Movie: Avengers, End Game

Excellent movie! Well worth the price tag of going to see it in the theaters. Plenty of humor and action. Some great characters and witty dialog. BUT!…

You have to throw out your analytical brain to enjoy it. Which shouldn’t be too hard to do considering this is a superhero movie and realism is not something that goes along with that but this movie does deal with time travel and/or alternate universes and this is something Hollywood and Comic book writers just cannot seem to do well. In some ways they really should not even try as it often leads to easy cop out solutions.

IMO the best time travel movie series is still Back to the Future. Even though it has its own problems with time travel, you still really enjoy the movies. End Game, in a way, is similar in that respect but because characters actually die in certain time lines it is harder to not think about the paradoxes that would arise. Plus the ending didn’t follow the plan so the timelines do change throwing their planned solution out the window, even though their planned solution was nigh impossible to carry out if you think about it… Arg… Got to stop thinking about bad time travel stories lines.

I still very much enjoyed the movie for what it is worth. But turn your head off and try not to think about the problems with the movie. There is still enough entertainment with the film that I can live with the problems.

Movie: Shazam!

I was hoping for better. I like Zachary Levi as an actor and he does well in this movie but I am finding a lot of DC movies are a bit lacking in the writing department. The movie has its moments but I felt it could have been more entertaining.

It is not a bad popcorn flick but I wonder if it was really worth the $30+ price tag that movies are demanding now a days. I find the Marvel movies to be more entertaining in general. Although I have yet to see Captain Marvel but according to my niece it was not worth it. So I might wait till it comes out in some other format.

Computer Upgrade

Old video cards are… really old. Quadro 2000 card, pre pascal and kepler. They were doing alright for the most part but it was time to get an upgrade. So I got myself an RTX 2080 TI.

Motherboard can handle it.
Power supply is beefy enough.
Case…

Oh for F… sake! Sigh. The card length is fine, just the cooler on top of the card is extending into the drive enclosure area.

I guess I am upgrading the case as well.

New Years Resolutions

Last year I had two resolutions.

  1. Lose weight
  2. Create a program and sell it.

Lose Weight

I actually succeeded in the first. I was 106-7 Kg. I was feeling the weight. Putting on my shoes and socks was a lot harder to do and I was not feeling all that great. The difficulty with weight loss is finding a solution that sticks. Sometimes that solution takes time to sort out. For me it was eating less and exercising more.

Getting into the habit of eating less takes time. Your body craves and sometimes you just have to give into that craving. But in general, if you are eating less, then you are doing well. It is not going on some fad diet. I am eating normally, just less of it. The ‘pain’ in the gut that used to be full of food is something you have to get used to. The body has to adjust to the new regimen and that is the main hurdle to overcome.

Now I am good with the reduced food regimen and not feeling that pain/craving. I’m down to 98 Kg. I am still over the limit that I should be. For 2019 I hope I can get below 95 Kg. Ideally I should be around 85-90. But slowly, I hope to get there.

Create A Program And Sell It

The second resolution did not materialize. The goal was to make a simple financial program. Something to replace a spreadsheet that I was using and found to be pain to use.

I started off by choosing C# as my language. I was thinking of targetting mobile (Android and IOS) and desktop (Windows and MacOSX). So my choice was Xamarin. Half a year goes by, and a rather painful experience just getting some rudimentary framework going and I was done with Xamarin. Not only that but every time the compiler updated itself it would break the build. I google to find a solution, which wastes my time and energy and by the time I am free to code again, I have drained my will to work on the project. I was not enjoying the experience.

So I switched gears. Multiplatform had to be dropped. I restarted using C# again and WPF which limits me to the Windows platform. I got further along than with Xamarin but I still found it was not as enjoyable. UI is better than other UI frameworks but I am still astounded that certain things are still very kludgy and, in my opinion, messed up.

I like C# for the most part but I am not fast in it yet. It is a ton better than C++ but still not ideal. I still prefer C over any of these options.

New Resolutions

Same as last years resolutions. I still may not success with the second one but I will be much happier working in C than in C#, C++, Java, JavaScript, or any other ‘modern’ language that is out there. I may be an old curmudgeon when it comes to computer languages but I will be an happy curmudgeon.

I will be happy if I complete at least one program. The sell requirement may have to be dropped. We will see. I want to actually work on an art/raytracing program instead of the financial and anything else. That is the ultimate program goal.

BC Politics: Voting Reform.

Sigh… I was hoping but deep down I had a feeling that voting reform was not going to happen. And lo and behold it did not. A real shame.

First Past The Post (FPTP)

FPTP is flawed. Seriously flawed. Why anyone would defend this voting method is beyond me.

  1. FPTP only really works for a 2 party system.
  2. FPTP allows someone with < 50% of the vote represent the riding.
  3. FPTP risks a degeneration to 2 parties.
  4. FPTP is causing low voter turnout.
  5. FPTP gaming
    1. Gerry Mandering.
    2. Playing party against party.

So point 1. Only in a 2 party system will all ridings be fair. Then the person sitting in the government has the majority support of the riding. No problem there. So this gets into the minds of the voters that, what is the point of voting for a smaller party if they have 0 chance of actually gaining any seats or ground in the government. This situation makes it very difficult for new parties to actually get off the ground. This also makes it seem to voters that there is no point in voting since potentially their vote is not really counted in the end and the only choice is the two ‘major’ parties with established ground. This is terrible. You end up with a royally messed up system like the US where all you have is a choice of 2 parties. And if there is any truth, people’s opinions are rarely fitting 1 of two choices.

Point 2 is what I find very objectionable. Someone who wins in a riding may only actually represent a small fraction of that riding and not the larger fraction. That is far from democratic. You can end up with a government that is filled with people who only represent a fraction of their riding. And as a result a fraction of the country. Is that the sort of government you want running the country? To me that opens up the country to civil war.

Point 3 is a risk. Because people feel voting for smaller parties may be useless they may resort to a US sort of mindset and start thinking that we only really have 2 options. Which is bad. In my opinion we need more choices to choose from. For the main reason that the 2 main parties in question, at any given time, are just not resonating with people in general.

Point 4 is just going to increase. Because of all of the above. Voters do not like the two major parties because the two major parties are majorly screwed up with scandals, questionable morals, inability to do grad school math, whatever reasons. Voting for smaller parties seems like a good idea, and it is, they get funding based on their vote count, but a vote that way will feel like you are throwing out a say in the final make up of the government. And in a way, it is. This is what some parties hope for. Say, if you have one left leaning party and two right leaning parties, the left leaning party will win because all they have to do is play the other two parties against each other to split the right leaning voters evenly among them. This happened in the states when Nader was running.

Point 5. Any voting system can be gamed. What I mean by gaming is that the political parties are not just running on their platform. They are playing a game in order to win. Some are rather underhanded and others are a bit clever.

An under handed gaming is Gerry Mandering. This redefines riding boundaries to ensure a win for a party. Google it, there are better descriptions and discussions about it. It is underhanded because it is deliberately skewing results and ensuring voter’s votes do not matter.

Playing one party against another is something I touched on above. If you have more parties on one side of the spectrum than the other, then the side with fewer parties will have a higher chance of winning as they can try to split the voters who would vote on the side with higher number of parties so that none of them get sufficient votes. This is a clever tactic but in a way it is a bit underhanded as they are not attempting to win on the merits of their platform but rather skewing the results of the voters for the other parties. Is this valid? Maybe but you will end up with the situation where a person winning the seat does not actually have the majority support of the voters, and as a result the riding has a representative that has an ideology that is not representative of the people living in that riding.

I find FPTP does not do a good job of electing officials that properly represent the people and riding.

Single Transferable Vote (STV) or Ranked Ballot

People like the riding system. The main argument is that someone wants to know who is accountable to them personally. Ok, that’s fine. Then fix the voting for the riding! STV/Ranked Ballot will do that. If someone voted for a fringe party and that party garners the lowest number of votes, then everyone who voted for them should have a say who among the remaining candidates they favor. That continue until there is a clear 50% + 1 vote winner for the riding. Then the official in government can boast that they actually were voted for by the public and that their views, character, ideals, etc. are representative of most of the riding. Unlike what it is now.

Conservatives hate this. Why? Most Canadians are more liberally social and fiscally conservative leaning. I see Conservative being the exact opposite currently. And so they know if we went with a ranked ballot they will have a hard time winning enough seats to form a government.

I find this is the simplest tweak to the voting system and it is not at all difficult to understand. Even the parties themselves, when voting for a new leader of the party will use a voting system like this. They may have multiple rounds of voting but essentially, it boils down to weeding down the candidates until there is a clear winner.

If the parties themselves feel that is fair, then it should be good enough for the riding system. In my opinion, this is way better than FPTP because of the fact that the person elected has won their seat without a doubt.

But there was a sort of option in the recent BC referendum for STV. Yes, in a way. They somewhat over complicated it. NDP/Greens wanted a ‘proportional’ sort of system of some sort. So having a simple STV option in place of a FPTP and keeping the ridings as they are would not satisfy the ‘proportional representation’ they are hoping for.

Proportional Representation Voting (PR)

PR is great. In my opinion it would be better than FPTP and to some degree it is better than STV/Ranked Ballot. The problem is that if you go strict PR then you will rarely have a majority government and so coalition governments will be more common.

Why is this such a bad term for Canadians? Maybe because in the past they viewed or experienced bad coalitions and feel that they are ineffective and or watered down. Maybe in some cases that is true. But if they were ineffective then it would probably because they had politicians that were head strong and not willing to work with others.

Coalition governments are actually better for the country. Why? One, you end up with a government that represents an even larger subsection of the voting public than a single party majority. You have a government that will have their extreme views tempered and forced to govern the country taking into larger subset of issues than their potentially narrow one.

The choices in the referendum were a bit odd. All will require less ridings than the current system. This may be what people balked against. People wondering, for those that are voted by proportional rep, who do they account to?

Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)

MPP was the simplest option of the bunch. 60% of the seats is FPTP and 40% is Popular Vote and pick top X candidates from a party list to match the results. This would have been better than just FPTP. The changes are minimal and smaller parties become a touch more visible. It still has the same issues as FPTP but those issues are only slightly fixed by this system. I’m really surprised people did not consider this.

Dual Member Proportional (DMP)

DMP was a bit of a mess in my opinion. Two ridings would be merged and each riding will have 2 seats. Each party could provide up to 2 candidates where 1 is the primary candidate and the other the secondary candidate. 1 seat will be FPTP and given to the primary candidate, the other seat will be some how PR. Although I did not quite understand how the second seat will actually be assigned. It looked interesting but a bit weird at the same time.

Rural – Urban Proportional (RUP)

For urban and semi-urban areas the voting would be done with STV / Ranked Ballot while rural ridings will be MPP. Even though there is a split here with urban and rural, adding complication to this voting option, I still find this one the best of the bunch. However the ridings in urban areas were a lot larger, meaning that there would be a lot more candidates per ballot and the vote counting a lot more complicated. However I would argue the results would be much more fair than either of the two above.

Opinion

Personally I would have added at least two more options.

STV / Ranked Ballot

Keep the current ridings. 1 riding, 1 seat in government. Just change the voting to a ranked ballot. This will ensure that the person winning the seat has 50+% of the votes for the riding and so is the spokesperson for that riding. There are still issues that FPTP has but at least the winner can say they actually won the seat.

This is not a “proportional” system but at least it is an improvement.

MMP With STV

60-40 split of seats but the ridings are STV / Ranked ballots. Again, this removes the chance of a seat going to a candidate that has less than 50% of the votes in that riding.

Proportional

All seats are allotted base on popular vote. Why do we even have a riding system? I understand people want to be represented. People want to hold their rep accountable in government. But really, a provincial government should represent the entire province. If they are not doing that then there will be regional parties. You will eventually end up with regional representation. It will just be done differently.

But for actual regional governance, your regional government will take care or that. Provincial government should be thinking about the entire province not just per region. Similarly a Federal Government should be thinking about the country as a whole and not the regions that supported them.

This system would mean a ton of little parties and a government that is always a coalition. Which means that the officials who won seats need to be able to work together and not be too head strong about their goals and ambitions. They need to think about how to govern the country/province/region properly. To me, this is not a terrible idea. I know some will disagree with me here though.

U.S. Politics: Universal Health Care

Recently my wife and I visited Washington DC and met up with one of her friends who lives there.  They were lamenting that the ACA actually raised their Health Insurance costs rather than reduce it.

Well…  That can happen.  And in the case for the U.S. it probably will happen.  Trying to introduce a Universal Health Care this late in the game to the U.S. is going to go through some growing pains so yes, you may see an increase but in the long run, once you have EVERYONE under the one umbrella, it should end up being way cheaper.

But Universal Health Care is not just Insurance coverage though.  In Canada, from what I know, all Health Care Institutions are Government funded which means Government dictates, or sets the costs on what operations, treatments, tests etc. should cost.  And these figures are determined based on how much the people working in health care are paid, how much machinery costs, how much medication and consumables cost etc.  So a fair price if provided.  So basically in Canada, doctors visits, hospitals and such are a fairly level playing field.

In the U.S., as far as I know, Hospitals are for profit organizations and can set their own prices for treatments and such.  This means one hospital could cost a patient a vastly different figure than a different hospital.  Not a level playing field.

Plus the drugs.  U.S. citizens are buying from Canada because the same drugs are way cheaper.  I do not know what is going on there, sounds like the government(s) in the U.S. are a bit gutless when it comes to the pharma industry.  But this is also another reason why ACA will have issues initially.  U.S. Health Care Industry is really in a mess.

Why is Universal Health Care good?  Insurance is a ‘socialistic’ ideal.  This is potentially what drives some U.S. people batty because they think ‘socialistic’ with ‘communistic’.  But all other first world countries have figured it out that a ‘socialistic/communistic’ ideal can also be a ‘capitalistic’ ideal as well.  They are not necessarily independent of each other.

So what is the ‘capitalistic’ ideal of Universal Health Care?

A healthy employee is way more productive than a sick one.  Which means your company is that much more productive.  Which means you company is making more money (hopefully).  So providing Health Care for your employees is in your benefit.  However in the U.S., the Health Care Insurance is often provided by the Employer.  Let us take GM for instance.  Back in 2015 it was reported that they were paying $2 Billion for their hourly staff (yeah sorry, old reference but times have not changed a lot, the company is still on the hook for the costs.)  That is a lot of money to spend.  Now if the the state/country provided Universal Health Care through income taxes like they do in some Provinces in Canada and like they do in most European Countries, the $2 Billion spent by the company could be used for something else or reduce costs for the company.  This saves the company money, which is a ‘capitalistic’ ideal.  +1 for Universal Health Care.

Universal Health Care means one insurance option to handle the well being of everyone.  With insurance, the larger the pool, the more likely it will weather a crisis.  Right now in the U.S. that pool is divided among many insurance companies.  This means an insurance company can easily be wiped out if there is an epidemic or something.  And because of this the cost for the insurance should be higher.  However it may not be higher currently because insurance companies in the U.S. can avoid insuring someone’s pre-existing condition.  Which is such a dick move for a Health Insurance.  ACA prevented that from happening which of course now forced companies to up their insurance premiums.  This is part of the growing pain and partly why some people saw increases.  But it is the right thing to do.  Hell, it is necessary.  Not insuring for pre-existing conditions is not much better than not having insurance at all.

But smaller pools will incur larger premiums because the risk is much poorer than one big pool.  So being ‘capitalistic’, our goal is to reduce costs, and to reduce costs of Health Care Insurance is to make one big pool to mitigate the risks.  Universal Health Care.  Capitalism = Socialism in this case.

U.S. Politics: Child Separation

More logic that does not make sense.

I work in software development.  In the past on numerous occasions we were faced with the problem of having to deal with data in either multiple locations or in one location.  Multiple locations looked appealing because it may have provided a speed improvement.  However there was a cost with separating the data.

  1. You have to maintain links between the data and ensure those links are not broken.
  2. The above links makes the code and design way more complicated and way more difficult to design and code up.
  3. Next developer in will make mistakes because the design and code is way more complicated.
  4. User has to be aware where their data is.  If they want to transport some or all of their data they have to transport data in both locations.  More headache for the user.

Having the data all together in one place makes it simpler.  Coding and design.  Plus it is also simpler for the user.  One location to worry about.

So when I heard about this child separation policy the “Trump” instituted back in April/May, I am thinkin, “wow, that is one dumb move.”  You have essentially doubled the infrastructure to house, feed, and service these people which means you are wasting tax payer money to do this.  Keeping the children with their parents/guardians means that the chore of taking care of the dependents is no longer your (government) responsibility but the responsibility of the parents/guardians.  Infrastructure is way less, simpler, and cheaper.

As a someone who claims to be a shrewd business man, POTUS dun f’ed up on this one.  This is one business case that makes no sense.

And now that he has to return the dependents back to the parents/guardians, he has just incurred more cost to the tax payer because, surprise, surprise, ICE or whoever is responsible, failed to maintain proper links between the two.  Even having to use DNA testing to make the matches apparently according to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.  Which means more expensive work needing to be done, payed for by the tax payer, because the links were not properly made to begin with.

Terrible business acumen shown by the POTUS on this situation.   This is not smart or genius.

U.S. Politics: Trump as POTUS

I find the current U.S. government odd.  It is and is not typical U.S. politics.  The blatant, selfish, short sighted, rich white man point of view of the republicans and the fanatic piss poor followers of these idiots is perfectly understandable.  That has always happened in the past and stupid does stupid.

The thing that I do not get is the blasé attitude toward the tampering of elections from inside or outside parties.  If anything U.S. has always been fairly vocal, if not fanatical, about its defense of their democracy.  So when I start hearing POTUS and other republicans dismiss the investigation of election tampering, it gives me the creeps.  A true U.S. patriot should expect fair and democratic elections and if there is so much of a whiff of wrong doing, you investigate the crap out of that!  It does not matter if you are a Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Libertarian or sane.  A true patriot defends their democracy and not dismiss it.

I still remember many U.S. based TV shows when I was growing up about a strict republican or military dad lamenting about “Commy loving bastards” for anything remotely socialistic or having to deal with communist countries in any fashion (Russia, China, Cuba, etc.)  Right now, POTUS is a Commy loving…  Bastard…  and the kicker is he represents the Republicans as well.  Where has the U.S. gone so wrong?

Movie: Blade Runner 2049

FREEKING AWESOME!  It’s really a shame that this movie is not doing better in the theaters.  I know it is not every ones cup of tea but as Sci-Fi goes, it is a heck of a movie; and when it comes to Sci-Fi I have found quality can vary wildly in that respect.

The movie keeps the similar sort of zen like feel of the first movie and still, I didn’t feel any pacing was off.  The visuals are outstanding.  Ryan does well in his role.  A co-worker commenting that his sort of robotic acting worked to the role’s benefit.

There is room for follow up movies.  I just hope they take the same attention to detail and flavor as the did with this movie.  This is Sci-Fi.  Loved it, well worth the $15+ it costs to watch movies now a days.

I think I will opt for the 4K UHD Bluray when it comes out.  Which means I will have to pony up for a UHD BluRay player as well.