Monday, December 30, 2013

Things I learned lately 30 December

  • Steven Spielberg thinks that the movie industry is betting too much on mega-blockbusters on the big screen, having lost much of the movie-going audience to TV and the Internet. He predicts that if a massive budget film or three flops, it could implode the entire movie industry.
  • Former UK drug czar David Nutt (and author of Drugs Without the Hot Air) calls modern drug policy "the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo."
  • The most used line in movies is "Let's get out of here."
  • More than 61% of all internet traffic in 2013 was generated by 'bots', meaning 'not human'. Some of those bots are good (search, etc.), but only about half.
  • 79% of Canadian teens don’t want to wear their winter coat, it’s not even that cold out (from the book 'Stats Canada - Satire on a National Scale')
  • There are no freezers or microwaves in any In-N-Out restaurants because the company has a strict policy of serving its food fresh. Therefore, all locations must be close to its distribution facilities, which are in Baldwin Park, CA and Dallas, TX. They make all the hamburger patties themselves and deliver them fresh to all the restaurants with their own delivery vehicles. Nothing is frozen. New restaurant locations are limited by the distance they can travel from the patty making facilities and distribution centres.
  • According to Bloomberg, the 50 stocks with the lowest Wall Street analyst ratings at the end of 2011 outperformed the S&P 500 by seven percentage points in 2012. 
  • The National Library of Norway has struck a deal to digitize all of its Norwegian books and make them available online to anyone coming from a Norwegian IP address.
  • In order to receive their negotiated raises and any holiday bonus, Parliament Hill staffers are being required to sign a lifetime gag order.... I mean 'confidentiality agreement', with hefty penalties for any breach, designed to thwart whistle-blowers. So much for transparency in government.
  • China has now landed a spacecraft (and rover) on the moon.
  • When Rupert and Anna Murdoch divorced, Anna got $1.7 billion in assets, including $110 million in cash.
  • In-N-Out Burger prints bible citations on wrappers.
  • KFC is smuggled to the Gaza Strip through underground tunnels. It takes 4 hours to get an order illicitly delivered from Egypt.
  • You can't add a data plan to a pay-as-you-go mobile account. At least - not with Fido.....

Another example of what's wrong with copyright

The start-up GoldieBlox took its parody of the Beastie Boys song "Girls" out of an ad for its line of girl-focused building toys and asked the group for a truce in their copyright fight, GoldieBlox said in a post Wednesday on its company blog.

The decision comes a little less than a week after GoldieBlox filed a lawsuit against the surviving members of the hip-hop trio that claimed the group's attorneys threatened a copyright suit over the GoldieBlox video ad, which parodied the original Beastie Boys ode to female domesticity with new lyrics promoting female empowerment.

The video had amassed more than 8 million YouTube views within a few days, but has since been pulled from the site.

Here's the letter GoldieBlox wrote to Beasties Boys members Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz and Mike "Mike D" Diamond on its blog:

"Dear Adam and Mike,

We don’t want to fight with you. We love you and we are actually huge fans.

When we made our parody version of your song, ‘Girls’, we did it with the best of intentions. We wanted to take a song we weren’t too proud of, and transform it into a powerful anthem for girls. Over the past week, parents have sent us pictures and videos of their kids singing the new lyrics with pride, building their own Rube Goldberg machines in their living rooms and declaring an interest in engineering. It’s been incredible to watch.

Our hearts sank last week when your lawyers called us with threats that we took very seriously. As a small company, we had no choice but to stand up for ourselves. We did so sincerely hoping we could come to a peaceful settlement with you.

We want you to know that when we posted the video, we were completely unaware that the late, great Adam Yauch had requested in his will that the Beastie Boys songs never be used in advertising. Although we believe our parody video falls under fair use, we would like to respect his wishes and yours.

Since actions speak louder than words, we have already removed the song from our video. In addition, we are ready to stop the lawsuit as long as this means we will no longer be under threat from your legal team.

We don’t want to spend our time fighting legal battles. We want to inspire the next generation. We want to be good role models. And we want to be your friends.


Debbie + Team GoldieBlox"

Holy security blanket!

200000 blog page views

Gee, that only took 9.5 years.........

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Forest change

This is an amazing map overlay that shows where in the world forests have made gains or experienced losses in the period 2000-2012.

I took a look around the area where I used to live (Deux Montagnes QC) and see that a bit of forest was lost due to development of the suburbs. At least I know it's accurate, because I know these forested areas from when I was a kid. In the Laurentians, you can see the forest rebounding, probably due to replanting.

In Alberta, in general, there seems to be equal parts loss and gain, which is good. The loss seems much more dramatic in BC. If you zoom out and just focus on the loss, it seems really bad, especially across northern Canada. But if you look at gains, it seems to even it out. I'd like to know if that loss is due to natural causes as well, or just cutting.

There's a tremendous amount of loss in California, likely due to fires. Japan has more tree cover than I would have thought and seems to be doing a great job of managing loss. Ireland seems to be aggressively growing new forests.

(Red=loss; blue=gain; purple=both; green=forest)

I thought you said snow angles.....

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Who says you can't paint with an iPad?

Kyle Lambert shows how he produced a photo-realistic composition of Morgan Freeman on his iPad (very sped up). The video represents over 200 hours of work and was made with the procreate app.

Assuming this is real, the work is indescribable.

Yellow pages truth

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sayings from my military career

  • If it doesn't work, use a bigger hammer
  • Hurry up and wait
  • Don't volunteer for anything
  • I have no live rounds or empty casings in my possession, sir
  • This is FUBAR
  • I've been up since o-dark-stupid
  • Point that sh^t down range
  • It's all pensionable time
  • Get off my parade square!
  • I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you
  • Don't point with your finger, indicate with your hand
  • Get those knees up!
  • 'O' group in 10

Truth logos

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Mercedes Benz S500 Intelligent Drive research vehicle

Mercedes is one step away from a car that can drive itself, at least on the highway.

Door to door mail delivery is so pre hip operation

Friday, December 20, 2013

Things I learned lately 20 December

  • In Canada, on average, the income cutoff mark for being part of the top 1% is $209,600 (per person) per year. In Calgary, you need to be making at least $391,700 per year to be in the top 1%. Calgary's richest person though, is E. Hunter Harrison, CEO of CP Rail. He earns $1,045,069 per year, but that's just his base salary. If you include his bonus, 'other compensation', share-based awards, option-based awards, etc., he earns $49,151,065 per year, or $134,660 per day. 
  • When much of the eastern US says "I'm going to 'the City'", they're specifically talking about New York City, not the nearest city.
  • People in coastal Virginia and North Carolina refer to drive-thru liquor stores as a 'brew-thru'. The west coast and New England doesn't even know what these are.
  • Canada is the largest 'single neighbour nation' in the world. Meaning that it only borders one country by land.
  • Researchers at Stony Brook University have developed a nano-trap made from microfibers 50 times thinner than human hair that can entangle bed bugs and other insects. The microfibers trap bugs by attaching to microstructures on their legs, immobilizing them, which stops them from feeding and reproducing.
  • In the movie 'The Fifth Element', the villain (Zorg) and the hero (Korbin Dallas) never meet each other.
  • The owner of The Bunny Ranch in Nevada is watching Canada's prostitution laws and is ready to expand into Canada if it ever gets legalized.
  • As of 12 June 2013, 45.4% of Nevada mortgages are still in negative equity, meaning their homes are worth less than their outstanding mortgages. In Florida, it's 38.1%. In Michigan, 32%.
  • There are 14,000+ McDonald's, 11,000+ Starbucks and 17,000+ libraries in the US.
  • 11,520,000 tourists will visit New York City this year and spend $18,600,000,000 while they're there. London sees more tourists though, an estimated 15,960,000 visitors. Bangkok sees about the same.

Basic income for everyone

A simple idea for eliminating poverty is garnering attention recently: The government would mail everyone over the age of 21 a check each month, thus providing them with a guaranteed basic income. Everyone is free to do what they like with it.

A minimum income would allow for the elimination of all benefits. Workers should have greater leverage to demand higher wages and better working conditions from their employer thanks to the increased income security. Families might afford one parent to take time off to raise their kids. Eliminating the numerous welfare programs would also lead to efficiency gains as adults would not have to waste time filling out paperwork or visiting numerous offices.

Switzerland will soon vote to give each working age adult a basic income of $2,800 per month. Supporters of the initiative unloaded a dump truck of eight million coins, one for every Swiss citizen, after they successfully gained 125,000 signatures and triggered the referendum. Other countries have experimented with basic income in small areas, but none has done so throughout an entire country as Switzerland is considering. If the referendum passes, economists will certainly watch intently to see its effects.

Even Hugh Segal, an old school Conservative, likes this concept. The only thing he would do differently is administer it via the income tax system. The less money you make, the less tax you have to pay and at the poverty line, going below it means the tax man owes you.

But I was bearly speeding.....

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fascinating Maps Show The Origin Of Words

These maps show the lineage of the words 'church', 'bear', 'beer', 'apple', 'orange', 'rose', 'pineapple', 'tea' and 'cucumber' across Europe.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Roundabouts ftw

Since demolishing 78 traffic signals and installing 80 roundabouts, the northern Indiana city of Carmel has reduced the number of accidents by 40% and the number of accidents with injuries by 78%.

Proponents say it’s nearly impossible to have a head-on or T-bone collision when using the roadways and collisions that do happen tend to occur at much lower speeds. Other benefits of roundabouts include reduced fuel consumption, due to a lack of idling, and a construction cost that is at least $150,000 less than installing traffic lights.

“We have more than any other city in the US,” says mayor James Brainard. “It’s a trend now in the US. There are more and more roundabouts being built every day because of the expense saved and more importantly, the safety.”

Lacoste versus lactose

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Things I learned lately 14 December

  • Most of the US west of the Mississippi pronounces 'caramel' with 2 syllables ("car-ml")
  • Only states bordering Canada pronounce 'been' with the same vowel sound as 'ben' versus the rest of the US, which pronounces it like 'bin'.
  • The further southeast you go in the US, the more likely you pronounce 'mayonnaise' with two syllables ("man-aze"). The same goes for pronouncing the middle syllable in 'pyjamas' like 'jaw' (pajawmas).
  • New England pronounces 'pecan' the same as Canadians do ('pee-can').
  • New England refers to a roundabout or traffic circle using the word 'rotary'. The Dakotas and most of Montana and Minnesota don't know what to call them.
  • There's a very tiny part of the US centred around eastern Pennsylvania and into New Jersey that refer to the submarine sandwich as a 'hoagie'.
  • Eastern Wisconsin calls a drinking / water fountain a 'bubbler'.
  • Only New England and southern Florida call them sneakers. The rest of the US calls them 'tennis shoes'.
  • The word 'freeway' is common mostly from Utah westward. Everywhere else, it's 'highway'.
  • There are pockets of eastern US where they refer to rain while the sun is shining as a 'sunshower'. In the south, some call it 'the devil is beating his wife'. Much of the country, especially the west, has no term for this at all.
  • During Black Friday and Thanksgiving, Americans spent $1.9 billion online. During "Singles Day", November 11, a single e-commerce company in China called Alibaba processed more than $5.75 billion in sales. Alibaba runs 2 websites – Tmall and Taobao. On Tmall, big brands sell to consumers. On Taobao, small businesses and consumers sell to consumers. Part of why Alibaba is so successful is that there are about 500 million internet users in China. There are lots of cities with millions of people in them and no malls or big offline retail centres. China has leap-frogged the whole mall and big box culture and shop online. It is free for merchants to set up stores on Taobao and Tmall. Alibaba only makes money by selling ads. That means more merchants, cheaper prices, and more sales. The trust level is higher too because they pay using Alipay – a service which keeps the funds in retail transactions in escrow until both the buyer and the seller are happy.
  • The Calgary flood in June created 98,000+ tonnes of waste that was brought to city landfills in the weeks after flood. That's equivalent to 3 years of landfill space.
  • Uruguay just became the first country to legalize and fully regulate the production, sale and distribution of marijuana.

Made from cool

Freaky Christopher Walken Danish ads for Jack & Jones clothing.



And three.

Death balloon

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Your body is her canvas

Alexa Meade uses bodies as her canvas.

It's eerie, yet fantastic.

Memories of Green

This is a very nice trailer of Blade Runner re-imagined as 'film-noir'.

The music is Memories of Green by Vangelis, which made a brief appearance in the movie.

This is the population of Canada distributed throughout the US

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Somewhere outside Redmond

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer as Dr Evil and Bill gates as Austin Powers.

I kid you not.

Streetview coverage

This map shows what parts of the world is currently covered by Google Streetview (source). I had once read that Germany wasn't part of it because of their privacy concerns, but it seems they've worked that out now.

Not a creature was stirring..... (well, almost)

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Things you say when you're over 50

  • Do I seriously have to wait that long for my senior's discount?
  • Is your mortgage paid off yet?
  • Is that the last car you're ever going to buy?
  • I can't believe it's [insert current month or year here] already!
  • No, I feel fine, why do you ask?
  • Did I ever tell you how far I had to walk to school in the snow?
  • Let's go to Swiss Chalet!
  • What do you mean 'I look tired'?
  • Kids today......
  • See that limb twitching? I'm not doing that consciously.
  • I was up at 5am. Yes, I know it's Saturday.
  • Seriously, if you call me 'Sir' [or Ma'am] one more time.....
  • Is there a pay phone around here?
  • Help me get up....
  • What's wrong with Herb Alpert?
  • Back in the olden days......
  • How do you expect someone my age to limit my thoughts to 140 characters?
  • Stop calling it 'classic rock'. I prefer to call it 'the only music that mattered'.
  • Grey hair makes me look distinguished? So what you're saying is that you can distinguish me from a 30 year old?
  • That prune juice went right through me. No pun intended.
  • If by 'chillaxing' you mean napping, then yes, I'm chillaxing...
  • What?
  • You know............... I forgot what I was going to say.

Paper Kites video

This inspiring music video for Young by The Paper Kites took 7 days to photograph. More than 350 people were involved. It took 10 days to cut together over 4,000 photos.


1993....... and 2013

Friday, December 06, 2013

How not to get arrested by police

Don't attract attention to yourself.

Don't go out after dark.

Avoid sudden changes in motion, speed, direction or behaviour.

Be honest, polite, respectful and resistant to incitement with police. Don't smile.

Ask for a notice to appear as an alternative to an arrest.


Never drive perfectly or too slow. If you're speeding, don't suddenly hit the brakes, the front-end dip is a tip-off.

Always politely decline a search of your car.

Conduct this...

Improv Everywhere are the coolest group of people on the planet.

In this case, they let passers-by conduct an orchestra.

It's too bad this kind of stuff only happens in New York.

People having fun at the expense of something that doesn't exist yet

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Tax math

There are people complaining that municipal taxes in Calgary are going up again. They argue that taxes should stay the same.

I guess some folks forgot how to do basic math. The only way you can progress with no increase in tax is if the cost of providing services is fixed. It is not. The cost rises with inflation, wage increases, supply and demand of material and labour. In such a world, the only way to maintain an unchanging tax base is to cut services or quality of services.

Sorry, but I don't want that.

John Cleese on creativity

John Cleese tries to explain creativity and how to become more creative. The background of his lecture is scientific, the guide based on his own experience. This is really spot on and any creative professional will agree. Plus, it is really funny at the same time!

Enjoy and be inspired!

Batman in filme noire style

Monday, December 02, 2013

How to quickly build rapport with people

1. Let the other person know that there is an end (to the conversation) in sight, and it is really close.
2. Smiling is the number one nonverbal technique you should utilize to look more accommodating.
3. When individuals speak slowly and clearly, they tend to sound more credible than those who speak quickly.
4. There is no greater theme and tool for eliciting individuals for action, information, and a great conversation than the use of sympathy or assistance.
5. Avoid correcting people or anything that could be interpreted as one-upmanship. Just listen. You don’t need to tell your story; just encourage them to keep telling theirs.
6. Validate others. Again, through listening.
7. Ask open ended questions that don’t require a simple yes or no answer. They are generally questions that require more words and thought. Utilize the content given and continue to ask open ended questions about the same content.
8. Some people don’t speak much. Other times people feel self-conscious about talking so much. It’s good to give a piece of personal information for every one they reveal to get a flow going.
9. When you offer people something, they will naturally feel the need to help you in return.
10. Play it cool. Focus on the other person’s needs and don’t let your expectations rise.
11. In every interaction the other person should walk away feeling much better for having met you. You should brighten their day and listen to them when no one else will.

Just don't call her a prodigy

12 year old Emily Bear has been playing the piano since she was 4, but this 12 year old girl not only plays, but she writes her own material too, having composed 350 pieces by age 8.

You've just got to watch this video about her.

She aspires to write music for movies. Quincy Jones is her current mentor.

Iron Man in filme noire style