Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Since you brought it up...

Here's the old abortion debate again, courtesy of an either bored or shit-disturbing Rod Bruinooge. He wants to push a pro-life agenda into the spotlight once again.

Very few Canadians appreciate the fact that essentially until a child takes its first breath, it has less value than a kidney -cbc-
That's just nonsense. If you could sell a fetus on the black market, the value of the stem cells alone would be worth far more than a kidney.

Wisely, the PMO is distancing itself from this crap hole of an issue. Stuff like this invokes the old fears of a hidden social conservative agenda that threatens to Americanize Canadian society.

So, Mr.Bruinooge, are you proposing that all abortions become illegal again, or are you proposing some kind of a compromise? For example, we could chop up (sorry, bad term ... um, segment?) pregnancy terms into trimesters: First trimester: all the abortions you want. Second: only under specific conditions (eg. pre-natal blood test shows that the baby is likely to be a socialist). Third: only if medically necessary. If late term abortions are rare anyhow, as pro-lifers claim, then is there anything to be gained by pursuing legislation like this? Is the status quo somehow broken enough to warrant opening this can of worms?

Those, like Bruinie, in the pro-life camp obviously feel that the status quo is not acceptable, and by not acceptable, I mean that people are getting abortions under circumstances that they do not deem to be appropriate. However that is a values question, and the values of the pro-lifers are most often driven by their religious convictions, and religion as we all know, has no place in the legislation of the nation. Stop foisting your bible-thumping ideals on us, Brunie, and let us be.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

I've been tagged

I'm not real big on these tagging games, but what the heck..

Marginalized Action Dino tagged me with this:
”It’s simple. Just list all the jobs you’ve had in your life, in order. Don’t bust your brain: no durations or details are necessary, and feel free to omit anything that you feel might tend to incriminate you. I’m just curious. And when you’re done, tag another five bloggers you’re curious about.”

Since I'm a semi-anonymous blogger I'm not so sure how much detail I should go into, but there's no harm in spilling a little bit I guess:

Janitor
Painter
Vacuum Sales

highlight: selling a brand new vacuum to a fixed income senior in a tiny house who was already making payments on a brand new vacuum purchased from another company. Hey .. I was a starving student, ok?
Summer Student @ Atomic Energy of Canada
highlight: frying aquatic worms in super-strength vinegar
Teaching Assistant @ U of M
highlight: teaching a continuing ed course in Intermediate Micro Economics.
Retail
highlight (as copied and pasted from the comments of CJ's blog): I once worked retail and got "mystery shopped" by a store spy. I got a miserable 2 out of 7 on my review, along with the comment "cherenkov needs to go to school for politeness". (Except, of course, they used my real name). Surprisingly, I didn't get fired.
Helpdesk
highlight: getting promoted while passed out at my desk after a night of heavy drinking.
Current Office Job
highlight: more pay than previous jobs.
tagging:
Conceited Jerk
Jim at Daily Rants
Mr.C at West End Dumplings
Freedom Manitoba
Grumpy Old Man

Don't feel obliged, but if you feel like sharing, please do. Stories are not required (but welcome).

Friday, 26 December 2008

Happy Kwanzaa, everybody!

I had intended to post a feel-good Christmas message, but you know one thing led to another and nothing happened. Now Christmas is over. However, Kwanzaa is just beginning, so please accept my sincerest wishes for a happy and relaxing Kwanzaa.

Now, time to sign off and play with my new Wacom tablet (woo hoo)!.

-- update --

this is my first picture drawn using my new tablet:


Look, it takes some time to get used to it okay? Cut me some slack over here. Geeze.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Icebergs and Algae

Icebergs
I'm no scientist, but I take an interest in science. I read New Scientist frequently. They tell me that the globe is warming and the ice caps are melting at an alarming rate. I know enough to understand that "global warming" is a misnomer -- that all parts of the planet will not be affected equally due to changing weather patterns. "Climate change" is a more accurate description. Yet, it is still pretty damn hard to reconcile this global warming stuff with the frost bite on my ass.

We had a less-than-spectacular summer, an average fall I guess, and then came December:

I couldn't find daily normals so I used monthly normals for the comparison vs. actual temps and forcasts up to Christmas. For a fair comparison, since the last 6 six days are missing you should exclude the first 6. If you do that, you'll see that only two days did we get above normal for our high, and even on those two the daily low was far colder than normal. This is bullshit. I demand a refund.

When I was dying of hypothermia last March I noted that "things are looking up" because the long term forecast called for above normal temps. What the hell happened to that? Have a look at the Free Press web site: "New Storm Strikes the Northwest", "Plows hit the Streets", "Winter Rolls in Coast to Coast", "Deep freeze continues". Part of that may be lazy reporting. Just like at a party, the weather is the go-to subject when you have nothing else to talk about. Still, you gotta think that if the average temperature of the globe is increasing, then somebody somewhere must be pretty fucking hot.

Algae
Gary Doer is also no scientist, but will he listen to them? A article in the Sunday Free Press revived the debate about the $50 million plan to remove nitrogen from Winnipeg waste water, in an apparently misguided attempt to clean up Lake Winnipeg. Will the NDP listen to the experts and back off the plan? Many argue that there wasn't a whole lot of scientific reasoning behind the crack down on the hog industry expansion which has cost the province jobs. My guess is he plows ahead with the project so that he can claim he's doing something, even if he's really just wasting money. I guess you could look at it as a $50 million fiscal stimulus package to get our economy going.

Just for fun

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Last minute gifts

You're Christmas shopping and you're frustrated and you're thinking: "Gosh, what should I get ____ for Christmas? They have everything already. :-(" Then you open up a flyer and go "Look! A hammer that turns into a screwdriver which doubles as a level. They don't have that! :-)"

Don't do it!!! It's a piece of crap!!! It's called a gadget. It's something that is either unnecessary, redundant or tries to combine multiple tasks and ends up being good at none of them. As an example, let me introduce you to the Zibra:
It's a cutter, it's a snipper, it's a slicer, it's a screwdriver! It's a piece of crap!!! How do I know this? Because it tries to do 4 different things at once!

Kitchen gadgets are no better. These often take the form of useless plug-in appliances: electric knives, electric can openers, electric rice makers, etc.. I have a rice maker. It's called a POT!

So you still don't know what to get somebody? My suggestion: booze. Booze is always appreciated. A couple bottles of wine, or a nice bottle of scotch or a bottle of Vodka wrapped up with a bottle of Clamato, Tabasco and Worcestershire. Something like that.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

So all those rumours were true

I've been out of the bloggosphere for about a week or so due to personal commitments including the loss of a family member, so my apologies for the lack of activity. I'm still busy with the usual pre-Christmas mayhem, but I'll post something just to let people know that the blog is still an on-going enterprise.

Hmmm. So many things to post on ... how about IKEA? Waddayaknow, they are coming after all:

IKEA said it will built a 350,000-square-foot store, becoming an anchor tenant in a 1.5 million retail development on the southwest Winnipeg site.
..
The deal is contingent on receiving planning approvals from the province and the City of Winnipeg. -fp-
"contingent on receiving approvals from the province and the city" = done deal. Can you imagine either Sam Katz or Gary Doer getting in the way of this? Both those guys are so excited about the prospect of an Ikea ground-breaking ceremony that they peed on the carpet when they heard about it. If this city caves in to developers of Home Depots and stucco houses, you can bet that they'll roll over for Ikea, even if it doesn't make any sense.
"I'm thrilled to see this major retail project transform from talk to action," said Katz. "The city has worked diligently to create an 'open for business' environment," he said. "By accelerating existing infrastructure plans we are encouraging smart, responsible development." -cbc-
Whatever, Sammy. How many traffic lights are you going to put up for this store anyhow? Is there going to be yet-another surface level intersection on Kenaston, or another set of traffic lights on the already-misnamed Sterling Lyon Parkway? Or better yet, at-grade intersections on both streets, just to make Ikea happy?

Does somebody have a link to this "existing infrastructure plan"? Does it really call for a widing of
Sterling Lyon? 'Cause that street is only, like two years old or something. Are you telling us that you built it below spec right off the bat? When is this city going to learn to build things properly the first time instead of cheaping out only to force more expensive upgrades in the future? The Kenaston underpass is another example. Why the hell would they build it to accomodate only four lanes of traffic when they knew that Waverly West was coming and you had existing plans to widen the road?

It's not that I don't want Ikea to come. After all I'm sitting at an Ikea desk, under a set of Ikea cabinets, next to Ikea bookshelves and an Ikea garbage can, wearing Ikea underwear and sipping Ikea egg nog. Let's just do this right, hey? I'm actually kind of glad it not going to polo park like I guessed here. The traffic around PP is hideous. However the traffic on Kenaston is not great either thanks to short-sighted development, and could get worse if Sammy doesn't behave himself.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

MPI: How to pay for all that overhead?

MPI loves to talk about how it is always reducing auto insurance premiums (example). Well I have two things to say about that:

  1. My basic premium went up even though my car is one year older and worth less money.
  2. What the hell is with that registration charge?
119 BUCKS? To process my registration? It was $99 last year, and $58 in 2003. Are you telling me the cost of registering a car has more than doubled in the past 5 years?

MPI is after all a bureaucracy, and there is after all a free-spending NDP government in power. I suppose it is possible that overhead costs have doubled in 5 years. But then again, I don't see any new office buildings going up on Main or Portage for MPI pencil pushers...

That leads me to conclude that this is nothing but tax increases through the back door. Something we're becoming accustomed to around here. MPI should be transparent about it: fold the registration charge into the basic premium so that they don't mislead people into thinking they're getting a break when in fact they're getting screwed.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Shi, and the Art of Bloodless Coups

When I first started this blog I used the label "Let's burn Ottawa to the ground" to mark any post that related to federal politics. It used to be facetious, but it isn't really anymore. I'm beginning to think that we would be better off razing the whole place and starting over again.

But since that's not likely to happen, let's have a closer look at what's going on here:

Our constitution does allow for a coalition government. That per se is not a problem. However, there is a BIG problem with the nature of this coalition: the New Libs on the Bloc are composed of a weak and divided party led by a lame-duck leader who will be replaced by an as-yet unknown person in a few months; a "socialist" party with only 37 seats whose policies are never good for the Canadian economy, much less during an economic crisis; and a third party that does not have the best interests of the country at heart -- in fact, who's stated objective is the destruction of the country. This is about the worst possible coalition I could imagine.

But wait: Dion just said very clearly on national TV that the Bloc is not part of the coalition. Oh really? So this coalition is composed of only 114 seats, 30 less than the ruling party? How can the Governor General hand the government over to this coalition? How do we know the Bloc will hold up it's end of the bargain, and if it does what will we pay them off with in return?

Then there is the issue of "confidence". 'We have lost "confidence" in the government.' How exactly have they lost confidence? They don't have confidence that he can manage the economic crisis? He brought the country into the election in decent shape; people knew an economic slowdown was around the corner and they still voted him in. How can you say that the PM, an economist himself, is incapable of steering us through this recession when you haven't even seen a budget? What makes you think you can do it better? Do you think throwing $30 billion out there willy-nilly will make the difference, when our economic recovery depends primarily on the recovery in other countries? Let Obama do all the spending and lift us out of the recession. Let me just say it: this "lack of confidence" HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ECONOMY. It is a power grab. Period.

And somehow, all of this will fall on the shoulders of Michaëlle Jean, who is suddenly earning her paycheck as she moves from figurehead to king-maker. I wonder how she's sleeping tonight?

Setting aside the fate of the country for a moment, there is something graceful about the move by Layton and the coalition. They recognized the political Shi -- the situation and dynamic of the moment -- and exploited it. Sun-tzu wrote "Ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting". That may be exactly what happens once this all plays out. Although it makes me a little bit nauseous to say "Dion" or "Layton" and "excellence" in the same paragraph, there is something a wee little bit admirable about the deviousness of this whole plan, and how they exploited Harper's foolish economic update. Harper may not be in this mess had he studied The Art of War more carefully ... or at all.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Stimulate Me - Updated (Jack and Gilles went up a hill)

The federal Conservatives are backing off some more:

Minister of Transport John Baird said the government would not eliminate the right to strike for federal civil servants, as pledged last week. ...

The government has said it will launch a stimulus package eventually, but Mr. Flaherty also insists that "temporary" stimulus does not work well, and the government will take a long-term approach. - g&m-
But now that the ball is rolling on this Liberal-NDP coalition thing, it might not be enough.
Michael Ignatieff said he heard nothing in Mr. Flaherty's announcement that would dispel coalition talks by the opposition.
Layton and Ignatieff can taste it. This is a once in a life-time opportunity for Layton to be part of a governing party, and a huge opportunity for Ignatieff as the most likely successor to the Liberal throne. Harper may have to let those two write the budget in order to avoid losing power.

The Conservatives really screwed this up. I can't help but think it could have been avoided if they hadn't been so arrogant as to try cut off the other party's funding in a confidence motion. They went in for the kill, they missed, and they exposed themselves to what could be a fatal shot from the opposition.

---- UPDATE ----

Oops. Silly me. I had supposed that Ignatieff, the former Liberal deputy leader and likely successor to the throne, might have been a part of the coalition negotiations, but apparently not:
The source in the Ignatieff camp said Mr. Dion is making all the running on coalition talks with the NDP and the Bloc Québécois, and is not consulting with leadership candidates, Mr. Ignatieff, Bob Rae or Dominic LeBlanc.
Not only that, but CTV reports that the NDP was in talks with the Bloc Quebecois before the fiscal update ever came out. This is starting to look like it has nothing to do with fiscal stimulus, and much more to do with desperate leaders trying to subvert democracy. If Dion goes to the Governor-General with Jack and Gilles asking to form a government, she should seriously consider just telling them to go suck it.

Friday, 28 November 2008

We are (almost) all Keynesians now.

The Economic Policy Division of Anybody-Want-A-Peanut? has been doing a lot of thinking recently about the current global economic crisis. Well, they should have been at least, but those slackers spent most of their time playing Rock Band and looking at nude photos on deviantArt. However we do have some thoughts on the matter:

Richard Nixon once said "we are all Keynesians now". That is particularly true during a recession. We can generally rely on monetary policy to keep the economy on course by maintaining price stability, but when the economy veers off into the crapper like it is now, there is a temptation to use the turbo boost of a good old fashioned Keynesian demand shock to try to bump it back on course.

As far as I know, the jury is still out regarding how effective it is. For example, some economists has suggested that it could require tens of billions of dollars to make even a modest impact on the Canadian economy. Nevertheless, elected officials don't want to be seen as bystanders as people lose their jobs, so they "take action" by opening up the bank account and spending money to try to recreate those jobs.

Everybody is doing it: Britain is doing it; Obama has indicated that he's willing to pile on to the massive pile of debt in the US in the name of Keynesian fiscal stimulus; back home in Manitoba, spendaholic Gary Doer is practically drooling over the prospect of throwing around more money. He's like a kid at Christmas with a brand new excuse to spend, and new balanced budget legislation waiting to cover him in case he (oops!) happens to spend a little too much. Even here in Winnipeg there are big plans to spend more money.

The only leader not hopping aboard the Keynesian Express is Mr. Harper. The recent economic update included no fiscal stimulus, just a couple tweaks to cut spending and increase investment. What does The Peanut think about this? Well, the AWAP EPD couldn't give me a straight answer (I really am paying those guys too much) but the opposition certainly don't think riding out the storm is a good idea and they may topple the government to prove it. Can you imagine? A party with no leader trying to form a coalition to replace an elected government a month after the election? Ottawa is so damn disfunctional.

While I personally feel that Keynesian-type fiscal manipulation is generally overrated, Harper may have miscalculated on this one, because what I think doesn't matter. The thing is, most people are Keynesians whether they know it or not. They want to see their government doing something when the economy is falling apart, and ultimately that could be the downfall of Mr. Harper. I think the Liberals may back down now that the Conservatives have backed off their plan to cut funding to the parties, but boy .. it could get interesting if they stick to their guns.

wiki: John Maynard Keynes

Thursday, 27 November 2008

IKEA

Madeleine Lowenborg-Frick, a spokeswoman for Ikea Canada, said this morning the company has identified a parcel of land in the city that it is interested in developing -fp-

Hmmmmm...


related note: the Bring IKEA to Winnipeg! Facebook group has ballooned to 191 members from 121 this time last year. No wonder they're eyeing us up!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

On my way home from work today ...

... I encountered a few situations that might fit nicely on Weirdos of Winnipeg.

First: just out front of Portage Place, a quiet dude who appeared to be disadvantaged in some way -- physically, mentally, likely financially too -- was shuffling along the sidewalk when he spotted something on the ground and stopped in his tracks. When he bent down and picked up the dirty napkin I thought to myself: "good Lord; you're not going to eat that, are you?" He did not eat it. He shuffled over to the garbage can and threw it away. Here is this guy, on a street strewn with garbage, and he just decided to do his part. Good on him. Weird though, but then it's sad that doing something good is weird.

Next: I am waiting for the bus on Portage Avenue after dark when a guy on a handicap scooter scooted by. On the street. He stopped at the red light just like a car, then eventually took off once the light turned green. It was a dark red scooter with a little Italian flag, but no lights, no reflectors, nothing. Damn near got smoked too. He cut off a car in the middle of the block, forcing about six vehicles to slam on their brakes. That's a dangerous game that there guy is playing.

Later, overheard on the #50 bus near downtown:
dude #1: You heading to Winnipeg?
dude #2: Am I going to Winnipeg? Yes. I'm in Winnipeg.

*************

blog note: welcome to Two Ripping Arseholes who have recently joined the blogoshpere. I can only hope their posts are half as eloquent as their blog name. So far so good. (no new tax!!!)

Friday, 21 November 2008

Palin Pardon Massacre : UPDATED!

Thank God Sarah Palin won't get the opportunity to pardon people as President:

Palin pardons turkey as video shows worker slaughtering birds behind her

*** UPDATE *** (because this is such an important issue)

It turns out that this was no gaff at all, but that Palin chose the spot and knew what was going on behind her:

The turkey slaughter was already underway when the governor chose the spot. The photographer pointed out what was going on and asked her if she wanted to move. She said, “No worries.” (link)
Why move? Killing animals is fun and natural.

However, now that the Palin team has realized that not everybody view it the same way, they are denying everything:
Palin’s spokesperson tells ET the bird butchering wasn’t going on when the shot was set up, and a cameraman “ignored” the governor’s staff’s request to remove the graphic sight once cameras were rolling.
I see... the Governor and her staff were powerless to stop the interview. Those damn camera men, always throwing their weight around.

h/t: andrew sullivan

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Throne speech: quick remarks

Looks like we'll be in for a pile of new spending. Yes, I know. Shocking.

Some specific things that jumped out at me:

"Prime Minister Harper is to be commended ..."Even though he's freezing your equalization payments? Interesting.

"On January 1st the small business tax rate, which at 2% is already the lowest small business rate in the country, will be reduced to just 1%." What's the point? This isn't where you're going to get your biggest bang for your buck. It's already low. Focus on those areas that are overtaxed.

"Construction of a 52km bike path along the Manitoba Floodway to Bird's Hill Park" That's good. I might even be able to hit that with a 15 minute ride from my house.

"This year, as work on the floodway expansion project enters its final stage, the Manitoba Floodway Authority will be tasked to develop a partnership with East Side communities for the construction of the all-weather road". Whaaaaa? A road through the pristine forests east of Lake Winnipeg??? But .. but .. I thought ..... explain to me again why BiPole III is going down the much more expensive West side route?

"On the East Side of Lake Winnipeg, new resources will be invested to support the bid for a UNESCO World Heritage designation and the development of sustainable ecotourism."Oh right, we need a road to transport the masses of tourists to our brand new UNESCO site, which will magically be transformed from a forest into a something equivalent to the Pyramids of Egypt. We already have ecotourism: it's called hunting and fishing. They will come with or without the UNESCO stamp. Besides them, of you think more than a couple dozen tourists will travel north of Manigotagan you're smoking something besides goldeye. We do need the road to serve the communities, but this UNESCO thing is waaaaay overblown.

"The revenues from Hydro exports ensure that Manitobans continue to benefit from having among the lowest electricity rates in the world." Ug. I'll get into this (again) someother time.

"This year our government will introduce new legislation to ban the use of hand-held cell phones or text messaging devices while driving." I don't #@*&% get it. Why is every jurisdiction banning hand-held cell phones and not cell phones? Virutally all studies have shown that hands-free are no safer. In fact, they are probably MORE dangerous because you're bound to talk on them longer and get more wrapped up in your conversation. Do it right or don't do it at all.

quotes courtesy of the CTV transcript.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

We are not in a depression

Response to This post by Jimmy Cotton, who should add a comments feature to his blog.

Note to Jimmy:
Donny Deutsch and Wikipedia are not the most reliable sources on economic issues. Or anything really.

We are not in a depression. The definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of declining output. A slump doesn't sound as bad, but it's actually worse: it's a period where output falls by at least 10%. A depression is worse than both: it's longer than a recession and deeper than a slump. Until somebody produces numbers that show that GDP has dropped for at least 3 quarters and by 15% or thereabouts, you cannot say that we are in a depression. That's not to say we aren't on our way, but panicking prematurely is not going to help.

Source: the economist

Monday, 17 November 2008

The Winnipeg Bus Blues

Winnipeg Transit is increasing my bus fare, but at least the service is getting crappier.

Starting today, the # 57 Southdale Express bus starts on a new schedule that reduces the already-limited number of trips that it takes downtown, and increases the wait times between buses. I now have two fewer buses going to work and three fewer coming home. I also have to be a little snappier in the morning or I'll miss my bus and be late for work.

Maybe they think that they can get away with it because of the increased cost of parking downtown, but with the reduced service I'll probably end up driving more often and taking Transit less. Either way I'll need to increase my transportation budget next year.

Mind you, they've replaced my bus shack twice in the past year, so I guess they still care about the suburbs.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Berry, Bauer and the Bombers

Big moves in Bomber Land:

Reliable sources confirmed Mike Kelly will be offered the job as head coach in Winnipeg.

Make that head coach and GM of the Blue Bombers.

Bombers president/CEO Lyle Bauer not only confirmed yesterday that Berry has been relieved of his duties but suggested that GM Brendan Taman has been demoted.

That would pave the way for Mike Kelly ... be offered the dual position.

Mike Kelly is currently employed as the receivers coach for the Eskies. He's allegedly being promoted, not just to head coach, but to head coach and GM. Are we sure that's a good idea? Think back to this guy:
Yes that's right. Reinebold. Currently a receivers coach for a US college team. He was a pretty good defensive coordinator, but give him the reins as head coach and GM ... It's a lot of responsibility, is what I'm saying.

I'm not opposed to demoting Taman from the GM role, but the guy doesn't even know he's been demoted yet. I almost feel sorry for the dude. Not only that, but the Eskies are still in the playoffs. Remember last weekend? Yeah.. Bauer is being a little ham-handed and perhaps knee-jerkish with this little power trip.

As I mentioned before, I don't think the firing of Berry was the right thing to do either. He got his power running back mid-way through the season and we started winning games (mostly against Hamilton and Toronto, but anyhoo..). It doesn't add up. We clearly have Quarterback issues and Offensive Coordinator problems. Are we going to replace them? Will we go into 2009 with a new GM, head coach, offensive coordinator and starting QB? We need some continuity, Lyle.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

"We know exactly who they are"

To all those who say that longer jail sentences won't solve anything, watch the video clip here:

http://watch.ctv.ca/news/clip111945#clip111945

I've written about this before, including here where I criticized Dan Lett's take on the issue. It's missing the point to say that longer jail sentences don't reform somebody. a) you can implement programs to try to reform people while they are in jail, and b) some of these fuck-ups are beyond reform.

The point is, they can't hurt anybody while they are in jail. Why is that of secondary importance? As soon as somebody hits "level IV" status, he or she should be locked up for 10 years or until they are 30 years old, whichever comes last. To do anything else would be irresponsible, bordering on willful negligence. The judges who do not assign maximum sentences, and the people standing in the way of reforming the youth criminal justice act and implementing tougher sentences should be held responsible for the damage that is done by these criminals, because it is completely foreseeable.

"Public safety is always at risk every minute he's out of jail"

That's the bottom line.

Monday, 10 November 2008

How to get to Vimy Ridge

When I was looking into visiting Vimy Ridge I had difficulty finding good instructions on getting there. It didn't occur to me to call Veteran's Affairs, which would be a good place to start. But anyhow, here's my insight, should anybody happen to google by.

Step 1: Get your ass over to Paris.
Step 2: Go to Gare du Nord, and catch a train to Arras. If you wish to reserve a ticket in advance, it can done at any train station.
Step 3 / option 1 (recommended): take a cab from the Arras train station to the Vimy Ridge national historic site. Approx cost: €20 one way.
Step 3 / option 2 (not recommended unless you have little money): take a bus to the Vert-Tilleul stop (the last of the three stops in Thelus). Walk approx 1 km up the highway to the turn off to Vimy Ridge. Warning: it is a busy highway and there are no shoulders. Follow the road another 3 km-ish to get to the park. Cost: €1.

The bus does not run very often, and it does not leave from the train station in Arras either. The cab is by far your best bet. Keep the phone number for the cab (06.17.59.7101). When you are ready to leave you can call one out to get you, or ask one of the nice folks who work at the park office to call one for you.

If you are really lucky, like I was, you might get a free lift back into town by a kind French gentleman named Monsieur Devloo who often gives Canadians rides to and from Vimy Ridge. [02/10/09 edit: Mr. Devloo recently passed away]


TO THE VALOUR OF THEIR COUNTRY-MEN IN THE GREAT WAR AND IN MEMORY OF THEIR SIXTY THOUSAND DEAD THIS MONUMENT IS RAISED BY THE PEOPLE OF CANADA

***
[12/10/09 edit: I still get fairly regular hits on this post. If you are visiting Vimy and have suggestions or updated information upon returning from your visit, please feel free to add them to the comments or send me an email (see side bar for my address .. replace *at* with @) so that other visitors might benefit from your experience. Thanks, and bonne chance.]

[03.2016 update: A commentor below gave the following numbers for taxis to/from Vimy: 06 69 34 74 75 or 06 58 23 36 37]

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Thanks for the memories

Well that was an anti-climatic end to Milt Stegall's career. Thanks for the memories, Turtle Man, even if they don't include a Grey Cup.


********

Kevin Glenn has to go. He's ok, but that's not good enough. Sure, maybe the Bombers would have won last year if Glenn hadn't broken his arm, but with our talent we could have won with just about any QB with experience. The fact is Glenn is not good enough. He has his good games, but he has too many bad ones. It's time to move on to the post-Glenn era, and find a starting QB who is more mobile and has a better arm. Could it be Randall? Maybe. Let's give him a try.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Spirited Energy: Let history be the judge

Your assignment for today: compare and contrast the coverage:


Good stuff, right there. The different spins.

Look, the Spirited Energy campaign and it's "son" may seem like wasteful spending by some people, but just like George Bush's legacy, time will reveal the Premiers advisory buddy board's brilliance. You mark my words. (Actually don't. That way I can destroy this web site and remove all evidence of these comments.)

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

B.O. is the new P.O.T.U.S.

John McCain would have made a good president. His concession speech was grateful and positive. In it, he mentioned that everybody makes mistakes, and he is sure that he's made his share during the campaign too. He has indeed, and it is primarily because of one of those mistakes that I am glad that Obama won.

I'm talking about Sarah Palin. I mean, seriously, how could somebody so close to death pick somebody so incredibly under-qualified to be his back up for such an important job?

Barack Obama will make a good president too. Many people's expectations will be crushed simply because they are far too high (notice that in his acceptance speach Obama was already trying to lower expectations) and the situation that he is inheriting is too fucked up, but I think he will choose expierenced people (some republicans maybe, even) to help him steer the country in the right direction.

Speaking of directions, what's next for the Repulican party? A shake-up is needed for sure. The "neo-con" philosophy must be purged and a new direction must prevail. But what direction will that be? A turn towards the center? A turn further towards Palin-esc evangelical conservatism? A turn back towards it's Ron Paul-esc libertarian roots? Choose your road wisely, guys. (Yes, of course Republican strategists read this blog.)

Now, the important question: will my stocks get a post-election bounce?

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Godspeed You! Nurses Union

Back in March '08 around the time the Nurses signed their peachy new inflationary contract, Juanita Smith, a nurse, said the following:

"You're constantly worried you're going to make a mistake-- that you're going to give the wrong dose, you're going to miss something, you're going to miss an order that can have repercussions, that somebody waiting in emergency, something is going to happen to them while they're waiting," (*)
7 months later:
The emergency room where Brian Sinclair died after waiting 34 hours for medical help has one of the worst staff shortages in the city... the Health Sciences Centre ER is short close to 13 full-time nurses -- 19 per cent of its regular nursing staff. (*)
Meanwhile, the nurses have received two more 5% raises in Oct since getting their big raise in March. You can't expect giant raises to solve the problem overnight, but they will help eventually, right Maureen Hancharyk, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union?:
"it's not going to fix the nursing shortage" (*)
Or, maybe this is one of those things that you can't solve by throwing money at it. Like most things. Mr.Doer.

**********************

This is what I'm going to play for the kiddies on Halloween night:

Monday, 27 October 2008

The Running of the sheep

Three men were seriously injured Sunday during the Running Of The Sheep in Madrid, Spain. The annual spectacle, which began in 1372 as a protest by farmers, has since turned into a week-end long festival and tourist attraction. However, many people question whether it is all worth while.

American college student, Daniel Rickards, had to have his left leg amputated after being trampled and then gnawed by ravenous sheep.

"I entered the Running Of The Sheep for the adrenaline rush, you know, I though it would be a blast. Now look at me. My dream of playing pro football is over."

Sadly, stories like Daniel's are all too common. Still, the organizers insist that the show must go on. "How can we turn our backs on 700 years of tradition?" they say.

How can we, indeed.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

My addiction has been cured

I was a regular poster on the NewWinnipeg internet discussion forum. Not the most prolific poster at all, but I certainly enjoyed the discussions and debates.

About a month ago, I went on vacation overseas. As I was walking through the streets of cities in Europe, topics that were discussed on NewWinnipeg often came to mind: Urban Density of course is one. The contrast with typical North American cities, and Winnipeg in particular, is mind blowing. But also things like Bike Paths and Rapid Transit. Hey, did you know that Winnipeg isn't the only city with a fetish for Giant Banners? Check out this picture from Barcelona that shows an entire building covered by a banner, right next to Antoni Gaudi's famous Casa Batlló:


I returned from vacation armed with all kinds of thoughts and observations from my overseas experience, only to find that my favourite internet forum hath been cleft in twain, due to acrimonious comments, accusations of duplicity, banning - perhaps prematurely - of regular members, and other nonsense. Such drama.

Sadly, NewWinnipeg is a shadow of it's former self, and a rival forum, the Sandbox, has been set up by the disgruntled ex-NWers. So now what? Do I have to pick sides? Do I have to shun NW if I want to chat with the familiar virtual faces in the Sandbox? Can I post on both forums, or does that make me a double-agent? Jeeze. Can't we all just get along?

Fuck it. I probably spent too much time on the forum anyhow.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Mr. Victim comes to town

It's easy to feel sorry for Dion. For some people at least. Here's a smart guy with a good ideas, they say, who got bullied and mistreated and suffered from a party that was not united behind him.

Dion is one of those people who feels sorry for Dion. After moping in his house for five days, he finally emerges like a little mouse, and reluctantly squeaks out his resignation.

"It's not my fault. It's all those other big bad people around me. They made fun of my accent. They posted an ad of a bird pooping on me. What could I do? I did everything right, but I never had a chance!"*

*this may not be an exact quote.

I didn't see his full press conference, but if Mia Rabson's column can be believed, he not only blames the conservatives, but his own party as well -- before he became leader!

Dion said the attacks on him and the propaganda against the Liberal Green Shift plan was a well-funded campaign by a Conservative Party which had far deeper pockets than the Liberals.

He said his party has struggled to adapt to new political fund-raising rules which were put in place by the Liberal government before it was defeated in 2004. (fp)

Wait a minute .. the fund raising rules that your own party created are responsible for your pathetic showing in the election?

Am I the only one who realizes that Dion was never equipped to be Prime Minister? The job of Prime Minister requires a number of skills, with 'Leadership' at the top of the list, and 'Book Smarts' somewhere around 16th or 17th.

If Dion had the leadership skills and ability to build a vision and articulate it to masses, he could have united the party behind him. He could have built popular support, raised more money and made people forget about Harper's ads. He could have showed better judgment in choosing his platform.

Leadership skills, good judgment, the ability to negotiate and articulate a vision, and to bring people with differing views together to common ground: these are not just useful skills in becoming PM, but in being an effective PM -- both in running national affairs but also in building a presence on the world stage and commanding respect from other leaders.

The man also appears to suffer from delusion. Just now on CTV Robert Fife reported that, as of this morning, Dion still believed he could survive a leadership review and had to be talked into resigning.

Good mental health, by the way, is also a useful attribute for a PM to have.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Mr. Obvious comes to town

Liberal MP Joe Volpe felt the need to publicly point out the obvious, two days after the election:

Toronto MP Joe Volpe said Thursday it would be best for Dion and the party if the leader signals his intention to leave as quickly as possible.

With the party broke and likely facing another election within a couple of years, Volpe said Liberals need to get on with rebuilding and they won’t be able to do it with Dion at the helm. (*)

adding: "I’d like him to go out with some dignity", while simultaneously removing Dion's ability to go out with some dignity.

Seriously, what's the point, Volpe? Dion's not retarded. He knows he's finished. He just needed a few days to come to terms with it, before announcing his retirement as leader.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Election Thoughts / Blog Action Day

I feel like a bit of a hypocrite, talking about "Blog Action" Day after not posting anything for a month. Action is not a forte around here. I really don't have much to contribute, but I will offer this, along the B.A.D. theme of 'Poverty':

What is it? It's a glimpse of a shanty town, taken from a train outside of Figueres, Spain. It's a common site outside of the cities I passed. These folks live in makeshift little shacks and grow food on very small plots of land alongside highways and railways.

I offer no solutions to the problem of poverty; only a peek at how some people in other areas live with it. Obviously squatting on a piece of land and growing food year round is not an option here, but it is somewhat admirable that they fend for themselves in this way.

a hat tip to CJ who made me aware of this Blog Action Day thing. See also West End Dumplings with a very good post.

*****************

Some very quick thoughts on the election:
  1. I hope Dion enjoys the next six months of getting poled by Steven Harper, 'cause that's all he has left as opposition leader.
  2. Loudmouth party-hopper Garth Turner can now turn to blogging full time.
  3. There was some good news for the Liberals: Justin Trudeau won his seat, probably after finishing every campaign speech with a tearful "Je t'aime, Papa"
  4. The Green Party needs a real leader, not somebody who is overjoyed at losing.
That's all I can muster at the moment.

'Later, dudes.

Friday, 19 September 2008

One year of The Peanut

Happy birthday to me. La la la la la.

It was about a year ago that a bouncing goo-covered Anybody Want A Peanut? was ripped from the idle mind of it's creator and thrust into the unforgiving bloggosphere.

Originally conceived as a way to kill time during the infamous New Winnipeg outage of 2007 (hence my first post), The Peanut has since exploded into the little-known regional blog that it is today. Just inside the top 800,000 blogs, as a matter of fact! I, Cherenkov (not my real name), thank all of you who have visited, commented on, or linked to my little corner of the world wide web.

Some stats from year 1

Top 3 visited posts:

  1. Thoughts on the Greyhound beheading
  2. The future of Winnipeg: cookie-cutter condos
  3. Upper Fort Gary: apartments will not destroy gate
what?? Find Your Fetish did not make it?

Most profanity in a post: probably Grab your glocks when you see your ex

Top search terms (not including "cherenkov blog"):
  1. greyhound beheading
  2. friends upper fort garry
  3. leah hextall (heh)
  4. phil sheegl
Policy Frog gets the nod as my top referral site (thx PF)


I think I'll reward myself with a few weeks away from the computer. Sadly, that will mean no election campaign commentary from The Peanut. Oh well. If you want to see my predictions for the election, go here.

Cheers ...

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Canada Post Water Park?

Back in January I posted this, regarding the $7 mil donation from the city for a new water park:

Here's an idea though: how about the soon-to-be-abandoned Canada Post building in downtown Winnipeg? Will the near-by Radisson step up to the plate?
Since then, the $7 mil got ear-marked for Leo Ledohowski for one of his CanadInns hotels. Although Sammy's preference was to see a water park downtown, Leo's plan was to build it at Polo Park:
The city will kick in $7 million towards the $56 million project that will be built at the Canada Inns hotel near Polo Park. (ctv)
But now ... with the stadium moving to the U of M, and Leo's recent purchase of the radission ...
"it's too early to tell what combination of restaurants, entertainment concepts, night clubs or water parks will be launched at the hotel" (fp)
... might Leo instead consider building the "world class" water park downtown instead? Possibly in the soon-to-be-abandoned Canada Post building???

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Carbon Tax: Part II

In my first post about the carbon tax we learned that

  1. the conservatives initially seemed to be doing a pitiful job of fighting the carbon tax, but maybe good enough. (More likely, the Liberals are just not doing a good enough job of selling it.)
  2. it takes me two months to draw a single-panel editorial cartoon.
In this post, I intend to talk about the actual program. In fact, I had intended to dig up some of my old studies and notes from Environmental Economics where we discussed this shit, but as usual I'm too damn lazy. It was mostly math anyhow.

If I can recall a few key things from those classes, one on them is that market-based mechanisms are far superior to non-market regulations. It is more efficient because the marginal cost of reducing emissions is determined by the market. Co. A may be able to reduce emissions at a lower cost than Co.B, therefore they will reduce more and Co.B will reduce less, to the point that their respective marginal costs are equal. In the end the same amount of emissions are reduced but at a lower cost than if the government regulates A & B to reduce X amt.

Put one check on the scorecard for carbon tax for being market based. (I should mention here that I am not going to get into the climate change debate. What matters here is that most people believe that climate change is happening, and is at least partly a result of emissions, so the question is: what it the best plan to reduce emissions?)

How well will the Carbon tax work? The plan proposes the following:
  • $40/tonne tax on coal, natural gas, etc.. (after four years)
  • 7 cents/l tax on diesel (after four years)
  • no tax on gasoline.
With no tax on gasoline, the plan obviously will do sweet bugger-all to reduce emissions from cars. I suspect the tax on diesel will do likewise. I don't see trucking companies changing their behaviour for a 7 cent tax, given the large increases that they've already seen in the price of fuel. Indeed, the transportation sector is largely unaffected, even though they are a major source of emissions.

Most of the revenues will come from the $40 tax on other fuels. In particular, a "significant majority" will come from the larger corporate energy users. The degree to which this will cause them to reduce their emissions is difficult to say. It should have an impact, but there are lots of variables.

The "tax less of what we do want" part of the equation is what makes this plan "revenue neutral". While I don't disagree with the principle of a revenue neutral plan, this is hardly revenue neutral at the individual level.

The big losers: businesses. While a large majority of the tax revenue will come from businesses, they will benefit from less than 25% of the tax cuts.

Who are the big winners? Families and poor people. In addition to the lowest tax rate decreasing 1.5%, and the next two brackets going down 1%, we find these other items tucked away in the green plan:
  • a child tax benefit of $350/kid
  • replace $1000 employment tax credit with a $1850 refundable credit for incomes of less than $50,000
  • increase in working tax benefit for low income workers.
  • disability tax credit for low income disabled people.
  • rural credit of $150
  • increase in northern resident reduction
  • increase in guaranteed income supplement ($600) for low income seniors
  • new guaranteed family supplement for low income families (up to $1225)
  • increase in National Child Benefit Supplement for families b/w $21k & $26k
I have to wonder: what is this really about? The tax excludes some of the biggest sources of emissions, has an unknown impact on actual emissions, but includes a big income shift from corporations to individuals. Is this really about saving the environment, or is this a robin hood scheme?

My personal opinion is that, if you want to reduce emissions, tradeable emissions permits are the way to go. Like carbon tax, they are market-based. Unlike carbon tax, they can produce specific results. What tradeable emissions permits do not do is give the government an opportunity to buy off low income voters under the guise of saving the environment.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Pullin' for Palin

I feel maybe I was a little bit hard on Palin with my last post, so I will now list some reasons why she is a good VP pick:

1. She is a gun-totin', oil-pumpin', pro-lifer. Yes, that's right. I'm covering all my bases. In my last post this was a negative because it will scare away Hillary-supporting democrats. In this post, it's a positive. You see, McCain is naturally a social moderate. He's being torn between his personal views and the demands of the republican base, and is being forced to publically support a more conservative social agenda, but the evangelicals he is trying to woo (did I really use that word?) can see through that. Palin is a legit social conservative and therefore will take a lot of the pressure off McCain to get those bible-thumpers out to vote when it counts.

2. She's a working mom. That will help secure some of that hockey/football/ultimate frisbee mom vote, from mom's who don't have strong loyalties to either party.

3. She's young and inexperienced. Why is that an advantage? Because it assures voters that she had absolutely nothing to do with the war in Iraq. She never influenced the decision to go to Iraq. She was never in the position to vote on any bill related to the war, or any other federal bill for that matter, and therefore cannot be critisized for it. She's a clean slate, as far as Washington goes. Sort of.

4. She's a bitch. As Tina Fey says: "bitch is the new black". This works out well, when you're going up against Obama. Plus, bitches get things done. Also, being a chick is important because McCain's a dude. A corner has been turned south of the border, and a tandem of two white guys would just look so old fashioned competing against Obama. Diversity is a must now. You have to show that you're willing to draw from the entire pool of candidates. This also suggests there might be a diversity of opinion in the government -- which is a good thing. This is something the previous administration was lacking.

There you go. All of the things that used to be negatives are now positives. Goes to show that it's a matter of perspective. We here at the Peanut have never been big on providing balanced commentary on anything, but we'll make an exception in this case.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Impalin' the VPILF

I admit that I am not the keenest observer of US politics, but I feel compelled to comment on John McCain's choice for VP, and it's my damn blog so I can comment on whatever the hell I want.

Now, a lot of people have had a lot of things to say about Sarah Palin. Me, I think John McCain picked her for two simple reasons: she is young and she has tits. Because she is young, the average age of the President/VP tandem will be somewhere in the high 50s (58 by my calculations) which should be acceptable to most voters. Because she has boobies, she will automatically capture the disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters.

I think McCain is wrong. Palin may look a little bit like your sexy high school teacher, but on the inside she's a gun-toting, oil-pumping, vengeful bitch with a knocked-up teenage daughter and a mentally handicapped newborn who she apparently wants nothing to do with1. She's more of a redneck than Ted Nugent. Aside from the bitch part, she has little in common with Hillary. Vengeful Hillary supporters may vote republican, but otherwise I imagine they will be scared off by the creationism, anti-abortionism, and poor environmental record -- vagina or no vagina.

There. That's what I have to say about Palin. I think it was a gutsy pick by McCain, and I expect an interesting and nasty race to the finish line. But I think, ultimately, the gamble will not pay off because, aside from helping to secure the social conservative base, Palin will not pull in the votes that McCain needs.

1 I should explain this statement. Palin has 5 kids. The oldest - Track (named after the marks on the inside of her arm?) - is going off to college, which leaves four. Those four include her daughter Bristol who is pregnant and a newborn Trig (named after the course she flunked in high school? Ok. I'll stop now) has Down syndrome. Now, I'm not saying that a woman cannot work and raise a family at the same time. Far from it. But US VP is no ordinary job. Most working moms would still be able to squeeze in some time to help their kids with their homework, help their daughter plan her shot-gun wedding, help change the diapers, etc. With the responsibilities and learning curve that Palin has ahead of her, she will have ZERO time for her family. So the husband does it, right? You mean the husband that works for BP and also owns a commercial fishing business? Ok. Sure. At least they'll have enough income to hire some really nice surrogate parents.

The group to watch

I know what I'd be doing if I were in St.Louis:

The same group tees off tomorrow (Saturday) for 36 holes due to Thursday's round being cancelled. I can think of worse ways to spend a Saturday than watching these three fight it out.

edit: they did not play together on Saturday. Just Friday. I misread the text on the PGA site.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Carbon Tax, Part 1

I had the idea to draw this cartoon about two months ago, shortly after Stephan Dion announced that he was hitching his wagon to the carbon tax, but I didn't get around to actually drawing it until now. The point at the time was to show that, while it is very admirable of Dion to commit to something that is very likely to be unpopular because he presumably believes it is the right thing to do, I thought it would sink his hopes of ever being PM. I saw it as being a hail Mary pass -- one last long bomb with the green football to see if he could pull out a miracle victory after letting the opponent run all over him for the first 59 minutes of the game.

That's not really how it's turning out. Dion and the Liberals are hanging right in there in the polls, and the "green shift" is not getting the negative reaction that I'm sure the Conservatives would love to see. Why? I think it's because Harper doesn't know how to fight it. Harper has ripped a page from the Hugh McFadyen campaign playbook by insulting the intelligence of the electorate with talking oil spots, and radio ads featuring a fake call-in show with bad actors. Harper is at his best when he approaches a subject in a cerebral and logical manner. Saying that the tax will "screw everybody across the country" falls far short of that. Unless he can find a way to explain the flaws of the carbon tax to average voters (without using the word "screwed"), or better yet - explain why his program is better, then this election battle will be a tough one for him.

I'll write a post a bit later (if I have time) about the carbon tax itself. À la prochaine ...

update: I may have spoken a little too quickly: Support for the Liberals' Green Shift dropping: poll

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Speed Walking: The Olympic Oxymoron

So you won a gold medal in speed walking, eh? Well congratufuckinglations. I'll bet I can kick your ass at power sitting.

If I were in Jacques Rogge's shoes for a day, the first thing I would do is strike "walking" from the next Olympics, and here's why:

  1. It's impossible to officiate. The walkers move their feet so quickly that even if you're looking carefully it's difficult to tell if they have both their feet off the ground for a fraction of a second. Over a 20km course, there's absolutely no way you can properly monitor all "racers". I am sure they cheat their assess off when they're in the middle of the course without any judges near by.
  2. It's a poor spectator sport. Really. Marathon is boring enough, but this is like a marathon in slo-mo. Not only that, the racers look ridiculous. Imagine if you will, a worm dancing upright on the pavement. That's about what they look like.
  3. It's a fringe sport. Very fringe. There are other fringe sports in the Olympics, like two man luge, but you need to draw a line somewhere.
  4. The sport just fundamentally doesn't make any sense. If you want to get from point A to point B quickly, what do you do? You run! You don't fucking walk, you idiot.
If you're going to have a contest for who can walk fastest, why don't you also have a hurdles event for walkers? The racers will speed walk up to each barrier, and them climb over the barrier without jumping. To make it really authentic, you can give each racer shopping bags and hold the event in an Impark lot. That's something I'd be more likely to watch.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Only a matter of time

Flipping channels last night, I landed on TSN SportsCentre and saw none other than CTV Sports cutie Leah Hextall. It turns out, the gig is only temporary. Leah's been seconded to fill in during the busy summer/Olympics period, but really it's only a matter of time before "Sexy Hexy" joins the long list of Winnipeg sports reporters who have been poached by the big boys in Toronto. She's the total package: enthusiastic and knowledgeable, articulate, and, how should I put it ... easy on the eyes.

Maybe she isn't a looker in the traditional Jennifer Hedger sense, but her combination of good looks and quirky & bubbly personality make her a lot of fun to watch. Now that those Easterners got a taste of the perky little prarie girl they're going to want some more.

Unfortunately I do not have any pictures of Leah Hextall nude. I only mention Leah Hextall naked as a shameless attempt to increase my search engine traffic. Sex tape.

related: globe & mail
photo credit: chrisd
also related at chrisd


******

On the subject of leaving Winnipeg, blogger Jim Cotton of Pissing In The Tent announced on New Winnipeg that he was selling the home in Winnipeg Beach and moving to Calgary. The Peanut wishes you all the best.

Leah Hextall bikini pictures.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Canadian culture = ass porn

Uh oh. The conservatives are tearing up the fabric of Canadian culture again!

Tories to axe five more arts and culture programs

The Department of Canadian Heritage has decided to cut five more arts and culture programs over the next two years, even as a chorus of complaints from the arts community and opposition MPs rains down on the federal government over cuts announced last week.
...
Liberal Heritage critic Denis Coderre reacted furiously to the PromArt and Trade Routes cuts, calling them “totally unacceptable” and “disgusting.” ... Members of the Bloc Québécois and NDP also had harsh words for the Conservatives, with Bloc MP Claude DeBellefeuille saying she “did not think it possible for a government to show so much contempt” for artists.
Let me put my conservative hat on for a second to theorize about why they might be making these cuts. (If you're wondering what my conservative hat looks like, envision a bowler hat made out of matted hair from Margaret Thatcher's side burns, decorated with the tail feather from the last known ivory billed woodpecker and buck shot from Dick Cheney's gun. It wasn't cheap, I tell ya).

So why are they taking the meat cleaver to these valued organizations that nobody has heard of until now? Maybe because nobody has heard of them. After the initial outrage, nobody will care. Here's another thing: government programs spring up with good intentions, but they don't go away!

Case in point: AV Trust, one of the programs on the chopping block:
For the highest priority materials at risk in the existing holdings
• establish a cost-shared program at a level of $2 million per year for ten years for non-federal stakeholders, and allocate an equivalent amount of $2 million per year for ten years to those federal agencies which are already preserving an important part of Canada’s audio-visual heritage.
The program was initiated in 1996. Ten years was 2 years ago! Is this still needed? If not, get rid of it!

What people don't think about is that for every program that is cut, there are usually dozens that are not. All people hear about are the sob stories of the well traveled administrators of the programs that are cut. In actuality, funding for cultural programs is increasing:
For the current fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2009, Parliament has voted to spend more than $4 billion on cultural programs, including the CBC, the Canada Arts Council, the National Gallery of Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage. That amount is $660 million or 19.7 per cent more than was spent in fiscal 2006, the last year when the Liberals controlled the purse strings.
With talk of a potential recession or deficit, don't you think it would be prudent to maybe take a look at where the buckets of money are going to see if it still being spent effectively (or if it was ever being spent effectively?)

Here's something else the government is spending money on, from today's paper:
More than 160 years after Sir John Franklin's doomed expedition vanished in the ice of the fabled Northwest Passage, the federal government is backing a search for the Holy Grail of the Canadian Arctic.
Searching for a piece of important Canadian history. That's cool. Nothing wrong with that. Hell, we're even supporting a Canadian porn channel:
The CRTC has given the go-ahead for Canada’s first adult television channel with “significant” homegrown content.
As long as we have good ol' Canadian ass porn on our TVs, you know our culture will be just fine.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Quick Olympic thoughts

So here we are, well into the games and trailing Togo and Kyrgyzstan in the medal totals, with a grand total of, um, zero. Some critics may say that we need to train harder, spend more money, get our kids started earlier, etc.. Maybe, but that sounds like a lot of work. I think instead we should lobby the Olympic committee to expand the podium to include two more medals for every event. Those nickel and aluminum medals would really enhance our total, and our national pride.

And what's the deal here? In a country of 3.8 trillion people, they can't find a kid who's both cute and talented?

I can hardly wait for that thrilling speed walking event. When does that air?

Monday, 11 August 2008

Wackos and waterparks

A little wrap-up from the weekend, now that I have a couple minutes to write ...

First, I was glad to hear that Tim McLean's funeral went off without an ensuing gong show. Cudo's to Jim Cotton and all the others who showed up to peacefully support the family or had a hand in keeping the Westboro Baptist Church wackos away. Those guys are the Christian equivalent of Al Qaeda -- reveling in death to support their twisted version of their religion.

Cudos as well to the Portage newspaper for refusing to print the tasteless PETA ad, and jeers to those papers that published it anyhow as a "news item".

How to catch a nutbar: dig a hole and throw in a severed human head. Come back in 48 hours and the hole will be filled with American wackos.

****

changing topics ... this story just kinda flirted by without much reaction:

Arborg to gain $330,000 aquatic park, says Doer

The province will spend $330,000 towards a new outdoor pool and water slide park for Arborg, the Doer government said today.

The aquatic park will feature three water slides, a four-lane Olympic lap pool, a spray park and a “lazy” river to drift on a floatation device. The water centre is targeted to open next summer.

Provincial funding for the project is part of the government’s push to double recreation spending to more than $60 million over the next four years.

That's the entire story. What's the deal here? Does every town over 1000 people get a waterpark? Or only ones in NDP ridings? How exactly was Arborg chosen and who selected this waterpark as their recreation expense? Does Ledohowski get $330,000 from the Provincial government for his waterpark too? C'mon guys .. the government is spending $60m here. Are you going to let them spend it willy nilly, or are you going to ask a few questions?

Four sentences. Sheesh.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Will Bono get the Point?

The thepoint.com has found a worthy cause:

OBJECTIVE To get Bono to retire from public life (so he'll stop leading misguided counter-productive philanthropy efforts)
Exhibit 1: the Red Campaign, co-created by Bono in 2006:
The RED campaign has managed to spend $40 million more on marketing that it has raised from RED product sales, while sending consumers a dangerous message.
The grassroots leaders of the global fight against AIDS didn’t ask for Bono to be their frontman. Its time for Bono to step down. We’ll all pledge donations to the Global Fund, but no pledges are collected until Bono retires from public life. ... If he want to fight AIDS he can make a direct donation instead of buying a sweatshop GAP T-shirt. As the pledges grow, Bono will have to decide what matters more, fighting AIDS effectively, or him being the movement’s frontman.
Spread the word.

h/t: much music

Oh ya, that's much better ...

Here's a little glimpse into the future for those of you who where calling for TASERs to get banned after the Langan incident:

A 26-year-old man died in hospital this morning after being shot by police outside an inner-city home when he refused to drop a knife he was brandishing ... One officer tried to use a Taser to subdue him, but the effort was unsuccessful and officers were required to use lethal force to stop the threat he posed.

Police said it’s too early to tell if the Taser malfunctioned, or if the electronic probes it shot failed to attach to the suspect.
Do you still want to suspend their use, Dr. Jon Gerrard? Let's suspend keeping people alive in favour of killing them with bullets, until the government conducts a review and sets guidelines for not killing people with bullets. Brilliant. And like Frogger points out, the police set guidelines for TASER use, not the government.

Seriously though, what's with all these people pulling knifes on cops? What are they hoping to accomplish?

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Thoughts on the Greyhound beheading

If you're reading this, then you have a computer with internet, which means you're already familiar with the story so I won't bother providing a link. Also because there are too many to choose from.

There is usually a sequence of events when a tragedy like this happens:

1) media saturation. Good bye Taser story. Hello dude with no head. Get the widow on the set, we love dirty laundry.

2) people trying to make sense of it all. Did they know each other? Was he mentally unstable? Was it gang related? Was it race related?

It's not gang related. Like Darcey says over at The Broom: "Beheading isn't in their toolbox". Gang bangers are pussies who shoot from cars or attack in large groups. This guy wasn't a gang banger.

Was it race related? Doubtful. Beheading is in the toolbox of some extreme elements of certain ethnic and religious groups. But the victim is reported as being native. Are Canadian Indians the #1 enemy of Islamic extremists? Do Indians behead each other? I just can't see this as being a race thing.

Was he mentally unstable? Hmmm, let me think about this one. YES. And maybe, just maybe, that's all there is to it.

3) Political opportunism. I hope to God we skip this step this time around, but I wouldn't put it past David Chartrand and his ilk to spin this into some kind of Indian victimhood story.

4) Knee-jerk reactions. Ban the Taser! Ban shooter girls and cheap drinks! Put metal detectors at all Greyhound stops! It'll happen, don't worry.

One last thought:

If this had happened in LA, the attacker would be dead. I was visiting a friend in LA once when I ran into a detour in Santa Monica. I found out why, later on TV. A high speed car chase ended a block away in a hail of bullets. It was all recorded by helicopter camera: the cops had the car surrounded, and proceeded to turn it into swiss cheese. They could have, if they were so inclined, arrested the fellow and took him into custody, but that's not the way they do things down there. I'm not saying it's good or bad -- I'll let you make your own judgment call on that one -- but it is certainly expedient and cost effective. This guy, whoever he is, will have to be in custody or closely monitored for the rest of his life. He'll also be a threat to society for the rest of his life. A carton of bullets for a Glock .45 = $45

Just sayin' ...

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Don't tase me, bro

Prepare yourself for another 2 weeks of non-stop Robert Dziekanski footage, as the news programs cover the apparent Taser death of 17 year old Michael Langan, along with the resulting cries from the irrational masses to "ban the Taser".

Unlike PITT and JDS (who I'm not saying are irrational ... although they might be on occasion), I DO support the use of Tasers. Like I wrote back here

the death of Robert Dziekanski was regrettable, and the police may have been a little trigger-happy with their 50,000 volt toys, but it is undebatable that the use of a Taser is still a far better option than the use of a gun in subduing an unruly person in close quarters.
While all of the details have yet to come out, it appears this kid put himself in that position:
"They repeatedly asked him to disarm himself and to drop the knife," const. Jacqueline Chaput said. "The male refused to comply and at that point the electronic control device was deployed.
Remind you of anybody else?

The mother says "they might as well have taken a gun and shot my son." Well, you know what? That's exactly what they would have done if they didn't have Tasers. At least with Tasers there's better than a 99% chance he'll live.

Every use of the Taser should be reviewed to ensure the circumstances were appropriate (shooting each other in the ass at a party is not appropriate, by the way), but ban the Taser? Fuck that. If you support banning Tasers then you support increased death of idiots who don't understand that threatening other people puts yourself in harm's way as well. I guess you could call it natural selection, but I'm an old softy and I think that these idiots should at least be given a fair chance to survive the encounter and turn their lives around.

 
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