Sunday, December 30, 2012

price of lobster in Nova Scotia

Right now at Sobeys here in the peak buying season lobster is on for $5 a pound. The grocery store price is now the same as the roadside folks selling lobster off the backs of their trucks.

I suppose it's possible this is some Machiavellian scheme by the major grocery chains to put the apparently unlicensed, unregulated independent roadsiders who sprung up the last couple of years out of business and restore the traditional retail model. I don't believe that though.

The problem with lobster is that there are too many fishermen bringing in too much catch. With excess supply the hit is on price per pound. The roots of this go back to the US financial crisis from 2007. In the period 2000-2007 house prices were constantly rising and it was easy to convert on paper gains into real cash through home equity loans. This housing wealth allowed many of the American middle and lower middle class to "live big" and premium lobster at Christmas was one of many luxuries they enjoyed.

Today and for the last few years only the really well to do in America are inclined to splurge on imported Atlantic lobster. A weak US dollar hasn't helped either.

So what to do? This year, like several previous years, there was a "strike" at the beginning of the lobster season as a protest to disappointing wharf prices. It worked to an extent. Choking supply for a few days did nudge prices up - until everyone then went back to their boats to sea. The long term solution is to permanently choke off the lobster supply. That is, there needs to be fewer boats on the water bringing in less catch collectively. So it's on DFO to reduce quota, cancel and buy out lobster licenses.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton

I finished another book. It was The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton. I got it from a church yard sale for $2. It was well worth it. This is one of his earlier titles, set in the early 1970s. In the book a man named Harry Benson is suffering from seizures that cause violent outbursts. Doctors at the neuro psychiatric unit of a major hospital think they can cure Benson by implanting a computer into him that sends electrical simulations to his brain right before seizures occur.

Facing a serious assault charge, Benson agrees to the operation. Alas in the wake of the operation unintended consequences occur. The patient Benson originally seems passive and docile however the doctors consequently learn too late that Harry has his own plans and they are constantly a step behind.

This was a very good book. Crichton, himself a medical doctor, writes about doctors and hospitals very well. He's really in his element here. Like Andromeda Strain, some of the major characters are doctors. Set in the early 1970s, a theme of this book is the increasing and possible dangerous reliance on computers and technology. Crichton explores this technology run amuck theme later in Jurassic Park and Prey.

The story is fast paced. The writing is very crisp. This is a fine Crichton title. There's a few Crichton left for me to find and finish. I enjoy his earlier work it tends to be quite good.

Monday, December 17, 2012

the mathematics of the NHL lockout

I was thinking about the NHL lockout recently. It occurred to me that a lost season would be far worse for the players than the owners.

The reason is because of time frames. The owners can take a long term view. They will still be around both individually and as a group 10, 15, 20 years from now. So for them it is in their interest to say lose this season to get an advantage as they can make it back and more over the longer term.

For the great majority of players, losing a year's pay is a disaster. Many NHL careers are short so any season is a major percentage of the money you will ever bank playing hockey. Many careers are only 1-4 seasons so to lose one of those iterations after all those years you worked unpaid to reach the NHL is a terrible result.

Look at some of these brothers of famous players. This is how long they were in the NHL

Alain Lemieux 119 games
Brent Gretzky 13 games
Gilbert Dionne 223 games
Brett Lindros 51 games

Basically for anyone in the second half of their career - which is half the players, it is better to leave some money on the table now, even 15-20%, in order to settle and salvage the bulk of the money they would have made this season. Even for young stars like Toews, Crosby, Giroux, with concussions they can't be sure how long they will around, their careers may already be more than half over.

The only players who can benefit from losing a years pay are young, very good players early in their careers who confidently have 10+ years to play. For them getting an extra say 5-10% from sitting out one season is ok as they will make it back over their careers. There are very few NHL players in this group, perhaps 15%

A friend from work at lunch did make an interesting point about players late in successful careers. Guys like Chara, Alfredsson, Selanne. At this point they should already be wealthy, so for them they might be willing to give up a years pay they can't get back for the long term good of the union, for future players who aren't even in the league yet.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


turns out crime pays in Nova Scotia. Peter Speight pulled down in the neighbourhood of a quarter million tax money to go away. nice work if you can get it, he's set. one has to wonder how serious Speight was about returning to work given the environment he knew he would have faced. so it was a good negotiation ploy on his side

over on supper hour news the lovely Amy Smith has surpassed Cindy Day and is the diva of dinnertime news. did Amy get a new stylist or was she always this good looking and I somehow never noticed. there's approximately one reason to watch CBC news and it's Amy Smith

I'm on vacation now until January. finally, much needed. much to do still to get ready. looking forward to a change in January, I'm joining a new team. also on the plus side up to 4 weeks vacation in 2013. starting off by using one of the extra days on Jan 2 as going back to work on the 2nd is blah

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Freedom by Daniel Suarez

I managed to finish off another book. It was Freedom by Daniel Suarez. The book was the second and concluding part of the Daemon series.

This was a great book. Really well written. Compelling and fast paced. The author brings back pretty much all of the major characters in the second book including Jon Ross, the Major, Loki, Dr. Phillips.

In the second book a few months have passed. The Daemon has signed up many more operatives into the Daemon's darknet. They have also expanded into creating self sufficient communities called holon in the midwest USA. The communities generate their own food, fuel and manufacturing.

The government continues to struggle against the growing power and numbers of the Daemon and the increasingly powerful corporate "contractors" as embodied by the shadowy Major who have their own agenda for what to do with the Daemon. It's a three way struggle for supremacy in the emerging new world order.

The book is well written. There are some great plot twists and the author continues to explore some modern themes such as increasing corporate power, the ability of automated bots to effect real world events - not just automated stock trading, think of say an auto attendant automatically calling in unmanned drone strikes in some location based on recognized electronic intelligence auto intercepts and program analysis. The ending is very well done.

I'll be on the lookout for some more Suarez titles The Daemon was really good.

So that wraps up another multi-book series. The last outstanding is the Joe McKinney series. I put an order in at the library for the final book. I've got some more reading pretty much planned out for 2013, a really big series and it should be a good project.

Monday, November 26, 2012

same old Halifax school board

new school year, same old story. this week the Halifax school board fired a bus driver for breaking up a fight on the bus. typical disgraceful and disgusting behaviour by the HRSB. as usual trying to make history while instead just being on the wrong side of it.

I was hoping for change after the recent elections and the long overdue departure of Carole Olsen (good riddance). alas the bureaucracy is perpetual and it's the same old embarrassing story in Halifax. in my district the school board incumbent ran unopposed. you get the government you vote for

I don't even understand what she supposedly did wrong. there was a fight on the bus. she broke up the fight and sent one fighter to the front to separate the combatants. so what's even the problem. it's bizarre, Kafkaesque even by the standards of the modern education system

can someone explain to me the difference between Heather Vidito and Ken Fells. because if it's not about race then why was Vidito thrown under the bus?

anonymous sides with Hamas

So anonymous has joined Hamas in the attack on Israel. Way to keep it classy anon.

Oh dear, what is the Zionist entity going to do? so what's the next big PR win for the terrorists, the OWS endorsement?

Deep Sky by Patrick Lee

I recently read Deep Sky. This finishes up the Breach trilogy. It was ok. The author finishes very strong, tying the timelines back together very nicely. Fast paced, it had a bit of a Ludlum feel to it at times. I think the second and third books in the Breach series were a bit burdened with being the follow ups to The Breach which was just so great. Still there's lots of action, Breach entities, plot twists, and it does come together to complete the trilogy. I found myself missing the Whisper entity through this book and hoping it would make an appearance.

So that's ok finished up two multi part series now. Stay tuned for another announcement in that area.

Monday, November 19, 2012


been crazy at work hardly any time to post. looking forward to launch date

Stopped for lunch at Daddy O's Diner in Clayton Park West Saturday on the way to work. I had the all day breakfast. It was good, service was fast and friendly, price and portion were right. [x] would go back

From the "you should know" file, here's a couple of links on the Gaza situation ah those Hamilton moderates so diligently reporting the truth and relying on fact based arguments.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

I finished another book recently. It was Daemon by Daniel Suarez. It was a good book.

It's near future science fiction. The author takes some current trends such as 3d printers, botnets, sophisticated viruses such as Stuxnet, identity theft, powerful distributed network computers, parasitism in biology, and big multiplayer online games, computer sunglasses, wearable computers, advances them all a bit, and pulls them together into a fast paced story.

In the book a prominent and wealthy game developer Matthew Sobol dies. Sobol leaves behind a sophisticated computer program in his games called Daemon. The Daemon recruits human operators by offering them a fast track to wealth and prestige to work for the Daemon. It's hard to get into the Daemon's darknet and you have to be ruthless and technically adept to be recruited.

Along the way the Daemon is battled by government forces including the NSA and a mysterious Russian named "Jon". The government good guys face an uphill battle as the Daemon stays a step ahead of their efforts to shut it down before it brings in a new Daemon world order.

It was an enjoyable and fast paced read with a strong ending. It's a two part series so now I'll have to read the next title Freedom.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

pink football

Is there anything as lame as watching men play pro football all decked out in bright pink shoes, towels, wristbands, etc. Terrible, there's no place for that on the football field. Give it up.

Speaking of pink ribbon. I asked pink ribbon Canada if any of the run for the cure money is going to controversial Komen USA. Good news, no. All the pink ribbon money raised in Canada stays in Canada and Komen doesn't get any.

Date: Tue, Oct 2, 2012 at 4:12 PM
Subject: RE: CIBC Run For The Cure

Thanks for your question, apologies for the delayed reply - we’re still catching up on our correspondence following the Run this past weekend.

So, to answer your question, no, the Foundation does not pay royalties to use the pink ribbon from Susan G Komen or any other organization. The Foundation has trademarked our version of the pink ribbon that you see in our logo. And no, we do not fund Susan G. Komen’s work in the US, we only fund initiatives here in Canada.

I hope this helps answer your question and please let me know if you have any further questions.

From: []
Sent: Thursday, September 27, 2012 9:50 PM
To: Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
Subject: CIBC Run For The Cure

Message : do you have to pay royalties to Komen USA for the use of pink ribbon? if not do you voluntarily fund Komen USA

New Brunswick police state

In New Brunswick it is a crime to shop around for a better price on liquor. This is the law that the elected legislature and their allies the bureaucracy passed against its own citizens
By law, the maximum amount of alcohol that can be legally imported into New Brunswick from another province is one bottle of wine or hard liquor, or 12 pints of beer, which is approximately 24 bottles or cans
Suppose I am fortunate and win say a mid 5 figure prize in the lotto. I decide to host a modest house party to mark my good fortune, my treat. The alcohol shopping list for such an event might look like this.

  • 4 flats of beer
  • 2 quarts of rum
  • quart of whiskey
  • quart of vodka
  • 30 wine coolers
  • 4 bottles of Hochtaler
Around a shopping cart full. Being near the border I decide to take a short trip to Quebec to pick up the liquor there as the price is better. After all it's my money I'm free to shop where I wish within Canada. Incredibly it is a crime in New Brunswick for a private citizen to purchase alcohol for his own private use from other than the government monopoly LC.

This is tyranny. This law is an attack on the peaceful, law abiding New Brunswick freeman. All this does is allow the cops to ignore real crime, avoid confrontation with actual hard criminals, and instead pick on soft middle class targets like "cross border" shoppers within Canada.

Why does the legislature allow it to stand in this form? Who exactly voted this into law? Why doesn't the media and opposition grill the minister every single day about this? What happened to the Constitution and economic union and illegal interprovincial trade barriers.

Friday, October 05, 2012

RIP Raylene Rankin

It was a sad story this week about the passing of Raylene Rankin at age 52. I had a couple of thoughts about the Rankins.

I would be happy to never again hear We Rise Again. Among the worst, possibly the worst song of the last generation. It's too bad because most of the Rankin Family stuff is pretty good.

I remember years back when Jimmy left the band to pursue a solo career. In a way it seemed to make sense. Especially if Jimmy was indeed doing the most toward the group's success. Even if that was true, it turned out that as a family act the Rankins had a nice niche with little competition and lots of success. Even if Jimmy was disproportionately responsible for that success. However out on his own Jimmy was just another singer/songwriter from Cape Breton, one of probably dozens trying to make it in music.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Daddy O's Diner Halifax

I noticed a new place opened recently in my area. Daddy O's Diner. I stopped in for coffee a couple of times and a bagel.

It's a nice place. They have retro 50s-60s style Elvis / Marilyn memorabilia on the wall which is a nice touch. Service is good and friendly. The coffee and bagels were good. It's nice to take a break from the big chains once in a while. I'll plan to go back and check out the lunch and dinner.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


about Mitt and the 47%. if there was a factual error in the 47 number then why not just post a correction instead of getting all worked up about having to deal with it. otherwise if 47% are paying in nothing and freeriding the other 53% then that's an issue which is worthy of serious discussion.

it took around a century but unionized government public education in Canada has now failed. it has come to this in Toronto. enough of this, there's no hope. at this point the best we can do is just shut down government run education and privatize the whole thing. we couldn't be any worse off.

this week the "leader of the free world" Barack Obama ordered Google to pull a video that Islam disagreed with. Google had the courage to decline. so much for your oath to "defend the constitution" Barack. oh well the 10th amendment went out the window decades ago; so 10th amendment, 1st amendment what's the diff?

I can't believe Pizza Delight is running a new spy music themed commercial. this is so stupid. first of all why have a conspiracy that everyone is in on. who are you conspiring against?

the waste portrayed in these commercials is shocking. all that effort to prepare a good enough to eat meal and then to just waste it. now that it's cooked if you want to eat out why not put it in the fridge and have it tomorrow. the first commercial is even worse where they also write off a knife and a pair of shoes while making a huge mess as the food is intentionally wasted.

it's a shame because Pizza Delight could still do a great family themed commercial around blowing off cooking for a night in favor of a fun dinner at the restaurant. but this cloak and dagger theme with the overproduced music and the ridiculous waste is just poor

Monday, September 10, 2012

A proposal

So it's a new school year. Of course there's a new rule now in Nova Scotia. The rule is in school zones where the limit was 50 km/h; now it's 30 km/h. Got that? Yep just what the people of Nova Scotia need, more rules.

So I got thinking, what would happen if a new provincial party appeared. A party that focused on increasing individual freedom and reducing the burden of rules and restrictions on the people. How would this play, is that what the people want. 1% of the vote, 10% maybe, more? I'm not sure. Anyway there are definitely too many rules against the people and if someone had the courage to just come out and actually say it then many people would connect with what. Well here goes, a proposal.

- delete rule that pharmacies cannot sell smokes
- eliminate requirement of grocery stores having separate smoke shop
- repeal rules around corner stores and visual displays of smokes
- lower smoking age to 14

- eliminate 0.05 and lower driving rules. if you're under 0.08 you're fine to drive, no restrictions
- eliminate "check 25" and other foolish rules. if the limit is 19 to buy then check they look 19

- scratch graduated licensing. once you get your license you can just drive
- repeal seat belt laws
- repeal motorcycle helmet laws
- delete confusing 50 = 30 some of the time speed limit

- delete mandatory ski helmet rule
- repeal mandatory cycling, skateboading, etc helmet rules
- eliminate mandatory helmets at public skates

Thursday, September 06, 2012

lol Elizabeth Warren

Remarkably fauxcahontas from the crocktaw ridge spoke at the DNC. Incredibly she claims the "system is rigged".

Talk about rigging the system. Lily white with blonde hair and blue eyes. She spent her adult life rigging the affirmative action system by posing as an Indian.

The Night Eternal by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

I finished up reading the del Toro / Hogan vampire trilogy. The third book is The Night Eternal. It was a tremendously good book and outstanding conclusion to the trilogy.

In this book it's two years after The Fall. The vampires under the Master have won. Humanity has been subjugated under vampire domination. The air has been intentionally poisoned with pollution and black rain and only 2 hours a day of weak sunlight. It's only during that time that the vampires have to go and hide.

The vampires no longer go around rampaging, drinking humans dry and turning them into vamps. There are now concentration camps in which serve as blood farms where both fresh blood is produced for the vampire ruling class; as well as baby farms to produce future generations of human blood producers of the preferred B+ blend.

Still the Master's enemies from the earlier books battle on in the underground resistance. The story centers around Professor Setrakian's confederates Eph, Nora, Fet and Gus who were the principals of the earlier books - and of course the Master. The running theme of Eph's struggle for his son Jake's soul runs through the book. Jake has been taken by his mother to the Master who keeps him unturned and human, grooming him for a sinister plan. Also the pseudo-vampire Quinlan is prominent in book III and his fascinating backstory and relationship to the Master is explored.

In the story Fet comes into an armed nuclear bomb sans a detonator. Additionally the resistance still has the Occido Lumen book which, combined with the nuke, may contain the secret to destroying the Master and his undead brood. The book is the story of their attempts to unlock the secrets of the Lumen, acquire a detonator, battle hunger, stay a step ahead of the Master's vampire horde (along with the vampires human accomplices), and come up with a plan destroy the Master and his vampire empire.

The teasers from the first two books about the origin of the vampire Master and the other 6 Ancients is explored in a gripping side tale dating back to biblical times.

It's a superb story, fast paced and really well written. The ending was outstanding. I'd like to see this made into a movie series.

Well that finishes off a multi part book series. I've got a couple more with one book to finish as well. So I should try to get through those too.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


I took a week off in August. It was nice. Most years I don't get around to taking summer vacation.

I timed it to coincide with some family being in town. Plus there were a few days to myself after they left. It was good to be able to just relax and do family stuff without the distractions of work.

I needed a vacation this year. It's been brutal at work the last few months. A motto of mine going back many years is if you accomplish nothing else on vacation, at least get some rest. And I did that, getting a good nights sleep, not getting up too early, taking lots of break and down time during the days.

I checked and good news I still have 8 days unused for 2012. I've already booked it and like most years will skip out during December before Christmas until January.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

free $10 on

Speaking of ALC. They did give me $10 yesterday. A nice lady from ALC named Nicole called me and asked if I'd heard about Geosweep. I said I had. Then she asked if I wanted $10 to play it for free. Of course I said sure to the freeroll.

I logged into my account and there was the $10 as promised. The offer was $7.50 for a geosweep ticket and $2.50 for my own use. Since the $10 was transferred in I was free to do whatever I liked with it including just straight cashing it out. But in the spirit of the offer I did get a geosweep geo in Labrador. I used the other $2.50 on two random baseball over/unders which had 75% equity.

Interestingly on one game the line was 1.70 on regular proline and 1.75 for the same game on proline stadium. I was quite surprised to see different prices on the same game, so shop around if you're looking to play proline.

That's now $15 of free wagers I've had on without putting in any of my own money. I would recommend to anyone eligible to create an account there just to get the freerolls.

is Atlantic Lotto a scam?

For some reason I visited the Atlantic Lotto site They have been advertising heavily.

So I go to the site. The first thing I notice is like a multi minute loading time despite being on high speed.

Eventually the site loads (hint: skip the extremely lengthy intro video) and you get to the questions. I noticed a couple of things.

First of all there seem to be no spelling or grammar errors in the posted questions. Really, on what is presented as an open Internet forum? Let's be generous and assume the questions are edited before posting. Still it is suspicious.

I search on "all categories" sorted by "most recent". Yet day after day there are no new questions posted. Now you might think that's because nobody is asking questions. That is just not true. I submitted two questions a week ago. about the incorrect usage of the term "gambling" (the correct term is "gaming"); and a tough question about what a rip off to the players the proline over under payouts are with a 25+ percent house cut.

No response. I'm wondering if the posted "questions" are just softball shills. I have yet to see a really embarrassing or uncomfortable question to ALC posted to that site.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Kool FM Saturdays

The last few weeks I've been enjoying listening to Kool FM on weekend mornings. They have classic American Top 40 with Casey Kasem.

On Saturdays there's a 70s encore from the same calendar week. On Sunday mornings it's an 80s encore. The 80s is pretty good but the 70s one is great. It's entertaining and lol to listen to. The charts consisted of bad singer/songwriter, bad soul, and bad disco. How did these songs become hits? I can't believe people went to Sam the Record Man and paid good money for the singles, or phoned the radio stations and asked them to play this stuff. But apparently they did. Of course within the noise there are few gems, songs that are still great today. The combo of the lolbad and the still greats makes it enjoyable to listen to.

Well if you're up and around on some weekend morning then I highly recommend to turn on 96.5 Kool FM.


I resurfaced on facebook for a little while lately. I was talking to a friend who mentioned his brother, who is also a friend, had bought a motorcycle and posted pics. So I signed in to have a look. The Harley is a beauty I'm jealous but good for him. There have been some tweaks and improvements on that site but all in all I didn't miss much and I'll be planning to drop off again pretty soon. After rejoining pretty much my first act was to delete two off my friends list, getting the number down to 123 now. The correct number is probably somewhere around 100 but that's good enough for now.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

CTV and Britain's finest moment

There was a bunch of CTV hype leading up to the Olympic opening ceremony. That's fine, it's a big deal and they were free to advertise it.

The ads talked about comparisons to the Beijing opening ceremony and some of Britain's great history. Then, incredibly the announcer voices it may be Britain's finest moment?

hmmm Britain's finest moment you say. an Olympic opening ceremony. bigger than Trafalgar? more important than VE Day?

idiot CTV. who writes and edits the copy for these commercials? Great Britain has had great moments in its history. this over the top, overcommercialized olympic opening will not be Britain's finest moment.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Last Red Tories

A piece in the Comical Herald a little while ago got my attention. I was surprised to learn there is a pc party in Canada.

wow I can't believe that party exists. The tiny number of remaining Red Tories have fittingly found a Mulroney-era cabinet minister to lead their party back to glory. Good luck with that. 

No surprise it is a Mulroney era fossil. After all that's when the Red Tory era finally ended, with the total defeat of their chosen one Kim Campbell from which they never recovered.

Eventually Harper from the Reform Party took over and he had no use for the elites, the Red Tories. He tossed them all out. Joe Clark, Kim Campbell, Mulroney, Kim Collins, Maureen McTeer, Lucien Bouchard, John Buchanan, many more. These elites, while prominent, were generally disconnected with the grassroots and had led the party to electoral disaster. Look at Kim Campbell. So elite that when she was done with the school board and decided to assume her rightful place in parliament all three parties recruited her! 

That says it all about her ideology and the ideology of the Red Tories. In general they became comfortable with the elite consensus, where elections provided a "choice" between left of centre, the left of left of centre, and ever so slightly to the right of left of centre.

Alas the electorate decided it didn't need three left of centre parties. Let's review Harper's election record.

- improbably held Paul Martin to a minority
- defeated Paul Martin to form a minority
- defeated Stephane Dion for a larger minority
- defeated Jack Layton for a majority

What did the Red Tories accomplish electorally in the numerous post Mulroney, pre Harper elections? No wonder Harper cast them all off on day one.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bad Teacher

I caught Bad Teacher on dvd. It was comical, laughed right through it. In the style of Borat, Ted, Horrible Bosses, Bad Santa. If you can laugh at crude, inappropriate humor then this is a movie for you.

Almost caught up on fairly recent movies. The last remaining are Conan and The Dictator.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

I recently read The Fall the second book in the vampire trilogy. I noticed it at the library and picked it up.

It was a good book. A very fast paced read. This story picks up where The Strain left off with the same principals Setrakian, Fet, Ephraim, Gus, Nora, and Eph's son Zack; battling it out against the Master, Palmer, and the Master's fast growing horde of turned vampires including Zack's mother Kelly.

Only one significant character is added in this book, an aged former wrestler named Angel who appropriately fought as the Silver Angel. In the story there are a number of struggles going on. There is a battle over a key ancient text called Occido Lumen that may hold the key to defeat the Master. Additionally there is the New York and now worldwide struggle against the spreading plague of vampirism, as well Eph and vampire Kelly battle over Zack's fate.

For a middle book the authors do a great job of moving the story along very swiftly while sticking to the storyline. There is the expected amount of attrition along the way to be believable. There are still enough principals left at the end of book two to make book three The Night Eternal compelling. I'll definitely read it when I see it.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

flipburger opens in Halifax

I took the kids to Flipburger in Halifax. We'd been watching for it to open and checked when we went by.

We of course pronounce it with the N. as in flipnburger. sounds better that way.

it was a good time there. good lunchtime crowd on Canada Day. the burgers were big and tasty. milkshakes were good. the fresh cut fries were fine. it was a good experience there, we'll go back

Next by Michael Crichton

Continuing the Crichton reading I finished another book Next from later in his career. In this story Crichton explores the topic of genetic engineering and the ability of modern science to modify species, cure diseases, adjust human behavior,  using gene therapy. He also discusses related topics such as patenting of genes, and the ownership of the genes in our own bodies.

If there's ever a discussion of the worst Crichton title then Next should always be considered. This book is terrible. It seemed to have no discernible plot at all. Just a long sequence of unconnected genetic related events by unconnected people all over the world. He does make a halfhearted attempt to pull the storylines together in a sloppy and not believable confrontation at the very end of the book. But it was too little too late.

The characters are awful. It seems everyone is evil, hateful, greedy, selfish. He does make a good point about contemporary science though. Maybe in some romantic past like the heyday of Einstein there was some notion of the noble scientist serving only the advancement of human knowledge. Alas today there are literally millions in America and worldwide who make a living as "professional scientists". In such a large population the scientist is no longer a separate or special entity in society. Today they are just regular folks with the same shortcomings of regular folks, lying, cheating, stealing, underhanded dealing, deception, money chasing, litigious, concealing unfavorable findings, etc.

Ah the cheating. Going back to Disclosure and Prey Crichton has used marriage infidelity through his novels, usually as a key part of the plot. However in Next Crichton has turned it into the Getty museum. It seems pretty much everyone cheats. Worse the cheating seems to have just been thrown in for fun, unrelated to what little plot there was. For example one character Gail gets into a fight with her husband when their overly smart parrot discloses the husband has been bringing some slut back to their house. Gail storms out and then goes off to sleep with some colleague visiting researcher from Tokyo who she had cheated with before. Of course Crichton adds that Tokyo was also cheating as he has a wife and child back in Japan. And so on it goes throughout this painful book.

It was hard to finish and I nearly put it down. I did get through it for the laughs as I suspect Crichton may have released this book as a joke. It did make it finishable, reading it as an unserious work.

Like Stephen King, nobody claims that the later Crichton stuff is close to as good as the stuff from the early years. It is what it is. I get the feeling from the later titles that Crichton should have just retired from writing and spent more time enjoying his immense wealth in his final few years. Another step closer to done the Crichton project now.

Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

I finished reading another novel. It was Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton. It was a good book. One of his early novels.

In the story an earth-orbiting satellite crashes in Piedmont Arizona and within hours all but two of the town's residents are dead. The book is the story of four scientists working in a special secure US government facility in their race to understand the nature of the apparent alien organism and what to do to contain it.

It was later made into a movie and that's not surprising. It's a fast paced story and there are many of the successful Crichton features. Plausible near future science fiction, scientists dealing with unexpectedly dangerous new discoveries and technology, chance errors and their unintended consequences.

I'm continuing to chug away at the Crichton library. The earlier titles are a bit harder to find in the library and I've still got a few to get through.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

ProLine bonus offer

I joined Atlantic Lotto ProLine a little while ago. I got this email from The Sporting News with a $5 wager coupon to join ProLine. So I set up an account for the freeroll. I randomly chose the over-under on two baseball games. I lost, oh well.

As part of the sign up I subscribed to email offers. There was a promotion from late May to June where if the player wagers $20 then ALC will put up a $5 bonus.

Now that sounds like a good deal. I just had a find a wager with over 80% equity and it would be profitable. For example if there is a 90% value wager (house gets 10% profit), then on a $25 wager the house pays out $22.50 and keeps $2.50 profit.

Now that would be profitable for me since only $20 of the $25 comes out of my pocket and ALC under the promo was putting up the other $5. so at 90% equity I would have an expected profit of $2.50 or 12.5%.

I looked into the over under on the NHL finals games and the NBA finals games as they were evenly priced on both sides so agreeable to a random selection scheme.

Alas I found that in the best case of this over-under combo ALC was only paying out $0.745 for every $1 wagered. So the player only has 74.5% equity. which means that even with the $5 ALC bonus that it was still an unprofitable bet for the player. that's pretty bad.

ALC is being stingy with their ProLine players and not paying winners as much as they should be. I understand that the house has to have some edge in order to be in business. but for comparison in football point spread Vegas follows the 11/10 rule. that is on an $11 wager the house will pay a winner $10. so in that case overall the house is paying out $0.9545 for every $1 players bet, so those players have 95.5% equity while the house only keeps 4.5%. by comparison ProLine holding back 25.5% for their own profit is not right by their players.

visit to Ottawa

I just got back from my second visit to Ottawa in around a month. it was with work both times. it's different to travel twice after no business travel at all the last four years. both visits were good. I was fortunate to catch Ottawa weather at its finest in the springtime. and Ottawa in spring is really quite pleasant. overall I'd describe Ottawa as quite nice, a place I could see myself living. it's not in the cards at this point. still if there's more business travel to Ottawa on the radar screen I would go along with it.

Monday, May 07, 2012

badass Charles Taylor

Some of the stories out of Liberia of the Charles Taylor regime are remarkable. Here are some of his innovations
  • public executions and amputations of civilians
  • the display of decapitated heads at checkpoints
  • the killing and public disembowelment of a civilian whose intestines were then stretched across the road to make a check point
  • public rapes of women and girls
  • people burned alive in their homes

The thoroughness and imagination is remarkable. I think they may have had Kurtz as a consultant.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

After America by Mark Steyn

I finished another book. It was After America by Mark Steyn.

It was a while to get it. I had mentioned I wanted it for Christmas but it didn't come in. Then I was on the hold list at the library for a couple of months.

It was worth the wait. It is the follow on book to America Alone. In this book Steyn takes a more pessimistic view. The election of Obama represents a cultural and financial tipping point. From the permanent trillion dollar annual deficits with no plan or intent to get under control, to the house reps who have held their seats for literally decades.

Steyn is thorough. There are many citations to back his presentation of facts. There are around 40 pages of references at the end of the book. The book reads like his columns on National Review and there is some overlap in the material. Still with more pages to work with Steyn is able to expand his ideas more fully.

I like Steyn. I wish I could have gone to Steynamite in Toronto a couple of weeks ago. Despite the more gloomy tone Steyn does also take an inspired tack, especially at the end. For America it's not yet too late. With a birth rate still at population sustaining they are not in as terminal a demographic decline as Europe. The question is does America want to turn it around? Or are they content at this point to stop leading and just manage the decline.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Raymond Taavel murder coverage

Yesterday I had the misfortune of reading the comical herald. On page 3 there was some big splash with Halifax's poet laureate (Halifax has a poet laureate? who knew). Anyway of course it was all about the overexposed and now politicized Raymond Taavel case.

Of course today more of the same. Taavel still front page on the comical and a lead ATV story.

Let's look at this objectively for a moment. Since 2011 there have been around 20 murders in HRM. There's been more Taavel coverage than the other murders put together. Why is that? This morning Halifax council had a moment of silence for Taavel. Did council have a moment of silence for the other 19?

There's no evidence this is a hate crime given the state of mind and reasoning of the alleged perp. So what's the story. At 49 Taavel was not a young man. Around half of the HRM murder victims since 2011 have been under 25. Raymond got to have those extra 25-30 years in his life.

Nor was Taavel any kind of celebrity really. He was apparently well known within a certain specific community. The vast majority, like me, had never heard of Taavel until the murder and at this point have heard all we need or want to.

Of course the media misses the important issue. If you want to get upset about a murder then focus on the Spryfield case where a 72 year old man out for a walk was killed for fun by two teens who didn't know him. Think about what that represents in terms of cultural degeneracy. But where's the outrage there? Where are the concerts, demonstrations, extended front page stories in the herald, government task forces. Where was the poet laureate and the city council moments of silence in the Spryfield case?

Halifax hospital strike

So there's going to be a hospital strike in Halifax as of midnight tonight. 3600 are apparently able to shut down a complex that serves all of the maritimes.

I support the strike. I can think of a couple of reasons.

Every day they are out saves the taxpayers around $1 million dollars. So let them sit a few weeks and it can help with Nova Scotia's financial situation.

I hope it will make people finally realize the folly of setting up a government union monopoly over health care. Where a relatively small number of people can shut down a system that serves a greater population in the millions.

So to that I hope this strike can inspire discussion of real alternatives including privatization. Also then we can have real price discovery as to what this work is worth instead of home team arbitrators dictating absurd and irresponsible 5.1% raises.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Easter from Islam

In Nigeria a suicide bomber killed 38 while attempting to detonate Easter service. Nice.

Great follow on to Christmas in Nigeria where Islam marked the holiday by burning down a Catholic church during Mass. It's a new tradition for the major Christian holidays in Nigeria. In Bethlehem Christians held "midnight" Mass during the daylight hours. and why was that? do tell.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Halifax police crackdown on kids

Saw a ridiculous story on ATV tonight. On Friday night the Halifax police took time to blow off the usual shootings and stabbings to shut down a kids street hockey game. Nice one cops.

There are what, 15 outstanding unsolved murders in the last 18 months? Never mind, let's bust that illegal kids street hockey ring. It's a disgrace, an embarrassment that Canada's game can be attacked like this. Hockey and kids are our identity and this should not be allowed to stand.

I've written before here about the modern police choosing to avoid pursuing and confronting real criminals and instead pick on easy, soft targets. I'm glad the mom went on ATV to expose this. Too bad ATV didn't do some actual real journalism and expose the individual who called the cops in the first place on the kids and give him some well deserved screen time. Note to ATV: evil cannot be allowed to hide behind a veil of secrecy.


If the Halifax police are now so concerned about street crime how about an update on the case where a co-worker located a stolen cell phone that had been resold on kijiji. The phone and other items had been stolen in a break in from his car. After much prodding and many inquiries the police finally assigned a detective to the case. After much more prodding he identified the kijiji fence.

Of course the police declined to arrest or press charges against the fence. They also traced it back to the number the fence bought the stolen cell phone off. Their excuse for dropping the case was that the number had been disconnected. They were too indifferent to pursue Aliant to subpoena the name owner of the disconnected number at the time the crime had been connected.

Micro by Michael Crichton

I finished another book recently. It was Micro by Michael Crichton. The book was unfinished at the time of Crichton's death and Richard Preston also gets author credit. Like Pirate Latitudes this book was published posthumously.

It was ok. I wouldn't call it his best work. In the book a group of graduate students in biology go to Hawaii on a recruiting visit from the Nanigen company. Alas they stumble upon a dark secret of the founder Vin Drake. The evil Drake uses the Nanigen shrinking machine to make the students about an inch tall and cuts them loose in the rainforest to perish. The novel is the story of their struggles to survive at that size in a hostile world; and the efforts of Drake to cover up his vile deeds mostly by committing more murders.

The best parts were the descriptions of being small. The micro world is quite dangerous and the shrunken humans are threatened by ants, centipedes, spiders, birds, bats, wasps and even ordinary rainfall. There's a real sense of danger reading those descriptions.

There's lots of plot twists and unexpected characters appearing to keep it interesting. Like several Crichton titles there's the who will survive? element that he also uses in Prey, State of Fear, Jurassic Park, etc.

It's still too bad Crichton is passed away. A great writer of our time. Well I've now completed the final books in his career. There's still a smaller number left of the earlier Crichton titles I haven't finished yet.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Strain Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

I finished another book recently. It was The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. It was a pretty good book. For a co-authored I couldn't tell which part was written by whom, so it was good for that.

It's a story about vampires. Interestingly it takes place in New York. The plague starts with a plane from Berlin that goes black after landing at JFK airport. It turns out one of the lead vampires known as The Master was on board. He was brought to America by a wealthy man with a selfish and sinister agenda.

These vampires are deadly and scary. There's no beautiful people a la twilight. As the plague starts evil is opposed by Dr. Ephriam from the CDC, his partner / love-interest Nora, and an interesting former professor and Nazi survivor from Europe Dr. Setrakian. The pawn shop owner Setrakian is there to explain to Eph what's going on. He also handily has an array of useful weapons to kill vampires. The most effective is still sunshine.

The book reads a bit like a screenplay. Like many modern novels I believe it was written in a way that would be friendly to adaptation to a major motion picture. I believe one of the authors is associated with Hollywood.

The story builds momentum throughout as the vampire outbreak worsens and it was a pretty good finish. The descriptions of The Master are very well done and quite scary.

I guess this is another multi part series. So I'll probably look for book two some time.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Halifax bus strike

So the Halifax bus strike drags on. I doubt many people understand what the strike is about. Some technical dispute over the insider term "rostering", whatever that is.

There is actually a bus that goes near my place that arrives right at my work which I used a couple of times and would be usable overall if necessary. But I'm in the first group. No bus, shrug, hop in the car and drive to the office. I feel bad for the people put out by this as I was a rider for many years. The 1998 strike was disruptive. At least then it was nicer out and I was able to bike to work.

In a way it's a strange strike in the sense that the employer makes money by the workers being away. So the city may not have a lot of incentive to settle this as they make money every day of the strike. Alas transit customers from the middle class commuters have made other arrangements. and the students, the working poor and the poor have little influence in the media or political sway.

It's a bit like the 1990 federal civil service strike. Every day they were out saved the taxpayer $30 million. So they could stay out indefinitely as far as most people were concerned as it made no difference in our lives whether they went to work or not. It only became relevant when they started blocking traffic. I noticed transit is now using the same tactics, sacrificing the public safety by blocking snowplows from leaving the depot.

It's a risky tactic making yourselves as hated and unpopular as possible in the general public to create public pressure to then pressure the employer to settle the strike. By causing public disruption any goodwill they may have had in the public will swiftly vanish. And they may not have had a lot to begin with.

In recent years there has been an emerging meta issue around the unions and strikes. In 1990 the civil service strike was crumbling after a couple of weeks and thousands of government strikers were crossing the lines and returning to the office each day. If Mulroney had just sat tight for another 1-2 weeks the strike would have failed completely. Instead he gave the union a face saving deal around bumping which they were going to get anyway with the original 0-3-3 scheme. So in a sense it was deemed important for the union to go on and not be defeated.

Forward to the aliant strike sometime around 2007. Management was able to keep dial tone on as the strike dragged on for months. Then in late summer human interest stories started appearing in the paper that people had to pull their kids out of hockey because of the lost pay from the strike. Aliant was subtly pressured by the government to allow the union an honourable settlement to the strike so they could return to work. Again the union was in trouble but not smashed when the employer made a face saving deal.

One thing though. Two weeks in, once they missed their first paycheques the transit union was demanding to go to arbitration. HRM has wisely refused this. After the arbitration fiasco last year when the nurses were bizarrely awarded 5.1%. The arbitration system in Nova Scotia has a major credibility problem as biased toward the unions. To the employers and much of the general public the perception is that going to arbitration may as well just let the union dictate the terms of their settlement. So skip that. Let the union and employer come to some negotiated deal between them.

cyclers be careful!

Well the signs of spring are appearing. Motorcycles, birds chirping, skateboarders, corvettes, runners, cyclers. About the cyclers. Last week during a short trip there were two instances where cyclers did dangerous moves which could have resulted in them being injured.

The first time I was going up Radcliffe a rider took the left and didn't really have enough time to get through. I saw him in plenty of time and went off the gas pedal to let him through. He had a nice bike and the full riding gear and really should have known better.

So then I get to Lacewood and I'm taking the right during the daytime. This street is busy and you have to watch for your opening to get in. So after a little bit it clears some and I go to proceed and what appears right in front of me out of nowhere? A woman in her 20s on a bike! Yikes. Luckily for her I double checked before proceeding and hit the brakes in time for her.

She was in a winter coat and jeans, no helmet. What a dunce. Riding on a sidewalk on the wrong side of the road. Then she comes up to the busy intersection and proceeds to ride right into the drivers blind spot when she knows for certain the driver is looking to the left for an opening. She also absolutely knows that openings are fleeting and when there's a chance the driver will swiftly proceed. Still she drives right into that hazard. She also know it was about the first cycling day of the year and most drivers aren't expecting to be on the lookout for cyclists. Certainly not adult cyclers in the blind spot on the sidewalk on the wrong side of the road! She took 0% responsibility or effort for her own safety and left it entirely on a multitasking driver.

Luckily the driver by chance saw her in time to stop. I heard from a coworker there were a couple of bumps in the south end with cyclers and cars. After what I saw that day it is unsurprising. Riders be careful and use common sense. If an accident happens with a car you are going to take the worst of it.


I went to the optometrist last week. I hadn't been there since late 2008. I was putting it off because I'd been getting killed on spending by the dentist the last couple years with the wisdom teeth and that periodontal thing. So I didn't want to spend much more.

But it was time for a check up. The visit went pretty well. It was at Family Vision in Clayton Park. Nice office. I was in and out in around an hour. Every time I go there I get a different optometrist. The Dr. said my prescription now is very slightly stronger than my glasses. But not different enough to make it worth buying new. So that's good I don't need new glasses.

The visit was $93. I think benefits will cover some of that, not sure. If not then no biggie it's good to have it done for 2 more years or so for less than a hundred.

Friday, March 02, 2012

safety inspection

I did my safety inspection this week down at Grey's Auto. It went quite well. In and out in half an hour, no problems, only $33. Pretty good for a 7 yr old vehicle with 160,000 km. At this stage safety inspection can be pretty sketchy you don't know what will need to be fixed. But I'm good for two more years. I wonder if I'll still have the Civic then. All things considered I hope it's still around then.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

ah the civil service

consider RCMP officer Susan Gastaldo. 14 years of pay in exchange for 6 years of work. followed by disability. nice work if you can get it. according to the article she stands to make "$4 million in salary, benefits and pension over her lifetime"

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I got a credit limit increase on my TD Visa this week. It's a bit different now under the new regs the banks can't just unilaterally grant increases. Instead they put this note on my statement saying "you may be eligible" with a special 800 number.

So I call and it's a pre approved offer of an increase. So technically I agreed to the limit increase and they were careful to get my consent to it. I was a bit surprised they said increase $5000. I thought that's ok since I was at $2500. But she meant it was an increase of $5000 to $7500. Sounds fine to me. My balance is $0 and I intend to keep it that way. Still it's nice to have it as a just in case or if there is some sudden and short term business or travel or purchase opportunity this gives me some more options.


Ball hockey starts tomorrow. Yeah the ball hockey that I retired from nearly 2 years ago. I got a message from the organizer who I know they were looking for players for the second half of the season. I originally said I'm content to stay retired. Then I got another message from another friend about it so I took it as a sign. That and I got a jock bag which I needed from the donation laundry room in my building. Luckily I had a pair of former running shoes in usable shape so I don't need to get any gear.

So I'll plan to go back as a 1-off for the winter season. 10 regular season games plus 1-2 playoff games. It's $50 now blech. I'm slower and rustier now than before. My plan is to just try to have fun and don't worry about personal results.


I made something different tonight for me. It was shake n bake pork chops. It actually turned out pretty well. I hadn't made pork chops in like forever so slowly expanding a little bit I guess. Shake n bake is a wonderful invention.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

congrats Marco Di Quinzio

I stopped by Jim's Pizza house last week. Next door at the GMAC realty office a sign was up that Marco Di Quinzio was the top agent for 2011 for units and sales in that office. Congratulations Marco.

My parents worked with Marco back in 2010 when they sold their house. It was a very positive experience and Marco worked with their requirements as being old and poor health and was able to sell the house quickly with a minimum of stress at a satisfactory price. Marco is enthusiastic, communicates well, and easy to work with.

OAS and age 67

Some discussion from our government lately about increasing the age for OAS to 67. It's a change which is long overdue. Should have been put in place a generation ago. At $38 billion a year we are certainly already spending a lot just on seniors - 3 times the entire military budget.

The thing about OAS. That's for seniors who find themselves broke with no savings and no income. These same seniors as a group would have been more heavy users during their pre-65 lives of UI and welfare. So now as seniors they are asking for still more. Let them sit till 67 I say all things considered. The CPP should also be increased to 67.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Sunset Park by Paul Auster

I recently read Sunset Park by Paul Auster. It was an interesting book. It is set basically in the present time, 2008. The hero is Miles Heller, the son of a New York publisher and his mom is a name actress.

Miles abruptly leaves the family 7 years ago with a year of college left. He bounces around America doing different low end jobs. He does not contact his family during the time away. The story begins in Florida where Miles is working as a "trash out" worker in the 2008 foreclosure epidemic. The trash out people go into repossessed houses after the foreclosure to clean them up and make them ready to go back on the market. There is apparently a healthy side business in trash out which is that the former occupiers of the houses in their hasty departure ahead of the bank and other stiffed creditors often leave behind valuables like TVs or nice appliances. Technically these are supposed to be returned to the bank but in reality the trash out people get first pick as a perq of an otherwise tough, miserable, depressing job.

Miles originally refuses to partake in this corruption. However after he meets Pilar, a 17 year old Cuban girl, Miles changes. He falls in love with Pilar and despite being underage they move in together. In order to get Pilar's older sister Angela to agree to this (Angela is the leader of the family after their parents died), Miles joins the others and steals various expensive items from the houses and gives them to Angela in exchange for Pilar being able to move in with him.

After a while Angela issues demands for fresh trash out bounty. Miles refuses. Angela reminds Miles that Pilar is underage and threatens to call the police. Between the police threat and a visit from some bouncer thugs from the bar Angela works at Miles wisely beats it out of Florida. He returns to New York after the 7 years away. Back in New York Miles settles into an abandoned house as a squatter with his old friend Bing and two interesting women Alice and Ellen.

I mostly liked reading this book. At some level I admired Miles, his principles and self discipline. Leaving the comfortable life in the first place and making his way. Refusing the trash out bounty. Although Miles isn't consistent as he indulges the inappropriate romance with Pilar and did engage in the trash out theft when it was to his interest.

I couldn't really grasp Miles attraction to Pilar. First there's the issue of her being 17 and he 28. The author points out that Miles is 6 ft, 185 lbs and solidly built. Miles has gone out with good looking women throughout his life so I couldn't really grasp his fascination with Pilar. Even in the NY house there are attractive and intelligent women right there which demonstrates Miles would have plenty of opportunity to meet more suitable women.

It was a book that makes you think. It reminded me of the books I might have read in high school or undergrad. The kind of books that are "meant to be analysed". I probably wouldn't mind reading an essay on this book if there was one. There's probably enough in there to at least make a decent year end thesis.

I like that it was mostly in New York. I generally like New York stories with the Jews, the diners, the neighbourhoods, etc. If nothing else this book is a good New York story.

The author takes on the challenging task of including writers and writing prominently in the book. Miles father Morris is the owner of a publishing house. Alice is a grad student in English and works at PEN. Auster handles this pretty well. Often when the subject is writers you end up with trash like The World According to Garp, or the Miseryable Stephen King "writers and writing" series that destroyed his career.

Overall it was a good read and I would recommend it. I would read some other Auster if I come across it.

Monday, January 30, 2012


So it's 2012. I got thinking that means it's been 5 years now since 2007. That blip report that US subprime mortgages were defaulting at a 16% rate, way up from the usual 7%. Then the 2 bear stearns hedge funds blew up. and, well then everything else since then that happened. Still not back to normal or close to back to normal five years later now.

I remember sitting at Jack Astor's for a work lunch. SupportSoft was good for that. It was late spring or summer and we were outside on the patio. Real nice Nova Scotia day. Just shooting the breeze and making jokes about Alabama deadbeats. I'd never heard terms such as subprime, CDO, CDS and such. I had just discovered HousingPanic and was reading and absorbing so much. I wonder what Keith is up to these days and if he ever returns to USA and Phoenix.


Speaking of subprime and trailer park trash. The lolsite of the day is liarscheatersrus. This is where people expose cheaters using their real names. Some of them with comments are entertaining like this one.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Daughter of Kura by Debra Austin

I finished another book it was Daughter of Kura by Debra Austin. It was a good book, well written. It's the story of a young girl named Snap set half a million years ago in Africa. The author skilfully weaves together known archaeological evidence to tell a believable and compelling story. In the book they don't yet have speech and use sign language to communicate which helps put the reader into that time.

In Austin's view the primitive societies are led by women. The related women live together year round in settlements. During the summer months the women and children migrate to harvest grown food. The men spend the summer away from the tribe hunting and trading and rejoin in the fall. Men join a different tribe than they grew up in and women stay in the tribe of their birth. In the fall there is a ceremony and the women by rank choose their mate which is just for that fall-spring.

Live is dangerous back then and the early people are often hunted as much as hunting. Having to dodge lions, leopards, hyenas, rhinos, scorpions. The author also explores themes such as emergence of pagan religion, male dominated societies, permanent mates, tribal conflict and wars. I wonder if there's an element of fantasy in Austin's writing of women dominated societies and the men having to compete every year for mates while the women get to pick and choose.

The writer is an interesting person. A former obstetrician who got into writing using her interest in paleoanthropology. You can tell in her narrative of Snap's gestation that she is in her comfort zone in that area.

This was a kind of different book for me. I had pretty much used up the Michael Crichton series so looking for something new. I used the second hand on my watch to just select a random shelf and I required myself to just pick from that shelf. So that's how I found this book. There's some hit and miss with that approach. There's been a couple of interesting books like this one. As well as some bad books which I just quit on after 20 pages or less. And that's fine. I just take 3-4 from the library and if a couple don't work out then just move on.

autism / Asperger's back to sanity in DSM-V

I was surprised to hear about proposed changes in the upcoming DSM-V [1] [2] [3] around autism and aspergers. According to the ATV piece Saturday and the links. The criteria to diagnose autism is being sharply tightened. Aspergers is being eliminated as a diagnosable disease.

Let's discuss them separately. From the ATV report there was a study back in 1994 and even then half of the children diagnosed with autism were misdiagnosed and didn't even have it. The DSM is recognizing that diagnosis is too loose, too subjective, too prone to pressure from self interested psychologists who know how lucrative a diagnosis is, especially when it is obvious what the parent wants to hear, especially when there's a benefits plan to stick with the bill.

As for aspergers. This is a "disease" whose symptoms include holding down high paying jobs and being in stable long term relationships. How many websites are out there about "husband has aspergers"? honey if there was a problem why did you get married? why did you stay married? why did you have children and then more children? You didn't seem to mind living off his paycheque all those years or stuffing your face with prescription drugs off his benefits plan.

It took the APA a lot of courage to make this move. There is an enormous entrenched industry in big pharma and psychologists around the status quo. They won't give up the gravy train without a fight. We already see the media starting to mobilize with the ATV piece. I expect a lot more resistance.

equality and the Costa Concordia

Per Steyn there are reports of some of the men, including crew members, using their size advantage to jostle and push their way ahead of women to get to the life rafts. Well what do you expect in a culture where the captain himself scooted off early and left his crew and passengers to fend for their own lives, in some cases unsuccessfully.

At some level this seems wrong, at least untraditional. Then again going back to the 70s with feminism and the demands for equality, affirmative action, pay equity etc. All of these demands have been met. Then you could see equality means equal opportunity to fight for places on the lifeboats. The men could rationalize that you can't have it both ways. And there has been very little pointing out how the men behaved. Perhaps this is the manifestation of political correctness.


Speaking of political correctness. There is a dramatic distortion of proportion of expected value in the handling of the search and the gigantic full oil tanks on the ship. It is criminal that gear is on site ready to defuse the potentially devastating situation with the ships fuel hold, and they are told to delay while divers continue an incredibly inefficient and ineffective search for survivors.

Given the situation with the oil bunker and the damages that would occur if it erupts, versus the expectation of finding anyone alive in the vessel at this point, then quite obviously someone should have had the courage to stand up and call off the search days ago - by far the greatest priority at this point is to move swiftly to protect the environment and the thousands of people and wildlife in that area.

President Newt - why not

It was hard to believe when he first appeared on the campaign trail. This old fossil Newt Gingrich shows up and what's he doing?

Now he's surging and does he really have the right stuff to be president? First of all it's not too "unlikely" that he can win. After what happened 4 years ago America elected a black man, a community organizer, an unknown first term senator, as president. So Newt today is no more unlikely to actually win than Obama 4 years ago.

The other point is about Newt's, shall we say moral shortcomings. Well Newt apparently enjoys the company of beautiful women, and with his fame and stature as speaker of the house he may have had more access than most regular guys. Newt obviously does not believe in staying in a bad marriage and is cool with moving on when a marriage goes bad. Him and millions of others.

ok sure. There are two important points here. First that is stuff in his personal life away from work. It doesn't have any bearing on his ability to function as president. Second, and this is very important. Newt's "failings" in his personal life are no worse than Bill Clinton's and Clinton was never considered disqualified from running for or continuing as president.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

USA: go freeze in the dark

So America doesn't want the Keystone pipeline. What a crock! Here we are attempting to create thousands of high paying industrial blue collar union jobs in both countries in construction, manufacturing, transportation, engineering, services, etc. and America turns up their nose and says no.

Hard to believe. If America is supposedly so concerned about terrorism you would think they would want to wean themselves of terrorist Saudi oil. Apparently terrorism isn't an important issue after all.

You would think America would have figured out by now that you can't build an economy on CDOs and flipping condos. You need a real industrial base. Apparently they still don't understand that yet.

I hope Prime Minister Harper does the right thing and makes good his threat to sell the oil elsewhere, i.e. China. Build a pipeline to Vancouver instead and we'll put it on tankers to the Far East.

Monday, January 16, 2012


It was weird the first week back at work. I had trouble sleeping all week. I wasn't tired going to bed, and was waking up during the night and not getting back to sleep quickly.

On the Thursday I awoke around 1:30 and I don't think I got back to sleep, or not for much if I did. Finally gave up and looked at the clock: 5:30. Screw it got up for the day. I was surprisingly alert and untired all that day at work.

I can't recall this ever being an issue. For the last how many years it was just go to bed too late, asleep nearly instantly, up too early and tired. I thought maybe it was adjusting to being back at work after away for the three weeks. I wondered if it's aging, could be.

After that Friday I did pick up some Unisom. I heard their ad on House of Hair on Hal FM so I figured that would be as good as anything. As a consumer it's important to support businesses who sponsor shows I like. It was around $6 at Sobeys pharmacy.

I also changed to the comforter I was using before December on my bed. That seemed to help I think those sheets produce a more even heat during the night so I don't get too cool at the start or warm later and wake up. In any case I haven't even opened the unisom. After getting them I was able to get to sleep a bit better over an anxious weekend and since then it has been back close to historic norms. Plus I've been consistently sleeping through the night which is important.

I considered taking back the unisom but I think for $6 it's kind of a reassurance. I think just knowing it's there as a backup helps to relax; and then not even need it as kind of a self fulfilling prophesy. I don't take any medications and I really want to keep it that way as long as possible. It was pretty depressing at the Sobeys. Pills to get to sleep, pills to wake up, pills to stay awake. I wouldn't want to live like that.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Everything you need to know about Greece

As I've written before Greece is unworthy of bailout and should have been left to default on its debts and been kicked out of the Euro. This is what the German taxpayers and savers money is being used to pay for. This is a sampling of headlines just from today.

pedophilia is a disability and eligible for government disability pension

anarchists take over radio station. In the article note that trials are only now getting under way (in 2012) for a group accused firing a rocket-propelled grenade into the U.S. Embassy in Athens in 2007.

paintings worth millions stolen from museum. due to a strike there was only one guard working guarding many millions of dollars of easily removable inventory in a building with many points of entry and exit

Saturday, January 07, 2012


I deleted my facebook account. No drama or anything, facebook just wasn't fun any more so I decided to move on. Last fall I went through an exercise cutting my friends from about 150 to 125 or so. However I found my news feed was still clogged with people I don't know, people I don't like, people I don't care about. That and the endless blocking of apps.

So that's that. I haven't missed it or noticed it gone yet. I'll have to rejoin around December there's an annual ball hockey game organized on fb. Otherwise see how it goes.


I went to the Halifax oval last week with the kids. It was a good time. The ice is really good since it's now on a permanent poured concrete. It was quite a few people there on new years day. The ice is nearly arena quality. Some amenities have been added including a sit down warm up hut and a better organized seating area to lace up.


I made shake and bake tonight. I think it's been around 10 years since I made that. It turned out pretty well. I used chicken thighs as the meat. It was good. I looked at the chicken breasts but the price of them was obscene. I'll have to watch for specials on chicken breasts.


Heading out with a friend from away tonight. I think I'll suggest the Rodeo. It was a good time back in October there.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

World War Z by Max Brooks

Continuing the zombie theme, I finished up World War Z by Max Brooks. I borrowed it from my nephew and read it over the Christmas break.

It was a good and fast read. It was nice to be able to get through it in chunks over the break although I neglected some other activities I'd meant to do, oh well that's what vacation is for.

The book is the chronology of the zombie war from the earliest outbreaks through the Great Panic and beyond. Brooks tells the story from a unique perspective as a series of interviews across the world. It is a sweeping tale touching all continents.

Brooks is a recognized authority on zombies and you can tell he spent a lot of time thinking about how a global pandemic might play out. It's very believable.

That will be it for zombie reading for a bit. I've got at least one more zombie book to work through. But I'll look at some other nonfiction and other fiction first.