Monday 30 March 2009

Music of Manitoba

This is pitiful:

Reading that, one would think that music almost died in Manitoba after BTO disbanded. Where is Harlequin? How can you not mention the legendary Big Dave McLean? What about Chris Burke-Gaffney's string of bands in the 80's?

Mind you, the articles for the other provinces are not much better. They are all part of WikiProject Canada -- a work in progress obviously. In any case, with due respect to the folks who have edited the Wiki article to this point, I think we can do a lot better in presenting our modern music heritage to the world.

I have ideas of course, and will spend a bit of time over the coming months jotting out some text to better describe our music scene, past and present, and to shed a little more light on the musical talent in this Province. I have never been really keyed into the music scene though, so I could certainly use some help in this regard. If you have any ideas, please email me at cherenkov *at* or leave a comment. I'll post periodic updates on my draft enhancements to the Wiki.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Bits and bites: Ikea, CBC, more CBC, Magic Accounting

Oooooh. To much to talk about and not enough time to write. Must use point form.

Quick, approve it before they change their minds!

No time is being wasted in making sure we land the master angler marlin of big box stores. I am dismayed that more scrutiny is not going into this proposal. Rather than repeating my last post, I'll give you a scorecard of the proposal:
o IKEA - A
o Location - C+
o up to seven additional big boxes - D
o numerous smaller retailers - depends how they do it
a) The current layout - F.
b) My idea for a walkable outdoor mall - best idea in the history of ideas: A+
o 100-room hotel - B
o 500-unit condo building - if you want to live in the parking lot of a Target with a railway track 100 yards away, knock yourself out. - C
o 150,000 square feet of office space - D Go fill an empty building or parking lot downtown.
o 16-screen movie theatre - C (which other theatre(s) will close because of this??)
o water park (not yet proposed, but just you wait) - B+
o new traffic lights on Kenaston - big fat F This should be a deal-breaker. Go back to the drawing board and try again.

Is this good news or bad news?

CBC president Hubert Lacroix announced Wednesday that a $171-million budget shortfall is forcing the taxpayer-funded broadcaster to slash about 800 jobs and cut both TV and radio programming.
Wow. Welcome to the real world boys. Though some cuts may affect the on-air product, those 70 middle-management positions won't be missed.

Quirks and Quarks

Say what you will about CBC's excessive political correctness, biases, and extravagant spending,
there are a few things worth tuning in for. The snaggle-toothed host of Quirks and Quarks, Bob McDonald, gave a free speach at the U of M Monday (thanks for the head's up? you're welcome) that lasted over an hour. It was an entertaining speach from a guy who makes a living communicating scientific research and ideas in terms that everyday joes can understand. Check out the show if you're not familiar with it.

Budget Thoughts

Haven't had a good look yet, but new blogger NDP Convert gives it 5 stars. Brian at JDS doesn't rate the budget, but he seems to have a strange fascination with Hugh McFadyen's face. I think I should maybe assess it for myself.

One quick initial thought: The elimination of small business tax rate is not smart. Not good bang for your buck. NDPers will tell you "60% of all jobs are from small businesses" but that is irrelevant. It does not follow that cutting this tax rate will increase jobs more than cutting other tax rates. Small businesses are less likely to relocate to another province, for example. And for goodness sake, they are only taxed at 1% as it is. Maybe the reason large businesses account for fewer jobs than small businesses is because large businesses are overtaxed?? Chipping away at the Corporate and payroll tax rates would do much more for job creation. This cut is purely ideological.

Anyhoo, perhaps I'll come back with more thoughts on the budget later. Or perhaps I'll come back with a buyers guide to prostitutes. You just never know!

I'll leave you with this -- my tribute to Gary Doer, who was able to provide us with a balanced budget including debt repayment, while simultaneously increasing the provincial debt (again):

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Free water is good ... unless it's filling your basement

It's kind of ironic that, as flood waters are set to wreck a path of destruction throughout the Red River Valley, the students and President of the U of W are banning bottled water because it should not be "commoditized." What about when you have so much of it that it's destroying your house. Then can you commoditize it? I am a little bit surprised that Mr Lloyd Axworthy is playing along with this misguided starry-eyed idealism, but I guess taking away personal choice fits his ideology. (Maybe I was a starry-eyed idealist myself when I voted for him as an MP many years ago.)

There is also the environmental angle -- all of that plastic being used and thrown out or recycled: One thing that I remember quite clearly from my days in University is that when you pull a water fountain out of a wall and carry it into class with you, it doesn't work anymore. It needs to be attached to the wall in order to function properly. Therefore, it is very likely that students will continue to purchase bottled beverages from vending machines, even though water is no longer an option. They will simply have to choose from other alternatives like Iced Tea, Pepsi or Mountain Dew. Those atrocious plastic bottles will still end up in the recylcing bins -- the only difference being that the students throwing them in there will be fatter and have worse teeth than before.

Could this be another example of well-intentioned but heavy-handed policy having unexpected negative consequences? It is, if nothing else, a reminder of why it's a good thing that Axworthy is no longer in politics.

links: fp sun

Friday 20 March 2009

Did somebody say "Hidden Tax"?

A staff writer at the Freep wrote a pretty good editorial about tax increases by stealth (also at Jimmy's place) with regards to increases in surcharges, and in particular land transfer taxes. While I agree completely, there is a different tax increase by stealth that I'm more concerned about -- one that gets you every year:

The provincial government did not increase the provincial tax bracket thresholds at all from 2002 to 2007. Finally in 2008 they threw us a piece of crust with a small increase in the top threshold...

These are tax increases by stealth. Every year inflation errodes your purchasing power. You need higher income to maintain the same standard of living, but if the tax thresholds don't increase more of your income will fall into higher tax brackets so your 2 and 3 percent raises at work are clawed back by the province, and your taxes -- in real terms -- are increasing.

Other provinces don't seem to have this problem. Saskatewan, for example, has increased it's thresholds every year over the same span, from 30,000/60,000 to 39,135/111,814:

You can check out historical rates at the CRA website.

Is it any wonder why Saskatchewan is leaving us behind?

Wednesday 18 March 2009

_________ in appearance

I picked on CTV yesterday, so I guess I'll pick on CBC today:

A lady was recently robbed of her rings at knife point after getting off the bus. The description of the assailant?

  • Male
  • Aboriginal in appearance
  • 14-16 years of age
  • 5’6” in height
  • Thin build
  • Dark hair
  • Pierced left ear
  • Wearing: a black jacket, possibly a white sweater & hoody, black pants and a white baseball cap with markings or print. Of note: the cap was turned/worn to the left side of his head/face.
This is how the Free Press reported it, but this is not how the CBC reported it on the 6:00 news today. The CBC left off the part about "Aboriginal in appearance"*. Don't you think that might be an important piece of information? Thin with dark hair is pretty general. Could be any ethnic background.

So who made that call, and why? Surely the CBC isn't afraid of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Does their left-wing thirst for political correctness outweigh the safety benefits of potentially identifying a dangerous criminal? How do we know it's not this guy?:

*I can't find video of the news story on their website, so if somebody can confirm that I wasn't hallucinating that would be great. If I'm mistaken I'll delete this post, but I'm pretty sure about it.

Slow news day?

Jon Hendricks just told me how to check into an airport. Bottles of liquids and firearms aren't allowed? Wow, when did that happen? Thanks dude.

Sunday 15 March 2009

Suggestions on Ikea Development

I am now going to geek out with some planning stuff that I have no training in. But why not? I don't think the Kenaston & McGillivary development was carefully crafted by a highly trained planner, and this new development isn't looking much better on paper so I figure I might as well throw in my bit.

Here are the problem spots:

Red circles:
I totally agree with Policy Frog that this is shaping up to be a traffic nightmare. Route 90 is already bad. Throw in increased traffic from Royalwood and Sage Creek as they fill out, Waverly West, and then a destination store that will draw traffic from all over the place, plus another 1.2 million square feet of commercial space and clearly you're going to have a road rage factory on your hands.

The MMM traffic study seems to back this up:

I won't explain the LOS scoring system, but "F" isn't good ... and that's where we're at now. I am also pretty sure the projections here are conservative, since MMM is behind the proposal as well.

Purple circles:
I mentioned in the comments of a previous post that the development resembles croutons floating in a bowl of soup. This is what I mean. If you want to go from one store to the other you either have to drive, or hike clear across a parking lot.

Here are some ideas (so you don't call me "anti-development". I am ok with development .. I just want it to make sense):

There is no way around it: you need an overpass on Kenaston. Period. (I guess that is three periods, but anyhoo ..) Put the traffic lights on Sterling Lyon which has much lighter volume. All entries and exits from Kenaston are via merging lanes. South-bound traffic can flow directly into the development, but north-bound traffic would have to go through a new controlled intersection just to the east of the current one (which will be replaced by the overpass).

As for the purple buildings, all of these suckers should be moved to the north half of the development and arranged in an outdoor-mall arrangement, much like some of those discount malls that people love to visit in the US. I think this could really be something special if they put a little thought into it. Park once and spend half a day walking between the stores without having to dodge cars or walk across frozen concrete waistlands.

I also think we have too many box stores already, and Bartley tells me that they're going out of style anyhow, so I say scrap a couple of those and try to attract more smaller buisnesses for the mall.

One last thing: I am making the call: You will see a water park on this site. Ledo's big waterpark at Polo Park is dead. This is where the big park is going to go: at the Ikea Centre CanadInn.

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Raise my taxes, Mr.Katz

The Ikea open house was this afternoon, and like Graham I wasn't able to make it, but I did see a picture of the proposed layout in the Free Press today. Unfortunately it's not on their web site yet, but this description is:

To make the project happen, Fairweather will spend $26.5 million to widen Kenaston, Sterling Lyon and Shaftesbury Boulevard and install three new sets of traffic lights. The city and province will eventually pay all but $4.5 million of these costs back.
Major Sammy so excited about Ikea coming that he's willing to foot 85% of the bill for the infrastructure upgrades. He is excited because Ikea is a big city thing, and Sammy wants to be a big city major. Rapid trasit is also a big city thing, and we've got that coming soon too. All these big city things makes Sammy feel good.

However, as it turns out, our big city pants are really small town diapers with pictures of freeways printed on them. A big city would build an LRT line or subway instead of a glorified bus route. Likewise, a big city would build proper infrastructure for a 1.5 million sq ft commercial development. Here in Winnipeg we throw up a few traffic lights and call it a day.

I like Ikea, but this development is going to be like Kildonan Crossing, which I avoid like the plague because it's impossible to get out of. We should rename it Hotel California.

So why do we cheap out on everything? Are we forcing this big city thing to much? Do we really need rapid tranist, and would Ikea really stay away if we forced the developer to go halfers on an overpass? Would it help if the city collected a little more revenue? Is this because property taxes have been frozen for eight years? 'Cause if it is, maybe we should think about raising them, rather than causing permanent damage to the design of the city.

Thursday 5 March 2009

Where does crazy start?

No man who kills another man outside of a combat situation is completely well, from a mental health point of view. It is natural to want to kill someone ... I think ... sometimes ... you know, like when Gordon Sinclare or Francis Russell writes something really retarded in the paper. But it's not natural to actually do it. Yet when people kill we usually find these people criminally responsible. Clearly there's a continuum that ranges from "not quite right" to "dude, that's fucked up".

Decapitator Cannibal Man Vincent Li is clearly fucked up. We all know by now that he was not found criminally responsible for what he did, and this has stirred a lot of debate and commentary in the papers, blogs and around the proverbial water coolers. I don't like the term "not criminally responsible". That's a bull shit term. This guy cut off a person's head and ate his eye balls. He's a criminal. Period. Well not quite period: he is also fucked up, as mentioned earlier, and because of that he is a "special" criminal. Jail is not the right place for this guy. I agree with that much. However he should also not walk free ever again. I don't care how much treatment he undergoes, this dude's brain is broken and no amount of treatment or medication will ever make it quite right.

The thing that really makes people nervous is this:

He will be institutionalized without a criminal record and will be reassessed every year by a mental health review board to determine if he is fit for release into the community.
That means he'll be reassessed next year. And the year after that. And every year until some quorum of doctors eventually decides that his symptoms are "manageable with medication" and he is set free. It could be two years from now or 15 or 30, but it will almost certainly happen. I'll ask you this: supposing he gets released 5 or 10 years from now, would you voluntarily sit next to Mr. Li at a movie theatre? Would you pitch your tent next to his at a camp ground when you're out camping with your family? If you answered 'yes' you're lying. When is comes down to it, you want nothing to do with this guy because you know what he's capable of. And that will never change, and that is why he should never see the light of day again.

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Increase the drinking age? No.

This story is a day old already, but I am not the most punctual blogger, so forgive the lateness:

One Winnipeg school division wants the minimum drinking age increased from 18 to 19:

Peter Carney, chairman of St. James-Assiniboia School Division, says increasing the legal drinking age would help discourage students from coming intoxicated to class or other school functions. <ctv>
Carney says there have been no incidents involving intoxication in his division this school year, and adds that even without a change in the law, the school's penalties are severe.
so if I read this correctly: you have rules in place already, and there is rarely a problem to begin with, so .... wtf?
"It would be nice to quote the law, and not just school rules," he told CTV News.

This appears to be a classic strategy from the socialist playbook: "even the most trivial problem can be resolved with more legislation". It's in there. You can look it up. basically, Carney wants the law changed because a few principals in his schools are too lazy to enforce their rules, on the rare occasions that it may be required.

The legal age being 18 didn't stop me from drinking when I was 15. I don't think the increase to 19 would do a whole lot. In fact it could rob young adults of some valuable experience. For me, my high school drinking years prepared me very well for the alcoholic onslaught of University. Imagine if you went in as an alcohol virgin, and got thrown into that pub-crawling, beer-bashing, Aggie How-Downing booze-fest with no prior experience of how well you handle your booze, how to contain hang-overs, or what type of sourpuss you prefer. That could be very dangerous, and could tarnish the University experience for many.

Ergo, the drinking age should stay where it is. q.e.d.

/* Google Tracker Code