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Friday, April 19th, 2013
8:44 am
Hi, Boston.

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Tuesday, December 27th, 2011
4:43 pm - Do non-math geeks really assess risk so differently?
4 homicides in Vancouver area 'not linked':

With the lack of any link among the slayings or any connection to gangs, Malo said he wanted to reassure the public there was no reason for fear or panic on the streets.


That is: people are afraid that

(a) There is one murderer, or group of murderers, on the loose in the Lower Mainland, and they are targeting people affiliated with gangs (which presumably does not describe most Lower Mainlanders).

The police are countering this fear by reassuring us that, no, as a matter of fact

(b) There are four distinct, independent murderers on the loose, and they are targeting non-gang people, just like you!

I'm not saying that the police should lie to us, but personally, (b) sounds like a better reason than (a) to panic, and the perception (correct or not) that most people think differently is one I find bewildering.

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Sunday, December 11th, 2011
12:01 pm - Amazingly, there was no waiting list at the library
PSA: this book is even worse than the video suggests. It's also FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY PAGES LONG.

current mood: masochistic

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Thursday, December 1st, 2011
8:50 pm
Hey, everyone, I know it's four months early, but I've figured out what I want for my birthday

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Saturday, May 21st, 2011
10:04 pm - Quite possibly the best thing on the internet:
Vegan Black Metal Chef Makes Pad Thai

current mood: awestruck

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Sunday, May 1st, 2011
8:56 pm
In a rational world, this would be the last word on strategic voting in Canada.

current mood: patriotic

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Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
10:33 am - Building Better Math
The math department at BCIT is working on creating a database of applied math problems suitable for high school students. By "applied", we mean "problems that people who aren't mathematicians or math teachers will use in their careers" - something that is shamefully absent from the high school mathematics curriculum. Here's some more information; we're soliciting problems related to science, health, engineering and technology, and we're also looking for donations. Please help spread the word, and let me know if you'd like more information or are interested in contributing (either ideas or money).

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Monday, December 20th, 2010
11:43 am - I never thought I'd say this:
I wish I were in Toronto on Wednesday to go carolling.

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Sunday, December 5th, 2010
12:36 pm - In lieu of my annual rant about Christmas, a Venn Diagram:


This is directed equally at those folks who have heart attacks upon hearing "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" during the month of December, and at those who fancy themselves enlightened multiculturalists for making the substitution during the weeks - and only during the weeks - that just happen to precede an important Christian holiday. If I had a dollar for everyone of non-Christian ancestry who thought that this was an important distinction, I'd still need to borrow money to do laundry.

Comments off, because I'm not in the mood.
Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
8:20 am
Last night's dream involved, in some order, a return to elementary school; painful bites from various small sea creatures; an Irish jam session; vending machines that sold chocolate bars and chips, and also allowed patrons to gamble; and real-life friends who don't speak Chinese in real life but who were speaking it quite fluently in the dream. Oh, and cakes. Lots of cakes, most of which were chocolate. There was a chocolate mousse cake in the hallway, and it looked like it would be the best cake of all, but I was hesitant to claim a piece for myself while the first grade classroom was being cleaned out, and I found myself quite agitated when it mysteriously disappeared. Later, though, with the classroom (including my desk! I don't know how that happened) cleaned, a very large cake materialized. "Holy, hell," I remember thinking, "this cake is huge; I'd better measure it so that I can tell everyone just how big it is when I wake up from this dream!"

So I can report, with some accuracy, that the very large cake measured 5'x5'x14', and was constructed around a built-in staircase so that diners could access the upper levels. It was also a mousse cake of various flavours that were labelled for easy access. I remember wondering how on earth we'd finish this behemoth before it either melted or went bad.

I think that there were some narrative thread tying all of the above themes together, but hell if I can remember it.

current mood: confused

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Monday, August 2nd, 2010
9:33 am - aaaaand, we're in
It turns out that the parking space bidding war was less competitive than I'd expected: dude has multiple cars in need of homes. One will live in my spot for the next year. Hooray for free money!

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Friday, July 30th, 2010
10:02 am
Judging from the lack of recent communication from the neighbour, I suspect I lost the parking space bidding war.

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Thursday, July 29th, 2010
3:29 pm - comparison shopping
A neighbour put up a sign in the lobby asking if anyone was willing to rent him a parking spot. I don't have a car, so I figured I'd take advantage of the chance for what basically amounts to free money. I called the neighbour, who told me that he'd already gotten another offer. Oh well, I thought - but then he asked where my spot was, and said that he'd check them both out and then talk to us both to make a decision. The hell? FTR, I do not live in the huge building; the parking spots are all quite close to one another, and approximately equally accessible.

current mood: entrepreneurial

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Saturday, July 24th, 2010
2:11 pm - I should have seen this coming
The problem with arguing with people who support replacing the census long form with a self-selected survey is that you cite studies and polls and statistics, and they cite some dude on Twitter who agrees with them, and they're so statistically illiterate that at best they'll concede that we've got equally valid arguments.

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Friday, July 23rd, 2010
10:58 pm
Pass the popcorn.

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Thursday, July 22nd, 2010
9:32 pm
While there is a principled and reasonable case - one to which I am largely sympathetic - to be made against many forms of affirmative action, I submit that it is unlikely to be made by Stockwell Day and Jason Kenney, two able-bodied white men who definitely wouldn't be pulling in six-figure salaries if government jobs were assigned based on any halfway coherent definition of "merit".

current mood: grumpy

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Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
10:34 pm - I have mixed feelings about this:
On the one hand, props to chief statistician Munir Sheikh for resigning on principle. On the other hand, I fear that Tony Clement - who has openly said that Statistics Canada is not an independent agency, and that StatsCan reports to him - will take this opportunity to ensure that the position of chief statistician is filled by someone who is better suited to advancing the Tory agenda than to heading the most reputatable statistical organization in the world - that is, a statistically illiterate, partisan hack.

current mood: cynical

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Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
1:30 pm - 100% of people writing this post are banging their heads against their desks
The government's plan to replace the census long form with what is essentially a self-selected survey of Canadians must be a popular one, because a self-selected (non-)survey of Canadians, as described by the MP pushing the voluntary option, says so. ARGH.

(Lord, even the National Post, which seems to exist to prop up the government at every available opportunity, reason be damned, is raking Clement over the coals for this. And I must have missed this: "[Clement] recently took to Twitter to claim statisticians would simply reweight the sample appropriately. Prominent Univeristé Laval economist Stephen Gordon tweeted back that the weighting is done using precisely the census data that will be lost." To which I add: this reweighting would introduce a HUGE margin of error. Hopefully Parry Sound-Muskoka will give Clement the axe come the next election; we don't need a government that enthusiastically pushes policies that have been proven failures in the US. (See also, Truth in Sentencing Act.))

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8:04 am - Of course, this is probably just going to make it worse
Google News keeps filing stories about the Lindsay Lohan prison drama under "Recommended". This is embarrassing, because I really admire Google and I care what it thinks of me. And apparently Google thinks that I'm the kind of person who wants to read about Lindsay Lohan which I'm not. Now I'm worried that Google's telling its friends what a loser I am, and now it's not going to invite me to all its cool parties.

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Thursday, July 8th, 2010
10:46 pm - Very much not what I feel like dealing with at the moment
Purely hypothetical question, natch:

When one's bathroom ceiling starts leaking in one's condominium - 2nd floor of a 3-storey building, and directly underneath another bathroom - who is liable?

ETA: dude from downstairs came up half an hour ago to ask WTF was going on in my bathroom, since his bathroom ceiling is leaking. We suspect a burst pipe.

ETA2: Emergency night manager dude told me to talk to the insufferable upstairs neighbour and report back. Since the insufferable upstairs neighbour is the one who threatened me a year ago (long story; he didn't have a case, but righteous indignation can be a powerful thing), I wasn't too keen on this idea, so I went to visit downstairs neighbour to see if he could be pursuaded. Serendipitously ran into building manager in the process; she is looking into things, and offered to talk to upstairs neighbour. Wheee!

ETA3: The problem is in the insufferable upstairs neighbour's apartment. The plumber is on his way and will be here in around an hour, ie, at one in the morning; building manager assures me that this will not result in all of us being evacuated from our homes, and liability lies with the building, not with me. Huzzah! I will have to grant the plumber access so that he can poke around and take some notes that will go to the building restoration folks, not because he actually needs access to my unit in order to fix the problem. Fortunately I don't have to be at work tomorrow.

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