Sunday, 8 January 2017

Holding the election is more important than winning it. Kudos to Stephen Harper for Bill C36 (2007)

A fair open challenge by popular vote at regular intervals is far more important than which party wins.  The body politic is forced to renew itself or displace its rulers bloodlessly.  This is done by institutionalizing the violence that otherwise would develop.    Calls in the U.S. to have a third term for Barack Obama or to overturn the results of the 2016 vote invite the death of democracy.

Has it not always been so?  The latest iteration is Turkey's Erdogan:  "Democracy is like a train. You get off once you have reached your destination".    In Canada, we don't have a president-for-life as Kazakhstan seems to have, but we used to game the system with election dates.  The prime minister could juggle to get a three to five year term, watching the polls and choosing the best moment in two years to strike and recapture the spoils of power.  The party in power always had its thumb on the scale.

Stephen Harper brought in Bill C-36 in 2007.  Wikipedia summarizes:
 "It requires that each general election take place on the third Monday in October in the fourth calendar year after the previous poll, starting with October 19, 2009. During the legislative process, the Liberal-dominated Senate added an amendment listing conditions under which an election date could be modified, in order to avoid clashes with religious holidays, municipal elections, and referenda, but the House of Commons, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives, rejected the amendment and the Senate did not pursue it."
Kudos to Stephen Harper.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Toronto Zoo and Orangutan Earwax - Too good to skip

From a US health and medicine website comes this gem in Statnews on the dangers of poking at earwax:
"Ear canal cleaning is a hard habit to kick. It may be as innate as tool use itself. (Dr. Vito) Forte was once called to the Toronto Zoo to treat an orangutan that seemed to be having ear trouble — and found out that the ape was known to pick up secondhand wads of chewing gum, check them for stickiness, and then use them to extract whatever might have been buried in its ears."
Picture source 

The article also cites a survey of a teaching hospital that found over 90% of the health professionals there admitted sticking objects into their ears to get at wax.

First ever Super Nova Prediction 2022 - Show the kids.

An eclipsing pair of binary stars are going to spiral into each other in 2022, give or take a few months and for half a year will probably become the brightest star in the sky.  This is amazing!    Their light pulses every 11 hours as they block each other from earth view.  This viciously fast orbit has been picking up speed lately and some orbital math shows they have about six earth years left until they spiral into each other and self-obliterate.  The red nova will appear in Cygnus, The Swan.   Watch for the  end-of-life explosion of KIC 9832227, some 1800 light years away.

Reported at National Geographic and The Daily Mail.

There was an earlier prediction of a supernova appearing in 2016 but of a very different character.
Light from that one had arrived here by several pathways, some via a gravitational lens.  After seeing the supernova once, scientists were able to predict additional images would appear soon. The KIC 9832227 story will allow us to observe the violence as it happens and is predicted from first principles.

The Inman Aligner: Orthodontics Fast And Cheap

This Orthodontic front-tooth aligner looks promising.
Eight to twelve weeks is probably enough time.
Cost looks like $2000-$4000.
You can take the Aligner out yourself part of every day which makes it easy to clean your teeth.
It's less obvious than the traditional braces and you can leave it at home for a few hours a day.
If just works on the front teeth but they're the one's everybody sees.
It has a middle push section and two sides that anchor the spring-loaded connections.
It doesn't need to be re-calibrated because the springs can travel all the way from the starting point to the place you want the teeth to end up.
You can get a hidden retainer spring wire bonded into place behind the straightened teeth so they stay put.
You still need an initial mold and the orthodontist will keep an eye on progress every few weeks.

Where I read about it:  The Daily Mail
The Inman Aligner home page.
Change in the making: The Inman Aligner pushes and pulls the teeth into place for a fast result

The Hoity Toity don't get to live my life for me. "Trump Voter"

"Be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken" is good advice.  And the Hoity-Toity don't get to live my life for me.  Not even when they are brainier than me, better educated than me, more globalized than me, more gender-neutral than me and more woke than me.  Ace from Ace of Spades explains it:

"Suppose you want an architect to draw up plans for a house. You want a dining room because you never had one as a kid, and always associated it -- from old magazine pictures, from old movies, whatever -- with a stable and happy home.
Suppose your architect comes back with no dining room -- just one big great room combining living room, kitchen, and dining area.
"Where's the dining room I asked for?" you want to know.
"No one has dining rooms any more," the expert tells you. "It's all Open Concept now, one room sweeping into the other, bringing together the family in one big room at all times."
"That may well be, but I want a dining room."
"Walls are passe," the experts smugly tells you. "They interrupt the sight-lines."
"I don't care about sight-lines. And honestly, I love my kids, but I'm not so crazy about them so much I want to be locked in a giant room with them 24/7. I want walls and I want a dining room," you say again.
"No one eats in a dining room and anyway dining rooms are too formal."
"I'd like to be formal on occasion."
"Well," the architect tells you, "I've decided that dining rooms are in bad taste and I'm the expert and you can't have one. You're getting Open Concept whether you like it or not, Trump Voter."

Bicycle helmet for a four year old on a trike in a parking lot.
Four recycle bins but no garbage.
Spank a kid and be a criminal.
Thinking "He" and "She" for the men and women you meet every day means you're a gender thug.
Take off your shoes and be treated like a criminal to board a plane.
Buy plastic bags because the grocery store wants you to use dirty fabric bags instead.
Hire a HazMat subcontractor before installing a new plug in older drywall in BC.
( "Exposure control plan for cutting small amounts..." )
I don't want my betters telling me what to do, a one-size-fits-all policy swamping common sense.

California likely to become "A cross between Tijuana and Hawaii, a land for the aging rich and their servants"

Joel Kotkin crystallizes California with this unforgettable observation.  Follow the link.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Your Daily Trump Trolling: CIA Intelligence

A calculated tweet from The Donald again reverses the narrative.
Old narrative:  Trump doesn't think he needs intelligence briefings and wants Putin for his bro.
New narrative:  Is the CIA politicized and using the media to undermine the president elect?
I love it when he says don't brief him yet with possibly suspect information.  The experts have to come clean first.

Remember, if you follow Donald Trump tweets, you are ahead of the news cycle.

In case you think this is all bird-brained impulse, take another look at his signature.  Neither you nor I can write in that angular style without energy and intentioned hand control.

Perfect soft-boiled eggs from an egg cooker - Points to remember

Egg steamers are awesome and can deliver a perfect soft-boiled egg but there's points to remember:

1  Don't use the clever egg-puncture pin.   (Egg white leaks out, foams up, the device turns off too soon and it's hell to clean).
2  Consider using bought water if you like clean tools.   A wipe with a paper towel or dishcloth will keep the base shiny.Tap water leaves residue when it evaporates and is hard to clean. If you don't care, don't bother.  The eggs will taste the same.
  (Water Note:  If you have a cooker that lets steam come up from below through the empty egg holes, you'll find an odd instruction:  The more eggs you cook at a time, the less water you need because the steam escapes slowly when more of the holes are filled with eggs.  So yes, you add more water to get a hard boiled egg but you also add less water to get six hard boiled eggs than you do for one hard boiled egg.)
3   When cooking is almost done, sprinkle some salt and pepper in a row on a piece of paper towel and keep it handy.
4   You can let eggs sit in the cooker when they're done.  They keep cooking for a while. That way you can get really soft for your wife and half-firm for yourself from the same batch. 
5   Chill briefly under cold water so you can hold an egg in your hand and to help pop the membrane free from the egg.
6   Open the fat end of the egg first.  There's a little bubble at that end which makes it easier to start.
7   Use a teaspoon to peel open the egg.  Pick a spoon with about the same curve as your egg.
8   Don't bother cracking the egg shell a lot before you start peeling.  The shell can come off in large sheets.
9    Use a teaspoon!!
10  When I get the teaspoon started, I slide it most of the way down and then twist it towards my other hand holding the egg.  This cuts the membrane.  Then twist the spoon in the other direction and see if you can get the rest of the shell off in one or two pieces.  
11  Briefly rinse the egg to clean off any bits of shell.
12  On the paper, roll each egg along it once so it's evenly coated with salt and pepper. There's room for several side by side paths without using up all the salt.
13  Use the paper towel to wipe things up.
13  Eggs stay hot for several minutes which helps you get a warm breakfast on the table.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Palestinian terrorist kills U.S. presidential candidate: Remember Sirhan?

Sirhan Sirhan, the American Palestinian shooter, was briefly in the news asking for parole the fifteenth time.  Looking back at accounts of the time, I see nothing has changed.  Despite his repeated statements that he planned the shooting with acknowledged malice aforethought, planned because Robert Kennedy spoke in support of Israel and supported selling bombers to Israel, officialdom denied it.   Like the Fort Hood shooting and all the others, he was treated as a kid gone wrong showing bad behaviour with a gun.   The judge wouldn't let him confess.  Sirhan wasn't a Muslim jihadist, so there's that.  The rest fits the discredited narrative that Trump may, hopefully, bury.

From Wikipedia:
In 1989, he told David Frost:
"My only connection with Robert Kennedy was his sole support of Israel and his deliberate attempt to send those 50 bombers to Israel to obviously do harm to the Palestinians". Some scholars believe the assassination was one of the first major incidents of political violence in the United States stemming from the Arab–Israeli conflict in the Middle East.                 The interpretation that he was mostly motivated by Middle Eastern politics has been criticized as an oversimplification that ignores Sirhan's deeper psychological problems. During his trial, Sirhan's lawyers attempted to use a defense of diminished responsibility, while their client tried to confess to the crime and change his plea to guilty on several occasions. Sirhan testified that he had killed Kennedy "with 20 years of malice aforethought". The judge did not accept this confession and it was later withdrawn.

Friday, 30 December 2016

To see all Physics in a glass of water

Ask the right questions while observing a glass of water and you can come across most of physics, discovering the nature of light, of electricity, of gravity, and more.  You could have beat Newton to discovering the composition of light with a prism.  Your curiosity could have been piqued by the meniscus curve a couple millimetres up the side of the glass caused by surface tension involving a layer of nearly free electrons.  You could wonder why bubbles form out of a liquid and why they cling to some surfaces and why they rise at a certain speed and what triggers these changes. You could wonder where the beads of water on the outside of the glass came from.  You could wonder why the glass doesn't drift off the table and why the water doesn't fly away and yet disappears slowly over time.  These observations are triggered by activity at atomic and subatomic levels.  You could look at specks on the water and wonder why they float.  You might be curious enough to see if you could float a pin and then wonder why the pin slowly turns to a north-south direction.  It's all there if you have eyes to see and a good question or two to ask.

Blake wrote of this in Auguries of Innocence:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Democracy is a means, not an end

From the comments at Instapundit:

Democracy is not the end state.  It is a process to establish and maintain rights-respecting governance.  "Ritchie the Riveter"

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Don't feed the kids what Mom fed you. They'll be fatties.

2500 calories daily for a man and 2000 for a woman was gospel fifty years ago and a recipe for fatness today.  Don't bemoan the temporary surge in obesity.  You're looking at a feature, not a bug.  We expend less energy to prosper, find shelter and work and to socialize.   Humans will prevail better.  Now de-program two generations that grew up on Mom's serving sizes and still think that's the norm.  We get the results we want in life for less effort and that means fewer calories IN and more surplus time and energy for OUT.  Blaming people for sitting around is to miss the point.
"Modern lifestyles ... have allowed people to become so inter-connected that they barely need to leave their desks or sofas to work, socialise or shop.
Recommended calorie counts, which have been about 2,500 for men and 2,000 for women since the First World War, were set at a time when people naturally moved far more in their daily lives. But the new study suggests those counts may now be too high and researchers say that people need to stop eating the way their parents taught them.
Trade deals between countries have also caused food prices to tumble, creating virtually unlimited access to unrestricted calories for most people, while on-tap entertainment through television, smartphones and personal computers has replaced many traditional hobbies and activities."

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Are we one? Thought experiment to prove it.

In three dimensions, everyone is clearly separate except for an umbilical moment at birth.  In four dimensions, adding time, everyone has physical continuity to others at some moment. The key is to see humans have two kinds of body.  Like insects we have a metamorphosis of our own.  Most of our life is spent as passionate bipedal mammals but we also transform into gametes made from our own body with our DNA.  The gametes are sent out into the world (sperm) and strategically placed (ova) to build new bipedal mammal nodes in the net of human life.   They occasionally meet and merge and where they do there is always physical continuity.  Brief, over-looked until pregnancy occurs, but real.  There is no gap.  The gamete human is pretty simple compared to Homo Sapiens but is clearly "us" and can be transformed into H Sapiens or created from H Sapiens.  This may stretch your brain to consider having two life forms which metamorphose into each other.

Imagine viewing your body from a fixed viewpoint in space.  From this point picture seeing all of it at all times since you "began" until today.  Picture this as a series of snapshots, moments apart, over the years and add a corkscrewing corkscrewing corkscrew motion to represent your spin on the world's surface and the spin of the world around the sun and maybe a little supplementary motion from galactic spiralling.  From time to time there are spider threads of continuity between you and other people.  (Viewing this as a 3-D corkscrew helps because it gives enough "space" to display lifetimes.)

I've searched the internet before and found no image close to a triply spiralling spiral.  The closest I've found is this short segment of a curve with a spiral following it.  These various spiralling spirals are touching at certain spots.  If you think of the paths as electrical circuits, a signal can be sent from any person to any other person, just not at the same time.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Funny snack sign at the bowling alley: Socks $2.00 Hot chocolate $2.00

A juicy sock well-stewed

       might have helped Charlie Chaplin with his shoe.
(Scene from "The Gold Rush" available free on line).

Mobbing Ivanka: Four reasons elections have gone feral.

Designers brag they will never dress her.
Others want us to know they will shun her line of designer clothes.
Artists posture that she must take their paintings off her apartment wall right this minute.
She's flying coach and a guy boasts on twitter that his husband is going to harass Ivanka because she's on the same flight.  "Your father is ruining this country" "Why are you on this flight, you should be flying private".
She wasn't on her Dad's ticket, for heaven's sake, and Donald isn't even president yet!

I see four reasons for this uncivil meltdown:

1.   Government has been plus-sized and embiggened until it's such a large part of the economy and our personal lives that to win an election has more consequence than in years past.
2.   The Politics of Identity is the antithesis of a republic.   The latter is a rule of law under which all citizens have equal standing.  The former I despise, but it prevails.
3.    The speed of news has picked up.  The uncivil can gang up on others in minutes when formerly they'd hear a snippet of news long after the opportunity to brag in front of cameras had passed.
4.    Civility is undervalued and under-taught.   What sets us above beasts if not manners?

Is Donald Trump Your President?

Flow chart points out the obvious but somehow undetected fact:

Friday, 23 December 2016

Is Socialism Caused by Climate? Voting Democrat and Global Warming

Interesting maps to compare:  One shows where people have experienced the most record high temperatures.  These people are likely to believe in Global Warming as unassailable fact.   The second map shows the Democrats' "Archipelago" where the most socialist voters are found.  Kind of similar.
Darker grey is where the most people believe most in Global Warming.  Red dots are where the most record high temperatures have been recorded. (Science Daily News)

Bigger brains go with shorter guts, say Scientists

Brain is expensive tissue to maintain and hogs oxygen.  This is paid for with a trade-off  in smarter food harvesting which in turn means you can get by with less gut to digest the high value food you eat.   Science Daily News gives the example of some large brain Mormyrid fish (3% of body mass) compared to other Mormyrid fish with smaller brains.  (For comparison, human brains run 2.0 to 2.5% body mass.)  The same connection was found in a study of 30 species of frog and toad.
Illustration from the linked article

Monday, 19 December 2016

The Media Hating on Donald will put them under the same shower of gold that funded Jill Stein

The media will be happy whinging about The Donald for the next 8 years.  Paycheques will be covered and reporters will feel needed.
When Jill Stein can pick up way more cash trying to dump Donald that she ever saw sight of for herself, you know it will be good.

Update from NY Times:
"Mr. Carter seized the moment with a red home page banner calling Vanity Fair “The Magazine Donald Trump Doesn’t Want You to Read” and imploring visitors, “Subscribe Now!”
Lo and behold, subscriptions spiked a hundredfold over their daily average, the magazine said, bringing Vanity Fair’s parent company, Condé Nast, the biggest number of new daily sign-ups in its 116-year history. (The tally had hit 42,000 by Sunday.)
in the weeks since the election, magazines like The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Vanity Fair; newspapers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post; and nonprofits like NPR and ProPublica have been reporting big boosts in subscription rates or donations."