Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The great divide


The difference in earning potential for a label musician versus an independent musician.

Embiggen.

Spot on that is...


Two funny guys battle over their Michael Caine vocal impressions.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Totally shreds

If you're a fan of the heavy, heavy metal band Slayer, then you're going to love this Christmas light display, synchronized to a popular Slayer tune. A tad too heavy for me, but damn, those lights......

Good thing he's in restraints....

You know what's cool about kids? They just do what comes natural. No fear. No worries. No judgments. No stress.

When the music calls for rocking out, they happily oblige.

We could all learn a thing or two from kids. Re-learn is what I meant to say.

Bonus: The power of Bob Marley.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

There's always a better design


I love this redesign of the standard emergency exit door.

Presenting my second Civic

I won't go into the logistics about why I was in the market to buy a car lately, but it came to pass that Darlene and I went car shopping. After juggling priorities regarding what characteristics the car should have, we agreed on fuel economy and comfort, with luxury and cargo space relegated to the bottom of the list. We finally settled on a Honda Civic Hybrid. Yes, it's official - I'm one of those people now.

I was more attracted to the Prius, but Honda was offering obscene discounts on their old stock and I managed to get a great deal that alone saved over a year's worth of payments. So what is it like to drive a hybrid? Well, it ain't no sports car to be sure. Going from a TSX to a Civic Hybrid means giving up 90HP, a few luxuries and a fold-down rear seat. But the gains are significant.

For starters, the mileage is phenomenal. It's rated for 4.7l/100km in the city and 4.3l/100km on the highway. On my first tank of gas I was looking at 650km on the odometer with about a fifth of a tank to go. Refill cost - $34. My TSX needed $45 per fill-up and I might get 650km on pure highway driving alone. What I appreciate most about hybrid technology is the efficiency it adds to a gasoline car. Not only does it compliment the anaemic (but thrifty) engine, but when it's not helping propel the car, it's recouping energy during coasting and braking, energy that is normally wasted. When you come to a stop, the engine shuts off, saving even more fuel and reducing pollution. The instant you take your foot off the brakes, the engine is running again. The electric motor quickly spins the engine back up to speed - no wear and tear on a puny starter motor.

One of the things I notice about driving a hybrid car is that it gets under your skin. I truly believe that one of the reasons we drive fast in cars capable of high speeds is because we can. In other words, If you own a sporty car, you are much more likely to drive in a sporty manner. Well, I think the same rule applies to hybrids. If you know your vehicle is capable of incredible mileage, you might be tempted to push the envelope and try to get the best numbers possible. That means no racing, gentle acceleration, gentle modulation of the gas pedal to achieve a good coast on straightaways and downhill. It's like playing a video game called best mileage. Fortunately, it's a game that pays dividends to both the environment and your bank account.

Best new (to me) feature having nothing to do with the hybrid technology: USB audio input. You simply plug a USB memory stick into a USB port hidden under the centre arm rest and you have an instant digital jukebox, controlled using the audio controls on the dash. No more FM transmitter, no more mp3 player box, no more recharging. Me like.

As the title says, this is officially my second Civic. My first one Darlene bought for me in 1990, just before I returned from my tour in Alert. It was a brand new Civic Si hatchback. I can say for a fact that Civics have come a long way.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Whatever the question...


... he is the answer.

Scary secret treaties are forming

Most consumers and citizens around the world don't know this, but behind very closed doors, the governments of the world are meeting to secretly craft a global set of laws known as ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The players in this gathering would have you believe that all they are trying to do is rid the world of the ability to steal intellectual property (copyright and trademarked material). What they're not telling you is the extreme measures they are negotiating to secure such a world order.

This post in BoingBoing and the article it leads to might give you a glimpse into the deals being made in secret, all for the sake of protecting copyright. Under this new cloak of protectionism, all it would take is a baseless accusation to not only sever your ties to the online world, but nuke any online presence you might have enjoyed up to that point. No due process, no trial, no argument.

Be afraid.

Talkin' 'bout countries. Talkin' 'bout food

Ripped fresh off of the interwebs:

I am hungary.
Maybe I should czech the fridge.
I'm russian to the kitchen.
Do you have some turkey?
I do, but it's covered in greece.
Eww, there's norway you should eat that.
I think I'll settle for a can of chile.
Yeah, I would love a canada chile.
Denmark your name on the can.
Kenya give me a marker?
Oman, do I have to do everything?
You used to be nice, now you seem haiti.
Never mind. Ghana call a restaurant and order some food togo.
Why don't jamaica list first?
Who's spain?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Non-linear metering


How true.

The truth hurts

An online resource that has been getting a lot of negative press and comments from armchair politicians and armchair security experts is wikileaks. Well, I have an armchair, so I'll dive into the debate thank you very much.

The most common argument I keep hearing about wikileaks is that what they do (by releasing sensitive documents for all to see) is in any other language known as treason. Not so fast. The people behind wikileaks do not actually acquire the sensitive information. The sensitive information is being provided by INSIDERS who feel that the information, no matter how sensitive, needs to be uncovered so as (in most cases) to reveal lies, deception, hidden agendas and a general lack of integrity displayed by various members and arms of our governments. wikileaks aren't leaking the information, they're just hosting it. If you want to brand the 'leakers' as traitors, you might also consider telling it to their faces. I'm sure they would set you straight in a minute or so.

A prime example of this are the documents wikileaks posted online about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The purpose of the leaks was not to reveal information that would compromise the military and strategic position of those engaged in those wars (on the NATO side). In fact, many in a position of knowledge have already argued that branding those documents as sensitive in the context of military strategy was questionable at best. What the documents actually revealed was evidence that the whole story about friendly combatants' deaths were being hidden from the public to cover up mass incompetence and insensitivity to the families of loved ones lost. All to maintain the polished image of 'winning the war'.

"Lives will be lost" some people say. I call bullshit on that one - sorry. Lives are already lost and nothing those documents contain will change that, nor add to the numbers.

Now everyone is in a tizzy because diplomatic documents are about to be released that could "Damage U.S. relations with allies around the world. The internal documents may contain accounts of compromising conversations with political dissidents and friendly politicians and could result in the expulsion of U.S. diplomats from foreign postings."

My response to that? It's about freaking time. I'm tired of hearing about the back room deals that our governments engage in "in our best interests" that serve to undermine anything and anyone that would have an opinion different from the current governing body. If the public were informed on a regular basis for example of the back room dealings our allies are engaged in with regards to copyright and anti-counterfeit policies (ACTA), they would be none too happy. Luckily, details of these meetings are being leaked by insiders who have moral and ethical issues with the plans being put forward. These leaks are being studied by our brightest minds and these people are ready to share their observations with the rest of us and confront our government should these secret plans become entrenched in law.

It was once said, "In a democracy, the citizens should have as much privacy as possible while the government should have as little as possible."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shrunken woollens

This is my idea of what creative recycling is all about.

The folks at Organic Echo sell these boiled wool slippers made from recycled baby jumpers (that have shrunk). You can even supply your own shrunken woollens to be made into slippers.

Good eats in Airdrie

One reason why I don’t weigh 250 pounds is that although I eat a lot of lunches ‘out’ when at work, I have a lot of choices for food other than the dreaded fast food options. One of those options in downtown Airdrie is Anna’s Café Europa on Main Street.

This quaint little café offers a selection of 2 soups every day (which change daily) along with a variety of sandwiches, wraps and paninis. Being a café, they also offer coffees and teas of every variety. But back to the food. The soups are tasty, home-style offerings. If they’re not actually home-made, they fooled me for sure. The sandwiches are made to order with fresh ingredients.

The café is staffed by 3 lovely, smiling, laughing ladies who go out of their way to treat you like a valued customer and dare I say it – make you feel like a friend. I feel like I’m going home for a healthy meal when I eat there. I’ve even been asked how I like my food with sincerity and a real desire for honest feedback.

If you’re ever in Airdrie around lunch time, I highly recommend Anna’s for a quality experience.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chickens no longer 'crossing' road


Funniest print ad I've seen in a while.

Clicky for the biggy.

Not too smart though

Dear testosterone-laden pickup driver from the other night:

I saw what you did there. On the highway, I saw how you came speeding up to that other truck and got right onto his bumper. I saw how when the other truck driver didn't flinch (he wasn't going slow), you decided to pass on the right. You could have kept going. Nobody would have cared. But no. You had to make a point, didn't you?

You had to pull back into the left lane, slam on your brakes, almost forcing the person you just passed to hit you. You had to be a child, playing a virtual driving game of neener-neener. When the person behind you flashed their high beams at you, you were probably laughing maniacally. Then you sped off to resume your high rate of speed. Just when I was shaking my head and cursing you under my breath, I saw you get up behind a second driver and pull the same stunt again! Ride bumper, pass on the right, back into the left lane, slam on the brakes almost hitting them.

Then you exited the highway. You thought you got away with that. But you didn't. Because I got your license plate number. And now so do the police.

Monday, November 22, 2010

New - for pirates


The iPatch.

Always full


Is there really anything more to say?

Flame broiled, then flame nuked

At work the other day, somebody bought a Wendy's burger (I'm assuming it was Wendy's - it was wrapped in a foil paper wrapper) and brought it back to work. They then nuked it in the microwave oven. Wrapper and all. Fully wrapped. Then walked away while it was 'reheating'.

This flame-broiled burger experienced flame a second time - in the microwave oven. In fact, it caught fire. The smell was something else. It was a write-off. The burger wasn't in very good shape either.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wait... ready... go

I love this redesign for traffic signal lights. It's much more informative than the current design.

North Americans may take getting used to the yellow before the green. Incidentally, this is not a new concept - they've had two sets of yellow in the pattern in Europe for ages.

From Yanko design.

Spend the day with Karl... learning

This is a message to all of my Calgary-based readers. If you're not doing anything on Saturday, December 4th, consider coming to the Viscount Bennett Centre to listen to me talk about and demo the latest in web technologies. You may be familiar with social networking, but have you encountered augmented reality yet? How about online applications like Picnik?

Come on down and let's talk about where the web is and where it's going. Course info here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

All white?

Darlene seems to think that anyone who owns a white car would also own white bowling or golf shoes.

Is she on to something?

Anyone?

I learn something new every day

Have you ever right clicked the YouTube video while watching it? Did you know there was a speed test being done in the background by Google while you watch stuff?

I kid you not..... check it out for yourself.

Friday, November 19, 2010

How various smartphone users see each other

Divided into 3 camps - iPhone, Andriod and Blackberry. Great comic on how they see each other and themselves.

The McGurk effect

This will blow your mind.

When I saw this video I didn't believe what I was seeing. It turns out that what was really happening is that I wasn't believing what I was hearing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What's it like to drive in winter?

I write this post for all the billions of people out there who never get to experience a typical Canadian winter and as a result, have no idea what it's like to drive in it.

For starters, it's cold. Whereas many people cringe thinking about putting their ass on a flaming hot seat that has sat in the sun for hours, in this case you're thinking about the sudden shock of sitting on a block of ice. People whose cars are equipped with seat heaters are happy people. It gets so cold that cars truly need to be equipped with engine block heaters, which help keep the engine from becoming so cold that it becomes difficult, if not impossible to start. Before you can drive your car, you have to scrape ice and snow off of the windows. Many people don't bother doing this properly (or at all), because they're too lazy and so put themselves and others in danger because they'll end up driving while peering out through a tiny peep-hole of defrosted windshield. Others have the luxury of parking their cars in a garage and so get to skip the scraping part, smug in their ability to start their car and drive away. I fall into such a group, but I try not to rub others' noses in it. Try....

Once you're on your way on a winter road, you have a whole new set of challenges to overcome. The roads are filled with drivers occupying every part of the experience and confidence spectrum. This means you'll be sharing the road equally with speed-happy aggressive drivers who don't see any reason to slow down at one end to overly cautious steering wheel grippers who stare out their windshield with a look of unbridled horror while crawling along at one third of the speed limit. The roads themselves are a smörgåsbord of conditions, from bare pavement to patches of ice to loose snow and combinations of those three. Throw in the invisible black ice or drift of snow (think snow dune) and you have a potential game of bumper cars that would be the envy of any country fair.

All of this of course would be dangerous enough if all other conditions were perfect, but they are not. For one thing, many drivers do not feel the need to put proper winter tires on their vehicles, which makes them unpredictably capable of randomly sliding all over the road in front of you. If it's snowing or the wind is blowing (or worse - both), visibility can be reduced to the point where you can't see more than a few feet in front of you. This lack of visibility can come on quite suddenly, last many seconds. When you're cruising along at 90km/h, this will cause your heart to skip a few beats. Snow can also get stirred up into a vicious frenzy by large tractor trailer trucks. Sometimes, you just follow the red lights of the vehicle in front of you and hope that they stay on the road.

Like a warrior passing fallen comrades lying dead on the battlefield, you will also pass vehicles that have slid into the ditch or wrapped themselves around various pieces of road infrastructure, or collided with other vehicles. Although you have the urge to look, your momentary inattention to the road in front of you is your almost guaranteed ticket to join them in their folly. Best to keep your eyes straight ahead, use gentle application of the steering wheel, gas pedal and brakes, leave room between you and the vehicle ahead and hope that today you will not be surrounded by a bunch of crazy adrenaline junkies who have a death wish and don't particularly care who they take along with them.

In other words........ it's a ton of fun.

Winter. F@&k yeah!


It's here......

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

There's a change a-comin'

In 6 months, I'll be 50. Leading up to that landmark day, I've made a decision. By my 50th birthday, I will cease striving to publish to my blog every day. Maintaining a blog takes a lot of time and effort, consuming anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes per day, including research and wracking my brain for new material. White Noise will not stop, just get put into neutral. I won't be re-posting as many things I find elsewhere online and focus much more on original content. This will likely reduce the number of weekly posts from 20-25 on average to around 6, perhaps less.

The good news is that if you subscribe to the blog's RSS feed, you'll know when new material becomes available and I'll likely continue to link to new posts on Facebook. For as long as I stay on Facebook that is.....

That it might make someone rich is no excuse

After reading a news article on the environment, a commenter had this to say: "No amount of money will clean up the environment, though it will make a few very wealthy."

This 'environmental responsibility only makes certain people rich' mentality is insulting, narrow-minded and smacks of anti-capitalism. The way I look at it , if a new business model emerges out of a newly identified need to change the way we do things - so freaking what? Are these people suggesting that the only changes we should allow are those that can't be turned into a business profit? Are they uninformed, confused or just jealous?

Imagine, if in the days leading up to the decision to offer sewer or garbage disposal services somebody argued, "No amount of money will clean up the environment, though it will make a few very wealthy."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"I have tasted the ribs of God" ~Homer Simpson

A good sadist knows the perfect balance between giving you what you want, then making you suffer in pain. Just when you can't take any more suffering, you are offered some relief.

On that note, the McRib is back. For a limited time. Only in the US.

Lego + Star wars = Good times

Funny Lego Star wars video - Bombad Bounty.

LinkedIn advice

There is a wonderful professional online networking tool some of you may have heard about called LinkedIn. It's a great way to leverage the people you know into a growing web of contacts. This web of contacts can broaden your reach in any industry. This is accomplished through introductions from the people you do know to the people you don't. It's like Facebook for professionals. It's also a great place to post your current resume, work experience, education profile and allows you to offer and receive recommendations from colleagues and supervisors alike.

Which reminds me. If you do solicit a recommendation from someone you know to bolster your online image, you might want to be sure that they can spell or at the very least proof their offering before they electronically post it on your profile. Trust me, there's nothing more distracting than a narrative from someone trying to make you look good that is riddled with spelling and basic grammar errors.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Are you OK with the groping?

How about the naked scans? It seems that people are finally get ticked off at the hurdles they have to jump through at airport security gates. The tipping point seems to have been the combination of 'walk through this naked scanner that lets us see your private parts, or we're going to touch you in a way that would by any other standard would be considered assault'.

As a result, there are people who are refusing to submit to this. As one San Diego almost passenger put it, "I would be willing to submit to a walk through the metal detector as over 80% of the rest of the people were doing, but I would not be groped." More of that incredible story here.

There is a growing groundswell of consumers that have had enough and are lobbying the rest of us to opt out of the naked scanners. Their goal is to overwhelm the 'groper' screeners. They also want you to inform your government that you won't stand for this treatment.

Now, it's official. November 24th is National (in the US) Opt-out Day.

[Update] Pilot's union advises pilots not to submit to naked scanners.

Let them finish their spiel

Let carpet cleaner phone solicitation do their 5 minute April then when they ask how much carpet you have say none it's all hardwood. The silence will be golden and they will take your name off the call list for sure.

Not that we ever did that.

OK..... yes we did....

Explore your world at random

Consider it random globe trotting. MapCrunch is a site that gives you a random Google StreetView from around the world. Run it often enough and you'll discover that there are many more wide open spaces than there are dense urban locales. You can narrow the randomness down to certain continents or countries and even have it filter out the boring country road views.

You can even turn it into an ongoing slide show.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Maybe we can look on wikipedia..."

Julia Sweeney tells the story about how she was coaxed by her daughter into giving a sex education lesson.

Things start out cute then spiral out of control.

Ever wonder what your ninja name is?

My ninja name is Mekashita Notakuarizi. Which is pretty lame because the first name sounds like I'm using the bathroom.

Find out your ninja name here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

15 movies that will always stick with me

(in no particular order)

Blade Runner - Arguably the most interesting sci-fi movie ever made. The movie's setting is dark, mesmerizing and insanely addicting. "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe..."

Run Lola Run - If a movie could be accused of being on steroids, this is it. The story and soundtrack suck you in, then just when you're at a comfortable run, it trips you up and sends you flying onto your ass. There's a Pink Floyd lyric from The Wall that sums it up nicely - "Wrong! Do it again!"

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - There truly is a risk in forgetting a bad situation. You'll never remember not to make the same mistakes again. Jim Carrey in one of his best roles and the delicious Kate Winslet.

Planes Trains and Automobiles - Two comedy masters turn a relatively lame story into a masterpiece. Spawned one of my favourite movie quotes: "Those aren't pillows!"

Best in Show - Every scene is improvised. The actors knew where the scene should go and the rest was left up to them. Now that's skill. Dogs and the crazy people who show them off.

Contact - I watch this movie as if it were a wish for the future. Go SETI!

The Fifth Element - If only Hollywood could make more films like this. Beautiful imagery, exquisite aliens, one of the best villains in movies (Zorg) and of course, the perfect being, Milla.

Heima - An organic concert video from the organic Sigur Ros. By the end, you not only get Sigur Ros, you get a glimpse into the eclectic culture of Iceland.

The Jerk - Steve Martin does the stupidest things and makes me laugh at every single antic. And that's all I need.

Lost in Translation - I'm Bill Murray.

Vanilla Sky - I fell in love with this movie on the opening scene, buoyed by that hypnotic song "Everything in its right place" by Radiohead. I loved how this movie messed with my mind. What a beautiful mess.

Sicko - Yeah I know. Michael Moore is the epitome of biased storytelling. But he sure drives a point home in this film. Health care around the world makes the US system look cruel. Fascinating look at how the rest of the world views 'social medicine'.

Star Wars - I was 16 when I saw this movie at the drive-in. It filled me with wonder. The adults who attended with me didn't get it.

Razor's Edge - Not Oscar worthy by any stretch, but a real stretch for Bill Murray in a serious film role with very deep meaning.

Baraka - The first wordless documentary I ever saw. Mesmerizing. The imagery tells stories far beyond the capability of words.

Things you cannot do on a PC

I found this online and decided to steal it and repost it here. Credit? Pfft! We don't need no steenkeeng credit!

"Q. What happens when you delete your recycle bin?
A. Windows won't allow you to do that because when you delete the recycle bin, it just gets put into a new recycle bin. If you empty that new recycle bin it goes into an infinite delete loop that causes your CPU to overload and overheat, creating hot plasma. This plasma forms a miniature singularity - a black hole. This mini black hole then creates a portal, or doorway into the past that part of your computer travels into which arrives just before you delete the recycle bin and instantly blocks the command to delete your recycle bin. Ta-da! Nothing happens. This happens so fast and so often that 99.99% of computer users don't even realize it's happening. It's kind of like dividing by zero. Don't even think of being tempted to try that nasty little trick."

The best tats are the geeky ones IMHO

A very geeky tattoo.

You know, just because I have no intentions of getting my own tattoo, doesn't mean I don't appreciate a good one on someone else.....

Friday, November 12, 2010

Data dilemma

The first mobile communications provider in Canada to offer pay-as-you-go 3G data service (such as would be useful to... say... an iPad...), will get my business.

Let me be clear, in case any of you are actually listening. When I say pay-as-you-go, I mean I pay a set fee for a certain amount of data usage. But it does not expire after 30 days and I can add to it whenever I feel like it. Choices beyond 250MB and 5GB would be nice too.

So who's going to make my wish come true? Rogers? Telus? Or someone new?

"It happens a lot..."

If you lift an article from another author online and not give credit, then get confronted by the original author - you should not play the 'you should be glad that's all we did' card.

The internet crowd are very unforgiving, especially once word gets out.

[Update - They went down in flames. Their online presence has been reduced (for now) to a whimpering web page of whining and blaming. Too bad they missed the point.]

Horse having a ball

Have you ever seen a horse play with a ball?

Let me rectify that for you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest we forget.....

As the years go by, fewer veterans of the wars Canada fought in will still be alive. As they pass on, their stories about the battles they valiantly fought, the people they liberated, the comrades they lost, will themselves be lost forever. As the beneficiaries of those battles, we owe it not only to them, but to ourselves to help their stories live on. Take the time to meet a veteran and hear their story, so that it may continue to remind us of the sacrifices made and so that we can become a living testament to their bravery. Remembrance Day is nothing... without recalling those events and understanding their significance. ~Karl Plesz SSM CD

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Now you know


In case you wondered where cursors come from.

What?

I was listening to a radio ad this morning for a hearing aid product. Now, as funny as that is all by itself (trying to sell a product for the hard of hearing using an advertising medium that only makes use of hearing), it gets better. The shtick of the ad was that even with your stereo cranked, you can't quite hear the rock music to the same degree as you used to when you were younger. Buy this hearing aid so that you can hear that wonderful rock music blaring just like it used to.

Awesome. That blaring rock music which likely contributed to your current hearing loss is now going to be amplitudinally [my word - don't even bother looking it up] enhanced even more by an amplifier plugged right into your damaged ear. Great idea.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Scientific study indicates alcohol much worse than other drugs

According to a new study in British medical journal The Lancet, alcohol is ranked the "most harmful" among a list of 20 drugs, more dangerous even than crack cocaine and heroin. The study used a scale that weighed the physical, psychological and social problems caused. It determined that alcohol was the most harmful overall. The study gave alcohol a score of 72 out of 100 for its harm to individual users and the rest of society. That was nearly three times the score given to cocaine and tobacco.

Behind crack cocaine, heroin, and crystal meth, it was the 4th most toxic drug to the individual. It made the top of the list because of the social harms. Alcohol scored high because of crime, vehicle accidents, missed work from hangovers, violence in families, etc. Marijuana, ecstasy and LSD scored low in the study. The study's findings suggest that illicit drug laws have "little relation to the evidence of harm". The decision to make marijuana illegal and alcohol legal is not based on how harmful they are either to users or to society as a whole. "It's not a scientific decision, it's a political decision or a moral decision."

H4x0r3d!

It is possible to hack a commercial printer so that the 'Ready' message that appears on the display is replaced with something else. Here are some funny replacement possibilities:

  • Initiate robot uprising
  • Come closer...
  • Feed me a cat
  • Is busy
  • Insert coin 0 credits
  • Nice shirt
  • I need love too
  • No print for you!
  • Radiation leak
  • Press my button

Monday, November 08, 2010

"It happens a lot..."

If you lift an article from another author online and not give credit, then get confronted by the original author - you should not play the 'you should be glad that's all we did' card.

The internet and its users are very unforgiving, especially once word gets out.

Messy seat

Here are some great sculptures you can buy that will almost guarantee nobody will sit in your seat while you're away.

The site sells regular fake food too, but the spilt stuff is awesome.

Post civic election report

Over the course of Calgary's just concluded civic election campaign, I have had several friends scold me for being too open, too personal about my political views regarding the candidates.

I listened while they spewed clichés and stereotypes about one person or another and deride my choice of candidates, even suggesting (erroneously) why I was choosing that candidate, icing the discussion with the claim that now that I had let the genie out of the bottle, I must suffer their political wrath. That will teach me to be open and honest and personal about my politics.

Never have I heard a more ridiculous assertion. Since when did politics become a taboo subject? We live in a democracy. Since we have the freedom to choose the people we elect to govern us, if follows that we also have the right to discuss issues that are important to us and how various elected members and those who want to be elected measure up.

I think I took a few of these well meaning friends off guard when I encouraged them to get more involved in the process. I think they expected me to sheepishly back down about my ideas and personal feelings. If that's the case, some people don't know me very well. I love a good discussion and I especially love a good political discussion.

I have had similar debates in my past with pro-separatist folks (meaning people who support politicians who have pro-separation views). I was often amused by the fact that while they stood by their nationalist stance, if you confronted them and asked if they could explain their position in more detail, they would play the 'I don't think it's appropriate to talk about politics' card. I would then argue that the only way anyone gets to hear all sides of the issues that are important to them is when we talk about them. Out in the open. Not just with people who agree with us, but especially with people who do not.

Because there's always a chance, albeit a small one [wink], that what we think about a certain issue or political philosophy, or party, or politician, or policy - is wrong.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Delivering at the speed of suck

Canada Post - not my favourite service provider. Let's start with the postal outlet counter. No matter how much mediocre training you provide a minimum wage earning drug store clerk, the quality of service is going to suffer when there's only one person working the counter. A counter that is supposed to serve not just folks picking up and mailing parcels and letter mail, but also filling out student loan applications and money orders. Once in a while you'll see a duo in action, but just as the masses get off work and hit the malls at 5pm, that's when one person goes home, or on break, leaving one poor sap to deal with the hordes.

Then there's the carriers. A more dyslexic, lazy, militant bunch I have never met. I get other people's mail all the time. Not even for the same postal code. One can only wonder who else is getting our mail. Parcel delivery is a joke. I've seen 'You weren't home so we left this card for you to bring to the local outlet to collect your parcel' cards hanging from our front door even as the doorbell has remained silent. They don't bother to ring to check if anyone was home. On the odd chance that the doorbell is actually rung, the postie is back in the truck so fast that tears will form in the space-time continuum. By the time you open your door to see who it is, the truck is already speeding off and that familiar calling card is hanging from the doorknob. If there is such a thing as a time-freeze device.... I'm telling you - the posties have it.

Worse, when you finally get to the postal outlet counter to collect your parcel, you find yourself stuck back in line again with a dozen or more other people, waiting impatiently for the immigrant family to fill out their student loan applications. You get to the counter 30 minutes later only to find out that the parcel hasn't even arrived yet, stuck in some hellish parcel limbo. Translation - the postie who refused to wait for you to answer the door is busy trolling the nearest Tim Hortons for a double-double and a cruller. If you're lucky, the parcel might be at the outlet tomorrow.

Honestly, the only reason Canada Post is still in business is because of eBay, Christmas cards and that all of the Boomers haven't died off yet.

FAIL!

Are they fighting? Playing patty cake?

This is an example of two cats who want to fight each other, but they just can't bother to expend very much energy to really pull it off. I especially love how at the 0:45 mark, the cat on the left decides in mid-swipe to just start cleaning his paw before half-heartedly getting back into it again.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Rock of ages

Here's a great collection of rock stars then and now.

Debbie Harry, Joan Jett and Annie Lennox look amazing.

Secret baseball signals

They'll never admit this, but there are some baseball signals that have nothing to do with the game. Some non-game baseball signals include:
  • There's something in your teeth.
  • I'm this many years old today!
  • Check out the hot chick in section 113, row 4.
  • I want this many chicken wings after the game.
  • I see that blood stain still hasn't come out yet.
  • I got to bed at 3am this morning.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The pros and cons...


...of pros and cons.

It drives with "Google hands"

Google have been working an a project which has vehicles that can drive themselves, using AI that can sense what's around the car and mimic the decisions made by a (I'm assuming 'good') human driver.

7 test cars have so far driven over 1,000 miles without human intervention and more than 140,000 miles with only occasional human control. These drives included going down famous hilly Lombard Street in San Francisco, one of the steepest and curviest streets in the nation. The only accident, was when one Google car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light. Clicky for the video.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Another Improv Everywhere experiment - fun

For one of their latest missions, over 3,000 participants downloaded an MP3 file and pressed play simultaneously at 6pm in retail stores near Times Square in Midtown Manhattan.

Ronald not smiling this time

McDonald's is not too happy even though some of their meals are. City authorities in San Francisco voted to ban Happy Meals and any meal for children giving away toys that don't meet certain nutritional standards. If the law passes a second vote, they would be the first city in America to impose such a ban.

If the law takes effect in December 2011, San Francisco restaurants would be allowed to include a toy with a meal only if the food and drink in the meal contain fewer than 600 calories, less than 640 milligrams of sodium and if less than 35 per cent of the calories are derived from fat (less than 10 per cent from saturated fat), except for fat contained in nuts, seeds, eggs or low-fat cheese. Meals must also contain 1/2 cup or more of fruit and 3/4 cup or more of vegetables. A breakfast meal must contain at least 1/2 cup of fruit or vegetables.

So, the question - is this good government? Should government be forcing restaurants to increase their standards of healthy food options for children or the public in general? Or is this a case of government trying to do what parents aren't doing on their own?

Then the bigger question is if parents aren't feeding their kids healthy food or themselves for that matter, how does society promote a healthy lifestyle without impinging on consumer rights? Should eaters of unhealthy fast food pay a premium on their health care?

All good questions worthy of discussion.