Monday, 27 July 2009

Wanted: News Feed Filter

Breaking news at the Winnipeg Free Press:

0.01 cent! Ooooooweeee! That's, um ..... ya .... that's not really news worthy. If they can moderate comments, why can't they moderate their news feed from CP to provide articles of at least marginal interest?

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Don't stop stimulating us!

Everybody knows by now that the recession is over. The Bank of Canada said so, therefore it is so.

That wasn't so bad, was it?

It's amazing how fast that fiscal stimulus works. Why, just a couple months ago the government was throwing promises of money around at anybody with a shovel, and Blammo! Recession over! We gave money to stadiums that have yet to be built, we announced funding for sewers and fire stations and public transit, and we also gave money to festivals that would have gone ahead with or without the extra cash. Yet, even though the money has barely started to flow, the economy has turned around and is heading back up hill.

You might think that maybe this fiscal stimulus thingy doesn't really deserve any credit for the pending recovery. Maybe recessions go through a natural cycle to recovery, and maybe the record-low interest rates set by the central bank helped to get money flowing again. Maybe this Keynesian stimulus is just a bogus pile of crap designed to make it look like the government has some control over the situation.

You might think that, but you would be wrong. You see, the Economic Policy Division of Anybody-Want-A-Peanut? knows that the recession ended so quickly, not because money was spent, but because people think money is being spent. Just like golf, or the voices that tell me to strangle dogs, it's all in the head. Money for this, money for that: it is a subliminal message to consumers that money is flowing and good times are around the corner, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So then you might think, now that we have the ball rolling in the right direction, why don't we just cancel any additional stimulus spending to minimize the pain of future deficit reduction? No can do. We need to follow-through, because if we don't, people will begin to realize that the act of the government spending money in and of itself doesn't cure a recession, and so the future scam, er, strategy will not be effective. Job growth returns with a lag, so it should correspond nicely with the actual spending of the money, and so people will continue to believe that it works. And as long as they believe it will work, it will work. It is essential that we don't break that belief system. In fact, I really shouldn't be writing this post, but my readership is low enough that I don't think it will cripple the economic future of the country. Just don't tell anybody about this, okay?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Dial "A" for Arbitrary

Drinking and driving should be legal.

Not all drinking and driving though. I'm not some kind of radical libertarian, you know. I recognize the need for restrictions. No, only certain types of drinking and driving should be legal...

It should be illegal if you get all hammered up on Canadian whiskey, bourbon, blended scotch, domestic beer, red wine or tequila, and then get behind the wheel of a car. However, it should be perfectly legal if you drive after getting shit-faced on Irish whiskey, single-malt scotch, imported beer, white wine, gin or vodka.

If that doesn't make sense to you, it's only because you don't know "the reason". It's a very reasonable reason, but a lot of people don't know it. I know what it is, but I don't feel like telling you. Minister Ron Lemieux knows what it is too. He used the same "reason" when he drafted Bill 5: the new bill on cell phone use while driving.

Bill 5, if you're too lazy to click on the link, prohibits cell phone use while driving (among other things). But not all cell phone use. Ron Lemieux isn't some radical socialist you know. He recognizes the need for personal freedom. No, only certain types of cell phone use is prohibited...

specifically, cell phone use is prohibited unless the phone "is configured and equipped to allow hands-free use as a telephone and is used in a hands-free manner."

Is this because hands-free cells phones are safe to use while driving? No. Far from it, in fact. Numerous studies show that hands-free cell phones are just as dangerous as hand-held cell phones. In fact, I suspect that they're more dangerous because you're more likely to get involved in lengthier conversations. There are even studies that show that talking on a cell phone -- handheld or hands-free -- is just as dangerous as drinking and driving.

So why are hands-free cell phones excluded from the ban? Oh ... there's a reason. "The Reason". I'm not telling you what it is, and if you ask Ron Lemieux what "the reason" is, he probably won't tell you either. You'll just have to figure it out for yourself.


Question for those of you here in Manitoba: how many of you know that this legislation passed in June? I didn't know. I had a vague memory that this was planned from last year's throne speech coverage, but then ... nothing.

I searched the Free Press website for stories and found a lenghty story about similar legislation that was passed in Ontario, courtesy of the CP news service; and another one about legislation proposed in BC, also from the CP news service; but the only thing I could find in our trusty local rag about the Manitoba legislation was a tiny little footnote in an unrelated article.

Shouldn't our one and only non-tabloid newspaper report this kind of thing? Just today, a douche-bag talking on a cell phone made an illegal left turn in front of me. Maybe that douche-bag reads the Free Press. Maybe he wouldn't have been talking on that phone and would have been paying attention had the Freep reported the passage of this legislation in June. Just sayin' ... it would be good to know these things.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

On Crime and Punishment

In my last post I mentioned some of the recent bad publicity that Winnipeg has received because of it's various crime infestations. The question is: what do we do about it? Here at the Peanut, we're not just whiners and complainers. We are problem solvers!

Three of the four punks arrested for the stabathon Friday night were acquainted with the law, including "numerous breaches of court orders" stemming from previous offences. Likewise, I suspect most violent crime and property crimes are committed by repeat offenders.

The current system of punishment works something like this:
1st offence: a stern talking-to, a warm coddle, and a big grape-flavoured lollipop.
2nd offence: a stern talking-to, a playful noogie, and a small citrus-flavoured lollipop
3rd offence: a stern talking-to, and no lollipop
4th offence: a stern talking-to, suspended sentence.
5th offence: a stern talking-to, credit for time served, and a recommendation to stay away from the friends that are being such a bad influence on you.

Nobody should ever be the fifth or sixth victim of a criminal. I have heard all the arguments against jail time: it will "harden" the criminal, they will lift weights and learn new ways to jack cars, they aren't responsible for their actions beacuse they have FASD, whatever .... Gets these fucks off the street. That's how you solve the problem. Specifically, you need A) minimum sentences for violent crimes, and B) logarithmic sentencing.

A) If you shoot somebody or stab them in the chest, whether they live or die is a matter of chance. I don't care if the victim walks out of hospital the next day, the crime should be heavily punished. Violent crimes should be punishable by at least 5 years in prison every time, if not more depending on the circumstances. And I don't mean "5 years" as in 2-for-1 credit for 8 months in remand and immediate parole. I mean "5 years" as in 5 years behind bars.

B) Logarithmic sentencing recognizes that people make mistakes and do dumb things. They need to be given a chance to smarten up and get their lives in order. However, if a person is unable or unwilling to be reformed, then they should not be on the streets. Punishments need to get progressively harsher as an individual shows a higher probability of reoffending. (There are a lot of judges out there who could learn a few things from Thomas Bayes.)

This will do a number of things: it will keep serious re-offenders off the streets where they can not harm more people, it will free up police and court resources to catch and prosecute more offenders, and it will cause the offenders themselves to take the system seriously and think about the consequences of their crimes. Further, if a person is spending 5 or 10 years in the slammer, the may actually learn a skill or get an education, if for no other reason then to pass the time. Reform and education programs need to be implemented in prison, not just in the community where they can be ignored by the criminals.

Yes, maybe we'll need to build a new prison, but so what? It will stimulate the economy of some small town. And eventually, if all goes according to plan, gangs will fall apart because all of the leaders are in the slammer, and the new recruits will not be so anxious to follow in their footsteps. Crime rates will go down, and our little PR bugbears (murder capital of Canada, car theft capital of Canada ...) will go away.

Now: what to do about the child prostitution problem... Maybe we just need to put a positive spin on it. Youth employment capital of Canada, anyone? No? Alright ... I'll work on a real solution and get back to you.

Monday, 6 July 2009

What do all world class cities have?

A Human Rights museum? No. A partial recreation of a fort in their downtown? No. An IKEA? Maybe, but that's not what I'm looking for.

The answer: An airport shuttle!

Yes, that wonderful little convenient service that takes you from your hotel to the airport and from the airport to your hotel. All the big cities have one, therefore Winnipeg should have one too!

Seriously though, I have used shuttles before and they are a relatively cheap and easy way to get between specific destinations. They are good. They offer visitors to the city an alternative to booking a taxi, which is exactly why the taxi companies are doing all they can to stop it.

In the latest development in the 2 year saga of Avion trying to get a shuttle service launched, both sides argued their case in front of the Public Utilities Board. The de facto taxi duopoly of Duffy's and Unicity, who fought just as hard to restrict competition within the taxi industry, are fighting to prevent competition from outside of the taxi business. First, by arguing that shuttles were actually taxis, and now by claiming that "the airport is already well-served by taxis", mere months after aguing to keep more taxis off the road.

This is a business that is truly disfunctional and over-regulated, to the detriment of the consumer. The PUB shouldn't be involved in this at all, but since the city charter requires it, they should do no more than a rubber stamp the city's approval and allow this shuttle to finally get off the ground. Don't allow the taxi maffia to rule the roads!


updates to my last post

> Two of the three young falcons started flying this weekend. Didn't notice if the third took off today, but she was staying put when I happened to check earlier.

> McPhelan is still an incompetent ass-hat and should be fired.

> Caught part of the Saturday Jazz Fest. Very good crowd and great weather. Bumped into Mr. Point from the NewWinnipeg forum. Looking forward to next year.

> Matt Hill made the cut in his first PGA tounament, the AT&T National. As an amateur he can't cash the cheque, but I'm sure there will be many more coming his way in the future.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Friday afternoon thoughts

Fly like the wind, little birdie

The young peregrine falcons are going to take their first flight any minute now. They are getting up on the edge of the platform, flapping their wings, building up their nerve for their dramatic leap over the traffic-filled canyon below.

You can check them out on the CBC Manitoba web site

epic immigration fail

"I have concerns that you are dangerous to the public in Canada," McPhelan said via video conference from Vancouver to a Winnipeg courtroom. "The way you have conducted yourself in Canada is despicable. You are a danger to girls under 18."
however ....
"The need to protect the Canadian public is outweighed by the risk you face in your country of origin."
Really??? To me, the need to protect innocent Canadians far outweighs the risk to the life of a convicted cocaine-trafficking sex offender. I question whether this guy is genuinely at risk of death in his home country, and even if he is, he put himself in that position. This McPhelan ass-hat has seriously fucked-up priorities and needs to be fired. 32 comments and counting on the Free Press web site.

Jazz Winnipeg Festival wind-up

It looks like a nice weekend to catch the wind-up of the 2009 festival with the free concerts in Market Square. I'm looking forward to catching one of the Beast performances. Unique sound, and cool video too

Matt Hill

I see that the young Canadian golf talent and NCAA star Matt Hill found his way into a PGA Tour event. Matt is from the same home town as Mike Weir -- Bright's Grove, ON -- and is (was?) a member of the Canadian Junior golf team. The coaches of that team include Winnipeg golf pro and frequent CPGA Teacher of the Year, Derek Ingram. The Peanut wishes Matt well with his PGA career.

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