Random Scribblings … http://blog.daveg.ca ... of someone Mon, 10 Jul 2017 14:29:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Advertising to a Post Consumerist http://blog.daveg.ca/2017/07/07/advertising-post-consumerist/ http://blog.daveg.ca/2017/07/07/advertising-post-consumerist/#respond Fri, 07 Jul 2017 18:47:08 +0000 http://blog.daveg.ca/?p=1580 Continue reading ]]> Determining what I really want is hard.  Advertising tries every day and fails miserably.  It’s even hard for me and thus downright impossible for my close family and friends.  Occasionally, my family members will make an unusually inspired choice.  Sometimes this amounts to an item that I didn’t know I wanted but actually really need.  Other times this amounts to something for which I’ve been pining for some time (either overtly or unconsciously).  Maybe they got it just to shut me up…

Watson on Jeopardy

Watson on Jeopardy

A fair question would be: Do my family and close friends “get” me more than Google and other deep-thinking databases of the Interwebs?  This empirical evidence would suggest that they do.  A win for personal relationships over deep data, I suppose.

In a similar vein, I get really annoyed with most advertising.  I would go so far to say that most advertising makes me feel empathy embarrassment for the creator or object of the advertisement.  Regardless of how I feel, though, advertising takes up time and resources for little practical use, in my case.

How do I find myself in this situation?  I don’t want what “people” apparently want.  I say, “apparently” because I definitely don’t understand what people want and the evidence, given by advertisements directed at me, is that I’m expected to want something else.  There may have been a time when I shared some wants with the masses, but they have definitely left me some time ago.

Personal Luxury Submarine

Personal Luxury Submarine

My wants tend you come from two schemas: the practical and the megalomaniacal.  In practical things, I easily show my divergence from the norm.  I don’t want a “new” car.  I research the crap out of most purchases.  Most of my purchases probably represent a long tail process where I ferret out a fairly unique product from a relatively unique vendor.  In many cases, rightly or wrongly, I conclude that doing it myself is the answer.

For the megalomaniacal, see Personal Luxury Submarine.

So, About Advertising

So what’s this about advertising in the title?  Similar to my family’s dilemma each Christmas, it’s really hard to effectively advertise to me.  I’m just not talking about the ad blockers and “no script” that I run in my browsers… And I’m not just talking about my thumb hovering over the “skip” button or scrolling past the loud animations.  I’m not even directly talking about how googling any saleable product  is nearly useless if you are looking for real information.

Wix YouTube Advertising

Wix YouTube Advertising

I’m not even talking about the complete misfires like YouTube trying to push ‘WIX’ (web site creation website) on me.  That’s just completely ridiculous, although it may have played some part in my decision to write this piece.  I have been telling people they need websites since 1995 — so long that it’s no longer, ironically, true anymore.

I’m talking about the fact that most of the things I want are either not advertised and/or that they will require research to locate.  In either case, a significant portion of my budget is spent on items that are not or can not be advertised.

A Non-Advertising Example

I’m excited to be getting into 3D printing, but this is also a great example of my thesis. If you search for 3D printers or read about 3D printers for awhile and then look at the ads that will be thrown at you, your first take will be that 3D printers cost about $1500 and that there are many more expensive and fancy ones.

Since the initial hype surrounding 3D printing has largely passed, there exist articles and videos that will help you find out that 3D printing can be had on a smaller budget.  You may even find some advertisements regarding 3D printers in the $300 to $600 range and you may even find advertisements for supremely cheap 3D printers now.  That is not to say that cheap is good: but rather to introduce that the advertisements are of little interest to me.  At best they can recommend further research.

Prusa Mendel 3D Printer

Prusa Mendel 3D Printer
No Advertising

Given my stated interest in 3D printers, you might assume that I would then be happy with advertisements of 3D printers in my price range.  In this case, you would be wrong.  More intense research led me to reprap.org.  The idea that 3D printing was about making things: real things; things like 3D printers.  Why can’t 3D printers print themselves?

Largely, they can (and do).  Knowing this can save you money.  Knowing this can lead you to understanding your 3D printer at a deeper level.  In the end, I sourced most of my parts from a local industrial fastener store for $60.  I sourced a number of other items on eBay and the remaining from another somewhat-local 3D printing enthusiast.  Advertising didn’t lead me to any  of these conclusions.

Indeed the 3D printer I have chosen has no advertising.  I could be due to the fact that the plans for the printer are available on github.  I could be do to the fact that besides a few 3D printed parts, all the parts required are available from sources that have little or nothing to do with 3D printing — and for a fraction of the price of retail.

Advertising, I Fart in Your General Direction

There exists much crap in the world. We buy crap because it’s made to look nice and it’s continually pushed in our faces.  Like corporate political donations, advertising is largely a negative influence on the world.  Both exist due to the psychopathic disposition of the modern corporation.  Both will continue to exist until we beat them into submission.

The vast majority of people are not well served by advertising: they just don’t know or realize it.  Advertising, is, of course, in the interests of the advertiser.  We even have laws that appear to force the advertiser to “tell the truth.”  Somehow in this madness we call capitalism, though, consumers have lost their powers.  So few of us now research our purchases properly or we assume that the advertising is largely true.  So few of us actually act in our own interests.

The EU, as a counter example, has recently proposed that durable goods be manufactured such that they are repairable and last much longer. This new item, along with many others I’ve heard in the last few months regarding the EU give me hope that some people are rejecting some advertising.  In general, the peoples of the EU are exposed to fewer hours of advertising than those of us living in North America.  This is healthy for people and, in turn, it will be healthy for the planet.

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http://blog.daveg.ca/2017/07/07/advertising-post-consumerist/feed/ 0 Watson on Jeopardy Watson on Jeopardy A Personal Luxury Submarine Personal Luxury Submarine Wix YouTube Advertising Wix YouTube Advertising Prusa Mendel 3D Printer Prusa Mendel 3D Printer No Advertising
Factorio Nuclear Reactor Thoughts http://blog.daveg.ca/2017/05/16/factorio-nuclear-reactor-thoughts/ http://blog.daveg.ca/2017/05/16/factorio-nuclear-reactor-thoughts/#respond Tue, 16 May 2017 18:12:48 +0000 http://blog.daveg.ca/?p=1536 Continue reading ]]> Factorio Nuclear Reactors

Factorio Nuclear Reactors

Factorio Nuclear Reactors are a new power source in Factorio 0.15.  For those that have played Factorio, late game setups have included either thousands of steam engines or tens of thousands of solar panels.  This ends up taking both significant production and significant game world space.  While mass production is part of the game, the space taken by the power system often dwarfs by orders of magnitude the other game activity.

With 2 offshore pumps,20 steam boilers, and 40 steam engines, and a big belt of coal you can get neigh 60 megawatts. As you can see on the left, here, It’s a pretty large setup. It’s enough, generally, for the first stage of the game… upto making all the potions, but it starts getting dicey at that point. You certainly want to also be using coal for smelting as this will not provide that level of power.

Factorio Max 2 Pump Steam Setup

Factorio Max 2 Pump Steam Setup

A similar setup with Solar Panels would already be several times larger (and would consume batteries and steel to a much greater extent).

My simple Factorio Nuclear Reactor setup (shown above) provides 40 MW with one Reactor, 160 MW with two, 280 MW with three and 480 MW with four Reactors configured.  I recommend shooting for the two reactor setup to start because the bonuses are just so high.

But… I’m jumping ahead of myself.  You need to get there from the start of your game.  You can’t even mine Uranium until you have a source of Sulfuric Acid.

In the last few attempts at 0.15 Factorio, I’ve found that one trick is to start mining uranium as soon as you have Sulphuric Acid.  There is often a patch that will be covered by one or two miners near your spawn and I run that into a chest.

Factorio Uranium Mining Setup

Factorio Uranium Mining Setup

When you get Factorio Nuclear, you’ll have several thousand uranium ore saved up.  Factorio Nuclear takes an enormous amount of research with all five non-combat potions.  As soon as I get Factorio Nuclear, I make six centrifuges.  Make sure you have concrete early on.  Each Centrifuge takes 100 cement.

DO NOT setup your fuel rod factory yet.  If you did this as soon as possible (I only research logistic chests first), it will be awhile before you  are going to deploy your first reactor.  For the Koravex process, you’ll want to have 40 U235 on hand.  When you get this, put it into your inventory so that it is not used.  U235 in excess of 40 can then be used in a fuel rod factory.

Factorio Big Uranium Mining Setup

Factorio Big Uranium Mining Setup

If you have another, larger patch of uranium to mine (several million in yield) and if you can setup a train with a single tank car (or a very long pipeline) to service it, these six Centrifuges will be enough to run at least 2 reactors until that ore patch runs out.  With two reactors you need one fuel rod every 100 seconds and every U235 generates 10 fuel rods.  So you need one U235 every 1000 seconds which is roughly 4 per hour.  This setup does make more than that from experience.

Looking at my larger mining setup, you can see two trains.  With Factorio 0.15, you have Fluid wagons available. I only put one fluid wagon on this train as it has the capacity of about 2 storage tanks and it’s plenty. Any more would even more seriously stress your system. Over the lifetime of this ore patch, I think the train made 3 or 4 trips. Similarly two cargo wagons is more than plenty to keep the 6 centrifuges busy.

It’s also worth noting that this patch will be exhausted before 25 hours of gameplay and it only produced about 100 total U235 by the straight centrifuge method.  This is why the Kovarex process is so important.  The other result of this mining is about 14k (remaining) U238, and for every 5 of these, the Kovarex process will produce another U235.

Now for your 40 U235 (that you siphoned off into your inventory as soon as you had them, above).  After your reactor has been running for some time, and after you’ve siphoned off your 40 U235, but before your Uranium ore patch runs out (by a wide margin … several game hours), research the Kovarex process.  The Kovarex process is just as expensive as Factorio Nuclear to begin with, but the payoff here is huge.  The Kovarex process is massively more important than fuel recycling.  The Kovarex process in this setup will produce 1 U235 every 25 seconds.  Fuel recycling will only net you 3 extra U238 every reactor cycle.

Factorio Nuclear Kovarex Setup

Factorio Nuclear Kovarex Setup

In the image to the left, both centrifuges are set to Korvax.  The top chest is requesting 200 U238.  The Kovarex proces requires 40 U235 and 5 U238 and produces 40 U235 in 50 seconds.

I usually set up the first centrifuge’s inserters and leave the 2nd centrifuge idle.  The middle inserter is set to move from the bottom chest to the top if the top has less than 40 U235 in it.  The insert below that moves from the bottom chest to the provider chest when there are more than 39 U235 in the top chest.  Like all buildings, the centrifuges will take up to double their inputs.  When the first is getting to about 60 (it will top out at 80-ish) then I put the inserters pointing at the 2nd Centrifuge.

200 U235 is an embarrassment of riches, but between the two of them, they will consume 10 U238 and produce 2 U235 every 50 seconds.  Since each U235 produces 10 fuel rods, This will power upto 80 Factorio Reactors.  You can also let your Uranium ore patch run out as it will now be a long time before you require more.  You probably don’t need two centrifuges here (unless you have more than 40 reactors running), but it’s compact, cheap and pleasantly symmetrical.

Factorio Nuclear Reactors

Factorio Nuclear Reactors

Factorio Nuclear Reactors

So you’ve started uranium mining.  Awhile ago you got the Factorio Nuclear technology and you’ve refined enough uranium to start.  How much?  If you can refine an extra 10 U235 above the 40 required for Koravex, that will be 100 fuel rods.  Enough for 1 2/3 hours of two reactors operating.  A this point in your game, you can probably use the 160 odd megawatts that this will pump out for you.  If you have six centrifuges going and filled with incoming ore, then you should be able to operate two reactors while you wait to research and implement Koravex.

Now… below this paragraph, I’m going to insert a large picture that is the setup of the Factorio Nuclear Reactors in my current game.  I started operation with 2 reactors and 16 heat exchangers attached to two offshore pumps.  Each offshore pump can handle up to 10 heat exchangers.  As I added the third reactor, I added 2 heat exchangers to each of the two groups to make 10 and added one extra group of 10.  That is what you see.

Factorio Nuclear Setup

Factorio Nuclear Setup

If you’re sharp-eyed, you notice that I have storage tanks in the bottom row.  They offset the turbines by two squares, but at 3 squares wide, they fit right in.  We’ll discuss those in a second.

You’ve probably already read about the Factorio Nuclear Reactor adjacency bonus.  Simply put, each reactor squarely lined up with another fueled and active reactor produces a bonus reactor.  One reactor by itself is one reactor: 40 MW.  Two reactors side-by-side are equivalent to four.  That is: each reactor has one adjacent reactor, so each reactor is worth 2 reactors… so 160MW.  Above, of the three reactors, one is adjacent to 2, so it’s worth 3 and the other 2 reactors are worth 2 each for a total of 7 or 280 MW.  For four reactors in a square (my next upgrade), each reactor has two adjacent (diagonals do not count), so each reactor is worth 3 for a total of 12 or 480 MW.

When I upgrade to a  fourth Factorio Nuclear Reactor, I will top that up with 2 more groups of 10 turbines and 2 more offsore pumps.

“Ten?” You Say…

“Ten?” you say, “isn’t that too many?”  Yes, but there is a reason.  You can store hot steam.  A standard storage tank stores 25k steam.  The standard turbines will run at 5.8 megawatts while the heat exchangers will only provide 10 megawatts (5 for each turbine).

When your power system is running at less than full tilt, it can fill up the storage tanks.  The extra 1.6 megawatts the two turbines on each heat exchanger can handle means 16 extra megawatts per group of 10 for as long as 20 minutes.  Not a bad storage system… or thought of another way: not a bad emergency power system!

Lastly, it’s a good idea to cable the storage tanks together and put an alarm on them.  It’s good to know when you need more power and you’ll know when the amount of stored steam drops.  Ten tanks store 250k.  I alarm at 200k — so 5 minutes into my 20 minute overage.

What Does Running Out of Power Look Like?

Factorio Nuclear Reactors heat up to 1000°C.  In Factorio (at least for now), they don’t explode, but at 1000°C, you’re probably wasting some power.  Wasting anything seems antithetical to most types of Factorio players, but you have few options with Factorio Nuclear Power.  At the moment, steam turbines have the same power priority as steam engines, so the only complementary power source is Solar, but even with Solar power, your accumulators are going to make it difficult, if not impossible, to completely effectively run only a base load on Nuclear.

Anywhere above 500°C, heat exchangers will be able produce their 10MW of power.  Like the steam engines and boiler, when power is not required, the turbines will use less steam and as steam backs up, the heat exchangers will consume less heat.  Unlike the coal-steam system, however, the reactors consume a constant amount of fuel.

Two things come out of this.  One is that the reactor and heatpipe system have a “heat capacity.”  This is what governs the time it takes for the reactor system to “start up” and this contains some amount of power as heat over 500°C.  The other is that monitoring the temperature of the reactor(s) will give you some idea of your power situation.  A falling temperature means you’re dipping into your “emergency” power and a rising temperature means you’re using less power than you’re creating.

If your reactor (or, more likely, your furthest away heat exchangers) fall below 500°C, they will stop producing steam.  In turn your turbines will spin down.  Since they aren’t using power, they should shortly recover when heat from the reactor puts them back over 500°C.

If you took the last section’s advice and used storage tanks, as the turbines stopped, the volume in the tanks were decrease.  This can be routed to a map-wide alarm.  The advantage here is that you have roughly 15 minutes of peak production to survive that biter invasion and solve the power problem.

The Grand Table of Factorio Nuclear Reactor Numbers

Keep in mind that I slightly over provision each level to keep things symmetric.  These are my build numbers:

Reactors Effective Reactors Reactor Power Emergency Power Heat Echangers Turbines Water Pumps
1 1 40 46.4 4 8 1
2 4 160 185.6 16 32 2
3 7 280 348.0 30 60 3
4 12 480 580.0 50 100 5

The optimal number of heat exchangers for 3 reactors is 28 and for 4 reactors 48.  I round up to 30 and 50.  It looks nice and it has slightly more emergency power, too. I haven’t created a need for more than 4 Factorio Nuclear Reactors yet.  If I did, I’d be strongly tempted to create a second separate installation.  This has more redundancy and resiliency in the case of attack.  Combined, that’s almost a gigawatt of power.

Maybe the grand take-away is that roughly 4 heat exchangers per effective reactor are “correct.”  Offshore pumps group those heat exchangers into roughly groups of 10.  Weather you take the extra 0.8 megawatts per turbine as extra emergency power based on system heat soak or you have storage tanks for your steam, I think that emergency power is the better use.  Those who try to find optimal ratios that use all of this amount are somewhat mistaken.  Turbines are cheap, after all.

Happy Factorioing.

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The Social Inequity of Keurig and Other Cartridge Systems http://blog.daveg.ca/2017/03/20/social-inequity-of-keurig/ http://blog.daveg.ca/2017/03/20/social-inequity-of-keurig/#respond Mon, 20 Mar 2017 17:55:00 +0000 http://blog.daveg.ca/?p=1526 Continue reading ]]> I’ve been trying to decide what it is that so annoys me about the Keurig and other Cartridge Systems.  At first, one could easily decry the Keurig for environmental waste.  Given their market, however, it was inevitable that they would mitigate this problem.  Too many crunchy-granola types like their fancy coffee or tea.

Social Coffee

Social Coffee

The problem with Keurig has been hovering around the periphery of my  mind for ages… just out of reach.  I saw a cartridge based bread maker for sale in a flyer some time ago, and still draw upon it as an example of what is wrong with society.  I see restaurants serving Keurig and I further decry the demise of life as we know it.

But what is wrong here.  At first blush, it seems to be a solution looking for a problem.  It’s certainly not difficult to make coffee.  Even the difference between making bread, operating a traditional bread-maker and using the cartridge-based bread maker are not that large.

Cartridge based coffee systems were becoming popular in offices more than 10 years ago.  If anything, Keurig took it’s sweet time to appear as a consumer product.  Even before that, coffee machines manufactured swill to order.  If anything, the cartridge-based systems should be hailed as a step up from those efforts.

If you haven’t yet guess from the title, my thesis is that the real cost is social, not environmental.  Coffee is a social beverage.  If I put on a pot of coffee, I am providing a service to the rest of the office while fulfilling my own need.  From the pot, I can pour several cups of coffee and enjoy a moment with other people sharing coffee.  Even those who drink tea are coming to the same area.  I don’t live in England, but I suspect some better work establishments must have a communal pot of tea around.

But the Keurig would have me selfishly make my own cup of coffee — to not share with anyone.  The time it takes the Keurig to brew, while short, precludes the interaction over the fresh hot beverage as I will move on after getting my cup of joe — not wanting to appear lazy by waiting for a coworker’s cup to brew.  Most importantly, Keurig denies me the simple pleasure of making a pot of coffee for other people.

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Seats, Feet and Righteous Indignation — Judgemental Treatment of Others is Unjust http://blog.daveg.ca/2017/02/23/seats-feet-righteous-indignation/ http://blog.daveg.ca/2017/02/23/seats-feet-righteous-indignation/#respond Thu, 23 Feb 2017 18:23:38 +0000 http://blog.daveg.ca/?p=1521 Continue reading ]]> I haven’t been compelled to write something in awhile, but this picture and the accompanying story at the star motivated me. From the article, it seems it’s gone quite viral.  It seems topical in reference to my last article “Life is not Fair.”  Here we have a woman (the article further points out a “white” woman) imposing her views on shared etiquette on a man (the article points out a man of non-white skin) with righteous indignation.  This is ever-so-exactly the type of Fairness Nazi that I was annoyed with.

Feet On Her Seat, Righteous Indignation

Feet On Her Seat, Righteous Indignation

To both inform and save you from the details, the article and attendant viral video, so a young man with his feet on the seat of a apparently mostly empty subway car in Toronto.  Enter a woman who sees this and decides to “teach him a lesson” by sitting on his feet.  Then this all escalates.  He pushes, she presses the panic stop for the train, security comes.  Entertainment for the masses and apparently validation of righteous indignation and judgement for some who view it.

It’s not that she may not have a point (she may).  It’s also not that the power dynamic maybe skewed (it may).  There’s a principle here.  Taking from my Christian background (and I“m not well versed enough to know how ubiquitous this concept is, but I choose to believe that it is shared), Jesus teaches that it is not our place to judge.

Why do I feel that this should be a shared belief?  Certainly there are judges in society.  Even among Orthodox Christianity, old men in robes hold judgement over others (although I must say, the current Pope is refreshingly, blessedly, and venerably restrained in his judgement).  I hold that this should be a shared belief because the average person exercising “common” sense is sorely lacking in context to make most judgements.

Personally, I can think of at least one good reason why someone might put their feet up that we should all tolerate.  I suffer from a fungus that occasionally allows opportunistic bacteria to infect my legs.  Especially when things are not well and especially after walking some distance, elevating my legs can both bring relief and halt further damage that I will pay for somewhat later.  Pressure in the legs isn’t uncommon.  Seems like a design flaw in humans, if you ask me.  This is just one reason that it might be acceptable, however, to be used as an illustrative example.

I’m not implying that everyone should put their feet on the seat or that other people should be denied a seat due to someone’s (then) impolite footrest.  Our ability to function in public isn’t due to a rigid set of rules but rather a fluid set of accommodations and conventions that we all stretch and test in one way or another.  Like any “law” these change over time and have varying degrees of compliance.

Do you occasionally talk too loud?  Do you attempt to change people’s behavior by making them uncomfortable?  Do you have a pet that isn’t properly trained?  Do you have an irritable bowel?  All these things and hundreds more can be considered out of context to be failures to accept and assimilate to the implied social contract.

Consider: We all judge.  From a Christian perspective, even those quiet thoughts are a sin.  Acting on judgements out of context goes from being a technical sin to a very real sin.  Acting out a judgement with righteous indignation is a sin of pride on top.  There are several ways this could have played out.  Without knowing, I’m willing to assume that this woman had, in the passed, asked people to be more polite and had this more polite (and more within the social contact) rebuffed.  Maybe not every time.  many people can react in kind when called out, but often enough that she (possibly) felt that escalation was necessary.

But even that is a judgment.  I can’t know what was in her head.  In effect, I can’t know her context.  I can only marvel at the consequences of her actions and point out to anyone who would hold this as an example of justice… that no apparent justice was obtained.

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Life is not Fair http://blog.daveg.ca/2016/08/01/life-not-fair/ http://blog.daveg.ca/2016/08/01/life-not-fair/#comments Mon, 01 Aug 2016 21:08:14 +0000 http://blog.daveg.ca/?p=1506 Continue reading ]]> Life is Not Fair

Life is Not Fair

Humans have a strong sense of fairness. To be fair is to be in balance with one’s fellow humans. Like any metric involving humans, however, fairness suffers from having too much just as much as having too little.

To little real fairness exists in the world at large. Protests, violence, injury and death mark the chasm between black and white, rich and poor, man and woman, privileged and common. It can accurately be said that life, taken in aggregate, is more unfair now than at any time in human history.

But this article aims to talk about the issue of too much fairness or being fair when it is uncalled-for.  This is the point where people look at their fellow human and want to take an action to make things incrementally more fair between them.  Said this way, it seems like meddling.

In defense of my thesis, I’m not writing about a protest to change a company’s policies towards groups of people.  We must protest for fairness among large groups of people.  It is fundamental to our health as a society that we continue to correct these issues.  Rather I’m considering the urge, in humans, to change singular other humans’ behavior.

All Men are not Equal

Are all humans created equal?  In response to that question, I’d say it’s too broad and in fairness, too vague.  One could affirm that people are “equal” when one is talking about opportunity or franchise or basic rights; but “equally” one could reject “equal” on the grounds that people are not intrinsically the same.  This is not the place to argue nurture versus nature, but regardless of the source I posit that people begin life equal in some basic and fundamental areas, different in others and are only likely to grow more different over time.

If the reader is still holding onto a misguided notion, consider how utterly mundane and boring a world composed of one person copy-pasted however many billion times across the globe; neither would they be happy nor would they be happy with each other.  The joy in the world  is the product of the optimistic sum of our differences.

Certain types of people can live with themselves as spouses and partners, but more often then not, the fabled “opposites attract.”  While from outside,  large groups organize on similar traits (skin colour, occupation, theory of life or happiness); from within, these groups tend to bond and people specialize with their differences.  In terms of partners (life, business, or otherwise), the trope “opposites attract” exists because complementary pairings are stronger than similar pairing.

The truth of the matter is that people don’t wish to be equal.  In so far as 50% of people live below the mean (for whatever mean you choose), 50% of them can espouse the idea that fairness would be better for them and the other 50% of them can agree that, while their privilege would be reduced, 50% would be better off.  This is to misconstrue the goal of either group.  Individually, people want to better themselves.  As a group, they can borrow from many philosophies only some of which will better any of the group.  By definition, then, some can achieve “better” by equality, but never all.  By reduction, equality is a stasis where people are unhappy.

My Brush with Equality and Fairness

This post was spurred on by two things happening: one to me and one in the news.  My own personal brush with equality serves to introduce the problem: Someone complaining about my roof.

Re-shingling your roof is expensive.  Not buying a new car expensive, but considering what I drive, the roof is easily worth two cars that are “new to me.”  I have known for some time that the roof is needing doing and the problem has become increasingly more dire.  This is a problem I share with my wife and we worry about it.

However, some time early this spring, a neighbour choose to complain about my roof to the city.  It turns out that, just like my lawn, the city has an interest in my roof — if only someone would complain.  If nobody complains, as far as I can tell, things could go to heck in a hand basket and only I (and my wife) are potentially sad.

This, I believe, is the result of a misguided attempt at fairness.  Ours is a new subdivision, so everyone’s roof has required new shingles at roughly the same time.  I frankly assume that it is as onerous a proposition to most of my neighbours as it is to me.  Just as frankly, and for reasons I won’t describe here, I haven’t yet been able to find the money to re-shingle my roof.

But since everyone has had this expense, one could construe it was unfair that I haven’t yet re-shingled my roof.  One could; but unfair to whom?  The city only seems to care that shingles are not loose (if houses were two or three times closer together, I could buy this argument, but with at least 10 yards between my house and the nearest anyone but the paperboy should come to my house, I reject it.

Sophie Trudeau

Sophie Trudeau and Michelle Obama at Canadian State Dinner

Sophie Trudeau and Michelle Obama at a Canadian State Dinner

My own brush with fairness is somewhat weak and I would not have written this article on the basis of it alone.  Indeed, that was over a month ago.  However, an article popped up in the news this week regarding clothing worn by Sophie Trudeau to public functions.

Firstly, both women look gorgeous and both are wearing dresses that honour designers with links to Canada.  I’m not “in” fashion, but my own reading of the press gives kudos for both choices.

The “complaint” from some quarters is that Sophie should have to pay for her haute couture.  When counted with the fact that some dresses and gowns have only been worn once, have publicly shown the Canadian designer’s work, and have been returned, the complaint is then that she should have paid some rental fee.

I get that there are rules for this sort of thing and I get why there are rules, but in this case, all the rules are followed.  I would say plainly that Sophie Trudeau is not equal to those who complain and, indeed, as the Prime Minister’s wife gets special treatment.  Her actions also confer special treatment back to those Canadian designers.  I could consider a complaint by which some designers feel neglected, but this has not been voiced.

It strikes me that it is hard enough finding people willing to be Prime Minister.  Even if the rules we have for this sort of thing are imperfect, it is unreasonable to expect people in this position to not derive and pleasure or perk from it, when offered genuinely.

Being Fair

It is human nature to appreciate being fair.  It is also human nature to appreciate being special.  Note that the natural way to describe this situation is that fairness is something that applies to someone else while special applies to oneself.  This is just one of the inherent stresses of being human.  It is likely one of the reasons politics is so difficult.

The sincere truth of the matter is that everyone’s situation is different.  The cost of wearing clothes representing Canada’s fashion industry is likely beyond a Prime Minister’s salary.  Consider that a CEO of a corporation of this size would make many, many times what we pay our Prime Minister.  Similarly, my own situation with regard to my roof is my own.  If you stopped to talk with me, I might bend your ear about it, but I might just as well talk about something more interesting.

Being fair is not always (often?) right.

 

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Day Break Mill: Searching for Red Fife Wheat… http://blog.daveg.ca/2015/01/24/day-break-mill-searching-red-fife-wheat/ http://blog.daveg.ca/2015/01/24/day-break-mill-searching-red-fife-wheat/#respond Sun, 25 Jan 2015 00:38:57 +0000 http://blog.daveg.ca/?p=1471 Continue reading ]]> Day Break Mill

Day Break Mill

I’ve been searching online for places to buy Red Fife flour and my search lead me to the page of Day Break Mill.  I immediately hit the “contact us” button so that I could determine where they were.  While I get the picture: it’s in Saskatchewan, still.. did someone think this was a good configuration for the google widget?

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SlowCooker: Pulled Pork: Sauce Made of Sauces. http://blog.daveg.ca/recipe/slowcooker-pulled-pork-sauce-made-sauces/ http://blog.daveg.ca/recipe/slowcooker-pulled-pork-sauce-made-sauces/#respond Wed, 07 Jan 2015 13:23:07 +0000 http://blog.daveg.ca/?post_type=recipe&p=1467 Continue reading ]]> Pulled Pork Almost Done

Pulled Pork Almost Done

I was leafing through recipe ideas the other day and came across Pulled Pork for the SlowCooker.  The slowcooker is great for soups and stews and I always enjoy finding another recipe for it.  Pulled pork is traditionally a southern barbeque dish where an otherwise tough cut of pork is slowly cooked in various juices until tender and then ripped apart or “pulled.”

In our case, we had a pork loin (not normally a candidate) that was moderately freezer burnt (perfect).  The long cooking and hydration of the sauce compensated perfectly for the freezer burn.

This probably isn’t the cheapest way to make pulled pork.  It is a sauce of sauces — also difficult to dissect or modify.  I ended up here with too much liquid … probably due to adding more V8 to cover the meat.  I probably should have cut up the meat and stuffed it in tighter.  I’m also using our smaller SlowCooker here in an attempt to cover the meat more easily and with less sauce.

Even with those caveats, the result was tasty.  I added two tablespoons of flour to the pot after one dinner to stiffen it up — which appears to have worked.

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Truthiness: of Rights and Wrongs http://blog.daveg.ca/2015/01/05/truthiness-rights-wrongs/ http://blog.daveg.ca/2015/01/05/truthiness-rights-wrongs/#respond Mon, 05 Jan 2015 13:12:30 +0000 http://blog.daveg.ca/?p=1457 Continue reading ]]> Truthiness feels good

Truthiness feels good!

Truthiness.  I love this word.  It encapsulates all that is wrong with the American Religious Right.  I’ve been thinking around how to talk about this scourge and received insight from a common (for me) source: The Economist has a book review of “The Battle for Yellowstone” by Justin Farrell. The essence of this book, according to the review (I really need to read the book), is to talk about the problems with politics in America without actually talking about politics in America.

It is absolutely true that the best ways to talk about a difficult topic is by talking about something else entirely.  I’m not just talking about avoidance (a viable strategy — a head in the sand is worth two in the bush), but about the substitution inherent in most good fiction and especially science fiction.

The book, according to the economist, discusses how each group in the variety of disputes surrounding Yellowstone frame their argument as truth against falsehoods while they are really arguing moral right versus moral wrong.  The Wikipedia article on Truthiness echos this point where Colbert (widely considered to have coined the term in common usage) discusses the way each faction desires to bring it’s own facts to the political debate, rather than all factions arguing the correct action against an accepted set of facts.

I had actually chosen the word Truthiness before I had read the Colbert quotes and cogitated on how they meshed with the theme.  I’ve been cogitating for some time on the inappropriateness of Truthiness.  I see the problems: that things have become complex enough; so far beyond most people’s education and experience that they are easily duped by those who would manipulate their views.  The problem is not that some people will attempt to manipulate other people — that will always be true.  The problem is that so few people in society as a whole have any quality of horsehockey filter.

The stated goal of public education is to prepare each child for the life of a citizen.  In generally avoiding classes in civics, they have failed this task. The Huffington Post has a good primer on the subject of public school policy.

How did we get here, or more pertinently, how do we get out.  For good or for ill, large groups of politicians and voters distrust scientists.  Has the daily barrage of issues become to fierce for saner heads prevailing in investigation and debate?  How did it come that arguing about right and wrong was not enough for some to invent new “facts” so as to be able to argue about what is truth?

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Rack of Lamb: Moroccan Spice http://blog.daveg.ca/recipe/rack-lamb-moroccan-spice/ http://blog.daveg.ca/recipe/rack-lamb-moroccan-spice/#comments Sat, 03 Jan 2015 00:04:09 +0000 http://blog.daveg.ca/?post_type=recipe&p=1456 Continue reading ]]> Moroccan Rack of Lamb on Plate

Moroccan Rack of Lamb on Plate

A little cooking diversion: A Moroccan Spiced Rack of Lamb.  I have some more stand-mixer baking to do, but my most recent attempt was lack-luster.  More about that when I get it right.  This article is about our new year’s eve meal.  I wanted to do something fairly special withtout being too expensive.  As these “french cut” rack-of-lambs were on special, they fit the bill.

A stock attempt at lamb … rosemary, maybe some dill, olive oil … it seemed below these wonderful cuts.  I spent some time talking with my sister about this and she google-texted me a recipe from somewhere — I can’t exactly tell, but it sounded wonderful.  However, it was new years eve and it wanted pomegranate juice.  I don’t keep that around.  Looking at the recipe, I decided that the juice was used for it’s sweetness.  I decided to substitute “Waterloo Dark” … which is a Canadian beer with a sweet almost candy-like taste.  I also had some “Mad Tom IPA” that I’ve been trying to find recipes to get rid of it in — but it has a decidedly bitter finish, so I expected it wouldn’t be appropriate here.  While I don’t like Mad Tom, Muskoka Cream Ale is the definitive Cream Ale for me.

The recipe also called for a shallot.  I used a regular yellow onion … although in hindsight, I could have used a smaller one or half of one.  Depends on how you like onion.  I diced the onion the Ramsey way… go look that up … he’s an excellent teacher when he isn’t ranting and raving at someone.  This recipe also reflects the garlic I used.  We love garlic here … might not be to other’s taste.

The sides here were simple steamed fresh broccoli and a baked potato.  We do the potatoes in the microwave first and then put them in the oven.  The rack of lamb only requires 30 minutes in the oven … and this is not nearly enough time for a good baked potato.

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Stand-Mixer #2 White Bread http://blog.daveg.ca/recipe/stand-mixer-2-white-bread/ http://blog.daveg.ca/recipe/stand-mixer-2-white-bread/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 22:29:54 +0000 http://blog.daveg.ca/?post_type=recipe&p=1444 Continue reading ]]> Stand-Mixer White Bread

Stand-Mixer White Bread

Since the stand-mixer cheese biscuits were such an unqualified success, we managed to pick up some yeast to facilitate some bread making.  First up is some “plain old” white bread.  Besides the fact that I am actually white, ango-saxon and (somewhat) protestant (depending on who you ask), I really enjoy fresh white bread.  It’s like sugar or a good light beer; melt butter on hot fresh white bread and it’s an experience.

Right after I removed the bread from the oven, I cut off the crust, buttered it and cut it in half to share with my wife.  In part, this cements the usefulness of the stand-mixer in the kitchen; and it part it also cements it useful that I use it to make yummy things.  The crust on a freshly hot loaf is crunchy and wonderful.  You should try it when you make it!

I must say that my first effort exposes my greenness. When I was younger, my family baked bread for sale by the side of the road as one of our more successful creative ventures.  We sold bread and pies (along with some other baked goods) to cottagers traveling from the city to (relatively) nearby lake-front cottages.  My mothers bread making quickly well known among those that traveled the route.

This was not our only foray into fresh baked bread.  It is cheaper by a fair margin to bake bread than to buy it.  I’m not clear on why this is — but the economics were consistent.  As kids, my sisters and I often boarded the school bus with oven fresh pizzas cooling in paper bags (this would occur when bread was not made the previous day and this was a creative way for our mother to provide us with a nutritious (if jealousy inducing) lunch.  I suppose we’re not shy because we know how to defend our lunches?  To be fair, I wouldn’t have wished it any other way.

I will say here that I only put a total of 5 cups of white flour into the bowl … and it seems the result is a bit fragile — it could use more structural integrity.

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