Canada Stats: A New Ratio

Most Canadians have heard the following fact about living in Canada. 90 % of Canada’s Population lies within 200 miles of the American border. When your country stretches for thousands of miles further north, this is a significant statistic.

I wish to go further than that today. I would like to say the larger the southern border with the US of each region, the more population is in that region.

There is one obvious disagreement with this rule and it is in the prairie provinces. Alberta has the smallest southern border with the US of all the prairie provinces. This despite the fact that is about 3 times more populous than both Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I think that the difference is largely due to oil wealth in Alberta that allows this province not to have a sales tax. (They may claim it’s because they have no rats but they’re forgetting the right honourable kind.) I’ve avoided this problem by considering the prairie provinces to be 1 region.

I have also made the Atlantic provinces into 1 region. You see it is true that only New Brunswick of these provinces shares a border with the US. So I’ve united these four provinces into one as well.

Then we get, from most populous area to least populous area, the population usually agrees with the southern border with the US. So I’ll list the province first, the population second, the length of border in miles third, and then the population over the length of border (our new ratio). We get:

Ontario, 13 472 400, 1 715, 7856
Quebec, 8 028 400, 505, 15 898
Prairies, 6 180 700, 887, 6968
British Columbia, 4 606 500, 561, 8211
Atlantic Canada, 2 355 800, 318, 7408

Shown like this, Quebec is the only outlier in the statistics. We get about 7500 Canadians per mile of southern US border in all the other Canadian areas.

So why is Quebec such an outlier? Well it may just be that they were settled before any other part of Canada and kept that head start. It might also be that the 1st colony in Quebec began in 1608. The first Thirteen Colonies (which became the US) settlement occurred in 1609. So Quebec or New France was there before there was even an American border to huddle up against.

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A year or two ago I tried playing peekaboo with my cat to some success.

Sometimes she comes up to my bed while I’m lying down and I can see the tips of her ears over the line of the bed. So a few times I pushed my head up to lock eyes and said “Peekaboo,”. Then I pulled my head down so I couldn’t even see the tips of her ears. And then I repeated those actions as the game demanded.

My cat just looked at me but seemed sort of entertained. In my mind back then I had been successful at teaching my cat to play peekaboo. What was my cat going to do to prove she understood the game? Was she going to say “Peekaboo,” back to me?

So the other day the cat came up to my bed so the tips of her ears were showing. I started the game again. I pushed my head up, locked eyes with her, and said “Peekaboo.” Then I pulled my head down for a moment. Then I repeated. The third time I put my head up, I couldn’t lock eyes with her. Doubting her cat’s brain I pushed my head even further up. I saw her butt and tail over the line of the bed.

She hadn’t run away. She had lowered her head so I couldn’t see it to do the “Peekaboo.” So I asked “Where’s my kitty?” I lowered my head and shut up. Then I raised it again and asked, “Where’s my kitty?” as she was still lowered to the ground. I did this a few more times. She wouldn’t raise her head again.

I think that cat brain of hers thinks she has improved the game. “See,” she’s saying, “when I hide I stay hidden. Unlike you foolish human.”

Still I think I can eventually get her to see things my way. And maybe I can even pull off that ultimate success. That’s when she says “Meow,” at just the right time while she’s doing it.

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The Golden Age of Moths

“Like a moth to a flame” is a common phrase. But what does it refer too? It references the dance of death where a moth will see a flame and be attracted to it. It doesn’t stop there. The moth flits closer and closer to the erratic flame until it either is singed or burns completely.

Thank Mothra for the electric light! Modern humans light things up with electric light. If this were not the case we would likely have rows of tiki torches instead of electric moon rays. How many moths are saved by the electric light? It is such a large number that it is practically incalculable. In this way, modern civilization is good to the moth.

But wait, nature produced fire long before humans. It comes in the form of forest fires and grass fires generally ignited by lightning strikes. Man has things of his own to protect from such fires, now. So he fights these fires, be they in the northern forests of Canada or the more open fires near the California coast. This produces fewer fires or at least smaller ones for the moth to die in.

This truly is the age of the moth. Except maybe for moth balls. But those seem to be used less frequently.

What will moths do with their better lives? Perhaps they will teach their young about the horrors of the past. And the legend of Mothra. Maybe they will grow a powerful civilization. Only time will tell for sure.

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NaNoWriMo the Third

National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo has existed for over a decade. But for me personally, this is the third time participating. And I’m doing it wrong for the 2nd of 3 years.

My first year and this year I am writing a collection of short stories. I’m retitling the 1st collection as Fabrications and this year’s outing is related so it is called More Fabric. The novel in between these “wrong” years is also related. I am writing a six book series. As I see it now, the last two books will be novels and next year’s outing will be wrong again with three novellas making up the book.

NaNoWriMo is being obliging by opening up Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July to collections or other works. As well they have a variable goal, not solely consisting of the tyranny of the 50 000 words.

I’m fine with 50 000 words. The curious of you might wonder which is harder, the novel or the short stories? I found both to be about the same. You risk sagging interest at the length of novel and with short stories you’re constantly restarting which is hard some days.

The reason I am writing my series at the normal NaNoWriMo time is because I heard about the hype for November and heard nothing for the Camps. Indeed I wasn’t conscious of the Camps till the two in this year. That’s when I realized the freedom they are offering.

Indeed, because it wasn’t a novel, my first book’s synopsis on the NaNoWriMo site is carefully worded to not give my wrongness away. As such, when I met the 50 000 word goal in less than a month, I said nothing and got a validated win. It was also nice to get the win last year when I was doing the challenge properly.

Perhaps NaNoWriMo will take away my first win two years ago and this year, too. I’m not hiding what I’m doing this year. I explained all this in my synopsis to More Fabric.

It’s just that it is extra work for them to check everyone’s synopsis at validation time. So I suspect that I will be validated if I meet the 50 000 word challenge this year. I suspect to be challenged only if someone yells “wrong” and complains officially. It’s just that I think most people are attracted to NaNoWriMo by the collegial atmosphere, where we’re taking on a challenge all together and swapping tricks and support. So it might be that no one will complain.

If that’s the case, NaNoWriMo might only find out about my wrongness if my books actually sell and some connection to the yearly challenge is made. If my books are selling, I don’t mind this problem.

If I look wrong to you, I am sorry. Just think of me as Camping in the entirely wrong month and season.

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Dithering Gen X Caused By Dithering Sociologists

X stands for the unknown in mathematics and that is how Gen X (full disclosure: I am a Gen Xer) gets perceived by the world. It’s not just that both surrounding generations (the baby boomers and the millenials) have a much larger population and thus get the spotlight more often. It’s also that practically no traits have been ascribed to Gen X as a whole.

Can’t Gen X make up its mind what it wants to be? I definitely think that this is the case. But there is much dithering because there is no concrete definition of what a Gen Xer is.

The baby boomers began to be born just after World War II. This generation is supposed to end sometime in the sixties. When that is, exactly, is undefined.

The baby bust happened sometime in the early to mid sixties. Sociologists are still duking it out about when exactly this event occurred. Gen X is the baby bust. So the lead Gen Xers are undefined. The lead baby boomers got followed everywhere. From overcrowded nurseries to overcrowded schools to overcrowded work places and overcrowded retirement homes.

But how can you follow the lead Gen Xers when you don’t even know who they are? Gen X has been said to start anywhere between 1960 to 1967. I wouldn’t know where the press should begin even if it wanted to.

The end of Gen X is firm. Very close to the end of 1982 the baby bust ended. So those born in 1983 to 2000 are the millenials. They used to be called Gen Y but since they have firm leaders the term millenials has taken over. They don’t want to just follow Gen X.

And the current crop of babies and kids is “Gen Z”. What they choose to name themselves is still up in the air. After all they are still under age. Both latter generations have firm starts so they have firm traits.

Gen X still gets thought of as wishy washy or the unknown that I mentioned at the top of this piece. I’ve seen articles about millenials that confidently lists their traits. In this respect they have already outdone Gen X in their visibility and seeming assertiveness.

Sociologists I call on you to do something simple : agree with each other. Gen X may have fallen to the way side simple because of its lesser population. But if a beginning is struck, perhaps Gen X will get one tiny article on some obscure blog site one day that outlines its traits. Then I can finally see what we are.

Until that time comes I’d like to change that X in Gen X into its Roman numeral or the perfect ten that I know we are. Take that, other generations.

And sociologists are the true ditherers in the generational saga.

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Guaranteed Way of Beating the Freshman 15

The much dreaded “Freshman 15” refers to the gain of 15 pounds by university and college freshmen. We know this pitfall exists so why haven’t we done anything about this? In this era of increased obesity amongst younger people maybe we can use my guaranteed method of fighting the freshman 15 as the first salvo in a successful war on obesity.

I can hear many of you doubting that I actually have a guaranteed method to fight the freshman 15. Allow me to plant my seed of an idea. If all those young adults never leave high school, how will they encounter the freshman 15? I’ll say it more proactively. If students never leave their high school they are highly unlikely to encounter the freshman 15.

We can peek at all the possible causes of the freshman 15. There is the stress of leaving Mom and Dad’s house. There is the stress of living away from home. There is the forced learning of how to cook good nutritious meals for the first time. There is the opportunity to spoil your next meal with too many chips or cookies. There are the constant pizza parties. There is the sudden and new intake of large amounts of alcohol.

If you never leave home you will never encounter these stressors. If you never leave home your parents can continue to stock good foods for you. If you never leave high school you will never have to navigate new social groups ever again. The price your parents might make you pay for staying at home would be to not abuse alcohol like most college students. In fact they might limit you to your high school consumption levels.

But surely I don’t expect everyone to remain in high school. Students would get bored studying the same curriculum again and again. (Wouldn’t this drive them to drink and overeat?) How would society function if everyone were stuck in high school?

The grade 12s would graduate. Then return to classrooms of the high school where they graduated. But they would telecommute to universities and colleges all over the world. After they complete their post secondary stint they could graduate to the workplace – also in their school. We have the technology to telecommute to both work and school. Why shouldn’t we take full advantage?

Fine, I’ve saved everyone from the freshman 15 and even the possible first job 15, but where oh where are we going to put that next group of grade nines that wants to go to an already full high school?

I freely admit that we are going to have to build a new high school every 4 years but look at all the savings. Instead of all those expensive and award winning college and university buildings, all we have to build are boring high schools. I’m sure the government will end up saving more money after all.

Real commuting will all but cease, leaving the roads free to the pleasure driver.

But most of all we will have beaten the freshman 15. How much type 2 diabetes and all its costs will this move save?

Now that we have this under our belts, we can move onward to childhood obesity. Who will come up with that guaranteed plan?

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Replacing the Few With the Many

A couple albums ago, the band Yes was faced with the prospect of not having a keyboardist. Big things are expected of a Yes keyboardist because such people as Rick Wakeman, Tony Kaye, Geoff Downes, Patrick Moraz and Igor Khoroshev have filled that position. So, like any overachieving act, Yes filled the position of keyboardist with an orchestra.

Ever since, the rest of Yes have been quaking in their boots. Who knows what asymmetrical fixes might be tried if any other member were to leave? Previously it was thought that only a few of the top musicians would be eligible for membership in Yes.

But at the same time, all members must be smiling a bit amongst themselves. One Yes member had been replaced by a whole crew of musicians. I’m sure their chests must be puffed out with pride knowing this. So let’s look at what might be used to replace the other members of Yes.

Seemingly the central position in a lot of acts is the lead singer. Now I know you are a step ahead of me and think that the singer for Yes might need to be replaced by a choir. But not just any choir.

My brother Lani has oft described Jon Anderson, Yes’s most prolific lead singer, as sounding like “Mickey Mouse on helium”. So obviously a choir founded on bass voices is not a good replacement. Instead, let us scout out boys choirs, or (when the material is more adult), a woman’s choir might make a good replacement.

A committee of choir members might write the lyrics. Perhaps if we had every member of that say 20 person committee write a word and other words in 20 word intervals, perhaps we might end up with something as random as say Jon Anderson, Trevor Horn, Benoit David or the current John Davison might write.

It wouldn’t be right if the position of guitarist were taken over by another orchestra. Attrition might result and we might get only one orchestra to represent the one guitarist as well as the one keyboardist. So I say we go to jazz music and find a big band to replace the guitarist be it Steve Howe, Trevor Rabin, Billy Sherwood or Peter Banks. A big band would be wonderful to replace in-your-face lead notes like those coming from a distorted guitar.

The position of drummer, be it Alan White or Bill Bruford, could be filled by the rhythm section of a marching band. Plus you could have the band march and thus be a visual thrill for audiences.

Then what can you do about the position of bassist? Well every Yes album has Chris Squire owning this position. So much so that he is the man with the rights to the Yes name. Having never left the band he is perhaps the least prideful of all the members. I don’t think he has a need to challenge the rest of the band with more musicians than the other positions were filled with.

I suspect Squire would want the band to be progressive in his absence. As such they could replace him with one normal bassist, one slap bassist which can add punchiness to the band, a stand up bassist for some awesome slides not available with a fretted electric bass, and a cellist for that low and lengthy sustain.

So there you have it. The band Yes could easily be replaced by about two hundred musicians. Imagine the size of stage necessary. What a spectacle this would be. To some this might just be a fine end point for progressive rock music. It certainly is excessive and over the top just as Yes might want. Once and for all time Yes would have their most sought after feat. Yes would be the prog rock band with the most members ever in the line up.

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Baby Boomers Were Crooks

I may not prove the title in an air tight way in this rant. I am just going to posit this statement and make suggestions for how I see things.

Others have danced around the obvious here. They have shown that crime rates peaked when the boomers were young adults. Crime and especially the more violent crimes have fallen over the last number of years as the baby boomers have aged and have become more violence adverse. This has been a North America wide situation.

One of my assumptions is that young people commit the most violent crimes. Why? Because that young person is more likely to win in a fight or violence showdown than those over 40 and those under the age of majority.

I haven’t gone over the crime stats to see whether the police and others pointed the finger at baby boomers as being the cause of all this violence. I do suggest that someone should do the proper research to either prove or disprove my title assertion.

As well, it is possible that there were more crimes when the baby boomers were young adults simply because there are more baby boomers than people of other age groups. Really this comes down to a matter of degree. Real statistics are needed to assign severity to the correlation I have pointed out.

What I can show is that illegal drug culture expanded exponentially when boomers were young. These blatant drug crimes have become commonplace since the time of the boomers and thus is born the legalize marijuana debate and laws. This is because people (many who are boomers) still indulge. When even presidents of the United States admit publicly that they put marijuana smoke in their mouths, you know that most boomers were crooks – at least with regard to drug laws.

What I can also show is that baby boomers had the opportunity to be crooks. There are so many boomers that schools and hospitals had to be expanded all through boomers’ lifetimes right up to the point that now senior services are being expanded like never before. With that kind of a population bulge, boomers are left with less guidance per capita and less policing by their elders. Boomers had the opportunity to be crooks and many, I think, took it.

I know it will never hold but I, as a Gen Xer, suggest we change the term ‘baby boomers’ into the term the Crooked Generation.

I offer this post so it can go against the wind of marketers who are still telling baby boomers they are wonderful and even that they were wonderful in their youth.

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Maybe You Can Take It With You

‘You can take it with you’ is what the ancient Egyptians were told. This led to huge tombs for the rich, where not only did they mummify your remains, but they also gave you a large stock of what you might need from this earth in your next life. To me this was an age where capitalism reigned supreme. Not only did merchants have to supply the living but they supplied the dead as well.

Of course this unfettered capitalism also led to grave robbing, but that is neither here nor there.

A case might be made by a greedy modern corporation for ‘taking it with you’ at modern day funerals. Most people nowadays still believe in an afterlife, it’s just assumed that this afterlife is so terrific that you don’t need earthly goods in that place. A wise, super capitalistic corporation would question this.

It is also true that especially devout modern believers in heaven, also see a value in turning their backs on the goods of this earth. Many monks and nuns have been known to honour vows of poverty. Could it be that this is a good skill to develop on earth because any heaven might have a shortage of worldly goods? Yes, of course, it would be a hugely spiritual place, but that focus might forget or offer only as an afterthought modern amenities. So perhaps we should begin ‘taking it with us’.

When I first heard of this sound system in a coffin, I thought it was a simply stupid offer. Now that I see that the higher power might not provide this in a heaven of their own choosing, I see the practicality of it all.

But far from this coffin being an endpoint of luxury, now I see it as just a start. Why leave technology up to the higher power. After all it is widely known that one of the most dangerous sites to visit for computer viruses are often religious groups. We can work around this deficiency when we die by burying ourselves with some of that great tech.

And when we become pack rats even in death, we can leave the worldly plane with a smile on our faces. After all we will help capitalism and the economy of the world of the living by trying to take our goods with us.

Selling this idea I now leave up to the mighty corporations of this earth. After all, they are going to profit off this the most. They should tell us that we can take it with us in ads so cute we can’t resist doing as we are told.

Don’t forget if you’re a stockholder and your CEO and other hires don’t follow this greedy capitalist path, then they are communists. As such you will have to sue your hires into compliance. That’s what some recent laws are for – protecting the primacy of the shareholder. Carry on.

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Creating the Feel of an Incumbent

Being the incumbent is a giant aid in politics. That’s why the incumbent’s signs say re-elect so and so.If the incumbent wasn’t favoured, those signs would all say more simply elect so and so.

But right now the Kitchener, Canada mayoral race has no real incumbent. Mayor Carl Zehr is set to retire when this election is decided.

The first thing to do to try to create the feel of an incumbent is to have your name be vaguely familiar to the public in some way. Mayoral candidate Dan Glenn-Graham achieved this by working the last four years as a city of Kitchener councillor.

But Councillor Dan Glenn-Graham’s main trick to creating the feel of being an incumbent is that he has a working time travel machine. Imagine that for a moment. I’ll outline how that goes.

It is my belief that Glenn-Graham went about 5 or 6 years into the past. Upon arrival he of course invested in certain stocks that will outperform the market by a drastic amount. But most importantly he went into the past to whisper into a CTV (Canadian Television network) executive’s ear. He said commandingly that, “I believe you should start a television show about a run for mayor. It should be called, ‘Dan for Mayor.’”

All that is history now, and many Kitchener residents watched the national show religiously. Why? Because it was shot in Kitchener, Waterloo and Hamilton. Local residents could play “Where’s that location?” I personally remember Kitchener City Hall, a Kitchener appliance store, a Kitchener old timey water tower and Waterloo’s Heuther Hotel.

The fictional city of the story was called Wessex. But we all knew it in reality as Kitchener. The title is the slogan Dan for Mayor and I bet Dan Glenn-Graham did his best to stop himself from using that on his campaign signs. But still Dan and Mayor are of course used prominently in his Twitter handle of @electdanmayor .

Glenn-Graham could have done much worse with his time machine. This way he just has the feel of an incumbent, and someone else could still win.

Some will poopoo my time machine explanation. The only way to prove it would be to examine Glenn-Graham’s stock portfolio to see that he invested brilliantly some five or six years ago. I don’t have to. I know that Dan for Mayor is no casual coincidence. [Edit Sept. 21, 2014: That’s Glenn-Graham and not Glenn Graham]

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