Open Letter to the Government of Canada

Attention: MP Jason Kenney, Calgary South East, Conservative Party
1168-137 Ave SE
Calgary, Alberta
T2J 6T6
Mr Kenney: 
My name is Scott Laing. I was born and raised in Southern Alberta and have lived in one or another of its towns and cities all my 44 years. I currently reside in the southeast Calgary neighbourhood of Mckenzie Towne. 
From birth Doctors recognized a congenital defect, which at the time described me as a “floppy baby” (I’m sure medical science has a much less descriptive label now with at least twice the syllables), however it was several years before Dr. Brownell at the University of Calgary finally affixed the neuromuscular diagnosis of Central Core Disease (myopathy). So, I’m sure you can imagine, through my life I’ve been tight with several aspects of health services, from doctors and nurses, therapists and technicians right on down to Personal Care Aides. It is the PCAs that I’m writing to you about today, but this letter isn’t at issue with health care. I just want you to understand my relationship with Personal Care Aides. 
You see, since I moved to Calgary almost 20 years ago, the care givers in the home care field has typically been filled by individuals who are working through one stage or another of the citizenship process. So while I’m writing to you about the plight of a specific PCA here in Calgary, this is also about students in Toronto, transit drivers in Vancouver or road crews in Montreal. Because if this is affecting only one person I know, it doesn’t take a genius to realize it’s happening to hundreds or thousands across Canada. It’s about Immigration, and the way institutions (like banks) and the various levels of government in Canada have (mis)treated those trying to make Canada their home. And I’m not even going to get into the taxation without representation aspect. 
Honestly, I’d like to give you the specifics of the individual I’m writing to you about today, but I promised I would not. The person in question has told me many horror stories about how Citizenship and Immigration Canada backlash the people that dare question the status of their application, and so is terrified to even let me tell you so much only if I don’t give specifics. 
(As an aside, I’m guessing that of these people who suffered “back lash,” most actually had other conditions on their files that delayed the paperwork or denied their application. However, I also guess that these rumours are not discouraged by CIC Officers so as to help reduce the number of calls they would receive on a daily basis.) 
So please bear with me as I’ll try to give you a clear enough description of this extremely faulty (and rapidly worsening) situation without scaring the very person I’m trying to help. 
Essentially, the story goes like this… In 2009, a caregiver lived alone through the harrowing first years in Toronto, and having survived the required waiting period, submitted application for Permanent Resident status. It was the first step on the way to becoming a Canadian citizen. At the time, she was advised that the process would take 24 months. 
Sometimes, immigrants are lucky to have their family with them in their new homeland, but often there is a lone parent back in the motherland looking after children while the other braves alone here until Permanent Resident status is achieved, as was the case for my PCA. Over those years waiting for the PR papers to come, my PCA was able to return home to see her husband and daughter only twice, with less than 70 days together. 
Almost six years of life gone by, only barely two months that a mother could hug her daughter. 
It seems odd, then, that the government party that claims to hold high traditional family values would decide that two year processing time for a PCA’s PR should be increased. 
But not odd to the little girl, who was just four years old when her Mommy came to Canada. She who hoped to be here before her ninth birthday, but then told to wait another year. Not odd, just cruel. 
And then when that moment came, low and behold, what does she discover? That’s right, the processing time has been increased yet again! The waiting time has been increased four times in the last year, jumping from 36 to 44 months, then 45, and now 47 months. 
All that boggles the mind, but it’s not the weirdest bit of information seen. For according to the CIC website “If you applied on or after January 1, 2015: Our goal is to process most complete applications received under Express Entry in six months or less.” 
If this wasn’t so horrible to those that have waited for years on end, it might be funny.
Look, these are people that have come to Canada, whether by choice or necessity, that have dared to dream that life can be better somewhere other than the land they were born in. Can you honestly imagine what that must feel like? They are just seeking the same things that we all are: a decent home, a good job, and safe communities in which to grow a family. 
I hope I’m wrong, but from this government on this subject, I expect my PCA will get little satisfaction. If I get a response I suspect little more than rhetoric about “economic realities,” “real world logistics” or maybe some of the latest phrases that are cleverly disguised ways of saying that you don’t really care about this issue. Go ahead and prove me wrong. I’d happily eat crow if it meant something really got fixed. 
Scott Laing 
cc Rt Hon. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Conservative Party Leader
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
cc Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Chris Alexander, Conservative Party
365 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1
cc MP Justin Trudeau, Official Opposition Liberal Party Leader
350 Albert Street, Suite 920
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 6M8
cc MP Thomas J. Mulcair, New Democrat Party Leader
300 – 279 Laurier West
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5J9
cc MP Kent Hehr, Calgary Central, Liberal Party
Suite 105, 1040 – 7 Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
T2P 3G9
cc Avaaz Canada


Everyone’s gone bat-shit nuts! (‘cept me)

I feel like there ought to be some serious skill testing questions before anyone can post comments anywhere on the web. Like, fuck Captcha; I’m talking some strong word problems that would be the IQ equivalent to those “you must be so tall to ride” at Disneyland. True, we might get a few more comments created by ‘bots,’ but wouldn’t it still be an improvement? 
A few weeks back, SONY’s PlayStation Store launched their 2015 PLAY sale campaign. A bonus feature to gaining access to some good games at a good price was a 10% discount on a future purchase if two of the the four games offered were pre-ordered. 
Always looking for something different and working to make my gaming bucks go their farthest, I checked out the offers. The first two titles held little interest, as Journey was just a port of the same game from PS3 to the current console, and n++ appeared to be too much of a twitcher for my personal tastes. But the others showed a lot of promise. 
Galak-z (here, up in Canada it’s properly pronounced Galak – zed) from 17 bit, is a top down Mech shooter slash 80’s anime sim that reminds elder gamers and geeks of Voltron, Macross, and other titles featuring VFs (variable fightercraft). While I find the degree of difficulty quite high (compounded by a lack of difficulty toggles) and the Rogue-like system (the pilot must complete five consecutive missions or episodes — although luckily not in a single sitting — before the next season of procedurally generated levels unlock a save point) hard to defeat I can’t stop trying to push through. It’s been, for me, one of the best preorders I’ve made for a non-sequel game. 
So, with that success, I had pretty high hopes on the second pre-order. I thought there was little risk with Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. According to reviews and pre-release videos, EGTTR is supposed to be a game where you explore the countryside and village in England as you work to solve the mystery at hand. Seemed like a no brainer. My nephew said, with an unknown precision, that this game would be dissapointing unless there was some connection to BioShock. 
But once Rapture actually launched and I spent time trying to engage the surroundings, it became clear that this wasnt the game I was expecting. I decided to retrace some of the places I had researched the game and was stunned to see many high scoring reviews that ignored major flaws. 
So I thought that if SONY decided polluting the web with what appear to be solicited reviews, then I would spam my own review to try to return sanity to the situation. 
The following is a review I posted in the comments of several online gaming site reviews. 

Imaginative Sedation. Interactive Anaesthesia. IGN gave this game 8.0 out of 10 even though the development team admits “the only fail state in the game is if the player doesn’t care.” Well, I’m here to say caring will only get you so far in completing the Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture experience. You will also need stimulants. 
In order to get this title to the point where I would feel comfortable actually calling it a game, the developers would’ve been wise to offer some concrete objectives and other conventional gaming aspects. By design, EGTTR is more like a “walking sim” with an abundance of emotional baggage. It plays out more like a very, very slow paced e-novel with only minor differences in play through depending on the order that you choose to progress across the town and countryside. 
In Dear Esther, the Chinese Room’s glitchy previous title, they offered flag collection tasks as well as other standard game play conventions like object manipulation and problem solving. Some structures like this to assist in solving the mystery of Rapture or a real presence of danger to the player would have added greatly. 
That said, I’ve given 2 out of 5 stars because the environments are beautifully constructed and the story is enhanced by a haunting soundtrack. 
I sincerely hope this studio is able to continue together. I feel, in spite of the troubled titles so far, it’s clear to see the potential for this small crew. With a solid game idea built around their obvious skills, they could be the independent crew that gives us the next Dishonored or Portal.

As explained below, I did make one change to the comment to correct an error, but to be perfectly accurate, I’d need to note that IGN actually bumped up their score to 8.5 after developers revealed that they left a “trot” button active (certainly not a sprint or run, but maybe like that fake jog the last person on a crosswalk does when the red hand starts flashing). To counter their bump, I lowered my initial 2 out of 5 score to 3 out of 10. 
Today, I’m not sure what I was expecting. I guess I hoped that one or two of the sites’ reviewers might provide some discussion of the points I had. MAYBE, on the long-shot edge of things I would loved to have gotten an admission that the reviews were really just advertisements bought and paid for by SONY. 
Mostly, though, I just got grief. 
Here’s a cut-up of the hilarity that has ensued…. 
First off, I got some replies regarding Dear Esther.

@rh0bus: I don’t remember any of that in Dear Esther, only walking, lots of walking. I still have no idea what that game was about exactly :)).


@scottgnial: I remember no flag collection tasks, problem solving or object manipulation on Dear Esther. Don’t remember a single glitch of remark either, and I played it through three times. 
Are you sure you’re thinking of the same game?

So, I double checked, and no. I was NOT thinking of the same game. 
I apologized for the mistake and moved the paragraph that references to it from my original comments, replacing it with the comparison to Ether One, the game I’d had in mind of writing the original review. 

Meanwhile, consider Ether One from White Paper Studios, which is a very similar type of experience. To keep players moving through the game they offered flag collection tasks as well as other standard game play conventions like object manipulation and problem solving. Just some small additions like this to assist in solving the mystery of Rapture or a real presence of danger to the player would have greatly benefited the title.

Well, that initially garnered some upvotes and I even got a nice little edit from the previous EUROGAMER commentator 

EDIT: Negged by some small children for correcting someone, which he later thanked me for. Small children on the internet really are hilariously pathetic 😀

One commentary said claiming EGTTR as slower or more boring than Ethan One wasn’t even possible. 


@rh0bus: So you say this game is even more boring than ether one? i’m inclined to believe you, but sorry, i can’t. ether one was the highest Point of boredom i ever reached in my life. It is simply not possible that anything is more boring. (this is my personal opinion) 

I did my best to reassure him…

Like granny used to say, “the proof is in the payload.” Check it out and let me know… by comparison, I feel Ether One is like riding into oncoming freeway traffic on a Bull named Bodacious while xenomorphs dressed in cheerleader outfits try to convince you to attend their Time Square ‘dance review’ just as Tom Cruise pulls up in a Harrier jump-jet with a recently killed Cthulhu strapped to the top, shouting that L. Ron Hubbard couldn’t find “his own arse in a snowstorm using two hands and an annotated copy of Grey’s Anatomy.”

I’d naively hoped that was to be the end of it 
It was around then when I started to get a rash of inquiries about my same comment being posted on several different sites from the polite:


    @rh0bus: lol, is this you from Metacritic, or are you stealing people’s reviews?

    to the insane posing as Sherlock Holmes: 

    @scottgnial: Your original post was a copy and paste that I have seen on numerous sites regarding this game. It astonishes me that you thought no one would notice. 
    This makes your second post even more silly, as you weren’t getting Dear Esther confused with Ether One – because you never actually wrote it in the first place. Then you go on to mention how silly you would have looked for making that mistake. Well guess what…? 
    So to summarise: Stop bashing a game that you simply don’t like. It’s obviously not for you, it requires a bit of thought, and you can’t even be bothered to think up an original comment.

    I’ll point out here that this Eurogamer commentary didn’t come from the same pathetic small child on the internet as before. If you really want to know more about the biggest dumb-ass in Europe – at least English speaking (I’m talking about you, Putin) – you’ll need to search through the comments on EUROGAMER’s EGTTR reviews, but by his screen name it’s easy to figure out that he came from somewhere in Britain.
    Obviously, I had a pair of responses. 
    For GAMESPOT I took the high road: 

    Yes, I posted it on IGN, Metacritic, Trusted Reviews, PSN, and EUROGAMER. If SONY is going to spam the web with obviously paid out reviews, then I figured this would be my way to combat it. But thanks for checking!

    Whereas, for Lord Whack-a-doodle on EUROGAMER I bypassed the low and went off road. 

    Wow, someone’s daddy must work for SONY. 
    As you were SO clever to find that I did in fact post a review on other sites (legally, just so you know, I’m allowed to do that for several reasons, the most important being that nobody from SONY or their affiliates actually paid me to produce my review, which is quite different from most of the reviews out there). 
    At this point the only thing I regret over the situation is that you, after acting like some super sleuth
    Man from UNCLE in order to track down said copied reviews, instead of choosing to go on and actually read the other sites similar line of questioning to get your answers, decided you might rather try rubbing up the two brain cells the gods left you in a weak attempt to appear clever. 
    Well, that, and the time I’m going to lose re-watching
    Fawlty Towers in order to restore my belief in British intelligence and wit.

    I’ll admit I could have gone softer, but as Uncle Bill used to say, “Do not proffer sympathy to the mentally ill. It is a bottomless pit. Tell them firmly, ‘I am not paid to listen to this drivel. You are a terminal fool.'” 
    But, clearly I overestimated Earl Git’s intelligence and instincts of self-preservation, because he decided to initiate a second round:

    @scottgnial: Ok then, say I give you the benefit of the doubt here and believe that you wrote that review, that means you opened an account with EG (that was your first ever post after all) just to review this game. Why? Are they all new accounts on all the other sites too? You must understand that makes you look a bit odd. Or just anti SONY. 
    I suspect it’s the latter as you keep mentioning SONY in a negative light in each of of your posts. Also the fact you seem to think all the positive reviews of this game are paid for by them.
    Anyway, its all to (sic) easy these days when one sees a particularly long comment, on numerous sites (under different usernames I might add) to assume it’s a copy & paste. If that is your review then fair enough, but I suggest you make it a little more obvious in future.

    It was clear… I had to put him down. 

    Is there a foundation or charity to which I can make a donation that will be of benefit to you and anyone else unable to grasp the glaringly obvious? 
    Of course I don’t like this game, hence the 2 of 5 score I offered. And the reasons for that are still noted clearly in my unbiased (ie unsolicited) review that’s posted here, Gamespot, ign and some other gaming websites (I see SONY isn’t willing to accept criticism either, as the original post on PSN appears to be removed). 
    Yes, I felt duped on the $15 (PS+ preorder price), so I decided to write and share my opinions when it became obvious that the review articles from the aforementioned gaming sites were failing to address flaws that are obvious to someone that has actually played the game for more than a few minutes! 
    What makes me most disappointed is how you think your opinion should be worth more than mine, or mine worth more than yours. If you love the game that much, then why don’t you spend your effort playing with it or writing a review of your own rather than manufacturing discord. 
    From this point I’m not going to waste anymore time on trying to explain it to you.

    It appears I broke his spirit, because he stopped posting. 
    In hindsight, I suppose I owe a small debt of gratitude since this series of comments was the initial reason I decided to start blogging again. 
    As for the rest of you, your only hope is they’ll take my advice and insert some seriously hard requirements to keep idiots off the web. 

    Dear Yahoo! Sports

    If you can’t afford proper writers, hire an editor…

    The latest on Deflategate was the equivalent of Houston Texans owner Bob McNair giving us his $0.02. (Hey, what happened to the cents sign on my virtual keyboard?) It included the following paragraph.

    McNair’s comments don’t include were any analysis of how an email from the NFL to the Patriots and a subsequent ESPN report that 11 of 12 footballs were significantly deflated — a report that was never corrected by the league even though it was wrong — helped turn a minor issue into a scandal. McNair also didn’t say that Brady was unaware not giving over his personal communication would lead to punishment, and he didn’t acknowledge that nowhere in the CBA does it state that a player’s personal communication is subject to review by the NFL. Or that Brady cooperated with investigator Ted Wells otherwise by answering every question, as did the Patriots aside from not making employee Jim McNally available for a fifth interview.

    That might just be the worst string of words the Internet has inflicted on the English reading world in a long, long time. One might be tempted to call it a paragraph, but at best it’s a disjointed collection of run on sentences (or sentence fragments) full of misused words, double negatives and generally confusing ideas and statements. It’s only held together by the fate of double spaced breaks on either end, which lends it the illusion of being a paragraph.

    It’s clearly a knee jerk “article” written by a Patriot fan-boi who was in such a rush defending Brady and the cheaters, they couldn’t actually check what ended up on the page before submitting it. Lots of fires need putting-out in Beantown, I suppose.

    But the fact that the Yahoo! Sports editors put it up on the web in this form is shameful. Next time they allow cut and paste “reporting,” at least have the gonads to print in the same language it was originally written. (I’m guessing it was either Klingon or Enochian?)

    I move that Brady should be suspended an additional four games to cover this shame. All in favour say “aye”…. The ayes carry the vote by the tally of the Foxboro season ticket holders to every English speaking human. Sorry, Tom. Guess you’ll have to stay home with your supermodel wife another couple weeks. Life’s a bitch, huh?