Thursday, June 26, 2008

So Much For "Don't Be Evil"

Google has announced that Patrick Pichette, one of many pricks at the helm of the many-headed hydra that is the Giant Canadian Telecom company, Bell Canada, will be their new Chief Financial Officer.

Pichette worked with Bell alongside the mealy-mouthed Grand Weasel, Michael Sabia during a time that Bell introduced a bogus "Network Access" surcharge of $4.25 on every Bell Canada telephone account, by sneaking it past their customer base. Tally some thirteen million-plus subscribers, and that's an extra $55.25 million a month--at least--that Pichette generated with the "Network Access" sneak-attack.

He was also there when Bell Canada laid off thousands of jobs so Sabia could take a 555% pay rise, after negotiating a crooked deal with the CTEA union that narrowly averted a strike, in 2006.

Pichette was also there when Bell Canada's internet division, Sympatico, began the process of "throttling" the Internet, namely imposing bandwidth caps on supposedly "unlimited" internet access during peak times, in order to help stamp out P2P file sharing. The ploy didn't work, as P2P sharing is going to continue for a long, long time to come. What it did do was the one thing Bell Canada has proven universally good at: pissing off its customers.

Pichette's appointment comes after Google spent nearly a year looking for a new CFO. Frankly, they should have kept looking.

Bell Canada's business practice is simple: they impose whatever their board of directors decides to, on their customers, usually with tacit approval of the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission. The $4,25 surcharge and the bandwidth throttling are only the two most flagrant examples of the sort of petty evil that comes out of Bell Canada. Employee harassment is rampant in the organization, as is unfair sales practices, poor customer service, terrible tech support on all levels but most especially with Bell Mobility and Bell Sympatico.

If Pichette is the kind of person Google is looking for in its organization, well, I'm sad to say that the company is continuing the long slide into evil that began when it started helping China police the Internet.

Pichette is a good company man. That means he's lied, manipulated, kissed ass and generally fucked people over to get where he is. From there, he like most of the unimpressive stable of mediocre caretaker executives that have polluted Bell Canada Enterprises for the last couple of decades, continued to perpetuate the cycle of gorging company profits at the expense of customer service, customer experience and employee morale.

I'm already shopping around for a new search engine, in light of Google's questionable decision to hire this Pissant Pichette. Bell Canada lost over 511 000 subscribers last year. While pundits will give you a dozen reasons why these people left Bell and then make the claim that "many" will be back, the fact is the CRTC-imposed telephone regulation only ended last year, effectively breaking Bell Canada's quasi-monopoly on telephone and telecommunications in Quebec, Ontario and points west. People left because they could, because they had long wanted to. Bell Canada has always shown a callous, arrogant and cavalier attitude towards their customers. The fact that so many were so eager to switch away from them only demonstrates how poor their service is.

If this is the kind of business Google wants to be in, I want no part of it. I may even consider migrating this weblog away from Blogger, if this shit continues.

Friday, June 20, 2008

News About Me And My Writing

So there's a whole lot of little things going on right now...first, my review of the new Alanis Morissette CD for Confront Magazine was until recently being referenced on the Wikipedia page for the new album, so that was fun--while it lasted.

Second, I'm up for a job as a reporter for CJAD 800 AM Radio here in Montreal, so that's tres cool. It's not that I'm unhappy at the newspaper; in fact I love my job. However, I would like to get in on the journalism side of things; unfortunately my spelling and grammar in French aren't good enough for me to get a job as a reporter with the paper.

Also going on, my interview with Craig Chaney of the Metal band Evergreen Terrace has been posted over on Confront Magazine; it was a fun conversation and I'm glad to finally be able to share it with the readers.

The latest stats for The Unearthing are pretty good; roughly 1750 downloads since the free ebook download went live in March. Ugh...I've got to do so much housecleaning on this and my sister site for the novel; update the links and such, as Chapters Indigo are now selling it here in Canada for the US list price instead of the 30% markup it used to be selling for. My publisher has had a falling out with over the latter's ridiculous demands...that's something else I've got to get around to. But, if you haven't already bought the book odds are you won't. If you have bought it you don't need to buy another, and if you do want to buy it, the links on the left all still work in the meantime, so that's on the low-priority list.

...I smell a small lecture about the above paragraph wending its way from the keyboard of my personal Jimminy Cricket...

CONFRONT Magazine is also branching out, musically speaking. In association with MAP Music (Musicians Against Parkinson's) CONFRONT Presents will be hosting an awareness concert to benefit people living with Parkinson's Disease. The event is August 23rd, at Club Soda here in Montreal. The line-up for the show includes Arthur Kall, Monday Rose, Polar Eyes, La Confrerie, and The New Cities, as well as presentations by musician and MAP Music founder Robbie Tucker and Canadian Pairs Bronze medalist, Craig Buntin.

I guess that's the most immediately relevant stuff. So, for want of a better concluding paragraph for this post, let me just say

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Brief Update...

So it's been twelve days since I last posted. My bad. A lot of things have been going on; the ever ongoing quest to treat my panic disorder, adjusting to yet another new medication, the relaunch of CONFRONT Magazine, initial feedback from Oh Well Whatever Nevermind's test readers before I polish it off one last time and send it out to prospective publishers...that one I'm going to need some advice on; I"m not sure how best to approach the pubs.

In that time I've been rewriting The Darkness And The Stars, the follow up to The Unearthing. I've also been involved in regular planning sessions for a new phase in CONFRONT Magazine's ventures, garnering some positive reviews for my article on heavy metal music for said same magazine, and toying with an idea to ship to a comic book company I met through Twitter.

The Chapters/Indigo thing was some over-hype by Publish America: Canada's Only Book Seller won't be STOCKING PA titles, but selling them on a par with the US cover prices. I've gotten another 200 downloads of The Unearthing, so I'm around 1750 now...Still trying to figure out the next step on that one.

I'm actually dozing off...guess the anti-anxiety meds are kicking in. More soon...I promise.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Biofuels are being vilified by the Oil-industry manufactured "food crisis"

The whole biofuels-are-starving-us thing is a crock.

First off, farmers around the world were ENCOURAGED by their governments by ways of grants and tax credits to grow corn for biofuel. What happened next was inevitable: so many farmers started growing biofuel crops that there were food grain shortages.

Ask yourself, however, who stands to profit most from the vilification of biofuels? The same people who have been writing US energy policy for the last decade: Big Oil.

Big Oil has pulled the wool over everyone's eyes, by encouraging--through lobbyists--the governments of the world to subsidize the overproduction of biofuel crops at the expense of food crops. Now, the backlash against biofuel is so widespread that the alternative fuel source will be abandoned by and large.

Biofuel is much cheaper to produce than petroleum distillates. This means that Big Oil could not make the switch to biofuel without massive losses. This means that the best way to continue making obscene profits is to ensure people do not look for cheap alternative fuels.

Big Oil engineered the current worldwide food shortage in order to sabotage biofuels.

Big Oil, like so many other corporate special interests has been dictating American policy--as well as policy for much of the West--for far too long.

Land doesn't have to be diverted from food production to biofuel production; the land we farm the fuel supply on doesn't have to be "clean"; there's a lot of contaminated land that could be used. Likewise, adapting the procedures Israel used to create the "Kibbutz" farms in the desert, the whole of the Southwest could be used to grow fuel crops.

Likewise, if its a question of climate control because the crops cannot grow except in specific conditions, why not create greenhouses to do that? Again, the crops don't have to look pretty or taste good, all they have to do is be able to be converted into ethanol or biodiesel. Are you going to tell me, with all the GE crops Montsanto and others are turning out that they couldn't engineer a crop that would produce fuel when processed? Again, the crops could be highly toxic to humans, (and don't give me the whole M. Night Shaymalan "The Event" spiel) and still be viable for fuel. Oil workers are exposed to poisonous chemicals every day of their working lives; I have no moral qualms about exposing biofuel workers to similar risks for similar rewards.

All this to say that in the case of biofuels, it is the flesh that is willing and the spirit is weak; the Big Oil concerns have too much to lose.