Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thoughts on Canada's 150th

On Canada's 150th birthday, I thought I'd list the things I'm grateful for as a Canadian citizen.

P.S.: Montreal also celebrates its 375th birthday this year, something I hope to assist with in short order.

  • I am so thankful that my country is a tolerant one. We recognized gay marriage in 2005 nation-wide. We allow women in combat roles. Racism does exist here, but not to the extreme of other countries.
  • I am happy that for the most part, we welcome refugees and immigrants with open arms. Canada is what it is because of immigration, and the immeasurable diversity newcomers add to our culture is amazing.
  • I love how we are able to make fun of ourselves. If we didn't invent improv, we certainly co-invented it and cultivated it. Our comedians are known and respected around the world and we host the biggest and most respected comedy festival in the world.
  • We invented the telephone; snowmobiles; KD; basketball; gas masks; Hawaiian pizza; jolly jumpers; sonar; ice hockey; the Robertson screwdriver and screw; paint rollers; Trivial Pursuit; canola; the Caesar cocktail; the pacemaker; 5 pin bowling; Pablum; poutine; nanaimo bars; standard time; Tim Hortons; and the Canadarm. 
  • We have a great deal of natural resources. 42% of the land is covered by forest. 3,000,000 fresh water lakes with 20% of the world's fresh water. What's unfortunate is that we still don't manage that water very well. Also, the Rockies - OMG.
  • We don't have to worry about going bankrupt when we go to the doctor or hospital. It doesn't seem like a big deal to us, but talk to an American without insurance and you'll find that it certainly is a big deal.
  • We're very apologetic and polite. Some think this is a weakness. Not me. It's commendable. We also don't tend to try to solve things with violence.
  • I'm proud that I was born in Quebec. I appreciate its distinct culture and civic attitudes.
  • I'm proud of our military, who manage to accomplish so much with so little. Also, we don't invade other countries. My only wish is that we revert back to a primarily peace-keeping and humanitarian role.
  • Our national flag is a lesson in cultural branding. Probably in the top 5 of most recognizable flags in the world.
  • We have likely the most talked about astronaut of this generation - Chris Hadfield.
  • I love that we're about to legalize marijuana nation-wide. If nothing else, this is going to help people with chronic pain. 
  • I'm glad that we don't execute people for crimes. Now if we could just improve our penal system to truly rehabilitate inmates.
  • Our police are pretty chill in the grand scheme of things, and have been known to join in spontaneous music jams, dance-offs, pancake breakfasts, road hockey games, etc.
  • Our politics is fairly civilized. Our politicians usually refrain from personal attacks and stay focused on issues.
  • We have amazing artists.
  • I love how respected we are around the world. When I've travelled and my hosts found out I was from Canada, well. You know.
  • "The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation." ~Pierre Trudeau (1968). That motto rules us to this day.
  • I like that we don't sh#t all over our Constitution.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Jetsons here we come

Finally, a working prototype of a fully electric, vertical take off and landing aircraft.

300km range. 300km/h speed. I wonder if what Airbus is working on for their upcoming air taxi is anything like this.

Grey Poupon

Concerts etc

Music artists I'd like to see live:

Zero 7   Alice Russell   Annie Lennox   Arcade Fire   Beck   Boz Scaggs   Cake   David Gilmour   Steely Dan   ELO   Genesis   Gino Vannelli   Joe Jackson   Led Zeppelin (imagine!)   Low   OMD   Over the Rhine   Ray LaMontagne   Roxy Music   Sheryl Crow   Sigur Ros   Steve Miller   Talk Talk   Tom Petty  

Artists I've seen live so far:

Queen   Rush   The Box   Kiss   Styx   Annie Lennox   Sting   Supertramp(2)   Queen Extravaganza   Kim Mitchell   Crowded House   Gowan   Ian Thomas   Kraftwerk  


The Eagles   David Gilmour   ELO   The Tragically Hip   Beck   Genesis   Led Zeppelin   Sigur Ros   Tom Petty   U2   Pink Floyd   Peter Gabriel   Peter Frampton   Jean Michel Jarre   Heart   Fleetwood Mac   Feist   Diana Krall   Coldplay   Barenaked Ladies  

Elon had good news for Tesla owners concerned about coal powering their cars

Things I learned lately - 23 Jun

  • Vancouver has set a goal of producing "zero waste" by 2040. In 2016, council directed staff to consider options for reducing waste from such items -- including the possibility of banning them.
  • Amazon, will now let customers try on clothing before purchasing it, with a service known as Prime Wardrobe. The customer picks a few clothing items, they are shipped, and then the customer gets to try on the clothing before deciding what to keep / buy and what to send back. You get 7 days to make a decision. Shipping is free both ways. A 10% discount will be applied if customers choose to keep 2-3 items, while those who pick 4 items or all of them will receive a 20% discount. You can also order a box as often as you wish. There's no monthly subscription. Not all clothing sold on Amazon is part of Prime Wardrobe, but the over 1 million items that are will be marked with a logo for the service.
  • The Boeing 777 was the first airliner to be completely designed using computers.
  • Daimler, the German automaker, is planning to have the very first commercial vehicle plant that runs entirely on renewable energy. Daimler's BharatBenz division, is in the Indian market. Daimler is working to convert its manufacturing plant in Oragadam, Chennai, India, to 100% renewable energy by the end of next year. They will have the first commercial vehicle plant in the world which is totally sourced by renewable energy.
  • The State of Hawaii is going to begin evaluating universal basic income. They are the first.
  • In the first quarter of 2017, the number of US Netflix subscribers overtook the number of American cable TV subscribers for the first time. While Netflix has rapidly gained new subscribers, cable has been slowly losing them. 
  • Amazon Prime members can use their Amazon app on their phone to upload two pictures of you in different outfits. Then, using Outfit Compare, a human will tell you which one looks better on you.

Friday, June 16, 2017

I am groot

The basic income idea explained

If you're still on the fence, check out this TED talk on the need for a basic income.

Waymo by Google

Google's Waymo is going to test a self-driving van program for hundreds of families in Phoenix. Waymo is quietly testing the service and is now expanding the test, buying 500 Chrysler minivans and making them self-driving. There will be human operators from Waymo behind the wheel, for safety and to take feedback.

The goal is to give participants access every day, at any time, to go anywhere within an area that's about twice the size of San Francisco. Many companies expect that customers will use autonomous vehicles as a service, rather than owning them outright. Ride-hailing service Uber in particular expects to use autonomous cars, which the CEO said will be crucial to the company's future.

The Waymo test is meant to help understand what people want out of self-driving cars and see how they use and integrate the service.

OK, this is the last one, I promise...

Things I learned lately - 16 Jun

  • Because it’s considered relatively inexpensive, there’s an assumption that poor people eat more fast food than other socioeconomic groups. It turns out this isn't true. There is no socioeconomic group that eats fast food more than another.
  • Hawaiian pizza (ham and pineapple) was invented by a Greek immigrant to Canada, in 1962. This type of pizza is the most popular in Australia. You're welcome.
  • Hong Kong property prices are famously sky-high, but now a parking space has been sold for US$664,200 a possible world record. The space is on the first floor at a luxury apartment complex, measuring 188 square feet.
  • Back in 1946, it was considered indecent when people walked around in their swimsuits anywhere but on the beach itself, and at Rockaway Beach in New York you were expected to wear a robe to and from the beach.
  • C3PO, the protocol droid from Star wars, was not all gold. He had a silver lower right leg.
  • There are boats buried under San Francisco, from the Gold Rush days.
  • Apparently, sunscreen with an SPF rating higher than 50 isn't much better than 50. 100 SPF only improves the UVB protection 1%, from 98% to 99%.
  • The starting salary for an elementary or high school teacher in Luxembourg is higher than the top of the pay scale for an American or Canadian teacher. The top scale for Luxembourg is USD$137,000.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Virgin Airline's mission statement

Virgin Airline's mission statement:

"Everybody wants the next great thing.
Even us.
So we are a music store, who became an airline, who became a soft drink company, who became over 200 different businesses all over the planet united by one simple common thought:
We want to do what's never been done before.
We want to create stuff that's valuable.
And honest.
And is worth making in the first place.
We want to have fun while we're doing it.
And we want our competitors to find us really, completely irritating!"

$2000 Facebook machines?


This little UV camera shows you quite clearly where you missed applying sunscreen on your skin.

Protected areas show up black.

A guide to eating fish in the workplace

Things I learned lately - 9 Jun

  • The most popular internet based sites and services care the most about increasing your 'time on site'. This matters more than anything because it's the only thing that drives more revenue. YouTube's auto-play the next video? Increase time on site. Facebook's Video auto-play in the news feed? Increase time on site. Every new feature's primary goal is to keep you engaged on that site longer, to maximize advertising revenue.
  • As of the first of January 2017, all public transport trains in the Netherlands are being powered by wind power.
  • Nearly 60% of Americans oppose President Donald Trump's decision to remove the US from the Paris climate agreement.
  • Budweiser is owned by InBev, a Belgian company (since 2008).
  • Trader Joe's is owned by Aldi Nord, a German supermarket brand (since 1979).
  • General Electric appliances is now owned by Haier, a Chinese company (since 2016).
  • American Apparel is now owned by Gildan, a Canadian clothing company (since 2017).
  • French's is owned by Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC, a UK company.
  • 7-Eleven is owned by Ito-Yokado, a Japanese company (since 1987).

Friday, June 02, 2017

16 dances

In the B-52's song 'Dance this mess around', Fred mentions all 16 dances. Let's count them off.

1. Shu-ga-loo
2. Shy Tuna
3. Camel Walk
4. Hip-o-crit
5. Hippy Hippy Shake (Don't know if that's a dance or a move)
6. Coo-ca-choo
7. Aqua Velva
8. Dirty Dog
9. Escalator

That's it. 9. Assuming #5 was a dance in the first place. So where's the other 7 dances Fred?

For displaced replicants


200,000 parcels handled per day..... by robots!

Look what a Chinese distribution centre is doing with robots.


Things I learned lately - 2 Jun

  • Radio Shack closed more than 1,000 stores over the May 27th weekend, leaving the chain with just 70 company-owned stores left in operation. 
  • If you drink 500 calories of liquid versus eating 500 calories of food, you'll feel much less satiated. Which is one reason soda and sweetened drinks are so horrible. You don't feel full.
  • The legal marijuana industry brought in between $4 billion and $4.5 billion in 2016, outselling Viagra and Cialis, paid music streaming services, tequila, and Girl Scout cookies.
  • On the 3rd Wednesday of every month, South Korean offices shut their lights off at 7pm to promote couples being home together. To procreate. It's called Family Day.
  • With a fertility rate of just 1.25 children per woman, the country takes any steps it can to promote family life — even offering cash incentives to people who have more than one child. 
  • Danes are told if you aren't going to have a kid for your own family, do it for Denmark. Denmark has  a low fertility rate of 1.73 children per woman. In attempts to fix this, Denmark offered 3 years' worth of baby supplies to couples who conceived on a vacation. Now a video was made which guilt trips couples into having kids so their mothers can have a grandchild.
  • Germany has broken a new record for renewable energy, with low-carbon sources nearly obliterating coal and nuclear power during the Mother's Day weekend. At one point on the sunny and breezy Sunday, sustainable energy from wind, solar, biomass and hydro power provided a record 85% of the country’s total energy.