Madman's News Blog

I've been asked by a few people to put down some of my reactions to the news and ads, all the news items and ads are true, and my comments on them, with very few exceptions, are my real opinions. The frequency of this blog will depend on how frequently I come across interesting news items..

Truth in advertising

Dateline October 2011. I was half listening to the radio when I thought I heard an ad saying that 'its like rummaging through your car seats for a loonie* and finding a toonie'. I couldn't hear the rest of the ad. So I commented to my son Zander - hmmm, I presume the ad was saying that something looks good, but really wasn't all that good - after all, the only time I go rummaging through my car for a loonie is when I need a loonie to get a shopping cart - a toonie is 100% usless any time I'm rummaging through my car for a loonie. He replied - yup, it was an ad from Esso where they were saying that if you buy the premimum (high octane) gas, you'll get more 'points' - but the value of the points is less than the extra cost of the premium, and if you have a car that runs on regular octane gas, at best - there will be no difference in your car's performance, at worst, your car will run poorer. He then noted that - almost everyone knows that you need the correct octane for your car - a 'higher' octane is not any better if your care is designed for regular, although the reverse - if you put a low octane gas in a car than requires high octane, then you can cause significant damage due to the timing being off. But I'll leave the details for you to research if you aren't familiar with this issue. The point was - the ad was implying that you get a better deal, when really, you are worse off - you paid extra money and got nothing. Good thing you found that toonie - you can now waste the extra dollar on buying the higher octane from Esso.

*For my non-Canadian friends - a loonie is a Canadian one dollar coin, a toonie is a Canadian 2 dollar coin. The loonie is named after the picture of a loon that is on all the original loonies, and the toonie just sounds right for a two dollar coin. Same as in the US they have a 'buck' because, I'm told, a $1 bill was the value of a 'buck' knife a long time ago.

Literacy in Canada

Dateline August 2011 Now, first let me say I am a reader, I read voraciously, and I am a writer having written books and many articles. Today (26th) I was listening on the radio to someone who claimed to be a major person in 'the' organization to promote literacy in Canada. He complained that less than 50% of kids these days read more than 1 book a month out of school. I was amazed it was even in the ballpark of 50%, that seemed high to me. But moving on, he claimed that the result is people don't know how to communicate. He then complained that all kids these days use is those emoti-whatevers and that they can't communicate unless you call those things communication. He bemoaned that people are using emoticons (I'm filling in the word for him since he wasn't literate enough to know what the word was) when they should be using real words instead. Now, while I think encouraging people to read is laudable, as I have said elsewhere in my English Steps Forward page , emoticons are a natural step forward in proper written communication. I was amazed that someone who claimed to be very literate wasn't aware that language change is completely normal and just because it isn't what you were used to doesn't mean that it is less communication. After all - the elite have always complained when language improved in a way that made it easier for the common man to understand. See my English Steps Forward page if you more details - while they are tongue in cheek on that page, the do catalogue a real history of written language.

A fun one for CHRISTMAS

Dateline December 2010: Listening to the news, they said that 'Unemployment was down, seasonally adjusted'. You've probably heard this phrase before, in this case it means - unemployment was UP, but because there are always a lot of students looking for work during their vacations, but it is not as much up as it normally is so unemployment was 'down' when you adjust it for seasonal average. I figure the reason it is down is beause more students didn't even bother trying this year.

So, the fun part is here: I figure that my health, seaonally adjusted, is superb - after all, it's cold and flu season and I feel normal. And, I figure that, seasonally adjusted, my weight is actually down! (Most people gain weight this time of year, I stayed the same.) Amazing how much better I feel overall (seasonally adjusted) when I think of it in these terms! So, have a very Merry CHRISTMAS

Dateline: November 2010. Now, this doesn't quite fit here, but this was the closest spot on my web site, so here goes. I needed 'permission' from the government to do something. As part of their requirement to give me permission, they required that I post a job opportunity on their

I was amazed at how many responses I got so quickly!

But wait - not one of the over 100 met the requirements I placed on the job description!

Not ONE!

Looking at how they replied and reviewing several candidates in more detail, I came to the conclusion that:

  1. Many applied BECAUSE they didn't fit the requirements. Why? Well, as one person said, you have to show you're applying for jobs to keep on government assistance, so it's a great idea to only apply for jobs that you don't qualify for.
    I have evidence that this accounts for about 80% of the respondents. Read a little further dawn for details.
  2. Many applied because they simply reply to every opportunity without reading what the requirements hoping that if they throw enough, ah, whatever, at the fan (employers), sooner or later someone will accidently hire them.
  3. Some simply can't read or refuse to read or can't be bothered to read.
  4. Some think that I am being really unreasonable by having pre-requisites for a job, that I should hire people based on their desperation not based on their ability to perform on the job. (This is based on the wording of some of the cover letters.)

There are some other more derogatory ways I could guess for some responents, but I'll leave it at the above list.

I can tell you this - I'll never use for anything non-obligatory. What a collosal waste of my time, just so that they can stay on government assistance (your and my tax money) for another week.

So how can I conclude that #1 is the primary real reason? Because when I have, in the past, placed job ads on, I only got about 10% of respondent who didn't meet the baseline listed requirements. So with the government web site providing 100% replies from people who don't even meet the basics, I think it is fair to say that at least 80% are scamming the system, and at maximum, 20% fit into the other categories.

Daylight Wasting Time... (DWT)

Dateline: November 2010. Well, here we go again, we 'fall back' and instead of being in 'daylight saving' time, we shift to daylight wasting time. Why do I say that? Because when most people get up in the morning in my part of the world, the sun is already up at the beginning and end of daylight wasting time. Then, when we come home from work, it is already dark - even though, if we had stayed in daylight saving time, we would have been able to drive home in sunlight.

I can understand why places in the world much closer to the equator want daylight saving time in the summer, but up here, above the 49th parrallel, it makes much more sense to switch to daylight saving time in the fall and winter and, if you really want to go back to standard time for part of the year, fine, go to standard time in the summer when it is light from about 4:00am to 10:00pm.

Again, I understand why, if you are close to the equator, and the sun goes down at 6 or 7:00pm in the summer (and winter) you want to 'save' daylight in the summer. But why not save it all year round?

So, my vote is to get rid of daylight wasting time and stay in daylight saving time all year round.

May or May I?

Dateline: September 2010. There have been a series of ads for a mayoralty candidate. He says things like 'I will not permit council to spend money without my permission' and 'I wil not allow any further tax increases until the aldermen prove the need to me' (empasis his).

The problem with his several claims is - he can't do any of them! As Mayor, he may be able to control some agenda issues, but when it comes to voting - he is just one vote. He isn't the president of the United States. Why even the prime minister of Canada doesn't have the power that this mayoralty candidate seems to think he will have, or he's hoping to convince voters he will have.

Update: He didn't even come in 3rd, so I don't know where he came in and it's not worth looking up.

1 Year is good enough for predicting the weather

Dateline: End of August 2010: Something you need to know first: Calgary and area had a unusually rainy/cold summer. Rain every 3rd day except 1 6 days stretch and only 11 days out where I worked where it was > 20C for more than 2 hours and only 5 days where it was > 25 for more than 2 hours. Update: The 1st 3 weeks of Fall, starting the last week of September, the weather man reports were, on average, warmer than summer was. They also said that it was the 17th coldest and wettest summer on record, that is over a 100 years of data, so that means that about 17% of the summers were colder and wetter.

But here is the funny part:The weather gal on one of the radio stations said "Don't worry: September is usually hotter than August", the announcer on the station in a surprised tone of voice said - "really? What makes you say that?". The weather gal said "Well, last year July had 1 day over 30C, August had 2 days over 30C and September had 4 days over 30C". The announcer had the good sense to change the topic by saying, "OK then, now in other news ..."

I figure, the radio weather gal was hired for her good looks, not her knowledge of forecasting the weather - or knowing what the word 'usually' means (well, at least what usually usually means!)

Oh, and if you check the environment Canada data, July and August are not usually colder than September and 4 days do not make an 'average' for a month.

BC Government caused global warming (er cooling, er climate change)

First some relevant asides,

  1. when I was in school in the 1970's, we were being warned that all our cars were causing a global ice age.
  2. Some scientists I've heard report that the chages in the temperature on Mars has been going up and down roughly in proportion to the Earth's increase and decrease in temperature, and our Sun's sunspot activity has been too.

So you can guess what I think is the real 'most significant fator' of global iceage/warming/climate change.

This decade's claim is that all our problems are being caused by excess CO2. And of course we are upset with oil (if you don't live in a oil producing region) and cows (if you are a vegetarian) for causing all the excess CO2. So now the news:

Dateline: August 2010. Facts given on the radio over a 1 hour news program. Plus facts claimed by some climate change people the day before.

  1. 4 days of BC forest fires have created the equivalent to what the rest of Canada creates in CO2 over a 5 year average.
  2. If BC Government had invested just a few 10's of millions of dollars, they could have prevented or stopped most of these wildfires (and most of the CO2 creation). Note: There would have been the firest, they wouldn't have prevented the fires, but they would have prevented them from becoming wildfires.
  3. The atmosphere will clean up the mess within 3-4 days of the fires going out.
  4. The Alberta Tar-sands cause 3% of Canada's CO2 creation typically.
  5. The BC government wants Alberta to spend billions of dollars annually to clean up the CO2 emmisions from the tar-sands.
  6. Fires like this happen in BC about every 7 years.

So, here are my conclusions:

The government in BC allowed 150 years of Alberta Tarsands CO2 (3% of 5 years) to be created because they didn't want to spend a few dozen or lets even say, hundred million dollars. If BC spent 48 Million a year, Alberta would be able to stop even trying to clean up the tarsands CO2 and save billions and the rest of Canada could ignore anything to do with global iceage/warming/climate change. Maybe Alberta should just give the poor BC Government a few million a year to 100% solve the word's climate change 'problem'..

If the BC Government's CO2 will only take 4 days for the atmosphere to clean up, then each YEAR of Tarsands activity only takes about 32 minutes for a small portion of the earth to clean up.

Another way to look at it: BC goverment, through unwillingness to spend a few dozen million causes a CO2 problem every 7 years that would take Alberta 150 years to clean up their (the BC Government's) mess.

And the final, most obvious conclusion: The globalwarmingoppswescrewedupbettercallitclimatechangeologists should worry more about those bad guys on the sun creating the sunspots, than frivolous issues to keep them getting grant monies. And yes, I have several other ideas on this issue that I've thought about, but let me wait until another newscast sometime in the next decade to bring out one or two more of them.

Everyone should have snow tires.

Dateline: November 2009. Lots of snow and the city of Calgary is under fire because of poor management of snow removal. Like every good politician, when faced with a problem ... Calgary Aldermen are shifting the blame. They are suggesting that it should be mandatory to have snow tires. Now, I think as a general principle, snow tires are good, and I put them on several of our vehicles, but I chafe at the suggestion that I should be forced by law to put them on the truck I drive twice a year and only when road conditions are good, just because it may technically be winter. (For those not in the Calgary area: Usually the roads in Calgary are bare and clear most of the winter, we just get these huge snow dumps, typically in fall and spring  - and yes, fall and spring are not winter.).

The alderman on the radio was all proud that she had found a study by insurance companies that she said supported her contention that everyone should be forced to put snow tires on every vehicle. Over a 10 minute period she made the following 'factual' claims;

  1. Currently only 10% of people use snow tires (most of the rest think all-season tires are good enough)
  2. Nearly 50% of winter accidents are caused by people driving without winter tires.

She felt this second fact supported her contention that all vechicles should be required by law to have snow tires in the winter.

But lets look at these facts more closely. If the 90% without snow tires are causing nearly 50% of the accidents, then the 10% with snow tires are causing slightly more than 50% of the accidents. This means that you are 9 times as likely to cause an accident in winter if you have snow tires than you are if you have summer or all season tires!

If you want to use her line of reasoning, the only logical conclusion would be to BAN Winter tires, at least in the winter, not make them mandatory.

btw, my guess at a better interpretation if her facts are true: Compared to others, people who have winter tires statistically drive irresponsibly, thinking that they can drive like idiots because they have snow tires.