HuffPo Just Lowered the Bar for Men Everywhere

The Huffington Post has been one of my go-to news sites since a friend first told me about the Canadian edition years ago.

This is despite the right hand column of things HuffPo thinks would interest me.

Suggestions that have amused, irritated and befuddled me…sometimes simultaneously.

I’m a 51 year old, single, male computer programmer.  Sometimes HuffPo seems to think that I’m extremely interested in what celebrity is feuding with some other celebrity,  or how to deal with menopause,  or fashion faux pas to avoid.

This column has links with outrageous click-bait headlines.  You know things like “Meet the 5 year old girl who is better at your job than you are!”

Occasionally I’ve found some of these teaser headlines mildly insulting.  Seriously…anything that involves Tim Hortons, or a moose, is automatically “THE MOST CANADIAN THING EVER!!!”.

Seriously,  everything Canadians have accomplished and a chain of coffee shops, or an animal most Canadians have never see in the wild is the most Canadian thing ever?

All that aside today I ran across a headline that I thought would lead to a touching story  (yeah, I like to read those sometimes, so STFU),  but didn’t.

huffpo1
Click to read the story

There are a lot of things that would’ve made this a great story.  But none of them apply here.

This guy’s wife wanted a weave removed.  When her husband found out what it costs ($50),  he decided to learn how to do it himself.

That’s it.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing….what I’m saying that if doing that makes this guy “THE HUSBAND OF THE YEAR” then the Huffington Post has a pretty low opinion of men in general.

I have a friend who once spent an entire weekend shopping for the perfect computer desk for his wife, and then assembling it for her.  All because she wanted a keyboard tray, but not one of those keyboard trays you can attach to an existing desk….

He didn’t even get nominated for HUSBAND OF THE YEAR.

Seriously HuffPo,  most of your hyperbolic, feel good click bait headlines are annoying,  but this one just insulted men who support the women in their lives, not because they want to save a buck, but out of love and devotion.

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So long 2016….

I usually do some year end post,  so this is my adieu to 2016.

It’s been a tumultuous year,  not just for me,  but the entire world.

At the end of 2015,  I had hope.   I was seeing that people were standing up against hate and bigotry.    To the point where those who victimized others with hateful prejudice were on the defensive….complaining that people were making them feel uncomfortable by being intolerant of their intolerance.

Now, a year later things are radically different.

Trump’s election victory has emboldened those who are so insecure that they transfer those insecurities on minorities,  homosexuals,  and, well anyone who isn’t like them.

Hate crimes have spiked, and even here in Canada there have been instances where Canadians have bragged that “Trump is gonna come up here and  [insert whatever here]”

It’s gotten so bad that the ‘alt-right’ dismiss any evidence that goes against their beliefs as “left wing media bias”,   even if the evidence is a video posted by one of their kin, showing Trump spewing vile hatred.

Here are some common responses from the alt-right crowd when challenged:

  • Left wing media bias!!
    • The rare time they respond when asked for a non-biased version they turn to Fox, or worse,  Brietbart
  • Libtard!!!
    • Because insulting someone is a great way to get them to see your point
  • Threats and bullying
    • Because that’s an even better way.

On the other hand,  they believe anything that plays into their twisted beliefs,  no matter how outlandish.

Take for instance the travesty that came to be referred to as #pizzagate. A story that started to circulate about a pizzeria in Washington was a front for a child-sex trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton.

Unfortunately,  the pizzeria in question is an actual restaurant.  Staff have been threatened and harassed.

Doctored pictures have circulated around the internet as proof.

On Dec 4th, some mad man fired into the restaurant in an attempt to “self-investigate”

Read the wikipedia article and see for yourself the level of crazy that now passes for social and political discourse.

Add to that the baffling trend for some of those on the left who have started to preach that we should be more tolerant and accepting of the alt-right ideals.

More tolerant of bigotry, ignorance and hatred.  Can you even imagine?

In my humble opinion, it now even more important for those of us who are accepting of others regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, orientation,  or any other factor other than their level of ignorant asshole,  to stand up and speak out.

While it is doubtful that we can change the minds of those bigots posting on social media and other outlets,  if we fail to challenge the misinformation and fear mongering we allow it to grow.   Even if we cannot convince bigots that they are in fact bigots,  we may be able to reach the silent lurkers,  who have not yet swallowed the poison pill.

2016 was bad.  2017 and the four years after might be worse.

I will continue to speak up, and to fight against hatred, tyranny, ignorance and bigotry.

Will you?

 

 

 

Donald Trump will NEVER be the Leader of the Free World

In 2016 there are 22 countries that are deemed to have more freedom than the United States

Despite this,  the President of the United States is also referred to as “The Leader of the Free World”.

For some reason, millions of ordinary Americans ignored the psychotic, childish, bigoted ravings of a lunatic and elected him as their president.

So,  now, to have some Americans tell it,  Donald J. Trump is soon to be “Leader of the Free World”,  even though most of the free world didn’t get to cast a ballot.

Trump has made it clear that His World will be terrific.  He’ll make everything so much more better….so much more better unless you’re not white, not straight and not an adherent of a Trump approved religion.

You’re also allowed to practice Freedom of Speech,  unless he finds it offensive, or it hurts his feelings.

I’m tired of being told that the President of a foreign country is my defacto leader.

I’m disgusted at the thought of Donald Trump being called “Leader of the Free World”.

It’s time to tell journalist and bloggers everwhere to stop this!

Please sign my petition!

 

 

We need to stop treating hydro and heat like luxuries..

 

Energy Poverty…. a phrase that brings to mind some third world slum with sketchy electrical service that only functions sporadically.

In the Province of Ontario,  its come to mean that people who have to choose between shelter,  food, and hydro.

This isn’t because electricity is scarce in Ontario.

A casual observer might conclude that this crisis arose because of the colossal mismanagement and incompetence demonstrated by the Ontario Liberal party over the past few years.

As I researched this issue, I came to believe that the current pricing structure was deliberately engineered to maximize Hydro One’s value ahead of issuing shares.

I also realized that,  whether deliberate or not, the Distribution Rate model that makes hydro exponentially more expensive in vote-poor ridings than vote-rich ones,  minimizes the political fallout from the efforts to make Ontario One attractive to investors.

There is simply too much data to go over in a single entry.   But I will post what I’ve discovered and allow you to draw your own conclusions.

While driving into work today I noticed that it was darker,  and colder.

I wondered how people who had been unable to keep their power turned on would fare in colder weather.

One of the things that has really irked me is that until recently,  there was simply no data available on how many customers had their power disconnected because they couldn’t pay.

Naturally,  there was no data on how long customers have gone without hydro.

Now,  Winter is Coming.

We don’t have to fear White Walkers,  or The Lannisters,  or GRRM killing us off.

The thousands of people across the province who have given up on trying to keep their hydro on have much to fear.

If you’ve ever read a disconnection notice,  you will likely have seen a warning about how old can freeze pipes and cause massive structural damage.   Along with that warning will come the notification that the utility is not responsible for any damage.

What these notices don’t say is that  cold can kill…it can also take fingers, toes,  noses and ears.

How many people in Ontario will die this winter because they couldn’t pay thousands of dollars to keep their lights on?

What percentage will succumb to the cold?

What percentage will succumb to toxic fumes, or fire caused by whatever heat source they try out of desperation?

What percentage will succumb to hopeless depression and commit suicide?

There are many individual causes that brought us to this point.   And I will talk about them in future posts.

In future posts I will:

  • explain why I think the Ontario Energy Board,  who claims to protect consumers is an absolute farce
  • talk about how MicroFit,  the Green Energy project where the Government of Ontario pays small producers of solar and other green energy considerably more than than market value for their excess power.
  • talk about how Hydro One uses distribution and regulation fees to offset the costs of bad policy

While there are many factors that brought us to this point,  behind them all,  there is one driving factor…

Apathy

Those who are responsible for the hydro rate crisis completely forgot that their actions have had a significantly detrimental effect on real, living human beings.

They’ve come to view their commodity (electricity),  as a luxury.  Something that people can do without if they can’t afford it.

 

 

 

Why the Reid Interrogation Technique is Dangerous

The popularity of the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer has many people asking questions about police procedure and tactics.

No spoilers here,  but the series calls into question many things,  and one of them is the Reid Interrogation Technique.  (wiki)

The case documented in the show isn’t the first time I’ve heard people raise concerns about how the Reid technique can lead to false confessions.

One of Avery’s lawyers states something to the effect of “The Reid Technique is designed to illicit confessions,  not the facts.”

I decided to do some digging, and what I found is disturbing.   The post I’m going to reference is extremely well written, and breaks down the technique in a clear fashion.

You should keep in mind that this post is clearly pro-Reid,  and that I’m not using any other source to show the flaws that I would think would be blindly obvious.

If you want to read it beforehand,  here is a link.

Before I begin my breakdown of the actual technique,  I want to talk about the statement that The Reid Institute released in response to criticism of their vaunted (and presumably profitable) technique.

“it’s not the technique that causes false or coerced confessions, but police detectives who apply improper interrogation procedures.”

I’d like to point out that those police detectives improperly applying interrogation procedures are still sending innocent people to prison,  and as a result end up ruining innocent lives!

The problem with this is that while the police believe they are protecting the community,  in addition to the sending the wrong people to jail,  they are in fact leaving their communities at risk because the actual guilty person is still running around.

Police who operate in this manner….by determining guilt without evidence, or worse, evidence to the contrary,  and doing everything they can to secure that conviction are actually a bigger menace to society than the worst criminals.

I say that because I wonder how many people have been harmed, and by that I mean robbed, raped and/or murdered,  by someone who would’ve been caught if the police hadn’t been hell bent on convicting someone else for their earlier crimes?

To be crystal clear,  I’m not saying that all police do this,  or even most police.

What I’m saying is that every police officer is human,  and as a human being can make mistakes.

Its why we,  as citizens,  have protections under the law.   Its not to make the lives of police harder,  or to make the lives of criminal easier.

Its to protect those of us caught in the middle.

Now,  onto why the Reid Technique should be scrapped.

In the Reid Technique, interrogation is an accusatory process where the interrogator opens by telling the suspect that there’s no doubt about their guilt. The interrogator delivers a monologue rather than a question and answer format and the composure is understanding, patient, and non-demeaning. The goal is making the suspect progressively more and more comfortable with acknowledging the truth about what they’ve done. This is accomplished by the interrogator first imagining and then offering the subject various psychological constructs as justification for their behavior.

The author of the blog, in a single paragraph does a terrific job explaining why you should always exercise your right to not to talk to police,  and always, always, always call a lawyer.

If I was being pressed to confess by police who early on told me there was no doubt about my guilt I would ask why, in that case,  was a confession necessary.

And I would point out to myself that if they need a confession, then there is indeed doubt about my guilt.

Here’s a restatement of the second highlighted sentence.

The interrogator makes stuff up and then wears down the suspect who then in a fit of exhaustion and frustration agrees with any bullshit they have to in order to end the agony.

If you watch the documentary you’ll see examples of this.

The physical layout of an interrogation room is designed to maximize a suspect’s discomfort and sense of powerlessness from the moment they step inside. The classic interrogation manual Criminal Interrogation and Confessions, which was co-written by John Reid, recommends a small, soundproof room with only two or three chairs, a desk, and nothing on the walls. This creates a sense of exposure, unfamiliarity, and isolation. It heightens the suspect’s “get me out of here” sensation throughout the interrogation. 

So, step 1 is to make the suspect uncomfortable and increasing their stress level.

Its very important that you keep that in mind!

When the suspect is remembering something, their eyes often move to the right. This is an outward manifestation of their brain activating the memory center. When they’re thinking about something, the eyes will move upward or to the left, reflecting activation of the cognitive center.

and

For example, if the interrogator asks the suspect where they were the night of the crime and they answer truthfully, they’ll honestly be remembering so their eyes will move to the right. If they’re concocting an alibi, they’re thinking, so the eyes will go up or to the left. If the interrogator determines that the suspect’s reactions indicate deception and all other evidence points to guilt, then a structured interrogation of the suspect begins.

and finally

 If the suspect starts fidgeting, licking lips, and/or grooming themself (running his hand through their hair, for instance), the interrogator notes these as deception indicators confirming their on the right track.

While I’m sure that the manual goes into far more detail than this,   the fact is that different people have different tells.   The tells as described above don’t necessarily indicate that a person is lying,   only that the question causes some degree of stress.

Also,  deception isn’t necessarily a sign of guilt!   It makes me sad that I even have to point that out.

Let me give you an example:

Interrogator:   So you were out buying tube socks,  but it took you longer than expected because you couldn’t find the right colour?

Suspect:  Yes,  that’s right.  (eyes go up and to the left)

Interrogator seeing the eye movement:  Ah hah!  He’s lying,  just like the manual said!   This is definitely the guy who tore that tag off the mattress!

Mattress Tag under penalty of law

Suspect thinking:  If anyone finds out I was banging my wife’s sister’s brother I’m done for!

Let me connect the dots here for you:

Step 1:   Place the suspect in an uncomfortable situation and do your best to increase that level of stress

Step 2:  Completely ignore the fact that most people find being interrogated by police stressful,   and that stress can be exponentially increased by accusing them of a crime,  and by repeatedly insisting that they are lying.

Step 3:  Once step 2 has been accomplished,  proceed to use any sign of stress, agitation,  or discomfort as a sign that you have the guilty bastard in front of you and there is further need of bothering with any sort of investigation.

If you’re not convinced at this point that the Reid Technique, and any technique that games the suspect into a confession should be scrapped.

Using physical signs of stress, or agitation  as a sign of deception is going to cause problems.

The point to take away from this is that humans are fallible.   Even confessions should be taken with a grain of salt.

People on juries need to understand how these false confessions can happen.   But how many people convicted of a crime can afford to raise that kind of defense?

Our justice system has some very fundamental flaws in it.

I hope the popularity of Making a Murderer shines a light on that.

 

Apologies and Amends are Important

The beginning of the end of my relationship with Rogers Cable was triggered by their response to a complaint I filed when one of their customer service agents was rude, dismissive, and wrong.

The apology was what I call a “non-apology”.

A non-apology uses weasel words and phrasing to make it sound like someone has apologized for their actions…but didn’t really.

A non-apology may sound something like this:  “We’re very sorry that you feel that way.”

That’s a bullshit non-apology that takes no responsibility for whatever happened.

They’re sorry you feel that way,  but they are in no way sorry that they made you feel that way.

See how that works?

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m one of the most forgiving people on the planet.

I’ve been a bit too forgiving in the past…if you’ve read my last entry you’ll see I mention that.

However, before I forgive anyone they have to apologize,  and accept responsibility for what it is that they did.

Or explain to me that I’m completely out of line in being irritated/pissed off/enraged by their actions.

I’ve got a couple of things going on right now where,  if the other parties had stepped up and apologized before things got to where they are,  things would be less contentious than they are now.

Which brings me to my next “you’re apology is complete bullshit” lesson.

Sometimes people need to work up the courage to come to you and make amends.

Its important to be able to tell the difference between that,  and the people who had no intention of apologizing, or making amends until they realized that there are consequences for their actions.

In cases like this,  their apologies may sound extremely sincere.  Their contrition and remorse will be very genuine.

But,  in cases where the apology is less “we’re sorry we did that to you”  and more “OMG,  he wasn’t lying when he said he had a lawyer on retainer!”  don’t be fooled.

Their remorse is genuine in these cases, but it is misplaced.

When I know I screwed up and hurt someone,  unless the answer to the question is obvious,   I will apologize and ask,  “What can I do to make this right?”