Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sonja Smit's Nudity?

Doc has a very coy post on some current production at the Grand Theatre in London. The coyness is not Doc's but that of the author of the column that the London Free Press quite sensibly chose not to publish.

But I still don't know what the objectionable production was. Is it 'The Graduate' and is it Sonja Smits as Mrs. Robinson that has got Doc's friend twisted in such knots? My guess is the details are withheld for fear that they would sell more tickets.

Doc asks at the end:

What is it about so much nudity, that it seems to involve females? Are we still living is such a male-dominated society, or is it just that female bodies make for better art than do male bodies?

Well, I am a Canadian Stage subscriber, and even going back to Fiona Reid baring her body in Stoppard's 'Indian Ink' (in her fifties, I think, and a nice one it was), it is still the case that in the last season and a half around ten men have appeared on stage in their productions naked and I think only Reid among women. (Not counting 'Hair' last year, which is a pretty even split, I think.)

I have vaguer memories of earlier productions featuring nudity ('Angels in America', ...) and think it was a pretty even split. On the other hand, perhaps a Toronto theatre company takes account of this and tries to do the politically correct thing.

Some More Air Travel Plusses

I had to spend Friday, starting at some brutally early time, working my way back through the skies to home. I described one such trip in an earlier post.

What was the highlight of this trip? I wound up seated next to a talkative ex-pilot (Navy fighter, I recall) flying back to Illinois for the funeral of his brother. I was trying to read and he forced me to talk, which initially annoyed me, but by the end of the flight made me feel I had been privileged. United Airlines has a nice feature - you can hear the air traffic control chatter from your seat, and he helped me parse it to the point where it became quite interesting. In fact listening to the chatter on the Sand Diego to Denver stretch made me understand a sharp descent we made between Denver and Toronto. Most of the chatter that goes on once planes are in the air is choosing altitudes that avoid 'chop', or turbulence. 2, 4, or 6 thousand feet of altitude can make an awful lot of difference and the controllers know what happened to the poor sap right in front of you.

It is very entertaining to listen to the pilots and controllers negotiating pathways of least misery for the various flights.

My neighbour told me another story that was very entertaining if a bit sobering. He was once on a flight as a passenger, with a long descent into O'Hare. Sitting in his seat he noticed a small plane flying below his, and inferred that this plane was there to inspect the landing gear on the airplane he was sitting in. As his airplane landed, it favoured the left side of the landing gear as support and then did a gentle lean back to the other side. As the landing ended safely, his seat neighbour said, "Are you a pilot?" And he responded, "Yes, but how do you know?" "You hands have been grasped to the seat firmly for the last ten minutes and have gone totally white. You know something I did not."

He had more stories, some compelling ones, as his now late brother had been a medic at Iwo Jima (he said we must read Flags of our Fathers), and he himself had had an early career as a fighter pilot, and he had very interesting reflections on the technological differences between air warfare then and now. It really can be a great privilege to spend time with someone who knows so much more about one of these aspects of life from which one is utterly protected.

Searches leading to this blog

From time to time I go look at my site metering to see what people are trying to find when, poor souls, they find me. From my reports I always leave out the obvious searches from my friends and family members who have chosen not to bookmark the blog or do not know how to and use Google to find me.

Over the last week the major winner has been 'Bobby Goren'. I think this is great, though I think I posted only once, and not very interestingly on the subject.

Others strings have been 'Dirndls', 'I'm in heaven Fred Astaire' (a lovely one), and 'silly own goals'. Of course Sharapova's nipples remain a perennial (and mentioning them again here will get more hits).

I have to work on more to say about Bobby Goren.

Memo to Self - don't spar verbally with Sacha Baron Cohen

Becky Anderson does not really spar, but he shows how hard it would be if she had tried (she tries a little near the end, as she offers herself as a wife). Go watch. (You have to endure a short ad.)
Poor Kazakhstan (or maybe lucky Kazakhstan).
This boy is bright - he figured Canada out in what must have been only hours.

PS Update - there is a Canadian connection, related to Pamela Anderson.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Business trips

Generally they are not a lot of fun. This one was mostly intense but I did manage to get away and enjoy this scene.

UPDATE: Those little black specks in the water are not seals, but, rather, putative surfers awaiting waves that came all too infrequently.


My being on the road last week among people working for competitive companies has already been exposed. But the dishonourable behaviour of my company's competitors continues to shock me. One of the people from one of the other companies spent major energy trying to recruit the companion of someone from yet another company, surely simply to undermine his commitment to his company. Here we see a very dubious character just after promising another one the title of 'Geek Princess' in his organization.

The Creative Destruction of Tower Records

I was on the road last week and had occasion to walk by a Tower Records store (something I had not really seen since the 1970s, when this corporation had a great ascendancy where I lived). The sign out front reflected the times in many ways.
Any CD I have bought in the last few years was on-line, and the number of those purchases is trending downwards fast. And I am an old coot! (I am not buying vinyl, either.)
I give their management credit for their remaining witty as the ship sinks.

For more on creative destruction see this entry.

More Gasoline Pigou

Doc has a useful post on gasoline taxes - something I ranted about some time ago (I am in favour). Were I an economist I would sign up for Greg Mankiw's Pigou club.
This issue is extremely important and it frustrates me that so little discussion of the environment includes proposed solutions in this area.

Alice Munro

On our CSI travels, we drove through Clinton, Ontario, which is home to Doc, who had given us some restaurant recommendations, though he pointed out we probably would not find the restaurants open on a Sunday (which seemed astonishing to me but was true). Clinton is also home to the writer I suspect I think I find the most satisfying of all those I read, Alice Munro.
The constellations collided this morning as both major local newspapers published interviews with Munro, one here, and one here, each of them conducted at one of the restaurants Doc had recommended, which we have yet to enter.
I am not prone to tears but each of them caused those to appear in my eyes.
From the former interview, I was blubbering at:
Almost 50 years after her mother's death, Munro finds her own teenaged scorn for her ambitious mother a “shame of my life.” She is appalled that she was not grateful for her mother's attempts improve the family income. “My mother had all the instincts that would have made us prosper. But my feelings were so intensely private and protective of dignity. Ha!

And I actually only ever slightly flirted with contempt for my parents; but that flirtation still hurts! Lovely it remains so important to her in her 70s.
I suspect also that the following passage in the latter interview affected me, while it has no direct connection to my life, but certainly does to many people I know:

The stern code of conduct she was born to did not value enterprise, wealth, comfort, or higher education that might cause you to "put on airs" or rise above your station.

"Poverty was a badge of honour in my family and there was a kind of laughter about somebody, say, who got an indoor bathroom put in. It showed a lack of self-sufficiency. Same with people who bought a new car. All that is gone now."

She sees her early environment, which became the source of her artistry, as being comprised of a mass of seething, suppressed urges.

"I was brought up to think that the most important thing is not to make a fool of yourself, not to expose yourself and, of course, I wound up exposing my whole life."

And I want to thank her for that exposure!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Watson's Performance

We saw Canadian Stage's Of Mice and Men Saturday, featuring Watson. Watson was superb; he slumped down pefectly at a key moment, and conveyed all the exact emotion required. When his murderer summons him to his execution he also did a wonderful job of jumping up naively. The performance was utterly perfect.
I was surprised; the play had fairly poor reviews in the local newspapres, but I found it very engaging. Moreover, I normally hate the sentimental, and this play is filled with it; but Steinbecks's identification with the underdogs is so solid and understandable, and the two lead actors were so good in their roles, that I felt this was another case where the subscription did its job. It made me see a play I would not have gone to see otherwise, and that was well worth seeing.

On the Road

Sorry for my silence. Some reasons can be found here and here (I am mentioned as absent because I was just out of range of the camera lens, well behind it).

Sunday, October 15, 2006


No not Crime Scene investigation - Child Scene Investigation.

Part of our fall colours hunt last week included a walk along the Goderich waterfront. As we covered the boardwalk we went by a bench with some forensic evidence on it. The evidence, below, suggests strongly thet there is a nearby children's playground, in an environment conducive to bare-footing, like a sandbox. And in fact this bench was directly opposite a children's playground, based in a large sandbox.

As we walked back the other way, we found the dinosaur had joined the shoe-owners in the sandbox.

Does Mr Ignatieff know anything outside Harvard?

A reporter just asked this of Stephane Dion in the post-debate somewhat organized scrum. Dion did the right thing, shrugging his shoulders and refusing to respond as he walked away.
I do not know who the reporter is. Has the reporter looked at Ignatieff's CV? What is the reporter's CV? It would not take much to learn that he has seen much more of the world than Harvard Yard, and more than almost anyone I know. Does the reporter know anything beyond his petty little perhaps post-Ryerson-degree journalism life?
I am not entirely convinced by Ignatieff, but find him a useful challenge to the Liberal party, and really doubt that reporter is remotely in the same class.

The Next Teardrop, and Wasted Nights

Freddy Fender has died. 'Before the Next Teardrop Falls' was one of the finest country songs I recall from my youth.

Liberal Leadership Death Tussle Debate

The party is having what I believe to be its final round of debate among the leadership candidates. Unfortunately, so far as I can tell, it is only on English-language TV, which means that each time a candidate starts speaking some sort of French, we hear only the translators.

The format is bizarre - a series of questions debated by three candidates chosen oddly in various ways. It deos not seem random as the foreign policy question featured Rae and Ignatieff.

It remains fun! Some strong passion between Ignatieff and Dion about the environment - Dion is just wonderful defending the track record of the old government. Ignatieff has brought forward a carbon tax, and argues for it again, and Dion takes the tack of saying they had carbon ceilings planned already, and by the way, Ignatieff, you were not there. Ignatieff is not afraid to say, 'and WE did nothing'. (Daming the failure and taking responsibility as a Liberal.)

Dion also wonderful at implicitly attacking Rae's Ontario deficits. Rae responds with sensible arguments about the state of the economy at the time but it is clear the knife is penetrating.

On foreign policy - they set off Rae, Ignatieff, and Hall-Finley, who started off arguing for 'prevention' - apparently we prevent warfare and violence. Ignatieff focussed on human rights and complained that Harper's approach in Afghanistan was incomplete. (Note he does not atack a Liberal.) Missed Rae as my cat was having an injection. 'The whole fiber of our being is how to get people who think differently to live together', says Rae - well that sure was not the world I grew up in! Nobody has much useful to say about what the goals in Afghanistan might be - Hall-Finley tries to say, and then stops, that we maybe should duck and run first (among NATO), but then realizes that is not a good thing to say. Ignatieff catches it and points out your voice is empty without commitment. Rae says we should ask for the other NATO countries to get killed more than Canadians. Ahh - now he decides we should focus on the border with Pakistan. Rae says we should be 'careful'. Ignatieff catches the inconsistencies and says Rae does not have a position, which seems obvious. Rae fires back a snotty barb about other issues this week. Ignatieff is upset (the old friendship come and the hurt from what has become of it). Hall-Finley tells us all to be friends again.

Now a question for Dion, Dyrden, and Brison about gun control and the Dawson College shootings.

It strikes me just now that the questions come from a very managerial position (not surprising given the state of journalistic education in the country, I suspect). Dryden admits he can do stupid things and would not want to have a gun around when he has an urge. (Not sure whether he just wants to register his gun or not have one.) But he agrees many have no problems owning guns. This is a hopeless farce. They all know the gun registry is useless but what a terrible point to give Harper. Dryden says most people he talks to think the registry works. Makes me wonder who he talks to. Brison says the police use the registry a lot (not to stop random shootings) - proposes small bureaucratic changes. He wants to ban handguns! And that the government spend lots of money educating people with long guns. Dion is brilliant again - he cuts the internal debate off and proposes a common position against Harper. Slick. He is really impressing me (despite his managerial tendencies). Dryden and Brison do not take it up. Well, I don't see how either of them can win anyway sowhat does it matter.) Dion, brilliantly, says, "Yes Harper is awful, but ... (paraphrase) victims deserve more respect." I miss a lot but Brison does not want Canadians pressed against one another thing crime is out of control. Well so long as it exists it is and I want to be pitted against the criminals.

So now Rae, Kennedy, and Volpe on culture. Aargh. I have no sympathy to any government role here and the question asserts that the government is vital. BS. Question is sad - should government continue to rule content in media (surely it does not really), on internet (surely not). CRTC may play a role - tricky whether that is the government. OK Kennedy believes in censorship (what I think got asked). Sad - he seems OK if maybe a bit too managerial - but he is now a way over my limit. Volpe is witty - "surely I am not the right guy to ask this question?" OTOH he is also for censorship. This is appalling and the thing I most dislike about Canada. Rae - of course we should have a policy for federal control of communication? YES. Aarrgghhh. Moreover, any useful cultural institution in the country requires a federal role - my God, this is sad. The feds should protect children on the Internet. This is pathetic. Nothing further was worth recording - it was the usual nonsense about controlling what gets put on the airwaves internally. Exception - Hmm - actually Kennedy wants to tell the ENTIRE Canadian story - well, this has pretty much been solved today, and I don't see the Feds as helping at all. Unless maybe he wants to FORCE me every morning to hear the voices he thinks I should hear rather than just go pick on my own, which is what I like. Rae at least points out that the world of 2 channels is gone, and he sees that this world is wildly open. But he still for some reason wants to support large organizations? Why? Volpe talks about the Cultural Renaissance and I fear I must admit I giggle. Fortunately there is no more time.

My God - each of them gets a final statement!

Hall-Finley - forgettable Liberal stuff. She is attractive in many ways as a candidate but not in any way I would vote for.

Dion - attacks Harper. Loves being out of Afghanistan and into Kyoto. Hates Bush. Fatuous rhetoric about jails and the Middle East. I am disappointed as I liked him in the debate portions but he is playing to the worst of the Liberals now. He focusses on his loyalty to whatever Liberal positions might be construed to be. He impresses me and sickens me with this summary. Slick dig against bot h Ignatieff and rae as newcomers to the party. But now just slick - no content that matters for me.

Kennedy - proud to be here. Wonder how decent his French is. does half a sentence. Now decides to broach the reform of the Liberal party? Huh? What does he mean? He says pretty much nothing. Says bad things about Stephen Harper. We should become the first international country? Hmm is there not the US? Useless summary - essentially no content. Party will be different. No hint of exactly how. I like the guy but he sounds neutered.

Dryden - likes travelling. We give him inspiration. Aarrgghh. Loves air and water, rocks and trees. Tihs is really bad. Sports!! Yes - it is Dryden. We are desperate for a company worthy of us. Well no. The AIADS Conference??????? Chretien also did not go the the opening of his AIDS conference. This is not a good start. He clearly has not invested much in a research team. He hates Bush. He loves Canada. Well, I never expected much of him so it is not as sad as hearing Kennedy.
Ooopps he goes on. And is challenging harper on hockey history? Ahh - Philadelphia was wrong for hockey as Harper must be now. This is so sickening. Is htis the best this party can do?
Dryden says they won 4 striaght back then. I guarantee Dryden ain't winning.

Brison - such a great sense of humour - can play the gay role beautifully. Appealing but just not a player. Makes the fascinating point that the economy did not play directly in any discussion, and he goes back to the Chretien-Martin control of the deficit. At least he is not a total idiot like Dryden. Postions himself between Layton's economic ignorance and Harper's environmental ignorance. Not quite clownish, say, in the way Dryden was.

Ignatieff - plays the role being a Liberal - and argues for McGunity to win in Ontario! Against Harper - he is for hope (this is of course the managerial probelm - generally - it is a forlorn hope). Describes dreams (not sure what any have to do with any policies he has). We want pure air and clean water. Argues for human rights abroad, in Afghanistan, darfur, etc. Good for him. And he says he wants to lead the country - because he wants us to be picked as one of the best countries in many areas. Nice job. And he insists we are not there and we must help him.

Volpe - give him a chance - he was a Pier 21 immigrant. Wants his dreams fulfilled. Also - build for tomorrow! We build Canada thinking forward, and we come from all over the world, and that is great. Shocked he had to defend his integrity (no comment). Got into some wild Middle East process of love thing. I lost him.

Rae - good applause. Jokes that his NDP work helped the Liberals in the past. Poked at Sundin's successes last night. Asks for help to bring down Harper as part of a government that knows what it stands for. Wants candid sorting out of past differences. Mentions prosperity, opportunity, an independent foreign policy (bashes Bush along the way).
Asserts experience to lead from the centre.
Argues he has a handle on the unity of the country.
Insubstantial but not bad.

Now a Q&A

Nope that seems the public part of this show done.

Overall impression:

Everybody believes way too much in the effectiveness of regulation, and the ability of politicians like themselves to put together policies that won't have worse effects than the good ones they might. This is an occupational disease of a politician, but particularly of this party. Which is a specialist in selling regulation to parts of the population for votes.

As for individuals:

Brison - sharp and witty. But not a concern for now.

Dryden - how can he speak French so poorly? My vague recollections is that he was the goalkeeper for the Montreal Canadians for years (many of which I was out of the country, so maybe it is another Ken Dryden.)

Volpe - nevermind.

Brison - witty, appealing, but he just vaguely does not strike me as enough.

Rae - smart guy but why does he believe all this managerial nonsense after his total failures?
This is added later after the discussions as he came through the scrum. I can see Ignatieff's point, his frustration at Rae's unwillingness to take him seriously at least publicly on foreign policy. And Rae just added to it and joked about it more. Rae was long my second candidate in this, but I am not sure I can hold on. Despite idiotic economic policy I know Ignatieff is leaning to. Wow might I become a Brison guy? Well, I have not voted Liberal in years. But Rae appears to me to being far more cynical than I could have accepted.

Ignatieff - problem he has is he has the odd principle, however open to compromise. It may make him unacceptable for this party, which has a lot of difficulty with such a concept as principle.

Hall-Finley - appealing but as my sister once pointed out, appears not to have much in the way of principle.

Kennedy - wow, it would be wild if he wins this.

Fall Colours

A high part of this season in the NorthEast is the effect of the changing colours of the leaves of trees on the landscape. We devoted last weekend to some significant exploring of SouthWestern Ontario to try to find the most dramatically coloured trees.

The answer - these two trees above found right beside my wife's apartment building.

Usually one hits trees with fairly intense red, yellow, or orange colouring. We found no intense orange. There is a large maple behind my house that has potential for a few days from now.

Catching up on the animals

A month ago during a charity golf tournament, my foursome discovered this ugly litle creature (and one of his/her siblings) on the third green, we suspect having recently emerged from what the mother thought was an attractive egg-laying site in the sandtrap, and determinedly on their way to the water hazard at the other side of the green.

These guys are scary as adults but make them as small as a golf ball and they have a certain charm!

Animal Blogging

Some highlights.

Watson goes to stage.

As character actors go, he's pure bred. With greying jowls, moist eyes and one ear which seems to have fallen asleep while the other stands up, his face is a weather vain [sic] of inhuman emotion.

There have been practices this weekend, as Watson gets used to being led around the stage. But CanStage officials say there will likely be little else to do to prepare him for Thursday's opening ( Because while this is his first curtain call, it's not his premier performance.

Since Watson was young, his owner, Caesar Sinclair -- a 54-year-old actor who left work at the liquor control board in hopes of finding stardom -- has brought him to film shoots. By 3, he was in the movies.

We'll be seeing him perform on Saturday and will surely post a review.

Meanwhile Oliver the cat is now adopting a very strange position for sleeping. I am not sure whether this has to do with his age (20 and a half) or some especially compelling odour on the throw he is sleeping on.

Friday, October 13, 2006

What is A Grimsby Tugboat Engine?

Chris Dillow can always be counted on for an erudite reading of some simple question. He outdoes himself in this performance.
There is an entertaining and possibly revealing typo:
Fourthly, having sampled one women, many men would prefer another,

Interesting conflict of the singular and the plural.
But what is a Grimsby tugboat engine?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I so feared I would be Mister Collins

And desperately hoped for Mr Darcy. Oh Well.

Which Jane Austen Character Are You?

You are the true hero(ine)! Sensible, steady and mature, you are the lynchpin of your circle of friends and family.

Male: At your best, you are a dynamo combination of Mr. Knightley from Emma and Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility. At your worst, you may be briefly beguiled by silly women (cf. Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility and Captain Wentworth's behavior toward Lousia Musgrove in Persuasion), but in the end, you'll win through and end up with the proper heroine.

Female: You are Elinor from Sense and Sensibility! Wise beyond your years, you are all too aware of the folly of those around you. You are "sense" personified, and without you, things would certainly fall apart.
Take this quiz!

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| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Sorry Search Outcome

One recent search into my blog was via this string

"airplane flights to waneta bc"

I can assure the searcher there is NO useful information about that on this blog.

About Waneta Storms, the actress, sure. (Even though she was a key player in the worst play I ever went to see.) She will surely have been referred to as a fine Rebecca West in this year's Shaw production of Rosmersholm. And the other words will have turned up who knows where.

The Agenda and Bob Rae

Steve Paikin spars tonight with Bob Rae.
I am so pleased that there are people like Rae and Ignatieff and Dion and Kennedy, all not like me, who are willing to hang themselves out in public this way. We are lucky in this country to have these guys running to be the opposition leader!
Rae had a terrible time as Ontario Prime Minister; we all have different memories of this. Mine is that he, as a leader of a party that should of all parties least have recognized the concerns about a deep structural deficit, recognized it, and acted on it (this is rather like the opposite of George Bush as a financial manager). Rae paid hellishly for it. I continue to admire him.
I am with Rae on skepticism about Ignatieff's willingness to open the constitution. I disagree with Rae on foreign policy today but understand his concerns and point of view.
I also think Rae's hair is much better than that of the other candidates. It is the only hair of the right colour in the race.

Payday Lenders?

My morning and evening commutes today featured various reports on payday lending in Canada on the CBC Radio I normally have on in the car.
Now my neighbourhood, described recently in a local newspaper as 'rough' (I do not think of it that way), features several of these small offices along the main street.
The morning news reports were simply that the Federal governmant was planning to do 'something' about them. There was no clear statement of what. But apparently, they might charge interest rates as high as 1000%!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Each time this was said, the CBC reporter was clearly shaking her head in horror.
With very little to do in the slow-moving morning traffic, I tried a little thought experiment. A friend is in temporary difficulty and needs $100. So I give him $100. The next day he can pay me back and buys me a pint of ale (Smithwick's, if I get to choose, roughly $6.25 in the local pubs) as a thank-you. Let us consider that as the interest on this loan.
So what interest rate have I collected?
Let us assume interest is compounded monthly, a reasonable approach.
And let us make a common assumption that all months have 30 days.
OK so the monthly interest I have obtained is 30 times $6.25 = $187.50. So the monthly accumulation rate of this loan moves us from $100 to $287.50. So each month of his owing me for the original $100 what he owes me increases by a factor of 2.875. At the end of 12 months Excel tells me he will owe me $110,921.65! Which makes the annual interest rate I got paid by that beer 110921%!!!!!! (yes, you need to know that I must view the pint is worth $6.25, and I do).
OK I used compounding in a mischievous way. If we just did a linear extrapolation, the annual interest rate would be only 6.25*365 = 2281.25%!!!!!!!!!
Man those CBC reporters are conservative! 1000% is nothing.

OK I am playing games above - for a real payday loan operation there would surely be transaction cost and the like that would not be construed as interest. But in fact a provincial supreme court in Canada has apparently ruled otherwise. From the Wikipedia article I linked to above:
A OK charged its customers 21% interest, as well as a "processing" fee of C$9.50 for every $50.00 borrowed. In addition a "deferral" fee of $25.00 for every $100.00 was charged if a customer wanted to delay payment. The judge ruled that the processing and deferral fees were interest, and that A OK was charging its customers a criminal rate of interest. The payout as a result of this decision is expected to be several million dollars.

Take note of a key point for later - this ruling reflects that there is a current federal law in Canada restricting 'interest' to 60%.

Anyway, having figured out on my morning drive that the concern about a 1000% interest rate was idiotic, I wondered what the problem could be.

My drive home filled me in some more, again thanks to the local CBC. They had a professor on, one who had apparently advised the federal government, and who, in my view, made both sense and failed to.

He started by saying something very sensible - that what the federal government was planning was to simply drop their regulation. And leave it to the provinces. He pointed out to yet another shocked CBC reporter that the interest rates could be in the millions of percentages per annum (and you can see above why, and why that is utterly insignificant).

He also pointed out there was more to this than I understood.

At one point he said this was a phenomenally inefficient industry with customers facing far higher costs than they had to. And I was baffled.

My thinking was: here is an industry with pretty much NO technical barrier to entry. All you need is access to cash. And maybe a cheesy storefront office. So how could it be inefficient? I still do not know the full answer but one thing he pointed out is that banks and credit unions are somehow barred (by regulation) from entering this business. Why??????? Who better?

And so likely there are other artificial barriers to entry. Surely again regulatory.

It is becoming ever clearer from these reports that almost everyone will be better off when all the existing regulation simply disappears. Surely competition for business here will drive the costs down so people in need of this service will be well-served; after all, almost all the inefficiencies seem traceable to current regulation.

And there is a sinister side to some proposed regulation. There are jurisdictions where regulation has driven this industry into extinction. And what is the effect of that? People who could use this service do not have it available! And clearly this is NOT the high end of the spectrum - after all, almost anyone who can qualify for a credit card has no need of these services. So basically, we wind up depriving non-privileged people the ability to have a service they might well want.

This is not terribly unlike minimum wage laws - and let me just gratuitously point to another fine post from Chris Dillow.

By the time I got home I was not able to listen to the CBC report with the same clarity. But oddly, the professor, who had convinced me getting rid of regulation was a good idea, still wanted regulation (OK not so odd - he is a professor), and the CBC reporter was just confused. But sure that WE had to do something. I think that maybe what we have to do is leave people alone!

(By the way be careful about your notions about who uses payday lending - it is not the poorest of the poor - after all it is PAYDAY lending.)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

OK I give in

When Chris Dillow first posted this observation I just let it lie. But now that Harry's Place have found it, I guess that, as a slightly reformed mathematician, I should point to it.

I Really Wish he Had said It

That night remains one of the great memories of my life; it is likely hard for younger people to recall how implausible the success of the moon landing was, given the prior rate of launch vehicles blowing up - well, no wait, maybe it is easy, given the rate of Shuttle disasters in the last 20-odd years.
In any case, the moon launding was a great night - I watched it with a later Nobel Prize winner in my family's home, and I recall groaning when Armstrong left out the critical article, turning what would have been a brilliant epithet into a small disaster, and creating years of analysis.
Recent news reports have popped this back up into the news. The good news is the folk at Language Log have been subjecting the new reports that Armstrong really did say 'a' to a fair degree of scrutiny - we have this, and this, and this.
I have mentioned that what I love in the blogging world is the obsessional nature - saves me a lot of work.
What do I think? Well, Armstrong, whatever these analyses show, clearly fumbled the prepared quotation, and it is a bit tragic. I still think the theatre would have been far better had he hit that note correctly.
On the other hand - what do I think of manned space travel? Another topic, but those robots are sure producing results out there.

Why the Change?

Six months to a year ago I scanned newspaper online sites every morning for my morning information (on some days I still read a number of paper newspapers).

But this simple post does a lot to explain why I now live largely off RSS feeds.

While the blog world is full of fatuous partisanship I find the presence of this more engaged attitude also quite prevalent - one need merely choose which feeds to read.

But even with the limited nature of this "It's a Fair Cop", Tim Burke stays on my RSS feed list (wonder how he got there to start with), and I look forward to Norm's response.

The Agenda - Take Two

I chose a second episode of Steve Paikin's 'The Agenda' over the first part of tonight's Yankees game. This started with a wonderful probing of Eddie Goldenberg, at the centre of the great Chretien-Martin split.
And then followed an excellent panel discussion involving Goldenberg, Sean Conway, Gerry Caplan, John Capobianco, and some guy named Duff Conacher, who proclaimed himself the guardian of true democracy. I rather agree with the non-Conacher folk that this Liberal leadership campaign is something we should feel good about here.
To be fair to Conacher, he was just pointing out that we do not have a perfect democracy. But he seemed to think that was a point of major interest.
The overall discussion was superb - it may be the case that I can live without Studio 2 now. At least if this is its replacement, as it is.

Sophie Hannah strikes again

Norm pointed me once to Sophie and I posted on her lovely poems.
Now he has her write on yet another poet - and what a delight, exactly the sort of review I utterly love to read - someone who has a lot in common with how I think describing the joy she finds reading a third party. There is no question Wendy Cope is on my list now!

Such great lines.

I've just one ambition in life: I aspire
To go on and on being boring.

There IS context - go find it.

And maybe the sweetest.

But look: the flowers you nearly brought
Have lasted all this while.

This is SO much part of what is great about blogging!

I am not alone

Hat tip to Tim Blair for pointing to the international character of the squirrel insurgency.