A Few Thoughts

A good guy with a gun is the answer to a bad guy with a gun. I believe we will be surprised at just how often this is the case, when each school has a good guy with a gun. It might even top out at nearly 100% of the time.

Of course the good guy with a gun gets to write history because, after all the bad guy with a gun will be dead. The hard part for any sharp shooting trickster is that they will have to stop shooting at some point in time. This will usually be before the police control the scene. We might be surprised at how many school protectors with a gun lose it and begin shooting the protectees.

Have you ever noticed that the core of a country band and a rock band are exactly the same? You have the core of each which is usually a singer, a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer. But for every ukelele there is a mandolin, for every violin a fiddle, every keyboard there is pedal steel guitar and for every lead guitar there is a banjo.

So looks wise even the extended rock and country band looks the same – just squint your eyes and ignore cowboy hats.

We recently got LRT or light rail transit in Waterloo Region. I’ve only heard it a couple times so far but the LRT makes a light, airy, jingly sound. This, I fear, is its horn. As a general rule of thumb, the smaller the object, the higher pitched sound it makes. The LRT is bigger than a tractor trailer or a bus so I just naturally thought it would make a lower sound than either of those two.

Light and airy just isn’t going to scare that many people into getting out of the way. Lions have a deep roar and elephants have their menacing trumpeting. Can’t we at least have those? Personally I think we’re far enough from the water that we could use a foghorn on the LRT. That would get attention. At least we’d have a chance of avoiding an accident. And considering the LRT has been in 5 accidents in less than a month, I think the foghorn is needed.

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Traits of the Successful DJ

First of all a DJ should have some competence with electronics. It might only be for connecting things with wires but there is that base competence. And mostly a DJ should be competent enough that they don’t manage to electrocute themselves.

Some think that the successful DJ must have impeccable taste in music. This is unfair to the DJ. In most cases they must have middling or average tastes in newer music. They are after all trying to appeal to the mass.

DJs should be able to make smooth transitions between songs. In earlier days all this meant was that the DJ needed a slider between two music players to fade out the old music and fade in the new. Today it also involves having a speed control on the two pieces of music so they can beat match as well. For bonus points the finer DJ can key match as well as beat match.

That last transition is very rarely done because beat matching has a direct correlation with speed just as pitch does. The majority of the time the needs of each will be different making a match with both almost impossible.

When the successful DJ writes a song they don’t become a musician. They instead stay as a DJ. This has nothing to do with the talent and more to do with the gobs of money DJs of today make compared to a musician.

A successful DJ will never take a request from a customer unless the DJ has designs on that customer. As an example, the DJ might have played the requested song just last week. The listener heard that and wants to relive that moment. So they request that song. The DJ will just nod at the customer and never play that song again. That’s because once the public asks for it by name, then it becomes an oldie which the successful DJ will not play again. After all the DJ has five more newer songs to replace that oldie and is dying to try them.

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The Helium Shortage

Everyone knows the two main properties of helium. It is lighter than air and also is capable of making your voice a couple octaves higher when you breathe it in.

People have been playing with helium and these two uses since time immemorial. But lately we’ve been made to feel guilty about that by the world helium shortage. Well the article I linked to says that there never really was a serious helium shortage and that, besides, the newest and possibly largest helium mine is about to start production soon. So no more guilt.

I find it especially informative that they came up with a list of the top helium uses. I find this odd because helium is a noble gas that mostly doesn’t react with anything. The noble gases are called inert gases because of this.

So what possibly could be the uses of helium by industry? Well I am taking my life in my own hands by revealing some of what goes on behind the scenes.

The largest use of helium is for MRI machines – or 20% of the world’s helium. This is of course doctors trying to impress their colleagues with their voice changing skills. You might not believe me but I believe there is a smoking gun. If there is also a large use at those same hospitals for sulphur hexafluoride (the voice lowering gas), then I believe that these doctors are playing with their voices.

At 17% welding is the second most common use of helium. This is of course nothing more than tradespeople getting in on the fun. If you can find me a trade that doesn’t use welding from time to time, I can show you the only honest tradespeople who aren’t playing with helium.

At 10%, scientific use is the third biggest user of helium. I have more insight into this group because I almost became a scientist at a stage in my life. The scientists know all about sulphur hexafluoride, too. In fact they like to put on little plays where the males use helium and the females use sulphur hexafluoride. This makes the plays gender bending.

8% of the helium users were honest and said they made lighter than air balloons out of helium. Yawn.

At 6% and 3%, pressurizing and controlled atmosphere uses are obviously most concerned with the lighter than air properties of helium. It is here where they do experiments like how many helium balloons does it take to lift a woman in a lawn chair. Or more importantly, how many balloons would it really take to move that house in Up. Hint: it’s a lot more than shown in the movie.

At 4% cryogenics is of course lying to us just like they lie to the corpsicles -er- patients.

The last admitted use is for breathing/saturation diving. This is of course scuba divers making their voices comically high.

Now that I have outed all the users of helium I suspect more people will take up helium as a hobby to impress their friends. Soon they can do it guilt free knowing that the helium shortage will be over.

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Harvard is a Serviceable Trainer

I have to say that Harvard is nothing special. It is very utilitarian and makes a serviceable trainer. People might tell you its the best of the best but I say that those people just haven’t lived yet.

Harvard and Yale are too over hyped by some. Yale, too, is nothing special. It may be a stalwart old standby but that’s all it is. Again it’s a serviceable trainer.

Some call Harvard, Yale, etc. The Ivy league. When all that ivy does for moving things is slow them down.

I’ve heard that some go bonkers over the Ivy league. They do illegal things just to be deemed good enough by Harvard or Yale.

But Harvard is hopelessly out of date. Harvard’s heyday was in World War II. Harvard has been going downhill ever since even up until today where it is hopelessly obsolete.

Today you can still get the Harvard experience. For only a few hundred dollars Canadian. The flight can be taken in nearby Tilsonburg. It’s not the cream of the crop wartime experience like a flight in Spitfire or a Lancaster bomber. But still its a trip that many wish to take in these training planes of World War II.

I’m sure if you paid enough you could fly over Cambridge (Ontario) or Oxford (county). And hey, that should count for something.

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Orange Heads

I don’t know why but our society has this thing against the colour orange. In topics that don’t seem to matter orange gets slurred. I don’t know why.

The first time I had an inkling of this was when I was in elementary school and the teacher asked for us to name our favourite colour. The first thing I noticed was that it was an epic struggle between blue and red to see which colour would come out on top. But all the primary and secondary colours got named. Except orange.

As I was one of the very last students to weigh in and really didn’t have a favourite, I felt sorry for orange. So I picked that colour. A month later, when I went shopping, I found a Houston Astros shirt in the colour of orange. So I picked that shirt to buy and wear. That’s about as far as it went.

Eventually I bought my first car. It was cheap, certified, did I mention cheap, had a good crash test rating, and of course it was cheap. It was a Czechoslovakian Skoda. It was pumpkin coloured and the ownership said it was red. This wasn’t confusing because there were only a couple Skoda colours and nothing was closer to red than its pumpkin orange. It wasn’t just me – everybody thought it was orange and because of the rareness of this colour, I could always find it in a parking lot easily.

The naming of redheads is just as stupid as the name of the colour of my Skoda. They are orangeheads in reality. Many redheads have obviously orange hair. And to my eyes, the reddest of the orangeheads have a colour that is closest to orange.

These facts have been muddied by all the hair dyes available. You know the ones like burgundy or even purply reds. These are not natural hair colours. Which is why I am all in favour of the obviously fake colours like blue, purple, or green. People lost the right to complain of unnatural when they allowed the fake red colours to exist.

So how do I get redheads to start making everyone use the term orangeheads? I don’t think I can. Maybe they’ve been told too long that their hair is better than other redheads. It’s really an auburn.

So I think we’re going to have to use a more positive sounding term than either orange or red heads. I suggest flame heads. Wood flames are mostly orange with a tinge of reds and yellows. And we have a positive image of such colours when we’re cosy around the fireplace or campfire.

It’s just that flame head suggests the phrase hot head which is supposed to be someone that is easily angered. And the only redhead stereotype I know is that they are supposed to be hot heads. I give up! Perhaps some redheads could get together and find a true and positive name for their kind. You may not be able to enforce it on everyone but I promise I will comply.

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This post has a couple of big buts. If you don’t like big buts then don’t read it. However if you do like big buts or are neutral this may be an article for you.

The most famous person who has gone to my high school, Elmira District Secondary School, is Malcolm Gladwell. However he was well out of the school by the time I attended. In my five years of high school I would say that Timothy Schmalz is the most famous of our lot. I was not in his grade. His brother was in my grade. I knew Tim through a mutual friend.

If you are wondering what his claim to fame is, he is a sculptor. A lot of thought goes into many of his pieces, including Homeless Jesus which depicts homeless Jesus huddled on a bench and Golden Leaves which commemorates Gordon Lightfoot in his hometown of Orillia.

But I choose to look at Homeless Jesus for the rest of this article. This is the sculpture that gets more people to think. It got me thinking about it. And there are replicas of it all over the world. Apparently Timothy didn’t break the mold.

It seems to be a sculpture for good. BUT I can’t help thinking about one big thing. Yes there is room on the bench to sit beside huddled Jesus. But the rest of this perfectly good bench is taken up by huddled Jesus. In other words, a homeless person can’t sleep on the perfectly usable bench of this sculpture.

This reminds me of the stadium seating in Waterloo Public Square. There are grooves at certain intervals along the seats so skateboarders can’t slide their boards along the edge. If they do they wipe out. Similarly a homeless person can’t lie on homeless Jesus for long without hurting their back or other parts.

On the surface I should view Homeless Jesus as bad because he is stealing a bed from the homeless. BUT I am just cognizant enough to realize that art can affect people. Perhaps someone who sees homeless Jesus will donate to the homeless. If enough people do then perhaps three beds will be filled by the homeless who might have used that bench.

And some Christians who see this sculpture might believe in charity enough they might try to organize their congregations to give more than this or other sculptures are worth. They might end up with permanent solutions to some people’s homelessness. Even if this never succeeds in getting rid of homelessness, it could get rid of specific people’s homelessness and thus be a boon to society.

My only problem with this is I wish I didn’t have to use the loosey goosey ‘art can affect people’ line. I wish there were established scientific methods that could tell exactly how many people could be affected. So I can’t say with certainty there will be a net boon to society. Still, I would give heavy odds that that is the case.

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This is a Work of Fiction

Janna was a broad consumer of books of fiction. So it was no surprise that she entered Epimenides Bookstore. What might have been surprising is how quickly she passed by the displays, not even reading a word. She was on a mission.

She went straight to the science fiction and fantasy books, her favourites. She opened the first few pages of a book by an author she wanted and was disappointed. She tried another of his books and still no luck. The store carried none of her favourite female author’s books so she went to another female author she liked. The words Janna was looking for at the front just weren’t there.

Then she thought a bit more deeply. The words she was looking for might not be there because of the kind of fiction she was looking at. She headed for the historical fiction section. There must be a book there that tickled her fancy. She found one set in the early 20th century. She opened it up and there was her prize:

“This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.”

She took it up to the front counter. She had chosen wisely the time of day so the cashier wouldn’t be busy. Indeed the cashier was pricing books with blank pages. “May I help you?” he asked.

“Am I supposed to give you the price I wish to pay for this book?”

“No. The price is on the cover.”

“But it clearly states inside that this is a work of fiction. So I believe the price is covered under that and also is a work of fiction.”

“Well if we’re going to just pick prices at random then I venture that the price is more than the cover price listed.”

“Poppycock! Everyone knows that the price on a book is the most expensive one that you ever pay for it. If it is to change it must be down. Either as a normal sale or an out of season sale.”

“Well there is no sale. So the price isn’t a work of fiction. Perhaps the work of fiction line just refers to what happens after that line.”

“The copyright is after that line,” Janna said smugly.

“Oomph! I feel like I just got gut punched.”

“Truthfully, I don’t think I have deep enough pockets to even try that one.”

“The copyright military industrial complex is backed by many big corporations. But perhaps they would do nothing if you wrote fan fiction. That might satisfy both sides. But mostly the reason no one tries your avenue of reasoning is the mind blowing ramifications.”

“Like what?”

“Just look at the line singly. ‘This is a work of fiction.’ If this is true then the line is a lie and it’s not fiction. Which means it is fiction. Which must be a lie…

“Ugh! My brain hurts.”

“Exactly. But this particular book is going to be half off next week if there are any copies left.”

“Thanks. I’ll take my chances next week then. I’d hide it but you might not reprice it then.”

He sighed. “Fine, I’ll reshelve it, too.”

With a simple “Thanks,” Janna was out the door.

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Devout Capitalist, Kenney, To Go On Strike

Everyone knows that Jason Kenney, the new premiere of Alberta, is a devoted capitalist. After all he is such a lap dog to the oil industry of that province, how could he be anything else? Well he is planning a strike against the government of neighbouring province, British Columbia.

A capitalist striking? Surely this must be sacrilege. But, no, that is exactly what he is doing. He made bill 12 law which will allow his government to stop working for B.C. even though that is at a profit. He will ‘turn off the taps’ of a pipeline that provides B.C. with petroleum products.

Kenney wants as many working pipelines as possible to the B.C. coast so he can fill up oil tankers there and get his petroleum products to international markets. So he is willing to go on strike in order to force B.C. to accept more pipelines and oil tanker traffic.

If there is any doubt that Mr. Kenney’s plan is to strike, then let the record show that Bill 12 was written up by the former NDP government. The NDP is known to ally itself with unions all of which know how to strike.

The former NDP government drafted the bill for the exact same reason but never passed it in their legislature. This was a strategic move.

Kenney said that this was silly. So he passed the bill right away to look tough. And within hours, the province of B.C. had a constitutional challenge in court which will likely tie the bill up for years and by most accounts defeat it.

Not one drop of oil was stopped going to B.C. And now Alberta can’t ‘turn off the taps’ as the matter is before the courts.

Capitalist Jason Kenney is inept at striking.

The NDP knew B.C. would challenge them in court so they had planned to pass the bill at a later date of their own choosing in order to ‘turn off the taps’ for a few hours and cause chaos in B.C. for that time. That’s why they didn’t pass the bill into law. If it’s not officially law it can’t be challenged. So the NDP planned to wait until they were ready and ‘turn off the taps’ immediately after passing the bill. Kenney can’t do this anymore. He’s banking on bill 12 passing legal challenges which is unlikely.

So not only did the capitalist announce his intentions to strike, he did it incompetently and became ineffectual and likely lost.

Maybe he was a true capitalist all along and always intended to lose the strike. He had no other way because the NDP had hit on an idea that was popular in Alberta. Well played Jason Kenney, super capitalist.

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Trump’s Border Fence

If you don’t believe in the power of words, I would dare you to be the Trump flunky that tries to call his border wall, the border fence. Maybe I underestimate Trump’s tolerance but I just recall his reaction to being told he has little hands.

After being told his fence would have regular gaps in it to see the other side, I think it lost a lot of respect. This is no Hadrian’s Wall. And it is certainly lesser than the Great Wall of China. The word fence just seems to sit right.

‘But wait’ you might say, ‘this wall is just as important because of the huge amounts of money being spent on it.’

Fine, then. We’ll just have to call it the Money Fence and leave Trump’s name off it completely. Wait! Is that the sole reason that he wants it built – so he can have a legacy as big as Hadrian’s?

Let’s see. He names his buildings Trump Towers. He has more than a couple Trump Plazas. There are a whole host of Trump National Golf Courses as well as one Trump International Golf Course. For beverages, there is a Trump Winery and a Trump Natural Spring Water. Then you can see all the former things named Trump (like Trump University) at the Wikipedia page: List of things named after Donald Trump.

Then of course there is Donald Trump Jr. as well as Donald Trump III.

If the Money Fence gets built I think it would make the perfect metaphor for two lovers with a rift between them. Much like the fence that was used in the music video Kayleigh by the rock band Marillion.

If the Money Fence does get built then I will say kudos to the couple or couples that first “Kayleigh” the fence. That is they’ll each walk along the fence on their side while holding their hands out to the slats since they can’t hold hands through it while walking. Both of the lovers’ fingertips will bounce against each slat as in the video.

Imagine that. 6 billion dollars all to just be a prop for a newish rock music video. It will be money well spent.

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My Pepsi Boycott

Pepsi announced that they were going to advertise in the evening/early-morning sky with cubesats that have reflective mylar sails. They will spell out, like constellations, the image Pepsi wants us to see. This is a horrible idea that will be seen over large swaths of the Earth at a time.

Pepsi may be stupid. They might have missed the cries of foul back in the late eighties when France tried to put up a 100th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower space tribute.

So why could anyone be against advertising no matter the form it takes? After all advertising is the lifeblood of economics, isn’t it?

Imagine two lovers in the twilight. The one might say, “You are as lovely as the stars themselves.”

“Blechhh! The ones that spell out Pepsi and take orders from a mega corporation? Double blechhh!”

Imagine a group of amateur astronomers, pulling an allnighter to see as many of the Messier objects as possible. “Just the M81 and M82 galaxies left and we’ve done it!”

“Oh no!” cries another amateur astronomer. “It’s early morning and the Pepsi logo is advertising in front of M81 and M82. We’ll never succeed now! I’m picking Coke!”

A professional astronomer checks the photographs she has been imaging for a couple hours. She thinks, even with all the space equipment, a surprising amount of astronomy is still done on earth. Anger sets in as she takes the photos from their housing and takes a first glance. There are streaks on the photos all running the same direction, ruining her work of the evening.

With her red light flashlight she examines things more closely. She imagines the streaks as dots placed at the end of each streak. This way she can spell out PEP. Of course. Advertising is much more important than mere science. Imagine once the newness (and expense) of space advertising has settled down. Advertising could be anywhere in the night sky.

Free at last from the way too busy cities, a couple turns out all their lights to see the beauty of the night sky and the milky way.

There isn’t even the glow of streetlights from nearby towns because the couple located many miles from any town or village that had them. They paid a million dollars for this view. And now they have to look at the Pepsi logo constellation even more brightly than it can be viewed in the city.

What is the public to do? We could fund raise to get India to blow up the cubesats. But this creates debris that is dangerous for all the other satellites up there.

A few days after the original article, Pepsi backed out of the deal with the Russian advertiser. But not before getting tons of free publicity once for the announcement and once for the pull back. This free publicity may have been the whole plan.

So to counter Pepsi’s greed, I will boycott products I know are Pepsi made. I will do this for a year, longer if I choose that at the end of the year. This is a huge thing to do because Pepsi makes so much of what is in the stores.

In beverages this means no Pepsi, Mountain Dew, 7 Up or Mug Root Beer. No Gatorade, Aquafina, Lipton or Brisk. No Tropicana juices and other beverages that I have yet to find out about.

Pepsi also owns Frito Lay chips and the host of chip products that company produces. And apparently to get to Gatorade this ravenous company had to buy Quaker, the cereal company.

Now that’s a long list of products I will need to avoid. I have no doubts that I will be able to avoid this company’s products for a year. After all in the early eighties I had a coffee at McDonald’s. It was so grotesquely bad that I don’t purchase or even use coffee from this corporation. McCafe permanently lost a customer. I remember.

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