February 2008 Archives

Don't call us, we'll call you

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Once upon a time, you had to be nice to Ma Bell, because she was the only game in town. The national phone company had a coast-to-coast monopoly, and you paid the going rate for basic service (which was all there was). If you had a falling out with the Bell behemoth, you were screwed - Bell didn't care if they "lost" your business, because there were several million other people who obediently paid their bills on time, every time. (Aside: this monopoly was the incentive for several of my friends to live under one or more assumed names when we were living our salad days in university.)

But lo, there was a revolution, and Ma Bell had no choice to become competitive, and actually work to keep you. Gone were the days of taking customers for granted; these days, the old girl has to seduce you with sexy lingerie and phone/cel/video/internet packages. So, good, the customer wins, obviously. All these companies are working the bottom line to keep us coming back for more, lest we hook up with some one else, some one younger and cheaper. Right?

So why, in the fine print under the big Bell ad for home service for $14.95 a month, does it turn out we're getting screwed to the tune of $2.80 for touch tone service? Touch tone!

I'm sorry, but given that my kids - and probably my college students - have never used a rotary dial, why are we paying over $33 a year for touch tone service? Does non-touch tone service even exist anymore?

Oh, and we're paying 19 cents a month for 911 service, but I'm going to give that one the benefit of the doubt and assume that this money covers actual service, i.e., people answering emergency calls, updated equipment, and the like.

Grumble.

What do you do with a problem like Sharia?

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So apparently the Archbishop of Canterbury is all for integrating Sharia law into the British courts, and his saying so publicly has drawn a barrage of criticism from just about every direction.

Frankly, I'm not prepared to take a stand one way or the other (well, yes I am, in the sense that it's pretty clear to me that a secular, democratic nation, be it the UK, the USA, Canada, or any other nation that claims to be one, should by definition remove any non-secular references from its legislation, beyond the inclusion of religious belief being a fundamental right of the citizenry - but I digress). Nor do I want to make any comment along the lines of "isn't it funny how a nation whose history over the last half-millennium has been primarily shaped by its rejection of the papacy sticks a different funny hat on a different aging priest, particularly one whose eyebrows are, frankly, outrageous, and considers it front-page news when this guy throws in his two pence."

My actual rant is about the Prime Minister (theirs, not ours), who in reference to the A of C's "support" of Sharia law in Britain said that "British laws should be based on British values."

Ahem.

It seems to me that if there are enough people in Britain for whom the Sharia issue is relevant, which is a fair assumption, then perhaps, just maybe, the PM might consider that the values of these people - traditional (read white Christian) values notwithstanding - are, at least in part, British values. No?

As I said, I am not trying to get into whether or not there is a place for religious law in national courts. In fact, there seems to be a fairly strong indication from vocal religious groups that they're not really interested in redefining British law. But to arrogantly say "we're not doing the Sharia thing cuz it's not British" is tantamount to saying "you can be Muslim, or you can be British, but you can't be both."

Harumph.

Ok, I'm done now - told you I'd find something to rant about.

Life intimidates art

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And so begins yet another "so sorry I haven't posted for so long" post. Personally, I blame Facebook (along with work and children and the need for sleep). Once upon a time, when random thoughts crossed my mind, I would inflict them on you, dear reader. Now, I update my Facebook status, instead.

For instance, rather than posting a few paragraphs today on just how weird it is that the whole continent sits around on February 2nd waiting for a rodent, I simply updated my status to "Maggie hasn't seen her shadow, but she's pretty sure it's around here somewhere."

simple.

tidy.

Also, it's always interesting to write about oneself in the third person.

Anyway, to make a long story bulleted, this is what's been going on, other than Facebook:

~ my three evening courses turned into three day courses, which is awesome;
~ because I have day courses instead of evening courses, my semester started a week earlier than anticipated, which is less awesome;
~ because I have day courses instead of evening courses, I get to eat supper at home with my family, and Dr. T. can continue his long journey to Carnegie Hall*;
~ I'm teaching an 'advanced' Intro course, which is awesome;
~ my picture** was in the paper, along with several direct quotes, none of which were completely out of context; again, awesome;
~ my car, the one that was, let's face it, the deal of the century (and not just because we're only a few years into the century), went to the big garage in the sky; anti-awesome.

Other than that, life around here these days is pretty much good - everyone (except the car) is healthy, I still love my job (particularly now that the initial panic of starting early has passed), and it's February - groundhogs and stupid icy windy snowy weather notwithstanding, winter is zipping by.

I'm sure I'll find something to rant about one of these days - after all, essay season's looming.

*more on the Carnegie Hall thing another time, I promise

**unfortunately, the on-line version of the story does not feature the photo. But you should read it anyway.

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