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rants and raves on the ephemera of everyday life from lovehatethings.com

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iPhone 3G 5
Concept Cars 5
iTunes and the 99 cent download 7
Wherefore Vaporware 8
Thing Killers – Of Winglets and Segways 9
Proprietary Overload 10
Tech Prefixes 12
Spore v. Reality 14
The Gates of Seinfeld 16
Cloud Computing 18
The “I” meets the “mart” 19

Blogging v. Lifestreaming 23
Bogged Down in Blogs 24
Targeted Web Ads 26
The Blogger Manisfesto 27
Avatars – The Identity Benders 29
Twitter Play-by-Play 31
Living in the Chrome Trench of the Browser War 33
How We Hide 35
The Church of Baudhism 37
Social Network Porn 39

Radio-Friendly 42
The Ourobouros of Tech Journalism 43
Renting Music 44
Acting and the Science Fiction Film 46
The Death of Journalism 47
Songs Feat. 49
Hole in the Wall 51

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The New TV Season 53

Award Shows 54
Cable News Technology 56
How it Ends 58
How it Begins 59
Scope, Setting and the Watchmen 61

Las Vegas 65
Lining Up 66
Energy Drinks 67
Las Vegas (Part 2) 69
Summer Olympics 69
Lists 72
Languages 75
My First and Last Election Rant 76
Finding Your Inner Geek (Part One – Fishing) 78
Finding Your Inner Geek (Part Two – Tools) 80
Diplomacy 82
Waste Not Want Not 84
4.2 billion to 16.7 million to 65000 to 256 to 2 86
The Week of Lists 88

Video Game Nostalgia 93
Mornings on the Road 94
Monotasking 96
Questions W5H 98
Nature v. The City 99
The Pains of Iodine 101
Waiting in Style 103
My Shopping Evolution 104

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lovehate: iPhone 3G

Sure, it's WAY cool that I carry around a device the size of my old TI-55 (shouts out to the 80's geeks)
that I can: watch a pirated downloaded movie on that's been in the theatres for 48 hours, listen to my
favourite illegal Prince and Metallica downloads, have a satellite tell me where I'm standing by looking at
a screen instead of tilting my head up to read a street sign, tell me it's a nice day outside through a blue
and orange icon instead of stepping out my front door, watched the highest-Dugg YouTube Videos of
people's anencephalitic pets and children two-stepping off of furniture, spend way too long on a virtual
keyboard to type a note that it would take me three seconds to write on the back of a napkin, see that
annoying twitter whale on a small screen instead of a big one, take a picture of my drunk neanderthal
friends and post it to my Flickr account which contains 542 other pictures just like it, and, if I have time
left after all this shit happens, check my diverse stock portfolio that I don't even have. It's WAY cool.

You think Steve Jobs might jailbreak me from an obsessive iPhone existence?

lovehate: Concept Cars

So I know that I'm supposed to be all "Rah-Rah" for vehicles that reduce my carbon footprint... or skid
mark... or whatever the hell it's called when a BF Goodrich steel-belted radial is involved. And it's not
that I don't think a car that runs on air or water or manure or vinegar or corn isn't a good idea. I was
born, grew up and still live in a city where people have to throw out their ice cream because of toxic
particles descending from the heavens. I breathe in more crap before 8am than an Olympic athlete in
Beijing... well... maybe 10am.

And it's not that all of my sci-fi geek hopes were dashed when the writer of the article had me believing
for at least the 5 seconds I was waiting for the page to load that I was going to be able to fly the particle
filled skies like George Jetson.

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What it really is the time that gets wasted every year filling my head with the promise that these
bizarrely-shaped vehicles will ever make it to the road. No, it's not that I don't believe some of the
technology will not incorporated into the average 2009 coupe. It's just that the focus of every car show are
these crazy, bubble-shaped, alien fishhooks that we drool over on lame CNN reports by Miles O'Brien
with an accompanying piece on the threats of future vehicle lumbar support by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. They've
been showcasing these concept cars for years on revolving gameshow turntables while vacuous models
strike weather-vane poses to the drones of Yello's "Oh Yeah". I've never seen one of these death traps on
the street.

And for all of you Car and Driver aficionados, who achieve post-coital shudder whenever there's a back
cover fold-out ad for the new Ford Mustang, don't get all up in arms and quip "that's why they call them
concept cars". Maybe you'll be exciting to test pilot the new "concept" food additive yet-to-be approved
by the Food and Drug Administration. Maybe you'd like to mount the turntable while the
aforementioned "vacuous model" injects you a new "concept" Viagra that may or may not make your
testicles fall off. Maybe you'd like to buy front row seat at a test range in the Nevada desert as they try out
a new "concept" warhead.

If they can make a car that runs on air - MAKE IT! Don't get my hopes up then dash them as I'm still
inhaling petroleum exhaust 20 years from now.

Until then, I'm waiting for The Homer by Powell Motors.

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lovehate: iTunes and the 99 cent download

This is truly a love/hate topic for me.

There is a lot to love about the 99 cent/song download that has become industry standard. To be honest,
I loved the days of allofmp3's cent/mb downloads better, but we all knew that was shady even though
technically legal. The 99 cent download is a panacea to those who love pop radio and prefer the bits &
bytes, song by song approach to music. With the click of a button and a quick sync command, you can be
listening to that one hit wonder over and over again. I suppose the single song approach to music
purchases can be one way to expose people to a band or artist they would never shell out $10-15 for in
buying a full CD. The single song download has also redefined the release methodology for artists, or
course this was forced on them by monopolistic music conglomerates who would sit on a band's recording
for sometimes years at a time until they felt it was right for release: ask Fiona Apple whose Extraordinary
Machine CD was shelved indefinitely because the execs couldn't find a "hit" on it. Now labels and artists
promote direct-to-download releases between CDs in a seeming way to generate funds for recording and
keeping artists on the map. From a pure market standpoint it's difficult to argue with the 99 cent
download as there is no reason I should have to pay for music I don't want. There's many an artist who
can, for one brief shining moment, find a glimpse of genius only to destroy that vision with the remainder
tracks on a CD. For the advocates of choice and pop radio lovers everywhere, I love the 99 cent

On the other hand the iTunes revolution and the 99 cent download have contributed, in many ways, to
the destruction of the artistic sensibility of music that existed, at least in some form until about five years
ago. While I grew up in a time of escapism into a gatefold LP cover that often stood on its own as visual
art, I had, begrudgingly sacrificed that childhood fixation when compact discs became standard. What I
am less willing to sacrifice, however, is the idea that songs should be able to be so easily plucked from the
entire collection that is an album or cd. Even to cite a relatively recent example, Radiohead's seminal OK
Computer should not be listened to piecemeal. Sure there were dozens of albums back in the 70s that
explored conceptual themes that ranged beyond a single songs and, while many of them still had radio
hits, the entire collection was always more satisfying: I find little pleasure in listening to Pink Floyd's

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“Comfortably Numb” without the rest of The Wall surrounding it, or “The Real Me” without
Quadrophenia, or anything from side two (remember sides) of The Beatles' Abbey Road without the songs
accompanying them. Yeah I know, I'm dating myself, but just as it is deplorable to only pay for one scene
of Hamlet or one-sixteenth of a Guernica print, there is something disingenuous of forcing artists to stop
thinking of song collections as important because we only care about one song. For this reason, I hate the
99 cent download.

lovehate: Wherefore Vaporware?

For those of who are unfamiliar with the "vaporware" moniker, think of some of the greatest
technological rumors that you've heard as "up and coming" that have mysteriously disappeared quicker
than my tolerance for Rick-rolling. Whether it be hardware, software, games, platforms, portable media
players or cellphones, tech media has been quick to jump on the fancy packaging and promises used to
tempt venture capitalists and have end-users eyes glaze over like a Krispy Kreme confection in Coral
Gables. I find that while there are plenty of lower-tier vaporware announcements these days (i.e. service
packs for OSs and application updates) I'm missing the BIG pitch that's going to mess with my mind,
make my jaw drop and wake up my dormant Utopian/Dystopian meter.

I remember a hardware startup that preached translucent cube writable and bootable media with terabytes
of capacity that would hold your entire desktop and enable people to walk from terminal to terminal all
over the world and wirelessly boot their entire home system. Kind of like meteorite computing over cloud
computing. Sure, I know you can approximate some of these functions with a bootable USB drive, but it's
far from elegant and certainly not without innumerable variables that could stop one cold.

Weren't there promises of seamless Voice User Interfaces by now? Surely there must be an interest in the
ability to speak to your computer in flowing sentences instead of clipped words and phrases. While we can
purchase voice recognition software for certain tasks, and I realize that OSs have made some strides in
allowing for next steps, was I the only one that thought we would easily be there by now as a standard and
not a tenuous option?

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And am I the only one who thought that after VR5, Lawnmower Man, and Harsh Realm that we were
well on our way to fully-immersive Virtual Reality that smacked of something a little better than Vectrex?
I'm not talking about a laboratory experimental unit costing several hundred thousand dollars, but an
afforable, end-user product. I know the sci-fi geek in everyone is picturing an Enterprise holodeck right
now, but I'd be satisfied with goggles and a platform. I guess until the porn or gaming industries take up
the fight on VR we are screwed - or not.

And when is someone going to sell me robot that looks and acts human, obeys Asimov's three laws, and is
bound and determined to take over the world for $199 with a four-year service contract? C'mon Steve
Jobs, bring it on! Call it the iRobot, pay some residuals to the Asimov descendants and get Alan Parsons
to remaster a jingle for you. Of course the iRobot would crash every time we tried to play Monkeyball,
and once a month we'd have to restore it to default settings.

But even with all of my disappointment at the missing gadgets promised to me over the years, I would
rather someone is at least dreaming and pushing the ambrosia-flavored envelope.

lovehate: Thing Killers - Of Winglets and Segways

Remember Ginger?

In 2001, Dean Kamen had a secret project (sometimes also known as IT) which caused tumultuous
excitement around the tech world and media in general. No one knew what IT was? Some speculated on
it being a new kind of engine or a futuristic anti-grav platform. Instead, it was the Segway. With much
hype and hoopla Kamen predicted that the Segway "will be to the car what the car was to the horse and
buggy". Essentially the Segway was to be the car "killer".

Now, some seven years later, Toyota has released the "Winglet Personal Transporter" which is being
trumpeted as the Segway killer. If the Segway was Ginger, let's call the Thinglet Maryann. They're both
nice to look at, but ultimately they're bound to always being an afterthought while Gilligan, the bumbling
auto industry always manages to screw things up while remaining the star of the show.

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From 2001 to 2006, 23500 Segways were sold. Now I don't know how many millions of cars and trucks
were sold in that same time, but of all the threats to the automotive industry, I don't think the Segway
was high on their list. If the Segway was supposed to be the car killer, I don't even think it could be
accused of attempted assault (even though there was a battery). That the Winglet is being touted as the
"Segway Killer" is kind of like Martin Prince saying he could beat up Millhouse after Millhouse got his
butt kicked by Nelson. When Ford was pitching his version of the "horseless carriage" in the early 1900s,
I somehow doubt he was calling it the "Horse Killer".

Seemingly every week there is some report of the iPhone, iPod or Blackberry killer. The web has frequent
reports of Digg, Facebook, Twitter and Google killers... and it's not Cuil. Apparently, depending on
which blog you read, the new Windows killer might be Linux, OSX, or even Adobe Air. Did you know
that Dyson was preparing a Roomba killer?

I suppose I'm just wondering if using term "killer" with regards to new products has jumped the shark...
oh, sorry "nuke the fridge" has become the "jumped the shark" killer. With all of this attempted killing
going its strange the authorities aren't involved. Who'd have thought Ice T being a "cop killer" wouldn't
involve his music or bullets, but instead a slow inside job through his sub-par acting skills on Law and

I've already got the new Winglet Killer. Now, while I admit the 3 mph cruising speed is a little less that
than the Winglet's 3.7, my product (project name: Skipper) does not require gasoline or an electric
charge, does not use any fancy gyroscopes for balancing (we've achieved perfect balance without handle
bars), and we don't have factories filled with workers stamping out a carbon footprint across the land.
With some clearance from Steve Jobs on naming parameters, I am boldly announcing the Winglet killer
as the "I walk".

lovehate: Proprietary Overload

I understand that not everything in the world can be "open source" or boast complete compatibility. The
staff in the idea bunkers buried deep under the Apple, Microsoft, Google, Sony and Sun Micro cities look
at the same crap, a thousand different ways, day after day trying to find the one little way they can make

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the same widget better than it was before - better, stronger, faster. And each time they find the little
tweak that they believe may give them a market advantage, if not, at least, buy them a little more time
before being relegated to Tech. Support Supervisors, the company lawyers write up a patent registration.

I remember one of the baffling frustrations of my childhood was not being able to swap power cords from
my Mattel Football to Merlin to Simon to Fabulous Fred. The voltages and milliamps and plug sizes
were all different and one can simply not afford an endless supply of 9-volt batteries as a pre-teen.

Now remember, I get why, on many levels, this HAS to happen. I understand the economy demands
some sort of intellectual property exist for companies to exist. That said, why the hell can't I get one USB
cable that fits more than one cellphone and why won't my so-called "standard" 1/8 inch headphone jack
(that I use on my Apple Nano) fit into the same phone?

Speaking of Apple, why do I need Firewire anyway when USB 2.0 works just fine for more stuff? I need
Firewire because apparently a bunch of camcorder makers all got together and decided they liked the
smaller form factor of the Firewire socket. Sure, Firewire was plenty faster than USB 1.0, but hasn't USB
won the VHS/Beta war? I honestly don't even care which one is better - I just don't want to have to buy

But Firewire/USB doesn't even begin to approach the Memory Card debacle. It's not enough to just have
one or two types, but every device I buy is open to a litany of options that ALL DO THE SAME
THING! Is it CompactFlash Type 1 or 2 (and is there Microdrive or Wi-fi in there)? Is it Memory Stick
or Memory Stick PRO or Memory Stick Duo or PRO Duo or positive sickening-sounding DRM-laden
MagicGate (thanks Sony, you heartless bastard purveyors of proprietary nonsense)? How about the
MMC Multimedia Card in Regular, Reduced and Mobile? Maybe it's SD (Secure Digital) in regular,
Mini or Micro. Of course it could be SmartMedia or an xD Picture Card (type H or type M), but by this
point I'm sharpening a Sony PencilCam and getting ready to stick it in my eye.

When I'm buying my new portable audio device, does it play mp3, aac, wma, ogg, flac, shn, monkey or
real? Does my new portable video player decode DivX, XviD, H264, mov, mp4, mp2, vob, wmv, and flv?
When I decompress downloaded music for my player, is it zip, pkzip, lz, rar, 7z, iso, bin, tar? And is the
album cover image within the folder a bmp, jpg, gif, png, tiff, ai, eps, cdr, or pdf? Of course, in a software

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universe, everything can be converted, but it would be nice if I didn't have search through virus-bloated
warez to execute such a transformation that didn't involve command-line structure with seventeen
switching variables.

Enough already! Everyone's taken their little slice of the pie and the Double R Diner is closed. I'm going
to watch some Flash streaming of the Olympics... wait, what the hell is Silverlight?

lovehate: Tech Prefixes

The English language, as bastardized a creation as it is, heavily relies on decscriptors that are drawn from
endless languages, local dialects, colloquialisms and sometimes pure invention. Going through language
as children, we are beseiged by the basic prefix "list": anti, de, dis, ex, in, mis, pre, re, and un. As we move
to secondary and post-secondary education we are ultra-mega-inundated with superlative prefixes like...
ultra and mega, contra, hemi, hyper, infra, inter, peri, semi, syn, trans. When we slide our minds into the
realms of "intelligensia" we enjoy dropping pseudo and quasi before every idea so that we don't actually
have to cop to anything concrete. In most cases our prefixes meshed well with the root words we were
using, and, in some instances, to the point where the prefixed word became more common to regular use
than the root word itself.

Then technology, as it usually does, took things in strange direction. At first the invasion was subtle, yet
foreshadowed insidious fallout. Our reality became "virtual" and so did, apparently, everything around us.
Not officially a prefix, yet pretty much used as one, the descriptor was often used, not to elucidate
meaning, but to sound cool. So in a virtual reality we gathered in our virtual teams and vitually
communicated in our virtual world operating our virtual machines. It wasn't enough that, years earlier,
dish detergent had made our dishes "virtually spotless". Now "virtually spotless" indicated a tech-savvy
dog catcher.

Virtually months later, or let's call it the 1980s, William Gibson took a prefix that was only regularly used
on one word, and started a trend that would force "virtual" to give way to "cyber". And much like the
language meme that strangled us previously our cyberspace filled with cyberhomes occupied by

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cyberpunks having cybersex and cyberhating each other the next morning. And things were going
swimmingly, at least cyberswimmingly, until we decided that virtual's three syllables was WAY too much
and cyber's two syllables was STILL too much. Something had to be done.

No one thought much about it when CompuServe first used "Email" from 1981 to 1984. Those in the
know probably thought, "Yeah. Okay. Mail. Electronically. I get it." We all would soon get it as we sent
out billions of e-mails with e-cards so we could be e-tailing and e-marketing our new Ebay e-business
and be part of the e-commerce revolution... sorry e-volution. As a prefix I got the distinction between
mail (soon to become snail mail) and e-mail. At least in this instance the "e" indicated a new face that
people needed to know if they were going to communicate. Basically, e-mail wasn't the same as mail and
the lazy prefix worked just fine. As for the rest, couldn't we just have said marketing, business, and
commerce and understand it included everything our companies did? And e-tailing was just plain wrong.
My e-health was suffering.

On October 23, 2001, Steve Jobs became the new William Gibson of prefixes when Apple released the
iPod. Not only had we reduced the prefix down to a single syllable, now, unlike the tenuous grasp "e" had
to electronic, "i" pretty much meant nothing other an even more innocuous reference to a personal
pronoun that added nothing to attached noun... nothing except being cool! Apple would iSell the iPod,
iMac, and iBook in an iStore or iTunes until everyone was iTouching themselves. We now iPlay and
iEarn in our iVillages and are iSafe with iTools because we have to go watch our favorite iStar in an iFilm
which we find out with iNewswire on iGoogle.

I'm guessing the only logical conclusion is to move onto to other vowels with even less meaning than "e"
or "i"". Of course "a" doesn't work too well because it is already a prefix that means without; e-marketers
wouldn't like that. "U" has already been scooped because of its personal pronoun association... marketers
really love personal pronouns; what's next something stupid like the "we"? Wait a second.... I suppose we
could just move on to consonants. Maybe we can cash in on nostalgic ties to Q-bert, X and Y
Generations. I'm putting my money on the "B". Think about it. In a society where everyone wants to be
told what's cool, we could have bMusic, bVideo, bGames, bCommerce, bPCs, bWorlds and bSex...
maybe that's why all the bees are disappearing - they know something we don't.

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I think, in 25 years, techonology will enable us to prefix things with a shrug or a caustic eyebrow twitch
and, until that day, iHate tech prefixes.

lovehate: Spore v. Reality

Far be it from me to take a cynical view on things (cue crickets and an Edna Krabappel laugh) but am I
the only one who thinks that the release of this season's most eagerly anticipated video game experience is
surreptitiously constraining its players under the guise of freedom and creativity?

Spore, for those who don't care for video games at all, is a Massively Multiplayer Online game that allows
every player to be the god of their own world from the "pimp my bacterium" stage all the way up to their
own private Death Star. It promises the freedom to create shared environments that go beyond anything
before. It sells itself with the self-gratifying narrative hook: "What they never realized was that all along
the way, from humble microbes to starship captains, someone had guided them at every turn... and that
someone is you."

Now I suppose my following rationale will all come down to construct of reality that are probably far
better left for a professor of metaphysics or Jeff Spicoli, but since neither of them are around, try this on
for size. Spore is selling itself on three core ideas: 1) that you will have freedom to exercise your creativity,
2) that your ego will be so satisfied by the fact that you made a creature with a phallus sticking out of its
chest, you will have no choice but to propagate your species, and 3) that the game itself holds more
creative license over your time and energy than your actual life does.

Let's really take a critical look at a product that's supposed to "foster" creativity.

I realize that the creative process in most aspects of life is fraught with parameters that we must learn to
live with or submit to in frustration. While a piano player is limited by the instrument and the painter is
limited by the canvas, we certainly applaud the pursuits of those artists and craftspeople who, within the
boundaries of their fields, work creative achievement to levels we never thought possible. A game like
Spore (and Civilization, the Sims and Sim City before it) may work as a noble attempt at entertainment

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(as subjective as the appreciation for various media is) but it is certainly a step down in basic creativity
from even the act of picking up a crayon and coloring outside the lines.

I apologize in advance, but I'm gonna go all aesthetic here (and that doesn't mean I'm getting my
eyebrows waxed). The artistic process must be unabridged, untethered, unfetterd and any other "un-"
word you care to include. Spore, as any game, is like a giant jigsaw puzzle that needs to be assembled to
complete the experience (and I'll admit, in Spore's case, the puzzle look wicked cool and contains millions
of pieces). The only way to exercise individual creativity in assembling a puzzle is to screw it up to the
point that the picture on the box becomes irrelevant.

One G4TV review of Spore includes: "Just as The Sims tapped into the human need to
interact, Spore taps into a very deep and similar experience that few games dare to touch - to create and
share." No matter how successful the marketing demographic is for this game, think of how restrictive the
concepts of creation and sharing in the manner have become. Players are exercising constrained
"creating" and "sharing" with one type of person (other Spore players) in one type of environment (sitting
in front of a monitor) with a mouse and a keyboard. While, to some, this might be entertainment - and
party hard Spore-style with your mating dances if it is - the only artistry and creationism I see is on the
part of the gamemaker. He has begun to create an unmatched piece of concept art which includes
screenshots of millions of people with glazed eyes and carpal tunnel syndrome playing virtual gods. Will
Wright, I doff my cap to the master artist whose powers of manipulation may outstrip most world leaders.
Other gamemakers may have more people staring at screens for entertainment value, but you've actually
convinced many of your players that their doing something fruitful. You are indeed a master.

The review of Spore in PC Gamer UK reads much more interestingly, "Spore's triumph is painfully
ironic. By setting out to instill a sense of wonderment at creation and the majesty of the universe, it's
shown us that it's actually a lot more interesting to sit here at our computers and explore the contents of
each other's brains." In one sense, I completely agree; it is a lot more interesting to explore the contents of
each other's brains... although I would rather say minds so as not to sound zombie-like. It's just a shame
that where the platform of interaction used to be face to face, the new exploration consists of keystokes
and double clicks.

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I've really got nothing against Spore. I do, however, hate the fact that someone, somewhere is going to
beatify the game as manna from the heavens when it's hardly that different from the days I used to jack
up the taxes in Sim City by one percent so I could build a football stadium... what an artist I was back

lovehate: The Gates of Seinfeld

The hordes of yea and naysayers hurling their two-bits in about the latest Gates/Seinfeld Microsoft
ads have, if nothing else, provided more coverage for the OS giant than almost anything in recent years.
And the fact that it may be half good and half bad is at least half better than most of coverage during that

It's curious that media critics seem to realize the ads are no different than most other huge companies
but... more on that later.

It's the so-called tech experts and bloggers that seem to have the most analysis invested into the most
detailed minutae of these spots. On "This Week in Tech" last week, gdgt's Ryan Block performed a
deconstruction on the first ad that made the entire spot into an allegory about the "common man's"
experience in an Apple Store. On this week's TWiT, John C. Dvorak wondered why the hell Microsoft
wasn't "selling" something with such an expensive campaign. Today CNET is reporting that critics are
abuzz over the fact that the third installment of the ads will NOT feature Jerry and Bill and, as such, this
constitutes a surrender to the bad press and a radical shift in the campaign. Of course further in the article
it is revealed that Microsoft actually announced this shift last week and that the dynamic duo would

All of this proves one thing: no one is talking about "how bad Vista is" anymore.

Let's get back to how these ads are no different than any other mega-sized company. When was the last
time you saw a Nike ad that talked about the new sole design technology or comfortable insoles or crazy
grommet technology advancements for the laces. My usual Nike experience is watching someone running

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in slow-motion while an intended inspiration passage in read in the background by a famous athlete while
a slow string pad crescendos in the background. When was the last time you saw a Coke or Pepsi
commercial that talked about the drinks themselves and not just about "wanting to buy the world a Coke"
or being "part of the Pepsi Generation". Every McDonald's ad essentially says one thing: "Hey look!
We're McDonald's. Try and not be dragged here kicking and screaming by your kids."

Huge brands do not have to sell product, they simply have to sell the brand. The point/counterpoint
Apple commercials always have bullet point features that help to explain the great features of Macs
because, simply, most people do not have a Mac, most people have not seen a Mac in operation, and most
people, if they're going to switch, NEED to be sold on product AND brand but the fact that you will be
paying between 30-50% more for an equally-powered system.

A used car lot often has a loudmouth talking a million miles a second trying to explain everything they've
got and are selling at lower than everyone else. Commercials from the big automakers show cars whipping
around long sweeping mountain curves with techno music pumps up the jam and, if you're lucky, you may
get a chromakey blurb or two at the bottom with a logo at the end.

Videogames will often show a bunch of cut scenes strung together with a grandiose synthesized orchestral
score. Gatorade will be similar to a Nike commercial with less talking and a lot of orange sweat. How
much can you say about potato chips without talking about the thousands of migrant workers that got
paid 25% of minimum wage to harvest your Wavy Lay's? How many ads for financial establishments
don't include a young or retired couple sitting across from a suit smiling and nodding their heads while
words like "easy", "friendly", and "future"?

I'll be the first to admit that these Microsoft ads are clever while not brilliant, and I'm not trying to be an
MS Apologist 3.1, but the inner Samuel Beckett in me could not help but revel in the absurdity of the
first ad's punchline: "Just wondering, are they ever going to come out with something that will make our
computers moist and chewy like cakes so we can just eat them while we are working?" That the agency
behind this was brave enough to make it (as every other big company's ads) about nothing, makes me love
not the ads themselves, but the mindset that acknowledges the quirky, the bizarre, and the just plain
ridiculous still has a place on television. And if anyone spends too much time sitting around WTF'ing
their television while these spots are playing, maybe they'll understand when Godot appears.

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lovehate: Cloud Computing

In the past I have been anything but an apologist for the tech world's advancements. I crave some of the
visions of the future that I grew up with in sci-fi films and televisions. From a teleporter to a self-drive
aircar. From a replicator or holodeck to an omnipresent mainframe that serves the needs of humanity... of
course somehow these scenarios inevitably turn out bad.

The backbone for all such technology demands an immense mainframe that contains, if not the total, at
least a large chunk of academic, social and personal information to dole out upon request. And while I
know that, in most dystopian film plots, the archetypal consequence for individuals giving up their
knowledge often ends badly, there is a lingering attraction to a tool that at command, whim and request
can produce information and content that is uniquely customized to a user within a specific environment.

The first step to such a system has its nascent development in cloud computing, and while part of me is
ready to release my kite into the cummulus, another part of me is remembering Twitter's Fail Whale and
404 errors of days gone by.

There is inherent risk that's greater than someone hacking Amazon to steal credit card information or a
government website to lift social security numbers. Cloud computing demands that beyond archiving the
day to day information necessary to run our lives, we also commit our memories - i.e. writing, pictures,
music and emails. And while many of us have copies of pictures in Flickr and stream music from last.fm,
are we ready to commit the sole copies of such things to the cloud?

Being a victim of credit card fraud can range from annoying to devastating, but imagine a future where a
system crash wipes out the only existing images of deceased loved ones or a child's first birthday. When
do we reach that level of trust, not with certain things, but with EVERYTHING? For the Skynet to
work its magic, and be all it can be, it needs such information. Google, and other Web 2.0 in-browser
software, would have us move all of our documents and spreadsheets into the cloud. Through blogs, many
people have given up their creativity to the cloud... after all, how many of us keep backups of everything
we post? Flickr has, what I'm sure, are the sole copies of at least some visual records of people and places

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and events. The news is moving from paper to html to rss to xml and soon hard copies will be a thing of
the past.

Make no mistake. The sky is getting bigger. The clouds are growing in size and getting more numerous.
The sun, however, is becoming infrequent and I can feel a storm coming on. I don't know when the first
PCs and Macs will ship without hard drives, but I think we're within ten years. I don't know how soon
after that a lightning strike will erase all visual records of someone's Uncle Owen or Aunt Beru, but I'm
thinking we're within eleven years. I don't know when all high speed networking will be wireless and paid
for through taxes, but I can see it through the rain.

I do know this. When I have to suffer a blackout, I feel, sadly, lost without a TV or my computer. My
content has disappeared and now I have to spend time reading books, which, in a cloud world, will soon
not exist off of my computer... well, at least I'll be okay until the batteries on my Kindle 2010 run out and
my iPod nano version 10 (which has been broken to countersink into my forearm and run off of bio-
electrical energy) shorts out my nervous system. I suppose I can pick up a piece of charcoal from the
barbeque and scratch some renderings of the circling wildlife that's coming back to claim a world where
all knowledge has been shorted out by a failed surge protector.

While I love the concept of cloud computing, it's going to take a lot of convincing to get me to let go of
the kite string that keeps my information grounded.

lovehate: The "i" meets the "mart"

I've never been an Apple fanboy. Sure I kinda liked my Shuffle and I really like my Nano for allowing me
to take video podcasts on the go. I do covet the iPod Touch and will probably pick one up within the next
couple of weeks. And seeing that it mildly bothers me that iPhones are going to be sold at Walmart, I can
only imagine what the Mac fanboys (and girls) must be thinking. Their world of brick-designed polished
aluminum and stylized high end merchandise is going to be hocked under the "Have a Nice Day"
octogenarian greeters of the uberdiscount leviathan.

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Quite simply, Apple has made their continued mark on not only being ahead of the curve in terms of
product design, but also on a "cool" factor that created a perceived higher class of gadget and computer
buyers. Apple had a group of dedicated apostles willing to pay twice as much for hardware and the same
price for music... even while it was held ransom through DRM!

The marriage of the "Holy Grail" product of the "i" prefix with the bargain basement of the "mart" suffix
will drive Apple to common highway instead of the toll roads. The first time the acolytes of the Cult of
Jobs see an iPhone on sale for 144.44 with the "Always" placard next to it, their hearts will die a little

It's not that I don't understand the marketing angle and the potential cash to be made, but will I ever be
able to take the Mac/PC ads in the same vein again? When I think of Justin Long now, will I envision
Warren Cheswick in a blue apron making minimum wage?

Okay, look... I know that other Apple products have been available at Walmart for years and the shine
hasn't come off the devotees. But along with the Walmart news comes the rumor that iTunes is going
DRM-free. After years in the clouds, Apple is coming down to earth. What remains to be seen is if
Apple can catch the even larger market of people who would never pay a premium for gadgets. Let's face
it, consumers can get cell phones these days for next to nothing and pay as they go. Will bringing the
iPhone into suburbia convince the $47.77, no contract buyer to spend $200 with a three year
commitment? I'm guessing this is what Apple is banking on.

Maybe the "elite" market is getting tapped out in this economy. Maybe the days of techies paying $3000
for a Macbook that parallels the processing abilities of a $1000 PC laptop. I don't believe Apple is hurting
by any means, but I do think they are hedging their bets. My only remaining question is do they have
another landmark product on the horizon. We've been seeing a regular pattern over the last few years of
Apple rolling out new models of devices that basically do the same thing - kind of like the auto industry...
though I don't think an iBailout's in the works.

Is there a future for another portable media device/phone in Apple's future, or is it just model tweaks for
the next five years? I have no doubt there is something up the sleeves of the development teams in
Cupertino, but the last time there was something completely unknown that was rumored as different and

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"groundbreaking" Michael Kamen's was pimping It/Ginger - ultimately the Segway. And while the
Segway was cool, it certainly wasn't the revolutionary product it was cracked up to be.

The proprietary has met the ordinary. The MOMA has met the dormroom poster sale. The Ferrari's
available at Budget Rent-a-car. The "i" has met the "mart"... and the late adopters will carry their new
AT&T contract in a plastic basket with a package of Twizzlers, a sweater made in China, and an
impulse-buy horoscope scroll.

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lovehate: Blogging v. Lifestreaming

I suppose there is no mystery to this lovehate. After submitting numerous posts to the on this blogging
platform over the past few weeks, it would be hard for me to say that I hated blogs. There are some
things, however, that I just don't get. A recent post at readwriteweb indicates that "lifestreaming" is the
future of blogging. As much as I would like to think that reading about someone's entire life was
interesting - it's not. Sure, something can be learned by examining the ordinary, but that doesn't mean I
want to read, or pretend to share, someone's day to day meanderings through their existence. And I say
this even though I'm on Twitter and Friendfeed and Facebook and Plurk and Pownce and usually jot a
couple of quick notes every day that are more humorous than telling. Suffice to say, someone who has the
time and inclination to record their entire life on a blog really shouldn't have much time for an
extraordinary life. And when I devote time to reading for entertainment, I better not be reading about
someone watching TV in their apartment for three hours.

I certainly don't begrudge someone who wishes to document their existence on the web (there may be
something quite therapeutic about it), but surely there has to be some serious editing involved. While I
applaud Andy Warhol's vision in making the film Sleep, I sure didn't want to sit through five hours of it.
Whenever I hear someone review a film, play or television show and say they loved that the characters or
dialogue were "so real", I cry foul. Even the most authentic documentary, unless shot in real time, is only
a simulation of reality that someone manipulates. A "lifestreaming" blogger becomes the gatekeeper of
their own life with regards to what gets relayed to readers. While the blogger may have had a "real
satisfying trip to the bathroom involving a number two", I certainly don't want to hear about it, and most
bloggers have the decency not to tell me. This same act of choosing to avoid events that may clash with
social mores or taboos turns lifestreaming into more simulation and less documentation. And to be
honest, I'm fine with that.

I believe that we are all just stories and when you leave a room, the people left behind speak of you ill or
well with others in relaying your history. If lifestreaming turns out to be simply a bunch of people sharing
every minute of their lives online, why should I be interested? I'd much rather they lie. I'd enjoy reading
of grand adventures. Instead, my fear is that the lifestreaming movement will eventually deconstruct itself

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into endless posts of "I'm texting from my cellphone to my lifestream about texting from my cellphone to
my lifestream." While honest, not too exciting.

Blogging as a means of artistic creativity or to share ideas - great! Blogging as a means of "sharing" one's
life with friends - sure, I can buy that, maybe not too exciting to others, but okay. Blogging as a means of
documenting the daily meanderings of one's life - I guess, if you want to, but why should I, or anyone,
have an interest? The less I know about someone, the more fascinating they become. Just give me the
interesting snippets and my mind will fill in the rest.

Lifestreaming echoes the same problems faced by people with webcams on them 24/7. I don't care how
cute the young woman is while moping around her bedroom about how her parents or boyfriends don't
"get" her, she will become boring: quickly. And the less boring she becomes, the more boring you

lovehate: Bogged Down in Blogs

T.S. Eliot promoted the idea of the literary canon and that there were works that should be read by an
educated individual to create a standard template, and in order to claim the rank of "educated". Some of
the more esoteric aspects of the canon theory implied the idea that works (in true Elaine Benis assurance)
were either "canon-worthy" or not, even as they were being written. While I never believed that canon
theory needed to be extended to ridiculous levels. There still seems to be a certain belief that literature
contains a bunch of "must-reads", just as film contains its "must-sees" and music contains its "must-
hears". And while I suppose the canon can be applied to just about subject where so-called expertise can
be expressed, I'm starting to wonder if the concept (as it pertains to the leviathan-like stature of the
worldwide web) should be cannonballed out of existence.

Is there a canon of websites? Places that anyone who considers themself a web afficionado must visit on a
regular basis to be considered "webjucated"? Must my web travelling habits include occasional visits

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to The Onion, Rotten Tomatoes, You Tube, Wikipedia? Do I lose any web geek cred without regular
trips to io9, Ars Technica, Cnet, Lifehacker, 1up, Slashdot, Sourceforge, TechCrunch or Digg?

Is there any piece of the web that has outlasted the transitory nature of the medium? Novels, short stories
and poetry are rather constant. I haven't yet seen a story on Digg concerning a press release for Finnegan's
Wake 2.0 or rumors that Prufrock is finally coming out of beta. Is there a website that contains content
that is always enjoyable to go back to and remains unchanged? Many people have the ability to devote
hours, days and weeks to re-reading novels on repeated occasions and enjoy them in unique ways each
time. Does a website contain this same quality? I'll admit, that even years later, I can return to some of the
early homestarrunner and Strongbad shorts and laugh as much as ever at Fluffy Puff Marshmallows
and Trogdor the Burninator, but, other than content created as sheer entertainment, it's hard for me to
think of an non-updated site that I will go back to over and over. And even with this, I would argue we
are increasingly engrossed in the web than any single novel in spite of its transitory and unfinished quality.

While I would not say that, with regards to the web, the dissolution of the canon concept is tragic, there
is an aspect to a wide-ranging common experience that I see becoming lost. The blog has made it easy for
anyone to publish. I wish I could say "even though most shouldn't", yet that wouldn't only be antithetical
to my populist belief in the medium, but the nature of the medium itself. Where Eliot's canon came from
a few hundred years of white male Euro-centric writers, the demographics of web creators have blown
that parameter wide open. And with this acknowledgement I pose two questions: will we ever have
another William Shakespeare? Does anyone care?

If Bill was competing with hundreds of millions of playwrights instead of a relative handful, would his
work have shone through the rest or would it have drown in a sea of obscurity? Does the web, as a
medium, have the ability to create a wordsmith superstar or a "canon-worthy" podcaster? While I love the
web's diversity, I am often frustrated by its magnitude. While I clamour for the fresh and new, I still find
myself with an inexhaustible list of bookmarks.

It seems the "suggestion" phenomenon is the latest attempt at a solution to navigate through the ocean.
By data and trend and mathematic formula StumbleUpon wants to suggest what sites I might like, Digg
wants to tell me what everyone else thinks is cool, the Internet Movie Database wants to aggregate films
by previous users preferences and Apple's Genius wants to emulate Pandora's ability to recommend not

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only what music I may like, but how my existing music should be organized. While the power of
suggestion can be a great tool in sifting the through the dreck, it does have an insidious limitation: how is
one supposed to be shocked anymore? Can I find a song that blows my mind through suggestions of
music I'm already used to? Will I pick up a film that offends my senses but makes me see the world in a
new way if the suggestions come from what I'm already comfortable with? And how does one find the
truly inventive on the web when the recommendations come from a social demographic that, while
admittedly more diverse than Eliot's "educated" society, has become relatively narrow in its own focus.
Bloggers of a feather flock together. I love that we are canon-free but mourn the loss of greatness found.

lovehate: Targeted Web Ads

Now I know that with a lovehate topic like web advertising someone is going to expect paragraphs about
pop-ups, but really, with the browser technology available today does every really need to see a pop up
again? I don't remember the last time I saw a pop up for a poker site or porn but it wasn't too long ago
that my desktop would be besieged by them. I will say that almost as annoying as pop-up ads are the
banner or sidebar ads that make noise. Try scrolling through the torrent compiler mininova.org with a
smiley banner droning out a constant "Hello?" or a sidebar ad that crackles with a plasma energy burst
that sounds like the electric pulses from the Commodore 64's Impossible Mission.

Now that Google is perfecting its "Blog Search" technology, the site can, on a week by week basis,
navigate the meme streets and provide the Adsense matrix engine fodder to figure out which ads to show
me and when, privacy advocates will start to squirm, and surfers will seek out proxy servers, and the truly
paranoid will shut off every cookie and manually fill out form fields every visit back to a site. But what's
the real problem here? I've consigned myself to the fact that I'm not going to be able to exist on the web
without advertising of some sort. That said, 99% of ads have become wallpaper to me.

So I ask myself, do I really care that Google or any other company is compiling data about me to better
target advertising to my browser? And the answer is yes, I do care, but not for the reasons you might

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I care because I remember the layers of porn popups upon visiting warez sites and ads that were simply
reaching for a clickthrough by sheer numbers. I care because I once had to sacrificially frag a Bonzi Buddy
in effigy to keep myself sane. I care because I would rather see an unobtrusive column of a few links and
text that maybe, once out ten thousand times, should I choose to click it, will actually be about something
that I may have a fleeting interest in instead of some peripheral perception of static cunieform.

Let ads line me up in crosshairs. Show me something from a tech store or a blogging service or a social
networking site instead of some banal cartoonish test of skill that I'm supposed to strive for in a sidebar.
Show me something about Guinness or Jack Daniels instead of St. Pauli's and Bacardi. Pitch me an
HDTV or a torrent app instead of an instant messenger add-on that will allow me to send sparkly
smileys. Try to tempt me with a some consumer electronics or gadgets instead of mutual funds or
insurance. I'd rather at least hold up the facade that at least somewhere in a server wearhouse The Gibson
is parsing an algorithm to learn something about me instead of just sitting there cranking out spam into a
billion killfiles.

Make no mistake, if I could choose between surfing the web with or without ads, I'd definitely forgo
banners and pop-ups and sidebars - oh my! But if I have to live with web ads, I'll take the enemy I know
over the enemy I don't.

lovehate: The Blogger Manifesto

While I've certainly had my obligatory lovehate on the Canadian and US elections, the self-perpetuating
of election news cycles have allowed bloggers to be up front and on point with political snippets on a
minute to minute basis. Whether it's bloggers that work for CNN, CNBC, Fox News, or some of the
larger independent blog sites like Huffington and Drudge, people (including network news producers) are
turning to blogs on a more frequent basis for information. Such a relationship has also reinforced the
persistent echoing of Uncle Ben in Peter Parker's head: "With great power comes great responsibility."

Any news agency that gets duped by a blog post cries foul over the blogger's responsibility. Any reader
who gets deceived when they buy into a false fact or "opinion as fact" mopes and pouts about how blogs

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have done them wrong. But the simple truth of the matter is that bloggers don't owe anyone anything. If
a news organization gets duped by a blog post, I say "Hell Yeah!" If CNN or Fox News can't do some fact
checking before they run with something, their discredit serves them right. And, while I would admit that
a casual reader is far more likely to buy into something they read on a blog, I offer up the bastardized
consumer warning: "Reader Beware".

Producers of personal web content owe their readers nothing. If readers start to get what they don't
expect, they will stop reading. There are few to no examples of paid blogs these days, so no fiscal
responsibility is at risk. I support the idea of writers inventing complete bullshit if that suits their fancy. If
nothing else, it will start to hone readers' skills of detecting such crap, because, I guarantee you, 90% of
what gets presented on respected news outlets on a daily basis is laced with bias, spin, and gatekeeping
filters amuck.

I know it's a bit of a clichéd cop out to shout "FREEDOM OF SPEECH" on the web, as pretty much
anything that can be said, has, is, or will be said. And, that said, I'm a proponent of wild anarchy reigning
web wide since all other major media outlets are constrained by advertising and the moral outrage of
motivated minority groups.

The web needs to be the great frontier. The web needs to be the autobahn where we will allow
participants to go as fast as they need to go because we believe that to restrict everybody for the sake of
the idiotic few is anathema. The web needs to be the Wild West where all that is required to stake a claim
is an idea, storage and bandwidth.

I have only one responsibility as a blogger - free expression. The blogger is the guerilla pamphleteer of
days gone by: someone who threw a thousand pieces of paper up into the circling breezes of the town
square to be consumed by anyone who had the inclination to pick one up. As soon as bloggers start to
cede responsibility over their content to any other than their own sensibilities, freedom is lost. I'm not
advocating bloggers enacting anything that will incite physical harm, but, that said, only someone with an
entrenched credibility can move others to action anyway - and even the best orators cannot get people out
to do something as simple as voting.

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The community will self-regulate by ignoring anyone whose credibility is lost. For those who missed that:
The community will self-regulate by ignoring anyone whose credibility is lost!

Deride anyone who seeks to encapsulate your ideas. Deny anyone's right to silence your voice.

Love your freedom of expression. Hate any rules that try to scare you from it.

We will stake our claims.

We will police ourselves.

We will express ourselves in every language, including objectionable.

We will post with abandon.

We will breach taboos.

We will cross every line.

We will not apologize.

We will not relent.

lovehate: Avatars - The Identity Benders

For years of online gaming the avatar has become a player's online manifestation that outstretched the
simple handle. And although I'm not downplaying the rationale for such a creation within a gaming
community, there now has become a growing affection for stylized avatars within social networking
communities. Whether it was through people disguising their true image on MySpace or not wanting to
get "tagged" in Facebook or simply thinking their Twitter icon looks cool as a zombie or anime character,
avatars have taken on meme of the month status.

Within a Massively Multiplayer game experience, I can appreciate a need to be distinguished from the
hundreds or thousands of other players who are all trying to decide which player to frag or cast a spell on.

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In fact, being someone who's absolutely useless with names, I can appreciate a unique avatar. When
playing online poker, I rarely remember someone by their screen name, but I have a far easier time
remembering someone who sucked out a river inside straight draw by their crop circle pic of Futurama's
Bender... I hate you ironically-named MadSkillz69.

There is also a certain need for privacy with some people who want to use social networking sites and
want to avoid a photorealistic representation for one reason or another. I find it hard to justify a constant
shuffling of personal avatars on a weekly or daily basis. After all, isn't the purpose of an avatar for
someone to be able to identify you when a real picture is unavailable?

While I'm not a player/user of Second Life, I would imagine that radically changing one's appearance on
a regular basis would not only be counter productive to maintaining intergame relationships, but
frustrating to any other players who would not want to persist in figuring out each person every time they
logged on.

I'm not one of those Twitter users with thousands of people on my list, but even within the short list of
people that I do follow, it seems there is constant change. Whether it's a manga, hobbit, alien, superhero
or South Park character that you choose to represent you, I crave consistency for at least a short period of

And, just for the edification of those of you who participate in every avatar meme, allow me to let you in
on the "down low" about a couple things. First, your dog, baby, or garden gnome is not you. As much as I
appreciate you actually using a real photo as a representation, I'm not buying the miny sorcerer's hat and
the rake. Also, yes your baby looks cute in the same way that all babies look cute when you have someone
making face and bubbling out gibberish while popping two dozen pics on your Kodak C340, but I'm not
social networking with your baby... unless of course they can type, "LOL, I can't believe how drunk we
were!" after every picture that you post. At that point, they'll at least be on par with 75% of the rest of

Next, appreciate the size of your avatar on most social network pages. To place family portrait in the
space instead of a simple headshot pretty much just screams "Hey, I'm going to justify the time I spend
online with friends as extended family networking time because it's not MY profile, it's a FAMILY

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profile. If you're going to have a picture of you as your avatar, how about JUST you? Also, for all you
college guys who use a picture of a bikini model or your favorite emo singer as a pic that represents you,
congratulations, you have now become a less than one-dimensional facade of a human being on a
platform that only allows a single dimension.

I'm all for individualized expression on a medium that has moved from text to images to audio to video. I
know that many of you like to express your inner values by changing your pic from laughing you to serious
you to Macauley-Culkin-Shockface-in-Home-Alone you, but I beg you, please, stop.

I will cop to the fact that my avatars are always Photoshopped to remove photorealistic aspects, but,
anyone who knows me will always recognize my face and not that of a stuffed animal or a car. Also, I
rarely, I repeat RARELY change any of my social network representations. I'm quite ready to admit that,
from day to day, my macrolife doesn't change that much and, even though I could create some crazy
avatar to pretend that my life is somehow more interesting or exciting than it is, I'm prepared to allow the
static, consistent avatar choices I've made to be an indication of someone comfortable with who they are
and not seeking trying to keep up with the meme of the month club.

lovehate: Twitter Play-By-Play

Really? No, I'm seriously sitting in awe here.

I get that people are pumped up for this US election, and while I swore I wouldn't do another lovehate
rant on elections, this is not so much on the elections as what people are doing while the election is
happening: twittering... REALLY?

Are we so starved for social intercourse that we are willing to snippet snipe about red state/blue state maps
and exit polls? Sure there's reason for commentary about several things to do with an election. Discuss the
results and potential impact of how the country has once again been split down the middle and wax
electoral about policy shifts and the economy. Engage in dialectic and diatribe about how pundits and
media have sullied the political process. Deride Wolf Blitzer, Sean Hannity and Keith Olbermann.

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Criticize the networks for declaring winners based on exit polls before everyone has even voted. Type
insight. Type observation. Be bold and above all, complete your thoughts, because while I encourage all
bloggers to express themselves, I wish they would do so with well-developed ideas that went on for longer
than 140 characters.

While I obviously have an affection for Twitter, and appreciate the role microblogging has occupied in
the social networking community, I can honestly not think of one of the many great people I follow that
would prompt me to spend the night in front of a browser window watching pithy comments like "Wow,
how about that Ohio map!" I'm more interested in hearing about what Ramen noodle seasoning people
are using while channel surfing.

All respect to the power bloggers and Web 2.0 gurus who's followers will hang on every word of their
Twitter, Laconi.ca, Plurk, or Pownce election coverage. If you've got followers that want to know what
you think on a minute by minute basis, you've done a hell of a job in consolidating a loyal following who
will hang on your every word. and, for bloggers, followers are currency. You've established a community
that hears your opinions on tech or media or gadgets and integrates your subjectivity into their own.
Kudos for that. I would have it no other way. I don't have time to keep up on every new media
advancement and I heartily appreciate the podcasters and bloggers that parse down daily and weekly
events in tech for me in compartmentalized segments.

Am I really missing the boat on the online ocean that makes it hip to engage in blurb ineractions about
something that, by sitting in front of your computer, you're doing less to participate in than a person
standing in line with their registration card? I honestly don't begrudge someone who gets a kick out of
spending their election night (or any night for that matter) lost in a sea of millions of tweets if they
honestly get a kick out of such things. Really, you could be doing far worse things like... oh, I don't
know... watching network coverage of the election with pundits in formation like a line up of gargoyles
sitting behind a desk that looks like it came off of page 63 of the Ikea catalogue.

If you really look forward to being part of tweet ocean during a big event, have at it. Curse my idiocy and
create yourself a special avatar for the night. But, if you're like me, who generally respects the input of the
people whose tweets you follow, ignore the flood of shock and blah that accompanies the event. Take two
shots of NyQuil, pop on a live version of “Mandrake Root” by Deep Purple, and wake up in the morning

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where the results of what happened the night before will not have changed... actually, just go to
election.twitter.com and watch it for ten minutes - you'll achieve the same effect as the drugs and the

lovehate: Living in the Chrome Trench of the Browser War

So for the past two weeks I've been trying an experiment. And while I'm loathe to call anything I do shiny
or sparkly, I suppose, in a very metaphorical way, both those words would apply. I've come to the
realization that I'm slowly becoming a Google fanboy and, with this in mind, I have been exclusively
using the Chrome browser for the past two weeks.

Let me lay a little browser history on you though. When I first started on the net, it was through BBS
calls at all hours of the day and night. Such exchanges basically included forum posts back and forth
between a small group who has been permitted access. Soon after (when the www became a reality) I
moved to the Lynx browser which handled only text and was, at the time, the greatest tool I'd ever seen -
I honestly didn't even know what a gopher was before Lynx. Browser reality changed forever with the
onslaught of NCSA's Mosaic, which allowed for graphical browsing for the first time and consolidated
many of the existing internet protocols so almost all of them could be viewed in one web application... I
can't believe that was only fifteen years ago. Mosaic gave way to Netscape and Netscape Gold, which I
was a fond devotee of for at least a couple of years until one day I woke up and found myself an Internet
Explorer disciple, unwavering and unflinching for many years.

Sometime last year, I finally made the Mozilla Firefox leap and was glad for having done so. IE was
falling quickly falling too far behind the times. The add-ons and plug-ins opened up a new realm of
browsing that seemed a natural evolution. But, like those of us that filled our early web pages with
animated gifs and flashing text, I realized that, ultimately, the overbearing number of tweaks and add-ons
to my Firefox experience was creating a garish experience. The browser was taking a minute to load with
all of the plug-ins and the five homepage tabs. While I knew I could strip down the options within
Firefox, my fanboy meter was piqued when Chrome was released a few months back.

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So while I was still having fun with my two dozen Firefox add-ons, I made a conscious effort to pare
down my browsing frills. I had dabbled a bit with Chrome and the speed was definitely impressive. Two
weeks ago, I began an experiment that has led me to making Chrome my default browser with no desire
to turn back.

The benefits are numerous: speed, integrated search/address bar, speed, more screen real estate for web
pages, incognito browsing windows, and probably the most appropriate portal browser you'll be able to
get for the ever-expanding Google Labs, Betas, and other Apps. Also, because it's my default browser, my
computer now contains nostalgic remembrances of the electronic game Simon for every html icon.

There are drawbacks as well. When one gets used to the multi-functionality of two dozen plugins like
TwitterFox, Digg, weather reports, auto-posting to various microblogs, the diversity of options can be
infectious. I struggled for a couple of days trying to figure out how I could survive in Chrome without
having to go back to Firefox all the time... such an examination, however, yielded serendipitous results in
many cases.

I immediately downloaded Tweetdeck after months of convincing myself I didn't really need it with a
plugin like TwitterFox. Now Tweetdeck has a permanent home on my screen real estate. I discovered I
really didn't miss Digg pop-ups every 5 minutes and that my ability to one-click post to Pownce was...
well, poor Pownce - we hardly knew ye. I found the Google Application Shortcuts were a great way to
always have my calendar available in an instant and that I could make almost any page into its own
browser app.

All in all, I'm quite satisfied that this Chrome conversion will have some life to it. I'll admit, there still are
some bugs to be worked out in terms of some page that just don't seem to want to render smoothly every
time, but those are few and far between. I'm hoping that when the onslaught of Chrome add-ons hits
over the next few months, I will have the tempered resolve to not go too crazy and only pick what I need.

I don't do product reviews on lovehatethings in the traditional sense. I've maintained that short of a
willingness to love or hate something, I will reserve judgment until further review. I don't do stars or
thumbs ups or "out of 10s". So when I say I've put Firefox aside for the time being, I don't want to imply
I hate it. I still love Firefox. I just love Chrome a little bit more... but I'm fickle - blow me away Flock!

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lovehate: how we hide

When Aaron Sorkin's oft-imitated Colonel Jessop storms "You can't handle the truth!", most of us sit in
eager anticipation for Tom Cruise to work his manipulative magic and rip the truth from the smug
colonel's countenance.

Some of the most common themes in literature arise around the tug of war topic between appearance and
reality. Fiction, however, does not hold eminent domain over such a struggle. Most people spend their
waking hours delving into all aspects of trying to hide reality from others and themselves while, at the
same time, demanding transparency from everyone around them.

Whether it's the "flattering" clothes we choose, or the cosmetic alterations, or the airs of grandeur we
adopt, we do our very best to conceal and hide what we consider a flawed reality from everyone else. We
work to fulfill expectations that aren't our own by wearing certain styles. While most people admit a
fondness for being able to lounge around in a t-shirt and sweats on a weekend, we are quite willing to
adorn ourselves according to expectations. We will don the business suit and tie and carry the cow hide
portfolio. We will gather around the water cooler or surreptitiously open chat windows to compare notes
on the previous night's reality television escapades or try to derive gossip from who's spending too long in
each other's office. We would be horrified to find ourselves on the speculative end of rumor, but are quite
willing to exercise, with reckless abandon, character dissections of others based on the most miniscule
tidbits of information. It's a small wonder we take such pains to hide in public.

We decorate our houses in the acceptable fashions, buying furniture endorsed by television homemakers if
over 35 and Swedish box store consortia if under. We hang posters and prints and pictures and paintings
to microcast the inner-workings of our sensitive minds to those that walk by and ponder. We allow clutter
to happily gather around us for a week and will relish basking in its fort-like structures until an hour
before company comes and it all must vanish in an effort to convince friends and acquaintances that we
foster pristine, perfect living spaces. We have collections of place settings that remain in cloistered velvet-
lined boxes or on display in glass-doored cabinets that we only use with a special brand of event or
assembly. We spend hours, days and sometimes weeks on crafting our yards into elaborate Home and

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Garden pictorials in an effort to send a message. If the medium is the message, and our front lawns are the
medium, we need to learn new languages.

We create online personas that seek to enhance our best qualities and obliterate our worst. We try to
impart wisdom in 140 characters or less. We post links to oddly-interesting websites that we think other
people will also like, but, more importantly, will create a perception of cutting-edge cool in whichever
milieu we choose to categorize ourselves. We social network with people we met one night at a bar and
will never see again. We've seen pictures of their family and friends in our feeds and, for the time being,
seem to know more about them than some of our own family members. We reduce our 3D reality down
to 2D profiles. We use Facebook as a verb. We twitter, plurk, friendfeed, ping, and google each other to
derive snippets of information that will further feed our eternal quest to think we "know" about someone
better that they think we do.

We speak less than honestly, but rarely completely dishonest. We know how to spin a message yet get
infuriated upon discovering the media has. We want to divulge enough to stay relevant but not enough to
make us obsolete. We obfuscate better than any press secretary. We politic better than any politician. We
can manipulate as well as any cult leader, though sometimes our guilt gets in the way. We find ways to
avoid conversations when the topic seems too tedious. We find ways to push conversations when our
comfort zones allow for insight. We can cut to the quick to make a statement, to make a point, to make
an enemy, to make an ally. We throw up shields. We duck and cover. We block emails, unlist our
numbers, disassociate and move to new streets, cities and countries all in the effort to avoid truth.

Colonel Jessop was right. We can't handle the truth. Because while it sits out there like the Grail, the
Fountain of Youth, or the Pot of Gold, the quest is always more important than the prize itself. What do
you do when you find the Holy Grail? Have a pint?

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lovehate: The Church of Baudhism

The WEB is my shepherd; I shall not doubt.

It maketh me to dive into vast communities: it leadeth me to confide my thoughts.
It restoreth my soul: it leadeth me in the paths of hypertext for the clean code.
Yea, though I surf through the torrents and flashes with spyware,
I will fear no evil: your apps are with me;
the scan and the quarantine comfort me.
Thou preparest a browser before me to learn of the faceless:
thou anointest my mind with wiki; my apprehension becomes understanding;
Surely CPUs and broadband will follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell with the Web and the Network for ever.

- The Word of Baud

While some of you may be railing in sacrilegious overtones of blasphemy and heresy, surely many of you
must realize that the Web has become the one of the largest churches in the world. Hundreds of millions
of us attend every day to read the good words of the preachers and prophets and skeptics and soothsayers
all contributing to the word of Baud.

Baudhism's followers as of June 2008 total 1.46 billion people. While still behind the 1.9 billion
Christians in the world, this easily overtakes all other major religions. I understand that most you are
thinking that there is no way the Web could be considered a religion. I ask you to consider the following.

The Web is a way of life for many people. It helps to define their existence. It facilitates communication.
It sets the boundaries for what's considered sacred and profane within its own parameters. It provides,
challenges, and allows for diverse beliefs all in one system. It accepts differences while galvanizing them
all in two common frameworks: Web - the word, and Web2.0 - beyond the word. Such frameworks are
subservient to the ultimate power: Network - which is, beyond the servers and the cable, the minds which
make it up.

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The beliefs are expressed through rituals and practices that gather up flocks by interest or history or
geography. We script, we blog, we message, we update, we tweet, we read the good word of other people,
we interpret and we believe. It seeks to explain the unexplainable. It seeks to define good and evil. It
encourages creativity. It has zealots to be sure, but is fully accepting of those who just visit from time to
time to make their contributions.

The Web defines us by defining our times and by seeking to redefine history. The winners may have
written the history books, but the losers now have a voice of their own and a worldwide audience.

Lastly, people have faith in the web. That Wikipedia is taken as gospel and social networks have usurped
traditional places of worship happened in no small part due to people believing in the general good of the

It is said of religion that one only gets out of it what they're willing to put in. Such is the same with the
Web. Our most passionate advocates are those acolytes who devote their lives to serving the Network to
make the Web better. For them there is no greater reward than the work itself. I'm sure that less than a
century ago, people would have considered it god-like for one person's thoughts to reach almost everyone
in the world within seconds. And the Web makes this possible.

Baudhism does not disavow anyone for adhering to another belief system based on traditional mysticism.
Baudhism embraces diversity, tolerance, individuality, creativity and participation. The Network shall
allow access and allow inclusion, but not ensure popularity or status. As any religion, the Web can be used
as a tool for such things, but these are not the ends of the Web in themselves.

Embrace Baudhism. Identify yourself as a Baudhist on your next census. Celebrate holidays of any
denomination because they allow people to stay home and spend more time with Web. Send greetings,
send mail, chat, upload, download, interact. Become part of the trinity:

You belong to the Web.

The Web belongs to the Network.

The Network belongs to you.

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lovehate: Social Network Porn

Hot on the heels of a Reuters story that speaks of pictures of women breastfeeding being censored from
the site, several question have popped into my mind regarding the future of social networking as a part of
life... okay, the title was a bit of tagline baiting.

Obvious question: If it was a man breastfeeding (or at least portraying the act of breastfeeding) would the
reaction have been different?

If it is acceptable for a woman to breastfeed in public, how is not acceptable that an online social network
of the same people cannot accept pictures of said act?

Second obvious question: Censorship concerns aside, why would anyone want to post a picture of herself

The article quotes a FB rep who claims "the photos we act upon are almost exclusively brought to our
attention by other users who complain." ...which users? Doesn't Facebook work on the premise that those
who can see your pics should be friends or acquaintances? Why is a stranger trolling FB profiles for

If social networks are to become the consolidated evolution of social intercourse in our society, then surely
the gatekeepers of these networks should reflect the global views of the people that inhabit them and not
the outraged complainers.

Third obvious question: Does this mean we're going to have a rash of women posting pictures of
themselves breastfeeding to make a point?

Now don't get me wrong, I fully advocate a website's right to dictate terms of use. I just think a platform
like Facebook, which claims such acts are necessary to "protect children", has done little to curb pictures
and videos of people drinking, smoking, or pulling stunts which cause bodily harm. Aren't these practices
potentially far more damaging to children than happening to see a nipple or two? Wasn't Facebook
supposed to be doing a better job at keeping children off its site where they may be subject to predators...
especially the one's trolling for breastfeeding pics?

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Fourth obvious question: Why should Facebook get to define obscenity?

Let's put our cards on the table. Facebook and other social networking platforms and sites want to move a
large chunk of our social discourse and intercourse online, and, I'll admit, I've bought in. I tweet,
facebook, myspace, plurk, friendfeed, and ping a-plenty. But we are coming to a crunch where the line
will either be drawn or crossed as to the degree I can take such online exchanges. I would hope that all
things that would be acceptable in my everyday life, between friends, families and acquaintances, would
be fine in my online dialogues. I would hope that I wouldn't have to live in fear of a stalwart social
networking site, on whim, pulling the plug on a tool I have now turned to in directing much of my
communication. I don't want to think of how many old friends I follow solely on Facebook that would be
lost if my account was ever pulled.

I don't like a website having that much power over my network. And while I fully admit that I am the one
giving them the set up for such a fiasco to occur... isn't that their goal? Isn't the idea that Facebook can go
to investors and sponsors and say we've got this demographic at this percentage, and they would leave us
if Barack Obama told them to on Twitter? All it would take is the following checkbox beside a newly-
uploaded pic: "If you think a child under 12 or their parent could be offended by this picture, please check
this box and we'll ask any viewer to confirm age before looking." Let the users police themselves!

We are not idiots. We are not disrespectful. We are trying it your way, but with a user-generated
monetization model you'd best listen to most of us and not just prudish porn miners.

Don't become like television networks that refuse to allow real language, situations, or views of the
human body for fear of advertising revenues. Be the user experience we want and need you to be and we
will follow you to the end of the web... or the year... or until you sellout... or until something better comes
along - hey, we're nipple - I mean FICKLE!

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lovehate: radio-friendly

What worse news could there be for a young musical artist upon submitting a demo CD to one of the
FIVE music companies in the world that, combined, control over 90% of recorded music than "your
music is not radio-friendly"?

The frustrated artist then hits a point of diminishing returns when deciding how much integrity can
remain in the music when considering what makes a radio-friendly song: too hard or too soft, too fast or
too slow, too repetitive or too complex, too short or too long, too intelligent-sounding or too
nonsensical... and after considering all of these qualifiers, what the artist must really decide is if the songs
are too original.

Check out a list of the Grammy Award winning Songs of the Year back to 1959 and you'll see how
homogenizing popular music has created some obvious patterns when it comes to radio play. Chart
success (and award nominations) seem assured for:

1) Songs attached to a films (especially ones by Disney)

2) Ballads
3) Songs not done by bands (U2 is the only band to win Song of the Year since 1986)
4) Female singers
5) Solo male singers over 40 (except John Mayer)
6) Songs under five minutes (the only one longer is We Are The World clocking over 7 minutes,
but a sentimental choice)
7) Nothing that couldn't crossover to at least two or three different genre radio stations

Perhaps the most tragically-adhered to standard in the above list is song length. Artists buy into this
parameter without even thinking anymore. How many young musicians would not even consider a song
over six minutes? We're still stuck in a 1903 standard of 78rpm vinyl that did not allow for more than
three and half minutes of recording. In 1969, “Little Green Apples” (3:20) performed by O.C. Smith beat
out “Hey Jude” (7:05) by The Beatles for Song of the Year. And if you think things have changed since
the advent of digital downloading, as of this writing the 97 of the top 100 downloaded songs on iTunes

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are under five minutes, and the three that aren't are live versions of Rush and U2 songs and Hotel
California by The Eagles.

I want music that's considered too long or too short or too complex or too obscene or too noisy to make it
to radio. Commercial radio kills music, and the stark parameters placed by a radio-friendly badge makes

lovehate: The Ourobouros of Tech Journalism

In a world where so many people are looking for sustainable communities, perhaps the online archetype
of tech journalism has taken self-perpetuation to new extremes. One insider leak or press release can lead
to chain of reporting that spans from rumour to insider blog to Digg to a daily Rev3, CNET or G4
podcast. This, however, is only cycle number one. Within the next 24 hours the tech pundits get their
chance to comment on the information via various weekly and high subscription podcasts. Cycle Three
begins when Rev3, CNET or G4 start picking up on the critiques of the big name podcast pundits and
start reporting on the critiques, then taking those opinions back to the source company for comment thus
starting the whole cyclorama again.

This construct, conveniently enough, works (maybe even better) without any real information. The sheer
number of competing information outlets devoted to tech news forces even the slightest rumor to the
surface - and if one outlet reports on it, the others do as well. The recent news cycles devoted to the
supposed ailing state of Steve Jobs is a perfect example. No one (except Jobs) knew anything, yet hundred
of media outlets were generating content with accompanying Munch-like portraits of Jobs for the
purposes of furthering the story. Such speculation not only raised the specter of Jobs' health but also the
future of Apple and what would happen if he had to step down, and was there an heir apparent, and how
would that impact the iPhone?

While this information flow does seem a bit cannibalistic in nature, it is certainly no different (in method)
than mainstream media. The key shift lies in the fact that the online outlets (while nowhere near as

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singularly omnipresent as a television network) are seemingly endless. The other main difference is that
the main consumers of tech journalism are generally knowledgeable in the field. That's not to say that
everyone's an IT professional or knows what "cloud computing" is, but how many people who watch
mainstream news can really explain how the stock market works or why Fannie Mae is devastating the US
economy. I may not know all of the ins, outs, and implications of what gets raised in a tech news blog or
podcast, but I know enough to feel comfortable in saying I am engaged enough to keep coming back...
which is more than I can say for most of the stuff on CNN, FOX NEWS, MSNBC, or CBC

If journalism, at its root, is simply telling a story, I'd rather hear a story I like a dozen times instead of one
I don't care for even once.

lovehate: Renting Music

While the Canadian parliament is out of session for the summer Conservative Sith Lord Jim
Prentice's Bill C-61 (Canada's take on reforming copyright and Digital Rights Management) is getting
batted around more than a piñata at Cinco de Mayo.

I thought maybe another question would provoke the marketing wizards that sell music in stores or
online: am I just renting music?

For years people have been able to rent paintings and sculptures from galleries in order to decorate their
lives for a few weeks or months at a time. Why should music be any different? If the only rights "owned"
on a piece of music are by the artist, producer, and writer, what am I really paying for with a 99 cent song
download or a 15 dollar CD purchase? If I cannot take that CD and replicate into the other formats that
allow me to enjoy it at its fullest, I seriously have to consider whether buying (should consumer ownership
of art actually exist) is such a worthwhile thing.

I don't purchase CDs at stores or online anymore, but one of the places I do buy them is when I'm at
shows of smaller or independent performers because often those purchases entail more money going

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directly to the artist. The first thing I do when I get home, however, is rip all of the tracks onto my
computer so I can use them on my Nano. If I buy the same tracks online, Apple takes the cut that band
gets at the venue. This formula works the same for a music store that takes a cut every time a CD gets
purchased. But, if Bill C-61 passes, I'll have to wonder if it's ever worth it for me to buy a CD again. If
every CD mastering house starts to put forth an even insignificant protection scheme on every CD, I can
be fined tens of thousands of dollars for ripping one disc. If I ripped a DVD to my Nano to watch on a
flight to Vegas - same penalty.

And this raises a further question: if purchasing a song, or collection of songs, in any format does not give
me any real rights of self-distribution, am I really "buying" anything at all? How would the average
consumer feel about renting music instead of buying it? Would you be willing to pay 99 cents for a song
that you could only listen for three months on one computer? Should I buy a DVD that I can only watch
on my laptop computer but not a DVD player? I may as well just buy an iTouch and use wi-fi to stream
everything without owning a single song or film.

Those who rent paintings do so to make a statement, send a message, impress visitors or sell their condo.
I don't listen to music or watch the films I do to impress anybody. Ask my friends and they'll tell you I
have some pretty messed up loves and hates when it comes to music and films that wouldn't impress
anyone. So if I'm purchasing music, it's for the long haul, and the last thing anyone should want is to
prevent a lifelong love of a band or song to be threatened just because formats change.

And that's the real rub isn't it? CDs will be obsolete in five years or less and the music industry is afraid,
because while they could sell people on compact discs being "better" than vinyl in the 80s (at least enough
to make you re-buy your entire collection), that pitch is going to be far more difficult when the average
download quality pales in comparison to the CD you have now. The average mp3 has six to ten times less
audio information than a track form a compact disc. Why would I buy everything again in a lesser format
unless the law forced me to?

Bill C-61 is a cash grab by the music labels, retailers, and their lobbyists in Ottawa. Sure there are pieces
in the bill that deal with music re-distribution (from one party to another) but we already have legislation
to deal with such occurrences. Bill C-61 will serve to do one thing upon its signing - make half of the
population instant criminals. Thank you Sith Lord Prentice, may I have another?

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lovehate: Acting and the Science Fiction Film

Let me preface this love hate. There are some great reasons to have and use special effects in science
fiction films and television, be they make-up, sound, camera angles or computer-generated objects,
backgrounds and characters. I enjoy seeing spaceships, phasors, impossible landscapes and situations as
much as the next viewer. What I often regret, however, is the over-reliance on these visual and aural tricks
of the trade to the point where they distract what should still be the prime mover of film and television:

The blame can be easily spread around. While The Matrix received almost religious status among its
eager audience, and I'll be first to admit it's an enjoyable sci-fi romp if not a thespian tour de force, the
performances of Keanu Reeves and his fellow cast members were wooden at best. That said, who is to
blame: Reeves, the Wachowski brothers, or the combined vision that placed all of the actors in
environments where the effect became more important than the performance. While it's easy to name an
actor for a bad performance, most of the time not enough blame is placed on a director for allowing it to
get past the questionable take. In this case, I'm sure the prevailing vision of the Brothers on this film was
more about creating an awe-inspiring world and letting it drown out the less than inspiring performances.

I don't mean to pick on The Matrix or poor Keanu, but science fiction seems plagued with characters that
are intentionally "stoic" (for lack of a better phrase) and the conspiracy theorist in me is convinced that it's
far easier for a director to allow an actor to play emotionless monosyllabic heroes. Story gets told through
atmosphere and set more than acting performance. While this model has provided for some spectacular
films, am I just nit-picking in thinking that the best of both worlds is possible?

The dependence on visual effects cannot help but adversely impact an actor's performance. Actors are
used to reacting to other people and physical sets, but when a director asks them to pretend an alien or
robot is ten feet away by holding up a ball on a stick, and, oh, by the way, you're standing in a radioactive
war zone that is currently being represented by a green screen and... Action!

It is for this reason that many accomplished actors (and by accomplished, I'd rather think revered as
opposed to prolific) are loathe to accept roles in science fiction films unless trying to re-establish a career.

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Maybe part of this comes from the fact that even when an established director makes a science fiction
film, they are not necessarily familiar with the genre. I would imagine, through common sense more than
any practical experience, that in so much as some A-list actors will clamor to work with a Scorcese,
Spielberg, Coppola, Soderbergh, the Coen Brothers or even Woody Allen, the opposite must be true for
directors who do not come with such noteriety. Which actor would be breaking down doors to work with
a relatively unheralded Irvin Kershner, even though his direction provided for IMDB's #1 science fiction
film and #9 film of all-time: The Empire Strikes Back.

I can watch almost any sci-fi, good or bad, because my expected level of suspension of disbelief is always
so high that I can tolerate any deficiencies in acting that often slides under it. This, however, seems the
prominent reason that the genre seems devalued by critics and award academies alike.

While I could never say that I hate the genre, I do hate that (but for a few shining examples) some of the
greatest sci-fi stories ever told include some brutal performances by actors and "cut and print" choices by

lovehate: The Death of Journalism

I want to start this lovehate in reverse. I love journalism. I love the sense that a media outlet, be it print,
television, film, radio, website or blog has the ability to maintain an objective integrity that allows for
informative and enticing stories about the world around me. I do, however, have an ability to distinguish
the ever-increasing blurring of the objective and the subjective in mainstream journalistic delivery.

Quite plainly, the human interest story is now 99% of journalism and human interest is governed by the
least objective body in existence: humanity. Let me also admit that while this is often a tired subject that's
been around for years, it's the look forward that concerns me. Its basis has been batted around by satirists
from Mark Twain and Umberto Eco to Peter Cook and the tag team of Stewart & Colbert. People gave
the knowing wink when Colbert exalted the term truthiness, but we're getting dangerously closer to that

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threshold. Not to be misanthropic about some sort of dystopian future, but I have to wonder if facts will
even matter in 100, 50 or 10 years from now.

Commentary has become the new story; on the web front, isn't Digg really about the importance of
opinion and commentary over the actual links themselves? In teaching even high school students the
basics of writing a newspaper article, there is the tried and true W5H model of Who, What, When,
Where, Why, How to deliver all of the facts pertinent to a situation. Facts are checked and double-
checked, sources are required, and above all, there can be no sense of bias on the part of the writer.

We have been devolving down a sliding scale toward a point where the Who, What, When, Where, and
How of a story has been reduced to a sound bite. "News" has given way to entertainment and
entertainment has glorified the 5th W - Why. The why allows for commentary, expert opinions,
punditry, and no-so-expert opinions not just on the story, but, more importantly to broadcasters, every
tertiary aspect of the story that market research says will get more viewers.

In reporting on the events in Georgia over the past couple of weeks (not the home of the Braves), I'm sure
more time has been spent on McCain's and Obama's opinions on the matter and less on educating the
general populace about the fact our Ameri-centric view should allow for a Georgia that doesn't have
peach farms. Check that! We're not even hearing about what people who are political forces think about a
political situation, we're hearing from the pundits and none of them are adding facts. Journalism has
become a culture of who can yell the loudest and who is most entertaining. And even the most idiotic
blowhard can be entertaining in the right setting.

Television news has been reduced to 5-6 hard news stories a day. I hope the defense for such a
concentration is that not enough interesting things are happening. On the day I write this Paraguay has a
new leader, Zimbabwe continues its collapse, Poland gets rocked by a tornado, Peru has thousands march
in protest, 14 million people in Africa are on the brink of starvation due to food costs, India is concerned
about a cement industry cartel, people in Haiti are eating mud, Taiwan's former president is laundering
31 million dollars off-shore, the tropical storm heading to Florida has killed people in Haiti and the
Dominican Republic, trees are being genetically enhanced to swallow up double the carbon, and
Argentinean authorities are investigating the deaths of 14 children in clinical trials. And that's the news,
back to the blowhards... wait, incredibly we've taken all the time reporting REAL news.

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I would certainly rather know some of these world events are happening rather than listening to O'Reilly,
Hannity, Matthews or Olbermann wax redundantly about the world on NEWS stations. When
personality becomes the news, it says more about what broadcasters think of us as consumers of

I started by saying that I love journalism, but I love opinion as well. There is a place for both. No one will
ever accuse me of being a journalist, and I don't want to be - it's far too much work. I enjoy a well-crafted
rant. I like listening to a good rave. Hell, I even enjoy hearing someone else fly off the handle letting
invectives fly. None of this, however, is news, and the more we buy it, the more they'll serve it up with a
side of slick computer-generated overlays.

lovehate: Songs feat.

I don't think it's just the nostalgia in me that remembers a time when an artist or band wrote a song and
performed it... on their own!

Is it really necessary that fourteen out of the top fifty hits on the Billboard Top 100 are songs that could
not be performed by artists on their own but needed someone else to pump the sales? I have to blame the
trend squarely on the Rap genre, because when you jump to the Rap Top Ten a full 70% of the list
contains featured add-ons. You see, it's not that I don't enjoy rap, hip-hop or however many different
sub-genres one wants to break it down into. I'm being a stickler on language here and I realize it. It's
strictly a semantic issue for me because my formative years were spent listening to music where an
ampersand accompanied any collaboration between musicians and, in such cases, there was an assumed
equity between them instead of the inevitable leeching quality that most feat. formations currently have. I
suppose one can trace the problem back to the historic Run DMC featuring Steve Tyler and Joe Perry
rendition of “Walk This Way”. While the walk seemed to be slow at first, now it seems rap labels and
producers (I'm not blaming the artists here) are afraid to let any performer walk alone.

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Let's at least acknowledge the fact, for the most part, the "feat." tag is used in one of two ways. First,
largely unknown artist uses very well-known artist to pump their song by letting them spit out thirty
seconds worth of bridge verbage. Of course the established artist is invariably producing the neophyte's
CD or owes the producer something. Second, well-established artist throws a bone to a young up-and-
comer (which he or she is invariably producing). In either case the concept of "buy-in" to an artist's
performance suffers largely when every minute I'm wondering "who the hell is that guy?" Three to four
years ago the answer, without fail, was L'il Jon. Two years ago the answer, again without fail, was
Timbaland. Last year I was too disgusted after watching Jay-Z's thirty second introductory pimp job of
Rihanna's "Umbrella" to keep track. This year L’il Wayne seems to want to cash in on every second of
cross promotion available.

I'll be the first to admit, I don't keep up on all of the current names and faces in rap. The gangsta
movement, quite frankly, bored me to tears soon after NWA called it quits. It's no surprise then that
other than their infamous Oscar win, I'm not really familiar with Three 6 Mafia. And while I'm sure
they're a bunch of well-intentioned artists with no more or less integrity than any other group slogging
away at making a living in a brutal business, was it really necessary for DJ Paul and Juicy J to include a
roster of accompanyists on their current single that's larger that the Three 6 Mafia itself? Do I need really
need the talents of Project Pat, Young D & Superpower to deliver a socially-conscious message like:

“They call me the juice when I'm at the strip club uh uh uh uh

I front, then I hundred on dub uh uh uh uh
In the mack, to a player I'mma stun uh uh uh
Cause when I leave the club, I'mma **** uh uh uh”

Later in the track they do throw a shout out to Barack Obama though... major pundit props there!

In fact, thirteen of the twenty songs on their latest CD feature someone else or, in many cases, an entire
roster of relative unknowns (rap afficanados, don't get your shorts in a knot because the world doesn't
know the artistic output of UGK's Bun B and the late Pimp C - although it's a shame, because if Pimp C
had stuck around I'm sure we could've got F'n A and Vitamin D to hook up with B and C to form the

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AlphaBitz Cru). My favorite roster includes the Three 6 duo (feat. Project Pat, Spanish Fly, Al Kapone,
Eightball & MJG) on “First 48”.

Is it any wonder I've lost my step in keeping up with the genre. Keith Urban obviously doesn't need any
help on the Country charts when waxing poetic with "You Look Good in My Shirt". The Pussycat Dolls
certainly don't need help on "When I Grow Up" on the Pop charts, but, then again, it's hard to find an
artist that will do the gig without a body condom. And Slipknot just plain weirded the shit out of any
potential collaborator on the Rock chart.

I'm not saying don't collaborate. I love the concept of artistic collaboration. Musically, there's nothing
cooler than being at a show and having a surprise guest come out to join the band that you love. I
remember loving the fact Snow came out during a Ben Folds Five show I was at. I hadn't heard
of Snow in a decade and yet there he was kickin' out "Informer" with Ben and the boys. I thought the
Anthrax/Public Enemy mashup was a great pairing. Hell, I even dug Ray Charles and Billy Joel chillin'
during “My Baby Grand”. But these moments are special because they're unexpected and unique. I get
the feeling rap has become the Boggle of the music industry - give it a shake and see what line-up we can
put together. If you're going to work with someone, then truly work with them. I'm sick and tired of
seeing performers parachuted in for their own version of the song's commercial break. Producers, cut
young artists some slack and let them fly solo.

Hell, what does this say about the ever-expanding ourobouros of podcasters who feature each other
endlessly... well, I'll find someone else to add their 50 cents in another time.

lovehate: Hole in the Wall

Are you kidding me!?!

I thought I could spend a nice relaxing day watching some football with friends. This outside of the fact
that I thought the new HD box I'd picked up from my cable provider would work... and then I found

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myself watching standard def. football all day. But sometime around the middle of the afternoon things
took a turn.

While I'm generally okay with internet memes that flash for one brief shining moment like an old Kodak
photocube bulb, the concept of "here and gone" rarely applies to television as they seem to descend to ever
deeper levels until, I believe, the groundwater will eventually seep in and drown us all.

I can live with the fact that "I can has cheezburger" exists and that a year from now it will be as dead as
"All your base are belong to us". I can live with Rick-rolling and any other thing the web throws at me
because I know the shelf life is limited at best.

I have always hated reality television. While I appreciate the economic attractiveness on behalf of the
networks and slapstick or soap opera qualities that draw in the the audience looking to forget about their
daily troubles by entrenching themselves in soma-induced splendour, while I've always hoped for the
death of reality TV before it had drawn down the collective mindset of society to an unrecoverable level, I
will now pronounce that the genre has bottomed out.

Fox TV (shock me, shock me, shock me) has announced the Series Premiere (and I hope Finale) of Hole
in The Wall where, from all accounts people try to skillfully twist and contort their bodies through... wait
for it... holes in walls.

I remember when I first saw the film trailer for Stomp the Yard that I was convinced it was a joke, a
parody, a satire... anything but a real film. I was shocked when the trailer of Tommy Lee Jones' Man of
the House turned out to be an actual theatrical release.

I've always thought that committees or boards have the distinct ability to take great ideas and water them
down to where the original concept is all but unrecognizable. While we may have to suffer this aspect of
the collective mindset, there should be a positive reason for them to exist - Hole in The Wall is this reason.
That not only one person, but an entire programming group thought this worthy of television is a
damning indictment of what TV execs think of us.

I'm posting this before watching Hole in the Wall. I know I'm being harsh in assuming this may very well
be the worst show of all-time. And I'm cursing the Fox TV decision makers for letting Japan's gameshow

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idiocy to make it this far. Shows that are silly - fine. Shows that are goofy - okay. Shows that insult my
intelligence by concept alone... all in all we are all just holes in the wall.

(edit: not to be one to criticize without at least an attempt to watch this show, I did sit through four minutes... the
doctor says my eyesight should return within 48 hours.)

lovehate: The New TV Season

After, so recently, having any remaining faith in television programming executives quashed with Fox's
Japanese rehash of Hole in the Wall, I do have to admit that perhaps my second favorite season is the
new network television season that, while becoming more staggered in it's tenure over the past decade,
usually spirals out of Labor Day with great aplomb. Sure, the parameters of the network season were
blown wide open with cable and access to some of the great programming on the BBC that often run
more like epic mini-series than seasons, but there is no comparable storefront of the magnificent to the
craptastic as one can get when the big US four crank out the pablum every fall.

The BitTorrent movement has created the ultimate time-shifting for me. There will be entire seasons I
download that I will not watch until the following summer. Bruce Springsteen once sang of 500 channels
and nothing on. There's plenty of stuff on; it's just that the viewing public used to only have to wade
through 13 channels to find a good show. The time it takes to sift through the 500 channel sandbox
means there's now a good chance the good stuff remains buried.

Incredibly, last season I managed to follow, through the torrent time-shift or otherwise, a roster of shows
that was way too great in numbers for the average viewer, including some I'm loathe to having to admit

This fall I'm looking forward to a major network roster that includes The Big Bang Theory, Chuck, The
Sarah Connor Chronicles, How I Met Your Mother, Heroes, Boston Legal, Fringe, Bones, Pushing Daisies, Sons
of Anarchy, Dirty Sexy Money, Smallville, My Name is Earl, The Office, Supernatural, Grey's Anatomy, 30
Rock, Eleventh Hour, Life on Mars (although the BBC version of this show will NEVER be outdone by

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this already tweaked US attempt), Ghost Whisperer, Sanctuary, Numb3rs, The Simpsons, Dexter, True Blood,
Family Guy, American Dad, The Unit, Californication (strangely, both not about porn), and Entourage.

Of course this is in addition to whenever they show new episodes of 24, Battlestar Galactica, Eureka,
Doctor Who, Torchwood, Bonekickers, The Sarah Jane Adventures, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and
South Park.

Some of these shows are guaranteed for the season, but some may die off, which is good because now that
football season is well in swing and my favorite season (hockey) is on its way... I'm going to have to
schedule to time on my Google Calendar to work on my cloning project.

While I'm happy to count on reality TV providing hours' worth programming I will never watch, I really
need to find a way to pair down some of these shows, but when the winter storms roll in on weekends and
I have a new 67" HDTV with a hard drive full of commercial-free programming... I'll be a happy man.
Strap on your crap waders people. TV season is upon us. Build your hopes, clear your schedules, oil your
recliner and tell people that being the media connoiseur you are, you have the ability to watch television
on a macro-level that far exceeds their "idiot box" criticisms... it's better than Rabbit Season and Duck
Season combined.

lovehate: Award Shows

After considering the affectation that I have for lists, I have tried to come to grips with why I absolutely
abhor award shows. After all, aren't award shows simply groupings of lists that get refined to a final list of
the night's winners?

I have, however, parsed down the key difference between liking lists and hating award shows: pomp.

If award shows could reduce down the core information (i.e. candidates and winners) to half an hour or
less - I'd watch. Instead, the award show format of grandiose gala is perhaps the most BORING and
taxing hours of television one can sit through. As much as I might like a host choice one year compared to

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the next, even a great host can not overcome the sheer banality of scripted humor and over-the-top
musical numbers that should be consigned to the next High School Musical sequel.

I could care less about the red carpet and her red dress - who she's wearing, how much the necklace costs,
how fabulous anyone looks or what's in the gift bags for the presenters.

I really don't need to see Hollywood starlets crammed into dresses with painted on smiles as their
handlers tell them which direction to turn to when the cameras flash on them. I don't care to see unlikely
pairings stumble over verbal fondlings of each other while trying to choke out unfunny dialogue before
ripping open an envelope. I don't want to see a musical performance by an artist I don't like, and, even
more, I don't want to see a watered-down uninspired performance by an artist I do like. And finally, I
don't want to see acceptance speeches that contain people thanking those I don't know, don't want to
know, and don't care about. I don't care that an actress wants to thank her mother or drama teacher, or a
singer wants to thank his crew or god. I don't want to see people weeping or fist-pumping in joy.

I would rather award shows became more debate-oriented. Let's have some well-informed people talking
intelligently about who should win, and why for an hour before the winners are announced. Let's have an
awards show that lasts an hour or less and gives me the information quickly, efficiently without any
envelopes. Let's have after shows that contain the same (or different) panel of "experts" consider the
decisions that were made and talk about the artistic merits of the winning choices.

Like watching any faux sport that has a basis in judging instead of hard numbers, award shows don't (and
in fact can't) deal with any intrinsic data: it's all subjective. And I appreciate the filtering mechanism may
be knowledgeable and that the process is engrained in history and tradition, but essentially for every 3-4
hour award show, I'm waiting for twenty names that could be read in less than two minutes. Watching
sixty minutes of hockey or football during a three hour span is taxing enough at a 3:1 ratio. Award shows
commonly have a 240:1 ratio of unwatchable crap compared to somewhat interesting information. And
this assumes that I have any investment in the nominees to begin with.

I’d rather we simply pack all award shows in a giant envelope and ship them off to the Lost island where
all of the nominees could, in Survivor-like fashion, eliminate each other one at a time until it turned into

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documentary about how nature had reclaimed its territory. If such events would happen I could happily
announce that the ultimate winners would be the viewing public.

lovehate: Cable News Technology

It's now been about a week since I had to suffer through Wolf Blitzer talking to a fuzzy will.i.am
hologram during CNN's election coverage. During the very short snippets I caught, several things became
very clear:

1) The next gen. hologram techonology employed by CNN looked like someone didn't how how to
set up proper anti-aliasing when creating a mask in Photoshop.
2) That CNN thought ANY member of a pop group, much less the Black-Eyed Peas, deserved any
airtime during the so-called "most intriguing election of our time" was yet another example of
media gone mental.
3) The "team" of tech wizards at CNN that actually thought it ground-breaking and appealing
showing a fuzzy 3D hologram of a person that we were watching on a 2D medium need their
heads examined by a doctor around the world using the same fuzzy holographic technology.

How different is this from the days we used to make fun of television ads that asked "does your TV look
this good?"

Gizmodo.com outlined the laundry list of technology that was necessary to have this groundbreaking
effort brought to my screen.

• 35 HD cameras pointed at the subject in a ring

• Different cameras shoot at different angles (like the matrix), to transmit the entire body image
• The cameras are hooked up to the cameras in home base in NY, synchronizing the angles so
perspective is right
• The system is set up in trailers outside Obama and McCain HQ
• Not only is it mechanical tracking via camera communication, there's infrared as well

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• Correspondents see a 37-inch plasma where the return feed of the combined images are fed back
to them. Useful for a misplaced hair or an unseemly boogar
• Twenty "computers" are crunching this data in order to make it usable.

The sad reality of the end result of this endeavor is that the subjects would have looked far better using
just ONE HD camera and putting up a split screen. These people have never looked so bad on television.
Until they can figure out a way to get the hologram into my rec room, the technology as used on TV is

Yet, all this said, I admire that the network is at least thinking of pushing the envelope. This idea was
truly noble in conception if not in execution. After all how many ways can a screen be broken up to
accommodate a dozen or more pundits? How many more touchscreens or crazy new-fangled telestrator
technologies must we be subjected to so that the sidekick, young "hip" analyst can drag and drop so many
objects and statistics around like a green screen weather man with a god complex?

I have, on many occasions, wished for advancements in holographic technology like the kind we were
poorly exposed to on CNN. The advancements, however, need to happen at the end-user level before
there is any purpose in integrating such technology into broadcasting. Give me a home unit that can do
simple stuff like show 3D maps, animation, or simple content that will prove the medium as a useful
home entertainment device.

To sum up the pros and cons of cable news and its continuing efforts with next gen technology:

Pro - Wanting to push the envelope is never bad.

Con - 3DTV is the next frontier and after that holographics is really NEXT next gen, let's at least get the
order right.

Con - Selling any program, much less election coverage, on a half-assed, poorly-executed concept is
beyond lame.

It's not just a CNN problem. Instead, networks need to stop hiding their ineptitude behind fancy
graphics and "cutting edge" wish list technology and providing real reporting, insightful commentary and

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content that transcends personality, graphics and glitz. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of home
holographic technology on the horizon, but I hate that persistent weak attempts at such advancements
may do more to discourage development instead of enhance it.

lovehate: how it ends

It's becoming clearly evident that the older I get, the more willing I am to accept the unusual in the art
that I view, listen to, or otherwise consume. Actually, I'm hoping for unusual these days. It's with this
view that I revel in the unexpected. From Samuel L. Jackson "biting it" in Deep Blue Sea to the school bus
take out in Mean Girls, I almost want to get up and cheer when the truly unique happens. And sure, I'll
admit that just going weird for its own sake can come across as contrived, and going persistently weird for
its own sake gives you the name of David Lynch.

One of the things I've hated for years was songs that fade out. That artists can persistently allow
producers to rob them of the ability to find creative endings to songs is deplorable. I get the fact that
being "radio-friendly" demands a no-nonsense way for even the most inattentive DJs to figure out when
to start turntable number two, but the fade is quite simply the most uninventive and banal way to finish a
song. I'll concede that there may be rare times that a fade can be used as a thematic device, but certainly
not on 90% of every song recorded since the 50s. In fact, the first recorded fade was used in "Neptune”,
part of the orchestral suite, The Planets, by Gustav Holst. Although I doubt Holst imagined the
technique as a way to provide a smooth segue into the Eye-in-the-Sky traffic report during afternoon
drive time.

But there's a strange corollary for every song that I wish could be wrapped up and finished, and for every
photograph and painting that has neither beginning nor end, and every television show or series that ends
unsatisfyingly derivative. I want the musician to complete the thought, even though the ending may be
abrupt or odd. I want the director and screenwriter to complete a vision that suits theirs and not my
sensibility. No one questions the painter for taking a slice of life and allowing the viewer to interpret the
story before and after. So why does mainstream "art" have to be wrapped up in a neat little packages to be

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acceptable. Must we demand from our art and entertainment a sense of completion that does away with
the snippet of real life that film or television represents?

Beckett explored the the existential reaches of redundancy with Waiting for Godot and is celebrated 50
years later. Joyce completed an esoteric wraparound in Finnegan's Wake with a final sentence that
"riverran" flawlessly into the opening sentence. Bob Ezrin contructed Pink Floyd's The Wall with a soft
voice that began the disc with "...we came in?" and finished it with "Isn't this where...." The Coen's
adaptation of No Country for Old Menhad a brilliant understated conclusion that surely pissed some
people off, but in its open-ending was more satisfying and thematically-pleasing than any contrivance that
might have made for a happy audience.

After all, such neat little wrap-ups are the essence of Shakespearean comedy and children's stories. The
evil get screwed, the good get rewarded, the fools get their ass kicked and run away, and the true lovers
get married. Beyond this genre, I fail to see why we should have any right to expect any specific ending
for a story or a song. The concept of poetic justice has trained our collective media minds to expect the
bad to get punished, the good to triumph and all loose ends to be wrapped up - but this is not reflective of
life. If art is supposed to be a reflection of life, let's allow for art to include the strange, the bizarre, the
unexpected, the flawed and the needlessly tragic. If we can't find beauty in representations of ALL aspects
of life, we are shortchanging ourselves some of the greatest stories that can be told... or, more realistically,
that can be bankrolled in order to be told.

lovehate: how it begins

Fatigue leads to stretching for anything new. It's why the Fonz jumped the shark. It's why we cringe every
time a new kid gets thrown into our tried and trusted sitcoms. It's why writers, instead of coming up with
fresh beginnings, start to resort to beginning with the end.

I can appreciate how television writers and filmmakers hate being stuck to linear plot lines but I think I
had just about enough of screenplays that have me sit through a big dramatic scene in the first five

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minutes only to be subjected to a FTB followed by some new-fangled font chromakey of "24 hours
earlier". The technique has been done over and over again. I'm tired of sitting through it, especially when
it’s a show I generally enjoy and want to keep up on the story arc. If a television pilot started with this
technique, I would probably give it up ASAP.

Why does the conspiracy theorist in me think that there is one director who makes a living off of this
stuff. The producers think... "You know what? We really need one of them time shifty episodes to really
mix things up! Call in that guy we worked with for the time shifty episodes on the other 12 series we've
done." And the cycle continues.

When one thinks of a movie like Memento, it's easy to see that playing with timelines can be done in a
unique way that is not only central to the plot, but also to the theme, characters, and atmosphere of the
piece. When it's simply used as a cool plot device it's boring, it's meandering, and, more often than not,
just plain sucks. I'm craving well told linear stories. When I see reruns of All in the Family and watch ten
minutes of an unbroken scene that takes place in a living room, I don't condemn the pace and crave the
music video frenetic cuts of most of today's action films. I enjoy the teleplay, the acting, the ability to tell
a story that takes place in one place at one time.

For years of teaching drama students it would be the biggest challenge to get them to construct a 3
minute scene that took place in a single location. The idea would arise that the scene would be about a
bank robbery (because a 14 year old can't do a scene that doesn't have guns or violence) and the planning
would start that would (in three minutes mind you) take you from 15 seconds about not having money, to
a 10 second decision to rob a bank, to a 30 second exercise about planning the hold up, 20 seconds of the
actual bank job, 1 minute of mindless shootout, and the final half minute of one or more crooks getting
away. Have we lost our ability to follow a story in (while maybe not real time) something at least close to

We have one hour action television shows that tell a story that rambles over days, weeks, or months. Even
the show 24, which tries to build the illusion of being in real time, suffers implausible plot holes of
characters getting from place to place in totally unrealistic timeframes. The film Timecode, by Mike
Figgis, tried to solve the impatient audience dilemma by showing four real time stories at once... probably
because he knew that audiences were quite unwilling to sit through a single linear story.

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Sure, I applaud creators playing around with plot. Not every story can, or should, be linear, but the
redundant use of television and film time shift gimmicks has been over done. It's jumped the shark or
nuked the fridge, when it really should join Luca Brasi's slumber. To play with time in a television show
or film should be done only when the story demands it to be told effectively and not in order to make a
boring story more interesting. Can't you imagine a writing team sitting around a table saying "Dude... this
script is really not that good, and we shoot tomorrow. What'll we do?" "I know... let's throw the scenes up
in the air and let the sheets fall where they may. That will be the new order." And, after all this
reassembly, when they put the scenes together in their new found chaos and find the story STILL sucks...
"Well, let's at least put the big climax scene at the beginning. That's the best scene anyway and we'll be
able to show it twice and save ourselves 3 minutes."

I'm not saying the job of a television writer is easy; after all how many times can find a unique way to
explore the stoic Grissom in CSI, or the cranky Dr. House, or the dysfunctional Desperate Housewives, or
the high horse riding Jack McCoy? Maybe we need to borrow a page from the Brits. We need to allow
show creators to say "I think I've got about enough for a dozen good episodes here, maybe a season at
best." We need studios to buy into the fact that a show, once noble when it first started, will more often
than not slip down the ratings not when the audience gets tired, but when the writers do. And fatigue
leads to stretching for anything new. It's why the Fonz jumped the shark. It's why we cringe every time a
new kid gets thrown into our tried and trusted sitcoms. It's why writers, instead of coming up with fresh
beginnings, start to resort to beginning with the end.

lovehate: Scope, Scale, Setting and The Watchmen

I'm certainly not the only waiting for the Watchmen movie to come out in March '09. There have been
plans to make this film for almost two decades and all reports, even with the liberties Zack Snyder has
apparently taken with the ending, are that the film is the best anyone could expect from a feature-length
Hollywood production. Why is it that "Hollywood production" is what scares me the most when ever I
hear a story is being adapted? Could it be that the same studios responsible for every Eddie Murphy film

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of the last 15 years, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and the gelding of Vince Vaughan and Will Ferrell have put
me off of most major studio efforts?

The reason I'm so eagerly anticipating the Watchmen film is, of course, due to the comic book series and
subsequent graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Gibbons. The thing that impressed me so much
upon first reading the series was the scope and scale the story took. Moore and Gibbons didn't only create
a world, but they inhabited it with hyper-real characters and landscapes and I daresay, more than any
other comic at that time and since, enveloped readers in it.

Such a method of grand scale doesn't always work, and rarely in comics, especially only given the 12 issue
run. I remember reading Frank Herbert's Dune series and really struggling as a teen trying to get through
at least half of the first book just to feel like I had a grasp on the setting. I'm not saying the effort was not
worth it. And, to be sure, I admired the first five or six of the Dune novels... I didn't really keep up after
that. Yet there was an example of grand scale gone wrong when it came to David Lynch's film effort. I
enjoyed the film enough when it came out, but realized that even I (after reading four books at the time)
was having trouble following some of the history and practices from scene to scene. The friend I went
with was completely lost. He told me that after about 45 minutes he pretty much just gave up on the story
and settled back to watch it as a psychedelic triptych. Therein lay the problems and pitfalls of trying to
contain scope and scale and setting in a Hollywood production.

Don't get me wrong, Hollywood can present scope, scale and setting through a well-crafted screenplay
incredibly effectively. Give me a sweeping crane shot here, a flourishing orchestral score there, a
supporting cast of thousands in period costume and we’ve got the makings of grandiose epic. But the
transition of book print to a film print always loses something in translation precisely because the film
tries to remain faithful. I would suggest the very reason that Stephen King's The Shining and Stanley
Kubrick's adapted film were both great is precisely because, just as King concentrated on writing the best
novel he could without thinking of how it would end up on film, Kubrick concentrated on making the
best film he could make without concerning himself with remaining completely true to text.

I appreciate the desire of Hollywood to start with a product that has been at least successful in one venue
or another. Such is the reason that every novel that makes a popular list gets optioned by some producer
or studio these days. I'll further concede that the stories presented in a novel must look far richer when

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placed side by side with a screenplay. Actors clamor to delve into a well-developed character that verges
away from stereotypes and while novels can paint broad two-dimensional stroke when the want to, they
do have much more canvas to experiment with. The successful novel will always be a popular catalyst for a
film, and, more often, comics are providing that incentive as well because let's face it, some of them have
years and decades to explore a character and, quite frankly, they need it. The development in any given
character within one comic book issue is miniscule at best. Let's face it, superheroes are often two
dimensional at best and the only depth we ascribe to them is buried in the decade’s long history they

And so we come back to the Watchmen. Depth of multiple characters, plot and setting in 12 issues was
near unheard of in a comic book era that birthed the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I understand why
Alan Moore has become forever hesitant to watch any of his stories brought to film. In the same way we
create imaginary worlds when reading novels, try to conceive of the scope and scale in Moore's mind upon
creating the Watchmen world. How much did he conceive of that he couldn't even fit into the books?
When we feel things are missing as readers, I can only imagine the process of seeing a film adaption is
deathly uninspiring to the original writer.

I hope for the success of the film. I hope it inspires millions to go and read the original. I hope that Zack
Snyder gets lauded for the attempt even if not the execution. I know that if I can line up at midnight on
03/06/09, the answer to "who watches the Watchmen?" will be me and a horde of fanboys.

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lovehate: Las Vegas

The waste is absolutely incredible.

They've got a lightbulb that planes can see from Los Angeles. They've killed thousands of trees a year to
produce laminated cards that seedy characters whack on their leg, advertising silicon-laden escorts that'll
do the Macarena or the Dirty Sanchez. They've totally thrown scale to the wind by creating hotel/casinos
that are measured in square miles and when the MGM Grand's 5000 rooms seemed insurmountable,
the Venetian built a second tower (The Palazzo) to bring its total to a mere 8000!

You can lose your 20, 50, or 100 dollar bill in the time it takes to steal a glance at the scantilly-clad
cocktail waitress that is bringing your free mojito as the blackjack dealer draws a 5 on her 16 after you've
doubled down your 11 and pulled a 9. You inhale the second hand smoke from an entire carton of Kools
while walking 10 feet through the Gold Spike's penny slot aisles. You can play golf at an 18-hole
course ON THE FREAKIN' STRIP while over the property wall homeless Las Vegans beg for change.

The city is a sauna. This Friday it's going to be 40 degrees celsius. That's like a billion degrees fahrenheit!
You better be gambling and drinking free or you'll end up looking like Phyllis Diller after traipsing nary a
block down the Strip.

There is no quick way to get up and down the Strip unless you're willing to walk six blocks to and from
near vacant Monorail stations reminiscent of Brockway, North Haverbrook and Ogdenville.

There's so much wrong with the place that for the sake of the residents I would like to say I "like" Las
Vegas - instead...

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lovehate: lining up

The concept of a line of people waiting for a thing is just wrong in so many ways.

There are two basic subsets of people waiting in lines for things.

The first reason people would wait in line for something is due to NEED or survival. While this is a
completely justified reason to stand in a line, it usually involves a socio-economic imperative (think
Eastern Bloc during the Cold War or America during the Depression when line-ups for bread were
longer than Chuck Heston's entourage through the Red Sea in the 10 Commandments). If a person
HAS to line up to feed his/her family, I'm going to be the last one to criticize. You do what you've gotta
do. But this doesn't make it right. Any system that requires lines for food disenfranchises its citizens
from the start.

Which brings us to reason two: lining up for WANT.

Spending a month in a line to be the first person to buy a ticket to the latest Sci-Fi epic that hundreds, if
not thousands, of other people have seen in other timezones or just through previews, is just plain
depressing. Pitching up a lawn chair and getting friends to hold your spot while you go to relieve yourself
and buy another venti frappachino in the Halo or iPhone line isn't much better. Don't get me wrong, I'm
not saying buying, owning or having things is bad. I might line up for something if I knew I could never
get it again, but when I can return to the same place the next day, or next week, to get the same item, I'm
not so concerned about being an early-adopter. I get that there can be a social aspect to the line: the
movie line prepares one for a shared experience, the tech gadget line places you among like-minded geeks
or gamers who (at least on the surface) appear to "get" you when other people don't.

Lining up always seems like a far better idea in the planning stages as well. You sit down with a friend
and work out an eBay-like formula of the latest you could possibly get there to be the first in line. You
tell your boss you'll need to take 3 days vacation time attached to a holiday weekend. You buy a cooler, a
case of Red Bull, a box of your favorite energy bars, a new sleeping bag, charge your laptop, check with
your municipal website to see if they've installed the wi-fi towers in the area yet, call friends that can come

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down to visit you, and write down some speaking notes for the inevitable television interviewer that's sure
to ask you (as first in line) deep and penetrating questions about the thing you're waiting for. You arrange
a ride to and from the line and sleep 18 hours in advance of heading to claim your glory as the first, best,
earliest adopter in your major metropolitan area. As you round the corner ready to be bathed in the
angelic fluorescent glow of the major electronic retailer's window display you find something's wrong,
your formula was flawed, and apparently being the 23rd best early adopter in your major metropolitan
area will have to do.

As you settle in for six days of cold concrete and strange bedfellows you think to yourself – “I HATE

lovehate: Energy Drinks

Can everyone just please take a nap!

Why is everyone trying to be awake 24/7? Haven't we all been ridden off the road by enough Speedball
Tuckers on a west coast turnaround to know that sleep is a good thing? With Tivo and torrents, there's
no such thing as missing a television show anymore. There's no film you have to see within the next two
hours at a theater. There's no work needing to get done that can't be misdirected by a well-needed sick
day. Yet every day people are looking for increasingly ridiculous ways to not sleep - forever!

The war on drugs never had a chance when civil servants dose themselves with the most legalized drug in
the world several times a day. Wouldn't it have been great just once to have the DEA bust someone not
for the coffee the cocaine was hidden in, but the coffee itself? Hell, even Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper
were all started up as energy drinks alongside Simpson and Son's Revitalizing Tonic.

What started as a decades-old taboo of amphetamines and methamphetamines with catchy monikers
like speed, uppers, ups, hearts, black beauties, pep pills, capilots, bumble bees, Benzedrine, Dexedrine,
footballs, meth, crank, crystal, ice, fire, croak, crypto, white cross, and glass has been modified, sterilized,
homogenized into a social norm that few, if any, frown on.

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Now, instead of pill bottles, we package bug-eyed hysteria in aluminum and call them "energy" drinks,
but the names haven't changed that much with Amp, Battery, Beaver Buzz, Bawlz, Blue Charge, Blue
Ox, Boo Koo, Bungee, Cocaine (in an ironic example of true-to-life branding), Crave, Crunk, Diesel,
Emerge, Enviga, Full Throttle (for all those who can't stay awake at a Nascar event - okay... that'd be
me), Fuze, Hustler, Jolt, Kick, Kore, Lift Plus (because a lift isn't enough), Monster, Mother, No Fear,
NOS, Piranha, Red Bull, Red-Eye, Redline, Red Rooster, Red Thunder (okay, enough with the "red"
already), Spark, Superman, Talon, Urge, Vault, Vixen and Wired.

And to make sure the drink sales don't go stale, we have been introduced to the realm of the triple-
caffeine threat of guarana to produce little numbers like Burn, Celsius, Dark Dog, Demon, Freek, Guru,
Hiro, Jamba, Josta, Naked, Pep-G, Pilotsfriend (wait a second... are they serious... do we really want
pilots kiting in from Morocco with three cans of this stuff in their system), PimpJuice (now in purple), Pit
Bull, Rehab, Relentless, Respect (those are what teachers call the three Rs), Rip It, Rockstar, Shot,
Socko, Steaz, Volvic, and Xtazy.

I thought it couldn't get worse. I was wrong, and, unfortunately, not under the table and dreaming.

Let's caffeine-infuse other food like snack crisps, sunflower seeds, chocolate chunks, gum, mints and
lollipops. Let's add a quick pick-me-up to non-foodstuffs like breath spray, tongue strips, soap and body
wash. Surely they haven't caffeinated air itself and sold it via an inhaler: WRONG!

I'll be perfectly honest. I have absolutely nothing against drugs. I just wonder what is that everyone has to

Apparently the single word name brand holds a lot of cache around the "Crank" Drink fountain. And
while I have no doubt there are reasons someone might want to, nay, even feel they have to stay awake, I
HATE ingested Energy.

Although I'll have to admit that I take advantage of a single name product that keeps my mind clear all
day long: Sleep.

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lovehate: Las Vegas (Part 2)

Having lost more money, eaten more buffet food, cursed more expletives, taken every god's (and even a
few goddesses) names in vain, my first comped Escalade limo rides to and from the airport (see below),
walked up and down the Strip in heat that is only suitable for fallen angels, seen thousands of
octogenarians "become one" with a slot machine (not often a pretty sight), wanted to hit a dozen twenty-
something guys for standing on 12 when the dealer was showing a face card because their "expert" buddy
told them they could bust if they take a card, aghast (yet often transfixed) on what passes as a "clubbing"
dress for twenty-something women these days, felt pitied for my luck by several dealers and looked at
with a "you stupid bastard - take the rest of your money and go to bed" look by others, been awoken by a
fire alarm in my Strip hotel at 7:30am (after getting to bed at 5:00am) only to have it sporadically go off
another dozen or so times over the next two hours, each time prompting me to scan the Nevada skyline
for a mushroom cloud that may indicated re-instated atomic testing or expecting to hear "DIVE! DIVE!
DIVE!" in U-boat fashion, and, finally, sat on a discount airline across from a screaming baby for 4.5
hours while trying to find 11 on my Nano's volume setting, I am still unsure about whether to love or hate
Las Vegas.

I will try to refine my opinion after my visit in December.

* please don't think that a comped room and limo indicates that I'm a high roller of any sort. They seem to get
more of my money every time and I believe my official status in their eyes has moved from "low-roller" to "not-so-

lovehate: Summer Olympics

At some point in history the Olympics were thought of as a pure: pure athleticism, pure sportsmanship
(pardon the lack of gender neutrality), pure diplomatic harmony, pure naked Greek men wrestling with
each other in Athens. Now it's not that the purity angle has disappeared, it's just that the qualifiers have

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been modified: pure marketing, pure cash grab, pure greed, pure exploitation, pure flag-waving, pure
gentrification in whichever locale wins the multi-billion dollar bid.

NBC has 1400 hours of television and 2200 hours of online coverage scheduled - that's 150 days of
coverage at 24 hours a day. If you pump yourself up with enough eight balls to last you through to
January 11 of next year, you can watch every minute of it. Perhaps the clearest example of this over-
reaching grab for ad and sponsorship dollars comes from the fact the most popular track and field event
(the Men's 100m) doesn't even take ten seconds to complete, yet you can be sure the tape delay will space
out heats and fill in plenty of fancy CG screen overlays showing every statistic under the sun to make your
watching of men and women doing something children do in playgrounds every day seem like the
Daytona 500.

Other than the opening ceremonies providing some "Honey! Get me an atlas" moments when Burkina
Faso gets announced, the actual ceremony relates little to athletics and more to the Westminister Dog
Show. I don't think we can expect a wardrobe malfunction. Everyone gets led around by gold, silver and
bronze leashes preening for judges and audiences alike. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is
holding a Breaking News conference when Canada's team announces its flag bearer. People are dying all
around the world due to hunger, genocide and natural disasters and my country's public broadcaster is
breaking to let me know who made 1st drum major on the varsity squad!?!

Now don't get me wrong, I respect the training and dedication that people put into being the best they
can be in any endeavour (not just athletics), so I'm not bashing the athletes, but isn't it ironic that some of
the domineering succeed-at-all-costs parents we denounce on a daily basis are behind at least a few of
these "success" stories.

While I have no doubt that my television viewing will, at some point, glide past snippets of Olympic
coverage, I have a few suggestions for making the events more interesting if a network wants me to watch
its commercials:

Archery - all archers (men and women) stand in a big circle facing each other, last standing wins the gold
(no silver or bronze necessary).

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Baseball - any pitcher walking a batter gets thrown out of the game as does any hitter who strikes out.
Game ends after nine innings or one defensive team cannot field a pitcher/catcher battery.

Basketball/Judo - all team players (including bench) on the floor at the same time, full contact - no fouls

Boxing - all fights until knockout.

Diving - from helicopters over shark-infested waters in the South China Sea, by dare and double-dare
scoring system.

Equestrian - use brick walls and water jumps at least 25 feet deep.

Fencing - dressed as pirates, with non-blunted sabres, until significant blood is spilled.

Gymnastics - one large combined event that includes the pommel horse, rings, parallel bars, and all
rhythmic gymnastic items with the addition of chainsaws, axes, bowling pins and torches... oh yeah, on

Modern Pentathlon - change it back to archaic pentathlon... didn't it involve lions in a colisseum or

All Martial Arts and Wrestling - to the death.

All Races (including Track, Cycling, Sailing, Horses, Swimming, Rowing) - one event, strictly
endurance, last standing wins.

Shooting, Javelin, Hammer Throw, Shot Put, Discus (see Archery)

Trampoline, Synchronized Swimming, Table Tennis, don't actually broadcast these events, but instead
tell all the athletes they can just go home and tell everyone they won the gold.

These would be Olympic events worth watching. Until then...

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lovehate: lists

As I was cruising my way through elementary education, my school, as most, had a monthly "book club"
whereby a flyer was given to each student to take home and parents would then be pressured to buy a
book or two for their child. Let's preclude an incoming argument by immediately saying that it's never a
bad thing for a parent to buy books for their kids, but what I didn't realize, until long after, was the
manipulation going on. The school was taking a cut on the backs of every book ordered and, to make it
worse, the sales force behind pushing students to buy at least a book a month. It begs a larger question
about fundraising for public education which I don't want to get into now, but, simply, for a school board
to advertise and sell books to students to better their bottom line is disgraceful. Moral issues aside,
perhaps the most anticipated publication that my friends and I scoured the order forms for, year after
year, was the Book of Lists.

For some reason, there was a small group of us at least that loved to digest compartmentalized
information under a simple heading and then debate, argue, and add our two cents worth. The Book of
Lists contained relatively generic pop culture minutae like "Top Ten Bands with Two or More
Guitarists" or "Top Science Fiction Films". All innocuous, but engrossing enough for a budding media
cynic like myself to sink my teeth into. Many years later I find that not much has changed in terms of the
attraction of lists. I do, however, with a much more critical (and cynical) eye examine not only the context
of many lists, but often the motivation for the list itself.

Let's face it, lists are value statements, and the more generic the title at the top of the list, the more
contentious and swirling the banter around the "accuracy" or "efficacy" of the contents. But I've, of course,
left out the best part. The contention does not arise, for the most part, from unranked lists. [On the
flipside the more specific the title, the less widespread contention, but likely the more intense debate
among topic afficionados. If I put out a list called "Top Ten Debian Distros", 99.99% of the world won't
give a damn, but the people who do will fight bitterly.] If, back in January 2008, I published an unranked
list titled "Candidates for President of the United States", and listed John McCain, Hillary Clinton,
Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney, not many people would have said much other than, "Congratulations!
you watched CNN for five minutes." I could really stir up people, however, if I reworked the list to say:

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"Best Candidates for President of the United States"

1. John McCain
2. Mitt Romney
3. Hillary Clinton
4. Barack Obama

But where does the antagonism come from? A great deal of it certainly comes from disagreement, but
that feeling gets intensified when a level of trust or respect is given to author of the list. If TIME
magazine puts out a list that you disagree with, and you're a devoted reader of the publication, odds are
you'll be far more upset that their values aren't reflected in yours. Much of the impact, however, comes
from the surprise. No one bats an eye if someone on Fox News claims a Republican candidate would
make the best president, but if they ever advanced the reverse position, sparks would fly.

The web is rife with lists of all kinds and it's often semantics that will turn a passing read of interest into a
halting thought of "are you kidding?" If I put the word "my" before any list I publish, some people will
read with interest, all will disagree with some aspect, and all will move on their marry way to the next
thing. If I remove that subjective qualifier, things take a turn.

Consider the following titles for lists and think about which ones you'll be most ready to argue over with a
friend or anonymous author:

My Favorite Bands
The Best Bands in the World
The Best Musicians in the World
Most Over-Rated Bands
Bands that Suck

If I'm pumping out any of these lists, no one's really going to care too much except maybe start to think
of me as a more pompous than they do already. If a journalist for Rolling Stone, Spin, or Vibe puts out this
list, more people start to react and take offense (let's face it, we're generally very defensive about our music
preferences). If one of your favorite artists puts out a list that slams other artists you like, you notice. If an

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artist you've never liked before all of the sudden has a list that's almost identical to yours, you sit up and
notice as well.

It almost always comes down to authority, and how much of it you grant the author. There are some
times when I can genuinely say that I'm proud to have disagreed with a list completely. If Paris Hilton
put out a list of "Bands That Suck", I think I would find some solace in my favorite bands occupying
every spot.

And the value judgement that is implicit in a favorite band is no different than for a writer, a politician or
a religion. Our lives are made up of choices based on subjective opinion that can often be maddeningly
justified, or, even more infuriating, not justified at all. How many of us have had this discussion with a
friend or family member?

"What could you like about this song?"

"I don't know. I just like it."

"I mean, don't you find the lyrics disturbing?"

"Oh, I don't listen to the lyrics. I just like the beat."

Our lives are based on lists. We itemize, rationalize, prioritize not only based on what we like, but
sometimes even on what we think we should like. Lists can be halting and infuriating but they have an
intrinsic value that is palpable. They are the quickest way to allow us to re-examine our values and beliefs.
Such is the vanguard of learning. How many of us have gained through a friend's recommendation or
even suggestions from online streaming music providers: "You said you liked this - you might like this
too!" As much as differing forms of the list are often the greatest cause of conflict in society (try shouting
out that my religion or politics are "better" than yours) we could not live without them. So while I often
hate the results that come from lists, I love the lists themselves.

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lovehate: Languages

Ethnologue.com's bold tagline claims that it catalogues 6912 of the world's living languages. While the
claim is surely impressive, it makes one wonder at the freak happenstances of history that have allowed us
to become so messed up as a species that we couldn't unify some of our communication. Even body
language is radically different between adjacent regions.

Let's face it, if there remain 7000 different interpretations of words as common as "water", we are always
going to have destructive global conflicts around the world. I know this sounds like quite a leap, but when
a mesh-backed cap wearer in Mississippi will turn around and crack someone over the skull with a beer
bottle because he misheard someone complimenting him as a "flag lover", the variations of language have
proven their destructive powers. In the meantime I'm going to enjoy a tall cool glass of wasser, agua,
uma, su, wossa, ondou, ji, akvo, banyu or H2O.

While the Esperanto experience was noble in its conception, and small groups have adopted the
constructed language to varying degrees, it certainly was never the over-riding success that would change
the face of world communication. That said, technology has radically changed the ability to communicate
across borders, continents and oceans. While trying to propagate a language through print would be
cumbersome at best, involving drawn out exchanges by letter on usage, failures and successes, the current
state of connectivity allows for everything from a text file dictionary e-mail attachment to live video-on-
demand tutorials. There are, however, problems that would tax any attempt to resurrect Esperanto or
some other existing or constructed language.

The sociological impact of a newly-learned language distributed throughout humanity sounds tempting,
but consider the risk. As knowledge is power, so is language. While certain countries may endorse, adopt,
perhaps even legislate the language's education to its populace, those falling behind would not only put
themselves at a disadvantage with regard to simple understanding but, moreso, on the precipice of an
economic sinkhole. Clear language is essential in business and is the reason so many MBA sycophants
pick up Japanese or Chinese as a second language; there's always a job for someone that can bridge the
verbal and written gap between world languages.

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Those who, for any reason, could not maintain the pace of the language's growth would start to suffer
implicit economic sanctions as trade would become scarce. Third world countries would hardly stand a
chance as the technology that would allow for ease of assimilation is beyond them.

I suppose that half of the problem could be alleviated by eliminating the written language altogether. If
books become e-books, letters remain e-mail, and business can be validated digitally, does an a/v language
become the standard of correspondence? I'd wager that ascii emoticons reach cross-culturally far more
effectively than the words "smile" or "wink". Will broadband lead the way for the constructed language of
the future? Maybe the tight head shot of a webcam will prompt a serious re-examination of strictly face
language instead of body language. A new business crops up of web notaries that will witness and certify
verbal contracts completed via Skype. All chat, journalism, blogging, becomes aural or visual. All poetry,
short stories and novels become spoken word recordings. The death of the written word -
as Sanskrit became increasingly divorced from a verbal component, the new "Visaural" language would
evolve without a written component.

I know it sounds far-fetched, but could we at least start with proper names? I think we need to evolve to
the point where we can respect the language of the place that spawned the name of the place. Would it
really be that difficult for us to pronounce Rome as Roma or Paris as "Pa-ree"? Couldn't we say Espana
for Spain or Deutschland for Germany? It really wouldn't be that hard, because while I honestly don't see
a way to avoid history's diverse explosion of languages, I really hate it.

lovehate: My First and Last Election Rant

While most people in the US are wrapped up in election fever as November approaches, few below the
49th parallel even know that Canada is going to the polls in three weeks. And perhaps the differences
between our political systems, while many, would provide some encouragement for me to at least like one
electoral process over the other, I somehow manage to hate them both.

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Both systems trumpet "democracy" and try to convince voters of an Ancient Greek manifestation of "by
the people, for the people." Both systems sell their processes on the idea that an election is the
opportunity for the "little guy" (as spatially misogynist as that term is) to have the same say as anyone else.

The fallacy of such claims rests on one simple fact: both the US and Canada are effectively constitutional
oligarchies. Oh sure, we get the end-user choice, but how many coffee filters, strainers and sifting devices
did that choice have to get through? Because quite honestly, in Canada, I don't get any say in which
person will be my Prime Minister. Our parliamentary party system allows for a small group of people to
decide on who, within the party, runs for party leadership. A slightly larger group chooses which of these
elite actually get the title, and then, we don't even vote directly for the person who's leading the country -
we vote for their party affiliation.

The US is slightly more effective in giving its citizens direct input as to the country's figurehead, but such
a race invariably results in a popularity contest that is not reliant on policy and promises or, even worse,
hearkens back to party lines etched in stone and swathed in fields of red and blue. So yes, US citizens do
vote directly for a president, but what say did they have in the choices?

On both sides of the border, since the 1960's anyway, "new" media has been the cause of great
consternation for political parties and the electoral process. The "new" media of television reared it
omnipresent head in the infamous Kennedy/Nixon debate of 1960. Since then broader and burgeoning
aspects of television (with the current pervasive onslaught of punditry) has morphed into our concept of
new media to include blogs, podcasts, Youtube and Twitter accounts. The clear appeal of a politician's
ability to successfully utilize technology is often grasped most readily by younger populations who,
thinking they see a like-minded individual, will fill out online petitions and become friends on Facebook.
The online component of a campaign can often be very lopsided for one candidate over another and,
while it may be a noticeable piece, it is often a largely irrelevant one as the demographic that constitute
online supporters are the LAST people to get out to vote.

I get that an electoral system will never be perfect, but when leaders can claim mandates from less than
half of the eligible voters participating in the process I start to lose faith. If a candidate "stumps" on anti-
poverty, and the impoverished are the least likely to register to vote, where is the accountability? If a

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platform policy speaks of immigrant rights and improving the situations of newcomers to the country,
how likely are they to register to vote, even if they are eligible at all?

And, with all this said, my vote is crucial. I still don't buy the myth that people who don't vote don't
retain the right to complain - that's complete bullshit. If I'm paying taxes (for the many social programs
that I am thankful for) I have made my investment into my community and my country. I went through
a common stretch of disillusion where voting was an afterthought for me and I was dismayed by the
system enough to avoid even participating at the ballot. And while, I hate to adopt a cliché, one must pick
their battles. I will never change the electoral system. The political will to do so has, quite simply, too
many political angles for a sitting politician to tackle - after all, the old system has served most
incumbents just fine thank you.

Instead, I participate though a vote and voice, and neither can be suppressed, and neither can be
compromised. If you've never found cause to drag your ass off your couch to get to a polling station and
cast a ballot, I'm going to be the last one to criticize because I've been there and my couch has the
indentation to prove it. My last word on the elections (in Canada and the US) is that I hate the electoral
process, the political system, the lobbyists, pundits and backroom deals, but, when the writ is dropped, I
will vote and vent and love and hate with the best of them.

lovehate: Finding Your Inner Geek (Part One - Fishing)

Seemingly the most generic stereotype of the "geek" from the perspective of the outside world is still
something more akin to the leads from Revenge of the Nerds than your average work-a-day Joe Six Pack
or Joe the Plumber, but, trust me, either Joe may very well be harboring an inner-geek.

While the vast populace of web-savvy wingnuts may or may not have achieved "geek" status, I'm quite
prepared to take the technology aspect out of the definition. I'm offering up, for consideration, that the
path to geekdom is in direct relation with the continued refining of the generic to the specific. Instead of
offering up a sample set that involves technology, let's follow a parallel structure to refine the map to the

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inner geek of fishing. Just as a quick disclaimer, I know absolutely NOTHING about fishing, but that I
can place these steps in the following should show the commonalities within the geek archetype regardless
of the field.

Step One (Hobbyist): The casual fishing or "outdoorsperson" picks up the occasional issue of Field &
Stream or Outdoor Life to decide where a good corporate fishing retreat of week-long booze-up with
friends might happen. Sure, they have a interest/hobby in a wide variety of wildlife-oriented issues, but
they have as much geek level cred in fishing as one who reads Rolling Stone would have with music. And
while someone who eventually becomes a fishing geek may one day reach back to Field & Stream as a
fond memory, it will never hold the credibility it once did. The hobbyist views nature as art and uses their
reading to enhance their perspective.

Step Two (Threshold Geek): Moves into fishing-specific magazines... kinda like moving from Wired's
tech esoterica to a PC or Mac specific title. The threshold fishing geek doesn't care much for hunting or
hiking or spelunking, but wants to focus on fishing and only fishing. They don't want one article every
three months on rod and reel advancements, but several articles every month. They crave full page ads for
mail order lure houses in Minnesota that they make lists from, and copiously circle and highlight, but
never buy anything. They have growing frustrations in trying to get friends to go on weekend trips to
stand on rocky shores or in hip-waders with the promise of many beers to be consumed while fishing or
each night. The threshold geek views fishing as an art that they admit a certainly lack of facility with, but
are gaining an appreciation of. Think of the weekend golfer that knows they will never have the time to
get as good as they'd like to be, but will watch endless hours of golf tournaments and relish being able to
guess club choice before the announcer calls it.

Step Three (Geek): To move into official geek status, the fishing enthusiast has to make a choice (dive in
so to speak) as the sub-genre of fishing they wish to specialize in: freshwater, saltwater, boat, spear, ice or
fly. The distinguishing feature between the geek and the ubergeek lies in the geeks ability to remain open
to the possibility of subgenres beyond the geek level. For instance, the flyfishing fan, having committed to
all things fly, has a cornucopia of rod and fly choices, location scouting, outfitting, and the art of fly
creation. The geek has views flyfishing as an art that they are willing to commit to, but are starting to
learn that the more they get into, the more they have to learn. They have invented drinking games to the

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impracticalities of A River Runs Through It, but are willing to adopt a zen-like quality when talking about
their rods becoming extension of their bodies. (You all have very sick minds!)

Step Four (Ubergeek): Can talk about bass fishing for days on end - and do! They know every sub-
classification of the bass family, what they eat, where they live and can identify sex by scale patterns. They
have refined rod and reel research down to second nature (to even talk about such things is a step down
for them unless they've defined a holy grail rod handmade by a craftsman in Sapporo that costs as much
as the family van and can only be discussed via online forums with the six other people in North America
who know enough to speak of such things). They are plenty qualified to write for Bassmaster magazine
but to do so they would have to lower themselves to keep up with the rest of fishing world. They would
rather devote their time to the refined aspects of bass fishing than actually fishing. The ubergeek views
bass fishing as a lifestyle and a venue for self-improvement. They see the disciplines involved in fishing in
every aspect of their daily lives. Their boat comes outrigged with everything necessary, but is nowhere
near as decked out as the boat of a bass boat uber geek who belongs to a slightly different subset. They
belong to several fishing clubs (online and in the community). They will occasionally deign to come down
from the mountain to consort with regular geeks. They consider deep sea fishers "elitist assholes" and
flyfishers "namby-pamby girly-men". They think ice fishers are just "outworldly whackjobs" and secretly
dream of the day they can move to an isolated Northern Canadian cabin with a 1653 first edition of Izaak
Walton's The Compleat Angler: or the Comtemplative Man's Recreation: Being a Discourse of Rivers,
Fishponds, Fish and Fishing Not Unworthy the Perusal of Most Anglers.

Of course there can be several subcategories within the Four Steps of Geekdom, but the most important
thing to recognize is that geeks are not bound to technology. Anyone who can re-associate this fishing
paradigm to any other topic knows that everyone's a little bit geeky, and some of us more than most.

lovehate: Finding Your Inner Geek (Part Two - Tools)

While I endeavoured, in Part One of “Finding Your Inner Geek”, to show how geek culture is just as
applicable to fishing as it is to computer or internet technology. The argument stands that any knowledge

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of the microcosm of a topic pushes one ever-further toward a level of geekdom. The relevant medium
used to explore that relationship with fishing was print periodicals that refined from the generic to the
hyper-specific Euro-published Carp Web.

The standard seemingly set by any geek culture is dancing on the fine line between the zen-like esoterica
revolving around the people, places and things and the unbridled acquisition of stuff. As one moves up
the chain from Hobbyist to Ubergeek, the winnowing of things occurs as knowledge and expertise fills
the need for experimentation. But there are people who know how to exploit the Threshold Geeks and
Geeks who's prime motivation to buy everything about everything within their field.

And so go the trade shows/conventions/conferences that, with much hype and grandeur, promote
products like they've found a cure for cancer. Perhaps nowhere, outside of computer or gaming
technology, do products get pumped out with minor tweaks and no real differentiated functions that
those of tools.

Everyone knows the tool geek. Whether it's you, your father, mother, sister, brother, someone in your life
owns several redundant pieces of hardware (actual hardware, not a 5-bay tower) that do exactly the same

To prove this to you, I offer up the following questions:

1) Do you know someone who owns more that one hammer or drill?
2) Do you know someone who owns more than one set of router bits?
3) Do you know someone who has a collection of tool aprons with various logos?
4) Do you know someone who wears a "Black & Decker" or "Ryobi" hat or shirt?
5) Do you know someone who goes shopping at Home Depot "just to look"?

Like any geek continuum, names beget opinions and opinions beget arguments and purchases beget
bikini-clad women in calendars holding power tools with conspicuously-placed innuendos in quotation
marks that include words like drill, pound, hammer, screw that inspire clever quips like "grinder, I don't
even know'er", or "sander, no that's okay I like'em rough". In fact, porn geeks and tool geeks could
probably speak exactly the same language and mean completely different things. When talking about a

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Ridgid Clipped Head Nailer with consistent driving power, adjustable depth of drive, and rear exhaust,
who would've thought one could be discussing the menu options at Paris Hilton's new bordello instead of
an item in a Home Depot catalogue.

While Nascar followers are total realm of geekdom in themselves, there is a Venn crossover with people
who cheer for the cars with their tool brand emblazoned on the side. When your girl can draw the Dewalt
and Makita logos before the age of four and your boy knows Milwaukee as a Hole-Hawg drill instead of a
city, when your spouse's best friend Stanley is a worn tape measure, when the only glasses and mugs you
have in the kitchen cupboard have Bosch etched on them and were won as a door prize at a stag and doe
or golf tournament, you have a tool geek in your house.

And all of this proves only one thing: that the person you stereotypically think is biggest redneck you
know might also be the biggest geek you know. Does someone in your family know more about one topic
than you know about computers or the web? Can your partner name 200 kitchen utensils and prizes a
collection of melon ballers - ball'er I don't even... nevermind. Can your grandmother talk intelligently
about 20 different kinds of needlepoint? Do you know ANYONE that scrapbooks, because trust me, I
guarantee you, there is no such thing a hobbyist scrapbooker; they are either a full-blown scrapbook
ubergeek or they've given it up.

Find your inner geek and point out the inner geek in others, then go fishing.

lovehate: Diplomacy

As I sit in a hotel room in my provincial capital after a few glasses of wine and few hours of socializing, I
am readying myself for a night's sleep before getting up tomorrow to spend the day lobbying Members of
Provincial Parliament about some of the shortfalls of public education. Now don't get me wrong, I've
bemoaned professional lobbyists before as a cancer to our political system, not because of any perceived
insincerity or wrongdoing, but more because of the financial influence they wield in the backrooms of
parliamentary power brokers.

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So, when I say I'm going to lobby, I am stopping short of calling myself a lobbyist. I prefer to think of it
as an advocate, even though my anger rises when I have to think of myself as an advocate for public
education because politicians are not picking up the slack. Although there is a position and a script that is
expected to inform my conversations, I really hope to achieve one thing: motivation through sincerity. I
hope, at least, that sincerity can win the day because I don't have any cash to spread around. And with
sincerity as my only tool, and words as my only medium, I will try to move politicians to taking up a fight
for something that probably rarely crosses their radar. Herein lies the problem. My message is clear, and
the way I would like to express that message is without reservation, without filters, without worrying
about playing a game that I do not want to even understand - the game of diplomacy.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a strong believer in tact and communicating a message with grace and
persuasion, but considering a time span of 5, 10, or 15 minutes to engage someone in a dialectic about an
issue they may not want to move on, may not want to believe in, or may not even want to hear, should
demand an abandoning of the so-called rules of civilized discourse.

I want to sit down, look across a desk and say, "Surely you can see how f'ed up this process is... why won't
you do anything to change it?" When they respond with a shrug and an excuse, I want to storm, "You
idiot! Don't you get that this problem leads to that problem and the money you spend here will save you
money over here!"

And when a final look of bewilderment crosses their faces with a tone of resignation that, in a perfect
world, what I'm proposing might be a useful thing, but realistically it isn't going to happen. I can respond
with, "Well of course it can't happen if you're not even willing to get up off you ass to try. You spazz! You
stunner! You moron! How can you claim to represent the best interests of the people who voted for you,
and even the people who didn't vote for you, if you're just going to sit around playing it safe, not ruffling
any feathers? How can you advocate for your constituents if you're unwilling to take a stand? How can
you tell me you agree with something, but in the end, give it up because your cohorts think it unpopular
or radical or impolitic? How can you ignore the people you're supposed to represent?"

Of course I would like to say that, but in the end I will have to read the inside cover of the box and figure
out the rules. I will collect $200 when I pass GO. I will climb up the ladders and slide down the snakes. I

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will only follow the colored directions in my very own Candyland. And I will shout "Yahtzee" and wave
my hands frantically when rolling five of a kind.

While I believe that stark honesty can be brutal in some situations (especially between friends and loved
ones), there is usually an opportunity to mitigate a message with time and gentle persuasion. Short
timeframes demand short messages, and while I appreciate that some of the shortest are not appropriate
for some company, they are often the most memorable. After all the catch phrase on the Diplomacy box
reads: Why say in a finger gesture what you can say with years of arguments and the greasing of palms?

lovehate: Waste Not Want Not

There's something to be said for the frivolous, the ridiculous, the plain unnecessary. A slapstick pie in the
face, while absurd and useless, is often funny if timed properly and, while many may question the humor,
most will not recoil in abject horror that a pie or two is being wasted while people go hungry.

I can also appreciate that at buffet restaurants around the world, on a daily basis, tons of food is left on
plates and subsequently discarded while the occasional patron will lament, "what a waste!"

I am also one who will often buy DVDs that you'll find shrink-wrapped a year later on my shelf. I will
take semi-annual treks to Las Vegas where the useless has become commonplace. I will waste time with
the best of them. Waste is not an unknown or unwelcome concept to me on many levels. Why then am I
left awestruck in amazement at the recent practices of a fast food establishment?

No more than two days after getting an email from a friend about his recent trip to Taco Bell that netted
him about a dozen packets of hot sauce for his three Tacos, I made an infrequent trip to the Bell and
placed a dinner order consisting of a 7-layer Burrito, a Meximelt, and a Double Decker Taco. What
resulted can be seen in a quick summary of the numbers: 3 items purchased (all of which could have sauce
used on them), 23 packages of "Border Sauce" dispensed (12 Hot, 11 Mild)

I'll admit I did indulge in one packet of sauce for the Taco, but, beyond that, the rest of the "Border
Sauce" remained. The practice does beg some intriguing questions including:

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1) Is a single package supposed to represent a "recommended" serving for a single item? (If so,
there's some real arithmetic upgrading that needs to be done by PepsiCo for their employees.)
2) If this is not a serving, why not change the package to accommodate what the suggested serving
should be?
3) While they often ask if you'd like hot or mild sauce, why don't they ever ask how much if the
threshold can be between 1 and at least 23?

The conspicuous number of packets also allowed me to realize that Taco Bell now incorporates witticisms
onto the packets like: "Bike tires scare me." "I'm in good hands now." "So many tacos so little time" "Pick
me. Pick me." "You had me at Taco" "Live life... Take two."

While that last example had me starting to understand the culture of waste that has not only permeated
Taco Bell, but almost every other food establishment, there was a final packet that really summed up the
event: "Live life one sauce packet at a time."

Now while I doubt the Taco Bell parent corporation of PepsiCo has taken to hiring existentialist
philosophers for Border Sauce packet blurbs, this last jolt of wisdom did leave me with an optimistic tinge
and perhaps the one redeeming quality for this condiment onslaught. I figure that my life is now good as
long as I have sauce packets left to enjoy. Considering I may frequent Taco Bell twice a year and this trip
I only used one out of 23, I figure I've got a guaranteed 12 years of life without fear of accidental death. If
I ever am planning on doing something risky, I can just head back to the Bell and reacquire a bounty of
new packets to carry me through the remainder of a long life sponsored by the Pepsi Corporation and a
subsidiary that once wanted me to take my own life by forcing a precocious chihuahua on my psyche.

While I honestly hate the indifference and complacency that led to an employee dumping such a
condiment cluster bomb into the trillionth plastic bag that will be hitting a landfill somewhere near you,
I've gotta love the fact that, for one brief shining moment, I believed fast food guaranteed my future.

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lovehate: 4.2 billion to 16.7 million to 65000 to 256 to 2

Is it just me or does the world sometimes look better in shades of gray?

I'm speaking on literal and metaphorical levels here, because while I often crave bright, vibrant colors or
stark black and white, often all I end up with is the 256 fountain steps of gray.

From a purely illusory perspective, many people look WAY better in a grayscale (read: "black and white")
picture as opposed to being exposed in the full color spectrum. For some reason the little flaws that we
can see at 4.2 billion colors start to fade away, or become insignificant, at 256. The photographers will say
that this so-called "black and white" image allows for sharper definitions of contrast and allows us to see
things more clearly. I suppose, in some ways, I can by that, but completely? Back to this in a minute.

In a world of politics and debate, with arguments thrown about like so many flailing matches from a pre-
pubescent pyromaniac, games are often played with color, black and white, and shades of gray. Many is
the time a politician will try to sell the black and white, while floundering around in the gray, with every
consequence of every decision affecting the realities of those in full color. Politicians are afraid color - and
I'm not talking ethnicity here, I'm simply talking reality - because their game-playing occurs on boards,
on maps, on committees, and on public display, but little of it has to do with touching reality as a prime
motivator. Politicians push money around for ideological purposes, claiming that the left is right or that
the right has left the building, when really their 2D glasses only permit them to see the gray of the
newspapers or pundit websites or the straining pixels of primetime news.

If politicians were to look at the world in color, they would start to see the flaws, not just in the system -
which is a statistic - but in faces of everyone who they claim to represent; each of which is a tragedy. It is
far easier to look at reports on poverty from your home constituency than to walk the neighborhoods on a
day when social assistance is still a week away and the cupboards are empty. It is far easier to look at low
area test scores in schools and blame the curriculum, the textbooks or the teachers for mis-educating
children who walk through embittered streets without breakfast every winter morning in worn out no-
name running shoes. It is far easier to shut down public hospital emergency rooms in the name of
efficiency than to face the one family who lost a father, mother, sister or brother because the reported

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distance "new" closest ER, which was spun in the newspapers as only six minutes further, didn't take into
account rush hour traffic and construction. If politicians were to look at the world in color, they would, no
doubt, be stunned into a silence at the ineffectiveness of their game, and proceed to hurl the box, dice,
fake money, hotels, houses, race car, iron, boot, thimble, top hat and all into the nearest open flame. It's
not that a politician, on average, can't see color; it's simply too painful to look.

And so we defend our beliefs in black and white. We spout statistics and spin numbers and count and add
and multiply and generate long, intricate reports with copious circling in red ink and meaningfully-
highlighted grand totals. We take the black and white and, with all the best intentions, set out to resolve
the issues. But the issues are not black and white anymore. The issues are grey and mottled. They are
borne on the backs of centuries of value and belief systems. They are entrenched in histories of languages,
totems, borders, rituals, and power struggles. All of the sudden, our black and white numbers and words
don't seem so black and white anymore. All of the sudden our best intentions become lost in the give and
take. All of the sudden the solution for 4.2 billion individuals has been reduced to two sides that, instead
of being flexible enough to accommodate the most possible, has been pared down to accommodate 2: the
remaining person at either side of the table.

Though I have been hammering politicians as an optimal example, the simple truth is that politician in all
of us, who concedes, consorts, collaborates, convinces, controls, and conquers, is just as guilty. Isn't it
easier for us to avoid the real? As bright and vibrant as 4.2 billion shades are, and as beautiful, inspiring
and rich as this diversity bestows, for most of us, the world sometimes looks better in shades of gray.
Because while the clarity of color that sometimes pierces the veil can make life worth living, it can also
make life worth questioning. And so I watch, without guilt or shame, because neither would prompt such
change as is necessary to make me lift the blinders 24/7. And maybe that's the greatest flaw in all of us.

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lovehate: The Week of Lists

For many years, growing up, the week between Xmas and New Year's was simply a week to exhaust every
minute of playing time with every new toy I'd received and do my best to avoid wearing any of the new
clothes until they were incorporated into my wardrobe when school restarted.

As I got older, the week became an opportunity to hang out with friends, maybe indulge in a few
beverages, and count down the days until the real world would descend upon us once again. This also
became the time that I developed an affectation for college bowl games where I had no history, no idea,
or no stake in the teams, but I simply appreciated the fact there was a game that seemed to mean
something on every night. I have since learned that games like the "San Diego County Credit Union
Bowl" probably don't mean anything at all except to the teams, their fans, and the execs of the San Diego
County Credit Union. This is also the time I learned to appreciate a uniquely Canadian pastime of
watching the early round games World Junior Hockey Championships in what was usually some remote
Finnish city spelled with six Ks, 14 Ms, and the occasional I or E thrown in for good measure.

As I moved into the phase of my life where pop culture and media became omnipresent in all non-
working moments, I came to a new understanding of what this week meant for media outlets: "The Top
Ten Best of Worst of Most Interesting Fill in the Blanks of the Year"

So as we move into the Week of Lists, I turn to my new favorite medium, the web, to provide me with
further validation for dubbing this week with such a moniker.

The venerable Time magazine has deemed GasBuddy as a best "Advice and Facts" website of the year.
While some may think the address leads to a fetish site for flatulence, the page actually allows you to track
where the cheapest gasoline prices are across the United States. I can already tell, by using the site, that
the next time I fill up, I should drive to Texas. What I really want to know is how "groundbreaking" are
they considering themselves with their 10 Essential Websites: Wikipedia, Yahoo Finance, Craigslist,
ESPN, Yelp, Facebook, Digg, Google, TMZ and Flickr? Do we really need a list like this? The only site
on this list that may even remotely be a stretch of knowledge to people living outside a large urban area is
Yelp, and, in many cases, even if they went there, they might not find much local information anyway.

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Time's Top Gadget is the Peek Email Browser that's only $99, but has a $20/month fee to do nothing but
email. Here's an idea. Take the $240 you'll spend on the Peek subscription next year and buy an iPod
Touch that'll let you do email anywhere there's Wi-Fi.

Amazon's Book of the Year is The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher. Other than sounding like a
Robert Ludlum title gone wrong, I can't say I know anything about this book, and, as it possibly may be
the next American classic, maybe I should find out... hmmm... "But once you encounter the Glover
family--in particular, their languidly handsome teenage son Daniel--there's no turning back." Hell, if
there's no turning back, I'd better not begin. I'm not too keen on reading about the "languidly
handsome". Apparently neither is the Library Journal who's list contained a couple of dozen books with
Hensher's nowhere to be found.

Lifehacker has taken the "Best of" list to its deconstructionist next step with The Most Popular Top Ten
Lists of 2008 that have to do with all things Life2.0. Of course, for some reason, they chose 20 Top Ten
Lists... and that just doesn't jive with my Top Ten sensibilities. I do, however, heartily recommend
the Top Ten Conversation Hacks from August. It is rich with ways to feign interest and blow people off.

Last.fm has declared MGMT as their artist of the year based on user "scrobbles" and their number one
album is Coldplay's Viva La Vida. NME names MGMT's Oracular Spectacular as the best CD.
Amazon's 2008 album is Only by the Night from Kings of Leon. Blender and New York Magazine pimp
L'il Wayne's Tha Carter Ill. The LA Times, the NY Times, The Onion and Rolling Stone pump Dear
Science by TV On The Radio. And Fleet Foxes self-titled release takes number one from Mojo,
Pitchfork and Under the Radar.

But my 2008 number one for useless lists goes to People magazine. And so, put on your helmets for some
of the most useless, subjective choices of irrelevant celebrity topics (because celebrities really are people

Most Talked About Star: Britney Spears

Most Intriguing Hookup: John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston
Couple Most Likely to make it to 2018: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner

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Best Baby Style: Kingston Rossdale (for those who care, Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani's kid ((for
those who really care, Gavin Rossdale used to be popular as an emo singer in the band Bush)))
Best Body After Baby: Halle Barry
Best Boyfriend: Jake Gyllenhaal
Best Chest: Mario Lopez
Best Bikini Body: Jessica Alba
Best Celeb Smackdown: Charlie (Sheen) v. Denise (Richards)
Best Baby Name: Harlow Winter Kate Madden (Nicole Ritchie's kid)
Funniest Celeb on the Web: Sarah Silverman and Matt Damon

I feel dirty.

But shouldn't one feel at least a bit wrong in summing up people's lives, work, artistic endeavors, and
business into incomprehensible selections that often defy logic and scream for validation. Shouldn't there
be a nagging, twitching fear that in reading these lists I'm giving credence to an exercise that can serve no
purpose but to perplex and infuriate? Can there possibly be a reason to sustain the media-frenzy madness
that is "Best of" week? I suppose I could go back to watching bowl games or playing with toys. Instead, I
will chum the shark-infested waters of list making with some choices of my own.

Best Movie: WALL-E

Best CD: Bend Sinister - Stories of Brothers, Tales of Lovers
Best Concert I Attended: Martin Tielli (Casbah, Hamilton ON)
Best Internet Radio - CBC Radio 3
Best Sci-fi TV: Doctor Who (BBC)
Best Variety TV: The Daily Show
Best Drama TV: Dexter
Best Comedy TV: Big Bang Theory
Best BitTorrent Search Engine: isoHunt
Best Twitter App: Tweetdeck
Best New Blogging Site: Posterous.com

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Best New Microblogging Tool: Ping.fm

Best Free App Download: Chrome
Best Daily Podcast (Tech): Buzz Out Loud
Best Weekly Podcast (Tech): This Week in Tech
Best Weekly Video Podcast (Pop Culture): Totally Rad Show
Best Decision I Made: Starting to Blog and Podcast at lovehatethings.com

Happy Week of Lists all! Hopefully we can all share in each other's pain as we endure the memories and
suppositions of pop culture pundits for the next week until life begins anew in 2009. Until then, go rent
WALL-E and catch up on Dexter and Doctor Who. You won't be sorry.

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lovehate: Video Game Nostalgia

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by joysticks, twitching drooling elated, dragging themselves past
the neon signs at dawn digging for their last two-bits, angelhanded gamers tapping for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of lights.

Ever since I was a young boy, I played the silver ball, but, to be honest, I spent most of my formative years
playing video games. I regularly haunted arcades in and around my neighborhood, and often
neighborhoods far afield, just in order to get some quality pixel exposure.

I remember tapping a fire button twenty times for every shot on Taito's Space Invaders because there
could only be one shot in the air at once. Similarly being engrossed in the camp lodge arcade
near Bancroft, Ontario with Space Zap's quad-directional firing pattern until my eyeballs dried over and
someone played “Queen of Spades” by Styx on the jukebox in the background. Hours spent at Queenston
Mall playing Galaxian until the Food City got Galaga. Then over to Pepsi Pinball when aliens turned to
insects in Centipede and Millipede.

I remember finally being able to master the the thrust, spin, fire buttons of Asteroids at Queen's Bowling
as vector graphics spilled across the screen, but really having my mind blown with Tempest's spinning
geometry and the ability to paint the playfield with fire.

I remember the advent of the trackball and consumption by the Xs and Os of Atari Football at Eastgate
Square, soon to be brought to apotheosis by Missile Command's patriotic defense of the cities as
bombardments of pixellated gravity-drawn destruction rained down from overhead.

I remember sneaking to the downtown Casino arcade for the side-scrolling savior status scooping civilians
in Defender, eggs in Joust, Scramble's labyrinth of fuel tanks and rockets filling me with Flash Gordon
moments of space warrior invincibility, and Zaxxon's faux 3-D angles of doom.

I remember several doors down, at the Palace, strafing, guns blazing from room to room blasting robots
in Berserk and Robotron while exercising a finesse with bow and arrow in Venture.

I remember Gorf.

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I remember fearing for my life at the Blue Lagoon Lounge all to stand in line for a yellow circle that
didn't fire anything, but ate dots and was pursued by ghosts that looked like the McDonald's Fry Goblins
prompting an onslaught of maze progeny that followed with Ms., Baby and Super Pacman, Mousterap,
Ladybug, Dig Dug, and Mr. Do.

I jumped through carpal tunnels in Frogger.

I achieved transcendental states leaping barrels with Mario before he became the brand.

I travelled through the ages of Time Pilot.

I threw down the Gauntlet and it threw back.

I lived with Tron for half a year at 7-11.

I rented and stood in roller skates for hours on end, not because I enjoyed roller skating, but because
Roller World had one of the best game selections in the city.

You can keep your Halo, Diablo, and Grand Theft Auto. Stop waxing emphatic about Wii Fit, Guitar
Hero, and Call of Duty. I don't care if I ever hear another word about God of War, Final Fantasy, The
Sims, or World of Warcraft.

Give me a quarter, a joystick, a fire button to mash, and a place to enter A J M when I get high score.

lovehate: Mornings on the Road

Sitting in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel and Convention Centre in Richmond Hill, Ontario for four
days of conference and training, I awoke at 4am and could not get back to sleep even after listening to a
full CD's worth of 80's progressive rock and begrudgingly watching some Olympic coverage because my
only other choice was an infomercial about an exercise machine that doesn't look nearly as fun as some of
the well-toned automatons seem to indicate.

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Normally, at such events, I'm loathe to be startled by a wake-up call that rattles through my skull like the
demented cross between the bells of St. Mary's and a Nine Inch Nails B-side. On this morning at least, I
was not subjected to such an ordeal.

Being lucky enough to have found employment in a career that affords me a long summer vacation (and
being a nighthawk by nature) I usually find myself, by the second week of July, waking no earlier than the
crack of noon and often getting to sleep after dawn's break. While this morning, as I occasionally glance
up past the horizon that is the top of the monitor at the early-risers in their caffeine-induced wanderlust,
I am content to live with novelty of having become conscious at a time where, for the past six weeks, I
had often remained up to see. In the summer I'm wont to ask friends, "you mean there's a 10am?"

Morning is just wrong in so many ways.

I drift around in a semi-conscious haze and am annoyed by people that are way too happy and energetic
for their own good. I would much rather see the stragglers from an all-night run at a club come staggering
through the lobby - at least they look how I feel. They've done their best to try and make me comfortable
in the Hilton lobby. They've provided me with a complimentary PC to bang away my thoughts (although
using IE6 again is a painful experience). They've gone through great pains to create this crazy open feng
shui environment that runs an unbroken stretch incorporating the front desk, TV lounge, internet
stations, bar, coffee shop and restaurant. But for the restaurant it kind of looks like an upscale Barnes &
Noble. I feel so damn cosmopolitan I might just throw up. If I see one more light fixture that looks like it
belongs at the MOMA or one piece of smoked glass I may just need a bucket.

If you awake early in the mornings while travelling, it can never be a good thing. It usually means you
have stuff you HAVE to do (and nobody wants to HAVE to do anything), or you evidently didn't try
hard enough to have fun the night before.

And as the TV in the lounge shows sports highlights and the overhead cascade of piped-in music plays
Aerosmith's "Dream On" (and oh, I so wish I could have dreamed on from 4-8am) , and a Peewee
baseball team from Whoknowswheresville tramps in to kill time in front of the TV until they're allowed
to check in (it's 7:30 am!), and I frame my vision with a print of a elephant with the title "Kenya" behind
the coffee stand barrista, and the lamp beside my monitor screams to be reunited with its Ikea brethren,

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and most people are dressed WAY better than I am with my "I'm what Willis was talkin' 'bout" tee, I
take some solace in looking at the gentleman two PCs over, who, by his body language, seems to get it.

lovehate: Monotasking

There's an old insult that still get thrown at people who are either clumsy or obsessive: you couldn't walk
and chew gum at the same time. As the world turns more wired and media streams at us from all angles,
I'm starting to wonder if the insult will soon be turned around to say "you can't just walk" anymore. After
all, how many people when walking aren't a) en route, b) plugged in (earbuds or otherwise), or c) waiting
to pick up their dog's stool sample?

When I sit in front of the computer, I almost always have the TV on. Sometimes the TV is on (muted)
while I'm streaming web radio. Last night I caught myself blogging while watching a podcast in the
corner of the screen while the TV was muted and I was involved in two games of online poker. I can
multitask with the best of them... I don't know that I can monotask anymore.

While going to sleep, I always have a podcast, music, or TV playing in the background. While walkin'
down the street I always queue up my "walkin' 'round" playlist on my Nano, and I wish I could say I was
just walkin' 'round to walk 'round, but I'm usually going somewhere instead of just walkin'.

It's the reason I can't live with a browser that doesn't have tabs. A hotel I recently stayed at was still
running IE6 and I kept wondering why my clickthroughs weren't showing up in my active window. It's
the same reason I have at least two dozen add-ons running in Firefox; I must know as much as possible in
the smallest amount of screen real estate possible.

I feel lucky that I'm old enough to still sit through a film without restlessly twitching around. I feel sorry
for the 16 year old that compulsively texts during films and then feels it's necessary to discuss the
conversations with her friends during the part where Bruce Willis takes out a helicopter with a police car!

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I am thrilled that, while enjoying a concert, I don't have to be viewing it through a two-inch digital
camera or cell phone screen. That I don't need to shuffle through 50 yards of death march-like
meandering for overpriced beer in order to enjoy listening to live music.

I suppose that what Windows was all about though, the burgeoning dawn of multitasking. We've moved
into an age of snippet efficiency where the majority of us don't only find it tempting to allow our minds to
hop, skip and jump from job to job and back again, we will soon be to the point where we can't do
anything but.

I remember, through university, sitting down in front of an archaic PC where the concept of doing
anything while typing up an essay was just as impossible as it was impractical - after all, it took hours to
download even a few songs from an FTP server on a 28.8 or 56.6 modem as long as the three other
people in my house didn't get a phone call. There was certainly no way you were going to be listening to
streaming web radio... because, quite simply, there wasn't web radio. And if I tried to burn a CD, I'd was
better to even move the mouse around for fear of causing a buffer underrun error.

Technology has allowed us to centralize our multitasking, because, let's face it, ask any parent who's been
a primary caregiver and they can tell you all about the history of multitasking, but they put a crapload of
miles on every day. My PC's sedentary interface allows me to communicate in real time (and by mail),
listen to music, watch video, and then turn around to record and produce my own content. I read,
critique, mashup, digg, stumbleupon. I can buy and sell anything while negotiating a home mortgage and
investing in an RSP at tax time. I can research any topic and aggregate information, catalogue, hyperlink
and blog to my heart's content. And I can do this ALL at the same time while sitting in a chair.

So am I doing more or less? From the micro perspective, there's a lot of stuff going on. From the macro
perspective, I'm sitting at a computer, occasionally clicking or keying and really embodying what an
outsider would call monotasking. I've become the living metaphor for Jamiroquai's Travelling Without

I just wish I could fall asleep without aural and visual wallpaper.

Why can't we just enjoy chewing gum for its own sake?

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lovehate: Questions W5H

Who is the person that I occasionally catch the fleeting glimpse of in the mirror that causes me to double-
take in confusion?
Who can explain the musical success of singer who cannot sing and musicians who cannot play?
Who greenlit Beverly Hills Chihuahua?
Who is that ING Direct guy and what ad wizards decided to put him on the air?
Who abducted the hearts of cities and replaced them with bowels?
What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
What cannot be defended against by a big enough cereal box fort?
What makes people think Comic Sans is acceptable for a business document?
What incredibly effective lobbying effort has kept the fax machine around this long?
What makes us afraid to see our strengths in others?
When did children learn to give up before high school?
When did keeping up with the Joneses dictate every suburban house in America besmirched by siding?
When did Prince see the white cliffs of sanity and decide "parachute optional"?
When will we tear the roof off the sucka?
When will we finally take everything back?
Where can I buy Silly Putty?
Where is east of somewhere and west of nowhere?
Where do animated gifs go to die?
Where does cloud computing go after the rain?
Where did I go wrong?
Why has style replaced substance?
Why is it that best ideas come to mind in inverse relation to my proximity to a pen?
Why is it that as much as pop culture lets me down I am inexorably drawn to it?
Why would loving deities permit suffering?
Why do so many people care about the acceptance of strangers?
How can our gift of seeing the big picture so obscure our ability to see the details?
How did we not rise up as one when networks placed bugs on our screens 24/7?
How does a litre of water from a machine cost more than a litre of gas from another?
How did everything become so diposable?
How do I start loving more than I hate?

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lovehate: nature v. the city

I know that huge chunks of urban society spend their days in torturous labor in order to have the pot of
gold at the end of the rainbow. For many, that pot of gold ends up being the weekend. And the pot only
takes two days to get through... then you have to fill it again. When the shining moments arise that the
two day escape can turn to three, four, or a week or two, thoughts run rampant in the heads of urban
dwellers as the word "vacation" swirls through their brains.

Invariably, in my Canada, the strongest proclivity for any vacation choice that has to be painstakingly
planned is somewhere with more heat, less snow and abundant shopping. For the shorter jaunts that don't
require planning, the constant pull is to head north. You see, heading north in Southern Ontario means
heading for a cottage or campground with trees, lakes and more trees. It is a place of lush greens, cerulean
blues, crisp air and cloudless nights. It is this 2-4 hour drive into "nature" that appeals to so many, and
makes Ontarians, nay, Canadians, the envy of many cultures. For me, however, getting back to nature is
just not as attractive a concept as it should be.

When examining the word "nature" in it's psychological and sociological sense, I hope most people can
appreciate that it's simply not in my "nature" to be in "nature". I was born, raised and will probably die in
a city. And for all the people who bemoan a lost state of being that would have us running around in
animal skins and tapping maple trees, I say, where's the drive-thru? The simple truth of the matter is that
I don't think concrete is ugly.

I would rather see a skyscraper that reaches towards the stratosphere than look up at trees in an arboreal
forest. I would rather see bridges and tunnels that span expanses rather than the untouched expanses
themselves. I would rather people didn't try to plant flowers down islands in the middle of the road.
Allow me to clarify - I'm not for unfettered urban expansion in an unflinching grasp to usurp all wildlife
and plants. I simply love the city.

There is something to be said for intent. I love the fact that a mind could conceive of a plan. That the
plan could be adopted by a group. That the group could labor to achieve. And that the achievement
stands for all to see. I love the spirit of creation that city embodies from the shiny financial district to row

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of theatres. From the local college or university to the new strip mall, from the rent-controlled housing to
the five-star hotel, everything that stands was once water and cement. Thought, intent, and labor created
and endured.

I wish I could say that each of these plans was well executed and that every building was a work of art that
remained essential, untouched and vital. There are bound to be missteps. Such is the nature of creation. If
creativity could never offer up gaffes and mistakes the exercise would hardly be rewarding when striking
and magnificent come to fruition.

I have been to Las Vegas over a dozen times. My parents live in Arizona. I have not once gone to see the
Grand Canyon. And it's not that I don't think it would be an awe-inspiring vista of natural happenstance,
but, quite simply, while happenstance may hold a place of awe, creativity and intent holds a place of
wonder. Creativity and intent can be aspired to. Happenstance just... well... it just happens. When I look
down the Las Vegas Strip and see the long and bending road with neon turning night into day and
thousands of people circulating in their own crapulence... I bask in its purple moontan's majesty.

Don't begrudge the traffic for the birdsong. Don't give up on the music wafting from the patio bar down
the street for the sound of wind in the trees. Don't buy into the romantic notion that your natural state is
a hunter/gatherer who fights off frostbite in the brush every winter. Nature will exist without you; the city
will not. If the natural state of earth is evolution, we are part of that evolution. We will batter and bruise
the earth just like children slipping and skinning their knees and, in the end, we may or may not endure,
and our decaying civilizations may be the iodine that disinfects, but the planet will endure long after we've
given up this mortal coil.

Go ahead. Pack your campers. Fire up the Coleman stoves. Light up the mosquito coils... because, after
all, we don't love everything about nature. Fill your coolers with ice. Roast your marshmallows on the fire
and try not to think of Monday. I support your backwoods endeavors. If you want to know what I'm
doing, however, pick up your cell phone and I'll try and talk to you over the din of the CD jukebox, my
friends at the table, the clinking of pint glasses and the souped-up Z28 that's cruising by, windows
rattling with some indiscrimate bass line. And with all of the noise, both aural and visual, and the sewers
that smell like shit, and the empty paper coffee cups, I'll take the concrete. I'll take the streets. I'll take the
city. It's my nature.

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lovehate: The Pains of Iodine

There was one word that scared the living hell out of everyone who skinned a knee or elbow as a child:
iodine. Iodine hurt like hell. It was a combination of pain as well. Most types of pain can be described as
searing for a minute and then slowburn, or a long-term irritation that never makes you tear up, but can
cause you major discomfort with the occasional wincing. I always remember iodine as a "take no
prisoners" new ring of Dante's Inferno.

Now, admittedly, I can't remember many of the details of iodine pain as a child except for the fact that I
would have rather hacked my limb off than have iodine applied. Hell, there were plenty of times I may
have accepted amputation and cauterizing as long as it was not followed by venom-like sting of iodine.

I can honestly say that the most intense pain I've ever felt in my life was when, in my early 20s, I had
minor surgery on my back and, instead of stitching the wound, they advised letting it heal while keeping
it bandaged and packed with gauze. Some of you may be feeling faint at the concept of an open wound,
yet, those of you who have even a minor experience in surgery at all may know that this method can
prevent future infection... anyway... back to my back, and my pain. Before leaving the hospital, as a means
of disinfecting, and what I'm guessing was a standard wound dressing practice, they placed an iodine-
coated dry strip in the incision.

I cannot describe the plummeting depths of pain that I went through. The only thing I could've imagined
as worse was if Rod Stewart had tried to resurrect his career by remaking three CDs full of R&B hits and
those songs being the only ones on your iPod, which was stuck in shuffle mode so the pain (like any good
torture) was fresh and unexpected each time, while you were stuck on a desert island with the earbuds
sutured into your ears, the headphone jack welded into the Shuffle, and the iPod battery on some freaky
new solar battery technology, which, due to the island's location, kept the batteries fully charged.

This pain seemed to go on for hours, although it was more like a minute before I was able to convince the
nurse to remove the strip and find some other way that wouldn't have me looking for the nearest upper
floor window. While I can't claim to be traumatized by the event, it has become the standard by which all
other pain is measured... ergo the complete parallel of the Rod Stewart example.

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And I bring you through all of my personal hell to introduce the following...

io9.com (ironically enough) pointed to a story about a Canadian initiative that claimed the deficiency of
iodine in food and drink can lead to a 13 point deficiency in IQ. The Micronutrient
Initiative has introduced more iodine in the diet of developing countries and gathered evidence to show
how IQ has increased. I think that few would be surprised to accept a link between nutrition and
intelligence. I daresay that one of the numerous reasons children from lower income socio-economic areas
have problems in school is a result of a healthy and consistent diet. I'm not saying iodized salt will solve
the world's ills, but it's good to have a long-known piece of the puzzle has another piece of empirical data.

There must, however, be a growing fear in many of these developing countries. Many of people are
overworked, underpaid, impoverished and hopeless. Woe to be the government that actually has a
growing populace that can start to think of a way out of their positions and consider change. Woe to be
the western conglomerate exec. who has a shoe or clothing factory that pays pennies on the dollar for a
12-16 hour day of work when their workforce suddenly feels inspired with thoughts or evolution and
revolution. Poverty and malnutrition has always been a more powerful tool than any gun or army in
keeping a class subdued. Are governments ready, willing and able to face the full impact and pains of
social change that a nutrient as simple as iodine can bring?

And I introduced that just to bring you back to this...

I fully believe that the pain I felt from my iodine hell was in fact the knowledge of the world trying to
flood into my limited brain, and that, had I the fortitude to withstand the pain, I would now be the
smartest person in the world.

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lovehate: Waiting in Style

I'll be the first to admit that I can be a pretty cheap bastard when it comes to most things. In ridiculous
ways too - not at all consistent. I'll spend a bunch of time trying to get the best price for a room in Vegas,
but won't balk at the hundreds of dollars I may lose in a session of blackjack. I will wait weeks for the
right deal on a flight. Just recently I booked a short flight between Phoenix and Las Vegas as part of trip
home after the holidays and waited two months for the price to go down from $59US to $41US... I
probably lost money considering the Canadian dollar has crashed in that time.

What I have miserly with is the differences in decimals between gas stations. I almost always get my gas
at one chain because it allows me to maximize my Flight Plan points which gets me a flight on a yearly
basis. And this extra spending on gas (and dozens of other Point collecting techniques) has allowed me to
fly - for the first time mind you - Air Canada's Executive Class to Las Vegas. More on this in a minute.

I arrived at the Toronto airport four hours in advance and, while this may seem ridiculous to many
people, hoped I wouldn't have to endure repeated Bataan death marches of check-in, customs, carry-on
scans, etc.. Much to my surprise the foot traffic at the airport was almost like a ghost town. With the
amount of snow this area received last night, and expected to get tomorrow night, I thought there would
be cattle calls of people wanting to get out ASAP. Apparently I was mistaken.

And so I find myself with near three hours to kill waiting for my flight to Las Vegas. Then I remember
about the Executive Class booking. Such a booking has qualified me for admittance to the Terminal One
Maple Leaf Club in the Toronto Airport. I feel like I've walked out an Amtrak station and onto the deck
of the QE2.

Laid out before me is a quadruple spigot tap for pouring pints, about a dozen liquor bottles uptipped in
shot positions, a cooler of every soft drink under the sun and a small group of people looking quite
content. Not having a job where I can expense Executive flight upgrades, this world is foreign to me. It's
almost too quiet. No announcements, sound-proofing, panoramic views of the runways... I feel like this is
Eloi world that this lone Morlock has stumbled into. Mix me up a batch of soma-infused Freshie, I'll join
the "club".

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I never thought waiting at the airport could be so antiseptically-different from mixing it up with the
embattled hordes jostling for room at the gates. Dear me, have I become elitist... maybe I'll come down to
earth seven hours from now as I walk into my $50/night room at the Sahara on the Vegas Strip. I'll think
back to the fond memories of free internet, free drinks, modo stylings, and people who look too cool to
care. Then I'll go down into the casino and see it all over again.

Tom Petty once opined, "the waiting is the hardest part." Surely he can get his agent to book him into
Executive Class next time. C'mon Tom, you don't have to live like a refugee!

lovehate: My Shopping Evolution

The world wide web has many positive and negative attributes not the least of which, both positive and
negative, is eliminating my need and desire to ever visit brick and mortar stores again.

I remember growing up in a time when the Mall was the touchstone of all social and pop cultural
advancement. As an early teen I could easily wander from checking out the freaky animals at the pet store
to meeting a friend who worked at the record store (they were still called record stores then) to checking
out the t-shirt shack, food court, music sections of department stores, book stores and basically wander
around aimlessly for hours. This was all, of course, before driving was an option and before I was
permitted to hop the bus downtown.

Upon gaining the bus permission, my browsing became refined. The downtown core held five record
shops worth checking out on a weekly basis with at least two bookstores and two comic book shops.
There were also a couple of television stores that carried the latest video game cartridges for Atari,
Intellivision, Colecovision, and, a couple of years later, Commodore 64 software. This was the first time
in my life I could feel ahead of the curve on things. This was the time I was reading magazines on video
games, musical instruments, and collectibles. I knew when things were coming out a month in advance
and could save up money for something I really wanted because I'd read the advance reviews.

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The ability to drive and a growing experience at the specialized shops allowed me to winnow down my
browsing even further. I knew the best stores to maintain my comic book collection, my sports card
collection, my video game addiction and even had "frequent buyer" discounts on all the LPs and cassettes
I bought. Each Friday night would be a comic and record run. Each Saturday would be sports cards and
video games. I had it down to a system, and the only thing that killed the system was my burgeoning

You see, I am, by nature, a collector. I have to get parts three and four if I've got parts one and two. I
purchased comic book series far after they ever remained good just for the completist in me. I would buy
every album a band put out if I liked the first one I bought. I would sometimes avoid a comic book series
or novel series altogether if I'd missed the first one or two installments. I liked to get in on the ground
floor... it was for this reason I eschewed coming in late to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics and
instead turned to the radical underground stylings of the Adolescent Radioactive Blackbelt Hamsters.

But knowledge is a costly thing. I soon found I could not keep up with everything I wanted to maintain
this completist lifestyle and, as such, started to give up things altogether. I stopped buying comic books. I
gave up hockey cards. I radically slowed down book buying. I focused on music and, while trying to keep
up with growing PC options, the costs really put them out of my league. Besides, I had already learned
how to tape over a notch in a 5.25" floppy in order to copy and recopy to my heart's content.

I moved into a time period where the only interest in any mall was books (more as a passing interest than
a purchase) and music. And even then, the mp3 scene was bursting out with Napster and Gnutella clients.
I had moved my browsing from windows and aisles onto web and ftp sites. I, essentially, forsook the

I have the city's only worthwhile mall, by all accounts, a five minute walk from my house and I haven't
been there in two years except to meet a friend at a restaurant inside. I remember renewing my license
plate stickers two years ago at a kiosk just inside the doorway. I don't know or care to know any of the
stores contained therein except for the ones with their illuminated signs emblazoned on the outside. I
have been shopping online for over a decade. I remember pooling friends together to buy 500 blank CD-
Rs and 1000 CD-R sleeves to get a discount rate. I research, discover, and comparison shop without
leaving the comforts of home.

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When I walk into the Brick & Mortar store these days, I feel out of place. I see people wandering around
aimlessly looking at things and often feel that I should be doing so as well. I'll walk up and down the
aisles looking at things I know about, don't want, and wonder why anyone would ever that price for it.
When a sales clerk asks if I need help, I'll play the game and say, "No, I'm just looking." I don't want to
make the clerks feel bad by letting them in on the fact that their jobs have become meaningless to me
unless they have to unlock a display case. I try to make my Brick & Mortar experiences as long as possible
to soak in the ritual that accompanies so many of the hoards that still shuffle aimlessly between the

In reality, but for checkout lines and slow debit machines, I should be out of any store in three minutes or
less. I don't want the extended warranty. I don't want to upgrade to the "next" level. I don't want any
advice from a clerk who's extent of technological knowledge is capped at chat clients and X-Box Live.
CompUSA and Circuit City are victims of me and those like me who now have the tool to do the
research, the comparison and often the purchase itself. Gone are the days of trusting a sales clerk to tell
you if something is good. I've got a world of reviewers at my disposal and an endless supply of merchants
willing to ship worldwide to my door.

Yesterday was Boxing Day in Canada, kind of like Black Friday in the US, and I haven't been there for
years to take part. Even the online specials are almost meaningless. Unless I feel like a visceral cattle call
in my near future, don't ever expect to see me rubbernecking the Brick & Mortars again.

I've evolved.

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