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.