Monday, September 15, 2014

What was once truth becomes false

Two Australian surgeons found that half of the facts in that field also become false every forty-five years. As the French scientists noted, all of these results verify the first half of a well-known medical aphorism by John Hughlings Jackson, a British neurologist in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: "It takes 50 years to get a wrong idea out of medicine, and 100 years a right one into medicine." ... Max Plank codified this in a maxim: "New scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

~Sam Arbesman's book The Half-Life of Facts

You should be dancing

Dancing in the movies super-cut.

Maybe she wasn't born with it

SOTD - Sundown

A classic from Gordon Lightfoot, the iconic Canadian folk artists that people still think is dead.

This song reached #1 in both Canada and the US.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Things I learned lately - 13 Sep

  • Tesla now has enough charging stations throughout North America to allow Tesla owners to drive from Vancouver to San Diego, from Maine to Miami or from New York to Los Angeles without worrying about battery range. There will be no 'fuel' cost along the way, because Tesla is committed to making superchargers free for all their owners. Swapping the empty battery for a fully charged unit will soon be an option for those who don't want to wait. The swap option will cost as much as a tank of gas and take less than 5 minutes to swap.
  • 37% of Montreal's population live within walking distance of rapid transit (Metro), the best in Canada.
  • More than 60% of Iranian university students are women.
  • Fast food workers are striking in the US, demanding a minimum wage of $15/hour. That would earn a worker $31,200 per year working 40 hours per week.
  • A person who earns $9/hour, which isn't uncommon for fast food workers, would earn $18,720 per year, before deductions and taxes.
  • Disney is going after Deadmau5's iconic mouse head logo. Joel "Deadmau5" Zimmerman is confident he'll take the big cheese if the matter winds up in court. "Disney thinks you might confuse an established electronic musician/performer with a cartoon mouse. That's how stupid they think you are."
  • The fog in San Francisco is named Karl
  • While the restaurant industry grew on average only 4% in 2013 (in the US), the breastaurant industry grew by 18%. This refers to restaurants that feature nearly nude servers. Another big thing in Washington and Oregon states are 'bikini barista' coffee shops. There are more than 130 of these.
  • You can't plead 'no contest' (nolo contendere) in Canada.
  • Hollywood had the worst summer for box office revenues since 1997. They only earned $4 billion. I wonder why.........

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How the music industry has changed in 30 years

This amazing animated pie chart shows how music was sold between 1983 and 2013.

It starts out with cassette tapes eclipsing records just as CDs had arrived. It ends with physical media barely earning 1/3 of total sales.

Lyrics I love: Kate Bush - Wow

When the actor reaches his death
You know it's not for real, he just holds his breath
But he always dives too soon
Too fast to save himself

Invisible hand

SOTD - Water shows the hidden heart

Enya makes such gorgeous music. This is one of my favourites, simply because it wasn't played to death on radio.

So there's that.

Then there's the bizarre language they made up for this and a few other songs. By 'they', I mean Enya and guest artist Roma Ryan:

"Loxian is an artistic language and alphabet created by writer and lyricist Roma Ryan for Enya's 2005 album Amarantine. The language is featured in the songs "Less than a Pearl," "The River Sings," and "Water Shows the Hidden Heart". The term apparently derives from the Greek Loxos, meaning oblique.

Ryan created the language when she found herself unable to create satisfactory lyrics in English, Irish or Latin for some of Enya's songs. She came up with the idea after having worked with Tolkien's fictional Elvish languages while writing lyrics in these languages for one of Enya's tracks, recorded for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack in 2001.

Loxian is described by its creators as "a futuristic language from a distant planet"; its script (seen both in the Amarantine CD and the book Water Shows the Hidden Heart) is said to draw on Tolkien, Runic language and elements of Pitman shorthand. When sung it has a Vox Humana quality where the human voice becomes a type of musical instrument [Vox Humana from the pipe-organ stop designed to produce tones resembling the human voice].

Roma Ryan has written a book that was published in December 2005, called Water Shows the Hidden Heart, which gives background information on the three Loxian songs and explore her developing of the language."

Monday, September 08, 2014

Net -Zero in Canada

Canada isn't completely void of Net-Zero homes.

One builder in Edmonton has pledged to build only net-zero ready homes by 2015.

Video here.

Lyrics I love: Queen - Sheer heart attack

"Well you're just 17 and all you want to do is disappear
You know what I mean there's a lot of space between your ears"

Welcome to Canada

SOTD - Telephone line

One of the most beautiful songs ever written.

It went to number one in both Canada and New Zealand.

Saturday, September 06, 2014


Awesome IKEA parody ad that compares their paper catalog to electronic devices Apple-style.

Lyrics I love: The Police - Walking in your footsteps

Hey, Mr. Dinosaur
You really couldn't ask for more
You're God's favourite creature
But you didn't have a future
Walking in your footsteps

SOTD - New kid in town

Probably my 2nd favourite Eagles tune.

"It's about the fleeting, fickle nature of love and romance. It's also about the fleeting nature of fame, especially in the music business. We were basically saying, 'Look, we know we're red hot right now but we also know that somebody's going to come along and replace us — both in music and in love.'" ~Don Henley

Things I learned lately - 6 Sep

  • When you flip through an Ikea catalog, 75% of the images you see are CGI.
  • Hugh Jackman almost castrated himself with the Wolverine claws while shooting a nude scene. That would have literally made him an X-Men.......
  • At least half of the email circulating the internet is automatically encrypted (meaning it can't be intercepted and read by normal people) and you don't even realize it. I say 'normal' people because the NSA likely can decrypt it without much effort.
  • A Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte contains no pumpkin whatsoever. It also has 28% more sugar than a can of Coke.
  • TUSK, a group backed by the solar industry, convened a demonstration on the lawn of the Arizona Capitol to demand Gov. Jan Brewer repeal a new tax on homeowners leasing solar panels. Last month, the state's Department of Revenue ruled anyone leasing a panel faced levies of up to $152 starting this year. Arizona's main utility argues that solar customers are getting an unfair discount on their electricity statements. Arizona now possesses 1,875 MW of solar capacity, enough to power 262,500 homes.
  • The largest IKEA store in the world, in Stockholm, is bigger than 10 football fields, or 600,000 sq ft. The largest North American store, in Montreal, is 470,000 sq ft.
  • Spotify (a music streaming service) is about to surpass iTunes for more customers in Europe.
  • Scrabble. Elk Lick. Cyclone. Hurricane. Tornado. Cucumber. Kale. Pie. Nitro. Hoohoo. Odd. True. Big Ugly. All place names in West Virginia.
  • The US Navy has reduced its 5-year acquisition plan for the new F-35 JSF from 69 to 36 planes. So, it's not just Canada looking elsewhere.
  • 60% of Apple's revenue comes from the iPhone.
  • The reason the lights are dimmed during takeoff and landing is to get the passengers and crew accustomed to low light. That way, if the plane has to land, everyone will e able to see in the dark and escape the aircraft safely.

Better than the real thing?

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

A better copyright

Derek Khanna is a Republican House staffer who got fired for writing a paper that used careful objective research to argue for scaling back copyright. Now, Khanna is a fellow at R Street, where he's expanded on his early work with a paper called Guarding Against Abuse: Restoring Constitutional Copyright [PDF], which tackles the question of copyright terms from a market-economics approach, citing everyone from Hayek to Posner to the American Conservative Union.

Khanna recommends new copyright policy. There would be a free 12-year copyright term for all new works. Following that, there could be an elective 12-year renewal, at a cost of 1 percent of all US revenue from the first 12 years. There would then be two elective 6-year renewals, at a cost of 3 percent and 5 percent of revenue, respectively. There is one final elective 10-year renewal period at a cost of 10 percent of all overall revenue, minus fees paid for the previous renewals. This proposal would terminate all copyright protection after 46 years.

Conversely, the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty is examining terms that would commit the United States to the current regime of life of the author plus 70 years.

Tiny worlds!

Orientation humour

SOTD - Sunset grill

Patty Smyth sings harmony vocals on this Don Henley song, while Pino Palladino plays fretless bass. Randy Newman arranged the synthesizer programming for the song. The title and lyrics of the song reference the Sunset Grill, a burger joint on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Things I learned lately - 31 Aug

  • The roots of the 7-day week can be traced back about 4,000 years, to Babylon. The Babylonians believed there were 7 planets in the solar system, and the number 7 held such power to them that they planned their days around it. Their 7-day, planetary week spread to Egypt, Greece, and eventually to Rome. The Jewish people had their own version of a 7-day week.
  • By the late 19th century, workers were still working every day except Sunday. Some Britons used the week's seventh day for merriment rather than for the rest prescribed by scripture. They would drink, gamble, and enjoy themselves so much that the phenomenon of 'Saint Monday' emerged, where workers would skip work to recover from Sunday's fun. English factory owners later compromised with workers by giving them half of Saturday off in exchange for a promise to show up for work on Monday. In 1908, a New England mill became the first American factory to institute the 5-day week. It did so to accommodate Jewish workers, whose observance of a Saturday sabbath forced them to make up their work on Sundays, offending some in the Christian majority. The mill granted these Jewish workers a 2-day weekend, and other factories followed. The Great Depression cemented the 2-day weekend into the economy, since shorter hours were considered a remedy to underemployment.
  • A Startup named Cruise is creating a way to turn any vehicle into a self-driving car for $10,000. The Cruise RP-1 takes a few hours to install. It will eventually work on any car, but for now only works on select Audi cars. The goal is to create a suite of products that will eventually turn any car into a driverless vehicle. It can navigate stop-and-go traffic. It keeps the car in the center of the lane without touching the steering wheel. It is not able to weave in and out of lanes yet.
  • McDonald’s is quietly testing an order ahead and mobile payment app at a handful of its US restaurants. Called “McD Ordering,” the app links to a credit or debit card. You arrive and scan a QR code on display at the restaurant (counter or drive-thru). The app displays your order number and then once your order is ready, you pick it up without waiting in line.
  • In the US, the cost of a hip replacement is $40,364. For the same money, you could fly to Spain, get your hip replaced ($7,371), live in Madrid for 2 years, learn Spanish, run with the bulls, get trampled, injure your hip, get another hip replaced and still have money left over.
  • If our sun was a speck of dust, the Milky Way would be about the size of the US.
  • Can you smell all of those various hydrocarbons, aldehydes, pyridine and pyrazine? Yes? That's bacon cooking.
  • Folks tried to ban coffee 5 times over the course of recorded history. 1511 Mecca; 16th century Italy; 1623 Constantinople; 1746 Sweden; and 1777 Prussia.
  • There's a woman who is divorcing her husband because he doesn't like the movie Frozen.
  • Lead is the heaviest non-radioactive element.
  • A new restaurant will be opening in Montreal named Bar Brutus. Its menu will feature nothing but items containing bacon.
  • Russia has 15,500 tanks. That's more than any other country.

Lyrics I love: Rush - Red Barchetta

I strip away the old debris
That hides a shining car
A brilliant Red Barchetta
From a better vanished time
We'll fire up the willing engine
Responding with a roar
Tires spitting gravel
I commit my weekly crime


SOTD - Duende

Here's some Delerium to meditate to on a gorgeous Sunday.

Friday, August 29, 2014


I was happy to hear that one of my favourite hockey players, P.K. Subban was able to get an 8-year deal done with the Montreal Canadiens. But the deal brought up a topic of interest to me regarding salaries. $9 million dollars. Per year. To play hockey. Why?

That's not the most either. Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators will earn $14 million this next season. Let's compare that with what players earned in 2005. Jaromir Jagr earned $8.36 million for the year. In 1995, Wayne Gretzky earned $6.54 million. In 1989, Mario Lemieux earned $2 million. In 1977, Bobby Hull earned $1 million. In 1967, Bobby Orr earned $35,000.

Now, the argument has always been that professional athletes deserve to earn a lot of money because they play a sport that could potentially end early with a career-ending injury. They also argue that the players are what attract the crowds to the arenas and that's what earns the teams their money. But players also earn money from lucrative endorsements. Consider Sidney Crosby, who earned a $12 million salary in 2013, but also topped up with around $2.1 million in endorsements, as much as the average NHL salary.

I ask you, does a hockey player need to make $15+ million in one year? Does a football player need to make $42 million in one year (Matt Ryan)? Does a basketball player need to make $30.5 million in one season (Kobe Bryant) - $61.5 million if you include endorsements? What does a well-paid soccer player make? $52 million without including endorsements (Cristiano Ronaldo). It would be $80 million if you included endorsements. But that pales in comparison to boxing. Floyd Mayweather earned $105 million last year. That was for 72 minutes of work. I know - that's unfair, as he has to keep practising all year. Tiger Woods earned $61.2 million last year, but $55 million of that was endorsements. Roger Federer (tennis) made $56.2 million, again, most of that - $52 million, was not salary. The highest paid Baseball player (Cliff Lee) made $25.3 million.

OK, so that's what the best earn. How about the typical players? Well, the minimum salary for a hockey player is just over $525,000. That seems pretty reasonable. For football, a rookie earns $420,000. A rookie basketball player earns around $500,000. Guess what a rookie soccer player gets? $35,000. That's it. That's a kick in the pants, isn't it? We can't really compare the rest of the sports, because what they earn is a direct result of how often they win.

Let's not focus on athletes alone though. Some actors get a lot of money for their films too. Robert Downey Jr. gets $75 million. The 10 highest paid actors earned at least $35 million each. Interestingly, the highest paid woman actor only got $33 million (Angelina Jolie).

Now let's take a look at CEOs. John Hammergren of McKesson medical supplies earned $131 million. OK, so CEOs make solid coin. But there are a lot of top bosses of great, money-making companies that know how to keep their earnings to a reasonable amount. Case in point - CEO of WestJet earns a base salary of $568,000. Mind you, if you add all his bonuses etc., his total reported earnings amount to $3 million. The CEO of Tim Hortons has a base salary of $452,000.

Alcohol versus weed

SOTD - YYZ (remastered)

Rush did all of their fans a favour by remastering all of their albums as part of their Sector 1, 2 and 3 box set. So I present to you, the much improved sound of the classic instrumental YYZ. Listen to that subtle, yet precise harmonic echo of the cymbals at 0:35.

Take off, eh!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Lucretius problem

"Risk management professionals look in the past for information on the so-called worst-case scenario and use it to estimate future risks — this method is called "stress testing." They take the worst historical recession, the worst war, the worst historical move in interest rates, or the worst point in unemployment as an exact estimate for the worst future outcome.

But they never notice the following inconsistency: this so-called worst-case event, when it happened, exceeded the worst case at the time. I have called this mental defect the Lucretius problem, after the Latin poetic philosopher who wrote that the fool believes that the tallest mountain in the world will be equal to the tallest one he has observed. We consider the biggest object of any kind that we have seen in our lives or hear about as the largest item that can possibly exist. And we have been doing this for millennia. In Pharaonic Egypt, which happens to be the first complete top-down nation-state managed by bureaucrats, scribes tracked the high-water mark of the Nile and used it as an estimate for a future worst-case scenario."

Nassim Taleb's book Antifragile