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Monday, January 30, 2006

It's Not Fat: It's A Cold!

What if obesity in some people was the result of a virus-- in the same way that ulcers were caused by a bacteria. Read on.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Canadian, Eh?

I used to love shopping at Eaton's; Woodwards; The Bay; even Marks and Spencers. They each had their flavor. Eaton's had an excellent toy department. Woodward's food floor couldn't be beat. The Bay's restaurant was always good for quick meal. Then the 1990s were unkind to big retail and we saw an extinction like the end of the dinosaurs. Between 1990 and 2000, Canada lost : K-Mart, Woolco (with Woolworths), Woodwards and Eatons from the retailer landscape. In their place more Zeller's stores and big box stores and the scourge... Walmart.
The day and age where you could walk into a department store and come out with anything was gone. First they started to lop off departments like gangrenious extremities: food floors, hardware departments, pet departments. Before Eaton's went under, they dumped almost everything; leaving their stores as fashion / softline outlets. The descent of diversity is understandable. Here's what it looks like:
Is it hard to use? Do-it-yourself materials are not good for a society addicted to novelty. No building supplies, no fabric (dry goods) deparment, no craft department. Zellers mostly dumped their craft department last year like a bride losing 5 lbs. before the wedding.
If it can die, it will die. Dump the pet department; and the grocery department; keep the deli for now (ham can't die-- really, I have a canned ham from my sixth birthday. Why did I can canned ham for my birthday? Don't ask).
Can the shipper-reciever strain his back lifting it? Dump the large items like washers and fridges. Keep TVs for now.
Is it a gift? People are selfish. Sell gifts as an accidental side dish and not a main course. Toss the china department and scale back on the housewares.
Will someone impulse buy it? If not, dump it. Keep the clothes and TVs. Dump all of the hardware stuff. If the TVs are hard to sell, sell only DVDs. Women buy more clothes than men, so skimp on the men's wear. Kids only buy clothes in September (school) and December (Christmas plays) so they're a waste of time.

With this die off in retail, almost everything retail is American. What's left? Mom'n'Pops stores; London Drugs; grocery stores with diversity. I think that sucks, but I like to look for the silver lining in the cloud.

There's no money in retail. While I was standing around like an idiot in a department I ran the numbers. There is such a small percentage left for net profit that if a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon, a retailer will lose money. Walmart voraciously pushes the wholesale price to widen their profit margin. In return, they can give a manufacturer millions of dollars in orders. The profit margin for the manufacturers is SO slim that they are bound to lose money. The manufacturer has to cut back on quality. If they don't control their costs, they'll go under. If they thumb their nose at Walmart, they're doomed. That's why diversity in retail is good all around: retailers can chase other retailers to push quality; and a supplier can honk off one retailer and remain in business. This effect has really weakened the economy at the same time it has flattened inflation. One sneeze and manufacturers across North America will pop like popcorn. As a Canadian, do I want my fellow Canadians standing atop a knife edge of profit? Leave the job of peddling junk for no money. Let the Americans do it. When that sneeze hits, let American companies take the hit.
What are Canadians doing? They're investing. Look at CIBC-Woody Gundy and TD-Canada Trust. They're powerhouses in US investing. While some white collar schmuck is beating down a price in a Walmart merchandising session, investment analysts are trying to thicken their profit margin. Every financial quarter, the news reports that Canadian banks have made a record profit. We grind our teeth and bankers lay low. What's happening there is that Canadian investment arms of these banks (RBC Financial, CIBC and many more) are going to war in foreign countries. They're fighting for dollars and they are cleaning up.

Let the Americans have their low margin stuff. Let them fight for retail chains that really aren't making profit but are only making sales.
Let the Americans keep the risky low profit industries. We'll keep our investment juggernauts, thank you.

tags: Canada, Retail, Zucker, Investing

Friday, January 27, 2006

Beefy

I have always wanted to go into Wendy's and order 20 patties on a burger just to do it (and get 40 day calorie alotment). This guy went further. He went into an "In'n'Out" in the US and ordered 100 patties. Mmm.... do you want fries with that? How about just a strip search then?

tags: beef, fast food, yummy

New From KrazyDad!

Krazydad have put out this totally cool app that ties Flash and Flickr together via XML. Choose a color and several matching photos will appear.

Using images from the Color Fields group on Flickr, JBum has created a beautiful and efficient Experimental Color Picker. Just click on a color, use the slider to adjust lightness and darkness, and it will show you photos with that color.

If you are trying to source images that match a predominant shade, this is an excellent tool. Choose the color. find the photo that you want, go to Flickr and see if the image has rights that allow your reuse.

tags: KrazyDad,Flash, Flickr, REST, XML

Monday, January 23, 2006

Wow! Was I Wrong!

A couple of weeks ago, I made a prediction:

Liberals                115
Conservatives 96
Bloc Quebecois 76
NDP 17
Green Party 0
Independant 2

Total seats: 306

Here's what it looks like (as of this moment):

Conservatives 125
Liberals 102
Bloc Quebecois 51
NDP 29
Green Party 0
Independant 1

Total seats: 308
Where did I go wrong? I figured that the Liberals would have done better at fear-mongering. Well, Paul Martin was an excellent finance minister and a lousy, bumbling Prime Minister and a lousy leader going into a national campaign. Steve Harper's handlers hid him from the light scrutiny. Jack Layton successfully played the "hold your nose and vote" game. The Greens did as well as expected. The Bloc-- the Bloc didn't have a message. Gilles Duceppe said he wouldn't reopen the gay marriage bill but would reopen the separation question: does that make him a sympathic liberal or hypocrite? Either way, what he was selling not a lot of people were buying.

So we're doomed to another minority government. This Conservative government will find all of the Liberal skeletons, make scandals of their own, implode, then we'll be at the polls. My guess: April 2nd 2007 (sorry April 1st is a Sunday but we're fools already for having electing this lot).

tags: tyeeelectioncentral

Friday, January 20, 2006

I dislike Paris Hilton. Here's Two Other Reasons

Exhibit A : Paris Hilton's publicists are trying to silence a Hawaiian taxi driver who claims the socialite urinated in his cab. Harden Jamison tells the National Enquirer the hotel heiress was too drunk to notice that she pissed on herself when he picked her and boyfriend Stavros Niarchos up after a party in Maui. The understandably disgusted cab driver claimes he mopped up the mess with a towel and plans to use Hilton's own DNA as evidence against her.

Exhibit B : When asked if she knew the last name of a companion on the night in question: "It is like a weird Greek name. Like Douglas." Later Paris explained she often has trouble with names: "I meet so many people. I don't even know some of my friends' names."

Hilton was asked if she knew that the slanderous article had been republished in various newspapers. Hilton had this exchange with attornies:
Paul Berra
- "Were there U.K. publications?"
Paris Hilton
- "No... there is stuff in London."
Larry Stein - "London is a U.K. publication."
Paris Hilton - "Right. U.K. Whatever."

Paris Hilton is a piece of work. A stupid, cab-fouling, porn-making, heiress, skank. With a yappie dog.

tags : Paris Hilton celebrities DNA

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

24 : My Series

I have a big problem with 24: Keifer should spend time stuff in traffic, or stuck on the phone talking to Sprint customer service. With that said, here's an episode of my personal 24:

08:00-15:55 - Frantically working on code to get a project out this weekend.

16:05-16:06 - Driving up Johnson Street past the replacement for the Open Door I look over to see three people rolling around on the sidewalk duking it out. Ah... People's fears for the soup kitchen's relocation were obviously unfounded. After the media did a spate of feel good pieces about the place, they've retreated to the safety of their newsrooms.

17:00-18:30 - Dinner and family sundries. The president called to say that I had to diffuse a nuclear tipped orca that beached down by the walkway near our house (see: that's my 24 moment :) ).

18:30 - 21:00 - More code and toil.

23:30-06:30 - Doing My Shelly Winters impersonation in the comfort of my bed.

06:31-07:30 - Watching our local A-Channel news in Victoria. The Victoria Salmon Kings ditched their coach. Could his attitude be to blame? He was quoting as saying of his players, "They're professionals. They don't need to be told what do to." What? Hey, idiot. If a coach doesn't tell the players what to do, all they are is a creepy old guy watching athletes shower. Good riddance.
Another piece about a movie made about pig farmer/murderer Willie Pickton. They spoke with a relative of an "alleged victim" ??? Alleged? So, if the trial goes poorly the dead woman in question isn't dead? Isn't a victim? Take the "alleged" out of your most-used-words list, reporters. Unfortunately, she's still dead regardless of the legal proceedings.

07:31-07:59 - Tweaking out an anti-Digg rant. (Go ahead and Digg it: that would be ironic). Typing this blog entry like a doofus.

tags: Jack Bauer Digg 24 Victoria

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

January = Debt

After Christmas, everyone bemoans the credit card bills. My wife and I usually spend out all of our free cash on Christmas but rarely dip into our credit cards. I know a lot of people who go right over the top and get their debt out of control. So, in honor of that special time in a debtor's life (January), I have posted a new section on my site : Debt and How Get Out of It
The Killer of High Interest - Debt isn't your problem: it's interest.
How Your Debt Ceiling Can Come Crashing Down - You can't fix your debt if it looks like you owe too much.


tags: debt loan interest

Friday, January 13, 2006

For Profit Medicine: When Have We Had Otherwise?

Now there's heat coming down on Jack Layton over using a private clinic for a hernia operation. That's a pickle because the NDP is diametrically opposed to private-for-profit medicine. Gimme a break. The only place you see not-for-profit medicine is on a military base.
The richest working people I know are doctors. I watched a friend move here from Calgary to set up a practice. He had to set-up an office, hire staff, get all of his billing in order. At the end of his day do his profits flow back into the health care system? No. He gets to take home the $120K+/yr. With minimum wage paying $16,000/year, that extra $100K seems like profit to me. The Soviets and the Red Chinese and the NDP never figured this out: everyone is born as a propeitorship. We're born capitalists. When your prosper in life, it's like a profitable business. The only difference between a person and a corporation is that the corporation has a life of its own. If the NDP want to keep out for-profit medicine, they have to nationalize the healthcare services throughout Canada. No more going to a private lab or a doctor's office downtown: you have to show up to a government building and wait your turn.
In Canada's world of socialized medicine being a medical professional is more like being a gold plated welfare recipient. If you are any other sort of a professional, you move into an area, hang out a shingle and hope for business. If you aren't any good, your clients won't pay you. Other professionals have to stand on a good credit ratings to get a break for their business. None of this is true if you are a physician. You show up: other doctors will refer their clients/patients to you. If you give crappy service, you submit your bill to the government and they will pay you. If you give REALLY crappy service, the province's Medical Association will step and bully your victims into silence. Because you're part of a Medical Association, you can get obscenely good rates for financing: like prime +1% right off the bat.
This is why health care is such a contentious issue. We think we have socialized medicine but where using for-profit people to carry out the work. No matter what the bill, we (the taxpayers) pay it. The Medicare system is broken and Jack Layton's concept of stemming the trend of for-profit medicineis bunk.

tags: tyeeelectioncentral

Thursday, January 12, 2006

DIM : A Discreet Intrroduction

I have just finished an article that I posted on my site: "Making A Discreet Introduction". This about an alternative technique to AJAX. A process, I've dubbed "Discreet Introduction Mechanism" or DIM .
Here's a quickie example of DIM in action.

tags: AJAX JavaScript applications web

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Commissionaires Pedestrian Target Practice

Service? · Reliability? · Integrity?

Tonight, I was waiting for my wife to get off of the bus. She had to cross the street at the intersection. So she crosses with the walk signal at the crosswalk. Vroom! An idiot in a Commissionaires car (BC License# 508 AAN - Car #38) almost wipes out my wife. Where was he going? He was on his way to something VERY important. He parks a half block later at the Harris Green London Drugs and goes into the store. Where does he park? He parks in the handicapped spot. So after nearly making a cripple out of my wife; he takes up the spot of another crippled person in front of a drug store.
So, I phone the number on his car (250-727-7755). When I called the duty manager to complain; he got all indignant and said he wasn't going to do anything if I didn't give him my name and personal details. I told him that I would give this information to the police in a report and if they saw fit, they could relate it to him.

tags: Victoria tourism Commissionaires bad driving

Mexico Bars Canadian over U.S. No-Fly List

This from Rogers Cadenhead, The Star and Missasauga News:

American fighter jets intercepted a Air Transat plane flying from Toronto to Ixtapa, Mexico, on Thursday because a passenger appears on the U.S. no-fly list. Now, the US is intercepting planes going from anywhere to anywhere if they can get to them.

Canadian citizen Sami Kahil, 38, was denied entry to Mexico and detained one night in jail, then sent home in the company of Royal Canadian Mounted Police:

U.S. fighter jets shadowed Kahil's flight after American officials declared the plane was not cleared to travel over the U.S. with Kahil on board.

While his wife and sons were sent home on the next flight to Toronto, Kahil was told he could not board the flight because U.S. authorities would not let him fly over U.S. airspace.

Kahil, a shoe store owner in Ontario, was vacationing with his wife and two young sons. He has not been charged with any crime related to the incident.

During the flight to Mexico, which did not have a layover in the U.S., the pilot informed the passengers:

Kahil, who was taking his family on a sun vacation to celebrate his 10th wedding anniversary, said his flight was approaching Ixtapa when the pilot announced over a loudspeaker that "they had two people who are not allowed to fly over American airspace.

"You should have seen the faces of the passengers," said Kahil.

NORAD monitored the flight and it was accompanied by either F-15s or F-16s, according to the Toronto Star.

The Washington Post reported in April that the U.S. was considering a measure to demand passenger lists and enforce no-fly rules of all foreign flights that pass through U.S. airspace. This would affect as many as 1,000 international flights and 3,000 domestic flights each week in Canada, because domestic routes often pass over the U.S..

With Paul Martin and Steven Harper being so punch drunk, they won't touch this issue but they need to. We need Canada's Prime Minister protect Canada and not bend over. Steven Harper is eagerly lubed up and Paul Martin could certainly describe the joys of a new leaning towards America. The US has been worming its way into Canadian affairs for decades. It's moved from being annoying to being overbearing and ever present.

tags: tyeeelectioncentral america tourism patriot act

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Good News, Bad News

Bad News for Shriner Clowns
Good News for people plagued by excess clowns

tags: photos Shriners Victoria
Christmas

Give Away Your Votes

The one thing I liked about the Green party was their concept of proportional representation. Of course they like proportional representation. Without it, the Greens will never ever get a seat. I have problems with the nature of elections: you elect someone and have your say once until the next election. The ruling part is either a dictatorship or its weak and doomed. With three to 10 candidates running in each of the ridings, very few seats will get a majority winner. Basically: we're hoping that greatest minorities reflect the national voting trends. If 60% of the country votes Liberal, they'll get 60% of the seats. That never happens. In Mulroney's first election, his PCs got the most popular votes of any party in any election: 50%. Half of the people would rather not have had him in charge. So, with half of the voters not wanting the PCs in, they managed to 211 out of 282 seats: 75% of the seats for 50.03% of the vote. That isn't right.
The Green's in BC tried to push for the single transferable vote (STV). I wanted to like that system. But, it's a dumb system. Here's my idea: we change the foundations of the voting concept. We each have a vote. If we are not running, we are giving our vote to someone else. So, our vote is a pledge. Government is all about giving up our personal rights to a larger organization. We don't take the law into our own hands, we give that right to someone else. So, this new voting concept is still in step with much of what we do.
Come election night: all of the votes are tallied. The candidates decide whether they should keep their votes or give them to another candidate. Doesn't that sound stupid? That is screwing with your votes? You were willing to send them to the capital to act on your behalf and make deals for you. Why not give the losers the chance to have their voice with your vote.
So, a candidate can hold onto their votes and hope; or give their votes to another candidate. When all of the votes are transferred, some candidates will give up the votes that were pledged to them and potentially change the election. Which would be more distasteful for a Green or NDP? To keep their own votes; or hand them ideologically similar candidate to defeat an ideologically opposed candidate? It's likely that dogma would still have a large role. Larger parties would push smaller parties to surrender their votes. Well, that woul allow deal making. For example: if the Greens got 5% of the vote in 50 ridings and 10% in one riding; the NDP could ask for their 5% in the 50 ridings and make a push for gain 50 seats; then surrender their votes in that one riding to that popular Green who got 10%.
Is this a perfect concept? No. We currently don't have a good system. I think it's a trade up from a system where a party gets 50% of the vote and 75% of the seats.

tags: tyeeelectioncentral

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Proxima Centauri in Five Years and 80 days...

According to this article, the Heim Theory could reveal an interdimensional hyperspace drive capable of getting us to Mars in three hours and to other star systems in as little as 80 days.

Research won't yield a practical experiment for at least five years. We could be five years away from hyperdrive. Likely it'll be 500, but this is wild nonethless.


For me: I am going to visit the people on IRS 46

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Politicians Don't Get It

Everytime the election is called, we get politicians showing up at all sorts of public events begging for your vote. As I write this, UVic (the University of Victoria) is in chaos: it's the first day of classes for the winter session: students are trying to get their photos; they're trying to get textbooks; they're looking for parking and some are trying to get to class. In amongst all of this chaos: Paul Martin, his entourage of siccophants, the throngs of media and one or two real voters looking on. He's here to make an announcement. The problem: he's so detached from reality that he didn't stop to question if this was the right time or place to hold his announcement.
Politicians don't understand that they aren't wanted. They represent government and government has grown out of control. Whenever I hear about taxes, I hear officials saying that they are only going to raise taxes a small amount. They don't understand: if the dollar amount of income rises and they take a constant percentage, they get more revenue. If the taxation percentage rises, they are squeezing us. This is a message to government: take advantage of our prosperity; don't prey on your inability to resist your choking grasp.

With the election 19 days away, here's my prediction for what we'll find on Jan. 23rd:

Liberals 115
Conservatives 96
Bloc Quebecois 76
NDP 17
Green Party 0
Independant 2

Total seats: 306

Paul Martin will stand up trimuphant and say that he has been taught a lesson by the voters and will promise to govern with a consensus. Steven Harper and Gille Duceppe will be delayed in their speeches. When they come out, they will announce that they will work together in a coalition government that represents both East and West. No? Where do you think the Bloc seats came from? Mulroney's first election was a landslide. By the late 1980s, the PCs had splittered: Progressive Conservatives became Bloc MPs in Quebec and Reform MPs in the West. The Reform party has re-congealed with the Conservatives. This election will see the Bloc following suit. The Bloc will not be absorbed: it will be a mirror of the national dynamic. Separate but together. The coalition will tear through the records and find out what the Liberals pulled in the 1990s. This will spark outrage in Quebec and a new referendum call in late 2006. This will put strain on the coalition in 2007. There will be an election in 2007, maybe 2008. With some Liberals out of the picture (some retired; some indicted), the new Liberals will be able to gain seats from the Conservatives and Bloc who, by then, will have scandals of their own. In 2008, North America will have swung Left with a centrist goverment in Canada (Liberals with a weak majority-- 162 seats +/-); and a Democrat in the White House.
Back to this election. There will be a great cry by the Liberals who got more seats. The NDP will be shut out and punished for their attempt to push the Liberals into an election. The Liberals will probably plead with Michaƫlle Jean to not let the coalition come about. She will go with the large precendence of parlimentary history and give the coalition the nod.

The NDP will blame the Greens and Liberal fear mongering. In the end, the NDP will only have themselves to blame. They should have played to place and not to win. If the NDP had strategized to win seats instead of win the election, they could have gained enough seats from anti-Liberal voters in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Maritimes; and outshone the Bloc. Instead, they are cruising for a repeat of 1993: people will vote for the anti-Liberals and the anti-Steven-Harpers and few of those votes will land in the NDP pockets. That, for me, is the shame. The NDP have the alternative voice to neo-con Paul Martin; ultra-right Steven Harper; and regional party leader Gilles Duceppe. The Ontario and BC provincial arms of the NDP have proven that the NDP in power is a dangerous situation. But, the NDP can be procactive and vigilant gadflies: everything you could want in the official opposition.

tags: tyeeelectioncentral

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Oooh! Breast Cancer!

Just before Christmas, we were picking through the remnants of discounted Christmas ornaments at a local store. A little girl was there with her Mom. The girl squealed, "Ooh! Breast Cancer!" in a voice reserved in former generations for Batman and Superman ornaments. The girl was oggling some breast cancer-themed Christmas ornament. When the hell did breast cancer get its own action figure?
Don't get me wrong. Cancer is bad. Breast cancer is bad. I lost an aunt to breast cancer. But everywhere you turn there are these pink ribbons. Before every movie, the ushers would stand up at the front of the theatre and try to talk me into donating to breast cancer. So, I paid $10 for a ticket; the concession stand has a bunch of cancer causing items for sale-- all of which cost $4+ each. While waiting for the movie, I am bombarded with ads. But they interupt those ads for a breast cancer plea. GIVE ME A BREAK!
Breast cancer has been so amplified that you can't go to an event or watch television without getting challenged. We do need to throw more money at research-- all sorts of medical research. By emphasizing breast cancer, we run the risk of eclisping other forms of cancer. Look at it this way:
  • Only half of the population has breasts. I don't want to say we should ignore something like breast or prostate cancer, but everyone has a liver and most people have two lungs.
  • Some types of breast cancer is genetic. That means they've hit a finish line for some kinds of breast cancer: if they follow the same protocols as other types of genetic diseases, they could close off that line of cancer. That is easier than it sounds. This sort of cancer presents itself in the latter childbearing years so its likely that a woman has passed it on before she knows she has it. In today's world of diminishing health coverage, early screening is unlikely. If we could detect genetic cursors; and small tumors early, we could catch cancer early.
Prevention isn't popular in the medical profession. Doctors cannot bill for a healthy heart; or charge for a bypass they never have to do. Healthy people will deprive the medical professionals of their livelihood. I've said it before: if you build a utopia and make everyone immortal, your first problem will be a lot of out-of-work doctors.
We need to look mainly at prevention. Once we spy down that rabbit hole, we need to go as far as that goes. Everyone thinks that cigarettes cause cancer. I could believe that there is a linkage, but there is ink in the water. Everyone exposed to cigarettes are also exposed to car exhaust; and they live in a electricified society (no? what are you reading this post on?). Many non-smokers die of lung cancer and most of them have been exposed to car exhaust. The prevalence of cancer comes in step with the rise of the automobile and electricity. What if the nemesis of breast cancer was a car-free lifestyle or a world with fewer EM bleeding doo-dads? Sure, we'll wear little pink ribbon. Would you park your car to save yourself from breast cancer; or rescue your mother or aunt or sister? If you think Big Tobacco is a formidable opponent to the question of what causes cancer, imagine the resistance mounted by the auto-makers, the people like Enron and oil companies. If ending cancer isn't that important, why is some usher interuptting my movie?


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