computers internet

Storms never last, … or do they?

Image result for go daddy logoVarious ISPs have prevented the hate blog “Daily Stormer”, widely described as a “sewer of humanity”, from passing through their routers, or at least slowed it down. I applaud this move, despite the American’s love of free speech. Americans have free press, but as the cynical adage goes: free press belongs to those who own one, even in the United States. Those who own the telecommunications equipment can determine what passes through their routers and what gets blocked. It gives one a sense of optimism that society and businesses can do what the American govermnment can’t legally do, Trump notwithstanding. ISPs and domain registrars are not bound by the constitution, but instead are generally bound by their own terms of service. Hate speech is generally seen as a violation of the terms of service for most internet-based companies. In this case, the hate speech was especially tasteless, involving verbally attacking Heather Heyer, who was the one who died in Charlottesville, Virginia after being rammed by a car driven this past weekend by Alex Fields, member of Vanguard America, a hate group based in Charlottesville.

Daily Stormer had their “.com” domain name removed by their domain registrar, GoDaddy. Google Domains declined to register their domain name as well. They were even denied after they tried to register their domain with a Russian domain registrar, using a “.ru” TLD (top-level domain).

There are a couple of problems. While being denied a TLD is a good move, it is not the same thing as blocking internet traffic. It just makes finding the website slightly more difficult. Neither domain registrars held their content. The content was on off-site servers, where any web pages, videos and images would have been held. Anyone determined enough could access the website through their IP address, and leave it that way, bypassing any need to know the website name.

Second, there is another cynical adage that every prohibition produces its own underground. The Daily Stormer can always migrate to an alternative internet called “the dark web”. When that happens, anyone with a TOR browser can visit the website. And worse, the IP addresses of those participating in the communication will be undetected and undetectable, through a series of masqueraded IPs that can even obscure the country of origin of the people communicating. And actually, Ars Technica reports that Daily Stormer has already registered a “.onion” domain, a URL on the dark web.

For some more depth, see Ars Technica.

amusement entertainment humour parody politics

A list of state slogans

From the responses to Chris Cillizza’s request on Twitter (@CillizzaCNN) that people submit their own state motto. Fair use, since none of these were authored by Chris Cillizza, but submitted by the general public.

Alabama: first in football, but last in everything else.
Alaska: Worst deal in history. Give it back to Russia!
Arizona: Sunny, With Sucky Senators.
Arkansas: Come dig for diamonds and leave with Cotton.
California: the land of fruits and nuts
Colorado: So fricken high they voted for Hillary
Connecticut: Just a restroom between Boston and New York.
Delaware: Have you seen Delaware? It’s more like a Dela-won’t.
Florida: underwater shark bait
Georgia: Without Atlanta, It Would Be Another Alabama
Hawaii – when you only want to be “sort of” American
Idaho: “Where did you think Vodka came from?”
Illinois – Land of the only President I rank above me.
Indiana: Where Indiana Jones comes from
Iowa: Gateway to Nebraska
Kansas: “Great band! I am delivering on my promise to bring the U.S., the whole world actually, to the ‘Point of no return.'”
Kentucky: New Jersey Charm with Mississippi Sophistication
Louisiana: We’re Alabama with Better Food
Maine: Basically Canada — except Paul LePage
Maryland: The Wire was real, you know
Massachusetts: Vegans and Massholes
Michigan – The rusted-out gauntlet of the Great Lakes.
Minnesota: Always getting out over our skis.
Mississippi: more ‘I’s than teeth
Missouri: First in meth houses.
Montana: The cool stuff died 65 million years ago.
Nebraska: First in Friendship, Second in Cat and Dog Obesity
Nevada Home of High Rollers and Low Lifers
New Hampshire: A drug-infested den (Trump)
New Jersey: ‘I don’t own it, they’re just paying to use my name’
New Mexico: the only Mexico paying for my wall
New York: “At least we’re not New Jersey.”
North Carolina: Gateway to Virginia and its many great Trump properties!
North Dakota: For when you are bored of South Dakota.
Ohio…we put the O in opiates.
Oklahoma: 1st in earthquakes and tornadoes, 49th in everything else.
Oregon: The home of the witch trials.
Pennsylvania: They said I had no chance.
Rhode Island: Small state, small hands.
South Carolina, the rusty buckle of the Bible Belt.
South Dakota: Gateway to North Dakota
Tennessee. Above Kentucky in everthing but the map
Texas: Thank God for Mississippi.
Utah-needs casinos
Vermont: communists and cows.
Virginia: Make-Believe Southern State
Washington: Too much cyber.
West Virginia – Come for my Cousin, Stay for the Coal
Wisconsin – The Curdled Milk State!
Wyoming – Not sure where it is, but I think I won there.
daily life General Comments misc Miscellaneous Opinion Pop Culture Popular Culture radio ramblings Random random thoughts Rants tasteless

The most annoying sound on radio

Related image
This picture was shot at Square One … no, in Vaughan, no, in Scarborough, … Edmonton?, … oh, well… they all look alike.

Why do jewellery commercials have to be so tasteless and annoying? I single out jewellery commericals, since they are more annoying even then furniture commercials, their main competitor for the gold standard of tastelessness.

But no. We have sharpers like Russell Oliver, and others who will go on TV and radio and in the most garish manner known to man, tell you how you can trade in your jewellery for cash, in a way that seems to rob your most prized possessions of all the dignity and memory they once had. But I don’t believe he is the worst.

On the radio station I listen to, which doesn’t play a lot of ads, I admit, there is that infernal commercial from Spence Diamonds. Oh, that Scream! I didn’t know that it has been dubbed the “Spence Scream”, and even hashtagged #SpenceScream since at least 2014. It has even attracted some imitators, and an attempt had been made to vote it out of existence (Spence didn’t listen and it still persists to this afternoon). Since it was Spence that initiated the vote, I believe that maybe they thought it was too memorable, and couldn’t come up with a less annoying idea.

I am annoyed because I am already married, been there, done that. Having been through it, it is a tad degrading to hear it. The marriage (mine, at least), was about love. Clearly, Spence is agaisnt this idea. They want it to be about their diamonds.

Curiously, the comment sections of the YouTube videos of Spence promos have curiously well-worded and lucid critiques of Spence’s advertising practices. These are not your normal trolls. These apparently well-educated and erudite people seemed to have a lot of time on their hands, and are gravely preoccupied with dignity and class.

I think: look, the couple sounds very much in-character on the radio, just get rid of the scream.

amusement babbling

In youtube: 100 worst _____ (using auto-complete)

100 worst … youtube channels

There are thousands of “worst channels” all tied for last place, if it must have definition.

  • Channels with no videos or playlists
  • Channels with no videos but no original content
  • Channels that slander or promote racial bias or hatred
  • Channels that are advertising, disguised as entertainment or information

… pick up lines

  • That might be a worthwhile topic, but only if it’s funny, since a bad pickup line could be just boring

… video games

  • For me, they are the ones that are either
    • Impossible to win
    • Impossible to lose
    • Involve battlefields (since I always seem to get stuck in a place with no combat)

… movie lines

  • Be careful there … sometimes the worst lines are the best ones of all

… songs

  • While this is subjective, we could pick songs that were either
    • Auto-tuned to death and are not singable by any human
    • Bad quality audio, or sung/played badly
    • And, yes, the usual bad lyrics

… Spongebob episodes

  • I have a hard time distinguishing good Spongebob episodes from bad ones. I thought they were all bad.

… games/games of all time

  • We already mentioned video games, but same criteria

… pop records

  • Bad songs that were hits. Another worthwhile topic. Let’s see if Disco Duck and Who Let The Dogs Out make the list.
  • Because the list is long, a lot of tunes make the list because they were simply overplayed over the years (and become horribly annoying for that reason), but are actually decent songs:
    • Ebony and Ivory
    • My Heart Will Go On
    • We Built This City
    • Tie a Yellow Ribbon
    • Love Will Keep Us Together
    • Seasons in the Sun
    • Go Your Own Way
  • A survey conducted by showed in its results, what I imagine to be people who tended not to pick songs they didn’t recognize (obviously) – except there appeared to be agreement on what is not recognizable. I don’t recognize any of the 30 or so songs at the bottom of the list, but I recognize nearly all of the songs at the top 30 of the list. We tend to perceieve as “worst” songs, songs that are actually hits (usually big hits), but are overplayed. The top 10 songs appear to be nearly all rap/hip hop tunes (except for Achy Breaky Heart, My Heart Will Go On, I’d Do Anything For Love, and We Built This City)
consumerism daily life General Comments


These are some rambling thoughts on things I have found lying around on YouTube and other locations.

My jazz station plays too many jazz covers of hit songs. If I wanted to hear Woodstock, I would tune into an oldies station to hear the original.

Americans are being offered Tim Horton’s Poutine doughnuts. Yuck. My biggest worry is that Americans are thinking “Canadians eat this stuff all the time!”. It is not offered in Canada.

Youtube is littered with spectacle and it threatens to over-run the good stuff on there. Videos currently tread on the topics of dog tricks, Trump vids are ubiquitous, Cyanide and Happiness, the Kardashians, Marvel comic characters, and other trivia.

One topic buy tramadol 100mg that comes up at least as often as these is regarding search engines as a topic, usually discussing the absurdity of auto-complete. One person did a vlog on someone who google’d himself, and another more constructively (but not much more) did a vlog on the web’s most searched questions. It just ends up being goofy.

Popular musicians for the next hour or so according to YouTube appear to be Ed Sheeran (1.6 billion views on one video); The Chainsmokers with Coldplay; DJ Khaled; French Montana; and Bruno Mars. There are many others, most of whom I have barely heard since I started preferring to listen to Jazz and Classical music.

random thoughts Rants republican

Trump is alright, except …

From several news sources, we’ve heard that the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts (home to both Harvard and MIT), has voted nearly unanimously to call for an impeachment to Donald Trump. One article from here gives a synopsis of the event. I chose this website because of one awesome commentator who only goes by the name of “CSB365”, who replied to a Trump supporter who says that Trump has done nothing wrong. CSB365 then replies there is no reason to impeach Trump or accuse him of illicit ties to Russia, …

  • except for the Flynn thing
  • and the Manafort thing
  • and the Tillerson thing
  • and the Sessions thing
  • and the Kushner thing
  • and the Carter Page thing
  • and the Roger Stone thing
  • and the Felix Sater thing
  • and the Boris Ephsteyn thing
  • and the Rosneft thing
  • and the Gazprom thing
  • and the Sergey Gorkov banker thing
  • and the Azerbajain thing
  • and the “I love Putin” thing
  • and the Donald Trump, Jr. thing
  • and the Sergey Kislyak thing
  • and the Russian Affiliated Interests thing
  • and the Russian Business Interests thing
  • and the Emoluments Clause thing
  • and the Alex Schnaider thing
  • and the hack of the DNC thing
  • and the Guccifer 2.0 thing
  • and the Mike Pence “I don’t buy online tramadol know anything” thing
  • and the Russians mysteriously dying thing
  • and Trump’s public request to Russia to hack Hillary’s email thing
  • and the Trump house sale for $100 million at the bottom of the housing bust to the Russian fertilizer king thing
  • and the Russian fertilizer king’s plane showing up in Concord, NC
  • during Trump rally campaign thing
  • and the Nunes sudden flight to the White House in the night thing
  • and the Nunes personal investments in the Russian winery thing
  • and the Cyprus bank thing
  • and Trump not releasing his tax returns thing
  • and the Republican Party’s rejection of an amendment to require Trump to show his taxes thing
  • and the election hacking thing
  • and the GOP platform change to the Ukraine thing
  • and the Steele Dossier thing
  • and the Leninist Bannon thing
  • and the Sally Yates can’t testify thing
  • and the intelligence community’s investigative reports thing
  • and Trump’s reassurance that the Russian connection is all “fake news” thing
  • and Spicer’s Russian Dressing “nothing’s wrong” thing

so there’s probably nothing there since the swamp has been drained, these people would never lie — probably why Nunes cancels the investigation meetings. All of this must be normal; just a bunch of separate dots with no connection.


Quotations satire

You know it’s April 1st when …

The news cycle is replete with bogus stories:

  • Trump appoints Ivanka to head anti-nepotism task force.
  • ‘Trump has decided gravity is not real’, says Sean Spicer, while clearly suspended by wires.
  • “Putting Shakespeare to Rap music helps students revise”, say leading educators.
  • World’s Largest aircraft APR001 to house a swimming pool, gym, and park.
  • Ask Google Gnome what to feed your marigolds, or if your marigolds can feed you.
  • Ireland’s Trump Dublin completion expected by 2018

Multiple choice question: One of the above six stories is actually real. Click here if you want to see the “true” news article for the answer.

comedians comedy parody

The Future of Trump Parodies

Humor can be a place where we celebrate what we as a human race value: honesty, love, safety, racial equality, fairness, peacefulness. We usually do this by poking fun at the times when any of these values are violated by public figures such as world leaders or celebrities. Usually these violations happen once or twice, but what if it happens all the time … ?

It’s been an amazing month on the talk show circuit regarding how Trump and his administration have been lampooned by seemingly every stand-up comedian and talk show host — and don’t forget Saturday Night Live. It will also be interesting to note how much mileage you would get out of the political satire.

Melissa McCarthy will have to work hard to try to make the caricaturing of Sean Spicer fresh for the next four years. The same can be said for Alec Baldwin, or anyone charged with hosting a nighttime talk show, like Bill Maher or Stephen Colbert.

But I guess, it is not just Trump that is a laughingstock. It is also a large swath of his administration and his appointees. It looks comedians are already lampooning Education Secretary Betsy where can you buy tramadol DeVos, Chief Strategist (and probably the real (unelected) president) Steve Bannon (who right now appears on SNL as a kind of Grim Reaper), Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and of course Mike Pence (the Vice President), Jeff Sessions, the list goes on. The field is so ripe with those who shall be referred to as “characters”, that it could also turn out that the supply of satirical material will be nearly unlimited. It would be a surprise if somewhere there is a quiet, boring place in government where things just go on as usual, under this administration. A department inside of a department that no one has ever paid attention to and no politician cares about. Oh, the hilarious possibilities in that!

It is worth noting that I have not really been a fan of SNL for some time now, as many haven’t, but seeing that their ratings have been the best since the days of Wayne’s World, and possibly since the days of The Blues Brothers, it doesn’t look like they are going to slow down the pace any time soon, and it might be high time I start tuning in.

politics Popular Culture

The Government is telling me who I am: The voting Survey: a lesson in sampling bias part III

As a response for participating in the survey, I finally know who I am, because the government told me so. Apparently I am a pragmatist. In an earlier one of these online surveys, I was someone on the loony left. These labels are, on some level, amusing. It’s kind of like reading a Horoscope characterization of yourself, with about the same level of scientific accuracy. Most things on this list as so broadly-defined that they can apply to just about anyone. I will just show this characterization below without comment:


  1. Pragmatists
    • My democracy is balancedand straight-forward
    • Pragmatists generally want governments to strike a balance between decisive action and compromise. They tend to prefer a clear line of accountability to voters, but not at the expense of collaboration between parties.
    • Pragmatists are split about whether special measures are needed to help increase the diversity of representation in Parliament.
    • Pragmatists typically prefer that election ballots are easy to use and to understand.
    • Pragmatists generally view voting as a democratic duty rather than a personal choice and are slightly more inclined to support mandatory voting. They are among the least likely archetypes to support online voting.

Who are Pragmatists?

    • 52
  2. MALE
    • 48%
    • 52%
  4. OTHER
    • *
  5. RURAL
    • 25%
    • 29%
  7. URBAN
    • 46%

The voting Survey: a lesson in sampling bias part II

So far, in the last post, I had revealed an example of sampling bias as being the fact that the questions only hint at particular alternative voting systems without coming out and suggesting one and how it has been implemented elsewhere, so that a more intelligent response to the questionnaire could be made possible. A casual questionnaire participant would look at these questions on offer and probably say “sounds like a great idea” without understanding the details of the proposed voting system that would make him or her think otherwise.

It is also my understanding that certain groups of people (i.e, government and industry) are often breathless in their praise of computers. Now mind you, computers are a great technology (my blog runs on one), but the most trustworthy technology have been voting with physical paper ballots. It is hard evidence that a vote took place. Pushing a button or pulling a lever or interacting with a computer sends electrons through conductors that have no memory and leave no trace of themselves behind. The “memory” on a computer would then only be as effective as the program running that is counting my vote. On the other hand, a pen mark on a paper ballot will last a hundred years.

This is to say nothing about our experiences with federal elections south of the border. Since the voting machines came in, there have been accusations, not without merit, of corruption in the American voting system, due to the way the machines counted the votes, leading to people ask how they were programmed. But when called upon to surrender their source code, companies like Diebold refused, citing patent infringement. If this were government-owned source code, they could make a clear case for public accountability, and demand that the feds surrender the code and make it public. But Diebold is a private company, so they can’t make that demand. This in effect gives companies like Diebold unaccountable power over election turnout in the United States.

On the “Cooperation” scenario is that allowing opposition parties to participate in developing policy places the Prime Minister as the lone president of “Canada, Inc.”, thus Americanizing the Candian system (I know you all want that), since this also allows the PM to be elected on a separate ballot (not a bad idea in some ways). Of course this proposal of separate ballots for the PM is nowhere on this questionnaire. Everything is just hinted at, hoping the participant doesn’t think any bit deeper.

We would have to say farewell to the bloodletting of Question Period, and if we ever hated big governnment before, it would be worse this way, with no effective opposition, and no avenue for citizen input in the lower chamber. The government would have 338 elected employees (formerly called MPs) working for it, rather than some of them in opposition. That would only leave the upper chamber, the senate, to speak for anyone with an opposing view.

There were then these binary questions asked, in the form of “which do I want more?”:

  1. A government where one party governs and can make decisions on its ownOR a government where several parties have to collectively agree before a decision is made?
    • I like how the question makes you want to answer in favour of cooperation. Cooperation leaves no voice of opposition, and no accountability. But if I favour the first option, am I supporting dictatorships? Also, was there ever a problem with “cooperation” and policy making in the past that would lead us to demand a total overhaul?
    • I don’t define governing with an opposition party on the other side of the house “governing on your own”.
  2. One party governs and is solely accountable for policy outcomesOR several parties must cooperate to govern and they share accountability for policy outcomes?
    • This question is really the same as the first, and makes no suggestion as to how accountability would be held in the second scenario. “Shared accountability” leaves open the question “to whom?”. There has to be an elected body that holds MPs accountable. Up until the last election, that role was filled by the MPs in opposition.
    • This brings up the murky topic about the senate being elected …? I like the senate and understand what they do. They are not just a rubber stamp on Parliament, they speak for minorities, and for the long term. That is why they don’t run for election. They are there to think of policy’s effect over decades and vote based on “sober second thought”. The lower chamber and elections have the problem of only thinking as far as the next election for the effect of policy. Senators do not have to do the bidding of the lower house or of their party or of the Prime Minister. Policy is something we must live with for decades into the future, and we need that additional deep thought by detached individuals to help the lower chamber change its policy so that things work into the future. It has served us well in the past, and again, the only complaints come from self-interested groups who want to see a more American system. Remeber, our senators right now have no committement to party loyalty whatsoever, and is thus detached from the lower house. The American system is still bound to party loyalty.
  3. Ballots should be as simple as possible so that everybody understands how to voteOR ballots should allow everybody to express their preferences in detail?
    • Simple is always better.
  4. Members of Parliament that do what their party promised, even if it means going against what their constituents wantOR members of Parliament that do what their constituents want, even if it means going against what their party promised?
    • Voters usually vote for their party and their platform. The local platform is far less publicized, even locally. So, I think party promises should come first, since that is likely what got their party into power. And to the extent that the party strays from the original platform, MPs should become the voice of their constituents.
  5. No further action needs to be taken to ensure that those elected to Parliament better reflect the diversity of the population they representOR further action needs to be taken to ensure that those elected to Parliament better reflect the diversity of the population they represent?
    • Diversity is determined by voters. What on Earth could the government do to change that? Telling some people they can’t run and saying that others can? The voters have to decide that. And if a under-represented member of a minority wants to run, then let him or her, and wish them the best of luck. Was there ever anything preventing this from happening?
  6. Canadians should have the option to cast their ballots online in federal elections, even if the security or privacy of online voting cannot be guaranteedOR Canadians should continue to vote using paper ballots at a polling station, even if it is less accessible for some voters?
    • Again, we have always accomodated disabled people at the voting station. I say that as the husband of a wife who has been in a wheelchair for over a decade. It is another non-problem. The huge problem is from the first choice: the lack of security in online voting. This is always the problem in improving convenience for people in computer software: security is always sacrificed. To make the voting system trustworthy, I believe it is worth a little discomfort for a few minutes at the voting station in filling out a paper ballot. Again, I have heard of no one complaining about not using computers. I have heard a whole lot more about us speaking of American elections as a laughingstock with their computer voting.
  7. Voting in federal elections is an obligationOR voting in federal elections is a choice?
    • Voting is our right. That includes a right not to vote. Sorry to say that, but that is the reality. If the candidates are all sub-optimal, then I should not be forced to cast a choice. The politicians must simply learn to be more in touch with the people who elect them. This is a simple human expectation.
  8. Having many small parties in Parliament representing many different viewsOR having a few big parties that try to appeal to a broad range of people?
    • I don’t think that can be answered with this questionnaire, nor is it the purview of our government to do anything about that. It should be up to the voters. It would help if the government lowered the official minimum seats for official party status from 6 down to 1.
    • And if the party was treated less as an extension of the PMO as it has been in recent decades, and more of a looser-knit set of politicians speaking for those who elected them, this idea of “representing many different views” would never have been a problem. Nobody asked for all party MPs to vote as a block on every possible legislation. Simply stop doing that, and we will be fine.
  9. Members of Parliament that spend more time in their constituency working with constituentsOR Members of Parliament that spend more time on Parliament Hill working on the issues that matter to their constituents?
    • I don’t see what problem this solves. If you are in your constituency office, you are spending less time voting on legislation in Ottawa, and less time in Question Period. If you are speding more time in Ottawa, you are spending less “face time” with your constituents. Wouldn’t we have already worked this problem out a long time ago? Why is this question being asked?
  10. Members of Parliament that always support policies that they think are best for their constituents, even if their constituents disagreeOR Members of Parliament that always support policies their constituents want, even if the MPs themselves personally disagree?
    • Also, wouldn’t an MP already know why they were elected and not let their personal opinions contaminate their support of policies? I would treat the voters as always being right, and would never be so paternalistic as to feel that I know better what my constituents need.
Pop Pop Culture Popular Culture Popular Music

In Memoriam, 2016

What a year. A lot of really well-liked musicians and entertainers have shuffled off this mortal coil. Indeed, it was a depressing year for celebrity deaths, and increased global warming and Trump winning the election didn’t help things. We witness the cosmically interconnected deaths of multiple people within the same sitcom; both Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia in Star Wars) and mother Debbie Reynolds (Co-starred with Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain) die within a day of each other. And the actor behind R2-D2 in the same year. This is to say nothing about ’70s and ’80s music icons. This list of more than 45 people who died this year are just the ones that most easily come to mind. It still seems like a long list. Of course, if you are an “in memoriam” junkie, there is always the much, much longer list at

Abe Vigoda (1921-2016)

Abe Vigoda – One of two former members who passed away this year, from the now-syndicated TV comedy series Barney Miller. Abe played detective “Fish”.

Alan Thicke (1947-2016)

Alan Thicke – Sitcom actor mostly known for his role as a father in Growing Pains. He was also host of the talk show The Alan Thicke Show

Alvin Toffler (1928-2016)

Alvin Toffler – Author of the much read and much studied ’70s social commentary “Future Shock

Arnold Palmer (1929-2016)

Arnold Palmer – Recognized as one of the greatest golfers in sports history.

Billy Paul (1934-2016)

Billy Paul – Writer and singer of the soul hit Me and Mrs. Jones, and possibly the originator of the word “jonesin'” whenever someone has a romantic obsession with someone else, or with an idea.

Bob Elliott (1923-2016) with comedy partner Ray Goulding (1922-1990)

Bob Elliott – one half of the duo “Bob and Ray“. Bob and Ray was a radio comedy program which was popular during the 1940s and 1950s. And many of their skits have stood the test of time. Ray Goulding died in 1990.

Bobby Vee (1943-2016)

Bobby Vee – Early 1960s pop singer, with over 10 hits in reaching the top 20.

Brock Yates (1933-2016)

Brock Yates – Contributor to Car and Driver magazine, and invented the concept of the Cannonball Run, which inspired many 70s car-oriented movies such as Smoky and the Bandit, and the actual movie named Cannonball Run.

Charmaine Carr (1942-2016)

Charmaine Carr – Played the eldest von Trapp sister Liesel in the movie The Sound of Music.

David Bowie (1947-2016)

David Bowie – Singer/songwriter/gender bender/fashion plate. More here and here.

Edgar Mitchell (1930-2016)

Edgar Mitchell – the 6th man to walk on the moon during Apollo 14.

Fidel Castro (1926-2016)

Fidel Castro –  President of Cuba for around 55 years. He turned American holdings into public holdings while thumbing his nose at the American government. Along the way, he killed off a lot of his opponents, restricted free speech, but also had free education, and free healthcare, which was the envy of Central America, causing average life expectancy to extend beyond those of Americans. So, while reviews are mixed, he is, on balance, revered as one the great leaders of the 20th century.

Florence Henderson (1934-2016)

Florence Henderson – Played mother Carol in The Brady Bunch.

Frank Sinatra Jr., (1944-2016)

Frank Sinatra, Jr. – Son of Frank Sinatra.

Garry Shandling (1949-2016)

Garry Shandling – Played host on the quasi-reality-sitcom The Gary Shandling Show.

Gene Wilder – I prefer to remember him for his roles in the Mel Brooks movies Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles. More here.

Gene Wilder (1933-2016)
George Kennedy (1925-2016)

George Kennedy – Most famous for his starring roles in Naked Gun, and all four sequels of the Airport films, based on an Arthur Haley novel.

George Michael (1963-2016)

George Michael – Lead singer of Wham! and later soloist. Died of heart failure.

George Martin (1926-2016)

 Sir George Martin – Producer for The Beatles.

Glenn Frey (1948-2016)

Glenn Frey – Solo musician, and former lead singer of The Eagles.

Greg Lake (1947-2016)

Greg Lake – The “L” in ELP (Emerson, Lake, and Palmer). Before that, he was the drummer for King Crimson.  Died on 7 December.

Gordie Howe (1928-2016)

Gordie Howe, OC — Played in the NHL for just over a quarter century, and another six years in the WHA. Known as “Mr. Hockey”.

Harper Lee (1926-2016)

Harper Lee – Author of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Henry Heimlich (1920-2016)

Henry Heimlich – American physician and inventor of the Heimlich Maneuver.

Henry McCullough (1943-2016)

Henry McCullough – Played lead guitar for Joe Cocker and for Wings. He was also a solo performer at the original Woodstock festival in 1969.

Bob Newhart (left) and Jack Riley (right) (1935-2016)

Jack Riley – Played the neurotic patient Elliott Carlin in The Bob Newhart Show. He also has a movie career that dates back to playing a doctor in the original version of the movie Catch-22.

Joe Santos (1931-2016)

Joe Santos – Played Lt. Becker on The Rockford Files; also played in Magnum P. I., and The Sopranos.

John Glenn (1921-2016)

John Glenn – First man to circle the globe in a space capsule, aviator, astronaut, and Ohio state senator.

Kenny Baker (1934-2016) next to R2-D2.

Kenny Baker – The man inside R2-D2.

Leon Russell (1942-2016)

Leon Russell (Claude Russell Bridges) – Soloist and session musician to some of the best names in ’60s and ’70s music: The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, The Carpenters, Jan and Dean, Dave Mason, B. B. King, and Rita Coolidge, to begin to scratch the surface.

Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)

Leonard Cohen – Folk/Pop singer, poet, painter.

Marvin Minsky (1927-2016)

Marvin Minsky – Father of artificial intelligence.

Maurice White (1941-2016)

Maurice White – Founding member of the 70s dance band Earth, Wind and Fire.

Merle Haggard (1937-2016)

Merle Haggard – Country and Western singer.

Morley Safer (1931-2016)

Morley Safer – News anchor for CBS’s 60 Minutes. He was in television journalism for 61 years.

Muhammad Ali – Three-time world heavyweight champion in boxing. More here.

Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)

Pat Harrington – Played Duane Schneider on the sitcom One Day at a Time.

Pat Harrington (1929-2016)
Patty Duke (1946-2016)

Patty Duke – Played both Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan in both best-known film adaptations of the movie The Miracle Worker. She won an Oscar for the first one in 1963. She has been either on film or TV fairly steadily between 1958 and 2012.

Paul Kantner (1941-2016)

Paul Kantner – One of the founding members of Jefferson Airplane.

Sir Peter Shaffer (1926-2016)

Peter Shaffer – British Playwright best known for Amadeus and Equus.

Prince (Prince Rogers Nelson) – Prolific pop musician, talent scout, and record producer. More here.

Prince (1958-2016)
Richard Adams (1920-2016)

Richard Adams — Author of the children’s novel Watership Down.

Robert Vaughn (1932-2016)

Robert Vaughn – Starred in Man from U. N. C. L. E. He also had a number of movie roles throughout the 1970s.

Ron Glass (1945-2016)

Ron Glass – Played Detective Harris on the sitcom Barney Miller.

Scotty Moore (1931-2016)

Scotty Moore – Elvis Presley’s first guitarist.

Steve Young (1942-2016)

Steve Young – Wrote Seven Bridges Road, which became a hit for The Eagles.

Susannah Mushatt Jones (1899-2016)

Susannah Mushatt Jones – World’s oldest living person at time of death, born in Alabama in 1899 to sharecroppers, and was the granddaughter of slaves. Since high school, she spent most of her life in Brooklyn, New York City, and had retired since 1965. She attributes her longevity to never having smoked or consumed alcohol.

Umberto Eco (1932-2016)

Umberto Eco – Professor of semiotics, University of Boston

Denise Matthews (1959-2016) (post-Vanity)

Vanity (Denise Katrina Matthews) – Singer, Songwriter. Boy-pal Prince was about to introduce her and her lingerie-clad all-girl band to the world as “Vaginia and the Hookers”. Late into the night, she persuaded Prince that her stage name was to be called “Vanity”, and her lingerie-clad all-girl band was to be called “Vanity 6”. Prince said: “Wha’? Why ‘6’? There’s only three of you”. The group lasted for one album and one tour. Two years later, she would land several movie and TV roles. Among her other boyfriends during her life of glamour were Adam Ant and Nikki Sixx. By 1996 she had renounced her drug use (oh yeah, she was also battling drug addiction) and all ties to the entertainment industry by finding God and creating her own ministry.

William Christopher (1932-2016)

William Christopher  — Played Father Mulcahy in the hit TV series M*A*S*H.

W. P. Kinsella (1935-2016)

William Patrick (W. P.) Kinsella — Canadian novelist known for Shoeless Joe, which was adapted to film.

Zsa Zsa Gabor (1917-2016)

Zsa Zsa Gabor — Hungarian-American Beauty queen, socialite and actress.



The voting survey: a lesson in sampling bias

Our feds came up with a survey that had some useful questions in it, but also had some questions that gave the overall impression of how they wanted the questions answered. They are asking me to agree or disagree with statements that have not been discussed a whole lot in the media, and really require complex answers. The “questions” usually came in the form of statements such as:

  1. Canadians should have the option to cast their vote online in federal elections, even if it is less secure.
    • How innovative! Are they thinking of repeating the mistakes in the American elections? Ballots may be low tech, but they are completely secure from hacking, which seems to occur too frequently in Europe and America to allow our democracy to be guided by it.
  2. There should be parties in Parliament that represent the views of all Canadians, even if some are radical or extreme.
    • The question is worded in such a way so as to make the repsentation of all Canadians itself a “radical” concept. The far left has had political parties for generations, but I am sure that the Marxist-Leninists and the Communists are completely out of the question. And the Greens are just slightly out of our consciousness. The far right is mentioned far more often in the media, and is what  most people might be thinking about in this survey, making this question sufficiently repulsive enough it its wording to encourage people to disagree with the statement.
    • “The views of all Canadians” is something that should be respected anyway. There have been, as of late too much corporate influence, but that can be changed by changing how parties are funded, not by changing how we vote. But for another thing, the number of seats for official party status should be lowered to 1, allowing Ms. Elizabeth May to represent the Green Party officially. The current minimum is 6, so the BQ would still have official party status.
  3. Governments should have to negotiate their policy decisions with other parties in Parliament, even if it is less clear who is accountable for the resulting policy.
    • The government elected should do the job it promised. “Negotiations” change the platform the parties were elected on into something else, making it harder for governing parties to fulfil their campaign promises, and be held accountable. Policies would be enacted that no voter ever agreed to. There is already a negotiation process anyway. That’s when MPs have “first reading” and “second reading” in the House of Commons. Policies can change to secure the votes on both sides of the house in that process. I don’t recall anyone complaining about that, except that it’s slow. The proposed measure sounds like it would be far slower.
    • Then there’s the question of “what if it works”? If it works, it clearly works in favour of the ruling party, since voters are likely to keep the same system operating, and opposition parties would be motivated to make the system fail on purpose in some way, so they can win the next election.
  4. A party that wins the most seats in an election should still have to compromise with other parties, even if it means reconsidering some of its policies.
    • No. You end up with a hybrid that neither the ruling party nor the opposition voted for. Doesn’t sound democratic.
  5. The voting age for federal elections should be lowered.
  6. Voters should be able to express multiple preferences on the ballot, even if this means that it takes longer to count the ballots and announce the election result.
    • I’ve heard of this before, it sounds good if the choices are structured as “first choice”, “second choice”, and so on. This hints at an electoral method that involves runoffs. Counting the votes means correlating who voted for X and Y. The lowest gets eliminated, so if X is eliminated, his votes are counted for Y. Mind you, this questionnaire never comes out and mentions a particular voting system. It just hints at things. So, what motivates these questions is itself an open question.
    • That being said, it doesn’t sound like a human can count this, since this means associating #1, #2, and #3 vote choices for each voter. My choice and your first choice might be the same, but if that person gets eliminated, your second choice might not be the same as my second, and we both need to be respected so that my vote then goes to my second choice as does your vote to yours.  It takes computers to make such fine-grained associations for millions of voters, and computers are corruptible. I would only trust it if the government hired programmers to write the code (so there is no patent infringement as Diebold so often cited in the States for its hacked voting computers), then make the source code public and free for anyone to download and examine, and compile to see that it runs the same way as the copies used in a voting kiosk.
  7. It is better for several parties to have to govern together than for one party to make all the decisions in government, even if it takes longer for government to get things done.
    • This call for multi-party “cooperation” in developing policy sounds like a jump into those school group activities where all children have some skill to bring to the group that causes the group to produce better results on a project than the sum of their individual efforts would have. I expect a huge generational difference in opinion here, depending on what kind of education you had, and what decades you attended school.
    • All fine. Wouldn’t we all want to see our members of parliament cooperate on both sides of the house for a change? But this has a problem of placing the opposition parties into the realm of accountability where there is nobody left in the house to hold the government accountable, since everyone is now a policymaker, and what would be the purpose of elections then? As much as I like Trudeau, we need the Conservatives and the NDP to ask him and the Liberal Party tough, pointed questions during Question Period. You can’t be a critic on the opposition side if you are also cooperating with the governing party. I need an opposition MP to complain to about policy as a citizen, and it doesn’t help if their party was consulted in drawing up the policy.
  8. Members of Parliament should always support the position of their party, even if it means going against the wishes of their constituents.
    • No, we have had enough of that. Constituents voted for the MP, they should matter more. But they should, out of loyalty, vote for policies that their party ran for on their platform. Loyalty should extend no further.

Hillary Pilloried

We should see more headlines like this. This past day’s election should have been Hillary’s to lose, not Trump’s to win. But this is what it has become. In the media, it was always about Donald. Donald says something outrageous, then the media and the world react, like a Greek chorus. Hillary, singing alto, would be part of that chorus, never having the opportunity to campaign on the issues themselves. This made the media’s job easy, since it became a story about character — Trump’s character — rather than policy, to the point where all other issues (health, education, the economy, employment) didn’t seem to matter anymore. All that mattered was Trump’s hubris. To balance this, Hillary spoke nothing on the issues either, but the political theatre unfolded to make her more of a sympathetic character, who couldn’t rather than wouldn’t.

Trump never had an idea if any of his promises would materialize, because in many ways he didn’t fully understand government. One thing that came out is that he was never reported to have put his investments in a blind trust, so that he doesn’t use his presidential insider knowledge to enrich himself. We have had the honor system for this, since there is no actual law against using presidential information to enrich yourself, although taking bribes can still land you in prison.

The Democrats did take a beating on all three houses of government. I am not sure what Dems had in mind as a party when they chose Hillary as the candidate. It is almost like they were part of the coronation of Trump.  Given even a mildly favourable candidate with a clean record, defeating Trump should not have been a difficult thing for the Democrats.

Bill Maher is a comedian who tried to balance out the attempts to equate the weaknesses of the two candidates. It is a valiant effort, and well-executed, except that he insults the people who buy into it as non-thinking fools, thus defeating his own object of exposing Trump’s divisiveness by invoking some of his own. Maher doesn’t like excessive political correctness, but he appears to misunderstand how it could have worked in his favour.

Anyway, all I can do now is thank the late Dwight Eisenhower for imposing the 22nd constitutional amendment, the one that imposes limits on the president to serving only two terms.

activism Science and Technology

As I have said elsewhere …

I have been saying for the past six months that the coverage of Donald Trump has the effect of support for the Republican presidential candidate. Other events also contributed, most notably the coronation of Trump which constituted the whole Republican convention from start to finish. The mediocre crop of candidates surrounding Trump did not want to team up to bring him down, effectively dividing the vote in Donald’s favour, and everyone was in on the punch line except those same Republican candidates.

But the media play a big role, and all coverage follows a pattern of Trump saying something stupid, and like a Greek Chorus, the media then reacts with pundits buy generic viagra with american express and, oh yeah, the Democratic candidates as well. The rest of the media, including the Democratic party, and anyone else with an informed and responsible opinion all seem to act as the “straight man” to the Donald’s “zingers”.  But it has always been clear that Donald plays the lead.

It is like a sitcom, a serious process of choosing the leader of the free world, which has now become indistinguishable from show business. A person who contributes nothing to any democratic debate, and advances no topic worthy of serious discussion. There is also this slogan — I think it was “Make America Hate Again”, wasn’t it? Seems about right.

Order of Canada

OOC 013: Folkies and Rockers

bruce cockburn
Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn tried to stay back-to-the-land (and later political) in his music and public image for as long as he could. Born and raised in Ottawa, he has been penning songs for over 30 years along many themes, including religion, third world politics, love, friendship, and much more.

Apart from getting his Order of Canada in 1983, he also has several honroary degrees, is a Canadian Music Hall of Famer, and received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.  Many have covered him, like U2, Ani DiFranco, Barenaked Ladies, Anne Murray, Judy Collins, and many more.

Neil Young

Neil Young had a long and storied solo career, but had his origins in Crosby, buy tramadol online without prescriptions Stills, Nash and Young and Buffalo Springfield before that. He appeared with CSN&Y at Woodstock in 1969. Like a lot of 70s rockers, he is a native of Winnipeg – the Guess Who and BTO came from there – but to a greater extent than any other musician, always insisted on doing his own thing.

His 2009 induction into the Order of Canada was one of many ways that his accomplishments were recognised. He was also prominent on Canada’s Walk of Fame, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on two occasions: once for his work in CSN&Y, and once more for his solo effort.

Sprituality teetotaling

Famous Teetotalers 013: She’s a little bit country, and he’s a little bit rock and roll

Donny and Marie
Donny and Marie Osmond.

Donny and Marie Osmond have been singing as a brother and sister act since the early 1970s. Both don’t imbibe, and possibly never did, accounting as to why both look so young. They still have their brother/sister act, which they perform mostly in Vegas these days. Marie has liberal views about marriage and out of support for her lesbian daughter, she supports LGBT rights, something not necessarily agreed to by all of the Osmonds.

You might remember that Donny starred in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat back in the ’90s. The Toronto musical eventually went on tour, and had a very successful 6-year run. Andrew Lloyd Webber was so impressed, that he chose Donny again to star in the film adaptation shot in 1999. Both Donny and Marie have been raised as Mormons, living that way their entire lives.

humor humour

So you want to be a witchcraft-practising wrestler?

You are a follower of witchcraft, and you want to become a wrestler for WWF or something (what decent witch wouldn’t want that?), then you need to have a moniker. An alias that captures all that you are. Here, from the website “Behind the Name“, are some name suggestions to help out witches and warlocks who want to also buy veterinary tramadol join the wrestling profession (a mixture of names construed to be masculine and feminine):

  • Batfire Catgoo
  • Spiderpop Ice Threat
  • Money Kick Macho Professor
  • Atomic Grip Dreadspaz
  • Stone Cold Sheik Toadstare
  • Rhino Kick Beetleweed
  • Beetletooth Vixen
  • Boiltongue Demonhex
  • Danger Dragon
  • Roid Muscles Iron Queen
  • Star Hit Swamphex
  • Wartcast Ice Masher
  • Dragon Roid Princess
blogging computers

If you are out of topic ideas …

People who need a quick idea or have writers block and have to write a blog article (maybe they do it for a living), would probably consult another blog where the wrter provides some slightly-inspired-but-okay ideas where you can make the most of the suggested topic, or change it into something the writer wants.

I was not aware of some websites which do one better. Some websites run a page that is nothing more than a blog topic generator. I was intrigued. Some websites generate these short lists for a fee. A free sample at one website (who will remain nameless to prevent embarrassment, since they are one of those places that charge a fee) allowed me to enter three keywords. OK. So, I went to a news tramadol 50mg buy online site, and chose three keywords that caught my eye: Brexit, flap, and death. The results were hilarious: “10 things your competitors don’t want you to know about death” was one topic that stood out in my mind. Another was: “10 Signs you should invest in death”; or what about: “8 Best blog articles about Flap”? There was one good one in 10 suggested — perhaps someone can write: “The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Brexit”.

I have never been all that great a fan of blog topic suggestions by others or of blog topic generators. I tend to write when I think I have an idea. I then write and see where it takes me. Something about these generators go against the grain for me.

blogging Celebrity death In Memoriam

In Memoriam: Gene Wilder, at 83

The much-memed image of Gene Wilder in his role as Willy Wonka in the 1971 film.

Today, it was reported that actor and meme victim Gene Wilder died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at age 83.

I’ve looked up some things about the meme from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. Turns out that the image is from a scene where he reveals a little bit of his chocolate manufactouring process to some enthusiastic children. A few years ago, social media made a meme of this image, attaching condescending statements on all possible topics, in what became known as the “Creepy no fax payday loan buy tramadol Wonka” or “Condescending Wonka” meme. A “Condescending Wonka” twitter account garnered half a million followers, even though the account had little else going for it but its name.

Don’t forget however, that Wilder had appeared in some of the biggest comedy movies in the 1970s, many produced by Mel Brooks, such as Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein; and he also appeared in the Woody Allen comedy Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, but Were Afriad to Ask.

Mel Brooks, Jim Carrey, Ricky Gervais, and Russell Crowe, among others, each sent their regards within minutes of the sad news, via Twitter.


The popularity of “Child Poverty”

Over the past decade or so, this human rights cause “flavour of the month” called “child poverty” has been in style as something to say and for human rights groups and politicians to champion. Before that, we only had “poverty”, until sometime in the late ’90s, when someone discovered “child poverty”, and now it’s all the rage, and everyone’s talking about it.

The nice thing, is that it made poverty go away. No one has poverty anymore. We only have child poverty now. Images of starving children living in squalor with no education, no running water and no Nintendo while their Ivy League fatcat parents live on caviar and crumpets served with china and silverware and playing World of Warcraft on their X-boxes. Down with fatcat parents!

Of course, that isn’t true, but that is the image it conjures up for me. I just want to ask: when we speak of “child poverty”, don’t we just mean “poverty”? Why do we need to separate the poverty of children from the poverty of the entire family they came from? Doesn’t fixing poverty for children mean fixing poverty for their families?

It also turns out, but you have to do some digging in Google to see it, that there are other kinds of poverty that are up and coming on the poverty hit parade. There is also “elderly poverty” and “working age poverty”. You know, children living high on the hog while the parents have to beg for scraps. I think that’s how it works … In addition, “working age poverty” can still mean children in some parts of the world.

These are not so popular, even though those in “working age poverty” are likely to be parents of children living in “child poverty”, whose grandparents live in “elderly poverty”. Indeed, poverty has become a complicated science. After all, you can’t just “redistribute wealth” because “socialism has failed”. It failed because no one in charge wanted it to succeed. At any rate, social safety nets are soooo ’70’s!

I don’t wish to make light of poverty. I believe all poverty is a social problem. I just don’t think it is advancing any cause to balkanize people in poverty into different factions as if they are in competition against each other for donations, government funding, or anything else of the sort. These new classifications are just rhetoric that make the problem seem more complicated than it is.