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Bizarre British “news” website: Eminetra

2-year-ol woman ... died in circumcision failure

2-year-old woman … died in circumcision failure.

We all know that the World Wide Web is not a bastion of excellence in spelling and grammar. John Walker (of Autodesk and AutoCAD fame) has a very interesting essay on his website entitled, “Strike Out: Reading Unedited Text“, where he gives examples of texts that are a complete waste of time to read because of spelling and grammatical errors.

But I think even he would be gobsmacked by the atrocious quality of the writing at a news website I recently discovered: Eminetra (https://eminetra.co.uk/about-us/). I’ve linked only to their “About Us” page where you can read one of their better-written pieces of text, but my god, just look at the screenshot of a link to just one article on their website! I did actually read the article, and contrary to the headline it’s not about the circumcision of a “2-year-old woman” (yes, a “2-year-old woman“, not girl), it’s about the circumcision of young boys. However, I’m not going into the topic of circumcision, male or female.

In the first article I read the author continually referred to the female subject of the article as “he”, and parts were written in the first person as if it was the subject of the article who was writing the article! In another article they couldn’t even get a quotation right (I could tell, as there was a picture of a handwritten journal from which they had quoted) and they misspelled a three-letter word in an organisation’s name! Several articles used words that seemed so out of context that I thought the text must have been machine-translated into another language, and then machine-translated back into English. (Try it sometime.) On top of that there are technical/HTML errors everywhere, likely caused by automated import of articles from the news feeds of other websites.

As if I was a rubber-necker at a train wreck, I read a few more articles. The website seems to be somehow connected to the British tabloid the “Daily Mail“. The major difference is that Eminetra seems to have been written by a child whose first language is not English. Whoever is writing the articles clearly has no command of any kind of thought process that would communicate to the reader the gist of a story, as each “article” (if you can even call them that) seems to be nothing more than a series of disjointed sentences.

Conclusion: These guys obviously have more money than sense. One of the articles even ended just like this!

411 directory assistance is questionable at best, a scam at worst

Phone scams

Phone scams.

A couple of months ago I was temporarily in a bit of a desperate situation. I had just been dropped off at a ferry terminal by friends, and I had left something important in their car. I was sure they had a cell phone, but I didn’t know their number. But if anyone had their cell number it would be their son, so I dialled 411 to get his home number. I do realise these days that the phone book isn’t what it once was, and my own number isn’t even in it, but it was worth a shot to save my friends from driving all the way home and then having to turn around and do the drive again. So I gave directory assistance the name and town I required. Efficient as ever, they immediately came back (within seconds) with a number for, I guess, the right name but in a different town. This was no use to me, so I called back. I explained what had happened, and restated the name and town.

This time I got the opposite result: a different person in the right town. So I gave up and left a message on my friends’ land line. In retrospect, I don’t even think what I was given was anything even close to what I asked for; if I want the number for Bob Smith in Town A, why give me the number for a random Bob Smith in Town B? That’s not what I asked for! And in the second case, what’s the point in giving me the number for Barb Smith in Town A?!

I eventually got a hold of my friends and got my stuff back. I felt bad for making them drive back to the ferry terminal, but all ended well, and I was only one ferry behind schedule.

Fast forward a few weeks and, of course, I’m billed for the two pointless directory assistance calls by Troublesome Mobile (aka Freedom Mobile). I expected this, of course, and as planned I phoned them and asked for those charges to be cancelled. (If my second 411 attempt had been successful I’d have eaten the first charge, but both times directory assistance just shovelled a random number in my direction and washed their hands of me.) I was told flat out by Troublesome Mobile that, as they were billed to Troublesome by a third party, they could not refund the charges for the calls. Supposedly I would have to phone the third party to get a refund. What?! I obviously don’t even have an account with this third party, so how the fuck would I or they even do that?! They couldn’t give me a phone number to call, so said I should just phone 411.

I explained to Troublesome Mobile — I have a long list of alternative names for them, but “Troublesome Mobile” is probably the only polite one and the closest to “Freedom Mobile” — that they provided the opportunity for me to use the service and they billed me for the service, so they were the only party it made sense for me to call! To make a long story short, after much hemming and hawing and obfuscation and making sure that I understood the obvious, that the service wasn’t free, they finally agreed — “just this one time” — to refund my $3.50 ($1.75 per call).

In the “old days” 411 was a useful service. But, like all mass services these days, the people in the call centres are being timed like rats in a maze, and there’s no time allowed to actually confirm with the caller exactly what they want and that the information the call taker has is what the caller wants (I remember they used to do that) and there’s no opportunity to tell the system that the number you’ve been given is of no use to you or wasn’t even what you asked for in the first place. Nope, it’s just hit a couple of buttons and get the caller off the line as quickly as possible so that you can move onto the next call.

For this reason I will go out of my way to try anything except calling 411 in the future. A dollar fifty isn’t a life-changing amount of money, but as usual — especially with Troublesome Mobile (aka Freedom Mobile) and Canadian cell phone companies in general — it’s the principle of the matter. I will not allow them to take my money without at least providing the service for which I’m supposedly paying — and which they are advertising on the outside of the box; either they give me the number I’m actually looking for, or they be honest and tell me that they don’t have it and therefore are not going to charge me for their inability to provide it. Anything else is theft, and failing to provide the service you’re advertising and still charging for it is a scam. If more consumers actually acted on being scammed out of a dollar fifty once in a while the phone companies might actually go back to providing the service they’re claiming to offer.

NEWS FLASH! Justin Trudeau is a hypocrite!

Justin Trudeau on a beach with surfboards.

Justin Trudeau on a beach with surfboards.

The same prime minister who gaslighted his female minister of justice and attorney general has once again shown his stupendous level of hypocrisy on this, Canada’s first Truth and Reconciliation Day (aka Orange Shirt Day), to jet off to the west coast of Canada, Tofino, to holiday during this “non-holiday”. This is after he was apparently invited by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc to participate in ceremonies today in Kamloops, BC, but neither he nor his office even gave the courtesy of a reply!

China releases two Canadian hostages

Protest sign calling for the release of Kovrig and Spavor.

Protest sign calling for the release of Kovrig and Spavor

After 1020 days — 2.8 years, 34 1/2 months — the Chinese have finally released the two Canadian hostages (the “two Michaels”, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor) they took after the lawful arrest of Meng Wanzhou in Canada at the behest of the Americans.

This, mind you, was after almost consistent but vehement denials by China of any connection between the two cases! The two Michaels just happened to have been caught “spying” mere days after Meng was arrested!

The prisoner swap was almost completely in line with my suggested method, except that it was over in a matter of hours via aircraft rather than days via ship. But it was completely in line, as noted in other media, with any prisoner swap done during the Cold War! The Chinese didn’t even make any kind of an effort to make it look like there was due process in the trumped-up spying cases of the two Michaels whereby, months or years after the release of Meng, they discovered new “evidence” that their charges were incorrect and the Michaels were exonerated by the courts. Nope, just, “Get in the van, we’re taking you to the airport.”

Unbelievable!


Updated, later 2021-09-26: I get caught up in the blatant injustice of it all — three years each stolen from the lives of two innocent humans, while the reason for it all enjoyed damn nearly 100% freedom in one of her Vancouver mansions and availing herself of the near paradise that is Vancouver and Canada, all while showing off her ankle bracelet as a fashion accessory and waving at supporters like she’s a celebrity — and lash out against the Chinese government, but the fact of the matter is that I was personally elated to hear the news on Friday our time. I am immeasurably happy for the Spavor and Kovrig families, and of course the two Michaels themselves. Welcome home guys!

Collage: Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor (the Two Michaels).

Collage: Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor (the Two Michaels)

Major website-management failure (Win Win Chick-N) due to ineptitude, and loss of business

There is a fast-food chicken place in our area called Win Win Chick-N. We’ve been meaning to try it out for a couple of years, but we never get around to it. However, one day last week was the day, and I worked my mouth into a lather thinking about eating fried chicken.

And then I tried to use their website.

Win Win Chick-N menu

Win Win Chick-N menu.

First thing I noticed was the pop-up offering me a coupon for $5 off my order, in exchange for my email address. OK, sure, so I give them one of my older rotating email addresses and get my coupon code: MYCOUPONCODE. Cool. Then I look at their menu, which you can see at left. I settle on the “2pc Delicious Fried Chicken Snack”. I switch to the order page and I notice that the price has suddenly gone up from $9.99 to $12.75, a 28% increase!

So, whatever, at least I’ll get five bucks off. Since I was ordering for two, that almost made up for the sudden, unadvertised price increase.

So I put two meals into my shopping cart. I took some time to try and figure out whether or not a drink was included in the meal combos I had ordered. It was very unclear to me whether or not a drink was included, as it wasn’t mentioned in the $9.99 description but it was mentioned on the order page. However, as we had actually already decided we’d be eating the meals at a nearby coffee house, where we’d be getting drinks anyway, I decided to go ahead. If we got the drinks, great; if we didn’t, great.

Win Win Chick-N coupon fail

Win Win Chick-N coupon fail.

Then I entered my coupon code. The response was, “Unable to find the requested campaign”! By that time I just lost it.

There was no way I was ordering from such a badly run website, as who knows how much my credit card would be really charged, how many times it would be charged, and what the hell we’d get when we got there and whether it would even be edible. And if they’d so badly screwed up everything up to that point, it was very, very unlikely things were going to suddenly get better from that point. Ironically, if we’d just gone to the place and waited the twenty or so minutes they suggested our food would take things probably would have gone fine. But now … we’ll probably never know.

Instead of spending about $30 plus taxes and a tip at Win Win Chick-N, we chose to go to another place we’d been meaning to visit for the last couple of years, Steveston Built, and spent about $70 there instead. We’d heard their prawn tacos were good, and they were. I sort of got my fried chicken fix with their “crispy buttermilk chicken burger”, which they kindly offered in a lettuce wrap instead of a bun.

Also offered on the Win Win Chick-N website is a “Valentine Special Best Gift Ever 2019”, in case you’d like to try and get back that girlfriend/boyfriend you lost in 2019. Good luck!

I likely won’t be going back unless I get a very earnest recommendation from someone I know (and they listen to my story first), and I don’t know the author of the old Globe and Mail opinion piece to which their website links.

Win Win Chick-N menu page

Win Win Chick-N menu page.

American Olympic gymnast quits, claiming “mental health”

I don’t generally take much notice of the Olympics — I left the country when they came to my city — but, as we all know, they get lots of press. You can’t miss them.

So, of course, I’m aware that a certain American gymnast suddenly stopped competing, apparently after not doing so well in one of her early events. I’m not even going to name her, but she is named in this CBC News story.

I’ve never competed at that level in any endeavour, sport or otherwise, but you don’t get to “that level” overnight; it’s a gradual progression of relentless training and competition. Theoretically, only those physically and mentally tough enough to compete at each level make it to the next level. And at each level there is tougher and tougher competition, and more and more pressure to perform, and greater and greater hopes and expectations, on the part of both the athletes and their fans/spectators.

As I say, I’ve read the article I’ve linked to above. I haven’t read much else about her and her decision, but the article above does seem to give a reasonably balanced view of her decision. However, the fact is, as I stated above, that she wasn’t recruited a week before her performance in Tokyo and thrust into the limelight with no preparation and the weight of the world on her shoulders; she’s had years to get there, to improve and adapt both physically and mentally.

The fact is that she quit the moment she didn’t quite perform up to snuff, and she is using the claim that she is taking care of her “mental health” as a crutch, and excuse. Recently tennis player Naomi Osaka also pulled out of competition with the same excuse. I scoffed at that too, to myself, although until now I wasn’t really as aware of the details as I don’t follow sports as closely or avidly as others. However, in Osaka’s case, she did not quit the moment things didn’t go her way; as I understand it there were a number of setbacks, not the least of which was the seemingly overbearing reaction to her plans to subject herself to less media scrutiny. She did, in her case, seem to be telegraphing that she needed some “space”, and when the jerks fining her started piling the pressure on top of that, she gave in. (With her wealth, it wasn’t the money, I’m sure.) Did she have more or less of an excuse to cave at the moment she did than the moment at which the American gymnast caved? I don’t really know … or care. It’s just that I don’t think there is really a valid comparison, as some have been making.

Should athletic organisations spend more time and effort training their athletes to be able to handle more pressure? How much pressure should they be able to handle? How do you objectively measure pressure? To answer that last question, I don’t believe you can. You only intuitively know when someone can’t handle pressure after the fact. And we all now know that the American gymnast can’t, and so therefore probably isn’t Olympic material.


Updated, 2021-09-08: I gave Naomi Osaka some leeway in this post, but after her performance during and after her match with Leylah Fernandez, I’m chucking her in the same category as Simone Biles. I see some commentators referring to this growing group as “Team Quit” and “Generation Quit”.

Google denies me access to my Adsense earnings

Defaced Google logo

Defaced Google logo.

Back in 2015 (or perhaps late 2014) Google suddenly, without notice, stopped paying me the revenue I was earning on the Adsense adverts I had on some of my websites. They also completely removed my ability to make changes to my account that would result in my being paid in some other way.

Have you ever tried to contact Google? No? Well, I’m here to tell you that unless you’re feeding their coffers with muchos dollars, they’re not the slightest bit interested in dealing with you peons. I followed instructions to contact a mailing list / forum, but that was certainly an eye-opening experience. Despite the fact that I used my real name, there I dealt with a person named “Publisher1”. I dealt with other people too, but the fact of the matter is that these people, for free (!), do nothing but defend Google’s indefensible actions! I was even accused of tax evasion, based on absolutely no evidence!

The fact of the matter is that big companies, like Google (and others), develop a culture of rabid “fanbois” who are, quite apparently, willing and able to be marshalled — at no cost to and with no oversight from Google — to be their “customer support” department … if you can even call it that. These so-called customer support people are free to do things that no paid employee wearing the company logo would do or be allowed to do, like accuse Google’s users of being tax evaders. In my case it was alleged by one of these fanbois that Google had read my emails about my situation, but rather than replying in the forum directly to me and providing official advice, they only — again, allegedly — claimed that the supposed “solution” offered by one of their fanbois was correct. At no point did Google distance themselves from the false accusations against me.

Anyway, since before 2015 I have slowly — far too slowly, I will admit — disentangled myself from Google. (The reasons are unrelated to the spat I’ve described above, but this spat was emblematic of the reasons.) In 2015 I got nowhere with my dispute, and I moved onto more important matters. In late 2020 I received an email from Google telling me that if I didn’t sign into my Adsense account by January they would “escheat [my] AdSense account balance to the government.” A few months later, this they did! I then applied to the government of the US state to which they escheated my money, and I got it! Best outcome ever!

So fuck you, Google and fanboi Publisher1. I, and common sense, won.

Whining Jet, popular Pfizer, bad drivers with red and blue lights

Un-sportsmanlike conduct

Not that the Winnipeg Jets had any chance, in my opinion, but they got their just comeuppance by being beaten four games straight in the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Montreal Canadiens. They didn’t deserve to win anything after that hit on Jake Evans by Mark Scheifele. All things considered in a high-speed part of a high-speed game, if you’re too damn slow to determine that there’s nothing you can do at that point except hit a guy when he has his head down and has already scored a goal, then you’re not NHL-calibre material, and you need to go back to the beer-hockey league from which you came.

Apparently the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is “popular”!

In a recent Global News broadcast, the teleprompter reader excitedly announced that, since the Pfizer COVID-19 has been so “popular” in this country, Pfizer, out of the goodness of their hearts, will be giving us wonderful, deserving Canadians three million more doses. (OK, the reader didn’t say anything about “out of the goodness of their hearts”, but that was the whole tone of the piece.) My chin hit the floor, and I may have drooled a little. What an asinine thing to say! First of all, it’s “popular” because people are desperate to be vaccinated and get on with their lives, not because it tastes great nine out of ten times in taste tests! And since they’re selling us (not giving us for free) so many more vaccines than the other approved manufacturers, of course their product is relatively more “popular”! My god. Don’t these people have brains?!

Tailgating a cop

Red and blue police lights bar

So I was driving along a freeway in the Greater Vancouver area a few days ago. As is pretty typical in this part of the world, our freeways are, for the most part, only two lanes wide. I suppose the government wasn’t too forward looking back in the 1940s, but neither are they today. One of the many issues exacerbated by two-lane freeways is the congestion that happens at on-ramps. In this case, as I approached an on-ramp, there actually wasn’t any congestion caused by cars moving out of the so-called slow lane into the passing lane to allow cars entering the freeway to do so unimpeded.

As I approached the on-ramp I observed three vehicles on the on-ramp entering the freeway. The middle one was a dirty, blue pick-up truck with a canopy. I maintained my speed — which, I admit, was slightly over the speed limit, but not a speed that was out of line with other traffic on freeways — as I intended to pass the slower vehicles entering the freeway. No problem, right? Except, as happens so often, the pick-up truck decides his wishes are far more important (or he didn’t bother to check his side-view mirror), and he (I assume it was a he, for reasons that will become obvious) pulled into the passing lane with little or no obvious attempt to accelerate past the vehicle that had been in front of him on the on-ramp.

I immediately disengaged the cruise control, and allowed myself to coast up behind the pick-up truck. It is not my practice to overreact to the idiotic behaviour of other drivers, so I did not slam on the brakes and immediately establish a two-second following distance behind an asshole who had impeded my progress on a freeway. As my speed bled off, I guess “he” (the driver of the pick-up truck) didn’t like my following distance. Instead of accelerating as he should have, he flicked on his red and blue police lights. OK, so instead of driving like a reasonable person and not impeding the flow of traffic on a freeway, you’re going to fucking turn on your red-and-blues and show me what a big dick you have, and how you own me. Congratulations, you win!

I again did not slam on the brakes; I just continued to let my speed bleed off until I had established the aforementioned two-second following distance, and we both carried on. I wasn’t going to start flashing my headlights at the moron.

I suppose I’m lucky I didn’t get pulled over and ticketed for following too closely or for speeding, but I have encountered this kind of asshole behaviour by cops in unmarked vehicles before. It just reinforces my view that if you’re a cop, you can do whatever the hell you want, and if you’re not, well … you can’t. One rule for the ruled, and no rules for the rulers.

More whingeing about COVID

(The date on this post is 25 May, but it was posted on 24 May in the Pacific time zone.)

Forgive me, but I really can’t get away from it. Perhaps I should just stop watching the news.

There are two groups of people in the news these days who really can’t stop whining about the situation in which they find themselves. Look, I get it. Pandemics are no fun, especially when they have decimated or even destroyed your business or almost destroyed your industry. But unless or until someone produces evidence that some government somewhere intentionally inflicted this disease on us, you can’t pick and choose your targets. In this particular part of the world, it is not the fault of the Canadian or British Columbian governments.

Two groups in particular need to keep that in mind: restaurants, and the cruise ship industry.

By all accounts, the health restrictions that have kept restaurants closed over the last couple of months will be relaxed tomorrow, Tuesday 25 May. (See date note above.) But that’s not good enough for the restaurant owners! No! They want advance notice! These idiots need to realise that advance notice isn’t the issue; it’s everyone getting the same amount of notice. So if the government of BC states tomorrow that restaurants can open again, what more could you possibly want? Were you thinking that there’d be a queue of diners at your place on Tuesday for breakfast? Give your fucking head a shake! If it’s going to take you a week to order food and schedule staff, then it means that you and your competitors won’t open for a week. Or, if your competitors are better than you and therefore more deserving of being patronised, they’ll beat you, and you’ll earn a day or a few day’s less revenue than them. That’s your fault, not the fault of the BC government.

On today’s Global News, the President and CEO of the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association, Ian Tostenson, stated that “the most important” consideration is predictability for the industry! It almost sounds like he’s catering to the likes of the owner of Corduroy, the idiot anti-masker who flouted health rules and was closed down. Tostenson has, admittedly, done a fairly decent job of being more moderate, but placing “predictability” for restaurant owners above the health of the population is completely idiotic. As I’ve said before, COVID isn’t taking calls right now, so without the disease’s cooperation, there won’t be any predictability. The government doesn’t control COVID; COVID controls the government.

Cruise ship, Canada Place, Vancouver

Cruise ship, Canada Place, Vancouver. (Picture courtesy of PxHere.)

And then there’s the cruise ship industry. The Canadian government has barred cruise ships from Canadian ports until sometime after this summer, or perhaps early next year. (The notice seems to be missing from the Government of Canada travel advisories website, or it’s buried, so I don’t know the exact date off the top of my head.) In the meantime, the United States has passed a government bill that no longer requires cruise ships leaving US ports (e.g., Seattle) to stop in a foreign port (i.e., one in Canada) before sailing onto Alaska. To be frank, although I’ve known about this law for some time, I don’t know the details of it, including why it came into existence. However, I suspect that it was a requirement of these ships being allowed to transit through Canadian national waters.

But guess what folks? There’s a pandemic!

The US government has stated that the authorisation to bypass Canadian ports is temporary. I don’t have any contacts in the US government, but if they say that, why can’t we accept them at their word? If the American population is largely fully vaccinated, and they want to open up domestic travel, then why the fuck would we stop them?! Why would we get in their way?! And why would Americans want to stop in a country that now has a higher infection rate than they, at one time, did? It’s the Canadian government that is stopping those cruise ships from stopping in Victoria, Vancouver and (possibly) Prince Rupert, not the American government! The American’s are completely within their rights to attempt to get their economy back on the rails, without any interference from a foreign authority. If the American government won’t repeal this law at some point in the future, then Canada can always bar cruise ships from Canadian waters entirely, forcing them to sail 200 nautical miles to international waters before heading to Alaska, or pass a law requiring them to stop if they want to use Canada’s waters — despite what idiot politicians may or may not utter.

End of rant. Get a grip people. History will not look too kindly on you morons.

Statistics Canada census website won’t load

Front of Census reminder notice, 2021-05-14

Front of Census reminder notice, 2021-05-14.

Back of Census reminder notice, 2021-05-14

Back of Census reminder notice, 2021-05-14.

In today’s mail I received a “2021 Census: reminder” notice. On the outside of the notice it states, “Complete your questionnaire now — it’s the law.” (Emphasis mine.)

However, I can’t load the Census website. I suspect they’re blocking my connection, because I can access all other websites I visit, and can download my email. If they are indeed blocking a Canadian IP address then they can’t expect 100% compliance.

So I have returned their notice to sender. See my scans of the notice, which I returned unopened.

Screenshot of failed loading of Census website on laptop, 2021-05-05

Screenshot of failed loading of Census website on laptop, 2021-05-05.

Screenshot of failed loading of Census website on phone, 2021-05-05

Screenshot of failed loading of Census website on phone, 2021-05-05.

(Among other things, the point of this post — which I meant to make last week actually, but didn’t get around to — is to create what I hope will be a legal record of my failed attempt to comply with “the law”.)

Got my COVID shot

Craig gets his first shot

Craig gets his first shot.

Also in the ancient past, I got the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine just over three weeks ago. My first of two shots. Yay me! Whoever has issues with getting a vaccine because of potential side effects is obviously very bad at maths.