The Canadian EpiPen Election

You might first like to watch this commercial roughly telling how to administer the Canadian EpiPen. For more comprehensive coverage of the main two instructions, visit this website.

Canada is facing the possibility that Canada as we know it will no longer exist. The name Canada might exist but it will be a completely different place. Bill C-51 and its fascist leanings are responsible. This bill was brought to you by the Conservative Party of Canada and supported by the Liberal Party.

The Greens were the first to spot the problems with Bill C-51. Like the fact that protesters could now be equated with terrorists. Realizing this calamity, the New Democratic Party or NDP joined the Greens in being opposed to this legislation.

By their name, you can probably suspect that the Greens use one particular colour to advertise with in elections. They do. The other parties do it, too. The Conservatives use the colour blue, the Liberals use the colour red and the NDP use the colour orange.

Let’s go back to that EpiPen video ad. They say the two steps of using an EpiPen is “blue to the sky and orange to the thigh”.

In fighting off the deadly Bill C-51, Canada might have to use a sort of political EpiPen.

Firstly “blue to the sky” doesn’t mean to keep elevating blue (or the Conservatives). It means pull them up and off from their current position on top. That is all that must be done with blue because it’s only purpose after that is to be discarded.

Then “orange [NDP] to the thigh” would be the way of administering needed medication to the body of Canada, in such a way that the country could be cured the most quickly.

Now I realize in this metaphor that I’m ignoring the Liberal party and the Greens.

The Liberal party voted for Bill C-51 so they should be discarded like the Conservatives. I like the Greens and suspect they will make gains this election but I don’t think they are quite in a position to take enough votes away from the Conservatives and Liberals to rule the country. The NDP is however in that position and I hope that the country is willing to take in enough of the orange medicine that may save the country.

So I am going to call this the Canadian EpiPen election of 2015. I hope Canada pulls through.

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IQ BS

My last post mentioned IQ and I believe my inherent distrust of the subject peeked through. It’s an emotional subject not the least because some feel it attempts to measure the worth of a person. I view IQ tests as recreational toys. As with other toys it is best to only play with them. In all the years of IQ tests they have only been proven to sometimes correlate with how someone might do in future schooling. That’s it. That’s all IQ tests are good for.

So I think of IQ numbers as ‘kind of lies’. I’m not going to write a whole post damning IQ tests. Indeed there is lower hanging fruit in the IQ game. I am talking about the “science” of giving historical figures IQ rankings.

Every time I hear the opening of the network show Scorpion say that Einstein only had an IQ of 160, I want to smash the TV. I take that back. What I really want to do is smash the network that put this crap on the air. It is for one inviolate reason that I say this. Albert Einstein never wrote an IQ test.

What the psychology hacks behind this “stat” are doing is claiming that from the writings of these historical figures and what they accomplished in life we can attach an accurate number to their IQ. I don’t think this is a science at all. What I think this is is psychologists finding an area to use their biases on.

If a ranking by physicists of all the best physicists were to take place, I ‘d bet that Einstein would be in the top two. The two most dominant physicists of all time were Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. These two scientists had a huge effect on many areas of physics.

C’mon, its in the very culture around us. In this culture if you want to insult someone you can simply sarcastically call them “Einstein”. Yet Einstein gets ranked at 160. Newton I’ve heard gets a huge 190 rating. That is despite devoting a large chunk of his life to the pseudoscience of alchemy.

Although 160 is considered a high IQ, many in today’s culture get rankings above this. And all these people accomplish so little when compared to Einstein.

Yet those obscenely high IQ people remain slackers, lollygaggers, and ineffectuals. Almost none of them can come up with something of import like Einstein did over and over again.

The simplest explanation will say that Einstein had a higher intellect than psychologists are admitting. This idea of giving someone an IQ ranking without testing them seems to me to be a kind of lying on top of the kind of lying of the IQ test. So I just view the IQ tests of historical figures to be simply lies.

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CEOs and IQ Tests

I do think CEOs can be worth more than one employee. But taking a more scientific tack I suggest we check out the sometimes maligned studies of intelligence in psychology.

An IQ is an Intelligence Quotient. It is the Mental age of the test taker divided by the actual age of the test taker, multiplied by 100. The astute of you will realize that average intelligence must be 100.

The basement of IQ scores seems to be around 50 IQ points. The highest IQ scores are around 200. There might not be a straight, linear relationship among scores, but I find it telling that psychologists use scoring that might imply that the very smartest people are only around twice as smart as the average person. And the average person is only twice as smart as the least gifted performers. I think this scale was chosen because it gives some harmony to the various scorers while still maintaining there are differences.

So, even though psychology is a soft science, I think psychologists played this like a lawyer or a gifted negotiator. The smartest people are worth only 4 times what the least gifted are worth. Shouldn’t salaries of CEOs versus the least paid in the company be only 4 times as big?

If you hadn’t heard, many CEOs make 1000 times the wage of their lowest paid employee. It wouldn’t bother me so much but every time there is a push on increasing the minimum wage, the CEOs cry foul. With costs of living, the lowest paid workers need to work two jobs or need some kind of handout from the government or charities.

Oh the work ethic of most CEOs is exemplary, perhaps they work 60 hours a week. But those lowest paid employees working two jobs are working 80 hours a week. Don’t give me the line that all you need to be successful is to be a hard worker. It doesn’t work that way because CEOs have gamed the system.

Sure not every CEO has come out against an increased minimum wage. But those rich CEOs are very likely to fund right wing think tanks that do come out against an increased minimum wage.

Shame on any CEO that somehow suggested that current minimum wages are fair. Let’s cap their wage at 4 times mimimum wage and then find a changed tune.

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Young Disney Stars Go Rogue Way Too Often

We’ve seen it all before. A young, incredibly good youngster who is also very talented, grows up with Disney to become a megastar and then immediately goes rogue.

Is it the onset of puberty that builds until the star is 18 and finally they have to become wild and well, there is no other way to say this, they become bad?

They have problems with drugs, problems with alcohol, problems with their families, problems with friends and just plain try doing criminal acts.

Disneyland claims to be the happiest place on earth. Shouldn’t stars brought up in such an environment become happy and good adults?

Maybe, instead we should start pulling our child stars from obviously less happy places. Like say Waco, Texas or a crime riddled ghetto or maybe Detroit. I bet a kid from these less happy places would really appreciate the perks of stardom and would work to keep it. They might even become or at least stay good. Judging by results they have at least as great a chance to be good.

Perhaps you think such unhappy places have no star system. But the ghettos seem to spawn the biggest rap artists and Detroit is also known as Motown for the record label that started there. Even Waco could host child pageants as a future star mechanism.

And if these kids make better stars then we could expand our scope and make stars out of kids from the most hellish places on earth. Refugee camps could make good starting places. Or sweat shops from around the world. Hollywood and big music agents, intent on getting the best kids, could raid those warlords who make slaves out of kids. These might be the best stars of all.

Then the powers of Hollywood could finally thump their chests because they’re doing good and actually mean it.

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Rest In Peace Stephen Huss

My best friend, Stephen Huss, died last weekend. He was my age, only 47. The electronic music aware of you might recognize his name from the rock band Psyche. Now that he is gone I find it a bit comforting that he had success early in life. Psyche was signed to a label when he was still in high school.

I knew him for the last 15 years, but especially in the last 10 we became best friends. We occasionally would disagree with each other, but in the entire time I’ve known him, I don’t think he has insulted me once.

Of course we got along. We both play guitar and keyboards (He was a keyboardist with Psyche). We both like the idea of writing. I have my blog and science fiction. He would write horror and he also thought about writing a biography of Dwayne Goettel who was a fellow member of Psyche and later joined Skinny Puppy but died in 1995. And we both liked cats. He had this shelf thing in his apartment that held twenty unique figurines of various cats, collected from hither and yon. I just did a search on this blog for cats and found I have written about them 14 times.

For a time we said we were a band called The Mysterious They. Right from the start we said there would be no live shows. We both liked song writing. My song writing abilities had dwindled from years before when I could write the base of a song in a couple weeks. Stephen was way faster than I was in my prime. We’d meet every week and I’d find he had the basis of two new songs, just waiting to be fleshed out between meetings. And I think he was still writing solo stuff on his keyboard at the same time. The Mysterious They fell by the wayside, though, when Stephen decided not to do it anymore. He was worried about fame. He already had tasted that in Psyche and knew that was what he didn’t want. I don’t know that we would ever have gotten fame though – the only successful act I know that never did live shows was The Alan Parsons Project.

We’ve critiqued each others writing. I felt uncomfortable reading some of his horror. I’m not a big horror reader so perhaps that uneasiness was success on Stephen’s part. But besides this reaction I’m largely oblivious (in horror!) and can’t point out problems or successes. So we stopped critiquing but would tell each other about our progress in writing. Stephen had a computer but preferred to write by hand in notebooks. I thought it would be a pain to retype the story. But Stephen said no, he would just hire someone to type it up for him. Just a couple weeks ago he said he had a short story idea already written in his head. Now no one will ever see that story.

But I already miss him most in the day to day things. This weekend is the Blues Festival in Kitchener. When we went in past years, Stephen would always know what most of the bands were famous for. I only started seriously listening to music when I was 12 or 13. Stephen seemed to know about bands from as far back as his memory goes. And he’d even know older acts from hearing them on classic rock stations. I’m going to miss that almost encyclopedic knowledge when I go this year. There are multiple venues so we used all that knowledge to decide which acts to go listen to.

Goodbye, Stephen, you will be missed.

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My Kitty Wants to Bust Open the Bank to Feed Her Drug Habit

I have had the hardest time finding a normal toy for my cat, Bast, to play with. I have tried toys on springs, toys on elastics, colourful toys, toys designed to make noise, toys that roll or otherwise move easily and toys that I fancy I would like if I were a cat. But they do not work. The most played with one was the elastic toy that hung from the door jamb. But in the last year of that one, I didn’t see her playing with it once.

The most fun she has ever had with a toy is with a simple string. The problem is that I have to move it around enough to entice her. She won’t play one second longer after I drop it. But the point is I want her to have entertainments when I’m not around. So I want her to play by herself so if I’m ignoring her (I’m thinking about the month of November and NaNoWriMo) she still has a good quality of life.

She does have one toy that she will play with. Make that toys. Ever since that first time I opened an envelope with her on my lap and she pushed on the torn off envelope end and the other side rose, she’s loved envelope ends and they are her toy of choice. But even I sweep up occasionally and all her envelope ends become garbage. I feel for her as a week goes by and she has no envelope ends to play with. You see, sometimes it’s at least a week before I get a letter. It’s so bad that I will deliberately take envelopes I know are full of junk mail and open them at my table. Finally Bast gets a toy.

So yesterday I bought a toy. It’s a white something with gold ears that could be a mouse but looks more like a sheep. But it has a pouch into which I can put catnip and it seals up with velcro enabling me to freshen the catnip at will.

So I filled up the toy and drew Bast’s attention to it. She was more engaged with this toy than any toy I’d ever given her except envelope ends. But she did not fight with it right away. She looked at me and then looked at the toy, then at me again. I realized that I was sort of torturing her.

Every other time she has smelled catnip, I have just given her a pile. She has immediate access to her fix and thus sniffs, chews, rolls in it and claws at it (because I give her some on her scratching pad). These are all the acts of a drug using cat. Though I’m told that (possibly out of necessity) cats can snap right out of the high and react to things normally. But a house cat with nothing else to do, simply enjoys the high.

So my catnip using cat could only smell the catnip and not do anything else with it. But soon she began to fight back from the torture. She shook, chewed and otherwise fought the toy. It looks exactly like she has found a toy that she likes. But it could still be only torturing her.

Despite not getting any catnip from the toy, the toy has moved around my house every time I’ve left both last night and today. Maybe she will behave her way to playing with it. Maybe a bit of torture was necessary. That’s what I tell myself.

And this is the first toy I’ve had that I can “recharge”. Fresh catnip might lead to fresh playing. Time will tell if she accepts this toy.

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The Case for Fat Chords

A chord is comprised of at least 3 notes. Octaves of these notes don’t count as separate notes. So the maximum number of notes a chord can have is twelve. This is all the spacings in the octave. Since we like to play in a normal scale, chords usually only go up to the seven notes a scale is comprised of.

So called power chords are not chords because they are comprised of only two notes. The third note is an octave of the root note.

The major and minor chords are comprised of the minimum three notes. I define a fat chord as having 4 or more notes played at the same time.

I love fat chords. Some of my favourite bands like Yes and Led Zeppelin used fat chords all the time. In the late 70s backlash to these bands, punk rock and later styles of rock guitars rarely used fat chords. Since I enjoy fat chords I want the backlash to end once and for all. So I will try to embarrass punk rock and other musical styles that try to demand simplicity.

I’ve played guitar for decades and I’ve heard people, even those that like simplicity, say it sounds more like a real song when you sing notes that are not in the chord you are playing. I whole heartedly agree. If simplicity seeking people are playing only major and minor chords while singing more unique notes, then the whole act is hitting those fat chords.

So what of punk rock and heavy metal when they are using exclusively power chords? Well if there is unique note harmony going along with the unique note lead singing then they are also using fat chords.

If there is no harmony and just power chords, the bassist has to be watched carefully. If they hit unique notes then there is also a fat chord situation.

If the bassist is reigned in, it should be noted that drums can kind of be tuned and they can also add to the fat chord situation.

In my opinion, most guitarists eschewing the use of fat chords aren’t usually espousing a philosophical position, but are more likely showing their ignorance because they never learned fat chords.

Most music contains fat chords when you look at the act as a whole. My love of fat chords isn’t as weird as some have made themselves believe.

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Painting the International Space Station

I think Canada should offer to paint the International Space Station or ISS. But just any colour won’t do. I suggest we paint it the colour most unifying to all humans. The colour red should be used because we all bleed red.

Obviously we’d have to send a space walker out to do it. They could tape over all windows and sensors so those wouldn’t end up with paint on them. Then they could cover the solar panels with a mesh – like they use when painting a bus. So the solar panels would end up red but could also partially be used.

I’m not sure exactly how space paint would work. Do you need an atmosphere to dry the paint? Maybe you could spray paint particles of paint that are embedded in invisible glue. But wait, that requires drying, too. Perhaps we’ll have to research it. Regardless, some Canadian will paint the outside of the space station red.

Of course there would be celebratory pictures when the deed is done. Obviously the painter will take a selfie outside the space station with their smiling face visible through the faceplate and the International Space Station in its new red glory.

I think some of the best pictures could be taken from earth with telescopes. The space station in your favourite constellation, the space station darting across the Jovian system and more prominent than even its large moons, or what has recently been taken – this photo of the space station appearing in front of the white moon.

Just look at the picture and imagine the space station being a bright red. The two red bars on either side (really the red of the solar panels) and the white of the moon surrounding the red splotch of the station proper which is in the middle.

Why, why, … it would look like a Canada Flag as seen from far away!

We must do this. If our timing is correct we can have it finished not next Canada Day, but Canada Day 2017, when Canada turns 150 years old. What a pretty, patriotic picture we could make.

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Flattering Imitation

Imagine Mr. Grey’s delight when he hears little Tommy is following in his footsteps.

“Remember,” Ms. Grey asks him, “last week when we took little Tommy out to watch you dig that hole where a pool is going to be poured?”

“Of course, I remember. After I read Tommy his bedtime story, he said he wanted to dig holes with a backhoe just like me.”

“Well it wasn’t just words. Today Tommy spent a couple hours excavating a small hole, just like the big one, with his toy backhoe in the sandbox. Do you want to see his work?”

“Why yes,”said Mr. Grey and he followed Ms. Grey out to the back yard and to the sandbox. Mr. Grey saw the hole and realized that Tommy had shaped it just like the real thing. The backhoe stood at the one end, looking like it had just finished up.

Ms. Grey sounded happy. “I think he’s going to become a backhoe operator just like you.”

That is how the story goes with construction worker. But now let’s see how the story works with an actor’s family.

“Mr. Grey!” said Ms. Grey, greeting him with a kiss on the lips. “Guess what your son Tommy did today?” She had a great big smile on her face so Mr. Grey knew it was going to be good.

“Did he finish learning his alphabet today?”

“Better!”

“I can’t see what could possible be better.”

“He said his first lie today. Just like his old man, the actor, does.”

“I’d say that was great news, but I’m not sure I like the idea that he got caught.”

“Well he looked me straight in the eye at first. But the lie was kind of convoluted. At one point he looked down at his hands like an actor looking at the director and saying ‘line’. But he came back quickly and finished the story looking me straight in the eye again.”

Mr. Grey thumped his chest. “Well I am proud. But I hope as he grows he loses all tells so he can become a great actor.”

“I think it’s good either way.”

“But what can he do if has obvious tells? He can’t be a great actor. He’ll never get away with stuff in court so there goes lawyering and being a criminal.”

“He can still be a fiction writer.”

“There’s that.” Even being a great actor, Mr. Grey had let his disappointment seep through into his words. Profound emotions can betray almost anyone.

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Double Dipping?

For Canada Day (July 1) I attended a music festival with a small fireworks show in downtown Kitchener. The show featured Canadian acts, two of which I suspected were not Canadian acts. Those two bands were Treble Charger and Hollerado.

It was because of these two bands biggest hits that I suspected they were American. Those hits are American Psycho by Treble Charger and Americanarama by Hollerado. Besides the titles, Hollerado rhymes with Colorado and Americanarama mentions Philadelphia a bunch of times as well as mentioning New York.

But a quick check today on Wikipedia, revealed that both bands are Canadian. Treble Charger is from the Canadian side of Sault Ste. Marie and Hollerado is from Ottawa. So I have to ask myself what is with the American names?

Then I thought, what if they’re both double dipping, playing shows in Canada on July 1 and then maybe crossing the border and playing American shows on July 4, or Independence Day? What a sinister plan! To double dip while playing on the patriotic emotions of two countries.

Of course they might be using the word America in the Greater America sense. Indeed that reminds me of one of my pet peeves. The United States of America has usurped the use of America and American and uses it solely to represent itself. This is patently unfair to the rest of the Americas.

Treble Charger and Hollerado might be trying to unite the Americas by their choice of titles and lyrics. And Hollerado’s Americanarama includes Philadelphia and New York in its definition of America (really Greater America). What a bridge building definition.

And that pet peeve of mine? Now I have the word tools I’ve craved. I live in Greater America and am a Greater American.

So we Greater Americans, when at an international destination (or anywhere nationality comes up) can wait for the Yankees to identify themselves as American. Then we will identify ourselves as Greater Americans. The Yankee will try to trump this by saying, “Well actually I’m a greatest American.”

“We can say that, too, but actually it’s a biased term. Saying I’m a Greater American is unbiased and dispassionate. Greater America is both more populous and larger than America. These are facts. You are an American and I am a Greater American.”

If enough Yankees continue to lose this fight, perhaps they will willingly come up with a different name for their national identity.

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