‘Modern trick-or-treaters’…

I LOVE Halloween!

And, only a few hours ago, we turned our lights out as we had run out of treats….even though I thought I had ‘overbought’!

We saw a lot of really cute costumes.  Many kids had gone out of their way in the imagination department – putting together the best non-store-bought costumes (those, along with the very young ones, got the most candy).  Our dog – with his traditional Halloween makeup (and ‘they’ said I can’t ‘paint dogs’) – got many pats and pets, though he seemed somewhat dissapointed that all these people (especially kids – he loves little girls in particular) who came to see him left so quickly…

And, I do have to note – this year, the ‘trick-or-treaters’  have been more polite than ever before.  Even the ‘bigger ones’ – the ones I think are too old to trick-or-treat, so I only give them 2-3 ‘little’ treats (or 1 ‘bigger’ treat – and I often pretended I was going to give them a ‘package of soup’…incredulity easily gave way to laughter), they were almost all polite and thanked me!  There were only 3 that did not (I kept count).  This is WAY more polite crowd than ever before.

However, there was something new this Halloween – somethig I had never seen before!

Well, two ‘somethings’…

First, there was a group of 4 girls, 14-ish, in ‘French Maid’ and ‘Tavern Wench’ type outfits…and two of these were, well, particularly remarkable…  Their outfits had been ‘highly’ sexualized – their perky little boobies were mostly hanging right out (making me worry about pneumonia, with the snow on the ground and all) while their skirts were too short to fully cover their g-strings… and, obviously as ‘part of the costume’, they were both sporting smoking cigarettes!  Yes, yes, I have seen enought ‘sexy’ outfits for ‘too young’ girls – but these two were, well, nothing like I had ever seen before!

Yet, they were very polite, thanking me for the candy and oooh-ing appropriately over the dog’s Halloween make-up.

Mind you, it looked to me like they were not really used to smoking.  It was the way they held the cigarettes in the ‘look, I’m holding a cigarette’ way…or in the way they tried way too hard to look natural as they tried to take a drag from them….  Yet, I do have to admit, I found their ‘way-too-young and in-your-face sexuality’ a little disturbing.  I expect that just taking a picture of them in their costumes would have constituted ‘kiddie-porn’! 

The second instance was perhaps even more disturbing… 

They young lady in question (16-years-old tops, she actually looked a bit younger than that) had a pretty benign ‘she-devil’ costume (by comparison).  And, she was also very polite, as was the bunch of her girlfriends (some looked quite younger than she did, so 16 years might have been too high a guess).  What was so striking about her was the fact she was carrying her baby-daughter (no more than 8-9 months old – and extremely cute, dressed in pink ‘princess’ outfit) on her left hip, as both of them were ‘trick-or-treating’ together.

I have never before seen two generations (in the same line) young enough to go ‘trick-or-treating’ together!  Perhaps I’ve lead a sheltered life…

Yet, everyone I saw tonight – from the young mom who lovingly made her baby part of the fun in her life, the provocative-costume clad young sirens using costumes to test the limits of their sexuality, the many (my Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu neighbours’) costumed kids, the parents and older siblings who brought the hords of thrilled costumed kids to my door – everyone had fun!  It brought everyone in the neighbourhood out and talking, joking, sharing, enjoying themselves! 

How dare some busybody ‘bannies’ try to take that away from all of us!

Happy Halloween – not ‘black and orange day’!

Today is October 31st – HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

It is a most fun day – kids (young and old) plan fun costumes for weeks and decorate their houses.  Yet, the ‘Politically Correcet Creeps’ have started casting their shadow over even this innocent fun.

Schools have started to ‘replace’ Halloween with ‘black and orange day’!

Children are discouraged (or actively forbidden) from wearing costumes, Halloween-related activities are not happening, the spark of joy is being choked out of yet another beautiful tradition.

Why?

Because, we are told, some ‘Wiccans may be offended because it is a religious holiday for them’….

Well, I know many active Wiccans – and every single one of them is offended that Halloweeen should be replaced by ‘black and orange day’!!!  It may be a cross-quarter day – but the fun festivities and celebrations that everyone partakes in according to their taste and likes enriches the holiday experience for everyone, not takes away from it – in the eyes of Wiccans. 

After all, it is not a religious holiday for others, so why should it bother Wiccans how they celebrate it?  They’re happy people are finding time to have a little fun, because Wicca teaches that joy and sharing and finding pleasure in the ‘big and little things’ is a very important part of life!

‘Sanitizing’ all forms of fun  – THAT is offensive!

Deciding FOR the Wiccans that they ‘ought to’ be offended – then censoring everyone else to spare them this offence –THAT is offensive!

Sorry, I just loose it when I see bullies, banning and censoring everyone around them, claiming to do it ‘on behalf of’ someone else….without actually caring what that ‘other one’ thinks, because it really is just a convenient vehicle to drive their own agenda and nothing else…  Ok, so I don’t like bullies in any shape or form…and people who bully others and are not even aware they are doing it (or try to dress the bullying up so that they hope you will not realize you are being bullied) – well, they drive me mad.

So, what about other reasons being used to sour this sweet holiday?

Bad nutrition….  Yeah, pull the other one! 

My kids LOVE ‘getting’ candy on Halloween!  It is fun, exciting and they spend hours with their friends trading this tid-bit for that one….  and, I usually throw 90% of it out during Christmass cleaning…  I honestly don’t know anyone who actually eats ALL the Halloween candy and chips they get! 

Though, I have seen many kids donate sealed ‘semi-nutritious’ snacks to their schools’ ‘forgotten lunch pantry’ – where kids who forget their lunch can get someting to tide them over.  And, since my older son is too old to trick-or-treat, but he does walk his brother through the neighbourhood for safety, my younger son automatically splits his loot between them when they get home!  So, in effect, getting rid of ‘trick-or-treating’ is going to reduce our kid’s ability to be charitable and sharing, from things that are their own.  ‘Wonderful’ lesson…

Oh, but costumes are too expensive for some families.

OK, here is what I paid for my son’s costume:  $1.99 for face paints (Enough for a few kids’ faces), $2.00 for 2m of fabric (bought on sale at a fabric store for $1.00/m).  $0.99 for an elastic waistband.  That’s it.  I already owned some thread, a needle, some scissors….   And, some years in the past, we used ‘outgrown clothes’ for materials to make the costumes out of.  One year, we made a fancy cape by ‘borrowing’ a tablecloth and 2 pillows….once through the wash, all were ‘good as new’! 

Plus, sewing costumes is ‘OK’ for boys, as well as girls!  So, now my boys have acquired a skill… not that they boast of it.  But, they HAVE it!

My first Halloween in Canada (I was too old to ‘trick-or-treat’, but a few of us dressed up to chaperone my friend’s younger brother as he went around.  I was MOST impressed that my friend’s step-mom had also dressed up – and unabashedly had fun!  That was most excellent – it was OK to be silly!

I had a ball!  But, my family was VERY short of cash then….so I had to borrow some makeup (my friend’s step-mom had fun ‘doing me up) and I used our curtains and drapes to make a ‘fancy ghostly gown’ for an evening, uning clips (no cutting, no sewing, no pin-holes allowed)!  Cost?  $0.00.  Fun?  100%!

Which brings me to the last major objection:  immigrants might be unfamiliar and alienated.

As an immigrant, who was completely unfamiliar with this Halloween custom prior to arriving in Canada, let me put these fears to rest.  THEY ARE NONSENCE!

Halloween was EXCELLENT for me!  By teaching me about it, and helping me get my costume together, I got WAY closer to the people who would eventually grow to be my friends!  It was ‘an opening’ to talk to me – an opportunity to talk about more than just math homework…  My classmates felt good telling me all about Halloween.  Doing this, they were including me – all the while they were proud to show off this most fun holiday – and now I was PART of ‘IT’! 

It was just what was needed for this awkward, shy immigrant kid was to no longer just keep her head burried in a textbook and watch everyone from the sidelines – people MADE me PART of the celebrations!  I had fun!

I truly felt included! 

If anything, NOT celebrating Halloween will REDUCE the oppotunities for newly arrived immigrants to socialize, to make friends, to successfully integrate!  And it will suck another bit of enjoyment out of living…

So, what do I have to say to those who would erode yet another cultural icon?

Quoth Xanthippa:  NEVERMORE!

‘Linking to offensive site is not defamation’ – legal precedent set in BC court

As many Canadian bloggers are being targetted for ‘lawfare’ – using real courts or the semi-judicial (but just as legally binding) Human Rights Commission/Tribunals in order to bully them with the threat of stressful, expensive and long-term legal battle – we have a legal precedent that might serve to curb at least some of these.

For example, Kathy Shaidle of Five Feet of Fury  is being dragged in front of the HRC for having linked to a site which contained something that was ‘potentially offensive’.  She, and many others like her, may now have a new weapon in their defense:  the precedent set in a BC court (a real court – unsurprisingly, is not as random as the HRCs!).

In this case, Jon Newton (p2pnet) was being sued for publishing a link – the argument being that the link itself constituted ‘re-publishing’ the offensive material. 

From p2pnet, in his own words:

Following a landmark decision by British Columbia Supreme Court judge Stephen Kelleher, p2pnet is the victor in a case in which Vancouver businessmen Wayne Crookes, once an important federal Green Party of Canada official, tried to claim I defamed him by linking to articles he didn’t like.

That amounted to publication,  he maintained.

The full decision can be found here (from p2pnet) and the actual pdf is here.

An excellent summary can be found at ‘EXCESS COPYRIGHT’:

Essentially, the Court held that a link is much the same as a footnote, except a lot more convenient.

Congratulations to both Mr. Jon Newton and his lawyer, Mr. Dan Burnett!  And, Judge Kelleher – well done!

Aspergers: paying attention

Paying attention at school can, at times, be trying for anyone.  It can be even harder for kids with ADD.  Yet, for Aspie kids, there can be an additional thing at play!

I am an Aspie, married to an Aspie, raising a couple of kids who are Aspies – not a professional in this field!  For a ‘boilerplate explanation’, please see my ‘Guide to my Aspie posts’ page.

One of the ‘things’ that define Aspies’ is the inability to innately read and comprehend body language.  However, many of us (especially ‘girl Aspies’, or ‘Aspiettes’, if you’d like) tend to realize we have this ‘blind spot’ and we try to compensate for it.

This often involves becoming more ‘observers’ than ‘doers’.  It means an Aspie trying to ‘decipher’ this is more likely to choose to be present for a lot of ‘social’ situations, but not actually actively participate.  Yet, the Aspie will keenly observe everything that happens in order to try to analyze the situation for behaviour patterns which would give us our personal ‘rosetta stone’ to non-verbal communication.

This process, by itself, is enough to alienate (‘creep out’) many ‘neurotypicals’ who are our peers – resulting in more ‘shunning’ and greater social isolation….which leads to more ‘Aspie frustration’!  After all, you are only trying to learn the patterns in non-verbal communication:  with your usual OCD intensity…  Yet, THAT is not the point of this post!  The point here is to point out how many Aspies’ attempts to pay attention are really misunderstood.

Let me use myself as an illustratory example:

I was raised in Central Europe – with a somewhat different schooling system.  50% of our mark was based on written tests – just as 100% of it is in North America now.  The other 50% was based on ‘oral/verbal testing’:  the person ‘being tested’ gets called up, stands in front of the class and the teacher, and is asked a question they must answer.

There IS quite a lot of merit to this form of testing.  For one, many of us (especially Aspies) are WAY better at demonstrating our knowledge verbally than in writing.  Also, if we have concerns about the question (often, test questions are so vague as to be meaningless), we can ask the teacher for clarification.

The other – and often unnoticed – benefit of this form of testing is that no two people will explain the same material in exactly the same manner and wording.  So, when a student is being tested, the whole class is being presented with a repeat lecture presenting the material, but in a slightly altered manner.  The teacher conducting the test will correct any incorrect statements by the student – and this is really key in helping other students correct their own misconceptions and learn!

Thus, testing students by calling a student to the front of the class and asking them to demonstrate their understanding of the material taught acts to both reinforce the lesson to the rest of the students, as well as correcting misconceptions and presenting alternate explanations of the material.  To me, this seems like a win-win-win situation…as it also helps people overcome fear of speaking in front of an audience.

Usually, there is several days of ‘study time’ between the time new material is presented to students and when their testing on it begins.

Sorry for the long explanation – but it is important to ‘set the stage’, if you will.

I was in grade 6 when I became most acutely aware of the whole ‘facial expression/body language’ method of conveying ‘colouring’ to one’s statements.  Predictably, I became completely fascinated by this weird and counterintuitive phenomenon!  When someone would speak, I would begin to obsessively ‘superfocus’ on their ‘non-verbal’ message, so that I could relate the two to each other later, when I ‘replayed’ the experience (in my memory) for analysis.

Except that there was one tiny-little problem:  when I would superfocus, I would – wanting to or not – block ALL other stimulations!  Unfortunatelly, this meant that if I focused on ‘non-verbal communication’, I could not help but block out all sounds…  Yes, it kind of defeated the purpose.

Well, this one day, I was in a history class.  The teacher (who had issues with my Aspieness – without understanding it was Aspieness) was actually presenting an extremely interesting lecture!  I was totally fascinated by it, and did not want to miss a single word!  I was determined to pay full attention and not miss a single word, no matter what!

Yet, I knew that if I started looking at the teacher, I would ‘skip’ into the ‘superfocus’ mode, where I would ‘record’ every bit of her body language and facial expression nuance – but I would loose everything she said!  And I was too interested in the lesson to want to miss what she was saying!!!

So, I did EVERYTHING I COULD to pay attention to what my teacher was saying!

To keep myself from ‘getting stuck watching my teacher’, I forced myself to pointedly stare out of the window.  When that started failing, I looked at the ground under my desk.  Then I stretched my arms out on my desk and tried to burry my head in them – as aggressively as I could – so that I could prevent any visual stimulation which would distract me from listening to my teacher!  However, the temperature in the classroom was pretty cold, so even this was difficult.  So, I started hitting my head on my desk – just a little bit – to force myseld not to look at my teacher – just enough to keep focus so that I could pay attention to what she was saying.

I got told off for disturbing the class!

You must understand, back then and there, NOBODY knew (or was allowed to know) about Aspergers.  Even migranes – which I suffered terribly from since early childhood – were not a ‘legal’ diagnosis….  My mom, who got me to see a doctor at the hospital (not an easy task in a socialist country where the medicare is ‘free’ – she had to call in a bunch of ‘favours’ and give out a number of non-monetary ‘gifts’ to get me to be seen by a specialist) was told that my symptoms ‘would be’ a textbook example of migranes, except that officially (read ‘political correctness dictating medical diagnosis’), migranes were ‘something upper-class, bored ladies pretended to get to make themselves more interesting’ – and as such, ‘migrane’ was not a permissible diagnosis in a progressive, socialist country that did not have ‘bored rich ladies’…  It was CERTAINLY not an acceptable diagnosis for a little school-girl! The doctors would loose their jobs…

IF Aspergers had even been part of either the educator or medical training, it would still have been stigmatized, along the lines of ‘migranes’….but, it most definitely was NOT taught or mentioned at all!

Predictably, in the classroom, my many attempts to pay attention were greatly misunderstood!

I got into trouble for NOT paying attention!

Frankly, there was nothing I could do to pay attention more!  Yet, my teacher seemed (as usual) extremely angered by  my behaviour… 

And she did something unusual and unexpected!  (I knew it was unusual, because I had not witnessed this before.  I realized it was unexpected by analyzing the surprised and shocked noises and (YES! I had learned this much!) facial expressions of my classmates:  my teacher called me up to the front of the class to test me on the material she had just finished presenting!!!

Frankly, I think I shocked her.

I could repeat everything she said, every date she presented, understood and could explain every ‘reasoning’ she had presented to us in her lecture!  As she gave me an ‘A’, she said she was shocked because she ‘saw’ I was ‘totally not paying attention’ during the whole class, and this was meant to ‘discipline me’!  Looking back, I think she thought me defiant when I truthfully said I had NEVER tried to pay attention as hard as I had that day!

So, what is the point of this post?

When Aspies look like they are doing everything NOT to pay attention – they might truly be escaping into their own world of interests….OR, they might be doing their best to truly and honestly listen to what the teacher is saying!!!  Just because their behaviour does not conform to that of other children who are paying attention does NOT mean that Aspies are not paying attention, nor does it mean that they are not TRYING to pay attention!

Just as Aspies ‘suck’ at ‘reading’ body language, there are times when we just as much ‘suck’ at PRESENTING body language!  We are VERY BAD at emulating the ‘cultural norm’ external body language ourselves (especially when we are young and before we have learned to emulate/fake it).

Yet, just as WE are bad at ‘reading’ the body language of ‘nerotyoicals’, the ‘neurotypicals’ are eaqually as bad at reading OUR body language!

This may lead to ‘Aspergers’ so called ‘specialists’ of the past (hopefully not the present) to put inappropriate emotive labels on Aspies:  claiming we are lacking in empathy, social belonging, inability to sympathize, stunted emotions and so on.  Nothing could be further from the truth!

These false charges and many misunderstandings only hurt young Aspies and further undermine our regard for our abities, our self-confidence.  It is one of the many ‘drops of poison’ which causes many Aspies to shut themselves away from ‘the world’ and limit ourselves to our ‘internal worlds’, where such hurtful undermining of us is not a daily reminder of our inadequacies.

So, the next time you see a person whose body language you think inappropriate, please, consider the possibility that you are simply unable to understand THIS person’s non-verbal communications – just as much as that person is unable to understand yours.  Respecting this difference – and learning from it – is constructive.  Rejecting or ridiculing such a person – well, this is not so nice…and can ruin a person’s ability to EVER truly believe in themselves again.

Aspie sense of ‘fair play’: kids and ‘rules of the game’

One of the characteristics that many people notice about us Aspies is that we tend to have an overdeveloped sense of ‘fair play’.  This is the first look at how this may manifest itself.

Often – especially during childhood – this takes the shape of very rigid adherence to ‘rules’.  I remember the genuine tears of my kids as other children would play a game ‘wrong’ or ‘with the wrong rules’.  I also remember the arguments of ‘you can’t change that – it’s a rule of …. ‘!

This can lead to difficulties in many social settings.  Aspie kids can be very good at board games or card games, so this is an excellent way to have them interact with other kids.  However, it is important to make sure that everyone agrees to the rules of the game exactly the way the Aspie had learned it…..or the Aspie ‘inflexibility’ and ‘obstinance’ will start a temper tantrum will end the game and result in further ostracism of the Asperger child.

Of course, I do not think of it as ‘inflexibility’ or ‘obstinance’ at all.  Instead, I see it as an issue of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.  But then again, I am an Aspie…  Whatever the cause, however, the problem – this barrier to social interaction – is still there.

So, how to handle it?

Aspie kids can handle ‘different rules’ in variations of games IF things are presented in the correct perspective.  The key is recognizing WHY they are so opposed to ‘changing rules’.

Imagine yourself living in among a group of people whose language you did not understand.  Then, you begin to discern some ‘patterns’ in behaviour.  If you would indulge me in a personal story to help draw a parallel:

Two friends and I went down to visit another friend in a Spanish-speaking country.  None of the three of us spoke Spanish, but we were staying with our bilingual friend and her family, so we were not worried.  Except…through series of circumstances, our friend had to go to a different town and we were left with her non-English speaking family. 

Much to their credit, they took awesome care of us.  They took us places, showed us things, treated us extremely well.  Except that when they would come and tell us we are going somewhere in the car, we had NO idea whether we were going out for lunch to a fancy restaurant, to a tourist attraction, to a beach, or – as happened once – for a 3-day stay at a beach villa.  We had no idea how to dress, what to bring with us, when we’d be back.

After a bit, I began to notice some patterns – and these were my lifeline!  It set up some ‘rudimentary rules’ we could go by.  We clung to these – when you don’t know what is happening all the time, you feel very vulnerable!

Similarly, an Aspie child has a lot of difficulty understanding social communication.  We take it for granted that people can read and understand our body language and facial expressions (even tone of voice) – and so we do not comprehend just how much we do not actually say when we communicate.  We presume that much is understood from how we say something, not just the words we use to say it.

But Aspies cannot do this.  It is difficult to explain just how difficult it is to comprehend ‘communication’ – one even often questions one’s ability to understand the spoken language.  After all, ‘bad’ means ‘bad’ – but here it means ‘good’….  Without the ability to add body language, facial expressions and tone of voice to the word itself, the ‘rules’ of social interaction and even language can become incomprehensible.  Add to this that for very long time, many Aspie kids do not even know that there is such a thing as ‘body language’ which others understand and they have to learn to look for!

It is like pointing to a picture while talking about an apple – and expecting a blind person to know we are talking about the red apple in the picture.  The blind person does not even know there is a picture…..and does not understand how come everyone else knows the apple in question is red! 

Perhaps this is only one of the ‘contributing factors’, but it is one that is easy to explain as to why Aspies cling to rules they actually know they understand!

And that is they key:  understanding.

Activities like board and card games have very explicitly stated rules – rules that everyone understands before the game begins.  Aspies and therefore not handicapped and can participate on an equal footing with everyone else.  That means a lot.

So, starting to change the rules – that can bring up the whole overwhelming frustration right up!  It’s as if the Aspie is being robbed of the one glimmer of understanding of how things are supposed to be.  No wonder it upsets us to no end.

So, what is the solution?

When you teach an Aspie a game and explain the rules, make sure you explain these are the rules for THIS version of THAT game.  Explain there are MANY versions – we play version …. (name it something the Aspie child can relate to).  Then, you can say there can be versions of the game which have ALMOST identical rules, with just little variations – and that if they go to play the other version, everyone will make sure to teach them the NEW GAME!  Because that IS what it is:  each ‘variation’ is really a different game, with different rules:  they are called the same thing because they are a ‘family of games’ that has ‘similar rules’.  (You can even relate it to family name and first name – different people in the same family…)

This releases the tension of ‘changed rules’!

Instead, you are setting up the expectation of different rules because one is learning a ‘NEW’ (though similar/related) game.  This is a completely different situation – and usually quite acceptable.  Yes, there will be the inherent insecurity by the Aspie, wondering if he/she understands the rules of the new game sufficiently well to play with the others (and the Aspie may select to watch for several turns, precisely to make sure of the rules), but it is not turning the Aspie’s world upside down by negating their rare and precious understanding of at least some rules.

It is important to set this expectation up before encountering the situation, because once that meltdown has started, it is difficult to stop it.  Release of ‘pent up frustration’ is difficult to get back under control, especially in a young child.  So, making sure that the situation is properly framed before it occurs is very helpful.

No, this is not a magic wand that will make it 100% perfect every time – the Aspie may wish to get everyone to play by the rules they are familiar with, because they are more secure when dealing with the understood rules.  But when parents, educators and caregivers understand this, it may affect the way they approach the resolution, so it is more successful. 

My personal experience is that this approach usually results in a positive interaction with other kids and builds an Aspie child’s confidence in their ability to learn the rules of interacting with others.  And as they become more confident in their ability to play successfully with other children, more social skills can be built – and this is a good step towards a successful and happy Aspie child.

Squirrel Watchers – part 3

For a little enjoyment, here is the laterst look at ‘the Squirrel Watchers’.

The loud sound as the clip opens is made by the Blue Jay:  he yells like this if we are too slow to put out food for him.  He’ll even sit on our window sill and make this sound…. and last Friday, I guess I was just not fast enough for his liking, so he flew just inside my back door, made this screeching sound, turned around in mid-air and flew out again!

The squirrels had learned that when the Blue Jay makes his little screech, my hubby will put out almonds – something the squirrels much prefer to peanuts or sunflower seeds.  So, last summer, there was one squirrel which actually learned to immitate that sound!!!  It was not as loud, and a little lower pitched, but unmistakeable!  That same squirrel also learned to immitate our neighbour’s little yappy dog’s barking…  Who would have thunk it that squirrels could be multilingual!

If you are wondering about the rabbit’s expression – he was getting jelaous that the I – and perhaps more importantly, the camera – was paying attention to things other than himself….  Typical:  if you are paying attention to him, he gets suspicious.  If you are not, he gets jelaous.

Anyhow, I hope that the little bit of backyard entertainment will be a pleasant interlude in your information-filled day.

Steal this post!

With the upcoming conference ‘The Media’s Right to Offend: Exploring Legal and Ethical Limits on Free Speech’ in Halifax (Yes, Ezra will be speaking), I cannot but make the connections between the limitations on the freedom of speech the government on one hand and corporate interests on the other.

This is not meant to distract from the one – rather, it is to call attention to the connections between the two, and to make sure we don’t get side-swiped by corporate censorship just as we will have won the legal battle against the government.  And, it seems clear to me that corporate censorship is as much of a threat to our freedoms as government censorship is.

xkcd’s ‘Steal this comic’

If you dont like this, demand DRM-free files
xkcd says:  … I have lost every other piece of DRM-locked music I had paid for. 

While I have too much respect for the rule of law to advocate piracy, I do think that we need change bad laws.  And laws which turn the majority of the population into criminals (even without their knowledge) are bad laws – in my never-humble-opinion.

If you want more info on this – and missed my earlier rant on this, please, watch ‘Steal This Film’!  It is important that we understand how these laws can affect us….and what USED to be perceived as ‘piracy’:

  • in the 1970’s, network TV fought against Cable, saying putting their content onto a cable that ran to people’s home was ‘piracy’
  • when the VCR was invented, Hollywood movie studios predicted that this would be the end of them, as this ‘piracy’ would rob them of revenue.
  • the ‘sheet music’ people – as well as many musician unions – resisted ‘recorded music’, because they perceived it as ‘piracy’
  • the 1st mp3-player out there (long before ipod) was met with lawsuits for ‘facilitatin piracy’

Traditionally, copyright violation was a matter for civil courts.  In order for a criminal prosecution to occurr, there had to be more than just simple copyright violation.  But that is no longer the case, as corporations are forcing criminal charges to be laid agains simple, non-commercial copyright violation….that is something we need to pay attention to!

So, please,

Steal This Film

‘We SO pwned them!’

I am dreading Wednesday morning.

Why?

Because tonight, my kids got to stay up later than ‘New Year’s Eve’, in order to follow our Canadian election coverage.  And, tomorrow morning, it will be I who has to drag them out of bed and get them on the school bus – and I am NOT a morning person at the best of times!

But it was worth it!

This Canadian election may have seen the lowest voter turnout in history (58%, if one can rely on the preliminary numbers), but this apathy was NOT descriptive of the atmosphere in our home.  We went to vote as a family – with both kids observing and learning.  My younger son’s class really got into the mechanics – not the politics (well, not officially, though he did seem to come away with the opinion that the guy who sat beside the lady was the only one with the wrong ideas during the debate) – of the election, and he was eager to see it up close and real.  I must admit his enthusiasm was infectious.

He was aware that his hero, Ezra Levant, supported the Conservatives – that was all the leadership he needed.  From the moment the results began to trickle in, he felt sad – the Conservatives were trailing.  I explained that Atlantic Canada (especially Newfoundland) was a bastion of Liberals, and that as the results  go West (perhaps with the exception of Toronto), we would see the Liberal numbers be overtaken by the Conservative ones.

We went over a graphic example how ‘higher popular vote’ could actually result in ‘fewer seats’, if some ridings were won by a slim minority while others lost by a landslide.  And we discussed how having many (5, this time) political parties affects results, and how this can put an incredible amount of power into the hands of the few ‘independant’ candidates who got elected, and who would be wooed in a minority government where they just might hold the few deciding voices!

As the poll results were coming in, the Conservative numbers – both the number of seats and popular vote (and the popular vote seemed more important to him) – were rising.  When they both rose above the Liberal ones, there was no holding back! 

‘We’re pwning them!’  he called out and started punching the sofa, because he could not hold his excitement in any longer.  As the hour got later, and the sofa looked quite defeated, we compromised.  He would be allowed to stay up to see the results, as long as he limited himself to punching the air and stopped taking his excitement out on the furniture.

It was during Prime Minister Harper’s victory speech that he finally drifted off to sleep – but not before saying:  ‘Mom, we SO pwned them!  And our Prime Minister – he’s an Aspie like we are, isn’t he?’

While I am dissapointed that the Conservatives did not win a majority, I never really expected that they would.  And with both the Liberal Party and the Green Party (like THEY really count now…still they failed to elect a single member) quite openly plotting the removal of their respective leaders – combined with Mr. Harper’s excellent ability to run a minority governmen (having run THE longest lasting minority government in the history of our lovely country) – I do have to agree with my son:  ‘We SO poned them!’

It’s just the process of getting everyone up and off to school/work tomorrow morning that I dread!  Perhaps I should try to fall asleep – if only I could get the adrenaline out of my blood stream…

 

Note:  this post has been edited for spelling, as per a reader noticing my error (see comments).

Canadian Voting Day!!!

Today, 14th of October, 2008, is Canadian election day!

 

EVERY VOTE COUNTS!!!

 

So, please, pick the candidate YOU like the best, or the party YOU like the best, and

 

GO OUT AND VOTE!!!

 

After all, if you don’t vote, you will have given up your right to complain about the election’s results!

 

And that would be a shame…

Squirrel Watchers part 2

More ‘Thanksgiving fun’ for your viewing pleasure: