Saturday, January 28, 2017

Awesome snow family the kids next door made

Bias in journalism

It's always about the profits and investors

Great article explaining the high price of pharmaceuticals in the US compared to other countries and how it affects the industry.


"The United States is exceptional in that it does not regulate or negotiate the prices of new prescription drugs when they come onto market. Other countries will task a government agency to meet with pharmaceutical companies and haggle over an appropriate price. These agencies will typically make decisions about whether these new drugs represent any improvement over the old drugs — whether they’re even worth bringing onto the market in the first place. They’ll pore over reams of evidence about drugs’ risks and benefits.

The United States allows drug makers to set their own prices for a given product — and allows every drug that's proven to be safe come onto market. And the problems that causes are easy to see, from the high co-pays at the drugstore to the people who can’t afford lifesaving medications."

My fave pic from the women's march

Things I learned lately - 28 January

  • 3D TV is officially dead. No manufacturers are making them anymore.
  • California Edison is the first power company to start using Tesla's Powerpack storage batteries. A substation has 400 of them installed, which will accumulate power during off-peak hours and provide it back to the grid during peak hours. Message to all utility companies that say the grid can't store electricity: Not anymore, sunshine....
  • iOS has a built in magnifier feature, which can be enabled in settings > general > accessibility > magnifier. Triple click the home button to access it.
  • 70% of Germans can speak English, as can 89% of people from Malta, 82% of people from Belize, 80% of folks from Singapore, 59% of Slovenians and 40% of Armenians.
  • The Mattel electronic Barbie Typewriter, available in 1998, had a secret. It was based on an older model made by Mehano in Slovenia, made pink and purple for Mattel. It had a wonderful secret capability that was never included in Mattel's marketing or manual. It was capable of encoding and decoding secret messages, using one of 4 built-in cipher modes, activated by entering a special key sequence. It was probably thought that secret writing would not appeal to girls, so the coding/decoding instructions were omitted from the manual. Nevertheless, the crypto capabilities can be accessed if you know how to activate them. 
  • On the sidewalks of London, there are tactile patterns for people with sight problems to know where crossings are and to avoid certain hazards, based on the raised shapes. 
  • The Francisco is the world's first high-speed ferry that uses liquefied natural gas as primary fuel. The ship can carry 1,000 passengers and 150 cars while surpassing 58 knots.
  • Aqilokoq is the Inuit word for 'softly falling snow'.
  • The UK spends almost double what Canada does on its military.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Just paying attention

(Regarding people taking on their first leadership positions)

"Pay attention to what's happening around you. Don't think there's just one way to do things — context is everything. I'd also say work to reduce the stress of the people around you. If you walk in the room and the stress levels go up, you're doing it all wrong — and vice versa. It's amazing how quickly just about anyone can learn leadership qualities by just paying attention to what works and what doesn't work."

~Mark Cuban

Is he dead?

Perspective shaping reality

This Minute Physics video does an amazing job explaining how our perception of the universe shapes how we explain it.

And most especially how multiple competing theories can plausibly explain how something works until you find out more, which spawns yet another perfectly plausible theory.

Pokemon tongue

Well I'll be damned.  A Pokemon tongue looks just like a hand!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Things I learned lately - 19 January

  • In the 1400s, we used to write with pure graphite. But it was expensive stuff, so it was mixed with clay. A #2 pencil has less graphite than a #1, but is a good compromise. The more graphite, the darker the line.
  • Artists who have declined to perform at the inauguration (so far): R. Kelly; Elton John; Celine Dion; Kiss; Andrea Bocelli; Kanye West; Garth Brooks; David Foster; Paul Anka; Charlotte Church; Moby; Justin Timberlake; Bruno Mars; Katy Perry.
  • The CMHC says about 1,500 newly-built housing units sat vacant across Calgary in December 2016 and more than 800 were apartment-style condos.
  • While the song Bobby Brown by Frank Zappa never got played on American radio, Norwegian kids would slow dance to it like it was Stairway to Heaven.
  • Google was originally called BackRub. Thankfully that changed, because using it as a verb, as in "you should 'back rub' that" sounds pretty awkward.
  • SpongeBob was originally called Spongeboy. They couldn't use that name because it was copyrighted by a mop company.
  • The people involved in making tetra-ethyl lead (for leaded gasoline) knew it was poisonous way back in 1922, but they made TEL it anyway. "A colourless liquid of sweetish odor, very poisonous if absorbed through the skin, resulting in lead poisoning almost immediately." 
  • Monks made the first pretzels, either in Northern Italy or Germany, around 600 CE. The holy men reportedly took scraps of dough, twisted them to depict arms folded in prayer, and awarded them to children for memorizing Bible verses. Since the Catholic Church banned eggs and bread during Lent, the pretzel became a go-to snack, and it migrated to Austria and Belgium.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Nebulas are big

You have no idea how big a nebula is. No, I'm serious, you could try to guess, but you'd likely be wrong every time.

But you need to see for yourself. They're beyond huge.

Don't look down

If you're afraid of heights, you definitely don't want to watch this video of a guy changing the light bulb at the top of a 1500' television broadcast tower.

Make sure to watch this full screen and at 1080p for maximum effect.

For people who think they get a lot of snow...

Quebec, in case you were wondering.

Things I learned lately - 13 January

  • According to Gallup, an incoming presidential approval rating has never been this low before.
  • The little handles on a glass bottle of syrup are an example of what's referred to as a skeumorph. The handle is a leftover relic of when syrup was stored in much larger 5 pound jugs (with a proportionally larger handle), but now serve no real practical purpose other than to identify the bottle's contents. Other skeumorphs include the floppy disk symbol for saving files, and the online shopping cart symbol. 
  • We may get to see a supernova with the naked eye in 2022, although it will just look like a bright star where there once was nothing.
  • Bell Telephone started rolling out dial telephones in 1919. New York got them in 1922. The last holdout was Catalina Island, off California, which didn't go dial until 1978. In case you're wondering, prior to dial, you asked an operator to connect you to the other person manually.
  • Panasonic now has a Countertop Induction Oven, a microwave-sized appliance that cooks like a full-size oven. It uses infrared heat and induction to quickly and evenly cook your food. It can cook a full meal of chicken cutlets and potatoes in 23 minutes. 
  • A new law that came into force on January 1, 2017, gives French workers a right to disconnect that will let them ignore email outside of working hours. Companies with 50+ employees have to negotiate with their employees over when they can ignore their smartphones and emails. The aim is to improve workers' work-life balance, and to prevent burn-out.
  • The word 'never' is a contraction of the words 'not ever'.
  • Holding your coffee cup from above in a claw-like grip is the best way to prevent it from spilling.
  • Cotton candy was originally called fairy floss.

Friday, January 06, 2017

This was the front page of the Montreal Gazette on the day I was born

Simon Sinek talks Millennials

Simon Sinek has an interesting viewpoint about Millennials' needs in the workplace and how management needs to address those needs.

% of population able to speak English (EU)

Things I learned lately - 6 January

  • In the Ukraine, a Big Mac is only $1.57.
  • If a Kiwi invites you to go to Macca's with them, they want to go to McDonald's.
  • This year's elite group of CEOs in Canada will have earned the average, full-time Canadian wage by 11:47 a.m. on Jan. 3 — the 2nd working day of 2017.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch is a distant relative (16th cousins, twice removed) of Conan Doyle. Their last common ancestor was John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster, who lived in the 14th century.
  • One female Greenland shark is around 400 years of age, making the species the longest-living vertebrate known on Earth.
  • Even in the early 1970s, women in the UK frequently had to get a male relative's signature to get a loan.
  • The tattoo policy of the US Marine Corps is 32 pages long.
  • YouTube was originally meant to be an online dating site.
  • There are about three million shipwrecks lying on the ocean floor.
  • People played with a fifth suit of cards in the 1930s. The most commonly known extra suit was 'eagles'.
  • German tourists can travel to more countries without a visa than any other nationality.
  • 80% of news stories (in the US) portray Muslims in a negative way.
  • After 68 years, Honest Ed's discount store in Toronto is finally closed.