Friday, September 22, 2017

iOS 11 driving safety feature

I am very happy with the new iOS 11 feature that offers to not notify you about incoming texts while driving, while also responding with an auto-response that you're currently driving.


NDP - Not Doing Personal

I've been watching the leadership race of the federal NDP party from a distance. From time to time, something piques my interest and I pay closer attention.

I love how Jagmeet Singh, leadership candidate for the federal NDP handles criticism. No insults. No personal attacks (unlike those against him). Just calm, loving, respectful statements that everyone is welcome to their opinions and welcome to discuss them. A real class act.

Push it real good

Things I learned lately - 22 Sep

  • The Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks played a pre-season NHL game in Shanghai China.
  • The Caesar salad was invented by Caesar Cardini in Tijuana Mexico in 1924.
  • In 1914, so the story goes, Roman restaurateur Alfredo di Lelio was trying to find something to make for his pregnant wife, who was suffering from bad bouts of nausea. He decided to toss butter and Parmesan together to make a simple "pasta bianca" for his ailing wife.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Small things - 15 Sep

  • Cruel: Letting a cat play in a box of Styrofoam pellets. The static electricity makes the pellets stick to their fur. They don't like that.
  • "You don't think you come by being dull by accident, do you? It's years and years of training. Little kids aren't dull. You turn away for a moment and they're licking the light socket. We gradually learn and we become adults and we become experts at having nothing untoward happen. And then we pay money to go see it happen to other people. That's what movies and theatre are about." ~Keith Johnstone
  • I'd rather my government got tough on unemployMENT, rather than getting tough on the unemployed.
  • Becoming a vegetarian is a huge missed steak.......
  • Your bad luck may have in fact saved you from worse luck. Things to consider.
  • Never trust a mechanic that opens and closes the hood as if the car is talking when he's describing what's wrong with the car.
  • Parent to child: "When you grow up I want you to be assertive, independent and strong-willed, but while you're my child I want you to be passive, pliable and obedient."
  • The phrase 'pulled it off' makes no sense to me. Pulled it off of what exactly?
  • I'm making some synonym rolls. Just like grammar used to make.

Beer can chorus

Things I learned lately - 15 Sep

  • Every server at the Piano Cafe in Port Ontario, Ontario wears a t-shirt reading Employee of the Month.
  • There is no such thing as medical grade pot.
  • By 2019, Mazda will introduce its new Skyactiv-X engine, which they say will be the world's first commercial gas engine to use compression ignition, where the fuel-air mixture ignites spontaneously when compressed by the piston. The engine operates like a diesel but runs on regular gas. No spark plug required. Torque is increased. The engine also requires less fuel in the fuel-air mixture, enabling it to run lean. Engine efficiency could improve 35-45%.
  • In 1667, the phlogiston theory attempted to explain burning processes. Phlogisticated substances contain phlogiston and dephlogisticate when burned. Dephlogisticating is when the substance simply releases the phlogiston inside of it and that phlogiston is absorbed by the air. Growing plants then absorb this phlogiston, which is why air does not spontaneously combust, and also why plant matter burns. Thus phlogiston theory described combustion as a process that was opposite to oxygen theory. Substances that burned in air were said to be rich in phlogiston. That combustion soon ceased in an enclosed space, was taken as clear-cut evidence that air could only absorb a finite amount of phlogiston. When air had become completely phlogisticated it would no longer serve to support combustion of any material, nor could phlogisticated air support life. Breathing was thought to take phlogiston out of the body. Joseph Black's student Daniel Rutherford discovered nitrogen in 1772 and the pair used the theory to explain his results. The residue of air left after burning, in fact a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, was sometimes referred to as phlogisticated air, having taken up all of the phlogiston. Conversely, when oxygen was first discovered, it was thought to be dephlogisticated air, capable of combining with more phlogiston and thus supporting combustion for longer than ordinary air. The theory lost followers by the 1780's.

Pooh pants

Arena funding

I'm trying hard to get my head around public funding of sports arenas. You may witness some oversimplification below, but I digress.

Arenas are built for sports teams, concerts and other big entertainment events. Sometimes exhibitions and conventions are included. My point is that arenas are facilities for rent. In our case and I'm guessing in most cases, those facilities are owned by the teams who play in them.

I'm trying really hard and I can't seem to come up with any other examples of facilities owned by a private organization, that doesn't pay for the construction fully and completely on their own. I was thinking about arts centres, but I don't think these centres are owned by the artists or artist groups that perform or exhibit in them. In fact, one could say that typically, artists rarely have the financial capital to be able to outright own a performanc facility.

Getting back to sports arenas, they are owned and operated by the teams. When the facilities are rented out, the revenue goes to the owners. When concessions are sold, the profit goes to the owners. When the teams play their games, the ticket sales and box sales goes to the owners, some of which is used to run the team and pay everyone's salaries.

So I fail to see why public money is required or even justified. That's not to say that I don't support sports teams. I love my hockey. My chosen team doesn't play in the city I live in, so I must watch their games on TV. Which brings up an interesting point. Rogers paid for the right to control broadcasting of all NHL games in Canada, which means that teams get revenue from those broadcasting rights as well. So teams earn money from tickets to games, things sold in the arena during games, and team merchandise. And yet they can't seem to afford to build themselves new arenas. Why?

After reading a few articles, I discovered that most NHL teams lose money. Combined, the Canadiens, Leafs, Canucks and Rangers had an operating profit of $212 million. But the rest of the teams combined were $86 million in the hole. There is revenue sharing, but not enough to get everyone out of the hole. By the way, this problem isn't exclusive to hockey. But the lopsidedness goes deeper. The 6 Canadian teams earn 33% of the entire league's ticket revenue. That would suggest to me that Canadian teams are doing alright in terms of incoming revenue.

Yet they still can't afford new arenas on their own. I think one overarching fact might point to the real culprit. The salary cap for 2017 was US$75 million per team. That means that a typical NHL team can be spending upwards of CDN$100 million dollars to pay their players, assuming they have the money. One would have to assume it's feasible if the team is in the top 5 of ticket sales. I have always thought that top athletes got paid way too much money. Considering how much top athletes can earn in endorsements, I don't think there's a real need to pay them upwards of over US$12 million.

So, imagine, if given the same revenue stream, teams were only allowed to pay their players a sum total of $25 million per year. That would free up $50 million per year that could be invested. After 10 years, a team could have $500 million stashed away toward paying for a new arena. After 20 years, they'd have a billion dollars.

I'm starting to think that the problem isn't that arenas are too expensive. I think it's just that teams are being allowed to live beyond their means in terms of salaries and hoping their host cities will bail them out every time. Incidentally, giving Las Vegas a team didn't help. They will likely never make money and depend on Canadian teams' profits to keep them alive, just like Arizona.

The NHL business model is broken and I don't think it's up to Joe Public to suffer the consequences.

After hearing the City's offer and then why the team didn't like it, I've made some observations. Ken King dismissed the infrastructure work as something that needed to be done anyway. Point taken. But then he said that the team ends up paying for everything in the end. They're basically saying that a user fee would eat into their revenue because fans wouldn't pay extra. Also that a tax eats into their revenue. So it seems that they want any money from the City (and they seem to want a lot of it) with no strings attached. Again, I don't know of any other business that can expect this.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Small things - 8 Sep

  • 2017. The year people got mad at statues.
  • People only say "It's a free country" when they're doing something shitty.
  • What if rocks were actually soft, but they tense up when we touch them? No, I'm not stoned right now....
  • I don't eat cows because I hate them. I eat cows because they're full of delicious hamburgers and steak.
  • Maybe it's not that life is unfair, maybe you just don't know or understand the rules.
  • If you bring someone you've been dating to Paris, don't ever, ever stop, and kneel down beside your partner, then just tie your shoelaces. Major disappointment for the other person.
  • Starbucks baristas purposely spell peoples' names wrong on their cups because they know those people will put pictures of those cups with their logo on social media. For free.
  • When an astronaut says "I need my space", he's not just abusing a tired line.

Trickle down economics proven wrong again

In June 2017, the Republican-controlled Kansas legislature repealed Governor Brownback's signature tax cuts. In effect since 2013, the cuts reduced personal income tax rates and imposed no tax at all on many kinds of business income. This was touted as the best way to boost growth, bring back jobs, and make Kansas richer.

There were promises that the tax cuts would yield 22,000 more jobs over normal growth, 35,000 more people moving into the state over five years, disposable income to expand by $2 billion over five years.

All told, not only did the tax cuts fail to deliver faster job growth, faster population growth, or faster disposable income growth, but the growth rates of all three metrics declined noticeably after the tax cuts went into effect. Furthermore, the surrounding states, which did not impose massive tax cuts aimed at the rich, outpaced Kansas on all three measures over the same time period.

67 Republicans in the Kansas House and Senate rebuked a governor of their own party and rolled back his main legislative accomplishment.

Chalk magnified

Things I learned lately - 8 Sep

  • The Dalton Highway in Alaska has a 240 mile (386 km) stretch with no gas stations, restaurants, hotels or any other basic services.
  • The Heiltsuk Nation, an indigenous group in British Columbia, claim that its ancestors fled for survival to a coastal area in Canada that never froze during the Ice Age. A new excavation on Triquet Island on the BC coast seems to back up that claim. Artifacts from an ancient village, including carved wooden tools and bits of charcoal, have been discovered. The charcoal dates around 12,000 BC. For reference, the pyramids in Egypt were built in 2630 BC. This is not the only signs of habitation in western North America. A spear tip and mastodon rib bone with similar dating was found near Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.
  • There's no scientific evidence that Epsom salts do anything.
  • China has laid more than 12,400 miles of high-speed rail to date, with the intention of adding another 6,000 miles by 2020. The Beijing-Shanghai line will begin operating on 21 September and will shorten the nearly 820-mile journey by an hour, to four hours thirty minutes. Nearly 600 million people use this route each year. The trains will once again run at 350 km/h, with a maximum speed of 400 km/h (248 mph).

Dear Amazon

I've heard you're planning to open another big centre (HQ2) in North America.

Here are some reasons why you should choose Calgary:

  • Lots of skilled labour.
  • Plenty of office space.
  • A decent and expanding transit system.
  • World class bike pathway system.
  • +15 walkway system.
  • Large airport for passenger airline and cargo traffic.
  • The rockies! Only an hour away.
  • Resilient economy.
  • Robust retail growth.
  • A vibrant arts scene.
  • Food trucks.
  • Hockey.
  • Skiing.
  • A clean, modern downtown core.
  • Diverse, well educated population.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Disruption. Get used to it.

There are few things that irk me more than when industries or businesses complain about disruptive new technology. One thing that does irk me more, is when those same industries or businesses want special treatment or compensation to deal with the disruption. And there is no one industry that is more guilty of this kind of behaviour, than the entertainment industry.

Musicians claimed that the phonograph would put them out of business. The MPAA claimed that the VCR would put the movie industry out of business. The mp3 player was supposed to kill the music industry.

Now the disruptive technology the television industry is up in arms about, is internet streaming. They're losing advertising revenue. I wonder why. At the risk of sounding biased, the reason streaming has caught on and is cutting into traditional television is because streaming gives the consumer better value for the money. You pay your money and then you get your content. Right now. All of it. Who wouldn't want that? But because traditional television and cable doesn't know how to transform their offerings to make them more competitive, they falter.

It seems that every decision they make goes against what a typical consumer would want. They can own content and either restrict who can show it, or worse - and this happens a lot - don't even make it available at all. So if I want access to all content, I have to subscribe to cable, every channel, but I can only see content that has been scheduled and I may be blocked from seeing content that has different licensing arrangements in my country, even though I subscribe to the original owner of the content.

What these owners and providers are going to need to learn very quickly is that the newest generations of consumers don't feel the need to play that game. They will ignore your content altogether if you force them to jump through hoops to get it. And just subscribe to Netflix, etc. It's already happening and it's only going to get worse. Because with each passing year, consumers who are willing to shell out big bucks for access to everything on someone else's terms are disappearing.

The Canadian government seems to think that the cable and content creation industries need more financial help to overcome the existence of streaming and are considering a new tax. I say screw that. You want your ccustomers back? Improve the content and / or give us what we want. All access, all the time.

Small things - 1 Sep

  • "If wishes and buts were clusters of nuts we'd all have a bowl of granola." ~Steven Colbert
  • "Nazis are a lot like cats. If they like you, it's probably because you're feeding them." ~John Oliver
  • Especially if they've never had it before, give your kids some strong dark chocolate and watch their faces. Make sure you tell them it's chocolate first.
  • "I think the thing that makes working fun is really being on the same page. When everybody can contribute and that contribution is recognized and it moves the company forward in a way that everybody understands. That's what's really great. You're doing something bigger than yourself, you're doing it for each other and doing it as a team." ~Ben Horowitz
  • When people say 'You're so full of yourself', are they being ironic?
  • Does a Roomba taunt the broom every time it goes by?

Nothing really changes.....

Things I learned lately - 1 Sep

  • Scientists say the devastating intensity of hurricanes such as Harvey is consistent with global warming trends — rising seas, warming oceans, hotter air — and warn of bigger and stronger storms to come. They also say that hurricanes will hit areas further north than in the past.
  • Number of US soldiers stationed in various countries: Italy - 11,806; South Korea - 23,297; Germany - 34,399; Japan - 39,623.
  • The weekend of 26-27 August 2017 was the worst box-office revenue weekend since September 2001.
  • As part of a two-year pilot project, a Dutch wastewater treatment plant is using an industrial sieve to sift through sewage and collect soiled toilet paper, extracting nearly 900 lbs of cellulose each day. That cellulose is then sterilized and turned into either fluffy material to make insulation, or pellets used to make bottles, or bike lanes. In the past, the dirty toilet paper was incinerated.
  • The University of Oxford was founded in 1096.
  • Big Ben is going silent for 4 years for renovations.
  • Saunas don't detoxify you. Your liver does.