication has been fixed! Yesterday a fellow of the surgeon sprayed my nostril, used something that kind of looks like something out of a torture chamber, located that end of the tube, and pulled it to the right position. Once again thank you all for your prayers and thoughts.

Pick Of The Litter: A Fun Little Movie About Guide Dogs

I’ve been meaning to write about this movie, but I wanted to see it first. Now I have, so here I go. It’s a documentary about GDB, the school that trained Trix and Tansy, and it’s called Pick of the Litter.

It’s the story of five guide dog puppies, and the process they move through as GDB figures out if they will become guide dogs. Basically, it answers pretty much every single question I get asked by the public about the process of training guide dog puppies. It’s available in theatres in select cities in the states, and I know it was shown in Toronto back in May but I don’t know where else it’s getting shown in Canada. But now, it’s available for rent from places like iTunes and Hulu. The great thing about watching it through iTunes is getting the audio description is as simple as making sure it’s on in your media settings under accessibility. If you watch it in the theatre, you have to download this app called “Actiview and do this kind of cumbersome thing where it needs to hear the movie so it can sync the descriptions. I’ve never done it, I’m sure it’s awesome, but this felt a little easier, even if I could find some random theatre near me where I could watch it.

It’s definitely very cute and has some sad moments in it, but it makes it clear how many people are involved in raising a guide dog puppy, and how nothing is a guarantee.

Then, after you’ve watched the movie, you can take the Pick of the Litter quiz and see which puppy in the litter is most like your pup. I was sure they would say Tansy was like Phil, but apparently the quiz thinks she’s like Patriot. Hmmm. Not sure I agree, but hmmm. It thinks Trix was like Primrose. Hmmm. I would have put her as Poppet. I’m not doing well at this.

So if you like puppies, are interested in how guide dogs get to be guide dogs, or both, check it out. It seems pretty well-done.