A Matter of Sovereignty

It just so happens that I don’t smoke pot, but I have friends who do — some for medicinal ends and some for recreation — and I don’t think they should ever be criminally charged for doing so.

Current laws regulating marijuana in this country are schizoid. It is possible for some people to get a license to smoke pot if it’s for medicinal purposes; however, for the most part, the sources from which they can obtain MJ are not legal. That said, most Canadians’ attitude towards “soft drugs” like marijuana are quite relaxed, and it’s in view of this attitude that the Canadian government has been wrestling with the notion of decriminalizing simple possession. But that notion is at odds with the decades-long and largely ineffectual “War on Drugs” being carried out by the government to the south of our border.

When this story broke in the news on Friday, I reacted viscerally. “The warrant was executed on behalf of the U.S. government,” we are told. And while I’m certain most Canadians do not condone criminal activity, I’m also pretty sure that most are perturbed by how the government of another country can be allowed to have so much reach within our own country.

If the warrant had been to stop a terrorist plot in its track, that would be a different matter. Or if a U.S. murderer had slipped into our country, he or she definitely should be extradited. But over marijuana? I think it’s time for Canada to reassert its sovereignty.

Simplifying a CAPTCHA

I just spent some time doing some research to get to speed with eventually implementing CAPTCHAs within certain functions in TextStyleM.

Okay, some of you are probably wondering, “What the heck is a CAPTCHA?” Well, it’s an acronym for completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart. And before you start thinking I’m a freakin’ genius, know that I got that definition from Wikipedia. You’ve probably encountered many CAPTCHAs while browsing the Web without knowing that’s what they were called. They’re simply those automatically generated images representing a “word” that the online reader must type and match in order for the form he or she just filled out is submitted correctly. So, the theory goes, because ‘bots can’t read images, only a human being will be able to do a successful match, thereby increasing the chances that the submission is legitimate and eliminating spam submissions — a problem particularly for blog comments.

Except that my poor little brain started getting really bad cramps as I tried to figure out PHP classes that would make CAPTCHAs possible. I ended up digging quite deep into my Google search results in the hope that somebody might have a suggestion that would be more comprehensible (to me). And that’s when I came across what seems to me like a simpler and completely different approach.

The idea is this. Those blasted ‘bots can’t read and comprehend, can they? So, let’s say that in order for a form to be submitted properly, one of four radio buttons must be checked, and the button to be checked would be randomly selected on the fly by PHP. Yes, there’s a chance a ‘bot might check the right one, but not every time. Plus, the instruction would be fairly uncommon on forms (i.e., not something most ‘bots would be “expecting”).

Maybe this is just an easy way out, but I think it’s a clever one. And maybe it’s not the most secure but, once again, this is probably another case of “good enough for the boys I go out with.” 🙂

That Can’t Be Right

Telus, a phone company based in British Columbia and with subscribers mostly in western Canada, has blocked its customers’ access to a pro-union site. While I can see both sides’ point of view and, admittedly, I tend to lean more in favour of unions, I find Telus’s decision particularly disturbing. Fortunately, Telus subscribers can reach a proxy of the union’s site. I understand that the labour/management relations are bad, but it seems to me this move by Telus is short-sighted and won’t soon be forgotten once the dispute is settled.

Assault on Junior

Piss, shit and damnation!

I went to Club NRG last night after leaving BeeGoddessM and Stephanie to WoW the night away. It was an very odd night at NRG, in good part because it was so busy due to it being the most important day of Pride week in Halifax (more on that in a separate entry). Consequently, I had to park Junior in one of the last remaining spots on the edge of the NRG parking lot.

Being a special night of sort, NRG stayed open an hour later than usual (3 am) and I ended up staying until closing. As I approached Junior, by now conspicuously alone in the corner of the lot, I distinctintly thought I could hear him sniffling. And when I reached his driver’s side, I noticed that his small window on the driver’s side rear door was shattered.

Of course, everything in the car was gone; fortunately, I don’t keep much of any value in my car. For instance, I always keep the car registration papers on me instead of in the dash. But, obviously, all the CDs I had in the car are gone.

I could cry over the fact that a few of those CDs are difficult if not impossible to replace. But I won’t, since that won’t change anything. What’s infuriating, though, is that what the thiefs will get for those CDs — if they even bother trying to sell them off — will be much less than what it will cost me to get Junior’s window replaced. But most likely those CDs are in a bush somewhere, since they’re hardly anything anyone else would want.

This just topped off a really odd night out.

No Matter How I Slice It…

…a date is a date is a date.

When he whom I will hereafter call Sexy Lebanese Guy called to suggest a coffee date, he did say that someone else would be there. I didn’t think much of it except that I knew I probably shouldn’t be calling what we were agreeing upon “a date.” But, it was more fun to think of it as that, so, if only in my mind, I persisted with that thought. After all, there was an essential truth in the statement: a drop-dead gorgeous Lebanese guy in his mid-30s with dark hair and deep brown eyes had actually picked up his cell phone on his day off and called me to suggest we meet for coffee. These days, that’s more than good enough for me!

Turns out that Sexy Lebanese Guy’s friend was a guy to whom I shall refer herein (with no further explanation) as the Easter Bunny. In fact, the first 10 seconds of our meet up, which could have been disastrous, was rather funny, especially when SLG asked us if we knew each other. The Bunny and I were quick at picking up unspoken cues from one another to avoid even a whisper of discomfort.

It also turns out that SLG’s story is a lot more complicated than what I managed to figure out upon first meeting him. I did get that he speaks three languages (English, French and Arabic); that he grew up in Beirut during its darkest years, meaning that he is familiar with taking shelter from bombs, day after day; that he studied four years in Paris; that he’s been in Halifax for four years after being advised — badly, I would say — that his chances of getting work in his field (fashion design) would be better here than in Montreal where the competition would be much stiffer. But what I did not get is that he spent some time in Kuwait after his studies in France; that, in his last months in Kuwait, well after he had decided to begin the process of coming to Canada, he met an American there, and for the last four years, he has been caught in the immigration process while having a partner in the northeastern United States.

We eventually went from the coffeeshop to SLG’s garden for more coffee and finger food. Twice during our time there, Partner called. Clearly this is normal for them, albeit not ideal. And SLG didn’t try to hide from Partner who the heck this Maurice character is. After hanging up and momentarily feeling awkward, SLG simply said, “We’re open about everything. We tell each other everything.” Not that there was anything to say or tell, really, except perhaps the rather odd circumstances in which we met (which, while rated PG, I won’t get into here).

I did observe, when I first met SLG and definitely while we were at the coffeeshop, that he’s essentially a very warm, curious and gregarious guy who doesn’t shy away from starting up a conversation with anyone. He clearly knows a lot of people in town, if only to say hello and exchange a few words. And be it cultural or just the kind of guy he is, he looks intently in his interlocutor’s eyes during conversion. Except for the trivial fact his dark browns occasionally make my heart jump a beat or three, I don’t mind a bit keeping the lock of looks! 😛 In fact, he confided that he finds most Haligonians are put off by his brand of forwardness, but noted that, unlike “most Haligonians,” I didn’t (and don’t) react like they do. “Maybe it’s because you’re French,” he suggested.

The words I thought but didn’t speak were, “Maybe it’s because I really, really, really wanted to get into your pants from the moment I set my eyes on you.” But even now that this outcome seems quite improbable, I’m neither crushed nor maudlin. As I said in my initial post, I don’t know many people in Halifax whom I can call — of they can call me — just to go for coffee, so this meeting of SLG could be my entry into an informal group of guys who touch base occasionally. SLG even suggested we go to the beach this weekend.

That’s all fine by me! That …and the fact my fascination with SLG’s eyes is surpassed only by his fascination for my own hazel eyes, which he claims being unable to stop staring into. If SLG wants to be a flirty baby, he better be prepared, for he may have met his match in that department! 😮

But all in good fun.