Friday, January 27, 2017

What you can't do in the new Star Trek

Things we cannot have in the new Star Trek Discovery

If Discovery is set 10 years before Kirk is Captain of the Enterprise, there are many things the producers need to keep in mind, if they want to be accurate to canon. At this point, Kirk is a Lieutenant on the Farragut, if not still on the Republic…. And probably some of these missions can be referenced ‘by the way’ but not directly seen. This is also the year the Sheliak finish their treaty negotiations, but there are a lot of aliens we cannot see.

                First off, no Ferengi. Enterprise had them as unknown aliens once, and once would be too much on another show. The old ‘we know nothing of this other race with similar ships and technology to us’ saw needs to be retired. The Romulans are isolationist and actively keep others out of their space so it can be understood, but if you run into a Ferengi in a bar, someone would say ‘hey that’s a Ferengi’ at some point or scan them. Ferengi are ‘known of’ but unseen until TNG. Same with a lot of species.

                And no Vulcans IN Starfleet. Mr. Spock at this time was known as the only Vulcan in Starfleet, although Vulcans seemed to be crewing other allied vessels such as the Intrepid. Perhaps, they preferred to be on purely scientific or displomatic missions and actively discouraged Vulcans from ‘actually joining’ Starfleet and serving on multi-race starships. This could be funny to see with Vulcans repulsed by a diverse crew on the Discovery.

                No Romulans – except if they are infiltrating the Federation, perhaps posing as Vulcans or other races so that the Romulans are thought by Kirk to have “never seen a human” are actually knowledgebale about us. No Borg. No Dominion.  No awesome androids. No ‘known’ joined Trills. Having said that, you could have a lost changeling who hides his nature, Torias Dax, and a Cardassian could all meet up sometime and it would be canonically correct.

                You can have more Tellarites and Andorians and other founding Federation races.  I don’t want to go deeply into the culture of every race – because this just killed any love of the Bajorans in me by the end of DS9 – but this can give a lot of the tension needed on a series of people-who-don’t-have-conflicts-with-each-other.

                Klingons are human-looking, due to that virus in Enterprise that de-ridges them… and they are probably isolationist and not ‘ready to mingle’ with the humans.  Perhaps the Federation is advancing quickly because of the human ability to adapt and we take the best of various worlds – tractor beams, shields, weapons, propulsion, etc – that each member world is known for and make some relatively awesome starships and we quickly become the up-start power in the galaxy.

                Please no temporal war… and only one time travel per season AT MOST if it is a really good story. No more ‘oops, we went back in time and erased ourselves’ stuff – we have had too much of that. I don’t mind the old 60s story conventions, but if we go to a world with a malfunctioning advanced computer and awesome technology we have to out-speak, I’ll look away. And I’m sure all the omnipotent energy beings are just waiting to talk to Kirk, not Discovery. And we need some consistent displomacy and economy concepts – Kirk still had ‘credits and pay’ – perhaps as a way of allowing people to distribute resources themselves – but with enough basic energy to supply all food and shelter needs, the average human would not need very much. I could spend my 100 credits a week on something extra special – like real Scotch, a nice outfit, an antique handgun or a vintage helicopter if I save up. Currency would not be the goal but a medium of exchange.

                Perhaps the replicators are not as fine-tuned as on TNG so there is more exchange economy going on still. And people are colonizing still – so maybe we need to ask the questions of indigenous rights on those systems. Maybe the tension between ‘here’s your Starfleet duty – sorry if your culture doesn’t let you use numbers’ races will be a factor.
                I am looking forward to the new series... but my nitpicker is already on full.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Elder planning and joint accounts save a lot of stress for us younger'uns

So as my father has his (probably) last night on earth, I have a little straight forward advice for my peeps who might have older parents.
Although I work in counselling and deal with resistance all the time, I am no wizard for knowing this -  my good friend at work lost her dad last year and had many good ideas that have really helped out this year.

If your parents are 'getting up there':

- ask them to do a simple will so there is no confusion about what should be done 'just in case.' "Just so we know we are honoring your wishes."  Only a couple hundred $ for a will and it makes the lawyers and institutions behave. Especially if you have an 'interesting' family situation - make sure things are written down before you discover there is another sibling in Belize.

- consider power of attorney. And DON'T approach this as 'I will get to control your affairs' which will make the elder resist bitterly. Look at it as 'I will be your flunkey' ie: do your banking for you, pay your Autopac for you, sign things for you so you don't have to.  Seniors DO NOT like giving up control... but they don't mind seniors discounts and sucking up - so note that it puts you not in control but in the SERVANT role. In fact, if they do the power of attorney at the same time as the will - DON'T use it for awhile. Let them get used to the idea. And then one day when they complain they can't get to the bank, offer to do it for them. Let them control how soon you start doing things for them.

- propose a Health Care Directive (living will). It's just a form that says - in case they cannot speak for themselves - you can honor their wishes. Again, this is not about taking control but - "just in case, like Mrs. ABC your know after her stroke" - it allows the proxy person to make decisions in case the person can't. Otherwise, the doctors and hospital will make decisions that you clearly would not want.  Having the Power-of-Attorney and HCD made the hospitals be WAY more helpful with care of the parents these last few months.

- one of the smartest things for estate planning is having JOINT BANK ACCOUNTS.  If the parent adds the child's name to the parent's accounts, then you can do the banking for them, pay expenses, and not have to probate things as much, because if one person passes on, the account still stays active.  Again, if they add you to the account and you get your own bank card/cheque book - maybe let the parent hang on to it so they don't worry any transactions are done without their consent. Soon enough, they will hand it to you and say 'could you pay this bill and deposit this for me and bring back $40 cash dear' while they watch Wheel of Fortune.

- funerals arrangements. This is more about listening than asking. If they talk about going to a funeral, ask them about what it was they liked.  They may say something like 'I would never want to be cremated' or 'I would love to be sprinkled in the ocean' or 'I don't want a service at all'... and you have your marching orders. You don't have to 'what if' 20 times or get specific details unless they want to give them. If they say 'I like Old Jerry's tombstone' - take that as a suggestion. After my mother passed, I found an old funeral service paper with two passages underlined - the exact ones we had just used for her service the week before... so it is good to know what a person likes.  If they say 'it doesn't matter', then it shouldn't matter to you more.  If they are a very specific person, they won't mind writing it down or dictating it to you.

Last year at this time, both my parents were rather healthy and active - and they spent a lot of the winter cooped up because they couldn't get out to do their affairs.  In the spring we arranged all this and it has been such good timing as they were only hospitalized in the summer.  A simple conversation with you - or perhaps a trusted person in their lives they can bounce the ideas off of - and you'll be saving everyone a lot of stress in the long run.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Conservative or Republican Party I Could Vote For

A Conservative or Republican Party I Could Vote For

                It might surprise some people to hear that I have voted conservative in the past but have recently given up on them since they are not a sensible option anymore. If you look at the PC leadership candidates of 2016, you can see why. People who want to bring back the marriage and abortion debate, or eliminate all corporate taxes are simply out of touch with the 21st Century and the voters they will need to face. Voters may turn to them out of spite for the more liberal parties, but it isn’t out of genuine respect. I won’t even gaze at that clown car of a party to the south of us.

                To me, I have more respect for a simpler view of the world now. A conservative doesn’t waste or destroy their heritage, whether it is in our democratic institutions or our natural resources. A conservative doesn’t preach deregulation of industry while increasing the regulations on personal matters. It is just simpler, more conservative even, to get everyone working at fair wages and living healthy lives. An old-stock Canadian like myself does not worry about new Canadians coming in, because we know that our peaceful country is the best proselytizer there is. It makes no sense that we have our best and brightest suffering under crippling student debt which makes them delay building the strong life they want to live. A conservative considers someone locked in a jail to be an expensive waste of a person and metal bars. A conservative doesn’t take pride in a military that is hung out to dry on a discount clothesline.

                Libertarians, while committed to a high ethic, do not have the pragmatism of a conservative who understands the checks and balances of our world, especially the dark side of human nature. Without appropriate restraints, the strong always will brutalize the weak. Social activists, while committed to their own high ethic, fight for their causes, moving us forward; unfortunately, they often don’t think of the impacts all around, and don’t build consensus that would actually move their causes forward sooner.  Banning fossil fuels is just as silly as having no restrictions; pricing carbon emissions so that the next generation of energy will be more economically feasible is how real progress will be made.

                Tories used to have the motto of ‘God, King, and Country’…. But nowhere did they mention Corporations. Business is a fundamental necessity of life, the engine of our prosperity, but that doesn’t mean all our collective good should be subservient to profiteering. Sensible taxes, fair to all, encourage business to re-invest their profits in innovation, and dissuade concentration of wealth at the top. Tickle-down doesn’t trickle enough, and the middle class cannot be the piggy bank for the government while yet buying the good and services the businesses need to sell.

                Instead of a complex web of services and gaps and programs, it is just simpler to make sure everyone is given basic food and shelter. In the long run, it will just be cheaper. We need to not be enslaved to travelling peddlers who threaten to close up shop and move when faced with sensible taxes. If your room-mate move out because he won’t pay his part of the bills, you don’t have to buy his stuff anymore. In fact, taxes should be lower for those Canadian companies who produce and stay here.

                If we are to run the country like a business, we shouldn’t run it like a business in receivership. Why sell off the assets we’ve worked to build. We have a deficit, so we need to raise revenue, not sell the panelling off the house.

                We have a great country here, and all are welcome who wish to contribute and celebrate with us. We already cherry-pick the best of those who wish to come to live here. If later we discover anyone who has criminal or terrorist intent, justice will find you and you will be incarcerated or asked if you would prefer to live elsewhere. A lot of our citizens are doing great, but a lot aren’t. We need everyone to pull together for the next century, because it is just easier and cheaper if everyone is equally sharing in our riches, both physical and social.

                In our rapidly changing country, these are the conservative, moderate, sensible principles I could vote for. The radical reactionary right is swinging back before their inevitable dissolution – but a moderate party can be the long-term guiding hand of our nation.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Star Trek Beyond... and back... and again... and up.... and around....and nauseous....

First off - when the studio says "here's a trailer for the new ST series" - we need a little more than just table-top CG! of a ship. It means you basically have NOTHING done but want to say you have something. I like the triangle back to the Discovery like the old concept design for ST2 but.... give us a little more to think about.  Kids can do graphics like that without hard work so CGI is not a trailer anymore.

Anyways - so saw the new Star Trek Beyond movie. Quite fun. Good feel to the writing and it really felt like an episode of TOS but updated with good effects and balance to the cast. Simon Pegg seems to have the right flare for it.... glad old JJ is away from the helm now....
Good jokes and lines. Good homages to TOS: Yorktown, Ent-A, 'starship class', Xindi (Enterprise reference), etc. Real fans wrote this.
Sure hope they don't do the cliché of the Enterprise being the only ship... oh wait, yep, there it is.
Found the visuals very weird with short focal length (why was there a 10 second close up of the starship neck... doing nothing) but overly twisty... but enjoyable. It felt like the screen was cropped or something - didn't feel expansive enough.  Sad to see the old girl go down in flames... but intact enough to flip and squish the femme fatale.  Really Kirk, you didn't think she was faking from the beginning - didn't seem to say 'hey, I never saw swarm ships like that before' - she just was silent.
Good parallels of ST2, 3, and 4.. (villain from past for revenge, bye-bye ship, outfox aliens on a planet, see Ent-A arrive.) but I am tired of them crashing ships into cities...and very very very tired of swarms of CGI-anything being the villain weapon.  So if the Feds can make such a huge bio-sphere station... why are they so short of ships? More metal in those entry tubes than in the whole Starfleet.

I loved the Jaylah character but she seems a little clean to have been alone on the planet for years. Franklin seems a little too flyable too fast. Swarm is allergic to Beastie Boys VHF? Really?

So Indris Elba is great when in makeup, but ineffective when re-humanised? Found the whole fight in the glass tower disappointing. He only had 3 men left - but he had an army? He recruited others, had a swarm of ships, spied on the Fed station, yet could only launch a plan when he found one little piece? Classic super-villain writing. No one thought - hey, maybe we shoot the glass tube and end the poison threat - can't be too hard to make a new one.

Overall, really enjoyed it.... the logical mind takes over on the ride home.  Glad to see a strong entry to keep the franchise going.

Batman v Superman review - the good, the great, and the lame

                It is rare for me to place the blame for a film at one person’s feet….. and I like to like him… but Zack Snyder is the only bad thing in Batman V Superman. 

                That seems like a simplification – but when the performances are good (although Eisenberg went a little “Joker-y” at points), the action is good, a lot of the premise is generally good…. But the intolerable pacing and the long set-up and clumsy plot-points all come down to one person – and that is director Zack Snyder. 

                I ‘enjoyed’ the movie…. But hope that Zack doesn’t do the JLA films coming up.

                “Bat-fleck” defies the predictions and is a great “Dark Knight”… if a little irrational, but it works. Cavill is good as Supes again, and Gal Gadot is fine as ‘Diana Prince’ but intoxicatingly mesmerizing as Wonder Woman at the end, but there are plotholes that a 4 year old child could see. I even thought the (spoiler alert) ah… “Superman #75 situation” at the end was well done and touching.  But what wasted potential.

                Zack spends the first HOUR setting up the story – and I can appreciate a good setup for a superhero movie – but did we need 3 dream sequences, of considerable length, when the images contained could have occurred much quicker? Did we need a big long scene of Bruce running from his parents’ funeral to find the Batcave when everything works without it? We get it – he’s Batman, he has a Batcave, he’s been punching people for 20 years…yadda yadda – we’ve seen a movie before.

                My wife contemplated walking out during the setup – and usually because the scenes were just over-shot. If this was the extended edition, fine, but for a popcorn movie; it’s excruciating.  I was looking at my watch over 5 times during the film. I really hope someone on Youtube edits down the movie – just trim scenes down a few minutes – and it will be amazingly better.

                The Good:

                WOW – Gal Gadot is the Amazon warrior to the T!!! An immortal Xena with attitude – she smiles when she is knocked down by Doomsday – and is the highlight of the movie.  I would rather watch a screensaver of her/Supes/Bats posing at the end for an hour than the opening hour of the movie. Bracelets that absorb and attack, sword, shield, super strength, AND a lasso…. She is a goddess!  Her secret identity is good because she is only watchable as the ‘pretty-girl-at-the-cocktail-party’ but she is AMAZING when she lets her hair down for the fights.

                Affleck is a great Dark Knight – bitter, jaded, harsh, not in control after tragedy, not open to critique… but the only reason Supes lives is because their moms have the same first name? Ugh.

                Big fights at end – fun.  Little fights during movie – ok. Batman taking on room of bad guys – awesome! Beautifully choreographed.

                Images – the rich images of past comic book covers, Dark Knight art, alternative gritty forms of the Batman are all present and given homage.  A real comic fan did the cinematography.

                The Bad:

                So…. Amy Adams is the same…. Ho-hum…. And it seems like anyone who noticed who visits her in the apartment could have figured out Supes secret identity. She’s only there to give some jeopardy and give a link from Luthor to the desert setup… but seriously, who gives ‘special bullets’ to thugs in the desert who kill peasants… because regular bullets would work just as well? Illogical – especially since Alfred seems to be able to trace a cell phone in under 10 minutes.

                So Bruce is mad because Superman saved 7 billion people at the cost of 7 million in Metropolis? And he sets his trap for Superman at the exact moment Luthor predicted somehow? Ugh.

                And why is there a “Carrie Ferris” in the Air Force – not a Carol- and why is she mentioned at all?

                Why show a cameo of the other Justice Leaguers to Diana…. And then have her board a plane? Was she going to find them? Where’s her plane?  Silly.

                Why does Lex’s blood mutate Zod? Seems unnecessary. Don’t know why they had to give energy powers to Doomsday – again unnecessary.

                I know the purpose is to get them to fight… but how the two mains DON’T listen to each other is amazing. The writing is poor.  Most scenes could have been much shorter – and this is a director’s call entirely.

                So did the injured guy not know about the wheelchair and Lex engineered the letters and all or was it a joint effort?

                So what about…… sorry…… just too many questions and poor scripting…. I shall save oxygen to rant later.

BTW: Saw the trailer….. and I plan to boycott the new TMNT movie. I am completely sick of ‘holes in the sky over New York where bad guys come out’….. I saw Avengers, and Transformers 3, and Man of Steel… and all the rest of this convention.  It was the opening scene of the TMNT trailer and completely turned me off. Please, FX guys, get a fresh image.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Geeks Shouldn't Work in Social Services

Geeks Shouldn’t Work in Social Services

(Based on a real incident)

A guy in a short-sleeved collared shirt is typing in his small office on the computer. A lady with a clipboard approaches his door and knocks lightly.

“Hi Jerry, how’s it going?” she asks.

“Good, Carol, good. Good with you?”

“Oh yes.  I was hoping to schedule some time with you for a brief conversation.”

“Ok… I have time now if you like.”

Well, there’s no rush, and I want you to pick a time when you are comfortable, because there’s no rush, and we could meet here, or in my office, or the meeting room….”

“Um.. how about now? Now works for me… or did you want me to prepare something?”

“Oh no, nothing at all. Just thought we should have a conversation…. Give a little ‘feedback’ for you….”

So… I’m in trouble?”

Oh no, of course not, no trouble at all… but you are allowed to have a union representative with you if you want….”

Why would I want one?”

“Some people want to have one present when dealing with their supervisor.”

But I’m not in trouble?”


“So I don’t need one.”

“Yes… but you are fully entitled to have one. We could schedule for next week and we could arrange a union steward to be present…”

Ok…  well…. If I don’t need one, I’d rather just meet now and not worry all weekend about it…”

“Oh that’s fine.  So you’re consenting to meet now?”

Well, yes, we can meet now…”

“So you’re consenting?”

Um… I guess we might as well…”

“Because you always have the right to refuse to meet, and have a union representative present, and we don’t have to meet right away, because there is no rush..”

Um… look, why don’t we just talk and I can see what we’re supposed to talk about.

“Ok… so you’re…”

Yes, I’m consenting to talk to you…. as we already have been doing.”

“Ok Jerry, so… I wanted to give you some feedback on your email.”

“Oh, the budget costs per client estimate –yeah, those are very rough costs but you wanted a ball-park figure…”

“Oh, no, that’s fine.  Really fine.  I’m so glad we have you to crunch all those numbers… it’s about the other one.”

Ummm… the ‘yes, let’s have cake for Janet on Friday at 2pm’ email?  I’m really ok with cake at another time…”

“No, the other one... the coffee one.”

What coffee one?” Oh!  I didn’t respond to Byron because I don’t want him to get me a coffee when he goes at noon. I just drink the coffee here.”

“Oh yes, and we appreciate the fact that you do.  It’s about the email you sent out last week about the coffee in the staff room.”

“Um… let me just scroll down here….. uh… ‘hey everyone, we are running low on coffee in the staff room.  If you haven’t brought in a can of coffee this month, please do so.’ Is… is that the one?”

Yes, that’s the one.”

Um… was I mistaken and we have a whole bunch of coffee somewhere we’re supposed to use first?”

Oh no, we’re actually really running low… but you sent that email to ‘All Staff’.”

“Uh, yes, yes I sent it to all staff… because I noticed we were on our last can and I already brought a can in this month and we should have a bunch more ….but we don’t.”

So you thought you’d remind everyone to bring in a can of coffee if they wanted to keep having coffee?”

“Uh, yes, yes that was the general plan…. And I saw a few more cans there the next day so… mission accomplished?”

“Well, some people were wondering about the tone.”

The… ‘tone’?”

“Yes, the tone of the email.”

“Um.. I’m unsure of how ‘hey we need to have coffee’ has any… ‘tone’ in it.”

“Well, some people were thinking… because it went to ‘All Staff’ that it was targeted at them.”

How is an ‘All Staff’ email targeted?”

“Well, some people are thinking that you were, in a way, accusing them of not fulfilling their Coffee Club duties.”

“I… would have thought that an ‘All Staff’ email was the opposite of targeting people… because I don’t know who didn’t bring in their monthly can of coffee and who did….”

“Yes… but do you see how someone who had brought their can in, or someone who had planned to bring one the next day, might see that as a passive aggressive slight at them?”

“Uh… no… not really…. Is it passive aggressive to remind people of something when you notice it.. just as a FYI?”

“Well, people here are really dedicated to helping people, providing services for the safety, health, and welfare of our clientale… and they might be busy with other things… and they fully intended to bring in a can of coffee for the Coffee Club… and might not like to have it insinuated that they are failing in their duties.”

Um… it’s a Coffee Club…. Not much of a ‘club’ really… I mean, everyone brings in a can of coffee per month and then we always have coffee for the coffee maker in the staff room… pretty basic… there really isn’t any by-laws or governing structure to it….”

“Well, now let’s not be hostile about it…”

Um… I’m not ‘hostile’ about it… quite the opposite.  It’s such a minor thing in the grand scheme of the universe that it barely warrants a discussion… but maybe an FYI ‘hey guys, we’re going to run out of coffee in a few days, how about bringing in a can before that happens’ would be a simple solution to the problem…. Which seemed to work….”

“Well, hmmm, now, I see your point… and you are of a very logical and rational mindset.”

I’m a geek.  Card-carrying, number-crunching nerd.  I…  “name it and claim it”… I learned that phrase from you, Carol.”

“Yes, you are my go-to for problem-solving… and I can understand you WAY better than Larry in I.T.”

Well, he’s much more sociable these days since he found a girlfriend.”



“Partner.  It’s encouraged to use the word ‘partner’ when talking about significant others.  It was in that memo from the Ethics Committee.”

Yes, I read that… except that Larry seems to refer to her as his ‘girlfriend’… seems to like to say it whenever he can… and since she’s only been around two months and they haven’t been living together…”

“We’re not supposed to inquire about someone’s partnership or living situation…”

Well, when he says – over coffee – “saw that movie last weekend with my girlfriend at the theatre by her house”… it implies that she lives in a separate domicile than him… and it apparently has a movie theatre nearby…”

“Well… maybe I’ll have to talk to Larry about his choice of words… we don’t want to use oppressive language…”

So we’re going to ban Larry from talking about his girlfriend?”

“No… but maybe he doesn’t realize it could be a micro-aggression against people in non-cis-gender relationships….”

Um… no… I think him and Patel are really good.  They hang out sometimes…. Patel and her partner are going to Larry’s niece’s social this weekend.”

“But Patel might be hurt by Larry saying ‘girlfriend’ all the time.”

Actually, today she said “Hey Larry, how’s the girlfriend” … while she was getting coffee… Larry says ‘girlfriend’, Patel says ‘partner’… everyone uses their preferred term and pronouns and don’t seem to have big issues with it.”

“Well… management just wants everyone to feel free to do their work in an open and non-oppressive environment…”

“… and they’ll accomplish that by telling people what words they can’t use?”

“No, we all want to live in a bully-free world…”

“Yes… because bullies tend to be the reason the ice-caps are melting… but forcing employees who use each other’s preferred terms… after everyone is already doing the respect thing seems redundant….”

“Oh, no one is talking about forcing”

Well… let’s break this down, what if someone doesn’t use the correct terms?”

“According to procedure, they’ll have a meeting, and are allowed to have a union representative present, and they’ll be informed of the breach, and asked on how they will correct this.”

And if they don’t…”

“Well, why would they not want to be…”

“Let’s just say that Larry… or someone else… walks around saying ‘my girlfriend this, my girlfriend that’, what would happen?”

“Well, repeated violations would mean a letter in their personnel file… and if enough letters occur – “

They can be fired.”


So… dress it up as we like, but depriving someone of their livelihood seems like a negative sanction or ‘force’ to me… so really, management would be ‘forcing’ someone to comply with them… in order to not have bullying in the workplace… which would be the definition of irony.”

“I don’t think it would come to that… but we needn’t focus on that issue… we have to talk about the email.”

Yes, my inappropriate coffee email.”

“Well, it’s not ‘inappropriate’ per se, but perhaps it wasn’t the right tack to take with that issue.”

“Um, ‘hey guys, let’s bring coffee in before it runs out’ is the wrong tack?  Could you tell me what the right tack would have been.”

“Well, according to procedure, when there is a concern about a co-worker’s engagement in the workplace, the preferred etiquette is to go to them directly and ask them about the issue.”

Uh.. it’s not really an issue.  We needed coffee, people brought it in  - done.”

“Well, the email went to some people who already had their coffee can brought in so it would be seen as redundant and a waste of their time…”

So... they would delete the email, thinking ‘good thing I brought mine already’ and continue with their day.  We would sure hate to waste time on an insignificant issue….”

“But it might seem like nagging to those who intended to bring in coffee without a reminder.”

And they would see themselves as ‘whew, good thing I’m bringing in coffee tomorrow, apparently, I’m a superhero for saving the office from a World Without Coffee.’”

“But… Jerry, we need to stay on topic… the proper way is to go around to each employee…. In the coffee club…. And ask them if they have brought in their coffee allotment for the month.”

So…. Pretty much everyone besides Byron, who likes to bring in his own, and you – you like tea… I have to go around to 30 or so other people and knock on their doors and say ‘hey, how’s it going? Have you brought in your coffee for this month?’… because that would be more efficient?”

“Well, you have to understand how people are… they aren’t like computers or numbers…”

um… I know how people are.. in fact, I seem to know when they use the word ‘partner’ and they use the word ‘girlfriend’ and I seem to know when they drink coffee or tea…”

“… and that’s all good, but perhaps it’s good to remember to give a personal touch when making demands of people..”

“Demands? How is ‘we are running out of coffee’ a demand?”

“Well, it’s the tone.”

How is there tone in an email unless it is in capitals?”

“Well, tone can be very subtle… and it can be worth the time to think about emails before they are sent…”

So.. . let me get this straight… we are in charge of a whole social program, helping people, making major policy decisions that affect people’s lives… and when I notice we are down to the last can of coffee in the lunch room, I should go ‘hmmm, we need more coffee, let me make a mental list of everyone who I saw drinking coffee this month… now minus the people I saw bring in a coffee can… now make a mental note to talk with the remainder about how I happen to notice the lack of coffee in the lunch room and perhaps, have they noticed the lack of coffee and hmmm, perhaps is there something they could do about that…. And do that 30 times…. And that would be efficient?”

“Yes, that would be the preferred way.”

“I… I actually would rather have needles in my eyes. I would rather… well, all kinds of things rather than go around to everyone and bother them about such a petty thing, in person, which at thirty times even 3 minutes a person would be an hour and a half of wasted time… while the email took 5 seconds.”

“Yes… but it would have less impact on the staff.”

So… the government, who gives us our mandate, would rather that I spend 90 minutes, gently and respectfully reminding everyone to bring in coffee… that’s four and a half days over a year of wasted time when you  factor in the other person’s time as well, never mind counting this conversation…”

“Yes, but perhaps that shouldn’t be one of your duties at all.”

“I don’t think it was a ‘duty’ to communicate ‘hey we need coffee’ in the most efficient, technologically relevant way possible, consuming 5 seconds of work time and not even a farthing of electricity or computing power..”

“Well, maybe in the future, you might… uh… refrain from taking on that duty at all…”

So, if I notice we are low on coffee, I should say nothing.”

“Perhaps you inform me, and I could take charge of asking everyone about it.”

Umm… yes, yes I’ll go with that… in fact, perhaps you’d want to check on the coffee situation on a regular basis.”

“Well, I’m not really part of the Coffee Club….”

“-because you drink tea.”

“But I could start looking at drawing up a procedural form for it…”

How about – on the 15th or 20th of every month, at 10am, you set a reminder to check on the coffee situation and then start the interview process of all the staff. Here…” he said, types on the computer quickly, “I set up a reminder for you and sent it to your account.  It will pop up every month now.”

“Aw, thanks Jerry. You always are so good at these things. I’ll go check that in my office now.” Carol starts walking away. “Great, that’s one other duty I have to find time for….” she sighed as she walked off.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Sequel is the Prequel is the Original... yawn...

Analysis of The Force Awakens…

Or: the Sequel is the Prequel… all over again

Finally got to see Star Wars 7 on Christmas day… and it was fun.  Enjoyed it.  Hard to give it a rating because “it’s Star Wars” and not subject to normal ranking.  It was nice to be able to take my son and daughter to a first-run SW movie – spoiler free even – and just enjoy the experience.

And now to rip it apart.

The TV Guide line for this would be “An orphan on a desert planet meets a droid on a mission and joins the Rebellion to destroy the evil Empire’s giant superweapon and learns about the Force.”  Sound familiar? Really too familiar. I guess I am a classic Lucasian and not a new JJ’er.  I shouldn’t have been surprised: Jar-Jar Abrams took the best parts of the Star Trek movies and put them through a blender and relaunched a franchise – thank you sir – but really…. He seems to lack any logic and real “oh wow that blew my mind” ability.  Glad to hear someone else is doing #8 – but sadly, Jurassic World dude is doing #9 so it may be another “Hey, remember how you liked the first movie? Let’s just do that again.”

So we have a big ship over a desert planet – check. The whole Poe gets the map and puts in droid and tries to escape was good.  Liked Max von Sidow.  LOVED Kylo stopping the blaster bolt! Really think he should be bigger and have a better voice.  He takes off his mask – and it’s Gene Simmons’ son!  No, it’s that guy from “Girls”… which explains why when he’s face-to-face way too long with Rey, he brings out her power.  What a nice boyfriend… kinda funny looking, but an effective Dark Side dork.  All the other bad guys seem to be Nazi sterotypes – and I can’t believe Kylo doesn’t just kill the other non-sith weiner who bosses him around in front of the Big Boss. Lame villains overall.

Like Finn’s escape. He and Poe get 5 minutes together so they can pretend to be great friends later.  The new characters are distinct but didn’t really get a sense of who they are yet.  Oh well, there’s time… not like Rey will warp across the universe in 5 seconds and find Luke or anything.

BB-8 is very cute. Nice emotions… almost as good as Chewie. 

So why a desert planet… again? Why not a desolate rocky planet… or forest… or swamp… or tundra… or ANYTHING ELSE except having someone whistfully looking at the sky on a desert planet and wishing they were elsewhere… except Rey wants to stay there to wait for the parents who dumped her force-sensitive butt on… hey, she looks like Padmae… she uses the force…. Bingo – Luke’s lost love-child. Done. Solved.  No need for more movies.

Plucky character and plucky droid for instant bond and she turns down +money for it. I liked the fact that both good and bad were hunting the droid and Luke.  …. And we magically end up on the Falcon… do some loop-de-loops… and get found by Han and Chewie.  I guess all the star systems are really close together.  In fact, JJ did this in Star Trek – having Vulcan and another planet in visual range so you can torture Spock… evidently, the Starkiller planet is close to the Republic homeworld so it can be blown up ASAP and then target the Resistance base right away… because using ships wouldn’t work?

Ok… so besides the useless line of ‘oh, it’s sooooo much bigger than the old Death Star… because it is an actual planet they carved up to make it shoot lasers’… apparently, lasers than can travel faster-than-light and hit a planet far away…. And charges by sucking up a sun….  Hey, so they only got 2 shots from one sun? You build a HUGE weapon in a planet, charge it twice – and then it is useless?  Has it got a warp drive so you can move it to the next system and suck that star up? Ok, it worked in the first Star Wars (apparently, the Death Star is mostly superweapon and slow hyperdrive.) My point is – if Alpha Centauri was building a Death Star and shot it at our planet… we’d have about 4 years to evaculate. And if it only had 2 shots in it... that’s seems like a waste, even for the military-industrial complex. It must have some sort of hyperdrive… or maybe it uses super-space-wedgies to send it’s beams all over and them slowly float to the next star system.   Otherwise: there’s a guy who hates me on an island in the Pacific with a bazooka… and no way of getting off the island – I think I’d still sleep ok at night.

You know how if you put on Pink Floyd and Wizard of Oz at the same time, a lot of weird coincidences happen? I bet if you play A New Hope and Star Wars7 at the same time, you end up in the cantina at the exact same time. “Oh look, more aliens and cyborgs… and we found Luke’s lightsaber on Cloud City and brought it here so you can have visions of your father… I mean Luke.”  (I actually thought Kylo would have been Luke’s renegade son – but it works with Han as well.)  Nice interplay between Han and Leia – makes sense for their characters.  If only the Skywalker family would stop going “Hey, my relative kill a billion people on those planets… but I still sense good in them.”  I told the kids, if they kill a billion people, I’ll put them down like a sick puppy and don’t expect them to become a Force Ghost either.

Apparently, the storm troopers learn basic stick fighting in case they encounter a jedi… or an ewok? And no, C-3P0 – nobody wants to here about your arm.  Nobody even recognizes you – even Anakin who built you kept quiet on Cloud City.  STFU! And R2 has some data, but we can’t tell which system it is… unless we had some of them thar computer things and match the stars… we better wait until R2 wakes up because the galaxy is soooo big… except we can find Luke in 5 minutes when we want to.  You’d think in a universe this small that vacuum salesman would have found Luke already since the planets are all nearby….

I would have liked to see Finn and crew sneak into the base using the sewers…. Would have been sensible.  The whole time I was going “they are going to kill Chewie!”  Thank goodness it was only Han.  Makes sense – he was supposed to die in Return of the Jedi…. And was frozen in case Harrison didn’t return for the third one and they could just say ‘yep, he’s hanging around somewhere’…   and I’ll bet Harrison did a Leonard Nimoy thing and said “I’ll return one more time… but you have to kill me off”.  If he was Nimoy, he’d be directing the next movie! Sure seemed familiar with all that running around in corridors and NOT getting shot by Stormtroopers.

Han’s death makes sense – it is the ultimate severing of ties to your old good life if you want to embrace the Dark Side. The alternative would be Kylo going ‘yes, I will be good now, Dad” and walking off to hug his mom and be a rebel.  Ugh

Kylo is wounded, so that explains Finn not instantly dying in his duel with Kylo.. but apparently, the more you annoy Rey, the calmer and stronger she gets.  I told my daughter “if you are ever fighting a Sith and DON’T kill him when you have a chance, don’t bother coming home.”  I assume all the important bad guys – Phasma, Kylo, those annoying Nazis – all made it off the base safely since everyone is scheduled to appear next movie. 

I know everyone likes to bash the prequels… but this had the same feel for me… perhaps less even.  I ‘liked’ it, but it felt like a tv movie launch.  No real ‘oomph’, sad to say.

At least it will spawn a lot of cool toys and figures.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Should I care about refugees?

I'm glad I'm not a hermit.
Being in contact with nasty humans makes me grow.
Keeps reminding me of the real state of the world.
My cold logical side tries to be fiscally responsible and feel little for a refugee trying to get somewhere and hopes they just kill the oppressors at home....

but my heart-part of brain reminds me that my mother-in-law was born as a refugee from the Nazis and was homeless in Europe until coming to Ontario...
and everyone comes from somewhere else..
My Gothic ancestors fled the northern seas to settle in Europe, and then be oppressed by both the Roman Empire and Attila the Freaking Hun.... and all they wanted was to farm crappy land on the fringes of the good land.
My Anabaptist ancestors got kicked around Europe because they didn't want to fight in the endless wars over lines on a map..

It shouldn't take a drowned child to make people care about their fellow human...

... and if I had no heart, I realize I would be a great conservative political candidate