Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Hadron Collider and Time

The news is saying that the Large Hadron Collider is going to be fired up. This after a number of what can only be described as 'epic fails'. It is ready to discovered the mysteries of the universe, or something like that, it's not going to cause a black hole and suck our planet into it and destroy all life. That's the good news, at least we think so.

However there is something odd going on with the devise. A number of newspaper articles have been reporting that there's something wrong and it may have to do with the fact the Collider is successful. Right now the Collider is going to search for the Higgs Boson, also known as the "God Particle". This particle is the elemental building block of all creation.

It is this search that may be the cause of all of the Hadron Colliders problems. Two scientists, Dr Holger Bech Nielsen and Dr Masao Ninomiya have written a paper entitled: "Test of Effect in Large Hadron Collider: A Proposal". In this article, the authors state that either nature or God hate the very thought of the Higgs Boson, that the very creation, which will take place in the future, causes a ripple in the time-space continuum so that it returns to the machine that made it to destroy it. The ripple tears through the fabric of creation to eliminate such a monstrosity from happening. It is odd to consider that it has been beset with some rather odd bad luck, such as that magnet overheating and failing, or the fact that one of the people involved has been recently arrested for terrorism.

The question must now be directed to the thought, what would happen if a Higgs Boson was created in its purest form in the labratory, would it bring about the end of the world, open a portal to another dimension, wipe out life and start over, or be the trigger which opens the Earth to invasion by others.

Another theory, which is being popularized is the fact the Collider is being sabotaged by time travelers. They are returning to destroy the Collider because they have lived through the creation of Higgs Boson. The two things will be the creation of time travel and the second is, something nefarious. Something that would make two brave time travelers through the centuries to bring about the end of their enslavement. If successful, the Higgs Boson will not come into being and it will be the Earth shall be saved. Of course, it will mean the end of Time Travel and thus the two who returned will be blotted out because they can't travel in something that hasn't been created.

If you don't believe me, then perhaps you should read the essay in the New York Times.

You know, people will watch very lame 'horror' movies and miss the real horror, the creation of the Higgs Boson. Those sad people will lay their heads on their pillow tonight, oblivious of the great struggle taking place throughout time, to keep them safe.

Makes one think.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Night in the Vinyl Cafe

This past Friday, I had the pleasure of going to the Sanderson Centre here in Brantford to watch Stuart McLean and his traveling Vinyl Cafe show.

The Vinyl Cafe is one of those gems that gets produced by CBC Radio. While it might be said that CBC TV is dismissed as a wasteland of bad Canadian programming and a hotbed of anti- Conservatives and Separtists, the Radio is the crown jewel of Canadian Culture. If there is a glue that keeps this nation together it is the CBC and through programs

The Vinyl Cafe, if you follow the link, is a show that centres around the life of Dave and Morley. Dave owns a record stored with the name of the show, which is considered the smallest record store in the world, area.

The show was a delight, the Sanderson was filled with fans and the show, which lasted around two hours, with a intermission, featured stories and music. The music was provided by three travelling musicians who offered songs of the land.

With the music and stories, Stuart also shared some of his life. He gave the background of his parents and something of his growing up years. Then he told of his trip from Montreal to Toronto where he started work as a producer with a new radio show that didn't even have a name. Eventually they decided on the name 'Morningside' and after a few years, a man by the name Peter Gzowski, from that point the rest, as they say, became history. He worked close with Peter, even having his own segment each week and later developed the Vinyl Cafe as a series of stories as well as a summer replacement.

After the show, Stuart McLean came out and signed autographs. Part of the show featured the new CD and one of the Vinyl Cafe books, "Secrets from the Vinyl Cafe". Here are a few photographs of that time:

A number of the fans stayed and chatted with Stuart. I got to thank him for his work on Morningside, telling him that although I lived in a number of places in Canada, it was Morningside that was the constant of my life. His stories as well as the stories and interviews of Peter Gzowski, kept me in touch with Canada. For that I truly thank him.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Colors of Autumn

Last year I spent most of the autumn in the hospital, so this year I am making the effort to get out and enjoy the season. This afternoon, I took my camera and walked around the neighbourhood.

There are some of the pictures I took today:

It was a great day for photographs, as you can see. The sun was shining and for the most part the sky was blue. I don't know how many more of these sorts of weekend we'll have, so it was a case of making the best of it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009- Climate Change

I've been around a few years, I've heard about global cooling and global warming. I know detractors of climate change will always bring up the fact that 'we've had dire warnings in the past...'.

If you're an environmentalist, you may feel that you are nothing but a Chicken Little type, always warning that the sky is falling and getting no results. It's easy, if you are such a person to dismiss everything with a swish of the wrist and mock the latest findings of scientist as more of the same old, same old.

Today, bloggers around the world have united with the same theme and that is to bring attention to climate change. Whether we like it or not, things are changing. But perhaps a bit more information. I'm not a scientist, nor do I have a degree in any biology or meterology, but I do know this- things are different. Just consider all the seasons, they seem to either start later or arrive earlier. Now I know within any given time, things like the arrival of spring can change by a few degrees now and then. Or a winter can be harsh or mild, just like summer can be wet or hot and dry. There are variables, and that is a given. But have you noticed how the variables are always changing. It's as if we're heading for extremes, and this may be the proof of climate change- if a summer is going to be hot, it will be a scorcher-breaking all records and becoming unbearable. We've had hot summers, but how about summers that are so hot you simply can't enjoy them at all.

As for winters, yes we can have the occassional green Christmas and then the next week record snow dumps are recorded. That's it isn't it. Records that have lasted 50+ years are being broken. It's almost as if we should expect unsettling weather to be the norm. Then there is spring and fall, they are almost forgotten now, they come later and last not as long. Perhaps we get a month of each, if we are fortunate.

I know a great deal has been written about social justice, and if you think about it, climate change may be the greatest cause of social injustice. If I'm unable to access clean drinking water for myself, my family and my livelihood, that is a violation of my civil rights. If climate change means the weather patterns have changed so that I either don't get the water I need when I need it, or I get too much rain at the wrong time- then I have a problem.

Right now, wars are being fought, or soon will be over water rights and access to rivers, lakes and aquifers. Why? Because the weather and climate is changing.

Continue to deny if you will; you have that right. Just consider this, open you mind, look around and ask yourself- are things different? That's all.

So you've done that and you agree, there is something happening with our climate. What next, and this becomes the exciting part. You can get involved. You can make a difference. You've heard about carbon footprints. You can read what it means, how about doing something to reduce yours. You can use this calculator to do your own math.

Learn more, get involved with some of the sites that consider climate change and discover what you can do beyond your own home.

Agitate, I don't mean going to the streets, but how about a few letters to all levels of government. Let your voice be heards. Write them a letter, express in your own words what your concerns are and some suggestions that they should consider. Ask your government to be involved with the UN Climage Change Conference this December. Right now the major economic nations are doing a little jiving and shucking, how about address them now, get out, learn what you can and tell your government, climate change is important and is not just economical. It deals with all of us as human beings. We share the same world, let's not ruin it for each other.

Steve Forbert wrote a song entitled "Good Planets are hard to find". We found the best, let's ensure it stays that way:
Good planets are hard to find,
Temp'rate zones and tropic climes,
True currents in thriving seas,
Winds blowin' through breathing trees,
Strong ozone and safe sunshine,
Good planets are hard to find.

Good planets are in demand,
Clean beaches and sparkling sand,
Land masses with room to spare,
Jet streams and perfect air,
High forests and low wetlands,
Good planets are in demand.

And the mind don't know
If the heart can't see;
Let the blind man go
To his destiny...

Good planets are rare indeed,
Rain fallin' on crops and seed,
Big rivers and good topsoil,
Fuel sources from cane to oil,
Green gardens of all we need,
Good planets are rare indeed.

And the mind don't know
If the heart can't see;
Let the blind man go
To his destiny...

Good planets are scarce and few,
Earthworms and caribou,
Strong food chains and tasty meals,
Textiles and plants that heal,
Iron mountains and skies of blue,
Good planets are scarce and few.

United Nations Climate Change Conference

Blog Action Day '09
Bloggers vs Climate Change

Monday, October 05, 2009

This Just In: Harper is Cool

By now we've all seen it, our Prime Minister strolling onto the stage of the Nartional Arts Centre and belting out the Beatles' song "With a Little Help from my Friends" with the great cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Celtic rock group Herringbone. In one move, Prime Minister Harper appealed to classical music, Beatles and Celtic Rock fans, now how's that for a voting demographic.

Let's be honest, this could have been a huge mistake. First of all, as a 'hater' of the arts, Stephen Harper could have unleashed members of the Alberta arm of the Young Conservatives to pillage, rape and burn the NAC to the ground. After all, it's filled with art snobs which translates into "Liberals" in that part of Canada. Second, he could have flubbed the piano or he could have sung out of key. You know that such a bad performance would have been even wider over the place. I mean its okay to sing out of tune if you're doing a Bob Dylan number but that's about it. Instead he comes across as doing a good job and having fun. In the end that's all one could hope for.

A disaster would have been a disaster. If you can remember way back when, the then leader of the Progressive Conservatives, Robert Stanfield was shown dropping a football. He was playing catch with some people, it was a photo op, and apparently was doing a good job of throwing, kicking and catching. However he dropped it once and that was the photograph that made it into all the newspapers around Canada:

Mr. Stanfield was considered a true gentleman and many have referred to him as the 'Best Prime Minister Canada never had'.

What has interested me is the reaction of the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, our friend Michael Ignatieff. Seems he can't do anything right lately. When news of Mr. Harper's piano playing gig, he responded with the usual fulmination:
This is a prime minister who a year ago was trying to make you embarrassed if you liked opera or classical music or the ballet or poetry," Ignatieff said. "I mean, come on, let's get over this. You can like hockey, you can like classical music. Let's stop playing Canadian against Canadian and taste against taste

Seems Iggy has been a doing a lot of that lately.


he complains that the Prime Minister isn't doing enough for the Unemployed and threatens to bring down the government. That fails and so;

he complains the government isn't doing enough to protect Canadians against H1N1, and the the various provincial Ministries of Health come up with the convoluted plan to protect Canadians, the federal government promises to have enough vaccines ready. So he:

complains that the Prime Minister would rather spend time with ordinary Canadians, drinking coffee at the local Tim Horton's instead of being at the United Nation where he could represent Canada and put up with Muammar Ghaddafi's bizarre monologue or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's bizarre re-writing of history. "The Holocaust? Get outta Here..."

Although Mr. Harper did attend the G20 summit, which was how he got to do a gig with Yo-Yo Ma, his wife asked Yo-Yo about doing some song. Which is quite interesting.

What does all this mean? On the one hand, you had a good weekend for Stephen Harper and on the other, another bad one for Michael Ignatieff. He's trying to look decisive when all he managed to do was annoy the Quebec wing of his Party and do an about face. He first said he was in no hurry to appoint a Lieutenant for the Quebec wing, until he read the constitution which requires just such a person. Now whoever he chooses, will bear the brunt of being the "Bloc Toronto" man, just when the leader of the Bloc Toronto continues to shoot himself in the foot.

By the way, Iggy also sang the same song.

This leads me to the question of the day;

"What song will Iggy sing in his next political act?"

I'm thinking "You gotta fight for your right to Party", by the Beastie Boys

Sunday, October 04, 2009

John C Dvorak-the Tech Grouch

Those of you who follow my blog know that I'm a big fan of John C. Dvorak. I watch his show, "Cranky Geeks" each week, in fact I own the t-shirt. It's both a great laugh and a great conversation piece. I also read his column in, I would say I read it in the magazine, but as you know PC Magazine went all digital like early this year and yes I'm still bitter about it.

Of course there is the main site, which is Dvorak Uncensored, his blog of all things which fascinate and infuriate him. The famous '' is almost a drinking game in itself and he plugs it on everything and anything he is on. If you watch This Week in Tech, for example he used to do it shamelessly for the show, of course at first he claimed to never get any spam by using a method of changing his email accounts every six months or so. It is all the news that he sees fits to report on and it has gotten him in trouble. He complains every so often that he is regularly blocked in China and Saudi Arabia, more so because of the title of the blog rather then any support he gives to the falung gong.

Now he has a new project, a project he was born to do and that is the tech grouch. As you can see from the first clip it is Dvorak at his best. He is at his ultimate grouchiest, spewing out the vitriol and not caring a whit who gets sprayed. As Leo Laporte mentioned on the recent TWIT, this doesn't come easy to John C but it is based upon years of disappointment and disillusionment. Only a person who has lived a life such as John C can vent as he can, and wear that costume. No doubt he wears it for the sake of modesty, after all, if he was to appear as he normally does, the crowds would have gone wild.

I expect a long and fruitful career with this new iteration of John C. Long may it continue

Friday, October 02, 2009

Congratulations Chicago!!

That's right, let me be the first to congratulate Chicago on NOT winning the 2016 Olympic Bid, it may be the best thing to happen to the City. Now I know most people would think it should be a time of sadness for the city, after all, aren't the Olympics a way to showcase a city on how wonderful it is and all that great stuff. Right and it's all about the motto: "Citius, Altius, Fortius".

We all know what that's supposed to mean, in fact here is the meaning listed on the Olympic website:
These three words encourage the athlete to give his or her best during competition, and to view this effort as a victory in itself.

The sense of the motto is that being first is not necessarily a priority, but that giving one's best and striving for personal excellence is a worthwhile goal. It can apply equally to athletes and to each one of us.

Great words, wonderful ideals. Now let's put it away and understand what the modern Olympic movement is all about: it's about a bloated and corrupt bureaucracy that is answerable to no one and it's the ultimate old boys and girls club. It's about xenophobia, jingoism and all the excesses of 'isms' we thought we could finally escape. It's about people winning medals one year and having them stripped away the next when it is learned they cheated. The only good out of this is for those athletes at the bottom of the list, just finish guys and gals and you may eventually, when all the elites are exposed as frauds, you might win a bronze. Mind you, there will be no official flag ceremony and most people will have forgotten all that, but at least you will have a medal.

So the winner is Rio De Janerio, a fabulous city in the Republic of Brazil. It is the second largest city in Brazil and one of the largest in all of South America. It is known for it's beautiful beaches, people, music and Carnaval. It is also known for its crime,
Rio has high crime rates, especially homicide, in poor areas dominated by drug lords, primarily in the North Zone.[80] As of 2007, the homicide rate of the greater metropolitan area stood at nearly 30 victims per week, with the majority of victims falling to mugging, stray bullets or narcoterrorism.[81][82] In 2006, 2,273 people were murdered in the city giving it a murder rate of 37.7 cases for every 100,000 people.[83]

According to federal government research,[6] the city itself ranks 206th (out of a total of 5,565) in the list of the most violent cities and municipalities in Brazil and first in total number of firearm-related deaths. Between 1978 and 2000, 49,900 people were killed in Rio.[84] The Urban Warfare involves drug-traffic battle with police fighting against outlaws, or even corrupt policemen on their side.

Rio de Janeiro's low paid and ill-equipped police are violent as well, it has been said.[85] In 2007, the police allegedly killed 1,330 people in the state,[86] an increase of 25 percent over 2006 when 1,063 people were killed, in 2003 that number plateaued at 1,195. In comparison the American police killed only 347 people in whole of the United States during 2006.[87][88] The average Rio policeman earns only R$874 a month or R$10,488 (around US$6,000) a year.[89]

Into this safe environment, thousands of people will descend in about 7 years to enjoy the various sports such as ducking bullets, handling wounds and calling the equivalent of 911. I suspect the IOC only saw the beaches and the beautiful people and thought this would be a great place for an Olympics.

No doubt the supporters of Rio will say the money used to build the infrastructure will also be used to build up the neighbourhoods and to make them safe. Also, they can meditate on the fact that the government will have to begin to pay the police a more humane and human wage so they won't be in the pockets of the local drug lords.

There will be the usual talk about this being a 'green' game- green as in moola, although people will speak of the environmental sensitivity of the Games.

Chicago, what did you lose? You lost the right to spend money that could have gone to infrastructure, public transit, parks, schools and libraries, and wasted it on facilities that would have been of no use. You can build community centres that will help the community, rather then a few.

You lost the right to squander the future of your young people on stuff that will be alledged for the 'youth of tomorrow'. You lost the right to have all those self-important members of the IOC strutting their stuff like they 'own' the place. You lost the right to put needed social services on the backburner and cause all sort of suffering for the people who are the most vulnerable.

Yeah Chicago, you lost a lot. Now go have a party.