Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Dance You Robots Dance

You know you're getting old when you hear a song on the radio and find yourself saying "Oh, I'm friends with the parents of the guys in that band."

Hostage Life: "This Song Was Written By Committee or We Simply Feed These Figures Into The Melodiotron And, Voila, An Instant Hit" – 2:32

Here are some of the other song titles on their 2006 Album Walking Papers.

  1. "Hostage Life's Legally Distinct Cola Commercial or You're Stupid And You're Gross But If You Drink This Someone Might Actually Love You" – 0:53
  2. "The Last Superman or Fall of The Ubermensch" – 1:43
  3. "Securing My Seat (On The Hostage Life Board Of Directors) or "Is That Blood On Your Collar?" "No, It's Lipstick, I Swear"" – 4:57
  4. "How To Die With A Smile i) Determine Whether Or Not You Wish To Depart ii) Set Date iii) Find An Exit Body" – 3:16

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Black History Month

This is from local Toronto band Death From Above 1979 from their album You're a Woman, I'm a Machine. I'm not sure why the song is called Black History Month but the title is apropos.



Now compare it to this much livelier Sammy Danger Remix.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Are You Living in a Simulation?

Even if you discover that you are, it gets you no closer to understanding existence.

The same questions remain, they're just moved up one level.

The simulation could be terminated at any time.

So, nothing's really changed.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Passage From An Unfinished Sitcom

Bob: What makes you think she's coming on to you?

George: She laughs at all of my jokes.

Bob: Maybe she thinks you're a clown.

George: Say what you will about clowns but clowns get laid man. You think it's those pussy trapeze artists? No way, the clown gets the most... except for the bearded lady... she gets a lot of action too.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

They're Back

You might wonder why I recently purchased 31 boxes of cereal. I don't really eat cereal. So everyone that comes over to my house can leave with a bag of oats.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ponzi Economics

Charles Ponzi is the namesake for a money-making swindle that was perpetrated in 1920. The so-called Ponzi Scheme involves promising very attractive payoffs to investors and then actually paying them off initially. Word-of-mouth spreads quickly and people soon come begging to invest. The subsequent investments are used to pay off early investors to fan the flames until it gets out of hand and the last ones to invest are left holding worthless paper.

The structure of this resembles a pyramid and similar ploys are called pyramid schemes. There are countless such examples which are often successful because it relies on human greed and general mathematical ignorance. There has been some talk lately that social security programs are actually legitimized Ponzi schemes. It is feared that by the time most of the present youth reach retirement there won't be much left since the ever surviving baby-boomers will have used up most of it.

I think such a scenario could very well play out but I would contend that much of the growth obsessed economics of recent years have been Ponzi schemes at heart. Corporate culture worships at the alter of growth. Stock values are based on discounted projections of future growth. If a company fails to project steady future growth then the stock of that company will drop even if it makes a healthy profit in the present. Someone once said that the view that infinite growth is possible in a finite world can only be held by a madman or an economist.

Ever larger populations are needed to fuel this promised growth. That's why it's not surprising that the Conservative friends of corporations are in bed with the Evangelicals and of course they're not using any condoms. Likewise gay marriage seems a complete waste of conjugal association to these people since it will not create any more consumers for us to peddle our sugar waters and SUV's. But to what end is this growth directed?

The Earth cannot sustain the vast Ponzi scheme that is presently under way. The West has enjoyed dramatic growth and reaped vast riches over the past century mainly by stripping the world of its resources and promising endless growth. Now that developing nations want to enjoy their own sustained growth we are telling them that there's no more resources left for them to exploit. They are the rubes at the bottom of the pyramid.

Fueled as it is by greed, it is unlikely that we can gain enough perspective to stand back and decide to change the game. Historically we have proved that there will not be any motivation to change until a crisis or crash occurs. Only then will we finally admit that unlimited growth may not be the best way to approach human wealth and begin to consider GPI over GDP.

When I was a child I remember being scared by a barrage of warnings about over-population. We never seem to hear that message any more because everyone is now addicted to growth. Our governments actually worry about our low birth rates because it keeps economic growth from being maximized. George W. Bush sides with increased immigration not because of soft-hearted altruism but because corporations demand it for continued growth.

Some people say that we needn't worry about over-population since Nature will eventually correct that. But that's precisely what I worry about because nature's preferred method of correction historically has been starvation. Make no mistake Nature will correct eventually but her plans might not include the human virus. I found an organization that advocates voluntary human extinction as the only path to save the Earth. While I wouldn't want to follow their approach I find it hard to argue with some of their logic.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I'm it

Tagged by Sadia


HAVE YOU EVER…

nb. Orange = Done (My comments in brackets)

01. Bought a round of drinks in a bar
02. Swam with dolphins in the ocean (Mexico. I think they were Porpoise)
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Drove a Ferrari
05. Visited the Great Pyramids
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a bath with someone in candlelight
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Played elastic (not really sure what that is, but yes)
11. Been to Paris
12. Watched a storm on the sea
13. Stayed up all night to watch the sun rise
14. Seen the aurora borealis
15. Been to a large sporting event (Grey Cup, World Series Final, Canada Cup, Stanley Cup)
16. Climbed the steps of the St. Joseph’s Oratory
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg (drank iceberg bottled water)
19. Slept under the stars (and the stairs)
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Traveled in a hot air balloon
22. Seen shooting stars
23. Gotten drunk on champagne (maybe a little tipsy)
24. Given more than you could to charity
25. Observed the night through a telescope
26. Participated in a world record event (Completed the longest ever meme tag!)
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked directions from a stranger (despite my manliness)
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Yelled as loud as you could
32. Carried a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Climbed a sand dune
35. Run over an animal with your car (you mean accidentally right?)
36. Danced like a crazy person with no regard to who might be watching
37. Adopted an accent for a whole day
38. Felt truly happy, even in a short moment
39. Had two hard disks on your computer
40. Taken care of someone drunk (Got him home alive and he still told his parents that I got the booze for everyone)
41. Danced with a stranger
42. Whale-watched in the ocean
43. Stolen a street sign
44. Back-packed across Canada
45. Taken a road trip (Across Canada)
46. Rock-climbed outdoors
47. Sung a ballad on the beach at midnight
48. Gone paragliding
49. Been to Ireland
50. Had a broken heart for much longer than you were with someone.
51. Sat at a table at a restaurant with strangers and eaten with them.
52. Been to Japan
53. Milked a cow
54. Organized your CD’s alphabetically.
55. Pretended to be a superhero/ine
56. Sang karaoke
57. Spent all day in bed (lost count)
58. Played football
59. Scuba-dived (1 lesson in a resort in Mediterranean Turkey)
60. Kissed in the rain
61. Played in the mud
62. Played in the rain
63. Been in an open-air theatre (that's Amphitheatre, you cretin)
64. Been to the Great Wall of China
65. Started your own business (half a dozen times)
66. Fallen in love without suffering from a broken heart
67. Visited ancient monuments
68. Taken a martial arts class (Judo, Muy Thai, Jeet Kune Do)
69. Played XBox for 6 hours straight (Space Invaders or Tetris maybe)
70. Been married
71. Been in a movie (Stunt Work on Cinderella Man with Russell Crowe in the training scenes)
72. Organized a surprise party
73. Been divorced
74. Fasted for 5 days
75. Made cookies from a package mix
76. Won first prize in a costume contest
77. Driven a gondola in Venice (passenger?)
78. Have been tattooed (can't commit to something that permanent)
79. Canoed or kayaked
80. Been interviewed on TV (Various talk shows about emerging technologies)
81. Gotten flowers for no particular reason
82. Been in a play
83. Been to Las Vegas (left town with $300 more than I arrived with)
84. Recorded music
85. Eaten shark
86. Kissed on a first date
87. Been to Thailand
88. Bought a house
89. Buried one of your parents (In the sand at the beach?)
90. Been on a cruise
91. Spoken more than one language fluently (3 fluently, 4 more in varying levels of proficiency)
92. Raised children
93. Followed your favourite singer on tour
94. Cycled in a foreign country
95. Moved to a new city for a new life
96. Eaten ants (only accidentally)
97. Walked on the Golden Gate Bridge
98. Sang at the top of your lungs in the car without a care as to who might be watching
99. Had plastic surgery
100. Survived an accident you statistically shouldn’t have (Rollover on QEW when I was a teenager, my Renault was crushed to less than half its height)
101. Written articles for a large publication (Depending on what you mean by large. Does this blog count?)
102. Lost 40 pounds (Only if I had a leg amputated)
103. Helped an unconscious person (On Valentines Day years ago at a chic restaurant a woman passed out beside me. [not my date])
104. Piloted a plane
105. Touched a live (manta) ray
106. Broken someone’s heart
107. Helped birth an animal
108. Won money in a TV game show (My team won many times on Reach for the Top but no money changed hands.)
109. Broken a bone (collarbone, 6 out of 10 digits, some more than once.)
110. Pierced another part of your body other than your ears
111. Handled a revolver or firearm (Only in a celebration)
112. Eaten mushrooms you collected yourself
113. Ridden a horse (a pathetic broken horse at a parking lot carnival)
114. Undergone a major operation (Does ACL reconstruction count?)
115. Had a pet snake
116. Slept for more than 30 hours straight (A wise man told me that we sleep our whole lives through)
117. Been to all the continents of the world
118. Been on a canoe trip for more than 2 days
119. Eaten kangaroo
120. Eaten sushi (I try to avoid the raw ones)
121. Had your picture in the newspaper
122. Changed the opinion of someone with regards to something you’ve felt strongly about
123. Gone back to school (I got accepted to LLM Law School last year but didn't go. I may go back to finish my PhD next year)
124. Parachuted
125. Worn a snake
126. Built your PC from different parts
127. Sold something you created to someone you don’t know
128. Dyed your hair
129. Shaved your head
130. Saved someone’s life (metaphorically perhaps)

I will spare any further victims and stop the tagging here.

[Edit] I'm told I have to tag others so I tag Lisa and Amy

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Philosopher Kings

How do we encourage capable people to pursue a life in politics so we don't end up with the idiots that seem to be currently in charge of this world? My nephew is taking a first year course in Philosophy. They are studying The Republic by Plato. In this dialogue Plato describes a system in which children are generally educated until they are 18 years old at which time they are sent to 2 years of intense physical training not unlike a military stint. At this point the best are chosen to study 10 years of Mathematics and the best once again are chosen to study 5 years of dialectic. The best performers yet again are chosen to embark on a 15 year apprenticeship in managing within the political sphere. Those who successfully complete this long journey become the Philosopher Kings and are the ones who then become The Deciders.

Surely there's got to be an easier way. Maybe if we just stopped sifting through every speck of garbage in the past lives of anyone foolish enough to run for office, then maybe more reasonable people would not be afraid to run for office. It's not that the idiots in charge don't have skeletons in their closets it's just that they're idiots so they assume that they'll be able to get away with it.

America seems to have some kind of an allergy to intelligent leaders. Jimmy Carter, John Kerry and Al Gore have all been victims of being perceived to be too smart. As if being smart implied being effete, weak or heaven forbid being French. People seem more comfortable voting for the likes of a Reagan or Dubya because somehow it seems right that the person in charge of the most powerful machine on Earth shouldn't be any more intelligent than the guy who cuts your hair. Bill Clinton was highly intelligent but was able to cleverly hide it with his "aw shucks, I'm just poor folk from Arkansas" shtick.

The average parliamentarian in Canada is not that much more enlightened but it was refreshing to see who ended up on the last ballot of the recent Liberal Party Leadership Convention. We had a PhD Journalist and Political Science Professor from Harvard by way of Oxford going against a PhD Political Science Professor from Quebec against a Rhodes Scholar with degrees in Arts, Law and Philosophy.

It's equally refreshing to see someone like Barack Obama running for President in 2008. He's already hamstrung with the impression that he's an intelligent guy and opponents will surely somehow try to use this against him. It's still too early to tell what this guy's really like but his smarts combined with having experimented with recreational drugs will likely not be the last of an arsenal ready to be levied against him once all of his historical trash has been picked through and analyzed.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Flowers, Music, Poetry

Flowers

If I were a painter
I would draw you the sun
shine it over meadows
and grow you painted sunflowers.


Music

If I were a singer
I'd sing to you about light
fill the silence with sounds
to compose a harmony of hearts.


Poetry

If I were a writer
I'd write for you
these letters of love.


------------
To those in love, have fun celebrating Valentines Day.
To those who are single, may you and your hand of choice have a lovely evening also.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Series of Tubes

Be very afraid. This guy is in charge of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation - the body that oversees the regulation of the Internets. Besides engendering a concern for Net Neutrality it just boggles the mind how people like this can rise to such heights. We've got to do something about encouraging capable people to seek political office again. The Stupid White Men have got to go.



Now watch this DJ remix.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Billions and Billions

"We live on a mote of dust suspended on a sunbeam."

Carl Sagan 1994


It has been ten years since Carl Sagan died. We could use someone like him today. Richard Dawkins is brilliant but he rubs some people the wrong way. Sagan was very persuasive without being condescending. As a child, watching the Cosmos series on PBS changed my life. I've got the DVD box set so when I have a free weekend I'll watch the whole thing again.

Since today was Darwin's birthday I've provided below a segment on evolution. Please pass this on to someone in the Kansas Board of Education.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Elderly Divorce

Very elderly couples when asked why they waited until they were in some cases over 100 years old to divorce, most commonly respond with "we were waiting for the kids to die".

Music for the Paranoid Schizophrenic

I came across this music by Brainsaw while browsing archive.org. If you don't know about archive.org you should definitely check it out. It is the place for public domain content. It is also home to the Wayback Machine which allows you to see how a web page looked on a given day as far back as 1996.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Treadmill

my body

made hard by motion

by time made dust

Friday, February 09, 2007

M.I.A. Bird Flu

This is one of the coolest songs I've heard in a while. M.I.A. is the daughter of a Sri Lankan revolutionary by way of London. She just released Bird Flu a few days ago.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

De-Lurking the 95

When I used to run a technology company I became aware of the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule. Roughly 20% of our customers accounted for 80% of our sales. I have met business people who take this to be a high principle of metaphysics on par with the Yin/Yang Principle.

In the general spirit of the times we are experiencing an accelerated rate of change in these participation inequalities. Computer programmers have noticed that there is a 90/10 rule in which 90% of the time required to execute a program is taken up by about 10% of the code. A more exaggerated ratio is exemplified by Wikipedia of which 99.8% is written by 0.2% of its users.

Most bloggers have access to visitor tracking data so they can see how many visitors they've had on a particular day and from which part of the world their readers are accessing their blogs. I have some regular readers that occasionally leave comments but I have many more who never do. It is said that 95% of blog readers are so-called lurkers. These people read but never leave comments. Nearly 5% of blog readers occasionally leave comments and 0.1% of blog readers regularly leave comments.

I regularly read several blogs and I occasionally leave comments on a few of them. One of the bloggers I read asked why she had so many readers who never left comments. She wondered if they had a hatecrush on her and encouraged them to respond. The result was that many more of her readers left a comment. I'd like to do the same. So to those readers from Brooklyn and Barcelona, Melbourne and Mimico as well as all of you readers in Toronto I encourage you to de-lurk and let me know what you're thinking even if it's to tell me why you don't usually leave a comment.