Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Give up telling people about Facebook hoaxes? Done.

Yet another "Facebook is making all your data public!" hoax is making the rounds. This one has to do with the new Facebook Graph thing that was just rolled out over the last couple of weeks. And once again, as we see so often, people are posting it without thinking. Here's the text:

Hello to all of you who are on my list of contacts of Facebook. I would like to ask a favor of you…. You may not know that Facebook has changed its privacy configuration once again. Thanks to the new “Graphic app”, any person in Facebook anywhere in the world can see our photos, our “likes” and our “comments”. During the next two weeks, I am going to keep this message posted and I ask you to do the following and comment “DONE”. Those of my friends who do not maintain my information in private will be eliminated from my list of friends, because I want the information I share with you, my friends, to remain among my friends and not be available to the whole world. I want to be able to publish photos of my friends and family without strangers being able to see them which is what happens now when you choose “like” or “comment”.

Unfortunately we cannot change this configuration because Facebook has made it like this. So, please, place your cursor over my photo that appears in this box (without clicking) and a window will open. Now move the cursor to the word “Friends”, again without clicking and then on “Settings”. Uncheck “Life Events” and “Comments and Like”. This way my activity with my family and friends will no longer be made public. Now, copy and paste this text on your own wall (do not “share” it!). Once I see it published on your page, I will un-check the same for you. Thanks so much!!

Let's do some critical thinking and examine this, shall we?

  1. Facebook has over a billion users. Granted, the company has never been known for its tight security and in the past they have changed default settings (i.e. those for new users or those who were using the defaults anyway) so that they were less secure than before. But changing existing security settings would likely piss a lot of people off. Are they likely to do this?
  2. Facebook security settings are kind of silly anyway. You should always assume that anything you post on Facebook or anywhere else on the internet will be available to everyone in the world forever. Regardless of what you post and how you attempt to protect it, there's nothing stopping someone from cutting and pasting it or taking a screen shot and posting that or even printing it on a piece of paper. Internet privacy is, for the most part, an oxymoron.
  3. The average number of friends that any one person has is 130 (reference). Some have many more than this – I know people with 500+ friends. If you post this request and 75% of your friends respond, you're going to have almost 100 comments on that posting (or hundreds if you're really popular). Did you really plan to go through your entire friends list in a couple of weeks one by one and "unfriend" those who didn't respond? Admit it, this was an empty threat.
  4. If you really pay attention to the security settings, you should realize that what you're telling people to do is actually change their own settings so that they will not see your "life events" or "comments and likes". It has nothing to do with what other people will see.
  5. With very rare exceptions, any time you see a posting asking you to repost it or send it to all your friends, it's almost certainly a hoax. This has been true for many Facebook hoaxes as well as email chain letters and such that I've been seeing for over twenty years.

I don't expect everyone to immediately realize that these things are fake; they are getting more and more "realistic" and I've seen people who really should know better get caught by them. But surely anyone who's been on Facebook for more than a year has seen a few of these, and know better, right? 'fraid not.

I saw one the other day and left a comment (the very first comment on the posting) saying that it was a hoax. By the next morning, there were three "Done" comments – obviously these people had taken the time to read the entire posting and believe it, but not to read my one-line comment and believe it. I guess this makes sense, since these people are friends of the original poster but none of them knew me. Why should they believe me? So I left another comment with a link to the article about it. Surely that will convince people, won't it? By the end of the day, here's what I saw:

Facebook hoax

<bangs head on desk repeatedly>

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Oh Canada! Ribfest 2013

Waterdown's 4th Annual Oh Canada! Ribfest was a couple of weeks ago, and I almost forgot to write about it! This is hardly a disaster – probably the only person who'll read it is me next year when we try to remember who we liked this year. Articles describing previous years are here: 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Anyway, I love this event and look forward to it all year. We had the same seven ribbers as last year, but my opinions of some were quite different. They were:

Kentucky Smokehouse – The ribs were pretty good, though the few at the very end of the rack were pretty tough. This is not unusual for ribs, but these ones were impossible to eat. The sauce had a bit of kick though, and we bought a bottle of it to take home. I believe these guys ended up second in the people's choice awards.

Silver Bullet – These guys had our favourite sauce in previous years and this year it was still pretty good, but I found it sweeter than before. Their ribs were really good. For the third straight year, we bought a bottle of their sauce, and also bought a pound of pulled pork to take home.

Bone Daddy – My personal favourites this year. The sauce was nice and smoky and the ribs were great. I believe they won the judges voting this year.

Ribs Royale – Once again, we were somewhat disappointed with these guys. Their sauce wasn't bad, but the ribs didn't have much meat and were tough.

Tennessee Fatbacks – Wasn't too impressed with them last year and no huge improvement this year. The ribs were juicy so that was good, but the sauce was kind of bland.

Camp 31 – Last year I said their sauce wasn't as sweet as the year before, but this year it was sweeter again. The ribs weren't great though – kind of chewy.

Boss Hog – The ribs were dry, but the sauce was good and spicy.

I just realized that I've written this article with the implicit assumption that sweeter sauce = bad, spicier sauce = good. That's not always the case – some sweeter sauces are really good – and of course, it's only my opinion, but I do tend to prefer smoky and spicy sauces over sweet ones.

We volunteered once again this year, but didn't get off our butts to sign up until quite late, so there were only a handful of spots open that we could make. We ended up at one of the recycling tents again, and I have to say that these are a fantastic idea. There are no garbage cans in the park at all, just three or four recycling tents where people bring all of their waste. All the rib containers were made of cardboard and so they were compostable, along with all the food leftovers. All the plastic cutlery, beer cups, pop cans, and little plastic cups for sauce were recyclable, so there were blue bins for those. Even the coffee cup lids from Tim Horton's (across the street) were recyclable and the cups themselves were compostable. Probably 95% of the time, we removed forks from the rib containers, threw the forks in the blue bin, and dropped the rest into the compost bag.

The only things that were thrown in the actual garbage were straws, plastic candy wrappers, and, ironically, the ties that held the bundles of empty compost bags together. Oh, and one used diaper. We stayed in the same tent for four hours and didn't collect enough garbage to warrant changing the garbage bag at all. Meanwhile, I must have carried 20 four-foot-tall compost bags and 7 or 8 huge bags of recycling over to the collection area.

In previous articles, I wrote about the bands we saw playing during the day, but this year I only know of one for sure: Borrowed Time, which is my friend Ron's band. We arrived shortly before they finished their set so I only saw a couple of songs, but they were good, especially considering they had only been together for several weeks. The oom-pah-pah band (with the great name of Subourbon Street) that's there every year were there again, there was a guy that sang and played guitar by himself, and there was at least one band that played mostly Canadian classic rock (I distinctly remember hearing Trooper, Doug and the Slugs, and the Tragically Hip), so I enjoyed them.

It was a little cooler this year than in previous years. But that just means mid-20's rather than mid-30's, which was beautiful. Like I said, I look forward to this every year, and this year Waterdown is having a chili festival in September. That's only one day rather than a whole weekend, but I'm already looking forward to that as well. Then maybe we'll head to the Westfield ice cream festival and the Winona peach festival. You just can't have too many festivals dedicated to food!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Sad songs say so much

When I was a kid, between ages 7 and 10, I was a Wolf Cub (now called a Cub Scout). I had the Cub Book which contained a list of all the badges and stars, ideas for things to do at camps or outdoors, lyrics to campfire songs, and lots of other Cub-related stuff. One of the campfire songs was My Darlin' Clementine. I only knew the chorus of the song, which included the lines "You are lost and gone forever, oh my darlin' Clementine." I didn't know the rest of the words, so I figured it was about a man whose wife or girlfriend had left him, a theme not uncommon in songs. One day I read the actual lyrics and found that Clementine was actually the guy's daughter and she didn't just leave, she drowned in a river. She died. I was stunned. This was about the saddest thing I'd ever read and from that day on, I hated that song for making me sad. I didn't even want to look at that page in the Cub Book again. No word of a lie, I memorized what page it was on and intentionally skipped it when looking through the book for anything.

That experience taught me at an early age just how much of an effect music can have on a person emotionally. Here are a few other (non-campfire) songs that tug on the ol' heartstrings.

Hold on – Sarah McLachlan

This is a heartbreaking song about a woman tending to her dying husband. She switches back and forth between hoping that he'll get better and accepting the fact that he's not going to. Sample lyrics:

So now you're sleeping peaceful
I lie awake and pray
That you'll be strong tomorrow
And we'll see another day
And we will praise it
And love the light that brings a smile
Across your face

Oh God, the man I love is leaving
Won't you take him when he comes to your door

Castle on a Cloud РLes Mis̩rables (young Cosette)

I wrote about this one many years ago, when I said "No child should ever have to feel that much despair". It's sung by Cosette, a young girl whose mother died when she was a baby and has lived in poverty and neglect ever since. She dreams of a place where she would experience none of the terrible things that happen to her on a normal day.

There is a lady all in white
Holds me and sings me a lullaby
She's nice to see and she's soft to touch
She says "Cosette, I love you very much"

I know a place where no one's lost
I know a place where no one cries
Crying at all is not allowed
Not in my castle on a cloud

4AM – Our Lady Peace

This one is about a man with a strained relationship with his father, who is filled with regret after he passes away.

Walked around  my good intentions
And found that there were none
I blamed my father for the wasted years
We hardly talked
Never thought I would forget this hate
Then a phone call made me realize I'm wrong

If I don't make it known that I've loved you all along
Just like sunny days that we ignore because
We're all dumb and jaded
And I hope to God I figure out what's wrong

The River – Bruce Springsteen

A ballad about a young couple who married young when she became pregnant. They then watched their dreams fade away and their lives pass them by.

We went down to the courthouse
And the judge put it all to rest
No wedding day smiles, no walk down the aisle
No flowers, no wedding dress

Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister, they vanished right into the air
Now I act like I don't remember
Mary acts like she don't care

Cat's in the Cradle – Harry Chapin

Possibly the quintessential tearjerker song. It's about a father who never makes time for his son only to find that once he's older and finally wants to spend time with him, the son has no time for his father. Excuse me for a minute while I go hug my kids. <Muzak> OK, I'm back now.

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play
Can you teach me to throw", I said "Not today
I got a lot to do", he said, "That's ok"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him"

I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you"

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

A Month of Sundays – Don Henley

This is a retired farmer talking about his life, some of the hardships he's been through, and how different things are now. The song touches on politics but doesn't get preachy (unlike a few other Henley songs), but the last line (listed below) is the one that really gets to me.

I've seen dog days and dusty days,
Late spring snow and early fall sleet
I've held the leather reins in my hands
I've felt the soft ground under my feet
Between the hot, dry weather and the taxes and the cold war
It's been hard to make ends meet
But I always kept the clothes on our backs
I always put the shoes on our feet

The big boys, they all got computers
Got incorporated too
Me, I just know how to raise things
That was all I ever knew
And now it all comes down to numbers
Now I'm glad that I have quit
Folks these days just don't do nothin'
Simply for the love of it

I sit here on the back porch in the twilight
And I hear the crickets hum
I sit and watch the lightning in the distance
But the showers never come
I sit here and listen to the wind blow
I sit here and rub my hands
I sit here and listen to the clock strike,
And I wonder when I'll see my companion again

Man, is it ever getting dusty in here. <sniff>