Tuesday July 12, 2022
Draw anything
your mind can see
According to the good folks at Ohio Art, all you needed was some imagination to make this magical toy come to life.

Happy Etch A Sketch Day. Everybody's favourite drawing toy was invented by an electrician in France named Andre Cassagnes and became a best seller when he partnered with Ohio Art, who released it on this day in 1960.

Sensibly priced at $2.99, parents loved that it was a diversion from non-stop television viewing. While kids loved that it was just like watching TV. Think about it - screen, knobs, and pictures.

In 2016 the (low) tech toy was acquired by Spin Master Toys here in Canada where it continues to sell and bring joy to kids and adults like. 

Even if you have to stay within the lines ;)
Political positions and freedom of speech
A new survey conducted by the Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research at the University of Saskatchewan revealed that Canadians' perspective on free speech in the country is tied to where one stands on the political spectrum.

It found that, while most Canadians (86%) believe we have freedom of speech, the percentage breakdown would change when paired with the person's political beliefs.

Around 25% of those surveyed who said they lean right or far right also said they believe Canadians have little or no freedom of speech.

They certainly believe Canadians should have free speech, with 31% of that same demographic believing there should be no limitations on what Canadians are free to express. The group favoured a more American-style, absolutist approach.

Of those surveyed who identified as left-leaning, only 3% said they believed Canadians had little or no freedom of speech. 2.5% of the same group favoured a more American version of the right to free expression.
Looming mortgage worries
Inflation rose to 7.7% in May, but Capital Economics expects that the Bank of Canada will announce tomorrow that it rose even higher in June, hitting around 8.3% for the first time in decades.

This announcement will be what informs the next announcement from BoC governor Tiff Macklem. The central bank will likely raise the overnight rate by 75 basis points, the biggest single raise in decades, bringing the rate up to 2.25%.

Mortgage holders are already feeling the pinch, and a recent survey from the MNP Consumer Debt Index found about a quarter of those surveyed said they are not financially prepared for a 75bp hike.

Over half of the respondents said they're worried about being able to cover expenses without going into debt.

Capital believes rates will continue to rise, with another hike of 50 basis points expected in September, and a 25 point hike late in the year to bring the rate up to 3%, just shy of the expected peak of 3.25%.
CFIB calls for fuel tax cut
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says that rising fuel costs, along with the rising cost of just about everything, are hurting the bottom lines of small businesses more than anyone.

92% of small businesses in Canada have reportedly been forced to raise their prices in the last year, a response to their own increased costs during a global bout with inflation not seen in decades.

"Every cent counts for small businesses, especially as they navigate skyrocketing input costs and labour and product shortages,” said Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB’s senior vice-president of national affairs.

The group is eyeing three items specifically, relief for which could be the difference maker for many CFIB members.

Pohlmann wants governments at both the provincial and federal level to temporarily eliminate or at least lower fuel taxes, a move already made by provincial governments in Ontario, Alberta, and Newfoundland.

Calls have also been made to halt the pending rise in carbon taxes, as well as to raise the small business deduction threshold from $500,000 to $600,000.
True cost of return to office
Businesses aren't certain yet just how viable working from home or the hybrid model are in terms of productivity. It worked as an alternative to completely shutting down in March 2020, but in normal times, businesses are becoming more apprehensive about its continuation.

At the same time, employees have concerns about returning to the office beyond just worrying about COVID.

Daily costs for commuting have become more than just a drop in the bucket. One person from Hamilton spoke to Money Sense about her costs in May, revealing that commuting to the GO station and then downtown and back home cost her around $444 a month. That averages about $5,328 a year.

There's also the time lost, which is hard to quantify financially, but it's certainly a concern employees have. Spending 20 hours a month commuting is 240 hours a year, which is the equivalent of three weeks of work. 

It's not to say that these factors are new. Everyone dealt with some version of this before the option presented itself to work from home. But Pandora's box is wide open, and though employers may prefer that everyone works from the office, the real cost of doing so will remain a strong deterrent for employees.
Soft sounds numb pain
A team of dentists in the 1960s published a study revealing that soft sounds played in the background during procedures seemingly numbed pain in the patients, and in some cases to the point where the patient didn't require anesthesia.

Yuanyuan Liu, a neurobiologist at the U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, completed a recent study following up on this phenomenon, looking into the pain reduction of soft sounds in mice.

Liu and his team injected mice with a solution that would cause mild pain, and then played calming music in the background.

They tracked the mice's reactions using a red fluorescent dye injected into each rodent's auditory cortex, and noticed lots of fluorescence in their thalamus regions when the music played and the mice were supposed to feel pain.

They noticed this same reaction when they changed the sound to simply white noise. The only thing that reduced the effect of the pain reduction was when they used sounds that were loud. 

The researchers concluded that something about soft sounds inhibits neurological signals from the auditory cortex to the thalamus, the brain region responsible for sensory processing.

They believe this applies in humans as well, and have recommended testing the hypothesis in the hopes of making a breakthrough in human pain management.
Twitter tumbles after Musk bails
In a move that was surprising to a grand total of zero people, Elon Musk announced over the weekend that he no longer has any intention of purchasing Twitter, and plans to abandon his binding contract to buy the company for US$54.20 per share.

Musk claimed the company was in breach of the offer deal, which required the company to accurately disclose just how many Twitter accounts are made up of bots rather than people.

He says the company is not being honest about how many bots there are, which he believes gives him the right to back out of the deal.

Twitter shares fell over 5% in pre-market trading yesterday morning in the wake of Musk's attempt to back out of the deal, eliminating nearly US$1.5 billion in value from the company that hasn't traded anywhere close to the US$54.20 share price he offered to buy it at.

Twitter's board retained counsel, and is expected to file a lawsuit this week, forcing Musk to comply with the terms of his offer to purchase the company at what is currently nearly twice its market value. 
Makeover at Black Bear Ridge
Black Bear Ridge, located in Belleville, Ont. is one of Canada's premier public golf courses. It's one of the top 20 in the country, and it could be on its way to the top 10 when its ongoing renovations are complete.

Cale Fair and Alex Sharpe are lifelong friends from Guelph. A tech executive and serial entrepreneur, respectively, they've undertaken a project that's at least one dream every golfer has.

With the help of investors, they purchased the course and its surrounding property last year, and the first of its many makeovers was completed in June.

The course is absolutely stunning. It's scenic, well maintained, and if you've ever played a round there, you'll remember how quiet it is.

The property has a second course as well; specifically, a nine-hole academy course, and a double-sided driving range, on which you'll feel like you're a million miles from civilization.

The pair purchased two separate bordering pieces of property as well, meaning they now own around 900 acres of land, under a quarter of which is reserved for the course.

The rest will be developed into a 3,000-home residential neighbourhood, as well as a four-season resort that includes the clubhouse, a hotel, a restaurant, and even skiing and snowshoe amenities. Sign us up yesterday.
Etch master class
The folks at Ohio Art used television advertising to create the Etch A Sketch craze, promising it "develops coordination, patience, and brings out creative skills in almost everyone". 

Here's a look at some over-etch-ievers ;)
Have a great day ahead Staker!

Today's edition was written by Michael Cowan and Maureen Norman
Copyright ©2022 Stake Media Group,
All rights reserved.

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