The “Star” again. I make no apologies. It is fertile breeding ground.
“64% plan to register for CRTC’s no-call list” reads the heading.
“Sixty-four percent of what?” I shriek in horror, as we are node-led down yet another road of inaccuracy. You just can’t have 64%. You have to have 64% of something.
Did they poll one hundred people (64 answered “yes”)?
Did they poll two hundred people (128 answered “yes”)?
Did they poll four hundred people (256 answered “yes”)?
Or did they poll twenty-five people (16 answered yes).
Without getting into probability and statistics, I understand that we have about 33,000,000 people in Canada (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/ca.html) Polling a thousand of them still seems like a small sample, to me.
But we are not told.
And when we are not told, I always assume that there is something being hidden.
How were they polled? If they used the standard telemarketers ploy of waiting until I’ve answered the phone with my name, pausing, clicking, and then saying “Is Mister or Missus Grievous there please?”, they wouldn’t have got much time out of me. They’d have formed an opinion, but it wouldn’t have helped their story.
Did they stop the traditional man-in-the-street who, depending on the time and place, is either too hurried to give a reasoned response, or has nothing better to do than chat with an attractive stranger.
“The poll, conducted for the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association”. AhHah!
Let me see: this looks like a telemarketing poll conducted by the telemarketers club. Do you suppose – no! surely it can’t be – that they wanted a feel-good story to be published to show how clean and considerate they are?
Could it be?
(At this stage you could conduct your own poll: ask your friends, neighbors and colleagues if they think “telemarketing should be banned”); use those words, and gauge the reaction. I dare you!
Note too the word “and” in this: that “Nearly two-thirds of Canadians are tired of annoying supper-hour telemarketing calls and plan to register their phone numbers on the CRTC’s new national do-not-call list”. If two-thirds of the population “… are tired AND plan… ”, then it follows that AT LEAST two-thirds are tired. I’d like to know what proportion are just plain tired, without the condition of planning to be on the list. I suggest that it’s up around 95%, but we will bury that figure by adding the conditional “ … and plan …”, so you don’t have to know about the 95%, just the more palatable 66%. Pabulum for the mind.
If you’re still not convinced that this is a scam, try this little experiment:
For the next ten unsolicited telemarketing calls, early on in the call, ask for the person’s name and their organization’s telephone number. If the call is a pure machine-fabricated call, you score zero. If you are fobbed off with an excuse, score zero. You get the idea.
I bet you a free lunch you don’t score more than one out of ten.
And by the way, the rogue telemarketers who annoy you most of all, are not members of the relevant association; they are fly-by-night operators who don’t give a hoot for regulations.
Finally: I want to point out that about twice a year I receive an unsolicited telemarketing call to which I don’t object. It’s a real live person, usually the owner of a small business, making a one-time genuine enquiry if they can be of service. I am so impressed by their decision to invest some of their time in me, that I usually pass on the names and numbers of a couple of my associates who might benefit from the service.
Unsolicited telemarketing is not bad, but mindless and mechanical outsourced telemarketing is an abuse of our communications systems.
See also “Stephen Harper Loses My Vote!”.
Apart from the strange double-error in syntax (“Wilson Ave. is remains closed both directions”) in this story from the Toronto Star, we are faced with the news that “a single vehicle lost control”.
How odd that we never hear of two vehicles losing control.
Odder still, I thought that vehicles were not the sort of device that exercised control.
I thought that was why we had drivers, to control devices that were of themselves incapable of control; their title “auto-mobile” notwithstanding.
Have the machines taken over?
Or in both my examples, have humans relinquished control?
See also “Three seriously hurt in separate vehicle accidents” in which, once again, we are told that “a vehicle lost control on McLaughlin Rd. south of Mayfield Rd.”,
Once again, vehicles don’t have control, so they can’t lose it. Humans have control.
The insidious transfer of responsibility to the vehicle is not helping people come to terms with responsibility.
A strange thought came to me this morning, by virtue of my contemplating how my waste comes from consuming energy to drive me, my machine.
My energy comes from cows, fish, fruit and vegetables (no, I’m not going to get into the vegetarian/vegan debate here) and that these in turn derive their energy from sunlight which reaches us from our Sun in the form of photons.
We are bombarded with many other particles from our Sun, neutrons to name but billions upon billions of examples.
These photons and neutrons (and others) are emitted as a direct result of the energy process of the Sun. Think of the Sun as a machine (it is a weak example, I confess), and you’ll see that the photons and neutrons are waste, by-products from the Sun’s activities.
The Sun does not reclaim these by-products; they are pure waste.
And we live on them.
That’s food, for thought!
This afternoon’s Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/News/GlobalVoices/article/503435) contains a story about plastic bags. “U.K. village at forefront in fight to ban plastic bags”.
And here I quote: “Of an estimated 500 billion bags used each year worldwide, millions will turn into litter.”.
What is meant by “millions”? Whatever you want. Could be two million, could be three, could be five.
Bill Bailey made a good point with his ‘”Three Men Go Into A Pub” joke.
Could be 499 thousand million.
Whatever you want.
Let’s try “Two Million will turn into litter”. (We can’t try One Million, because they did use the plural form).
If 2,000,000 out of 500,000,000,000 turn into litter, that’s not a big problem at all. Certainly a few seals/seagulls/tortoises will die, and I regret that, but it’s not a BIG problem. It’s an annoyance, or an aggravation.
If 2 out of 500,000 are a problem, then 498,000 out of 500,000 are not a problem.
Seems to me a 99.9996% success rate is pretty good. It’s better than anything that happens in my life. Ever.
What about Twenty Million? That’s a 99.996% success rate. Still pretty good.
How far do you have to go to consider it a problem?
I consider unsolicited tele-marketing calls a problem. I probably get one such call in every hundred incoming calls.
That’s one per centum.
We would need five thousand million plastic bags to reach one percent. That’s millions, it’s true, but more reasonably it could be written “billions”. Yet the writer didn’t write billions, but chose millions.
From which I infer that the problem is nowhere near as bad as unsolicited telemarketing calls.
And I am sorry for the wildlife, I really am. I am a gentle man who refuses to squash cockroaches. I respect their ability to survive.
Like them, don’t let yourself be fooled by numbers.
P.S. I too would like to see plastic bags banned. It won’t happen, but a deposit of, say five dollars per bag would start to make a difference.
Here’s another good-sounding argument that is hollow.
This morning’s Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/504815 ) contains a story about Toronto’s transit (poor) system.
A leading quote runs “With fewer than 1 per cent of all travelers getting to and from Pearson by public transit, MacIsaac says access needs to be a priority.”.
Sure sounds like something needs to be done. Fewer than one per cent.
Fewer than one in a hundred.
One in a hundred OF WHAT?
Anyone who is stuck in a car, or anyone who is stuck in a bus behind a car would agree that we need to do something about congestion in (your city here).
This report says “The GTA is a provincial planning area with a population of 5,555,912 at the 2006 Canadian Census”
This GTAA page says “On an average day, about 85,000 passengers travel through Toronto Pearson”.
We are to understand that one per cent of these, or 8,500, use public transit to and from the airport, so we need vital airport public transit expansion.
But 5.5 MILLION people are in the region, and I bet half of them work or play here. I’d be prepared to bet in this car-oriented society, that very few of them jet in or out of the airport on a regular basis.
Which would want me believe that the needs of about 80,000 travelers is more important than the needs of about 3,000,000.
I can’t believe that.
I fails to see how catering to ALL of the airport travelers would make any sort of a dent in our congestion problems.
Good public transit to and from the airport is nice, but it doesn’t do much for the real problem, which is that of weaning 5.5 MILLION people off their cars.
Basing public opinion on scare statistics is evil.
The Germans wanted to spread east, to take out part of Russia, but felt that they couldn’t do it alone.
Austria-Hungary was an friend and ally of Germany.
The trick, or so the Germans thought, was to get Russia to attack Germany, or at least to threaten Germany, so that the Austro-Hungaria ally could be brought into the fight.
How to provoke Russia into belligerency?
The assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Arch-Duke Ferdinand provided the trigger.
Austria-Hungary had been wanting to cripple Serbia for a long time; here was an excuse!
If Germany could persuade Austria-Hungary to attack Serbia (and now it wouldn’t take much), Russia would mobilize to protect Serbia.
That would constitute a threat to Germany.
At the last minute, Germany would urge Austro-Hungarian to deal with Serbia (later) but first, rush Austro-Hungarian’s troops to the North to help protect Germany’s borders from the Russians while Germany sent most of her troops West to take out France, who, allied with Russia, could mobilize faster.
The plan for Germany was to keep the back door (East) firmly closed while rushing out the front door (West) to knock out France in six weeks, then to rush troops to the East and join Austria-Hungary in wiping out Russia.
Austria-Hungary could then take Serbia and Germany would have her spread eastwards.
Britain, it was at first assumed, and then hoped, would remain neutral, as long as she could be persuaded that the war was about a small Balkan state, unworthy of Britain’s attention.
Sadly, an essential part of Germany’s plan was to wade through Belgium.
That brought The United Kingdom into the war.
The rest is theirstory(!), that of other writers.
But now you have the gist of it.
(Wednesday, October 22, 2008 see also http://www.thestar.com/News/USElection/article/521679 )
(See also “Stephen Harper Loses Another Vote!”)
If he ever had a chance of getting it, it’s gone now.
3:15 p.m. Saturday. I’m washing the dishes. The ‘phone rings. I peel off the rubber gloves and pick up the ‘phone.
It is a mechanical recorded message – no one in Stephen Harper’s camp really wants to talk with me, they are just to cheap to knock on the door and engage in dialogue. Cowards!
The mechanical voice announces an invitation to attend an office opening between one p.m. and two-thirty p.m. This Saturday – today.
I check the clock. Yup. It’s already 45 minutes after the event, and one of Stephen Harper’s bunch of monkeys has decided to invite me to an event that is over.
Would you give your vote to a guy like that? Could he really run the country. He’d “miss the bus”! (April 5 Chamberlain)
- So Stephen Harper loses my vote for interrupting my Saturday afternoon.
- He loses it again for aligning himself with those battalions of telemarketers who make my life miserable.
- He loses it again for stupidly (there’s no better word, trust me) inviting me to a party after it is over.
Stephen Harper loses my vote three times.
Sadly, I get only one vote per election, but I have a retentive memory.
I’ll find out which party he represents and deny that party my vote for the next three elections.
I feel better already!