Creep Creep

Can we all just agree that marketers are overwhelmingly creeps? It seems the lot are driven to exaggerations and hyperbole in the effort to sell us anything at all. Today I’d like to talk about the exaggerations in “technical” fields. Marketers offend me here as a science fiction author.

Let’s get right to the “hoverboard” that does not hover and is prone to explode or at least burn. This wheeled contraption is obviously not a hovering vehicle of any kind. It has wheels like almost all modes of transport. How dare they make the standard so low just because the year has come and gone when the movie Back to the Future said hoverboards would be on the market.

Next the marketing creeps have been calling remote control battles, robot battles for more than a decade. The whole point of robots is that they are supposed to do what you tell them to do and figure out how best to do that all on its own. Half the battle of building a robot is the brain. If it’s an RC fight you want then call it that.

The third big lie and overstated technology is artificial intelligence or AI. I know some of it is like a black box that the programmers can’t see inside. And it can learn. It may be artificial but it’s not intelligent just yet. AIs still suck at understanding human speech, something even the least intelligent humans can get. Until it can handle an intelligent conversation with me, I don’t believe artificial intelligences exist and the singularity is just around the corner.

Quit overstating technology. The bounds are changing every day. Just because the creeps of marketing stole some terms from science fiction doesn’t mean we’re living in an advanced future. Today seems like such an unsatisfying future when they have to lie about it for you.

Maybe we can get the marketers on false advertising claims. Maybe then science fiction could reclaim its words.

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The Canadian Duel

(Showdown at the Number 12 Bus)

There I was, embarking on the simple task of taking the number 12 bus. A crowd had built up as the bus pulled up and let out its passengers. That went orderly enough but those of us who wanted to get on were not in any clear lineup. Still the earlier waiters slowly managed to spill in the front doors. But something different was about to happen to me.

I and another young gent had about equal claims to go next. So simply I took off my blue tooth headphones and said, “after you.”

Then he said, “No. After you.” He waved his hand as part of the gesture. So it was on. A true Canadian duel.

Because I had just taken my headphones off I wasn’t sure if my polite nemesis had said ‘After you,’ an earlier time. I waved my hand but he didn’t go.

Dangerously we were now the front most pair of everyone trying to get on the bus. From past trauma I knew where this might head.

A chain reaction of ‘After yous’ might spread to the whole rest of the crowd and it would be nuclear. Imagine the chaos of everyone saying ‘after you’ and no one moving. Avoiding that nuclear catastrophe, I just went on ahead.

I had lost the Canadian duel. Quietly I got on that bus and cursed my headphones and their comfort for making me lose. I also silently cursed my seat which would be slightly better than my victor’s.

But that’s what happens when you lose a Canadian duel. I would just have to play it in my head whenever I feel traumatized and make sure I learn from it so I never lose a Canadian duel again.

This is all part of the risks you take while being in Canadian society. Learn from my mistakes that day.

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Vaguest Shortened Name

There is a danger when you shorten too much, which can happen as English sometimes is a more concise language. You can lose information – important information. Which is usually bad. But in this day and age that might be a good thing for names as you might have partial anonymity.

What am I talking about specifically? Well, just this week, I realized that Ed could mean any of three common names. Edward, Edwin and Edgar can all be shortened to that.

Then I realized that the other vague shortened name I knew was Mo. This can stand for Morris or even Mohammed. Since we were using non English names, I realized there could be a third name – Mohamar. I was surprised that there were so many possibilities for these two names. So I thought some more.

I eventually put Ed out in front because it could stand for the foreign name Edsel (which I believe is German). But I wanted a race. So I thought more on Mo. And I uncovered girls’ names. Mo could stand for Mona, Maura or Maureen.

Ed has two more female names it could represent: Edwina and Edna.

So, for a long time I was stuck in a two way tie with six names. Still, I wanted to declare a winner for this post and possible for all shortened names.

I thought more about Ed knowing that it was short a woman’s name. Then I stumbled across Edie. It has a long E sound and thus normally wouldn’t be allowed. But the two sounds are the names of the letters in Ed: E. D. So of course they can be shortened to ED and pronounced Ed. I have my winner. Important in this the era of anonymity.

And to add icing to the cake for Ed, I just realized that Mohammed with the spelling I am using, has an Ed in there as well. So it can also be shortened to Ed. That’ 8 short forms that are Ed to 6 short forms that are Mo.

Can you think of an even more vague shortened name? Please share it. With so many names in the world, it’s more than possible I have missed some name that is even more vague.

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History is Bunk

Mass production great, Henry Ford, once said that “History is bunk”. Now, Henry Ford is long dead so we have historians to thank for preserving this quote and passing it down through the ages. If history is bunk, then, the historians have proved history isn’t bunk by preserving the idea that history is bunk. This gets contradictory and ironic so fast that I’ll just let it fester.

This small tale is no April Fool’s joke. It is entirely true. Ask an historian.

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Men Without Audible Voices

In the eighties, I went to Montreal and my brother and sister took me to a bar that Ivan Doroschuk was known to frequent. I had heard of him because I liked the pop band Men Without Hats that he fronted. Although this was an eighties pop band, Men Without Hats also put together listenable albums which was rare at the time. Their biggest hit was Safety Dance and from that video I imagined that Ivan was six feet tall.

So in that Montreal bar we did indeed see Ivan that night. I make a poor fanboy as I didn’t go up to him and try talking with him. But I could see that he was 5’6” or maybe even shorter. This surprised me.

My sister once tried to explain to me that I thought he was tall because the Safety Dance video has him and a short girl and a dwarf. Of course he looked big next to those two. But that’s not the only reason I was under the misapprehension that he was tall. It is also true that he has a low singing voice.

I am a fan of the band Yes that is just this year being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their most well known singer is Jon Anderson who is about the size of Ivan. Jon Anderson has the highest singing voice of any male singer in rock. Also Jon Anderson wasn’t able to go on tour a few years ago and his two replacements, Benoit David and Jon Davison (who are former members of Yes cover bands) are shorter than the rest of the members of Yes. I believe that all three are about the size of Ivan Doroschuk.

Indeed the idea of shorter people having higher voices carries over to primordial dwarves. Primordial dwarves have the proportions of most humans. So they have very high voices because of shorter vocal cords.

Do you wonder why a mouse squeaks? Why that is really a fierce roar that other, bigger animals aren’t afraid of.

So I think that Ivan is an outlier. In the interest of science, I think he should breed with a woman that is well over six feet tall. If Ivan were to have a 6’6” offspring male, I bet it would have the voice of a Barry White as it grows and finally, after his voice changes, he will be left inaudible to the average human’s ears.

He would appear to be a mute human but I wonder if he would find friends in the greatest of whales, the blue whales, that also use sounds too low for human beings to hear. If he practiced singing while he was a kid, perhaps he could sing songs just to the blue whales. Perhaps this would make him the whale whisperer.

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My Cat Loves Found Toys

When I first got my cat, Bast, I tried buying her all sorts of toys. But she rejected them one by one. The mouse on an elastic attached to the top of a door frame I thought would be the best. She did play with that one but less and less. Most toys she would ignore. One, the suction cup spring toy I attached to the side of my fridge at cat height, she didn’t play with and just kept ripping the suction cup off so the toy was on the floor.

But one inexpensive toy gripped her. She would hear my tearing off of an envelope end and jump into my lap. Before I was done reading the letter or maybe more properly bill, she would reach her paw up and grab the envelope end. This is her favourite toy of self play. She’ll play with these scraps on the ground after she has liberated them from my table.

I’ve tried all manner of balls with her but she hardly plays with these things. But I bought grapes and one time one accidentally fell to the floor. She rolled this around and it met her approval as a cat toy. Of course it was weeks later that I found this lone grape underneath my furniture, rotting away. So I have not let her have any other grapes. Still this alleged carnivore that doesn’t beg for food, will beg me every time I bring out any grapes to snack on.

She will play with me and the red laser toy. I just don’t bring it out that often because it isn’t that fun a toy for me. Especially after the first minute or two when she will look up at my hands and know that I am moving it around for her entertainment purposes. Then she stops.

I just got a watch with the biggest face I have ever seen. So even far from the kitchen light in the living room it catches that reflection which sometimes accidentally makes an appearance on the floor. My cat loves playing with this. And she really doesn’t know where the light is coming from which makes her play for a few moments. This is way longer than she plays with the laser light.

So there you have it. If I had known my cat’s penchant for found toys, I could have saved all of my toy bills. I have three ways of playing with her for free even if I won’t use the one because of the possible stench in my apartment.

So there you go. Three free ideas to keep your cat entertained without actually buying a toy. Try them first if you get a cat. If not you can buy the toys my cat won’t play with.

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Welcome, Canadians, to Our ‘Choice’

For those who don’t know, Canada has five parties that get seats: the Liberals, the Conservatives, the NDP, the Greens and the Bloc (which is only in Quebec and can’t win. I am going to ignore them for the rest of this article.)

So really there are four parties with different platforms that have the possibility of being elected. Canada is so lucky with all this choice you might think.

But of late the NDP has been waiting for the Green party to make its decisions. Then the NDP lifts their policies under the idea that only the NDP is a big enough party to get elected.

The Liberals and Conservatives used to be different parties. But not under the leadership of Justin Trudeau. Again and again he has bravely kept the Liberals supporting policy after policy of the Conservative Party.

It is my theory that Justin Trudeau thinks it all boils down to party moneys. He watched the Conservatives for a decade amass the largest war chest election after election. And now it appears that Justin is gunning for all this monetary support. So he shadows the Conservatives like a true zealot assuming he can buy the next election.

So there are only two choices in Canadian politics. ‘Welcome,’ our American neighbours would probably say.

But it gets worse.

Of the four parties only two have ever governed – the Liberals and the Conservatives. The closest the NDP has ever gotten is second place. The closest the Greens have ever gotten is fourth place among the relevant four.

So power rotates between the same guys and the same old guys who are the Liberals and the Conservatives. In all this it looks like only one view will ever have power in our stagnating system.

C’mon people vote for non liberal/conservatives. We need this in the next election. So we can say that our system is no worse than the American one. And worse, it presently is. Welcome to your choice. If that doesn’t get fewer Canadians voting, I don’t know what will.

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Let’s Build a Wall

It has been said that the reason The United States must build a wall is because many Mexicans are trying to escape their hellhole for the relative peace of the United States of America. So along came Donald Trump with his idea of building a wall and then sending the bill to Mexico.

In recent months people from the United States have been leaving that country for Canada. The Manitoba and Quebec borders have only weak defenses. Unlike Ontario which has a wall of Great Lakes, Manitoba guards over a lightly populated border that is not treacherous at all to manage and Quebec which has odd borders like towns that seem to be arbitrarily separated building by building.

These attempted Canadians have to be housed, fed and ruled upon in Canada. Whether these people will ever be allowed to stay is up in the air right now.

To stop this problem and the uncomfortable example it sets for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, I have a suggestion. Build a wall.

These people will of course not stop without a huge wall. After all the United States is a relative hellhole compared to the peacefulness in Canada. Do not fear the taxpayer, Justin, for the United States has already voiced their take on the situation. Build the wall then present the bill to Donald Trump to pay.

Of course the Donald will pay. All we have to do is wait while he sets the precedent with Mexico. With the Donald’s own actions setting the international rules for wall payment, He will pay because he has to. Just as he does with all his business endeavours. Oh wait…

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Maybe Mary Wasn’t One of the Biggest Liars of All Time

Christians believe (blindly) that Mary, mother of Jesus, was a virgin at the date of Jesus’ birth. Now any member of another religion (as well as atheists and agnostics) believe that Mary was one of the biggest liars of all time.

This lie is even more of a whopper in that Mary was married to Joseph all through the time of her pregnancy and birth. Joseph was almost supernaturally good to accept this lie and the lack of sex from Mary.

The claim of course was that virgins cannot get pregnant. So Mary blamed her condition on God himself who she claimed was the real father.

To this date the debate rages on. Liar! Not! It’s a rather tired refrain from both sides.

But I was unaware of the biological circumstance known as parthenogenesis which simply means “virgin birth” in Greek. The types of vertebrates that can do parthenogenesis are fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds. All these animals can have babies that have no father. The egg gets fertilized by just the female.

Why should mammals be left out of this female power play? Maybe Mary was an actual virgin whose marriage to Joseph hadn’t been consummated. Perhaps Mary somehow fertilized her egg the way that all non-mammal vertebrates do.

The birth of Jesus was then an example of parthenogenesis and not a miracle. In this scenario Jesus literally is not the son of God. He could, however, be the metaphorical son of God which saves the Christian religion.

Next time a Jehovah’s Witness comes a knocking, I’ll just tell them Jesus had no father because… parthenogenesis. They’ll have to call out their expert, then, who’ll say mammals can’t do that. I’ll yell “Prove it!” at the top of my lungs then I’ll slam the door and not let any Jehovah’s Witnesses back in. Ironically I won’t be giving my tormenters a chance to prove it.

Parthenogenesis is really a poor thing to hang your religion on.

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A Perfect Storm of Groundhogs

For the purposes of this article I have used this list of prominent groundhog prognosticators.

First of all I want to ignore the southern groundhogs. By 6 more weeks of winter, in my parts it means 6 more weeks of snow on the ground and not the light winters of the American south. So I have no problems ignoring Alabama’s Smith Lake Jake, North Carolina’s Sir Walter Wally and I definitely have no problems ignoring Georgia’s more racist General Beauregard Lee (an amalgam of the two biggest generals in the rebellion of the south).

So let’s get right on to the most famous groundhog of all, Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania. He and his mid latitude counterparts – Buckeye Chuck of Ohio and Staten Island Chuck – may have once had a possibility of 6 more weeks of snow on the ground but in our time of global warming, they no longer make the grade.

So we are left with the three Canadian contenders for the prize of being the most accurate groundhog prognosticators. But, as anyone who knows Alberta in the slightest, late winter and early spring can have Chinook wind temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius and colder temps like minus 40 degrees Celsius. In general it is too difficult to define the start of spring in the province of Alberta and thus the groundhog has great difficulty in seeing his shadow or not. Maybe it’s always a haze in Alberta. So much for Balzac Billy.

We are thus left with Wiarton Willie of Ontario and Shubenacadie Sam of Nova Scotia. This year the portly prognosticators said there would be an early spring.

Could this be the perfect storm of an early spring? The only reliable groundhogs say yes. All across Canada there will be rejoicing. Until the next year when the groundhog pair say an early spring again. Then the next year and the next. Thus, I am suggesting that these groundhogs will prove global warming to the masses. What science couldn’t do, bull$#!+ prognosticating will do. Which should surprise no one. Scientists need a Global Warming Day to compete with Groundhog Day.

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