We’re Gonna Take You Back To The Past

It’s been nearly two years since Edward Snowden either betrayed his country, or exposed a terrible injustice by fighting for truth and honour, depending on how you look at it.

I fall more towards the latter, if I may say. The PRISM program was a heinous case of government overreach. Not only was the NSA collecting an unprecedented amount of information on people, it was doing it without any cause to, or any apparent legal restrictions.

Now, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. I mean, I’ve watched 24, and I have to admit, I found it quite impressive and cool the way Chloe and the plucky gang at CTU used clever computer tricks to defeat the terrorists; Such as hacking their emails, tracing their cell phones, spying on them through surveillance cameras, and the like. And of course, we all knew the government was doing this kinda thing… to criminals. To people who should be monitored. Heck, that was what a good chunk of NetForce was about. They monitored and tracked people who were bad people, likely to perform terrorist attacks, massive computer hacks, and digital global takeovers. And all this means is that the rhetoric badgered on by one senator who said Snowden’s revelations somehow impaired their intelligence gathering techniques is frankly bullshit! Because we all knew, or at least suspected, that it was possible. Which meant criminals also already knew, or at least suspected, that it was possible and likely operated on that assumption. So, Snowden’s revelations didn’t change how they operated. It just justified their pre-existing paranoia.

But my point is: none of this is shocking. What was shocking is that it was being done to average citizens. The U.S. government was collecting terabytes of information on millions of people around the world, without any warrant or justification. It was a shotgun approach to espionage, and it seems they were doing it just to have the information, not necessarily to do anything with it.

Which brings us to the most bizarre thing about this whole fiasco, and that is the unusual reaction I’ve heard from many corners: Who cares? Who cares if the U.S. Government is collecting our information? It’s not like they’re going to do anything with it.

And that would be a fabulous argument, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s completely beside the point! Yes, they probably won’t do anything nasty with it. They probably won’t even look at it. They’ll just store the information on some server somewhere, and just let it rot. In which case, why even collect it to begin with? They have no need to collect our information, and can easily abuse it once they do. In fact, there have been cases of exactly that happening. Cases of NSA employees spying on their girlfriends with the information gathered by the program. And that’s only the cases that have been caught. These people are spies, you think they can’t hide that shit!?

Now, it’s true that the average citizen probably isn’t dating a spy. So they don’t have to worry. But that’s not the point. The point is, they shouldn’t even be collecting this information to begin with. There are limits to what law enforcement can do, and there are reasons those limits exist! The average citizen does not have a right to spy on my Skype messages, so why should the U.S. government? And I don’t want anyone, whether it be my best friend, or some prick in some NSA dungeon somewhere, aggregating details on my porn habits.

Wanting to maintain our individual privacy should not be a big ask.

But I think I know why some people don’t care. It’s because of Facebook. Hell, all social media is to blame for this! For years sites like Twitter, MySpace, LiveJournal, have all asked people to share the intimate details of their lives, despite the fact that it’s unlikely anyone else would give two shits. And because of this, news that the NSA has been collecting the data they thought was worth sharing makes them think: Hey, it wasn’t all pointless!

People have been willingly sharing the details of their lives with strangers around the world. So what do they care if the NSA just happens to be watching as well?

So I guess it’s a generational thing. Those young people who grew up on social media don’t see a problem, while those of us who are older and wiser, do. And it makes you think: What are the limits of this? What will be the point where we just give up on privacy all together? And it might be the point where a brand new and unprecedented technology eliminates privacy for us, whether we want it to or not. Perhaps a technology that allows us to witness The Light of Other Days.

Wow, that was a contrived opening, wasn’t it?

Yes, it’s time to talk about the incredible novel of time, space and insanity by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter, The Light of Other Days. And let me tell ya, I’m glad I finally get to write about an unambiguously good book for once. Continue reading

It’s a Pet Shop Blitz

One thing that strikes me about Broadchurch is that it seems no one gets along with anyone. In almost every episode, everyone is fighting with everyone else! We have feuds between families, family members, former colleagues, and whole professions!

And it very rarely seems rational.

I’d say ‘never’, but the show opens with a child being murdered, so a bit of animosity between the characters can kinda makes sense.

But that was two whole series ago. Can’t they get over it!? Can’t we all just get along? Can’t we get over our petty little differences and learn that we’re all humans, wanting to make the world a better place?

This even happens in the real world! Take France and England! They may not go to war anymore, but they still constantly find ways to get on each other’s tits! Russia and the US still glare at each other from across the Pacific Ocean. And then you have the middle east, where you can throw religion into the mix and holy fucking hell! And all these feuds are pointless, and juvenile, and they all just need get the fuck over it!

And that’s the lesson that framed another episode of Littlest Pet Shop! All about conflict, and conflict resolution! Continue reading

Another Part of Them

What is a human being capable of?

That seemed to be an underlying theme during the first series of Broadchurch.

“Anybody’s capable of this murder, given the right circumstances.” – Alec Hardy

But was he right? Is anyone capable of murder? Most people have limits, lines they would never cross, which is something I talked about before. Unless you’re a sociopath, there are just some things you never do, whatever the circumstances.

But what if those circumstances involved your life being at risk? Or the life of someone you loved? I think many people would end one life, to protect another they genuinely cared about.

That was probably what Hardy was referring to. Perhaps the murder occurred because someone’s life was at risk. But Danny was just a kid. I highly doubt he could end up in such a murderous rage that a mere bop across the bonce wouldn’t have stopped him. So maybe what he really meant was that anyone could commit murder, even if their reasons are minor and irrational. Even if it’s something as spurious as: this kid’s going to reveal my darkest secret. And I’m not too sure about that. I don’t think anyone, with any moral compass whatsoever, would ever kill an 11-year-old kid.

But in that case, how does one explain the series finale? Continue reading

Blaming the Blameless

I think Broadchurch has gotten weird.

This might have something to do with the various mysteries we’ve seen brought up on the show. So many questions need to be answered, and I assume once we get the answers this entire show will make a lot more sense. It’s like Lost. Actually, that’s a bad example isn’t it? Because on that show, the answers were more confusing than the questions. For instance, the Black Smoke Monster, strange yet interesting in itself. But what is it? Nanotech? Some type of flying machine with built-in fog camo or hologram? No, turns out it was a thousand-year-old ghost! Okay, now you’re just fucking with us, you bastards!

Thankfully, Broadchurch isn’t Lost. So, I don’t think any answer we get on this show will be as weird as that.

Still, it is getting weird, and not just because of the mysteries. Some of the character’s actions have gotten frankly bizarre in recent episodes, and I have no idea why. Continue reading

A Million Little Mistakes

So, as we all know, the first series of Broadchurch was all about secrets. Everyone in the show had a dark secret and each of them were revealed over the course of the show, culminating with the reveal that a familiar character was a murdering bastard!

So what’s the theme of the new series? Not sure yet.

The first episode didn’t have much to work with. All it did was set up future plot points. I guess one could argue it was about returns and resurrections. The phoenix rising from the ashes. That kind of thing.

We have Hardy, making a return to an old case; We have Ellie returning to Broadchurch as a kick ass cop; We have murdering prick trying to make a return to freedom; We have the two lawyers, each making a return to court after a prolonged absence; and it ends with Danny making a return from being buried in a grave.

No, he didn’t turn into a zombie, that’s another show.

But the second episode doesn’t share that theme, at least, as far as I can see. It appears last week’s episode of Broadchurch follows a completely different theme: Mistakes, and either accepting the consequences, or fixing the damage.

(Once again, don’t read this if you haven’t caught up on series one of Broadchurch.) Continue reading

Some Other Beginning’s End

Well, Happy 2015, everyone! And as another year goes by, it’s time we set the previous year ablaze in a hateful effigy.

After all, we had Ebola, Oscar Pistorius getting off, Scotland declaring dependence, Syria going to shit, those girls in Nigeria, Cliven Bundy, Turkey banning Twitter, Heartbleed, that weird moment when bronies were accused of harbouring pedophiles (turns out it was bullshit), that nutter in Santa Barbara, the shithead cops in Ferguson, the shithead cops in Cleveland, the shooting in Ottawa, North Korea hacking Sony, Robin Williams dying, fucking GamerGate, and motherfucking ISIS!

It’s been a shit year all told, and I’m glad it’s finally over! And me, being the eternal optimist that I am, I’m hoping this means society is on the upswing and things will only get better. We can assume the recent bullshit in France is a fluke.

But I have no idea! So I guess the only thing to do is hope for the best and prepare your nuclear fallout shelters, just in case. You know, they might come in handy.

Now, if only, the Latimers thought of that, then the events of the last week’s episode of Broadchurch wouldn’t have come as such a shock to them!

Before we continue, I’d just like to say, if you haven’t seen the finale of Broadchurch series one, stop reading now. Oh, don’t give me something about, ‘uh, I’m not going to watch that show.’ No, watch it, now! The first series was fantastic, and you need to watch it! And as I cover the new series, I’ll be ruining the first. So let’s get rolling.

Oh, yeah, I’m going to be covering the new series of Broadchurch… shocked? Continue reading

It’s All Secrets and Lies!

I have no idea what it’s like to grow up in a small town. And there are two reasons for this.

For starters, I didn’t grow up in a single town. I grew up in two, and neither of them were particularly small. But neither of them were ‘big’ either. I’d say there were about medium.

Sault Ste. Marie was a nice enough little border town, twinned with its American neighbour. I remember once getting a kick out of doing a bit of ‘international travelling’ over my lunch break, because my mother decided we’d have lunch across the border. It seemed almost surreal. And Sault Ste. Marie was also a major port of call across the Great Lakes, connecting Superior to Huron. So it had enough of an industry, specifically the giant steelworks that you’d get a great view of while travelling over the international bridge, which gave the town a sizable population. And it was big enough that you couldn’t possibly know everyone. But it was also too small to have anything interesting going on. I’m remember we had a museum, but I also remember that I lived in houses that were bigger than that thing. I also remember I lived in a lot of houses.

Then, when I was around 11, craziness happened and I moved to Sudbury. A much larger town, with much more going on, including a very large science centre that I used to spend entire days at. But it also had much less sophistication. A real hick town. I blame the mines.

And now, I live in the big city! Oshawa! Part of the GTA (apparently)! And I actually like it here. My only wish was that it was easier to get around. If only I didn’t melt my car last year.

But I’ve passed through small towns, and I’ve met people who’ve lived in them, so I know they exist.

You know what I mean by ‘small town’ right? One main/high street where every business is located, surrounded by side streets filled with houses, one or two schools, and a church because every town needs one apparently. And with such a small population, it’s like the Cheers bar grew and mutated to 100 times its original size.

You know the Cheers bar right? You’ve seen Cheers… Where everybody knows your naaaaame… Right?

Anyway, it’s a place where everyone knows everyone. It’s peaceful, and quaint, and nothing bad ever happens. Or at least, that’s the stereotype, init?

In our culture, small towns are romanticized. They’re quaint little places, with tightly knit communities, and where everyone can trust anyone, and the biggest possible crisis would be the time when Mrs. Fielding found out she might not have enough yeast for the bake sale.

But is that accurate? Probably. But in even in the land of sugar and friendship, they got a few bad apples, so it’s likely that even in the coziest of small towns, you have a few pieces of rotten fruit. Perhaps not apples, but some type of plant-matter. But even then, exactly how bad can it get?

The murder of an eleven-year-old boy… Well, that’s pretty bad.

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Broadchurch. Continue reading

Not Just For Christmas

Well, Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you’re all having a merry old time.

I’m not, I’m spending it with family, so by default it’s crap.

Regardless, it’s a time of celebration, joy, and consumerism, as people give gifts, get drunk, and have fun.

But what kind of gifts? Toys are a given, every child loves toys. Makeup is a common gift for girls and women, and many people give clothes because they like to think practically. Some people also give cash or gift cards, the lazy prats. Gift cards are the worst because they’re actually a step down from cash. They’re just as practical, but only valid at one location and often for a limited time only. And if the store closes down, you’re fucked!

But even cash annoys me because it shows no effort. This is something I mentioned before: The real meaning of a gift should be in how much effort and thought is put into it. Saying, “here’s a twenty,” involves absolutely no effort, and even less thought.

So what did I get for Christmas? A $25 prepaid Visa card. Okay, that actually costs more than cash and is exactly as useful. However, I guess I could use it online. That’s a plus.

But there are other gifts one can give. For instance, some people give pets for Christmas. Dogs, cats, that kind of thing. Which is great. There’s a lot of love one can get from a pet, and it can last a lifetime. But it’s important to remember that. It’s important to remember, as every animal shelter on earth needs to remind everyone every goddamn year, that “A pet is not just for Christmas!”

Basically it means people are taking in animals at Christmas, and giving them as pets, without thinking it thorough. Without considering the costs and responsibilities that come with pet ownership. And this is evidenced by the fact that most pet shops and animal shelters see an upswing in pet sales/adoptions in the run up to Christmas, and an associated upswing in the number of returned and abandoned pets in the months following.

You see, it’s fun for a couple of weeks, or maybe even months. Then you realize you have to feed this thing, and reality hits like a ton of dog shit you need to pick up!

If you’re going to get a pet, keep it. This shouldn’t be too hard to understand! Pets are great! They’re constant companions that’ll always stay with you. And if you don’t think you want that, don’t get one at all!

And while we’re on the subject of pets, let’s talk about another episode of Littlest Pet Shop. Where the lesson is simple: If you’re going to buy a pet, keep it! Don’t be a pet-tease! You cocks! Continue reading