Saturday, July 25, 2015

Is this just fantasy?

Bohemian Rhapsody played on a 110 year old self-playing Marenghi fairground organ

3 reasons why Finland has such good education

1. Education and learning must be a respected and admired part of your culture. Finland built and secured its national identity in the 19th century through investing in education for all and when independence was achieved, the base was there to develop further.

2. "Leave no child behind" was a slogan adopted in Finnish schools long before it became popular in the US. Pupils with learning difficulties are patiently brought up to the average level of their classmates by teachers and assistants who give them the extra attention and support they need to catch up.

3. You need high quality teachers with compassion. Only 11% of applicants to the teaching profession are accepted, which means that the most motivated are selected. Here again, respect for the vocation of teaching ensures that talented students choose the profession.

Comments are the best

Beach in the City ad

There's an event coming to a Calgary neighbourhood named Kensington next weekend (Aug 1) called Beach in the City. They don't have a TV commercial for it (that I know of), but if there was to be one, this is what Darelene and I came up with:

Scene opens on Kensington Road, facing west into the soon to be setting summer sun.

A dump truck has just unloaded the final load of fresh sand onto Kensington road and workers are raking it. In the distance, you can see other workers hanging a Beach in the City banner across the street.

From the side, a cat wanders onto the sand and starts digging a hole with one paw.

Worker (to the cat): "HEY!! Get outta here!"

The cat meows disapprovingly and scampers off. The worker rakes where the cat began digging.

Fade to black.

Things I learned lately - 25 Jul

  • 77% of Canadians think physician-assisted euthanasia should be legal.
  • Fast food workers will earn a minimum of $15 per hour by 2018 in New York City.
  • IKEA in Germany has a "Parking Lot for Dogs", to encourage customers not to leave their dogs in hot cars while shopping.
  • Researchers from MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe developed an algorithm that can extract audio from silent videos by analyzing the tiny vibrations of the objects as captured by an ordinary camera.
  • You can use potato chips as tinder to start a fire.
  • There is now a state-wide ban on non-compostable plastic bags in Hawaii.
  • The only mother / step-son / son trio to each have a #1 hit record: Shirley Jones / David Cassidy / Shaun Cassidy.
  • Loons are unable to take off from land.
  • There are people who can't recognize faces. The condition is known as prosopagnosia or face blindness. I knew someone with this condition and he never knew it was me until I started to talk.
  • Mel Brooks is one of just 11 performers who have won an Emmy, an Oscar, a Grammy, and a Tony Award, the so called “Grand Slam” of show business.
  • In 1895, the first volleyball game, originally called Mintonette was played in Holyoke Massachusetts at a YMCA. The inventor was the YMCA athletic director there, William G. Morgan. He set out to create a game with similar goals as basketball (can be played indoors, not a terribly rough game, requires some athletic skill), but for people who weren’t in great shape, such as middle-aged businessmen.
  • Greek for 'turn', the Gyro derived its name from the method used to cook the meat, which revolves on a vertical spit.

Friday, July 17, 2015


Melchior Islands

This spectacular drone footage taken in Antarctica's Melchior Islands is breathtaking.

Make sure you watch it full screen.

Some of the most beautiful drone footage I've ever seen.


A Conservative MP, who loosely compared Jesus to her government leader regarding the awesomeness and righteousness of Bill C-51, inspired a new Twitter hashtag #CPCJesus.

The tweets are beyond hilarious.

@LukewSavage: And lo the Lord said "Go forth and spy on thy citizens, for that is my will. Read not the press." - Romans, 4:12 #CPCJesus

@djclimenhaga: #CPCJesus says "Blessed are the 1%, for theirs is the Kingdom of Ottawa."

@kainagata: I hear #CPCJesus can walk on oil spills.

@markcritch: God saw the light, and saw that it was good - so he cancelled its funding #CPCJesus

@clickerati: And #CPCJesus said, blessed are the children, for they cannot vote me out of office in the next election

@PatOndabak: The leper was cured by the Lord. But the Lord made him appear before a review panel to make sure his legs didn't grow back. #CPCJesus

@llootsteen39: Tell a man a lie and he'll vote for you, teach a man to lie and he can run your country #CPCJesus

@JazzlamHazzlam: And the CPCJesus spake unto them, saying "The meek shall inherit the earth, provided they make enough money to qualify for income splitting."

@canadiancynic: "It is easier for a rich man to enter the Senate, than a poor man to qualify for EI."

@TheUselessCoin: Lo, the poor sick woman did go unto #CPCJesus to be healed. #CPCJesus said unto her, "I'm a social conservative. Principles!"

@Meanwhileincana: Harper asks himself: "What would Jesus cut?"

@mikebednarski: And the Three Wise Men came unto Baby #CPCJesus and offered Him gifts of tar, pipelines, and bitumen.

Tesla Supercharger coverage by 2016

Things I learned lately - 17 Jul

  • It takes 4.5 hours for radio signals to get from the New Horizons spacecraft (which just passed within 13,000 km of Pluto) to earth, almost 5,000,000,000 km. For reference, the distance from the earth to the moon is 384,400 km.
  • Pluto circles the sun once every 248 years.
  • It will take 16 months for New Horizons to transmit all of its pictures and data that it collected during the Pluto fly-by.
  • Canada is the only country with a universal health care system that does not also provide universal coverage of prescription drugs.
  • If you're on the beach in San Diego, the country directly across the ocean from you is........... Japan.
  • Harry Wasylyk of Manitoba and Larry Hansen of Ontario invented the first plastic garbage bag for commercial use in 1950. Union Carbide Company bought the idea and brought Glad trash bags into homes.
  • Newspaper editor Joseph Coyle of Smithers, British Columbia, found a new use for paper in 1911. The egg carton.
  • Montreal's Canadian Lady Corset Company first licensed the trademark "Wonder-bra" in 1939, and then renamed the company Wonderbra in 1961. The Wonderbra is as old as me......
  • Peanut butter was patented in 1884 by Montreal pharmacist Marcellus Gilmore Edson. He envisioned his nutty ointment-like product as a food option for people who couldn't chew.
  • An odd number of flowers are unlucky in China and Indonesia; even number is considered to be unlucky in India, Turkey, Russia and Germany.
  • In Malaysia, people point with the whole fist and the thumb at the top indicating direction. Filipinos, on the other hand, point to an object by shifting their eyes towards it or pursing their lips and pointing to it with their mouth.
  • Since 9/11, more people in the US have died at the hands of non-muslim extremists, than at the hands of muslim extremists.
  • Some companies are getting so restrictive with email use that employees must select from a list of pre-approved topics before the email software will allow them to send a message.
  • Most brands of PCs have lost anywhere from 7% to 27% in sales figures in the last year. Only Apple computers continues to see positive growth.
  • One litre of gasoline in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia costs $0.13. That's not a typo. 13 cents.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Doctor (TL;DR)

That time when Tesla predicted the smart phone

"When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket."

~Nikola Tesla 1926

How to make clouds from scratch

I sort of knew how clouds form, but I had no idea it was like this, nor that water molecules have smiley faces.

Extremely well done video from the folks at Minute Earth.

Got your back, man

Things I learned lately - 11 Jul

  • The Pearl River Delta, made up of 9 cities, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Huizhou, Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Guangzhou, Foshan, and Zhaoqing has more citizens (42 million) than all of Canada (36 million)
  • Hawaii is now generating electricity from ocean waves.
  • The cost of cable TV subscriptions has doubled in the last 8 years.
  • So, underground (as in empty office tower floor, basement or garage) drone racing is a thing now.
  • The "Door-knob - Safety" game: Should a person produce any sort of flatulence, that person must claim the offending sound and or odor by shouting out "safety!" Should a person nearby the offender hear or smell the broken wind and yell out "Door-knob!" before the windbreaker says "safety", the person yelling "door-knob" is allowed to hit the farter as hard and as many times as they want. The beating ceases when the farter touches a door knob. In the case of a tie, the claim of "door-knob" will be honoured and hitting can commence. This is because the farter usually knows in advance that they're about to cut the cheese.
  • Two former musician members of the Bay City Rollers quit to form the band Pilot. Pilot was produced by Alan Parsons. Three Pilot band members went on to become the core musicians in the Alan Parsons Project.
  • Olympians bite their medals because the photographers ask them to.
  • Sleeping Beauty is based on a story where a married king finds a girl asleep and can’t wake her, so rapes her instead. The story is called The Sun, the Moon, and Talia, by Italian poet Giambattista Basile and published in 1634. It was part of his “Pentamerone” collection of fairy tales, which also includes the first known version of Cinderella and Rapunzel, and includes a version of Puss in Boots. Basile was more or less the “Brothers Grimm” of his time.
  • Canada has more than 3 million lakes.
  • A blue whale's fart bubbles are big enough to enclose a horse.
  • Mr Clean's first name is Veritably.
  • Hawaiian pizza was invented in Ontario.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

I'm bad, you know it - the Dunning-Kruger effect

If you know you are bad at something, you would just avoid doing it. Right? Thanks to how our brains work, no. David Dunning and Justin Kruger, two psychologists from Cornell University, showed that people who are really bad at something, tend to think they're really good at it. The most competent people will usually underestimate their abilities. The rest of us overestimate our abilities, and the worse we are at something, the more we overestimate our abilities.

"Incompetent people cannot recognize just how incompetent they are" said Dunning. You need some skill at something to know how good at it you are. It isn't possible to tell if you suck, if you're too bad to know what sucking involves.

I wanted to find you. But not like this.

Acoustic master

Gabriella Quevedo plays Hotel California in a pared down, but still beautiful arrangement.

Map of ludicrous speed bullet trains in Japan

Things I learned lately - 4 Jul

  • In recent mock dogfights, the new F-35 fighter couldn't even keep up with an F-16 fighter. Designed 40 years ago. A 20 year old jet. Which also happened to be lugging two extra under-wing fuel tanks, which made it even slower. [hangs head in shame]
  • California just passed a vaccination bill that eliminates the option for parents to abstain from vaccination due to religious or other personal beliefs and requires all school-aged children to have undergone 10 complete vaccinations before enrolling in California schools.
  • The most recognized song in the English language, Happy Birthday, is owned by Warner Music Group, and for decades they have charged a license fee for the use of the song. Movies and TV shows that feature a birthday party get around the fee by never completing the song (someone will come in and interrupt the singing), or by singing “For He's A Jolly Good Fellow” (which is in the public domain), or by just not singing at all when it's cake time. The 2003 documentary, The Corporation, notes that Warner has charged as high as $10,000 for the song to appear in a film.
  • Pringles chips only contain 42% potato-based content.
  • In 1899, 90% of New York City taxis were electric vehicles. In fact electric cars outsold any other type at that time. It was Henry Ford's Model T that started the end of the electric era especially due to the lower price.
  • The first known human killed by a robot was in 1981, when a robotic arm crushed a Japanese Kawasaki factory worker.
  • If you followed the Milk River in SE Alberta downstream, you'd eventually end up on the Missouri River, then the Mississippi River and finally empty into the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The 'Seuss' in Dr Seuss is supposed to be pronounced 'zoice" (rhymes with voice).
  • We haven't been to the moon in over 40 years.
  • Country music used to be called 'hillbilly music'.
  • Pigathia Lee - the full name of Miss Piggy.
  • There once existed B batteries, but they never caught on commercially.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Happy 148th Canada

Even though I'm not in favour of everything our country stands for at the moment, I still love my country.

We can speak our minds without fear of retribution. We have a decent social net. The land itself is magnificent. Our serving military, fire, police etc. are very tolerant and don't look at its own citizenry as the enemy. We are quite self-sufficient regarding natural resources, perhaps with the exception of tropical produce. Thousands of people per year still try to come here to make a better life for themselves. Let's face it, all you have to do is listen to international news every day to understand why we have it so good.

But as good as we have it, we can't sit back and relax. There are still a lot of people barely making ends meet and we could do so much more to create even more opportunities for our citizens. I truly look forward to exciting times ahead. We are the masters of our own destinies.