Saturday, November 30, 2013

Things I learned lately 30 November

  • A new study suggests that over-the-counter painkillers like Ibuprofen could prevent two debilitating side effects of marijuana use — learning problems and memory loss — that currently inhibit the drug's medical value.
  • A McDonald's restaurant in Sydney Australia seem to have found a way to stop teens from loitering in the parking lot with friends. They play loud opera and classical music on the outdoor loudspeakers. The only issue is that at times, it seems to be bothering nearby residents too.
  • The city of Vancouver is replacing all round doorknobs with door levers in public buildings to make it easier for the elderly, people with injuries or disabilities. They are also investigating things like wider doorways, lower light switches and higher power outlets.
  • Employees at a Cleveland Walmart held a holiday food drive for other Walmart employees. Walmart made $17 billion in profit last year.
  • The rate of Tesla (electric) cars that caught fire (due to a major accident) are 1 in 6333 cars. That compares to gasoline cars, where the ratio is 1 in 1350 cars. In the period 2012-2013, there were over 400 deaths and 1200 serious injuries in the US alone due to gasoline car fires. In the same period, there were 0 deaths and 0 injuries due to fires in Tesla cars anywhere in the world.
  • [Update: DEBUNKED - It was a scam] A woman left no tip on a $93.55 bill for their gay, female server in New Jersey. The receipt shows no tip and a scrawled note saying "Sorry I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle & the way you live your life".
  • Canada has a total oil refining capacity of 2,085,000 barrels per day. Louisiana has a capacity of 3,309,000 barrels per day. Texas has a capacity of 5,246,000 barrels per day.
  • Hewlett-Packard owns a fleet of 7 Gulfstream V jets, which they use to fly their executives around. The annual cost to maintain this fleet is enough to hire 250 workers earning $100,000 per year.
  • WalMart owns a fleet of 18 jets, including 16 Lear Jets. The purchase price alone on these is in excess of $72 million. The average WalMart sales associate earns $18,000 per year on a 34 hour week. 
  • The RCMP searched the homes in High River Alberta for people and animals in distress during the floods in June. While in the homes, the RCMP seized weapons that were unsecured, in plain sight. Weapons in cabinets or locked away were not taken. In one home, 93 weapons were seized. The total number seized was 542.
  • Netflix in Canada offers 3,717 movies and TV shows while the US version has 10,218.

Mamas and papas

Until quite recently, Sweden had many of the same problems with gender equality as the US; men and women were confined to traditional roles when it came to working and raising kids. Although the country offered more than a year of parental leave, mothers were traditionally the only ones who stayed home with the baby. Women made less money than men, and the 6% of fathers who did take time off were derided with a Swedish term that means "velvet dads" and stigmatized at work for being unmanly.

In what turned out to be a bureaucratic stroke of genius in 1995, the Swedish government created financial incentives for men to take paternity leave. If the father didn't take time off, the family lost one month of subsidies. Soon dads took off a month, two months, even longer. Men got a taste of what it was like to be the primary parent. They became more confident in their role at home, assuming those responsibilities traditionally left to the moms. Dads started craving more time with their kids. Today, 8 in 10 fathers in Sweden now take a third of the total 13 months of leave.

Studies show that when fathers spend time taking care of infants, they are more likely to become involved parents as their children get older.

As everyone got used to the idea that dads would take time off, the culture at work began to change, with flextime becoming more common. The pay gap between men and women started to close. One study showed a mother's future earnings increased about 7% for every month the father took off.

Divorce rates started to go down in Sweden, at a time when they were rising in other countries. For the couples who did divorce, shared custody became more common. A "new definition of masculinity" began to emerge. Birgitta Ohlsson, European affairs minister, put it this way: "Machos with dinosaur values don't make the top-10 lists of attractive men in women's magazines anymore."

"Now men can have it all — a successful career and being a responsible daddy. It's a new kind of manly. It's more wholesome."

This simple little change — giving dads incentives to take parental leave — had a profound effect on employees, employers, women, men, and families.

Germany (population 82,000,000) decided to try a similar experiment in 2007. In just two years, the number of fathers taking parental leave jumped from 3% to more than 20%.

Voice trick

The producers of The Voice should pick an episode next season during the try-outs where they play a joke on the judges (who can't see the singers until they turn around). They should substitute unknown contestants with already established, well-known singers and see if any judges turn around, then watch their reactions when they realize who the artist is. Maybe even disguise the singers so they're not easily recognized. Of course, the artists wouldn't be singing their own material either.

I'd like to see David Byrne (Talking Heads); Bono; Sheryl Crow; Jack White; Beck; Moby; Joan Osborne; Annie Lennox; Enya; Joe Jackson; Richard Ashcroft (The Verve); Gordon Downie (Tragically Hip); David Bowie; Chris Robinson (Black Crowes); Feist; Macy Gray; Liz Phair.

Spiderman in filme noire style

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Car park

A trip to the store goes horribly wrong.

Stinky Ages

Before the Middle Ages, public baths were very common and the general public regularly took baths. Even during the 4th and 5th centuries, the church allowed people to bathe for cleanliness and health, but condemned going to public bath houses for pleasure and condemned women going to bath houses that had mixed facilities. Over time, more restrictions appeared until eventually, Christians were prohibited from bathing naked and the church began to disapprove the excessive indulgence of bathing. This culminated in the Medieval church proclaiming that public bathing led to immorality, promiscuous sex and diseases.

It was believed in many parts of Europe that water could carry disease into the body through the pores. It wasn't just diseases they were worried about, they also felt that with the pores widened after a bath, infections of the air had easier access to the body.

Lower class citizens, particularly men, did not bathe. People tended to just wash hands, parts of the face and rinsing their mouths. Washing the whole face was thought to cause catarrh and weaken the eyesight, so this was infrequent.

Members of the upper class on the other hand, just tended to cut down their full body bathing to a few times per year, striking a balance between risk of disease vs. body odour.

Not always though. Russians tended to bathe regularly, relatively speaking, at least once a month. Because of this, they were considered perverts by many Europeans. King Louis XIV is said to have only bathed twice in his lifetime. Queen Isabel I of Spain once confessed that she had taken a bath only twice in her lifetime, when she was first born and when she got married.

To get around the water/disease and sinful nature of bathing, aristocrats replaced bathing with scented rags to rub the body and heavy use of perfumes to mask their stench. Men wore small bags with fragrant herbs between the shirt and waistcoat, while women used fragrant powders.

Superman in filme noire style

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pied Piper of Play

A good friend of mine proposed an interesting question on Facebook a while back. He asked, "If you didn't have to work, all your basic needs were taken care of including cleaning house, cooking, etc., in other words, if every minute of every day was free to do exactly as you please, what would you do with that time?"

I thought about it for a second and decided that I would become the Pied Piper of Play. I would walk the streets of the corporate world and entice the workers to come out into the streets to play.

As adults, we've forgotten how to play. We need to play.

[Pictured, my friend Bernie and I, playing tribute to the original hosers on YouTube (Great White North II)]

They're really fruits

Beans, corn, bell peppers, peas, eggplant, pumpkins, cucumbers, squash and tomatoes are vegetables, right? Not really.

Botanically speaking, fruits are the part of flowering plants that contain the seeds and are the means by which such plants disseminate those seeds. Even nuts and grains are fruits.

So what are vegetables?  Botanically, vegetables are all the other parts of the plant, including the leaves (lettuce and spinach), roots (carrots and radishes), stems (ginger and celery) and even the flower buds (broccoli and cauliflower).

To sum up – if it is from a plant and has seeds (or would have if it wasn't genetically engineered or cultivated otherwise), it is a fruit; if not, it is a vegetable.

So why do we learn that peppers, corn and cucumbers are vegetables? When it comes to cooking, fruits are generally sweet tasting and vegetables are more savoury and less sweet. Fruits are also typically served as part of dessert or as snacks, and vegetables are part of the main dish.

Wolverine in filme noire style

Monday, November 25, 2013

Things I learned lately 25 November

  • Google now has street... errr, canal level views of Venice.
  • The fine for texting and driving in Alaska is $10,000. In California, it's $20.
  • Prague's public transport company, is planning to provide singles-only train cars.
  • The Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart Germany, has the world's tallest indoor (man-made) tornado.
  • They don't sell Nestle Aero chocolate bars in the US.
  • McDonald's in Japan sells an Ebi Filet-O, which has a fried shrimp patty.
  • McDonald's in Japan sells the deep fried pie shell they use for their apple pie, but it's filled with orangey chocolate.
  • In Japan, Mister Donut has a square donut filled with peanut butter and jelly. WANT!!
  • To promote the launch of Windows 7, Burger King in Japan sold a Whopper with 7 burger patties. 
  • A new Japanese LO1 magnetic-levitation bullet train reached 500km/h (311mph) in testing. It is scheduled to deploy on the Tokyo-Nagoya line by 2027.
  • There is a quadraplegic controlling her robotic arm with her brain through implants.
  • Transparent aluminum is a reality. It's expensive, but it exists. It starts as aluminum oxynitride powder.
  • Until 2011, there were no regulations on beer in Russia. Previously, the government declared any beverage with less than 10% alcohol content to be a foodstuff. It was sold all hours of the day and consumed heavily in public. The beverage is now regulated in an effort to curtail heavy drinking.
  • In January 2013, comet ISON (C/2012 S1) was clocked at 40,000 mph. By 21 November 2013, it had accelerated to 150,000 mph. By the time ISON slingshots around the sun on 28 November 2013, it will be moving at 828,000 mph. That might seem fast but it's only 1/10th of one percent of the speed of light.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rock Around the Clock only became a hit because of a teenager

Rock Around the Clock was not the first Rock 'n Roll record.  It was the first-ever Rock ‘n’ Roll song to hit #1 on the pop charts. If it wasn't for the musical tastes of one teenage boy, the song might have disappeared into obscurity.

When Bill Haley recorded Rock Around the Clock, his producer insisted on slapping the song on the B-side of the record. The B-side of almost any record is the lesser important side.  It is traditionally reserved for experimental songs, half-hearted instrumentals and throwaways.  In other words, filler.

Selected for the A-side was a song called Thirteen Women (And Only One Man in Town).  Almost no one knows it.  Bill Haley and his band had only 40 minutes to arrange Rock Around the Clock. The band ground out the song in just two takes.

Thirteen Women was released and quickly disappeared from history. That’s where the story would have ended if it wasn't for Peter Ford. Peter’s father was the popular actor Glenn Ford, who was about to star in a film called Blackboard Jungle, about a teacher trying to cope with tough juvenile delinquents.

Ford and the producers needed some music in the film that represented what the kids were listening to. So they decided to raid Peter Ford’s records where they found Rock Around the Clock. It fit perfectly, so they set the opening and closing credits to the song.

Blackboard Jungle and the song both proved to be smash hits. Kids flocked to the theatre, but they often came to hear its theme song play in the credits.

How many other songs are out there that never saw the light of day?


Just saw another great movie and ... oh look... it's another (France) French movie. Coincidence?

Anyway, Intouchables is the story of an ex-con who ends up working for a wealthy invalid. I have not laughed so much during a movie as I did for this one.

The film is inspired by the true story of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and his French-Algerian caregiver Abdel Sellou. It's one of the most successful French movies ever made. In Europe anyway.....

Thor in filme noire style

Friday, November 22, 2013

So, piracy - not so bad

A new study by researchers at the London School of Economics suggests (once again) that the entertainment industry has been exaggerating the impact that digital file sharing has had on their bottom line. It also found that for some creative industries, copyright infringement might actually be helping boost revenues.

This is my not surprised face....

The life of a photon

Light travels from the Sun to the Earth in about 8 minutes and 19 seconds. While it only takes 8 minutes and 19 seconds for the light from the surface of the Sun to reach us, it actually takes about 10,000-170,000 years for a photon to travel from the core of the Sun to the surface of the sun. That's how strong the magnetic field is.

I like to think about that sometimes.

One photon might take tens of thousands of years to emerge from the sun, zoom outward and encounter no obstacles at all in our solar system, heading out to who-knows-where for another however many hundreds, thousands, millions of years.

Another photon escapes that quantum furnace after an endless sentence, zooms out for just over 8 minutes, enters Earth's atmosphere, makes it past every atom of air, reflects off of the petal of a flower and is redirected into our eye where it ends its journey as one minuscule part of the image we see.

I don't know about you, but that's deep.

Captain America as filme noire

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

When your computer slows down

One of the most common complaints people have about their computers is slowness and/or freezing up. Sometimes this comes on suddenly or it can be something that happens gradually over time. I would like to share my experiences with you on why that happens and what you can do about it.

I'll start with naturally occurring slowness. The fact is, as you use your computer over time, it's going to slow down. The only way to avoid this is not to use the computer at all. The reason this happens is many-fold.

a) Fragmentation. The files on your hard drive get fragmented. This is a normal situation that results from programs being installed and uninstalled, files being created and deleted and even more so, browsing the web. The only way to cure this situation is to run the defragmantation utility that comes with Windows. Regularly. If you've never run it before, it's going to take some time. Possibly hours. Once run and continued on a regular basis, it should only take a few minutes.

b) Bloat. The more software you install on your computer, the more Windows has to keep track of. You'd think that this wouldn't affect your computer much, but over time it does. The Windows registry is a database that tracks everything you have on your computer. The software and the hardware and everything about them. The more you load up, the bigger and messier the registry gets. One of the tune-up tasks I perform is to uninstall anything that hasn't been used on the computer in the last 3 months. You would be amazed at how much this improves performance. Especially in light of the next topic.

c) Start-up routines. Many programs you install on your computer not only copy files to the hard drive and add shortcuts to the desktop and start menu (or start screen in Windows 8), they add many registry entries which have to be read every time Windows starts. Even more, a lot of programs install little portions of themselves into the Windows start-up routine. You'll know this is happening if you investigate the processes tab of the Windows task manager. If your list is more than 40 entries long, there's a good chance you are running a lot of 'helper' apps. Helper apps are a case of smoke and mirrors. For example, if you have a helper app named acrotray.exe running in the background, its purpose is to help load Adobe Acrobat Reader whenever you open a PDF file. The helper app can mean the difference between a PDF opening in 2 seconds versus 5 seconds. It's how a lot of software makes itself look like it runs fast. At one time, I used to offer instruction on how to disable many of these helper apps, but now that computers tend to have more RAM (memory), the gains would be subtle, unless your goal is to get to a functioning desktop faster. If that is your goal, I recommend the free utility 'autoruns'. Use the 'logon' tab to do your maintenance of the start-up routines, but be sure not to disable necessary programs like your anti-virus. How are you supposed to know what those programs you see listed do? Research. Hello Google.

d) Multi-tasking. Your computer only has so much RAM (Memory). Think of your RAM as the equivalent of your desk. The desk is only so big. You can only have so many things on the desk before it gets full. If you need to open another book or look at another paper, something's gotta go. The same type of thing happens in RAM. When you've got 16GB or 32GB of RAM on your computer, it's like having a huge desk. You'll likely be able to have many running programs open at once without seeing any slowness. But if your system only has 4GB or RAM, it can only handle so much at a time. There are two logical solutions to this. Buy and install more RAM. Or close some of your programs. Your task manager will show you when you're getting close to 'filling up your desk'. You just have to know where to look.

Let's talk for a moment about naturally occurring freeze-ups. We live in an instant gratification culture. As a result, when we click on something, we expect instant results. If we don't get them, we click again. And again. This solves nothing. If your computer has become unresponsive, it's because it's busy. There are signs to look for. Look at the hard drive indicator LED on the front of the computer case. Is it on solid? You know - instead of just a light flicker? If it is, that means it's busy. Open the task manager. Go to the 'performance' tab. Is the CPU usage pegged at 100% or indicating that it is very busy? Then it's busy. So what's the solution? Well, assuming that the business isn't the result of malicious software (Infection), the solution is patience. Wait! Let the computer finish what it's doing. That might take a few seconds. Maybe a few minutes, depending on what it's doing. Does the 'process' tab in the task manager indicate that a program is using up a lot of CPU usage? Then that's why it's unresponsive. There are a number of things that can cause your computer to seem sluggish. Be patient.

There are other things that can cause the computer to slow down. I will list the common ones in no particular order.

a) The computer is infected with malware. The only way to be sure is to run an up-to-date anti-virus software and investigate the processes listed in task manager.

b) Windows update is in the middle of updating the operating system.

c) Your anti-virus software is in the middle of a file scan.

d) Windows is indexing your files.

e) You are browsing the web and the content being loaded is hogging system resources.

f) The hard drive is failing and critical files needed to run the system are corrupt. The only way to confirm is to run the error checking utility in Windows for your hard drive (right-click the hard drive letter (usually C:) and choose 'properties', then 'tools' tab, then 'error checking'. Make sure the option to 'automatically fix file system errors' is NOT checked and 'scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors' IS checked, for a full diagnosis.

An old school Conservative's take on the modern crop

"They're (the government) not multilateralists domestically. When was the last time we had a First Minister's conference? It's been a long time. And so they're not natural multilateralists. And that's partly because they think there's a lot of talk that wastes time and you have to put up with people who have these outlandish views that are different from your own. Well, that's life. We have to be involved with people that are not like us in a world that's increasingly not like us."

~Joe Clark (8 Nov 2013)

The Incredible Hulk in filme noire style

Monday, November 18, 2013


What happens when parent decide to convince the kids that every November, their dinosaur toys come to life while they sleep.

This is what.

De rouille et d'os

I watched the movie "De rouille et d'os" (Rust and Bone). If you're in the mood for a touching and courageous show, this is it. What I especially like about European features is that they don't feel the need to put makeup on the actors when it's not realistic.

Great acting too. Marion Cotilliard and Matthias Schoenaerts were brilliant.

'Tis but a scratch

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Things I learned lately 16 November

  • 83% of prostitutes conduct business on Facebook.
  • People tend to look more attractive in groups. This is known as 'the cheerleader effect'.
  • Teens are visiting the mall 30% less than they were in 2007.
  • People who are lactose intolerant should actually eat some dairy. Small amounts.
  • Soon, the Google Chrome web browser will indicate if you're about to download known malware.
  • You've never seen your face, just reflections and pictures. Some scientists suggest that if you saw a clone of yourself, you might not recognize it as you, because our idea of what we look like is different from what we actually look like.
  • Avatar; bangle; bungalow; jungle; khaki; nirvana; pundit; pyjamas; shampoo; teak and veranda are all English words that came from India.
  • Jelly Belly sell irregular reject jelly beans at a discount. They're called Belly Flops. Want.
  • In Thailand, they ring in the new year with festivities (called Songkran) where everyone participates in a giant water fight. Even the police are a valid target.
  • Copper Beech Farm in Greenwich, CT is for sale for $190 million dollars. That makes it the most expensive property for sale in the US. It spans 50 acres with a mile of water frontage. The main house boasts 13,519 square feet of living space including 12 bedrooms, 7 full baths and 2 half baths, a library, a solarium, wine cellar and a staff wing. There's also several other buildings on the property, two pools and a spa, an orchard, gardens and a big forest.
  • In the 18th century, in cities, you could make a living by searching the streets for dead horses, cutting them up, and selling the meat to wealthy dog owners.


This could be one of the coolest videos I've seen in a very long time.

Stunning visuals.

Very convenient

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'm glad we don't have these

Russian pontoon bridge.


The origin of the word bacon

The word derives originally from the Old High German “bacho”, meaning “buttock”, which in turn derived from the Proto-Germanic “backoz”, meaning “back”.  By the 14th century, it found its way into Old French as “bacun”, meaning “back meat”.  And by the 16th century, it found its way into Middle English as “bacoun”, which referred to all cured pork, not just the back meat.


Banksy NYC

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

1816 - The Year That Had No Summer

The Year Without a Summer was mostly the result of the April 10, 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, located in Indonesia. This was the largest eruption in 1,630 years (since the Hatepe eruption in AD 180), and was reportedly heard as much as 1600 miles (2600 km) away. The force of the blast obliterated the top third of the mountain and sent 35 cubic miles (145 cubic kilometers) of rock and ash in the air. Many residents who survived the blast, the ash cloud and resulting tsunami waves which were as high as 13 feet (4 meters) suffered lung infections as a result of all of the sulfur in the air.

Volcanic ash was found as far away as 810 miles (1300km) from the eruption and was over 39 inches (100cm) deep in areas within 47 miles (75km) of the blast.

Crops close to the volcano were burned and those covered with volcanic ash were smothered, creating an immediate food shortage in Indonesia. The large amount of volcanic ash and sulfuric acid droplets in the atmosphere blocked the sunlight, resulting in a volcanic winter in the Northern Hemisphere during the spring and summer seasons of 1816. The average global temperatures decreased 0.7 – 1.3°F (0.4 – 0.7 °C) and a persistent dry fog described as a stratospheric sulfate aerosol veil was observed in the northeastern US.

Typically, temperatures are relatively stable in the spring and summer in northeastern US and southeastern Canada, ranging from 68°F (20°C) and 77°F (25°C) during the day and rarely falling below 41°F (5°C) at night. Summer snow is extremely rare. However, in May 1816, frost killed off most of the crops that had already been planted in these regions. In Lebanon, New York, temperatures dropped to below freezing almost every day in May. In early June, nearly 12 inches (30cm) of snow fell in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

On June 4, 1816 frost was reported in Connecticut. On June 8, 1816 it snowed in Albany, New York and Dennysville, Maine. On June 9, the ground froze solid in Lebanon, New York. On June 12, 1816 the Shakers who lived there had to replant all of their crops that had been destroyed by the cold. In July and August, river ice was observed as far south as Pennsylvania. Berkshire Hills had frost again on August 23, 1916!

This trend continued throughout the Northern hemisphere in 1816 with dramatic temperature swings sometimes from normal or above normal summer temperatures (up to as high as 95°F or 35°C) to near freezing temperatures from one day to the next. This had devastating effects on the crops and transportation. Crop failures resulted in a decrease in local food and supplies such as firewood. Transportation was limited, which made importing goods very difficult and expensive.  As a result of all this, many people could not afford the little food that was available.

Harvests in Britain and Ireland failed due to the cool temperatures and heavy rains. Famine was particularly rampant in Ireland due to the failure of wheat, oats and potato harvests. Food prices rose sharply in Germany and there were riots in many European cities.  Cold and floods killed trees and rice crops in China. The eruption even disrupted China’s monsoon season causing overwhelming floods in the Yangtze Valley in 1816. The delayed monsoon season in India caused late torrential downpours that aggravated the spread of cholera from the River Ganges in Bengal to as far as Moscow. Due to the volcanic ash in the air, Hungary experienced brown snow and Italy experienced red.

The ensuing winter of 1817 was bitterly cold as a result of the eruption of Mount Tambora. For instance, in 1817 in New York, temperatures dropped to as low as -26°F (-32°C) causing New York’s Upper Bay to freeze solid. In eastern Switzerland, the summers of both 1816 and 1817 were so cold that an ice dam formed below a tongue in the Gietro Glacier, high in the Val de Bagnes.

While this eruption and subsequent weather had catastrophic effects on many in the world, there were a few minor historical pluses.  For instance, it is thought by many historians that the resulting famine spurred many tens of thousands of New Englanders, particularly farmers who’d lost everything, to head West and further populate the United States.  Another one, for you literature fans, is that during the summer of 1816, Mary Shelly and John William Polidori were forced to stay indoors with their friends decided it would be a great idea to have a “write-off”, with each person trying to write a more frightening story than the others.  The result of this was Frankenstein (Shelly) and Vampyre (Polidori).

One of those people who left New England during this famine was none other than Joseph Smith, who would later go on to found the Mormon religion.

Karl Plesz in runes

My name written out using Viking runes.

And yes, I realize that the post's title sounds like Karl Plesz in ruins.

Typical IKEA assembly

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Things I learned lately 10 November

  • The music video for "Thriller" cost $500,000 to make. At the time, it was the most expensive music video ever made. CBS Records wouldn't pay for a 3rd video from the Thriller album and MTV never pays for videos. So the video was funded by getting MTV and Showtime to pay $250,000 each for the rights to show the 45 minute The Making of "Thriller", nicknamed The Making of Filler.
  • I was just recently informed that in my little high school on the outskirts of Montreal, we used to have a teacher by the name of Rooshikumar Panya. He taught at LTMHS in the late 1960s. He was a great sitar player and a friend of Ravi Shankar, and in fact was married for the last 30 years to Annapurna Devi, Shankar's first wife, a great sitar player in her own right.
  • Texas judge Elizabeth E. Coker resigned just before an investigation for misconduct; she texted instructions to prosecutors to help them convict defendants. She is accused of influencing jurors to convict defendants. She apparently will face no criminal or civil sanctions for her crimes; nor will the victims whose trials she perverted be freed.
  • In Canada, we refer to the Humidex to describe the humidity's effect on the temperature. In the US, they talk about the real temperature and the 'feels like' temperature.
  • The highest paid public state employees in 42 states is a sports coach. In the other 10 states, it's a medical school dean or something like that. Priorities...
  • $30 in raw popcorn can turn into $3000 in sales at a movie theatre.
  • If you are issued a paper boarding pass with 'SSSS' on it, it means you're selected for secondary screening. If when you get to security you tell them you have an electronic boarding pass (which is on your phone in the bin passing through the scanner), they won't think you've been selected for secondary screening.
  • The "Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property" proposes that Congress legalize the use of malware in order to punish people believed to be copying illegally. Software would be loaded on computers that would somehow figure out if you were a pirate, and if you were, it would lock your computer up and take all your files hostage until you call the police and confess your crime. This is the exact mechanism that crooks use when they deploy ransomware. More evidence that copyright enforcers' network strategies are indistinguishable from those used by dictators and criminals. But they want more. They want "a more permissive environment for active network defence that allows companies not only to stabilize a situation but to take further steps, including actively retrieving stolen information, altering it within the intruder’s networks, or even destroying the information within an unauthorized network. Additional measures go further, including photographing the hacker using his own system’s camera, implanting malware in the hacker’s network, or even physically disabling or destroying the hacker’s own computer or network."
  • Fox News personalities actually told the grads of the year NOT to follow their dreams and that there's nothing wrong with the economy.
  • Canadians may be the only country that calls electricity 'hydro'. We also refer to it as the 'hydro bill'.
  • Elon Musk went to Queen's University in Kingston, 1990-1992.
  • Burger King (US only) now makes a challenger to the McRib. Just in case you care.


If you've ever seen the music video for Royals by Lorde, or even if you haven't, this parody done by the 22 Minutes crew is hilarious.

Adult tantrums

There's something happening in the US that reminds me of an aspect of politics that I never quite understood.

When a party is in power, they are bound to make changes. These changes are not likely to sit well with the other parties. Differences in ideology will do that. The thing I never understood is the rationale behind hijacking the government in one form or another to try and stop the changes even though the party (or President) is still in power. My logical brain suggests that no matter how much a ruling party changes things, people can always vote for change in the next election. No matter how unrecognizable a party makes a country, you can always change things again if you vote in a different party in the next election.

This is why I never understood why people will say things like "Oh, I will never vote for that party even though they might have some good ideas, because I'm afraid of what they might do while they're in power." I mean seriously, what's the worst that could happen? You get 4 years of changes you don't like and then you elect someone else. It's what gave me the freedom at various points in my life to vote for parties other than the one I'm usually aligned with. Because sometimes the other party has some good ideas worth taking a chance on while my (natural) party seems stuck in the mire.

I'm sick and tired of the "I can only ever vote for this one party" mentality "Because remember what the other guys did 40 years ago?", or "Only our party knows what's right for this country." What utter effing hogwash. My solution is a system similar to Germany's proportional representation. This forces parties to compromise and entertain other ideas while making every vote count, not just the ones that won the plurality. Parliaments become truly representative of the people.

Food for thought.

This is England

Friday, November 08, 2013

Another example of why I hate DRM (Digital Rights Management)

Microsoft protected content playback. I tried to play some Netflix content on my computer. The Silverlight plugin complained and wouldn't do it. Something about the DRM not working and the date on my computer being wrong (it wasn't).

I tried rebooting to no effect. Then I realized that I have Windows 8 and as a result, could use the Netflix app that I had installed when I switched to Windows 8. I logged in and tried to play the content. It wouldn't let me. Went on about there being a problem with my audio driver. Windows offered to fix it for me.

It couldn't. I will give Microsoft credit for one thing. They offered to fix the problem through a tweak in the Windows registry and restarting the aaudiosrv service. That actually fixed the problem, but what I realized is that the only way I could get Netflix to run on my computer was to disable the audio DRM functionality of Windows (that's what I had effectively done).

So here we go again. Damned DRM messing up my computing experience. How would a consumer have figured that out? They would have just given up and assumed they cannot run Netflix on their computer.

So what's this particular DRM all about? A few years back, Microsoft agreed to do something the entertainment industry asked for. Namely, they asked Microsoft to make it so that Windows would not be allowed to make live copies of content being watched or listened to on the PC. What this results in is that if your hardware doesn't meet the DRM standard or the DRM software is broken or it seems you are attempting to record what you're watching digitally, Windows refuses to play the content.

In other words, the entertainment industry owns your computer.


Happy Birthday in the style of Debussy

It's not just theatric improvisation that gets my blood stirring.

This improvisation of the Happy Birthday tune done in the style of Debussy is magnificent.

It brought a tear to my eye.

If Data were on Star Trek the Original Series

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

More inane nostalgia from my youth

As I was sitting alone in Phil's restaurant Saturday morning, getting a good breakfast into me before going off to teach for the day, I was reminded of my first solo breakfast out when I was 17.

I had finished high school and decided to go into the workforce, not relishing the idea of continuing my education at the time. I landed a job as a 'box boy' at Millbank Industries, which was a record distribution centre for every music label, serving Discus stores (remember them?) and the music departments of most major department stores like Eaton's, Simpsons, etc. (remember them?)

It was quite the commute to get to work from Deux Montagnes. It involved a commuter train ride and 2 buses. I was never ready for breakfast as soon as I got up, so I preferred to eat closer to work. The guys at work told me that there was a decent restaurant across the street on Montee de Liesse at the bowling alley.

I started going there for breakfast every day. This was a novelty for me because I had never gone solo to a sit-down restaurant before. The server didn't speak much English, so I also had to put my French into use and did surprisingly well. I can still smell and taste those runny yolks that I would mop up with my toast and the amazing coffee they served.

It felt good to get out into the world. First job. First time on my own. Living the good life.

The Rob Ford 12 steps program

  1. Get people to like you
  2. Get elected
  3. Once in power, ignore everyone's advice
  4. Don't stop drinking or doing drugs
  5. Get on camera drinking and doing drugs
  6. Deny that you're on camera drinking and doing drugs
  7. Keep hanging out with questionable people
  8. Keep the press off of your driveway
  9. If anyone proves you're drinking and doing drugs, tell them you're only human
  10. Realize that you're doing so badly, even the Conservatives won't hang with you anymore
  11. Blame the cops
  12. Carry on


Monday, November 04, 2013

Thriller solo

Nonstop has got some mad dance skills y'all.

Check out his Thriller solo.

Things I learned lately 4 November

  • In almost every European city, bikes outsell new cars. Especially in the countries of Lithuania, Greece, Romania, Slovenia and Hungary.
  • Las Vegas is almost ready to open a new 550 foot tall Ferris wheel, the 'High Roller', as part of a huge Linq dining and entertainment walk across from Caesar's Palace.
  • Americans call them splinters. Canadians tend to call them slivers.
  • The country with the highest internal migration rate (people moving) is New Zealand. The US is 2nd. People from Finland, Norway, Canada and Australia move around a lot too.
  • The average cable TV bill has doubled in the last 10 years in the US.
  • Scientists have found water 2.4km below the surface in Timmins ON, that may have been trapped there for more than 2.5 billion years.
  • Cream soda is usually light brown in the US, but it's pink in Canada.
  • 58% of Americans support legalizing marijuana now.
  • Carrot Dating is an app that promises a first date (with a woman) in exchange for some kind of incentive gift (bribe).
  • For generations, the two main islands of New Zealand didn't have names. People just called them North Island and South Island. They will now have Maori names: Te Ika-a-Maui (the fish of Maui) for the North and Te Waipounamu (the waters of greenstone) for the South.
  • In Japan, they have sushi restaurants where various dishes travel around past every table via conveyor belt. You simply pick the dish you want as it passes by. If you want something custom, you place your order by touch screen and it gets sent to your table on a separate high speed conveyor. Your bill is calculated based on the (coded) empty plates you place in the disposal slot at your table.
  • A woman in Ohio was arrested for taking $2.87 from a public fountain to buy food.
  • The plastic micro-beads that are used in facial scrub are polluting the Great Lakes.

Deer plus T-Rex equals?

Saturday, November 02, 2013

I'm in the club

"I order the club sandwich all the time, but I'm not even a member, man. I don't know how I get away with it.

How'd it start anyway?

I like my sandwiches with three pieces of bread.

So do I!

Well let's form a club then.

Alright, but we need more stipulations.

Yes we do; instead of cutting the sandwich once, let's cut it again.

Yes, four triangles, and we will position them into a circle. In the middle we will dump chips. Or potato salad.


I got a question for ya, how do you feel about frilly toothpicks?

I'm for 'em!

Well this club is formed; spread the word on menus nationwide.

I like my sandwiches with alfalfa sprouts.

Well then you're not in the fuckin' club!"

~Mitch Hedberg

Save the fishies

Terrific 'minute earth' video about our fishies.

Save the fishies. 'Cause they be tasty.