Thursday, December 26, 2019

‘And what do you say?’

I’ve been thinking, why is it that all the various digital assistants we use these days don’t demand common courtesy?

Stay with me, here. Whenever you say, ‘Hey Siri’, or ‘OK Google’ or ‘Hey Alexa’, or which ever system you are using, you follow that up with a question or a command, no please or thank you. Why are users not compelled to be courteous? The programmers and code writers for these technologies have it within their power to make it so that users need to say please and thank you - or at least please.

I realised this a while ago when teaching some of my older clients how to use Google Home. Whenever they asked GH a question or gave it a command they ended their sentences with please. It sounded odd to me and I found myself telling them, ‘You don’t have to say “please”, you know.’

One lady, who will turn 100 next year, said to me that just because she was talking to a machine, she shouldn’t abandon the niceties her parents taught her.

If you have used Google assistant or Siri, you’ll know that if you say ‘Thanks’ or ‘Thank you’, the assistants will respond in kind. Google says among other things, ‘I aim to please.’ It’s silly, but that actually makes me smile every time, because being treated respectfully feels good.

There’s no such things as too much courtesy. 

I do wonder... you may well have seen this coming... that as we use technology more and more to access information, do everyday tasks, or to entertain us, are we training ourselves out of being courteous?

Are our children (there it is, you knew it was coming), being passively taught that please and thank you are not necessary or valuable? Alexa, Google, and Siri are not going to prompt, ‘and what do you say?’ when our kids as for something and aren’t polite about it. Surely, this is something that would be easy to fix?

Also, one of the ladies in my class pointed out, ‘Hay (hey) is for horses and cows!’

Monday, December 16, 2019

Don’t lose sight of the Forest for the trees - Red is sick...

The mid-season episode for The Blacklist has aired and so begins the looooong wait for the series to resume at the end of March.

I’ve been reading over reviews and recaps of season 7, episode 10. There are all sorts of observations and theories flying around. Some are just daft. One writer, for example, rants about Red continuing to put up with Liz’s fickle loyalties. That commentator just doesn’t seem to understand the essence of the show. Red can’t walk away from Liz. The whole point of the show is his inability to walk away from her, even when she almost had him killed by lethal injection because she had a stranger report his whereabouts to the police and resulting in him being jailed.

He can’t walk away. He put himself in real danger when he surrendered to the FBI just to get closer to her.

Then there are the reviewers who continue to say ‘The Big Question’ of the show is ‘Who is this person?’ Who is pretending to be Raymond Reddington?

That isn’t the question of the show. When he handed himself in, no one was asking,‘Is this really Reddington?’ That question didn’t even become a thing until the 4th season. The question of whether or not Red was Liz’s father was asked for a couple of seasons, but isn’t the original question either. The big question - the enduring question - across all seasons has been ‘Why has Red come into Liz’s life now?’

Commentators seem to be ignoring the question.

As I’ve said before, I believe - as Red has said himself - a point had been reached in Liz’s life where the threats to her wellbeing were closing in. Why though were they closing in now, after all these years? I believe it is because Red is sick. I believe the blacklist Red has assembled is a to-do list that will serve to protect Liz after he no longer can.

This theory was supported at the beginning of the 7th season when it was revealed, that efforts to cure Red’s condition - which has not been reveal - seem to have ultimately failed.

I theorised a couple of posts ago that Red’s illness is memory related - as mirrored in the storyline about Samar Navabi developing vascular dementia. Navabi is targeted for assassination by the Masad because one day her memory loss would make it impossible for her to keep the Masad secrets she made an oath to keep.

Likewise, I theorised all the games and puzzles Red is shown to be playing with Dembe or on his own are to stave off some form of memory loss.

Anyway, back to season 7, episode 10.

There is a scene, where Red is in the car with Dembe and Park.

Red: I've always lived my life very much in the moment.
But what does one do when the moment is filled with anxiety and dread? 

Agent Park: I assume that was a rhetorical question.

RedAgent Park, how long have you been here? 

Agent Park: Uh, the whole time.

Red: Dembe, has Harold texted you any new information on Gregory Flynn? 

Dembe: No.

Agent Park: Who? 

RedAre we giving you a lift somewhere? 

Agent ParkD-Did you say Gregory Flynn? 

RedYes. If we can find him, we can find my friend.

Agent Park: And Agent Keen.

Red: Possibly.

Agent Park: Definitely. He lives in her building.
After the protective detail went missing, I canvassed the neighbors. One of them was Gregory Flynn. He lives across the hall from her.

Red: Dembe, pull over. Agent Park, you are a treasure. I hope you don't mind, but, please, get out.

Agent Park: Wait. What? Are you serious? 

Red: There's another rhetorical question

Red seems confused about when Park joined him and Dembe and why she is there with them. These lines are not performed in his self-assured, teasing manner, but as genuine wide eyed wonder. 

This scene is stand alone. It is important. He is musing to himself in a private moment, reflecting on his life. As Park assumes, he isn’t asking anyone a question. He isn’t even aware anyone is sitting on the seat beside him. Reddington is always aware, always alert. This is uncharacteristic of him.

C’mon people, take notice.

On a different note Bokenkamp has been recorded saying the second half of season 7 sees Red more relaxed than in the first half because he believes Katarina to be dead. I look forward to things lightening up a bit. Red off kilter, losing his temper, being on the back foot, working with a cloud over his head and time nipping at his heels has aged him. Hopefully, he’ll regain some of his confidence and sunny disposition - at least for a little while.5

Good Job!