Can’t you see I don’t like you? Why are you making this so hard?!? [a tale of unsubscribing]

[this post was originally featured on my LinkedIn Profile]


Lots of businesses think it should be hard (or rather, not easy) for users to get off their email list. I argue that if someone wants to leave, you should practically walk them to do the door so they don’t hurt your IP or domain reputation. This seems to be (IMHO) some common sense that many businesses can’t stomach.

Consider this scenario:

I signed up for your product/ service/ newsletter some time back. Let’s go as far as saying a long time back. Even though I don’t engage with your content, you still keep emailing me. *cough* Don’t Do This *cough*.

Finally, I decide that today is the day I want to stop receiving your emails. So I click the unsubscribe/ manage preferences link you have provided in your email. (You do have this in your email, don’t you?)

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But what’s this? You want me to log in first? I can’t recall my info (I signed up a long time ago, remember) and honestly, I couldn’t be bothered.

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You’re making this a chore now, so I’ll just mark you as spam. I’ll solve the problem my way since your way is too annoying.

Aaaaaaand scene.

You see what happened there? Making it harder for users to let you know that they’re no longer interested in your content is a sure fire way to boost your complaints. And I’ve said before, it takes a lot less than you think to get your domain or IP address blacklisted

I hope this helps 😉



“Can we make the unsubscribe link smaller?”

[this post originally appeared on my LinkedIn Profile]

I hear this all the time from clients. Fundamentally, it’s about fear – fear that they will lose their customer. Fear of rejection. But it’s definitely the wrong question. Here’s the correct question:

Can we make the unsubscribe link highly visible and basically impossible to miss?

Here’s the thing:

If you’re sending timely, relevant and engaging content to your subscribers, they’ll keep wanting more from you.

If your content is not relevant or interesting to your subscriber, they’re going to want off your list, and you should make this as simple as possible for them to achieve.

The alternative is a Spam complaint.

Trust me, you never want a Spam complaint. Not even one. Not ever. So make it as painless as possible for someone to let you know that they’re just not that in to you without anyone getting hurt.

Here’s an example of getting it wrong:

I cancelled my Vudu account a little over a year ago. I haven’t used their service since and really, I have no desire to do so. Every now and again I see an email from them pop in to my Promotions folder, and today I thought to my self “I should probably unsubscribe”. Except I couldn’t.

There’s no way to get to a preference center or an unsubscribe link from this email. Which means that I have just one option. The dreaded Report Spam button.

3-26-201510.01.10 AM

Let’s forget for a minute that this violates CANSPAM laws and just focus on the customer convenience aspect.

Don’t force your customers to mark you as spam, because they will. Give them an easy, one click way to get off your list – it’s better for your data integrity, and its better for your customer.

Make it clear that you understand if they’re just not that in to you, and that you’re OK with that.


Shit that will probably happen to a lot of you this year

I am, by nature a planner. I try to evaluate the odds that something will happen and then plan for it. Many people, however, are not. Here’s what could happen to you this year if you’re not the planning type, and some things you can do to make it suck a little less.


1. You will lose your phone or it will get stolen.
Perform a backup of your contacts. Back this up to your Gmail account. Now when you get your new phone, you won’t have to beg people to send you their numbers via Facebook. Welcome to the future.

2. Your computer will probably die in some way
2.1 Perform a backup
2.2 Perform another backup
2.3 Make sure these are stored in different places, online if possible.

3. Your phone battery will die.
Get a small pocket charger. They will stop you from getting annoyed or save your life, depending on the circumstance. Get a spare one for the car and keep it charged.

4. Sadly, some of you will get robbed
Stop carrying your debit card in your wallet. Get a credit card (even a prepaid one) so that you can charge back any funds that are taken from you. Keep your debit card in the safe at home and keep some cash with you instead. Use your credit card for everything and pay your bill in full at the end of the month

5. Someone will break in to your house.
Get a safe at home. Keep your valuables in here. In case of fire, in case of flood, in case of burglary. Passports and debit cards are a pain the ass to replace. Bolt that sucker to the floor if you can.

6. You will get a flat tyre.
Please go outside now and check your spare. I’ll wait. Did you check the jack? Do you have a traffic triangle or cone to stop other peeps from smacking in to you? I’ll wait. (Pro tip: keep a cheap plastic poncho in your spare well in case it rains when this happens to you. Also, keep a flat piece of cardboard on top of your spare, so you don’t ruin your clothes while bending down to changeyour crappy flat tyre.)

7. The power will go out
Buy some battery powered lamps. These guys are awesome, get many of them. Keep a torch hanging somewhere convenient. Actually, if you can – keep multiples around the house.

8. You will scrape or cut yourself outside of the house. It will suck.
Keep a plaster in your wallet. Simple.

9. You will need to cut, pry or open something
Keep a pocket knife handy. Small, sharp and with just a few extensions. This will save you from trying to open everything with your teeth like some kind of plastic eating dingo.

10. You will need a bunch of these things while in the car or somewhere away from home
Keep a torch, multi-tool, phone charger cable and wet wipes in your car. (Pro tip: keep a spare usb adapter in there too, so you can take your cable out with you and charge wherever you are. Like at a friend’s house).

(Bonus tip: get more rechargeable batteries than you think you need. Get two small containers – one for dead and for charged. Work your way from one to the other and then do a mass charge up once a month)

The most important hour of my week

Sunday morning has become the most important part of my week. One hour in particular will determine whether my week is going to be an amorphous blob of undo-ability, or a precision strike on my to-do list. For the past few months, I’ve decided to take an hour early on and look at the week gone by and the week to come.

    1. Review of tasks done over the past week. Are there any ideas that came out of them that I can use? Was anything on there a waste of time or money? Should it go on the “don’t do that again list?”
    2. Review of tasks not done (that should have been done). Why did they fall off? Was I bad at scheduling them? Was there an external factor? Should they be rescheduled or deleted?
    3. Plan my train time. I have 80 minutes of commuting most days – 40 there and 40 back. Planning this time has become crucial to me having a good week. Examples – read book X; write proposal Y; listen to audiobook Z. I have found that trying to decide this on the day wastes at least 15 minutes of back and forth, so mapping it out ahead of time removes the friction
    4. Review all current project status. Is there anything that needs to be done to move these forward.

Important: This is not the time to DO anything.

It’s just time to review and make decisions about what comes next. This is probably one of the hardest parts – resisting the urge to just jump in do things right then and there. The problem with this, is I will then not get through all of the pending outcomes. Taking time to think about my stuff is in this instance more import than actually doing my stuff.

New Addition:

    5. Plan out the menu for the week. I have a 14 day breakfast and lunch calendar at work, so I already know what to order way ahead of time. Now I am going to start planning dinner time with Kat, to avoid the dreaded “what should we eat; what do you want to eat; what are you in the mood for” conversation that has us spinning our wheels at least twice a week.

What are some of the things you do that help you get through your week with your sanity intact?

How To Collect Responses With A Google Form

While working on my Zero To Launch course work, I reached out to some friends and family members to try and find out what I’m good at.

Here’s the form I sent out:

Some folks asked for help making their own Google Form, so here it is.

All you need is a Gmail account, so that you can access Google Drive (formerly Docs).

1. Log in to Google Drive

From your Gmail account you access Drive in a couple of clicks. Click on the dots near the top right corner and then select ‘Drive’
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2. Create a new form

Once you’re inside your Google Drive, click on the ‘Create’ button and then select Form
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3. Give your form a name and select your template

The templates aren’t great, but at least it’s not all plain black and white 🙂
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4. Open up your form to the public (for Google Apps users)

If you’re a Google Apps user, you’ll have the option to keep this form private to users of your domain. Since we want the whole world to be able to submit a response, uncheck this option.
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5. Add your questions

This is the obvious part. Just ask people what you want to know. On my form I included some examples as well. Try and keep these as short and direct as possible to elicit honest answers.Google offers you a couple of different question types, ranging from simple text to multiple choice and even dates.


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6. Set up Responses in a spreadsheet

After you’ve sent out your form, Google Forms will begin collecting the responses you receive. You’ll be asked to choose how you’d like to store these responses. (Note: You can make this choice at any time while editing your form by clicking the Choose response destination button in the toolbar.)

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7. Create a shortlink (optional)

Google Drive links are long and ugly by default, so I use and to make the link a little friendlier to share via email and IM<

Three Friends Named Meg Lost In Costa Rica. Reward Offered.

Recently, three friends of mine went missing in Costa Rica. Coincidentally, they’re all named Meg. I haven’t seen my 3 Megs in a while, and I’m getting worried. Life is so different with no Megs.

Until a few months back, my 3 Megs and I would have fun every day. We would watch adorable videos on Youtube,(cute Meg loves cats ) listen to our favourite songs on Soundcloud (hot Meg likes the club stuff) and do productive things on Trello (smart Meg is always busy). Now, those places feel barren and empty with 0 Megs instead of 3… I can’t load, I can’t buffer and I barely sync anymore…

2014-04-02 08.41.45

I’ve gone looking for my 3 Megs everywhere. Here’s me looking for them at my house.


No sign of them at all. Nothing even close to one Meg. The worst part, is I’m sure that if I got a message to them, I could find them. Only… I can’t reach out to them via email. Or Twitter. Or Facebook.

 With no Megs in my life, it’s like the whole world is so…disconnected

Next, I went looking for my Megs in the park. I saw signs there saying that ICE had some Megs. Maybe some of them were mine! But no, these were not the Megs I was looking for. In fact, I’m not sure there were any Megs there at all… I also know ICE has a fortress there, and they have been accused of withholding some people’s Megs inside. I’m pretty sure they have mine.


What have you done with my Megs ICE?! Where are they!

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Finally, I searched at my office. My Megs and I used to do all sorts or busy, work-y things there – email, presentations, oh the memories. So I took one last look around, and for a minute, just a minute, I felt their presence.

But alas, it was not them. Not even one of them. Just a ghost of a Meg. A faint trace of a Meg that once was. 0.03 Mbps. Megs Barely Present Still…Oh, how I Miss My 3 Megs.

So, if you or anyone you know finds my 3 Megs, please send them back to me. I’ll pay you a reward. In fact, if you get my 3 Megs to me, I’ll pay you a reward every month – just so they can be with me. Sort of like a ‘fee’ if you will. I have no problem giving you the money every single month, just as long as I have my Megs…

Make Chrome faster on your Android and Desktop with just two clicks

NOTE: Don’t try this if your computer or phone a) doesn’t have a lot of RAM (4gb+) or b) stutters or struggles right now with the memory it does have. Same goes for phones, but 2GB RAM for mobiles.

1. Open this address inside Chrome:


2. Here you can edit the max tile count. This essentially controls how much memory Chrome has access to. If you’re confident that you have lots of RAM, go for 512, otherwise do 256. You can always change it later.


Change Max tiles in Chrome to increase ram access


3. Relaunch Chrome

4. Monitor your memory usage
Make chrome faster

I’ve done this on both my Windows Desktop and my Galaxy Note 2 and so far the results have been great. It’s like a whole new browser!

Clear your Dropbox cache to free up space on your Android device

While listening to music on my Galaxy Note 2 I received a very weird error message – my device was almost out of space. I thought this odd since I have the 16GB version and a 64GB card as well.

So, I launched the Application Manager and saw that Dropbox was taking up almost 1GB by itself. This was even more confusing since I don’t have any files marked as favourites on my Android, so technnically Dropbox shouldn’t be taking up much space.

It turns out Dropbox creates a local cache of files that you open. My cache was almost a gig, but once I cleared it out, it was back down to 0.

Here’s How Clear Your Dropbox cache and free up space on your Android device.

1. Open Dropbox App
2. Click ‘Settings’
3. Scroll down to the bottom of the menu and select “Clear Cache”

That’s all there is to it. Now you should have a bunch of free space available again.

Be wary of whose opinion you count (Brene Brown 99U Talk)

I listen to a fair amount of TED talks and other similar speaking type gigs. The last one that really hit home was David Foster Wallace’s amazing “This Is Water” commencement speech, and now this talk by Brene Brown struck another chord with me.

It goes in to how you should be careful of your critics, because not all opinions are valid. The talk was given at a conference for designers, but I think that in today’s knowledge world, it’s relevant to everyone.

The Impress Coffee Brewer by the Gamilla Coffee Company, Stuff I like

I have a confession: I buy a lot of gadgets. Some of them awesome, many of them crap and a small few get me hooked on them permanently. Whenever possible I try to buy gadgets from Kickstarter or little one man shows, to spread the love and show support for innovative ideas.

So I figured I would put together a post of some of the Stuff I Like.

The Impress Coffee Brewer by the Gamilla Coffee Company

impress coffee brewer

This is without a doubt my favorite thing from the past 2 years. Before, I would make a pot of coffee every time I wanted some (which is often). Because I felt like an idiot just making one cup at a time and like an asshole not making coffee for everyone in the office, I would make a whole pot. That meant that a lot of coffee would go to waste. Even worse was when someone else would make coffee, and it was crap (I’m picky like that).

That’s why I love this little guy. I can brew just one cup of my favorite dark roast, let it brew for just the right amount of time and then enjoy it piping hot.

You can buy the Impress Coffee Brewer here:

The fact that it STAYS piping hot for a long time a nice added bonus. I bought some soap stones that retain heat and I use them with the Impress to keep my coffee deliciously hot for up to an hour.

Use NFC to connect your Android phone to your car radio

I’ve been using an NFC tag with my Android phone for a while now, but only to perform very basic functions. Pretty much all it did was to silence my phone when I got to the office.

Now I’ve used NFC to do a little more and make using my phone in the car a little easier. NFC (which stands for Near Field Communications) allows you to use small RFID tags (like on your EZ Pass) to trigger actions on your phone. All you to is touch your NFC capable phone to an NFC tag (which can store a small amount of data) and the action or actions saved to the tag will run.

Here’s the recipe that I’ve set up to run when I tap my phone to the car radio:
Android NFC Triggers


The app I use to set this up is called Trigger, available here

The radio itself doesn’t have any NFC functionality, but I bought these cheap little NFC stickers on Amazon (about $6). When they’re stuck to the underside of the radio, they’re basically invisible.




Here are two tags mounted on the underside of my car radio:


NFC Stickers on Car Radio


It’s a pretty small thing, but it does save me the hassle of having to do all of that manually every time I get in the car. Are you using NFC tags to do anything cool in your car?

President Barack Obama’s full eulogy of Nelson Mandela (audio and text)

To Graça Machel and the Mandela family; to President Zuma and members of the government; to heads of state and government, past and present; distinguished guests – it is a singular honor to be with you today, to celebrate a life unlike any other. To the people of South Africa – people of every race and walk of life – the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us. His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and hope found expression in his life, and your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy.
It is hard to eulogize any man – to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of a person – their private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone’s soul. How much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world.

Born during World War I, far from the corridors of power, a boy raised herding cattle and tutored by elders of his Thembu tribe – Madiba would emerge as the last great liberator of the 20th century. Like Gandhi, he would lead a resistance movement – a movement that at its start held little prospect of success. Like King, he would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed, and the moral necessity of racial justice. He would endure a brutal imprisonment that began in the time of Kennedy and Khrushchev, and reached the final days of the Cold War. Emerging from prison, without force of arms, he would – like Lincoln – hold his country together when it threatened to break apart. Like America’s founding fathers, he would erect a constitutional order to preserve freedom for future generations – a commitment to democracy and rule of law ratified not only by his election, but by his willingness to step down from power.

Given the sweep of his life, and the adoration that he so rightly earned, it is tempting then to remember Nelson Mandela as an icon, smiling and serene, detached from the tawdry affairs of lesser men. But Madiba himself strongly resisted such a lifeless portrait. Instead, he insisted on sharing with us his doubts and fears; his miscalculations along with his victories. “I’m not a saint,” he said, “unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”
It was precisely because he could admit to imperfection – because he could be so full of good humor, even mischief, despite the heavy burdens he carried – that we loved him so. He was not a bust made of marble; he was a man of flesh and blood – a son and husband, a father and a friend. That is why we learned so much from him; that is why we can learn from him still. For nothing he achieved was inevitable. In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness; persistence and faith. He tells us what’s possible not just in the pages of dusty history books, but in our own lives as well.

Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals. Perhaps Madiba was right that he inherited, “a proud rebelliousness, a stubborn sense of fairness” from his father. Certainly he shared with millions of black and colored South Africans the anger born of, “a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments…a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people.”

But like other early giants of the ANC – the Sisulus and Tambos – Madiba disciplined his anger; and channeled his desire to fight into organization, and platforms, and strategies for action, so men and women could stand-up for their dignity. Moreover, he accepted the consequences of his actions, knowing that standing up to powerful interests and injustice carries a price. “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination,” he said at his 1964 trial. “I’ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Mandela taught us the power of action, but also ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those you agree with, but those who you don’t. He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet. He turned his trial into an indictment of apartheid because of his eloquence and passion, but also his training as an advocate. He used decades in prison to sharpen his arguments, but also to spread his thirst for knowledge to others in the movement. And he learned the language and customs of his oppressor so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depended upon his.

Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough; no matter how right, they must be chiseled into laws and institutions. He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history. On core principles he was unyielding, which is why he could rebuff offers of conditional release, reminding the Apartheid regime that, “prisoners cannot enter into contracts.” But as he showed in painstaking negotiations to transfer power and draft new laws, he was not afraid to compromise for the sake of a larger goal. And because he was not only a leader of a movement, but a skillful politician, the Constitution that emerged was worthy of this multiracial democracy; true to his vision of laws that protect minority as well as majority rights, and the precious freedoms of every South African.
Finally, Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There is a word in South Africa- Ubuntu – that describes his greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us. We can never know how much of this was innate in him, or how much of was shaped and burnished in a dark, solitary cell. But we remember the gestures, large and small – introducing his jailors as honored guests at his inauguration; taking the pitch in a Springbok uniform; turning his family’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS – that revealed the depth of his empathy and understanding. He not only embodied Ubuntu; he taught millions to find that truth within themselves. It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailor as well; to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion, generosity and truth. He changed laws, but also hearts.

For the people of South Africa, for those he inspired around the globe – Madiba’s passing is rightly a time of mourning, and a time to celebrate his heroic life. But I believe it should also prompt in each of us a time for self-reflection. With honesty, regardless of our station or circumstance, we must ask: how well have I applied his lessons in my own life?

It is a question I ask myself – as a man and as a President. We know that like South Africa, the United States had to overcome centuries of racial subjugation. As was true here, it took the sacrifice of countless people – known and unknown – to see the dawn of a new day. Michelle and I are the beneficiaries of that struggle. But in America and South Africa, and countries around the globe, we cannot allow our progress to cloud the fact that our work is not done. The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality and universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before, but they are no less important. For around the world today, we still see children suffering from hunger, and disease; run-down schools, and few prospects for the future. Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs; and are still persecuted for what they look like, or how they worship, or who they love.

We, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. And there are too many of us who stand on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.

The questions we face today – how to promote equality and justice; to uphold freedom and human rights; to end conflict and sectarian war – do not have easy answers. But there were no easy answers in front of that child in Qunu. Nelson Mandela reminds us that it always seems impossible until it is done. South Africa shows us that is true. South Africa shows us we can change. We can choose to live in a world defined not by our differences, but by our common hopes. We can choose a world defined not by conflict, but by peace and justice and opportunity.

We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. But let me say to the young people of Africa, and young people around the world – you can make his life’s work your own. Over thirty years ago, while still a student, I learned of Mandela and the struggles in this land. It stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities – to others, and to myself – and set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be better. He speaks to what is best inside us. After this great liberator is laid to rest; when we have returned to our cities and villages, and rejoined our daily routines, let us search then for his strength – for his largeness of spirit – somewhere inside ourselves. And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, or our best laid plans seem beyond our reach – think of Madiba, and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of a cell:

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
What a great soul it was. We will miss him deeply.

May God bless the memory of Nelson Mandela. May God bless the people of South Africa.


Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

Today the world lost a hero. Mere words cannot explain the ways in which we changed my country and my life, all our lives.


“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Nelson Mandela


Rest In Peace Tata Madiba.

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013


You will be missed.

To my fellow South Africans: You should be afraid

Right now, there is a scandal surrounding the president and the government. This is not the first scandal, nor will it be the last.

But it is different.

The difference is the government now feels it has the authority and the power to dictate to you how you should act. Before, this corrupt few would flee, and cover, and bury their corruption, to hide it from you.

Nathi Mthethwa

Now though, they are telling you to look away, as they no longer feel required to hide. It is no longer them in the wrong for getting caught, it is you in the wrong for looking in the first place.

It is important also to just send a caution that we have got laws — yes, some of them we will have to amend — but the continuing of flaunting of these pictures [of] a place which has been declared by the minister of police as a national key point is also not correct. It is a breach of law.”

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa

This man has the temerity to tell you what you can look at. He has the audacity to tell you what you can share. This man has the bald face boldness to tell you that by exercising your Constitutional right to free speech, you will be punished by law. By some version of some law that has not been specified, and may not exist, but which will soon be there to punish you.

This man is calling you a Nazi. He is saying that anyone who publishes pictures or spreads videos of the scandal they are trying to hide is the same as the group of people who killed millions of innocent people. And his false equivalence can not be tolerated.


If you watched this,and you were not insulted by his audacity or horrified by his analogy, then you did not hear him.

If you heard this and were not frightened by the dictatorial stance the government is taking, then you were not listening.

If you listened but do not shudder at what will happen once this becomes a precedent, or do not see the threat to your civil liberty, then you did not understand.

If you understand and choose to shrug your shoulders and merely say that politicians will do what they will do, then you do not care
And if you care, but you do not act or speak out or make it know that you disagree, then you can not complain.


If you care but remain silent, then you will bring this new fresh hell upon yourself, and you will have no one to blame but yourself.


I will not obey. I will not observe. I will not be quiet. Mr Police Commissioner, you may label or libel me, but you will not control or silence me.