Here is something my wife spotted yesterday on the back of a garbage truck that was collecting garbage in our courtyard:
Here is something my wife spotted yesterday on the back of a garbage truck that was collecting garbage in our courtyard:
The other day, I bought a cantaloupe for my wife.
Today, as she was about to cut it in half, she noticed that it had two sticker labels. Not only that, but held just the right way, the thing looked just like a character from South Park:
Sunday was the premiere of the latest Star Trek series: Star Trek: Discovery. (Yes, I’m only blogging about it now. I’ve been busy.)
I read many comments on Facebook. One recurring complaint: It’s written by “feminazis”. No white males, indeed no whites at all on the ship’s bridge!
To be honest, this snowflake outrage already makes the show well worth watching. Oh my, no whites among the bridge crew! Well, guess what: We are a minority (around 6.5%) on this planet. If you take a random Earth ship from a random time in the far future, chances are its crew will have few white people among them. Mostly it will be Asians and Africans. And it’s not like I actually noticed the lack of white humans on the bridge until you called my attention to it. Then again, I don’t remember the color of their hair either. (Disclaimer: I am a middle aged white man.)
The show? The new Klingon appearance is distracting, but perhaps we can get used to it. The behavior of the crew is another thing altogether. Mutiny by the Vulcan-raised first officer? Really? A dead captain, a broken (or destroyed?) starship, and an imprisoned first officer at the end of the pilot? And what was that kangaroo court anyway? Hitler’s screaming judge Friesler showed more respect, more compassion than this Starfleet panel of judges. Hiding in the dark, they looked more like the Klingon tribunal that sentenced Kirk and McCoy in The Undiscovered Country. What, pray tell, does this have to do with Roddenberry’s Utopian vision of a Starfleet committed to the rule of law, high principles, and exploration?
I am also troubled by the lack of continuity. Interstellar mind meld? Spock has a half sister? Holographic subspace communications? Ship tech that seems far more advanced than anything on any of the Enterprises of TOS or TNG? Not sure what to make of it.
So it is another space show. It does have a decent budget. It even has potential. But I am not yet sure if it is Star Trek.
We shall see if it lives long and prospers.
Imagine for a moment that you spent the last two years on a remote base in Antarctica, with no access to the Internet, indeed no contact with the outside world. And now, you just returned.
You learn that the new president of the United States is none other than The Donald. Then, before you get any more details, someone presents you with these two Time magazine covers, and asks you to take your pick: which one is real, which one is “fake news”?
Hint #1: The real time cover has an aspect ratio of 4:3. The fake is a little wider.
Hint #2: It was the fake cover that was used as decoration at numerous Trump properties until very recently.
Bonus fact: None of this seems to matter to Trump’s base. They remain committed to Trump, they remain convinced that all this is a witch hunt, and their biggest problem is that Trump did not do as he promised, and did not lock up the real “witch”, Hillary Clinton. I find this cult-ish behavior scarier than any of the shenanigans pulled by Trump & Co.
I am watching the morning news and it’s all about numbers. Some good, some not so good, some really bad. Here are a few, in descending order:
I thought of turning these bullet points into a numbered list, but that would have been too confusing.
Moments ago, Anderson Cooper made his opinion clear about a guest on his show who was defending Trump:
LOL. Well said, Anderson.
Here is today’s gem of a survey question from CTV Ottawa:
My answer is greenish-pink, with whipped cream.
(To their credit, a corrected question appears on their Web site.)
Remember what radio used to be like, especially shortwave?
Many stations had an interval signal. This signal, usually just a few musical notes, was played whenever the station would otherwise be silent (e.g., between the end of a program and the time signal at the top of the hour.) I remember many an interval signal fondly.
But one of them, I just cannot identify. Namely this one:
Bugs the devil out of me.
I captured this close captioning gem several days ago but then promptly forgot about it.
I know, I know, it’s not easy to caption a conversation in real time. But it was still hilariously funny. Thanks for a good morning laugh.
For what it’s worth, as I recall the word that was actually used was “agree”. How that turned into “pee”, I have no idea.
Heard on tonight’s episode of Lucifer, featuring the adventures of Lucifer Morningstar, aka. the Devil, Lord of Hell, in present-day Los Angeles:
“So, we can… you know, talk about Caligula, Stalin, Trump. I mean, I know he’s not dead, but he’s definitely going.”
I am glad I wasn’t sipping a drink when I heard this, as I would surely have choked. Even without a drink, it was a close call.
Thanks for the laugh of the week.
I have been, and will continue to be, critical of many of the policies of Israel. I think that the policy of occupation, while tactically perhaps important, is a political dead end in the long term. I think it is in Israel’s best interest to help create a viable, strong Palestinian state, as any other solution leaves the Palestinian people in perpetual misery, and may ultimately lead to Israel’s own destruction.
That said… anyone who suggests a moral equivalency between Israel’s policy of occupation and Palestinian terror ought to look at such artistic gems like this Hamas cartoon from yesterday:
I don’t think even the most rabid far-right press outlet in Israel would find it suitable to publish a cartoon that ridicules the suffering of Palestinian civilians. The fact that Hamas (and many other Arabic press outlets) think it’s okay to publish stuff like this speaks volumes.
I have little doubt that Netanyahu’s government will retaliate. I also have little doubt that they will not target civilian buses on Gaza; on the contrary, they will make quite an effort to avoid civilian casualties. I also have little doubt that they will not be successful, and given Israeli firepower, a number, perhaps a sizable number of Palestinian civilians will die, and Israel will be the target of severe criticism, much of it well deserved.
But as you wonder who the real injured party is in this never-ending conflict, look at that cartoon again and ask yourself: who is it who actually glorifies violence on civilians, who is it who believes that the indiscriminate killing of civilians is something to be encouraged and celebrated?
And in case this one cartoon is not sufficient, do yourself a favor and search a little bit on Google. Some of the published anti-Israeli cartoons are so depraved, even Hamas disowns them. No, not because they have any sense of remorse, simply the explicit depiction of the rape of an Arab woman by a Jew was too much in conflict with their, oh, Islamic sense of modesty I guess, and they were also concerned that they may have offended their West Bank brethren by making them appear too submissive. Ah, here it is:
Lovely artwork, isn’t it? Shows a deep concern for humanity, civil rights and all. Dr. Göbbels would be proud.
Today is a remarkable day. I spent more than the usual amount of time peeking at either CBC Newsworld or CNN, and I have yet to see the face of a certain American real estate magnate turned reality TV show host turned politician; not that I particularly miss the sight of his toupee.
The reason why Mr. Trump didn’t appear on screen is the multitude of other things happening.
For us here in Canada, the most consequential news are the federal budget, the first by Justin Trudeau’s recently formed liberal government. As promised, it’s a budget about spending and spending some more; the projected deficits are huge. The premise of this budget is that deficit spending is necessary in order to help the stagnant economy.
News of the budget were almost dwarfed by news of the death of Toronto’s larger-than-life former major, Rob Ford. Rob Ford was intensely disliked as a politician, but I think few people wished him to die a miserable death from a rare form of cancer. As Ford himself said, his tenure as major, for better or for worse, will be remembered.
Then there is, of course, that terrible series of coordinated attacks in Belgium, with dozens dead. In addition to an impotent, and likely excessive response by inept authorities (I just saw that the airport in Brussels will be shut for three days), it will also likely trigger a new wave of islamophobia, xenophobia. A message that, thankfully, has few followers in Canada, as splendidly evidenced by the negative response in Quebec to French far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s visit, which is coming to its conclusion.
What was supposed to be the big news of the day is the end of another politician’s trip abroad, namely Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba… but the CNN anchors broadcasting from Havana are talking mostly about the Brussels attacks and their aftermath.
The other big news of the day was supposed to be the “winner-take-all” Arizona caucus… but with all the other stuff going on, I have not yet heard this mentioned on CNN or CBC Newsworld today. Thus, no Donald Trump on my television screen either.
All this news makes me wonder if The Globe and Mail tomorrow might end up being published with not one but maybe three consecutive cover pages.
Recently, it was proudly announced that Canada now has a state-of-the-art emergency preparedness system, with the participation of major telecommunication companies like Bell or Rogers.
The problem… well, here is an example of the problem:
This is what was on my television screen a little earlier this afternoon, in place of CNN, for something like a full minute or so.
And not just in place of CNN. In place of every channel. Even if I was trying to watch a recorded show on the PVR.
What’s wrong with it, you ask? Well, I live in Ottawa. That is more than 400 kilometers from Toronto, and the last time I checked, a 1997 Toyota Camry is not a hypersonic jet aircraft.
But even if the abduction happened next door… I don’t mean to be heartless, but this kind of dramatic alert is something I would expect to see if World War 3 was imminent, or if my city (not Toronto!) was about to be hit by an F5 hurricane. Not in case of a domestic abduction (which, in the vast majority of cases, is just a family member like an estranged father, taking a child without permission.)
The last time this happened, I wrote to the CRTC, who told me that it’s not their responsibility (even though they were the ones who mandated it!) but that of provincial agencies and the telecommunication companies that implement the system.
Today, I wrote to Rogers. I do not expect a meaningful reply*.
As if I didn’t already have enough incentives to cut the cable.
*Update: A day after I sent my e-mail complaint to Rogers, a gentleman by the name of Aaron called me from the “President’s office”. He very patiently listened to me as we discussed not just the emergency alert system but also other issues related to the digital transition, the cost and limited choice of decoder equipment, and other topics. We spent more than 20 minutes on the phone. I still don’t expect anything meaningful to happen, but I appreciated it that my complaint was taken somewhat seriously.
Today, someone sent me a link to a YouTube video of an old Hungarian language television program that featured one of our Commodore 64 computer games, Save Me Brave Knight.
Except that the program featured a lot more than just the game: It also featured Viktor Zámbó and myself talking about the game. (I am second from the right; Viktor Zámbó is on the right.)
I remembered this program vaguely, but I couldn’t even recall its title. My past attempts to search for it were in vain; in fact, I doubted that it even made it online.
But here it is, the two of us, being interviewed at length (starting at 16:48) about the art and craft of game programming.
I’m saving a copy of this video on the odd chance that it is removed or muted by YouTube for copyright reasons.
So here I am, listening to, not really watching CBC NewsWorld, when they briefly cut to a live picture from the International Space Station where a spacewalk is underway, and I hear this:
Yup, that’s what the anchorwoman said: Scott Kelly has two pair [sic!] of legs.
You’d think that such a scary, dramatic mutation would have received more coverage already. But what do we know? Must be another liberal mainstream media conspiracy, hiding the facts from people.
I finished this weeks ago but never had the time to post. My previous attempt to hack a Rogers cable decoder was only partially successful, so I gave it another try, with better results.
By “hack”, I don’t mean illegally obtaining cable signals or anything like. I was simply looking for a way to get composite video and stereo audio out of the “free” cable boxes that Rogers provides, as opposed to just a plain RF signal on channel 3. The reason is pretty mundane: I’ve been using a dual-tuner TV card in my computer for years, which allowed me to record one program while watching another. The transition by Rogers to full digital cable messed this up: the TV card has only one RF input, so it is impossible to attach two decoders that could supply two signals simultaneously. But the TV card does have two independent composite video inputs. So if only the decoders had the corresponding output…
Well, they do, sort of: the only problem was that the audio was an undecoded (multiplexed) stereo signal. To decode it, I first built a standard stereo decoder circuit, but that was before I learned that the NTSC standard for stereo also includes noise suppression.
Hence my second attempt, using an appropriate chip.
Once again, I used a custom printed circuit board of my own design, and once again, it worked like a charm. The only fly in the ointment is that this larger board no longer fits inside the original decoder casing without some “plastic surgery”; so chances are that if it ever comes to returning these boxes to Rogers, I’ll be paying for them instead. Oh well.
I recently came across some frightening images on the Interwebs: Frames from a 2000 episode of The Simpsons (Trumptastic Voyage) lined up with real-life images of Donald Trump.
The similarities are uncanny.
Just what did the creators of The Simpsons know back in 2000? Is it just coincidence? Do they have a time machine? And how many of their other predictions will come true in the years to come?
In the past couple of days, I heard several commentators on CNN lament on the fact that China’s debt-to-GDP ratio is much higher (“three times” higher) than that of the US, and that this may be behind the current volatility of the Chinese stock market.
This, of course, is blatant nonsense. China’s government debt-to-GDP ratio is much lower than that of the US. It is in the low twenties, compared with over 100% in the United States. Here is a crude plot (crude because I graphically edited together two plots, but I had to change the vertical scale of one) that shows the two in comparison.
No, China doesn’t have a problem with government debt. China does have a problem with private debt. Look at this monstrous chart:
What this chart shows is alarming. No, still not three times the US private debt-to-GDP ratio (that factor of 3 only happens if you compare China’s total debt to US government debt, which is of course comparing apples to oranges), but it is significantly higher than that of the US. What’s worse is that China is still an emerging economy: in addition to the prosperous middle class of places like Shanghai, there are still close to (or more than?) a billion people in that country who live in third world poverty. (China’s per-capita GDP is $6,800; in the US, the figure is $53,000, nearly eight times higher.)
The wisdom I’ve been reading online is that an emerging economy just cannot afford to have the same level of private indebtedness as an advanced economy.
To be honest, I don’t know if it is true. For all I know, much of China’s debt is held by those who can actually afford it, the prosperous middle class with their SUVs and air conditioned homes in Shanghai or Guangzhou. Indeed, if we split China into two countries, one prosperous and one poor, the prosperous one may well qualify as an advanced economy, and it may be holding most of the debt.
Or not. But whatever the debt situation is in China or its impact on the stock market, it is still no excuse for CNN to keep babbling nonsense.
Local signal substitution or simultaneous substitution is when a cable company replaces the signal of a US station with that of a local Canadian station when the two broadcast the same show.
The idea is to give local stations a chance to earn more advertising revenue. A great idea when it works, but an absolute annoyance when it is done improperly.
Like tonight… when I am staying up late for the sole purpose of watching the very last David Letterman show.
The show runs longer than usual… not surprising.
What is also, sadly, not surprising, but annoying like hell, is when Rogers Cable rather inconsiderately cuts off the CBS signal at 12:37 AM, because in their book, Letterman should have shut up by then, and if he didn’t it’s his problem, not theirs, and according to their schedule, it’s now time to substitute another signal.
I so, so, so hope that one of these days, the CRTC will tell these buggers to bugger off and stop messing with the signal.
Then again, it probably won’t happen before this whole conventional television thing becomes entirely irrelevant anyway… and good riddance, too.
Fortunately, I was able to watch the rest of Letterman’s final show on another channel, the signal of which was not messed up by our favorite idiotic cable company. It did mess up my attempt to record the final show, though. And to think that they have the audacity to complain that the CRTC ended simultaneous substitution for the Super Bowl.
(I notice that in the meantime, somebody came to their frigging senses at Rogers, and the CBS signal is restored. Bravo. Better late than never, I suppose.)
I just learned the tragic news: Less than 24 hours after I uploaded my previous post about the one-time CBC radio program Disc Drive, the program’s former host, Jürgen Gothe, passed away, after a long battle with cancer.
I am deeply saddened. I secretly hoped that one of these days, we will hear him yet one more time on the radio. But that’s not going to happen… his wonderful voice has been silenced forever.
Jürgen was 71.
What a loss.