Monthly Archives: March 2012

More evidence that Madonna is becoming Mae West

From this post: Madonna’s ‘Girl Gone Wild’ Video comes this:

I have nothing against either women, though I prefer Mae West because she had a great sense of humour. If you love Madonna, click on the link for a video of the Material Girl.


How quantum physics explains Mitt Romney (funny!)

Funny and brilliant. You don’t need to know modern physics to get a laugh, but if you do, it’s even funnier. See A Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney –

What is #sundayArt? It’s a challenge to all your artists (and would be artists) out there. Get the details here!

What is #sundayART? It’s a weekly challenge designed to get you producing art work that you can share with others! 

How does it work? It’s simple: every Sunday, starting on April 1st, 2012, check the Sunday Art calendar here on this Tumblr and then produce a doodle, a quick sketch, a photoshopped image, a painting, a sculpture, or what ever you are best / happiest making. Then share it using your favourite social media (Twitter, Instragram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) and tag it with #sundayArt.

Who can do this? Anyone. Of any skill. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how good you are, or what media you like to work with.  

Why are you doing this? We were talking about how we wished we were doing more creatively. We also talked about how much we enjoy working on the photo of the day challenge on Instagram. So we decided: why not come up with a similar approach for art work? It would give us an incentive to sit down and create something. The result is #sundayART.

How can i learn more? Go to this link: #sundayArt or ping us on Twitter!

Can aspirin also reduce cancer?

According to new studies mentioned in the, it can. The Times states:

Taking aspirin every day may significantly reduce the risk of many cancers and prevent tumors from spreading, according to two new studies published on Tuesday.

But before you rush out and buy a big bottle, you should note that:

Drawbacks of daily doses of aspirin include a risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

The Times goes on to say that:

The findings add to a body of evidence suggesting that cheap and widely available aspirin may be a powerful if overlooked weapon in the battle against cancer. But the research also poses difficult questions for doctors and public health officials, as regular doses of aspirin can cause gastrointestinal bleeding and other side effects. Past studies have suggested that the drawbacks of daily use may outweigh the benefits, particularly in healthy patients.

What should you do? First: read the article and then the studies. Then talk to you doctor. You should always talk to your doctor before embarking on any medical treatment, even one that takes something as common as ASA.

What is “pink-slime” beef and who sells it

According to ABC News, pink slime or BLBT (Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings) or  finely textured lean beef, “is more like gelatin than meat” and something that was sold “only to dog food or cooking oil suppliers” until they “found a way to use it by disinfecting the trimmings with ammonia”.

ABC News also says that

The low-grade trimmings come from the parts of the cow most susceptible to contaminaton, often close to the hide, which is highly exposed to fecal matter. But because of BPI’s treatment of the trimmings — simmering them in low heat, separating fat and tissue using a centrifuge and spraying them with ammonia gas to kill germs — the United States Department of Agriculture says it’s safe to eat.

It’s worthwhile reading the article, especially if you want to avoid purchasing such a product, since it is not easy to recognize it. If you want to be safe, then “If your meat is stamped USDA Organic, it’s pure meat with no filler”.

How to eat sushi: do’s and don’t (for beginners and more)

I must admit, I do some of these Don’t now. For example, I also think adding wasabi in your soy sauce is preferable if you want a bit of the power of wasabi, but not alot. Otherwise, these are good to know.

Found here.

A PSA: be on the look out for a new phishing approach using Youtube

I got this email today.

YouTube help center | e-mail options | report spam

YouTube Service has sent you a message:

Your video has been approved

You can reply to this message by visiting your inbox.


Looks pretty official.

Why do I think it is phishing? For one thing, I haven’t submitted any YouTube videos. For another, when I rolled my mouse over the hyperlinks, some of them point to Hyperlinks not related to the company sending you the email or hyperlinks not associated with the topic of the email are a strong indication of phishing.

So remember: if you get an unexpected email like this, check the links before you click on them. If you want to be conservative, delete the email and contact the site via the site itself.

The future darkly: more on military drones and robots

One of the most important technologies of the 21st century will be robots. Right now they are primitive, but they are improving all the time. Oddly, no one is paying them much attention. (Maybe if Apple starts making them, this will change.)

Over at Foreign Policy is a good update on 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Drones – By Micah Zenko. Of those 10 things, two that surprised me were:

6. Most military drones don’t bomb. Although decapitation strikes may get all the headlines, the vast majority of the time, drones are used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance

That surprised me, because whenever I hear of drones in the news, it tends to be around drone attacks. I also thought drones were low cost, but

7. Attack drones require more boots on the ground. Most unmanned aircraft flown by the U.S. military require not just a ground-based “pilot,” but also a platoon of surveillance analysts (approximately 19 per drone), sensor operators, and a maintenance crew. Some 168 people are required to keep a Predator drone aloft — and 180 for its larger cousin, the Reaper — compared with roughly 100 people for an F-16 fighter jet.

I expect more and more drones to be used because the cost will come down. But this surprised me too.

The whole article is good and worthwhile if you only have a vague sense of what people are doing with drones.

Meanwhile the folks at Boston Dynamics have released this video:

You might think: 18 mph…that’s not fast! Note the current fastest man alive is Usain Bolt and he can run 23 mph for 100 meters. In other words, this thing could catch almost anyone in 10 seconds or less. What it will do to you when it catches you? I don’t want to think about it. Nor do I want to imagine a herd of these things on the battlefield.

That said, how would they do in this environment?

Battle of Stalingrad

Not so good. Like I said before, the rise of the machines on the battlefield will change the way we go to war. In the meantime, it is looking like a Terminator movie more and more every day.

(hat tip to Kottke for the Cheetah video. The photo is from the Battle of Stalingrad, which was hell for anything: man, woman, or machine.)

What is retina display?

If you are not an owner of the latest technology from Apple, you may have heard of “retina display” and wondered what does the term mean. In the iPhone 4 page in  Wikipedia, there is a good definition of the term: (the bold highlighting was added by me):

The display of the iPhone 4 is manufactured by LG under an exclusive contract with Apple. It features an LED backlit TFT LCD capacitive touchscreen with a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch (ppi) on a 3.5 in (8.9 cm) (diagonally measured), 960×640 display. Each pixel is 78 micrometres in width. The display has a contrast ratio of 800:1. The screen is marketed by Apple as the “Retina Display”, based on the assertion that a display of approximately 300 ppi at a distance of 12 inches (305 mm) from one’s eye, or 57 arcseconds per pixel[42] is the maximum amount of detail that the human retina can perceive.[43] With the iPhone expected to be used at a distance of about 12 inches from the eyes, a higher resolution would allegedly have no effect on the image’s apparent quality as the maximum potential of the human eye has already been met.

Interesting, the claim was disputed by

Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate Technologies (who) said in an interview with Wired magazine, that the claims by Jobs are something of an exaggeration: “It is reasonably close to being a perfect display, but Steve pushed it a little too far.” Soneira stated that the resolution of the human retina is higher than claimed by Apple, working out to 477 ppi at 12 inches (305 mm) from the eyes, or 36 arcseconds per pixel.[44]

But as you can see, for all intents and purposes, the iPhone 4 (and likely later Apple technology) meets this standard:

However, Phil Plait, author of Bad Astronomy, whose career includes a collaboration with NASA regarding the camera on the Hubble Space Telescope, responded to the criticism by stating that “if you have [better than 20/20] eyesight, then at one foot away the iPhone 4’s pixels are resolved. The picture will look pixellated. If you have average eyesight, the picture will look just fine.”[45][46]

In a nutshell, if a display is such that you cannot see the pixels, then it is a retina display.

I expect that retina display will come to bigger and bigger screens as the technology advances. First the iPhone, then the iPad and other tablets, to…well as big as displays can get.

When it comes to the Internet, most people are like a 19th century farmer visiting a 20th century city

As more people access the Internet using social technology, they start to feel like the Internet is their home. And for some people, it is their home, just like for some people, New York City is their home or Paris is their home. For New Yorkers and Parisians,  they know the city well, the good and the bad, and they are comfortable with all that.

What I am seeing more of as people using and complaining about social techology like Twitter and Facebook is that they are akin to a 19th century farmer visiting a 20th century city with friends. At first it seems familiar enough when they are on the train with people they know, heading from the country to the city. But the more they look around, the more they realize things are not familar to them at all, and alot of it is overwhelming and scary. There are automobiles and big screen TVs and other things that seem fantastic to them Furthermore, there are parts of the city — this is true of any time — that are dangerous, and people in the city that are threatening.

The Internet is like that too. It may seem familar to you, but there is alot you don’t know about. There are bots and trolls and web sites that are dangerous or annoying. There are ways people in the city interact that are different than how you interact or expect people to interact.

Your first response might be: things things should work the way they do in the country, or in this case, IRL (in real life). But they don’t, and they won’t. You can either avoid the Internet (something that will be less and less possible to do), or you can adopt to it. You need to realize that just because it may seem like real life at times, it isn’t. You need to learn about things like phishing and how to recognize spambots and how to deal with privacy settings and more. It may seem like a big cost, but it is the price of reaping the benefits of being in the big city. You won’t get the know all of this right away, just like you don’t get to know all of a city the first time you visit it. But you need to know enough to make your visit safe and enjoyable and worth your while.


Is this evidence of the stunning success of android or more proof that everything is happening faster?

Matt Yglesias has this post on The Stunning Success of Android which includes this graph

It’s certainly true that Android is popular and a good product. But what I want to look at is the axis of the chart: millions of units sold over X number of quarters. What I think we will continue to see is that more and more charts of new technology are going to look like this. We will continue to see products adopted or purchased by consumers at faster and faster rates.

There’s a number of reasons for this. For one thing, people are more comfortable with adopting new technology than they were a decade or more ago. Two, the technology is easier to adopt. Three, new technology is increasingly social and therefore the chances of you hearing about it and signing up for or buying it is greater. Four: there are more and more companies developing new technologies like this. And five: there is infrastructure (phone companies, the Apple App Store, etc.) that supports this adoption.

The days of slow adoption rates is over. The future is coming at us at a faster and faster pace. Soon, if not already, it will come at us exponentially, and we will need technology to help us adopt new technology. The technology will change so fast, we won’t even realize it. That’s the way the future will be. That’s the way it is now: most people just aren’t aware of it. Soon, everyone will be aware of it.

The end of Zellers

Zellers is coming to a close (see: Zellers | Liquidation). For those of you that don’t know, 

The company was founded in 1931 by Walter P. Zeller as “stores for thrifty Canadians”. The chain began with the purchase of the fourteen Canadian locations of American retailer Schulte-United, all of which were in Southern Ontario. Almost immediately, Zellers initiated an aggressive expansion strategy. Within 25 years, Zellers operated sixty stores and employed 3,000 people. In 1952, in a move to expand into Atlantic Canada, it acquired the Federal Stores chain of variety stores, adding more than 12 new Zellers locations.

It’s gone through alot of changes and owners over the years, and with the latest change, all of the Zellers will be gone and replaced with Target.

Sad to see it go: it was part of my youth.

( Wikipedia provided the early history.)

Cute quadrotor robots perform music (I wish I could believe they were cute)


What I find interesting in the various videos on robots that I see is the presentation of them as positive. Perhaps it is just my cultural history, but I see them as something to worry about. Time will tell whether or not I am correct.

Robot Quadrotors Perform James Bond Theme – YouTube

Thanks to Harper (@harper on Twitter) for this.

On the immorality of the wealthy and how to account for the nouvelle riche

This article has been getting alot of coverage: Cheat, lie, break the law? Chances are, you’re rich – The Globe and Mail. It is not surprising, in that it confirms the prejudice that people have of the wealthy and well off. As the article states:

Testing people for ethics based on class might seem like a challenge, but the researchers for the science journal paper devised a series of ingenious tests to investigate behaviours.

There were two tests that were mentioned. this one…

In one case, they monitored a busy San Francisco four-way stop, and had observers hidden from sight check which drivers obeyed the law stipulating that vehicles approaching the intersection yield to a car already making the crossing. The observers tracked the make, age, and conditions of cars, using them as a proxy for class. High-status vehicles such as Mercedes were considered the provenance of the rich, and those driving them were about three times more likely to cut in than those in less flashy cars.

…is something I have experienced myself! I find the people that drive most aggressively in my neighborhood are BMW drivers. The more I thought of it, the more I concluded that people who are most likely to drive in this aggressive way are the type of people trying to get ahead. They are in a rush, overworked, and frankly likely to be pushy as a way of getting what they want.They are also the same type of people drawn to BMW because of how it is a status symbol. What I have noted is that I see this behavoir mostly in BMW drivers who drive the lower 3 class. I also see wealthy people that drive the high end 7 series and even 5 series in my area and I noted that they don’t drive as aggressively. I attributed this to them already having arrived. I think a study just of drivers of high end cars would be fascinating.

Car ownership aside, I found this test also very interesting.

In one test involving throws of an electronic dice, the researchers rigged computers to allow only low scores. Participants were told that those getting higher scores would have more chances to win $50 cash. They then tracked who lied about the results, and found that people in a higher social class displayed higher levels of cheating and more positive attitudes toward greed.

Again, I would like to see further tests and see if the very wealthy are different from the nouvelle riche. I would suspect they are. I suspect the rich people that are secure with their wealth would behave differently than the wealthy that have just achieved it or are striving to achieve it.