How to get a good/bad transcription

2019 08 03 - 15:50

Transcriptionists/transcribers sometimes perform feats that seem magical, but there's a lot of damned hard work that goes on to make it seem that way. When you spend your day with bad audio and people who can't communicate, it can sometimes be a herculean effort to create a finished product that is usable to a client.

I'm not going to give too much preamble, but just get to the list of things that clients should consider in order to ensure that they have the best chance of getting a good transcript.

My advice to interviewees would be this:

My advice to interviewers:

My advice to clients in general:

And the most important advice of all:

Transcriptionists/transcribers can work wonders, but we aren't sound engineers. There's only so much we can do - and only so much we can be reasonably responsible for or expected to do. The rest is up to the client.

, , , , ,

Your politics are your world-view

2019 08 03 - 13:14

Your politics are your world-view.

I remember reading something about that a while ago, which I can't recall the source of. We like to talk about politics as this detachable entity that we can leave out of the equation, like we leave out our tastes in food, and whether or not we use bleach in the wash. Can we talk about the fingers and ignore the hand? Maybe, in nebulous conversations in a political science lecture hall, we can turn politics into some kind of Socratic tea dance; but outside of that conversation? What you speak is what you are. I'm not talking so much about where you vote, since people often enough vote differently than they believe. But that says something about a person as well. What you vote for is what you're willing to tolerate. You can't separate your self from your politics any more than you can say that what you are at election time is not the same person you are the rest of the time. It all matters. The idea that you can separate your politics from the rest of your existence is a Western privilege; or, at the very least, the privilege of the secure - something you should be grateful for, and realise the preciousness of, and not use as a bludgeon to thump those who call you out. It's an intellectual advantage that should never be weaponised, but sometimes is; and that's a frightening act. It falls in the realm of blaming the 'other' when you yourself are the fault; or, at the very least, an asshole of the 'devil's advocate' variety.

Your politics can show whether you care about others or don't, whether you are a liberal thinker or a tight conservative, whether you're insular or global-thinking, your kindness, your ability or willingness to see a bigger picture rather than merely the environs of your own front yard, whether you are visceral or cogitative, whether you're generous of spirit or miserly, whether you care, whether you don't care, if an angel or an ass, a demon or a saviour. They can be a measure of a person's fear, rage, stupidity, intelligence, or even hope. They measure how you feel about the 'other'. They can show you off or show you up, possibly in ways some other things might never do. There are enormous grey areas in human morality sometimes, but elections are a black or white, yes or no indicator of what you choose as your priority. Sometimes that priority is fair, wisely thought out, and considered as a basis for future betterment; but given the blind knee-jerk way that many vote by, voting can be a litmus test for your baseline, in an "in vino veritas" kind of way.

I hate politics; rather, how politics evolves around an election specifically. I despise the mental midgets it turns some folks into, and the animals and bullies it makes of others. I hate the jockeying. I hate how it can bring out the worst in people. I sometimes hate it because it forces you to find out things about people you'd rather never have known. I'm a realist, for the most part; but even I'd occasionally rather live in the little bubble that doesn't force me to see just how depraved the human race can be. Politics can tear down heroes, and expose the raw inner flesh. I dislike its divisiveness; which is pretty useless in the situation in which we're living, where we're all on the same boat, and we'll all drown just as hard and fast by everyone fighting for the oar.

I have my beliefs, and I'll stand by them, but the whole subject is about as appealing as having a root canal without anaesthesia; especially when part of the inner conversation you're having with yourself is whether or not you can still respect someone whose politics are so divergent from your own that you wonder if they are not objectionable as a person.

- - -

To round back to the point before I depart, what you vote for is what you are willing to tolerate, so I'll be blunt. If you vote for someone with racist allegiances, then you are willing to tolerate those racist allegiances and what they could bring. Scheer openly hired a member of Rebel Media as his campaign manager. A politician of his level does not hire someone like that without being completely aware of the optics of doing so: either he accepts what this person believes, or he's willing to use that person's connections/abilities for his own ends. Both of those things are, to put it simply, distasteful.  In fact, when questioned about Marshall's appointment, Scheer is quoted as saying:

"I didn't ask Hamish about every client he had," Scheer said in response to a question from the Globe and Mail. "He has a variety of clients. He's a small-business owner himself, and I asked him to do a job and he helped me out on my campaign."

That sure is some "Hey, look over there" weak tea, Andrew.

When presented with opportunities to show that there was truth in his speechifying about how there's no room for racists in the Conservative party, Scheer took no action. Members of the party retained party status, and their positions. If there's a no tolerance policy, Andrew, why are  you tolerating it? And given that Scheer spent a good portion of his current reign trying to maintain his two-tiered citizenship system that Stephen Harper advanced, don't think he won't take whatever opportunity he can to strip at least a million Canadians of their citizenship protections. If this does not make sense to you, it means that anyone with dual citizenship would no longer have any consular protections abroad, and their Canadian citizenship is revocable with, potentially, no recourse. If you are now wondering why they don't just renounce the other half, remember that they shouldn't have to to begin with, and that some countries make it extremely expensive and difficult to do so.

That there's a good slippery slope catalyst. Whose citizenship gets the chop next?

We have been lucky enough in this country to be able to watch the theatre of the far-right evolve and unfold on the stage of our neighbours to the south. Don't think that can't happen here. Socially, it already is. Just remember that we don't have to help it politically when election time comes in October. Don't give it air, ground, or teeth. Tell it to go packing.

Don't think that the old-style, puppy-dog faced, Joe Clark fiscal conservative is lurking there beneath the surface. That party no longer exists. It hasn't existed since the federal Conservatives merged with the Reform, which is the single worst thing to ever happen in this country politically. I'm sorry it did. Now, those who are fiscally conservative but not socially so, have no party (or so they think). But they still vote that way because they think there's no options for them. There is. Just read the major party platforms again. You'll see it yourself.

Really, there is no left any longer. If you're still afraid of what Tommy Douglas did in this country, then you've got other problems that need addressing. There are certain realities about the future of this country that would not be well-served by a Conservative leadership - and certainly not by Maxime Bernier's crackpot alt-right - many of which are layered and complex and need to be addressed, but the two most impactful to consider right this very minute, and in October, are not giving any more ground than we have to to the right (and racism), and making sure that someone gets elected who can responsibly deal with climate change issues and the environment, even if that means those of us who self-indulge on that score have to suck It up and think of breathable air 30 years from now, and not just our bank accounts tomorrow.

, , , , , ,


2019 07 27 - 15:15

I was watching yet another video on YouTube today, decrying the changes Etsy is making to its shipping and shop ranking policies - which are not good.

If you're not aware, Etsy has decided that it's going to offer free shipping on any orders from within the US that are $35 or more. It doesn't matter whether or not you're shipping FROM the US either. If your shop is somewhere else where the shipping costs TO the US are high, any order from your shop that's $35 or more is covered by the free shipping.

Etsy expects anyone who would be affected by this simply to roll these shipping costs into their prices - regardless of distance, actual shipping costs, or anything. This means that you could end up paying more for an item than it's actually worth, because the rolled in shipping fees would have to compensate for shipping to an entire planet worth of possible locations.

If you choose to opt out of this shipping program, then your shop items will no longer receive high placement in search rankings. So, you can either choose to play their game, or get punished for not playing. I believe that's called coercion, and that's not any more legal than hiding shipping fees in an item price.

In fact, even now, when you do a search for things on Etsy, shop names are no longer listed along with the items. It's like Etsy's stripped any personal flavour from search results.

It's under debate as to whether or not this expectation to roll shipping into item costs is even legal under US law. It isn't, by the way. It is not legal to add hidden fees while claiming that something is free.

A lot of Etsy sellers are jumping ship, and rightly so. One of the more "curious" reactions, though, was someone who told one of the Etsy sellers who's leaving, that they should just "grow up" and roll the shipping fees into their item costs.

Grow up. Yep. Right there is the problem with late stage capitalism and conservative politics - dressing greed (and thereby intentionally screwing people) up as adulthood, and vice versa. The whole idea of that, of giving over to that manner of thinking because that's "what you're supposed to do as you get older", is a lazy mindset that continues to feed the very system that's going to bleed you dry and give you nothing in return. They want you to think that way, because it perpetuates their agenda.

Pardon me for using the term agenda. I should only ever use it when talking about day planners.

I never did buy anything from Etsy, and now I definitely won't, nor ever set up a shop there. There are other commerce sites you can use, ones that don't cost as much, and also give you a lot more autonomy.


Oh, and as regards the rolling shipping into item costs and its illegality, Etsy is claiming no responsibility at all for it. If you participate in this, and it's determined you're doing something illegal, you're the one getting screwed. Etsy has washed its hands of complicity in that matter - even though they're 'encouraging' you to do it.

It's all part of the fun world of internet gentrification - of which YouTube and Patreon are also part - whereby they are trying to weed out the small-scale sellers so they can concentrate on the influencers whom they can more easily control, and from whom they can extract larger slices of their earnings pies.

July 29th, 2019: Not that I ever used it or anything, but I did remember that I had an account on Etsy which I have now closed.

, , , , ,

Favourite films

2019 07 13 - 09:10

Someone in a forum I frequent posted asking for everyone's favourite films. This is by no means anything less than a herculean undertaking in some folks' cases. There can't be only one.

My list, so far. I'm still working on it.

Favourite classic film: Lawrence of Arabia

Favourite war film: The Bridge on the River Kwai

Favourite beautiful film that I actually hate so I never watch it: The Fall (Tarsem Singh)

Favourite 80s not-even-remotely-guilty-pleasures: Trading Places, Major League, Private Benjamin

Favourite silent film: Battleship Potemkin

Favourite Bond film: You Only Live Twice

Favourite old Hollywood musical: An American In Paris, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Favourite movies that I put on when I go to bed because sometimes I hate silence: three of the five Alien Nation post-TV series films: Dark Horizon, The Enemy Within, The Udara Legacy

Favourite John Hughes film: The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink

Favourite film that I can never watch again because Matt Damon is a Harvey Weinstein apologist: Good Will Hunting

Favourite mindfuck: Altered States

Favourite film that was so emotionally affecting that I can never watch it again because it'll break my heart, again: A Taste of Honey

Favourite Star Trek film: Save the Whales (IV: The Voyage Home)

Favourite Christmas film: Scrooge (1951, Alistair Sim)

Favourite films to watch just for the colour: just about anything by Zhang Yimou, so Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower, and also Tarsem Singh's "The Fall", but I hate that movie

Favourite weekend afternoon films when I was a kid: The World of Henry Orient, the two horrible Peter Cushing Doctor Who films


I prefer, v2, updated for your viewing pleasure

2019 07 01 - 23:34

I prefer

citrus to berries
humour to comedy
bright light to mood light
spongy pillows to feather
barefoot to socks
tea to coffee
working from home to working in public
black ink pens to blue
micro-fine tip to broad
Friday to Saturday
Hafiz to Rumi
bar shows to arena shows
beer to wine
pepper to salt
punk to metal
The Clash to the Sex Pistols
cool days to warm
urban to rural
shower to bath
crunchy peanut butter to smooth
spring/autumn to summer/winter
political left to political right
social liberalism to social conservativism
atheism to religion
subtle to gross
black to white
Dune to LoTR
blunt/direct to overly careful
trains to planes
orange to apple
navel to clementine
green grapes to red/purple
savoury to sweet
drama to comedy
clever to crude
chicken to turkey
Austen to Bronte
being guest to host
pie to cake
Paul Simon to Bruce Springsteen
milk chocolate to dark
flat shoes to heels
tree shade to sunbathing
reading while sitting to lounging
Madam Secretary to Scandal
abstract/surrealism to photorealism
acrylic to oil
printmaking to painting


Buzz kill

2019 05 23 - 21:39

So, I had this nap today where I dreamed a drone was buzzing my building taking photos through people's bathroom windows. Turns out, not so much. I found, upon being woke by it, that it was a huge bug of some kind or other stuck behind my curtains. This thing was about an inch and a half long.

And no, I didn't take pictures of it, before or after its death, and I intend to take my glasses off when I remove its corpse from behind my curtains, so I don't actually need to directly see it.

Any bug loud enough to wake me up, I don't need to see with the naked eye.

Also, dear jodoka, I want you to know that what I killed it with, is the $15 dowel I picked up at Rona to make my own for-now jo with. It's first kill: giant, filthy insect bastard.


Gansai swatches

2019 04 11 - 00:15

There’s something peculiarly satisfying, meditative, and therapeutic about swatching paints or coloured pencils. These are the Kuretake Gansai Tambi 36 set, and the Boku Undo Gansai ‘blackish’ six set paints, minus the Boku Undo reddish black, and the Kuretake numbers 57, 66, 67,, and 34 (I used the numbers, because there is some discrepancy on colour names between different folks and what’s on the packaging), which others tested and deemed not lightfast, and the white, which I didn’t botber swatching on white paper.

I’ll do my own testing at some point.

I’ve found a couple of other gansai sets on, but have yet to discover any info on them.

I really love the way these feel when you’re swiping your brush in the pans, which is due completely to the hide glue binder. It’s very slick, but with a ‘pull’. The colours are uncredibly vivid, even after drying, which is not a thing one always gets with Western-style watercolours, unless you do many layers and/or buy the good stuff.

My biggest regret is that you can’t buy the gansai pans empty. I’d so much prefer them to the Western style full pans, especially when using big brushes.

, , , , , ,

So far today

2019 04 10 - 10:44


Human rights - Social justice

2019 03 10 - 17:40

I've just encountered something that had never occurred to me before, something that explains so much about how different parts of the world handle things like health care, for example. I mean, I knew it, I'd just never seen it put in these specific terms.

I've just read something by a professor of social work in the US, who talked of how such things are viewed in different parts of the world. Health care, for example, in peer nations elsewhere, is seen as a human right - but not in the US. In the US, such things are seen in terms of social justice.

It is, indeed, a very nauseating consideration, to turn a person's very well-being (their access to basic health care, to life-saving insulin, or their access to clean drinking water), into something that they should be granted by the state as a form of charity, or as a form of donated fairness from 'well-meaning' haves to the have-nots, as opposed to those things simply being accepted as the very minimum of a fair and decent existence, and, indeed, being the obligation of the state to provide for all citizens and others under the state's care. Yes, the wealthy should, because they can, but they shouldn't, because the state should, but neither are, because of greed and indifference, holding fast to the I've-got-mine philosophy of the blinkered and wilfully blind.

Why are these things even a question? The water is poison. Fix it.. People are dying. Fix it. These should not even be a debate, but they are; and I worry for Canada, that we will turn fully down a road of self-interest: self-interest of the haves over the have-nots, self-interest of the few over the many, self-interest of the 1%, turning human rights into charities, as opposed to a nation that doesn't question a person's right to exist, to eat, to be healthy, to be safe, to stay alive.


Heirlooms - Saving things that can't be saved

2019 03 08 - 23:23

I had a brief interaction with someone today, who was lamenting that her upcoming move into a small apartment from where she's been living, meant that she'd have to give up a lot of things that belonged to her grandmother - furniture, dresses, baptism gowns, things like that.

We're funny creatures, us humans, with our seeming depthless need to save, to preserve, to not be able to let go. Some of us are better with keeping memories than things, but sometimes it's nice to have the things too.

I suggested to the lady that if she could bear to cut the clothing, or even the upholstery that wasn't otherwise being sold, given away, or recycled, that she could frame the fabrics and have a little something to decorate her walls with. Dollar store frames would do, and a square of fabric big enough to fit the space. A few of those would certainly pretty up a wall nicely

You can frame fabrics, jewellery, pages and covers of books, documents, albums and album covers, menus, programmes, stones, shells, other small mementos or knick-knacks, and all manner of things that will go into a frame or shadow box, that can go on a wall where you can actually enjoy it, rather than in a closet where it takes up space and never sees the light of day.

art, personal
, , ,