Pride 2010

Yesterday was the 2010 Vancouver Pride Parade.

There was a total of 146 entrants, of which the 135th scheduled entry was the BC Humanist Association. With the BCHA marched the SFU Skeptics and CFI Vancouver.

I had previously marched in the 2008 and 2009 Edmonton Pride Parades with the Society of Edmonton Atheists and they marched again this year with a great FSM sculpture (write up and photos). Our first year there was a bit tame, but we had a table and showed some spirit. It looks like they’ve gotten really good at parades since then.

I’m proud to say that yesterday’s turnout was fantastic. We had almost 20 people out, facepaint, banners and lots of dancing. We unfortunately weren’t quite organized early enough to get a table (I brought this idea to the BCHA in early June and the entry deadline was June 30).

(video and photos below fold)

Continue reading Pride 2010

Weekend straw poll: Worst cowboy hat leader?

In honour of the kickoff to the Calgary Stampede Parade (and due to the fact I’ll be camping and not blogging for at least the weekend), here’s a straw poll for you, vote in the comments.

There’s our PM, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper:


Or Green Party Leader Elizabeth May:


Or NDP Leader Jack Layton (bonus: featuring Calgary Stampede Marshall: Mike Holmes):


And as honourable mentions (since I couldn’t find pictures of them in cowboy hats – send them in if you have them):

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff (in white and black fedoras):



Or Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe (in a hairnet?):

Duceppe 1997

Vote (for the best/worst/funniest) in the comments below. (Also submit any other good pictures you have and check out CalgaryGrits past roundups).

Suck it Apple, I bought a Zune

On Sunday I bought the 8GB Black Microsoft Zune MP3 player. Today, I returned that one that died and got another one (which had slightly different packaging and is thus far holding up).

Microsoft 8GB Zune

The player requires the Zune software to transfer music (although when you close the software it actually goes away, unlike someone else’s software). And unfortunately, the Marketplace (MS’s answer to the iTunes store) is unavailable outside the US for now. However, by setting your computer’s region to US, you can at least access the Marketplace and download the free podcasts that are available (you can’t buy points without a US credit card though, unless you eBay them).

So far the player is worth it’s $100 price tag, besides the first DOA one that crapped out. It should keep me entertained for at least a little while longer (and especially on long Vancouver commutes that I expect in the fall).

Brian Stokes leaves ANDP to form new party

A little late in the day, but here’s the latest news from the Alberta NDP:


NDP Organizer to form New Egress Party Party, to advocate for increased rights to landlords

EDMONTON – NDP organizer Brian Stokes threw his hands up yesterday, and declared his intention to form a new centre-left interventionist party.

“This just sucks,” said Stokes. “All the NDP cares about is helping deadbeats – I mean, working families, like the ones in my building – but what about the landlords?”

Stokes says he intends to poach key members from the Alberta NDP by forcing his tenants to sign on to his effort. Many residents of his building in Old Strathcona are currently NDP members.

“The New Egress Party Party (NEPP) will addess the real issues in Alberta, and take away what few rights our provinces’ tenants have left,” he said.

NEPP will also focus on bailouts for big landlords and condo developers hurt by the recession.

Stokes added that he has already engaged in discussions with Edwin Erickson on the fledgling Progress Party, as well as Joe Anglin of the Alberta Greens, who are at risk of being deregistered due to its failure to comply with Elections Alberta registration guidelines. He says that the three parties will attempt to work out a seat-swapping arrangement to avoid splitting the very-silly vote.

Stokes intends to brand his new party with the motto – “Alberta’s Egress Party Party: NOT On Your Side.”

Tenants from the building Stokes manages refused to comment – but pointed out that Brian does have a vacant suite if anyone else is interested in joining the new cause.

Happy April Fools,

Alberta NDP E-news
Alberta NDP

Repost: On why today isn’t a day for pi

(From one year ago)

Many around the world spent today celebrating the widest known mathematical constant, that share’s it’s name with a tasty treat:


The celebrate today because as March 14, or 3.14, it is a representation of π.

However this is wrong.

π in decimal (base-10) is 3.14159…, however, the calendar is not based on a base-10 system. So when is the real “pi day?”

We could consider a year to be like a circle, in that at the end (December) it connects right back to the start (January). In this representation we could represent the total number of days in a year (365.25) equal to the total angle of a circle (360 degrees, or 2π radians). This system would make “pi-day” to be approximately July 1st (or 2nd on a leap year, which also helps deal with rounding errors). This would also give us a 2π day on New Year’s Eve.

Or perhaps we should use the year’s total number of days as a base of counting, in which case π would have to be converted to that base and that would be the date. (Check my math perhaps) I think this date works out to April 24th or 25th (depending on leap years again).

However, explaining to people why you’re calling April 25th, or June 1st pi day and eating pie (which I did indulge in today), might take longer than the brief amusement provided by the idea.

I’m Tweeting

I’m on Twitter now. That’s right I caved to see what all the fuss was about.

Also to get a free point on The 2009 Gateway Purity Test. This year’s score: 180 (about the average of my last 4 years).

If you’re not on Twitter but for some reason care what I say there, the updates should appear on the column to the right.

Update: My recounted score (when I actually took the paper version and wasn’t rushed) was 235.

Squirrel Physics

Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy is having some issues with squirrels attempting to defeat quantum mechanics.

But I think this requires a closer look and a bit more physics.

In his first picture (Squirrel Wavelength), we see the squirrels would travel with approximately 1/4 a fence-length wavelength. We’ll call this a wavelength of 0.25.

In the newer picture, taken at a lower temperature, we can estimate a wavelength of roughly 0.1 (it’s a little shorter but that’s not too much of an issue).

Phil’s concern is that quantum mechanics predicts that as temperature decreases, wavelengths increase. However, by demonstrating this relationship, these squirrel’s have disproved quantum mechanics!

Now, one commenter suggests that this could be due to multiple squirrels superimposing their tracks, or even one squirrel that crossed the fence multiple times, however, this explanation is just not fun enough for these sorts of exercises.

The general relationship for energy and wavelength is given by E = hc/?, where E is the energy, h is Planck’s constant, c is the speed of light and ? is the wavelength. Energy is proportional to temperature, so wavelength is inversely proportional to temperature.

But there’s a problem here: the squirrel’s aren’t moving at c (roughly 300 000 km/s), they aren’t even moving at a constant velocity!

If we assume that the frequency of the squirrels, f=v/? where v is the velocity of the squirrel, is constant (a safe assumption for most waves), then we can figure out a relationship for the squirrels velocity with respect to temperature.

So since the squirrel’s wavelength decreases with temperature, to maintain the constant frequency relationship, we must infer that the velocity increases with decreasing temperature!

Basically, the little buggers move faster because it’s really cold.

This relationship will have to be further developed as it only takes into account non-relativistic squirrels, and the relationship would seem to imply that as the temperature continually dropped, the squirrels would approach near infinite speeds!

There’s a caveat here though: at a finite temperature the body functions of the squirrel will shut down and kill the vermin, thereby preserving the laws of physics for us all.