Tuesday, March 21, 2006

something that i consider to be very stupid

well, i normally try to come up with something i think is a witty title for my posts. i didn't bother with this one.

i read an article recently that actually woke me up to the reality that people can be more stupid than i have ever given them credit for (you can read the article here). to sum it up, it used to be that when you search for the word "abortion" on Amazon.com, the search feature spell-check suggested that perhaps you may have actually intended to search for "adoption" and then listed "abortion" related search results below the suggestion.

well, someone who is no doubt way too politically correct wrote amazon an e-mail to complain that this was, to put it plainly, discriminatory. the e-mail raised the concern that searches for "adoption" don't bring up a suggestion that the user may have intended to search for "abortion" related entries. the article explains a very legitimate reason why this would happen.

amazon has since changed code for its search engine that would avoid such suggestions. bear in mind, this is based on 1 person complaining. not millions, not thousands, not hundreds or tens...just 1. what i consider most stupid is the complaint.

are you so worried that your stance on abortion is being challenged by alternatives that the slightest possibility of another suggestion being made would set you off?! is your political view on the issue so fragile? really?! how about you get over yourself for 2 seconds and realize that it's so ridiculously unlikely that this is an intentional assault on the method of abortion and more likely that it's just a programming quirk that your complaint is unnecessary? how about you do something more constructive with your time than fight every battle that you perceive to be before you?

i'm actually not even sure what i find more perturbing: the fact that a complaint was e-mailed or the fact that the site changed the search engine based on the one complaint.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

sorry about the length of the last post. a rant is often rambling you know...but if you can slog through it, it may be a good enough story.

The Greatest American Hero

Well, my vacation started with a bit of a bang.

We are currently in BC and were able to get there thanks to the good folks at West Jet. I looked forward to my flight because I haven't been on West Jet since they've changed things a bit. They now have wonderfully comfortable leather seats and TVs for every person (with 24 channels of satellite TV and 4 movie channels for all to enjoy).

However, there was a bit of a speed bump to our trip. First, we thought that weather would definitely be a problem. I don't think it's stopped snowing in Winnipeg since December 1st. It just keeps snowing. So, with snow falling and some wind going, that was bound to set us back at least a bit. No problem...

Then, about an hour before we were supposed to be in the plane that was taking off, there was some commotion amongst the flight crew. It was a few minutes before any announcement was made, but when the guy at the counter begins with "I don't think you're going to like this...", you can usually expect something that's more than a slight setback.

As it turns out, one of the West Jet planes was in Thunder Bay and got hit by lightning (the ironing is delicious...sorry, Simpsons joke). But, for reasons that sounded like they would be hard to convince us of, the West Jet operations office decided it would be best if the plane that was supposed to carry us to Vancouver would instead be sent straight to Thunder Bay. It was then explained to us that what this would mean is that we would have to go back out into the Terminal, retrieve our luggage, check back in, and wait 4 hours for the flight that we wanted.

To be honest, I was less than concerned. I really didn't think this was going to be a big deal. As anyone knows, when airlines do this kind of thing you usually get something for free. However, a gaggle of passengers didn't feel quite so care-free about the whole thing.

While the announcement was still being made, someone started to raise his voice with all kinds of pointless questions. "Why our plane? Can't you do something else? Where is my brain?!" This after the guy at the counter already informed us that he really didn't know anymore useful information and if we had any questions to please save them for the agents at the check-in counter. He mentioned this several times. Still, a gang of would-be passengers gathered in a circle around the counter guy and began shouting other questions at him, demanding someone in higher authority who would tell them more and so forth...as if this would accomplish anything aside from establishing that people who throw tantrums get rewarded.

Yes, it was an inconvenience. It would be a pain to retrieve our luggage and go through security again (the first go round already left me with a concern for having to take off my pants just to demonstrate that I was a simple harmless passenger). However, I guess I'm far too bold in thinking that inconvenience is the least painful thing in the world, since it just means that we will get what we came for but only not when we came for it. Then, my wife sensed I was going to cause trouble...

I got up, but my carry-on bag down on my seat and stepped toward the crowd. I made sure I waited for the right time. Just as the lead mob henchman said something to the effect of "Why don't you send up someone in higher authority to tell us more," I chimed in with "If you don't settle down, they might send someone up here to take you away!" Yes, that's what I said. And, it achieved the effect I was hoping for in the person that it was aimed at. He immediately backed down and gave this thing just a little thought. But another immediately took offense that I should dare to use logical thought. I believe some semblance of his words would be "Hey, why don't you pipe down?! You don't need to be a hero! What are you some frickin American?!" Yes, he actually said that (ask my wife if you don't believe that this is how it went down).

I wasn't terribly surprised about that last comment. There is more than a large share of America-hating among Canadian citizens. For most it's to the point where anything that has potentially negative connotations has American associations. Prejudice masked as patriotism is a topic for another rant. However, in the heat of the moment I responded with the less than intelligent "What are you some sort of fricking idiot?" Then a girl comes out and says "Excuse me!" She was looking at Mr. Canada when she said it, and I had no idea why. Turns out she is an American.

I was then confronted by another person on my way to picking up our baggage. He said, "Excuse me but we have a right to free speech and, especially when one of these corporations is concerned..." That's where I interrupted his diatribe to state my side a little more calmly (and with futility of course). It ended up with him telling me some sob story about how he hasn't seen his daughter in 9 months, so naturally 4 more hours would be the end of the world.

And that was the beginning of our vacation. I began by being dubbed the "Greatest American Hero" (and sitting on the aisle one row away from the person who called me an American). However, I did happen across the member of the flight crew that I tried to help out. He was grateful, and very happy that someone made the effort. I'm certainly no hero (and not American...that wouldn't be so bad though), but at least I managed to help someone at least partially avoid several people making him miserable just because they were. And I managed to embarass my wife as well, even though she thought I was right. My job here is done.

To infinity, and beyond!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Toast to the Host Who Boasts the Best Roast

I could be mistaken, but I was under the impression that celebrity roasts were originally done for the purpose of paying tribute to a particular celebrity by their friends and peers. This would be done by accentuating all kinds of things about the subject in a funny, sort of mocking way. It would be making fun of them, but usually with love (and not just for the sake of mocking them).

Recently, I was looking at DVDs (see last post) and noticed something that I had only recently heard about. Comedy Central broadcasted a roast of Pamela Anderson that has now been released on DVD. A roast (tribute?) of...Pamela "I have boobies" Anderson. What?!

This made me realize that either the whole world has gone crazy and somehow thinks that Pam has done something worthy of paying tribute to (best cleavage?), or the nature of celebrity roasts has changed. I am leaning toward the second option, which would have to mean that roasts are now done probably of just about any pop culture icon and strictly for the purpose of pointing out how ridiculous that person is.

This leads me to think that people are just being lazy. I mean, really, is it that difficult to think of jokes to make fun of Pam? I'm guessing there were probably about 200 boob jokes, and several jokes about the infamous video tape that was released of her and Tommy Lee doing it. The only challenge in roasting Pamela Anderson would be the time limit that they probably had because there's only so much show that they can put on TV. The editor probably had the hardest time. "There's just so many jokes...too many...jokes...can't pick...best ones."

Those who know me know that I'm rarely critical of the antics of Hollywood (seriously), but this time...come on! Try harder next time, challenge yourself. I know you can do better.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ya Gotta Give the People What They Want

I wanted to accomplish a simple task today: buy a copy of the special edition of Walk the Line. Doesn't seem like it should be difficult right?

Well, I went to 6 different stores. To be fair, I found 6 or 7 copies of the movie at the 5th store I went to, but they were all full screen copies of the regular edition and they had just come in today. Seriously, 5 out of 6 stores were completely sold out of any copies of the movie?!

The movie was released exactly 1 week ago tonight. Oh, you could find plenty of copies of the new Harry Potter dvd. Probably thousands of copies. But Walk the Line...I mean, did they just not think it would be that popular so each store only ordered a few copies? You can bet they didn't order as many copies of it as they did Harry Potter. I actually asked an employee at one store if they had recalled every single copy of the movie for some reason.

So this is my request to all the stores that carried the movie: how about you order more than 5 copies next time? Give it the same respect that you give other big releases...damn you Harry Potter!

Monday, March 06, 2006

It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp

aka "Martin Scorsese 0, Three-Six Mafia 1" (you said it Jon)

(Disclaimer: This isn't really a rant)

Well, the Oscars are over once again. No really big surprises I guess...except for 1, perhaps. While the Academy didn't get a chance to spit on Martin Scorsese this year (that's what happens when he doesn't release one), they did get a chance to tell the world what it's all about.

For those who didn't see Hustle and Flow, it's a movie about a man whose profession is being a pimp, but whose dream is to be an accomplished rapper. The movie includes a song that the character writes called "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp".

The song was nominated for the Oscars this year and was performed on stage at the presentation by a group called Three-Six Mafia. Despite more likely songs being nominated along side it, the song won. From the way Three-Six Mafia celebrated the award, you'd think they just signed a $100 million record contract. They were truly grateful...and speechless for the first few seconds after dancing their way to the podium.

I, for one, am glad they won the award (I haven't been this happy since Eminem's song won for 8 Mile), but I can't help to wonder what this indicates about the academy. The jokes about a song by that title even being nominated probably still haven't stopped. Jon Stewart couldn't believe what was happening (he was at least somewhat pleasantly surprised, I think). In his words, "I think it just got a little easier out here for a pimp!"

Good for you Three-Six Mafia, if Scorsese doesn't win for his brilliant directing...at least your win will make some people in Hollywood just uncomfortable enough.