Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Open Letter to Pocatello/Chubbuck District 25

To whom it may concern,

Your website contains some erroneous, misleading messaging. Please contact your Web admin to have "whatever it takes" and "caring about children" (see image below) removed from your homepage, as you have demonstrated this to be patently untrue.
With the termination of food service worker Dalene Bowden for "theft" of $1.70, when she offered to cover the cost of lunch for a preteen in crisis, you show that you do not care about kids, and you are unwilling to do whatever it takes to protect and support them. In fact, you punish people and practices that do support these lofty claims.

Aside from your stated practice of throwing a perfectly good meal into the trash when a student is unable to pay for their meal, itself morally reprehensible, the hypocrisy of claiming to do "whatever it takes" to serve your students while terminating a responsible adult's career over $1.70 is intolerable.

I no longer live in Idaho, but I was born in Pocatello. I have an emotional investment in this city, I keep up on the news there. I celebrate its victories over long distance and, in cases like your policy and practices, I burn with shame. I recognize asking you to behave with decency and compassion toward your students and the employees who serve them falls well outside "whatever it takes", so please clean up your homepage to more accurately reflect your real-world behavior.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Sesame Credit Scare

My wife just shared this video with me:



If you don't have time to view it (which is ridiculous), the summary is thus. China is commissioning the predominant social media partnership to gamify adherence to their Communist Party. Sesame Credit monitors your social media presence, rewarding you for repeating state propaganda and punishing you for asking questions or talking about matters the government disapproves of; it monitors your shopping, rewarding you for buying food and work clothes, punishing you for shopping for imported or frivolous merchandise; it monitors your friends, punishing you for associating with dissenters and agitators. While there are no stated punishments for low-score players, currently, many bloggers and analysts are projecting what these could be: anything from restricted online use to ineligibility for real-world employment.

And it's being rolled out now, with plans to become mandatory for all citizens in five years, as of this writing.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Movies, Society, and Consideration

Currently I'm taking a break from social media: I have to stay off Facebook and Twitter until I see the new Star Wars movie, because my friends are way too excited about it. Even if they don't spill the beans, some of them have friends with a poor sense of humor, who will find it funny to ruin any surprises the movie holds.

After a weekend of radio silence, one person has noticed my absence and emailed me to see whether I'm okay. No one else is aware anything has changed, or else they lack the curiosity (or are even relieved at the reprieve).

Rebecca and I saw two movies on Saturday, neither of which were Star Wars, if you can believe that. We were plotting our weekend and had nothing planned, which is a precious, increasingly rare delight, so she suggested some movies that we might see, Trumbo and Hunger Games Number Three Part Two.

I asked why we couldn't see both of them, and my wife transformed into a bubbly child: "We could see... two movies today?!" Her eyes were round and huge, and one of her hands gracefully alighted upon her chest, over her heart.

"Why not?" I said. "We're adults, we can do whatever we like. We can eat horrible food and stay up way past nine."

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Another Podcast Review

Just another review in which I remember which podcasts I like and which pissed me off.

Podcasts are important to me because I have a 45−90-minute bus commute to and from work, five days a week. If I don't want to listen to disadvantaged adults abusing their children or tedious phone calls interrupting whatever book I'm reading, then I must don my over-ear headphones and listen to podcasts.

Now, even a podcast can affect my entire day, so mostly I'm looking for good comedy or interesting storytelling. Sometimes I feel guilty about not being more educated so I seek out nonfiction and professional analysis podcasts. Still other times, I'll try out anything that looks interesting, and sometimes my friends even have recommendations for me.

Recently I discovered my iPod can search and download podcasts without ever installing stupid fucking iTunes on my computer! What a relief! So I've been exploring that option, how to load my iPod with podcasts, without ever having to reinstall every lousy stinking goddamned iTunes update, remembering to shut off its background data hog subroutine between times. With the latest iPod update, however, my device now thinks it's January 1970 and refuses to be corrected on this, and despite how many unplayed podcasts I've cached, the Unplayed Podcasts button yields zero results.

These are some of the petty annoyances that people of certain breeding call "first-world problems", where "real" problems only pass the test of moral relativism.

Anyway. Here's what I've been listening to in my latest spate.