Saturday, July 30, 2005

Free Marc Emery. Yankee go hell.

Gotta go to a barbecue right now. More later.

Much love to Marc.

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Ich bin ein Mitchievillerite!

Mitchieville SLAYS me, like one of those Danish-Canadian suicide bombers.

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Just don't fling me in that briar patch

Ian.

To you Canadian right wingers that are so thrilled and respectful of this war on terror, do you have the courage to go south, and enlist? Why not, if it’s such an important thing for you?
To you Canadian libertarians who are so hysterical and fanatical about the sanctity of private property:

Sure doesn't seem like many of you are wearing Group 4 uniforms, or even carrying walkie-talkies, as you spout off on the Internet about the importance of property rights.

Why aren't you all security guards?

(In the private sector, to be sure -- no point trading one hypocrisy for another!)
Your family too important? Your education? Your blogging abilities? Why don’t you go kill some people in this war?
Remember, all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

See you on patrol.

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Lazy heritage thinking and reporting

According to the London Free Press, the reconstruction of the St. Peter's Cathedral rectory building, whose demolition in December caused so much wailing and gnashing of the teeth by the heritage lobby, will be put on hold by the Catholic Diocese of London for at least three years but instead the grounds will be put to functional use as a parking lot in the meantime.

Projected building costs for what will be called the Parish Centre have soared to $4 million, too much for a diocese still raising money for a $5.2-million facelift of its basilica.
I've been trying for several years to get the reconstruction of my landlord's heritage garbage bin started, but that's not in the news. So you might wonder why this story is in the news, never minding the newsworthiness of lack thereof that the old decrepit rectory is already gone. While most productively employed Londoners pass through their daily lives with barely a thought to the rising and falling of structures unless one of them is theirs or they can derive some personal benefit from it, a special class of citizens who consider it their business to tend the conscience of everyone else follow their programming and obtain spasmodic engorgement of their moral members. Why the Free Press continually and wantonly exposes the general public to their ejaculations is the subject of another post, but I have neither compunction nor a similar purpose in exhibiting the impotence and sterility of the heritage industry's emissions.

In response to the parking lot, Genet Hodder, chairperson of Heritage London, moans,
"It's so sad we've lost a heritage building for a parking lot."
Note the bland and effete passivity of the pronouns, "it" and "we," rather like the mould must speak of the bread — "It's ours!" The lazy misuse of "we" slyly suggests an assertion of collective possession of heritage buildings that is undermined by the facts that the rectory actually belonged to the diocese and noone else and that the identification of the "we" in question is impossibly vague and arbitrary, unlike that of the actual owner of the property. It's no good uttering the standard falsehoods like "heritage belongs to all of us" or other such nonsense — I had no hand in the construction or maintenance of any of these structures, and their demolition causes me no sense of personal loss but if anything a general sense of satisfaction that their owners were permitted to find a use for their property for their own purposes.

The rude assertions that are implied by the misuse of personal pronouns were echoed by Ward 1 councillor Judy Bryant passing her hand over her fevered brow on the subject of the possible demolition of another even more decrepit and unusable old building, the Locus Mount, a few days ago:
"If we don't protect the unique features we have, like these heritage buildings, we will not be a unique city and we won't retain or attract people to live here."
We, we, we, we, we— is that all you people can think of? However, the semi-official "we" to which Ms. Bryant pays her rhetorical dues are not always on the same page — an unnamed city official was kind enough to allow that "a temporary parking lot could be permissible on the site."

Meanwhile, John Mombourquette, heritage activist and past president of the Woodfield Community Association and the London and Middlesex Historical Society, appears dismayed that his qualifications have been discounted by the Diocese and "worries about what the new building might look like."
"It has to be built, but what form it takes three or four years from now, I don't know," he said.
It's hard to imagine that even the Free Press would publish this black hole in a universe of insight or knowledge. The reporter could have interviewed all 300,000+ citizens of London and came up with the same observation of ignorance. I suppose what makes Mr. Mombourquette newsworthy is neither that he knows anything or can posit anything worthwhile, it's that he cares. It's all about the feeling, but not just any feeling can make it into the Free Press — one must feel wearing the badge of editorial board-approved aggregates of capricious-thinking.

Mr. Mombourquette does follow up his bewilderment with a bromide for the obfuscation of Londoners:
"It's just history repeating itself."
Well, that's a relief — if history repeats itself, then heritage can take care of itself.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Heil! Heil!

Equality will not be achieved until rations are in place.

From Saturday's National Post:

Soda drinks are "liquid candy" for children who often guzzle up to three pops a day, according to the U.S. Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is urging cigarette-style health warnings on cans. The group warns that while adults seemed to be turning to diet soda drinks, children are drinking more full-bore soda than before. "What was once a rare treat in a small serving is now served up morning, noon and night," says Michael Jacobson, CSPI's executive director. The group cites research based on government data showing that teenage boys who drink soft drinks consume an average of three 12-ounce cans per day while girls drink more than two cans. Teenages who drink the soft drinks get nearly 15% of their total calories from the drinks, says the centre. Agence France-Presse



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Terrorists have feelings too



Lorrie Goldstein on the Commie Broadcasting Centre and their bastardization of the language:
"'Terrorist' and 'terrorism': use extreme caution before using either word ... Rather than calling assailants 'terrorists', we can refer to them as bombers, hijackers, gunmen (if we're sure no women were in the group (my italics)), militants, extremists, attackers or some other appropriate noun."

Now, it's not even the CBC's policy of refusing to call "terrorists" and "terrorism" terrorists and terrorism because it would be "taking sides" (!?) that's the most ludicrous thing here.

While absurd, that's been CBC practice for years, frequently defended by CBC News editor-in-chief Tony Burman, who's also quoted in the memo. Like the BBC and Reuters, the CBC refuses to call "terrorism" terrorism unless it's attributed to a third party, or contained is a direct quote.

But to me, it's the added warning from the CBC that, before using a word like "gunmen" to describe terrorists, CBC staffers must first ensure that "no women were in the group" that places this policy firmly into the realm of Brave New World.

I mean, how far jammed up your own politically correct butt do you have to be not to realize how stupid that sounds?

What's the CBC's big concern here -- that using the term "gunmen" as a substitute for "terrorists" might offend any female "gunpersons" in the group? Surely, it's not a concern about accuracy, because if the CBC was concerned about accuracy , it wouldn't issue orders not to call terrorists ... let's see ... what's the word I'm looking for here? ... oh, yeah ... TERRORISTS.
Read the whole article.

HT: Nealenews

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The complicated calculus of parking in London Ontario

Parking woes in crumbling downtown London? Council votes to build an overpass in the east end of the city and hire a consultant instead of building a parking lot downtown.

The city is preparing to hire a consultant to study London's parking woes in the core area.

That includes making a case for a 500- to 1,000-stall parking garage that could ease what some say is a critical shortage of long-term parking spaces.

There are about 13,000 parking spaces downtown and 25,000 employees, according to MainStreet London. Business owners often complain their staff have nowhere to park.

A working group of city council members and staff has met twice over the last month.

A request for proposals from consultants is being prepared and is expected to be issued in the coming weeks, with a final report expected in the fall at a cost of up to $30,000.

Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell, who chairs the working group, said he's convinced there's a need. "We want to make sure we get it right and that it's a smart investment."
Here's a breakdown of what Londoners are getting for their $30,000:
The consultant will examine:

- Availability of day and night parking in specific areas of the core;

- Whether attraction of new business to the core is affected by the amount of parking;

- The best locations for a new parking facility based on the need and number of stalls.

- Prepare a business case for a 500- to 1,000-stall parking garage, the costs to build and operate it and the investment return it would give the city.
Once again, I wonder what council and existing city staff are getting paid to do? Apparently, it is to hire consultants and eat free food. I have an idea, I offer my advice for free, and it only took me one minute to come up with it: demolish the JLC, along with city hall to make room for more parking lots.

Council's dithering on the issue has sparked the ire of Shmuel Farhi, one of the biggest developers in the city who also happens to own a lot of valuable property in the downtown core. Farhi is threatening to move out or even *gasp* destroy heritage buildings:
"What else do we need to do to convince city council of the need for parking? Why waste the taxpayers' money on a study?" Farhi said.

Farhi owns 1.2 million square feet of space in the core, but has only 500 parking spaces for tenants, about 10 per cent of the spaces required to lease the space.

Almost a year ago, Farhi asked the city to rent him 40 to 45 spaces at a city lot on Queens Avenue between Clarence and Richmond streets.

Farhi said he needs the reserved spaces to lease nearby office space. But the city has so far resisted, arguing there are other landlords in need of parking.

"I don't want the spaces for free and I'm all for giving spaces to other people," Farhi said. "I'll pay full market value so I can bring more people to the downtown."

[..] Farhi has said if more parking spaces aren't created soon, he'll have no choice but to board up or demolish heritage buildings.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Cop a feel

“I said, ‘I don’t like you feeling me up.’” Dintenfass testified. “She said, ‘I’m not feeling you up.’ I told her, ‘My husband’s been feeling me up for 40 years. I know what that feels like when someone’s feeling me up.’

Just making the world a safer place ma'am.

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Caranci's pre-election campaign picks up speed

For those of you who have lost hope and faith in London long ago, I've nothing to say that will change your minds. Indeed, the unofficial rule here at The London Fog is that if you don't have something bad to report when discussing London, then don't bother posting at all - of course, this comes quite naturally, as typically there really is nothing good to say about London, especially about council and city staff and of course, the future ration distribution centre, more commonly known as the JLC.

Last Friday I posted on the controversial Trafalgar Street overpass. Although the project is dependent on funding not yet promised, and not likely to come, the first phase was started despite the fact that 4 million taxpayer dollars could be lost. Today the London Free Press reports that council has approved the continuation of the first phase, but it is not clear when construction will begin. Phase one, which entails property acquisition and design, might not be followed by phase two, and so Londoners can look forward to a weed ridden, empty lot.

City council approved last night completion of the first phase but raised concern about lack of funding commitments from Ontario, Ottawa and Canadian National.

Several council members, including Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell, appeared set to oppose using new gas tax money.

"I'm very disappointed with CN," Gosnell said, when staff said the company will commit only $2 million "at this time."

"CN has as much or more to gain from this overpass as the citizens of London."

Coun. Susan Eagle said the overpass shouldn't "jump the queue" over other infrastructure priorities "just because we jumped the gun without all our ducks in a row."
Actually, as far as I can tell, neither the citizens of London, nor CN, has anything to gain from this abysmal waste of undeserved money. Susan Eagle clearly doesn't - she would rather see the citizens line up in orderly fashion in front of their public housing units.

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Developers contributing to municipal candidates … so what?

A common complaint from Londoners about the city's falling fortunes and political mismanagement, and one dutifully repeated to me lately by an urban studies professor, is that the proceedings or agenda of city council is dominated by developers who variously control, drive, manipulate or undermine local democratic or governmental processes. As one commenter put it recently, councillors are "[g]utless […] in the face of developers."

Like George Clark, "I am at a loss to figure when the term developer became a pejorative one," or when developers became such a handy scapegoat for the city's woes. If the developers are masterminding an agenda counter to the interests of citizens, they appear to be getting a poor return on their investment in malfeasance. After all, the assertions of detractors above are difficult to reconcile with much of what transpires at city hall; for example,

  • smoking bans on private property,
  • increased program spending,
  • increased business and residential property taxes,
  • increased development charges for commercial development,
  • resistance to contracting out city services,
  • zoning bylaws,
  • bureaucratic red tape and legal costs incurred in building permit and zoning change applications,
  • or heritage laws.
In fact, it is sometimes difficult to imagine that developers would want to have anything to do with London, especially after something like this. According to the London Free Press, the city is planning to take advantage of the Ontario government's recent overhaul of the Ontario Heritage Act to appropriate the legal implementation of a London developer's property rights.
London is poised to test the power of new heritage legislation to protect one of its oldest surviving homes. Locust Mount, a 147-year-old home under threat of the wrecker's ball since a fire nearly five years ago, may be designated a heritage site. The landmark at 661 Talbot St. was built by former London mayor Elijah Leonard.

City staff are recommending city council designate Locust Mount without the consent of its owner, Drewlo Holdings Inc., to stop deterioration of the building. The home hasn't been heated for nearly five years and holes in the roof and open windows allow the weather and animals inside.
It's not hard to see who the dog is and who the tail, nor which party is doing the wagging. In fact, in response Drewlo is prostituting its status as the owner of the property for the hope that political favours may temporarily permit some semblance of its entitlement to do with the property it legally paid for as it sees fit,
At Drewlo's request, the planning commmittee agreed to defer its decision on designation for 30 days while an architect evaluates the foundation. […] Drewlo [had] applied for a demolition permit in December 2003, but later agreed to defer the application and discuss ways to preserve the building. Those talks, which ended this year, focused on incorporating Locust Mount into a new development. In return, Drewlo would receive bonus zoning or extra density for a residential or office project.
It's also clear from the apologetic and pandering natures of Drewlo's actions that its prostitution is meant to buy itself a little public relations as well. But appeasing the heritage proponents has only emboldened them.
"We've seen too many significant properties fall because we didn't have the power to act and now that we do, we should act," [Ward 2 councillor Joni] Baechler said.

Likewise, Ward 1 Coun. Judy Bryant, a heritage enthusiast and supporter of the Creative Cities task force report, said preserving Locust Mount is crucial. "If we don't protect the unique features we have, like these heritage buildings, we will not be a unique city and we won't retain or attract people to live here," said Bryant, a member of the planning committee.
Locus Mount is so unique that, having lived in London all my life, I had rarely even heard of the place and had no idea where it was until this article was published. A google image search of "locus mount" results in precisely one picture of the building, burning above. What in fact makes Locus Mount significant is that the building's age and relative less-than-completely-unheard-ofness of its long-deceased proprietor provide just enough propaganda fodder to transform the subjective ovine bleatings of Baechler and Bryant into rigid and unassailable authoritarian dicates. I can tell Judy Bryant that the "protection" of a building I'd rarely heard of will make no difference at all to whether or not I will be "retained" — however, the reelection of people like her will make a substantial difference!

How does this kind of fuzzy, sentimental and arbitrary thinking become the basis for policy and rule decision-making? Developers may have the wherewithal to contribute to electoral campaigns, but the voters who actually capacitate the sitting of our local potentates in council chairs have a touching and irrational faith in their entitlement to other people's possessions and herd accordingly at the polling booths. From the same day in the London Free Press, Drewlo figures again:
The grass in Capulet Park had grown rather long, so Eric Blunt — whose apartment overlooks the small park — called the city to find out when it would be cut. That's when he learned the northwest London property didn't belong to the city anymore — and that new owner Drewlo Holdings planned to convert it to a highrise.

He's dismayed the oasis will soon be gone. "Before we could look out the window and see a little park . . . and now it will be a brick wall." He said residents of the apartment buildings surrounding the park weren't given a chance to express their views about the plans.

[…] A land swap took place in April 2004 between the city and Drewlo, giving the developers ownership of Capulet Park in exchange for an equivalent parcel of land on Capulet Lane, Macpherson said. "I can't explain why Capulet Park was set aside as a park in the first place," he said, adding the development took place about 20 years ago. "It's circled by apartment buildings . . . It can only service people in those buildings." Macpherson said the policy on park planning is that all parks must have street frontage for visibility, safety and accessibility purposes.

Capulet Park is rezoned for residential use and the Drewlo property — which Macpherson said has street frontage on Capulet Lane and is more accessible to area residents — is rezoned as parkland. […] Drewlo [will] be responsible for initial work on the new city park, such as grading and seeding the land and installing a walkway from the park to the Wonderland Road apartments.

Blunt insists apartment residents had a right to be directly informed about what was happening in their backyard. […] Some people in the area recently signed long-term leases, he added. But they did it without knowing about the pending construction plans.
I would suggest resurrecting an old pejorative, "renter." It is hard to understand why Blunt expects that he has a "right" to be informed about the development when he does not own the property, except that years of trivializing property rights has conditioned him to accept this kind of entitlement. Losing a view may not be the most pleasant news to receive, but even if Blunt had owned his own property, it would be hard to construct a logical and unsentimental argument that he also has a right to its perceived aesthetic or even monetary value but only that right to do with it as he pleases himself. Nor does Drewlo have a right to the evaluation of its property at Locus Mount, but it does have a right not to be interfered with in its attempt to enhance that value without interfering with other people's property.

Complaints about developers in London apparently stem from two ideas: first, that developers contribute to campaigns and thus influence the decisions of politicians who then concern themselves with the developers' private interests rather than the public good; and, second, that developers… well, they develop.

In the first case, it is hard to see that developers should not have be able to contribute to campaigns as do individuals, community groups, other governmental levels and unions. The difference, I can only imagine, is that the influence purchased by developers will presumably bias decision-making in the direction of capitalism, as if regulations and exemptions distributed on the basis of politics could be called capitalism, all the same while that other groups trying to influence campaigns and politicians are disposed to stemming capitalism as though heroically defending everyone's interests instead of their own. On the subject of bias, George Clark asks,
I've always wondered if someone refuses to take a donation from a developer, does that mean that they are biased and will vote against development no matter what the cause?
But in the assertion that the developers' interests are being purchased from council at the expense of others, I have already cited examples of how their political investment has met poor returns.

I'm not trying to defend council here, as protestations against campaign finance influence has previously been met with unseemly and likely indefensible overdefensiveness, and it is true that quite a number of councillors have accepted campaign contributions from developers. But if the developers have something to buy, should it not be questioned who has something to sell and why? How is it that city council has the power to dispose of property that does not even belong to them, whether through zoning or heritage bylaws or through taxes? Should we be surprised that someone whose ability to plan for, invest in, or otherwise use his own property as he sees fit has been stripped from him by arbitrary authority would try to buy back that function for himself from that authority? This is what is meant by a "developer's agenda" — that he must bribe officials to return to him what ought to have been his in the first place, in opposition to others trying to bribe council against him. That developers often conspire with and bend the hazards of arbitrary regulations and bylaws to place their competitors at a disadvantage is less an indictment of developers than of the ridiculous market in political and financial favours that local government has sponsored and which ultimately are designed to serve its own corrupt interests by exerting control over what is not rightfully its own.


Not quite yet…

But to be more charitable to council and more constructive, I would observe that one problem with our present system of elected representatives is not so much that they are bound to observe the interests of some group or another — that is the nature of representation. If it were possible to represent everyone in a riding or ward, we probably wouldn't even need elections because everybody's interests would be the same. The real problem is that various levels of government exceed the authority that is given to them. Is it not reasonable for the taxpayer to know whether it is the municipal, provincial or federal level that is responsible for issues of, say, social housing — even before minding the debate about whether that is the proper or desirable function of government in the first place.

In the case of property taxes, I think that the name itself suggests its proper function. If property owners are paying tax on the basis of the value of their property, it is fair and reasonable, and I suspect the original purpose, for these taxes to pay for services to property; ie., sewer and road maintenance, and the like. Funding social housing, grandiose capital projects, cultural services — what amounts to bread and circuses — is far beyond the purview of municipal government, never minding the "economic spin-off" arguments that the pyramid-builders like to use to rationalize their pet schemes. To cite a London councillor of all people:
Our city government cannot do this kind of collective economic decision-making, efficiently, with any kind of competence, or on the right things. City hall bureaucrats and politicians cannot know the individual intentions and interests of 300,000 plus citizens. So the next time a city councillor, controller, or city bureaucrat says he/she can make these decisions for you, just know they are uttering falsehoods or simply don’t know what they are talking about.
[— Paul Van Meerbergen, Councillor, Ward 7, London City Council]
If property taxes served only those functions that relate to the service of property, then the special interests served by council would in fact be those of the typical property owner. In fact, if road and sewer maintenance are to be considered the function of local government, it would probably not be a bad idea to divide that responsibility into wards, so that the populations of individual wards could consider the costs and benefits to themselves of local projects — I would certainly not argue that all municipal projects benefit all Londoners equally, even if they must all contribute.

It is likely true that some council members serve the interests of developers who are able to contribute more. The question I have is whether or not the interests of those supporting those councillors and presumably assisting their agendas are more equitable in terms of the proper function of government. In one instance in which I was criticized for suggesting that zoning bylaws be done away with, the instance of the widening and service of Fanshawe Park Road near the new retail developments at Hyde Park was cited as an example of no planning, erroneously I think for planning was made at the bequest of developers rather than other special interests was more the case as the city and not private interests did budget for the widening — the author intended that by no planning he meant the city's planners' recommendations were ignored, which is not the same thing. Of course, this widening could not unreasonably be considered a targeted benefit to a particular special interest — the retail developers. However, it could also be argued that these municipal projects serve the interests of a much larger and representative group of consumers and drivers. I used to live up in the north end of town, and I remember the congestion and hazards of Fanshawe Park Road before it was widened up to the Masonville retail developments. Developers have no right to expect that taxpayers will fund the convenience of travel to their locations; however, they are not completely responsible for the demand for retail or housing by the "public" once these developments are in place. Nobody is forcing people to try to shop at their stores or live in their houses and apartments. As far as capital projects that the city funds, I consider these sorts of activities to be one of the least egregious in terms of "public interest" as there is something in the nature of a demand for services that benefit the property of not just the developers but also their consumers.

If we would like to end the debate about special interests, developers or otherwise, buying favours from or being favoured by city council, perhaps it is not unreasonable to consider that municipal government should get out of the business of regulation and development altogether. Let developers buy and service the property on which roads to their developments lead. The costs would be passed on to the leasers of these developments and then on to only the consumers who actually use those services. Much fairer, I think. Back in the nineteenth century, many suburbs and transportation projects were created privately and the costs were not distributed to the population but only to those people who benefited from them. Same should go for things like arenas, theatres, orchestras, convention centres, etc. If Londoners were obliged to support the institutions and projects of their choice through their own voluntary efforts and finances without recourse to draining the pockets of those who do not enjoy or benefit from these institutions or projects, there would be a lot less "special interest" control over city hall. But that's my opinion.

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Having poisoned their minds...

...it's out of our hands now.

"If you try to cross the line I can't guarantee what is going to happen. Our young people, we can't control," Aly Hindy, the head of Scarborough's Salaheddin Islamic Centre, recalls telling the minister at the May meeting she held in Toronto with dozens of Muslim leaders.
You guys are going to have to start pointing out who the troublemakers are to the proper authorities, like normal people would if they heard about someone plotting murder.

Just some advice from a fan of religious pluralism.

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Gundon

Scene: Crack Alley, Sunday evening, after heavy rainfall. Two blocks from the John Labatt Centre, Downtown London.

Two young white males in "IQ shirts" (you know, the ones all the young voters of low expectations wear around here, the ones with two digits on the front and back) are packing a pipe with marihuana in a dingy alley near the John Labatt Centre. Imagining themselves to be unobserved, they discuss life and philosophy in Gundon. One has his hand conspicuously down his pants.

"The .45 has the bigger barrel, fuckin this is a different one..."

"Fuck it, I'm not afraid to shoot somebody, I don't fuckin care."

This brave talk continues, powered by wasted oxygen and marihuana smoke, until the superintendent of a building bordering on Crack Alley tells them to go away, calling from out of her window.

"Where the fuck is that coming from... Oh, sorry," says one.

Hand still down the pants, self-esteem intact, they move up Crack Alley towards the John Labatt Centre, to continue their psychedelic journey of mutual self-discovery and empowerment.

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Selective Heritage in a Crumbling Culture

Loyal readers of the London Fog will likely remember my outraged posts concerning Fanshawe Pioneer Village and the free handouts they eventually received due to council's continual generosity with other people's money. Although the crumbling relic, as I so fondly refer to the nearly abandoned structure, sees only 28,000 visitors annually, including 10,000 students, the city recently dished out an extra $300,000, with the verbal promise of additional increased funding for the next five years, so long as the village embarks on a successful fundraising campaign and doubles their attendance over the next ten years. It should also be recalled that this funding was largely justified and granted in relation to threats by both city administrators and village staff claiming that demolishing the relic would cost more than keeping it afloat. From the plea press:

It will cost $1.7 million to close Fanshawe Pioneer Village, more than what the city has contributed to its operation over the last 10 years. And the city would be on the hook for the bulk of that cost, city administrators say in report to board of control today.

[..] The village estimates the economic impact of closing at $2.5 million, including $300,000 in lost tourism revenue, $395,000 in lost wages and $1.3 million in lost artifacts.


Well, yesterday I was visiting the city's homepage, and I came across this:
London’s heritage and museum sector received a $75,000 boost from the City of London as Landmarks London announced its 2005 grant recipients. This year’s grants were awarded to help local heritage sites promote and develop heritage tourism in London.

“We value London’s heritage, culture and arts and it’s clear the heritage sector plays a key role in attracting visitors to our city and in promoting a better understanding of our community’s history to Londoners,” says Acting Mayor Tom Gosnell. “That’s why the City is pleased to support a diversity of heritage landmarks through this granting process.”

“Over the past few years the city has provided Landmarks London with funding to improve the quality of the overall experience for the cultural heritage visitor. Today’s announcement is significant in that it allows museum and heritage organizations to continue their excellent work. ” says Victoria Stasiuk, Landmarks London Coordinator. “In some cases, these municipal dollars have helped organizations identify and receive funding from other levels of government and the private sector.”
And just guess who is on the list of recipients? Fanshawe Pioneer Village gets $15,000 for their "Sesquicentennial Costuming Project." They are still receiving more of our money from the city, even if it is indirectly. Other looters include the London Regional Children’s Museum, for True North Strong and Free: Arts, Heritage and Science in Arctic Canada, Secrets of Radar Museum for Phase II of the Lost Voices project, Heritage London Foundation to expand the use of Elsie Perrin Williams Estate and Grosvenor Lodge, London Museum of Archaeology for the Lawson Revitalization Project and Heritage London Foundation to support All That Has Value and Transmission: Still Life. Total sum = $75,000.

The Elsie Perrin Williams Estate was also in the news today. The shameful appropriation of other people's property and the shady business deals just never stop in this city:
The $1 million the city pockets from the sale of the old central library on Queens Avenue will be used to pay down the debt of the new library, if London's board of control has its way.

In making its recommendation, the board this week rejected a bid by heritage enthusiasts to use the money to establish an endowment fund to maintain the city-owned Elsie Perrin Williams estate.

[..] It was Williams's wealth, left to the city, that was used to build the old library. The new library board will be asked to find an appropriate way to acknowledge Williams's contribution.

Coun. Judy Bryant, who led the push to use the sale proceeds for an endowment fund, was disappointed.

"If we can't show the public how important philanthropy is and that we've acknowledged it, then people will stop making those donations," Bryant said.

Heritage London Foundation also sent a letter requesting $500,000 be used for an endowment fund and capital improvements.

But Bryant was encouraged when the board said it will ask city council to review its funding level to maintain 11 city-owned heritage buildings.

"City council has to look after what we have and protect those properties," Bryant said. "But I do think the city has improved and is starting to realize we have to do something or we'll lose these treasures that makes us different and attractive."

Williams, heir to the Perrin Biscuit Co., left a $1-million trust fund to the city when she died in 1934. The fund and her 27.5-hectare estate were to be used for a park and museum, but city officials went to court and eventually the legislature to break the will and use the estate for a variety of civic projects, including the library.
Wow! Bryant should reconsider her use of the word philanthropy in this context. In the first place, the money used to fund these 'city-owned heritage buildings' year after year is not rightfully theirs to give away but can only be awarded by forcing residents to produce the cash, whether they agree to such uses of their earnings or not. In addition, it is a shameful piece of London history that they city fought the wishes of a benefactor in court so they could use the money as they please, not as it was willed. We have encountered such behaviour before in connection with the library when money willed for Landon and Central branch libraries was 'borrowed' to finish the concrete Rotary Reading Garden.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Fontana tells London they have received enough trough dollars

Seems the federal gas tax might not be the 'windfall' London banked on afterall:

London's $11.5-million Hale-Trafalgar railway overpass is stalled indefinitely and may be jeopardized by a lack of funding, sources say.

The city still hasn't reached a funding deal on the controversial overpass -- seen as partial relief for traffic bottlenecks at rail crossings -- with either CN Rail or the federal and provincial governments.

City hall had expected the federal government to help pay for the overpass as a public works project. But now the region's senior MP, Labour Minister Joe Fontana, says the city should use money from its share of the federal gas tax for the project.

"They do have the money," the London North MP insisted yesterday. "How the city decides to spend the gas tax is their decision in terms of priority-setting. That is the new infrastructure program."
I think this is hilarious actually, in the tragic sense of the word of course. I never thought I would hear sensible words come from Fontana's trap and it's an added bonus that London is on the 'losing' end. On the other hand, we must temper such praise with the knowledge that Fontana is a politician, and a member of the Party at that and hence has no problem spending other people's money. Spending cash on the implementation of Kyoto promises a greater reward than an unnecessary overpass in London.
"This will cause us all to have some pause," Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell said yesterday.

"If we have to spend an extra $4 million to $6 million to complete this project, then it will crowd out other capital spending priorities. It will be a political decision."

The funding glitch comes as the $4-million, first phase of the project is nearly complete, including land acquisition, utility relocation and design.

No shovel has been put in the ground yet, however.

The overpass was narrowly approved by council in a 9-7 vote last year. Several council members opposed the project, partly because the funding wasn't secured.
If these people weren't paid with public dollars, they would be living on street corners begging productive and responsible people for change instead of stealing it at the point of a gun. A sensible person doesn't start a business or begin on an expansion before the loan is guaranteed. But it's London, so that's they way they operate here.
Besides funding concerns, some council members argue other crossings, such as the CPR crossing on Adelaide Street North, are higher priorities.

So far, the province has chipped in $2 million, CN $1.4 million and the city $1.25 million, much of it already spent on the project's first phase.

Sources say the city has only managed to get a commitment of $2 million from CN Rail, no more from the province and nothing from the federal government.

London expects to get almost $55 million during the next five years from its share of the federal gas tax being given to municipalities. Ottawa is paying out 1.5 cents a litre from the tax, rising to five cents by 2009-10.

The money is to be used to improve roads, bridges and other public works as part of the Liberal government's so-called "new deal" for cities.

But council was expecting the federal funding from other sources.
Let us not forget that greed is one of the seven deadly sins.
Ward 4 Coun. Roger Caranci, who led the push to build the overpass, said he's "very confident" it will be built. "It's not in jeopardy. It's going to move forward," said Caranci, who suggested the gas tax money is a possible funding source.

[..] "Any person in their right mind would say there's a problem at the intersection and that we need to fix it."

[..] Steblin said any large capital project takes time.

"You have to eat an elephant one bite at a time and this is a very big project," he said. "But we believe it's a good long-term investment."
Caranci rules over Ward 4, so he's not the most unbiased judge of the right mindedness of others. Even new residents of this city governed by fools will tell you that an overpass on the more highly travelled Adelaide North would be a more worthwhile investment. How many more free dinners will council gobble up over this discussion before they are indeed the size of elephants?

As usual, taxpayers are fleeced either way. We are getting that overpass or likely the money is lost forever if they axe the project. An excerpt from last year, courtesy of the London Plea Press:
Council has already voted to proceed with the $11.5-million project aimed at reducing congestion and improving safety at the CN crossing.

But Gosnell wanted assurances that if the federal government and CN Rail don't ante up the funds for the second phase of the project -- estimated at $8 million -- the city can reserve the right to transfer provincial funds to other road project priorities.

Hume and city engineer Peter Steblin said the province is getting fed up with London's frequent changes in project priorities funded through the former SuperBuild program.

The concern over Hale- Trafalgar is that although the first phase has been approved with $2 million from the province and $2.5 million each from the city and CN, the federal government and CN haven't committed to the second phase.

The first phase involves design, utility upgrades and voluntary property acquisition. The second phase would be the overpass construction.

Gosnell fears if the second phase can't proceed or is delayed for several years, the city could lose the provincial share he'd rather see diverted to other road works.
Canadian taxpayers should be outraged at the irresponsible behaviour of London's governing elites - it is not just Londoners who are paying for such mismanagement and waste. Unfortunately, such begging and bumbling is not confined to London but occurs in most municipalities.

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Situational Irony

From the London Free Press:

HARTFORD, CONN. -- A prominent eating disorder expert who collapsed in a supermarket after allegedly inhaling propellant from whipped cream cans applied for a special form of probation yesterday.

If a judge grants accelerated rehabilitation, Lisa Berzins will have her record cleared after she completes probation. The program is reserved for first-time offenders.

Berzins was charged with possession of a restricted substance, criminal mischief and creating a public disturbance.

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Stop eating that food! We're not growing any more!

The line between news and unpaid political advertisements for the NDP is always blurred in the London Free Press, and Chip Martin delivers on the equivo-advocacy. Howard Hampton, leader of the Ontario soviet, addresses the energy problems in the province:

Instead of spending billions for new nuclear power plants, energy-short Ontario should retrofit poorly insulated apartments and homes and replace old refrigerators, Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton told London civic leaders yesterday.

[…] He estimated it will cost about $14 billion to retrofit all poorly insulated apartments — the same as the cost of two nuclear plants.
If we're going to compare government energy programs, then in other words it will cost twice that at least. As usual with socialists, the perceived problem is with demand not supply — rationing is always the result of socialist rationality. What perplexes me is how rationing has come to sound so rational to so many of us who would not identify themselves as socialists — it would seem we have become so accustomed to the idea of regulated self-sacrifice in the name of arbitrary authority and irrational political decisions in the guise of economic planning that the idea of self-sacrifice in the name of personal economy or what an individual holds dear to himself appears now secondary. It's also important to remember that the altar of sacrifice on which we are expected to lay ourselves here is not dedicated to the celebrated red herring of conservation but to the preservation of a public monopoly on power generation and distribution — in other words, the retention of power in the hands of bureaucrats and union workers to determine the methods, structures and protocols of energy production — an ideal that Howard Hampton promoted in much of the last election's campaign despite the fact that this monopoly has been responsible for the vicissitudes of Ontario's energy supply. If you can't make it, stop people from using it. And what's a little central economic planning without some regulation thrown in.
Hampton said the provincial government should require retrofitting and insist all new homes be built to R2000 energy-efficient standards.

The money, he said, is available from the many [provincial] pension funds looking for long-term returns. He said homeowners and apartment dwellers would repay the capital cost of conversions on their monthly utility bills.
Couldn't we just let them pay the cost of their energy consumption? How soon I forget! There's not enough electricity being generated for them to consume. And too simplistic as well, I suppose, when you can just take other people's money and spend it for them.

Nowhere in the article are Hampton's suggestions for increasing the supply of electricity — that's because there aren't any. In the spirit of capitalism, then, I'm with Gods of the Copybook Headings:
[T]urn up the juice. The current inadequate supply of electricity in the province of Ontario is a direct result of government control of both the production and distribution of power. While generations of Ontario political leaders were able to keep expanding the electrical power supply at a pace broadly equal to that of demand, over the last two decades this has not been the case. Environmentalist panic over nuclear power, and the increasing pressure on provincial fiscal resources from health care and education, have combined to limit the amount of funds directed toward building new plant.

Expecting a return to the golden era of Ontario Hydrio is at best naive. A private sector solution is the only viable alternative at this point. By continuing to turn down the AC we delay the inevitable and shift initiative for solving the problem from the government back to us. It's not our fault that we consume too much, it's their fault they don't produce enough. Any possible environmental issues are separate to this. There are ways of generating more power cheaply and without adding to air or water pollution, the money simply hasn't been invested. Crisis, sadly, is sometimes necessary to bring about change. Better rotating black outs now than something far worse a year or two down the line.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

CanConv


Andrew at Bound By Gravity has created a linking digest/acquisition site/agglomeration/archive… or something… for the Canadian blogosphere, CanConv (short for Canadian Conversation). RSS feeds for categories are also available for subscription. Whatever you call it, it is very well done and should be a valuable resource for Canadian blog addicts. Go check it out… Very cool.

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"People have to realize these facilities aren't built to make money"



Although there is talk of building a performing arts centre, the debt-ridden ripoff known as the John Labatt Centre continues to cost Londoners, including people like myself who refuse to set foot into the monstrosity. Unless you are into hockey hair and the retro circut, there isn't much to see.

So what does council propose to do about the $4.5 million annual cost to taxpayers? Rather than taking it out of the pockets of the asses who voted to build it, the board of control has decided to build a small surcharge into the price of tickets ordered online. It is estimated that this will raise about $200,000. I am all for the people who actually use the facility paying for it, but what's $200,000 when you are looking at a debt that amounts to millions?
Online ticket buyers could be dinged an extra dollar for tickets to make London's John Labatt Centre more profitable.

Yesterday, board of control approved a recommendation for the surcharge to offset the city's debt payments on its new arena.

"At the end of the day, it's still costing taxpayers $4.5 million a year," said Deputy Mayor Tom Gosnell.

[..] But there'll be no surcharge on tickets bought at the box office, because JLC officials warn performers would object, since the higher price could discourage buyers.

[..] Controller Gord Hume, a big supporter, again argued criticism of the deal and the city's share is unfair.

"I think the city did that project the right way and the partners (Global Spectrum) are a critical element of that success," he said yesterday.

Hume also pointed out the city's debt payments will go down almost 25 per cent once the land is paid for in 2007. He noted the city will eventually get a larger share of profits.

In April, city council directed staff to explore ways to increase revenue from the JLC to offset the debt costs.

In a report to the board, finance manager Vic Cote said a $1 surcharge would bring in $200,000 for city coffers.

[..] Last year, more than 600,000 people visited the arena, 50 per cent more than projected before it opened in 2002.

The crowds produced revenue of $12.3 million, earning a profit of $600,000 for London Civic Centre Corp.

The city received $150,000 but paid $4.5 million on debt for the $42-million facility.

[..] Global Spectrum's chief executive and president, Mitch Sauer, said yesterday the deal with the city is a good one despite the debt payments.

"People have to realize these facilities aren't built to make money," Sauer said.
You got that right Sauer - it's all about bread and circuses.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Council talks garbage over a plate of chicken cordon bleu

A few weeks back I posted on the proposed changes to garbage collection here in London. Acting on a recommendation from city staff, council is planning to impose a four bag limit on curbside pickup. There are obvious problems with implementing such a proposal, for example the unfair disadvantage to large family households, the problem of garbage collectors determining which houses are apartment units and of course, stinking bags of garbage left over from the week before.


Well, council has been talking garbage again. It appears that Londoners will be limited to four 120-litre containers and it's going to be costly no doubt, as council tries to work out the details. Will Londoners have to purchase garbage containers in order to get their garbage hauled away if they have more than four bags, or will the garbage collectors get out the scale and measure the combined weight of the bags? Maybe Joyce Burpee will apply for the position of garbage rights expert:
There should be exemptions for homeowners if city council approves a four-bag limit on Londoners' curbside garbage, city staff say.

But residents should brace for more changes as the city strives to meet the province's deadline to divert 60 per cent of household waste from landfills by 2008, says the chairperson of the environment and transportation committee.

"We're trying to reach that diversion target and if we don't start making progress, then further steps will have to be taken," Coun. Fred Tranquilli said.

In a report to the committee today, staff recommend exemptions at Christmas and the end of the school year when college and university students are on the move.

Further, bulk items, such as discarded furniture, will continue to be picked up.

[..] Other highlights of the proposed plan include:

- Other exemptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis;

- Excess bags will be left at the curb with a non-compliance sticker and, if necessary, a warning letter;

- Additional bags can be taken to the city's three existing drop-off depots at a cost of $1 a bag, or up to 50 kilograms to the landfill at no cost.

- There's no immediate plan to issue additional blue boxes at a cost of about $300,000.

- The list of recyclables won't be expanded at this time, nor will the city implement a so-called green box program for organic material at an estimated cost of $2.5 million to $3.5 million.

- Staff also advised other municipalities with stricter bag limits and user pay systems for garbage promoted more recycling.

[..] Tranquilli said establishing a limit is a "wake-up call" to prepare Londoners for additional changes.

[..] Staff also said it's expected people who have more than four bags will simply store one until the next pickup.
Admittedly, if on average Londoners put out 16 kilograms a week, then a limit of four 27 kilogram containers is not likely to cause much of a hardship for most residents. However, if this is the case, why is council even talking about it in the first place? Are there some city workers who need to 'justify' their pay cheque or perhaps someone's relative needs a job?

Further, unlike other municipalities with bag limits, residents won't be able to purchase garbage tags for extra trash, but will have to haul it to a depot themselves or leave it on the curb, or their neighbour's yard until the next pickup. Readers will also note that while the apparent reason for this change is to encourage recycling, and hence increase revenue for the city, there are no immediate plans to enlarge the recycling program.

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The Laws of the Jungle

I found Allen Thornton's Laws of the Jungle through Jay Jardine who found it through Billy Beck. The pedigree of links may have been somewhat bastardized at this point, but it's a very good read still.

The state was invented for me, to make me happier, but a funny thing has happened: If I don't want this invention, people are outraged. No one calls me unpatriotic for refusing to buy a light bulb. If I don't choose to spend my money on a radio, no one says that I'm immoral. Why should anarchy upset everyone?

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Murder advocate invited to England

Will double standards never cease?

Protests were growing in England Tuesday over the planned visit of a Muslim cleric who advocates suicide bombings against Jews and westerners.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, 79, is scheduled to speak at the Muslim Unity Convention in Manchester Aug. 7.

[..] The Egyptian-born cleric who now lives in Qatar has said suicide bombings are justified and has said it is alright for women and children to die.

"It's not suicide, it is martyrdom," al-Qaradawi has said.
HT: Darcey of Dust My Broom.

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Slow children at play

A billion dollars a year to euphemize mass murder.

Turn off the f***in' CBC... at the cash spigot end.

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The accidental theocrat

Just because you don't believe in the supernatural, that doesn't mean that your religion isn't just as cultish and (gag) "intolerant" as the next one. From the faith group that brought you the miracles of "unity in diversity" and "universal health care" comes this CBC Commentary, courtesy FD:

We could also help the general cause of religious freedom by introducing a code of moral practice for religions. They will never achieve unity so why not try for compatibility? Can't religious leaders agree to adjust doctrine so all religions could operate within the law?
The "law", of course, meaning "whatever crazy new notions we will invent in the next five minutes and implement in law so as to divide our opposition and undermine naturally arising social ties so that they may be replaced by profitable government programs".

One impediment of the likes of the Party and the UN is belief in an unchanging authority higher than their own freshly half-tossed word salads of the day. Whether you call that authority "God", "nature", "reality", or "the blatantly obvious", no Party can long abide values that are derived from it and that are not subject to change when politically beneficial.

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A Low Stress Method for Handling the People of London

Part One:


Anne Marie Red Dress is a well know cattle handling expert from London, Ontario, who for many years has practiced and taught low stress methods for moving the people of London to areas more reflective of their economic and social status. For those who know of Anne Marie Red Dress and have watched her move cattle, or who have attended one of her many clinics at the Galleria Mall, it is clear that her methods really work - after all, she is serving her second term as Worship of London. What Anne Marie Red Dress does has been called magic - like her political Party counterparts, theft is not theft if it is done in the interest of the People. However, many people try these methods and become frustrated and give up because they end up in jail. It is our opinion that the problem results from a complete disdain for logic and history.

It is the job of people behaviourists to understand and hence dictate and control and translate into postmodern rhetoric the cause of behaviours and the underlying motivations for them in hopes of further confusing the voters as it is easier to rip them off once everything is meaningless to them. For years, we have been interested in the Anne Marie Red Dress method for herding the citizens of London because low stress methods of handling Londoners are known to improve tolerance and reduce stress at the welfare and emergency room waiting lines. For example in a recent downtown rerouting strategy, when Londoners were being moved from their property into public corrals, or in pasture rotation movements approved by Susan Eagle, Londoners that got excited and ran wildly when been beaten into submission were more likely to lose their children to the Universal Daycare Program. Wild, uncontrolled movement of Londoners causes stress for city council, more pot holes, and a greater burden on the public health care budget. Slow, calm movement of Londoners in their pens greater improves the overall heritage value of neighbourhoods, prevents poor lifestyle choices and encourages those in line for their rations to adopt a more positive attitude.

The Anne Marie Red Dress methods of calm, slow movement of Londoners on pastures can be defined as a stimulus-response relationship. In Londoners that have had no previous experience with rationality and individualism, the "stimulus" is a person who stimulates predator "stalking behaviour" by insisting the general populace are too inadequate to make a living on the basis of their talents and so need to pass legislation to feed off the abilities of the able. The stalking behaviour simulated by the follower is similar to the behaviour of the governors whose actions closely resemble the behaviour of a predator such as a lion, wolf or Liberal. First, the predator studies the behaviours of the herd. Then the predator proceeds to deliver pamphlets to the weak and old people of London. The behaviour of council circling the herd causes anxiety amongst Londoners. The people become uneasy over impending human right abuse attacks and begin to loosely band together via unions. This uneasiness and extreme anxiety comes before rational consideration and the flight is elicited by threat of actual attack by elected representatives. It is important to remember before attempting to use these methods that it is anxiety and ignorance that makes this technique work and not fear. When the method is first used it triggers instinctual bunching behaviour. The more a person works with the cattle, the calmer they become and instinctual bunching behaviours is gradually replaced with extreme reverence for the established Party.

The methods used by Anne Marie Red Dress to move the herds of Londoners onto pastures more desirable or to move those same said vassals into large state funded feedlot pens are easy to learn if you have patience and sufficient kickbacks to fund your cause. The popular elected handler moves at a normal walking speed (as a predator would) and there should be no resistance. If Londoners dare to resist, this method will not be as effective. This method of control only works on animals that are slightly anxious and not fearful to the point of running away from the controllers elected at the ballot box. If the animals become excited in your first attempt and start running, they must be allowed to calm down for at least 30 minutes before the gun registry is used against them. Handler movements must be steady and deliberate with no sudden jerky movements or white arm bands. Needless to say, there will be no non-state approved analogies to Hitler and the Nazis.

These methods work best on cattle subject to large scale pollution. We attempted to use these methods on a large group of rural subjects with no success. It is very difficult to elicit appropriate state approved responses in cattle with extensive contact with the internet and books. Tame cattle can however be coerced to comply through the use of force. There are also the time of day effects and so it has been found easier to elicit the appropriate response while such creatures are sleeping. For example, Londoners actively seeking out the status quo tend to be an easier target for assimilation. There are essentially three steps in the process of moving Londoners to approved state run pastures:

1. Gathering and Loose bunching:

This is the most critical step. The majority of Londoners must be loosely bunched before any attempt is made to move them to their designated housing unit. Depending on the size of the herd, their level of resistance and the terrain, it will usually take 5 to 20 minutes to cause a sufficient level of chaos to disperse the dissenters. This is accomplished by gradually eroding individual rights resulting in general confusion from lack of moral reference points and common sense.

The governors should locate and manipulate the majority opinion, with which they can justify quelling dissenting opinion. You should move in a pattern of a giant windshield wiper manufactured for the sake of Quebec Sovereignty.

Figure one:



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Monday, July 18, 2005

21st century butterball battles

You've got to hand it to the British, applying modern technologies and state collaboration to create an unnecessary solution to an individual problem. The British, of course, like to make the assumption that anyone's problem is everyone's problem — government granting agencies go in for that sort of thing — and proceed from that there to turn everyone's problem into a policing problem. From the Telegraph:

Parents will be able to monitor how often their children eat chips and turkey twizzlers in the school canteen with a smart card that records the details of every meal a pupil selects. Government-funded research into the use of smart cards to encourage healthy eating in schools was published last week.

[…] Nigel Lambert, the project leader, said that at a time when school dinners had become a highly political and emotive social issue, the cards allowed details of what children ate to be collected on an unprecedented scale.

"It is simple, efficient and cost-effective and the data can be used in many ways." he said. "It can be provided to the Government to underpin its public health nutrition policy, not just in schools but in prisons, hospitals and the Armed Forces."
Not that there really needs to be made a distinction, apparently. Don't bother with engaging your children in exercise, packing them healthy lunches or teaching about good eating — don't even think about giving them a good breakfast and dinner at home and not worrying if they eat crap at school when it's not even going to hurt them — there's an unthinking and unblinking piece of inanimate matter that'll assuage your troubled conscience for not strictly adhering to the capital city food mandarins.

On the other hand, a proper parent these days may as well get the tykes used to surveillance when they're young. With this well-planned kind of nurturing, the true class divide of twenty-first century Western civilization can be made manifest to the teeming masses yearning for a good old fashioned historical dialectic confrontation — between those who rebel against the visible and invisible constraints that a planned society places on individuals, some of whom thereby becoming genuine policing problems, and those who live in London, Ontario and willingly rat out their neighbours. Not an exactly inspiring class struggle for the distended souls of mankind, and maybe more filled with blood-draining than blood-letting, but there you go. From the London Free Press:
A trendy inflatable pool is causing ballooning work for London's bylaw enforcers. Complaints about the giant portable pools — some up to 5.5 metres wide and 1.2 metres deep […] — have doubled over the last two years.

"Quite often we'll get a call from someone, usually a neighbour, who says their neighbour has this pool, no fence and children can walk right into it," said Orest Katolyk, the city's bylaw enforcement manager.

Katolyk said the city's pool fence bylaw requires a two-metre fence be installed around a pool that is 75 centimetres (29.5 inches) or deeper. "Even if they purchase the pool that's over 29.5 inches deep but only plan to put a foot of water in it, you still have to put up a fence," Katolyk explained.

[…] "And if they go to court, what they find out is that installing a fence is less than the cost of going to court."
Same principle — no need to bother with engaging your neighbours in a dialogue about how to serve both your interests, and if you don't trust your child to stay away from neighbouring property or pools, a legitimate concern at a young age, no need to bother with putting up your own fence — there's an unthinking and unblinking piece of bylaw control matter that'll ease your inability to cope with the occasional inherent difficulties of human interaction. Myself, I'd put up the fence, especially if I was living next to knuckleheads.

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Citizens! No idling and don't stray too far!

As noted previously, London has a lot in common with Huntsville.



From the Huntsville Forester:
Pollution is not only sending people to hospital but killing them too, according to a draft air quality position paper released by the Muskoka Watershed Council.

The report bases its numbers on information obtained from the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), according to council director of water programs Judi Brouse.

Updated numbers provided by Brouse indicate that 73 people in Muskoka were admitted to hospital due to respiratory complications and 10 people died of related causes last year. Emergency rooms also felt the effects of smog, as related emergency visits were made by 324 people in Muskoka last year.

And if that isn’t enough to get you to shut off your engines while making pit stops, or reduce your electrical use by simply turning off the lights, how about the fact that according to an OMA model, pollution cost Muskoka an estimated $2.7 million in health care costs and $2.9 million in lost productivity last year?

“It is only going to get worse if we don’t do something about it,” warned Brouse. She added people must start seriously thinking about their effects on children, the elderly and the ill in their community.

[..] Huntsville Town council was singing to the same tune two years ago when they passed an idling bylaw.

Unfortunately, the bylaw can only be invoked when temperatures fall between five and 27 degrees Celsius.

Huntsville municipal bylaw enforcement officer George Turner carries a thermometer with him.

He said he has received complaints that cannot be enforced because temperatures have been consistently above the 27 degree Celsius mark.

Since council passed the bylaw on September 22, 2003 one person has been charged.

“We’ve handled numerous complaints since the bylaw was passed, but we’ve only laid the one idling charge and that was for a vehicle running across from the library,” said Turner. “They parked the car, figured they were going to be in and out of the library and the guy decided to go in and get something off the Internet on one of the computers in the library. I was beside the car for almost an hour,” he said.
I do hope George Turner isn't driving around in a motor vehicle trying to catch offenders. It's bad enough he is getting paid with taxpayer dollars to stand beside an idling car for an hour. Surely the town is putting Turner at risk, in much the same way that wait staff in smoking bars are at greater risk of acquiring respiratory illnesses .... Never mind that he could have found employment elsewhere: someone must be blamed for the increased burden on the public health care system.
“There are also things that we can do locally,” said Brouse. “Turn off the lights, turn off the computer when you are not using it, reduce your use of electricity, do those dishes at 10 o’clock at night instead of at the high energy peak time. Anything that you can do to reduce your electricity obviously reduces the need for those coal burning plants. Yes, the big deal is to get rid of our coal burning plants, but they can’t do that until we reduce our energy use.”

Other suggestions for reducing smog include a low-maintenance lawn so one does not have to use the lawnmower constantly, looking for the eco logo when buying appliances, purchasing energy efficient vehicles, walking when going short distances and not travelling unnecessarily, like going to Barrie to shop.
For those familiar with this town three hours north of Toronto, you'll know that shopping can be a little challenging. The box stores have been moving in, and there are plenty of quaint little shops for the summer tourists, but for those that want more than a Big Mac and bargains at Walmart, you'll want to keep driving past Barrie and keep right on going until you reach Toronto.

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Sink or swim kid, I want your tax dollars

From CTV:

Swimming lessons should become part of every child's education, says the federal minister of state responsible for public health.

Carolyn Bennett is calling for swim lessons to be part of the school curriculum and for the federal government to help fund the initiative.
. . .

She says every child should know what to do when they fall into the water.

. . .

The Society has developed a program called "Swim to Survive" that ensures the minimum standard it believes that all children should have for survival.

And what if they fail the final exam?

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The Red Ensign Standard XXVI

The 26th edition of the Red Ensign Standard has been raised by Robot Guy.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Flatbed Cameras

I want to make one of these things:

I started playing around with my flatbed scanner to see if I could capture images of stuff around it, by holding the scanner in my hand and rotating it as it scanned. This allowed the focusing lens in the scanner to pick up some of the light from the surroundings.

[..] It took a bit of tweaking with the colour balance to get the colours to look even this close to real. Focus was of course way off, as the lens was focused on the glass plate.

This looked moderately promising. I know people are hypothesizing about using a lens to focus an image onto the bed of a flat bed scanner, so that the scanner can pick up the image at the focal plane. I don't think this could work very well though, as it would require a toroidal condensor, or ground glass to diffuse the light at the focusing plane, and that would waste most of the light.

My approach basically involves trashing a $100 scanner. I disassembled the scanner and took out all the electronics, the CCD image sensor, and the stepper motor mechanism, and built a new mechanism to hold it all together, and rotate the CCD and lens assembly to scan its environment, instead of a piece of paper.
He was able to take trippy pictures like these:











HT: Hack A Day

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The Police State

Refusing to turn in or spy on your friends and family for personal lifestyle choies could soon land you in jail in the US. The roundup gains momentum. Drug Policy Alliance introduces Comrade Sensenbrenner:

If you "witness" certain drug offenses taking place or "learn" that they took place you would have to report the offense to law enforcement within 24 hours and provide "full assistance" in the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of the people involved. Failure to do so would be a crime punishable by a mandatory two year prison sentence.

Here are some examples of offenses you would have to report to the police within 24 hours:

* You see someone you know pass a joint to a 20-year old college student.
* Your cousin mentions that he bought Ecstasy for some of his college friends.
* You find out that your brother, who has kids, recently bought a small amount of marijuana to share with his wife.
* Your substance-abusing daughter recently begged her boyfriend to find her some drugs even though they're both in drug treatment.

In each of these cases you face jail time if you don't call the police within 24 hours. It doesn't matter if the offender is your friend or relative. It also doesn't matter if you need 48 hours to think about it. You have to report the person to the government within 24 hours or go to jail. You also have to assist the government in every way, including wearing a wire if needed. Refusing to cooperate would cost you at least two years in prison (possibly up to ten). In addition to turning family member against family member, the legislation could also put many Americans into dangerous situations by forcing them to go undercover to gain evidence against strangers.
HT: Ian

TalkLeft has more details, including this additional provision, courtesy of Marijuana Policy Project:
. . . the bill would also create a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for a first-time conviction of distributing a small amount of marijuana to a person under 18 years of age ... and a 10-year sentence for a second offense of distributing marijuana to a person under 21. By comparison, the average time served by convicted rapists in this country is about seven years.

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An open letter to Susan Eagle

Dear Comrade Eagle;

Please read Thomas Sowell.

Regards,
Lisa

Take, for example, the proposition, "Every American has a right to decent housing." If all that is really being said is that some (or all) of us would prefer to see all Americans living in housing that meets or exceeds whatever standard we may have for "decent housing," then there is no need for the word "rights," which conveys no additional information and which can be confused with legal authorizations or moral arguments, neither of which is present. Moreover, if we are candid enought to say that such "rights" merely boil down to what we would like to see, then there is no need to restrict the statement to Americans or to housing that is merely "decent." Surely we would all be happier to see every human being on the planet living in palatial housing - a desire which has no fewer (and no more) arguments behind it than the "right" to "decent" housing.

However modest a goal, "decent" housing does not produce itself, any more than palatial housing does. Be it ever so humble, someone has to build a home, which requires work, skills, material resources, and financial risks for those whose investments underwrite the operation. To say that someone has a "right" to any kind of housing is to say others have an obligation to expend all these efforts on his behalf, without his being reciprocally obligated to compensate them for it. Rights from governmental interference - "Congress shall make no law," as the Constitution says regarding religion, free speech, etc. - may be free, but rights to anything mean that someone else has been yoked to your service involuntarily, with no corresponding responsibility on your part to provide for yourself, to compensate others, or even to behave decently or responsibly. Here the language of equal rights is conscripted for service in defense of differential privileges.

From The Vision of the Annointed by Thomas Sowell

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Altruism

It's all about the disabled and the elderly and the children right?

A $59-million annual government funding boost for services to help developmentally challenged adults in Ontario is good but even more is needed, observers said yesterday.
Well, it sounds good anyway and helps at the trough table:
The announcement comes in the wake of recent wage disputes and the threat of labour disruption in community agencies that provide services for adults with developmental disabilities.

[..] There's a disparity of close to 25 per cent between wages at agencies such as CLL and at similar public-sector jobs in health and education, Hamilton said.

"We don't expect to get rich. We expect to make a living, and we don't," said Denise Sands, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Local 144.

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It won't stop until the government is your ISP provider

Take note bloggers and website publishers. Remember the publication ban during the Gomery inquiry? Why stop with file sharers and torrent sites? A sequence of typed characters is now subject to Federal approval in Australia:

Stephen Cooper, operator of a Web site called MP3s4free.net, was found guilty of copyright infringement by Federal Court Justice Brian Tamberlin.

Although Cooper didn't host pirated recordings per se, the court found he breached the law by creating hyperlinks to sites that had infringing sound recordings.

This is the first such judgement against hyperlinking in Australia.

Tamberlin found against all other respondents in the case, namely ISP Comcen, its employee Chris Takoushis, Comcen's parent company E-Talk Communications, and its director Liam Bal.
Universal Music, Sony, Warner and EMI are hastening their own demise, unless of course, they donate to and work with the Party.

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Too Hot To Blog

Londoners are burning in the pit of fire:


I've no air conditioning here. Just lots of wine.

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Willy Wonka shuts his factory down

As if sugar wasn't already the scourge of the government's proprietorship of the collective everyone-else, the overworked apparatchiki of human rights tribunals must now try to quantify the precise number of micrograms of self-consciously perceived victimization that turns an acceptable amount of private citizenry business into an overdose of officially mandated bruised public feelings. From the Montreal Gazette:

A candy being marketed with a caricature of a black man is an example of subtle racism in Quebec, says a black youth group that wants the product pulled off the shelves.

[…] Black groups have filed a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission, claiming the image contravenes Article 11 of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

The charter reads: "No one may distribute, publish or publicly exhibit a notice, symbol or sign involving discrimination, or authorize anyone to do so."
It's lucky for Willy Wonka that he practiced his business long before the heyday of human rights tribunals, what with exploiting exotic races of pygmies for labour and making them sing demeaning silly songs, running contests without "no purchase necessary" contingencies, and purposely addicting children to ruinous sweets. He'd have been hauled up with no mercy before the overlords of gratuitous sensitivity faster than you could say "so shines a good deed in a weary world," slapped with a big fine, forced to contribute to Oompa Loompa awareness campaigns, and advised to provide equal opportunity to Canada Food Guide nutritious fare.

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Just hurry up and die with a full bank account. The Party needs your inheritance taxes.

You might be sick -- but you're not half as sick as George Smitherman.

Health Minister George Smitherman says he disapproves of the "pocketbook" medicine advocated by a new Toronto clinic offering to provide cancer drugs not covered by the public system.

"What we are not interested in is pocketbook medicine where those people with a broader pocketbook are able to achieve more access," he told reporters yesterday.
Even peasants under a king would recognize that the royal We is in fact singular, referring to the interests of the king or royal family alone. WE is one of the illusions promoted by the democratic faith, allowing vultures like Smitherman to get away with using the first person plural and have his victims imagine that they are included in the "we" because they get to cast a vote when it benefits the Party for them to do so. "We" in this case consists of Slitherman's constituency of unions who profit handily from suffering and death by running a purposely expensive and unworkable medical monopoly with which it is illegal to compete.
Smitherman was reacting to a report that a private Toronto clinic, named Provis, is set to open next month and intends to offer at least a half-dozen new cancer treatments not funded through OHIP...

"We are not interested in the development of a health-care system in Ontario where people are being asked to pay out of their own pocket to be able to access publicly funded services," Smitherman said.
...because billions of dollars and a lot of phony baloney jobs are at stake.

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History of the Socialist Revolutionary Party

In 2000 the Northern Union of Socialist Revolutionaries was formed. This was followed by other such groups in other parts of Canada. In 2001, some of the leading figures in these groups, including Stephen Harper, Peter Mackay, Belinda Stronach, Nikolai Avksentiev, Gurmant Grewal and Evno Azef, founded the Party of Socialist Revolutionaries (SR).

The main policy of the SR was the confiscation of all land. This would then be distributed among the peasants according to need. The party was also in favour of the establishment of a democratically elected constituent assembly and a maximum 8-hour day for workers.

Grewal edited the SR website, Revolutionary Canada, where he argued against Liberals who claimed that the peasants were a totally reactionary social class.

The SR, greatly influenced by the tactics used by the Republican Party, also had an electoral propaganda wing, the SR Combat Organization. Membership of this group was secret and independent of the rest of the party. Grewal became its head and was responsible for planning to unseat the Minister of the Interior, D. S. Sipyagin, in an upcoming election. The following year he attempted to unseat N. M. Bogdanovich, the governor of the Maritimes, by releasing videotape of Bogdanovich murdering a prostitute. The videotape widely discredited as doctored when it was alleged that portions of the preceding sex had been edited.

Stephen Harper was unaware that his deputy, Belinda Stronach, was in the pay of the Liberals. In 2007 Stronach secretly provided the secret police with the information needed to arrest and try Grewal with terrorism.

After Grewal's arrest Evno Azef became the new leader of the SR Combat Organization and organized hurtful personal attacks in the media on Vyacheslav Plehve in 2007 and Reg Alcock in 2008. At the same time he was receiving 10,000 dollars a month from the Liberal Party. Several members of the police leaked information to the leadership of the SR about the undercover activities of Azef. However, they refused to believe the stories and assumed the secret service was trying to undermine the success of the fundraising unit.

The SR played an important role during the 2010 Revolution. It led a rising in support of the Medicine Hat Mutiny and Nikolai Avksentiev was one of the main leaders of the Edmonton Soviet.

Although the Socialist Revolutionaries decided to boycott the Federal elections in 2010, some members stood as Trudeauvik candidates. In February, 2017, the SR won 34 seats while the Trudeauvik had over 100 successful candidates.

The Socialist Revolutionaries continued to be infiltrated by agents employed by the Liberal Party. Between 2016 and 2019, Dmitri Bogrov supplied information about the party. However, in what appeared to be an act of remorse, Bogrov was brought to the John Labatt Centre on 1st September, 2019 by the RCMP, where he confessed that he had conspired with Reg Alcock and Peter Mackay to pour five tons of ground glass into the people's butter supply in Nunavut.

The First Congress of Canadians that was held in June, 2020, had 1,090 delegates representing more than 400 different soviets. Of these, 385 were Liberal, 148 SR, and 105 Menshevik.

In 2020 the SRs split between those who supported the Provisional Government and those who favoured a communist revolution. Those who supported revolution became known as Red SRs.

After the 2020 revolution, a former member of the SR, Scott Brison, was appointed as Minister of Justice. Later, Victor Chernov entered the cabinet as Minister of Agriculture and Brison became prime minister.

The party strongly opposed the Liberals during 2021. In the elections held for the Constituent Assembly in November, 2021, the SR won 20,900,000 votes (58 per cent), whereas the Liberals won only 9,023,963 votes (25 per cent).

In 2022 the Liberal government closed down the Constituent Assembly and banned the SR and other anti-Liberal parties...

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