Saturday, February 28, 2015

Please read this article

This article blew my mind.

It's about the mistakes our brains make that limits our beliefs, abilities and imagination. It's stuff we don't talk about, but we should. Because 99% of what's wrong with the world is related to the reality we create for ourselves versus the one that we all share.

I'll sum it up for you, but you seriously need to read it.

1. We surround ourselves with information that matches our beliefs.

2. We believe in the “swimmer’s body” illusion.

3. We worry about things we've already lost.

4. We incorrectly predict odds.

5. We rationalize purchases we don’t want.

6. We make decisions based on the anchoring effect.

7. We believe our memories more than facts.

8. We pay more attention to stereotypes than we think.

Not for sits

"You are such a loser - good for you"

Garfunkel & Oates made this ode to losers.

It's awesome because it doesn't make fun, it props them up.

Lyrics I love: Fleetwood Mac - Hypnotized

They say there's a place down in Mexico
Where a man can fly over mountains and hills
And he don't need an airplane or some kind of engine
And he never will

Friday, February 27, 2015

Things I learned lately - 27 Feb

  • It's official. Deadpool is coming Feb 2016. Guess who's giddy?
  • Guess who else is building a giant solar farm? Apple.
  • 44% of Berlin is made up of parks, recreational areas, woods and rivers.
  • London was the first city to have a population of more than 1 million, in 1811. Tokyo overtook London in 1952.
  • Hong Kong has the most skyscrapers in the world.
  • On the USB symbol, the different shapes on the end of each branch signify the many different kinds of devices USB can connect.
  • The Apple keyboard 'command' symbol is called a gorgon loop. It's also used on Swedish road signs to indicate places of interest in campgrounds.
  • Bluetooth technology is named after Danish Viking King Harald Blatand (Bluetooth), who united Norway and Denmark. Developers felt that Bluetooth united PC and mobile technologies. The Bluetooth symbol is the merging of the Danish runes of the King's initials.
  • Canada has over 200,000 km of coastline.
  • If you want to open a Burger King franchise in the US, you must prove a net worth of $1.5 million.
  • The longer a cheese is aged and the harder the texture it has, the less lactose remains.
  • The FBI knows how to remotely enable the microphone on your laptop to listen in.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Say bye to New York's pay phones and hello to one of the largest public Wi-Fi experiments ever. LinkNYC will replace pay telephones with a console that provides free public Wi-Fi, up to gigabit speeds, 24/7. The physical pillar will also provide free domestic phone calls (including 911 and 311), a charging station for your devices, and a "touchscreen tablet interface to access City services, directions, and more.

LinkNYC will reportedly be funded entirely through advertising. The project is estimated to generate more than $500 million in revenue for NYC over the first 12 years.


This video really tugs at my heart, primarily because this is the future I imagined for us - our generation.

Sadly, at the rate we're going my grand-daughter might be lucky to see what is represented in this film.

Bunny trees

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Ready for some hard-core astrophysics?

Not that long ago, we had no idea whether there were planets around other stars besides our own. Then in 2009, the Kepler telescope was deployed to look at one patch of the galaxy (150,000+ stars) and search for planets around those stars.

We found some. 4,175 planet candidates and 1,018 confirmed planets, so far. That changes almost weekly.  If you'd like to learn how they figured that out just using a telescope, the story of how they find planets can be read here.

Believe it or not, we already predicted that there would be other planets because of the way we have theorized the manner with which our own solar system has evolved. But until this past decade, we had no proof. Now we have it.

OK, so we've established that there are other planets besides the ones we know about around our own sun. But what we really are interested in, are the planets in the 'Goldilocks zone'. In other words, planets, like our our earth, that are the right distance from their star, that water could be in a liquid state, and therefore make possible the conditions for life as we know it.

And, yes, we found those too. So far, we've found eight of them. This didn't come as a surprise either, but again, now we have proof. Based on that proof, combined with the Titius-Bode relationship formula, which predicted our own Uranus before we had proof it existed, we are now able to extrapolate that there are earth-like planets in 10-20% (minimum) of all the stars in the universe. That means hundreds of billions of earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy alone.

All of this of course leads to the big question - if there are a lot of other planets like Earth, are there other civilizations too?

Before we try to answer this question, we have to figure out how long it takes for a planet to form, create life, if life is possible, and evolve life to a form that can learn how to voyage into space.

The universe is calculated to be around 13.8 billion years old. Our sun came along 4.5 billion years ago - the universe was already 9.3 billion years old at the time. It took our own planet 4 billion years before major life forms started appearing and archaic homo sapiens only came around 400,000 years ago. This means that our presence on the earth only accounts for 1/1,000th of the time it was around.

Until just recently, we only expected that relatively new suns would have planets. We never expected that there would have been planets around stars that formed when the universe was young. But we just found evidence of five planets around an eleven billion year old star - a star that was born when the universe was only 2.8 billion years old. Remember, it's 13.8 billion now. When the Sun and Earth formed, these planets were already older than the Sun and Earth are now.

This changes everything. Until now, we weren't sure how old planets could be. We've never found Earth-sized planets this old. OK. Where are the aliens? Even with the vast distances between stars and limiting your ships to far less than the speed of light, you can colonize the entire galaxy in just a few million years. That's far less than the age of the galaxy.

Ancient alien civilization(s) could have planted their flags on every habitable planet in the Milky Way by now. Maybe every civilization advanced enough went through the cycle of advancement and died out already. Maybe they’re out there, but so advanced we don't even recognize them.

Food for thought. But with all of the new data, NASA is now officially saying that we cannot possibly be alone in the universe. With hundreds of billions of earth-like planets out there, just in our own galaxy, I'm inclined to agree. I just hope we get to meet one and with luck on our side, they don't want to conquer us.

OCD February

If you're OCD, you will love February 2015.

Starts on a Sunday.

Ends on a Saturday and is perfectly square.

Things I learned lately - 14 Feb

  • Major record labels are keeping 73% of the money they get from Spotify. Artists get a measly 10%.
  • Private Car Insurance company Industrial Alliance has had a system in place in Quebec, since 2012, where young drivers can volunteer to put GPS tracking in their cars to monitor their driving habits. 80% of those who volunteered got rebates on their insurance for good driving behaviours and most likely, it affected their driving because they knew they were being monitored. The province's SAAQ will soon be offering this voluntary project to all Quebec drivers. The information is not only used to monitor driving behaviour, but also to build statistical data on driving conditions around the province.
  • Target Canada's employees getting 16 weeks of severance is a total fabrication. Workers are being told they will have to work during those 16 weeks. That's not called severance, that's called salary.
  • New York City has more than 7000 homes worth MORE than $5 million.
  • Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Taboola are paying the owner of Adblock Plus to unblock ads on their websites at a fee of "30% of the additional ad revenues" they would have made were ads unblocked. In other words, those blocked ads are only blocked because the companies they represent don't pay.
  • In 2009, 80% of Norwegians under 30 admitted to downloading music illegally. In 2014, that had dropped to 4%. The reason? Music streaming services.
  • Salt Lake City decided it would be smarter and more humane to spend $11K/year each to house 17 chronically homeless people and provide them with social workers. Rather than waste an average of $16,670/year per person to imprison them and treat them at emergency rooms.
  • Lithuania was the first Baltic state to win its freedom from the Soviet Union. It was also one of the last pagan areas of Europe to adopt Christianity.
  • Super Dave Osborne's (real name: Bob Einstein) younger brother is Albert Brooks.
  • On the latest Macbook Air, if you hit the Caps Lock key, nothing happens. In order to prevent accidental keystrokes, the Caps Lock only comes on if you hold the key for a bit longer.
  • In Quebec, the Rice Krispies mascots Snap, Crackle and Pop are named Cric, Crac and Croc.

Adios Radio Shack

Saturday, February 07, 2015


What would London look like if the streets were completely devoid of people? This video shows you.

Eerie. Mesmerizing. Spectacular.

The bells of Amsterdam

One of the more beautiful time lapses I've seen in a while, of Amsterdam.

Things I learned lately - 7 Feb

  • Prime Minister Harper never showed up at a repatriation or funeral of any of the Afghanistan casualties.
  • Microsoft will offer Windows 10 for free as an upgrade to current users of Windows 7 or 8.x, but only for the first year.
  • Canada is on track to offer the lowest amount of foreign aid as a percentage of GDP on record in the next few years.
  • The amount of money Target has set aside to pay its about to be laid off Canadian staff (17,600 employees) is slightly less than the money it paid out to one former employee: CEO Gregg Steinhafel.
  • Geraldine 'Jerrie' Fredritz Mock was the first woman to fly solo around the world. She flew the 'Spirit of Columbus', a single engine Cessna 180. The trip began 19 March 1964, in Columbus OH, and ended there 17 April 1964. She was 38 years old when she accomplished what Amelia Earhart failed to do.
  • After John and Paul played their song to Paul's father, he said, "That's very nice son, but there's enough of these Americanisms around. Couldn't you sing 'She loves you, yes, yes, yes!'?"
  • They became known as Siamese twins because the most famous one, Chang and Eng Bunker, were born in Siam (now Thailand).
  • A Los Angeles man threw a $2.5 million, 2 week birthday party for his wife and 30 of her friends. It took place in southern France. 20 vintage European cars were imported to Provence for a road rally. The road was closed to the public for the 90 minute race and at one pit stop the birthday girl's favourite chef from LA served snacks. The party also enjoyed a 6 night sail on a luxury cruise ship and a private cooking lesson with a 2 star Michelin chef.
  • 6 members of the Russian parliament, their wives, and adult children planned a month-long, $1 million vacation in Canada. They were to go fishing, hunting, and then stop in Montreal for plastic surgery. Visa setbacks forced the trip to be cancelled.
  • A Russian tycoon took 7 employees and their sons on a 10 day off-road trip in Mexico. They flew from Moscow to Chiapas in the client's private 747, rented 15 SUV 4x4s (at $10,000 each), hired local police and private security for every leg of the trip and had groceries imported from around the world. Lobster from Maine, pheasant from England, and caviar from you-know-where. Cost: $800,000.
  • There are 66,000 abandoned lots in Detroit.

The Fresh Prince theme song as sonnet