Thursday, August 26, 2010

The WTF Economy

This article about companies that are thriving despite a bad economy is not improving my outlook on humanity. Company number 4 is Snuggie.

I think we have a smoking gun here: the economy collapsed because the education system in the US is so bad that people no longer know how to use a blanket by the time they reach adulthood.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Good news, everybody! You can now pay me for my ramblings! Flattr, who provides that little button next to all my post titles, is now open to everyone. It's pretty easy if you have a paypal account. So go and register and start Flatrring!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Not Bloody Likely

I frequently pay in cash. I closed my curtains on the way out of the house this morning*. Turns out I must be a terrorist.

Terrorism is a problem. But the solution to that is not racial intolerance and kangaroo courts for teenaged soldiers recruited by extremists. I mean, if someone is willing to kill themselves in order to do something, how much of a deterrent will any sort of punishment be?

The above paragraph, and I suspect the objection to the ad about loners, relies on the assumption that when the media talks about "terrorists" what they really mean is "Muslims". It turns out that when you run the numbers, that doesn't make any sense..

Let's do some more math. Bayes' rule is pretty much the most important thing ever. It tells you what the likelihood of something is based on prior knowledge. In this case, let's calculate out the probability that someone is a terrorist, given that we know they are Muslim.

Using that link with graphs about terrorism and assuming that there are about 1 million Muslims in the US and about 300million people, we can calculate that

P(Terrorist | Muslim) = P(Muslim | Terrorist) * P(Terrorist) / P(Muslim)

We can get the first term, P(Muslim | Terrorist) = 0.06, from the pie chart at Loon Watch. The second P(Terrorist) = 318 / 300M = 0.0000011. comes from there, too, and our assumption about population. And finally, P(Muslim) = 1M/300M = 0.0033.

So, P(Terrorist | Muslim) = 0.06 * .0000011 / 0.0033 = 0.00002 = 0.002%

That means that out of every 50,000 Muslims you meet, 1 will be a terrorist. Compare this with the fact that of every 50,000 people you meet in NYC, 290 of them will be a violent criminal. Maybe it's time to ban I < heart > NY shirts from public places.

* The curtains keep the temperature of the apartment down on sunny days.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Two links for your inner child. The first is Tiny Art Directory, where an artist does commissions for his bossy daughter. The second is Axe Cop, a hilarious comic strip written by a now-6-year-old boy and illustrated by his 29-year-old brother. Does using these kids this way constitute child labour? I don't know. But it definitely constitutes funny! Enjoy!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Time To Get Tough On Stupidity

I have a theory that our Prime Minister is a dangerous control freak. This is mostly based on anecdotal evidence, but it seems recent events fit that pattern. I think that after 4 years of a minority government, he is casting about for anything he can do without Parliament. These orders are completely in keeping with the Conservative ethos, but it's funny that we've gone for a while without any serious boat rocking and then all of a sudden in a single summer Parliamentary holiday there have been a number of dangerous Tea-party-appeasing measures rammed through.

One of the more recent things to come out of the Cabinet is a list of new items for the serious crimes list. Ostensibly, this is to hurt organized crime, but, as with all of the nonsensical orders being handed down by Cabinet, I suspect it will not serve the official purpose and cause a lot of collateral damage.

Included in the list of new serious crimes is "keeping a common baudy house." I will never understand laws like this. A keeper of a common baudy house is not automatically hurting anybody. Putting this on the organized crime list because gangs can make money from brothels is like saying that since some stores pay protection money to gangs, we should make it illegal to run a store.

Obviously people are paying for sex in this country. I don't even think it's illegal to do so, although it is illegal to communicate for the purposes of doing so, unless things have changed. And if a consenting adult pays another consenting adult for sex, what business is it of mine? I would even go so far as to say that by making it a crime to run a brothel, we drive the whole industry underground and make it more dangerous — for the sex-workers, for the clients and for the general public — and more likely to profit organized crime.

Instead of trying to legislate morality, it would make far more sense to make prostitution legal and regulate it and, most Canadian of all, tax the ever-living crap out of it.

But that doesn't seem too likely given our current mixed-signals government – for a party that doesn't want to ask you about your life, they sure seem to want to tell you how to live it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I know U R, but what am I?

Canada has two seasons: winter and construction. Well, it's not winter right now. This made me chuckle yesterday as my mind completely misread the company name on the shipping container on Kings College Rd.

Related link.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Can They Even Hear Themselves?

Our official government position is currently that we need to save money, as a country.

This is why we spent $1b on police officers for the G20. This is why we spent $16 billion on new fighter jets. This is why we have to spend at extra $30 million for a census which is, for all intents and purposes, worthless. This is why we have to spend $10 billion on building new jails for people who have committed unreported crimes.

Uh, what? So we're going to save money by spending more? And we're going to incarcerate people who haven't been reported to police, let alone convicted of any crime?

I sure hope you're enjoying your holiday, MPs, because I think it's high time for an election come September.