Thursday, January 31, 2008

Alternative Aviation

Sorry for the lack of post those past few days, I was feeling a little under the weather from a cold. While down I was pointed to an interesting blog article about applying the alternative medecine idea and logic to the airline industry. Read it you'll have fun.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Not a surprise to me at least.

About a week ago l’Université Laval held a referendum to see if the student agreed to an increase in technological fees to pay for a new management software. The University asked for something close to a 300% increase to buy something that according to the student groups already exist in some faculty (Science and Engineering not to name it) and that could be expanded by student with a much smaller cash investment. Now, you probably guessed that the student voted massively against that increase (79% in fact).

So the day the result were announced, I told the very happy student that it didn’t matter in fact, the University will simply disregard the referendum and increase the fees. People told me I was wrong that they could not ignore such a large majority. Well I just received a message this morning telling me: The administration council of the university increased the technological fee by more then 200%. So forgive me if I go and say: I told you so.

Now the saga is not over, I predict that the student groups will vote for protestation (they already sent an ultimatum) that might even go up to a strike. Said protestation will result in a negotiation that will end with a 50 to 100% increase in technological fees and a reduction of some services to pay the difference. Student will then complain about the reduction in services, and Science and Engineering student will be pissed because they are once again paying for the rest of the University to have something they already had.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Self-fulfilling prophecies?

For a few years now I’ve made the decision not to involve myself in my friends’ love life, even if I think they might be in a bad relationship and making a mistake. One of the reasons is that most people don’t really want someone else opinion about their love life. Seriously, do you know many people that listen to their friend when one of them tells them: “I think that girl (boy) is bad for you.” They know that person better then we do (usually), they like (love) that person and what they want to know is that they make a great couple and that it is going to last forever. Saying anything else is probably going to be seeing as being a bad friend, being jealous of them or not knowing the person well enough. Another reason I took that decision is that frankly all my friends are adult, and are responsible for their action. If they really want to know that I think about their relationship they will have asked me to tell them what I think before they are in any relationship. The only problem with that approach that I’ve seen is that only one of my friends asked me this, and her standard for a boyfriend are so high they make my standard for a girlfriend looks easy so I doubt that she’ll even find a guy that won’t fit well with her.

However the main reason is that these opinions can become self-fulfilling prophecies. You see, maybe someone I see as being bad for someone else is in fact very good but telling that person that I think she is bad for her lead the person to question her relationship. He stars to become more distant thinking about what I said trying to find flaws in the relationship; his idea is to prove me wrong, of course. But when you start to search for flaws and things that do not go well in something you can usually find some. When you start to put all your attention on negative things well you start to see everything in a negative light and the words instead of being falsified become more and more possible. In short, by looking at only the bad part of the relationship and not the whole your making the idea that it is a bad relationship a lot more interesting. After a period of time of feeding this circle of negativity, it becomes clear that the person was not the good one and the prophecy fulfill itself.
The question then becomes, would it had ended without the prophecy? And was it really a bad relationship or was it ruin by the words of another? It’s not that I find the “responsibility” of that too high, it’s more than I hate self-fulfilling prophecies, they stink of bad writing and are too linear.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

You hit for how much??

Monday I had my weekly D&D games and I saw for first time the terror that is a Half-Orc Barbarian. One of my player took over another player’s character, an half-orc barbarian wielding a mercurial greatsword. Now, mercurial greatsword are not that good of a weapon, except for its critical hit multiplier of x4. So we got to see monday just how bad a critical hit with this weapon can be. Let me explain, a CR 3 monster usually has something around 20 hit points with the high end CR 5 monsters having around 50-60 hp. So knowing that and that my party is a 3rd level one you can imagine the effect à 75 damage critical hit would have.

Unfortunately for my player it was against an illusion but still everyone around the table just went kind of silent and looked at the guy with a “You hit for how much?” face. Luckily for my monster the player had already chosen to retire this character by the end of the session, he wanted to play a character he had built himself. Still it was a impressive moment in the game.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I'm probably just weird.

Monday was the 60th anniversary of the first official showing of the Quebec flag. Well it is also the flag’s anniversary but that not really what I am thinking about. You see Sunday there was a parade in Montreal city to commemorate the flag. Up to now I have no problem, where I have a problem is that even if it is Quebec City 400th anniversary AND that Quebec is the province’s Capital no celebration or commemoration where held. Now I know that Montreal is a bigger town the Quebec, but when it comes to celebration for the Province and the people of Quebec I think you need to hold some form of celebration in the Capital. I don’t care if the one in Montreal is bigger but you should at least have something in Quebec. Oh well maybe it is just me that find this strange but I had to talk about it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Astronomical Pictures

Well today I’m gonna reveal a secret, something you probably didn’t expect and might disappoint you a little. You know all those pretty astronomical pictures you see in Calendar and on web site… Well the object probably don’t look like that, and sometimes not at all. Now, you must understand that the intention is not to deceive but to show the science and what is spectacular about a object and it is also because of the physical limitation we have to work with.

Let me explain, first off let us remember that the eyes is an amazingly complex organ that coupled with our brain can make advanced image manipulation in real time. Also despite of all its power the eye and brain system is still very limited. It can only see in a very tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum, what we call obviously the visible part of the spectrum.

If you let me go on a tangent here the light our eyes let through is an interesting thing, it is though by many that our eyes see the way it does because we evolved around a G type star that emits most of it’s light in the visible. It stand to reason the argument goes that the most effective way to see is to look into the part where the most light is. However, if you look closely at the light the eyes transmit you find a starting revelation, it is almost exactly the same kind of light transmission than water would transmit. Now, if we think that the eyes is filled with water and that it might have evolved underwater it becomes much more logical don’t you think?

Now knowing that and that we use our telescope not only in the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum but in every part of the spectrum we can think of a way to detect you might star to see the problem. We have data that our eyes cannot see that we wish to show to our eyes, brining about the concept of false color, i.e when you represent with a color something that is invisible to the eyes. Then there is the fact that the eye is quite wasteful when it comes to light, it doesn’t transmit a lot of the light it receive, which isn’t a problem when you are looking in a brightly lit area like the earth but if you want to look at a faint distant object like a galaxy well losing that light might make the difference between seeing it and not seeing it. To compensate for that astronomer use filters that are design to let in as much light as possible. What does that mean for images? Well it means that some colors have more light then you eyes would sees, making them brighter and more apparent. Now, there is another problem, the fact that eyes always see all the light in the visible, while thanks to our filter we only see a small part of the light. In most case what is done is to take many monochromatic images, i.e. black and white images in a small region of the electromagnetic spectrum. We then gather more of those images (usually around 3, to have a “red”, a “green” and a “blue” image) which we combine using software (like Photoshop).

It is in the combinations process that we try to make the images attractive to the eyes and in most case scientifically relevant. We also correct the images for flaws (for example high-energy cosmic ray, no not the kind that give super powers) and irregularity in the detectors) and then select the colors for each of these images. Sometimes to make the physics of the object more apparent we “cheat” a little with the orders of the colors, we makes things that “should” be green, blue or stuff like that.

But, still despite all this the images are still true to reality, just not the reality our eyes shows us. Astronomers try to make the images beautiful to attract the eyes and make people think about the sky above. Who knows maybe one day someone will come back home from a trip around the Milky way with digital camera pictures of all those nebula and show the world how wrong we where, but until them please enjoy our images, you eyes can see those and they can’t see the object we are showing you.

Global Warming appreciation day.

Well today Mother Nature in all her non-existence saw fit to give the resident of Quebec a global warming appreciation day by inflicting us with the usual winter polar temperatures. Yes, today and probably tomorrow, well maybe for a week we will find ourselves with temperature with wind chill factor around the -40. This should be enough to produce a full ensemble of joke about how global warming isn’t so bad and that it might not even be happening. Showing once again that punctual dramatic event have more weight in the collective imagination than slow process. So just remember just because today is cold doesn’t mean the year isn’t hotter then the previous one, and even the year isn’t hotter then the previous one, well the decade is and so on until you get to decabillion year at which point you can’t get a large enough sample to make a claim.

Oh one last thing, apparently Canada used to be a Tropical Paradise 65 millions years ago, so unless the continental drift is a lot more then I though some era where a lot hotter then today is. And frankly on days like today I’d kinda like seeing a palm tree instead of a snow outside my window.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The pope isn’t coming Quebec’s 400 anniversary celebration

So fracking what?

No seriously so what? While I admit that Catholicism as been a big part of Quebec City history the absence of it current representative doesn’t subtract from the event. Seriously if you consider that the Queen of England (and for that matter Canada) will not make an appearance I’m thinking Pope Palpatine absence is a minor detail. While it could be argued that Catholicism has had a bigger impact on Quebec City then the England, I would like the remind everyone that the fate of la Nouvelle France was determined by the English at Quebec City. Also, while Catholicism is a religion in decline in Quebec City, federalism is on the rise in the City, so I would expect that seeing the head of state from their own country would come before seeing a religious figure only part of the population adheres too.

Truly in my mind telling me that the Pope isn’t coming as about as much impact on my idea of the 400th as learning that Tom Cruise (and his scientologist cronies) won’t be making an appearance. It not important if he comes or not,, if he does we will offer him the same treatment as any other important world figure (not Tom Cruise for example).

Oh yeah another new on part of that just came to my attention this morning, there is currently a plan to ask the Pope to comes to Quebec while he visit New York in 2008 (for the 400). Seriously if he can’t come to Quebec to come to Quebec, I’m not sure I want to see him, we are not a side trip on his way around the world.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

That not a bug that a feature!

I never though I’d use that sentence in a good way, for those not getting it is this sentence comes apparently from a Microsoft tech support answer to a complain about something the software did automatically. It as become synonymous with weird function in computer software that do thing that annoy user without being of much use (Clippy anyone?).

Well today one of my own software was displaying something that looked like a bug. Basically it was telling me that something I thought should not be equal to zero was equal to zero.. If you really want to know it was the mass of a young stellar population when Hbeta emission is observed. Basically, young stars emit UV light that is absorbed by the interstellar gas and reemitted as visible light in mostly in the Blamer series of emission line, two of the most preeminent being Halpha in the red and Hbeta in the blue. Now while star like the Sun, an intermediate age star in astronomy, emit UV light, they are like candle next to the more massive young stars and their flux can be ignored even when they are present in large number. Now what my software was telling me was that my old/intermediate age stellar population was producing my observed spectrum, which featured the Hbeta and Halpha lines, without any contribution from young stars.

After looking around the code for error and to my sources synthetic spectrum for weird features or error and finding none, I finally understood what was happening. My code was actually smarter then I though when I programmed it. It could differentiate between my code having found two different ages for an area (identifying and separating them as his part of the goal of my phd) and an area where my two synthesis codes found a single population (i.e a single age). I could not figure out how to confirm or dismiss this hypothesis (the single population producing both set of indicator) but it seems that my software has a feature that give me solid arguments for it. It can even give me argument to separate the metallicity of the gas and stars in such a situation but you don’t need to get the details, it’s actually pretty interesting if you work in galaxy synthesis.

So in short that almost a Eureka moment for me, understanding what my code was producing and that what I thought was a bug is actually an interesting feature. Now I just need to verify that it is indeed a feature and not some weird coincidence that fits with an interesting hypothesis. Oh well a phd student work is seemingly never finished.

Mud animated by lightning

I just heard today that apparently according to evolution we are just mud animated by lightning. Cool hey? Sound pretty dumb I would say… well lets look at the alternative proposed: dirt animated by the breath of an invisible man. Doesn’t sound that much intelligent either don’t you think? Should I wonder which one I would prefer to come from?

The mud theory has a cool Frankenstein vibe, you know as if life was some kind of misunderstood monstrous thing brought forth by mad science. As in on the bank of a river, mud is slowly drying in sun, suddenly clouds cover the light and rain start to fall. Then with a flash of light like we have never seen before a bolt of lightning strikes the ground and slowly, ponderously a man-like creature raise from the mud, fully formed ready to walk the earth and become hunted for being “unnatural”. Presumably by the natural mud, and rock existing before.

Now the dirt theory as something going for it, it sound planned as if we where important. You know important enough for some form of hyper intelligent invisible man-like creature to create us. Nice but I don’t think it is as cool as the Frankenstein vibe.

Now, why am I making those jokes about Evolution and (un)Intelligent Design? Well there is a movie coming to the big screen soon, a movie called Expelled with Ben Stein. Now, this movie claims that Big Science doesn’t people to discuss idea or to challenge the Neo-Darwinian model of Evolution. Particularly not the “scientific” idea of Intelligent Design, it is scared of the “truth” in that idea. Now, just a little point, Big Science is just a way to make a link between the scientific community and the evil Big Tobacco or Big Pharma idea of the evil corporation that tries to hide the truth from the poor unsuspecting masses. Such a link doesn’t exist, science while it is not perfect and it is sometimes cold at the idea of change it, nonetheless, looks at evidence presented and the methodology of the work. If either is lacking the scientist is sent back to his drawing board to find new and/or stronger evidence or to work a different more accepted method.

Also I would like to remind the proponent of Intelligent Design that, it has been shown that all the evidence presented by Intelligent Design were based on outdated scientific data or were disprovable at least to the satisfaction of a judge.

Oh and btw, I am proud of being mud animated by lightning. Hmm someone really needs to make a bumper sticker for that, sound cool no?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A song life form

This morning I read a short story on the web site 365 tomorrows (the story is called Off Key), it is about a Xenobiologist that gets a new mpX player implant and discover that the song she is hearing is actually a life form. This got me thinking: Is there a way to sees songs as life form? Well to be a life form, if we use the broadest definition of life form possible, one needs two thing: to be able to grow and reproduce.

So let us examine that theoretically song life form, first the reproduction part is quite easy, any time someone or something replicate the song we could claim to have seen reproduction, with error being mutation in the nature of the song. While it isn’t really a true reproduction since it involves an outside mechanism, it fits with the virus reproduction process, which is arguably a life form. So we have a song that could reproduce itself through the intervention of human or computer (give a new meaning to having a song stuck in your head…)

Now the growth part is harder, because a song doesn’t really grow, does it? Well one could imagine the song incorporating ambient sound to “grow” beyond it original form. It could also grow from human intervention by adding a new harmonic track to the song for example. Or if the acoustic of the room where the song was played where specifically designed we could see a resonance like phenomenon and see an increase in the song intensity, i.e a growth.

Now, I don’t think that song are life form, but there could maybe exist in the universe a life form that is constituted only of sound that grows and mutate thanks to its interaction with his ecosystem and other life form. It might event develop means of communicating thanks to modulation of itself. It might also mutate to sound better to species more likely to sing it, with slight modification of the song having evolutionary advantage over song that sound “worse” to the hear of the host species.

Aren’t the possibility dreamt of by the human mind startling? Imagining life form so unlike anything we know for the sake of a good story. Its amazing don’t you think?

I’m sure that action like this will help…

Yesterday while doing my morning blog run I came a post (I won’t link to it or to the blog since I do not want to give this guy publicity) about the past action of a French blogger. This person thinks that French is in danger in Quebec and shows what he as done in the past in reaction to example of this.

First he tells the story of how when he wanted to treat his sister, his brother-in-law’s family to a Chinese restaurant in Montreal. When he could not get services in French he made to leave but his sister who was a regular there insisted they stay. At the end of the diner he paid the 100$+ bill but left only 2 cent of tip. His sister was pissed but even if I find the guy a little cheap for leaving only a 2 cent tip, it is still his right if he feel the services was bad.

Now that story while making the guy looks cheap didn’t do much to help or hinder the existence of French in Quebec, his second story however made me cringe. He tells of how when he came back from a week in Toronto he went to a Greek restaurant in Montreal. As in the Chinese restaurant he couldn’t not get service in French but instead of leaving he proceed to order for himself and his friends (5 in all) steamed hot-dog (12) and soft drinks. When came the time to pay the bill, he and his friend ran away screaming to the owner: “Speak French!” Well, first that’s not protecting French rights, or the French language that robbery, a crime. Second, you reality the Greek owner will be motivated to learn French by such a display of maturity and understanding?

Seriously, he said this happened a few years ago, I think he would have realized his action where immature and borderline moronic, not to mention self-defeating. No, instead he brags about it on his blog and the comments support these actions. I hope that if I ever do something that moronic I would have the maturity to realize it was moronic and not go around bragging that I did it a few years later.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Loss of money thanks to peer-to-peer downloading

While looking CD sales figures in Canada in the past years I came across a peer-reviewed article about the impact of the internet peer-to-peer downloading over the sales of CD, the artist revenues, and the industry economic health. No matter which side of the debate you are on, this it a good read for the facts and number (as well as a few info on Canadian infrastructures for the artist) on the real effect of peer-to-peer downloading.

Canada and it's population

Canada is a very large country but it as one vast problem, namely that its population mostly lives within 150 km of the border with the US. Also since most of its natural resources lie farther north then this 150 km limits it exploit far less then it could. Now, living in the northern part of Canada is no picnic between the Siberian cold and the lack of arable land their isn’t much to attract no settler. Even in the part where there are settlers the difficulty of life keep most industries away stalling economical development. All this makes the development of Canada rather difficult.

As part of my Humanity out of the solar system by the end of the 21st century I have a proposal to make. We know that for sustainable space exploration we need to have self- contain self-sufficient environment. Humanity as experimented with this concept before (see Biosphere 2) and it was meet with less then stellar success (some would say failure). So it might be time to try something like that again, but with more modest ambition. I would try to build, self-contain, temperature regulated, semi-autonomous cities north of the 150 km limits. The idea is to remove the biggest limitation to our expansion, climate and to experiment to produced self-contained, self-sufficient environment. Since I am talking about cities size object we would need to design ecologically friendly vehicles (since high pollution engine like the car engine would cause big environmental control issues in a self-contained environment). These cities since they are not designed to be self-sufficient would require trade, and supply from the rest of the country (and hopefully the world) we could use railways and I would like to develop the modern Zepplin technology, which should give us relatively cheap air cargo capacity.

I think that something like that would help Canada to progress toward the future and would give Canadian something to work for. It would also be a technological challenge to build new technology that could help us cope with climate change and pollution as well as giving us access to new resources.

Idiocracy

The movie Idiocracy is a very interesting take on the evolution of the world. One that is probably (thankfully) wrong but still interesting. You see the problem is that intelligence doesn’t not seem to be fully genetic in the senses that idiot parent can give birth to genius, it as many environmental factor. Knowing that and since I believe that the actual fraction of idiot in the society as not changed (their number as increased just as the number of every other people) and that the actual IQ (if we can use that as a measure of the intelligence of someone) seems to slowly increase with time and better education, we seem to be safe from a future Idiocracy. Also to answer anyflower’s comment about my goal for humanity, you have to realize that to get to space exploration we need to have the best education system possible, a system that should in theory deidiotify as most people as possible. Knowing this we can imagine that this project even if it failed would leave humanity with at least a less idiotic society. Also I’m pretty sure that my project is the only one proposed that actually think about having less idiot, all other project only think about factor outside of humanity.

5$ for unlimited music download

Last week I read on the Radio-Canada website that one of Canada’s artist protection group (don’t remember with one, and can’t seems to find the article on Radio Canada) as proposed an original solution to the illegal music sharing over the Internet. It propose to give every Canadian the right to download, share and copy all the music it wants online… in exchange for a 5$ tax on Internet connection that will be redistributed to copyright holder in Canada.

At first glance I though it was a good idea, well except from the fact that you did not give people the choice to pay or not pay for unlimited download it sounded good. However, I thought about it a little and realized that this idea is probably not that good. First, 5$ a month is 60$ a year, or about 3 CD worth of song if you consider a minimum of 10 M Canadian with Internet connection that 600 M$ a year… which is conveniently enough about the amount of $ brought each years in CD sales in Canada. Now since there are still CD sales in Canada even when music download is readily available (both for legal and illegal sources) I’m guessing it will not vanish with this measure. So this measure is a way to take money from every Internet user and put it in the Record industry’s pocket (don’t think the artist will receive most of this money, the copyright holder i.e. the Record industry will).

Second, most people I know don’t download nowhere near 60 songs (3 CD) a year. From the people I know, most people download at most 10-20 songs without also buying the album from where the song comes from. But I do admit that this is not a strong argument since I do not have actual numbers just my impression.

Third, what do we do about all the online music store that already exist? Do we ask them to check the IP address of the consumer and not bill the Canadian ones? Do we prevent them from selling music in Canada? Do we tell them, well tough luck but you have unfair competition, it sells music to less then 10cent a song and Canadian have to pay it so they won’t buy from you.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Humanity's cradle

Earth is humanity’s cradle that much has been well established by ways of metaphor for years, however we have never really establish just how old humanity was, metaphorically speaking of course. You see, if like babies one day humanity needs to leave it’s cradle to come into the world, we as humanity need to know how metaphorically old we are not to throw the metaphorical baby out with the metaphorical bath water. Enough with the philosophical word play; it was just a small introduction to one of my favorite subject. Humanity need to explore and colonizes the stars.

The basic reason is that no matter how good humanity is to the environment, to health care, to society or spiritually sooner or later the Earth is going to be gone. There is no escaping it without changing the laws of physics, and even if the ultimate deadline is in a few billion years other even could happen that would destroy the Earth outside of humanity intervention. Furthermore, it is well likely that many of the problems some people wish to see solved before we try to conquer the stars (the environment and health one for example) cannot be solved by anything other then a reduction of the number of human on Earth. And since birth control measure are usually inefficient and that the other alternative is the murder of a significant fraction of the population I do no think that will be possible.

I personally dream that one day soon the leaders of the world, or scientist or anyone with power to do something about it will announce that humankind goal for the 21st century should be to send a manned mission to our closest Stellar neighbor. I do not think it is far fetch, or even impossible just think how far we’ve came since the beginning of the last century and we should in this century aim to go even farther.

So I proclaim it, Humanity’s goal for the 21st century:

See men escape the solar system and fly on toward the stars.

Another proof that Astrophisics is the coolest science

I’ve recently realized something that once again brings Astrophysics in the realm of the very absolutely best science there is. If you watch Stargate and its spin off Stargate: Atlantis, you come face to face with the phenomenon of what I could call the super scientist. You probably know the type, the science guy that can solve every problem in every science and engineering easily and fast. If you don’t know whom I am talking about just look at one of those shows and keep an eyes out for McKay and Carter you’ll understand. Anyway, both the characters and many of the other super scientists have something in common: they are Astrophysicist!

Since we all know that TV always show exact representation of real life profession in its SF series we can only assume that astrophysicists are indeed super scientist. Proving once again that they are the coolest scientists since super scientists are by definition cooler then normal scientists (just like super heroes are cooler then regular heroes).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hillary or Obama?

The past few days I keep hearing about the current US democrat primaries to see if their next presidential candidate will be Hillary or Obama. Well this might well be very interesting for US citizens; it holds far less interest to me as a Canadian. In fact, it holds about as much interest as the current US republican primaries…

Considering that the US still seems to be a democratic country, that none of the candidate seems to be thinking about changing that or waging more war I don’t really see why we need to concern ourselves with their affairs. I don’t think we need to devote a lot of time to news about the primaries unless, something unusual happen or a candidate as something to say about the US-Canada (or US-World) relation.

Talking about who we would like to see win, or which party should form the next government is like a neighbor looking through your windows and screaming tips to arrange your check book. It doesn’t concern them; just like the US election process does not concern us. I’m pretty sure that the US-Canada relation would be even better if we kept out of each other internal business.

All that to say, I don’t care who wins between Hillary and Obama, hell I don’t care about who wins the next presidential election. As long as he is democratically elected, it is none of our business; we can choose to deal or not with the person but the choice is solely in the hand of the US citizens. So please SRC and CBC stop spending so much time telling me about the democrat leadership race, I’m sure there are a lot of other news in the world that are much more important.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Arm Formerly Known as the Canadian Arm

Yesterday the company owning the patent and rights to build the now famous Canadian Arm of the space shuttle and International (useless) space station was sold to a US company. One of the reason given for the sale was that the aerospace and defense sectors of the US economy were very difficult to access without being an US owned company. That tells me that Canadian aerospace implication is too small and that are defense contract too often go to other countries. Remember, just last year we bought German tanks second hand from the Dutch, and while we have one of the largest aeronautic industry in the world our military planes are build by US company. We, the world 7th richest economy, are also dependent on other country for all our space exploration and communication. Don’t you find it weird that India, a third world country not 20 years ago launches Canadian research satellite? That many of NASA great engineers and scientist were Canadian from company that got sold to US interest?

We must end our dependence on the US economy, while the will remain our main trading partner they should not be so big that every time they sneeze we risk an heart attack. We should also invest ourselves to make sure that our know-how and expertise remain in Canada and are used by Canadian. I think it is only logical in the long run.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The bus just kills me

I take the bus to school everyday and I have come to an annoying realization: taking the bus tires me. I came onto this realization last week when after a great day at work where things where moving smoothly along and that I was energized from it. I was making plans for the evening while waiting to catch my bus home. I get on the bus and less then 5 minutes later I find myself yawning and my eyes closing. At the time I guessed that it would go away when I returned home and go out of the bus but thinking back, I realized that I was never tired until I got on the bus.

Now this morning I had another confirmation of this energy draining effect, I was really looking forward to working, my things are advancing like I want them to, I have interesting result and I already know what I need to be doing for stuff to continue on. So I get on the bus and a few stops later all my energy his gone and I’m yawning the trip away.

I don’t know what the source of this “energy-draining field” but it’s really annoying and only seems to happen when I take the bus. However I must say I have far less data point for the effect of car transportation on my tiredness, I have enough to compare with walking and it is clear there is a deference, walking doesn’t tire me as much… well except for the fact that it would take me about 2 hours to get there.

So any of you ever experiences something like that? Any idea what might cause this effect? Or any solution (beside getting a car, I can’t afford it) to propose?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Stargate Continuity

Friday night I was watching the second part of the Stargate Atlantis 4th season mid season episode and I finally realized what really irked me about the show. The source of most of my annoyance with the show (like the Atlantis/Hyperspace makes you stupid bit) comes from the show format.

With a episode like format with little if any continuity you get situation where writers are free to bring in enemies of whatever power level… as long as the team can deal with them within the confine of one episode there is no problem. It doesn’t really matter if the enemy requires the collapse of half of a galaxy to destroy; as long as it is not the Milky Way and that it is done in one episode (or at worse a two part episode). But that leads to some problems, for example it means that any technology acquired in the process of destroying the enemy must either be destroyed or rendered unusable in that show or in one very near to it in the schedule. I call that the Orion effect, for the Ancient Battleship the Atlantis expedition found and repaired at the end of the second season and that has being destroyed 2 episodes later in the 3rd season first episode. This is also the reason why Atlantis can’t seem to keep a fully charged ZPM working (come one the thing powered the shield for 10 000 years underwater it shouldn’t be depleted easily). And the explanation between the SGC inflatable battleship technology, i.e the technology that give Earth the power to have only 2 battleship in operation at once but to get another online the second one of the two is destroyed. The format require that you remove anything that would “change” the situation of the show significantly as to not make other writer’s idea impossible to air because of “continuity error”. It is probably the source of the stupidity problem I complained about in the past.

In short, the problem is that the Stargate series want the freedom of a continuity free format where you can do anything without consequences with the appeal of a strong continuity story-like format. This is the sources of the stupidity and the inconsistency in the characters and stories and in my humble opinion this lower the show interest a great deal. Personally I think that with a story-like format Stargate Atlantis could be the best show on TV.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Driving and the road

I often hear people say that the government should be blamed for many driving accident because they are responsible for the state of the road. While I agree that the sorry state of roads in Quebec is deplorable and that we should as a society invest to build better road or at least repair our roads. I find it hard to blame the government for accidents. You see I learned to fly planes before I learned to drive and one of the assumptions is that it is always the pilot’s fault, because ultimately he is the one that took all the decision that lead to the accident. There are situation where it is not the pilots fault, but most of the time it is his fault. Take mechanical failure for example, no pilots should start a flight if he knows of any irregularity with his airplane and that include missed inspection, unidentified noise in the engine, or anything else that looks or feel weird. If he does take off knowing about this well it is his fault the plane crashed, it would not have happened had the plane stayed on the ground. A similar reasoning follows for order from flight control, if the pilots feels those order put his plane at risk he is required not to follow them, otherwise it is his fault that a crash happened.

I tend to use a similar logic when it comes to driving; the guy in the car is responsible for the safety of his vehicle. If the road are badly maintained or if there is ice, snow or water over the surface it is the driver’s responsibility to drive slower and more carefully and to know how to react if his vehicle as problems. It is also the driver’s duty to know the limitation of his vehicle, and how his vehicle will move in some situation. For example, every driver should know that accelerating with a front wheel drive car in a turn might make the front outside wheel to lose traction. There are situation in which you cannot do anything, if the road fall over or in front of you, not mater how wheel you are driving it’s pretty much up to chance at the point. However, considering that a lot of people driver every day and a very small minority suffer from accident it is hard to blame the road. You know if it was the road everyone would have accident (or at least a large fraction of the those driving on that road) and that simply isn’t the case. So drive carefully because ultimately it is your responsibility to be safe.

A new year starting

Welcome again dear readers, a new year is starting which I hope will be a good interesting one for everyone. My year ended on a rather sad note, someone I knew committed suicide on December 21st and was buried on the 29th. I must say that a funeral makes for strange holyday. Also, in the week between Christmas and the new years my sister was involved in a car crash, she thankfully go out of it without any injury but the car is in bad shape and considering the situation, a 360 on the highway, it could have been much worse. Finally on New years day, one of my aunt was involved in a car accident with a group of young drivers. Luckily, she does not appear to have suffered any serious injury, just some concussion that were well treated in the hospital.

Thankfully the rest of my holyday season was quite happy with a few parties, lots of Salsa and way too much work for something that should have been a vacation. Anyway I wish you all a good year and I hope to be much more active on this blog this year then I was last year. I hope to post more then 200 times this years so keep in touch and read me whenever you feel like it!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008