February 15, 2013

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 12:10

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. We got a bit more information on what will be in the February patch, including a new PvP map and some intriguing new guild missions. All that plus the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

A useful bit of perspective over Whinnygate

Filed under: Europe, Health — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:35

It’s reasonable to be concerned that your hamburger may once have raced in the Grand National, but worries about chemical contamination from the horse meat are almost certainly overblown. In fact, your health might be more at risk from the burger itself:

There is reasonable public outrage at possible criminal conspiracies to adulterate meat products with horsemeat, and additional concerns raised about the presence of the anti-inflammatory known as bute.

While not in any way questioning this concern about adulteration with a chemical compound, it is helpful to get a sense of magnitude. When bute was given as a human medicine, it was reported to be associated with a serious adverse reaction in 1 in 30,000 (over a whole course of treatment), but at a dose giving concentrations at least 4,000 times that arising from eating a diet of horse meat – see the excellent information from the Science Media Centre

So making all sorts of heroic assumptions about there being a linear-no-threshold response, we might very roughly assign a pro-rata risk of a serious event as 1 in 100,000,000 per burger.

No wonder many Canadians skip jury duty

Filed under: Cancon, Law — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:18

I’ve only ever been summoned for jury duty once, and that was about 20 years ago (I was lucky to not be in the pool for the Homolka case, which was in the courts at that time). I showed up on Monday morning, sat around reading my book for a couple of hours, then was dismissed. Repeat on Tuesday and Wednesday, then we were told our services wouldn’t be needed for the rest of the week. I was lucky not to lose any pay for performing my “civic duty” thanks to my employer-of-the-time, but most people are not so fortunate:

Let’s talk about jury duty. That much-despised civic responsibility in which we are asked to play a role in one of the world’s best justice systems.

Being summoned is viewed by many as an unwelcome interruption of their daily lives and, often, a punishing financial burden. It is ignored by hundreds, if not thousands, of Canadian every year.

And why? Well, most suggest a mix of lost wages and low compensation plays a role in it. Not to mention the hassle of having to listen to people talk all day long. But is it really worth chasing and punishing those who refuse to serve? And if so, shouldn’t something be done to make serving less punishing?

How bad is the pay? Pretty bad indeed:

Those selected to serve on jury duty have no protection from lost wages, although their employer is legally mandated to give them time off. And the compensation they receive is minimal.

So how much do jurors get paid? It is not a lot.

In Nova Scotia, jurors receive $40 a day plus mileage. Ontario pays jurors $40 a day once they have served more than 10 days, and $100 for every day over 49.

Alberta provides $50 per day of service, as well as travel expenses and possibly accommodations. The Northwest Territories gratefully pays $80 per day.

Quebec jury members get a much more generous deal:

Quebec residents called to participate in jury selection receive the cost of public transit or mileage and parking costs. They can also receive more than $45 for meals and as much as $138 to cover overnight accommodations.

Those selected to be a juror receive $103 for every day of the hearing and deliberations. That amount increases to $160 on the 57th day of service.

There are bonuses for working into the night and for Sundays and holidays, childcare allowances and psychological therapy after the trial.

H/T to Bob Tarantino for the link.

A self-described hippie who loves capitalism. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Neil Young!

Filed under: Books, Business, Cancon, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:29

In sp!ked, Patrick Hayes reviews Neil Young’s new book, Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream.

Neil Young, the man who penned wistful lyrics about silver spaceships flying and about sleeping with Pocahontas, is, he openly admits in his autobiography, ‘a material guy’. After completing a project, he would ‘buy a car or something to celebrate’. He lavishes praise on Bill Ford, the executive chairman of Ford Motor Company. He gushes about the disruptive nature of new technologies. And he speaks romantically about developing business plans and navigating ‘the waters of venture capitalism’. When raving about being able to buy a green card to live in the US, Young even goes as far as to announce: ‘Capitalism rocks.’

In fact recently, he tells us, he has been dreaming more. Since his life-threatening brain aneurysm in 2005, when he decided to ditch his various narcotics, he dreams ‘every night, not like before, when I induced dreams in the waking hours to snatch them in their innocence and commit them to song and melody and words captured’.

While he has far from quit songwriting, kicking the drink and drugs has given Young a new sense of mission, something that makes him feel alive – in fact, a mission that makes him question whether he has ‘been asleep’ over the past 40 years. Young is currently ‘trying to rescue recorded sound so people can feel music again’. While a huge fan of the internet, Young has become increasingly infuriated that current methods of reproducing music digitally keep very little of the quality of the original. But he is never one to sit back and moan about how things were better in the days of vinyl. He has instead become obsessed with finding a solution.

And, with additional time due to a broken little toe, he also decided to tick another box by following in the footsteps of his father, famous Canadian author Scott Young, by writing a book. In this instance, an autobiography, with a second book tentatively titled Cars and Dogs planned, but ‘no matter how many books I write, I will eventually get to fiction’. He comments on the ease of writing: ‘No wonder my dad did this… writing could be just the ticket to a more relaxed life with fewer pressures and more time to enjoy with my family and friends – and paddleboarding!’

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