Thank Goodness for CANCON

Canadian Content laws, the reason why it often seemed Canadian radio stations in the 80’s only had a box of 45’s containing Kim Mitchell, Corey Hart, Rush, Honeymoon Suite & Bryan Adams, to fill the airwaves with music. At times it seemed ludicrous, even painful, but over the years something amazing happened: Canadian music got better.

Basically, Canadian stations were told, if they wanted a license, X% of the music they played had to be Canadian acts. Also written into many of the station approvals were dollar amounts to be used to help Canadian talent (ever wondered why the stations gave away $100K’s for winners of talent contests?).

The ‘capitalists’ amoung us would decry this as socialist intervention, but it seems this is one government initiative with a happy ending.

Canada now has the pool of talent required: musicians, producers, promoters, recording studios, etc., to produce really world-class talent.

While you will undoubtedly have different taste, for me some of these include: The Arcade Fire, Metric, Matthew Good, The Hip, Sam Roberts, Rush (hey I’m a drummer) & The New Pornographers. There are also certainly some (arguably Rush, Leonard Cohen & Neil Young) that would have made it without the help.

I believe CanCon, and some great Canadian radio stations, have created an environment for Canada to develop it’s own unique cultural music heritage that all Canadians can be proud of.

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AAPL: And Back In Again…

Keeping with my ‘buy high and sell low’ strategy, I am getting back into AAPL.

Seriously, the market pull-back and AAPL profit taking was much less than I expected. It appears people were happy enough with what they saw at the WWDC, and the absense of Steve Jobs’s didn’t get much notice.

As a result, I am making a timid foray back into AAPL at $137, and looking to accumulate more if it drops.

Sam Roberts: Bronson Centre, January 30, 2008

As an early celebration of Clint’s birthday, we went to the Sam Roberts concert at the Bronson Centre.  I had lived next to the Bronson Centre my first 7 years in Ottawa, and had no idea that it was used for concerts.  Perhaps that is a new thing?  It turns out that it is actually quite a nice venue, with good acoustics.
It wasn’t advertised who the opening band was, but I was really pleasantly surprised to find out (4 songs in, when I recognized ‘Don’t Talk Down’) that it was The Stills, also from MTL (Sam Roberts is).
The Stills at the Bronson Centre Ottawa

The Stills at the Bronson Centre Ottawa

The Stills Set:

  1. … I missed the first two songs before I even realized I was listening to The Stills!
  2. ??
  3. Snow in California
  4. Don’t Talk Down
  5. Snakecharming the Masses  (introduced as the ‘f-ing masses’)
  6. Lola Stars and Stripes
  7. Panic
  8. Hands on Fire
  9. ??
  10. Being Here

They did an awesome live version of ‘Being Here’ which really ended their set on a high note!  This was a great bonus to the Sam Roberts show.

Sam Roberts at the Bronson Centre

Sam Roberts at the Bronson Centre

Sam Roberts Set:

  1. Love At the End of the World
  2. The Resistance
  3. Fixed to Ruin
  4. Hard Road
  5. Stripmall Religion
  6. Bridge to Nowhere
  7. Up Sister
  8. Where Have All the Good People Gone ***
  9. An American Draft Dodger In Thunder Bay
  10. Lions of the Kalahari
  11. Them Kids
  12. Brother Down.***
  13. ??  Not sure if this was just an extended ‘Brother Down’ “Got something to live for…” in the lyrics

Encore:

  1. Detroit ’67
  2. Words & Fire
  3. Mind Flood

Sam Roberts is GREAT live!

Mind Flood was an interesting choice to finish off the set.  I think it must have gone on for 10+ minutes in a very ‘psychalelic’ rendition that made me think I was at a Pink Floyd concert, pot smoke and all.

Sam Roberts is a class act, I was really impressed that at the close of his set he must have spend 5-10 minutes leaning off the state shaking hands with the front three rows of people against the stage.  This wasn’t your politician giving a quick hand shake to every person, but a solid handshake while the made eye contact and said something to each person (can anyone comment below on what he said?).  A lot of work, but I am sure each one of those people are a fan for life!

If you have any corrections on the set list, or other comments, I would be very happy to hear from you!

The Human Mind: Exploring Happiness

As he often does, my friend Omer pointed me to some great new ideas, this time from the TED conference which I hope to attend some day!

I really enjoyed these two videos of Dan Gilbert, when he presented at TED in 2004 and 2005.  Both videos are really about happiness, Dan’s field of study, but the second gets into a really interesting discussion on how we estimate (and mis-estimate) value.  For example, why would you pay $25 for a Big Mac?

My favourite thing from this next lecture is how he illustrates errors the perception of odds:  Would you buy a single lottery ticket for $1 if the rest of the tickets (say 99) were all purchased by the same person?  Chances are you would say no.  But the odds are no different for you if all of those other tickets were owned by different people, and people play the lottery all the time.

You will also notice from that last lecture that there are many of the fundamentals of marketing illustrated in a fairly scientific way.  It will make you think twice the next time you buy that bottle of wine, or a Big Mac!

My Favourite Landscape Shot (by me)






Originally uploaded by Adrian F1

This was taken in 2004 during a business trip to Las Vegas, NV. Instead of hitting the slots, or the blackjack table I decided to hop in the rental car and see what the desert was like.

I took LOADS of shots, many include snowy backgrounds since in the higher elevations there was still a lot of snow. This is one of my favourites as it captures the really cool sunset that day, the mountain range in the background, and even the near-full moon with a bit of foreground detail to make the shot interesting.

This was taken using a Canon S400 point-and-shoot. While I have moved to much higher Megapixel cameras, this camera has taken some of my favourite photos!

Time to Review the Concept of Cat Years?

I was looking at my cat Pogo lately and thinking about his age. He is about 10 years old, and according to popular wisdom, he would be 10 x 7 ‘people-years’ to a cat year = 70 years old.

He really doesn’t act like a seventy year old. For one, I don’t know of any human 70 year old who can jump twice his body length off the ground, but I guess that isn’t fair since I don’t know a 20 year old human that can do that either.   Point is, he doesn’t move much slower (if at all) than he did 5 years ago.

I also heard that the cat lifespan has significantly increased over the past 10 years, largely due to improvements in cat food.  So I decided to do a bit of Googling and found this:

Cat Years in Expressed in Human Years

This is a plot of data, and rationale that I found an the French Property, Services and Information website.  I am not sure why the information is there, perhaps, like me, they are still searching for their unifying theme; but it does add some good detail on the suggested relationship between cat years and human years, like their much more rapid maturity.

You can see on the graph that there is a very steep climb from 0-2 years old where cats go from 0-25 human years old… a multiple of about 12.5 years for every one year.  After 2 years, the curve flattens out to approximately 4.2 human years per cat year.  This puts Pogo at about 57, which fits more intuitively with the way he behaves.

This new proposal does make it much harder to calculate the relationship in your head.  You replace this easy equation:

human_years = cat_years * 7

With a much more ornery one (which isn’t exact):

human_years = min(2, cat_years)*12.5 + max(0, (cat_years-2)*4.2)

So I don’t expect that is is really going to catch on, since the most complex equation I see most people remembering is the one that guides men (only?) on what is the minimum age of women they should date:

minimum_age = your_age/2 + 7

Which means, when Micheal Douglas started dating Catherine Zeta-Jones in 1999, he was ok, since, at 55 he would be ok with someone as young as 34.5!  Wait! she was 30.  It looks like that equation might need some help as well.

Prediction Markets: Its Not Just the Republicans that Think Palin was a Bad Choice!

It seems there are now a lot of Republicans attacking McCain’s selection of Palin as a running mate after the election loss.  This is a bit of a change of heart since, on the day of the election, 71% of Republicans surveyed said McCain had made the right choice of running mate.  But I guess 29% of Republicans is still a lot of potential naysayers.

I have a great interest in the powers of prediction markets.  This was triggered by reading a book by James Surowiecki called “The Wisdom of Crowds“, which (amoung other things) convinced me that prediction markets are a very powerful way to predict likely outcomes.

So when Daniel Pink, another author I enjoy, presented the Iowa Prediction Market’s 90% chance of a Obama victory on the eve of the election, I had look at the chart that he provided:

What really struck me was the precipitous drop in the Republican’s chances that appears to start at the very end of August.  I did a quick Google search to try and figure out what could possibly have triggered this steep decline, that you can see at the far right of the graph above.

It didn’t take me long to put 2 & 2 together… McCain oficially announced Palin as his running mate on August 29th, 2008, which aligns exactly with the cliff-like drop in the GOP’s chances in the prediction market data.  McCain, considered a very leftward leaning Republican, was probably advised to pick Palin – a Bush-esque ignoramus – to appeal to the Republican ‘base’ and also increase the chances of attracting women (disaffected by the Dem’s choice of Obama over Hilary Clinton) to the republican ticket.

It sounds like a pretty sound strategy, but the prediction market data clearly shows that this one decision triggered a massive drop in the GOP’s chance of victory, and was certainly the single biggest factor in the Republican loss.

If you believe prediction markets…

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