Monday, July 22, 2013

Pricey ‘action plan’ TV ads had little impact, survey finds   


The Canadian Press via CBC News:

But a survey of 2,003 adult Canadians completed in April identified just three people who actually visited the website.


And among the few people who took action, nine said all they did was complain or “express displeasure” about the 30-second TV spots, dismissed by critics as thinly veiled Conservative propaganda.


The government has already spent about $113 million on action plan promotion in the last four years, and in May issued a tender for more such ads over the next year, and perhaps running to 2016.

I become increasingly aggravated each time I see another one of these “Action Plan” ads, and have often wondered how much they are costing tax payers. Well, now I have an answer: $113 million and counting.

From what I can tell, the only economic stimulus resulting from this so-called plan is a temporarily boost to advertising revenues for media companies. $113 million could have gone a long long way in supporting other government programs.

Rick Mercer had a rant about this very topic in 2011 – I can only imagine what he’s thinking now, more than two years later.

For those looking to “take action,” there is an online petition requesting that Prime Minister Harper halt spending on promotion of his government’s economic policies.

Indian builds a Taj Mahal for his wife   


Suhail Haleem, reporting for BBC News:

“You see, my wife and I were childless, so she always used to say, ‘after we are dead, there will be nobody to remember us, we will be forgotten’. So I promised her that if she were to die before me, I would build such a beautiful mausoleum for her that people would remember her for ages,” Mr Quadri says.


10 Most Expensive Photographs in the World   


As noted by DPReview, Archie Tinkerbell writes for FreeYork:

Sometimes photographers amaze us with their art, the ability to uniquely reflect the world around us and get a look at it from a different angle. And sometimes doing something completely disgusting or normal so that it is impossible to understand why the work is recognised as a masterpiece. Anyway, these photos were sold for millions of dollars.

Quite a variety of photos, both in terms of subject matter and time period. Andreas Gursky has three of the top ten!

Setting a Volume Limit on an iPod shuffle   


From the Sound and Hearing FAQ at

On an iPod shuffle, adjust the volume to the desired maximum volume. Connect your iPod shuffle to iTunes and select “Limit maximum volume”. Drag the slider to the desired maximum volume. The initial slider setting corresponds to the volume the iPod shuffle was set to when you selected the “Limit maximum volume” checkbox.

An important setting to know about for parents of young children with iPod shuffles.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

We’ll Be Back Soon   


As noted by John Gruber at Daring Fireball, some of Apple’s developers may have had their personal information stolen:

Last Thursday, an intruder attempted to secure personal information of our registered developers from our developer website. Sensitive personal information was encrypted and cannot be accessed, however, we have not been able to rule out the possibility that some developers’ names, mailing addresses, and/or email addresses may have been accessed. In the spirit of transparency, we want to inform you of the issue. We took the site down immediately on Thursday and have been working around the clock since then.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What Changed the Olympics Forever   


Bob Greene writing for CNN back in July 2012:

It may be hard for young viewers of this summer’s London Olympics to imagine, but all the sponsorships, advertisements and marketing hoopla that are a standard part of big-dollar contemporary Olympic Games were thought to be an insult to the Olympic spirit not so long ago. The Olympics were supposed to be about love of sport, not love of money.

Then came TV.

In light of the recent announcement that the NHL will allow its players to participate in the 2014 Olympics, I was curious about the history of professional athletes in the Olympic Games.

Amar G. Bose, Acoustic Engineer and Inventor, Dies at 83   


Glenn Rifkin writing for the New York Times about the life of the founder of Bose Corporation:

Dr. Bose’s devotion to research was matched by his passion for teaching. Having earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1950s, Dr. Bose returned from a Fulbright scholarship at the National Physical Laboratory in New Delhi and joined the M.I.T. faculty in 1956.

He taught there for more than 45 years, and in 2011, donated a majority of his company’s shares to the school. The gift provides M.I.T. with annual cash dividends.


Popular Science has republished a Tom Clynes article featuring Bose from their December 2004 issue:

When we stop for some ice cream, I ask Bose how he accounts for the impact he has had on such diverse fields. He tells me that he once asked his mentor, the brilliant mathematician Norbert Wiener, the same question. “We were walking through the courtyard, and he stopped and turned toward me, and said two words: ‘Insatiable curiosity.’ ”

Friday, July 19, 2013

Debating Vancouver’s Harm-Reduction Strategies


Licia Corbella writing for the Calgary Herald regarding the recent drug-related death of Glee star Cory Monteith:

It’s unlikely that the 31-year-old would have risked bringing hard drugs across the border from his home in the United States, so it’s safe to assume he either picked some up himself or had a gofer do it for him by visiting InSite, the government-sponsored and funded safe injection site at 139 East Hastings. The next step is easy. Wait for an injection drug user to show up, ask them to score you some heroin, grab a few clean, free needles and distilled water, and you’re set.

So the question is, if Monteith were visiting virtually any other city in Canada, would he have been able to find heroin? Would he have died? I think the likelihood is much lower.

I find Corbella’s article poorly researched and borderline ignorant. The headline – Vancouver’s easy drug access may have helped kill Monteith – is also offensive, capitalizing on the tragic, highly-publicized death of a well-known actor to no doubt sell newspapers and drive web traffic. I echo my friend’s well thought out criticism of the article:

I just read your article on Cory Monteith and the use of heroin. You are so off base on so many points it is ridiculous. You are ill-informed and apparently depend on your 82 year old mother for information.

Firstly, for clarification, there is no way you can go to Insite and buy heroin. Drugs are not for sale in Insite in any way shape or form. Participants are not even allowed to pass a piece of gum to their friend inside Insite, never mind share or buy drugs from one another. How do I know? I’ve worked there as a nurse.

Secondly, Cory Monteith likely died from an overdose because he was fresh from rehab and hadn’t used in some time. We call this “opioid naive” – the body is no longer used to the amount of drugs one used when in the peak of addiction. Cory likely thought “I’ll just do 2 papers for old times sake” not realizing that his body could no longer handle that much. Added to even a small amount of alcohol – both heroin and alcohol are Central nervous system depressants – and you have a fatal combination.

Thirdly, your once anecdotal story of a woman not being able to find heroin once does not immediately result in “there is no heroin in other Canadian cities.” As a journalist, you should know better than to make vast generalizations.

Finally, you miss the entire point that addiction is a disease and needs to be treated as such. Insite and the associated services recognize this – which is why entry into detox and treatment have risen significantly since the opening of Insite. More people are off drugs because they were able to use drugs in a safe and trusting environment.

Please get your facts straight before you publish an opinion that can potentially misinform people and possibly cause fear mongering – ultimately leading to the prevention of harm reduction services in other cities.

- Alida Fernhout, RN, BA, BN, MPH

As criticism regarding Corbella’s article erupted online, she was interviewed by Vancouver’s CKNW AM 980. Rather than acknowledge the various shortcomings of her article, the columnist remained indignant – not surprising given her unwillingness to do any basic research on a topic prior to opining so strongly about it.


Guy Felicella, a recovering heroin addict, responding to Corbella:

They care so much about human life from the front desk all the way down to the chill room. They give hope to people who live and struggle with addiction. They care if you use, they care if you want to get clean, they care period. They give you options and choices and it is up to you, but at least the choice is there now because before Insite and Onsite, there was no choice but to use or die.

Society puts so much emphasis on the fact that drug users are bad, but we are human beings. Doesn’t everyone deserve the right to get clean or to use in a safe environment with the support of kind staff that will break their backs to help you?

The Real Face of Terror: Behind the Scenes Photos of the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Manhunt   


John Wolfson writing on the Boston Daily blog:

The Rolling Stone cover featuring the suspected Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has, of course, set off a firestorm of controversy across the country. Critics believe that the cover glamorizes Tsarnaev, depicting him as a kind of rock ‘n roll outlaw rather than a terrorist who has been charged with killing four people and seriously wounding hundreds of others.

Sgt. Sean Murphy, a tactical photographer with the Massachusetts State Police who has photographed the funerals of many officers killed in the line of duty, is furious with the magazine. Murphy, who also acts a liaison to the families of fallen officers, is so angered by the cover—which he says is both dangerous and insulting to the victims of the bombings—that he feels the need to counter the message that it conveys.

Whether or not you agree with Sgt. Murphy’s opinion of the Rolling Stone cover, these photographs are stunning. The comments section of the blog already has over 2,000 replies. I particularly like this one by Aaron Kraus:

If your objection is that the cover photo glamorizes Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and presents him as an enticing role model to young readers because of his looks then you’re rightly concerned about something that has nothing to do with Rolling Stone.

If your objection is that the cover photo humanizes Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and presents him as a multi-demensional — even sympathetic — figure, well you have just confronted one of humanity’s starkest truths: that we are all humans, endowed with a tremendous capacity for both evil and empathy. Again, your concern has nothing to do with Rolling Stone.

If your objection is that the cover photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev disrespects the victims of his alleged crimes because it focuses on the criminal rather than the crimes then you’re arguing for such a narrow view of journalism and journalistic priorities that the end product would probably do little to educate, enlighten, and engage readers.

If your objection is that Rolling Stone’s intention is to drive sales with sensational cover photos, well, yeah.

Then again, see the photos above, linked online, to drive traffic.

Prosecuted for Standing Her Ground   


Kirsten Powers writing for the Daily Beast:

Alexander, who had no criminal record, was arrested. Contrast this with another Florida resident, George Zimmerman (also prosecuted by Corey), who had a record including an arrest for battery of a police officer and a restraining order for domestic abuse. He also had killed an unarmed teenager. Yet he wasn’t arrested until there was a national outcry and was later acquitted. Alexander—who did not kill or injure anyone—is in jail for 20 years.

When I saw a graphic referencing this woman’s story on social media, I assumed it was fake. Sadly, it appears to be true.