Thursday, 28 May 2009

Falcons and Forts

Mr.Christian beat me to it, but the Falcon Cam is back again and better than ever. If you enjoyed watching our head of state eat raw flesh, you may really enjoy watching Trey and Princess ripping apart freshly killed animals and feeding it to their ravenous (but oh so cute) baby raptors ... live!

Tip: I find that the video feed on the CBC website refreshes too often and I lose the picture. For better performance, open this URL: in your favourite media player.


Mr.Watson has another letter from Jenny Gerbasi posted on his blog. This part in particular made me shake my head:

It has been a long haul for the Friends of Upper Fort Garry but they have received the final go ahead from City Council to move forward on what will be a new Historic Provincial Park in the downtown .... The goal to get more people living downtown continues to be essential and requires action. Projects such as this soon-to-be Provincial Park help to create livibility in our downtown and will help to make it a more attractive place to live, work and play.

Jenny G needs to be reminded that the very thing this park is preventing is a downtown residential development, a usable greenspace, perhaps a farmers market, not to mention a bundle of property tax revenue. The action that is required is to tell the so-called Friends of Upper Fort Garry to screw off and to stop this money pit from proceeding so that we can get on with development that is actually beneficial to downtown.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Timing is everything

In politics, like in comedy, timing is critical. A new party can sweep into power on the heals of a major shit storm or unpopular war, for example. The ebbs and flows of the economy can also have a major impact on who gets elected and if they stay that way. If I convinced you that I could get you your job back then you would probably vote for me. (I can't by the way. Didn't mean to get your hopes up. Sorry...)

Here in Manitoba, Premier Doer's timing has been impeccable:

In the late 90s Federal Finance Minister Paul Martin chopped transfer payments to the provinces in order to slay the Massive Federal deficits, resulting in a "health care crisis" in every province of the confederation. But because health care is provincially managed, provincial governments generally took the hit. This was Doer's first big break, allowing him to roll into power on promises of health care reform. (remember "No More Hallway Medicine"? How did that go anyhow?)

The following years saw a world-wide economic boom, big revenue growth for the Canadian government and unprecedented increases in transfer payments to the provinces, but especially Manitoba, who's share of equalization payments (a.k.a. provincial welfare) consistently increased.* This allowed Mr Doer to avoid making difficult decisions, much like those that doomed his predecessor, choosing instead to throw money at problems. For example, without making any real health care reforms, Doer more than doubled health care spending.** Health care didn't really improve, but we got a couple of jazzy new buildings filled with health care administrators in downtown Winnipeg. In fact, most new jobs and construction are a result of government spending. The result is that the government is popular and everything seems to be fine. Life is good when you have money to spend, especially if it's somebody else's money.

Oh, but dark clouds loomed on the horizon: the economy began to stumble, portending the end of the massive transfer payment increases. This would have been bad news for Doer, but for one more timely new development: Keynesian deficit spending suddenly became in vogue. This produced a brand new revenue stream for Manitoba: Fiscal Stimulus! It also gave Doer an important 'out', allowing him to continue to increase spending under loosed balanced budget rules. And if he happens to run a deficit, then oh well ... we're in a recession you know!

Will his remarkable timing continue? Much depends on what happens federally. If the Conservatives stay in power as the economy recovers, or if the Liberals manage to get a majority, you can bet that they will again be looking for ways to chop spending and get the federal budget back on track, right about the time of our next Provincial election. This would put Doer in the same shoes as his predecessor, faced with declining revenues and tough decisions to make, should he get re-elected. You can bet that Doer will keep a watchful eye on that possibility, and quit while he's ahead if that's where things are heading. Whatever happens, you can bet he'll retire from politics smelling like a rose. He may be power hungry, but he's not dumb.

*2009: equalization: 2063m / fed transfers: 3782m
1999: equalization: 970m / fed transfers: 1723m

**2009: health spend: 4723m
1999: health spend: 2119m


Monday, 25 May 2009

Monday night doodles

A little editorial cartoon of Iggy and Harper:

My original version had Harper speaking in binary, but I changed it at the last minute. Done with pencil-on-paper and 'inked in' on the computer. I might do a full-colour version.

*update* I cleaned 'er up a little bit more and added some colour:

Better? Did I make Iggy's eye brows big enough? Because I can make them bigger ... just say the word.

What is Dan Lett doing in Somalia?

With the recent layoffs of reporters at the Free Press and all this talk of the imminent demise of local news coverage, I find it interesting that Dan Lett is on the other side of the planet covering a story where the only local element is the name of the boat. He may be doing good work, but I question whether this is ideal use of scare local journalist talent. Is there not enough news to cover here in Manitoba, or is this just a case of the Free Press pimping out its journalists to other papers to make a few bucks?

Friday, 22 May 2009

US Money for Pakistan Nukes?

Cruising the Pak Tribune for news that you won't find on CNN:

US Congress panel okays Pakistan aid bill

The US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee has endorsed a bipartisan measure to authorize a combined package of $7.5 billion economic and more than $2 billion in security assistance for Pakistan over next five years.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the Obama administration is confident that Pakistan will not use sharp increase in US aid to strengthen its nuclear arsenal.

Oh really?
Pakistan will use all options including enhancement in nuclear program to maintain balance of power and minimum deterrence.

This was said by foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit during his weekly briefing in foreign office here Thursday.

Hmmm. Well at least they're cooperating with intelligence sharing:
Pakistan and India have begun sharing intelligence on Islamic extremists, with the prodding of the U.S., in an arrangement that represents unprecedented cooperation between the two nuclear-armed South Asian nations.

The Central Intelligence Agency arranged for Pakistan and India to share information on Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group widely blamed for last November’s terrorist attack on Mumbai, as well as on Taliban commanders who are leading the insurgency against Pakistan’s government, said U.S. officials.

Wait ... what's that, Abdul?
There was no truth in the reports that any exchange of lists of Lashkar Tayyaba and Taliban Commanders had taken place between Pakistan and India.
adding: "Thanks for the 9.5 billion dollars ... Suckers."

I hope Hillary knows what she's doing.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Flunking Phys Ed much?

I was just clicking around on the CNN web site trying to figure out why Dick Cheney continues to show his face in public instead of relaxing at home in his swimming pool of Haliburton cash, when I noticed this story:

Authorities arrest mom for medical neglect of 555-pound teen

"The understanding was that the individual (14 years old) was of the weight where it was decided by medical authorities that he needed treatment that was not being provided for by his mother"

This is one of those stories where you have to wonder: how the heck does that happen? I checked, and Greenville County SC does not rate particularly high on the Gluttony map of the US

Although it does have a pretty high ranking for Sloth:

There is a case to be made for mandatory physical activity in school (I'm assuming this kid went to school ... that might be a mistake), not to mention mandatory sterilization for unfit parents.

maps h/t: Alfredo Octavio

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Suicide: not always painless

A guy climbs a scaffold in downtown Winnipeg. He draws a crowd. He jumps. He dies.

Why did he do this? Would he have hung himself in the basement if there was no scaffold to jump from, or was a public spectacle part of the package?

I have known a few people who committed suicide, all of whom did it in private. Still, rarely does it make sense:

Raivo Tamm was a well liked young man and an outstanding athlete. He was fun to be around and seemed to have a positive outlook on life. Yet one day, on the anniversary of his brother's suicide, Raivo took his own life as well. I sometimes try to imagine how devastated his parents must have been to lose both of their sons like this.

In cases like this, suicide is not only extremely selfish but completely illogical as well. It is an act committed to relieve some kind of personal torment at the moment that it is at its worst. Had he saved his family and friends the grief and not chosen the bullshit cop-out of suicide he certainly would have gone on to have a fulfilling life and been thankful that he wasn't so foolish.

Does suicide ever make sense?

Yes, in the following instances:

1) You have an unshakable compulsion to shoot up a school. Do us all a favour and start with yourself.

2) You're a die-hard Leafs fan. Let's face it: there is no hope.

3) You have a chronic illness and are in constant discomfort. In fact, if you're suffering with no hope of improvement, then not only does suicide make sense (if you so choose) but assisted suicide should be allowed. If somebody of sound mind makes the judgement that their quality of life is too poor to continue living, then their doctor should be able to help them with this matter, just as they would with any other medical challenge. In Manitoba they can to some degree, by sedating a person until they die of natural causes, but this does not end the suffering quickly and can make for an uncomfortable couple of weeks for friends and family.

If you're looking for a point in this rambling you won't find one. Just some of my thoughts on the matter. There are really two very different issues: metal illness, which can be very well concealed, leading to senseless loss of life; and the right to choose death by somebody of sound mind. We should not let our concerns about the former influence our policies about the later.

*** update ***

From today's Free Press:

Three children have committed suicide in Pukatawagan in recent months and many more have tried, prompting the northwestern Manitoba First Nation community to beg Ottawa for help.

(Band leaders) wrote to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and to Health Canada's First Nation and Inuit Health Branch this month begging for more access to long-term counselling, a suicide prevention curriculum in schools, clinical experts, grief counsellors and training for teachers so they can recognize suicidal students.
This, in addition to the "wellness worker and a full-time counsellor on the reserve, along with various community programs like the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy, National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program and Brighter Futures" for the community of 1500. I'm not saying more can't be done, but one has to wonder about the root cause of the problem, and to what extent additional funds and resources will help. Is the root cause poverty? Many other poor communities don't see suicide rates like this. If the root cause is a sense of hopelessness and despair being instilled in the children of the reserve by parents and members who are wallowing in victimhood, then perhaps the solution needs to come from within the community instead of from Ottawa.

One other thing: the article mentions that in one week in 2002, 42 people on the Shamattawa reserve tried to commit suicide, 3 of whom succeeded. What kind of a piss-poor success rate is that? Look, if you're going to attempt suicide -- and I'm not saying you should, but if you are -- put some thought into it. Poisoning yourself is not recommended because chances are you will only succeed in damaging your brain cells and/or blowing out your kidneys. Hanging has a higher chance of success but again, if you fail, brain damage can result. Cutting yourself has a low chance of success, but if you fail at least you are likely to fully recover. Just something to keep in mind if you happen to be a die-hard Leafs fan...

Friday, 15 May 2009

It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood

Let's go camping!

I had tee times booked for this afternoon, but .. um .. maybe next month. I do hope that this weather is killing the skeeters though. Potential silver lining...

Monday, 11 May 2009


From the Money Grows On Trees department, the Provincial Gov't has dumped over a half-mil into land-use plans for the remote Boreal forest in Western Manitoba to support the bid for a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. -link-

“Our UNESCO nomination has to be very detailed, starting with a vision from each of the First Nations partners on how they see the land being used and cared for."
What about those First Nations communities that want development? That want the jobs that come with building a high-voltage power line corridor? Can they be partners too? No? Only land use plans that cost tax payers millions of dollars and create zero jobs are allowed? Ok. Sorry for asking.

Before I go, can you answer one more question? What exactly is it that makes this specific area worthy of UNESCO designation that the other millions of square kilometers of Boreal forest in northern Manitoba or North-Western Ontario do not have?

see also: PF on cherry-picking comparisons.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Iggy Flu Roundabout Seven Video Emails

For those of you following the career of young Manitoba artist Sierra Noble, her new video is on YouTube:

It's also in circulation on CMT and MMM. You can also vote for it on CMT here.


One down, 2186 to go. Also: Wpg Sun.


BREAKING NEWS: Old person dies of regular flu. Nobody panics.



If you don't already have him bookmarked, check out The View From Seven (seven what? seven thousand feet?) by Kevin McDougald. He's fairly prolific and puts a lot of work into his posts, often including graphs and even an honest-to-God bibliography in his CKND bio. As the laziest blogger in town I am shamed by his work ethic.


I have changed my email address from my old address to Why? Fewer letters to type. Did I mention I was lazy?

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Those little eye balls would make nice buttons

Breaking news out of Ottawa:

Canadian MPs have pushed forward a motion urging Canada's 2010 Olympic team to add seal skin to their uniforms to show solidarity for the embattled East Coast seal hunters.
It goes on to say that the motion received unanimous support. Really? This is surprising. Obviously none of our MPs are familiar with GAASP -- the Generally Accepted Animal Slaughter Principals.

GAASP clearly states that it is wrong to kill cute, fuzzy little animals. Only big, ugly and/or hairless animals may be slaughtered. How all of these highly-paid MPs could be ignorant of this important principle is beyond me.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Buenos Cinqo de Mayo, Amigos

Happy fifth of May. They call it "May" because the trees may sprout leaves sometime this month. Did a giant volcano explode somewhere that I don't know about?

Anyhow ... a couple of quick local thoughts for the morning:

Trouble in Ham Town

Looks like it will be another summer of accidental hog barn fires ...

A Natural Fit

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority is starting up a magazine. Sure ... why not? Now we have public agencies in the shopping mall/real estate and magazine businesses. You have to diversify to survive in today's economy, you know.

In related news, Manitoba Hydro has bought a 2% stake in Chrysler Corp., and MLCC is starting up a high school theater company.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Trust me baby, it will fit.

K, let's settle this once and for all: will it fit or won't it?

Advocates for turning the proposed site of the Canada Post depot into an athletic field for Gordon Bell High School say that a regulation field will fit in the triangular space. Others are skeptical.

So since I apparently had nothing better to do on a Friday night I decided to put my modest Photoshop skills to work to determine once and for all who is right.

Now, I don't know how big a regulation soccer pitch is, but the pertinent question is: can a field suitable for a high school fit in the space? To find out I super-imposed an actual field from another actual Winnipeg high school onto the property in question (thanks Google maps!!). I chose Kelvin H.S. on Academy Rd, but I think they're pretty much all the same. Here's what I got:

The standard 400m track would be problematic, but it appears the field inside the track (shown from goal post to goal post in red) would indeed fit, as long as you don't mind scrunched end zones. You would also need big-ass fences to keep the balls off the street. But, yes, the U of W athletic director is correct when he says "an accepted soccer field size of 100 yards by 50 yards would fit onto the property in a number of ways."

I stand by my earlier comments that Pat Martin et al are late to the party and that this is all going to cost Canada Post big $$ if they're forced to relocate at this stage of the game.

So there you go. Now if you'll excuse me, I think Paris Hilton's British Best Friend is on Much Music.

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