Monday, June 28, 2010

Airtight Security.

James Nicoll has come up with a brilliant way to prevent the kind of mess that we saw in Toronto on the weekend:  Hold G20 summits on the International Space Station.  The Black Bloc idiots would have a pretty hard time causing trouble when space travel costs far more than they can afford, and the cost of flying the leaders to the ISS is likely less than what was spent on a questionable security effort.  And just think what kind of boost it would give space travel in the public eye.

Answering A Stupid Question.

I was just using Google Maps to see how to get to a place in Saskatoon I'm not familiar with, Van Impe Terrace.  Since this street shares its name with US evangelist Jack Van Impe Google Adsense popped up an ad for some Obama New World Order nonsense.  One section of the ad asks several questions, including 'Why is it that in 2009 there have been over 1 million searches on the keywords "Obama Antichrist" and "Obama Messiah"?'  The answer of course is obvious to people who aren't paranoid kooks, namely that the world is full of people who are paranoid kooks who take things like supposed Biblical prophecy oh so seriously.   So of course a bunch of them are going to look up the term "Obama Antichrist."  The fact they end up changing their candidate for Antichrist every few years as major politicians come and go never gets through to them.  Of course given that the author of this, Mel Sanger, is selling it for 20 bucks a pop there's always the chance he himself isn't a kook, just someone looking to exploit this paranoia.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

You're Just Lazy.

Frankly given the small number of visitors I get I doubt any of you will be reading this.  But if by some chance you're one of the violent twits who have spent the afternooon smashing things in Toronto then the appropriate description for you is lazy.  It takes no effort to smash things.  You're not changing the world.  You're not brave.  You're not making a difference.  That would actually involve physically doing something, like working at a food bank or a homeless shelter.  Even if all you did was write letters to politicians or write a blog you'd be doing more to help promote whatever cause you supposedly believe in.  Instead all you've done is to play into the hands of those who would marginalise legitimate dissent.  Good job, losers.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How About Some Omaha?

Just a thought for the folks at shows like Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker. How about the occasional Omaha game instead of Texas Hold 'Em? I'd love to see some of the pros go at it in Omaha, especially someone like Mike the Mouth, who claims his best game is Omaha.  The World Series of Poker broadcasts have covered the game so it's not like regular TV poker viewers will be totally unfamiliar with it.  I know the game can be confusing, but it can also be very exciting given some of the wild swings that can happen in a hand.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Old Timer.

Today I received a nice surprise in change for a twenty, this 1989 issue Canadian 10 dollar bill

This series of bills, along with its counterparts of other denominations, are refered to as "bird" bills by some folks for obvious reasons.  Given the excellent shape of this bill for its age I wonder if it didn't sit in someone's desk drawer or other drawer for a long time.  (The serial number for this ten was removed via edting by me, hence the white areas.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Where Are They?

 Hey, Kraft, where the hell have the Kraft Dinner Egg Noodles gone?  You still list them on your Canadian Kraft Dinner page, but I haven't seen a new box in weeks.  I'm thinking this is like last year when the Malted Milk chocolate bar was discontinued, namely that I'm not going to be happy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


That's not how that country name is pronounced.  Stop doing it. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Gas In Saskatoon, June 11, 2010.

Gas in Saskatoon is currently 98.9 cents a litre at most locations.  Frankly I'm surprised the price went down this week given the ongoing mess in the Gulf of Mexico and the effect it's having on BP.  You'd think they'd use it as an excuse to bump up the price.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Oh My Quads!

Odd things can happen in poker, and odd things are even more likely when you're playing Omaha.  I'm playing a fixed limit Omaha Hi/Lo freeroll on Pokerstars as I write this.  Just a bit ago I won three hands in a row with quads: quad 4s, another quad 4s, followed by quad 5s.  Now if I had played those hands back to back that would be exceedingly weird, but I didn't play in the hands between those wins.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Absent Inspiration.

The question of whether there is other intelligent life in the Universe, especially technologically advanced life, is one that fascinates many.  There is much discussion regarding such questions as how common such life might be and whether alien beings have the capability of contacting us.  To date no convincing evidence exists to prove or disprove whether such beings exist, unless of course you buy into one of the various fringe theories floating about.

But one of the things that influences such discusssions, and perhaps hamstrings them, is our own experiences.  The only civilisation we know of is our own, and so we tend to base our guesses on what aliens might do and how they might behave on our own, even though we know that they likely won't be much like us physically or mentally. 

While walking about today I saw quite a few birds flying about.  This got me thinking of a potential reason why we might not encounter alien beings even if they exist.  What if they never decided to fly?

From the earliest days of humanity we've been surrounded by innumerable examples of flying beings, ranging from tiny insects to large birds like vultures.  This no doubt led to the human wish to fly, which has been with us for untold centuries and was expressed in myths such as that of Icarus, who died when flying too close to the Sun destroyed his wax and feather wings.  Numerous ideas were conceived of and some even attempted, but it was the Montgolfier brothers of France who created what is generally recognised as the first successful aircraft, the hot air balloon, and who conducted the first successful manned flight in October of 1783.  This proof that human flight was possible led to two centuries of experimentation and development, resulting in today's modern aircraft and both manned and unmanned spacecraft.

But it's not hard to imagine a biosphere with few or no flying creatures.  Absent the examples of our own world would intelligent beings come up with the idea of flying?   Or perhaps a better question is whether enough "people" would come up with the idea, or think it was a doable concept, without easily visible examples in the world around them.  The only "flight" beings on a planet without flying lifeforms would know would be objects and beings falling from high places, or being flung uncontrolled through the air by accidents, the wind, or explosions.  Even the example of their world's equivalent of insects might not be enough, the assumption being made that the principles involved couldn't be scaled up to anything useful.

If aliens never came up with the idea of flying on their own world the idea of travelling to other worlds via vehicles would seem even less likely.  At the very least any such speculation would probably involve methods like teleportation that so far appear not to be pratical. 

Absense of flight doesn't mean such a civilisation wouldn't have advanced technology.  Much of the technology we use would have developed much as it has, flight or not, because it was not directly influenced by the development of aircraft and spacecraft.  But it wouldn't be one hoping to someday meet us in person, and perhaps wouldn't even consider indirect contact possible at all.  So it's possible it's not just capability that will prevent us contacting our alien counterparts, but the failure to even consider the possibility by those on the other end.

Mick Karn, Financial Support Needed.

I found out via this post from his friend David Torn that former Japan/Rain Tree Crow bassist Mick Karn has been diagnosed with cancer, which is in an advanced state.  Given his current poor financial status donations are being sought both to cover medical treatment and to support his family.  So if you're a fan in a position to help check out the link posted by Mr. Torn.

From better days here's Karn and Japan performing "The Art of Parties."

Friday, June 04, 2010

I Disagree.

poker 1

This poster, seen in a bus shelter, is one of several that are part of an anti-gambling addiction campaign from Saskatchewan Health.

poker 2

Here's a closeup of the main text of the ad.  I can't agree with it.  Many people certainly overestimate their skill at poker.  But this ad in my opinion implies poker is far more of a game of chance than it is.  If poker is such  a result of "luck of the draw" why do people like Phil Hellmuth, who has won 11 World Series of Poker bracelets in various events, exist?  How is it possible for people to get better at playing the game?  We're not talking about something like roulette, where the player has no physical influence on the game after he or she chooses the number they want the ball to land on.  My own experience is that I've done better as time has gone on as I've learned what works and what doesn't.  Am I a great player?  Nope, and I know my limitations.  But you won't convince me skill doesn't play a major role in poker.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Glutton For Punishment.

Doug Camilli of the Montreal Gazette does a gossip column for Canwest News Service.  In today's column he covered Patrick Stewart being made a Knight Bachelor by the Queen.  In it he refers to Stewart's "lucrative but laughable years on Star Trek:  The Next Generation."  I can't help but think he must have a masochistic streak given the possible response from Trek fans.  Personally the last thing I'd want to encourage is hundreds of irate e-mails flooding my mailbox.