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.

Monday 21 July 2008

The man with a plan

This made me laugh when I saw it on the Free Press web site:

Ooo. Ooo. I know! Ask me!

Katz runs the city of Winnipeg like I play monopoly (except that Katz doesn't end up in jail).

In the column Lett makes a good point about the costs of developing Point Douglas:

All the moaning and whining about the costs of assembling and remediating the light industrial lands that dominate South Point Douglas ignores an important point: The city will have to bear those costs sometime in the future if Point Douglas is to move forward.
That does not mean that the stadium/hotel/waterpark idea is any better of an option for development in the area. What this means is that our mayor and our perma-councilors need to do some thinking and planning about how to revitalize the neighbourhood over the long term. And I'm not talking about fancy street lamps, planters and banners that say "South Point Douglas Village". I'm talking about cleaning up the area and encouraging organic growth. And listening to the people who know something about urban planning.

I'll trade you my Higgins Ave and my Upper Fort Garry for your Forks.

Thursday 17 July 2008

Lazy days of summer

Sorry for my lack of activity. Actually, not really that sorry. Just explaining. Other things have taken priority including family stuff, landscaping my yard, golf, base ball, and just generally taking advantage of this blip in time known as our summer. I am sure other members of the local alternative media will keep you informed and entertained while I piss around over here, including the always insightful Policy Frog, newbie Don Street, and all the others.

I do still have half an eye open on the local goings-on, and I have to say there have been some tremendous developments:

I'm so happy that city hall has approved giving $7m of rapid transit community centre Kildonan Park money to fund a water park. This is good news, because if a private developer hasn't built a kick-ass water park in Winnipeg yet it obviously is never going to happen, right? And we need a kick-ass water park in order to be a world-class city, and everybody wants Winnipeg to be a world class city, right? Ergo, we must divert public money to a water park. Simple logic 101!

More good news ... a record was broken in Winnipeg! Oops sorry .. wrong link there. My mistake.

Catch you on the flip side of the weekend.

If I had a million dollars, I'd buy a lot of coke. Heh.

Friday 11 July 2008

Friday Afternoon Update

I have absolutely nothing to talk about. I am totally uninspired. It is 5 o'clock on Friday and I started drinking 3 hours ago. Not that that has anything to do with my lack of blog output -- in fact it may help given enough time and beer -- but I just thought it might help indicate my frame of mind at the moment.

So, with nothing to contribute to the pressing issues of the day like, what Winnipeg's new slogan should be ( and which of the varous polls you should bother voting in, if any) ... actually I have my own write in suggestion that I mentioned on the NewWinnipeg web forum: "Here be giant banners" ... But don't bother with that. Vote in MrChristian's poll instead. Anyhow, where was I? Oh ya right, birds ... I'll give you an update on the bird that nested in my front yard, since I KNOW that you're dying to find out how the family is doing.

Ok. The little blue eggs

successfully hatched into little wee baby chipping sparrows

(Trust me, they're in that picture somewhere)

And then one day shortly thereafter the nest was empty. No sign of a struggle. No baby birds on the ground or blood of anything. Just gone. Mama bird was flying around with a worm desperately trying to find her babies so she could feed them. So sad. I suspect a crow nabbed them out of the nest. Damn crow.

Sorry for the downer. I'll change the subject:

If you happen to be in the area of the art gallery in the afternoon between Tuesday and Friday until the end of the month, pop into the WAG Studio and check out the student art show. There's some crappy stuff, some weird stuff, and some really good stuff too. And some of my stuff. Specifically this. (Looks better in person, I think) I should have submitted this too, but oh well...

I'll be back next week with hard-hitting commentary on the newest Winnipeg Megaproject, whatever that happens to be. Ciao.

Friday 4 July 2008

Safety for the pylons?

Construction radar boosts safety: Police

The use of photo radar for speed enforcement in construction zones has dramatically increased safety conditions at roadway construction zones according to Winnipeg police.
The evidence:
Police started using photo enforcement because of ongoing safety concerns at the Bishop Grand Boulevard bridge construction work ... During the first three days of use in both directions on the bridge (April 29 to May 1) a total of 1,967 citations were issued to motorists speeding through the construction zone. During the last three days of available data (June 18 to 20), a total of 532 citations were issued.
So based on stats from one (of many) construction zones, using two different periods of time -- one on the spring and one in the summer -- they have concluded that workers are safer! Safety = β(1 / citations) + ε. I wonder what the t-value is on that coefficient?

Aside from drawing conclusions based on data with no statistical value, there's the small little additional concern that THERE ARE NO CONSTRUCTION WORKERS PRESENT!! I drive through there all the time and there are never construction workers around. If they are working at all, they are over on the other span of the bridge -- you know, the one that is closed down? But most often when I see those photo radar traps, it is in the evening or the weekend when construction workers are no where to be seen at all.

These radar traps are total bullshit. This is not exactly breaking news though. Take for example the radar trap on Route 90 and Corydon. The stretch that has a limit of 50 km/h, and a camera, even though Public Works presented a report to the City council back in Jan 03 that stated it should be higher? Or how about the report that shows that the city used misleading statistics in an attempt to cover-up the program's failure to reduce accidents.

Funny how the "When Passing Workers" part of the speed limit signs have disappeared from most construction sites. Makes one suspect that perhaps protecting the workers is not top priority.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Beyond Asperdome: Thinking Big

My first thought after seeing the conceptual drawings of Asper's vision last Saturday was: "well, you can't accuse him of not thinking big." (My second thought was "I wonder if there are more jobs for conceptual artists in Winnipeg than Architects"). Turns out he's not just building a stadium: he's building a stadium, moving roads, building bridges and underpasses, destroying buildings, renovating buildings, building a "Disney-esque" waterpark, building a hotel, building an underground lair (oops, I think I was supposed to keep that one to myself).

If you don't like the plan, don't blame Asper. You can't fault him for this. In fact, I could argue that Winnipeg needs more visionaries and big thinkers with big ideas. We live in a province that loves the status quo, and in a city who's idea of development is building neighbourhoods of stucco houses adjacent to big box stores, connected by traffic lights. Not a lot of big thinking going on there.

I think Asper should be commended for putting forth this plan. At the very least, it got us thinking and talking about a neighbourhood that is largely underdeveloped and under-utilized.

That doesn't mean that we have to accept his vision of course. I still have serious concerns about it, and I am not sure it is necessarily the best way to develop Point Douglas. I have concerns about the cost. He is ostensibly asking for less money, but after you expropriate the land and do the environmental impact studies and riverbank stabilization and decontamination, and infrastructure changes and archiving of the artifacts that are dug up, etc etc. it is going to cost a big bundle of money. I also am suspicious of the so-called "fair market value" that Asper will pay for the existing stadium site. How do you know if it's fair market value if you don't put the land on the market? That's something to keep a close eye on.

As for what's best for Point Douglas, the opinion of the residents is much more important than my own. But if the objective is to create a friendly or vibrant neighbourhood, then acres of parking lots and a seldom-used sports facility is not the solution. I don't care how many well-dressed white people they put in the conceptual drawings. Maybe there are other visionaries out there with better ideas. Or maybe it's just a matter of rezoning some lots, cleaning up the derelict properties and encouraging small-scale development with TIFs and tax breaks. TIFs could be used for more than just stadiums, you know.

Pork roast


  • 3 fires killing 15,000 hogs in just over a month; 22,000 this year in four fires? (1 2 3 4)


Turning the screws on an industry already hit by a high Canadian dollar....

update: I just realized I ripped off the title of this post from a NewWinnipeg thread (pretty much). Tip of the hat to StBPegger

update #2: much more on this over at PITT

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