Saturday, October 22, 2011

When market researchers call...

Them: Can I speak to someone over the age of 18 who pays for the utilities?
Me: Well, we rent. So we just pay everything as one lump sum.
Them: [pause] So, you pay maintenance fees?
Me: No. We pay for it in the rent.
Them: A maintenance fee.
Me: No.
Them: [pause] How familiar are you with Toronto Hydro? Very familiar; somewhat familiar; not very familiar; did not hear about it before his phone call.
Me: Somewhat, I guess.
Them: On a scale of one to ten, how satisfied are you with your internet service?
Me: Eight, I guess.
Them: [aggressively] Eight?
Me: Yeah, eight.
Them: On a scale of one to ten, how satisfied are you with your natural gas service?
Me: Well, I don't pay for my utilities, so I don't even know if I have natural gas.
Them: You don't have natural gas?
Me: I don't know if I have natural gas.
Them: [pause] So, a one?
Me: [laughing] I could give you a number, but I would just be making it up.
Them: [annoyed] Well, I gotta put something.
Me: How about we just cancel this call?
Them: Okay, bye.

I'm not sure whether the communication failure is with the me, the caller, or her script... but that was kinda hilarious.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Political stuff, of the Ontario provincial variety

There's a provincial election in Ontario in a few days and a lot of mud flying, so I thought I'd capture some of it - and my responses - on here. (Really, some of it is right up there with the Carcetti-shaking-hands-with-a-slum-lord photoshop job from The Wire. That shameless, that manipulative, that bad.) If it's not for you, specifically, then at least it's for posterity:
  1. The first bit is a shamelessly misleading set of charts from the Progressive Conservatives' platform. The designer came up with impressively deceptive visuals like a comparison of 5 stick-men (representing $64b in spending) and 25 stick-men (representing $113b). That's an apparent increase of 400% vs. an actual increase of 77%.

    Given that charts/graphs privilege visual cues - they supplement and even replace a textual-numerical explanation, even if the text and numbers are there - that's just horrifically misleading.

  2. The more recent headscratcher is a pamphlet that's been handed out by Tory candidates that slags equity-based education in Ontario's kindergarten classrooms. Now known as "the homophobic flyer", the Conservatives and their leader, Tim Hudak, are standing behind it, in spite of the fact that its arguments have been denounced as largely misleading. (This site dismisses 4 of the 6 claims as "misleading", another as a splice that misrepresents its source, and confirms that only one point is "accurate".) Some of the inaccuracies are stupid-but-understandably-stupid - for example, the harmless suggestion that boys and girls should swap gender roles, which probably amounts to boys holding babies and girls playing with hammers and wrenches, is misinterpreted as an instruction to enforce "cross-dressing."

    But one is just hilariously (or disturbingly, depending on your mood) deceitful: a headline that says the Liberals are "keeping [Ontarians] in the dark" about the curriculum, which is attributed to CTV News. Only it turns out that CTV News was quoting someone in that headline. And who were they quoting? Conservative leader Tim Hudak.

  3. I wish I had taken a picture of it, (foolishly, I thought it'd be easy to find online) but the Toronto Sun - a foaming-at-the-mouth-reactionary, lowest-common-denominator, and unabashedly right-wing rag - ran the most deceiving cover page that I think I've ever seen on an ostensibly mainstream newspaper. The background was solid blue (which is the color of the Progressive Conservatives) and it featured only the head of a smiling Tim Hudak and words of praise for him. You would swear that it was a paid ad. Only it wasn't.

  4. Slightly off-topic... My daughter and I went to Ikea to pick up whimsical green shelves for her room. While we were sitting in the cafeteria eating ice cream, I overheard an entire phone conversation where a well-dressed 40ish white guy was pitching the formation of an "Ontario Tea Party, only we wouldn't call it that" comprised of "people in construction, farmers, landowners, people in Northeast Ontario, and people [who] are upset about the school curriculum." One small problem: the guy had a very smart man-purse, (Seriously, I was jealous of it.) and as my friend Alex noted on Facebook, "if anything is guaranteed to exacerbate the cultural rift with their Tea Party allies, it will be the Toronto Tea Partier's tendency to carry around a murse."