Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cool Lipdub Video from UQÀM

I might be late to the game with this, as I got the tip-off from CBC, which in turn saw it from CNN, but it’s still cool. As part of the orientation at my neighbouring school, Université de Québec à Montréal (UQÀM), students put together a gigantic, 172-cast single-take uncut lipdub to the Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling. And now I have the song stuck in my head. Mazel tov.

The CBC National story said that it had 50 000 views. Now, an hour later, I look and it has 124 000 viewsrefresh the browser – 139 000 views*. Seems it’s not done gathering popularity.

This all reminded me of one I saw earlier this year, that no doubt had influence in inspiring the UQÀM students.

This one was from a school in Germany (Hochschule Furtwangen) and as far as I can tell, pioneered the idea. Their video and accompanying site solicited a whole string of responses at the time - http://universitylipdub.com/response-videos/. Check them out.

*I’ve preposted this – it’s bound to be even more by the time you read this
Update 02.10.09 – the view count is now 687,000. They seem poised to enter the internet Pantheon of viral videos, up there with “Charlie bit my finger” and the star wars kid. Give it time.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Global Warming, You’ve Gone One Step Too Far…..

I read about some sad news this morning. It seems that in addition to making island nations disappear and driving polar bears toward extinction, global climate change has contributed to another, undeniably more heinous offence – destroying the quality of beer.


Reported in the journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, the paper, titled The impact of climate change on the yield and quality of Saaz hops in the Czech Republic reports that important flavour-influencing compounds (referred to as alpha-acids) in Czech hops have been decreasing over the last 50 years, correlated with increasing average air temperatures during this time, and the trend is liable to continue. I’m sure more validation is in order, but if true, then global warming has crossed the line.

Climate Change should know the rules of engagement set out in the Taurus conference (Al Gore giving a talking to himself in his car). Those rules were:

  1. No cute and cuddly animals are to be harmed. Mosquitoes are fair game.
  2. Unreasonably warm winters are welcome. Unreasonably hot summers are not.
  3. Beer, coffee, cheese, and other delicious foods and beverages are not to be tampered with.
  4. You do not talk about fight club.

Of course if Global Warming is indeed playing hardball and we will continue to see the quality of our pilsners drop with time, I see only one logical way to deal with this.

UrquellDrink up!

Discovery Space Disco: Now We Have a Problem: Global Warming is Impacting Beer Production
Research Article: The impact of climate change on the yield and quality of Saaz hops in the Czech Republic

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Arrr, ye salty dogs!

Today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Jolly_Roger So all ye buccaneers, scallywags, and marauders, let loose the inner scurvy-rattled plunderer on the world today.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oh dear god, please stop the attack ads.

I try to keep well-informed on Canadian politics. But because it can be so polarizing, I try to keep my opinions more or less to myself, and try to stay neutral, re-evaluating my position every time an election rolls around. Seems almost yearly now.

Watching some TV this evening, I was quite disheartened to watch the most recent slough of Conservative ads, taking aim at Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. The ads centre around Ignatieff’s supposed backing of the Liberal-NDP coalition that almost materialized last December.

What they count on (sadly, most of the time it probably works) is us forgetting was that Ignatieff was publicly hesitant to proceed with the coalition, at a time when he was a prominent party member, but not leader. He came forward with “A coalition if necessary, but not necessarily a coalition”. Trying and spread an idea that he is reckless and untrustworthy is not fair. I’ll make up my mind on their policies if necessary, but I do not appreciate the lies of omission in these ads.

To any political party considering negative ads:


Please stop confusing the issues. Tell me what you have to offer, not exaggerations of the opposite side.

I guess I should be grateful, though. Canadian politics are nasty, but they pale in comparison to recent US political ridiculousness.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Chicken soup for the cold, antibacterial soaps, and herbs in energy drinks

From my stream of daily science- and math-based procrastination reading, this cartoon comes from Indexed, a funny blog that “makes fun of some things and sense of others” through charts and graphs. This one hit home for me. Question everything!

card2240Source: Indexed by Jessica Hagy 

I welcome discussion on my choice of title.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Biking in Montreal – not scary, but damn hard

Today I rode my bike up a hill. Well, yesterday now, actually.

With my bike now in Montreal, I thought it would be a good day to take it on a test drive, on a holiday, when ostensibly the traffic (both automotive and cycle) would be less than on a weekday. Montreal drivers having the reputation they do, I was wary at first to take it out on the road, lest I be flattened the first time out.

Now, my bike is not the average bike around here. It’s a mountain bike. A somewhat ugly, cheap mountain bike. One that I would only bring home to my mother to scare her.  It changes gears unexpectedly. It leaves grease stains on my pants no matter how hard I try to avoid it. It is still caked in mud from the last time I took off-road back home. I love it like Marsha loves hers, but I would make absolutely sure to use a rubber.

While the weather is still good, I hope to make a habit of taking her to and from the lab. I often rode to and from my old university and never had too much trouble. Note that my old university was in Southern Ontario. Flat Southern Ontario.

Now for a fun fact: The source of the name Montréal comes from the old French for Mount Royal – Mont Réal. That’s mount as in mountain*. While I’m in better shape than I have been in the past from making a habit of running around said “mountain”, the inclines on the way to the lab sure were not fun. I had been warned, but I did not heed the advice. Biking muscles are not the same as running muscles. I was dying by the time I made it to the lab. Things should be interesting with this bike.

Surprisingly, traffic was pretty forgiving to me on the bike, perhaps because there are many who ride bikes around that don’t ride the fastest, struggle figuring out their directions, and actually obey all the rules. Or maybe I just got lucky. Time will tell. But for now, the traffic aspect of city biking wasn’t too bad. The geography was what wrecked me.

Experiences with a bicycle in Germany last summer have made me somewhat confident riding a bike in the city, but also made me a little nervous, even for my beloved-yet-piece-of-crap bike. Sadly, a reality about city life is that it is not uncommon for bikes to just roll away when you’re not watching. Hence my lack of hurry to clean off the mud on my bike. Maybe I’ll try to count on the difficulty getting around on my piece of junk to be somewhat to a deterrent.

*mountain of a sort – more of a very large hill, but that’s not much consolation as you struggle up a 15º incline

Monday, September 7, 2009

His Noodly Likeness Graces Us

The Telegraph posted an image in mid-August of a crop circle, which it claims is supposed to be the likeness of Harry Potter’s owl, Hedwig.


I disagree. It is clearly a manifestation of His image, in geometric perfection, there to remind us that He is with us and that He loves us all.


On The Telegraph: Owl crop circle appears in Wiltshire field
Rogues Gallery: Crop Art

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First week of classes on campus

I just started on now as a Master’s student. That means I now get to do this! I’m so awesome.

"Piled Higher and Deeper" by Jorge Cham www.phdcomics.com