January 1, 45 B.C.


Good morning 2018. January 1 has welcomed you since 45 BC. The year Julius Caesar frowned upon the Roman calendar, proclaiming we could do better. Tired of a woefully inaccurate lunar based calendar, one tolerated since the seventh century BC, Julius Caesar called bullshit on constant corrections to out of sync lunar fancy and nailed down a solar year.

With the help of Alexandrian astronomer Sosigenes, Caesar abandoned lunar year in favour of the solar year. Calculated at 365.25 days long, Caesar added 67 days to solar year 45 BC. Consequently the next year started on January 1 rather than in March. He also decreed an extra day would be added to February every 4 years to avoid pitfalls of runaway time.

Caesar and Sosigenes meant well but their 365.25 day solar year was actually 365.242199 in a calendar year. A miscalculation of 11 minutes a year that by the mid 1500s added 10 days to the year. In the 1570s Pope Gregory XIII enlisted astronomer Christopher Clavius to come up with a solution. In 1582 the Gregorian calendar replaced Caesar’s Julian calendar with leap year rules capable of managing untidy extra minutes. See – https://www.timeanddate.com/date/leapyear.html

Much as I doubt anyone cares why they drank too much last night, take solace in the rising sun and know its the reason January 1 marks a new year. Happy New Year to all.

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Polar Bear Swim 2015


2015 arrived with outstanding brilliance, Vancouver’s fourth straight day of clear skies. Winter sunshine = “Arctic High”, a strong ridge of arctic air holding Pacific storms at bay. Afternoon temperatures just above freezing didn’t stop an estimated 15-18 thousand people from charging boldly into 3 C/47 F waters of English Bay.

The 2015 Polar Bear Swim at English Bay

Aerial view from News 1130

Following – a combination of images taken by Notes and her husband.

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Happy New Year.

 

Chinese Plea


As the New Year looms, lets all ponder our priorities. Rather than feeble, half hearted promises; why not resolve to take a wider view of the world? A world crowded with mega stores, offering inexpensive goods, 24 hours a day – comes at a price. We grumble about the economy, complain about employment, whine over out sourced call centres; then flock to Wal Mart for cheap imported goods. Unfazed by recalls, faulty workmanship, lead contamination, or labour practices; we gobble up imported goods without blinking an eye. Worse still, we encourage trade to “stimulate the economy”, roll out the red carpet to foreign companies, and look the other way.

On Dec. 27 the Business Insider reported on a chilling story. A woman from Oregon discovered a letter written by a Chinese factory worker,  inside a box of Halloween decorations purchased last year at Kmart.

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“If you occasionally buy this product,  please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization.  Thousands people here who are under the persecution of the Chinese Communist  Party Government will thank and remember you forever.

People who work here have to work 15 hours a day  without Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays. Otherwise, they will suffer  torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month).

People who work here, suffer punishment 1-3 years  averagely, but without Court Sentence (unlaw punishment). Many of them are Falun  Gong practitioners, who are totally innocent people only because they have  different believe to CCPG. They often suffer more punishment than others.”

Read more:  http://www.businessinsider.com/kmart-shopper-finds-letter-from-china-2012-12#ixzz2GWkfzwPm

I must stress – it is alleged to have been written by a factory worker. Obviously the author must be educated as it is written almost entirely in English. The context of the letter indicates these workers are not there by choice or court sentence.

I’ve written a lot about China, and realize the situation is complicated. That said; it’s no secret certain Chinese factories had to install “suicide nets” to stop workers from jumping to their death, imported pet food sickened or killed hundreds of animals, or that thousands of products are removed from shelves each year due to lead, pesticide, or melamine contamination. Banned or restricted Chinese food products; like honey, make their way to our supermarket shelves via other countries. Laundered and relabelled, we snap them up – pleased with ourselves for being great little shoppers.

Saving a few pennies has become a fact of life for countless families; I understand that. Imported goods are inexpensive.  Given the choice between providing for my family or not, obviously family trumps conscience. The disturbing fact is how the situation has taken on a life of its own. All of us feed the flames by being oblivious.

No one said life was fair. We can’t fix all the problems or change different cultures by applying our standards. What we can do is realize we have a voice. I guarantee that speaking up won’t empty mega or dollar store shelves. Waking up and saying “enough” might just put an end to the madness condoning flagrant disregard for health and human rights.

We owe it to one Chinese factory worker to at least ponder a plea for help.

Image Source Page: http://singularityhub.com/2011/12/13/chinese-company-continues-plan-to-replace-workforce-with-500000-robots/

Wish List


I’m not one to make New Year resolutions. Experience shows the folly of setting ones self up to fail. Beating myself up over broken expectations grew old a long time ago. Instead, I pondered a “wish list” of  things I’d like to see in the New Year. I’ve left out the obvious Miss America style references to “world peace”. My opinion of the NRA, Monsanto, Halliburton, and political circus are well documented. A simple wish list, offering some practical suggestions; in no particular order –

All children would be taught cursive writing in school. It’s not enough to be able to read, you have to be able to sign your name.

School curriculum would require that all children, at some point between the 5th and 8th grades; be taught, in an unbiased manner – the origins, beliefs, and practices of major world religions.

Reddit would view links to blogs as something other than spam.

Weather reports would include space weather.

Canadians would learn to spell the name of our Prime Minister. It’s STEPHEN not Steven Harper.

Legislation would pass banning shoes for dogs; on grounds of cruelty to animals.

Any organization or religion operating as a “non profit” and enjoying “tax exempt” status, would be forbidden to contribute to political campaigns. These organizations would also have to re-apply for tax exemption every few years.

Elected officials couldn’t refer to God in defence of their position on issues.

Consumers were informed of the actual difference between “free run” and “free range” eggs.

Vegans stopped wearing leather shoes.

Happy New Year.