Thursday, September 30, 2010

'av a tar

Say what you like about egotistical moral puffery, James Cameron is doing us Albertans a favour.
Some people are howling about his gall in coming down here to tell us hicks what we should do with our oil sands ("Golly gee willikers mister, thanks a lot!"), some people are annoyed that the whole issue is in the public spotlight at all, and some just think it's neat-o that James Cameron is here. Although he's touted as a Canadian filmmaker, he was originally born in Ontario, and we're just hypocritical enough to claim him as our own to the world, but bristle when he's on home turf acting like he owns a cowboy hat. (Priorities, man;  everybody in "Gangs of New York" may have rioted over the draft, but that doesn't mean they didn't try to knife each other later.)
So this all begs the question; why should we like the fact that he's down here like the cock of the walk, judging us under a veil of "proper management"? Two reasons: Alberta's been getting some stinking bad rap lately. Not that a huge part of our income comes from tourism, but there's no sense snubbing it if we can help it; the mall isn't cool enough to bring in everyone single-handedly. If we want a chance to shine on and act like we really give a damn about the rest of the world and the environment, this is a good start. We can shine our shoes and scrub our face, and curtsy to everybody saying, "We're a good girl, we are." He's our Henry Higgins.
Wow, that's a bit cold, don't you think?
It is, Dear Reader, so allow me to justify myself. Alberta's divided on the oil sands. We want it, we don't want it, we want it to change so we want it; we run the gamut. But there's one thing I can guarantee we all want: we want to decide what to do with it, on our own. It's our dirty oil, and we don't need other people making the calls for us, especially when they have a vested interest in one side of the coin, and no benefits from the other. How's James Cameron going to get this for us? Let me point something out for you; Once Jean Wyclef and every other pop/rap/hip-hop/actor/dancing/what-have-you star lost interest in supporting Haiti (check out Jean's speech about why he's not running for Haitian president anymore; he functionally says he's not good for the country), what happened? The money and attention dried up. Haiti didn't get better overnight; they're still desperate and ruined, but once the media spotlight dropped off, no one cared anymore. Once Mr. Cameron packs up and ships off to go produce a film about orange people in a big shrubbery that's sinking in the pacific, the majority of people are going to go to bed feeling righteous and assuming that the world is a better place. Then we, as a family of Albertans, can decide what the heck we're going to do with/about the oil sands.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mayoral Candidate: Stephen Mandel

I wanted to maintain a cold, calculating view of the whole election, especially when it came to the incumbent candidate, Mr. Stephen Mandel, but after being battered by horrible spelling and grammar from previous candidates, my little heart melted when I stumbled upon a forum attended by Mayor Mandel where his opening speech was concise and correct. Nevertheless, I shall not be unduly moved by nice writing. My heart is stone; I strike it, it hurts my hand. (Oop. He missed an apostrophe "s", back to business as usual.)

To combat the volume of information that is available for Mr. Mandel, I'm going to focus on two different aspects, and divide them as such; his platform and his history as mayor.

The history:
Back in 2007 when he last defended his seat, there was only a 27% turnout, and many have attributed this to the idea that the population supported Mandel and felt there was little or no need to defend him. His chief opponent, it should be noted, was Don Koziak who was convinced not to run this year, and has put his support behind David Dowling, who is regarded to be the closest contender. Although 2007 was not a close year,  Koziak taking 25% to Mandel's 65%, the recent fervor over the "A"s (airport and arena) could bring more people to the polls.
Mandel has a laundry list of things that he's taking credit for achieving over his terms as mayor, including: LRT expansions, bridge widening, four new rec centers, 50% snow clearing budget, downtown clean-up and safety initiatives, 10% increase in neighbourhood revitalization funding, the new gasification facility, and 200 new police officers hired. Perhaps we should have examined Mandel first, because I don't believe there is even one issue that another candidate is bringing up that is not addressed here. I was really hoping to find some of his previous campaign platforms to see if he's followed through on promises but they seem to be well-hidden.

His platform:
In response to his biggest opponent's plan to provide senior's rebates, Mayor Mandel has stated his priority is looking into building 1000 new houses in Edmonton, since homelessness is a high priority for Edmonton (most candidates do mention it) and also to assist the rapidly aging population (there is an incentive available for construction workers who outfit houses with accessibility features). The tricky thing with "looking into" is one can discharge that responsibility with very little cost or fan fair. For example, in the next three minutes I'm going to look into doing my calculus homework. Wow that's a lot of homework. Back to blogging.
They are also aiming to use the revenue from the below market value sale of these land units for an initiative to encourage interest in housing or rec facilities. 
And the senior's initiatives. We're talking "senior-friendly" training for front-line workers (sounds like customer service is a battlefield),more senior oriented festivals, better coordination between rec facilities and senior's housing, and evaluating the current senior's property tax rebate.
Kinda makes me wish I was old.
There are two possible reasons for this campaign feature; One, he really does care about the aging population, or two, it's aimed to undermine David Dorward's bid to find votes in the elderly demographic, by expanding on his platform. We'll likely be able to tell on election day, if all the eight seaters budget vans are rented out by supporters of the two parties so they can ferry old people to the booths, and tell them who to vote for (it's worked before).

Although the whole issue is making me dry-heave, it needs to be addressed, again: the airport. Mandel has posted a letter, dated September 15th, 2010, that outlines why council could not vote on the issue, and why the petition was ignored. It seems a compelling reason (council can't wait forever to act on the chance that someone may object) but whether you consider it a fair reason, or the council hiding behind the law, is a personal choice. I do have to wonder, however, why the petition people would wait until just before election season to put in the paperwork, and whether anyone else can do anything differently. Notice how no candidates are promising to keep the airport open, just that they promise to hold a vote, but since the confirmed airport supporters (those who signed the petition) number 73,567 out of a population of 782, 439, if they promised the airport it would only gain less than ten percent of the vote.

You are likely all thinking right now, "Geez, I thought she was supposed to be objective?" but let's be honest, Mayor Mandel has thousands of dollars to put into professional campaign management (he has two full-time campaign managers, neither of whom are his mother), if he has problems or inconsistencies, it'll likely take a whole army of monstering journalists to suss them out. The moral of the story is; you've had six years to form an opinion on Mandel, if you like him, you're gonna keep liking him, if you don't, there is not a damn thing I can say that will change that. It's the reality of elections and such; being the incumbent is a good and bad position. Pretty much the only way you can be toppled is by a really strong outside opponent, which I'm not sure any of the newcomers really are, especially since they can not say that they will do any different than what Mandel has already done.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mayoral Candidate: Andrew Lineker

I have been so arrogant lately. Recent events have opened my eyes to the reality that I should be letting the candidates speak for themselves. How could my words ever do them justice? So without further ado, I step aside to allow you to experience Mr. Andrew Lineker, in his own words, verbatim from his twitter feed:

"Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where they is no river."
A striking realist statement. Politicians really is no river, is they? (Ow.)

"i know post secondary is expensive however it has to be lowered by the province to make it economical"
He really demonstrates how dire the need for better schooling is. I'm convinced.

"Their is a huge gap in one of my competitors so called platforms, he wants to return $5000 back to post secondary students. Its impossible"  
Foolish Daryl Bonar! How can we hope to increase the average level of education in Edmonton? 

"Nothing is simple about politics and I am proud to say that I never simplify the issues.
Simply put, when tax dollars are collected from a civic level they are collected from just Edmonton"

Finally, a Candidate who will keep the politics complex while dumbing them down.  

"Free E-signs all for the environment available for I-Phone, Blackberry, and Cell phones exclusively at"
 Mr. Bonar can not possible hope to match this man; he is already giving us free stuff!

"furthermore if the media did their homework they would see that i would like to see plebiscite on all key issues not just the arena"
This makes sense if you assume "plebiscite" is his word for butter, and "key issues" is toast, because otherwise he would be suggesting that he wants to hold votes on all key issues, but that would be ridiculous. 

"We'd all like to vote for the best man, but he's never a candidate "
That's very...humble...of him.

Enough of this, let us find his platform.
The first thing one reads on his homepage, at the top of his letter to the citizens, is how to pronounce his name. If we, the peons, are going to beg for his ineffable mercy, we'd better pronounce his name right. 

Anyone want to guess what his first major campaign point is? Two guesses?
You knew it was either the airport or...
Democratic process- He wants to encourage voter turnout by pitting us like roosters against Calgary, and open up the avenues to allow taxpayers (ooh!) to know when, why, and where municipal monies are issued out. No word on how this will be done. Possibly carrier pigeon. I'm having difficulty understanding how he can be for the citizens  letting their will be known, but anti-lobbyist. (At the end of this tirade, he uses four exclamation marks.) He does have a very open website, allowing for numerous comments and the like, and I was pleased to see some of the spelling errors were pointed out to him by a self-professed nit-picking English teacher; Mr. Lineker's response is to say that running for office is time consuming and adventurous, and that between that and his mother who is sick with Parkinson's disease he has no time to spellcheck. Although he has my sympathy for his mother, if he cannot run a proper website, how in the hell is he going to run a city?

The arena- He is not in favour, since he believes the escalating costs to be too high, and the whole affair to be about Mr. Katz wanting his own arena. He is, however, for the revitalization of downtown. He believes the crime rate is too high, and that scares people away from the downtown area, the parking is expensive, it is boring because if you are short, you "can't see anything", and we're such a loser city that it's unlikely people will travel to our city to see "a hockey rink". Oh, and it's hot. 
He suggests that we should accept the River Cree resort and casino's proposal to build a new arena on their land at no cost to taxpayers, but this notion was abandoned. He goes on to say he believes that this is because "Mr.Katz knows full well that he won't get away with anything shady when it comes to the Enoch Reserve as he is in the City of Edmonton". Is this not libel?

LRT expansion- Back when the LRT was first created and expanded, Mr. Lineker believes that people were evicted from their homes, and businesses were shut down, and he feels that if we continue to expand it, this will reoccur, so the LRT should move outside the city to travel along the Anthony Henday. It would be inexpensive to run it there, and also faster since it can take advantage of the overpasses, but it would be more out of the way, few buses run there, and the main users of ETS don't have vehicles so are likely loathe to walk all the way out of town.

Water quality- At last an issue that hasn't been done to death. This is a vital issue since Mr. Lineker believes our bodies are made of 91% water and we are the "Cancer Capital of the world" (Suck it, Chernobyl!). "Cancer cannot survive in an alkaline environment, but we don't have enough alkaline in our water supply to kill cancer." He is motivated to prevent cancer by increasing the alkalinity of our water. Finally someone looking after our alkalinities levels, which are, you know, low.

Media ethics- Mr. Lineker's campaign manager wrote in to a newspaper to complain about city council and the letter was never published nor his phone calls returned. Now, the media may or may not be biased, but don't people stop whining about this kind of thing by grade six?

Taxes- First he lists off a bunch of taxes, and follows it up with this:
 "Not one of these taxes existed 60 years ago, & our nation was one of the most  prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had a large middle class, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids..
What  happened? Can you spell 'politicians?'"
I try to write this blog with fair-minded and detached amusement. But even the suggestion that things were better when women stayed at home with the children causes me to sit back before attempting to type again. I have emailed him a very polite letter enquiring about what he means by this statement.

Traffic flow-In order to make everyone better drivers, we need to fix the potholes and deplorable roads, fine construction companies who go over budget (how does that work?) or overtime, remove snow, and institute better light patterns, which are all good ideas. For photo radar, however, he believes we should 1. leave it 2. increase it or 3. get rid of it altogether. Good job, Mr. Lineker. Those are indeed all our options. Did you want to pick one, maybe?

He has a quotes page. I'll just let you all marinate in the arrogance.

His link "Facts on the election" lead to a website where one fact is displayed: Mr. Mandel spent $500,000 on the last election, and Mr. Bonar has spent $150,000 so far this election. A disappointing set of facts. 

There you have him, folks. Mr. Andrew Lineker. I should get a medal for slogging through all that.
See what I do for you, Dear Reader? 

UPDATE 27/09/10
Good afternoon, Mr. Lineker;
Hope this finds you well.
I am confused by what you mean by this statement,would you mind explaining your plans with regards to this issue?

"Not one of these taxes existed 60 years ago, & our nation was one of the most  prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had a large middle class, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.."
Thank you for your time.
Michelle E

Dear Michelle:

I would like to address your comment, because it was at my suggestion for this to be posted. It actually came through on my email & thought it would be interesting for someone who did not receive this to read it.
I felt after reading this email, that it should be shared with others to see just how many taxes were out there. Not sure why you made the comment about mom raising the kids & therefore our taxes 60 yrs ago was most prosperous. That statement came along with the email.  It appears that you seem to losing sleep on such a small matter,  There is no underlining agenda, just an email I received & I posted it.   

I thank you for your comments, but I don't think I'll post anymore emails I receive.

Best regards,

Good afternoon, Joanne;
Are you, and the website in question, actually affiliated with Mr. Andrew Lineker?
I am losing sleep over this matter, since it seems a candidate that wants to be in a position of power in Edmonton likes the idea of women staying at home to raise children. Although I believe women should have the option (as should men) the tone of the comment suggests he feels life was better when women did. Why would you, or Mr. Lineker, post such a controversial email, unless you supported the issue?
Again, thank you for your time.
Michelle E

Good Grief, that is totally NOT what I said. This was an email that was sent to me & thought it was interesting & that Andrew should post it.  That's it!
I myself was a single mom who raised kids by herself & worked 3 jobs to do this. Am I stating that women should stay home??? My son Andrew grew up in a one parent house & it was very difficult for me& my children, as I was the only parent - no help from anyone.  He understood what I went through & has the utmost respect for me - that's probably why he asked me to be his campaign manger.  He knows I won't lie, I don't slander anyone (including opponents he is running against - unfortunately, this has not been the same from others) & he knows I have his best interests at heart.  I really don't understand where you are getting this from, and losing sleep?  Hopefully you will understand that this was just a comment that came from somewhere else & that's it.
Hopefully you should sleep better now!!!!!!!

Joanne - Campaign Manager 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mayoral Candidate: Bob Ligertwood

I like him already. Just one picture is all it took.
Imagine Doc Brown has had time to settle down, but needs glasses, and learned to slick his hair back. Now put him in a suit. Hell, why don't we just give him the position now?

He has run for office before, in 1992 gaining 0.73% of the votes in the year Jan Reimer was elected, in 1995 earning 0.26% of the votes when Bill Smith was elected, in 2001 with 0.22% of votes while Bill Smith remained Mayor, and 2007 with 0.82% under the name Robert Ligertwood while Stephen Mandel defended the position he had earned in 2004. Personally, I think this kind of trend is not a good sign, but hope springs eternal, right? He even echoes Kennedy in his "I am an Edmontonian!" but without the subtle reference to pastries, I'm not sure it has the same effect. Also without the whole "decorated war hero" bit, but it's really the pastry reference that makes it.

He is also of the opinion that our infrastructure is in sore need of revitalization. Like others, he mentions that the core services are being neglected, and pledges to focus on those, but when pressed about some neighbourhood's concerns over high-rise buildings being erected he pats them on the head and tells them to go play, the big kids are working, no you can't have an arena, stop whining.

Someone might want to drop him a memo that even when construction jobs are going "over budget", such as the 23rd avenue interchange, you can't just "not continue" with it. It's not like a date, where when your companion orders the lobster, you can just excuse yourself to the bathroom and ditch out the window (she can cover for you, right?); the interchange knows where you live, and might spray paint your windows.

He also admits that he feels the 13% pay raise, up to $72,000, is reasonable, which puts him in a vulnerable position as far as cost-saving pundits go, but I can't really disagree. When I compare the salary to my own, they're only earning a third more than I do (Stop doing that math! You don't need to know!), and all I do is sit on my butt and push buttons. Councillors at least make decisions. The only decision I make is when I'm sitting on the can and the phone rings, whether I should finish in a rush, hurry out the door, and desperately try to grab the phone with my pants around my knees, or just say screw it. (The fact that others work in my area, facing this dilemma, and I don't doubt the "hand washing aspect" is sacrificed for time, keeps me up at night.)

Like most candidates, he is pro-democratic process, he wants people to get out and vote; he believes the people elected would act differently if 85% of the population voted, instead of the paltry %30 we have on average. He believes it is because city-sponsored events have fallen in number. Apparently in 1992 there was %50 which has fallen to %28 in 2007. Sorry, was that confusing because there's no reference to what the percent represents? It's obvious. He's saying he likes to quote meaningless statistics without any frame of reference or context, and use it to uphold his position. If you don't want to take his word for it, you can study these realities for yourself on the Internet. No, I didn't miss copying the link. He just says "study these realities for yourself on the Internet." He blames the media. There's not enough information out there. Don't worry, Bob, I've got your back! We can fill the world with information*!!
*may not be useful, accurate, or true.

Unless underage people can access that information. Mr. Ligertwood does not believe children should have unsupervised access to computers in the Edmonton Public libraries. He argues that we must feel completely safe with our children at the library alone. Please read that again. "feel completely safe having our minor children at the Edmonton Public Library on their own". I don't have children, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the idea that anything could happen to them while they were out on their own is scarier than the idea that they could stumble on a dirty website. I think once I feel comfortable letting them wander to the library by themselves, I will likely feel comfortable that they are mature enough to stay away from bad sites. (Perhaps an expert opinion; Mom?)

He is also opposed to the bylaw prohibiting aggressive panhandling. Please note the date involved in this (2009); even the Vatican is moving at a faster rate than this guy on dealing with issues. Anyway, since he had a positive experience with a panhandler (Alice the Quarter Lady) he doesn't think that any of them are dangerous and so we should all live in harmony and happiness. I agree that there are occasionally good people who are in tough situations and they deserve assistance, but these are not who the law is aimed at, and stereotyping all homeless people as good people is just as wrong as assuming they're all bad. Here's the latest development on the situation; not a bylaw, but a much better solution. Gives me warm fuzzies.

Since it is the topic of the moment, his take on the municipal airport is quite simple, he would like it closed. He feels the arena would be a better investment for the area, and heck, they can keep one runway open next to the arena for "rich guys". The way I see it, the airport is an all or nothing endeavor. Either we close it and reap all the benefits, or keep it open and gain those benefits. To keep it half open would be ridiculous, which is why no one else has suggested it. 

Anyway, I think that's enough from Mr. Bob Ligertwood. I am just not sure I could elect anyone who would use the phrase "would of been" when they meant "would have been".

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mayoral Candidate: Dan Dromarsky

Likely as a result of his young age (Mr. Dromarsky is only 32; Daryl Bonar does beat him at 31, but he has chosen not to make his age an issue) his campaign focus is on social networking, and being frugal with his campaign budget (not $20 frugal...). His site is nicely accessible, and he is on twitter, facebook, and a separate blog. He is also shown in a picture called "the connection" talking to a youth on the street (Urban!) but if the guy withdraws any further, he's going to have to grab an "I'm not with stupid" shirt.

First off, he hits the issue that is really the "gimmie" in terms of vote-gaining: the airport. It taps into a large group of disgruntled Edmontonians, spurring them to get up and out on voting day (which is half the battle) but I must admit to feeling a little dragged along, like all these candidates are waving a big landing strip in my face (Ha, subtle stripper reference), but we can't run the risk of this becoming a one issue election; especially since it would result in the group pummelling Mayor Mandel (who we all know is anti-airport), and then squabbling amongst themselves in a giant battle royale that would have decidedly Hamlet-esque overtones.

Some other sound-bites are:
-LRT expansion: apparently this needs to be inexpensive. Who knew?
-Snow removal: he aims to make it a higher priority. He also brings up the fact that our roads would be less lousy if we cleared it faster, and more often. I think I agree with him.
-Pro-arena: This is another pretty big issue, but it's hard to assess the numbers from such a distance. I think it would be better to get someone more cautious, rather than gung-ho, and willing to evaluate.
-Pride: Not the homosexual kind, but the good, honest, we're proud of our city,  kind. I'm not sure he got the memo, maybe someone should forward it to him: Being Canadian is grumbling about politics. 
-Pro-democratic process: He'll consider his work finished if more people show up to vote. Kind of defeatist, but all right. Pursuant to this is his goal to have at least 75,000 people "like" his facebook page by election day. As of writing, he has 441. Let's assume half of those people (twice last election's turnout) can set an alarm-clock and remember to vote. I'm not sure this man is as in the running as he would like. 

Seems during a recent forum at Harry Ainley school, which I am itching to read, he asked the mayor why more was not being done on the Anthony Henday freeway, as he felt a two lane freeway was insufficient. Mr. Mandel turned the question around with a vicious backhand to inform Mr. Dromarsky that the Henday was a provincial concern, not municipal, and Mr. Dromarsky, in his own words, had no rebuttal.
"Hey, honey? what's that thing in the lake? Is it moving?"
"No, I think it's dead in the water."
In the spirit of the staircase, as the french say, he has now come up with a response, which I suspect caused him to sit bolt-upright in bed and scream at 3:00 (that's when rebuttals spawn). The big response he produced was that as a municipal we should have more say in the roads around our city, rather than letting the province decide such a pivotal part of our city life. I feel he's not going far enough, we should have a say in Fort Mac Murry, since so many of their citizens commute to and from Edmonton. But then also the surrounding forestry areas, because those are ours too. Heck, just give us all of Alberta. Let's turn the whole province into a municipality. See what happens when we toe the line? It has to be drawn somewhere.

I'll post about the Harry Ainley forum as soon as I can find a transcript. I want to read it so bad it feels like I'm trying not to fart.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mayoral Candidate: Dave Dowling

Even without the added modifier of "Edmonton Mayoral race" the search for "Dave Dowling" results are all relevant. The first being a blog he apparently wrote for several years prior, but the latest was 2008 wishing us all a "happy holiday". A quick scan through however, especially focusing on his post about "the one true religion", which is apparently scientific theism, causes me to wonder if the man is not short a few crackers. Although he is currently ranking higher in bravery than all other candidates (even the solider Daryl Bonnar) because back in 2007 he declared himself winner of the mayoral race, then proceeded to challenge the current mayor to a fight. He also replied to this post, his own post, four times. I'm praying at this point that this is a joke website or perhaps a misspelling. I have rechecked my spelling three times. I think I may have to go back to my original sources.

So I have ascertained that this is at least the correct spelling, but in fairness, I shall continue the search for the "real Dave Dowling" (Would he please stand up?). Amending my search to include "Edmonton mayoral candidate" returns a more recent blog, including the nomination date and the platform. The new blog is, notably, written much in the same style as the old one, with spelling errors (yes, yes pot, kettle, black, now shush), grammatical errors, and functionally the same literary style (think 8th grader with a serious chip on his shoulder) but in fairness, we should disregard the first blog. Even if it is hilarious.

He repeatedly informs the reader that he is not taking donations (put back those platinum visas, everyone) and wishes them to donate to David Suzuki or the Edmonton food bank instead, perhaps because he feels solidarity with all those crackers.

September 18th he posted an open letter to the current mayor "Mr. Mandell [sic]" advising him to take some time off, leave the mayoral race, and  encourage everyone he knows to vote for Mayor Dowling. He is already calling himself Mayor Dowling. The man has got stones. He should run for mayor in Vegas.

Enough fun, folks, we're down to brass tacks.
Dave Dowling's vision is called the "$10 billion dollar vision [sic]" and is posted in all capitals on his main website. The ten billion dollar dollar vision is as such:
-$3 billion for non-fast tracked LRT, road, and bike paths to lower the cost of LRT expansion
-$1/2 billion to improve water quality
-$1/2 billion for the new arena and "downtown envitalization"
-$4 billion to take Edmonton off the grid, using alternative power supplies and to make city vehicles non-polluting.
-$1 billion for low-income housing and food banks
-$1 billion to improve schools and "library's [sic]" in Edmonton

There you have it. Concerned taxpayers may be wondering where this money is going to come from. Never fear, my Dear Reader, we're going to hostage ourselves to the federal government.
I'm sorry?
We are going to hold a referendum, asking the people of Alberta if they would like to separate and receive a $5000 cheque every year, yes or no, and then we will tell the federal government that we will separate if they don't meet our demand of  $10 billion. Foolproof.

Some other points of interest include:
-sending police officers back to school to learn how to serve and protect better.
-focusing on core services instead of "white elephants"
-better democratic process: longer voting hours, more accessible stations, a month to nominate candidacy, more disclosure of donations.
-promises to close city center airport, pave it over to make a park, and build a new on in ward 3 or 4
-supports allowing the Katz group to build a new arena so long as it does not involve new taxes.
-stopping the practice of "dumping raw sewage into the river". (I'm putting this issue at the top of my concerns.)
-promises a "line by line" examination of the budget. He informs us that we should follow his example; he is only spending twenty dollars on his campaign budget. Given that the candidacy fees for mayor are $500 I'm disappointed to find "Mayor Dowling" is lying to us already. I felt the need to ask this on his blog, I shall keep you all appraised of the answer.
-insists that he was talking about the poverty problem "years ago", and promises to involve the federal and provincial governments in the fight for low-income housing and food banks to fight poverty.

I am disappointed to find there is not much alternative information available on Mr. Dave Dowling. Most links from a search of his name linked to a brief mention as a mayoral candidate. Global Edmonton, bless their hearts, included this paragraph on his candidacy:

"Dave Dowling is 50 years old, and his occupation is currently unknown. He is campaigning for change in areas such as global warming, poverty, loss of natural environment, and transforming the airport into a park."

God bless us, everyone, when we can still take a step back from our hectic lives and focus on the important issues like turning the city center airport into a park. I can't stop saying that. Into a park.

In closing, I bid you all farewell, and please; Don't forget to vote for Mayor Dowling!

UPDATE: 24/09/10
In response to my query about the discrepency between his $20 budget and the $500 candidacy fee, Mr. Dowling has responded that the city of Edmonton does not consider it part of campaign fees, and that he is not hiding anything because he will be filing a campaign expense form, which will be publicly available in city hall, and if his word is not good enough for me, then too bad.
I've responded asking him why he won't voluntarily including it, and how the form will prove that he is not hiding anything, since it will only show what he wants me to see.

UPDATE: 25/09/10
He is mad at me, accusing me of ulterior motives, and wondering why I am goading him into doing possibly illegal things such as adding the nomination fee to his campaign fee disclosure form. (When I asked why he would not add it voluntarily, I specified "If it is not illegal" because I am paranoid.) He also visited my site and declared it "trashy". Is this what being famous feels like? It feels wonderful.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mayoral Candidate: David Dorward

His campaign slogan is "a head for business, a heart for people" but I can only assume he kept the lion's share of the courage for himself, since although he is considered the best competition for incumbent Mandel, many political analysts still see it involving domesticated swine and fluffy white things. His bio reads as a high school student's first resume (grew up in such and such, live in so and so), but I'm not here to talk about his biography, since anybody running for mayor should be able to sieve through their history and come up with at least half a dozen shiny experience-builders, although this candidate's is impressive.

First blush of his campaign seems very similar to Mr. Bonar's, pledging openness, although given how sparse his website is, we should take that promise with a grain of salt; but announcing he will provide funding to our "world class events" such as health care, sports, and education.

The next note is that as a certified accountant he will put the budgets of the city "under a microscope" and eliminate waste in the budget. Everyone wants that. The problem is; what is waste? It is not the case that there is a big column in the city budget labelled as "Useless junk" or "Expendables", so the wisdom is in looking at the sheet and knowing where to balance, and what we want in a leader is someone who will cut what we want to cut, to add where we want addition.

His promise that I appreciated most was that he did not make a solid stand on the city center airport; he promised a plebiscite. I like that. Edmontonians should be allowed to have their say on what happens to a valuable resource like the airport (as long as they agree with me) and the botched petition was a good try, but I agree that it was not valid; if we aren't going to play by the rules (almost a year late?) we shouldn't be allowed in the sandbox.

Finally, there are some reports of icky back-dealings with other candidates, most notably Daryl Bonar and a candidate who dropped out after allegedly discussing with Dorward to run for councillor. (A pro-airport candidate, I must mention, how likely is it this Dorward fellow wants the plebiscite to fail so he can save face with the electorate and still close the airport?) The whole affair feels a bit greasy, but I suspect with the money Dorward has coming up behind him, we'll likely be distracted with shiny advertisements for him before long, thus removing the issue from the public consciousness.

And that's it, folks. That's all we know about the enigmatic David Dorward. Now, if this was a date, some mystery is exciting, but I'm not willing to hand over the keys to my daddy's car with me in the passenger seat unless he tells me where we're going.
"Do ya' like sports?" he says with a grin,
"I guess so...are we going to see a game?"
"Could be, could be." then he laughs.
Yah, Where's the door-handle?

UPDATE 27/09/10
So now with hindsight we discover  why Mr. Dorward did not reveal his platform too early; he was waiting to tip his hand with Mayor Mandel. It's a calculated move that will likely bring benefits, taking some limelight from Mayor Mandel's announcement, and also leaving the possibliltiy for changes in case anything proved difficult.
The highlights are
Property tax rebates for seniors- The uncomfortable reality here, however, is that we must worry most about the seniors who no longer have homes, and so are unable to benefit from tax rebates.
LRT costs- His promise to cut costs in the city are likely going to be focused on the 23rd avenue interchange (everyone hates that thing, don't they?) and the LRT expansions.
Mayoral council- to further help out senior citizens, he is proposing a council of people to advise on issues that most affect them, such as health professionals.
It really seems to be a campaign focused on undermining Mandel, rather than internally focused. What that means for the race, remains to be seen.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Edmonton Mayoral Candidates: Daryl Bonar

It is the Municipal election season in Edmonton once more, but since I do not currently reside in Edmonton, I am unable to vote. Apparently I can pay taxes, but not have a say in where they go. Where's Lady Gaga when I need her support?
Since there's only so much time one can dedicate to examination of the issues, I've kept it down to just looking at the Mayoral Candidates, although this does mean there is no chance I'll get to use the word "gubernatorial", wait, there we go.

First up in my alphabetical quest for familiarity is Daryl Bonar.
A second lieutenant in the Canadian Forces, he completed two tours of duty in Bosnia, each six months, and is now employed as a community relations officer. I feel it also pertinent to note his MMA record is 4/3/0. He's being campaigned as a sort of "working everyman", appealing to small businessmen, family men, students with debt, and street performers.
He promises to fight public spending on private projects, like the Expo, Indy, and the new arena, which I'm pretty in favour of, since I will not be patronizing any of those, and a few have already been shown to be a profit loss. However, as has been explained to me in the past, the reason these continue is because of their impact on the local businesses. Both hotel and tourist revenue are increased by these public events, especially considering the out of town people. On the other hand, I've heard that out of town attendance for most events is negligible, and in town people have an inelastic budget for entertainment, implying that if they spend it on one of these events, it is simply taking money from somewhere else, and simply redistributing rather than increasing the total profit for the city.

He's anti-photo radar, which, let's be honest, who, really, is not? But he plans to replace it with a higher level of traffic enforcement from actual police officers, which has been shown to be more effective, and also pledged more community-oriented officers, but he seems to have no clear plan for how to achieve this, since the latest aggressive hiring campaign has not garnered much change, and that included a financial hiring incentive. More police is fine, but where are they going to come from? We have, in the past, been recognized for our outstanding community program, but this has fallen by the wayside as the manpower dwindled. (EDIT: I've discovered that he aims to encourage neighbourhood peace officers, who are empowered with certain rights above citizens but below officers. It's a tentative step between police and the guardian angels, however)

His next fight is for integrity in municipal planning. This ties quite closely to his first argument against using public funds for private purposes, and he also pledges that all councillors will be required to attend a monthly community meeting to encourage open discussion and accountability, but whether attendance will be enough to justify the meeting is debatable; there are other things I would rather have the councellors working on then hearing the complaints of people who, if they really wanted  to, would make their concerns known. This smacks of an idealistic campaign promise that is unfeasible, and will likely be abandoned as soon as possible. It does tie in to his promise to "follow through on the public will", however. He does promise a financial incentive for departments that stay within their budget.

The third campaign promise is to fight "unfair bylaws" but I could find no information on what those might consist of.

Finally, he's hoping to fight neighbourhood crime rates and urban decay in our inner city by promoting low-income housing, while also promoting open air-spaces, of which we don't have enough, apparently, and street performers. There have been two numbers bandied about; an 80% or 90% reduction in homelessness by three years, but trying to lower homelessness beyond it's natural rate is like trying to reduce unemployment too far; you will never eliminate it, and it will always resist being moved too far from it's natural line by taking it out elsewhere, hurting the economy. It sucks, but it's true. 

He is, on the positive side, pro-city center airport, but for the reason that it's wrong  to violate your contractual obligations, which is an odd reason to keep something like this open. He does intend to bring in more business, more aerospace and green initiatives, but he may find it difficult to entice businesses in without breaking his promise to not spend public funds on private endeavours, the big enough ones are likely to go through Edmonton International, but the smaller ones will need municipal grants to assist their start up.

The other initiative he is involved with is the idea that he will credit post-secondary students for up to $5000 off their student debt, if they remain in Edmonton and work two consecutive years in their chosen field. Now, I likely won't have tuition debt, so a fat lot of good it does me, but I can appreciate the idea, and I have a large number of friends who would likely benefit. Still, it does mean we wouldn't be attracting the students that were bright or fortunate enough to be careful, plan ahead, and save the money to avoid debt. I should stop whining though.

He aims to help the disabled, by providing a quick reaction team (QRT) that will shovel the walks of disabled people and by ensuring handicapped parking stalls are used only by the legitimately handicapped.

There is also consideration in the works for an alliance with the railroad company to reopen some old tracks for use as LRT lines, how feasible this plan is, I'm not sure, but I hope in coming days to do some research into it. 

Finally, he is also pro-childcare, but in a sensible fashion; he intends to check through local bylaws to assist home-based childcare companies to become registered faster, thus providing greater services to Edmonton.
There is some vague lip service to green initiatives, physical fitness in schools, and a greater awareness of city services available to the public.

This is a pretty ambitious platform, but obviously they are issues close to his heart, which is good and bad. the only problem I can foresee, is the fact that his last campaign promise is to fight tax increases during his first term. Green Initiatives and opening up more spaces to loiter in around town are great, but they take money, and I see no places where money could be taken from in the budget that could not have a limiting effect on his other plans or vice versa. In his nomination speech, he says that this is a pivotal time for Edmonton, that this election and the subsequent years will shape our identity for years to come, but I see precisely no reason why this one is suddenly our "graduating from high school" moment. He aims to create a sense of urgency by insisting this "may be our last chance to create a city in which all off us can thrive". He claims to represent the majority, but he's sadly in the rear when it comes to supporters. He is idealistic but unfortunately the realities of office might prove  to be too much.

Monday, September 20, 2010


The compounding of two variables (1. Low weeping tolerance as a result of hormones, 2. Heartrending stories about the plea for continued assistance in Haiti) set in the public environment of the university has required that this blog-post be rather dry, or risk public embarassment.

It is a stupid problem to have, but I am running the risk of ruining my back with too much gear to carry around. Since starting school, necessity dictates I must bring all my school affairs with me to work, I leave them in the car, but when I arrive at the bus terminal to park for the day, I have to bring all my school stuff with me, I just don't have the time to be popping back and forth all the time for textbooks and the like. I have pared the books down to only the bare minimums, but between them, the netbook, and binder, my bag's quite distended. (not even including my purse.) So far, this has been acceptable. The real issue comes when I consider food.
I don't have the finance to simply buy food at school all the time, but it is also ungainly and unweildy to bring a large tupperware container with me everywhere. If I wrap things individually, they are usually so abused as to be almost unrecognizable by lunchtime.
This wouldn't even be a big issue were it not for the fact that usually I don't bring enough, to save space. I'm a "robust" lady, and it takes a fair number of calories to power this muscley butt. What I am seeking, in essence, is a high-calorie, but lower fat or sodium, non-sugar-filled, food source. I tried nuts for a while, and they are my best alternative, were it not for how expensive they can be. Plus I have to run to the bathroom almost constantly since in order to feel full, I have to drink a lot of water.
I've also debated smoothies and the like, but have yet to settle on the recipie, and carrying liquids is quite hazardous, and water based smoothies tend to be grainy.

My, you're whining a lot.
Ah, yes, my Dear Reader, I am, but if I can be forgiven, my reason is a compelling one. It used to be the case that I would just bring some meat or vegetables in a little container, and order a plate of rice from Edo Japan, for about $2 (occasionally noodles for $3 if I was spoiling myself) It was always perfect, they'd give me sauce with it, and I didn't have to carry anything, but achieved a hot meal. Alas, in the years since my departure, they have abandoned this practice.
I was trying to think of some alternatives when a newspaper article caught my attention; it was on the top five "forest destroying foods", and darned if the top five, in the order I give a crap about, weren't beef, rice, corn, soy, and palm oil. For crying out loud, how's a "jet-setting" (well, bus-setting) gal supposed to eat without feeling like she's the reason Brazil has to export bad waxes?
I'm at a loss.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Women are from earth, why did we export our men to mars?

All of my male friends and family are respectful to women, and deferential towards the feminist ideals. I've chosen to distance myself from men who were not, or who held views that I felt were counter-productive to my own development as an  autonomous individual without limits. That I have males I can trust and open up to regarding gender issues or concerns is a great gift; I've never  been concerned that I will explain to one of them that I was in a "gender-role differing" situation and they will judge me or shy away. They have often expressed happiness that I was able to be "female" in some situations, and act in feminine ways, and "male" at other times. I've never doubted their support.

However, since the fall of the second wave of feminism, we have seen a strange trend emerge. In popular media feminism is a bit of a  joke. Much like how atheism was once taboo, but now it is the religious that are teased or mocked in open public forums, feminism has fallen from its privileged place, and made an object of ridicule. Many see feminism as being "complete", that its goal is finished, and it is no longer necessary.  This is untrue. Not only are we still working towards un-doing the discrimination of decades of sexism, but we have neglected an entire fraction of society. Our men.

Although it was once considered taboo for a woman to wear pants, we now regard it as so banal as to be almost expected. But for a man to wear a dress, or a skirt, is a complete oddity that borders on obscene. Many males bring up their option of kilt, but even too wear a kilt is considered an eccentricity as opposed to a preference. They are worn as a lark, brought up as a small defence, and also too expensive to be considered a day to day item. Even something as simple as shoes. Even if a man desires to wear high heels, he is forced to hid them under the guise of "stacked heels" and is not able to enjoy the same footwear that women are. People assume that if men really wanted the option, they would simply take it, because they are the ones in power, aren't they? But it is precisely that view that keeps all of us in chains.

Male domestic violence is becoming a more prevalent phenomenon, but whether this is as a result of the recent empowerment of women or an increase in reporting is unclear. Men now account for 40% of domestic violence complaints but as the text says, we are woefully underfunded to accommodate these numbers. In England and Wales the proportion of women's shelters to men's shelters is 7,500 to 60. Within Edmonton there is one location for men, which is the Hope Mission, but this location also accommodates women and children. Recent research, including interviewing women who admitted to abusing their partners, indicates that the motivation is not simply self-defense, but is used to gain male's attention or coerce them into doing things the female's way. This finding is even more troubling because it suggests that even the abusers themselves are down-playing the severity of the event, a trend we also see in abusive men. There is much to suggest that both genders follow the same patterns of abuse, but the victims are treated differently; a study published in 1976 is the culprit for these beliefs, which stated that women were unlikely to hit men, and did so only in the form of self-defence, which the author has since recanted and published alternative papers..

As for choosing typically female-gendered careers or lifestyles, most men  are regarded as "gay", implying that a man must be feminized in order to enjoy female pursuits, and removing his male aspect. This is a disservice to both the gay community and the male community, who should be free to pursue life as he chooses, with whatever options he wishes to take.

Maternity leave consists of 17 weeks unpaid leave and is guaranteed a return to her position and salary at the end. Parental leave is added on to this, and can add from 12 to 52 weeks of additional unpaid leave, accessible to both parents. Paternity leave, however, is typically limited to a few days. Any time over a few weeks is unusual. If a father wishes to take long term paternity leave, he is considered on parental leave.

Men's life expectancy is considerable lower in many countries around the world. This is just accepted as "part of the fact of life" but in this modern society it is ridiculous to simply blindly accept something like this, when we could be looking into it, and ways to correct this problem.

Although there are many organizations and establishments meant to fight honor killing, they are primarily concerned with women's cases, but men and boys suffer as well. In 2002 it was estimated that 245 women and 137 men were killed in Pakistan alone as a result of an out-of-culture or religion relationship.From 1998 to 2004, 2700 were women and 1300 were men. There was even a recorded case of infanticide last year, where the victim was a male baby born out of wed-lock. The mother was punished, but not killed, by the assailants. In other countries, women are considered protected, their blood "dishonours" men, and so slights and injustices are "righted" through the blood of any male of the offending family. From 1992 to 1996, there were reports of over 5000 blood feud murders. Even annually there is an estimated number of 1,250 deaths from blood feuds, which is equitable to the amount of female honour killings in Pakistan. One of the most critical factors of this is that the blood feuds have been shown to be "forgivable", meaning after mediation there has been instances where the feud was over, and people were allowed to follow their normals lives. This makes this problem easier to solve than the honour killings, where few reconciliations are accepted.

This kind of gender inequality is unethical. We should be doing more to support groups like Parity or reading essays like Esther Vilar, who suffered death threats for her book on The Manipulated Man, Mookychick or, which is an interesting read, but I suspect it to be fabricated (80% of income is made by men, and 80% of income is spent by women: is this the attitude you wish to take to be taken seriously?). There must be more done to ensure true equality; as Frank Ludwig says: "Equality is, as you know, a female monopoly".

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why we cannot re(Kant) our evil behaviour

The link above is to a BBC news article about how the ethics of Immanuel Kant is being taught at West Point military academy to the future officers of the American armed forces.The course is taught by focusing on a simple moral thought experiment, where people theorize whether it would be better to let five people die, or deliberately bring about the death of one person. The West Point version takes it even a step further, asking if people would feel comfortable pushing someone onto the train tracks to save people's lives.

The article reports that people usually responded that they would act in the first case, but not in the second. The ridiculous nature of the difference is apparent only when we consider that there is no real difference in the question; both require that we make an action that will bring about the death of another person. The only difference is the emotional and physical distance between the action and the death.
The emotional difference is in the case of simple switch we can disassociate ourselves with the consequences; we flip switches frequently, there is no strong correlation to homicide. The push, however, necessitates that we must touch the man, and with our hands, bring about his demise. There is a primal connection between things we touch and ourselves.
The physical difference is one of effectiveness. Due to the constraints of the experiment, we are forced to conclude that the first exercise is completely effective, in flipping the switch we are saving the five people, no question. But in the second situation, there is some confusion. We are asked to believe that a human body dropped on the tracks, (even a purportedly "fat man" which is a whole other issue for size-ists) can stop a train. We must believe that he will drop properly, not fight back too vigorously, that no one will see us (the first as well, has the benefit that people watching a train accident are unlikely to be watching the person with the track lever, but people will always  notice someone shoving another off a bridge.), and that he will even make a dent in the train inexorable progress toward the hapless victims.

How this relates to Immanuel Kant's theory is spurious. Kant's moral code was based on his first maxim; the categorical imperative. Without dwelling too long,the main notion is that a person must always do what is right (what he calls "the duty") without quibbling, motivation, error, or judgement. It expands further from there to explore what is right, thus enabling the actor to discern what is it he must do without fail. There are two further maxims to define the "right" and they run precisely thus: One must always act as though one's actions were brought into universal law, One must never treat other's as a means to an end, but only as an end in themselves. Functionally what he is saying is we must never act in a way that should everyone act as we do, we would not be happy/productive/alive. For example, we must not lie, because if we all lied, no one would believe anyone. Then we must treat all other people as autonomous beings who control their lives, and have their own hopes and goals, and we must never use them to achieve our own ends.

Even a brief glance over the theory reveals why it is completely counter-instructive to not only the thought experiment but also to the military goals and method as well. Kant would certainly not approve of us killing a man to save five others, let alone using a man like a human shield to stop the train, which is most certainly outlawed by the third maxims. Kant theorizes that when something is wrong, like killing a person, it is always wrong, in every circumstance. A radical notion, certainly, but one must wonder what about it the Professors felt would be applicable to the soldiers.
The reason why it is counter-intuitive to the military ideals is that they train soldiers to not only push the "fat man" but occasionally to go stalk the fat man, break into his home, and drag him back to the tracks to kill him. They train the soldiers to believe they go overseas to protect their homeland, to protect many more people who could be hurt by the people they are asking them to kill.
This is not to say I agree or disagree with the military method. It is simple to point out that it is contrary to the ideals they are teaching. If they really wanted to help protect civilians, a more effective philosopher would have been Jean-Paul Sartre. His ideals on existential humanism, that we are precisely the sum of our actions, would show soldiers that if they do anything that is "wrong" they must live with themselves, aware of who they have become, making them accountable for their own actions which now hold greater repercussions than following orders or not following orders, and would likely be a better deterrent for bad behaviour than waving some nebulous "duty" in their faces.

Friday, September 17, 2010

For Victor

It is precisely everything Victor likes: Attractive women, steampunk machinery, facial hair,duels, dogs, and fisticuffs.


Alright, I'm going to have to make this a short post since I just had a calculus class that went downhill in a real hurry, so I have to go review trigonometry, and it will do me no good to get off on a  tangent (har. har.). I knew I shouldn't have bragged to my parents about the courses being easy, it just invites disaster. Hello, hubris, my old friend. I've come to see you once again.

Anyway, as a result of a note written by a friend of mine on facebook, which I shall have to discover if I can reprint, with proper citations, since it is some serious food for thought, I have realized that if I want to be looking in to these matters on politics, rights, freedoms, and the flammability of holy texts, I should be starting where this started; with the constitutions and charters that define our system and other's. Needless to say, I've got some reading to do.

Finally, I should  point out, as others have, that I should support Pastor Jones's right to freedom, to do with such as he chooses, even if I disagree, but I feel it is pertinent for Mr. Jones to know that I only support him inasmuch as failure to do so would be a failure to uphold my own right to freedoms. But that doesn't mean that given half a chance to stop him and maintain ethical integrity, I would not do everything in my power to do so. Meaning he has the right to do as he pleases and I have the right to talk about how stupid he is for doing so.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tim Whortons

That's it.
I've freaking had it.
I'm sick of Tim Hortons.

It might make me unpatriotic and get me deported but I'm not going to drink that burnt, tepid, swill anymore. I'm over-reacting  because I haven't had enough sleep or seen Victor since Monday morning, but I created a large blog post about the new fighter jets, defending our decision to keep tight lipped about the contract, not taking competing bids and spending all this money when we just spent a "wack-load" of money on our air force because the Russians were invading our air space, pushing further and further in, testing our reaction, not to forget the Russian spies that were so at home in our country that they were able to spy on foreign countries FROM our homeland, when I discovered that this whole issue has already been addressed and discussed ad nausea and my whole blog post makes me look stupid.
The $18 billion budget goes towards self-esteem training afterwards
Needless to say, I needed a pick-me-up.
The whole morning was a wash; I woke up just a little earlier than my alarm, set for 8:13, and panicked because I was late for class. Then I thought about it, and panicked because I was late for work. Then I thought about it again and figured out I wasn't late for either, just had an hour to get up and make breakfast before leaving. It is never a good sign to start the day in abstract confusion.
I decided I was not going to get a coffee because I've been drinking too much coffee lately and it's making me feel bad, but as I drove in through the rain with some jerk's highbeams illuminating my interior, I felt I deserved one.
I pulled into the drive-thru where some guy was so far back from the window I was about 3 feet from the speaker box, but I gamely hollered in my order anyway, pleased that it showed up correctly on the screen. When I drove up to pay I realized I didn't have any change, so I tried to use my "ultra-convenient" MasterCard pay pass, tapping on the thingy, which subsequently turned green. The lady behind the register soured and said it didn't work (which I will be checking my account for!) and soured even more when I said I was going to have to pay with interac. (I get paid to carry money, I'm not doing it for free for anyone, not even myself.) After it went through she did not say anything; No "Thank You" or "come again" or "here's your half-coffee, half-hot chocolate". Whatever, I thought, as I drove away, visions of caffeine in my head.
When I arrived at work, however, I discovered someone for a shift at six o'clock had booked off sick, and looking over the schedule, I could tell I was the most likely person to throw on the fire, but the shift covers the entirety of my classes that day, which I would rather not be skipping.
"Don't worry," reassures  Dear Reader, "You can just explain that you have classes and they'll find someone else."
Dear Reader is obviously a romantic. It has already been explained to me that my classes mean "bup-kiss" to the union or the company, and if they need to force me, they will, and there is precisely nothing I can do about it. Basically I can shut my mouth and work the shift, and hope they don't cover anything important in class, or I can refuse, walk out, and risk the inevitable discipline (this place issues them like hot cakes).

Usually the choice would be obvious but the problem is that the program I am in will not lead to any better employment prospects. It is a prerequisite for a program with better prospects, which I am not even guaranteed to get in. In fact, I'm hoping to not even be taking courses for almost a year after I'm done this semester. I will likely need employment during that time. Needless to say, I'm not ready to burn the bridges here yet, and it is only one class each, not even a midterm or quiz day, so maybe I should save the disciplines until I need them? It is immeasurably stupid that I need to perform these mental assessments.
This is not even my point. This is only outlining my fragile mental state as I sat down at my counter and pulled my special, illicit, indulgently-large-size mocha towards me, so when I say it was disgusting, I want you to understand the full impact. It was revolting. I think it was composed of hot chocolate and hot water, but since I have gotten so accustomed to Tim Hortons coffee being lousy, I could not completely ascertain whether it was or was simply bad. Usually I have to suffer through the burnt taste and almost-sour cream, but this was genuinely undrinkable. I actually poured it out.
I think this is the last straw. I'm not going to Tim Hortons anymore. They have failed me for the last time. 
Why, Tim Hortons? WHY?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Washington Past

I do not think I can read the Washington Post anymore. I had included it in my morning run of newspapers, just for the information, But after reading a certain opinion column, I have reservations that I can support it anymore.

The piece begins with the writer proclaiming that he sides with the Pastor Terry Jones, a Florida Minister who gained his fifteen minutes of fame when the media ran with his threat to hold a "Burn a Qua'ran" day. He was beseeched by many concerned citizens, including the President on television, that it would provoke violence and inflame overseas aggression. When he had achieved his goal, fame, he backed down, stating that the builders of the controversial Mosque near ground zero in New York had promised to move it, which they asserted they had not. Jones then tried to save face, but eventually blustered out, and decided not to burn the Qua'ran (although no bets as to whether he'll look for the matches again the next time he yearns for the limelight).

This issue has divided people across the nations of America and Canada,  but I should make my  stance perfectly clear; burning the Qua'ran in response to 9/11 or the Mosque is like killing a redhead because of the IRA.It is a tad ridiculous, and you are missing the point.

Back to the column; this writer first compares Terry Jones to a man named John Brown from pre-civil war America, who fought slavery by supporting the murder of pro slavery southerners. Although his  heart was in the right place, his brain had obviously checked out. There is a deep inherent irony in comparing a man who is so misguided about the nature of the war we are fighting in Afghanistan, that he is willing to make a senseless gesture that hurts and offends thousands of innocent people, including his own countrymen.

However, I was hopeful; I remain objective and attempt to find the meaning, the truth, and the theory within the column. I am forever looking for new points of view, and if this man can start from such a confusing stance and make a logical point, I'm fascinated.

He brought up that fact that Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, honored Kurt Westergaard, a political cartoonist who drew the infamous Muhammad turban bomb drawing, for his promotion of Freedom of opinion,and likened it to the minister Terry Jones.

I held my breath, this conclusion is  going to be a doozy.

His final paragraph intimated that although President Barack Obama begged citizens to remember that their enemy was the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, he obviously knew that, deep down, Minister Terry Jones was protecting American Values. The writer professes to be "not Anti-Muslim", but his speech leaves room for debate. If one is attacking the very  ideals that Muslims hold sacred, lumping them in with the terrorists abroad, painting them all with the same "guilty" brush, we are forced to conclude that person is "anti-Muslim". This whole incident only serves to show how low people can sink, and how easily they can delude themselves into creating a reality that represents their own internal beliefs, and justifying them with whatever means are necessary.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'm mad.

I've decided to educate myself on  politics lately. I started with American politics as a result of the whole "Qua'ran Barbecue" affair that was quashed. I started by wandering over to the Washington Post site, which had an easy to read list of all the primaries that would be running, Fischer Price "My First Election" style because that's about where I'm at, but soon realized I didn't even understand what a Democrat or Republican was.
A short google later and I feel I've got a pretty good handle on it, red republican elephants, and blue democratic donkeys. A touch Dr. Seuss, but you gotta walk before you run, right?
The helpfully illustrative website I found also included an article on why a man changed from being a Democrat to a Republican. (functionally, for Canadians, going from Liberal to Conservative). At first I got annoyed, then I got angry, then I got pissed. I googled his name; surely this kind of moronic thinking isn't being splashed over the public conscious, is it? Apparently Mr. Dennis Prager has a large career as an opinion writer, including podcasts, shows and columns. There's hope for me yet if a man like this can be employed.
I'll spare Dear Reader from slogging through the entire thing which, I must disclose, did include a few points I agree with such as exploring alternate energy methods.

Let's start with a softball of contention, shall we?

"I believe in American exceptionalism, meaning that (a) America has done more than any international organization or institution, and more than any other country, to improve this world; and (b) that American values (specifically, the unique American blending of Enlightenment and Judeo-Christian values) form the finest value system any society has ever devised and lived by. "

Leaving a) aside because it's purely subjective and difficult to prove, although I have a sneaking suspicion that the Greeks or Romans did more through the Renaissance than America has by exporting Twinkies and skinny jeans, the problem with b) is not that it is arguable the American value system is "the finest" or not, it lies in what precisely that value system IS and what we should do with it. Do they value choice or life? How about free speech or safety? There are trade-offs in every circumstance, and Americans seem to want it all, understandable, but ridiculous.

"I believe that the levels of taxation advocated by liberals render those taxes a veiled form of theft. "Give me more than half of your honestly earned money or you will be arrested" is legalized thievery."
Don't live in America then. You will be paying taxes, any amount of which is "legalized thievery", no matter who is in government. Here he is simply haggling price, which makes him cheap, or frugal if you want to be nice, rather than arguing the principle.

"I believe that the American military has done more to preserve and foster goodness and liberty on Earth than all the artists and professors in America put together."
I think Maya Angelou, Noam Chomsky, and Richard Dawkin might disagree. They would likely disagree by pointing out that $737 billion was spent on military expenditures in 2009, while $45 billion was spent on Education.

"I believe that lowering standards to admit minorities mocks the real achievements of members of those minorities."
Just like how the born-American losers demean the accomplishments of other born-Americans, so you believe in welfare to bring everyone up to an equal level of dignity, right? Oh, wait.
"I believe that government funding of those who can help themselves (e.g., the able-bodied who collect welfare) or who can be helped by non-governmental institutions (such as private charities, family, and friends) hurts them and hurts society." 
Typically only if it goes on too long, but a helping hand can be useful. That's why we put the system in place, and then apply strict regulations and guidelines to ensure it doesn't get abused.

"I believe that when schools give teenagers condoms, it is understood by most teenagers as tacit approval of their engaging in sexual intercourse." 
Because the first thing on hormone-crazed, sex-obsessed, moronic teenager's minds when they are in a sexually-charged moment is: "Am I allowed to do this?" So we should teach abstinence so they are never put in a sexual situation. Just like Bristol Palin. (Yeah, that was a cheap shot.)

"I believe that marriage must remain what has been in every recorded civilization -- between the two sexes."
He's not even trying here. What about the Greek, Romans, French, or even Native Americans?

"I believe that the trial lawyers associations and teachers unions, the greatest donors to the Democratic Party, have done great harm to American life -- far more than, let us say, oil companies and pharmaceutical companies, the targets of liberal opprobrium."
No lawyer even dumped 4 million barrels of oil into my water. I won't even get started on the number of medications that get pushed through FDA testing to make a profit as the public assumes the risk.

"I believe that a good man and a good marriage are more important to most women's happiness and personal fulfillment than a good career."
Gosh. All this time I've been going to University to earn a degree and do something with my brain, when I could have been truly happy by just finding the right man! Screw being a supreme court judge, my man is all I need!
(I should point out here that I have not omitted anything relevant to this one. He offered no corollary for men requiring a good woman.)

I won't take the easy road and say that English is not a guarantee of intelligence either, but I will point out that information relevant to certain cultures is likely to be published in the culture's language, and therefore people who do not speak English may have a solid notion of who they would like to vote for, ensuring there is no mistaking one candidate for another on voting day, is the reward for having multiple languages. 
Anyway, I leave Dear Reader to mull over the fact that this man has a career. 

This post was uncomfortable for me for a number of reasons, not least of which is broadcasting my feelings on a number of issues that I know not everyone who reads this blog agrees with. But if I am to continue to expand this blog into a politic arena, I am going to have to put some cards on the table.

Friday, September 10, 2010

BBC Interview with Oscar B. Goodman

BBC's Hardtalk is interviewing the mayor of Las Vegas on the radio this morning, and it is contentious. The guy is so shifty, I swear he's going to leave sideways.
The interviewer is interested in the history of Las Vegas, and trying to get Mr. Goodman to talk about how Vegas was steeped in the mob when he arrived there with "$87 in his pocket", and Mr. Goodman backpedals furiously insisting that he never had any contact with unscrupulous people, and they were all good people, they always paid him, etc. The interviewer scoffs and insists they were talking about people like, Meyer Lansky, Phil Leonetti, Frank "lefty" Rosenthal, and Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro and the Mayor says that he knew nothing, how could he know, they never asked his permission to kill people, and that he knew Tony until the time he was killed in a cornfield. When the interviewer presses the point, the mayor says he "sounds like a cop".
At this point, I had known nothing about the mayor, but now, I'm sure he's mob. 

He points out that people felt, when he ran for office, that he would corrupt city hall, but since he's the only politician that hasn't been indicted, they're wrong. But they should be wrong because he's not doing anything wrong, not because he hasn't been indicted. That just shows he hasn't been caught yet.

There's some back and forth about whether or not Vegas is sleazy. It depends on whether or not you consider neon and english gin to be sleazy.

After a comment about having beautiful girls around him turns the interviewer on to sex traffic, quoting a prominenet journalist who said "there is no city on earth where the women are treated worse [than Vegas]", the Mayor plays dumb, insisting he's never seen an underage girl displaying her wares. The interviewer brings up a judge who says he has women in his court all the time ("a parade of girls") charged with prostitution, and the Mayor counters not in his city. The interviewer presses, stating it was a Vegas judge, but the mayor hand-waves it away, saying they have law enforcement in place and there are more important things.

The interviwer brings up the idea of Vegas, how  it is outrageous and "larger-than-life", and asks the mayor how that works with the current trend towards sustainability and the city's plan to reinvent itself. Mr. Goodman divulges that every government building built since he was elected is "as green as it gets" either rating silver, gold, or platinum. The interviewer laughs a bit and says isn't the ethos of Las Vegas the antithesis of sustainability? But he is again rebuffed by the mayor, insisting it's not his fault.

They also briefly discuss an incident in the past where the mayor threatened a certain journalist, saying he would take a baseball bat and break his head. Or when the mayor joked about cutting off the thumbs of people who spread graffiti, and how this lends a ridiculous air to Vegas, as though the whole thing is a theme park. The mayor insists his "satire" is the only way to get through to people.

Vegas: So far removed from reality, it couldn't find it with a map and a sherpa. 
This man has spent so long dealing with mob people, he's starting to take on their characteristics. I'm going to go take a shower.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Beauty Pageant

School has started again for me, and it's a tremendously strange experience. I know I probably haven't grown, height or weight, since leaving school three years ago, but sitting in those tiny desks again makes me feel like a behemoth.

Anyway, I'm sleep-deprived so rather than blog about my classes, which all seem giggle-worthy fantastic, I'd rather write about something random I stumbled on.

Beauty Pageants are pretty familiar to all people; women dress up, smile nicely,  perhaps do some Little Talent, answer some questions, and then one extraordinarily beautiful women is chosen from the group of extraordinarily beautiful women to be crowned Miss something-or-other.

Recently I've been astounded by the various pageant's history for scandals, however, and the nature of the scandals themselves.Watch for the disappearance of the "married/ with children" scandels and the emeregence of "Wow she's racist/stupid/inept" scandels.

1957 - Mary Leona Gage was revealed to be married and a mother of two. She was officially stripped because her age was 18, instead of 21 as she represented, but the subsequent Miss Universe for that was 17 and allowed to keep her title.

1974- Helen Morgan  was made to resign after it came to light she had a young son, which the rules did not forbid.

1980- Gabriella Brum resigned after it came to light she had ALLEGEDLY posed nude.She did work for playboy after she resigned, however. It remains unclear whether she felt she was free to "do so" or "continue to". 

1984- Vanessa Williams when nude photos that were never intended to be published surfaced, Penthouse bought the pictures without her consent and published them. She was encouraged to resign from the scandal, although she is still recognized as Miss America 1984 and the first African-American Miss America.

1995- Alicia Machado almost got too fat. Serious.

2002- Oxana Fedorova there are rumors suggesting she was pregnant, but she insists she stepped down to finish her law degree, and officially she was removed for "failure to complete her duties". Interestingly, she did defend her PhD thesis the December of her reign, while being promoted to Police Captain, and graduated in May, 2003. No exaggeration, this is just one year. The rest of this woman's life reads like a female Bruce Wayne.

2003- Kari Ann Peniche was stripped of a teen title after posing nude for playboy, which she insists was not forbid in the organization rules and believed would be alright since it "hit the stands" the month her reign ended.

2006- Kate Blair answered "What, to you, is integrity?" with a direct answer about how she considers it to be "all-out ambition to achieve her goals", which is not what is classically thought of as integrity. At least she's determined.

2006- Tara Conner's reign ran concurrently with Kate Blair's; she was involved with cocaine and anti-depressants, hinted at past abuse to blame, and is alleged to have kissed Kate Blair. She was allowed to continue with her reign as long as she attended a rehabilitation facility.

2006- Danielle Lloyd: 2006 not being a good year for pageants, she was stripped of her Miss Great Britain title as a result of her earlier nude shoots, and, it is reported, for a relationship with one of the judges that lasted more than two months. She has since appeared on some reality shows and revealed herself to be a bullying racist douchette so maybe they dodged a bullet there.
2007- Isabel Lestapier Winqvist brought back modesty when she posed for bikini photos that were then published. The pictures skirted the requirement of "no nude photos", but she resigned anyway.

2008- Janina Miller San Miguel's official reports cite that she stepped down because of the loss of her grandfather, but further reading into the incident shows that her famous confusion during a question and answer period where she lapsed into a heavy accent, and gave a disjointed, breathy response, may have led to an unfair environment with too much stress placed on her to learn their "highly favored second language". After this incident a committee offered to "conduct English courses for all Miss Philippines candidates to better express themselves".Celebrating distinct cultures much?

2008- Laura Elena Zúñiga Huizar was not content with just "communication issues". Ms. Huizar was arrested with seven men who were carrying  firearms and $53,000 in cash. She insisted she had been kidnapped by her boyfriend, the leader of the Juarez Cartel. She was stripped of her title, but not found guilty of any charges.

2009- Ris Low was crowned Miss Singapore World in July, but it was revealed September 25th that she had committed credit card fraud in the May of that year. She was allowed to keep her crown, but the next day, she went on record saying she had a confirmed diagnosis of bipolar, and succumbed to pressure to resign September 29th.

2009- The most recent scandel involved Carrie Prejean. She was asked whether she believed all states should support gay marriage and she responded that she was not raised that way. She thought it was "great" that America is a country where people could choose straight marriage or same-sex marriage, but that she had been raised to believe otherwise. I feel the most interesting part is when she says, " in my country...I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there."

Incidentally there were two incidents where there was controversy caused by the contestants, Miss World or Universe, phoning Howard Stern to promote various events, as they are commissioned to do, and then being soundly mocked by him.

Instead of periodic scandals to ramp up their ratings, I think they should start holding grudge matches. Let the Ladies duke it out, then we'll see who's  Miss Universe.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


I almost missed it in the news. For a second there, I was even a little concerned that it had or would not happen.
But rest assured, fear not: BP is being criminally investigated for the gulf oil spill, called the "Deepwater Horizon disaster", and there is a large internal investigation into BP and the associated smaller companies that were involved. The Wall Street Journal article implies that they will take some, but not all of the blame, but I argue their wording; Where 4 million barrels of oil in our oceans are considered, we'll make more blame to go around.

As both mention, this report is slated to come out on Wednesday, so hopeful by the time Dear Reader discovers this, the report should be available. Personally, I can't help but see how this report, and the subsequent legal investigation, will affect further environmental efforts, studies, and projects. The cleanup must not only be considered, but also how Companies are to be held responsible for their mishandling of goods that could cause danger to the environment. There is talk of fines up to $21 billion if they are held fully accountable, but this solution is troubling. From the article it is apparent that BP has a long history of events that question their safety practices. It is not for us to say that this makes them entirely responsible, but the fee necessarily implies that the company must stay running, to pay its debt, or it will disband to avoid the charge altogether, and then we are left trying to chastise air for the injustice that is done. Not only is this unsatisfying, it is inefficient.

There has been debate and discussion about the ethics that apply to corporations, most notably in the Shell reserve fiasco, but so far a concrete solution has eluded us. Although thousands of stockholders were cheated out of their money by executives that deliberately obfuscated the truth, this situation is far more grave, the implications wider-reaching, even more so than can be apparent at this time.

It is in the wake of this disaster that we must really begin to examine the systems in place for this events, and critically evaluate our position.