Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Law is Cool offers a humorous and legalized take on 'Twas a Night Before Christmas.  (At least I thought it was humorous, but the previous statement only expresses the personal opinion of the writer and may not reflect the opinion of the general population.)

Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter “the House”) a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to a mouse.

Read the entire text Here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sometimes, I wonder what the hell I'm doing. 

Have you ever put yourself in a situation where you embark on a mission, and then wonder what has gotten into you to do such a thing? 

I have just decided to revamp the Librivox Wiki. That thing has been annoying me for ages, and I kept thinking someone should be organizing it better. And then I decided that since nobody was doing anything, I would do it. After all, I'm on Christmas holiday and have free time. 

Oh boy. 

That thing has around 500 pages. I've just finished mapping the pages linked to the Index. Took me just over a day. I should've started with a plan, rather than make it up as I go along. I mean, I know what I want the final product to look like. It's the process that I haven't quite figured out.  
I need a plan now. 

Here's what will have to be done. 
1. group similar pages into clusters. Start with the easy pages first, like the Project Templates, or the Translation Pages. Make sure that each cluster has an user-friendly index page. (BADLY needed for the Project Templates) 

This obviously implies identifying the clusters first. 

2. Cross-check the All Pages list with the CategoryHomepage list, and make sure nobody is left over. 

3. Re-structure the Guides section. 
Volunteering should go with LV/Policy/PD 
Recording and Editing should go together. I always wanted to have a step-by-step, checklist-like guide. I'll have to see what I can do with the pages available. 
TechnicalSpecs should be integrated with the Recording section. 
OtherStuff section should have to be split. 
I'm thinking of a section for Resources, where we'll put lists and stuff. 

As for the rest, I guess I'll make it up as I go along. 

Saturday, December 06, 2008

My Corporate Law prof was supposed to give us a class on Copyright on the last day of class, but he didn't have time to do so. I was a bit disappointed, as I was really looking forward to that. He did talk a teensy bit about it, but only on specific cases.

It made me realize one thing, though. People blame many things on Copyright protection, either because the think it's too broad, lasts for too long, or is too repressive. Yet, I came to understand that although Copyright certainly does offer protection, and restrictions, it's certainly not the whole story.

First off, ideas are not copyrightable. I'd certainly like to go into a discussion on the difference between an idea and a copyrightable/patentable work, but that would require research and I won't have time for that until after my finals.

The first example we were given was that of TV shows. Take a show like Deal or No Deal, or Big Brother, for instance. What if you want to create your own show based on that concept? Would you need to pay royalty fees to the original creators of Deal or No Deal? And if not, why do the producers still do?

According to my prof, if you want to take the concept, you could probably do so without having to pay royalties. (Legally, that is. This being said, there isn't much precedent on the subject.) Why? Because it's an idea. It's a concept, and as such, is not copyrightable, nor patentable. Of course, if you want to use the name, you'd have to pay for that, since it's a trademark. But the idea itself is free, and public knowledge.

So why to the producers still have to buy the rights? Well, this has nothing to do with copyright. Or rather, very little. To air a show (in Canada, at any rate), the show needs to be insured. The insurance companies will refuse to cover the show if there is any risk of legal difficulties.

You have to understand, it's not because the original producers will most likely lose their case that it'll keep them from trying to sue. And once the procedures are started, it could be years before a judge gives a verdict. Count a good 10 years if it goes to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the show can't be aired. So really, better be on the safe side, and fork out some money.

So is it Copyright's fault? Hardly so. Why? Because ideas aren't protected by copyright. Just because people use the law abusively doesn't mean that the law is bad in itself. For instance, the law says that if you cause damages to someone else's by your fault, you are liable for these damages. Just because someone uses this principle to claim $50M for a pair of lost trousers doesn't mean that the law itself is abusive, merely that here are abusive people.

Therefore, it's not because the Copyright Act puts forward a set of principles, and people are trying to extend these principles in every possible way, with more or less success, that the Act is bad in itself.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Who ever said Canadian politics was boring?
(OK, fine I probably did.)

BUT, things are finally getting exciting! The opposition parties are forming a coalition, and we might see the government fall as soon as next week! :D This is about as exciting as it gets. So here are the options:
1. The non-confidence motion passes, and the govt falls. We either go in elections AGAIN, or the coalition governs.
2. Harper suspends parliament, and saves his ass until end January.

Both cases need the Governor General's approval. Now, what will the GG do? Legally, whatever she wants, thanks to the remnants of British Imperialism. However, there are also "constitutional conventions", which are basically tacit rules. According to the conventions, the GG is supposed to approve whatever the Prime Minister proposes, because, after all, we *are* a sovereign nation and don't exactly answer to the British Crown anymore.

So now what?
1. Harper asks for a prorogation, the Governor General accepts, and public outrage ensues, because it's a cheap way to avoid the non-confidence motion.
2. The non-confidence motion passes, Harper asks to dissolve parliamant and calls another election. Public outrage ensues, because we just spent $300M on one.
3. The non-confidence motion passes, the Governor General approves the coalition, and public outrage ensues, because the people who voted Tory will be outraged.

So really, the only way to end this gracefully would be for Harper to hand over the government.

And then public outrage ensues.

Friday, November 28, 2008

LV recordings

Since I've been getting some (Ok, ok, 3) comments about LV readings, I thought I'd have a post for that, in case people are looking for a place to post their comments.
Comme j'ai reçu quelques commentaires concernant mes enregistrements Librivox, j'ai pensé dédier un post pour permettre aux auditeurs de laisser des commentaires.

Up to now, my solo projects include:
Jusqu'à présent, mes projets solos incluent: 
- Le Comte de Monte-Cristo (Dumas) [FR]
- Les Trois mousquetaires (Dumas) [FR]
- Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes (Rousseau) [FR]
- Fêtes galantes (Verlaine) [FR]
- Illuminations (Rimbaud) [FR]
- Maria Chapdelaine (Hémon) [FR]
- Poèmes Saturniens (Verlaine) [FR]
- Two Years in the Forbidden City [EN]

For everything else, please look here
Pour mes autres contributions, veuillez vous rendre ici: 
My LV Catalog page

So if you have any comments, suggestions, or criticism, or if you live in Aix-la-Chappelle and I screwed up the pronunciation of your town, please post a reply to this message!
Si vous avez des commentaires, des suggestions, ou des critiques, ou si vous habitez Aix-la-Chappelle et que j'ai mal prononcé le nom de votre ville, laissez moi un commentaire!


Thank you to all listeners!
Merci à tous les auditeurs! :)

Copyrights and wrongs

There was a discussion going on on the LV forums, and I found myself defending copyright. This, from one whose Facebook page's "I'm a Fan of" box consists entirely of open source stuff, and who defended the public domain with equal fervour some time ago.

Meanwhile, Linux called; they wanted their bootleg Ubuntu back.

I'd do some research and make a compelling pro-copyright argument, but after a 20-page essay, I'm not really in that mood. I'd post my arguments on the forum thread, but I'm not feeling argumentative right now. However, the topic really does call for reflection, and I think, it's worth some brain juice.

First, allow me to clear up my position. I am FOR copyright. I think maintaining copyright after the author has died is pointless. AND I think that once the copyright is expired, you better stop asking for royalties!

Copyright generally has a bad rep. Big record companies and million-dollar lawsuits usually don't help with the reputation. But really, the same can be said of a lot of rights, and just because big corporations can sue based on those rights doesn't mean the principles are bad in any way.

Another fact people use to discredit copyright is its relative newness. People will argue that copyright is quite a recent development, and somehow link it to the hegemony of the corporations. Again, just because it is a concept that has been developed recently doesn't mean it's a bad concept. It just means that there were new situations that needed to be addressed, which required new rules. What new situation? Printing. Selling books. Not that people didn't read before, but printing (and general literacy) certainly made books more widespread, along with counterfeiters and plagiarists.

Ideas can't be copyrighted. But a creative work can. Unfortunately, some people are confusing both. Is music an idea? I don't think so. You can have the idea of playing the guitar. You can have the idea of singing about love or hate or war or flowers. But the final song is not a mere idea. The final arrangement of notes, the arrangement of words, that belongs to you.

Why does it belong to you? Why should it? What's so different between a song and a mere idea? After all, isn't the result a mere succession of ideas?


Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Sometimes, little things happen that just makes you go "Hmm..."
I had a bit of a WTF moment Monday, as I was logging into LibriVox on a school computer. I usually use the same few computers in the lab, so my username is often saved on them, and I'd just click in the username field and select mine from the drop-down menu. On LibriVox, and everywhere else I had to log in, my username is usually the only one. Except that on Monday, I click in the field, and lo and behold, I get:

Needless to say, I spent the next 10 minutes wondering why Starlite (who lives in Ontario) was there, as I certainly don't remember ever trying to log in with HER username...

Get out of my brains, NOW!

In other news, I have one of these little applications you put on the Google personalized home page, which is the "Reuters' Oddly Enough" box. And for almost 3 months, it's been stuck on the same 3 news stories. One of them is "Putin saves TV crew from Siberian tiger"

Bit weird, but draws a daily chuckle.


I was eating at the caf when Pauline Marois dropped by for a visit. She was supposed to give a speed "in 10 minutes", someone reminded us, which was about 5 minutes before she showed up in the caf. I was sitting on one side of the aisle, and she started talking to people right on the other side, making her way to the back of the room, followed by cameramen from the news.

And I was thinking 2 things:
1. Thank god I decided not to sit in the back.
2. Hurry up and eat before she comes up to you.

I was a bit annoyed, really. I just wanted to eat in peace. I've got nothing against politicians; I was quite pleased when Mr Lussier from the Bloc came a-knocking on our door, even though I didn't vote for him.
I'd probably be a bit more evil with the people from the ADQ. I'd probably just go:
"Sorry, I don't speak French."
"But we're in Quebec, you should be speaking French." (Which is something I'm expecting them to say, or at least think. So I could go:)
"Sorry, we're in Canada, and there's another official language. Hostie!"

I did see a friend of mine walk away from the back of the room, when Marois was there. I like to think she was running away. (Friend is a member of the Youth Liberal Party)

Friday, November 14, 2008

In this case, a State which had solemnly undertaken to cherish the
right to life, has wantonly plucked and tossed away the being of a
young man, paying the price of a small car - almost an
entertainment tax on homicide. In the Strasbourg market it seems
that life comes cheap, and killing is a tremendous bargain.
~Bonello J.
Ogur v. Turkey, ECtHR, 21594/93, 20 May 1999.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Awww a comment!

I wanted to THANK YOU for your recording of "Les trois mousquetaires" in Librivox! I really enjoyed listening to all chapters! Now I am reading and listening to "Le Comte de Monte Cristo". Thanks a million again!
Do you have any future plans to record any other works of Alexandre Dumas?

Thanks for the comment! It's so nice to see that people appreciate it! To answer the question, I did have the intention of recording ALL of Dumas' work at the beginning, then it hit me: soooooo many books!
I've "only" read the 3 musketeers + the 2 sequels, the Count of Monte-cristo, and Acté. Which isn't much compared to the rest of his works. I'm more interested with the "cape et épée" novels, and the other books seem really big and long and not that exciting. I might try La Reine Margot one of these days, per someone's suggestion. Or maybe something shorter like Acté.

Right now, my ongoing giant project (I seem to have a knack for these things) is the Essais par Montaigne.

No stupid questions...

... but sometimes, you wonder.

Corporate Law class.

The teacher is explaining the basic principles of the "société de personnes" (society/partnership). The 3 basic principles are:
1. an "apport" (contribution) from all partners
2. Division of profits/losses
3. Intention to form a society/partnership.

Thus, if you are not bringing some kind of contribution ("apport") you cannot be part of the society.

Which prompted this question:
"Suppose 3 people form a society to go on a picnic. (Cue class: WTF?) The first person brings the food, the second person brings the drinks, and the third person brings his brother. (Cue class: WTF #2) Is that considered an "apport" if the brother only eats?"

It's quite hard to describe the effect of such a question. On one side, the entire class is going What the Hell is she talking about? and yet you don't want to laugh in her face. There were some repressed chuckles, though. Points for the Prof for keeping his cool. I think I would've laughed.

I mean, yeah, we pretty much get what she was getting at. But, really, this is not exactly the best analogy. Who in their right mind would form a society for a picnic?

The prof handled it pretty well. First, it wasn't a society, because there was no commercial or any other kind of pecuniary interest involved. And evil teacher would've ended it there. But for the answer: no, you can't bring in a "contribution" that only generates spending.


There was also that question about confidentiality. All partners have an obligation of confidentiality regarding their customers' files, so they can't use the information for personal or other purposes.

The question: "What if the partner wants to get married to the customer, and looks for her address in the files?"

Um. Yeah. I'm not sure that the prospect of an amorous relationship is necessarily a mitigating factor in this case. The thought of it is quite disturbing.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

gained in translation

I've got another research paper to write, this time on diplomatic and consular protection, and Canada's "performance".

I was doing some research, and reading a page in the Foreign Affairs' webpage, when I came across this:
Certains Canadiens font comme s’ils ne savaient pas qu’ils doivent épuiser tous leurs recours avant de demander de l’aide ou se mettent dans des situations dangereuses, et exigent ensuite certains services consulaires qui ne sont normalement pas offerts. Ces personnes vont par la suite demander réparation en justice s’ils jugent insuffisants le niveau et l’efficacité de l’aide fournie par le gouvernement du Canada.

Which _literally_ made me go WHAT!? Not only is it extremely mean, it's unprofessional. Of course, I wanted to see if that's what the government meant, or if it was only a translation mistake. The English version says this:
Some Canadians ignore their responsibility to exhaust all personal options of recourse or place themselves in risky situations, then demand consular services not normally provided, and subsequently seek legal recourse in demonstrating their dissatisfaction with the level and effectiveness of the assistance provided by the Government of Canada.

Which begs the question: Which incompetent low-life paid by MY taxes translated that? And HOW do you go from "Some Canadians ignore their responsibility" to "Some Canadians pretend not to know their responsibility"!?

I hope that's not how the gov't views its citizens: as ill-intentioned, ungrateful morons who act like spoiled brats and sue the administration every time we're not having things our way.

And even then: "SOME Canadians ignore". Sorry to disappoint, but that should read "MOST Canadians ignore". It's not exactly common knowledge. I'm sure most people going abroad do not necessarily expect to get in trouble with the law, much less research your recourses in advance.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On a lighter note, I had some stuff to post and, well, let's just say be careful when using Cut/Paste. I think it's fate. This is evidently info I wasn't supposed to keep, since my recorder bailed out on me, and this is exactly the part that didn't get recorded.

It was just some funny factoids gathered from the Administrative Law class. There were some funny rules the prof told us about , among which were the by-law stating that kite flying, cock fighting and dog fighting were prohibited. I'm not sure why kite flying had to be forbidden, but on certainly wonders why it's put in the same sentence as cock and dog fighting...

There was also this by-law that said calèche owners couldn't make their horses work in above-30C temperature. This is one bit of info I would've liked to have had earlier. I would've known what to say to people who called during the few hot days in the summer, asking whether there were a temperature limit above which they weren't obliged to work. Then, I could've told them "Nope, nothing in the labour standards act, but if you were a horse, then you'd be off if it's above 30."

There was also this by-law prohibiting people to walk more than 2 dogs on a leash, which was apparently passed in order to get rid of a homeless dude in the neighbourhood.

And you're not supposed to park within 5 metres of a stop sign, but they'd have parking lines within that distance.
I had a bit of an existential moment the other day. I have a class on Corporate Law, and we were learning about the definition of a business. I started thinking about LibriVox, and whether it could be considered a business. Business is defined according to two criteria: 1. organization and coordination of resources, and 2. an economic objective. LibriVox is organized alright, but no economic goal there.

And I thought, are we producing anything? What are we producing anyway? Audiobooks. But, what is an audiobook, really? Bytes and bytes of data. 0s and 1s sitting somewhere on a server. I was hit by the intangibility of it all. Unplug the server, and what have you left? Nothing. It's a bit unsettling, really. Just bits and bits of data traveling through wires, traveling through the air.

Is this a product? It's nothing. Or maybe, it's energy. Energy pulses through the wires, through the air. Soundwaves, that's what we're producing. Data. Lots and lots of data. Maybe if we had CDs, it would seem more real. I'd have something to touch, something to hold, something to stack up.

And then I played a recording, and thought, "don't tell me this is not real!"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Yesterday was my last day of work. Some time in the morning, I get a call from a guy, and it goes like this:

Guy: "Hi, I'm calling because I think my boss owes me money."
Me: OK, why does he owe you money?
Guy: Well, I think there's time that I worked, but I didn't get paid for it.

At this point, I'm already starting to be seriously annoyed. Just spit it out dude, instead of prolonging the agony. You're not writing a mystery novel! Care to elaborate just a tiny bit?

Guy: Well, here's the thing. I usually go on break from 6 PM to 6:30 PM to eat. So from 6 PM to 6:30, I'm not getting paid. The other day, a machine broke at around 5, and it still wasn't fixed by 5:30, so my boss told me to take my break from 5:30 to 6 PM. And I came back to work at 6. So from 6 to 6:30 PM, I didn't get paid.

Oh. Right. ... Wait. What? No, I misunderstood, right? The guy can't be THAT stupid, surely? I recap, just to make sure. So you went on break from 5:30 to 6, came back to work from 6 to 6:30. On the schedule, it says you're not paid from 6 to 6:30. So you worked from 6 to 6:30 and didn't get paid for that time that day. But you were paid from 5:30 to 6, right?

Guy: Yeah.

Oh blimey. He really is that dumb. So what's the problem?

Guy: Well, my boss could've made me do other jobs for that time. He would've found other work for me to do.

Uh, so? You boss can tell you to take your lunch break too, dude. In a desperate attempt to punch a bit of common sense into him, I ask:

Me: so how many hours have you worked that day?
Guy: same as every other day.
Me:Which is?
Guy: 7 hours.
Me: And you were paid for how many hours of work that day?
Guy: 7 hours.
Me: So where's the problem? (Seriously hoping he gets it)
Guy: Well, I didn't get paid from 6 to 6:30.
(Fuck me.)

Made my day.

* * *

I'm becoming more like a lawyer now. A lady called for a question on the pay for Labour Day for one of her employees who was on vacation at that time. The rule for Holiday Pay is that you take the salary of the 4 weeks before the week of the holiday, and divide it by 20. People are not entitled to the pay if they're on unpaid vacation, sick leave or parental/maternity/paternity leave.

I was explaining that to the lady, and saying how vacation pay is included in the salary, so if the employee took 2 weeks vacation and worked for 2 weeks, you'll have to include the vacation pay in the forumla. The employee took 2 paid weeks, and 2 unpaid weeks. And I just went: well, you don't have to pay her anything then. Because Labour Day was the first day where she was on unpaid leave. Her 2 weeks of paid vacation ended the day before. So she wouldn't be entitled to holiday pay.

Wow. I was thinking, I just deprived someone of her vacation pay. And I'm not even feeling bad about it. Cuz it's the law, baby.

(at least the lady was nice, and said the girl was a good worker, and she'd pay her anyway)

Monday, September 22, 2008

War games

Yesterday, my dad told me about a son of his friend's, who has apparently decided to join the Armed Forces, and has done pretty well finding himself a nice spot where he would work and study. And then he asked: "Have you ever thought of joining the Army?"

Well, as a matter of fact, yes. Except for the fact that I would be a tiny bit too visually impaired to be allowed to join without laser surgery. AND the fact that I react very badly to any kind of physical exercise.

But that is beside the point. It's not the first time one of my parents have suggested (albeit jokingly) that I join the Army. This time, though, I actually shuddered. Join the army? NO WAY. IN HELL. I'm too happy being a civilian.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been doing research for an essay on the laws of war. Got a nice little book, and started reading. The book explained the international law governing such and such kind of military actions. What was allowed, and what wasn't. Not that it makes any difference in practice, since when all hell breaks loose, you're pretty much in the shit, law or no law.

Very early on, there is a distinction between civilians and non-civilians. Civilians are supposed to be protected. When war is a-knocking at the door, civilians should be evacuated, and you're not supposed to be shooting at them. Civilian installations shouldn't be destroyed either. Not so much for the military. Military personnel is what they call "valid military target". Military equipment is "valid military target". Roads and bridges are "valid military target".

Bit chilling, that. It almost felt like I was reading the manual to a video game. Almost like it was a game. Bridges: 10 points. Destroy a bunker: 50 points. Tanks: 20 points. Hospital: -100. When you're a soldier, you're a valid military target. Like a tank. Like a rocket launcher. You're not a human anymore. Just little things at which they shoot.

War is just a game. Do the generals think in terms of human life? Or are they just in front of their computer screens, counting points?


Join the military? No thanks. I'd rather not be running around the battlefield with a bullseye on my ass.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just had a call about a guy complaining that his employer didn't give him his Record of Employment. We're at labour standards, not the Employment Insurance office, and that's none of our business. We can't do anything about that, it not in our law, you have to call the EI.

And the guy goes: "Well, you really don't want to do your job, do you?" and hangs up on me.


I told it to my coworker, and one of them recounted an information session they've had with a management consultant of some kind, who said that IF YOU DID YOUR JOB RIGHT, SUCH THINGS WOULDN'T HAPPEN. I was outraged!

What does that mean? that it's MY fault, that an asshole calls? That if some fucktard doesn't want to understand, it's MY fault? Hey, I'm all for responsibilities, but that's too much! I wish I'd been there.

Imaginary conversation with the consultant:
Consultant: If you did your job right, such things won't happen.
Me: WHAT!? Does it mean that if someone yells at me, it means that I haven't done my job right?
Consultant: yes.
ME: it means that if someone is an asshole, it's MY FAULT?
Consultan: Why, yes.
Consultant: Please calm down...

Or something to the effect. Throw a fit or something. Just to get that last line in.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Featured today

... in the too much information department: medical information.

Look people. Medical info is private. Sometimes, for a good reason. You have the right to keep medical information private, so please, exercise that right. Especially when said medical condition is totally irrelevant to the discussion and, moreover, is an especially embarassing one.

Because, you know, there really is no pride in admitting that you went water-skiing, fell on your butt, which caused tearing in a very sensitive and unattractive body part. Please keep it for yourself. It's not because we're on the phone that people won't be laughing at you for quite a while.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The first thing I heard on the radio when I woke up this morning was the news about the dude in the US who said that 99% of the people who have autism were in fact just ill-behaved kids. The newsguy was telling us that people and groups were demanding the dude's head on a platter, for having dared to utter such atrocity.

And in the same breath, newsguy goes on talking about Mike Ward, who got death threats because he had the misfortune to make a joke with Cedrika Provencher, the girl who went missing. The joke was quoted in a newspaper, and since then, Ward can't even go out of his house because he's got death threaths.

Newsguy then said something about putting things in context.

And all I could do was marvel at the irony of the thing. i mean, on one side you've got the dude with the autistic kids, and it's alright to ask for HIS head, but then you can turn around and complain about how people don't put sayings in context and should just basically calm down.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I was going to work this morning, and the lady in front of me in the escalator was wearing a pair of white pants. She had what appeared to be a spot of humidity in the groin area. Pretty had to miss, since her ass was in my face. I know she knew, because she was rubbing her ass all the time.

For a split second, I felt the urge to go up to her and say "Yep, it shows."
But no.

I guess Schadenfreude is a sense I have yet to perfect...

Friday, July 04, 2008

What would you tell an employer who tells you to go attend one of those new-age seminars on "personal growth"? This employer was into I don't know what, really believed in this crap, something about leaving the past in the past and that kind of shit, and now he's making all, I repeat, ALL his employees attend it, otherwise, goodbye.

It's like forcing your employees to join a cult. Geez, some people are nuts!

Oh, and I just got yelled at again by a customer on the phone, because he didn't want to wait a few weeks for us to process his complaint. And something about us fuckers who work for the government, who never do anything, etc.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

One gets all sort of people when working in a call center, and some people give you 7 kinds of crap. This dude the other day INSISTED that we help him. The only problem was, that we couldn't. And he didn't take that. Started bitching about how incompetent I was. "You a damn secretary? Do you know the law?" Well, I friggin hope so , after a month's training. "There anyone more competent?" Fine. Dumped the call on a supervisor. Poor guy had to deal with the dude, and at some point,
"Well, Sir, what do you want exactly?"
"I'm starting to think that what I want is to blow up all the offices that piss me off!"

o.O Oh great. I have to admit, I glanced at the caller ID to see where he was calling from. 814. Phew!

And today, this lady calls and starts bitching because she got fired for having made a coworker cry. The coworker happened to be Chinese. I happen to be Chinese. For 45 minutes, I had to listen to her go "just because that Chinese girl was crying". At some point, I was thinking I'd just say to her, at the end of the call "BTW, I'm Chinese." and hang up. And then she asks for my name.

And I thought, God exists.
Awkward silence. Then: "Don't tell me you're Chinese... "
"Hem. Yeah. "

WELL. I guess SOMEONE's going to kick themselves tonight.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I woke up this morning at 5, and the first thing that came to my mind was "I think I might have time to sneak in a couple of chapters before my bro wakes up!" Then, I became aware of a throbbing pain in my left forearm, and it just wouldn't go. So I folded my arm behind my back and slept on it.

And now it's stopped hurting.
I swear, I could be a doctor.

On my way to work, I saw 2 police officers writing parking tickets. They had their motorbikes beside them, and they were half a block from the police station. And I couldn't help but to picture these 2 guys riding their bikes one block, getting off, and start inspecting the cars. What were they afraid of? That they wouldn't look cool going on foot and walk half a block to write a parking ticket? And who the hell is dumb enough to park illegally right beside a bloody police station!?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ah! the weird calls you receive when in a call center!! Unfortunately, I haven't got any of the really weird ones, but one of my friends got a guy who was wondering whether his boss was allowed to keep the dirty pictures of his girlfriend that he had at work, whatever he was doing with them in the first place.
Took some kind of guts to call for that...

Got a lady this morning who was trying to screw the employment insurance. She was wondering if she had the right to refuse her vacation pay so that she'll be able to keep receiving some kind of insurance.

Monday, June 16, 2008

work work work

Ahhh! here I am sitting at my very own desk. At work. Pretty neat, considering I didnèt even do any very exhaustive work search. Way back in March, I was freaking out when I saw every classmate scurrying about searching for jobs, and voila, here I am; work just fell from the sky.

It's not the most exciting kind of work, though. I'm an information person at the Labour Standards' call center. Basically, I answer the phone. You get all kinds of weird questions, and some people aren't the brightest you'll see around...

One thing I've got to say, though, is that working for the gov't is pretty much like it's portrayed to be. Pretty relaxed, no boss that drags you to your office when you're one minute over your break time.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Linux awn

notes for self

Installing awn-bzr

First, google awn-bzr, and get to the Reacocard awn-bzr page on
add the url to the software sources
( deb hardy main )
Get the 3 packages from the package manager:
- avant-window-navigator
- awn core applets
- awn window manager

Then, have it run at startup:
system > preferences > sessions
add avant-window-navigator


That's IT. can't believe I forgot how to do that!

Saturday, May 10, 2008


A few days ago, my parents have made the purchase of a luxury vehicle. I have nothing against luxury vehicles, except when it happens to be OUR luxury vehicle. See, we don't NEED a luxury vehicle. We don't have the kind of money to DRIVE a luxury vehicle. If we had 50K to spare, our bathroom could use a little freshening up. Pretty badly.

We're not luxury vehicle people. We can't afford to roll around town in a $50,000 metal shell. Not that we can't afford it, since we can, provided we live on Kraft Dinner for the next decade or so, but we don't have money lying around for that kind of shit.

We're not luxury vehicle people. We're more Toyota people. We look ridiculous when we hop into a luxury vehicle. My mom doesn't know how to drive the bloody car she bought. She wanted a manual car, for whatever reason. And she can't drive a manual car. She already has trouble driving and working the windshield wiper at the same time, let alone handle a speedbox. This afternoon, she had the brilliant idea to put the car in the garage. No idea why, though, since I pretty much thought she bought it to have it sit in the driveway and impress the neighbours. Anyway. So from the driveway to the garage (a 5-metre ride), she managed to stall the engine. Not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES!!

No idea who she's trying to impress, but I'm pretty sure they're laughing their asses off right now...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hating OS upgrades

OK, so after having to do a clean install to upgrade from Gutsy to Hardy, and thereby losing all my downloaded packages and customizations, I have thought that the wiser thing would be to record all the changes made to the system.

FIRST: the most important thing: The spinning hard drive.
Never forget that your hard drive goes nuts. You've used it for a whole month with it spinning up and down every 5 seconds, so the life of the poor thing has been significantly shortened.
Here is the solution, you get it by searching "hard drive spinning up/down ubuntu"
Add startup script:
sudo gedit /etc/init.d/local_settings
Now add this:
hdparm -B 254 /dev/xxx
...whereas 'xxx' represents your hard drive. (personal note: xxx = sda)

Make it executable:
sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/local_settings
Create symb-link:
sudo ln -s /etc/init.d/local_settings /etc/rc2.d/S99local_settings
Restart & the weird clicking sound should now have disappeared. Guess that's it!

THEN. I've tried to make the backspace key work. To do this, had to type
in the address bar of the browser. Then search for ‘browser.backspace_action’ and change its value to 0 (zero).
NOTE: the default value was 2.

That's it for the moment,Now, if only I can remember how to install compiz-fusion and awn-bzr, maybe I can showcase the gorgeous icons I've downloaded...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I was taking the metro this morning when I saw the most exasperating thing I've yet to see in public transit. Rush hour in the morning, metro car mildly full, a girl leaves her seat to get off. There were about 5 people standing around, doing what people do in such a case, namely, looking at each-other to see who was going to take the seat. And believe me or not, in that split-second, some fat dude spots the seat, goes "Excuse me! EXCUSE ME!", literally shoves aside 2 people, on of which was an old guy who looked like he could use the seat, and sits his fat ass down. I hope he's that motivated when it comes to losing weight...

Where does their money go?

Back in Cegep, I had a teacher who became known for always wearing the same shirt. So much so, that a Facebook has been created just for him, called "Please buy [insert teacher's name] a new shirt." Well, what do you know, Cegep teachers aren't the only ones around in need of extending their wardrobe selection. Who'da thunk that University teachers would too? Law teachers, on too of that. You'd think that with their salaries, they'd be able to afford a bit of diversity in their wardrobe.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Yes I did.

There's a islam-awareness thing going on around campus, and I was speaking to this guy at the booth, and what he had to say was interesting, but I couldn't help but notice one thing: he kept repeating "But you already know this, don't you?"

Which struck me as curious, since I obviously didn't, otherwise I wouldn't be asking And yet, there was something in that sentence that just made me wonder, Why? Why did he keep asking that? OK, maybe I should go back and ask him why. Would that be rude? Or inappropriate?

And do I want to know? Maybe it's just something he says. Or maybe it's some dark tactic to mess with your subconscious. To make you go "Well, OF COURSE, I knew it already".

If I suppose good intentions, and assume that this question is asked out of modesty, then it kinda makes sense. As in "I'm giving you all this info, but perhaps you already know all of this? Am I boring you?" And by doing this, you assume the one you're talking to is not an utter moron. Though, it only works when the person really did know it already.
Because it really could go the opposite way. As in "You know this already, don't you? Because I assume you do, because you really should be knowing all this stuff. Moron."

And if I assume bad intentions, and it I were the least bit paranoid, I'd be thinking he's trying to subconsciously force these facts into my mind. As in: "I'm saying something totally unrealistic and untrue, but you did believe that too, didn't you? Yes you did."

Friday, March 07, 2008

I have a paper to write for Monday, and I haven't started yet. Maybe, if I keep staring at the blank page, inspiration will come by itself. Reading and re-reading the instructions doesn't help, that's for sure. I'm supposed to offer a CRITICAL and PERSONAL reflexion. I can't help but feel like there's a contradiction somewhere in there.

Oh well, I guess critical isn't the same thing as objective, though pretty close. Will figuring out the difference help me with my project? Dunno, but let's see. It's not like I knew what to write about anyway.
Merriam-Webster says this about Critical:
2 a: inclined to criticize severely and unfavorably b: consisting of or involving criticism critical writings>; also : of or relating to the judgment of critics critical success> c: exercising or involving careful judgment or judicious evaluation <critical thinking> d: including variant readings and scholarly emendations critical edition>

and Objective:
3 a: expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations <objective art> objective history of the war> objective judgment>

Well, I guess the judgment doesn't have to be objective, then.
Emendations. What does that even mean?
1 : the act or practice of emending 2 : an alteration designed to correct or improve

that helps.
: to correct usually by textual alterations.

Right. BAsically, give lots of quotes, and pretend you've actually read what was to be read, I guess.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Been watching this "new" show on CTV. New is a somewhat relative term, as it has only started airing here, yet it seems that 2 seasons have already been aired some other place. Dexter, it's called. Quite neat, nice concept, but it just doesn't fit.

Show's about some serial killer dude who kills killers. I thought it was neat, but after watching it, I have to say, it's somewhat disappointing. Not the story, mind you. Story is fine. But the characters... The main character is so... romanticized. He's the perfect character of the "ideal" serial killer, the one that lies in some dark corner in all of us: the one who kills the bad ones. There's some Stockholm-ish feeling about this guy, charming, and kills cause of some sense of justice.

Character is also pretty lame: all textbook serial killer stuff, but none of the mentality. And get me right, I'm not saying I understand the tortuous minds of the mentally fucked-ups, but I consider myself having the qualifications for a degree in Criminal Mind-ology and Hannibal Lecter-ology. The guy Dexter's killer-ness is only skin deep: childhood trauma, an in-you-face type of lack of empathy, finds relationships difficult, and collects stuff from victim. Scratch the surface, and there's nothing more underneath.

The writers' attempt at adding a bit of humanity to the character completely ruins it. Not supposed to have any!!!
Where is the evil geniusness? Where is the youth spent torturing little creatures? Where is the low-profile average joe who seeks recognition through his "work"?

*sigh* The writers have tried too much to make the character appealing. They should've relied more on viewers' innate sense of fascination about serial killers and Stockholm. Instead, they've created a half-sentimental supposedly non-empathetic guy who actually has a sense of moral.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Law as religion

There's something uncanny about learning about the law. Not learning the law, mind you. Learning about it. About how it started, why we respect it, what makes us respect it, that sort of thing. The philosophy behind it all, what. I find it's a bit like religion, in the sense that you take what is given, and go with it. Many theories try to explain why we follow the law. Jus naturalism talks about our innate sense of justice.

We're now talking about positivism. Kelsen's theories. And in the end, you're left with this: you follow the law because it is based on another law, or norm, and in the end, everything is based on a Super-Norm, which you follow because you do. Which is a bit like religion. You do something because God says so. You do something because the law says so.

Which, come to think of is, is quite similar to the job of any scientist. The chemist studies the rules of chemistry, and does not really question where the rules come from, because they just ARE. The jurist studies the law, and does not question its origins, because it just IS.

There's something comforting, really, about not worrying about the Meta-norm, and taking it for granted. Because if it were to fall, it's the whole system that will come crashing down. Sometimes, I guess, willful blindness is just necessary.
Was going out the metro when I noticed something. They're installing new turnpikes, and they've kept the same width as the old ones. Nothing there, right? Well, as one knows, the diameter of the average midsection has been steadily increasing over the past years. People are making wider movie seats, wider bus seats, etc, to accomodate people's larger butte. But, the turnikes are staying at the same width. I wonder if there's something in that... Of course, the one nearest tho the booth is wide. Wonder what they had in mind...

I think they're trying to make the wider ones go through that. So that every time they want to get into the metro, they have to go "OK, let me in, I'm a fat-ass". Must do wonders for their ego.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Riiiiinnng! Riiiing!


This is your destiny calling.

How may I help you?

Follow the path.

* * *

I was reading a document on copyright when it hit me. For the first time, I felt inspired. Not just a vague yeah-sure-I-could-do-that kind of feeling. No. That one was a wow-I-am-SO-doing-that feeling. Nothing big. Nothing flashy. No high-profile sue-till-you-drop aspirations.

Public domain. Copyright. More specifically, something in intellectual property. Protecting public domain works. Stop fraudulent copyright claims. Meaning, going after those who claim copyright on PD works.

Yeah. Dream on.

Monday, February 18, 2008

There is something incredibly depressing in finding out that the B you were so proud of actually amounted to barely more than 70%. Thank you for normalized grades. So now what? Not much, I guess. Just thinking, what will happen next year? what will happen when the people who kept the average so low gets the boot, thereby increasing the average by a surely substantial amount? Will I be able to keep afloat? Or is that their way to weed out the weaker members of the student body, until by the end, the B+ become C-, and the A-, Bs?

By then, if you still have a bit of confidence left, the world is yours.

Monday, February 11, 2008

So there I was, innocently browsing the LV forums and going about my own business, about to record the next chapter of the Comte de Monte-Cristo (which, by the way, is at its 70th chapter, go me!) .... So I was quietly going about my little business when all of a sudden, Cori ambushed me in the dark corners of a Private Message and asked me to record something for the Valentines' Day LV Podcast. She wanted something about LUURVE, and hopefully, something that wouldn't include "Bug off, Cory, that is so cheesy". Which of course, I just did. Sorry Cory.

Why do I love LV? Hmmm...
Well... WHY DO I love LV? The easy answer would be because it's fun, because of the great people who are there, because reading is fun, even when I don't always have time to read... because, really, LV is just so darn COOL.

But there's something deeper than that. A deeper kind of connection. And it would sound cheesy if I just say it like that, so I decided to write a little poem, because there's nothing like a cheesy poem to convey a cheesy idea. And it's the good kind of cheese, mind you.

So, on this Valentine's Day, here's my poem, dedicated to the dedicated volunteers at LV.

billions of souls in the universe /--/--/-/
billions of stars in a galaxy /--/--/-/
I found a voice among all voices -/-/-/-/-
A voice that told a story -/-/-/-

A voice that roams across the seas -/-/-/-/
To whisper in your ear -/-/-/
The tales of long-forgotten cities -/-/-/-/-
For one and all to hear -/-/-/

I gave the world a part of me -/-/-/-/
I took a tale and set it free -/-/-/-/
And then one day when I'll be gone -/-/-/-/
my voice will carry on -/-/-/

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Have you ever come across someone, someone so offensive, that you just wish you could hit them with a club? Some people who are so awesomely incoherent, and some plain stupid or plain ignorant, but who think oh so profoundly that they are right and that you are an idiot, a thorough idiot if you should ever question HIS beliefs?

Those people who call your ideas unlikely and fallacious, but fail to see it in their own?

I know someone around -- if you can ever say you "know" someone on the web -- who just makes my blood boil.
According to him, saying "I own this and can do whatever I want with this" is fundamentally the same as saying "Everyone owns this and can do whatever they want with it." We're talking here about online data.

Right. Yeah, sure, except for the "I" being replaced by the "everyone", the rest is pretty much the same. But don't be saying it makes NO difference at all!

Somewhere, I had made a joke about the monkeys, typewriters and Shakespeare. Or chimps, rather. He said since it's impossible to have infinity, such considerations are useless and they'll never come up with Shakespeare. And the same guy turns around to speculate about the possible malicious taking-over of OUR free, public domain data, by an evil-intentioned hacker who would roam the web to delete all our files, in order to monopolize the selling of it. For someone who can't imagine infinity, he sure has a lot of imagination!

And THEN, he calls the community totalitarian, because we have admins who make decisions.

I wish we could have stupidity filters.

Friday, January 25, 2008

sound advice for teamworkers

If you've been to school, you've probably experienced this: Teamwork.
No single student has ever escaped this curse. Many things have been learned through Teamwork. Many abilities acquired, usually depending on your Implicit School Social Status.

There are many non-mutually-exclusive kinds of teamworkers.
First, there's the Friend. The Friend is the one who will put him/herself with a friend, just to be with a friend, and nobody will do anything until 1 AM the morning of due day.
Then, there are the Leeches. Leeches come in many flavours. There's the Dumb Leech, who will grab the smartest grab-able person and not do shit, just to get the grade.
There's the Smart-but-Lazy Leech, who doesn't care who his/her teammate is, so long as they do the work for them. Nevermind the grade, his exams will make-up for it.
THen, there's of course the One. This is the person who will end up doing everything. Come on, you all know One.

Many precious skills are learned through Teamwork. Perhaps the most important is the ability to find out the people who will do all the work and still let you get credit. People having mastered this skill usually grow up to become some sort of supervisor. Or YOUR BOSS. But, remember, you must not neglect the exploited party. Always be nice to them, because they're the ones you're counting on to save your ass one day. However, do always assure yourself that you have a sizable supply of these at your disposition. It might be a bad idea to always leech off the same one, as resentment builds up and you never know when it might blow up.

One also leans about the great principles of life, such as, if you don't do anything, chances are, someone else will care enough to save their own ass, and maybe yours if you're lucky.
You also learn that you should never leave your team by itself. You need to supervise. Even if you don't do anything relevant. You HAVE TO SUPERVISE. Because the minute you leave the room, that's when People start talking. And you don't want them talking about YOU. Because chances are, they're plotting a way to blame everything on you. And even if they might be right, you can't let that happen.

All fellow teamworkers, you have been warned.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I week into the 2nd semester and already, stuff has started piling up. Reading, reading, and more readings. First week is all about getting organized, and hopefully, once I'm done running after books to buy and stuff to sort, everything will fall into place.

Of course, that's what I tell myself every semester. And there's a reason I have to repeat the same thing every semester. Nothing ever works.

Procrastination: So wrong, but feels so right.
Until exam week.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Assume a job interview

Toward a perfect answer.

Why not med?

- Because I have felt that going in med would not allow me to achieve my full potential. Once one gets accepted into med, one is pretty much assured to get a job, so there isn't much stimulation. In Law, on the contrary, one must be the best in order to secure a job, so the continual competition throughout the years would allow me to keep aiming for the top.

Why would there be no competition in med?

- I guess it's something psychological, in the sense that once you know that as long as you do moderately well, you are pretty much assured to be employed. So there isn't much of an incentive to get better results. In order to get a job, that is.
On top of that, if I had gone into med, it would have been mainly to satisfy my parents. So once I would have been a doctor, I would probably just have sat around, thinking, here, I am a doctor. Isn't that what you wanted? But in Law, there's the added pressure that I have to prove to my parents that I made the right choice, and that I was able to achieve something, and I wouldn't have been satisfied unless I had something great to show them.

Can't you compete against yourself?

- Competing against oneself sounds very nice on paper, but in practice, I find it pretty useless. It is much better to have a tangible target. It is very easy to be satisfied when competing against oneself, since any slight improvement is considered a success. I find it much more productive to have something to aim for, rather than just to be "better" than myself. Say I can only run 1 mile, and my neighbour can run 10 miles. I think it is more productive to tell myself, "tomorrow, I will run 10 miles", rather than to say "tomorrow, I'll run a bit more than a mile".

It all sounded so well in my head...