Friday, August 31, 2012

The history of wooing women in song

As performed by cdza. So much fun. In 1994, it all gets nasty.

To quote Greg Kihn, "They just don't write 'em like that anymore."

Check out cdza's other stuff too. S'funny.

Road signs

Songs that are 40 years old this year (2012)

Al Green - Let's stay together
Alice Cooper - School's Out
David Bowie - Suffragette City / Changes
Deep Purple - Smoke on the water
Neil Young - Heart of gold / Old man
Paul Simon - Me and Julio down by the schoolyard
Steely Dan - Do it again / Reelin' in the years
Stevie Wonder - Superstition / You are the sunshine of my life
The Eagles - Take it easy / Witchy woman
The Rolling Stones - Tumbling dice
Todd Rundgren - Hello it's me
War - The Cisco kid
Yes - Roundabout
Mott the Hoople - All the young dudes
Elton John - Rocket man
Bill Withers - Lean on me
Carly Simon - You're so vain / Anticipation
Doobie Brothers - Listen to the music
Steeler's Wheel - Stuck in the middle with you
Chicago - Saturday in the park
Seals and Crofts - Summer breeze
Argent - Hold your head up
Three Dog Night - Black and white
Jethro Tull - Thick as a brick
Gilbert O'Sullivan - Alone again naturally
America - A horse with no name
Moody Blues - Nights in white satin
Temptations - Papa was a rolling stone
Hot Butter - Popcorn
Gary Glitter - Rock and roll
Don Mclean - American pie
Godspell - Day by day
Hollies - Long cool woman
Donny Osmond - Puppy love
Jim Croce - You don't mess around with Jim
April Wine - Fast train / You could have been a lady

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

But it's a dry heat.....

Check out the drought situation in the US right now.

Dear Tim Horton's

Thank you for finally getting wi-fi in your stores.  That only took how many years?  As giddy as I am that I am now able to enjoy some free Internet while I sip on a double double, I'd like to make a few observations.

Enough with the agreeing to your terms and conditions before I can use the Internet.  It's inconvenient, annoying, time-consuming and only suitable if I'm using your Internet connection to web surf with my browser.  If I want to use your Internet connection for the dozens of other Internet-connected applications, I have to open a browser first, try to navigate somewhere, get interrupted by your web page, where I have to choose the option of how I want to connect to the Internet, wait for another page to load, then accept your stupid terms and conditions after scrolling down multiple pages of those terms.  Only then can I switch back to one of my other mobile Internet apps and start using the Internet.  Like seriously, what the hell?

Anyone not familiar with the hoops that need to be jumped through to gain access to the Internet is not going to realize that the reason they can't connect using their e-mail, the weather app, Facebook, Google search, Yelp, Foursquare, Skype, Shazam, etc. is because they haven't opened their browser and jumped through all of the hoops I described in the last paragraph.  Imagine if you will that I am trying to use the Shazam application to figure out what song I am listening to in your store.  By the time I figure out why I can't connect, then rectify the situation by jumping through all of those hoops, the song would be over and I would be mad.

I think I understand why you make people agree to those terms and conditions in the first place.  But you're not making this an enjoyable experience.  Imagine for a moment that every time a new customer entered your store, got up to the till ready to order their food and coffee, they were forced to read and agree to your terms and conditions before they could place their order.  You would have some very unhappy customers.  In time, you would have no customers.  Once you realized that their acceptance of your terms and conditions was interfering with your ability to make money, you would find a more efficient way to cover that base.  Such as putting the terms and conditions prominently on the wall.  So why can't you do this for your free Internet service?  I'll even meet you halfway.  Once I've agreed to your terms and conditions once, why do I keep having to do it every time I visit your store?  Do you think that I have somehow forgotten the terms that I have accepted?  Do the terms change weekly? No, it's because it would be too much trouble to keep track of every device that has ever connected to your network.

So how about we just open up the Internet to everyone within range of your store and let's just use convenience and a desire to make the customer happy as excuses.  Because if you want to get more customers, it's not going to be good enough to just offer the Internet.  You're going to need to offer the Internet in a way that is better than everyone else.  Seamlessly, efficiently and quickly.  Put the terms and conditions right on the door so that people can see it on their way in.  Problem solved.

Prose by Karl

On my drive home today, I composed this. The shadows at 5pm have become noticeably longer. I had to be careful not to distract myself while driving.

Shadows enter adolescence in autumn
Gorging on our melancholy
Winter heralds their maturity and full height
Ruling the land like parasitic phantoms
Only to skulk away as the sun ascends in spring

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fortwo facelift

This could possibly be the creepiest commercial ever filmed. Feel free to weigh in with your uplifting comments.

No pun intended.

Guns in Japan

What follows is an edit of an article on guns in Japan.

"Of the world's 23 richest countries, the US gun related murder rate is about 20 times that of the other 22. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America's ownership rate is also the highest in the world. In 2008, the US had over 12,000 firearm-related homicides.

All of Japan experienced only 11 firearm-related homicides in 2008. That was a high year for Japan too - 2006 saw an astounding 2, and when that jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.

Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds of guns are illegal, with strict restrictions on buying and owning the few that are allowed. Even Japan's famous Yakuza tend to forgo guns.

Japanese tourists who fire off a few rounds at a shooting range in another country would be breaking three separate laws back home in Japan. Holding a handgun, possessing unlicensed bullets and firing them. The first law alone is punishable by 1 to 10 years in prison. Handguns are absolutely forbidden. Small caliber rifles have been illegal to buy, sell, or transfer since 1971. Anyone who owned a rifle before then is allowed to keep it, but their heirs are required to turn it over to the police once the owner dies.

The only legal guns that citizens can buy and use are shotguns and air rifles, but it's not easy. To get a gun, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are only held once per month. You must pass a shooting range class. You must head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test, which you'll file with the police. Finally, you must pass a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups. Then you can own a shotgun or air rifle. Don't forget to provide police with documentation on the specific location of the gun in your home, as well as the ammo, both of which must be locked and stored separately. Also the police need to inspect the gun once per year and you need to re-take the class and exam every 3 years."

The small/green/grammar venn

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Things I learned this week 26 Aug

  • The speed of light should actually be called 'the speed of massless particles', because all massless particles travel at 299,792,458m/sec. We call it the speed of light because we only knew about photons when we discovered how fast they went.
  • The number (21) of megacities (with 10 million+) has more than doubled since 1990. Tokyo is still the largest with nearly 37 million people, more than Canada's total population.
  • 5 brands that are predicted to disappear in 2013: Avon; Suzuki; American Airlines; RIM (Blackberry); Nokia.
  • The last episode of Twin Peaks aired 20 years ago.
  • The over 10,000 Olympic athletes behave such that the Games’ organizers ordered 100,000 condoms for the Olympics.
  • Orangutans at the Miami Zoo are using iPads to communicate with their handlers.
  • Don't defragment an SSD drive (solid state drive as opposed to a disc-based drive). It reduces its life span.
  • Elon Musk (of Space X and Tesla Motors) claims the best case efficiency for hydrogen fuel cells isn't even as good as the current capacity for lithium ion batteries. He said at Tesla they referred to them as 'fool cells'.
  • Bronies are adult male fans of the cartoon My Little Pony. Point of clarification: I am not a brony. I’m just ponycurious.
  • Men started wearing pants to make it more comfortable (and less ridiculous looking) while riding a horse.
  • The Munsters are being reborn on TV as Mockingbird Lane. Eddie Izzard stars as grandpa. Coming 2013.
  • The average substation transformer in the US electrical grid is 42 years old, 2 years older than the designed lifespan of a substation transformer.
  • Apple is now the most valuable company ever.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Facebook's timeline security settings may not be set the way you'd expect

If Facebook dragged you kicking and screaming into the new timeline feature, be aware that your old privacy settings won’t carry over. I would recommend that if you are concerned about your Facebook content becoming public knowledge, you might want to check this.

Click Privacy Settings. Scroll down to Limit the Audience for Past Posts, and click Manage Past Post Visibility. You’ll then get the pictured ominous warning box.

Click Limit Old Posts. As the warning box says, there’s a chance that friends of friends you’ve tagged (in pictures etc.) can still see your stuff, so you may have to go individually to each of those posts and change the audience setting. That could be pretty time consuming, especially  if you’ve been on Facebook for years and/or post your every single thought or activity. You decide if it's worth the extra effort.

I love this pic of Obama reading to kids

"'s stopped raining...."

What playing cricket looks like to Americans. Or anyone else who doesn't know anything about the game.

Very funny stuff.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

An American blogs: How I lost my fear of Universal Health Care

An American die-hard conservative Republican moved to Canada wary of Canada's health care system. She didn't worry for long.

An excerpt:

"I started to wonder why I had been so opposed to government mandated Universal Health care. Here in Canada... people actually went in for routine check-ups and caught many of their illnesses early, before they were too advanced to treat. People were free to quit a job they hated, or even start their own business without fear of losing their medical coverage. In fact, the only real complaint I heard about the Universal Health Care from the Canadians themselves, was that sometimes there could be a wait time before a particular medical service could be provided. But even that didn’t seem to be that bad to me, in the States most people had to wait for medical care, or even be denied based on their coverage. ... The only people guaranteed immediate and full service in the USA, were those with the best (and most expensive) health coverage or wads of cash they could blow."

What's wrong with the US economy

I was listening to a couple of people discuss the economy in the US and for a change it sounds like they know what they're talking about. I thought I would condense and share their thoughts with you here.

The middle class has shrunk over the past decade. The idea that the standard of living rose is not true. This discussion is not about some universal fairness idea where we need to strip money from people that are successful and give it to people who are not successful. The problem from an economic point of view, with the middle class getting gutted, is that it is hurting the entire economy. That's because the middle class is where most of the spending in the economy comes from.

Some people say that all we have to do is cut taxes to rich people and then they will invest and that will create jobs. The problem is that the highest earning Americans have tons of money right now. Corporations have record profits. But they're not investing. It has nothing to do with regulations and everything to do with the corporations not thinking their customer base is strong enough to sustain the economy. This is an economic issue, not just a fairness issue.

85% of people who define themselves as middle class say it's harder to maintain their lifestyle.  Even two income families are not doing very well. There was always this idea in America that if you work hard and play by the rules, you're going to get ahead. That may be working for the top 20%, but not for the majority of people. The average hourly earnings has been flat after adjusting for inflation for 50 years. CEO earnings on the other hand have gone up several hundred percent relative to the average worker. If you look at a 90 year view of the distribution of earnings, for the first 60 years, income gains were split between the bottom 90% and the top 10%. In the last 10 years, all of the gains have gone to the top 10% and the earnings of the bottom 90% have gone down.

This is not just a problem from a fairness point of view. The 90% are the customers. Rich people can only buy so many cars and houses and vacations. The rest of their money sits in their bank accounts and investments. The top 10% do account for 30% of all consumer spending, but it's not enough to keep the economy going. This is the first time in history that the middle class has been out-earned by the top 25%, whose income has risen by 50% since 1980. This is why the occupy movement started. People are feeling like they can't get ahead, or worse, they can't even maintain, even by working hard. The government hasn't proven that they know how to fix the situation. Nor do they seem to want to. They can't even manage their own finances, let alone the country's.

The problem can be identified this way. Wages, as a percentage of the economy, are at their lowest level in history. Profits on the other hand, as a percentage of the economy, are at an all-time high. Companies are struggling to grow revenue, in part because of the decimation of the middle class. Taking a longer view than just the next quarter, if corporations can be convinced to invest only their excess profits to pay employees more and hire more people, all that extra money will stimulate the economy. This is the Henry Ford model. He wanted to pay his workers so that they could afford the Model T. It will be hard to convince corporate executives to do this, especially when they see past the suffering domestic middle class and are looking overseas at new markets. They also aren't particularly motivated to do anything radical because they're doing quite alright themselves.

But systems don't stay this far out of balance for a long time. Systems correct themselves. We can either correct it voluntarily, in a good way that's healthy for everyone or it's going to be the government intruding and jacking up minimum wage and redistributing taxes. Or it's going to be a revolution.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

This is now

I found this to be a mesmerizing site. It's called This Is Now and it's too bad there are only 12 cities to choose from. The way it works is you select a city and then you begin to receive a visual composition which uses real-time updates from the ever popular Instagram application. The photos are selected based on users' geo-tag locations. The site streams photos as soon as they are uploaded on Instagram and captures a city's movement, in a fluid story.

It's a lie...

I don't know who they think they are, but whoever decided to use this picture to represent a day in the life of Canadians is just plain misleading everyone.

For starters, we don't play baseball wearing outfits like that.

Also, what guy wears shorts like that?

The 1000 yard model (or Earth as a peppercorn)

One of the things I realized while participating in Milky Way Nights this summer, is that very few of us really comprehend the vast scale of the solar system - never mind the universe. So here's something worth imagining - the 1000 yard model. Reading the following description is no substitute by the way. It gives a sense of the scale, but you have to go out and physically take the steps and look at the distances, if the awesomeness is to set in. You'll need 10 people to demonstrate this model well, as each person would be holding one of the solar system objects.

First, collect the objects you need to represent the solar system's largest bodies. They are:

Sun - any ball, diameter 8 inches (bowling balls are 8")
Mercury - a pinhead, diameter 0.03 inches
Venus - a peppercorn, diameter 0.08 inches
Earth - a second peppercorn
Mars - a second pinhead
Jupiter - a chestnut or a pecan, diameter 0.90 inches
Saturn - a hazelnut or an acorn, diameter 0.70 inches
Uranus - a peanut or coffeebean, diameter 0.30 inches
Neptune - a second peanut or coffeebean
Pluto - a third pinhead (or smaller, since Pluto is the smallest planet)

The three pins should be stuck through pieces of paper or an index card, otherwise their heads will be virtually invisible. If you like, you can fasten the other planets onto labelled cards as well.

Head outside and find a spot where you can walk 1000 yards (1000 paces). Put the Sun ball down, or have the Sun person hold it in one spot and walk away as follows:

10 paces - have the Mercury bearer stop with their card and pinhead.
Another 9 paces. Venus stops with the peppercorn.
Another 7 paces. Earth stops. That's 93,000,000 miles. That's one AU (astronomical unit).
Another 14 paces. Mars stops.
Another 95 paces to Jupiter.
Another 112 paces. Saturn goes here.
Another 249 paces. Uranus goes here. This is half way to Pluto. For reals.
Another 281 paces. Neptune goes here.
Another 242 paces. Pluto goes here.

Now of course all this assumes that every planet is in alignment, which it never is, but you get the idea. You have marched more than half a mile or 1000 yards! The edge of the solar system, beyond the Oort cloud, where comets come form, is another 1000 yards out. A light year, in this scale, is 1000 miles. The distance to our nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is 4200 miles at this scale. That's like going from Thule Greenland to Mexico City.

Bonus: Time to various solar system objects from Earth at the (fictional) speed of Warp 1.

Moon: 1.3 seconds.
Mars: 3 minutes.
Sun: 8.3 minutes.
Jupiter: almost 33 minutes.
Saturn: 1 hour.
Uranus: 2.4 hours.
Nepture: 4 hours.
End of the heliosphere: 20 hours

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Oatmeal's 'The state of the music industry'

So sad because it's all true.

See the whole poster here.

Controlling the web

If you've ever wanted a better understanding of the laws being drafted in countries like the US by request of the entertainment industry, this Al Jazeera hosted 'Fault Lines' program tells the story very well.

Here we go again...

I couldn't explain it any better than Cory Doctorow, so:

"The UN's World Intellectual Property Organization's Broadcasting Treaty is back. This is the treaty that EFF and its colleagues killed five years ago, but Big Content won't let it die. Under the treaty, broadcasters would have rights over the material they transmitted, separate from copyright, meaning that if you recorded something from TV, the Internet, cable or satellite, you'd need to get permission from the creator and the broadcaster to re-use it. And unlike copyright, the "broadcast right" doesn't expire, so even video that is in the public domain can't be used without permission from the broadcaster who contributed the immense creativity inherent in, you know, pressing the "play" button. Likewise, broadcast rights will have different fair use/fair dealing rules from copyright -- nations get to choose whether their broadcast rights will have any fair dealing at all. That means that even if you want to reuse video is a way that's protected by fair use (such as parody, quotation, commentary or education), the broadcast right version of fair use might prohibit it.

Worst of all: There's no evidence that this is needed. No serious scholarship of any kind has established that creating another layer of property-like rights will add one cent to any country's GDP. Indeed, given that this would make sites like Vimeo and YouTube legally impossible, it would certainly subtract a great deal from nations' GDP -- as well as stifling untold amounts of speech and creativity, by turning broadcasters into rent-seeking gatekeepers who get to charge tax on videos they didn't create and whose copyright they don't hold.

And since the broadcast right is separate from copyright, permissive copyright licenses like Creative Commons would not apply. That means that if you made a CC-licensed video -- as tens of millions of creators have -- that the web-host, the cablecaster, the satellite company or the broadcaster that made it available to the public could essentially strip off the license you provided and go back to an all-rights-reserved model, with them in the driver's seat.

Thanks, WIPO, for showing us once again what a corrupt, anti-creator, anti-free-speech, economically backwards waste of time and space you are."

Read more here.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Start Me Up! - Debut Episode (re-post)

[Re-post] Time for a new contest at White Noise blog. Since music is such a huge part of my life, I assume it's a big part of yours too. So why not test your mettle against my other readers and take a stab at this new contest, which I dub 'Start Me Up!'

In the sound clip you will hear the first 3 seconds of 5 various songs. You just have to correctly guess the 5 songs. Artists too, if you know them. Put your answers in the comments. I will announce the winners of each episode of the contest.

There is no prize, unless you count personal pride. And as always, this is an exhibition, not a competition. Please..... no wagering.

[Update] If you know even a few of the songs, don't be shy about posting your guess. You might still win.

[Hints] People found this hard, so I will offer some hints. The first song is by a guy initials TP. The second song is by a band named after something you get for your birthday. The third song is by The Chamber Brothers. The fourth song is by a band named after royalty and the fifth song is by a elderly lady who still rocks like she was in her twenties.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hotmail! Where ya goin'?

Microsoft is reinventing Hotmail and rebranding it too. They have a working preview of the new service which will eventually replace Hotmail.

You don't have to do anything right now. You could log into with your Hotmail credentials and access your email through the new interface. You can also take the opportunity to claim your own new address while the getting is good.

When you do so, you'll be given the opportunity to force Hotmail email into its own separate folder, but only if you want to. Once you create the new email address, you'll no longer be able to log into Hotmail, you'll have to use your new address. But any mail coming to your original Hotmail email address will still be forwarded to you. So think of this as an opportunity to weed out who has your address and switch to something new while keeping a connection to the old.

If like me, you are accessing your Hotmail via another email service or email client, you'll have to update everything. I use GMail to access all of my email coming to every email address I own, so I had to add the POP account to GMail to get all my new (and the old Hotmail) email automatically forwarded to GMail. Then I deleted the mention of Hotmail from GMail.

All I have to do now is let anyone who sends email to Hotmail know that my address has changed. But only if I want them to know. I expect that at some point in the future, you'll be able to tell Microsoft that you want to abandon the old Hotmail address completely.

It's a flipping good car

If you catch my meaning. Utterly hilarious segment from UK's Top Gear, in which Jeremy tortures himself driving a Reliant Robin.

Things I learned this week 17 Aug

  • It occurs to me that this blog is 8 years old as of 2 weeks ago.
  • It's possible that the specific predictions regarding peak oil were wrong. We may have a lot more oil left in the earth than anyone imagined. What remains to be seen is how easy (or cheaply) that oil is to extract.
  • Walmart sells a margarine called 'I totally thought it was butter'.
  • This year marks the 35th anniversary of one of the best albums ever made - Fleetwood Mac - Rumours.
  • Prior to Napster, more than 80% of the total of recorded music wasn’t for sale in stores.
  • In Banff National Park, there are 41 wildlife crossing structures (6 overpasses and 35 underpasses) that help wildlife safely cross the busy Trans-Canada Highway. Since 1996, 11 species of large mammals have used the crossing structures 200,000+ times.
  • Voyager launched in 1977. Today, Voyager I is 121 AUs away (one AU is equal to the distance from the Sun to the Earth). It takes 16 hours for the radio signals it transmits to reach us. It's speed is about 17 km/sec (38,000 mph).
  • Archeologists found 600 year old linen bras in an Austrian castle. People thought that bras were only created just over 100 years ago. 
  • The Iridium satellite constellation is a large group of satellites providing voice and data coverage to satellite phones, pagers and integrated transceivers over Earth's entire surface. The reason it's called Iridium is because although it has 66 satellites in the network, it had planned 77 and the atomic number of Iridium is 77.
  • The movie Fargo opens with the premise that it's based on a true story. It's not.
  • The TV networks are currently tripping over themselves to secure an autobiographical sitcom based on Michael J Fox's life, starring Michael J Fox.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Package-free food shopping

An Austin-based start-up called in.gredients  offers a new, package-free stance on the grocery business. Sourcing its 400-plus products from locally based farmers and manufacturers, in.gredients offers organic and natural products in bulk. The shop looks more like an old-fashioned general goods store than a glossy, modern day supermarket.

Customers tote in their own packaging for nearly all the products, which include liquids like syrup, soaps and beer, dry goods like nuts and grains, and of course, shelves packed with organic produce. Meats and other perishables that are restricted to certain packaging guidelines by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are the only packaged items in the shop. Eggs are sorted into recyclable crates in the shop but customers carry them off in their own containers.

For those who forget their own bags and jars, the store offers reusable and recyclable containers on site. The foods lack the list of ingredients and nutrition facts normally found on a package, but smartphone users can scan the QR code on items and find its complete background.

It's just like Friends.......

Great article about the surprises immigrants have when coming to live in the US (but this mostly applies to Canada too). Among the things that surprise them: it's not like on the TV show Freinds; incredulity that everyone obeys traffic laws; well-stocked grocery stores.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Your ego is your enemy

I love this passage from TJ Dawe's TEDxManitoba presentation called "An Experiment in Collective Intelligence":

"Our world is rife with dualistic thinking. This is what our reptilian brain wants us to do. It's a survival mechanism. It's necessary. It's not bad in and of itself. 

We think in opposites. Are you for me or are you against me? Are you my friend or are you my enemy? Are you right or are you wrong? When two people are thinking dualistically, which most of us do, most of the time, and they're engaged in a conversation - not even a fight - not even a debate - not even an argument - if they're just having a conversation and they come up to a point of difference, "I think this is the case". "No, I disagree, I think that is the case", as soon as that happens, the conversation is over. 

Because at that moment, each person's ego becomes invested in their opinion. From that point, to cede an inch is to lose face and that simply cannot happen. So the inner script is to defend my position no matter what facts are actually being exchanged."

2312 book review

So you may recall me saying a few weeks back that I would be cutting back my blogging time to do some reading. I just finished Kim Stanley Robinson's '2312', the sci-fi author who wrote the Mars trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars). It was a great book.

It was like the fantasy I've always dreamed of for our civilization - the complete (practical) colonization of our solar system. The story includes elements of genetic engineering, politics and espionage, amazing technology and stories of the human (in all of its forms) condition. It also addresses the impact of climate change on Earth.

All in all, a great read and if you're a KSR fan, you'll want to add this one to your Kindle app.

Next - to re-read the Mars trilogy.....

Take away from 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony

So what I took away from last night's closing ceremonies was this: The Brits have a lot of bands with (ex) members too proud to reunite for one bloody performance for the Olympics. Incomplete bands included:
  • Take That
  • Eurythmics
  • Pink Floyd (forgiving the late Richard Wright)
  • Oasis
  • The Kinks

That's not including the music played where the (still alive) artists weren't even present:
  • David Bowie
  • ELO
  • Kate Bush

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Things I learned this week 12 Aug

  • Strictly speaking, on an airline, it’s against the law to disobey a crew member's commands. A flight attendant is a crew member.
  • Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be told to take any available job – including as a prostitute – or lose much of their unemployment benefit.
  • The appendix acted as a safe house for bacteria essential for healthy digestion, it re-booted the digestive system after someone contracted dysentery etc., which kill off helpful germs and purge the gut. This function has been made obsolete by modern society since people pick up essential bacteria from each other.
  • You can test your strength by playing a tug of war with a full-grown tiger at the Busch Gardens.
  • Smile and you will feel happier. Make the smile as wide as possible, extend your eyebrow muscles slightly upward, and hold the resulting expression for about 20 seconds.Peanut butter was actually invented by Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal in 1884.
  • The 6 Walmart heirs have a net worth equal to the bottom 30% of all Americans.
  • In September 2011, a Malibu mobile home in Paradise Cove sold for $2 million in cash. That only covered the house, not the land. It's a two-bedroom, two-bathroom 2,330 square foot mobile home.
  • The average CEO severance package is $5.38 million.
  • You CAN go into the pool right after you eat.
  • Run in the rain to get less wet. If you're running with the wind, you'll do even better.
  • In Germany, some IKEA stores provide 'dog parking'.
  • Only 37 out of 2000 athletes at the 1908 Olympic Games in London were women.

Millenium Falcon made from car parts

How steampunk is that?

Tweets from the Sarcastic (Mars) Rover

Someone set up a Twitter account as the Mars Rover Curiosity. A very funny Mars Rover.


"Finally ready to start the day! Looking forward to staring at f--king dirt for the next two years!"

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Mini-golf Open 2012

Improv everywhere were at it again, this time, to turn an ordinary round of mini-golf into something very special for some kids in NYC.

The secret city of London

As opposed to London.

They're not the same.

Here's the video.

Guy steals Bourne e-book then sends cheque to publisher

Why? Because Robert Ludlum’s estate can’t agree on a royalty rate with its publisher for putting the Bourne series into e-book form. An excerpt from the full article:

"There’s no electronic edition of “The Bourne Identity” on Amazon. Nor any of its sequels. Barnes & Noble? Apple iBooks? Kobo? Sony? Nope.

I eventually learned that Robert Ludlum’s estate can’t agree on a royalty rate with its publisher. Dudes: You’re worried about the royalty rate? How about worrying about the thousands of dollars a month you’ve been leaving on the table by not offering the books to the public who’s willing to buy it?

Eventually, I downloaded the book from a BitTorrent site. I know this is wrong. So I sent the publisher a check for $9.99 for the e-book."

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Olympic moon

More ice cream? No - frozen yogurt....

Just after filling up with a light lunch on Airdrie's west side, I spied a logo on a storefront that caught my eye. It's shaped like soft ice cream, which isn't a bad thing. I looked closer and discovered that Airdrie is home to a new Frozen Yogurt franchise called Menchie's. I decided to check it out.

Here's the deal. The back wall of the store has about a dozen frozen yogurt dispensers, each dispensing a different flavour of the frozen treat. But the machines serve in pairs, so you can pour single flavours or swirl-mix the pair of flavours (from the same machine). You start with a plain cup or a waffle cup (extra) and pour as much of any flavour(s) of yogurt you want, then head over to the selection of a few dozen toppings. Add as many and as much as you like. Finish it off with some sauce and take your creation to the scale to be weighed. You can easily go overboard at this store - my medium-ish amount with mostly fruit toppings came to almost $6.

But it's so good. I chose a coconut yogurt and topped it with banana chips, maraschino cherries, blueberries and strawberries and caramel sauce. I'm glad I chose a light lunch.

Artistic Phil's

While my sister Heidi and her family were visiting this past weekend, I was navigating Luc (her partner) along the road to get to a favourite (and closeby) restaurant for breakfast. I said "See that yellow sign up ahead, with the Phil's in artistic writing?" They replied "Artistic Phil's?"

And so, that restaurant will now forever be known in our family as "Artistic Phil's".


Monday, August 06, 2012

Things I learned this week 6 Aug

  • It would take 8,028,680 LEGO bricks at a cost of $802,868 to build my house.
  • According to a 1992 law, women in New York have the right to go topless anywhere a man can, so long as they're not engaged in commerce. Most New Yorkers don't know this is the case.
  • Accelerated Christian Education's high school biology textbook, used in some private religions schools, argues Darwin's theory of evolution doesn't hold water if dinosaurs co-exist with man. Apparently they do - to this day. The proof? Nessie.
  • One of the factors that led to the deterioration of flavour in commercial tomatoes was the breeding out of green shoulders (the part nearest the stem) of older varieties (pre-1930).
  • Liqui-gels are one of the biggest gimmicks to get you to pay more for a simple pain killer.
  • The earliest form of printing was woodblock printing, with existing examples from China dating to before 220AD.
  • The top 3 complaints business travellers have about hotels are expensive internet; insufficient AC outlets and slow internet.
  • Our eyes don't scan smoothly across a scene, they observe a series of images. You can witness this phenomenon in another person by getting them to pan across a scene while watching their eye movement. It will be jerky. However, the eye is capable of panning smoothly if you track a moving object. You can witness this phenomenon too by watching the other person tracking a moving object, like a person walking by.
  • The Clock Tower, better known as Big Ben, is to be renamed Elizabeth Tower.
  • Calgary will soon have the longest commercial runway in Canada, at 14,000 feet long. It will easily handle the Airbus A380 and could even allow simultaneous takeoffs and landings for smaller aircraft.
  • There are Olympics wi-fi police in London, who seek out unauthorized wi-fi signals and shut them down. Why? Because Olympic partner BT runs some 1,500 paid hotspots at the event and doesn't want any free competition.
  • It's so hot in Oklahoma, street light globes are melting.

Too much Olympics

A fun commentary on the Olympics by Glove N Boots.

Funny.... I didn't order this

Hilarious video about Amazon's next evolutionary step in shipping services. They're about to introduce same-day shipping (in the US anyway). Well the only thing better would be yesterday shipping.

Watch the video....

Quantum computing in 200 words

"Ordinary computers manipulate "bits" of information, which, like light switches, can be in one of two states (represented by 1 or 0). Quantum computers manipulate "qubits": units of information stored in subatomic particles, which, by the bizarre laws of quantum mechanics, may be in states |1> or |0>, or any "superposition" (linear combination) of the two. As long as the qubit is left unmeasured, it embodies both states at once; measuring it "collapses" it from the superposition to one of its terms. Now, suppose a quantum computer has two qubits. If they were bits, they could be in only one of four possible states (00,01,10,11). A pair of qubits also has four states (|00>, |01>, |01>, |11>), but it can also exist in any combination of all four. As you increase the number of qubits in the system, you exponentially increase the amount of information they can collectively store.

Thus, one can theoretically work with myriad information simultaneously by performing mathematical operations on a system of unmeasured qubits (instead of probing one bit at a time), potentially reducing computing times for complex problems from years to seconds. The difficult task is to efficiently retrieve information stored in qubits — and physicists aren't there yet."

Written by Natalie Wolchover, staff writer at Life's Little Mysteries.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Taking a break

The blog will be silent for a few days while we entertain family in from Quebec. My sister and her family will be here tomorrow. YAY!!


Branding's impact on kids

To prove how well branding works, brought Olivia to my computer, which was displaying a number of random brand logos.

She recognized IKEA, WalMart, McDonald's, Starbucks (the coffee store), Google, KFC and Nike (that's on the hockey shirt).

To boldly go where two rovers have gone before

The Shat helped make a video about the soon-to-land Curiosity Mars rover.

P.S.: That rover is scheduled to land on Mars this Monday, 6 August 2012.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Enterprise smackdown

The Enterprise, registry number NCC-1701, was from the original Star Trek TV series. Registry number NCC-1701-A was from the movies Star Trek IV, Star Trek V and Star Trek VI. A panel at Comic-Con (San Diego - 2012) debated the relative merits of 12 spaceships in different science fiction franchises and decided that these two ships were the best. But pick one? Physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson rose to make the case for the NCC-1701.

Jaxon Smith

This 6 year old drummer is intense.

Drumming along to some Foo Fighters and doing a splendid job.

Google search tips from the Google search experts

[abridged version]

Typing “San Antonio Spurs” will show websites containing the phrase “San Antonio Spurs.” If you don’t use the quotes, Google will search for the terms “San,” “Antonio,” and “Spurs” individually and you might miss pages related to the team.

Don’t bother typing AND in your search queries – Google treats it like any other word. But using OR in all caps works. OR is great for finding synonyms and boilerplate language. Typing “Smith denied” OR “Smith claimed” OR “Smith argued” will find more pertinent websites about a controversy involving Smith. Rather than using NOT to exclude a search term, put a hyphen in front of the word. So if you’re visiting San Antonio but don’t want to visit the Alamo, type: “San Antonio” -Alamo. That will search for the phrase “San Antonio” on web pages that don’t have the word “Alamo.” No space between Alamo and the hyphen.

Typing define [space] [search term] in Google will offer dictionary definitions. You even get a definition if you type define pwned and other lingo. Google has words that aren’t in the dictionary.

Sometimes Google tries to be helpful and it uses the word it thinks you’re searching for — not the word you’re actually searching for. And sometimes a website in the results does not include all your search terms. Fix this by typing intext:[keyword]. It forces the search term to be in the body of the website.

If you only want search results for web pages published in the past week, past month, or some other time frame, you can click on that option on the left-hand side of the search results page under Show search tools.

What if you’re curious about search terms that are near each other on a website? [keyword] AROUND(n) [keyword] is incredibly handy for finding related terms. “n” is the number of words near the search terms. Typing “Jerry Brown” AROUND(3) “Tea Party” will show you all the websites where the phrase “Jerry Brown” was mentioned within three words of “Tea Party.”

Let’s say you’re searching Google Maps for a specific hotel in San Antonio and check out one of the results. If you want to know what’s near the hotel, in the Google Maps search bar, type an asterisk. The results will show you every single place Google knows about in that map view (zoom in first). So you can see nearby businesses, stores, and whatever else is around.

The search operator site:[url] restricts your search to that particular website. It’s one of the most useful searches out there.

All these search terms work with Google Alerts. Google will email you whenever it crawls new websites containing terms you’re interested in.