Pension Plans in the Red

Financial Post: Most pension plans in the red, study says

This (old?) accountability study [PDF] says that "Auditor negligence is much more widespread than is reported in the Canadian media" (emphasis in original).

I wonder, referring to the Financial Post article, how much of the 'most pension plans' that have lost money in dollars compare to the pension fund dollars in total, rather than just number of pension funds. If most of the dollars-invested are losing money (or even if the proportion is significant), then alarm is waranted. But just saying that most pension funds lose money is not enough information to make a judgement.

And the reference to "losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars" is irrelevant. We need to compare that to the total amount the pension funds in question represent. Same as with the stock market: percentage increases/decreases are what's relevant here, not dollar-amounts.

Irregular Verbs irregular verbs

Being a big fan of the "trilogy" of five books, I need to explore the H2G2 site more.

My favourite character in Yes, Minister/Yes, Prime Minister is Bernard, who often was pedantic about figures of speech, and would annoy his colleagues with "another one of those irregular verbs".

P.S. "Irregular Verbs" would make a great blog title/domain name.

Kissy kissy

the kiss project

Against my better judgement, I'm probably going to submit my story. Don't worry. I'll let you know when (if?) it appears.

Related: Kisses Per Year (or 'KiPY')

My KiPY, it's sad and alarming, is above zero but below one. That's all I'm willing to admit.

Quannum Discriminating

I guess my favourite crew/record label, Quannum, is hiring an intern in the bay area. Don't know the duties (the email didn't say), but this struck me as funny:

"Quannum is a mostly equal opportunity employer, excluding losers/assholes, who we discriminate against all the time."

Dating since college

Why, oh why, have I had so much trouble finding a decent date since I left college?

“The real reason that you've had trouble dating since you left college is that you're fucked -- and not in good way either.”

  1. Yes, I'm totally fucked demographically (my current job is not dating-friendly, considering it's a small work-place with primarily older, and I mean older, women).
  2. I didn't have a fucked childhood. Sheltered, maybe. But not fucked.
  3. Yeah, I have unrealistic expectations originating from the media. Not like like the ones talked about there, but still.
  4. My friends are assholes for not introducing me to nice, single women in the way described there. It's mostly "hey, this is my friend Sue" with no enthusiasm or intent on saying why they think we'd get along. P.S. I'm talking about my friends who (I'm hoping) don't read this site.

I found this when I was looking for this in Google. Silly me, I had already linked it.

ICT Casualties Database

ICT Casualties Database

In the National Post June 22, 2002, on p. A20, Robert Fulford wrote a column explaining why the numbers of Palestinian and Israeli dead in the conflict mean little without context. Using Canadian NewsDisc (your local library might have a link to it, where all you have to do is type in your library card, and yes, you can access it from home), I found the article, and searching around I found the above-linked database.

It's a little too bad that there are no percentages listed on the database page, but simple calculation can get you the results you need.

At this writing: 78% of Israelis killed were non-combattants, whereas 39% of Palestinians killed were non-combatants; a very similar percentage of people aged 12-29 were killed (20.1% of Israeli dead, 21.4% of Palestinian dead); a way bigger percentage of Israeli dead were women (19.4% compared to 3.2%). A comparatively efficient 43.3% of Palestinian dead were combatants, compared to 19.4% on the Israeli side (I know that efficiency is a pretty clinical term to be describing this, and that defining combatant is a lot harder than defining non-combatant).

So, keeping in mind that this is a biased source of numbers (it would probably not define much of what the Israeli army is doing as terrorism, for example), which side are you on? Are you on the side of people who have, among the people the've killed, a larger percentage of them being non-combatants, a lower percentage of combatants killed (a surprising number and resulting percentage is the people killed by their own side), and a larger percentage of them being women? (The percentages of the relatively-young among the dead are both the same, and therefore no side can be taken in that respect). Or are you on Israel's side?

To be honest, the fact that I have to choose between terrorists and Ariel Sharon makes me a little queasy, so I'll do safe thing and side with Canada. I am a Canadian citizen after all.

Moby's Cop Out

re: Moby's post as quoted on Colene's site.

What a fuckin' cop out. Having an opinion on burning isn't really going to change anything? Please. With weather, it rains irrespective of your opinion of it. But burning CDs is done by humans, and opinions of important people (like Moby) matter. It's a little paradoxical, but if Moby came out against downloading music, the downloads would skyrocket, and if he was for it, his albums sales would see a jump.

I have another problem with the comparison of himself to Weezer (and of Weezer to Pink). Weezer's sales were high in the first week because of the fact they have loyal fans. All the loyal fans bought them during the first week, and the ones that aren't loyal fans (apparently a small minority of Weezer fans are not loyal) bought them later when they read about in the reviews section. (A similar effect happens to rap albums, which have huge opening weeks, and equally huge drop-offs in the next week.) And Pink has high sales not because her fans are likely to buy her CDs, but are more likely to buy CDs in general. The radio she gets played on, Top 40 Radio, is geared towards selling the most albums possible based on a single (or two). Weezer has a pretty much guaranteed haul because of their loyal fans.

And he claims to be not editorializing, but why mention the Pearl Jam effect in the first place? Like I said: it's a cop out. He compares himself to Weezer without stating that he is, and is stating opinions while denying the very fact that his opinions are pretty evident by his post.

New new deal for cities

Andrew Coyne: “And of the three levels of government, which do you think has enjoyed the fastest growth in revenues? That's right: the cities. According to figures compiled using Statistics Canada's Financial Management System, which puts the various governments' books on a standard accounting basis, local government revenues grew some 3-4% more than their provincial and federal counterparts over the last 12 years.”

Yep. I was right: city government is the fastest growing part of government in Canada.

Law School Advice

Dahlia Lithwick: “Get out. Go to movies. Volunteer someplace. Make friends with the people at Starbucks. Get drunk but kiss someone when you're actually sober. Do anything to remind yourself that there is a life out there, and that missing one night of reading will not turn you into someone who lives in a garment box under the freeway.”

Good advice, methinks. I actually volunteered for stuff earlier in the summer. Stuff that's happening in the fall (VIFF and my work's golf tournament). Could have used a volunteer gig this summer, but oh well.

As for the law school advice, yeah, doesn't apply. I thought about going to law school. But then I turned twelve and discovered girls.

War on Iraq is already under way

Jonathan Manthorpe: “Even so, sorting through reports from various places and sources around the region suggests that around 100,000 U.S. and British troops are on the ground around Iraq.”

This sounds about right. A rule of thumb is to double what the U.S. Army says is the number of troops in a region, to take leaks of plans for war to indicate that war is a fait accompli, and news that fighting has begun to indicate that fighting began some time ago.

I have two problems with Condoleezza Rice's statement quoted here:

“'History is littered with cases of inaction that led to very grave consequences for the world,' said Rice. She went on to refer to the appeasement of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, a piece of history that still resonates strongly with British people.”

History is also littered with cases of action that lead to very grave consequences (Britain's entry into World War I is a good example), and appeasement is not always necessarily an ineffective tool in foreign affairs (what about late 19th-early 20th century American appeasement of the British?).

Jonathan Manthorpe is one of the very few reasons to read the Vancouver Sun. Actually, I just admire his job, writing a column about the disparate places of Southeast Asia and the travel that accompanies it.

Cougar Night Out

Cougar Night Out by Jack Murnighan

Just going to bring this one to the fore. As a twenty-something Canadian male, I can't claim any experience with the older set. It's probably because "cougars" are in the age group of the vast majority of my co-workers: women in their late 30s or early 40s. So I guess I equate dating a woman of that age with dating a co-worker (in a small workplace, no less).

After having seen Lovely and Amazing, I understand the lust the 17-year old 1-HR photoshop had for his unquestionably-attractive-but twice-his-age co-worker. Even so, one friend, who went to Australia for a year, said that dating older women is not what it's cracked up to be. This, he says, comes from the experience from dating a 33-year-old while there. So while there are cougar bars here in Vancouver too (I've been to most of the suburban ones, apparently), my friends are disdainful of anyone who gets picked up by one.

I would probably draw the line at my sister's age (which I will not reveal, but rest assured she was in high school when I was in elementary school), and would probably go even lower than that. If pressed, I could probably tell people what the age range would be more years older than years younger.

Anyway, I just confused a guy in IM about trying to explain that last sentence, so maybe it's time to stop.