Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Life Lessons I Learned From Science Fiction (Day Three)

Today's Lesson: Reality is a scam, and someone has a vested interest in you not finding that out.


"The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now in this very room... you can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from The Truth...

...You are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind."

-The Matrix

My buddy Cliff at Rusty Idols has written written a piece about a recent court case in the US where a teenager has been formally punished for doing independent research on the harmfulness (or lack thereof) of marijuana.

Meanwhile, The US Supreme Court (you remember... the old guys who used to be in charge of things like protecting freedom of speech) has ruled that free speech is bad if you're in school and it's marijuana you're talking about.

Every human civilization has had officially approved-of ways for an individual to alter his or her own consciousness. The Ancient Romans had wine. The Egyptians had beer. Maoist China had huge chanting rallies. Consumerist Materialism has caffeine and commercials that encourage consumption. Pentacostalists have what's called "being slain in the Spirit." The nature of a person's consciousness changes over the course of a day, and most of us (whether we think of it in those terms or not) do something to artificially tamper with our state of mind.

The culturally-approved forms of self-medication generally support the larger goals of the culture in question. That's why marijuana is on the American verboten list: it screws with your urge to compete. Alcohol is out of the question in Saudi Arabia, because The Koran says so. Start speaking in tongues, rolling on the ground and shouting for Jesus in downtown Beijing, and you're likely to be arrested.

Every culture comes with its basic spoken and unspoken assumptions. Anyone who takes an unapproved drug (and thus begins conditioning themselves rather than letting the herd do the conditioning) is breaking the rules -- asserting their right to find answers to life's questions on their own, rather than letting The Boss/Chairman Mao/Pastor Dave provide the answers. Anything that hampers groupthink is a threat to The Group.

If you're okay with your culture handing you all the answers, go right ahead. If you think the Truth as presented to you on CNN and in the staff meeting is all there is, great. I almost envy you. Almost.

Some of us, though, would rather explore the final frontier of our minds in our own way. Clearly, we are Troublemakers and Outcasts and Disreputable People. You go right ahead and judge us... we're too busy looking for the keys that might get us all out of this prison.

While you're busy condemning us, don't forget that you and I are both alive today because of one Troublemaker named Vasiliy Arkhipov.

"You take the Blue Pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the Red Pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is The Truth. Nothing more."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Life Lessons I Learned From Science Fiction (Day Two)

Today's Lesson: Science can make people better, but it can't make better people.


Whenever technology goes wrong, it's bigger and better news than when things work as advertised. Case in point: the recent misapplication of medical technology that lead to the death of professional wrestler Chris Benoit and his wife and son.

Like apparently everyone else in Chris Benoit's line of work, Mr. Benoit was enhanced with prescription steroids and painkillers. For the most part, this regimen seems to work well for professional wrestlers. They make money, people are entertained, and everyone's happy. That is, unless you end up like Chris, or Ravishing Rick Rude, or Louie Spicolli, or Brian Pillman, or Rick "The Renegade" Williams, or "Mr. Perfect" Curt Henning, or Rodney "Yokozuna" Anoa'i, or Davey Boy Smith, or Road Warrior Hawk, or Big Boss Man Ray Traylor... all of whom died young (directly or indirectly) because of steroids.

Besides, maybe it wasn't really "roid rage" that made Chris Benoit go crazy and strangle his wife and asphyxiate his son. According to the World Wrestling Enterprises press release, "physical findings announced by authorities indicate deliberation, not rage. The wife's feet and hands were bound and she was asphyxiated, not beaten to death. By the account of the authorities, there were substantial periods of time between the death of the wife and the death of the son, again suggesting deliberate thought, not rage. The presence of a Bible by each is also not an act of rage."

Yes. The presence of Bibles make his actions seem so much less crazy.

Undoubtedly you'll be hearing more in the near future about the pressure professional wrestlers are under to take steroids. And undoubtedly there will be inquiries, public hand-wringing, and a lot of tsuris until, ultimately... nothing changes. Not even the hypocrisy of professional wrestlers shouting at kids to "stay off drugs and be a winner... like ME!"

Any technology than be used can be misused. How long did it take the first of our distant ancestors to learn that making fire isn't just good for cooking and staying warm, but is also great for burning the neighbor's hut down?

But of course, there will be voices that blame "the drugs." But I don't want to get ahead of myself here: drugs are tomorrow's Life Lesson. Bring lots of water... I'll have a Red Pill for you to swallow.

Life Lessons From Science Fiction: Cheney On The Planet Of The Apes

"...we finally, really did it!! You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God...damn you all to hell!"
-Charlton Heston, Planet Of The Apes

Chimps are complex, intelligent creatures who have an altruistic impulse and will aid other chimps or even humans without promise of a reward. When a chimp sees someone else suffering, they feel badly about it.

Dick Cheney, according to today's Washington Post, is a complex, intelligent creature who reacted to watching Plane Number Two crash into the World Trade Center as follows:

Cheney made no sound. 'I remember turning my head and looking at the vice president, and his expression never changed,' said the witness, reading from a notebook of observations written that day. Cheney closed his eyes against the image for one long, slow blink.

"Three people who were present, not all of them admirers, said they saw no sign then or later of the profound psychological transformation that has often been imputed to Cheney. What they saw, they said, was extraordinary self-containment and a rapid shift of focus to the machinery of power. While others assessed casualties and the work of 'first responders,' Cheney began planning for a conflict that would call upon lawyers as often as soldiers and spies."

In the meantime, Halliburton continues to gouge Americans via no-bid contracts, and Dick continues to be both a member of the Executive and Legislative branches of the US Government, depending on which secrets he wants to hide, like a human Quantum Physics paradox.

I remember "Planet Of The Apes" well from my childhood. And I remember that it was the humans, not the apes, that Charlton Heston was yelling at. And he's a Republican, for God's sake!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Shawarma For Your Conscience: My Apology To Telus

"Please read this document carefully and make it an integral part of the way you conduct business at Telus"
-Darren Entwistle, from the Ambergris Solutions (Manila) "Telus Ethics Policy"

I'm willing to admit when I'm wrong.

All along I've been telling you that employees at Ambergris Solutions -- the Manila call centre where Telus is sending its jobs now -- is a slave pit where employees only earn $15 a day. Since Telus is now preparing to buy Bell and welcome thousands more Canadians into their employment, I thought it would be fair to let all you Bell employees out there that Telus is not going to replace you with slaves from overseas.

I've done some research. Details on work at Ambergris are painfully hard to come by. Apparently all Ambergris employees are sworn to secrecy. So my apologies for quoting rumours instead of facts.

Fortunately, I was able to find this article at about the place.

Apparently the "all Canadian" telecom world Telus envisions is run by a guy name Tim Lavin (from Austin, Texas), where recent college grads are actually starting out at $218 to $273 US per month... which actually works out (based on an 8 hour day, 5 days a week) to $1.36 to $1.71 US per day for midnight-shift work.

...Someone wanna check my math on this...?

Thank God that Jack Tuason, a founder and director of the place, assures us that "We are not running a sweatshop here."

According to this, keeping a slave in the Americas in the 1860s cost around $50 per year. So whatever you want to call the economic exploitation of Filipinos... at least they aren't slaves.

But here's where things get confusing. You see, the Philippines has minimum-wage laws just like we do here. That wage changes depending on which part of the country you're in. Ambergris is in a section where the minimum wage would pay a whopping 276.50 Filipino pesos a day. That works out to about 6 bucks a day Canadian. So, either Manila has a shortened work day that would be the envy of Finland or Sweden, or the Philippines is (like Canada) one of those places where you can sign someone up to work for less-than-minimum per hour by calling it a "salary."

Either way, though, I guess it isn't slavery. Technically. And calling the place a "slave pit" is clearly out to lunch. According to their web site, employees there enjoy "'town hall meetings' with exciting themes, like the ambergris idol, coffee talks with senior management, regular team outings, civic-oriented events, fun Friday treats, project opportunities, social events, including bazaars and shawarma nights, the ambergris newsletter, special guests (like masseuses, fortune tellers, and more) leadership development training, friendly team competitions, [and] career development counseling."

Actual slavery, so far as I know, never involved Shawarma Nights.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Telus Mobility Mobilizes Jobs Out Of The Country (UPDATED)

So, do you remember when I said that Telus was manipulating copyright law to cover up their lies about sending jobs out of the country, and remember when I said I figured it was because they were going to do it again?

Well, call me Nostradamus.

That "temporary measure" of moving excess calls out to the Philippines keeps getting Well, gets less and less "temporary" all the time. If you just clicked on that last link and the first video didn't work, my apologies. It was a news report from a TV station that Telus lied to Youtube about to suppress it.

My question in all this: where the HELL is the Telecommunications Workers Union in all this? You guys said this would happen, and took action to try and prevent it. I know: I was one of the guys out there picketing with you.

Why are you just lying back and taking it?

UPDATE, August 29/07: The jobs are going away, and the TWU remains silent. I've yet to see anything resembling action I could take pride in, were I still a TWU member.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Life Lesson From Science Fiction: I Dream Of George Orr

When I was a teenager one of my favourite science fiction novels was "The Lathe Of Heaven." It was about a man named George Orr whose dreams can shape reality. Say you have a dream you're married to your favourite celebrity... only to wake up in bed next to him/her. Sounds like fun until your first nightmare, or dream where someone you cared about died, or whatever. As a result of this George Orr develops a stimulant dependency, in order to avoid dreaming.

George gets sent to a psychiatrist who specializes in dreams. The psychiatrist soon figures out that George isn't crazy.

Naturally, the psychiatrist does what any thinking person in his position would do: he hypnotizes George Orr to take control of his dreams, and begins re-shaping the world to his order.

One of the last requests the psychiatrist had was to eliminate all racism and intolerance. The solution George's subconscious mind comes up with is to turn every man, woman and child on the face of the Earth the same pasty shade of grey.

I thought the novel was brilliant, but in my heart I just knew that one day we'd all learn to get along regardless of pigmentation. After all: long before I read "The Lathe Of Heaven," I was a Star Trek fan. "Surely to God," I thought to myself, "we'll eventually get past our urge to divide up into tribes based on skin color and culture and religion and such. And certainly, the more educated we get, the less likely we'll be to engage in that kind of stupidity."

Maybe I was wrong.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fighting The Jewish Menace -- Um, I Mean "Gay Menace" (UPDATED)

George W. Bush's nominee for Surgeon-General, Dr. James Holsinger, sort of has a problem with gay people. In January 1991 he authored a paper for that bastion of scientific inquiry -- The United Methodist Church -- in which he stated "the structure and function of the male and female human reproductive systems are fully complementary… When the complementarity of the sexes is breached, injuries and diseases may occur."

Of course, the Bushites are rushing to defend him. And hey, let's give the man a chance, shall we? Just because he's using a rational-sounding and scientific-sounding approach when he considers gayness to be wrong, that certainly doesn't mean it'll affect public policy in any obviously anti-gay way, right? As a matter of fact, I'm sure that being gay in America will be better than ever. Dr. James Holsinger is, after all, a good Christian.

Good Christians never, ever go off the rails with their prejudices, do they?

"People are always saying that our National Socialist racial thinking is materialistic, unchristian, chauvinistic, imperialistic, and that it leads to the defamation of foreign races and peoples. The opposite is the case. We believe that our racial policy is the surest guarantee for mutual respect and for peaceful coexistence between the peoples of this world. Someone of another race is different from me both in body and soul, for both are important. This makes no value judgment about other races. We are too conscious of the relationship between our own blood and our own race to presume to make such a judgment, which could only come from a standpoint that thought itself above race and humanity."

-Dr. Gerhard Wagner, Reich Physician Leader, 1936

Just you wait: if this clown makes it to the confirmation hearings, he'll insulate himself in his religion like a cockroach in a bag of flour.

UPDATE, August 28/07: The nomination process continues unhindered. It seems Republicans only approve of gay sex if it's a Senator, and if he's in a public washroom.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Spider-Man Vs. The Multinational Corporation!

(click the picture to avoid eyestrain)

I'm Dissectin' It: The Big Mac Deconstructed Day Three -- MAY OR MAY NOT CONTAIN STUFF

The Big Mac bun is a marvel of chemical engineering... white, fluffy, and apparently quite fresh. I dropped one and it bounced with a springiness I haven't often observed in baked goods. Since I'm the kind of guy who loves taking things apart to see how they work, here (straight from McD's web site) are the ingredients in a Big Mac bun. My comments are in italics.


Big Mac® Bun: Enriched wheat flour ("Enriched" meaning "mechanically processed and stripped of a lot of nutrients, then a few are put back, like when you get gouged on your cell phone bill but then get a "Preferred Customer" half-price movie admission coupon in the mail), water, sugar and/or glucose-fructose (in other words, sugar and/or sugar-sugar), yeast, vegetable oil (soybean and/or canola) (why not one or the other?), salt, calcium sulphate (soaks up excess moisture. Can be made at home from drywall)...


(This is what I don't get. "May contain any or all of the following." Imagine wedding vows like that: "I, (Bride/Groom), MAY take you (Groom/Bride), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold IN ANY OR ALL OF THE FOLLOWING from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part, IN VARYING PROPORTIONS . MAYBE.")

diacetyl tartaric acid (used as a pesticide -- go ahead, look it up) esters of mono and diglycerides (gives it a nice smell), vegetable mono and diglycerides (mono and diglycerides are "emulsifiers" -- chemicals that make other compounds that would normally stick together, stick togther -- like oil and water), calcium propionate (another pesticide -- may or may not be toxic to humans. The jury's still out), sodium stearoyl-2- lactylate (another emulsifier), corn flour, calcium phosphate, soy flour, sunflower oil, wheat starch, ammonium phosphate (often used in fertilizer -- here it's meant to stimulate growth of yeast. Gotta crank those buns out FAST!), calcium peroxide (a flour bleaching agent -- everyone likes white bread!), wheat gluten, ethanol (alcohol -- woo hoo!), sorbitol (made from corn syrup as a sweetner. Common in cough syrup), polysorbate 20 (a surfactant -- chemically changes the surface tension of liquids. Beats the hell outta me what it's doing here), sodium propionate (a preservative -- inhibits mold formation), enzymes ("enzymes" covers a lot of ground. It's like saying a KKK rally and an Amnesty International conference both contain "motivated people"), dextrin (more sweetener!), corn starch, wheat starch, cellulose gum (according to one chemical company web site I found, "cellulose gum significantly enhances quality by acting as a thickener and stabilizer and by controlling crystallization, moisture retention and fat uptake." Your guess is as good as mine), ammonium sulfate (yet another fertilizer/insecticide component. Is that why it needs the mold inhibitor?), malt, calcium carbonate (in other words, chalk), sesame seeds.


Wait a minute... I thought companies were supposed to list their ingredients in order from greatest to least total percentage of content. And I can see the sesame seeds. Does this mean that there's more calcium propionate than sesame seeds in this thing?

Is that why it bounced so nicely?

Monday, June 11, 2007

I'm Dissectin' It: The Big Mac Deconstructed Day Two -- Deep Into The Guts

McDonalds -- you hot, sexy marketing machine, you -- is jumping on the blog wagon in order to improve their public perception. Six moms will be spending time behind the counter at McDonalds and blogging about their experiences.

It seems the Clown has been on the receiving end of a lot of bad press about their contribution to childhood obesity, as well as over environmental concerns, the quality of work there, et cetera. And having a bunch of moms behind the counter saying things like "holy crap, these futon-patties are FRESH, not FROZEN!" will help immensely.

Honestly, I'm not sure how my humble contribution will lower the calorie-count on a Big Mac, or make the life of the guy stuffing it into a box will help, but there you have it. Perception is reality, it seems.

So, let's see what one perceives when a Big Mac is disassembled. Today, I'm taking a look at the guts of the Mac.

The pickles appear to be more-or-less perfectly normal, as are the teeny little bits that appear to be onions. Or so it seems - the onions are pretty much uniformly sunk into the sauce.

The lettuce -- or, as I like to think of it, "the side salad" -- is uniformly chopped up into orderly little bits. I tried reassembling them into something resembling a lettuce leaf, like a lab tech on "CSI" reassembling a shredded business document, but to no avail. On balance, I was surprised by the unusual whiteness of the lettuce. Statistically speaking, I suppose a greater-than-average number of my leaf fragments could have come from the whiter parts of the leaves, rather than the green one traditionally associates with lettuce.

Finally, we arrive at the heart of the matter: The Special Sauce.

I'm telling you, it's Thousand Islands salad dressing. It's no more "special" than ketchup or mustard or mayonnaise would be. It looks like it, it tastes like it, it becomes greasy when exposed to heat (example: a burger patty) like it.

Then again, we are talking about a company that starts a PR campaign every time a dictionary reports that people who speak English use the term McJob to mean "An unstimulating low-paid job with few prospects, especially one created by the expansion of the service sector". Just like when a film company takes a dozen film critics from Podunk and puts them on an expenses-paid press junket for three days so that a piece of crap movie gets rave reviews like "THE MOST INCREDIBLE ACTION FAMILY DRAMA COMEDY HORROR ROMANCE MYSTERY MOVIE IN YEARS! YOU'LL LAUGH/CRY/SCREAM/SHIT/THINK YOURSELF TO DEATH!!"

...with the critic's name in tiny print beneath the rave...

So, maybe having moms behind the counter blogging about how fresh the buns are really will make things better, somehow. Maybe perception is reality. Maybe the sauce really is "special."

McDonald's, you are doubleplusgood!

I'm Dissectin' It: The Big Mac Deconstructed (Day One)

Maybe Mom was right. I shouldn't put all my eggs in one basket when it comes to giving myself away to one corporation or another. That's why I'm going to take a few days off from courting Novartis and will be working my charm on McDonald's instead. Now there's a place with sponsorship money to burn...

I've disassembled a Big Mac and will be going over the wholesome, nutritious contents one bit at a time. Today: the meat.

First of all, my apologies for the quality of the photo. It was taken under standard fluorescent kitchen lighting, which somehow fails to capture the ash-grey quality of the patties. Also, the resolution was too low to catch the many tasty scraps of connective tissue in the patties. A typical McDonald's patty has way more springiness going for it than the ones Mom used to make. The patties have a delightful resiliency... you can bend and stretch them in ways you just couldn't with home-made burgers. Try it yourself!

The meat has a lovely mouth-feel to it, like a warm greasy futon.

I also love the way McDonald's lets you know in its advertising that they only serve burgers made with "Grade A beef." By law, anything other than Grade A beef can't be served to humans. Grade B beef is reserved for dog food and such.

Personally, I'd love to work for a place so powerful it can attempt to change the English language itself, and can even enlist elected politicians to help. Now that's what I call packin' a corporate punch!

When I got this burger, you should have seen how delighted the staff was. They were having a great time! I want a job somewhere I can be totally blank-eyed with delight like those guys were. They were so overwhelmed with job satisfaction that they came across like assembly-line robots: so enthralled that nothing else was on their minds. At all. I assume the company provides some sort of steady-dosage morphine drip to get that effect... which in turn implies some sort of medical coverage. Who needs a union?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Telus Vomits On Freedom Of Speech... Again (UPDATED)

I've been asked before why I just can't leave the Telus-bashing alone.

This is why.

Telus has filed to remove all material they consider to be under their copyright from Youtube. That's fine... I'm all for protecting the sanctity of cute monkeys and lizards. But included among the material they've requested to have removed is material that isn't actually theirs.

Like this news report from the lockout where TWU members said Telus LIED about outsourcing -- which it did -- and in which Telus exec Jim Johannsonn says Telus intended to "bring all those calls back here and do them in-house in Alberta and BC" -- his words, not mine -- which it didn't.

Please, please, please people... please be outraged enough by this to pass on a link to this story, or fire off an angry e-mail. Or cancel your subscription to Telus internet or Mobile or phone service.

My land line and internet is with Shaw, and my cell is with Fido. The service with both is better than it ever was with Telus. And I have a clear conscience as well.

This is why I was on the picket line, loud and proud. And this is why I'm not done with you yet, Telus.


Ever notice that little symbol at the bottom of each blog entry here that lets you mail this entry to a friend? Here's a few places to start: - Darren Entwistle, Telus CEO - Telus Media Relations (Alberta) - Telus Media Relations (BC)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

I Declare Bullshit On Telus

Telus spokesman Shawn Hall has recently made some statements to the media about Canadian employment and the use of outsourcing in an attempt to justify the company's actions towards its employees. You can read the complete Vancouver Sun article HERE.

Telus is a majority owner of Ambergris International, a call centre based in the Philippines, and is shifting employment there. Telus, it seems, is finally (in a very small way) attempting to address concerns about this, via spokesman Shawn Hall. I've excerpted several important points from the above-linked Vancouver Sun article on the subject that I'd like to address. Frankly, they smell like bullshit to me. I'd like to see how (if at all) the company addresses this.

A link to this post has been mailed to Mr. Hall. You might want to send him a link to this blog entry too. If you do, his address is Tell him I sent you.

First, the relevant points:

"In June, Telus told the Telecommunications Workers Union that it would be hiring 50 new employees for its call centre in Manila to field customer calls from Telus's wireless subscribers. That adds to the 750 agents based in Manila that already deal with Telus's landline and internet customers. Telus hopes to increase the total to 1,000 by the end of the year, company spokesman Shawn Hall said."

The TWU believes customers ought to know.

'After the labour dispute in 2005, Telus assured us it would not outsource any more Canadian jobs to India or the Philippines,' TWU president George Doubt said in a news release. 'Yet the company has continued to redirect customers' calls to workers abroad.

'They don't publicize it because they know customers will be concerned when they discover their personal and business phone records are being accessed in foreign countries.'"

"The downside for the Canadian consumer is the quality of service is reduced, their privacy is at risk from our point of view, and jobs that could be being done by Canadians in our communities are not there," Doubt said in an interview.

And now, Shawn Hall speaks, and I declare "bullshit":
"We are simply not able to hire enough contact centre agents in Canada to meet the demand from our customers and the growth in our business," Hall said.

BULLSHIT. A great deal of this work is being done now in Calgary, where I used to handle inbound customer calls from my desk on the seventh floor of the Telus Tower. Even now, in Calgary's unusually tight labour market, the place is still hiring. The problem isn't finding the people... the problem is retaining them. When I worked there, my section had an annual employee turnover rate approaching 100 percent per year.

Telus used to make regular appearances on Macleans Magazine's list of Canada's 50 Best Employers. Under the leadership of Darren Entwistle, with his "fit in or fuck off" (and yes, that's a quote) approach to business, morale and conditions have steadily worsened. I know. I was there to see it, and still hear from those I left behind.

"We're not shifting jobs, we're shifting work," Hall said. "That means no one is losing their job."

BULLSHIT. Setting aside the "it's not a flooded basement, it's an indoor pool" nature of the logic in this statement, can anyone explain to me how it is that Telus is hiring more people in Manila, but fewer in Canada, and jobs aren't "shifting"? Unless of course Telus is planning on increasing total Canadian employment... in which case why not publicize that?

Telus is currently running an ad proclaiming what wonderful things Telus employees do as volunteers in the community. Canadian communities. I smell a smokescreen, don't you?

Cost does play a role, Hall said, with workers in the Philippines being paid the equivalent of just under $450 a month while Canadian call centre workers can make between $3,000 and $5,000 a month.

PROBABLY TRUE, EXCEPT FOR THE BULLSHIT PART. But what he isn't saying is that a substantial chunk of that money the Canadian employees make is from commission. Ever call in to Telus to ask about your service or your bill and whoever answered the call tried to sell you Anonymous Caller ID or Internet or something? Did you think that was coincidence? So according to Mr. Hall, either Telus is keeping the commission when a Filipino sells you something, or he's deliberately fudging the numbers.

And what sort of a slave-trader takes pride in someone doing a technically complex, skilled job for less than $25 a day?

Hiring offshore workers also helps relieve pressure on local workers and cuts back on the number of less desirable shifts they may have to work, he said. "It also allows Telus . . . to shift work around should a natural disaster strike," Hall said.

TRUE, IF YOU'RE INSANE. Nothing relieves the hassle of having an undesirable shift like being replaced with cheap foreign labour. And hey, remember that time when the phones were out for a week because Vancouver got nuked? Me neither.

For bonus points, look up for yourself whether Edmonton or Manila has been subject to more earthquakes, tsunamis, and terrorism. Maybe Telus is still keeping a few Canadian employees around if a natural disaster strike Ambergris.

Hall also disputes the claim that quality of service is affected or that privacy is compromised... "They don't publicize it because they know customers will be concerned when they discover their personal and business phone records are being accessed in foreign countries."

TRUE. People wouldn't like that. Telus has assured me in past (when I asked about this) that there are plenty of safeguards to prevent Filipino employees from ripping off your Visa number or personal information. I once did the same job as they do, at the same company, using the same software. I had access to the same records they do. If you had a Telus phone, and I wanted to rip you off, all I would have needed is a piece of paper and a pencil. Unless the Ambergris employees are more aware of how exploited they are than I thought, in which case maybe Telus has banned pencils (or any other sharp objects) in the call centre.

And don't take my word for it that overseas call centres are a threat to your personal security. Click HERE and read about it for yourself.


I'm awaiting your response, Shawn... while we're at it, when you write maybe you can explain to me how Telus can possibly have copyright control over a CFRN news report where another Telus spokesman lied about Canadians losing their jobs or a video of Telus security goons hassling picketers, among other things?

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Word Of The Day: "Pro-Ana"

(Click here for the full story on my ongoing attempt to land Benefibre©... a product from the fine people at Novartis... as a corporate sponsor for my blog.)

The new edition of Collin's Dictionary will be including two new words: "sub-zero" (specifically referring to undersized clothing for adults, usually women) and "pro-ana."

"Pro-ana" is a contraction of "pro" (as in "in favour of") and "ana," which comes from "anorexic," meaning "deliberately starving yourself." Pro-ana refers to those who consider anorexia and related eating disorders to be a legitimate lifestyle choice.

It's hard to go broke marketing to teenage trends. NOW it makes sense why Benefibre comes in that oh-so-sexy curvy bottle. I get it NOW! You hot, sexy, marketing geniuses with your hot, sexy degrees in psychology and your hot, sexy sociopathic lack of a conscience... you're marketing to anorexics, aren't you?

Here's a hot, sexy recipe for hot, sexy cabbage soup that'll help even the most determined of the "Lindsay Lohan is a blimp" crowd:

Benefibre© Blowout Soup!

1 can beef broth or french onion soup (substitute water if you're feeling really chubby)
3/4 medium head cabbage, chopped (few calories, lots of fibre. Safe)
2 white onions, chopped (Okay, I know what you're thinking, fatty. Make that 1 onion)
1 green pepper, chopped (Half a pepper if you ate a cracker yesterday)
1/2 cup chopped celery (Takes more calories to digest than you get out of it. Better make that a full cup)
4 cups water (Filtered of course. Minerals are heavy)
l large can (28 ounces) chopped tomatoes. (It'll make it look like there's something in it besides water, so it's worth the calories if Mom is watching)
1 clove garlic, chopped (Don't worry about your breath. No one wants to kiss you at your weight, anyway)
2 dashes hot sauce, optional (It'll help you not notice the lack of anything else in the soup)
2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed (Ha, ha. Just kidding)
2 cups Benefibre© (Cleans everything out!)


In large kettle, combine beef broth, chopped cabbage, chopped onions, peppers, celery and water. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat; turn down to low. Add garlic and hot sauce; continue cooking until ingredients are tender, about 1 1/2 hours (about the time it'll take you to read "Cosmo Girl" if you do the quizzes). Add chopped tomatoes and juice. Add more water if needed. Stir in Benefibre and enjoy!

Feeds one fourteen-year-old anorexic for about a week.


If a diet of that doesn't settle you huge, porky, unfashionable girls down, you'll be pleased to know that Novartis... God bless them... has this for you! Imagine yourself skinny and popular, loved by all, AND with a (relatively) minimal risk of heart problems, aggression, mania, heart failure, and sudden unexpected death.

Take THAT, you fat bitch Nicole Ritchie!

This is what I love most about a open, free-market economy. People can have whatever they want, and someone is there to sell it to them. Hell, there's even someone there to sell you the stuff that you'd normally think is dangerous and/or stupid... like anorexia.

God bless you, Novartis, and everyone like you!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

One Cell Phone Camera, One Religious Leaflet, And Three Hours At The Airport

I didn't think I'd have time for a blog entry this weekend, but I found myself trapped in -- um, I mean enjoying -- Calgary International Airport. And as anyone who knows me could tell you, I have a gift for making my own amusement.

Most of them wouldn't describe it as a gift, by the way. Or as a source of amusement to anyone but me.

Ugly details here.