Saturday, December 28, 2013

Nova Scotia demographic problems and solutions

In my previous post I discussed the severe problems and bleak future Nova Scotia faces due to a rapidly aging and shrinking population.

The greatest concern is the loss of 2,145 children from a group of 134,000. That's a horrible 1.6% lost in only the last year. If you project the 2,145 forward then in only about 62 years, around 3 generations, there will be no children left in Nova Scotia.

The loss can be attributed to children outmigrating from Nova Scotia with their parents among the 4,300 persons under age 65 who voluntarily left in the last year. Another problem is a low birth rate with more 14 year olds turning 15 than new babies being born.

The thing is, this youth group isn't the baby boomers or the children of baby boomers. So it's a distinct issue from that other major problem of the baby boom population aberration now aging and dying.


So what to do about it? Well I did promise solutions in the title. I got thinking about it the last couple of days and I realized I've actually already offered some solutions here on this site in earlier posts. So here they are.

here's a youth strategy and some ideas to increase the birth rate

here's a plan to shake off the malaise and reinvigorate the population

probably the biggest reason young working people are leaving Nova Scotia and taking their children with them is the severe lack of stable high paying blue collar jobs. here's a plan to reverse that and reestablish industrial and trades employment

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Farewell to Nova Scotia

I'd heard a while ago that Nova Scotia lost over 4,000 people in just the last year. I knew that was bad.

But it's more than bad. The base statscan data is just awful. The loss of 4,300 people leads the nation. There are also more deaths than births in Nova Scotia each year.

But it gets even worse if you look at it by age group. The -4,300 is much worse than it looks. As the senior 65+ age group gained 6,400. So among the non-seniors under age 65 Nova Scotia shed 10,700 persons.

Using the statscan age group breakdowns we can see that there are around 774,000 people under age 65 in Nova Scotia. That means the under 65 lost 1.4% in just the last year. This is horrible. Those feel like Detroit numbers.

Now some of the loss is older middle aged graduating into the 65+ group. So if we estimate the net 6,400 new seniors as coming from the previous 64 year olds then there's still the 4,300 who voluntarily left Nova Scotia. They voted themselves off the island. So 0.55%, or about 1 in 180 people under age 65 just chose to leave in the last year.

I don't have the data on how many 65+ seniors died in the last year vs how many 64s became seniors vs net seniors moving to or leaving Nova Scotia from other areas vs births and new people moving to Nova Scotia. I believe the estimate of 4,300 under 65s choosing to leave Nova Scotia is close.


So Nova Scotia is in decline. Possibly terminal decline. I'm not going to speculate why in this post. I don't really have a strong theory. In the last generation the PC, Liberal and NDP have all elected solid majorities. So the voters have definitely been willing to make changes. The results just haven't been there. But again I said I wouldn't attempt to understand why Nova Scotia is going extinct.

This isn't a recent development. I remember back around the millennium 1999 there was a remarkable statistic published. From 1970-2000 the number of births in Nova Scotia declined every single year. That's incredible, not even once in that span was there an increase. Well of course if you play that out long enough then eventually there will be a year when the number of births finally declines to zero. And a few decades after that final child is born then you just go voluntarily extinct.


Can it be turned around? Will Nova Scotia eventually find bottom and stabilize its population at some lower point? What would that point be 700,000, 500,000, 300,000? Again probably not to speculate on in this post. Right now it doesn't look good. As long as deaths outnumber births and people leaving outnumber people moving in then it won't stabilize, it will just eventually wind all the way down.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Timeline by Michael Crichton

I finished another book. Timeline by Michael Crichton. It was a good book. A fast paced Crichton read. In the book a group in France is excavating a 14 century site with castles on opposite sides of a river. The work is sponsored by a secretive company called ITC from Arizona. While doing the excavation the team finds an unexpected document on ancient parchment. Another unexpected document arrives via a man found mumbling incoherently in the Arizona desert. The France researchers realize ITC knows more about the site as it was in the 14th century than they should and they are summoned back to Arizona.

Back in AZ ITC has been working on a fantastic device. Based on the famous double-slit experiments where it was shown that every electron in the universe somehow "knows" about every other electron. They exploit the multiverse to show with some leaps of logic that it is possible to travel back in time. The modern researchers are sent back to 14th century France to find and bring back their professor who went back a few days earlier and then failed to return.

Typical Crichton techno thriller there are numerous unexpected twists both in France in the past and in USA in the present. The transporters only work for 37 hours and it's a race against time on both sites to bring the researchers back.

I liked this book. It was from a good phase in Chrichton's career. Crichton does the "grad students thrown into crazy situation" theme pretty well and this is a strong title.

I found the book at Doull's, a fine store. I thought I might be finished with Crichton but on the sites I can see there's still a couple titles left.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

switched to FibreOP

I'm writing this from Internet provided by Aliant FibreOP. They were in this week and did the install on Thursday. It's been working well so far. I was thinking of switching and there was a deal with a 42 inch TV to switch so I made the jump. Nice intro price $99 for the first three months. Then it just goes to what I had to pay Eastlink so no cost increase. The TV should be in by Christmas.

It's nice having some HD channels now. It will take some getting used to the new channel numbers but everything I cared about from the past is still there. The PVR is something that I've heard about but never used. Another nice throw in.

I now have a landline number again for the first time in many years. I still have to get a phone for it though. I don't need an answering machine as there's voicemail thrown in. It will be nice to have a reliable number again the cell can be sketchy where I live. I'll have to think about the phone. I might get a cordless.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rant: An Oral Biography Of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk

I finished another Palahniuk title Rant: An Oral Biography Of Buster Casey. it was pretty good. it's the posthumous story of an oddball named Rant Casey told by his friends and others who knew him. Rant becomes famous after his death for being patient zero in a major epidemic of a new strain of rabies.

the book was a bit hard to follow as there are symbols such as moon and sun next to the writers. the book is written in world war z style from the perspective of those who knew Rant. also there's reference very early on to things like party crashing and boosting which aren't explained until later. and important characters like Echo are intermingled early on with filler childhood friends. so you have to untangle things as you go.

as the story unfolds there are some major reveals which are done in a satisfying way. Palahniuk uses this major reveal technique well as he also did in Fight Club. the author was probably on to something with the ability in the ability to record and playback your sensory reality as you perceived it at the time. with Google glass we're moving in that direction now. so no need to climb Mt. Everest just do a playback from someone who got there and experience for yourself what it's like to reach the summit.

like all of the Palahniuk stuff I've read it makes you think. he touches on some deep topics like social segregation, fitting in, duty. I'm continuing chipping away at Chuck's work. will read some more when I get another chance.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fracking in Nova Scotia

So there's an election coming up in Nova Scotia. One issue that's discussed is about energy and related power rates.

There seem to be a couple schemes being floated. one is to pipeline oil from Alberta to the east. another is to build an undersea cable from the Muskrat Falls project in Labrador to deliver electricity to Nova Scotia. also seems to be some Quebec power scheme lurking in the wings

these ideas to me all sound crazy. it would cost many billions to even set this infrastructure up before the first watt of power actually arrived here. and after what happened in Quebec I don't know why people are so eager to try to move oil such a vast distance from Alberta

there seems to be an agreed code of silence between the political parties and the media about fracking in Nova Scotia. the NDP has made it clear by their actions they don't want fracking, and that's their mandate. but what about the other parties? and why doesn't the media at least ask?

it's crazy to bring power from Newfoundland and Alberta when the same energy is sitting right here in our own land. fracking is safe, mature technology. they've been doing it in Michigan for over 50 years and their lakes and rivers are still pristine.

if this election like every election is allegedly about jobs and growing the economy as the politicians claim blah blah blah then why not frack and actually do something that would create the high paying industrial rural blue collar union jobs right here in Nova Scotia instead of in other provinces or overseas?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Flesh Eaters by Joe McKinney

I finished up another zombie book. It was Flesh Eaters by Joe McKinney.

It was a good book. A typical McKinney fast and compelling read. This book is the origin of the dead city series. The story of where it begins in Houston. After 4 major hurricanes in two weeks Houston is badly flooded. Among all the death and rot and oil refinery chemicals stewing in the water the necrosis filovirus emerges.

The book is the story of two police officers in the Houston PD working in the emergency task force and their families. Sergeant Eleanor Norton and her boss Captain Mark Shaw. They are working together at the command centre at a Houston University. As the zombies emerge and overrun the university and the city it's a struggle to survive and get their families out and try to help the dwindling and desperate survivors as best they can. In the McKinney style their paths intersect through the story.

The McKinney zombies are interesting. They aren't the "undead". only a living person who is bitten by a zombie and then turns before dying of some other cause becomes a zombie. which makes more sense if you think about it; it's a bit like rabies or ebola in that sense. after all how can someone who is dead get some infection or virus or any condition.

I got the book at the library. they ordered it in for me. it's always a treat to be the first person to read a brand new library book. so I checked and I guess there's still two more in the dead city series to read. I'll definitely be looking for them to finish off this great series.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The reducto ad absurdium of government health care in Nova Scotia

It would be comic if it wasn't so tragic. This week a series of errors were revealed in Nova Scotia cancer treatment. highlights include one person getting a needless mastectomy while another who was supposed to didn't get the operation. Also there was apparently a mixup around biopsies between two other people and someone got scheduled for another person's procedure.

The whole thing is pretty unsurprising, given the money line from the article "no one will be disciplined as a result of these incidents". yep see you tomorrow, hey it's just cancer and everyone dies eventually of something so whatever.

the quote was hardly necessary. the media has been so passivized and cowed by the monopoly health care system that I haven't seen a single call for accountability for this or anyone to be fired or even disciplined. not in the herald and not on atv news either. just vague calls for more spending.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Picked it up at a yard sale I happened by with the kids one day. The guy wanted $2 for it. I offered a quarter. He said I could have it for free.

I'd heard of it but never read it. It was interesting. Only 35 pages and not too hard to read. The major points seem to be the workers seizing control of the means of production, abolishing of private property, and ban religion.

In chapter 2 there's a 10 point plan for the proletariat. Interesting that at least some of those items have been implemented.

In chapter 3 there's a survey of various other socialist and workers parties at the time of the writing in 1848. Later in a forward to a 1872 English translation Marx and Engels point out that "... the progress of history has swept from off the earth the greater portion of the political parties there enumerated". That remains true to this day. Marxism undeniably lives on while political parties and even countries have come and gone.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Stranger Than Fiction by Chuck Palahniuk

Continuing the Chuck Palahniuk series, I finished Stranger Than Fiction {True Stories}. It was pretty good. An easier read and less intense and disturbing than the novels of his I've read.

This is post Fight Club written in 2004 and the author is a bit more self aware shall we say. The book is a series of essays in several sections. The first section is crazy stuff Chuck saw through America like an annual demolition derby of farm combines. The middle section Chuck seems to be visiting/interviewing interesting offbeat type celebrities like Juliette Lewis and Marilyn Manson. The third section is Chuck writing in his own voice about meeting Brad Pitt (who recurs throughout the book), Hollywood life, the experience of being a famous author, his relationship with this father and the deaths in his family on his fathers side. He also discusses writing and some authors and writing style Chuck admires.

You would definitely have to read Fight Club first to appreciate this book. I liked it. Chuck is lucky, the former technical writer sitting in some corporate office writing about diesel engine drivetrains, then boom, this book he wrote and had pretty much forgotten becomes a phenomenon and Chuck becomes an unlikely part of the New York / LA scene - he seems to love every minute of it. I hope would too if that happened to me.

There's still some more Palahniuk to go through and I enjoy his work. So will continue this series.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

the Decline of Detroit

When I was growing up I always thought Detroit was this cool place. I wanted to go there.

So Detroit is bankrupt. $18 billion of debt among 700,000 residents. over $25k per resident. when you account for the dependant classes, the 47% (more than that there), it's probably around $60k per actual working taxpayer or business owner. yep, that's unserviceable, bankrupt. still the band plays on. at the time of the filing Detroit was seeking to borrow even more to cover a deficit this year of over $400 million.

municipal debt is interesting in that residents can repudiate paying their share just by moving out of the district. leaving their neighbours holding the bag. meh, I don't blame them, it's not like they were consulted in the borrowing of all this debt in the first place. the people who voted with their feet and left Detroit did so for a reason.

in Canada a lot of us know a bit more about Detroit. back around 1990-1992 or so for some reason the American channels we got were Detroit. the Detroit news was so bad, all crime, murder, mayhem, racial tension.

it's strange nobody ever seems to point out that the era of Halifax race based disturbances coincided with Detroit news being beamed in. and the Detroit narrative was cut off shortly after the troubles in Halifax appeared. not missed at all. the local news out of Boston and Rochester is just so much better and more positive.

what's most remarkable to me about Detroit is the swiftness of the decline. in the 1950s it was the fourth largest city in America. in the early 1960s Detroit was the wealthiest city per capita in the country. it only took two generations to transform Detroit from the most prosperous city in the land to the blight and bankruptcy it is today.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

50th anniversary

My parents had their 50th anniversary a little while ago. It was a good get together, kept it small.

I had the task to put together a slide show. I found the old 1960s projector from Eatons at my parents place. Plugged it in at my place and it seemed to work. Then smoke and sparks started flying out of it! I quickly unplugged and blew out the flames from the front panel. Put it outside on the concrete as a precaution.

So that was that. Luckily on kijiji there were a few projectors and I was able to get a good one c. early 1980s for $30. kijiji is awesome.

It took a while to to through the reels of slides and come up with a set for the party. But I was able to come up with a reel of 100 and about 25 more in a second reel. If I really tried I could have cut it down to one reel but nah. The slide show went over well so I was glad about that. My younger son ran the clicker. The slides ran from the mid 1960s to about 1980.

So now it's done. It's been a lot of change since the 40th and 25th anniversaries. Some for the better and some not so. It was good that this 50th was able to happen.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk

I finished another book recently. It was Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk. I'd found the book a bit by accident. I just picked a shelf at random in the library and it happened to be in the Ps. I recognized the author of course from Fight Club so it was an easy pick.

It was an interesting book. A bit more intense and darker in ways than Fight Club. If that's possible. The book is about the last survivor of a religious cult Tender Branson. A greasy and opportunistic agent has a scheme to parlay Tender's last man standng status into a global celebrity and marketing/merchandise brand.

Typical of the author, it was a book that makes you think. About religion, happiness, identity, suicide, personal choice and fate. I'm not completely sure what it was all about. It was a good read, funny in parts, painful and disturbing in parts. The author as is his style uses lots of science in describing the arts of being a housekeeper and getting out stains of everything from tears, bruises, lipstick to blood. All in all a good read and there are a couple more by Palahniuk that I will definitely read.

Monday, May 20, 2013

NHL hall of fame inductees 2000-2012

Following my previous post I went over the modern NHL hall of fame inductees. I focused on the modern era of inductees 2000-2012.

Yes I know it's called the hockey hall of fame but I only care about the recently retired NHL players. So from the list I deleted Soviet, women's players, and old time veterans category.

This is the list from the 13 induction classes.

Joe Mullen
Denis Savard
Mike Gartner
Dale Hawerchuk
Jari Kurri
Bernie Federko
Clark Gillies
Rod Langway
Grant Fuhr
Pat LaFontaine
Ray Bourque
Paul Coffey
Larry Murphy
Cam Neely
Patrick Roy
Mark Messier
Al MacInnis
Scott Stevens
Ron Francis
Glenn Anderson
Brett Hull
Brian Leetch
Luc Robitaille
Steve Yzerman
Dino Ciccarelli
Ed Belfour
Doug Gilmour
Mark Howe
Joe Nieuwendyk
Pavel Bure
Adam Oates
Joe Sakic
Mats Sundin

That's a fine list and certainly any hockey fan would have heard of all of these and recognize them all.

One thing I noticed is the size of the list. In 13 years there were 33 inducted. That's over 2.5 per year. So for any given decade the NHL believes there are over 4 full starting units of Hall worthy players. Which leads to the big question.

Is it the Hall of Fame or the Hall of Very Good?

This is a question baseball has also struggled with. "Who is a hall of famer?" Well in my previous post I showed that it can be approached systematically which would strip off a lot of the subjective bias and popular "feel good" inductees. By setting a "quota" of say 2 active retired a year then the overall integrity of the Hall can be preserved while ensuring that no major injustices occur about anyone being left out. The NHL has chosen the more inclusive path.

The current process is the selection is done by committee and face to face in a group meeting. This creates a couple of issues which could lead to an expansionist trend in Hall admission. One is the "slippery slope" type argument. It goes something like, If Joe Mullen is in, then Bernie Federko is in, then Ron Francis is in, then Glenn Anderson is in. While there's some value in comparables in setting a bar, it can set the lower bound too low if one time a single bubble player gets through.

Another possible issue would be horse trading. Suppose there were two hypothetical HOF voters in the 2000s. One likes Ron Francis but is against Glenn Anderson. Another is the opposite, for Anderson but against Francis. It would be pretty easy for a side conversation something like this to occur. "I'll vote for Francis this year if you will vote for Anderson next year. Deal."

Now with a quota both of these weaknesses go away, as the line is drawn somewhere and perhaps somewhat arbitrarily some will be on one side and some on the other. But it would force hall voters to make tough and probably unpopular decisions but it would probably be for the best for the HOF.

I'm pretty sure 2.5 per year is too high for hockey and the NHL would be better cutting back to a range of 2 - 2.25 inductees per year. From the list above I could cut 4-7 names without trying too hard and the Hall would be no worse off.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

NHL hall of fame worksheet

An interesting subject my older son likes to discuss is who among today's NHL players will eventually make the hockey hall of fame. The interesting part to talk about is the players who are or might be on the bubble. Lock players like Martin Brodeur or Nicklas Lidström aren't interesting because they are basically already in. Players like Tim Thomas or Vincent Lecavalier are good because it's a bit more subjective where they will fit in.

I got thinking it could be looked at or projected more systematically. The way is by setting a "number" of active players who will make the hall of fame each season. Suppose the number is two. Then each decade 20 players will make the hall. Now that fits well with hockey as a starting unit is six players, goalie, two defence and three forwards.

So in a given decade it should roughly fall to three full units plus two floaters from any position should be about right. So 3 goalies, 6 defencemen, 9 forwards, and 2 worthy extras from any position.

Now from this start the guesswork can actually be largely be taken out using a spreadsheet and publicly available seasonal information. Create a spreadsheet for the 2000s decade which will be the players under discussion. Create slots for the 20 inductees by position.

Now for each season 2000-2001 through 2009-2010 get the major data from that season. The major trophy winners, all stars, scoring leaders (esp. 50 goals and 100 points), goalie leaders such as wins, GAA and shutouts, scoring leaders among defencemen, playoff leaders. also notable achievements such as the captain and starting goalie of the Stanley Cup winning team, and career milestones such as 500 goals, 1000 points, or setting a record or positional record.

By showing this category data side by side for the 10 seasons the leaders will quickly jump off. Use those to fill the slots by position. There's a bit of judgment involved as some players like Brodeur belong to the 1990s decade so leave them off. Still after going through it that would make it a lot clearer among the bubble players. This would be a good exercise for my son or any hockey fan interested in a do it yourself Hall of fame projector.

The main driver among these bubble players is the crucial "per year" number. In this example I set it at 2 which I feel is fair and no truly worthy player is left out of the Hall here (especially with the two extra floater slots). In my next post I'll use the actual NHL numbers and draw some conclusions.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Nova Scotia youth hockey checking ban

Recently a new rule has been added that no checking in Nova Scotia minor hockey through to the midget level.

Of course the IWK was all over it in favor along with the Comical Herald cheerleading. Allegedly this is about safety. But don't be fooled. This is part of a none too subtle agenda to feminize and wussify hockey. Here's all you need to know.

There's no checking in women's hockey.

Therefore there will be no checking in hockey.
And that's it. This ban applies to 17 year old midget players. It is preposterous that a 17 year old is considered "too young" or "too small" to receive a check or "might quit hockey" after going to the bench crying after getting hit once.

If this was about 11 year old peewee players then why not just make it on peewee? The reason it was extended to 17 year olds is to enable the next step which will be this.

"if 17 year olds are too vulnerable for checking then everyone is too vulnerable. thus we will ban checking in hockey just like the women did."

Friday, May 10, 2013

Keith Colwell Nova Scotia legislature fight

If Percy Paris is so obsessed with who represents Preston then why didn't he just run for the Preston district himself in the last election? Oh yeah, it's because he knew he couldn't beat Keith Colwell in a straight up election - even in an NDP landslide.

If Percy Paris is so obsessed with who represents Preston then why doesn't he challenge Colwell for the seat in the next provincial election? Oh yeah, the same reason he wouldn't run against Colwell in the last election. Colwell is a good man who has beaten other good men like Bill Dooks for that seat. It would take a good man to win that seat off Colwell, hence Percy is no match.

Colwell would have been better to just take care of business straight up fight the bully Paris instead of calling the police.

In the news reports coming from the Paris camp on Thursday I haven't seen the race card played that often since the OJ trial. Instead of being a man and taking responsibility for his actions Paris is apparently trying erect some some race curtain to hide behind. and lol at Percy trying to represent himself as a model of restraint afterwards. your actions speak for themselves Percy.

At the very next opportunity Colwell should stand in the legislature, look Percy straight in the eye, pound on his desk, and shout out "I REPRESENT PRESTON". Don't back down Keith and don't be intimidated. The voters already decided who represents Preston and if Percy wants that role then let Percy do the honourable thing for once and challenge you in the Preston district of the people he claims to represent.


edit: correct the name of Mr. Dooks

Thursday, May 02, 2013

some possibly bad golf putting advice

I have a golf calendar at work. I got it from my uncle who owns a successful business installing auto glass. On the May entry it states the standard line about putting to "don't come up short". This is of course because all putts that land short of the hole will not go in, while any putt that at least reaches the hole may sink.

Now that seems fairly intuitive but it may not actually be true. This is because in order to always reach the hole, you need to pace your shot so that it plans to land a little bit past the hole. This is of so that if your shot doesn't go as far as planned then by being short of target it will still reach the cup. Also among strong players faster putts travel on a truer line and so tend to sink more often.

Consider the following situation. A golf pro and a casual player (handicap 15+) face a 12 foot putt. What strategy should be used. Now for the pro it's clear to be aggressive and attempt to hit it into the hole, aiming say 2 feet past the hole (so the putt reaches the hole and with enough speed). For the pro this strategy makes sense for a couple of reasons.

The pro's putts will mostly land within say a two foot radius of his target landing point. So if he misses the putt then he will still be in good shape on the next putt.

The pro can efficiently convert longer 4-7 foot second putts. So if say the pro is unlucky and his first putt lips out and ends up 6 feet away this isn't terrible as the 6 footer is very makeable for the pro. So the correct strategy for the pro is to be aggressive and make a strong putt with enough speed to land past the hole.

Now for the amateur things are different. The amateur is not able to control his landing radius as well so his radius is more like 3 feet and many, but still fewer, of his putts will land in this primary radius.

Also for the amateur being left with a second putt over 3 feet is a disaster as the amateur converts far fewer of these 4+ foot second putts.

From here we can see that it is possible that the correct strategy for the amateur may not be the same as the correct pro strategy. It is not difficult to devise a realistic circumstance where the amateur should aim at the cup, not past it, and accept coming up short half the time.

Consider this situation. An amateur is facing a 12 foot putt.

if he aims to land right at the hole
  • 10% of the time he will be lucky and will sink the putt
  • 80% of the time his second shot will be within 3 feet
  • 10% of the time his second shot will be 4 feet or more

if he aims the putt a bit past the hole
  • 20% of the time he will sink the putt
  • 50% of the time his second shot will be within 3 feet
  • 30% of the time his second shot will be 4 feet or more

in all cases this is his conversion efficiency on second putts

  • within 3 feet he will convert 92% of the time and 3 putt 8% of the time
  • from 4+ feet he will convert 24% of the time and 3 putt 76%

Plugging this into a simple spreadsheet we can see that the conservative strategy has an expectation of  2.04 putts. The aggressive pro strategy has an expectation of 2.07 putts (despite 1 putting twice as often). Thus the correct play is to ignore the tv pro advice and accept often coming up short.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Gaiety Theatre

Ah where to start. Seems like we've been constantly bombarded with gay this, gay that, for how many years now. A break from having to hear about it would sure be nice.

Anyway same-sex marriage. I hadn't invested much time thinking about this subject. I guess by indifference I didn't care enough about it one way or the other to be against it. For some reason it occurred to me recently I realized that I am against it. Marriage is marriage is one male and one female and that's that. I'm not obligated to explain, justify or defend it. It's how I feel and I think I'm right.

Now if people choose to be in a same-sex relationship and live together, well that's their personal choice of course and it is not my concern. Realistically if they are living together as a couple then it seems proper they would receive benefits from work and such. So why deny actual marriage? I'll say it's for the good of society to keep marriage as traditionally defined. Thus I don't really feel to bad asking gays to suck it up and live with the disappointment and go without this marriage thing. It hardly matters anyway in Canada as the elites in power have made it the law and it's not going to be reopened. sigh, I just wish I didn't have to hear the drumbeat at least once every single day I turn on the radio or tv or open a newspaper.

Then that other thing. Trans washrooms or whatever. sigh, I heard the IWK put this in or something, our tax money at work. I'll have to remember that at telethon time. Anyway I'm also against these special washrooms. Boys go to boys washroom and girls go to girls washroom. A male is still a male regardless of how he thinks, dresses or acts. So suck it up and go to the boys bathroom.

Interestingly the more logical approach to the trans washrooms is to do what was done with marriage and throw it all wide open. So anyone can go to any bathroom of their choosing. Like marriage, do away with the concept of separate washrooms for men and women; no restrictions on gender. Funny I can't seem to think of a good argument against that. Still I will come out and say I'm also against eliminating gender specific washrooms.

Who knows maybe we will see it, and before you might expect. After all as recently as 1996 it was liberal Bill Clinton signed the Defence of Marriage Act; and up to late 2012 Obama was at least nominally against gay marriage. So who knows what's next on the agenda.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Halifax bars closing and demographics

In recent times few well known Halifax bars have closed. Pogue Fado shut down. Palace closed. Some other place called G Lounge I admit I'd never heard of closed.

Now bars will always come and go so maybe it is just statistical variance that three have closed in a short time. But maybe there's an underlying dynamic.

It's the next phase of the same problem faced in the education system. In the school system every single year for many years now there have been fewer grade primaries than the year before, and so on to fewer grade 12s each year for many years (well it started with the decline in primaries and around a decade later it was to the 12s). Now roll that forward into the key 19-24 demographic that is crucial to the downtown bar scene.

With fewer young partiers and a generally aging population there are just less customers to go around and some consolidation of the bar scene would be expected. Suppose Halifax can support say 1 downtown bar for every 5,000 19-24 yr olds. Then if there are say 50,000 of these then that would amount to about 10 downtown bars. If that declines to say 35,000 19-24 year olds then the market can support around 7 bars.

The boom in university enrolment, along with migration to Halifax from rural areas, papered over this trend of declining birth rate for a few years. But with the rural areas more depleted of young people to move to the city, and the decline in grade 12s now affecting university enrolment, then the trend of declining numbers of young people is now in Halifax as well.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

events in the community

some random thoughts about all the front page news this week

first and foremost, in no circumstance do I accept any concept of shared or discounted responsibility for the people who choose to commit crime. the criminal, not the victim, is always fully responsible for his own actions and personal decisions. let me reemphasize that before even beginning

now that's out of the way, you won't be seeing me walking alone through Mulgrave park at 2 AM Sunday morning with my wallet out counting through the paper cash

  • there's a reason the minimum drinking age in Nova Scotia is 19
  • especially women, at house parties, be careful. many assaults are unplanned crimes of opportunity
  • be aware and in control of the situation. don't be so intoxicated to be vulnerable or your safety relies on others who may be too drunk to look out for you
  • at bars and house parties be very careful around people you don't know
  • when drinking don't be alone with people you don't know or may not be able to trust
  • be with and stay with a reliable friend(s) at parties and bars. don't become isolated, especially around people you don't know 
  • without toxicology or rape kit physical evidence from the night it happened it would seem to be super tough to get a conviction
  • probably a relevant precedent would be the Denver football rape case. if Cox was acquitted even after his friend turned and testified against him and the physical and circumstantial case, then I could see why they didn't proceed to trial in the Nova Scotia Parsons case
  • a defence lawyer might have taken a similar tack, "we were drunk out of our minds. apparently we had sex. I don't remember." it's tough to establish no consent in that type of case. remember the burden of proof is on the accuser
  • being drunk at the time greatly damages your ability to be a witness in a court case later on
  • regarding Anonymous and naming names of the four boys. well the four cleared the criminal hurdle apparently. thus the only objection would seem to be privacy. well Rehtaeh's privacy was certainly violated and they were party to that. and it was them who took and caused to be distributed the notorious photo. thus they have no real privacy claim. especially considering the notorious picture was so widely distributed to be effectively public domain. thus I can't personally see any objection to anyone holding their names to go ahead and publish
  • lots of tough talk on the internet these days. careful what you say. everything can be traced and you're responsible for it. don't start what you can't finish

Monday, April 01, 2013

Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez

I finished of another Daniel Suarez book. It was Kill Decision. It was pretty good. I was motivated to read another Suarez title after enjoying the Daemon series.

In the story an American ant researcher McKinney in Africa narrowly escapes a drone attack in the middle of the night. She's saved by a shadowy operative named Odin and his very well trained special forces style group. There have been sporadic drone attacks across the United States and Odin says he is on a mission to track their source after saving Professor McKinney. The liberal, peace activist academic McKinney turns out to be important to the emerging "drone war" because of her research and software model on weaver ants turns out to be applicable on a larger scale with drones.

As usual with Suarez it's a bit hard to figure out who are the good and bad guys. The US government and its heavy reliance on private contractors whose loyalty is to profit, I couldn't really tell if Odin and his team were trustworthy.

Suarez in his style takes some emerging trends such as drones and autonomous software agents and moves it forward in a compelling near future science fiction. He sees drones becoming smaller, around the size of lawnmowers or dolphins. Manufactured in large numbers from off the shelf components, suddenly nations like China can undermine US technology and military economic supremacy and upset the geopolitical balance.

It was a good story. It takes a while to get untracked. The author finishes strong in the last 100 pages or so. I think the biggest knock is that it was so hard to follow up to the Daemon which was so good. Although Suarez doesn't do as good a job of developing the characters. I found them cardboard, lacking dimension, and I just didn't connect with or care about them all that much. I kept hoping Mosely, the Major, Loki or the Daemon itself would make an appearance and liven things up and bring the characters to life. My favourite characters were the ravens Huginn and Muninn.

Still it was a good book and worth reading. The stuff about drones makes you think. His observations on possible implications of drones in naval warfare was quite interesting

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Canada banking situation

Considering events in Nicosia it is startling the announcement this week that Canada's six largest banks have now been deemed too big to fail. hmmm, I mean why would the government make such an announcement at this time? Especially in the unmistakable backdrop of the situation in Cyprus. Is there concern that one or more of the majors is in trouble? Is there a quiet, electronic bank run going on? The domestic money is stuck, we can't pull out or go anywhere (nor are we inclined to). How much foreign capital is deposited in Canada's banks, and are they quietly pulling out or threatening to pull out.

By announcing this while Cyprus is going on could be interpreted as a signal that all deposits will be protected, there will be no "haircut" on depositors in any scenario. This renders deposit insurance (capped at $100k) now effectively infinite. Again, why would the government make such an assurance. Although everyone implicitly understands and accepts that the federal government would intervene for a major bank in Canada to prevent a disorderly failure; in the past the implicit understanding was strong enough. So by coming out now with an explicit announcement it is actually a sign of weakness, not strength. After all before now there was never a need to make such an announcement, the combination of the strength of the institutions, and the implicit social federal guarantee were sufficient.

It's a concern. After all it was just a couple of years ago that the federal government created $70 billion out of thin air and swapped this raw clean cash for a portfolio of dodgy mortgages off the banks books. I just realized now that the government by doing that very quietly created a "bad bank" to be presumably eventually wound down. Speaking of Canada's bad bank, what is the status of the people's $70 billion investment? Who is managing this portfolio, how many of the mortgages have gone into foreclosure, what are the losses at this point on the $70 billion portfolio now that inventory of listings is rising fast and housing prices are set to stall and then decline? Why does the media and opposition never speak of this or ask any tough questions, or even any questions at all for that matter?

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

A little while back I read Fight Club. It was a good book. It was a bit hard to read despite being only 200 pages. The first time I got to page 80 then left it. It was a bit strange and painful experiences. Later I got it again at the library on my son's recommendation and finished it.

It's a book about men. A book for men. There are hardly any female characters and they are generally viewed as objects. It's a book about identity and the modern man. The book is told from the perspective of a nameless narrator. That's a running theme, the contemporary man is nobody with no identity. Later in project mayhem again the men are parts who have to do something special to get a name, an identity.

In the book the nameless narrator is a corporate wonk living alone in a condo with Ikea furniture and an Audi. He meets up with Tyler Durden. Tyler has a name, Tyler gets the girl Marla, Tyler is dynamic, a doer, a winner, a somebody, Tyler leads the Fight Club.

This book was in some ways ahead of its time. Reading the book I sometimes thought of occupy wall street. Tyler is subversive, despising and attacking corporate greed, shallow individual materialism and the wealthy. Tyler dreams of stalking elk from the ruins of the Rockefeller center and drying out fish on the abandoned 8 lane loop highway around Chicago. Alas OWS hadn't a shadow of Tyler's character.

It was a good book. A book that makes you think. I believe Fight Club would be a good book to use in high school or undergrad university English as there is a fair bit in there to think and write about.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The 4,000 mile African front

A recent piece on John Kerry about al Qaeda in Africa was interesting. Pull up a map of Africa and list countries where there is a north-south civil war along religious lines with Islam in the north. Mali, Nigeria, Sudan.

String them together and the broader picture becomes clearer. These "separate" conflicts are part of a larger pan African campaign as Islam expands from the middle east across north Africa and pushes south by force. Never mind about some imaginary al Qaeda bogeyman. That's a convenient distraction to avoid thinking about what's really happening.

There's also a northward campaign into Europe but for now the demographics and situation requires a different approach in Europe.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

President for life Obama

There is a remarkable, incredible story in the news this week. Obama orders judges to overturn law Congress passed. Think about it for a moment. As president, Obama's role is to work with Congress to create new laws, and repeal bad or obsolete laws.

Yet here Obama is openly bypassing Congress and attempting to issue executive orders to the "independent" judiciary to get a law he disapproves of repealed. If Obama wants the Defense of Marriage Act gone then why doesn't he ask Congress to repeal it? After all the law originated in Congress and it would be to Congress to repeal it. That's how law is supposed to work in a checks and balances system.

Is contempt of Congress a crime? Because that's what Obama's actions amount to. Refusing to acknowledge Congress' powers under the constitution, openly defying and undermining Congress. Because that's what it is. This act is nearly 20 years old. If it was unconstitutional then it is preposterous to believe that activist lawyers and the courts would just "realize" that today.

So what's next? If Obama can blow off working with elected Congress and by fiat order unelected judges (who he appointed) to just wipe off the books laws Obama finds inconvenient, then what's next? Perhaps the president can continue to push the envelope and order his judges to create new laws that he wants. Maybe the judiciary could be "urged" to agree that law can originate with executive order from the president, and Congress role is just to consult in some undefined manner.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Nova Scotia fishing tragedy

The top news here this week has been the Miss Ally sinking. A week ago the fishing vessel was lost and 5 young fisherman on board perished.

Since then I can say I'm shocked but not surprised by the case from the government and the media. Luckily at the time of this writing, by some miracle, the overturned ship has again been found. Incredibly it was found 5 days ago by the coast guard, then they somehow managed to lose track of it, leaving it to sink!

That makes no sense. If the idea was to find survivors / bodies then when they found the capsized vessel originally, what would the coast guard think to do?

  • how about mosey up to the fishing boat and put a specialist diver in the water to check for bodies? after all, they were looking for bodies so why didn't it cross anyone's mind to check in the vessel for bodies
  • how about attach a line to the boat. if they can't turn it upright in place then fine, but if it's sitting in the water then surely it could be towed to port. or at least stay with it and keep track of where it is
remarkably, incredibly, the coast guard just voluntarily sailed away Tuesday, leaving the capsized vessel with bodies possibly aboard (they apparently didn't bother to check) to sink or whatever. losing its location.

it fell to the fishermen from the village to launch their own mission to locate and recover the Miss Ally to embarrass the coast guard / navy to act to only now attempt to re-locate and recover the vessel. shame on them both. what are we paying these people all of these millions a dollars a year for?

the media coverage has also been pretty bad. in the first hours it was reported that a US coast guard plane had spotted a life raft and a flare. since then the local media has completely dropped the ball. no follow up with the US coast guard. no follow up as to what happened to the life raft and where it might be now, or if there may have been survivors or bodies on it.

no follow up about the flare. was there a flare? it is possible for flares to be launched automatically without human intervention? also the media failed to put any pressure on the coast guard to stay with the capsized vessel once it was found, and was very passive in the reporting of the decision of the coast guard to just sail away without bringing the Miss Ally back or even bothering to check the vessel for bodies

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The greatness of Optico wipes

There's a remarkably good screen wipe. It's Optico wipes. I discovered them at work they have them in the office supplies.

This is superior technology. They are awesome for eyewear, electronics, monitor, flat screen tv, game console, keyboard, mouse, joystick, cell phone, tablet, computer desk, printer, speakers. They produce a real dust and grime grabbing clean.

I was looking for them for my own use at home. Alas they are a bit hard to find despite being such a great product. I felt like buying them and trying to retail them locally they are so good. You can find them at Staples under the brand name iCloth in the computer cleaning section if you look. It's $10 for a 40 pack which is ok for a premium product.

The best price on Optico wipes is interestingly at Henry's the photography place. With Henry's it's only $3 for a 16 pack. The catch is $10 shipping on orders under $50. What you could do is post on Facebook asking your friends to go in together on an order. If a few people go in for 2-3 boxes each then together you will get to the free shipping threshold and get the great price.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Investments again

I made a couple of tweaks to a couple of investments the last few days.

There's a GIC my parents bought for one of my kids that I ended up now managing. The last deal was good, a 5 year stepper finishing at over 7% in the final year. Pretty good for a GIC.

So the TD bank called after sending the notice in the mail that the GIC was maturing. so back to the branch to figure out what to do with the rollover. The TD person was pleasant and knowledgeable. She suggested a more comprehensive personal financial review at the start of the sit down. I explained that with RRSP I get 100% matching from work with Manulife. And this investment is something my parents bought for my son. So I just needed to deal with this GIC rollover and that was that. We quickly moved on to the GIC.

Well my son is nearly in high school so a 5 year scheme isn't in the time frame for an education oriented investment. Additionally the rates on the 5 yr stepper now suck. After going over some options I decided on a 3 year scheme at 1.95% a year. Not great but should be good enough for its purpose.

Over to my own RRSP. I did a small amount of research on dividends a few weeks back. After noticing that Aliant pays 7% a year dividends and their shares have been in a $26-$31 band basically since at least the middle 1990s I wanted to try to get some of this dividend action. If I could I would just put like 40% or whatever of my Manulife RRSP into Aliant and take the 7%. Alas of course it's not so easy. Anyway I deleted a 15% money market and 5% 1 yr fixed allocation from my instructions. I shifted the 20% into 5% of four funds, 3 large cap Canadian and 1 balanced fund which is something like 40% equities.

And with that Manulife grades my selections as "moderate", up from "conservative". Which I think is about right. What they call the "balanced" approach I think is too much stock market / non and low dividend shares. I'm still getting 100% on my own money that I put in due to matching so hopefully this new allocation will give a slightly better yield. I mean retirement is something that's out there, right now say 21 years away. Who knows what might happen in those years but hopefully on a track to a reasonable future standard of living if I can get there.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

500% deposit bonus on

Check out this ALC sign up bonus they have been advertising on Yahoo. For new players if you put in $2 and buy a 6/49 ticket online ALC will credit you $10 in your account.

That amounts to a 500% deposit bonus on the $2. It's actually a bit better than that because as I show in the post below the $2 ticket has around 68 cents of equity.

The $10 bonus is unrestricted clear money in your account and you don't have to put it in play. You can withdraw it direct as straight cash.

Atlantic Lotto: a cruel predator

Atlantic Lotto has been running feel good ads again on the supper hour news, and have revived the askaway site.

In their recent ads they remarkably brag about how much money they rip off the players for. For every dollar wagered by players they pay out 34 cents to winners, keeping 66 cents.

The government helps itself to 35% off the top as profit. Additionally 12% of the ALC wagers go to government as taxes. So it's actually 47% of every dollar wagered is removed and transferred to government. I'm not sure why ALC needs the remaining 19% to fund operations seems kind of high but w/e I guess.

Let's compare ALC to a simple casino game. red-black on standard 37 slot roulette. In this game for every dollar wagered

18 times in 37 the player wins and the house pays out $2
19 times in 37 the house wins and pays $0

So for every dollar wagered the house returns over 97 cents to the players, keeping only 3% as pre-expense profit margin. Why then does ALC need to keep 66 cents of every dollar wagered?

In order to rig red/black roulette to pay out at 34% ALC rates it would have to be
1-7 the players win
8-36 and 00 the house wins

Incredibly the ALC feel good ads insist they provide "safe and regulated" gambling. How can it be considered "safe" for the players if they are obviously being fleeced and ripped off?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

photos project is done

I've just finished up a long standing personal project. I've now collected and sorted all of my pictures into photo albums.

It took a while as there were pics from a 35mm camera and two cell phones. I'd still like to get a real camera some day, a Canon in the $200-$300 range. There were a number of pics posted to facebook and some that weren't. So it took a while to sort through what was where. I copied the picture files to memory stick and got them developed on a year by year basis. I used Shoppers and Superstore for developing.

Did I mention it took a while to sort through it all? Basically through the NFL playoffs I was working on this while the games were on tv. Ah now it's all done, everything is caught up, developed and in the albums. I got the albums at Superstore. I filled one 320 pic album and a good start on the second.

Going forward the plan is to definitely stay on top of it and get the pics developed close to when they are taken. It will be easier now as I have the definite done up to now point so I know where my starting point is.


So that's that. It's good to complete a personal project. I've got a few more to work on. Next I think will be the long delayed hockey cards project. Picking up from the completion of football and baseball. Get them finally sorted out, see where it's at, figure out which sets to complete and which to release.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New England Patriots and Super Bowl luck

It looks like a good super bowl this year. I was hoping for Baltimore in the AFC championship game and they made it.

There's been some talk over the years about Tom Brady and Bill Belichick after losing their last two appearances. That makes them 3-2 in the big game. I think a lot of that talk is ill informed. Let's look at the modern Pats SB results

2001beat St. Louis 20-17
2003beat Carolina 32-29
2004beat Philadelphia 24-21
2007lost New York Giants 17-14
2011lost New York Giants 21-17

Well the first thing you notice is how close the games were. Looking at the final scores they could all pretty much be described as toss ups. Now going 3-2 in "coin flips" is a pretty standard result. This table is the coin flips results.

ResultLikelihood Percent

hmmm so 3-2 is just about right. that might also help explain the Tom Landry Cowboys going 2-3 in the Super Bowl.

Another way to look at it is in terms of expectation. To do this we have to estimate the chance going into the game that the Patriots would win. In 2001 against the greatest show on turf Rams team they were an underdog. In 2007 coming in 18-0 they were a strong team and the favorite. Now there's some subjective guesswork in estimating their chances going into each game but here goes

YearPregame Chance of Winning

add them together and it comes to 2.80 expected wins. so again 3-2 is just about right

Monday, January 28, 2013

quantifying hockey

After reading Moneyball I got thinking if hockey could be similarly quantified. I think to some extent it can. This isn't fully thought through and others have spent a lot more time on this than me. Still here goes.

Reduced to simpler situations it can be quantified and expected value can be used. Suppose there is a two on one. The puck carrier would like to pass to his teammate for a one timer. The defenceman can choose to cut off the pass and let the puck carrier go in on a clear breakaway, or he can cut off the puck carrier and try to break up the one timer pass. What should the defenceman do?

To find the correct move we need some more data. Let's say that the goalie stops 3 of every 5 breakaways. However on one timers the shooter will score 3 times out of 5. The defenceman can break up a one time pass 3 times in 10.

Now it becomes clear what to do. On a breakaway the puck carrier will score 40% of the time, for an expectation of 0.40 goals. One the one timer the pass gets through 70% of the time and the shooter scores 60% of the time, or an expectation of 0.7 * 0.6 = 0.42 goals. So the correct play is for the defence to cut off the pass and allow the breakaway- the fans might not like it but it's the best outcome for the defence in this situation.

Now hockey, like football and basketball, is different from baseball in that a team in a positive scoring situation can end up being scored upon. Power play is around 20% effective so drawing a penalty may be worth 0.2 goals. However there may be around 2% shorthanded goals. So the value of the power play may be 0.18 of a goal. In baseball only the team at bat can score so it is easier to consider offence separately from defence.

So how do you win a hockey game? Well the team that scores more goals wins. Of course there's more to it than that, as in that case teams would just pull their goalie for the entire game and add another skater to increase scoring. In a "fluid" game like hockey and basketball you need to both score more and prevent fever scores. There's value in offence and defence up to a point of diminishing returns.

I think Ted Sator way back had some good ideas. He was perhaps a bit ahead of his time. Today with access to big data there may be some applications to possibly determine value of things like blocking a shot, winning a faceoff in the offensive zone, a defenceman joining a rush, superior rebound control. The applications might be in building a winning roster, identifying underpriced or overpriced players, or predicting the number of goals that will be scored in a game or a more probable range of goals for each team.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

ah free speech on the Ottawa campus

So second rate Carleton has decided to try to catch up to UOttawa by reminding us there is no place for thoughtcrime on their campus. To prove their hostility to dissenting views, a straw man Free Speech Wall was erected to be torn down within hours.

The courageous destructor? Seventh year student Arun Smith. Seventh year you say? Glad to see the people's tax money used productively funding his education. Our future leaders. Maybe some school board or big city newspaper will have him.

Well Carleton had to catch up after the Anne Coulter book burning at UOttawa. Next up is for the Carleton admin to follow up these events with a bizarre, Orwellian announcement that the university obviously supports and has always supported freedom of thought and expression on campus.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

math problem: three of a kind

I was playing cards last night and an interesting situation came up.

In this game after the deal there are three community cards turned over in the middle of the card table. These three cards are called the flop. On this hand the three card flop happened to be three Kings.

The dealer remarked that there is a 1 in 256 chance that the flop is all the same rank - i.e. three of a kind. I thought about it for a little bit and told the dealer that this is wrong. The chance of the flop being three of a kind is not 1 in 256. I told him the correct answer. The dealer called the floor and they were confused and the floor walked away muttering saying he would look it up on the internet.

This isn't a difficult problem and I was able to work it out without writing anything down. A high school student with basic probability should be able to solve it. To simplify and standardize I will express it as follows.

A standard 52 card deck is shuffled so the cards are in random order. What is the probability that the top three cards in the deck are the same rank? It can be three of any kind Kings, Aces, 222, etc.

I'll let it sit for a couple of days and post the answer in the comments.

Monday, January 21, 2013

shit sandwich

Back in the financial crisis an interesting phrase started to appear on some of the forums.

Nobody wants to take the first bite of a shit sandwich

Instinctively that would seem to be true and self evident. But I got thinking about it a bit more.

While the statement is true, there is a more general form which is also true. Actually nobody wants to take any bite of a shit sandwich.

But is the statement really true? Consider this situation. It's between you and some other guy. There's a shit sandwich. One person takes the first bite. The other person has to eat the rest. Well in that case suddenly that first bite doesn't seem so bad.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

bad Steve Murphy interview

Back in November there was a Steve Murphy interview with General Tom Lawson, head of Canada's military.

It was a good opportunity but Steve and the director of the segment didn't do a great job. Early in Steve noticed the General has a recently added fourth maple leaf on his shoulder. Well that's nice, Steve or the director could have thought to get the general to turn ever so slightly so the camera could get a close up of the maple leafs on the general's shoulder. We viewers didn't even get to see it! Terrible.

So it was around the time of the David Petraeus thing and the Halifax security conference. While Steve touched on it a bit and probed the general some, he missed some good questions he could have asked General Lawson

  • will the lovely Paula Broadwell be joining us for the security conference?
  • is the social liaison at the base all set with the entertainment for the weekend?
  • do you personally command the Army?

it was a disappointing interview and not really well done

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Moneyball by Michael Lewis

I finished up the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis. It was good. I learned of the book from the movie. I haven't seen the movie.

The book is the story of the 2002 Oakland A's. A small budget team damaged by the loss of key players after 2001, general manager Billy Beane tries to find effective low cost replacements. The book is the story of how Billy and assistant GM Paul DePodesta find overlooked and undervalued players in other teams. Billy and Paul are very data driven, leaning on the writings of the likes of Bill James. They come to the conclusion that getting on base is good, getting out is bad (hence their discarding of base stealing and bunting), defence and speed are overrated (or at least overpriced). The author writes nice notes on the players they find, a washed up catcher who could hit converted to first basemen, a submarine pitcher with 84 mph fastball the white sox wouldn't call up despite mowing down AAA batters for 2 years.

It was a really good book, definitely worth reading.