Netflix Knockoff Coming to Canada in November: Mark Your Calendar (Or Not)


CBC reported that a new streaming service, called Shomi (yes, Cuba Gooding Jr. fans, it’s pronounced the way you think), is headed to the land of beer and snow. It will be available to Canadians starting in November.

Priced at $8.99, as is Netflix, the service will be different in that Shomi’s programming will be 30% Canadian. As far as I know, most Canadians–we know, Quebec, we know: you’re very proud of your entertainment industrydon’t lose that much sleep over Canadian programming (there’s a reason the government puts a foot in the throat of broadcasters and regulates the amount of Canadian content aired). Plus, factor in that the service will focus on older shows.

It will be interesting (read, as is a Nascar crash) to see how far this Rogers-Shaw Communications venture goes.

Oh, What a Difference Six Bullets and a Boat Ride Make


(Photo credit: REUTERS/Robert Cohen/Pool)

I couldn’t help feel but feel a sentiment of discomfort watching the coverage of Michael Brown’s memorial service. People given the televised funeral treatment are usually heads of states. People such as John F. Kennedy or  Nelson Mandela (the linked YouTube video for Mandela’s funeral is more than five hours long).

Yet, Michael Brown’s send-off was being live streamed for the entire world to witness.

How has a layperson’s funeral managed to be broadcast throughout Earth?

It’s a given that if the U.S. wasn’t so marred in acrimonious racial relations, Brown’s death may not have touched as many people (or, according to many, may not have happened altogether). His funeral along with the Ferguson protests have been the symbol of the current boiling point taking place in Ferguson. Of course, this rage has been steadily simmering since slavery and has manifested itself through, amongst many events, the 1960s’ Watts Riots; the creation of music groups like Niggaz With an Attitude, which denounced police brutality with their track “Fuck Da Police”; or the rise of black pride-fuelled productions such as The Cosby Show, A Different World or Malcolm X, to name a few.

Of course, no one really knows what specifically spurred officer Darren Wilson’s actions–and we probably never will. But the same generations on non-blacks watching riots involving folks with kinky hair and consuming their art have heard and seen too much to discard black anger as mere capriciousness or lazy self-entitlement. And thus the rage displayed throughout this latest episode, whether justified or not, is too laden with history to ignore.

The airing of the funeral was a symbol of how small-folks-centric the news media has become, yes. And also how inexpensive content can be a ratings winner for the 24-hour news channels. But the sudden fame Michael Brown has earned in death is also the result of a country not managing to muffle its dirty laundry the way others have been able to reasonably contain theirs.

CNN Airs Sex Tape (or Something) As Michael Brown Shooting Evidence


CNN, stretching the very little coherent information it has about the Michael Brown shooting, is at it again. This time, it’s not Jack Tapper going off on some weird middle-age-crisis-y type of rant.

No, today’s elephant fart in the room is a much richer bouquet and is brought to us by Don Lemon and some creepy tape in which the shots that killed Michael Brown can supposedly be heard. But, here, the worst’s not even the two lawyers and the former U.S. marshall playing Rorschach test by trying to determine from the gun shots what the shooting officer had for breakfast that day.

It’s the man, represented by his attorney only and not physically present in the segment, who can be clearly heard in the recording over the gun shots.

“You are pretty. You’re so fine. Just going over some of your videos (?). How could I forget.”

Why–on the exhaustive drinkable and non-drinkable surface of planet earth–would CNN run this?

Had the network possessed more solid information about what happened, perhaps this tape could have served as illustrative information about how the succession of shots went down. But, given the absence of a credible chronicle of the events and the fact that no one really know whether the audio is legit or not, this recording bears as much relevance as what the officer’s pants had to say about what happened.

Rosa Parks and the Process To Find the Perfect Media Victim


There’s been a growing chatter in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting about his characterization and that of other (often black) shooting victims following their death.

The issue materialized in the early parts of the Brown coverage into a Twitter-based campaign revolving around the hashtag #iftheygunnedmedown. Twitter users, in majority black, would juxtapose two pictures of themselves: a run-of-the-mill enough to not infer suspiciousness at first glance with a more controversial one (e.g. brandishing a middle finger or posing in a frowning face).

A New York Times reporter is currently catching heat on Twitter (The Washington Post has covered the situation) for a feature article about Brown he wrote where he referred to the dead man as “no angel” within the piece’s first paragraphs.

Anyway, the point of this post was to highlight this NPR article about Claudette Colvin. Just nine months before Rosa Parks earned heroic status for not giving up her bus seat, as she’d been ordered by the vehicle’s driver, Colvin had done the same on March 2, 1955. The interesting part in this story is how the NAACP viewed the 15-year-old at the time and how Colvin explains her lack of popularity.

“When asked why she is little known and why everyone thinks only of Rosa Parks, Colvin says the NAACP and all the other black organizations felt Parks would be a good icon because “she was an adult. They didn’t think teenagers would be reliable.”

She also says Parks had the right hair and the right look.

‘Her skin texture was the kind that people associate with the middle class,” says Colvin. ‘She fit that profile.'”

MSNBC host Touré, who wrote about the article, opines that “(b)y “texture,” she meant color, politely tapping into deep and painful associations between light-colored skin and acceptability.”

It’s great food for thought about the process behind the characterization of public figures, including who gets to make that call.

U.S. Autopsies Performed by “Construction Manager”


Sometimes, death’s only the beginning of one’s troubles.

The shooting of Michael Brown has laid bare many issues festering in American society’s garret, but one of the least talked about might very well be the conditions surrounding the right to perform autopsies. Brown has already undergone three of them and, with the dearth of information about what actually happened that Saturday afternoon, many in the press are turning to the autopsies to speculate about the large gaps left in this story.

Poynter interviewed A.C. Thompson, who wrote a head-spinning 2011 article for ProPublica on the subject. In it he reveals that whoever’s serving your Filet-O-Fish may actually be considered fit to perform autopsies.

“In nearly 1,600 counties across the country, elected or appointed coroners who may have no qualifications beyond a high-school degree have the final say on whether fatalities are homicides, suicides, accidents or the result of natural or undetermined causes.

“For 26 years, Tim Brown, a construction manager, has served as the coroner of rural Marlboro County in South Carolina, a $14,000-per-year part-time post. ‘It’s been kind of on-the-job training, assisted by the sheriffs,’ he said.”

But some of the most egregious mistakes detailed in the article aren’t from the construction manager-turned-medecine-man. They’re from actual MDs.

“Late last year, a doctor in a suburb of Detroit autopsied the body of a bank executive pulled from a lake — and managed to miss the bullet hole in his neck and the bullet lodged in his jaw.”

Some errors are unsalvageable.

“The Massachusetts medical examiner’s office has cremated a corpse before police could determine if the person had been murdered.”

Of course, a big reason behind these failings is money.

“Because of financial constraints, Massachusetts has slashed the number of autopsies it performs by almost one quarter since 2006. Oklahoma has gone further still, declining to autopsy apparent suicides and most people age 40 and over who die without an obvious cause.”

Autopsy work’s not just about closure for the deceased’s loved ones. Since an autopsy determines whether a death is accidental or criminal, the carrying of justice hinges on the quality of what the coroner does.

The article illustrates this with a few cases, including that of Raymond Robair, a construction worker beat to death by an officer. His autopsy reported initially that he died accidentally. But one of the red flags that led to a second autopsy was the fact that the initial one had been performed by a certain Dr. Paul McGarry, a forensic pathologist notorious for “errors and oversights in autopsy after autopsy”. It took five years–and the Department of Justice looking into things–before the officers involved (the one who murdered and the other covering things up) were tried.

You’d think such systemic issues would light a blow torch under someone’s sphincter. Nah, said an assistant medical examiner.

“‘It’s difficult for people to spend money on medical examiner systems,’ Weedn said. ‘They see it often as wasting money on the dead, without realizing that (…) we look for deaths that are premature, or that should not have happened, so that we can go forth and correct those errors in society.'”

There’s no decent way to end this post so here’s POD’s “Alive”, on the joys of not being dead.

Quebec Finally Separates From Canada (On Web)


From Marketing:

“This fall, the domain name .quebec will be available to serve as a URL suffix for websites, making the province the only Canadian jurisdiction with its own signature as an alternative to old standards, like .com and .ca. (…)

In Quebec, the group that pushed for the new domain name says pre-registration for those hoping to buy the .quebec name begins Sept. 2, with the suffixes expected to be available as of Nov. 13. (…)

“We have our own culture, and we have our own way of doing things, and we want to also affirm our presence on the web,” said Michel Philibert, a spokesman for PointQuebec. (…)

The .quebec address is far from alone when it comes to geographic domains. ICANN has also recently authorized suffixes like .vegas, .nyc, .miami and .paris. (…)

He said talks are underway that could eventually see government websites adopt the suffix, a move that could serve as a replacement for the current”