Parenting as guerilla war..

So, in his book “War” Gynne Dyer makes the point that smaller forces (I am SO paraphrasing, and glossing over the fullness of his argument here - it’s such a good book) basically have two aims:
harass the bigger force and make them look ineffectual
make the larger force overreact so they can point at them and say “look, we told you there were fascists”

This, it occurred to me as my lad called me a name and stomped on the spot on the floor that makes the whole log burner jump (Christine was napping), is what parenting is often like. 

Either you say nothing, and you look ineffectual, or you lose your shit and prove the worst imaginings true.

So yeah, that’s it.



A few weeks ago Andrew Jameison (@ajnzman) asked for definintions of “learning” (or perhaps “blended learning”, Andrew?) on twitter (he was in a workshop) and it was Friday and I was hungry and I was, apparently, filled with pith, so I answered the following (in a series of tweets): 

Learning is a pie. The pie gets split up based on appropriateness and student need. Some of the pie is eaten at the cafe, some of it is eaten as take away, some of it is a theoretical discussion of pie, some of it is reading recipes about pie or maybe watching videos about pie, or discussing pie face to face or online. But in the end it’s all pie. That’s blended learning. (also I’m craving something sweet)

While I said “blended” I’m actually thinking that I could have just said “learning”. 

Also? I still want some pie. 


The interweb, the dilithium crystals, the tubes, journalism and precision

Look, here’s the thing, I get that deadlines happen, and I get that people are under enormous pressure to publish stuff and I get that not everyone is going to be an expert on everything. 

I get it (trust me, in my day to day job I’m confronted by this realisation pretty much daily - if not more).

But journalists: YOU MUST DO A BETTER JOB EXPLAINING THE INTERWEB AND IF YOU DON’T KNOW ENOUGH, YOU MUST GO AND FIND SOMEONE WHO DOES. And when you find this someone, do try and make it a real someone and make sure you quote them and make sure the headline writer DOESN’T MESS UP YOUR STUFF.

In the country I live in and the country I’m from there are interweb related political things going on, I think, in both cases the journalists were a tiny bit imprecise. 

Because “could have come from” gets filtered as “did come from” which becomes “THE NDP DID THIS” (Canada) or “THE RUSSIANS ARE STEALING OUR SEEEKRITS!” (NZ). IP addresses ARE NOT like finger prints. Header information is NOT definitive. And guessing some fathead’s password IS NOT hacking. 

So, like all things, it may well be that you actually know the reality, but you’ve been loose with your language usage. And the chain of buggered up goes like this: Politician who’s been wronged and doesn’t understand interweb>journalist who doesn’t understand the interweb>expert who tries to explain it>journalist who doesn’t get it but has explanation but isn’t precise in his/her language (+ headline writer who doesn’t care)>politician who doesn’t understand but has read imprecise explanation>OUTRAGE (+ people who read/see the piece who understand even less)= HACKERS EVERYWHERE!! 


Tone arguments

I’ve been thinking on something for a little while, though the jumbled nature of what comes next would make you think that I’ve thought about it for about 5 minutes. 

Let’s start with a definition: 

tone argument is an argument used in discussions, sometimes by Concern trolls and sometimes as a Derailment, in which it is suggested that feminists would be more successful if only they expressed themselves in a more pleasant tone.


Basically, it’s usually an attempt to shut down discussion or devalue someone’s point of view based on them being angry or using “bad” words. So if someone gets upset, one could say “ooh see you’re all emotional!” or if someone swears one gets to say “Oh look, you’re impolite”. Esentially the goal is to stop discussing the topic at hand and deflect to making it about the person who’s opinion you don’t like. It’s also a tremendously awesome way to devalue someone’s opinion and the upset or rage or hurt that informs it. 

Ok. I think we can all agree that this is a bad thing. 

Recently though I’ve seen people using this defence to defend against, well, any criticism or debate with their opinion, or how it’s presented at all. The argument seems to go: if one wants to be a totally aggressive asshat and run around screaming at people and generally being abusive to everyone one comes across, well that’s ok and to suggest otherwise is clearly a tone argument and an attempt to derail. 

I’ve got issues with this. 

[triggerish warning] 

One of my massive pet peeves is the use of the terms “holocaust” “rape” “lynching” and “Nazi” for things that are not, in fact, a genocide, a sexual assault, a hanging of a person by a mob (I allow more wiggle room for this one) and a goose-stepping fascist/fascist sympathiser. Quite apart from the fact that these words have real world consequences and humans behind them, using them in a way that causes (for lack of a better term) “definition creep” devalues them. 

So, my issue is that everytime you use the “tone argument” defence to defend shitty behaviour or what have you, you are basically using it as a deflection in and of itself.

We’re all guilty of bad behaviour at times, none of us are perfect. Hell, 50% of what comes out my mouth when I’m in a really bad mood is snarky, hurtful, foul and offensive. Using a tone argument defence when you’re being shitty for the sake of being shitty isn’t you being clever, or sticking it to the man, it’s you being a troll. 


On Hockey and being and ex-pat

Look, I like hockey.

Quite a lot. 

But when I lived in Montreal I’d catch maybe 40 - 50% of the regular season games. The playoffs I’d catch closer to 80% of the games. Then the final series I’d catch them all. 

But living away from home I find myself caring about the game way more than I ever did back in Montreal. 

So, because I follow the rules [Hometown, Canadian Team, Original Six (except the Bruins), northern American teams (except the Bruins), then your choice] I have but one thing to say: 

Go Canucks Go! 


An open letter to my concentration and motivation

Look, I get it. This isn’t an ideal situation by any stretch. The ground’s moving. Everything is stressy as. 

But this is how it is, and work has to be done. 

So freak out for a bit, and get on with it, k? Thanks. 


Boing Boing Gah or Earthquakes Can Kiss My Ass

A confession: I didn’t feel the 1pm quake on June 13th. I had just gone into Lincoln University’s Commerce Building (I work for Commerce, but our offices are out back in Poplars - a wooden building that was originally a residence) to get some printing and had just walked out the back door. I typically don’t feel quakes when I’m outside for some reason. 

So I got back to our building and my co-workers were huddled in our tea room/admin’s office. They all looked shocked and worried. This was the 1:01 5.3 5.7. My boss popped by my office to let me know he was off to Ilam School (our son’s both go there) and to offer me a lift. He did this after the Feb 22 quake as well. 

The trip was like deja vu all over again. Same light traffic out near Lincoln which gradually built to traffic jams the closer to town we got. This time the kids were in the field and I could collect Lucas straight from there, sign him out (twice - well organized folks) and then get his stuff from the classroom. Just like February 22 he really didn’t feel much shaking because he was out in the field playing during his lunch. 

So we headed off home on foot. Honestly, I can’t say we saw any new damage, though I’m pretty sure a moa could have walked across the street in front of us and I wouldn’t have noticed. 

So we arrived home with time to hug Christine (that’s the woman who puts up with being married to me) and sort of look around the house to see if there was any damage. I say “with time” as a sort of literary flourishy foreshadowy thing, because if you’re reading this you’re probably aware there was a second, bigger aftershock. So we had time to hug, I changed out of my office clothing and we sort of hovered over twitter to see what was what. 

Then 2:20 rolled around, and boy did it. The 6.3 quake was my biggest at home (Christine was here alone for the Feb 22 quake - I now have a full appreciation for why she was so freaked out that day) and I dove under Lucas’ desk, he dove under the dining room table and Chris went under her office desk (she has an office at the back of the house). 

This was the first time that I honestly thought that our house would fail structurally. I honestly thought we’d get buried under the rubble. You could see the door frames flexing, the ceiling moving independently from the walls and you could fully appreciate the full, horribly power of this thing that was happening to us.

Looking across the room at my incredibly calm, brave little boy was an amazement to me: he got under the table, he held on tight as he’s been taught at school and he stayed there till the shaking ended.

I think all three of us are very very good at getting numb/calm during emergencies because, even though I was thinking “oh shit, the house is going to fall on us”, I was also calmly watching the Stolmen IKEA shelves we brought with us from Canada shake back and forth opposite to the quake’s shaking (I am writing them a letter later to commend them on the design).

At some point during this quake we lost power. And the water mostly exited the toilet bowl and tank. Oddly though, nothing fell and nothing broke (we lost the microwave in February and haven’t really got around to replacing it yet). 

So, how are we? That’s the question isn’t it? If you live in Christchurch you’re, quite frankly, pretty fed up of answering this question, simply because you spend a lot of your time asking the same thing of yourself [oh, look, aftershock].

The stock answer is this: we’re ok. Scared but shaken. Our house is (mostly) fine. None of us got hurt, the liquefaction didn’t happen here, our power was back on by dinner on the 13th, we never lost water and it was a really pretty day out. 

The real answer is a bit more complicated [oh look, helicopter]: we’re stressed, short tempered, tired, edgy, hungry (emotional eating, just another gift from my Mom), guilty and just plain fed up. All of us are not acting like ourselves, Metro (the cat) spends a lot of her time either hiding or watching us intently. Overall it sucks. 

Work opens again tomorrow, Lucas’ school is being inspected this afternoon, Chris is off to Dunners and hopefully we can go back to the old, new normal soon. 


Free advice for politicians/marketers/folks who name products

This is just a random thought that occurred to me while baking: 

Before you tweet/facebook/release a social media press release thingy.. whatever you need to stop and think for several moments for two very very important reasons: 

1) If you lie, if you bullshit, if you fiddle the facts, the interweb will know. It may not matter in the long run, but a bunch of smart people will know you lied. And will never trust you ever again. 

2) The interweb is the greatest machine for detecting every possible sexual, sexual orientation, defecation/other bodily function related innuendo ever built. It also excels, or parts of it do, at detecting your stupid sexist/racist/other sundry ignorant bigoted opinions. 

3) The interweb also excels at detecting fake apologies. And disseminating stuff. It’s REAL good at that. It is, after all, it’s whole function. 

So, before you release your product, before you tweet that insult, before you kind of sorta not really tell the truth about something/someone, stop for a minute.

During this minute think of that smart (and smart assed) cousin/sister/brother/niece or nephew you know, the one with the smart phone, the one with the twitter/Facebook/blog/flickr accounts and the bad, snarky, sarcastic attitude.

Would that person think your product name is stupid?  Would that person point out your racism and notice the sexual innuendo (even if you didn’t mean it?)? Would they buy that you were sincere in this apology? Would they know how to fact check your statement about your opponent?

Because if they can, so can the rest of us. 

So, please, stop wasting our time. 


Another question

Let’s say that Labour and the Greens have a view that I happen to share. My view are not based on the fact that Labour and the Greens have it, but based on, you know, my own brain. In fact, since I’m not a citizen here, I can’t vote for either party so what they think is moot.

Does the fact that Labour and the Greens support it mean that my views are unimportant? 


Questions that I have

Ok, taking away the “so such and such a country is next, right?” questions, and the ‘OMFG WAR FOR OIL!!” stuff for just a second (I know, it’s like taking away someone’s fav toy): exactly what is the world to do when something like Libya is going off? Actually let me rephrase that: Is there anywhere in the world that intervening would be acceptable (bonus points if you don’t automatically suggest bombing Israel)?

What conditions need to exist for intervention to be ok? Because reading comments I’m left with the following list: they must not have oil (or resources), they must be nominally Christian, they must be dominantly white. That leaves what? Vatican City?