Thursday 31 January 2008

Tasers for pussies

Mounties to carry lower-voltage Taser

Manitoba Mounties will be carrying a new Taser that has a lower voltage and can electronically store the duration of the shock administered.

Pffft. Sure, a couple of people die, and all of a sudden the RCMP in Manitoba are going to start packing a kinder, gentler taser gun. In this weather, if you're going taser a coked-up freak-job wearing a parka, you're gonna need all the juice you can get.

Now this is a little better:

Coming soon to a police force near you: the Taser shotgun, capable of firing a debilitating electronic zap from 20 metres – twice the reach of current 50,000-volt stun guns. (link)
But still not good enough.

NOW we're talking! :

photo credits: 1 2 3

The Turtle Man is back!!

In November I wrote that it would be a crime against humanity if Milt Stegall retires without holding up the Grey Cup. Happily, we may be able to avoid that terrible injustice. Milt is back for one more year!

Now let's get another QB with CFL experience, and get focused. There's absolutely NO reason why we can't take this thing home.

Montreal 2008, Baby. Get your tickets now!

Tuesday 29 January 2008

Hydro Math

Looks like Hydro has inked a Howard Stern-like $1billion contract to sell power to Minnesota. I guess Bob Brennan had better get on the horn and find somebody to build the Wuskwatim dam.

Just doing a little math here ... $1 billion over 15 years for 250 megawatts = $267k per megawatt-year or about $30 per MW-hr. That's a bargain, compared to the $40 cited here, but I guess you need to cut a deal if you want to secure your customer for the long-term. I hope that's indexed for inflation.

Hydro isn't saying what the surplus will be sold for, but even at $30/MW-hr, that works out to between $7.4 mil and $14.7 mil in annual line losses from the west-side Bipole III route. Think about it ... we could build a waterpark with a few years of that money.

Sunday 27 January 2008

Oh that nutty Chavez

Getting bored with things back home ... let's see what my favourite mad man is up to:

Chavez calls for anti-US alliance

The vehemently anti-US leader says Nicaragua, Bolivia, Cuba and Dominica should create one united force ... Mr Chavez has urged them to draw up a joint defence policy and create a united military force against US imperialism. "If the US threatens one of us, it threatens all of us," he said, "we will respond as one."

Whatever. Even Hillary isn't scared.

It might be the coca paste that he's admitted chewing on a daily basis, but it seems that he's also trying to pick a fight with Columbia over, um, who the hell knows? Even his own people are telling Columbians to ignore the rantings of their increasingly erratic leader:
While Chavez continued saber rattling Colombia, his former Minister of Defense Raul Baduel sent a message to that country not to pay attention to what Hugo Chavez may say ... to not pay attention to their own Commander in Chief's attempt to distract the attention of the people form the mess Chavez has created.

And one hears daily the rumblings not only from the people, but more and more from his own collaborators and remarkably, from Hugo Chavez himself. In the middle of his threats agaisnt Colombia, Chavez now regularly sprinkles his speeches with rants and loud statements about his Governments inability to accomplish anything, as if he were not the Chief of State but some sort of outside comptroller checking things out. -link-

I suspect the end is near for old Chavismo. We can only hope.

New Stadium for Halifax

Another thing ... Halifax needs a new stadium more then we do. I know that somebody from Halifax visits this blog. Whoever you are, you should spread the word that the Feds are chipping in $30 mil for a new stadium here. Maybe that will put some pressure on somebody out there to get the ball rolling on a stadium for the Schooners again. It's high time Nova Scotia had a team in the CFL.

Saturday 26 January 2008

Do I hear $45 Million?

There must be an election coming or something. Or maybe Vic Toews is taking the advice of the CCPA and trying to spend our way out of a recession. I don't know what's going on, but in a matter of days we went from "not bloody likely" to $15m-$20m to $30m in possible funding for a new Winnipeg football stadium (I'll call it the "Asper Dome" even though it doesn't have a roof, just 'cause it has a nice ring to it.) With a little more sweet-talking from David, he just might get the 40 mil he's looking for.

There are other bloggers out there who are doing some great commentary on this subject, so I'll keep it short. I am torn on the issue, to be honest. There is a lot of public money at stake, and David Asper could potentially make out like a bandit. He probably has a good chuckle (or possibly an evil laugh) every time his proposal gets one step closer to reality. However, I am a Bomber fan, and I do not like the seating at the current stadium at all. It's way too cramped. If it takes $80 million of tax payer money to make me more comfortable watching a football game, well then, I'm tempted to support it.

I'm just not sure it should take that much money. Policy Frog questioned the price tag a few days ago here, (but keep in mind the project involves concurrently building the new stadium and tearing down the old one on the same site, which has to add cost.) There has also been some questions about the process that selected the Asper Dome. Nobody seems to know what the decision-making criteria was in selecting that option over the Ledohowski vision. So all I'm trying to say here is, if we're going to dump a bunch of tax dollars into this project, give us details and make the process transparent so that we we have some idea if we're getting decent value for our money.

Thursday 24 January 2008

A neo-columnist goes all "supply-side" on Harper's ass

I made the mistake of reading the Francis Russell column "A toxic jewel in the neo- conservative crown" in the Free Press today. I have to remember not to do that anymore, because everytime I do I get frustrated that she's allowed to expose the public to her ignorant bile. Anyhoo ... since I did, I feel compelled to respond, at least to my modest little web audience.

The basis for Ms. Russell's column is a paper from the left-wing Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, written by a Mr. Marc Lee, who does not have PhD, nor any peer-reviewed journal articles that I could find. He has an MA in Economics (as do I, btw. It's not hard to get). Perhaps she should balance her views with some research from an organization who's senior economists are actually PhDs? I may email that suggestion to her. Anyhow, despite the author being a quasi-economist with an agenda, she gives the impression that it is the product of a "team of economists from across Canada". Whatever. Let's look at what she's actually telling us:

She starts by citing the CCPA paper's claim that we are at risk entering a deficit situation because we've tax-cutted our economic buffer away. Mr Lee's aim is to steer economic policy away from tax cuts and towards social spending. Francis Russell, however, is more creative...

She tells us that Jim Flaherty is advancing a "supply-side" tax cut argument (her words), which allows her to get into this:

David Stockman called the Reagan administration's Kemp-Roth tax cut "a Trojan horse to bring down the top rate... It's kind of hard to sell 'trickle-down,'" Stockman continued. "So the supply-side formula was the only way to get a tax policy that was really 'trickle-down.' Supply-side is 'trickle-down' theory."

Keep in mind that Regan's tax cut dropped the rate for the top income bracket by 20% -- not comparable at all to Harper's tax cuts. But that doesn't slow Francis down:
Supply-side economics is neo-conservatism's jewel in the crown. Neo-conservatism rails against debt and deficits produced by government spending, but falls strangely silent when they are caused by tax cuts. "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter," Vice-President Dick Cheney famously said.

Are you following along? The government's modest tax cuts (which the Liberals started) are no different than the dramatic high-income tax cuts that Regan implemented, therefore Harper is a "staunch supply-sider" (again, her words), therefore he is a neo-conservative, a la Dick Cheney. What's next? Does this mean we're invading Iraq? No, better than that ... we're going to cause another Great Depression:
Inequality in the U.S. is at its highest level in 80 years. ... While total income increased almost nine per cent, incomes for the bottom 90 per cent fell. But the top one per cent saw their incomes rise by an average of 14 per cent.

The top 10 per cent of Americans now command a share of national income not seen since 1928 -- the year before the 1929 Wall Street crash that ushered in the Great Depression.

Reality is much more boring:
"We will be extremely cautious in the year to come," Harper said on New Year's Eve as his government's latest GST cut was about to go into effect. "We're not going to undertake any long-run spending or tax reduction initiatives unless we believe they are affordable on a long-term basis."-cbc-

Sunday 20 January 2008

Bipole Disorder : New Website

More on the Hydro Bipole3 east-side west-side debate... I wrote about it here and Policy Frog has had a number of good posts about the issue. If you're concerned about how your tax dollars are being spent, if you're concerned about the environment, you can't let this issue fade away.

Now there's a new web site out there dedicated to bringing attention to this matter: . There are a number of links to news articles and such, as well as a blog and of course an and on-line petition. Check it out.

h/t: curtis

-- UPDATE -- 01/21

The first comment on the blog is a beautie:

Stay away from the eastside. Hollow Water First Nation has blockaded once already and will do so again if necessary. The government has already shown a lack of consultation in regards to our traditional hunting,blueberry,wild rice and trapping grounds. Hollow Water will not be easily convinced.
Hydro along the eastside will be the beginning of unsustainable development from maximizing mining/logging corporations and encroaching cabin lot owners, which is encouraged by government so they can collect more tax money at the expense of our pristine environment and local residents.

by Danelle Bushie, who I can only assume is a relative of Chief Ian Bushie of Hollow Water blockade fame. I thought about replying, but I suspect there is not much point.

Justice Rant

How's this for a web poll?

Newspaper web polls are usually terribly biased because of a) the natural leanings of the readership a particular paper, and b) the accompanying story. Yes, this poll is biased too, but that's quite the majority opinion there. I happen to agree with them.

I believe that a 10 year scentence should mean that you're going to serve 10 years. Early parole should be granted if you have made efforts to rehabilitate, but in no way should it be automatic, and this statutory release crap has got to stop for repeat offenders.

The purpose of conditional release is to contribute to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by means of decisions on the timing and conditions of release that will best facilitate the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community as law-abiding citizens. -link-

I am not opposed to rehabilitation, but you know what? If somebody has been convicted of criminal offences 79 times, they are not likely to auto-rehabilitate when they step through the prison doors. People like this ARE going to reoffend, which obviously is not in the best interest of a "just, peaceful and safe society"; therefore they should be kept in prison as long as possible to minimize their opportunity to do so. Double credit for time-served has got to stop too, especially with the slow pace of our justice system. Between that and early release, a career criminal may end up spending a small fraction of his scentence behind bars.

We should do what we can to rehabilitate offenders, and turn around the lives of people who are on their first or second offence and made mistakes along the way. But there comes a point when it's clear that somebody just doesn't respect the justice system anymore, and has no will to change their behaviour. Build more jails if you have to, but keep these guys behind bars.

Saturday 19 January 2008

Meaningless chilly-ass Saturday ramble

When I finally convinced myself to roll out of bed this morning, I entered my usual Saturday morning routine: coffee, breakfast, newspaper. Except it was yesterday's newspaper because it was too bloody cold out to walk down to Macs to get today's paper. Had I left the house, I also could have picked up more margarine, 'cause I was out. But I didn't, which meant that I was left to two options for my toast: a little bit of old "diet" Becel margarine or hard butter. Have you ever put "diet" margarine on toast? That crap is 99% water. There's no way I'm eating soggy toast again, so I had no choice but to use butter, which meant cutting off a pad and chopping it up into little pieces, then strategically placing the little pieces around the toast so that I get a little bit in each bite, because you know there's no way that shit is ever going to spread. If I tried to do that, I would end up with a piece of shredded toast with a big chunk of butter in one corner. Anyhow, like I was saying, diet food is crap. That is just about without exception. Diet salad dressing? Watery crap. Diet soda? Yuk. Diet is essentially a euphamism for "watered-down, tastless crap". But by far the stupidest diet products out there are the "slim" chocolate bars. Want to indulge your chocolate cravings for only 99 calories? Now you have the option of buying a chocolate bar that's as thin as a piece of paper. You know what? I've got a better idea. Buy a regular chocolate bar, break off one piece for yourself, and give the rest to some homeless dude on the street who doesn't have enough calories in his system to shiver in this chilly-ass weather.

Thursday 17 January 2008


Yesterday I wrote about Stephane Dion's odd quotes about NATO "helping" Pakistan secure it's border with Afghanistan. Today on the National, I just about pissed myself watching Mansbridge grill Dion about his remarks. Funny stuff. Watch it if you can. Apparently, the "option with the NATO forces" that he was referring to is the option of nicely asking Pakistan if they please wouldn't mind doing something with the insurgents in the mountains.

Two days ago I wrote about the city's water park proposal. Well, PolicyFrog has been doing some thinking too, and has some insights on the issue that are well worth checking out (as usual). I echo some of the Frog's apprehensions, and am slightly concerned that Katz's desire to see a big shiny waterpark added to his legacy as mayor may be the primary motivation behind this $7m contest. I should reserve judgement though, until I see how it pans out.

Wednesday 16 January 2008

Stephane is schizophrenic

With apologies to the schizophrenics out there ...

The National Post has some intriguing insight into the mind of our fearless Federal opposition leader today. The article (also picked up by CTV news) quotes Stephane Dion as saying that we might have to "tackle the problems that often originate from Pakistan". Is this the same guy that wants us to pull out of a combat role in Afghanistan?

So, um, Stephane. Are Canadian troops going to be part of this NATO force to invade Afghanistan?

In an example of the disconnect between Dion and reality, he states that wants to "help Pakistan help us pacify Afghanistan". Let's see how Pakistan feels about that:

"any operation by any other country inside our borders will be regarded attack on Pakistan" <source>

ok then.

h/t: the Broom

Tuesday 15 January 2008

A water park for Winnipeg?

This just in: City ready to pour $7M into water park

Wednesday morning the mayor will ask members of his cabinet to approve a plan to ask the private sector for proposals to build an indoor water park somewhere in Winnipeg using up to $7 million of city cash.
The water park would be run privately but “remain accessible” to ordinary Winnipeggers, said Katz. “I would be shocked if we did not get a good response”.

Not that I would ever question Sammy's judgment or anything, but what kind of a water park would $7m get ya? Hot off the presses in Ottawa:
SunnyLand Amusement Resort, the new $50-million Limoges water park planned for the capital region's eastern edge, will open in June 2009 regardless of whether a competing park opens not far away to the southwest ... He said the park will boast a wave pool capable of holding 2,000 people and more than 20 other water rides, theme rivers, interactive youth entertainment and attractions aimed at a wide age group. <link>

The competing park by the way is a little more modest (10 rides), but is being planned without any government assistance.

So how much money will the private sector kick-in in Winnipeg? $43m? $20m? Will CanadInns take the 7 mil and build a waterpark on to one of their hotels that they were planning on building anyway? Before I get too excited about this proposal, I have a whole lot of questions that need to get answered. 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?

We may have a longer skating rink that Ottawa, but I suspect that we'll get our asses kicked in the water park department.

Sunday 13 January 2008

Fox news makes people stupid

If you read the comments on any Bogging Tories web site on any given day, you might find people asking ... wishing even ... for Fox News to open a franchise in Canada. Conservative though I am, I have never been a big fan of Fox, and now I read this:

Fox now knew their story was flatly, factually wrong, and they took it "under advisement." Apparently that meant repeating the falsehood with added detail
Read the emails at the bottom of Paul Begala's column -- it's pretty funny. "The sourcing is strong, very strong". Sure it is ... I don't think we need more of this kind of journalism in Canada. We've got all we can handle with Krista Erikson. (see Stephen Taylor and the Black Rod for more on that)

Saturday 12 January 2008

Skate into the books

Our brutally cold December is paying dividends: the river trail in Winnipeg is opening this weekend, and folks at the Forks are hopeful that within a couple weeks it will be the longest in the world. In true Winnipeg fashion, we are turning it into a contest to ease our inferiority complex with our peers -- or at least the media is ("gloves are off"). I don't care about that, but it will be nice to skate up to Voyageur Park.

Also keep an eye out for an attempt to break the record for the longest continuous chain of skaters. I'm sure you won't be able to miss it, once the local media gets wind of it. Just imagine ... you could be part of something so prestigious, right along side the world's largest Wobble Board Ensemble.

Thursday 10 January 2008

Harper's billion dollar present

We found out today that Stephen Harper is handing out $1b to the provinces to help industries that have been hurt by the high dollar. That is ... if the budget passes. Harper may have miscalculated on this one, as he is quickly being criticized for tying this to the budget. Charest said "I don't think the forestry workers of Quebec deserve to be a part of an election campaign" and I might agree with him, actually. It does seem a little manipulative.

One notable person who had no problem with it, of course, is our thirsty Premier Gary Doer. Not one to ever complain about getting more money from the Feds, Doer said (and I quote) : "Gimmie. Gimmie. Gimmie. Money! Money! Money!" ... or something like that.

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