Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My 15 Minutes of Fame...?

In 1968, Andy Worhol once said, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."

Looks like I might be headed for my "15 minutes of fame." First, my troll hunt draws the attention of CBC Radio. That, in turn, draws the attention of The Tea Makers, an anonymous blog originally started to comment on CBC's 2005 labor disputes; Tea Makers has been drawing in huge amounts of traffic here of late. Now, it's looking like CTV might be getting into the act; I just got a hit from them today, ironically brought in by the link on Tea Makers:

No E-mails from them yet but I'm willing to bet there will be. Eventually.

Maybe I'd better polarize the hull plating until I have a better idea where all this is leading...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

CBC Maritime Noon

I just got a very unusual E-mail. Since it doesn't contain anything personal (aside from the name of the person who contacted me, which I removed), and since I thought my readers might be interested, I decided to publish it here:
From: *************@CBC.CA
Subject: blog, CBC
Date: November 21, 2008 10:10:42 AM AST

Hi John,

I work for CBC Radio Maritime Noon. I've been following your blog on and off for the past several months. Would you mind letting me know whether your troll is actually arrested or charged? That's very intereting [sic] stuff, though, I can imagine, very hard for you.

CBC Radio
Maritime Noon
I knew the CBC had been looking at my blog; I spotted them on my StatCounter tracking:

I figured they'd be contacting me eventually. They didn't just visit once; they kept coming back.

Anyway, I replied:
Date: November 22, 2008 7:38:51 AM AST
To: *************@CBC.CA

I don't see why not; I'll be announcing that on the blog, anyway . . .

Why do you want to know? Not that I mind; I'm just curious. :)
I can already guess the answer to my question; I imagine they'll want to interview me about this. The thing is, though, I'm not sure how I feel about this. My blog only reaches a certain "demographic." Outside that group, I sometimes don't talk about some aspects of myself that I'd rather keep semi-private. There are, for example, a handful of people I know in meatspace that don't know I'm polyamorous because I'm not sure how they'd react to it.

The problem with radio is it reaches everybody, including those who don't read my blog (or any blog). On the other hand, I've always known that anything I publish on my blog might eventually find its way back to people in meatspace via word-of-mouth so I've always known this could happen. Such is the risk of personal blogging, I suppose.

Well, I won't have to worry about it until I actually lay charges against the troll; I guess I'll make my final decision then. As things stand now, though, I don't anticipate having any qualms about talking to the CBC about this; if nothing else, it'll serve as a warning to cyberstalkers everywhere: you're not as anonymous as you think. ;)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thank You Riin Gill

Well, I just got home from making my police statement regarding the troll's threat. I've never made a police statement before; it was an interesting experience. The constable made an audio recording of my statement and took some notes. For the most part, I just reiterated what I said in my original report, added some additional background details on how the whole mess started and talked a little about the technical details of IP tracking etc.

One thing came up in the conversation, however, that was a major step forward in the investigation. Up until now, I haven't been able to tie the threat to the troll, at least not in a legally binding way. The threat was posted on Riin's blog, not mine; the only evidence I have that the threat was from my troll was the similarity in the grammatical and spelling errors between the comment on her blog and the comments on mine.

While that is fairly compelling evidence circumstantially, it really wouldn't hold up in a court of law. In order for it to be proven legally that the threat came from the same person who's been trolling my blog we would have to obtain the IP address logged on Riin's blog to compare against the IP I tracked on StatCounter. In other words, unless Riin was willing to cooperate with the investigation and provide that information, I have nothing.

I had to know. While the constable was setting up the recorder, I asked if they had contacted Riin yet.

They had.

I got a bit of a chill when I first heard that. I've maintained from the beginning that I'd rather keep Riin out of this, but I was ultimately forced into this position when the troll took his/her little game too far. Now, all I could do was hope that Riin would be willing to help.

She was; she turned over her tracking data on the troll's comment.

I was surprised to learn that Riin apparently had written back to the troll and told them to leave me alone (Typepad, Riin's blogging platform, allows you to configure comments to require an E-mail address to post). The fact that Riin would feel that way doesn't surprise me; it does surprise me, however, that she'd take the risk of making direct contact with someone who was potentially dangerous to come to my defense. I was profoundly grateful to hear that.

But that was only icing on the cake; this was the best piece of news:

The IP was a match. Finally, I have legally binding proof that the threat came from the same person who's been harassing me all this time.

The warrant is ready; the constable will be bringing it before a judge within the week. Now that we have proof positive of where the harassment was coming from, it's now only a matter of time before, at long last, we have one dead troll in a baggie. :)

Before I close this entry, I have something to say; I doubt Riin will ever read this but, on the off chance she ever does, I'd like to say something to her in public and for the record:

Riin, I cannot stress enough how grateful I am for your help. Even after all you've been through with me, you were still willing to help. I realize you were probably motivated more by your abhorrence to violence than a desire to help me personally. Still, what you did was immensely helpful to me; I won't forget it. I'm also glad to see this tiny glimpse of the woman I fell in love with, the one who truly believes in "practicing compassion towards all living things."

I only wish there was something I could do to repay you. For one thing, I would do almost anything to help you get back into the saddle of a bike again, try to undo the damage I did with my obsessive compulsive "advice." If you're ever willing to let me try, my door is always open to you; if not, I understand. Just know that, if there's ever anything I can do for you, just ask; I owe you one.

For what it's worth, I can't tell you how sorry I am for what I put you through. I don't mean while we were together; I still maintain that I wasn't myself during that time and I still wish to this day I could've found some way to prove to you that I was, and am, still the man you fell in love with underneath all the pain I was in then. What I'm talking about is how hard I pushed after you broke up with me.

I was in the wrong to push you the way I did. It took me a long time to see that, but I do now. I couldn't help it. I was desperate because, at the time, you meant everything to me (you still do mean a lot to me, even after everything) and I knew I was losing you. The last time I lost someone like that, I got them back by fighting for them in exactly the same way; I thought the same approach would work with you. I was wrong. I pushed too hard, and I am sorry.

Also, for what it's worth, I still love you.

Take care of yourself.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Regarding My Health

Last night, my dearest friend and I were discussing how many people we both know have been sick and in the hospital lately. As an offshoot of that discussion, we got to talking about people who try to "protect" those who love them from worrying by not telling them when they're sick. In almost every family I've known, I've known people like this; they think it's better their loved ones don't know that they're sick so they won't get upset.

Of course, for those who do this, it's not really fair to the people that love them. Suppose a medical problem turns out to be terminal and you don't tell the people who love you. Maybe, if they knew, they'd want to spend more time with you; maybe they'd want spend as much time with you as they can while you're still here with them. If you don't tell them, then you're only robbing them of those last precious times with them... and robbing yourself as well.

That's why I've always felt it was unfair for people to keep their medical problems from their loved ones who only want to be there for them.

On my way to work today, I had a bit of an incident. I'm going to talk about this here; this is the quickest way to "spread the word" as a lot of my loved ones read this blog. I don't think the incident was anything serious (I have, in fact, had incidents like this before and didn't think anything of them) but I know how I would feel if someone I love had something like this happen to them and found out later, perhaps too late, that they didn't tell me.

I used to keep these things to myself, but I decided today I can't keep doing that. If I expect my loved ones to tell me when they have problems, I must be willing to do the same.

So. Here's what happened:

I was riding my bike up Kings Road when I was passed too closely by a tractor trailer rig. I was annoyed at first but then noticed that we were approaching an intersection and the light was red. Since the truck was so close, I took the opportunity to hammer my way up behind it so, when it got going, I'd be able to "draft" with it; so I did. I managed to keep up with it all the way from Ramsay's Honda to just past Cabot House, traveling 55+ km/h; I made good time. :)

Once I got past Cabot House, however, I was finding it difficult to keep up. Not wanting to push myself too hard, and knowing that there was a downhill coming anyway, I backed off and let the truck pull ahead. I didn't really notice anything until I approached Kimberly Drive and was making my transition to the left lane in preparation for my turn; that's when I noticed that I was feeling pain in my chest.

It wasn't crippling, mind you; more like a mild heartburn with a little nausea. I do have a heart condition so having an unusual feeling in my chest was not unprecedented. As a precaution, after completing my turn, I kept a sedate pace until I reached the door to my workplace.

I wasn't overly concerned until I got inside and realized that the pain wasn't going away and I could feel it mildly in my jaw and tongue, too (that's a sign you're supposed to look for with heart trouble). I wasn't feeling out of breath (at least not any more than I would expect after drafting a truck at traffic speeds for five minutes solid) but I was feeling a little weak, and the nausea persisted. This feeling persisted for the next 20 minutes.

Still, even though the pain persisted for a while, I caught my breath within five minutes which suggests that my heart was doing OK (my understanding is it's nothing to be concerned about so long as you can catch your breath within 10 minutes), but the pain and nausea did last a bit longer, and were a bit more intense, than they have been in previous incidents.

I felt perfectly fine afterwards; I was about to forget the whole incident when I had a thought. My aforementioned friend often chides me for not going to the doctor often enough, just as I've often chided her for not eating right. It occurred to me that, if I did nothing about this and kept it to myself, then getting on her back to take care of herself would make me pretty hypocritical. I knew full well she'd want me to make a doctor's appointment to check it out...

So I did. I asked for an appointment on Thursday, November 27 (when I'll be off work, anyway; we have US Thanksgiving off since it's a call center that dials into the US); it's at 1:00 PM.

I really don't think there's anything to worry about. In fact, I think I know what the trouble is.

Yes, I do think my heart was begging for mercy but not because there's anything serious wrong. As a generally healthy eater I'm embarrassed to admit it but the bulk of my diet lately has been pizza and, last night, fries and gravy; this is not ideal fuel for drafting at 50+ km/h. My guess is that my diet, trouble sleeping lately and sudden exertion simply caught my heart "off guard" so to speak.

The fact that I feel perfectly fine now, and the fact that I was not unusually out of breath after the incident, both imply that it's probably something minor. Still, it's worth discussing with my doctor. I know my hearth rhythm is fine; I had good results on a 24-hour EKG done recently (I was strapped to a spaghetti factory of wires I had to wear at all times :P). Depending on what the doctor says, maybe I'll have a cardiac ultrasound done to see how my heart is squeezing.

Anyway, again I'm just telling you about this because, if I'm to expect my loved ones to keep me appraised of their health problems, it's only fair I keep them appraised of mine. For those of you reading this who know me personally, try not to worry; I'm sure everything will be fine.

In the meantime, I'm going to stop being stupid, cramming my face full of pizza, and stick with Subway and other healthier alternatives for a while... :P

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ready to Pounce: A Feline Frame of Mind on Culture

Looking at my RSS feed for We Move to Canada today, I saw an article titled "Ancestry.ca: a Mistake, but Not an Outrage." Curious, I clicked through. In brief, is was all about a debacle where Ancestry.ca, offering a Remembrance Day special for people looking for relatives lost in the World Wars, inadvertently used an image of a German soldier instead of an Allied solider in one of their ads. Several veterans derided them for this; an "outrage" they called it.

Is it just me or are people these days just looking for things to be offended by?

OK, putting a German soldier in the ad intended for North American audiences was clearly a faux pas but I'd hardly call it an outrage; it'd only be an outrage is if that image was chosen specifically with intent to dishonor Allied soldiers. I doubt that was the case; it looks to me like an innocent mistake. Remember, Ancestry.ca was offering free service to help people affected by the war; it'd make no sense to deliberately dishonor veterans in such a campaign.

I'm not saying I don't sympathize with the veterans' feelings; I do. Don't forget what these men went through at the hands, from their perspective, of the Germans; I'm not surprised that most of them find letting go those memories and separating the men from the historical context difficult. Still, I can't help but get the feeling that these particular men were just waiting like cats stalking their prey for an opportunity, any opportunity, to pounce on something.

But I'm not here to talk about veterans and their attitude towards their former enemies; this incident goes far beyond that. Incidents like this, where one takes unreasonable offense to something that wasn't meant to offend, are becoming increasingly common in society today; sometimes, it seems like everyone is just waiting for an opportunity to take offense to something and pounce on it, no matter how insignificant.

So, what is wrong with people today that everyone has to be so sensitive?

Maybe it was too much off-color humor at the expense of minorities through the last century. I've always been a big fan of Looney Tunes; I've been watching a lot of Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show of late. I've been doing some research on-line. Apparently, there are a handful of Looney Tunes that are no longer distributed or aired because of ethnic stereotypes. Even those that are aired often contain hints of stereotypical views of minorities.

I've seen these stereotypes in the Looney Tunes. For example, Bugs Bunny once inadvertently tunneled his way to Scotland. The Scottish guy he squared off against in the story was the epitome of Scottish stereotype; he wore a kilt, carried around a set of bagpipes and has a Scottish brogue so thick you half expected his tongue to roll right out of his mouth. Bugs even greeted him with a modified version of his famous catch phrase: "What's up MacDoc?"

Then there was the time Porky Pig was in Ireland and had a strange encounter with a pair of leprechauns convinced he was there to steal their pot of gold. The very concept of the pot of gold and leprechauns are probably two of the best known stereotypes of Irish culture; the only thing missing was the rainbow. Of course, the leprechauns, too, were shown in stereotypical form, diminutive in stature and wearing bright green with green hats.

Of course, it isn't surprising that cartoons made in that era should contain such stereotypes; any piece of fiction or work of art cannot help but be a product of its era. Check out, for example, the miniskirts, go-go boots and beehive hairdos in Star Trek; the female uniforms in particular just scream "1960s." So it's not surprising that cultural and ethnic stereotypes, common in the 50s and 60s, should find their way into Looney Tunes.

Does this mean that the creators of Looney Tunes were racist? Not necessarily. We don't know these people personally. Their work may have been (and probably was) nothing more than the same innocent play on stereotypes we see nowadays in characters like Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on The Simpsons. Apu isn't meant to disrespect Indian culture; he's just a stereotype poking innocent fun at there stereotypical Indian in America.

Actually, like Apu, the Looney Tunes point of view on stereotype was often hilarious. I couldn't help but sympathize with poor Bugs who mistook the Scot playing his pipes as an old lady in a dress being attacked by a shrieking monster. I couldn't help but laugh at all the extraordinary lengths the leprechauns went to to keep Porky away from their pot of gold, sentencing him to the "wearin' o' the green shoes" that make him dance until he drops.

That, I think, is what these easily offended people should bear in mind. Everything in life, no matter what it is, can be poked fun at. There's humor in everything. Just because someone is making fun of your cultural, racial or historical background doesn't necessarily mean they're bigoted; in many cases, playing with cultural and racial stereotypes for humor is done as a form of affection for a given group.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding is an excellent example. The whole movie plays off stereotypes of Greek culture. It is one of the funniest movies I've seen in the past decade, probably made all the more funny because it was written by somebody of Greek ancestry; who better to lampoon Greek culture than someone who knows it from the "inside?"

That's something else I've noticed. There is a fair amount of minority humor out there but, these days, only members of those minorities can generally get away with that kind of humor. I once saw an Indian comedian who just had a field day poking fun at his upbringing, particularly his father's thick Indian accent; he apparently has a unique, and totally priceless, way of pronouncing "ice cream" and "peanuts" (he mentioned Apu in his routine, too).

However, this only goes to show that anything can be made light of, and the fact that someone is making light of something doesn't necessarily imply disrespect. Bill Cosby's frequent stand-up routines poking fun at Christianity are an excellent example. You can tell from his attitude that he's not doing it to disrespect God; he's just having a little fun at His expense, just as most of us do with the people we love from time to time.

But today, it often seems the world is too sensitive a place for this kind of thing. I think that these easily offended people just create an atmosphere where one has to walk on eggshells when discussing certain subjects. This not only robs us of opportunities for humor but even makes going a good deed dangerous; do one wrong thing, no mater how inadvertent, and suddenly all the good you've done gets instantly forgotten.

Just because someone used the wrong photograph in an ad does not necessarily mean they meant anything by it; it can just be an innocent mistake. Just because someone is making fun of your culture does not necessarily mean they don't respect it; it could very well be done out of genuine affection. Just because someone pokes fun at your race does not necessarily mean they're racist; all races have unique physical characteristics that can be exaggerated for comedy.

In other words, I think it's important that, when we are offended by something, instead of pouncing on it like a cat jumping its prey, we need to step back for a moment and try to discover the intent of the person who offended us. Once we talk it out, we may very well discover that no offense was intended at all.

Yes, there will always be some cases where things said and done are said with genuine malice; such is Human nature. However, we can't afford to assume that everything said is said with genuine malice. If we start doing that, it's only a matter of time before we start putting ourselves right back on the same slippery slope that once lead us to The Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism.

That is not the world we should be living in.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Making Progress

I just got a call from the constable at The Cape Breton Regional Police who originally took my report on the troll's threat; it seems we're making progress.

She told me that she's in the process of getting the warrant now. To complete the process, she's going to need a statement from me; I have an appointment to meet with her Wednesday, November 19 at 7:30 PM. Unfortunately, as I feared, since the threat was posted to Riin's blog, not mine, she's also going to need to contact Riin to obtain the IP address on the threatening comment; she even asked me how to pronounce her name for when she calls.

Of course, that opens up a minor mystery. Obviously, she hasn't called Riin yet, so who was it at the University of Michigan Medical Center who was browsing my blog? It could be unrelated, but it's a pretty weird coincidence, particularly given that the visitor visited right around Riin's usual lunch time. If it was Riin, I have to wonder what prompted her to visit; if it wasn't, I have to wonder if it's somebody she knows and, if so, why they were visiting.

Anyway, from what I understand, once they take my statement, the application for a warrant will be brought before a judge. Once the warrant is issued, the police will contact Eastlink who will, in turn, provide information on whose account was associated with the IP address in the threat at the time of the connection.

Also, since identifying the person via IP is related to the time of the connection, the troll cannot escape. Even if he/she were to cancel their Eastlink account completely and move to a new ISP, their name and account information would still be in Eastlink's records for that IP address at that particular time. So, basically, I have them by the... well, I guess I can't identify the point of anatomy yet, not being sure of their gender at this point... :P

I am in such a good mood tonight; things are going well for once. :)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Closing On Target...

KIRK: "Then we've got 'im! Go to red alert! Prepare to fire phaser banks! Sensors, lock on! Mr. Sulu, continue closing! Mr. Spock, lock phasers into computer; computer to control attack!"
SPOCK: "Computer lock ready, Captain; all systems standing by."
SULU: "Range is 1810... 1760... range is 1700... 1640... range is 1590... 1550 and closing, sir..."

My troll paid this blog another visit Halloween night, based on this data, I'd say I have their attention:

This is the most extensive visit the troll has ever made to this blog. According to this data:
  1. 22:25:37: Troll enters the blog.
  2. 22:25:53: They look at my tracking data for my visitor from the University of Michigan Medical Center.
  3. 22:26:18: They return to the blog.
  4. 22:27:40: They look at my tracking data on them.
  5. They exit the blog manually to go to other pages, returning three times at 22:28:08, 22:30:35 and 22:53:33 respectively.
  6. 22:54:32: They exit the 22:53:33 visit through the link to Section 264.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
  7. 22:54:56: They exit again through a link to Riin's blog.
  8. 23:17:07: They return to this blog.
  9. 23:17:48: They exit through the link to The Cape Breton Regional Police.
  10. 23:20:08: They again return to this blog.
  11. 23:20:33: They enter the comment form for the entry "The Plot Thickens" but leave no comment.
The fact that they chickened out on leaving the comment and made such an extensive visit visiting my links to the Criminal Code of Canada, the police and my tracking data on them, I'd say I have them worried. If they're not worried, they should be. The constable I spoke to told me to call back for a follow-up today; I'm going to do just that first thing in the morning.

It is going to be so sweet to nail this idiot...