Sunday 31 January 2010

An iPost for my eBlog

I am sure the folks at Apple pride themselves on being ahead of the curve with respect to technology, but they are in the stone ages when it comes to naming their products.

It was not always this way. Appple was one of the first companies to name a computer after a fruit, for example. But this practice of prefixing names with lower-case vowels has run it's course.

For their latest product, as you know, the cavemen in the Apple marketing departments chiseled out "iPad". Four years after Mad TV mocked that very same name, and three years after a Canadian Company named Coconut Grove started selling bra inserts (yes, ladies, pads for your bra) also with that very same name. Not to mention the hand-held inventory device by Fujitsu.

My opinion: Apple should go back to apples. I think "Gala" would have been a great name for their new tablet. Mind you, Gala would also be a great name for a product that makes your boobs look big.

Thursday 28 January 2010

Graffiti Zone

I have noticed a couple of City of Winnipeg "Authorized Graffiti Areas" downtown recently. Like this one, on a what used to be a car rental store in a small strip mall on Ellice Avenue:

And this one, on a garage door in the exchange district, that I snapped with my ancient cell phone, hence the 24 pixel resolution:

In both cases, there was nary a spot of graffiti to be found, with the exception of the stenciled City of Winnipeg marker. The lonely little City of Winnipeg marker.

My initial reaction was "Wow is that ever lame. The city can't even get kids to tag a blank wall". So what's the deal with these graffiti zones? Is it an open invitation (as it appears to be) or is it designated for specific artists, who presumably are working on their "authorized" graffiti in their loft studios somewhere?

Does it have to be good graffiti?

It just so happens that I have been carefully crafting a piece of graffiti art over the past 8 or so months, and I think I am ready to take it public. What do you think?

I am very proud of it!

But maybe I'm misinterpreting these enigmatic little signs. Maybe they're not what they originally appear to be. I have considered a couple other possibilities:

1. The signs are actually a clever use of reverse psychology. Mr. Sam Katz knows that the appeal of defacing a building is lost if it's authorized, so the wily old mayor ordered somebody to paint these signs all over to keep our city clean and graffiti-free.

2. The signs are a practical joke by Banksy

I like that last one. That would be so cool if Banksy came to Winnipeg. In any case, keep an eye on these "authorized graffiti areas" to see what materializes. Who knows ... maybe someday you'll see this:


Friday Video

Something a little different today: an old Sweet Marie commercial, featuring the Kink's You Really Got Me. I really had a thing for this girl with the crimped hair and attitude. I think crimped hair is a trend that's due to come back, don't you?

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Why pop music sucks

Courtesy of The Axis of Awesome. The song that proves that all you need to be a pop star is four simple chords:

h/t: Alfredo

by the way, if you're interested in the going's on at Manitoba Hydro, check out Uncle Bob's comments in my previous post.

Friday 22 January 2010

Bipole disorder: the great debate?

When I found out that all three Manitoba leaders would get together and debate the building of the contentious Bipole III hydro transmission line, I thought: Great! Finally we can get everything out on the table, and see how the government's lame explanations hold up against a relentless pounding of facts and logic. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend. No problem, thought I ... I'll just read about it the next day or see what happened on the news.

So where is the news? There was nothing on CTV last night, nor on their web site, and the only thing on the Free Press is a mere stub of a story by Bruce Owen that you have to dig to find, and looks like it could have been written without even having witnessed the debate.*

Why is this story not important to the media?

Imagine if the government went to every household in the province and demanded $1000 from every man, woman, and child for a special one time tax -- let's call it an "expediency tax". So they collect all this money -- over $1billion dollars of it, and they pile it up in a field; then Premier Selinger climbs on top of the pile of our hard-earned money, drops his pants, and takes a crap on it. They they light it all on fire and bury the ashes in the Brady landfill. Don't you think that might garner some attention from the press? Don't you think people might be a wee bit upset about that?

THAT is the exact equivalent of what the province is doing here. Between the bipole III debacle, and the province's insistence that the City of Winnipeg wastes $400k to remove nitrogen from their waste water, which most scientists agree will do nothing, the province is blowing a cool Bil, to no economic or environmental gain.

Some people are outraged. People like myself who have taken the initiative to learn about what is going on, but the media needs to expose this redonculous waste of money so that everybody realizes that the Premier is crapping all over their hard-earned tax dollars; and they need to stay on top of it until the government is forced to explain the real reason why it is doing this, and hopefully reverse course. Instead the media is inexplicably fluffing this issue.

Anyhow ... that's my rant for today. If you know of a report or twitter feed or something that describes what happened in that meeting, drop me a comment if you would. I will go through my usual blog list when I get a chance.

*update: I found a more descriptive article by Owen on page B2 of the dead-tree edition of the Free Press.

**** Friday video ****

Why don't they make six minute videos anymore?

Sunday 17 January 2010

Should we pay out the Lost Boys?

Last week the Province of Manitoba apologized to former residents of the Cathedral Valley Group Home in Grandview -- some of whom refer to themselves as "Warriors of Lost Boys". This all started in June of 2008, about a week after Stephen Harper delivered an apology to the former students of the Residential School system, and about three months after the "Common Experience Payments" began for said students.

A fellow named Sam McGillivray camped out in from of the provincial legistature and demanded an inquiry into the Cathedral Valley foster home. It was run by a man who, by all accounts, was a hard-ass who used corporal punishment and physical labour as means to straighten these kids out, whether they needed straightening or not. With the help of Phil Fontaine, Sam got his inquiry, which led to the report that was issued last week and the apology by Minister Mackintosh.

The review found that several residents benefited from the facility and that the operator of the group home, Henry (Red) Blake, provided well-intentioned and "appropriate placement for most of the residents." It also said there was no "systematic abuse or exploitation." However, Tuckett, a former provincial ombudsman, found that discipline at the group home was at times excessive. -fp-
The polarizing nature of this story is demonstrated by opposing editorials our two local rags: Brodbeck in the Sun and Reynolds in the Free Press. Reynolds argues, basically, that they should get over it and "move on". We've all been through that. Times have changed and what is wrong now was not wrong then, and there was no wrong doing that requires an apology. Brodbeck, on the other hand, tries to support the allegations of wrong-doing before seeming to run out of steam towards the end of his column. "knowing what we do now, it obviously wasn’t appropriate for many kids, at least two of which later committed suicide as adults." Crickey, if only two people from my school committed suicide that would be a huge improvement.

Here's the thing: we shouldn't apologize if there was no intentional wrong-doing, and we certainly shouldn't pay compensation, which is the inevitable next step. That sets a bad precedent where everybody who ever had anything bad happen to them will camp out on the lawn of the leg demanding an expensive inquiry, followed by an apology and compensation. Think of all of those catholic schools where nuns would beat their students with rulers if they got out of line. In fact, most public schools used corporal punishment, including mine.

When I was in grade 5 I got into some trouble at school and got called into the principal's office. The principal, who I believe to be Policy Frog's dad, incidentally, sat me down and asked me: "why I shouldn't I give you the strap?" That was a hard question to respond to. I didn't get the strap -- I got a series of detentions instead -- but I was pretty sure that if I got out of line again I would get it, and that was a motivating factor in my not getting in trouble again -- at least until I got out of that school.

Perhaps, instead of apologizing for how Henry Blake ran his school, we should learn from him and find a balance between his hard-line policies and our coddling "no fail and no punishment" policies that are teaching kids that there are no consequences to bad behaviour or poor performance. Our increasingly numerous young offenders in particular could use a good helping of "child labour" to straighten their asses out: learn something about respect and consequences, and develop a work ethic while they're at it. I wonder if Red Blake is still out there and looking for a consulting gig?

Some of the beating were so severe that they caused injuries still felt today – 30 years later. There were allegations of sexual abuse by Mr. Blake himself. There have been suicides attributed to the psychological damage inflicted at the home.
(Cheatbuster does not provide a source for these allegations.)

Thursday 14 January 2010

Harper is afraid of a majority / Friday video

I've been thinking. Wait ... there's more! I've been thinking about the prorogation of parliament by Stephen Harper. Not so much the reason for it, but rather the strategy.

I have noticed that Harper has a tendency to take one step forward and one step back, and not very gracefully either. For example, Harper built goodwill in Quebec by introducing a motion to recognize them as a distinct nation with Canada, and later built good will among the First Nations by offering a long overdue apology for abuses in the residential school system, then he sabotaged himself late in 2008 when he moved to pull the lifeline away from the other parties. This reminded people of what a cold, calculating political machine Harper is, and the opposition parties, backed into a corner, almost took the government away from him.

This past year, Harper erased that image of him as a cold, calculating machine when he did his little piano singy-thingy with Yo-Yo Ma. A brilliant move, if it was in fact a move and not just a happy accident, that helped to bring him perilously close to majority territory in the polls. So what does he do? He reminds people again of what a controlling jackass he can be by suspending parliament and killing all of the legislation that was on the table for what appears to be reasons of convenience. And not even being polite about it -- he phoned the damn thing in. Literally.

My sources were able to obtain a tape of the call to the Governor General, which I shall transcribe for you, my readers:

SH: Hi, uh, Michale? Stevo here. Look, I need you to be a dear and prorogue parliament for me. Can you do that? Great. Thanks. Hey, it's been great talking to you. Bye.

MJ: Wait, aren't we going to talk about this? Why don't you come down and we'll discuss ..

SH: Look, just sign the damn papers, you seal-heart-eating bitch. Who the hell do you think you are anyhow?


SH: Thanks. Hey, it's been great talking to you. Bye. *click*
There was some audio interference on the tape so I'm not sure if I got the quote exactly right, but I'm sure it's pretty close. Look, the point is, for somebody who is supposed to be a master political strategist Harper has made some big miscalculations. This latest one has allowed Mikhail Ignatiev to not only stop his free fall, but to pull himself into a tie with Harper in the polls.

Against the advice of the AWAP political analysts I'm going to go on record as saying that PM Stephen Harper will never get a majority government. If he played his cards right, he certainly could get a majority. In fact he might have one by now, and perhaps should have one, having been given the gift of two lame Liberal leaders in a row and a legacy of Liberal corruption. but either due to his cut-throat competitive instincts or bad judgment or something, he has not, and probably will not.

Perhaps behind that metallic exterior there beats a conscience that will not allow him to get a majority. A little subconscious switch that forces him to sabotage himself when he starts to become popular, because it knows that if Stephen Harper gets complete control of the government he will turn the country into cruel dictatorship where babies are stolen from Liberal parents and sacrificed before a giant stone statue of himself. That's the only reasonable explanation that I can think of.


One of the DJs on the Q94 morning show yesterday joked about John Fogerty opening for Lady Gaga on her new tour. As silly as that combination sounds, I would much rather see that tandem than Gaga and Boy George. Yes, that Boy George. Gaaack. That has to be the worst choice for an opening act since Slipknot called on Stephen Harper to open for them on their 2005 Harvest My Organs tour.

As punishment for Gaga, I will not feature her video this week. Instead, I will feature John Fogerty:

Saturday 9 January 2010

The Windsor Blues

As you may know (if you live in Winnipeg) there are rumours that the venerable Windsor Hotel and blues bar will be torn down to create a parking lot -- a scenario that certainly seems plausible given the neglect of the current owners. A group has formed to save the Windsor, lead by local blues singer Kathy Kennedy. They have a Facebook group, and on-line petition, and were organizing a rally for Saturday afternoon.

Tearing down any occupied building for yet another parking lot would certainly be a blow to downtown, BUT ... there is good news! Kathy's latest update on Facebook states:

Sam Katz just called me and said that the city has no intentions of tearing down the Windsor or buying that property. So now we know this isn't true!
Right. Just like how Sam called me personally and stated that he had no intentions of caving in to the Friends of Upper Fort Garry, back when they wanted to kick an apartment developer out of town.

Here's where I am conflicted: I have gone to the Windsor from time to time and enjoy having another choice to catch some live music downtown, though if it were to disappear my life would go on. Actually, I wasn't even aware that it had deteriorated from a respectable, if divey, "Nothing but the blues" blues bar, to a "Nothing but the booze" strip joint that plays top 40 music, as some people say. Also, out of concern for downtown Winnipeg, I would hate to see a building torn down to expand a parking lot, and the loss of urban vitality that comes from losing a live music venue. Problem is, if the place really has turned into nothing more than a drunken bum factory, that's not much better than a parking lot.

The Save the Windsor group is attempting to accomplish it's goal by lobbying to have the hotel registered as a heritage building. Certainly there is a lot of history associated with the building, like that whole Charlie Chaplin thing, but is it really a heritage building? It is no architectural gem, nor is it in the middle of a cluster of period buildings that needs to be preserved. It is an ordinary, run-down building in an uninteresting part of downtown. However, it could be so much more. With the right owners in place I could envision that building being renovated into a boutique hotel with a clean and welcoming blues club attached to it. It is not the Windsor as it currently exists that I would regret losing; it is the potential of what the Windsor could be.

I was in the downtown area early Saturday afternoon, about 10 minutes before the official start time of the rally, and decided to stop by to check things out. No gathering had materialized yet. I saw three people wander out of the hotel door, one of whom obviously shops for his cigarettes on the sidewalk. There were two other people standing outside of the blues club doors who I thought might be there for the rally, but as it turns out they were just smoking a joint. On the inside it was business as usual with about 12 or so people sitting around drinking beer and giving me the eye as I walked around in my dressy wool coat. The place looks like a dive, it smells like a dive, and I did not feel particularly at home, although I never mind stopping for a beer in even the seediest of joints. But having a look around reminded me that my fond memories of drinking beer and watching bands at the Windsor have more to do with the bands that were playing and the friends that I was with, than with the building itself.

I neglected to post my usual Friday video this week, but here is a belated video of Big Dave McLean, who I once saw perform at the Windsor. Enjoy:

Saturday 2 January 2010

Why we will never get another NHL team

No gloom in million-dollar CEO club

A half-dozen CEOs of Winnipeg-based firms cracked the seven-figure mark in total compensation.
Wow, a whole six CEOs! While the title of the story is meant to rile up hysteria about excessive salaries, and seems to be succeeding based on the comments on the web site, the "evidence" included in the column tells a whole different story: there is no money in Winnipeg.

Only publicly traded firms are included in this data, but even still there are only 25 CEOs who earn a large enough salary to rent a one room apartment and buy dog food for their shi tzu. That is a crazy small number for a city of this size, and to me this is indicative of an economic environment that stifles private investment and drives away corporate money and the types of jobs that support the arts, professional sports, boutique clothing stores, and other things that make city vibrant and exciting.

I suppose the lack of private wealth could be partially made up for by our public kingpins. It would be interesting to see comparison between these CEOs and the chiefs of our crown corporations: MB Hydro, MPI, WRHA, etc... I suppose, if I were to get off my ass and look, that data is probably out there somewhere.

Friday 1 January 2010

The year in Peanuts

It's kinda fun to look back at the web stats for the past year. In terms of hits and page views we more or less plateaued in 2009. That's OK though. I'm sure people still enjoyed my posts. For example, let's look at the post with the most page views in '09 ...

.. ah here it is. It's, uh ... The future of Winnipeg: cookie-cutter condos, from April 2008.

Hmm. It appears people are still Googling Phil Sheegl. That's ok ... let's see what's next: How to get to Vimy Ridge -- posted in November 2008. D'oh!

Actually, I'm pretty happy that I'm getting a fairly consistent stream of hits from Google about getting to Vimy, because I had a difficult time finding information before I went there. The more people I can help and encourage to go there, the better!

I'm sure the next one will demonstrate the popularity of my 2009 work. K, let's see .... Aaa dammit! : Only a matter of time, posted August 2008. Well ... I am still the #1 hit on Google for "Leah Hextall Sex Tape" so I understand that, I suppose.

Ah, finally! Here's one from 2009: Trust me baby, it will fit -- my demonstration that a field (sans end zones) will fit in the spot that Gordon Bell wants to use for it's students.*

Other top posts:
Suggestions on Ikea Development
Louis Riel Day

So we know that people are searching for Phil Sheegl on Google, as well as Vimy Ridge, "Keepin' it Riel" t-shirts, and nude photos of Leah Hextall, but what else? Some of the odder search engine hits from the past year:

assporn (this was actually in the top 10!)
big animal with little eyes
doer put golf
eat leah hextall (yes, we get it, you like Leah...)
i want to die quickly but painless (perhaps you should get help...)
nude gay pictures bob brennan (you REALLY need to get help)
how do cars pollute the earth
ouch that's my ass (sorry)
selling my virginity winnipeg
shitting while walking olympic (good God, are my posts really this bad?)
what is a world class city? (the million dollar question!)
why free peanuts and water is not (the other million dollar question!)

Anyhow, the team here at the Peanut would like to thank all of you for stopping by, and all of you other bloggers who link to me, and a special thanks to my regular visitors. I look forward to an eventful 2010! Happy new Year!

A Friday(ish) video for you:

*actually, as Nancy Chippendale pointed out to me in an email, the Gordon Bell administration and WPSD did not lend much support to this effort**.
**as Marty Gold pointed out to me, this is probably because purchasing the land was not possible while following proper budget protocols. Officially pursuing it would have been problematic for Gordon Bell.

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