Sunday, 30 November 2008

Stimulate Me - Updated (Jack and Gilles went up a hill)

The federal Conservatives are backing off some more:

Minister of Transport John Baird said the government would not eliminate the right to strike for federal civil servants, as pledged last week. ...

The government has said it will launch a stimulus package eventually, but Mr. Flaherty also insists that "temporary" stimulus does not work well, and the government will take a long-term approach. - g&m-
But now that the ball is rolling on this Liberal-NDP coalition thing, it might not be enough.
Michael Ignatieff said he heard nothing in Mr. Flaherty's announcement that would dispel coalition talks by the opposition.
Layton and Ignatieff can taste it. This is a once in a life-time opportunity for Layton to be part of a governing party, and a huge opportunity for Ignatieff as the most likely successor to the Liberal throne. Harper may have to let those two write the budget in order to avoid losing power.

The Conservatives really screwed this up. I can't help but think it could have been avoided if they hadn't been so arrogant as to try cut off the other party's funding in a confidence motion. They went in for the kill, they missed, and they exposed themselves to what could be a fatal shot from the opposition.

---- UPDATE ----

Oops. Silly me. I had supposed that Ignatieff, the former Liberal deputy leader and likely successor to the throne, might have been a part of the coalition negotiations, but apparently not:
The source in the Ignatieff camp said Mr. Dion is making all the running on coalition talks with the NDP and the Bloc Québécois, and is not consulting with leadership candidates, Mr. Ignatieff, Bob Rae or Dominic LeBlanc.
Not only that, but CTV reports that the NDP was in talks with the Bloc Quebecois before the fiscal update ever came out. This is starting to look like it has nothing to do with fiscal stimulus, and much more to do with desperate leaders trying to subvert democracy. If Dion goes to the Governor-General with Jack and Gilles asking to form a government, she should seriously consider just telling them to go suck it.

Friday, 28 November 2008

We are (almost) all Keynesians now.

The Economic Policy Division of Anybody-Want-A-Peanut? has been doing a lot of thinking recently about the current global economic crisis. Well, they should have been at least, but those slackers spent most of their time playing Rock Band and looking at nude photos on deviantArt. However we do have some thoughts on the matter:

Richard Nixon once said "we are all Keynesians now". That is particularly true during a recession. We can generally rely on monetary policy to keep the economy on course by maintaining price stability, but when the economy veers off into the crapper like it is now, there is a temptation to use the turbo boost of a good old fashioned Keynesian demand shock to try to bump it back on course.

As far as I know, the jury is still out regarding how effective it is. For example, some economists has suggested that it could require tens of billions of dollars to make even a modest impact on the Canadian economy. Nevertheless, elected officials don't want to be seen as bystanders as people lose their jobs, so they "take action" by opening up the bank account and spending money to try to recreate those jobs.

Everybody is doing it: Britain is doing it; Obama has indicated that he's willing to pile on to the massive pile of debt in the US in the name of Keynesian fiscal stimulus; back home in Manitoba, spendaholic Gary Doer is practically drooling over the prospect of throwing around more money. He's like a kid at Christmas with a brand new excuse to spend, and new balanced budget legislation waiting to cover him in case he (oops!) happens to spend a little too much. Even here in Winnipeg there are big plans to spend more money.

The only leader not hopping aboard the Keynesian Express is Mr. Harper. The recent economic update included no fiscal stimulus, just a couple tweaks to cut spending and increase investment. What does The Peanut think about this? Well, the AWAP EPD couldn't give me a straight answer (I really am paying those guys too much) but the opposition certainly don't think riding out the storm is a good idea and they may topple the government to prove it. Can you imagine? A party with no leader trying to form a coalition to replace an elected government a month after the election? Ottawa is so damn disfunctional.

While I personally feel that Keynesian-type fiscal manipulation is generally overrated, Harper may have miscalculated on this one, because what I think doesn't matter. The thing is, most people are Keynesians whether they know it or not. They want to see their government doing something when the economy is falling apart, and ultimately that could be the downfall of Mr. Harper. I think the Liberals may back down now that the Conservatives have backed off their plan to cut funding to the parties, but boy .. it could get interesting if they stick to their guns.

wiki: John Maynard Keynes

Thursday, 27 November 2008


Madeleine Lowenborg-Frick, a spokeswoman for Ikea Canada, said this morning the company has identified a parcel of land in the city that it is interested in developing -fp-


related note: the Bring IKEA to Winnipeg! Facebook group has ballooned to 191 members from 121 this time last year. No wonder they're eyeing us up!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

On my way home from work today ...

... I encountered a few situations that might fit nicely on Weirdos of Winnipeg.

First: just out front of Portage Place, a quiet dude who appeared to be disadvantaged in some way -- physically, mentally, likely financially too -- was shuffling along the sidewalk when he spotted something on the ground and stopped in his tracks. When he bent down and picked up the dirty napkin I thought to myself: "good Lord; you're not going to eat that, are you?" He did not eat it. He shuffled over to the garbage can and threw it away. Here is this guy, on a street strewn with garbage, and he just decided to do his part. Good on him. Weird though, but then it's sad that doing something good is weird.

Next: I am waiting for the bus on Portage Avenue after dark when a guy on a handicap scooter scooted by. On the street. He stopped at the red light just like a car, then eventually took off once the light turned green. It was a dark red scooter with a little Italian flag, but no lights, no reflectors, nothing. Damn near got smoked too. He cut off a car in the middle of the block, forcing about six vehicles to slam on their brakes. That's a dangerous game that there guy is playing.

Later, overheard on the #50 bus near downtown:
dude #1: You heading to Winnipeg?
dude #2: Am I going to Winnipeg? Yes. I'm in Winnipeg.


blog note: welcome to Two Ripping Arseholes who have recently joined the blogoshpere. I can only hope their posts are half as eloquent as their blog name. So far so good. (no new tax!!!)

Friday, 21 November 2008

Palin Pardon Massacre : UPDATED!

Thank God Sarah Palin won't get the opportunity to pardon people as President:

Palin pardons turkey as video shows worker slaughtering birds behind her

*** UPDATE *** (because this is such an important issue)

It turns out that this was no gaff at all, but that Palin chose the spot and knew what was going on behind her:

The turkey slaughter was already underway when the governor chose the spot. The photographer pointed out what was going on and asked her if she wanted to move. She said, “No worries.” (link)
Why move? Killing animals is fun and natural.

However, now that the Palin team has realized that not everybody view it the same way, they are denying everything:
Palin’s spokesperson tells ET the bird butchering wasn’t going on when the shot was set up, and a cameraman “ignored” the governor’s staff’s request to remove the graphic sight once cameras were rolling.
I see... the Governor and her staff were powerless to stop the interview. Those damn camera men, always throwing their weight around.

h/t: andrew sullivan

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Throne speech: quick remarks

Looks like we'll be in for a pile of new spending. Yes, I know. Shocking.

Some specific things that jumped out at me:

"Prime Minister Harper is to be commended ..."Even though he's freezing your equalization payments? Interesting.

"On January 1st the small business tax rate, which at 2% is already the lowest small business rate in the country, will be reduced to just 1%." What's the point? This isn't where you're going to get your biggest bang for your buck. It's already low. Focus on those areas that are overtaxed.

"Construction of a 52km bike path along the Manitoba Floodway to Bird's Hill Park" That's good. I might even be able to hit that with a 15 minute ride from my house.

"This year, as work on the floodway expansion project enters its final stage, the Manitoba Floodway Authority will be tasked to develop a partnership with East Side communities for the construction of the all-weather road". Whaaaaa? A road through the pristine forests east of Lake Winnipeg??? But .. but .. I thought ..... explain to me again why BiPole III is going down the much more expensive West side route?

"On the East Side of Lake Winnipeg, new resources will be invested to support the bid for a UNESCO World Heritage designation and the development of sustainable ecotourism."Oh right, we need a road to transport the masses of tourists to our brand new UNESCO site, which will magically be transformed from a forest into a something equivalent to the Pyramids of Egypt. We already have ecotourism: it's called hunting and fishing. They will come with or without the UNESCO stamp. Besides them, of you think more than a couple dozen tourists will travel north of Manigotagan you're smoking something besides goldeye. We do need the road to serve the communities, but this UNESCO thing is waaaaay overblown.

"The revenues from Hydro exports ensure that Manitobans continue to benefit from having among the lowest electricity rates in the world." Ug. I'll get into this (again) someother time.

"This year our government will introduce new legislation to ban the use of hand-held cell phones or text messaging devices while driving." I don't #@*&% get it. Why is every jurisdiction banning hand-held cell phones and not cell phones? Virutally all studies have shown that hands-free are no safer. In fact, they are probably MORE dangerous because you're bound to talk on them longer and get more wrapped up in your conversation. Do it right or don't do it at all.

quotes courtesy of the CTV transcript.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

We are not in a depression

Response to This post by Jimmy Cotton, who should add a comments feature to his blog.

Note to Jimmy:
Donny Deutsch and Wikipedia are not the most reliable sources on economic issues. Or anything really.

We are not in a depression. The definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of declining output. A slump doesn't sound as bad, but it's actually worse: it's a period where output falls by at least 10%. A depression is worse than both: it's longer than a recession and deeper than a slump. Until somebody produces numbers that show that GDP has dropped for at least 3 quarters and by 15% or thereabouts, you cannot say that we are in a depression. That's not to say we aren't on our way, but panicking prematurely is not going to help.

Source: the economist

Monday, 17 November 2008

The Winnipeg Bus Blues

Winnipeg Transit is increasing my bus fare, but at least the service is getting crappier.

Starting today, the # 57 Southdale Express bus starts on a new schedule that reduces the already-limited number of trips that it takes downtown, and increases the wait times between buses. I now have two fewer buses going to work and three fewer coming home. I also have to be a little snappier in the morning or I'll miss my bus and be late for work.

Maybe they think that they can get away with it because of the increased cost of parking downtown, but with the reduced service I'll probably end up driving more often and taking Transit less. Either way I'll need to increase my transportation budget next year.

Mind you, they've replaced my bus shack twice in the past year, so I guess they still care about the suburbs.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Berry, Bauer and the Bombers

Big moves in Bomber Land:

Reliable sources confirmed Mike Kelly will be offered the job as head coach in Winnipeg.

Make that head coach and GM of the Blue Bombers.

Bombers president/CEO Lyle Bauer not only confirmed yesterday that Berry has been relieved of his duties but suggested that GM Brendan Taman has been demoted.

That would pave the way for Mike Kelly ... be offered the dual position.

Mike Kelly is currently employed as the receivers coach for the Eskies. He's allegedly being promoted, not just to head coach, but to head coach and GM. Are we sure that's a good idea? Think back to this guy:
Yes that's right. Reinebold. Currently a receivers coach for a US college team. He was a pretty good defensive coordinator, but give him the reins as head coach and GM ... It's a lot of responsibility, is what I'm saying.

I'm not opposed to demoting Taman from the GM role, but the guy doesn't even know he's been demoted yet. I almost feel sorry for the dude. Not only that, but the Eskies are still in the playoffs. Remember last weekend? Yeah.. Bauer is being a little ham-handed and perhaps knee-jerkish with this little power trip.

As I mentioned before, I don't think the firing of Berry was the right thing to do either. He got his power running back mid-way through the season and we started winning games (mostly against Hamilton and Toronto, but anyhoo..). It doesn't add up. We clearly have Quarterback issues and Offensive Coordinator problems. Are we going to replace them? Will we go into 2009 with a new GM, head coach, offensive coordinator and starting QB? We need some continuity, Lyle.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

"We know exactly who they are"

To all those who say that longer jail sentences won't solve anything, watch the video clip here:

I've written about this before, including here where I criticized Dan Lett's take on the issue. It's missing the point to say that longer jail sentences don't reform somebody. a) you can implement programs to try to reform people while they are in jail, and b) some of these fuck-ups are beyond reform.

The point is, they can't hurt anybody while they are in jail. Why is that of secondary importance? As soon as somebody hits "level IV" status, he or she should be locked up for 10 years or until they are 30 years old, whichever comes last. To do anything else would be irresponsible, bordering on willful negligence. The judges who do not assign maximum sentences, and the people standing in the way of reforming the youth criminal justice act and implementing tougher sentences should be held responsible for the damage that is done by these criminals, because it is completely foreseeable.

"Public safety is always at risk every minute he's out of jail"

That's the bottom line.

Monday, 10 November 2008

How to get to Vimy Ridge

When I was looking into visiting Vimy Ridge I had difficulty finding good instructions on getting there. It didn't occur to me to call Veteran's Affairs, which would be a good place to start. But anyhow, here's my insight, should anybody happen to google by.

Step 1: Get your ass over to Paris.
Step 2: Go to Gare du Nord, and catch a train to Arras. If you wish to reserve a ticket in advance, it can done at any train station.
Step 3 / option 1 (recommended): take a cab from the Arras train station to the Vimy Ridge national historic site. Approx cost: €20 one way.
Step 3 / option 2 (not recommended unless you have little money): take a bus to the Vert-Tilleul stop (the last of the three stops in Thelus). Walk approx 1 km up the highway to the turn off to Vimy Ridge. Warning: it is a busy highway and there are no shoulders. Follow the road another 3 km-ish to get to the park. Cost: €1.

The bus does not run very often, and it does not leave from the train station in Arras either. The cab is by far your best bet. Keep the phone number for the cab ( When you are ready to leave you can call one out to get you, or ask one of the nice folks who work at the park office to call one for you.

If you are really lucky, like I was, you might get a free lift back into town by a kind French gentleman named Monsieur Devloo who often gives Canadians rides to and from Vimy Ridge. [02/10/09 edit: Mr. Devloo recently passed away]


[12/10/09 edit: I still get fairly regular hits on this post. If you are visiting Vimy and have suggestions or updated information upon returning from your visit, please feel free to add them to the comments or send me an email (see side bar for my address .. replace *at* with @) so that other visitors might benefit from your experience. Thanks, and bonne chance.]

[03.2016 update: A commentor below gave the following numbers for taxis to/from Vimy: 06 69 34 74 75 or 06 58 23 36 37]

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Thanks for the memories

Well that was an anti-climatic end to Milt Stegall's career. Thanks for the memories, Turtle Man, even if they don't include a Grey Cup.


Kevin Glenn has to go. He's ok, but that's not good enough. Sure, maybe the Bombers would have won last year if Glenn hadn't broken his arm, but with our talent we could have won with just about any QB with experience. The fact is Glenn is not good enough. He has his good games, but he has too many bad ones. It's time to move on to the post-Glenn era, and find a starting QB who is more mobile and has a better arm. Could it be Randall? Maybe. Let's give him a try.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Spirited Energy: Let history be the judge

Your assignment for today: compare and contrast the coverage:

Good stuff, right there. The different spins.

Look, the Spirited Energy campaign and it's "son" may seem like wasteful spending by some people, but just like George Bush's legacy, time will reveal the Premiers advisory buddy board's brilliance. You mark my words. (Actually don't. That way I can destroy this web site and remove all evidence of these comments.)

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

B.O. is the new P.O.T.U.S.

John McCain would have made a good president. His concession speech was grateful and positive. In it, he mentioned that everybody makes mistakes, and he is sure that he's made his share during the campaign too. He has indeed, and it is primarily because of one of those mistakes that I am glad that Obama won.

I'm talking about Sarah Palin. I mean, seriously, how could somebody so close to death pick somebody so incredibly under-qualified to be his back up for such an important job?

Barack Obama will make a good president too. Many people's expectations will be crushed simply because they are far too high (notice that in his acceptance speach Obama was already trying to lower expectations) and the situation that he is inheriting is too fucked up, but I think he will choose expierenced people (some republicans maybe, even) to help him steer the country in the right direction.

Speaking of directions, what's next for the Repulican party? A shake-up is needed for sure. The "neo-con" philosophy must be purged and a new direction must prevail. But what direction will that be? A turn towards the center? A turn further towards Palin-esc evangelical conservatism? A turn back towards it's Ron Paul-esc libertarian roots? Choose your road wisely, guys. (Yes, of course Republican strategists read this blog.)

Now, the important question: will my stocks get a post-election bounce?

Sunday, 2 November 2008

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