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:

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.
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.
highlight: getting promoted while passed out at my desk after a night of heavy drinking.
Current Office Job
highlight: more pay than previous jobs.
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

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.

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.

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