Penalty Boxes in Parliament But Not the NHL

First, I’m quite happy that Speaker Peter Milliken has ruled that Bev Oda breached parliamentary privilege rules in her handling of the Kairos funding. Her behaviour, and lack of contrition is deeply troubling. This ruling will send the case to a “parliamentary committee” for further discussion. We’ll see how transparent that process is. I’m not holding my breath, but it’s nice to see the “Harper Government” knocked down a peg.

Second, what’s up with the NHL? Seriously, I thought Sidney Crosby’s concussion from the hits by David Steckel and Victor Hedman was going to knock some sense into the NHL, but apparently not. Now we have word that the NHL will not hand down a suspension to, nor will they fine Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara for his hit against Canadiens Max Pacioretty, which left the Habs player with a severe concussion and a cracked vertebra.

Regardless of whether anyone actually presses criminal charges in these types of incidents, the fact is that hits to the head, from behind cannot be defended against, and can lead to lifelong injuries. In the recent medical report on former NHL player Bob Probert, it was revealed that he had suffered from a serious degenerative brain disease. And Probert didn’t even lose many fights.

I really don’t understand this. The evidence clearly suggests that these types of serious concussions can ruin not just a hockey season, but their very ability to enjoy life. Forget about salary caps, or keeping prospective owners from moving teams without the league’s approval, what the NHL needs to do is protect the players by sending a clear and unambiguous message: zero tolerance for hits to the head.

Paint it Pink

I spent a good portion of the weekend priming and painting part of my daughter’s new bedroom. Here’s a tip: if you can avoid painting the inside of a closet, avoid it. They’re very small on the inside, the previous owners likely painted the ceiling in their infinite wisdom, they’re dark, hot and poorly ventilated. Seriously, avoid closets.

Standing up on a ladder, reaching up to the ceiling tends to tire you out fast. Which makes the fine detail work of painting right up to the ceiling without actually getting the ceiling difficult. Fun times.

Still, the results are looking quite good. According to my daughter, the room will be “pink and purple with butterflies”. Sometimes she also adds ponies. Because All Girls Love Ponies, even when they’re not a character on TV.

Needless to say, she’s getting pretty excited about her big girl room being ready. While I was in there painting, I had the radio on for music, and she was in there dancing along. Very cute.

Two Months In

So, I’m two months into my regular posting schedule to my blog. So far, I haven’t really been able to build up any kind of appreciable buffer. I have a couple of posts in progress, but they don’t really fit the vision I have for this blog.

I also haven’t been able to transition from writing blog entries into writing my fiction. There just isn’t time right now to do everything I had hoped to. Since I’m approaching the end of the school term, the assignments are going to start piling up again shortly.

I’m therefore planning on changing my schedule to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. This should give me more time to properly craft my posts. I shouldn’t feel as rushed as I do currently, with some of my writing. My posts will likely be longer. I might also add more shiny pictures. Everybody likes shiny pictures. I’m also likely going to start a second, separate blog for the other posts. It’s kind of a niche project, very much unrelated to what I’m doing here. It would have at most a weekly posting schedule.

Over the past two months, I have proven to myself that I can write each day. I plan to keep that up, I just want to be a little more polished.

Thirty Percent

As Apple has recently started selling subscription services to applications on their iOS App Store recently, renewed discussion of their business practices has hit the internet. With the rejection of Sony’s bookstore application, word is that Apple is demanding that all applications which sell content available on the iPad or iPhone must

  • Allow the sale of the content through in-app processes, using Apple’s payment framework.
  • Allow Apple 30% of the sale from in-app purchases
  • The price of the content from in-app purchases must be less than or equal to any sale price outside of the app, such as through websites

Now, I haven’t seen any documentation from Apple talking about this, I’m mainly repeating what I’ve read on other blogs.Now, I’m not entirely sure. Maybe there is content available for sale for which a 30% margin hit is actually possible. This is not always going to be the case.

Book publishers, especially those in niche markets, may be represented in the App store by a common provider. For academic books of a specialized nature, large reference tomes can easily reach into the hundreds of dollars. I don’t have any evidence of this, but I rather doubt that there is a 30% cut available to these applications in the first place, let alone that much available for Apple. While sales activity of a $500 electronic copy of a 32 volume print set may not be high, I highly doubt that the application provider is getting a $150 cut. I also really don’t see how Apple can justify this much of a cut.

What’s the answer? Apple has made their right to control which applications are allowed on their devices quite clear. While my examples are niche sales from a niche market, and certainly isn’t representative of the market, I believe that it does show how their policy, if applied blindly, fails to work in all circumstances, and likely hurts consumers, as these application developers will either need to remove their application from the store, or else increase the prices for all.

What service is Apple even providing for these applications? They’re not hosting the saleable content. They’re basically just processing the charges, duplicating an infrastructure that preexisting software companies already possess.

Does Apple deserve 30% of these sales? I really doubt it. Do they deserve something? I can’t really argue against something, but I think it needs to be fairly minimal, and should likely cap at a determined price point. A $500 resource sale likely shouldn’t result in much more than $15 to Apple (3%) rather than $150 (30%).

The Last Man

Mary Shelley is primarily known for writing Frankenstein (1818), and while many people think themselves familiar with the tale, their knowledge is usually based on the many play and film adaptations, rather than the original literary text. In the Billion Year Spree: The History Of Science Fiction (1973), Brian Aldiss argued quite successfully that Frankenstein is the first science fiction novel. Certainly the creation of a manufactured being, based to some extent on the science of the day should qualify as such.

How then should we examine Shelley’s later novel, The Last Man (1826)? While I don’t believe that it really qualifies as science fiction, many of the themes Shelley includes are familiar to a modern audience. This post apocalyptic tale will seem familiar to readers of modern anthologies such as Wastelands, edited by John Joseph Adams. Stories like The Last Man bear a strong similarity to works by Stephen King, such as The Stand (1978), where a global catastrophe has depopulated the earth. Unlike King’s novel, Mary Shelley’s story lacks the supernatural elements, aside from the narrative framing device. Shelley mourns for a lost world, just as she mourned for her husband and child. As she notes in her novel, “all things proceed, decay, and perish”.

Much of her novel can be seen as semi-autobiographical. Many of the characters seem based off those in her life. The story is a kind of momento mori, memorializing those who proceeded her. In many ways, The Last Man deals with death and emotion in a far more sophisticated way than Shelley dealt with this issue in Frankenstein. While Victor Frankenstein is unable to express grief or true remorse for anyone, in The Last Man, Lionel Verney memorializes the entire world, saying that “my thoughts were gems to enrich the treasure house of man’s intellectual possessions; each sentiment was a precious gift I bestowed on them”. Verney becomes a kind of living monument to the peoples of the earth.

This theme can also be seen in Richard Matheson’s novel, I Am Legend (1954), for which the movie adaptation starring Will Smith utterly fails to conclude in a satisfying manner. In Matheson’s novel, Neville is also a “last man”, fighting for the memory of mankind.

While Shelley’s The Last Man may not fully qualify as science fiction, the themes she used have formed a groundwork for authors who have worked inside and outside the genre ever since.