A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for February 2010

[PHOTO] “The Sea of Flags at Yonge and Dundas”

The Sea of Flags at Yonge and Dundas

There were a lot of people at Yonge and Dundas when Jerry and I were there two hours ago. I can only imagine what things must be like now.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2010 at 9:19 pm

[BRIEF NOTE] On Sidney Crosby’s scoring the goal that gave Canada the Olympics gold medal in hockey

GOAL!

Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2010 at 6:19 pm

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[FORUM] What do you think of the Olympics?

I’ve been watching the Olympics on television intermittently and paying some attention to the scores. I’ve liked the athletic achievements in general, I’ve particularly liked the achievements made by Canadians because of the citizenship I know I share and the national identity that I think I share with these athletes, and that’s pretty much it.

And you?

Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2010 at 3:33 pm

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[LINK] “Lawmakers Consider an Animal Abuse Registry”

This probably was bound to happen sooner or later. If dolphins and primates are being given status as citizens of a sort, why not treat abusers of these–and other–animals the same way one would treat abusers of humans?

California may soon place animal abusers on the same level as sex offenders by listing them in an online registry, complete with their home addresses and places of employment.

The proposal, made in a bill introduced Friday by the State Senate’s majority leader, Dean Florez, would be the first of its kind in the country and is just the latest law geared toward animal rights in a state that has recently given new protections to chickens, pigs and cattle.

Mr. Florez, a Democrat who is chairman of the Food and Agriculture Committee, said the law would provide information for those who “have animals and want to take care of them,” a broad contingent in California, with its large farming interests and millions of pet owners. Animal protection is also, he said, a rare bipartisan issue in the state, which has suffered bitter partisan finger-pointing in the wake of protracted budget woes.

[. . .]

Under Mr. Florez’s bill, any person convicted of a felony involving animal cruelty would have to register with the police and provide a range of personal information and a current photograph. That information would be posted online, along with information on the person’s offense.

The bill was drafted with help from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, an animal-protection group based in Cotati, Calif., north of San Francisco. The group has promoted the registry not only as a way to notify the public but also as a possible early warning system for other crimes.

“We know there’s a link between those who abuse animals and those who perform other forms of violence,” said Stephan Otto, the group’s director of legislative affairs. “Presumably if we’re able to track animal abusers and be able to know where they live, there will be less opportunity where those vulnerable to them would be near them.”

In addition to sex offenders, California lists arsonists in an online registry, and the animal abusers would be listed on a similar site, Mr. Florez said. Such registries have raised privacy concerns from some civil libertarians, but Joshua Marquis, a member of the defense fund’s board and the district attorney in Clatsop County, Ore., said the worries were unfounded.

“Does it turn that person into a pariah? No,” Mr. Marquis said. “But it gives information to someone who might be considering hiring that person for a job.”

Marquis’ ironic eyewink obviously didn’t translate to print.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 23, 2010 at 10:53 pm

[LINK] “How much money the library saved me in 2009”

I’m a fan of the Toronto Public Library (on Facebook and Twitter too!). It might be self-interested for them to link to this post by Sassymonkey Reads describing the huge savings she made by borrowing her books and music instead of buying it, but even so, it holds up.

I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet of books that I read for several years now. In 2008 I just added a “source” column and add in “library” or “own” or “borrowed” whenever I’m entering the book. I also added a column for the price of the book.

Now, this is where you could argue with me about cost. I use the Canadian cover price of the book (Canadian cover prices are usually higher than American cover prices and yeah, as a Canadian who likes to buy books it does suck). Yes, I could (and frequently do) pay less than the cover price of most books that I buy. I imagine that most frequent readers do. Not everyone does though. Some casual readers who don’t want to hunt around for a better price, impulse buyers, or people who shop at independent bookstores, still often pay full price. Also, if I was going with a discounted price what discounted price should I use? They change all the time. Would I look around for different sales and find the best one? Or make an average of them? And what if I find the best deal in USD, would I then have to convert it to CAD? For it work, yes. Honestly, it’s all too darned confusing. Cover price is just plain easier all the way around.

I don’t track books I don’t finish so they aren’t included here. Ditto magazine, CDs, and DVDs or anything that my husband checks out of the library. I also don’t track cookbooks or knitting pattern books that I check out, which to be honest I probably should because the library saves me money there. I used to have an issue with buying cookbooks and then not using them so I started checking most of them out from the library before I bought them. I’ve been able to weed out ones that aren’t worth buying and some that are. Very useful and it makes me feel thrifty. And I’m not even beginning to touch the other services that libraries offer – internet usage, courses, story-time for children, homework programs. The list could just go on and on.

I only track books that I finish. When I’m making my list and figuring out the cost I stick to the format that I read it in. If it was an audio book I price what it would cost. If it’s a hardcover I don’t take the paperback price. So how much did I save last year?

In 2009 I read $1,239.27 worth of books from the library.

Now, I’m a fairly heavy reader but that was a light library year for me. Yes, really. If you look at my 2008 post I had read $1,128.27 worth of books between March and October. (I wasn’t using the library before March of that year and the post was published November 1.) I was using the library more heavily during that time for a number of reasons, one being that I had a lot more time since I wasn’t working. Another was that the bulk of that time I was living in a new city and hardly knew anyone. In 2009 I read more books than 2008 overall but fewer of them came from the library. I read a lot of free e-books from Manybooks.net on my Sony Reader and iPhone. Since I was working again I also bought more books than I had the year before. But still, $1,239.27 is nothing to sneeze at. That’s a vacation or a few long weekends away for us. Or a big chunk into our savings account.

Yes, I am a heavy reader by many people’s standards. For a minute let’s pretend I’m not. Let’s pretend I’m a one book a month person and that I normally buy my books. An adult fiction trade paperback in Canada will usually run you anywhere between $15-20 so let’s take $17.50 for an average. At one book a month that’s $210 over the course of a year. If my library charged me $0.25 per day for late fees I’d have to check in my books a collective amount of 840 days to match that amount. If I don’t return any books late at all I would have an extra $210 in my pocket. I can think of a few things to with an extra $210, can’t you? I know people who have to pay to belong to a library, but even as much as a $100 membership will leave you with just over $100 in your pocket at the end of the year.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 23, 2010 at 11:52 am

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[LINK] On life expectancies in Canada and around the world

First, here’s the CBC on the Canadian situation.

Newborn Canadians may live to celebrate nearly 81 birthdays on average, a Statistics Canada report on life expectancy suggests.

Tuesday’s report on births and deaths showed life expectancy at birth reached 80.7 years for the three-year-period between 2005 and 2007, up from an average of 80.5 between 2004 and 2006. In 1995 to 1997, life expectancy at birth was 78.4.

Life expectancy at the opposite end of the age spectrum also showed an upward trend over 10 years.

On average, a 65-year-old man could expect to live another 18.1 years in 2005 to 2007, an increase of two years from the previous decade. A 65-year-old woman could expect to live an additional 21.3 years, up by 1.3 years.

Gains in life expectancy in seniors over the past decade accounted for about 70 per cent of the increase in life expectancy at birth, Statistics Canada said.

In 2005 to 2007, people in British Columbia showed the longest life expectancy at birth in Canada at 81.2, followed by Ontario at 81 years. The lowest life expectancy was in the three territories combined at 75.8 years.

The growing and aging population was also reflected in the number of deaths in the country. In 2007, 235,217 people died in Canada, up 7,138 or 3.1 per cent from 2006.

Next comes the World Health Organization on the situation worldwide.

A Japanese girl born today could likely reach 86 years of age, the longest life expectancy anywhere in the world, while a Canadian girl could expect to see 83 candles on her last birthday cake, the World Health Organization said in a report Thursday.

A Canadian male will likely live until 78, while men in the tiny European country of San Marino, can expect to live to 81, the UN health agency said in its annual report, World Health Statistics 2009.

In contrast, boys born in Sierra Leone face the shortest life expectancy, at just 39 years. In Afghanistan, men and women live on average to 41 and 42 years respectively.

The report uses figures from 2007, the most recent that were available for the WHO’s 193 member states.

Some countries have made progress in increasing life expectancy since 1990, partly by ending wars, and partly through strengthening health systems.

Eritrea increased its average life expectancy for men by 33 years, to 61, and by 12 years for women, to 65. In Liberia, men can now expect to live to 54 on average, up from 29, and the figure rose 13 years for women to 58.

Angola, Bangladesh, Maldives, Niger and East Timor also increased the average life expectancy for men and women by 10 years.

But life expectancy declined sharply in Zimbabwe, by 19 years for women to 44, and to 45 on average for men, compared with 57 in 1990. Life expectancy also fell in Swaziland to 49 for women, down 14 years, and for men, a decline of 12 years to 47.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 23, 2010 at 11:38 am

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[META] Blogroll Expansion

This will be the last big expansion for a while. I hope.

  • Cartophilia is a great map blog. Trust me, it’s a compliment when I say that it reminds me of Strange Maps.
  • Over at eye weekly, Sean Micallef’s Psychogeography is a worthwhile ongoing analysis of the greater city of Toronto.
  • Andy Young’s Siberian Light is one of the best English-language Russia/Eurasia-themed blogs out there.
  • Anatoly Karlin’s Sublime Oblivion provides an opinionated take on the world at large and its future.</
  • The Russian-language demographer, the Russian Demographic Live Journal, has a lot of interesting content written by Ba-ldei Aga.
  • Globe and Mail journalist Ivor Tossell has an archive of his interesting columns at Ivor Tossell on the Web.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 23, 2010 at 11:20 am

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