Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Working for The Man

Note that the word "The" in the title of this post has a capital "T", because it's "The Man", not "the Man".

In 1962, Roy Orbison recorded "Working For The Man." Wikipedia says that the song is
about a mistreated laborer. After first thinking about killing the boss, the narrator later dreams of getting revenge by marrying his daughter and inheriting the business. In the final refrain, the eponymous hook is replaced with the line, "I'm gonna be The Man."
I wonder if there's a Brittanica entry for "The Man".
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Monday, February 12, 2007

"For service in English, press 1 7"

I kid you not. (That's Bell Canada, by the way.) If I were writing a novel and I made that line up, my editor would say, "Come on, Nick, that's just not plausible."

As to why you have to press 1 7 for English, my best guess is as follows. Obviously for service in French, you must have to press 1 (after all, French is Canada's other official language). I'm guessing Inuktitut is 2, and if so, I applaud Bell Canada: it's about time Canada's First-Nations peoples got their proper respect. (You can probably see where I'm going with this: Mandarin, Cantonese, Hindi, Arabic, Urdu, ... all the way up to 17.)

Enough cheap wisecracks ...

But at this point I think I'll skip the silly jokes and instead use the mention of proper respect for Canada's First-Nations peoples as an excuse to comment on what I think is perhaps Canada's greatest shame: the way native people here have been treated ever since the first contact by Europeans.

On any number of measures (perhaps the most appalling example being suicide rates, which are staggeringly high among native people), Canada's First-Nations peoples are in dire straits. I really don't know too much about all this, but what I do know is very disturbing. And I think it's time that we Canadians face up to our responsibilities.

I recognize that the problems are complex, and I certainly don't claim to know what's going to work. But I do suspect that non-aboriginal Canadians just haven't made this enough of a priority. Speaking for myself, I can say that I'm often far too busy pontificating about problems in other parts of the world (over which I generally have zero influence) to think about what I can do (and what privileges I may have to give up) to make a difference regarding the plight of Canada's First-Nations peoples. And if all this sounds just a bit precious—well, I think that's not really very important.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Pet peeves (continued): non-intuitive ballpoint pen caps

Some time ago I blogged about some of my pet peeves. There's something very therapeutic about actually writing down the things that bug you, and exactly what it is about them that is so maddening. Well, whaddaya know: I have a few more. Starting with ballpoint pens with caps whose colour doesn't match their ink.

As an aside, I wasn't sure how to spell whaddaya, and neither of the two spellcheckers I tried allowed that it is in fact a widely used word. But Google knew better: whadaya (with one d) gives 55,700 hits. But "did you mean: whaddaya?" Well — yes, because whaddaya (with two d's) gives 466,000 hits. Yay Google!
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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Your call is important to us ...

Is that really true? I mean, couldn't you hire just a few more customer service representatives? 'Cause then I might feel like my call really was important. Instead, I feel like I'm being fed a line. And that irritates me. Maybe I'm too hung up on words. I mean, maybe it's just semantics.

Ok, I'm going to cut the sarcasm. Truth is, I think that notwithstanding certain rather specific situations and all things being equal (which of course they never really are) people and corporations should be as honest as possible. It seems to me that this is a rather rich blogging vein. I could probably have a whole blog devoted to the subject. There probably already are several blogs devoted to the subject!

Update 10Feb2007: Another line that really bugs me:
Please be patient as we are experiencing an unusually large call volume ...
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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Mighty fine!

Went to a CD release party last night. (Ok, so this is a first for me.) It was The Mighty Popo and guests. Popo is releasing his new CD, Muhazi. It was fabulous!
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Friday, February 02, 2007

Lives before profits

Médecins Sans Frontières has a petition that is worth checking out. From their page:
Pharmaceutical company Novartis is taking the Indian government to court. If the company wins, millions of people across the globe could have their sources of affordable medicines dry up.
They go on to say that:
India produces affordable medicines that are vital to many people living in developing countries. Over half the medicines currently used for AIDS treatment in developing countries come from India and such medicines are used to treat over 80% of the 80,000 AIDS patients in Médecins Sans Frontières projects.
I recognize that the profit motive is a fundamental part of the pharmaceutical industry. But shouldn't lives come before profits?

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