Jan 222014

The other night, I was tired and needed a distraction. I happened upon on online IQ test and decided to take it out of curiosity.

I scored well. How well exactly, I do not know because once the test was over, there was another, bonus question: they asked for my credit card number as a means to pay for a detailed report.

I realized that this really was the last of the intelligence test questions.

I passed the test. I did not pay good money just to get a report about how intelligent I am.

Boy, I am ever so smart!

 Posted by at 9:29 am
Jan 132014

There are few things (OK, well, apart from most sports) that interest me less than Hollywood awards.

Nonetheless, tonight I was rooting for Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany, who pulled off an incredible feat in this remarkable sci-fi series, playing as many as seven (eight, by some count) totally different, fully developed characters.

At least she lost to an actress that I also like and respect, Robin Wright, known as Jenny from Forrest Gump, among other roles.

Still… I am upset.

 Posted by at 12:29 am
Jan 102014

For the first time in, well, eons (at least in my personal experience), the CBC was like the old CBC again. The Fifth Estate had an hour-long report entitled Silence of the Labs, on the Harper’s government’s assault (there really is no better word) on the integrity of federally supported science in Canada.

There was very little in the report that I have not previously read about, but then again, my interest in science policy is probably not that of the average viewer. Which is why I am glad that the CBC did this, bringing awareness of what is going on to a broader audience.

No doubt what they did will be denounced by the Harper government and their supporters. And, as the program mentioned, technically they have a point: federally employed scientists do not have a legal entitlement to speak their minds or indeed to complain if research they happen to like is no longer funded.

However… as a citizen, I would like… no, scratch that, I demand that my government uses unbiased, factual science as its guide and that they do not muzzle honest scientists who try to bring these facts to the public with no government minder present.

This is a very significant reason why I hope that Mr. Harper will be defeated in the upcoming elections. Just to be clear, I don’t dislike Harper… how can I dislike a fellow cat lover? I also have no reason to doubt his personal integrity. However, I dislike his policies and his autocratic style of government. I sincerely hope that our next government will undo at least some of the harm that this government inflicted upon us.

 Posted by at 11:27 pm
Jan 092014

Why is it that the one Republican I found really likeable, NJ governor Chris Christie, turned out to be a petty little vindictive bastard just like the rest of their ilk? Exactly what kind of an idiot do you have to be to come up with the idea that screwing up traffic near one of the world’s busiest bridges is appropriate “punishment” for an unruly mayor who wasn’t willing to endorse your candidacy? I guess listening to too much Rush Limbaugh or watching Fox News too often is really bad for the brain cells. Someone ought to do a clinical study.

And no, I do not believe for one moment that Christie did not know what was being done by his senior staff.

 Posted by at 8:20 am
Jan 082014

I just stumbled across some new research by climatologist Dan Lunt, who applied modern climate models to the geography and topography of Middle Earth. Yes, Tolkien’s Middle Earth, where hobbits, elves, dwarves, dragons, ents, orcs and other creatures live.

Prepared for possible interest by non-human readers, Lunt (writing under the pseudonym Radagast the Brown… or may be he *is* Radagast the Brown?) helpfully provided translations of his paper into Elvish and Dwarvish.

I couldn’t help but notice, though, that the list of references is missing from the translations.

Also, I wonder… does Google Translate know Elvish and Dwarvish?

 Posted by at 2:39 pm
Jan 042014

This is what my car told me this morning:

Yes, it needed a new battery. It just wouldn’t start.

The irony is that my car is a hybrid. Which means that when you turn the key, it usually just comes to life, like any decent electric motor would. And behind the back seat, there is a 144 V NiMH battery with enough juice to light up my house. But when the outside temperature is low, the engine computer decides on its own that the engine should be cranked like a low-tech gasoline engine… from the 12 V battery, using an ordinary starter motor. And when that happens in the dead of a Canadian winter, with a battery that was last replaced about six years ago…

Thank goodness for Canadian Tire.

The video, by the way, is a scene from Return to Zork, the first multimedia sequel to the classic Zork series of text adventure games from the early 1980s. The graphics may be a tad dated, but the game is still quite good and entertaining… and plays well in DOSBox.

 Posted by at 6:15 pm
Jan 012014

Poppy is a 20th century cat.

Not for the first time, Poppy is a guest in our house, while her owner is traveling during the holidays. Poppy was a shelter cat. Her owner acquired Poppy in 2000, when the cat was around one year old.

Poppy is a beautiful cat. The first day after her arrival, she was hissing and growling a lot, but she acclimatized rapidly, and has been very friendly since. She is also tolerating our other cats reasonably well.

It was so good to see this old friend in good health, and in such good shape. The number of cats around who were born in the 20th century is dwindling rapidly. Cats may live longer than dogs, but they don’t live forever, and a 15-year old cat is certainly considered a senior. If Poppy were human, she would definitely qualify for a discount bus pass.

That said, I hope we will have many more chances to welcome Poppy in our home in the years to come.

 Posted by at 10:18 pm