Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Church of State

I like to think that I'm not yet middle-aged, but I can recall a time not too long ago when gay people had something of a claim on being oppressed by the Man and the general culture. A time before it was considered cool to embrace alternative sexualities. The fashionable opinions and poses have changed so quickly. The balance of swankiness has sloshed from one place to another, enough for people to feel comfortable calling others newfangled terms like "homophobe" for still holding opinions that were almost universal even a decade ago. Who can doubt that there walk among us many who bullied other kids while calling them "fags" or "queers", and who now bully other adults for not buying in to new fads like gay marriage?

So why would anyone imagine that, as fashions and generations change, as new victim-demagogues and advertising campaigns capture the popular imagination, and as today's modish victim group becomes tomorrow's untouchable, offensive anathema while today's hateful extremists become tomorrow's community spokespeople, that these tables will not turn again? The direction is unknown, but the Fundamental Constant of Intolerance ensures that humanity will ever find or rediscover groups suitable for persecution under phony colour of law. At the very least, there's money in it.

The OHRC on April 15 decided that, because Christian Horizons required a former employee to sign a Lifestyle and Morality Statement that prohibited homosexual relationships, Christian Horizons must: pay lesbian Connie Heintz two years' wages and $23,000; no longer require its employees to sign a lifestyle and morality statement; develop 'anti-discrimination' policies; provide 'training' to all employees and managers; and review all of its employment policies to ensure they are in compliance with the Ontario Human Rights Code.

"Me today, you tomorrow."

Christian Horizons doesn't deserve this persecution for their private business dealings any more than gays used to deserve persecution for theirs, or than gays will in the future as the wheel of fortune inevitably comes round again. We have already figured out how to resolve disagreements such as these without having the state arbitrarily persecute those who do not keep up with the supposed times -- it's called property rights and freedom of association. These illegitimate Fashion Police, who have been established precisely as an end-run around the rule of law and the peaceable, reciprocal natural rights the law was established to defend, must be shut down. As members of a minority that has usually been persecuted everywhere in the world, all gays should agree that Christian Horizons is being persecuted by cretins and that Heintz should be ashamed of her little bag of silver. They should not be so naive as to imagine they will always be the "tops" when it comes to the interpretation and enforcement of lawless, slippery made-up gibberish like Human Rights.

Instead of rooting out the injustices found in society, they make these injustices general. As soon as the plundered classes gain political power, they establish a system of reprisals against other classes. They do not abolish legal plunder. (This objective would demand more enlightenment than they possess.) Instead, they emulate their evil predecessors by participating in this legal plunder, even though it is against their own interests.

It is as if it were necessary, before a reign of justice appears, for everyone to suffer a cruel retribution — some for their evilness, and some for their lack of understanding.

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It's just like Christmas

Today is the deadline to submit your business to the government. Yes, your taxes are due as of midnight. If you are one of the lucky few who attempted to comply at the last minute and don't happen to "owe" anything or expect a "refund", rest easy - the deadline for Netfile has been extended until May 6th due to an overload of procrastinators attempting to meet obligatory deadlines. For the greedy capitalists amongst us, there is no forgiveness. An additional 5% will automatically be added to your outstanding balance owing, plus 1% of your balance owing for each month that you fail to submit your "return", to a maximum of one year, though you may be charged more if you have been tardy before:
(Canadian Press) Income-tax filers trying to access the Canada Revenue Agency's Internet site were in for long waits and repeated "time-outs" as the midnight filing deadline approached. As a result, the agency said anyone having difficulty sending or correcting their returns using Netfile will get a one-week extension, until May 6 - but that's only for the actual return.

Monies owing for the 2007 tax year still had to be paid by the April 30 deadline, said a spokeswoman for Revenue Minister Gordon O'Connor.

"It's actually not an extension," Ann Matejicka said in an interview. "Every year, the (agency) allows for a grace period of a week, which would bring us to May 6 for taxpayers who might have experienced any delays in submitting their returns online.

"People need to be aware of the fact that, if they owe money, it's still due by midnight (Wednesday night). However, they have until May 6 to transmit their returns."

[..] "It's not a filing problem. The system's performing as planned. ... I can use the analogy, let's say, of using your debit card at Christmas time. There might be a slowdown to the system just because of the volume of people using that service."
cp: The Broom.

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I want to hug my monitor

Black & White on the Grey Matters (Jermiah Wright)


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The urban jungle

Pressing issues at the top of the London Free Press today…

It may be less than accurate to dignify a $350,000 modeling estimate based on a small sample size as a "census" but, in the important respect that the information will be used to rationalize future regulatory controls on trees, otherwise known as an "urban forest strategy," the term is absolutely appropriate. Coun. Joni Baechler, who appears in a supporting role for the tree survey, voted in favour of a recommendation to Council last fall that it request staff to "prepare a report on the steps needed for a bylaw that would govern trees cut by a homeowner."

As with the ordinary definition of a census, the importance of accuracy is secondary to the objective. The rationalizations, and indeed the conclusions, of politicians like Baechler are already anticipated and will not depend on the truth of the data — which can be picked, classified, analyzed and induced into conclusions in a myriad of ways to support any claim in the inscrutable terms under which necessity will be defined — but simply on its existence as a supposedly objective and neutral dataset. That it is objective, neutral and true in the first place is merely to be accepted on the basis that it sits on somebody's credentials. That any conclusions drawn by politicians will be objective, neutral and true beggars credibility.

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Nag, scold and discipline pt. 2

More advertising revenue for the London Free Press from the taxpayers of London, with new and improved condescension to the little people!

Unlike the cheerful campaign to accustom taxpayers to the idea of banning plastic grocery bags (see below), Londoners will at least have the opportunity to discover whether they'd prefer spending their time composting over wasting it sorting their sticky, smelly scraps into the expensive green bins that the City's Environment Committee has its eyes on. Either way, there's no point complaining of distasteful garbage obligations when the City has appropriated for itself an almost complete monopoly on the assorted costs, opportunities and externalities of garbage disposal. You cannot buy a choice, you can only suck it up… or throw it in a nearby dumpster.

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In one tin ear…

How long has she been Mayor again? In a fascinating exchange in Council chambers Monday night over Board of Control's recent recommendation to use only $815,000 or less than 10 per cent of last year's $9 million surplus revenue to offset this year's property tax rate increase, Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best persisted in an ignorance of basic budget protocol that a grade school civics class could not match, despite repeated attempts to correct her. From the London Free Press:

Before council could vote on [Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen's] call to reconsider how much of the surplus should go to tax relief, DeCicco-Best intervened, asking the city clerk if such reconsideration risked reopening the entire 2008 budget to debate.

City clerk Kevin Bain said no — only the surplus would be open to debate — but the mayor persisted.

"If (tax relief from the surplus changed), would this not re-open the entire budget?" DeCicco-Best said.

Again Bain said no, then elaborated with an answer that confused council: reconsidering the surplus would reopen the budget but only as it relates to surplus.

Van Meerbergen and Coun. Nancy Branscombe said council could reconsider the surplus alone — but the mayor insisted that was [not] true. "It been made clear," DeCicco-Best said.

Controller Gina Barber pointed out that the mayor and controllers last week did exactly what DeCicco-Best said couldn't be done by council — moving money within the surplus without reopening the entire budget.
Emphasis added. Given DeCicco-Best's famous aptitude for politics during election time, this sudden insensitivity to rudimentary cognitive and linguistic skills can only be a willful exercise to avoid the embarrassment of having to vote against tax relief. This is what has passed for leadership in London over the past seven years.

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RIP for the discoverer of LSD

It seems responsible drug use may promote longevity.

Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who discovered the hallucinogenic drug LSD, has died of a heart attack at his home in Basel at the age of 102.

Mr Hofmann first produced LSD in 1938 while researching the medicinal uses of a crop fungus.

He accidentally ingested some of the drug and said later: "Everything I saw was distorted as in a warped mirror".

He hoped LSD could be used to treat mental illness, but it became a popular street drug in the 1960s.

Unfortunately for Hofmann, Timothy Leary and the Beatles got hold of it . . . and changed the face of pop spirituality and commercial advertising ever since.

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Let's ban bull

The rejection of a contract that would give unionized Toronto Transit workers a 3% raise for the next three years, with the additional clause that TTC workers would remain the highest paid transit workers in greater Toronto, resulted in a surprise strike on Saturday night, leaving thousands stranded in a city that heavily relies on public transit. A starting salary of $41,000 a year for collecting tickets is not nearly enough it seems. A rare Sunday sitting by the Provincial government ordered the employees back to work. Though one would reasonably expect the TTC would be a hot topic of conversation the next day at a city council meeting, logic doesn't count when it comes to municipal politics; accordingly, four hours were devoted to debating a gun ban.

(National Post) City council convened yesterday morning, mere hours after a rare Sunday sitting of the Ontario legislature ordered an end to the Toronto Transit Commission strike. Given that Toronto needed the province to save us from commuter chaos, you'd think council would put the TTC high on its agenda. You'd be wrong.

City council instead spent four hours debating a handgun ban, complete with Councillor Anthony Perruzza reminding council that, "Guns are made for bang, bang, you're dead," and Councillor Rob Ford saying Paul Bernardo is "a sick person." Council then voted to ask Ottawa to ban handguns.
Grabbing the bull by the balls as always. Just like a Republican gun shop owner in Florida.
(Reuters) Senate lawmakers in Florida have voted to ban the fake bull testicles that dangle from the trailer hitches of many trucks and cars throughout the state.

Republican Sen. Cary Baker, a gun shop owner from Eustis, Florida, called the adornments offensive and proposed the ban. Motorists would be fined $60 for displaying the novelty items, which are known by brand names like "Truck Nutz" and resemble the south end of a bull moving north.
Sharing with The Broom.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Do the metal trees count?

How many trees does it take to make a lot of trees? That's exactly the forest that City Hall won't see for spending $350,000 to survey trees on 450 private properties this summer to produce "a near-precise estimate of how many trees are in London and the kinds of benefits the city draws from them." We could just say "more than plenty" without the expense, but no modern university-trained expert will take whatever anyone else can see with their own eyes as an answer if there's no make-work project in it for him.

What degree of precision constitutes "near" from such a small sample set is a matter of qualification, unless the surveys are being used as "ground truth" to check the accuracy of image analysis using the colour orthophoto data the City acquires each year in any case. Whatever the precision or confidence of the results, however, it will be far more than can be said for the near-empty drivel that London's tree "experts" use to rationalize the project in the London Free Press video below. Considering the ridiculous anxiety over tree coverage that Council has been projecting over the past couple of years, it's probably safe to assume that the degree of useful sense or meaning contained here will be in direct inverse proportion to the degree of regulatory control over trees that the City will employ in response to the findings.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

How To Host A Hate Crime®

In How To Host A Hate Crime®, Canada's best-selling mystery dinner party game, you and your guests assume the roles of humorous suspects – each with a motive and opportunity to contravene Section 13.1 of the Canadian Human Rights code – in a light-hearted human rights mystery.

How To Host A Hate Crime® provides everything you need to bring an Internet mystery to life – from detailed player guides, maps, IP logs, tribunal transcripts, double-standard decoder rings, and secret clues, to costume suggestions, phony evidence, and recipes tailored to the hate crime featured in each episode. Contents include a comprehensive Host Guide; eight invitations and envelopes; name tags; a DVD, which sets the scene and details the violation; and a site map of the online hate crime scene.

On the night of the party, everyone arrives to learn a fictitious blog is under investigation for an outrageous user comment, left by someone unknown that all the characters knew somehow. It's also revealed that, thanks to the brilliant deductions of a Victimization Studies graduate student, the eight people at the party are the only suspects. Now it's up to the group to determine whodunit:

  • Unwitting wireless provider Jane Doe?
  • Feared Human Rights double agent Mitchell Loreman?
  • His bumbling supervisor Jean-Claude Vyshinsky?
  • Acid-tongued extremist webmistress Kitty Schindler?
  • Pithy, messianic cult blogger K.K. Malone?
  • Oldies music fan and Leninist political strategist Darren Patella?
  • Admitted serial Human Rights violator "White Bart" Lepire?
  • Chronically nervous Human Rights prosecution mouthpiece Luciano Ventino?
The player guides give the Front Story and the Real Story about each character. Each character has some kind of skeleton they'd rather keep hidden in the closet. They've at least been inflating their site's traffic and Google Ads hits, or failing to blow the whistle about CSIS agents founding racist organizations -- or maybe they have a history of spreading hate on online fora while collecting a federal paycheque, or substituting doctored printouts as evidence to indifferent tribunal chairs. Everyone's Personal Guidebook will be different, with clues and a storyline for each specific character.

Turning to the first of the four parts, or chapters, of the game, each person will find they have approximately three clues to disclose. (This is not an actual script, though; you simply read the clues to yourself, then put them into your own words, and reveal them as though you were talking about the weather.) Through these clues, the storylines unfold. After the four chapters, the guests are encouraged to guess whodunit. Then everyone turns to the Civil Suit Outcomes which tell all.

How To Host A Hate Crime® is an easy, entertaining, & affordable way to host a dinner party. It provides hours of non-stop entertainment and conversation with all guest participating. Order yours now!

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wind Tunnels Are Sexist

If you think about it, building skyscrapers is worthless if you can't first build unity. And how can you build unity when the first thing you reach for is called a "differential" equation?

Debra Rolison, a senior research chemist at the Pentagon’s Naval Research Laboratory and a leader of the equity campaign, describes the typical university chemistry department as “brutal to people who want to do something besides chemistry around-the-clock.” MIT biologist and equity-activist Nancy Hopkins says that contemporary science “is a system where winning is everything, and women find it repulsive.”
Although I am a man, I discovered early on that I had no natural ability or interest in continuous math, that engineering would therefore be way too difficult for me, and that I should therefore stick to something more in line with my brain's comfort zone. Sadly, you can't make a building with a formal language. Yet, I would have loved to design a pretty suspension bridge for you to drive your children over.

No, these activists will not succeed in interesting a "proportionate" number of women in boring abstract math and science and engineering -- but Political Science Activists will help make it easier for future math-dumb males like myself to live our dreams and shape your world.
Kathie Olsen, deputy director of the National Science Foundation, draws the revolutionary conclusion, “Our goal is to transform, institution by institution, the entire culture of science and engineering in America, and to be inclusive of all — for the good of all.”

At one recent hearing, Representative Vernon Ehlers, a Michigan Republican who calls himself a “recovering sexist” jokingly suggested we declare science a sport and regulate it the way we do college athletics.
Would you believe they put a man on the moon?


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Friday, April 25, 2008

Abolish The Common Sense Commissions!

Achan Meshach, Special Reporter

One of the most controversial legacies of the Mulroney/Harris governments is the Common Sense Commission (CSC), created to address the problem of lingering hippie attitudes in some Canadian communities. Now that a number of high-profile cases against well-known public figures Judy Rebick and Marc Emery have begun to enter the Tribunal stage, questions regarding the investigative methods of certain CSC employees are being raised by many bloggers. The introduction of personality has even interested the print media. Now, it's not only so-called "free love" activists questioning the methods of the CSC. Some journalists well known for their long-time, principled opposition to the counter-culture, including columnist Tiger Merrick, Julius Phinehas, and Red Ensign Patriotic Writers' Union leader Stanislas Weylan are now questioning the Commission's mandate.

For years, the Commissions have operated under the radar of most Canadian voters, targetting marginal figures such as Erin Township's Archie Thoth. Mr Thoth, an expatriate American Vietnam-era draft dodger now working at the Erin Walmart, found himself the target of a CSC investigation in 2002 after sending an admittedly one-sided letter to the Erin Bugler newspaper. Mr Thoth's missive, complaining about a format change at local radio station CRIN from classic rock to the Salem talk radio lineup, raised the ire of an anonymous talk radio fan in Milton. The CSC accepted the complaint, and after several years of proceedings, Mr Thoth was ordered by the Tribunal to pay the complainant and the radio station a total of $5,000, and to volunteer for four hundred hours at the nearest symphony hall. He was further ordered to have his own home and car stereos retrofitted at his own expense, in such a way that the radios may no longer be turned off, or have a volume below thirty-seven decibels -- and with CRIN the only tunable frequency. By order of Tribunal chair Syd Philip,this injunction will apply to Mr Thoth for the rest of his natural life. No one from the Thoth family was available for comment.

Indeed, part of the settlement provides for up to six months in jail should Archie Thoth be discovered "communicat(ing) with a person or persons or causing another person to communicate... in such a way that might lead a reasonable person to hate or believe that (the) respondent hates (talk radio)". By all accounts of neighbours and friends, Mr Thoth has taken an interest in all of the programs on CRIN, although he struggles with a second mortgage on his house and the loss of his organic ice cream distribution business and the end of his common-law marriage. Still, P.K., a friend of Mr Thoth's, lamented the lack of public outrage over what some see as a controversial, arbitrary punishment over what others see as intentional, unwelcome expression of opinion in the face of deeply felt contrary views. Since no public figures have been willing to associate themselves with a known war deserter in this era of harsh repression of anti-war sentiment and guilt by association for those who are seen to "speak out", Thoth's case has remained largely unknown.

Tainted by the "hippie sympathizer" stigma, and the fear of appearing to oppose common sense itself, marginal cases such as Archie Thoth's have only been of interest to civil libertarians and "underground" websites until now. Other cases, such as a Church of Life member being forced to officiate at the marriage of a criminally insane pair convicted for the axe murders of half a dozen Church of Life members, or the fining of a pro-feticide activists for producing biased pamphlets, have been equally low key. But since well-known hippie activist Judy Rebick's very public counter-attack in the face of CSC investigation, the CSC is now known around the world.

The Commission's pursuit of the Reagan-Goldwater Society's common sense complaint against Rebick and the Toronto Star over the Star's printing of her infamous 2006 column referring to United States President George Bush as "Texas stupid"; "criminal"; a "warmongering fascist"; and Canadian troops as "occupation forces" has unleashed a torrent of negative press for what many see as the silencing of unpopular but legitimate opinion. The Commission has been stymied by a new wave of activism in defence of what one wag has called "Bohemian revivalism", but opponents of Common Sense Commissions call their "freedom of conscience". One underground Internet website hosted in Panama, and intermittently the subject of Commission attention, depicts the Commission's publicity situation with a computerized cartoon image showing a hornet's nest kicked in by a jackboot.

Rebick herself is unrepentant.

"The day I start holding my opinions back out of fear that a Common Sense Commission might find them seditious or anti-mainstream is the day free expression dies in Canada," she said Tuesday from her small home in Hamilton. "The conservative, corporate media has been covering for George Bush's (alleged) inarticulacy for years and it is totally illegitimate to try to silence me for this. For what? The fact that the new Iranian post-CIA-coup government is proceeding towards democracy and freedom at less than half the speed of the Iraqis after the Saddam Hussein conflict of the first half of the decade? There are serious problems in American foreign policy. I have the right to point that out, just like I have the bloody right to call George Bush a moron, because he is a moron. These commissions are completely political kangaroo courts and I am going to rub that fact in their faces in front of the world."

Putting what some might call Rebick's extremist rhetoric aside, even some of the figures behind the original design and founding of the Commissions have begun to voice strong doubts about the behaviour of their creation.

"We never meant for this to happen," said Common Sense Commission founder and civil decency lawyer Hannibal Kourtney. "There are already clear limits in the legal definition of what is and what is not seditious speech. These are not Council of Canadians members we are talking about here. The CSC was not meant to be used to punish people for expressing unpopular opinion. The CSC was meant to protect all Canadians from being denied a job, housing, or an invitation to an important social event on the basis of outdated stereotypes of non-hippies and people over the age of thirty as being 'too uptight' or 'pigs', or 'square'. Common Sense Commissions have gone far beyond their original mandate as a place to ensure recourse is available when decency and common sense are violated. They weren't meant to be a tool for this kind of censorship. In many ways their own decisions and remedies are what violate any common sense definition of common sense."

Notorious openly hippie activist Marc Emery has repeatedly found himself before the British Columbia Common Sense Commission. For the past ten years, the countercultural entrepreneur has run, a marketplace and forum that teeters at the edge of common sense, catering to all aspects of the normally taboo hippie world view. Its most recent entanglement with the Commission stems from a 2007 common sense complaint by the powerful Canadian Parents' League Army Reserve over postings on his site openly glorifying marihuana and anti-war rabblerousing.

Emery's case begins in June, but it is already tainted by accusations from some quarters that many of the incriminating comments in the IRC conversations that were the subject of the complaint were actually written by active and former CSC investigators under assumed names -- allegedly in order to entrap or bait further comments that would then be the subject of a common sense complaint. Emery supplied us with a transcript, claiming that IP log analysis demonstrates that SOAL_REBBLE is a user name for former CSC investigator Ronald Jaden. If these accusations prove to be true, it lends a whole new damning light to the following exchange while further damaging the public image of the embattled Commissions.

SOAL_REBBLE: u guys know what the chomsky 4-20 izz?
PINKEYE_GURL: haha what are you talking about?
SOAL_REBBLE: so your interested eh ;-)
PINKEYE_ GURL: umm maybe not to sure what is it
GROVEDWELLER: I've heard of Noam Chomsky, is that who you mean? What are the numbers though
SOAL_REBBLE: 4-20 exactly right on man, dig how you riddled me that right back
SOAL_REBBLE: what they are for sure, chomsky is the best, he hates america just like us
SOAL_REBBLE: dude i am so baked out right now, i am tasting shapes, anybody with me?
SOAL_REBBLE: right on, teach your children
SOAL_REBBLE: man f**k the war pigs gathered in their masses, said i hate their stupid a**es and dick cheney sure has a appropriate first name eh
GROVEDWELLER: Haha! Wow, you remind me of the 60s. It's so great to hear people openly talking like this again. I love this site!
Mr Jaden submitted this transcript as evidence in a wide-ranging complaint against In response, Mr Emery has repeatedly publicly accused Mr Jaden of entrapment; in return, Mr Jaden has sued Mr Emery and several well-known hippie blogs for repeating, elaborating on, and satirizing allegations that he is himself the author of the shocking SOAL_REBBLE comments.

The world media will be watching as the increasingly notorious Common Sense Commissions lose public relations ground to articulate defenders of freedom of speech and conscience. The issues are complicated, and the arguments nuanced. As ever, it comes down to a balance between competing rights -- the right to feel pride in one's country and fighting men, versus the right to criticize certain aspects of non-covert military interventions. It is the right to privately celebrate unpopular but legal countercultural beliefs, versus the right to raise one's children in a society where common sense is respected by everyone. Nevertheless, it is the collective opinion of the London Fog that we should be among the first to speak out. Until such time as the Commissions return to a proper role, one such as settling disagreements between respectable single-family property owners and neighbouring communes, or between a trouble-making worker and his employer, and until it abandons its attempts to censor the likes of Archie Thoth, Marc Emery, and Judy Rebick, we support the complete defunding and elimination of the Common Sense Commissions.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ungrateful wretches

"It drives me wild when people suggest surplus money isn't going back to taxpayers … It's quite offensive," said Cont. Gord Hume to the London Free Press after recommending to Council that only $815,000 or less than 10 per cent of last year's $9 million surplus revenue be allocated to offset this year's property tax rate increase. Taxpayers are encouraged to send their apologies directly to Mr. Hume here for mistaking over $5.6 million in new spending initiatives for … well, new spending. Council would be better advised to direct that $815,000 in new spending to advertise the fact that every penny of taxes is already returned to taxpayers in the form of spending on what politicians know is good for them. Otherwise, Londoners will just spend that money themselves, and we all know that nothing good for the City will come of that!

More specifically, Hume's rationale for committing $1.85 million of the surplus revenue to debt repayment as a return to taxpayers is double-plus good, since Hume himself personally voted for every debt-financing budget over the past decade that has led to the City's $350 million debt. Financing that debt to the tune of $60 million or more in 2008 is so obviously a return to taxpayers that it should hardly need to be mentioned.

Update: Even fellow Controllers are being offensive to poor Mr. Hume.

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Never Trust A Hippie

A personal ad of hope and change, as caught by David Thompson:

Puerile spokesman for defeated revolutionary movement seeks violent theocratic reactionaries for a long term relationship based on shared interests of killing westerners (commuters or office workers will do fine) and subjugating the global masses to the dictatorship of a monopoly doctrine (any doctrine will now do) and to generally obtain revenge against liberal market democracies for failing to collapse under the weight of their own contradictions as predicted by the delusional ‘revolutionary’ mass murderers of an early era.
In a better country, just saying "Dig it!" in public would get you 20 years in the slammer.

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Mohammed Image Archive

Can't get enough images of the Prophet? Check out The Mohammed Image Archive.

Perhaps he and Gabriel could interest you in some bouillon extract while on their way to see Allah, as in this 1928 German advertisement.

Or maybe you'd rather contemplate the Prophet over a cigarette.

And for those of you into something a little more hardcore, there's Mohammed, Buraq and Gabriel in Hell as they look upon "'shameless women' who had exposed their hair to strangers. For this crime of inciting lust in men, the women are strung up by their hair and burned for eternity."

There are tons of images "spanning all historical periods, cultures and genres."

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Macrocosm and microcosm

And the mismanagement continues. The City of London has reported a $9 million dollar surplus of taxpayer loot this year and into the hands of consultants and advocacy groups it goes. Taxspenders and treehuggers rejoice. If you are an aspiring community advocate, London Ontario is the place to be. Only $850,000 of that money is expected to go toward reducing the tax burden, and Londoners can expect a continued corresponding neglect of essential services to go along with that kick in the face. Driving the streets of London is akin to riding over an endless series of railroad tracks, the aging infrastructure makes the likelihood of costly sinkholes more probable each day, and you can look forward to yet another tax increase next year along with more stringent demands on how you sort your garbage. Funding won from other levels of government is quickly gobbled up as deserved revenue, as are any "surpluses". Welcome to London.

Some examples of your surplus dollars at work:


$2.5 million: New radio equipment and controllers for police and firefighters.

- $2 million: A reserve fund for downtown revitalization.

- $1.84 million: Reduce debt for public works.

- $410,000: Tree planting.

- $325,000: Computer system to better track and manage woodlands.

- $200,000: So London Economic Development Corp. can woo Toronto businesses to London's downtown.

- $173,000: Help renovate office of the local health unit.

- $50,000: Urban design consultant.

- $50,000: Hiring professionals to deal with appeals to environmental reviews and other planning matters.

- $25,000: Engage citizens about whether council should remake its size and makeup.

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Nag, scold and discipline … in that order

Buried within thousands of pages of both public and internal department documents and the vagaries of employee assignments and contracts, it would be quite impossible to calculate the amount that taxpayers pay each year to have the City of London nag and scold them. But the daily occurrence of ads like this in the London Free Press suggests not only a considerable sum but an explanation of the newspaper's superficial and uncritical coverage of City Hall.

After "casual discussions" last year among some Councillors about banning or taxing plastic grocery bags, these ads could appear to be the opening salvo in a cheerful campaign to adjust or resign the population to later regulatory commands, a modest propriety often observed by Canadian politicians. Either municipal fashion will have the effect of forcing those Londoners who find all kinds of uses for their plastic bags to buy them at an artificially high price set by Council for its own benefits — either revenue in the case of taxes or the attraction of cheap useless gestures in the case of a ban. In the end, a ban on municipal advertising will save as many landfills as ridiculous regulations on the rest of us.

See also:

Giving the paper bag industry a boost
What about gas bags?
Bring your own shovel
Don't limit your past, limit your future instead
We need a "Gas Bag Free Day"



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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Is it time for our extinction?

Ok, this is surely a sign that we are truely headed for extinction, not from climate change or global warming, but from shear lunacy.

Check out the World Naked Bike Ride

Their raison d'etre is, wait for it...

"We face automobile traffic with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignity and exposing the unique dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians as well as the negative consequences we all face due to the dependence on oil and other forms of renewable energy."

Guess they don't consider synthetic rubber tires, plastic covered seats, and handlebar grips to have anything to do with oil. Maybe Scotty beams the bikes down from the Enterprise where they're made in a replicator from floating dust motes.

Aren't we supposed to be getting smarter as we evolve?

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Dearth Day 2008

I’d call it Earth Day except that I know that all we are going to hear today is doom and gloom, so why not call it Dearth Day? We can't really say Happy Earth Day because that would imply optimism, and we can't have that.

Al Gore is very annoyed that we haven't completely changed our lifestyles and gone back to banging the rocks together as we reduce our carbon usage to zero. I'm sure he'll be jetting off somewhere to preach the gospel to the masses.

Dr. Fruitfly on the Left Coast will no doubt be telling us how to save the world by using compact flourescent lights. (Prediction for 2018: Suzuki warns Canadians about mercury polution from compact flourescent lamps, blames Big Energy for this new terror.)

CBS will undoubtedly do a repeat of last year's Earth Day Extravaganza, sending journalists jetting around the globe, spewing carbon to help us understand the dangers of spewing carbon.

What you won't hear anywhere in the media is that, for the 10th year in a row, we have not exceeded 1998 temperatures. You also won't hear that its gotten COOLER in the past few years.

So I wish you Happy Dearth Day, there will be no good news today, all reason has been suspended by order of the Church of Deep Green. And remember, its now officially a sin to cause harm to the planet.

PS: Happy Birthday Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, born April 22, 1870.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Human Rights Rock: The Unprotected Group: It Ain't Paranoid If... (MP3)

Here's London's The Unprotected Group with the Human Rights Commission- and Black Sabbath-inspired "It Ain't Paranoid If..."


Sued by the Commission for some racist comment left on my site
No one I know thinks that way, but the HRC logged on that night

All day long I pondered the significance of "88"
(Turns out that's how Human Rights folks say "Heil Hitler" when they're spreading hate)

Can you help me?
Click on my PayPal

I need someone to show me how to interpret IP logs
Now they stole my wireless too and I'm being chased by police dogs

Crack a joke that makes them cry and they will frame you with their lies
But racist comments are OK if you're in the Commission's pay

And so as you hear these words telling you now of my state
Join the Human Rights Commission if you're into spreading hate

The time has come, the poster said / To speak of meta things / Of crossposting at Mitchieville / Where classic rock is king.

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Good for advocacy, Bad for Liberty

Even the most diligent and harshest critics of the nanny state mentality are sure to be surprised by the European Union's latest target. The effects of secondhand drinking are now an apparently serious subject of governmental study. Upon further consideration, it's only a logical extension of an interventionist mentality intent on molding individuals to fit within a desired power structure. Perversely, blaming the substance exonerates the most noxious in society.

The campaigns to combat the effects of ‘passive smoking’ are widely credited for Europe’s growing number of smoking bans. Now alcohol is in the sights of the public health lobbyists, and they have invented the concept of ‘passive drinking’ as their killer argument.

I have seen a leaked draft report for the European Commission, which is due to be published some time in June. It makes claims about the high environmental or social toll of alcohol, the ‘harm done by someone else’s drinking’. The report is likely to inform proposals for a European Union alcohol strategy later this year.

Dr Peter Anderson, the report’s lead author, who has a background in the World Health Organisation (WHO) and plays a leading role in Tobacco Free Initiative Europe, tells me that the concept of social harm takes the alcohol debate beyond the traditional limits of individual choice and addiction. ‘You can make the argument that what an individual drinks is up to them, provided they understand what they are doing and bearing in mind that alcohol is a dependency-producing drug…. But when you talk about harm to others then that is a societal concern and justification for doing something about it. I think that is an important argument. If there was not harm to others then the argument gets a little less powerful’.

[..] The idea that almost any activity – drinking, eating, speaking, even thinking – can cause harm is often blown out of proportion and used to generate frightening figures and policies.

Most violent crimes are committed by men; should males therefore be subject to special restrictive laws? Domestic violence mostly takes place in private homes; should privacy be abolished? Claiming that aspects of everyday life, such as drinking, automatically leads to ‘harm’ takes away from the responsibility of individual lawbreakers for what they have done, and thus makes for bad policy. Should all 85 per cent of Europe’s citizens who drink – that’s at least 387 million of us – face restrictions because of the tiny minority who commit the 2,000 homicides dubiously attributed to alcohol?
Do read the whole article.

HT: Curmudgeonly and Skeptical.

cp: The Broom

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

"We do not delude ourselves that the public will be on our side, but…"

All other delusions are on the table. Gods of the Copybook Headings:

For decades public sector employees have fought a race to the top. One bunch would obtain a wage increase, a fact used by other PS unions to argue for an increase for their members. This cycle is seen in the private sector too, with one important caveat: productivity. In layman's terms: You can't make more than you make. If you create so much wealth, you cannot be paid more than that, otherwise someone else needs to foot the difference.
Read the rest here. See also the Canadian Taxpayers Federation:
During Premier McGuinty's tenure, Statistics Canada reports that private sector job creation has grown by 2.1%; whereas, the public sector has grown by 15.5%. There are now 101,882 more people employed by the provincial government than when Mr. McGuinty took power. That is triple the provincial population growth rate, which only grew by 5.3%. Over a similar time frame, the private sector only generated 108,000 net new jobs.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Opening up dialogue with some false claims and some blood

Why do I get the feeling this young aspiring "artist" receives government arts funding in some form or other?
Yale University officials issued a strongly worded statement Thursday night explaining that a student's shocking claim that she had artificially inseminated herself "as often as possible" and then took drugs to induce miscarriages for her senior art project was "creative fiction."

The student, Aliza Shvarts, told three senior Yale University officials, including two deans, that she did not do the things she claimed in her art project, according to the statement.

"The entire project is an art piece, a creative fiction designed to draw attention to the ambiguity surrounding form and function of a woman’s body," said Helaine S. Klasky, associate dean and vice president for public affairs in a statement sent to "Ms. Shvarts is engaged in performance art. Her art project includes visual representations, a press release and other narrative materials."

"She is an artist and has the right to express herself through performance art," Klasky wrote.

[..] "I hope it inspires some sort of discourse," Shvarts, whose age was withheld, told Yale's newspaper. "Sure, some people will be upset with the message and will not agree with it, but it's not the intention of the piece to scandalize anyone."

[..] Shvarts described her project to the Yale paper as a huge cube hanging from the ceiling and swathed in plastic sheeting smeared with her blood from the reported miscarriages. Videos taken of what the college student claimed were self-induced abortions in her bathtub will be projected both on the cube's sides and on the gallery walls.
HT: The Broom.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hiding responsibilities behind taxes

As indicated in a recent Canadian Federation of Municipalities survey (PDF), residents of London and other Canadian cities are correct to perceive municipal infrastructure as a worsening problem. This result, however, does not merit the conclusions that respondants had been directed to make in correspondence with the lobbying objectives of the survey's authors: that underfunding of municipal properties by the federal government is responsible for the problem or that property tax revenues are insufficient for coping with it.*

The latter is demonstrably untrue on the basic ground that municipalities have free reign to set property tax rates to meet expenditures, while the former is simply an attempt by municipalities to pass off the political consequences of their own underfunding of essential priorities. Given the rapid escalation in the size of London's budgets — over 40 per cent since 2000 — infrastructure neglect has hardly been the result of revenue constraints. Massive spending on politically attractive but non-essential programs and capital projects has instead imposed funding constraints on basic services. Taxpayers may well wonder how increasing their tax burdens to the federal government will amend this problem. London politicians have the least to complain of in any case — a 2007 Frontier Centre study found that London receives 121 per cent more in grants from other levels of government than the average for Canadian municipalities.

Recent discussions on the sale of Mississauga's power utility suggest a far more responsible approach for cities to take to the problem of infrastructure, by raising revenues and discharging liabilities from their own bloated assets. If the City claims that $30 million is needed annually for maintenance and building of basic infrastructure, much of that amount can be claimed from debt-servicing obligations that have reached $59.8 million in 2008 alone. The savings from these costs would likely approach the $30 million annual figure alone by applying the proceeds of a sale of London Hydro — lately estimated at $246 million — to London's $350 million debt, and would certainly far exceed the $2 million the City annually receives in dividends from the utility. Considering that almost all of the utility's primary practises are governed by provincial agencies, Londoners have no tangible stake in public ownership of London Hydro beyond the merely symbolic — a decidedly weak value when compared to the very tangible prospect of increased taxes.
*Note: one must be extremely skeptical of a survey that identifies 67 per cent support for additional taxes over 30 per cent for lowering taxes, or 64 per cent support for re-increasing the GST to fund municipalities. When 38 per cent of respondents declare that affordable housing is one of the top two priorities for "additional attention," credibility of the survey's representativeness is completely blown out of the water.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More silliness from the Tribunals

Unlike Ezra Levant, I find nothing redeemable about McDonald's - the food is disgusting. Just because it's clean doesn't make it worth eating. I remember thinking when I first moved to Toronto 20 years ago that I really didn't like the idea of buying food from people who looked so miserable preparing and serving it. The stories a friend of mine told about working at one location (including one co-worker's boast of urinating in the shake machine while cleaning at night) didn't convince me that ordering your employees to stay clean was all that effective. But this is just ridiculous:

Datt wouldn't wash her hands. She just wouldn't -- she said she couldn't. So her employment was terminated. The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ordered that McDonald's pay her not only $23,000 for "lost income", but an additional $25,000 for her "dignity and self-respect". You see, in B.C. a food preparation worker's self-respect trumps a company's commitment to cleanliness. They violated her "human rights".

The $50,000+ penalty -- plus several years of legal fees and medical and rehab experts -- isn't the worst of it. Inventing a "human right" for a worker to go to the bathroom and then to handle meat without washing her hands in between, as an excuse for that $50,000 shakedown isn't the worst of it either.

The worst of it is that the BCHRT has ordered that McDonald's, in paragraph 298 of the decision, to "cease the discriminatory conduct or any similar conduct and refrain from committing the same or similar contravention."

Beena Datt and her filthy hands are gone. But the restaurant has been ordered not to enforce its hand washing policy in any future cases like Datt's.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

When a flag isn't a flag

Londoners shouldn't view the flying of a community group's flag in front of City Hall as any kind of endorsement, according to Cont. Gina Barber during last night's Board of Control debate on a municipal flag policy. One wonders what she thinks flags are for?

A willfully constructed statement, nevertheless, and if she believed just a word of it she'd be able to spare herself the task she had claimed for herself just the previous day of "wrestling" with the "tough choices" of which flags to fly. So much simpler, of course, to restrict flag-flying privileges to groups that "back the City's philosophy," in Barber's words, of the various concepts of "inclusiveness" or "diversity and freedom of expression." Londoners might be tempted to take Barber at her word that approval on these self-referential lines doesn't represent endorsement as it would spare them the trouble of figuring out just what the hell she means! Better still, they should reply as Cont. Tom Gosnell did so succinctly to Barber's bizarre injunction: "You'd have to be on drugs to believe that."

Still, Barber will have one burden lifted off her shoulders as Board of Control recommended to Council that Staff should in future have the responsibility addressing flag request and trying to figure out what she means — at the expense of "additional staff resources in order to provide the necessary expertise and investigative capacity to determine the history and political ramifications of each request for the flying of a flag" of course. At least something has come of the seven months of staff resources required to produce policy recommendations, even if Board of Control could not accept the least complicated, contentious and discriminatory of the recommendations that would ban any future grandstanding cosmetic gestures by politicians — not endorsements, mind you!

Of special interest to Londoners is Board of Control's recommendation to put future flag displays behind City Hall rather than in front of it, where they won't have to look at endorsements even if they can't overlook them.

See also:

Not that there's nothing wrong with this
Are we proud now?
A flag solution
Ministry of Flags

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Is the Ontario Human Rights Commission comprised of stereotyping bigots?

The Muslim Canadian Congress is offended by Ontario Human Rights Commission's portrayal of Muslims as all sharing the same negative characteristics.

OTTAWA—The Muslim Canadian Congress has welcomed the decision by the Ontario Human Rights Commission not to proceed with complaints filed against Maclean’s magazine related to an article where the Canadian Islamic Congress had alleged that the magazine had violated their human rights.

However, the MCC is disappointed that the OHRC has become the virtual organ of Canada’s Islamist organizations and that it has taken sides in the bitter struggle within Canada’s Muslim community where sharia-supporting Islamists are pitted against liberal and secular Muslims.

In a statement, the President of the MCC, Farzana Hassan said, the OHRC decision had the finger prints of its pro-Islamist commissioners who have close association with the Canadian Islamic Congress. It is not just the commissioners, but we have reason to believe that there are staff on the OHRC that support sharia law and endorse the CIC’s positions.

Had the OHRC restricted itself to the legality of the issue, the MCC would have no problem with its decision. But in editorializing and coming out to bat for Canada’s Islamists, the OHRC is sending a very dangerous message to moderate Muslims who reject Sharia and do not take inspiration from overseas Islamic countries or groups.

On the one hand the OHRC criticizes Macleans for “portraying Muslims as all sharing the same negative characteristics,” but then does the same thing by perpetuating the Islamist myth that Muslims in Canada are a persecuted group. Those of us Muslims who do not share this addiction of victim hood, seem to have no resonance with the OHRC.

The MCC finds it shameful that the OHRC would use Islamist supplied information in a blog discussion that called for “the mass killing, deportation or conversion of Muslim Canadians” and position it as reflective of the view of media and ordinary Canadians.

The OHRC decision must be cause for celebration in Osama Bin Laden's cave and among the soldiers of the world Jihadi movement that love to spread the falsehood that Canada is at war with Islam and that Muslims in Canada live under a cloud of racism and persecution. Nothing can be further from the truth.

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Denormalize, Demoralize, Discredit...

...crush, crumble, and chomp. The campaign by brave Canadians to delegitimize our country's and our provinces' lawless "Human Rights" Commissions and Tribunals proceeds apace.

Canada's most famous Human Rights profiteer, Richard Warman, has now filed suit against Ezra Levant, Kathy Shaidle, Kate Macmillan, and the owners of Freedominion.

This suit -- albeit one filed in a real court as opposed to a third-world-worthy Tribunal -- can only have the outcome of generating more bad publicity and freedom-loving, righteous contempt for these Commissions, domestically and abroad. Especially when people notice that Mark Steyn and Rogers Communications are not named in the suit, despite the enormously entertaining abuse heaped upon Warman by the Steyn in the Rogers-owned Macleans magazine. The fact that Rogers is also an ISP, perhaps with potentially damning, suit-nullifying records of racist comments by Human Rights goons is, conceivably, unrelated.

Read the details at the links un the second paragraph; each comes with a Paypal connection to help these writers defend against Richard Warman's suit.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008


On the subject of wasting time by faking moral gestures without consequence, the top front page story in today's London Free Press recounted how two London councillors were "offended" during a Planning Committee debate when Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen criticized artificial housing intensification as promoted by political demands as "Japanification."

"I thought it was racist to say that," said Coun. Judy Bryant, while her colleague Cont. Gina Barber claimed to have actually gasped at the word. "I was shocked anyone would use an expression like that — it bordered on racism."

Unfortunately the question of whether Bryant, Barber or the London Free Press is the biggest ninny won't be decided by this poll:

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Ministry of Flags

As ridiculous as the need for a flag policy at City Hall should seem, the urges of Councillors to continue making cosmetic gestures in support of preferred constituencies is still more ridiculous and makes having a policy seem quite reasonable in comparison. And no approach could be simpler, less contentious and non-discriminatory than City Staff's recommendation to confine flag displays at City Hall to "the flags of London, the provinces, Canada, the lieutenant-governors, the Governor-General, the royal family, the Commonwealth, the United Nations and NATO," even if the process of discovering the principle somehow required writing a 52-page report (PDF).

Far too simple, uncontentious and non-discriminatory, it seems however, for Councillors who by now are quite accustomed to the prerogative of keeping matters needlessly complicated, contentious and discriminatory — according to the London Free Press, the proposal is not likely to be accepted and several politicians have already "vowed to fly flags of community groups and causes." It must be noted that this is the same Council that directed administration to waste countless months producing a recommendation in the first place, presumably to keep up with the needlessly complicated part of its strategy at least. No less complicated is Staff's second recommendation in anticipation that Council would not go along with the straightforward approach, which would have flag requests decided by administration instead but requiring even more staff resources than have already been invested into the issue "in order to provide the necessary expertise and investigative capacity to determine the history and political ramifications of each request for the flying of a flag."

Citizens on whose behalf any or all flags are supposedly flown at City Hall in the first place might wonder how this issue could cause so much self-precipitated anguish among politicians, to the point where Cont. Gina Barber confesses to "wrestling" with the "tough choice" of allowing the flags of denominational churches (although we do recall that allowing the gay pride flag was much less demanding on her). We should say instead, however, that one might wonder except that it would be far more useful to remember that Council keeps use of City Hall for its own behalf.

See also:

Not that there's nothing wrong with this
Are we proud now?
A flag solution

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Meat Is Murder

We like to think that genocide only takes place in far-off lands. We all want to believe that it isn't something that can touch us in London, Ontario. Wrapped in our snug blanket, with our eyes tightly shut, it doesn't seem like it can happen here.

Today, my eyes were opened. My soft blanket, roughly torn away. Just this very morning, I heard about a terrible case of genocide that happened right here in our city. Let my cry resound through the centuries, and let it never be forgotten.

You see, my friend's guitar amp didn't show up at the music store on time. Oh, they'd told him it would be there, alright, but when he went to pick it up, it wasn't. They completely, genocidally wasted his time.

I didn't set out to shock you with this post, or inspire nightmares or graphic novels, but we all need to learn to be brave enough to face these issues head-on. Brave, like Gina Barber and Judy Bryant. Q.v.:

Challenging politicians who called for a mix of low- and medium-density housing, Van Meerbergen said not all city homes needed to be "chicken coops" and warned of the "Japanification" of London housing.

Fellow council members Judy Bryant and Gina Barber didn't object to his remark Monday, but asked about it yesterday. Both said they were surprised and offended.

"I thought it was racist to say that," said Bryant, who chairs the committee. "I regret I didn't object at the meeting -- it took me completely unaware."
...I'll say it did. Brilliant, Judy -- let's make the word "racism" even more meaningless through knee-jerk conceptual dilution!

How does it serve the noble cause of stigmatizing racism to cheapen our word for it by throwing it around in such an ostentatiously ridiculous way? A real fire-breathing racist couldn't ask for a better pair of councillors to run interference for his cause. It is because of such wolf-crying that no thoughtful person takes the word at face value any more... which is sad. Accusations of racism should make a room dead serious, not fill it with derisive laughter.

I await the outrage of these councillors the next time we hear a bigoted reference to "American-style" health insurance schemes, or worse, some prejudiced slur about conditions in "Third-World style sweat shops".

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The story behind Storybook Gardens (not suitable for children)

Following disclosure of annual operating deficits of more than 10 per cent of revenue at London's Storybook Gardens and over $1 million in losses since a $7 million infusion of taxpayer funds into the park in 2003, Council this past February directed its Community and Protective Services Committee to hold a public consultation on the attraction's future. Whether the purpose of the exercise was to postpone interest in Council's chronic indecision or to postpone the indecision itself, the consultation attracted the submissions of only 21 Londoners out of a population of 350,000 — a response that would seem to be proportional to attendance at Storybook Gardens, which has seen a drop from over 290,000 in the summer of 1976 to just over 122,000 in all of last year despite year-round opening since the 2003 effort to turn the park into a "tourist destination." The term "attraction" clearly ought to be used lightly of a facility that receives an average of just 300 visitors a day, 70 per cent of whom are London residents rather than tourists.

The framework for last night's consultation (PDF) was provided by two options identified by City Staff:

  1. A Year Round Operation which takes advantage of the prior investment in and artificial ice skating trail and recognizes:
    • The site operates on a breakeven or better basis in the summer
    • Winter programming does not, nor will it, pay for itself
    • Annual operating deficits of $202,000 in 2008, $147,000 in 2009 and
      $95,000 in 2010 are required

  2. A Seasonal Operation which closes for the winter months and recognizes:
    • Not taking advantage of the prior capital investment in the artificial ice skating trail.
    • Elimination of winter programming opportunities.
    • Annual Operating deficits of $195,000 in 2008, $65,000 in 2009 and
      $2,500 in 2010 are required.
We should expect that similarly optimistic projections were just as much a part of the expectant business proposals in 2003, and it should be noted that either option will require an infusion of capital spending of about $500,000 over two years to come from a reserve fund that will cost taxpayers $110,000 this year in contributions and will likely cost taxpayers even more in future years to restore the fund from the projected drawdowns.

But even the inescapable and necessary conclusion that winter opening at Storybook Gardens "does not, nor will it, pay for itself" and presents a "real barrier to reducing the deficit" failed to deter almost every one of the submissions from endorsing the Year Round Operation — in each case entirely on the grounds that the applicants themselves were members of that very small minority of Londoners who enjoyed the heavily subsidized winter entertainment. Indeed, the Tiba family of London (p. 251) expressed their "insatisfaction" [sic] with insufficient operating hours at Storybook Gardens! (One notable exception was the communication of Dawn Willoughby (p. 238), who preferred the Seasonal Operation "as it makes the most economic sense" but who also disapproved of the popular nostalgia-driven idea of returning the park to its old storybook character theme because "[a]s a parent I find most [nursery rhymes] to be scary, violent and/or inappropriate and have no interest in teaching them to my children.")

To say nothing of any actual discussion, it turned out that even the barest mention of the economic merits or flaws of either of Staff's two options during the hearing was entirely preempted by the narrow self-interested concerns of every one of the public applicants, in unwitting correspondence with the sentiments of Harry Joosten who, as a member of the Storybook Gardens advisory group, admonished the Committee that it would be "unfair to cast the landmark in financial terms."

"It is not a commercial entertainment facility," Joosten continued, entirely missing the point that — whatever sentimental attachments Londoners may have formed to the idea of Storybook Gardens in the absence of any physical presence — the park is exactly a commercial entertainment facility in the most important sense, that it must either make money by attracting visitors or lose it by attracting indifference, the only difference being that the investment risks are covered by the indifference of the taxpayer. Whether publicly or privately owned, operation of a theme park must meet the essential condition of being an attractive destination for people, of which revenues against costs are the only objective measurement. Further submissions to the Committee by environmental groups like Friends of Captive Animals and the local chapter of the Council of Canadians promoting the idea of turning Storybook Gardens into an environmentally sustainable "post-carbon" eco-Potemkin-village for educational purposes (pp. 216-230, 242-247, 253-258) would obviously fail the simple test of whether anyone would be willing to build it with their own money in the expectation of a natural profit on the simple grounds that no one has ever done so — notwithstanding the expectation of artificial profit when teachers drag in busloads of schoolchildren to educate them in "a profound act of social healing and justice" and an even more profound state of boredom, a case of tax expenditures in one place being used to subsidize tax expenditures in another in any event.

It should come as no surprise to Londoners who opt to spend their time and money at other locations that City Staff in fact identifies a relative inability to compete with privately run attractions as one of the park's principle liabilities in trying to break even. Operations of Storybook Gardens having already been built and re-built upon political premises instead of upon market rules, the City's political management has clearly failed to show any aptitude for delivering cost-effective or even desirable entertainment facilities to Londoners — and there should be no reason to expect that another re-building on those same lines will produce any better results.

The simple and obvious conclusion is that the City has no business or interest at all running Storybook Gardens in the first place, and there are no tangible benefits to Londoners to be discovered from public ownership of these kinds of entertainment resources except for the decidedly weak value of a sentiment that appears to be rarely held in any case, judging by attendance both at the park and at the public consultation into its future. We must take the risk of repeating, however much that the City should not wish to hear it, that the equally simple and obvious solution would be for the City to get out of the business altogether and sell Storybook Gardens. A sale of prime riverfront property and the park's assets would in fact likely recoup all and more of taxpayers' investments in Storybook Gardens, and could substantially reduce the $50 million per annum cost to taxpayers of the City's $350 million debt. At the least it would certainly cost taxpayers no more than further political mismanagement could possibly do, and would actually create revenue in the form of property taxes.

We should also remind Londoners again that Storybook Gardens is currently a liability to them — a sale would not only remove that liability, but would present the chance to make Storybook Gardens an attraction to Londoners once again by putting it in the hands of people whose genuine interest would be in creating demand.

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ETC tells Londoners to take a hike

A proposed bylaw that would have permitted parking on driveways between streets and sidewalks during summer months was put on hold last night by London's Environment and Transportation Committee (ETC) due to concerns that it "would hurt efforts to get more people to walk" and "would raise concerns in student neighbourhoods."

After shelving a previous proposal to lift a ban on overnight street parking due to concerns that it would result in a loss of fine revenue, London's politicians are at least becoming a bit more creative with their excuses.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Clogging the regulatory arteries

Introducing a bill "amending the Consumer Protection Act to prohibit commercial television advertising for food or drink that is directed at a child under the age of 13," NDP MPP Rosario Marchese declared that Ontario is facing a "serious problem" with overweight children — so serious, apparently, that to ask just whose problem it is would be comparatively non-serious. It's "everyone's problem," no doubt, or some such other inscrutable banality that automatically overrides any question of concentrating the solution in the hands of a small minority of politicians and bureaucrats.

On the other left hand, however, Marchese responds to the problem that the ban would also apply to advertising that promotes healthy foods "like yogurt and cereal" by saying that "he's confident parents will be able to help their kids make better dietary choices." Well, hell, when did they suddenly acquire that ability? They didn't have it a minute ago when you put the bill forward.

One way to address childhood obesity would be to have public school students lift paper editions of the Statutes and Regulations of Ontario as a regular part of classroom exercise. But surely a more serious approach to the problem would be for all provincial politicians and bureaucrats to take Ontario's children out for extended runs on leashes during their working hours. Good for kids, good for MPPs and civil servants… and anything that will keep the latter out of Queen's Park would be great for everyone else in the province.

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How tapeworms propagate, pt. 2

If the City can't even be a responsible tenant, how can it even pretend to have the authority to license landlords?

With respect to the City's proposed landlord licensing program, I had previously suggested that if anyone ought to be licensed at all to "potect [sic] the residential amenity, character and stability of residential areas" it would be far more useful to license renters instead of landlords. If the other purpose of the program is to create a "fair playing field" in the rental housing market, then workers in the City's Department of Community Services ought to be added to the licensee list.

John Brotzel, an owner of several rental properties in east London, sends us this email. We are reprinting it with his permission:

The City's Department of Community Services has been paying rent directly to me for one of its welfare clients on account of his drug addiction. But the cheque never arrived this month, and when I called the social worker she told me that I would not receive a cheque this month or the next and "I can't tell you why." I found out later, not from the City of course, that the tenant had been sent to jail for a short sentence and that he is planning on returning to my property.

Now here's something to ponder. Privacy laws probably prevented the City from telling me about the jail sentence, but since the City has assumed the role as the tenant's agent, it's the City that must provide me with 60 days notice of any change in tenancy under the Landlord-Tenant Act, which it has not done. Even if the law didn't require it, the City should have done so out of plain decency. So the City seems to be thinking, no, arbitrarily assuming, that I am going to hold this guy's place for his return without rent. Furthermore, if push comes to shove, this guy's nephew and brother live in the same place (of course they're behind in the rent) and I'll bet that they'll invite him in and I'll be obligated to let him stay. I am awaiting further info from the City but I know it will be bullshit.

This in my thinking shows very poor due diligence on the part of City at the very least and an attitude that doesn't even consider a landlord's rights. At best it's a very poor example to set to a client who even under normal conditions wouldn't hesitate to screw a landlord or anyone else. This is such typical communist thinking, or is it thinking at all?
More adventures of the City's Ontario Works program in action to follow from another east London business owner…

Update: Mr. Brotzel adds:
This wasn't even the first time I've been cheated by the welfare department acting on behalf of the very same client. The City has a policy (they say it's a provincial policy) that when they approve taking over paying a client's rent they make out the first cheque to the tenant to "speed the process." Yeah, right. So when I never saw any of that money, naturally, the welfare office told me that "it's up to you to catch up to the tenant and get your rent." I asked which Money Mart I ought to stand guard over, or if I should just pretend to be a crack dealer and get my money the "honest way" as far as the City seems concerned. OK, well I didn't say it exactly that way, but it doesn't matter one way or another to the welfare office, and I'm still out the money for good.

Continue reading…

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Donkey Kong Takes Hope and Change

Iowahawk has some lost excerpts from Barack Obama's Dreams of My Father.

It occurred to me that no matter their skin color, no matter their station in life, all humans have a deep-seated need to hog the Mortal Kombat machine. In that sense, the Kenyans at the arcade were no different that the white kids at the Galleria, although there were probably fewer Goths...

I dropped to the ground and swept my hand across the smooth, yellow tile of the grave. Oh, father, I cried, there was no shame in your confusion, just as there had been no shame in your confused father before you. No shameful silence in the fear, or the fear of the silent confused shame of his father before him. There was only shame in the confused silent fear it had produced in the silent confusion of your father's father's son's grandfathers. It was the silence that betrayed and confused and silenced us. If it weren’t for that silence, your betrayed grandfather might have told your confused father that he could never escape the silent betrayal himself, even with a power pill. Your father's father might have taught those same silent foosball lessons to you. And you, the son's uncle's cousin, might have taught your father's silent uncle that this new world that was confusing all of you involved more than just railroads and indoor toilets and Pong, lifeless instruments that could be absorbed into the old ways. You might have told him that these instruments carried with them a dangerous 110 volt power, that they demanded a different way of seeing the world, and 3-prong outlets, that this confusing power could be absorbed only alongside a silent faith born out of hardship, a shameless faith that wasn’t confusing, that wasn’t black or white or Christian or Muslim, or Nintendo or PS2, but that pulsed in the heart of the first African village, and the first Kansas homestead that got sucked up in a Tornado and dropped into a Technicolor Munchkinland.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Gospel of Al

London-North-Centre MP Glen Pearson is one of two MPs scheduled to attend an Al Gore led Climate Project Canada training session this weekend along with 200 or so other Canadian "climate change fighters." Pearson is concerned that interest in the environment "appears to be taking a back seat to the economy."
(Sun Media) Pearson and fellow Liberal Mauril Belanger (Ottawa-Vanier) are the two MPs attending, said Victoria Serda, a Port Elgin environmentalist and one of the key organizers for the Climate Project Canada's training session.

The Climate Project is a non-profit volunteer group that began in the United States, focused on Gore's Academy Award-winning movie, An Inconvenient Truth, and his followup presentations.

Gore will lead the Montreal participants through the science and format of his presentation, so they can repeat it in their communities, Serda said.

Each participant makes a commitment to give the presentation at least 10 times.
No need to research the "science", just memorize the gospel and pass it on to the next potential activist. Are there enough taxpayers remaining to pay for the upkeep of the taxspenders?

cp: The Broom

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Any way you look at this, you lose

The net economic effect of minimum wage laws is to make less skilled, less experienced, or otherwise less desired workers more expensive -- thereby pricing many of them out of jobs. Large disparities in unemployment rates between the young and the mature, the skilled and the unskilled, and between different racial groups have been common consequences of minimum wage laws.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Every Hour is Earth Hour in North Korea

Peter Foster includes this nighttime satellite image illustrating power usage in North Korea and South Korea in a post about Earth Hour in Toronto.

Driving around the Stygian gloom of downtown Toronto on Saturday night during Earth Hour was a profoundly depressing experience. It demonstrated not public concern about the environment, but the terrifying power of eco-hysteria, and the suicidal eagerness of local governments and companies to conform to the dimbulb zeitgeist.

I thought of my parents’ tales of the forced blackouts during the London Blitz, to prevent giving Nazi bombers a target. Now the prospect of economic destruction comes not from the skies but from within our own communities. The desire is apparently to make the West's richest and most beautiful cities look more like Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, on a Saturday night.
Earth hour has come and gone, but we do have Earth Day to look forward to. It's not clear if google's interface will go black or green on earth day, but according to this article, google is negotiating with eco-activists to encourage the public to bombard their legislators with calls to do something to make the planet run right.

cp: The People's Paradise

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