Saturday, September 27, 2014

Life In The Post-Snowden Era

It's getting more and more interesting, that's for sure!  We've proven for millions of years that we're a highly adaptive species, and this "arms race" over information ownership is just another example.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Another Ode To Lost, 10 Years Later

I'm still slowly making my way through this one, savouring every point that Andy Greenwald makes along the way, but this line in particular really spoke to me:

"What really rankles is that nothing ever took [Lost]'s place."

I feel the same frustration.  Despite there being lots of other great shows like Breaking Bad, The Bridge (original Swedish/Norwegian, not the crappy American one) and True Detective, to name but a few, I can't think of a single "genre" program that's recaptured the overwhelming sense of awe and wonder that Lost brought with its launch a decade ago.  Fringe looked promising at first but fizzled fast; Doctor Who has momentarily flashes of brilliance, at best; and those are among the best there's been over the past ten years.

I think it may soon be time to dive back in and re-watch Lost from start to finish, just like we said we were going to do after it wrapped up.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

10 Years After The Launch of Lost

Here's a nice reflection on the 10th anniversary of the debut of Lost by Jeff "Doc" Jensen.  I think we all owe a debt of thanks to that much-loved, somewhat-flawed series, as it really did prove that audiences will invest a lot of time and energy into a TV show if you make it worth their while.  Breaking Bad, for example, got great mileage out of that and ultimately, probably, paid its fans more handsomely for their efforts.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bringing Back The 40-Hour Work Week

In Canada, I guess we'd say "the 37.5-hour work week," but other than that small difference, this Salon article applies perfectly to our situation here.  The article presents a compelling case for working at what those of us in the Agile community call "a sustainable pace."  Nice to see that there's not only scientific research aplenty to back it up, but also a couple centuries of historical precedent that apparently most employers have managed to forget.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Nice To See "Civil Forteiture" Scam Getting More Exposure

We first heard about it on 60 Minutes, I think, and then engaged in a lively debate as to whether or not it could really be as scammy as it sounded.  I said it couldn't be, whereas Vicki wisely voted the other way.  (In case you haven't heard how 'civil forfeiture' works: basically American cops are pulling over drivers and then telling them they have to surrender some or all of the cash they're carrying on some flimsy pretext of looking suspicious, without actually charging them with any crime.)  Since that 60 Minutes broadcast, there's been more and more coverage of this awful abuse of power within the U.S.  Hopefully if there's enough indignation and noise created, the law will be either rescinded or altered to something that doesn't completely violate the civil rights of every one it comes in contact with.

Monday, September 08, 2014

How To Combat Online Harrassment

It's a problem that just keeps getting worse and worse: more and more people (often, though certainly not always, females) are targeted by online trolls and arrested adolescents for abuse.  Death threats, rape threats, verbal abuse...  It's something I hear a lot about on the comic book sites I frequent, as well as being famously bad within the various gaming communities.

I like the thinking behind this Wired article, which argues that the same sort of community norms that exist within our work environments and social settings (in the real world) need to be expected and enforced online.  I think that's exactly right, and the only reason it hasn't happened yet, I suspect, is that it hasn't really been all that long that Joe and Jane Q. Public have been frequenters of the web world.  Not too many years ago it was only a small, socially-dysfunctional subset of society (among whom I'd count myself, more or less) who were spending a lot of time on their computers, interacting virtually.  Back then, it was more of a private club, and as we all know, those are the sort of places that are usually the last to welcome diversity or adapt to changing social pressures (see: golf memberships not allowed for Jews, or blacks, or ....).

Here's hoping the ideas expressed in the article can be embraced by the main social networks, as this is clearly a problem that needs to be solved. 

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Jack The Ripper Mystery Solved?

This is a huge deal, if it's true: DNA has reportedly been used to determine that Jack the Ripper was actually Polish immigrant Aaron Kosminski.  Genetic testing has proven fairly conclusively the existence of blood belonging to Kosminski, who was institutionalized not long after the final Ripper killing, on a shawl found near one of the victims.

The one key element not mentioned in the article, however, is whether the man had any kind of medical training, either in Poland or England, as it's always been reported that the technique of the murders indicated at least rudimentary understanding of human anatomy.  I think if it came out that Kosminski had flunked out of medical school or trained as a medic in the army, for example, that would completely cinch the deal.

I always liked Alan Moore's theory in From Hell that it was royal surgeon Sir William Gull wielding the knife all those years ago.  But even so, finding out a definitive answer is definitely better than never knowing.