I DON’T FEAR

So what’s your greatest fear?

I’m sure if I actually posed this question to people on the street, they’d probably think I was asking the wrong question (or merely run away from the bald-headed, scary-eyed, tattooed, shoulders-as-padding, Ironside-esque creature known as Greg). In a world that goes along to get along in so many ways, keeping the smile up and insulating your reality with topical illusions is a hell of a lot more comforting.

It’s funny how even when I ask myself this question, I’m remarkably bereft of fear now. I figure life’s pretty much thrown a whole shit-against-the-wall motif at me for years and years and years and numbed me down. Fuck it. You’ve won. I concede. There’s no sorrow or self-pity. It’s just vacant. It’s just quiet and accepting. Throw-caution-to-the-wind and never asking questions about whether I should or shouldn’t. I don’t care. Your judgments are more lame and sad than even remotely interesting. I’m doing what I do and I don’t care if you like it or not. You can throw it all at me again.

For anyone who has spent even a modicum of time in a mental place where all you can think of is What Has Gone Wrong and what a fuck-up you are, getting out of it is like being re-born. It’s like looking into a rearview mirror and seeing a major car crash you just got out of with your life intact. You suddenly feel grateful and liberated in profound ways. You’re still, at your heart, the person you’ve always been. But while facing your darkest fears and most vengeful, angry hopelessness, it’s hell that has a purpose. Letting yourself feel the anger you repressed in the name of bullshit, self-defeating conformity, you re-awaken. It’s like escaping The Matrix, only without sexy digital rainfalls and cool-looking Berettas.

It can be summed up very clearly: I’ve got nothing to lose but fear itself.

It’s funny, but looking back on things, I wish I was the man I am today while I attended Queen’s (here, reader, is a sidebar).

Back then, I was naïve enough to believe that respect comes out of initiative alone. But, as Toby Young acutely observed, respect is incredibly hard to earn and insanely easy to tear down. To win at the game of life, you pretty much have to bust your ass to achieve your own ends—nobody, and I mean nobody, cares what you do unless it directly affects them. That’s probably the best lesson Queen’s taught me: people aren’t born good or bad, but self-interested first and foremost. I guess I should be thankful. I probably would have saved myself some grief if I let myself be myself, not caring what people thought, instead of caving into fears and insecurities back in those days. But hey, what can you do. Not as if it all matters now anyway.

Hey, this might have a whiff of bitterness, but really, do you think the world owes you anything? Hell, I’ve taken more than enough to know that finding good things and people in this world is like finding a rare, out-of-print book or an 8 mm film loop from 1972 – you’re damn lucky if you find them.

Alright, so back to those fears. About the only truly paralyzing fears I haven’t experienced yet (and hopefully never will) are the horrors of a) actual, real life combat in a war zone, b) make-work camps designed from the minds of dictators and sadists, and c) prison life (although you can make a case high school wasn’t that far off).

So here’s the deal. Writing an honest, true-to-form post on here hasn’t been my style for a long, long time. I write about stuff that mostly informs my interests and amuse people with casual, off-the-cuff remarks about technolust items like the iPhone. Welcome to my world of blogging.

But, since this is a public blog and people actually read this blog sometimes, I still have to censor my thoughts, given Google’s tendencies to archive everything for all digital eternity. I can’t really say what I want to say all the time. Can anyone, really? If people knew what others really thought about each other, there would be a lot more murders and crime, R.I.P. George Carlin.

My only non-paralyzing fears left are essentially snakes (I hate those slithering creatures, can’t stand them) and heights, even though the heights thing has gotten better recently. Besides that, it’s all pretty simple now.

I don’t fear.

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ROGERS TAKES A PR BEATING

This rumour on Smithereens’ blog is too deliciously awesome to ignore. Apple sanctioning Rogers over their voice and data plans for the iPhone? God it would be so nice to see Apple really take it to Rogers on this one.

We can only hope this is the case. Yet another web site has emerged that neatly illustrates how royally screwed Canadians who buy the iPhone will be under the current pricing scheme (which, according to the National Post today, may change since Rogers executives, ever wary of the public relations nightmare they’re facing in lieu of this ill-conceived strategy). RuinediPhone.com, as of noon today, has almost 50,000 signatures on it and counting.

All of this on top of numerous stories on the CBC, Canadian Press and many, many other outlets. Sooner or later, Rogers is going to have to take notice of all this.

See, this is why the cellular market in Canada must be regulated. It’s obvious the carriers can’t be trusted to look out for consumers’ best interests. Here’s why libertarian free markets don’t work – if you leave companies in a position to regulate themselves without regard for the demands of consumers, you’ll get burned.

Rogers, how much more PR heat do you really want to take?

DIGITAL BACKWATER?

Let me ask you something: do you ever feel like Canada’s a bit of a digital backwater?

For all the touting of Canada by successive federal governments as a “world leader” in technological innovation, one wonders exactly how the political mandarins in Ottawa come to that conclusion. Perhaps in aerospace engineering, industrial manufacturing, biotechnology and other commercial development, that might be true. But when it comes to consumer technology, Canada is about as far from world leader as Robert Mugabe is to being a truly democratically elected President.

First off, Exhibit A: our pathetic cell phone culture. For a country that politicians claim has a lot in common with Nordic nations like Finland or Norway in terms of social democracy, we look more like a Banana Republic when it comes to cell phones than Nordic.

Globalize this little fact – over 90 per cent of Swedes use cell phones and has the highest rate in Europe of 3G phone network penetration. Canada? We still have cellular operators using the outdated CDMA frequency over the global standard GSM. We barely have 3G penetration to speak of outside of cities. Our lack of GSM options means we have to put up with Rogers being the only cellular operator able to offer the iPhone, which means no choice, no competition, no benefit to the consumer. We also seemingly lack the mindset of unlimited access, unlike our neighbours to the South – why is Rogers cynically charging consumers for capped data access when Americans can get unlimited data coverage nationwide? It feels like a gigantic middle finger to the consumer. More to the point, why are Canadians paying for things that U.S. cellular companies offer for free? Don’t tell me it’s about comparative market sizes – if we’re as advanced as the federal government claims, shouldn’t the cost of data and voice access be going down, not up?

Exhibit B: our Internet culture. While America experiences the same problems in terms of our capped internet speeds – wow, a whole theoretical five megabytes a second! Boy, that puts Koreans to shame *sarcasm* – we have to deal with Bell and Rogers throttling data speeds and making the web a functional experience at best. Sure, Europe and Asia have far, far more advanced digital infrastructure in place to ensure best speeds, but come on guys – you can’t expect us customers to be happy with download speeds that are positively antiquated in nature compared to French telecoms. Again, why are we paying for such crappy service? Worse, why is the federal government pretending this problem doesn’t exist? I can just see federal Industry Minister Jim Prentice sitting in his office with fingers in his ear, singing “la-la-la-la-la” at this moment.

God I wish we could be more like Europe sometimes.