IBM and Canada – Bad Food or Bad Numbers?

IBM recently launched an ad campaign highlighting their work on education, crime prevention and food poisoning reduction . . . okay, really, the interlocking theme is Outcomes for a smarter planet. But they demonstrate those outcomes in the fields of education, food safety and crime prevention among other areas.

The graphics are cute, it’s the statistics that scare the living daylights out of me.

This ad shares that “IBM is helping Manitoba tackle Canada’s 13 million cases of food poisoning every year by tracking the freshness of meat.” Seriously, 13 million cases of food poisoning . . . I don’t think Manitoba has 13 million people.

Nope, nowhere near 13 million. Surely they don’t mean to state that each resident of Moanitoba experiences 13 bouts of food poisoning a year, or roughly 1 a month with an extra in July at a poorly planned BBQ, so I re-read the figure…. Oh, 13 million cases in CANADA. Apologies to my friends up north, but are there 13 million people in Canada?

Okay, so Canada does have more than 13 million people, but how are you feeling about a steak in Canada? On average, you are expected to get food poisoning at least every two and a half years. That’s not counting boozing up with your buddies and feeling the ill effects the next day. This concerns a preventable condition when some nasty bacteria/virus or assorted other critter ends up in your tummy.

This brings up all sorts of other questions. Given the fairly frozen nature of Canada, how are they having such trouble with meat spoiling? We’re roasting at 110 degrees and we manage to get meat to market in Texas. We’re not talking about Thailand with a devalued Baht and limited refrigeration. It’s Canada – supposedly the example of exceptional health care and pensions. One has to wonder . . . is this how they manage their population?

At the very least Team Canada might want to request that IBM remove that stat from these posters rolling out across the internet. It’s a shocking figure that upon further research is even more shocking. I moved to China for the Summer of SARS and ate off of street carts, but I’m not sure I would have a steak in Montreal.

How do you feel about Canadian meat?

Information with a View

Graph itIt is not enough to get information, now need we to have that information presented contextually and graphically. If done well, this kind of information aggregation can cause greater understanding, but naturally it can also cause greater confusion.

Digg has the lead on creating fascinating ways to connect who is spreading what information. The net is all about the curious flow of connectivity between people and topics. If you are in marketing this is tremendously useful for tracking fads. If you’re bored at work, this is a cool distraction that make you sound so knowledgeable at the water cooler. Check out Digg Swarm for example.

As topics pop up digg connects and moves the topic heads around like gas molecules in a chamber. Some items are connected (as shown with the bridge connectors) and others are tiny bubbles that will fall off the screen quickly. The bubbles move quickly so the screen shot was tricky. Just go take a look.

In other information source news, the kids at microsoft have been fantasizing about swimsuit models. Microsoft Pivot lets you search for pictures. Say you want to look at Sports Illustrated Covers . . . but only covers featuring bikini models. Viola! All the Swimsuit Issues pop up. Pun fully intended.

For Microsoft Pivot fun:

Like everything else from Microsoft, it is a pain-in-the -arse to get it. Instead of being available on the net like all of the other great infotainment products . . . you must download the microsift pivot program. And you must update your silverlight drivers. Oh wait, you don’t have silverlight? Then you must download that too….

Open Note to Microsoft: We tolerate you. Barely.

Get it together folks. They have some clever folks at Microsoft, but damn, it is such a bother to use any of their more clever outputs, why bother?

If I could love Excel less, I wouldn’t even consider using Microsoft products.

Anyway, if you can put up with the bafoonery of how microsoft let’s you use their products, then the labs have cranked out some fun things. Go get pivot.

Basic Economics – When your voters are challenged

Who would’ve thought Chicago would become a tax refuge? Since the voters approved a tax hike in Oregon, politicians around the US are sending delegations to the beleaguered state. Leading the charge with offers of enticement to business owners….

Richard Daley, Chicago Mayor.

Wait, seriously?

Here’s what’s spurred the increase in flights to Portland:

Oregon Chicago
Top income tax rate: 11% (from 9%) 3% (moving to 5%)
Corporate Income tax: 7.9% (from 6.6%) 4.8% (moving to 6.2%)
Fees on small business: Doubled Regular ridiculous

But let’s look at what really matters . . .
i heart texas
Top Income Tax rate –  ZERO
Corporate income tax – ZERO
Fees on small business: comparatively minimal

Which inspired me . . .

Dear Business Owners in Oregon,

As you plan for the pending move, no doubt you are concerned about the assimilation for your people in the new location. While you will be able to leave many of your current employees behind, some will make the trek with you. To that end, you need a location that serves both your business considerations and your employees’ needs. Despite the fact that our women wear make-up and our men cut their hair, you’ll find that Oregon and Texas aren’t so different.

You guys believe in independence; we believe in independence.


You guys like wide open spaces, we have plenty of those.

You guys like riding bikes. We like riding bikes.

(C) Roberto Bettini
(C) Roberto Bettini

You guys like college football (hey, those Beavers make a good stab for a Pac 10 team). We LOVE college ball . . .


You guys like Fish. We like land fish.

Land Fish
Land Fish

You have vegetarians, we have vegetables!

It’s a match made in heaven, or at least by your voters. So get your groove back. Dump the bums and move to Texas.


Sports Stat of the Week: Old Guns, Young Guns

Sports Stat of the Week

It’s all in the numbers….

Never mind what happened Sunday afternoon . . . I turned off the second display in my office and focused on teaching our Advanced Quant class. The students didn’t have to know the Boys were being destroyed by Future Rapper Favre.

(Pants on the Ground? Really? What the ?)

Putting the old back in oldest quarterback, Favre is still looking pretty good for an old man – especially one who gets 2 ton  of man hurled at him at 20mph regularly.

Should the Vikings make it to the Superbowl
earn a win, Favre will be the oldest quarterback to win it. But that’s not a done deal. In great contrast, we have had some very young guns earn wins in the Superbowl.

Riddle for you:
Who was the YOUNGEST quarterback to win the Superbowl?

And how old was he at the time of his win?




No peeking. No Wiki….




Ben Roethlisberger was 23 years, 11 months old when he won Superbowl XL over the Cardinals.

Preview of Next week: About those Cardinals – they are one of two original teams still in the NFL. Next week, who is the other team still standing??? There will also be a little smack talk about the winning record of the Cardinals….

Numbers for Nerds

If you get excited about numbers, today is a spetacular day.


It is a rare opportunity to present the date in binary form (that’s not the actual binary date however).

So just how rare is it?

Have you figured out how many times in a century you can represent the date with 1s and 0s without getting your arse kicked in public?

cropped kateAnswer below.

Very Happy New Year to you and yours! if you’re in Dallas, I have extra Cotton Bowl tickets, give a shout.



01/01/00, 01/10/00, 10/01/00, 10/10/00

01/01/01, 01/10/01, 10/01/01, 10/10/01

01/01/10, 01/10/10, 10/01/10, 10/10/10

Percentage of days you can be slightly cool with numbers, or feel slightly, smuggly numerically superior – also known as “clever” . . .

12 days


36525 days

Or, .03% of the century.

We only have 3 more left this century, so grab your binary buddies and part hats. We’re gonna party like it’s 10-10-10!

Sports Statistic of the Week: Cowboys versus Giants

Brett Favre is looking royal in purple. Hard to believe he recently crossed into 40. Though they lost to the Cardinals . . .

“I’m anxious to go watch it on the news because I’m pretty sure everybody is going to talk about what Brett Favre did wrong, and not talk about how our defense stood up today,” Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said.

The Vikings are 10-2-0. Impressive.
A 40 year old is making headlines as the dominant beast in the NFL. Priceless.

So how about our Cowboys?

The Sports Statistic of the Week is How do the Cowboys perform against the Giants with Tony Romo?

Until this season he was 4-0 in the regular season (as starter), 0-1 in the post season.

Date: September 20, 2009

Result: COWBOYS lose 31-33
What did Tony do the weekend before the game? Played in Tampa with teammates. . .

Date: December 6, 2009

Result: COWBOYS lose 24-31
What did Tony do the weekend before the game? Played in Vegas with playmates . . .
When he lost against the Giant in the post season he also spent the off week . . . um, distracted. He seems to have an unfortunate experience with downtime during the season. Coupled with his “just a game” attitude…. This has not been sitting well with fans in Dallas.
Shout out to Tony – hey sweetie, you get 6 months off, we pay you to play August – January . . . we’d like to give you some extra cash to play in February, but dang, you’re making it hard.
22/36 COWBOYS lose (Tony Romo was not the starter in this game)
23/20 COWBOYS Win

45/35 Cowboys Win
31/20 Cowboys Win

2007 Playoffs:
17/21 Cowboys lose

20/8 Cowboys Win

Full Cowboys Sports Statistics

2009 has not been his best showing. But let’s hope that he’s simply reversing his regular season and post season trends…. What do you think he’ll do in post season? Will we even see the post season??

Earn 59% more Just by making one switch….


So you’re a lefty and life is tough?

Stop your whining.

Look at the numbers . . . you’re in pretty good company . . . if you can survive adolescence.

This week we compare the salaries of left-handed pitchers with the average salary of all pitchers over the past 20 years.

I can be the first to admit the approach was less than totally scientific on this one. We did gather the pertinent data and we did comb the data (the data is losing hair just like you are – such a shame) . . .

But we didn’t do much else. It’s been a crazy week. Forgive me this once?

Here are the lefties we pulled:

Name Years in MLB Highest Salary Earned Year Team during salary Contract
Jim Abbott 1989-1999 $2,775,000 1994 NY Yankees
Steve Avery 1990-2003 $4,850,000 1997 Boston Red Sox
John Franco 1984-2005 $4,000,000 1993 NY Mets
Paul Gibson 1988-1996 $830,000 1993 NY Mets
Tom Glavine 1989-present $11,000,000 2003 NY Mets $42.5 million – 4 yr – NY Mets (2003)
Steve Howe 1980-1996 $2,500,000 1995 NY Yankees
Bruce Hurst 1980-1994 $3,000,000 1992 San Diego Padres
Randy Johnson 1988-present $16,000,000 2004 AZ Diamondbacks $ 53 million – 4 yr – AZ (1999)
Bob Kipper 1985-1992 $1,000,000 1992 Minnesota Twins
Al Leiter 1987-2005 $10,295,600 2004 NY Mets $32 million – 4 yr – NY Mets (1998)
Joe Magrane 1987-1996 $1,500,000 1994 LA Angels
Eric Milton 1998-present $10,333,333 2007 Cincinatti Reds $25 million – 3 yr – Cincinatti Reds (2004)
Andy Pettitte 1995-present $16,428,416 2006 Houston Astros $31.5 million – 3 yr – Houston Astros (2003)
Greg Swindell 1986-2002 $4,450,000 1995 Houston Astros
Fernando Valenzuela 1980-1997 $2,050,000 1988 LA Dodgers
Frank Viola 1982-1996 $4,833,333 1993 Boston Red Sox
David Wells 1987-2007 $9,250,000 2001 Chicago White Sox
Dontrelle Willis 2003-present $10,000,000 2009 Detroit Tigers $29 million – 3 yr – Detroit Tigers (2007)
Barry Zito 2000-present $18,500,000 2009 San Francisco Giants $126 million – 7 yr – San Francisco Giants (2007)

Here’s where the bias was introduced, we took the best contract or best years for the lefties. Good data is more rare than good chocolate.

Check out the average Pitching Salaries:

Year # of pitchers Avg. Annual Salary
**2000 126 starting pitchers $3,064,021
**2000 165 relief pitchers $1,220,412
***2008 128 starting pitchers $4,429,366
***2008 198 relief pitchers $1,859,796
2009 407 pitchers $2,887,334

You know I’m not a baseball nut, but Relief Pitchers . . . they play HOW MANY INNINGS?? If I can get the numbers I’ll break down what those fellas are earning per inning. Then you can compare your hourly rate to their inning rate and . . .

So here’s the point.

The average left-handed pitcher earns $7,031,352 annually and the average Starting Pitcher earns $4,429,366 which means the lefties get a mark-up of 59% over average starting pitchers.

So if you want to make more coin, start using your left hand!

Simple enough, 😉

Data Collected and Sorted by Whitney Ostrander.
Photo of Ned Flanders snagged from the Simpsons.

Best Comeback – Sports Stat of the Week

Ever feel like you’ve started on the wrong foot? Maybe the project didn’t get off to a good start or the date started with you falling down a flight of stairs . . .

I hear these things, um, happen….

Can you get the win after a rough start?

On October 26th, 2009, the Toronto Maple Leafs got their first win of the season . . .

Just how bad was this losing streak?

hagmanThe Maple Leafs blew 8 regular season games to end up in the hole 0-7-1. That gives them ONE total point for a month’s worth of work.

Well, now they’ve tripled points, they’re up to 3! Mind you the division leaders sit with 18 points. Not an easy gap to close.

Who knew Haggie could step into a leadership role. We traded him a couple of yeas ago. Looks like it suits him well.

3starsleafsvducksAs for Anaheim, well, they’re in the worst way. If they weren’t Pacific Division rivals I might feel sorry for them. Look at Scott, how old is he now? He looks like a cowboy who has been left on the prairie too long. Get that man some moisturizer!

Sports Stat of the Week: Best comeback from a lousy Season to win it all . . .

NHL: 89-90 Oilers started season 2-11-2, but went on to win the Cup
NFL: 1979 LA Rams had the worst record with 9-7, but won the Superbowl
MLB: 2006 Cardinals worst regular season (83-78), but won the World Series

The 2006 Cards do indeed hold the record for worst regular season, but they got off to a great start so it’s not quite what I was looking for . . .

You baseball wonks keep dogging me about baseball stats. Let’s face it, I’m no baseball nut. If you can provide a worse start for a MLB team that then goes on to WIN the world series, I will gladly update this item.

As for the leafs, let’s just plan to keep the win streak short. The Leafs blow through town Wednesday night. Go Stars.

Super Stars Mini-mite Hockey

MiniIf you haven’t seen the latest in mini-mite super stars, check out this video of a 9 year old. Now this trick is a learned trick and wouldn’t fly in the NHL (puck must be moving forward at all times – this one doesn’t), but come on, it’s pretty cool to watch.

Fair warning, this video has more camera angles than a Versus broadcast.

The kid’s father played in the Swedish elite league for 9 years so Junior is not new to hockey. Just goes to show what the right environment produces. Junior is playing with the 12 year olds.

I love the look on the goalie’s face. That’s a WTF if I ever saw one. Look at the way his hand is upturned after the shot goes through. You can see his shock even through the goalie mask.

Expect a rush of kids making crazy hockey shots over the next several months. Nothing like healthy competition.


A lighter note

This week we got into some heavy thoughts about education. Thank you for going down that road with me. We’ll be right back in it next week, but for today, how about a lighter bit?

BubblesI am a big fan of champagne.

So I read about it whenever possible. I came across an article that discusses new science about the bubbles in sparkling wines**.

Physicists and Chemists came together with the help of mass spectrometry to give a little more heft to the notion that a large part of the enjoyment of Bubbly is the bubbles . . . more specifically, the scent carried by the bubbles.

Let’s take a quick divergence – Sea Mist.

What makes the ocean, The Ocean? Is it the smell of salt, the taste of sea water?According to this study,

… bubbles trapped by the sea breakers action considerably increase exchange surfaces between the sea bulk and the atmosphere.

The (sea) bubbles drag chemicals along their way through the liquid to the sea surface and finally burst and eject aerosol droplets into the atmosphere.

Air bubbles trapped during rough sea conditions were found to increase specific organic concentrations in marine aerosols by several orders of magnitude compared with those found in the liquid.

cropped kateWhat does this mean?

Back to the Bubbly, it means that the toasty, fruity aroma that you associate with champagne is captured in the bubbles in greater concentration than the liquid. That greater concentration is brought to the surface to tickle your nose.

Before he passed away I had the opportunity to sing with Mr. Don Ho himself. It was a delightful experience. Tiny bubbles do indeed make me happy. Have a great weekend.


**Liger-Belair, et. al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.