Before you ask, the interview starts at 8:08. And no, I do not usually blink that much. And no, I am not willing to part with that super-sweet schooner painting behind me (it's actually a card table). Lastly, for the record, I deeply regret not getting at least one "Go Flames!" in.
Pity the parents who have yet to make a plan for March Break, which starts on Monday here in Ontario. I've been there: I still hear about the Arctic waters of the swimming camp we booked at the last minute, the soccer debacle with a single lonely ball, and the five days of French that were “worse than school.” Quelle horreur!
In our defense, choosing camps isn’t easy. Something that seems fun and enriching can turn out to be anything but. Consider these seven options: They appear to have it all, but as any experienced parent knows, appearances can be deceiving.
MacGyver Camp: Hosted by Richard Dean Anderson, this camp gives kids the skills to turn fallen satellites into hang-gliders and to safely defuse explosive devices by always cutting the red wire.
Cryptocurrency Investment Camp: Invest in your child’s future by giving them the tools to make bazillions of dollars by buying and selling Bitcoin, Zcash, Bunko and Ponz-E.
Asbestos Abatement Camp: Worried about those suspicious-looking panels in your basement? Turn your child into an abatement expert who can safely identify and handle asbestos for $275 an hour (plus HST).
“Sleepaway Camp” Camp: Perfect for budding slasher-movie directors who want to get into some seriously messed-up shit.
Cooking With Edible Slime: Is your child obsessed with making slime and MasterChef Junior? Combine their passions at this week-long camp hosted by Rachel Ray look-alike Ray Rachel. Be sure to make room in your fridge for up to 30 pounds of goo that looks and smells like pond scum, and tastes much, much worse.
Spanish Inquisition Camp: Designed for teens, this historically accurate recreation of the 300-year-long religious tribunal covers topics that are more relevant today than ever: Heretic expulsion, freemasonry suppression, dating etiquette, the list goes on.
Blogging With Bisby: This 15-minute camp, hosted by yours truly, will impart many of the “skills” needed to turn blogging into a source of income worth tens of dollars a year. Although, on second thought, maybe the cryptocurrency or asbestos camps are better bets…
I’m neck-deep into the fourth season of Black Mirror, and as usual the anthology-style sci-fi series is messing with my head.
Episode 2, the Jodie Foster-directed "Arkangel," was especially thought-provoking and disconcerting. It immediately made me recall a feature I wrote for The Globe and Mail back in 2014, so after the credits rolled I called up the story and was struck not only by the fact that it was published four years ago to the day -- how very Black Mirror -- but also that the episode's plot and themes would have made for a much more compelling intro. So you see, I had to do this:
* * * * *
In a recent episode of Black Mirror, a worried single mother of the near-future snoops on her daughter using an experimental child-monitoring system. With a neural implant in the child’s brain and a tablet computer in mom’s hands, it monitors location and vital signs, allows the parent to see the world through her daughter’s eyes, and censors obscenities, violence and other stressful stimuli by distorting these experiences.
In typical Black Mirror fashion, the technological developments and social trends of today fuel the episode’s dark, and eventually bloody, subtext. Indeed, at a time when there is outrage over government and corporate monitoring of our phone and Internet activities, as well as concerns about the omnipresence of security cameras recording our every move, there's also a growing market for technology that helps parents monitor their kids.
Rogers Communications, for example, has been pushing its home-monitoring video capabilities in a TV commercial that features a real Canadian mom. In the ad, Kelly Williamson is on vacation in Aruba when an alert on her smartphone tells her smoke has been detected back at her home in Newmarket, Ont. A quick check of her monitoring system's live camera feed reveals not a kitchen in flames, but a pair of home-alone teenagers who have forgotten to flip their flapjacks.
"I know from the camera who it was," Ms. Williamson says in the ad while her guilty 17-year-old son Ryan smiles sheepishly.
The price of that knowledge, though, is youth privacy. Surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden said in a message delivered on Christmas Eve from Russia that "a child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They'll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought."
This pervasive surveillance of children also worries child psychologists, media experts and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. They say a lack of privacy in children’s lives can undermine trust, promote secrecy and hinder their ability to assess risk and develop independence. As well, young people who grow up in an environment where their privacy isn't respected may not learn to understand or value it.
"Privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be," Mr. Snowdon says.
And these days kids can't even get it in their own homes.
READ THE REST OF THE STORY IN THE GLOBE AND MAIL
Sung with plenty o' twang to the tune of "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," the theme song for The Beverly Hillbillies TV show (1963-71) and 1993 film (I still want my Blockbuster Video rental fee back).
Come and listen to my story 'bout my wife named Ang,
A poor buccaneer, greatest momma in the land,
A few weeks ago we were driving 'round NZ*,
With Ang and her phone in the shotgun seat.
Spoken: An iPhone 6 that is. Black and gold, it was free (when she signed a two-year contract with a company that is partly owned by...Satan?!?).
*Sorry, that's "zee," British (and many Canadian) friends.
Related anecdote: As we were driving into Christchurch (on the left-hand side of the road), I failed to signal an abrupt lane change after inadvertently activating my windshield wipers for the 314th time.
The driver behind me had just honked his horn -- fair enough -- when a sketchy-looking woman stepped off the sidewalk in front of us and darted into our lane. She gestured at me to roll down my window, which at home in Toronto I would never do. This being New Zealand, however, I figured she wanted to offer some helpful tips on the proper use of windshield wipers.
Instead, she jabbed her index finger at me and barked: “Why did you toot at me?!?”
“I didn’t, er, toot at you,” I replied, taken aback. Behind me, my daughters giggled at the use of “toot.”
“You’re an American liar!” the woman declared loudly.
I wish I had corrected her on both counts, but all I could muster was a swift denial. “It wasn’t me, it was the guy behind me!”
“Frucking...framerican...friars,” she mumbled, and spun on her heel to face the poor tooter.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled earworm.
Well the first thing you know Ang is snapping from her seat
The kinfolk said, "iCloud storage isn't free..."
Angela replied, "Keep it zipped and watch the road,
“We just hit the Instagram motherlode...”
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