Thursday 30 April 2009

The Highs and Lows of Chrysler

Chrysler has finally gone belly-up. It will survive in some form of course, but it might be a good time to review the highs and lows over the past 40-or-so years that brought it to this point:

High - The muscle car era: '65-73
Chysler Corp., especially Dodge and Plymouth, pumped out muscle cars like baby rabbits including, but not limited to: Plymouth Barracuda, Plymouth Roadrunner, Plymouth Duster, Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Dart, Dodge Coronet/Super Bee. They stuffed big gas-guzzling V8's into everything and unleashed them on the world. Those were the days...

Low - The lost years: '73-83
Big boats like the Chrysler Newport, and boring pieces of crap like the Plymouth Volare. Let's not speak of this era again.

High (sort of) - K-car revival
Yes, the legendary K cars. Still crappy, but cheap to produce. Chrysler pulls itself away from the brink of bankruptcy.

Low - The Mitsubishi years
Though the relationship between the two companies is a long one, there was a point in time where just about everything Chrysler produced was a Mitsubishi clone. What? Can't afford your own engineers?

High - The Minivan
They created a whole new segment (if you don't count the VW Bus). Not everybody can say that. Thank God SUVs and cross-overs are here to save us from having to drive them.

Low - "Cab Forward"
What kind of a bull-shit trend was this? Big dashboards and you have no idea where the front of your car is. Thank you for that.

High - Retro fever
It starts with the AC-Cobra-inspired Viper, picks up steam with the Plymouth Prowler in '96, but really gets going with the PT Cruiser and on to the mobster-ish Crysler 300 and Dodge Magnum, the new Charger and the new Challenger. Everything bigger than a Camry is stuffed with a big gas-guzzling V8 and unleashed on the world. Those were the days ...

Low - Gas-price shock of '07-08
Hey, gas isn't cheap anymore! Geez ... maybe we shouldn't have stuffed Hemis into everything that we produce.

The Bottom - Financial crisis of '08-09
Nobody can borrow money to buy cars, but at least gas is a little bit cheaper.

I have to give Chrsyler cudos (or Cudas???) for putting out some of the most interesting designs of the past 15 years. Taking some chances, like the radical redesign of the Dodge Ram pick-up and building the crazy Prowler. But ultimately I think their compulsion for big engines and their inability to make a decent family sedan set the stage for their demise during this recession.

RIP, Old Chrysler. Let's see what Reborn Chrysler can do...

Tuesday 28 April 2009

Helicopters are cool

You don't see them nearly as often as airplanes, so it's always kind of special when you hear the thumping of a helicopter flying overhead. Hey, where's that coming from? Oh, there it is! Coooool...

They look cool; they sound cool; who wouldn't want one?

The paramedics want one for Winnipeg, after the life-saving rescue of miracle-boy Samuel Gross involving our medical rent-a-copter during the flood.

Tom Brodbeck wants another one for the Winnipeg Police:

The story of the scumbags who smashed their way into the home of Winnipeg police Insp. Danny Smyth over the weekend is a perfect example of how a police helicopter could have helped apprehend the suspects. ... If a police helicopter had been airborne at the time, it probably would have arrived on the scene in less than two minutes.
Yes ... if it were airborne. Is this thing going to be airborne 24 hours a day? Yikes ... that could get expensive. It is very tempting because of the aformentioned cool factor, but seriously, what is the return on investment here? Ok, suppose we catch the kids who broke into the house or stole the car or whatever: these kids get another mark to add to the collection on their record and get released back into public the next day. Was that worth the hundreds of thousands of dollars that it cost to buy this machine, staff it, fuel it, maintain it, and have it flying around all the time? Maybe once the justice system is toughened up a little bit, but right now it doesn't seem worth it. Perhaps if we equip the helicopter with guns or heat-seeking missals ....

Let me bounce another idea off the interweb: a combined-use Emergency Services helicopter. I don't know if that's doable, but if they could stick an infra-red camera on a medi-chopper and make it available for use by both the Police and Paramedic services, then we could "leverage our synergies" and make the whole thing a little more cost-effective.

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Pollute the Earth Day

So what did you do for Earth day? I burned 1.2 litres of fuel waiting in a massive line of cars to drop off a 13" TV at the one-day-only e-Waste drop-off. I feel good about that. Does the planet love me now?

Actually, I ended up throwing my TV in the box of the pickup truck in front of me. He had all kinds of crap in there. Might as well take mine too. No point in both of us waiting in line. I did get his permission ... turns out he was dropping off a bunch of TVs from the Public Safety Building, including what must have been a 40" TV with a giant hole in the screen. Nice.

Anyhoo ... have to get back to watching hockey. TSN's Pierre McGuire tells me that the Flames / Blackhawks game could have an incredibly potential finish. I don't know what that means, but it sounds exciting.

Tuesday 21 April 2009

Development gone wild!

It appears that Graham, The Hack and Rise & Sprawl have all been eating the funny mushrooms on Bobby Mottola's pizza.

As the Freep reports, Bobby wants to expand his popular restaurant by building a patio. I don't see this patio in Plan Winnipeg anywhere. Clearly this is another example of out of control development. Can you imagine living a few houses down, and having to endure, while sitting outside before 11:00 pm, the slight murmer of friendly conversation or distant bursts of laughter amid the traffic noise of Academy Road? Who does Bobby think he is, to impose this hardship on six people solely for the benefit of himself (and anybody who likes pizza or patios)? Like I commented on the Free Press web site, this kind of senseless destruction of peaceful neighbourhoods must be stopped, and patios like this must only be built on undeveloped land on the fringes of the city surrounded by concrete parking lots, where there are no neighbours who can be disturbed!

Sunday 19 April 2009


Four-way stops suck ass.

Here is a typical experience at a four-way stop:

> Cars A and B arrive at the same time. A is to the right of B
> B waits for A to go because they're on the right, but A isn't sure if they got there first and so waits for B to go.
> C arrives at the intersection, followed by D.
> A and B both start going, then stop to let the other go.
> C says "Fuck it. If you're not going to go then I will" and proceeds through the intersection. Car E pulls up behind him, and car F pulls up behind A.
> D is talking on a cell phone and is only vaguely aware of other cars at the intersection, and so proceeds through out of turn. G pulls up behind him.
> B doesn't want any other cars to go out of turn in front of him, and so goes through the intersection. H pulls up behind him.
> E sees that B is crossing in front of A, and takes the opportunity to go through the intersection.
> F is honking and swearing at A.
> A starts to go, but stops because a pedestrian is starting to cross the road.
> G enters the intersection, but has to stop in the middle of it because of the pedestrian.
> F is having an aneurism.
> G finally clears. H enters the intersection out of turn because he's an impatient asshat.
> A finally goes through the intersection. F follows right on his tail because she's pissed off at having to wait so long.
> etc ...

If four-way stops are stupid, then four-way stops with more than one lane in each direction are downright idiotic. Not only that, they're bad for the environment. Every single car has to some to a complete stop and then accelerate back up to speed. In some neighbourhoods this happens almost every block. No wonder people run the damn things.

Here's what I propose: If space permits, replace every single four way stop with a roundabout. They are efficient, environmentally friendly, and nobody has to remember who got there first or whatever.

City planners have put in the odd roundabout in new developments and on Waterfront Drive, but it is still more of a gimmick or novelty than anything else. We need to start fixing out traffic problems, including our fetish for these retarded intersections that almost nobody handles properly. I think we should develop a 12 year plan to cut the number of four-way stops by 80% by replacing them with roundabouts or regular intersections where ever possible.

I also think it would be cool to see Portage and Main as a roundabout. That would also allow people to turn from northbound Main onto Westbound Portage, which they can't do now. Major intersections in Europe are very often roundabouts and it works very well for them. They often have monuments on the centre island, turning them into something other than your run-of-the-mill meeting of roads. Can you imagine Portage and main with a monument like this one, from the old city hall?
Now that would bring some glory back to Canada's Most Famous Intersection.

h/t Average City for the picture

Tuesday 14 April 2009

For men only

Hey guys. The thermometer is climbing outside, and you know what that means: those annoying bulky clothes are packed away and all of the cuties with the nice legs who have been hiding for six months come out of the woodwork! Now, I haven't been watching Fashion Television so this may not be accurate, but my forecast for the summer is: lots of short skirts and tight tops, with increasing hottness and an 80% chance of you single guys getting nookie (if you play your cards right).

With that in mind, I give you this valuable tutorial:

How to learn guitar ... well enough to get laid:

Now, put down the Guitar Hero, get out of your basement, and get to work!

Peanut Pundit: Schrieber and UFG

Cirque du Schreiber

In case you've forgotten what this is all about, I'll give you a synopsis: semi-senile con-man Schreiber is avoiding extradition to Germany to face charges of corruption and fraud by convincing Canadians that he has all kinds of dirt on former PM Brian Mulroney. The result: a $14 million inquiry to investigate $250k in suspect consulting fees. Let the circus begin ...

UFG Update

As Bart promised, he posted an update on the status of the Upper Fort Garry development.

Looks like a done deal. I think there are still some unanswered questions though, like: how much of that $10+million dollars was raised from Crown Corps as opposed to private donors? Is all of that cash actually in the bank? What are the annual operating costs going to be? Is it just a coincidence that the Manitoba Club is getting renovations done after the Friends, who are mostly members of the Manitoba Club, raised all of this cash? Hmmmm. Better keep a close eye on those books.

Oh well ... the sun is shining, the snow is melting, the squirrels are going nutso in my back yard. Time to polish up the golf clubs and forget about all this stuff for a while.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Vimy Ridge Day

April 9 is Vimy Ridge Day. I didn't even know there was a Vimy Ridge Day until Don Cherry mentioned it on Coaches Corner. It's one of those special Days where you still have to get up early and go to work. I don't get to sleep in and spend the day making little houses out of Cheeze Whiz and Ritz Crackers in my underwear, which I thought was the whole point of having a special Whatever Day. Still, it is a good idea because maybe some young people who don't know about what happened 92 years ago will get curious and google it and learn something about this proud moment in Canadian history.

Oh, and to you French sex pots who keep using our memorial as a backdrop for your cheap porn videos, there is a field full of sheep nearby that you can use instead. I'm sure the sheep won't mind. Just watch out for the unexploded munitions.

Veteran's Affairs - Vimy Ridge Day
How to get to Vimy Ridge

Sunday 5 April 2009

Upper Fort Garry: Year 1 Progress Report

Well, it's been over a year now since the "Friends" of Upper Fort Garry stuck a knife in the gut of downtown Winnipeg by killing a promising and much needed apartment development in order to build a world class money pit interpretive centre. So how's it going? Let's check out the website:

Gee, I don't think it's been updated. I guess their work on this project "for all Manitobans and visitors" doesn't warrant informing those people whom this project is ostensibly supposed to benefit.

So what do we have to go on? A Free Press report that the group arranged the purchase of the adjacent Grain Exchange curling rink. Okay. Bartley was also kind enough to give us an update back in December:

the group claimed to have raised $10.1 million toward the construction of the heritage park. Yet behind the scenes, the Friends continued to wrangle with the city, which wanted to know precisely how much money had actually been raised, as opposed to merely pledged.

City lawyers also asked the Friends to name as many donors as possible, disclose any conditions placed on the donations and also indicate how much of the park-building money has been donated as a lump-sum payment and how much will be donated over time.

There's not much else out there though. What's the status of these donations? Don't you think it's time we got a comprehensive update from the city? Don't you think it's time the Friends updated their web site? Unless you give us an update on the situation, all we citizens have to go on is what we see: the empty parking at the center of this affair, and that parking lot looks pretty much the same as it did this time last year ('cept with a little more snow).

Friday 3 April 2009

100% of people surveyed support the new stadium

Perhaps we should wait for a few other people to vote before we consider the results "statistically significant".

After all the silliness about shoe-horning the stadium into Point Douglas, the right decision was made. I will be glad to see the old stadium go, and I think this is a fair deal for taxpayers. However, I question the accuracy of this statement:

Under previously announced terms, the deal will see the city of Winnipeg sell Creswin the existing Canad Inns Stadium site at full market value
"Full market value" is what you pay when you submit the highest bid on the open market. It's not what you pay when you shut everybody else out of the market and negotiate a price over crumpets and tea in somebody's living room. I am not advocating scrapping the deal because of this clause, or anything. I am just saying they should be a little more honest with their wording, using a phrase like: "something resembling market value".

So, David Asper, have you stopped smoking?

Wednesday 1 April 2009

I'm mad as hell and I don't know why!

As usual, whenever the world's leaders get together for a G-anything summit, people with nothing better to do congregate to protest the fact that these elites are destroying the environment, or causing kids in Africa to starve to death, or somehow otherwise destroying the planet. At this particular meeting of the League of Evil Capitalists, the protests have perhaps been a little more enthusiastic, probably because of financial crisis, and the likelihood that it's part of their grand scheme to impoverish and suppress all of the little people.

So what does all of this accomplish? One might ask. One, in this case, being myself. Well, One, I'll tell you what it does: it diverts attention away from what is actually being discussed, thereby causing even fewer people to be informed about the discussions and leading to even more suspicion about the goings on at these meetings.

Oh, sure, if the protesters were really concerned about what was happening and wanted to expose it to the world, they would not clash with police and steal headlines from the leaders. But they can't do that because there's a risk that people might actually understand what the leaders are discussing and learn that they're not actually evil. ... Or maybe the protesters actually think that they're helping to put food in the mouths of starving kids in Africa.

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