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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Don't Forget...

...if you do your Canadian income tax yearly midnight tomorrow is the deadline to get your return in. If you haven't figured it out yet I hope you have a simple return.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Son Of Shameless Hit Mongering.

It's that time again. Time to suck in hits to this blog via blatent search engine taunting. Will mentioning Expelled and Ben Stein boost my hit count? We'll soon find out. Too bad Stein felt the need to make a fool of himself by taking part in such a foolish film.

Naughtyspace.

In recent years it was proposed that a top level domain be created for online pornographic sites, .xxx. The proposal has been rejected by ICANN, the organisation in charge of managing such things. A typing error last night made me think of a couple of possible top level domains for people of certain sexual persuasions, .dom and .sub, but if .xxx can't get approval I doubt these would either. I suppose there's also the question of whether .sub would get a lot of use. Would "masters" allow their "slaves" to have .sub websites, e-mail address and so on?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Appropriate.

I had a chuckle while browsing the bookshelves of a local Coles bookstore. Mark Steyn's America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It was shelved beside a book entitled Hot Air, which I found very appropriate. It likely wasn't intentionally shelved like that to mock Steyn, as the book Hot Air is about how Canada might deal with climate change and is co-written by Jeffrey Simpson. Of course Steyn is no more a fan of dealing with global warming than he is of Muslims, so he probably wouldn't find Hot Air appealing anyways.

The copy of America Alone on display was the new paperback edition, which features the note "Soon to be banned in Canada" on the cover, most certainly intended to appeal to Steyn's fanbase by portraying him as a potential martyr to so-called political correctness.(And which will no doubt lead some future readers to believe the book was banned in Canada when it was not.) It also has a new forward, which I thumbed through for a minute or so. Even doing that allowed me to spot a flawed argument of Steyn's, in which he discussed the 17 supposed Muslims currently on the Brussels city council. The problems with the commentary on this are obvious, starting with Steyn's implication that all these supposed Muslims share identical viewpoints and will vote as a monolithic block. One would think Steyn would have sufficient knowledge of history to recognise this is exactly the same sort of argument antisemites use regarding Jews, that they're all a hive mind in service of "the conspiracy." He's also assuming they're all Muslims because of their names, and apparently never considers the fact that if they anger the voters of Brussels they'll get voted out in the next election. And this is just one comment of Steyn's. I can only wonder how many other flawed ideas I'd find if I sat down and subjected America Alone to critical analysis.

Name Those Tunes!

A simple request: Does anyone know the titles of any of the following?

The music used for the opening titles of the film Invasion: UFO. It was a fast sequenced piece and not any of the music from the Gerry Anderson series UFO the movie was compiled from.

The minor key synth music used in Parks Canada ads in the early '80s. It never struck me as the kind of music that would attract people to parks, but chase them off.

Any of the organ trio style music used in the original Spider Man cartoon from the mid '60s. This seems to have been stock music, as I heard at least one piece of it in a '60s episode of Doctor Who.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bubbleboy.

As mentioned in my previous post one of the places I play poker is Score Poker. Last night I played in their weekly 350+ Cash Final, having won a tournament ticket on the weekend. I made the final table, but unfortunately finished "on the bubble" in fourth place, just outside the money. If I'd come in third I would have won $50.01. But by making the final table I did win a "prize package," which I assume is a t-shirt and hat or something like that. And finishing fourth out of a field of 575 is definitely nice as well.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Luck On The Virtual Felt.

If you play the "astronomer" and other freerolls at PokerStars you might have run across me playing as Saskblogger.(I also do so on Full Tilt, Score Poker, and as of a few days ago UltimateBet.) Last night was a great showing for me as I came in 7th out of a field of 3888. What was surprising about this is that the game in that freeroll was Limit 7 Card Stud, which I've only been playing for about a month. In other words I got very lucky. I made it to 54th out of 12 thousand in another PokerStars freeroll last week, but that was in No Limit Hold 'em, which is what most of my poker experience has been in. Now the real challenge will be to make the money in whatever Weekly Round 2 tournament I use to the tournament tickets won in those freerolls to enter, where the play is likely to be a lot more careful.

Flipflop.

You'd be forgiven for thinking it was November in Saskatoon instead of April given today's weather. Snow and high winds are not what I want to see. I want my Spring weather back.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Not So Optimum.

Like many other companies the Canadian chain Shoppers Drug Mart has a customer rewards program. Regular customers can collect Shoppers Optimum points, which can be redeemed for a cash discount. For example the minimum amount of points you need to have for a discount is 3500, which allows you to take 5 dollars off your purchase. The next level is 7000 points for a 10 buck discount and so on, up to a maximum 75 thousand points and 150 dollar discount. But the impression I get is that perhaps the program has been a little bit too successful. As the years have gone by earning points has become more restrictive. For example you used to be able to collect and redeem points on transit passes and tickets, but first redemption then collecting points from these products was discontinued. Other products such as phone cards met a similar fate. The latest change was altering point collection so instead of a point for ever 10 cents you spend(excluding taxes) it's now 10 points for every dollar you spend. And this is rounded down to the nearest dollar. So if you buy something for $1.75 you'll earn 10 points and not 20. Buy something for less than a buck and you get no points. This change will further slow down how quickly points accumulate, and hence how often Shoppers has to give out discounts. Personally it seems a little petty to make earning points on a sale price chocolate bar or bottle of water impossible. You need buy a lot of those to reach 3500 points. It also seems petty to round points on a $1.99 purchase down to 10 points when an extra cent in the price would earn you 20 points.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Invasion!

I saw a rather interesting sight in the neighbourhood today. Dozens of robins. I've never seen more than three or four robins in one place at once, but today we had a whole flock of them. There must have been a couple dozen or more at times just in my backyard. I had no idea robins ever travelled in groups. Crows and waxwings can be seen in large groups at different times of the year here, so a large flock of birds in the neighbour isn't new to me, just robins in such a group.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Emperor's New Audio Gear.

Once again I'm amazed at the nonsense people will fall for in the land of audiophiles. How about special electrical outlet covers? I'd say this was a joke, but far too many people believe in similar crap in other areas of life not to believe the testimonials given are real. The company in question, Machina Dynamica, also produces such wooboxes as the Clever Little Clock. It would be interesting to know if the folks behind such products really believe their claims, or are just another batch of clever rip off artists. I suspect the number of out and out crooks are far outnumbered by true believers in this or any other field where woo has a foothold.

Future Rulers? Probably Not.

Time for another name rant. American pro boxer Chazz Witherspoon has three sons. Their names are King, Messiah, and Czar. King is named after Martin Luther King, which at least is understandable. But Messiah? What kid can live up to a name like that? Everyone has high hopes for their children, but Witherspoon's seem a wee bit too high.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

He's Not The Voice You're Looking For.

I had a hit on the blog today from the search phrase "Robert Norman Smith Teletoon." Smith is a Toronto actor who gained some notoriety when he appeared in a series of ads for Alexander Keith's beer. He played a muttonchopped Scotsman who went around berating hapless beer drinkers for not treating their Keith's properly. Unfortunately for Smith his career as product spokescharacter crashed to the ground when he was arrested in 2006 on child pornography charges.

I assume the person who ran that search thought Smith is the current promo voice for the Canadian cartoon channel Teletoon. This is not the case. It's Dan Petronijevic's enthusiastic tones you hear. Amusingly Petronijevic can be heard as a voice actor in several Teletoon cartoons, including Di Gata Defenders and Total Drama Island, so he is frequently doing promos for shows he appears in.

An FM DXer's Heads Up.

If you're an FM DXer and you sometimes get Saskatoon stations you might want to check out 96.3 megahertz. CFWD is currently running as Santa Radio. This is a new station licensed to Harvard Communications, and apparently they're using an all Christmas music format while they get their equipment ready. They have a website for it as well. I doubt this will be on the air long so best try and catch it while you can. CFWD is licensed as a contemporary hit radio station and was originally assigned 92.3 megahertz, but received 96.3 after expressing concerns about possible interference from CKBL, aka 92.9 The Bull, on 92.3 megahertz. Frankly I'm not convinced this market needs another radio station of any format, especially in a format already covered by C95 FM.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Good Morning!

There's not much point to this post other than it being the earliest I've ever posted something. My parents are headed out to the coast to dogsit Dudley and they needed to be at the airport for a 6:30 AM flight. Not much happens in Saskatoon at 5 in the morning on a Monday. I did manage to hear a Mexican station on 1560 khz when I was driving back home, which made for a nice treat.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Exorcise The Exorcists.

As much as the Roman Catholic Church might accept modern science and its discoveries some irrational beliefs linger. The Archbishop of Ottawa, Terrence Prendergrast, has appointed at least two new exorcists, one English speaking and one French speaking, to replace the previous one who retired five years ago. Supposedly the Ottawa archdiocese doesn't received more than seven or eight calls for exorcism a year, but hey, Pope Benedict, like his predecessor, believes in demonic possession, so they're making sure they're ready. The strength of belief by certain elements of the Catholic Church in demonic possession can been seen in the number of Italian exorcists rising over the past two decades from a mere 20 to some 350 currently.

Jeffrey Grob is the exorcist for the Chicago archdiocese. He states that an exorcist in what he describes as a large, ethnically diverse diocese might get 100 calls a month from those fearing they are possessed. Most who think they're possessed usually aren't, according to Grob. Which of course brings up the obvious question of why the Church doesn't come to the rational conclusion that all those who believe they're possessed aren't, that demons don't exist, and that there is no need for someone who actually practices exorcisms. The highly cynical might argue the tradition of exorcism is maintained to make sure those Catholics who think they are possessed won't go to some other denomination that shares their delusions, and once "cured" move away from the Church. But I have no doubt that most of those behind the continuation of the belief in demonic possession truly believe it is a real problem. Unfortunately the result will be people suffering as treatment that might actually help them is delayed or even avoided entirely because of those involved believing in an irrational cause of their problems, whatever the true motivation of the exorcists.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Hey, Brad Wall!

So I hear you dropped a certain blog from the Saskatchewan Party website because of comments the blog creator made about inner city Saskatoon residents. Well, if you're looking for a replacement how about me? I'll even say some nice things about the party once and a while.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It's Time, Guys.

One of the odder forms of conspiracy theory is the "they're not really dead" idea. Various people, usually celebrities, are claimed to have faked their apparent deaths. Elvis Presley is of course the best known focus of such a theory, but other candidates include Doors' singer Jim Morrison, rapper Tupac, and comedian Andy Kaufmann. Well, guys, if any of you actually did do this today is the day to 'fess up. After all what better day to admit you've pulled off such a great joke than April Fools? Especially you, Elvis, we'd like to know whether y0u faked your death before you die of old age.