Archive for May, 2009

Mental health education in the schools?

As Germany mulls a proposal to ban paintball after the shooting spree involving teenager Tim Kretschmer, it does force a look at how these shootings can happen.

I disagree with any ban of paintball as it seems to be very reactionary.   A decision by a politician who feels something must be done–and quickly.   I understand the need for a response, and paintball can breed some strange people, but I think this is an over-reaction.

While talking about this issue at work with my colleague Tarek, he brought up a good idea.  Perhaps we need some mandatory mental health classes at school.  You know, just some classes to help kids to work through some of their problems.   As Tarek said, it seems to be a taboo subject.  But just might be worth exploring–find out the root cause of people wanting to hurt others and themselves, and try to solve problems then.  



Production vs. Maintenance

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this, especially as we are seeing many manufacturing facilities lower production all over the world. Maybe we are getting too good at mass producing things, and therefore using too many of the Earth’s resources. Wouldn’t trying to maintain the items we have be more efficient in some ways. I know it is much easier, and usually cheaper, to just buy a new cell phone instead of fix the old one. But maybe if we had some good and inexpensive cell phone maintenance experts to maintain phones by upgrading firmware and/or replacing defective parts to get them running again. And if you look at the human resources issue, I believe that a person uses more of their creative problem solving skills by fixing problems with existing products, as opposed to doing the same thing over and over again on an assembly line. I’m beginning to like this idea of more maintenance and less production. What are your thoughts on this? Is there something I have missed?

Balsillie to face the NHL

Just to put it out there, I’m a big fan of Jim Balsillie.  I know that the NHL does not want to put another team in Canada, especially southern Ontario, but it really makes too much sense.  Here is a guy with a bunch of money, that wants to bring NHL hockey to his town.  And he’s willing to pay much more than anyone else, for lousy bankrupt teams.  Just let him!

I’m really a fan of Balsillie for what he and fellow RIM founder Mike Lazaridis have done in Waterloo.  They have donated much time, effort and money to their alma matter and local university, University of Waterloo.  They have set up the Perimeter Institute for theoretical physics, also in Waterloo.  All in all a great  job of investing in both science and the local community (not to mention the jobs they provide).  No wonder Waterloo region loves these two.

Dow Jones update, not so bad…

Had to check up on things.  The DJIA is hovering around 8500, still much higher than the 5500 I predicted.   I hope I’m proven wrong, and we are at or near the bottom.  I think there are people/organizations out there with some money and still bargain hunting on the stock market.  And with the interest rates so long, why go to a savings account?  I think the rates are below inflation  (not sure).

Let’s hope we’re at a bottom for now, a sneaking suspicion thinks that we’re not.

Interesting connection…

Conspiracy theorists are probably having a field day with this one.  Guess who’s company invited Tamiflu?  Guess who’s now on the board and a major shareholder of Roche, the world supplier of Tamiflu?  Why, Dick Cheney of course!  Supposedly (unconfirmed rumours only) the world stock of Tamiflu is going to be out of date soon, and maybe they didn’t have a reason to restock.  Well now they do!   All this is unconfirmed rumour-mongering, but I’m sure people will be trying to connect the dots…

The Swine Flu Virus Cometh

The swine flu is making headlines around the world.  Is there a reason to fear?  Or is it just more media scare?  Very good questions.  You read the comments on the major news stories and it seems to be about 50/50.  If the majority is correct, we still don’t have an answer.  The true answer is we’ll have to wait and see.

One thing we should know about viruses–I forget where I read this, this is my simple interpretation–is that the evolutionary goal for the virus is to live off it’s host, and have the ability to move from host to host.  If a virus is too harsh–and destroys the host before it has much time to transfer to other hosts–it will not  be very successful.  Therefore a particularly strong (potent) virus will kill it’s hosts too fast for much spreading around.  The most successful viruses live in their hosts for a while, make the host miserable while a little war plays out in the body, cause transmission via coughing and sneezing,  and then be defeated by the host’s immune system.  Therefore, this is my grand rule. 

Killer virus:  too strong, kills/isolates host to early, not very much transmission, dies out.

Lesser virus (common flu):  makes majority of people sick, kills only small percentage, mucho transmission, lives until everyone is immune (much longer life)

It looks like the current swine flu is very much like regular flu (at least in North America).  If it mutates (the real danger) into something bad it will unfortunately kill a bunch of people.  But it will be contained because of the much shorter transmission period.

My take anyway.