Monday, September 24, 2007

"Please contact me first!"

A pretty regular reader of this blog emailed me today with a mild complaint and a request. He'd noticed that there is some code in the blog template that completely disables the
right-click function. Instead, if you right-click to copy some highlighted text or download a picture or refresh the page, you get a popup box saying "please contact me first" instead. This was an annoyance to him as it frustrated him when trying to quickly copy what he described as my "delicious prose" (flattery gratuitously slipped into a request. clever fellow!) as well as a couple of other web functions.

Others of you have probably been (inadvertantly, on my part) frustrated by the same code. I explained to my reader that the popup is a result of an intentional bit of code I inserted into my template. The purpose is to keep people from downloading pictures (by right-clicking and choosing "save as...") without my permission . As I explained to him, the "delicious prose" I could care less about for the most part, but I am uncomfortable with the way bloggers steal each others' photos willy-nilly without permission or even credit - and with the creativity of some of the photoshoppers out there, I'd also prefer somebody didn't LOLcat one of my pets or edit one of my photos in a way I found disturbing or distasteful. It gives me a small measure of control over my blog content.

So that's the reason for the right-click blocking. Sorry for the inconvenience, but I hope that most of you - like my email correspondent - understand and forgive the annoyance.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Why don't the pumps work...?

I've conducted a lot of job interviews in my career. Conducted, as in, I was the suit across the table from the nervous candidate. And usually, 'cause I'm staff and the other interviewers are usually volunteer Directors, I literally write the job descriptions and the questions that we'll ask the candidates.

I confessed some time ago to Husband that I had a "dream question" that I'd love to ask candidates for hire.

At the end of a very proper, very legal, very professional interview, I'd love to say to a candidate, "Oh, yes - I have just one more question.

Why don't the pumps work?"

"What?" I would expect our hypothetical candidates to say. "Why don't the pumps work?" I'd ask again, pleasantly.

And the candidate, I said to Husband, the candidate who said, "The pumps don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles"...

...that candidate would automatically get the job.

(Parenthetically, I stumbled over a similar example yesterday. It occurred to me, after hanging up the phone, that in an ideal world, I really only wanted to have to deal professionally with people who "got" Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now". In fact, I wish I could say to business contacts, "Just curious - do you 'get' Both Sides Now?" and only have to deal with the ones that said, "Oh, hell yes. Totally get it.")

Oh, I know, Not only illegal, but impractical. But come on.

It can't just be me. You've got to have your own "dream questions". For potential hires, for partners/spouses, for your kids' boy/girlfriends, roommates, coworkers.

Come on, four to seven readers of this blog! What question (doesn't have to be music-related, oh my, no) do you wish you could put to someone who was going to have significant play in or around your work or personal life?

Post in the comments thread. I'm hella curious.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

There are none so poor, so vulnerable...

...that there is no-one left who is willing to exploit them. (Updated)
Illegal migrants lured to Canada
Fraudulent sales pitch touts an open-door policy
Thursday, September 20, 2007
National Post, with files from CanWest News Service
Adrian Humphreys

A sudden outpouring of illegal foreign migrants from the United States is crossing into Canada because of bogus claims by unscrupulous immigration consultants, a scam that has blossomed into an urban myth so pervasive the influx is clogging refugee services in some cities.

A fraudulent sales pitch touting an open-door policy and "economic refugee" program in Canada, aimed largely at Mexican and Haitian migrants living illegally in the United States, is proving remarkably attractive to migrants already facing crackdowns in some U.S. states.
The Canadian Council for Refugees, a non-profit umbrella organization working to protect refugees, issued a warning this week of the scams and the burgeoning myth and asked the federal government to intervene.
Canadian Council for Refugees Warning to those wishing to claim refugee status at the Canadian Border

These miserable bastards are charging these people as much as $400USD for supplying them with Canadian immigration application documents freely available over the internet and for telling them, falsely, that special amnesty programs exist allowing Mexicans and Haitians into Canada.

Many of the poor souls who take their advice and have made it to Canada have promptly been turned over by Canadian immigration authorities to their US counterparts - so they have pretty much paid $400USD to turn themselves in to ICE.

Just when you think you've seen the depths to which human beings can aspire, someone comes along to surprise you. Take Jacques Sinjuste of the Jerusalem Haitian Community Center in Naples, Florida. For a $300USD "donation" (clients interviewed said it was $400 per adult and $100 per child*), he'll download a refugee claimant form for you (from a third-party website unaffiliated with him and whose owners are furious at him) and give you directions to the Canadian border. He said in an interview that he'd been visited by someone from the Canadian Consulate a couple of days ago but "couldn't remember" if he'd been told to stop.

What a prince.

I do hope Mr. Sinjuste believes in an afterlife. I won't be there, but it sure would be interesting watching him explain this.


*An earlier version of this post reported that the "donation" was a flat fee of $400. A new story in The New York Times gives more complete information.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

& happy meal for kid thx

Anil Dash has a nice article about Lolcats and more specifically about the language they speak, which he calls "kitty pidgin". I'm a regular participant in the I Can Has Cheezburger comments threads, finding them an excellent break a couple of times a day and sure to generate a smile, and I have been fascinated by being part of the real-time evolution of what has been variously described a dialect, a creole, or as Dash describes it, a pidgin language. Lolcat has distinct rules of syntax and grammer that continue to develop organically, and, thanks to the internet, among a large group of people over a very short time. In fact, a number of linguists are keeping an eye on it, as are - not surprisingly - advertisers.



Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Old dogs, new tricks

On Thursday we begin Spanish lessons. If the Carribean and Latin America are going to continue to be part of our lives from now on - and it seems they are - then it only seems polite to learn the language of your hosts when you're guests in their country.

I remember when cobbling together a few phrases for our trip to Cuba I came upon this gem in my Latin American Spanish Phrasebook: "It helps to know a little French".

"It most certainly does not!" I actually said aloud. As someone who reads and writes French and can stumble along in conversation, I find the differences between French and Spanish to be what frequently trips me up about the latter. I constantly find myself stumbling over "yo" - "you" is you, and "vous" is you, and "tu" is you, and shouldn't "yo" be you, too, and not me? "Me" is me, and "moi" is me. "Yo" can't be me. Doesn't make sense.

Fortunately a friend who is fluent in several languages turned me on to a website that has really helped with both my French and my Spanish. It's total one-stop-shopping for English/French/Spanish/Italian translation, and is particularly useful when I'm writing in French and trying to figure out how a particular phrase is translated.

Meanwhile, Husband (who is the instigator behind the Spanish class - I said, "You already speak three languages, whaddya tryin' to do? Become a cunning linguist?") has begun scouring the websites and newspaper ads looking for his next opportunity to steal away from the Canadian winter to his heart's second home, Cuba. I don't know about this Old Dog but I suppose he'll be chatting up the barmaids in passable Spanish by January. (There's even a Spanish book club in town run by the NB Latino Association - but reading whole books in Spanish and then discussing them is a pretty ambitious goal! I know a couple of people who don't speak Spanish well who essentially use the class as a conversation class, though.)

Old dogs. New tricks! We'll see :)


Yeah, girls in wheelchairs are pretty sharp, too.

Husband, in the pub, where on the TV Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza are discussing whether it would be better to date a blind girl or a deaf one: "I know one of each, and I can't put anything over on either of 'em."


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Simpsonized (updated)

Thanks to Mike of the Nellie Blog and Nickel Shrink of Nostalgic for the Pleistocene who Simpsonized themselves first.

I notice that my cats' colours have run. I shouldn't have used the pre-soak cycle.

(UPDATE: It was missing a little something. This is better.)


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"Canada's Ellis Island"

You've probably heard of Ellis Island, the famous island in New York Harbor where immigrants were processed on their arrival in the US, but few outside New Brunswick have heard of Partridge Island, which could be considered Canada's equivalent. I took this shot of Partridge Island on a Saturday drive to Saint John some weeks ago but almost forgot about it until now.

The island's history is not a happy one. First used as a quarantine station as early as 1785, it it mostly remembered now for the role it played during the Great Famine in Ireland in the 1840s, when a large influx of Irish refugees relocated to Saint John. Between 1845 and 1847 approximately 30,000 Irish arrived, more people than were living in the city of Saint John at the time. In 1847, known to the Irish as "Black 47," the worst year of the Famine, some 16,000 immigrants, almost all of them from Ireland, arrived at Partridge Island.

While the hospital could only properly accommodate 200 people at a time, it's estimated that 4,500 sick people were cared for on the island during the period of the Irish Famine. The overcrowding was said to be horrific. The doctor himself died of typhus in 1847. Hundreds of people died and were buried on the island, with no record kept of their names.

If there was scant ability or desire to honour the memory of those who died at the time, there were efforts made to atone later. The island's cemeteries were finally consecrated in 1925, and in 1927 a large Celtic cross was erected on the island in their memory (a replica is in, appropriately enough, St. Patrick's Square at the end of Prince William Street in Saint John) . In 1988, the poor unfortunate souls were reburied in St. Mary's Cemetery in Saint John (presumably so that their graves could be tended - no one lives on the island now).

Ships were quarantined off this island for weeks at a time if illness was discovered on-board, their miserable, crowded, seasick cargoes just having to suffer out the illness or tolerate the wait. It's sad to think of so much human misery, and at the same time inspiring to think of what the human spirit can endure if it has just that one, crucial, essential thing: hope. Hope for a new start and a new life in a new land - and indeed while many died, many more of them found just that.

There is still a working light house on the island that you can't quite make out in this shot, but it was shining brightly on that beautiful summer day. That's all that's out there, now, that and a few empty buildings.

Unless you believe in ghosts.