Cities As a Mathematical Model (video)


Can You Kill a City?

Going a little off topic with our friends from Ted with a very interesting presentation by Geoffrey West (a physicist) talking about the Mathematics of Cities and Companies, which isn’t really a financial video, but still a very interesting one (none the less).

It is actually hard to tell whether it is bad that we are becoming more Urban or good? An interesting study of data, which may be full of crap, but still quite interesting.

Physicist Geoffrey West has found that simple, mathematical laws govern the properties of cities — that wealth, crime rate, walking speed and many other aspects of a city can be deduced from a single number: the city’s population. In this mind-bending talk from TEDGlobal he shows how it works and how similar laws hold for organisms and corporations.

Mathematics is everywhere!


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Random Thoughts for Tax Day in Canada

Pay those Taxes Today!

Hope you have finished your taxes because they are due today hope you are procrastinating any later than say, now, we look to see what other exciting things may have happened this week. The Montreal Canadiens proved that until the series is over, there is no such thing as “As Good As Finished”. Goldman Sachs were taken to the proverbial woodshed for dealings “… that everyone else is doing too!” (funny I don’t like it when my kids say that either). Snow fell in Ottawa, and is falling all over Canada causing folks to question this concept of “Spring” that many have had for a while.

What was new in the world of financial blogging?

  • Gail V-O points out that Debt isn’t NORMAL which I like. I remember my mother and father’s stories about worrying about having a second mortgage on our house, and how they’d never get in debt like that again, so debt to me is a dirty four letter word.
  • Preet (who had his site hacked by Pot Smoking, Spotty Faced, 7 stone weaklings) points out the power of compound interest in Vampire Quadrillionaires and if you have that much time to spend, buy Canada Savings Bonds 🙂
  • Million Dollar Journey gives us April 2010 Net Worth Update (+1.34%) – New Beginnings Edition where their wealth is laid out for all to gaze upon. Me I keep this stuff to myself, for fear of folks laughing at me.
  • While never really a big fan of Hedge Funds, Michael James gives An Unflatting Thousand-Foot View of Hedge Funds, and asks some pretty pointed questions.
  • The Myth of Steadily Rising Taxes is challenged by the Canadian Capitalist. It may feel like taxes are always rising, but I know that my effective rate of tax has gone down the past 10 years, but I’d still gladly take a big tax cut as well.
  • Keeping with this Taxing topic Larry MacDonald points out The cost of filing personal-income taxes and it is a staggering number, no wonder Intuit is such a profitable company.
  • In the Spring The greatest threat to your home is water (in fact all year round) points out Thicken My Wallet. Given the damage a foundation leak or worse a sewer back up can do to your house, keep this in mind.
  • Jon Chevreau points out The virtuous circle of tax refunds and RRSP contributions something to keep in mind all year round not just at the start of the year and at tax time
  • Ellen Roseman aims her ire at Bell with Bell wants me back and points out that Bell seems to have their sales folks working orthogonally to their customers interests.
  • Scott Adams takes a run at Apple with a spur of the moment set of cartoons entitled That Lost 4G Phone after all one man’s blunder is another man’s … read the comic, you’ll get it.
  • Canadian Financial DIY unfurls the flag asks Socially Responsible Investing: Tim Horton’s is Out!?, wTF?!?! Who is more socially responsible that maker of Timbits?

I am simply attempting to keep from having to cut my back lawn (maybe I can borrow a goat from one of the local farmers).


Garbage in Ottawa Stinks

A preliminary report from the City of Ottawa garbage folks has floated the idea of removing the Garbage Collection portion of the City Taxes and turn it into a user fee. With this move City Taxes will drop by $86 which sounds like a nice idea, however, the User Fee for Garbage is slated to be $195 per household which is about a 115% increase in the cost of paying for Garbage in Ottawa.

How is this possible? Let’s look a little closer:

  • $86 is our original garbage fee, so we’ll keep that
  • $41 fee for the black and blue box program in place (say that 5 times fast)
  • $68 for the new Green Bin program for organics and compost and such

Now that is an expensive program. If you are a rural Ottawa person you won’t have to pay for the Green Bins, since you won’t have them, but you’ll still have your garbage fee go up by around 50%.

My suspicion is that garbage collection will become more like water and sewers and will become a bi-monthly billed program, which will then spiral in price to match the cost of garbage collection.

Do I have any other options here? No, I can’t opt out, I can’t claim I don’t use the service, so I must pay, as must my neighbours.

Care to complain? November 10th is your day.  Read the briefing notes, very interesting accounting discussions there.

Happy Guy Fawkes Day

For those with any UK heritage it is, in fact, Guy Fawkes day today. Hopefully there aren’t any more gunpowder plots out there!


Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Thankfully the markets (in Canada at least) are closed and we can all sit back and enjoy a lot of turkey and family and be thankful for all that we have in our over-abundant lives.

For some however, Thanksgiving is a terrible time, and that is for the Meleagris Gallopavo, or the Wild Turkey (ZZ Top even sings about the horrible Wild Turkey Bite (but I suspect that may not be what they really mean)).

Constantly hiding and ducking from now until January 2nd, think of these poor creatures as you scarf down their kins legs and breasts! Mmmm… kin…

Happy Thanksgiving?

Happy Thanksgiving?


Weekend Video: Cow Plops anyone?

There is Gold in them thar Cow Plops!!!

At least that is what this National Film Board short seems to suggest, where an inventor has come up with a good way to extract methane from cow poo, which is usable with cars and such.

The description of the short does it justice:

This short film presents Mr. Bate, an inventor who discovers a substitute for gasoline in barnyard manure. Even though he fits the classic mould of single-minded know-how and practical dreamer, his discovery is tried and tested. He demonstrates how his home-made digester does turn manure into potent methane gas that powers his auto. And for good measure, he demonstrates his latest sustainable invention – a bicycle powered by the bumps on the road.

Now that is what I call a really GREEN solution to a problem, given we need cows anyhow, why not use their DUNG for fun?


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