Monday, January 30, 2006
Saturday, January 28, 2006
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
tags: beef, fast food, yummy
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
Liberals 115Where 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.
Bloc Quebecois 76
Green Party 0
Total seats: 306
Here's what it looks like (as of this moment):
Bloc Quebecois 51
Green Party 0
Total seats: 308
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).
Friday, January 20, 2006
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
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
- 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
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.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Here's a quickie example of DIM in action.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
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
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
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.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
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 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:
Bloc Quebecois 76
Green Party 0
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 Michaëlle 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.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
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.
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?