Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What is a nation now?

From conservative commentator Pat Buchanan's new book, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?:
For what is a nation?

Is it not a people of a common ancestry, culture, and language who worship the same God, revere the same heroes, cherish the same history, celebrate the same holidays, share the same music, poetry, art, literature, held together, in Lincoln’s words, by “bonds of affection ... mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone”?

If that is what a nation is, can we truly say America is still a nation? The European and Christian core of our country is shrinking. The birth rate of our native born has been below replacement level for decades. By 2020, deaths among white Americans will exceed births, while mass immigration is altering forever the face of America.
I have heard the same sentiments from Canadians of my generation who are unsettled by the passing of a way of life they considered good, right, and normal.

In our nostalgic moments, we tend to remember the best of those times, and mourn their passing.

Those 40 years old and under, now about half the population, don't remember those "good old days." They didn't come of age in that homogeneous society where most folks didn't encounter many people of other races or religions, or people who were openly gay, or women who deliberately chose motherhood out of wedlock.

This is the generation that is defining the new normal around race, sexuality, family, and religion.

Some of us oldtimers are open to this, some are thinking it over, and others will have none of it. Each to his own. This stuff is bone deep, and change is hard.

But on the whole, we are becoming a more accepting, less hypocritical, country.

Mixed race marriages no longer raise eyebrows, nor do couples who opt not to be parents. Gay couples have the option to marry, and everyone has the option to create a family outside of marriage. One's religion, or lack of it, is considered a private matter. Having a family of another race move in next door is not cause for alarm.

I am describing the cities, of course, where most Canadians now live. The towns and the rural areas are still making the shift because diversity arrived later there, but that shift is inevitable.

And based on recent reports, it seems Canadians of all origins share "bonds of affection" for their country, too. That's good.

Not a perfect place but, while some will disagree, I think it's a better kind of nation.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Not for multitaskers

Circa 1925, the “Isolator” was designed to focus the mind when reading or writing, by eliminating all outside noise, and allowing just one line of text to be seen through a horizontal slit. The tank supplies oxygen.

[Found on A Great Disorder]

Friday, February 24, 2012

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• No need to remove your gloves to tweet about your perfect Wildcat on the board run. Outdoor Research's new Sensor Gloves are coated with nanoparticles that interact with touchscreens the same way skin does.

• A professor at Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University, says psychopaths, the 1 percent of people who lack a conscience, feelings, sympathy or empathy for other people, are to blame for the financial crisis. They were able to make it to the top of of important financial institutions, and caused the crisis because of their “single-minded pursuit of their own self-enrichment and self- aggrandizement to the exclusion of all other considerations."

• About one in five Americans with mortgages are "underwater," which means they owe more than their home is worth.

• There's a new game going around. When the gang eats out, everyone places his/her phone face down in the middle of the table. During dinner the phones ring, signalling incoming calls and text messages. The first person to grab their phone to take a call or check a message buys dinner for everyone at the table. In my opinion, this ought to be a law.

• First it was software that enables drivers to watch DVD's on their navigation screens. Now it's your phone's touch screen in your rearview mirror. Insane!

• The American military has developed a robotic mule.
Looking for change? Check the sofa.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cello wars

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Pastor's Ass

[A modern-day parable, sent along by Mimi. Author unknown.]

The Pastor entered his donkey in a race and it won.

The Pastor was so pleased with the donkey that he entered it in the
race again and it won again.

The local paper read:

The Bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the Pastor not to enter the donkey in any more races.

The next day, the headline in the local paper read:

This was too much for the Bishop so he ordered the Pastor to get rid of the donkey. He decided to give it to a Nun in a nearby convent.

The local paper, hearing of the news, posted the following headline the next day:

The Bishop fainted.

He informed the Nun that she would have to get rid of the donkey, so she sold it to a farmer for $10. The next day the paper read:

This was too much for the Bishop, so he ordered the Nun to buy back the donkey and turn it loose on the prairies.

The next day the headlines read:
The Bishop was buried the next day.

The moral is that being concerned about public opinion can bring you much grief and misery, so stop worrying about everyone else's ass. You'll be a lot happier, and might even live longer.

Have a nice day!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Here to stay, I guess

Friday, February 17, 2012

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• There's an upgrade for everything in the U.S., even death. The affluent can select a burial plot at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA starting at around half a million bucks. Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx is popular for the rich and famous. Prices there run to $3.5 million for an historic private mausoleum. And Donald Trump has announced that he is considering building a 1.5-acre cemetery next to his high-end golf course in Bedminster, NJ. No prices disclosed, but you can bet that good lies won't be cheap.

• The common belief that women have a higher pain threshold than men may be hokum. A Stanford study found that women tend to report much more severe pain than men, no matter the source of the pain.

• Transplanted human embryonic stem cells have improved the vision of two British women who had been registered as blind due to advanced macular degeneration. This is the first peer-reviewed scientific report showing that such cells can be transplanted safely.

• Guitarist Eric Clapton’s son, Conor, died at the age of four years old after falling from a full wall window that had been removed by a janitor to let fresh air in while he worked.

• A U.S. government-contracted lab has created a self-guiding bullet that is capable of hitting a target located a mile away. Using small fins to make in-flight corrections, it is capable of guiding its way to a target that is “painted” with a laser.

• Students from Yale University discovered a new type of fungus while on an expedition to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. It eats polyurethane, millions of tons of which are used annually for everything from garden hose to paint to packaging, and therefore it may help solve a major environmental problem in landfills.
How about that?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bottled sunshine lights homes

Simple, inexpensive innovations sometimes make amazing differences in the quality of people's lives. Here's how plastic bottles diverted from landfill, and some human ingenuity, are lighting dark corners for Manila's poorest citizens.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Signs of the times

[Thanks to Libby for sending this along. Author unknown.]

You know you are living in 2012 when...
1. You accidentally enter your PIN on the microwave.

2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.

4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.

6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.

7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen, and every plumber has one on the side of his van.

8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't even have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

10. You get up in the morning and go online before getting your coffee.

11. You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Wake up Canada!

In this short video, Ann Cavoukian, Ontario's Privacy Commissioner, warns of about-to-be-introduced "lawful access" legislation that will result in Canadians' loss of personal freedom, and the potential for misuse of information by government, law enforcement, and huge media companies.

A National Post editorial calls it "a bill that violates the privacy rights of law-abiding citizens, while leaving criminals easy ways to avoid it entirely."

This is the most recent in a string of legislation and international agreements (Bill C-11, ACTA, TPP) that have implications for the ways the internet is regulated in Canada.

Some claim that such moves are also likely to stifle entrepreneurial Canadian innovators in their efforts to offer new services and build online businesses --- the very initiatives that we need if we are to diversify our economy and create jobs in the information age.

If this resonates with you, please click here for more information and a way to voice your concern.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Frosty's grandpa

You think you can make a snowman? Pfshaw! Your snowmen are mere snowchildren.

This is a snowman, constructed in 1902, on a mountain, in Oregon.

[Found on Endless Geyser of Awesome]

Friday, February 10, 2012

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
Xenex is a robot that combats germs with blasts of light. It disinfects a hospital room in about five to 10 minutes with pulses of xenon UV, a type of ultraviolet light that sterilizes and kills microbiological contaminants.

• Real estate agents are now using pilotless drone aircraft to take aerial photos of properties.

• You've probably been asked for your postal code by a cashier when paying by credit card, and thought it was harmless to divulge that information. Think again. Williams-Sonoma, an American retailer, identified customers' street addresses by using computer software to perform reverse searches from databases that resemble a reverse telephone book. Such retailers can then send you catalogues and sell your contact information to other retailers.

• The big guns of the internet --- Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, AOL and Facebook --- are setting aside their online rivalry to fight email spam and "phishing" attacks designed to obtain passwords or other personal information.

• The next big thing in the home is dishwashers, refrigerators and water heaters that can communicate with each other and homeowners in real time. If the dishwasher and laundry machine are running at the same time, they will both tell the water heater to step it up. Appliances will also be notifying homeowners on their mobile phones or iPads when the fridge door is ajar or displaying messages on the television when the laundry machine is done its cycle.

• Researchers have found evidence that the Mayans were using tobacco 1,300 years ago.
Looking for change? Check the sofa.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ad guys find secret of eternal youth

This ad for an Olay beauty product featuring the model Twiggy read, “Olay is my secret to brighter-looking eyes, … reduces the look of wrinkles and dark circles for brighter, younger-looking eyes.”

In its ruling that banned the ad, the United Kingdom's Advertising Standards Authority said that it considered that the post-production retouching of the original ad, specifically in the eye area, could give consumers a “misleading impression of the effect the product could achieve”.

The unretouched Twiggy is shown at bottom right.

[Found on FourandSix]

Monday, February 6, 2012

Not right. Logic left behind.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• Climate change has forced the U.S Department of Agriculture to revise its map of planting zones, the official guide to what will grow where, based on average minimum temperatures.

• A new gizmo, E la Carte, aims to replace wait staff in restaurants by putting tablets on tables so patrons can order at any time, customize their orders, play fun games, and pay from their seats without having to wait. The video claims it's faster and more fun for customers, and more profitable for the business.

• To reduce fuel consumption, container ships have slowed their speed to record lows, close to the speeds of the old sailing ships.

• In a recession that shrinks GDP by 2%, consumers increase their charitable expenses by 32%, about the same proportion by which they reduce their expenditures on jewelry and watches (35%).

• People lie more in eMail messages than in face-to-face conversation.

• Microsoft is the most influential brand in Canada, followed by Google, President’s Choice, Apple, Walmart, and CBC.
Looking for change? Check the sofa.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The greatest Canadian of all times!

Confidence is a prerequisite for politics, and Mr. Rolland appears to have had it when he put himself forward in 1955 as "the only man in the world who can solve the unemployment problem in Ontario."

What a stroke of luck that he was willing to serve.

Unfortunately, the electorate failed to fully grasp their good fortune.

Running in the Toronto riding of Eglinton, he placed last, winning only 252 votes, or 0.7% of the total. Fortunately, he had watchmaking to fall back on.

[Found on]