Friday, 29 April 2011

Tangerine Wheat Beer

I haven't reviewed a big-ass bottle of microbrew in a while, so now seems like a good time to crack this thing open:

It's Tangerine Wheat Beer, brewed by Lost Coast Brewery & Cafe in Eureka California, and no I didn't leave the beer sitting on the table for 45 minutes before taking the picture. That is a freshly poured beer you're looking at. The head is white and very thin and evaporates in nanoseconds leaving you with a glass of flat orange liquid that could very well be urine from a dehydrated horse.*

I have probably only eaten a tangerine twice in my life, so I can't tell you if it smells or tastes like tangerines or not. My nose is picking up dried apricots (not literally.. my nose isn't that talented) which may very well be similar to tangerine, seeing as they are both fruits. Actually, it has a sweet sort of smell, like a hard fruit candy of some kind. Wheat beers are not generally the most flavourful beverages in the world, although some can be quite tasty. This one has more of a feel than a taste. It is slightly tingly in the mouth with a bit of a metallic fruit flavour, leaving not much behind after disappearing down your throat, except for some reason my saliva glands are going crazy.

Overall, I think this one misses the mark. It might appeal to the sort of person who drinks Bud Light with Lime, though I can't see it being as refreshing on a hot summer day. At 5% alcohol it's not much stronger; and coming in a 650ml bottle, it could be shared with a friend. Or an enemy.

For other perspectives, go here.

*caution: even though it may look like pregnant mare urine, you should not have unprotected sex after drinking this beer.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Revolution fatigue? *UPDATED*

Remember Egypt? Remember the protests? Remember the 'round the clock news coverage? Anderson Cooper looking as handsome as ever, even when he was getting pelted in the head?

I think all the North American news cycle can handle is one revolution a year. Maybe a decade. There are other revolutions going on, and one became extra deadly today:
At least 88 people are reported to have been killed in Syria in the bloodiest day since the uprising began, as security forces use live ammunition and tear gas to quell anti-government protests across the country
The AlJazeera story also contains a video with footage from several cities of protests getting fired upon, included blurred-out footage of a kid with his head blown apart. It's not hard to find videos posted by individuals on YouTube too, like this one:

We have an excuse for not paying attention here in Canada. The NHL playoffs are on. Oh, also that election thing.

They probably have good excuses for not paying attention south of the border too. Let's just see what the headline story is on "Lindsay Lohan jailed for violating probation". See there you go. It's not like Syria being ignored completely. On CNN's NewsPulse meter, it's right up there, only 9 spots back of "Snooki's diet plan".

I'm not quite sure what I'm trying to accomplish with this post, except maybe to remind you that there's still stuff going on out there. Stuff that's at least as dramatic as the events in Egypt. Maybe it's also a criticism of the media, and the lack of coverage relative to the Egypt revolution.

But is it really a problem? The media shows us the stuff we want to see, because if they show us stuff we don't care about they'll lose viewers, advertisers and money. If we want to see Lindsay Lohan's ass getting carted off to jail, so be it. It's not the media that's the problem ... it's our priorities. Actually, it's the America's priorities. Our priorities here in Canada are just fine. Hey look, Selanne just got an assist laying on his back!

*** UPDATE ***

Jesus. Apparently Syrian forces are now killing people at funerals of people they killed. This isn't looking promising.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Winnipeg's new NHL team unveiled

The end of the Phoenix Coyotes' season is nigh, and with that comes the announcement of Winnipeg's new NHL team. The accountants and lawyers have worked out all the details under the shroud of a secrecy agreement to prevent information from being leaked out, but it's tricky to keep everything under wraps. And so it is that I have come across some important information, via a friend of the Peanut who happens to be connected with the Chipman family.

Ever since rumours of the Coyotes coming back to Winnipeg started, there has been speculation about what the name might be. Will they be called the Jets again, or something else? If something else, what?

Well, I have the answer for you. And not only that, I have a prototype of their jersey. They will not be called the Jets, primarily for marketing reasons. Virtually everybody in the city has a Jets jersey in their closet at this point, so there will be a new name and new colours, forcing all true fans to buy new gear. The name will have a connection to the City of Winnipeg, it will invoke the pride of Manitobans everywhere, and will symbolize the best of what we have to offer the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you:


There is of course a back-up name, in case this one doesn't work out for some reason, though I can't understand how there could possibly be a problem. But just in case: welcome to the Falcons!

(yes, I'm recycling material. Whatcha gonna do about it.)

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Who's donating to who?

This is a phenomenal resource for nosy people:

You can zoom right in and look up your neighbours to see who they're donating to. You can look up your favourite politician or local minor celebrity to see who they're supporting. Or you can randomly click on spots in Tuxedo like I did when I stumbled across Gail Asper:

Gail has donated thousands to the Conservatives, thousands to the Liberals, and even $1500 to the Green Party, but nothing to the NDP. This is only federal of course. I don't doubt that she has tossed some pesos in the hat of the provincial NDP party. From this, a person could infer that Gail is really a Greeney at heart, but gives to the Tories and Libs for strategic reasons.

Not that it's any of my business. Nor is it yours, I don't think. Yet, here it is, in convenient map form with little coloured bubbles, making it ridiculously easy to find. All the data is provided to the public by Elections Canada, so Elections Canada must think that it is our business.

I suppose a case could be made that it is. There should be a way to find out if the government is being 'bought'. If contracts are being awarded to people who have monetarily supported a party for instance. Or, to borrow a phrase from Marty Gold, if governments are supporting the pet projects of millionaires who happen to donate thousands of dollars to them. But it just seems really odd to me that I can have such easy access to the political donations of random private individuals.

I love this stuff though. I like maps and I like data, so interactive maps with data embedded in them is like cat nip. It's also awesome how Wolseley is so totally NDP. Nothing but brown dots.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Modest tax cuts? How about 10th consecutive tax increase?

My fellow Manitobans, you have seen or read stuff in the press about the modest tax cuts in the new NDP budget. You might therefore be surprised to learn that you will probably be paying more income tax next year, not less. There are various targeted credits that apply to certain specific groups of people, but there is only one broad personal tax cut in this budget: a phased increase to the basic personal exemption of $250 per year over 4 years.

Well, that's pretty good, isn't it? Yes, it's good. The basic personal exemption should increase ... every year. But how much does that actually put in to your pocket? $27 the first year. Yes, that's all. You get 10.8% of that $250. $27.

What you won't read about in the press is the personal tax increase in this budget. Aside from the basic personal amount, your personal taxes otherwise remain unchanged. This means that the tax rates remain unchanged, and the tax brackets remain unchanged. How is that a tax increase you ask? I'll demonstrate:

Suppose the Stephen Harper increased the federal income tax rate by 0.5%. Is that a tax increase? I dare you to say "no". Well, the federal government indexes it's tax brackets. That 0.5% tax increase is equivalent to a 0% tax increase with tax brackets that are not indexed, assuming a 2.3% rate of inflation.* In other words, the money out of your pocket is exactly the same.

The Manitoba government does not index it's tax brackets. It has increased the lower tax threshold only once since 2002, and that was only by a meager 1.5%. Let me show you how that looks in comparison to the Federal tax threshold, and that of our arch nemesis Saskatchewan:

Inflation data: 2002 = 100 (right axis) source

Not increasing the tax brackets is just as real a tax increase as actually increasing the tax rate, friends, and in fact for most people this "hidden" increase far outweighs the "modest tax cut" that you'll hear about in the news. If you make $50,000 and you get a modest 2% cost of living increase, you will pay $127.50 more in taxes due to the bracket creep. According to my calculations, which I am willing to share with you, anybody who makes more than $25,000 will pay more tax next year than last year, independent of the miscellaneous credits.

That is called a tax increase.

For more on bracket creep, here's Colin Craig of the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation:

*this is also dependent upon the government indexing the brackets sufficiently to actually mitigate the impact of inflation.

related: budget commentary from some people you may know

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Debate: quick impressions

Layton looked good. Some pre-debate face airbrushing going on there. Didn't think he made much of an impact though. NDP supporters will think he did great -- and he didn't do bad -- but most of what he said was just swatted aside like a bug.

I couldn't figure out what Duceppe was talking about half the time, but he made me laugh a couple times. "If you shoot a duck, you have to register the duck. If you blow away a dog, the dog is registered. The only thing not registered is the gun." He's good for entertainment value if nothing else.

Iggy was at his best when he got passionate about an issue. My favourite moment in the whole debate was during his one on one with Layton when he was defending the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. He was off script, came across as being a genuine and intelligent person, and stomped all over Layton in the process. He had some other good moments too, but he appeared off balance at times and he returned back to his talking points too often, repeating the same things several times over. It was repeating that Liberal party script that lost me.

Harper never lost his cool. He answered everything with ease, and he denied every charge against him. A deal with the Bloc and the NDP? Denied. Corporate tax cuts? Denied. Didn't give cost data to parliament? Denied. And done with the same cool demeanor the whole time. His opponents were getting frustrated with him.

If I have to award a ribbon, it goes to Harper for his cool as a cucumber performance.

1. The one-on-one format was awkward, and the one-on-ones between Layton/Duceppe and Iggy/Duceppe were especially lame. It was of interest to nobody and like a coffee break for Harper. Get rid of it.
2. Two national debates give Duceppe more air time than he deserves. He should be booted from the English language debate and replaced with Lizzy May, or with an empty seat.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Provincial Income Tax Comparo

Hi there. With the Manitoba budget coming down this week, I thought it might be a nice idea to have a chart of how our provincial personal income taxes stack up against the other provinces. You know, just for reference purposes.

Manitoba is the bright yellow one. In case you have trouble finding it, it is the line that is higher than any other line for all incomes below $49,500, and second highest after that.

source: CRA &

The comparison excludes Quebec because they do their own thing, and PEI because they are too small to matter. No offense. I'm sure PEI is a very nice province; I just don't see them stealing any head office jobs from us anytime soon (although two of their three tax rates are lower than Manitoba's too.)

related: caring for the lower class

Friday, 8 April 2011

Connect Caption Contest - Jack Layton

It must be pick on Jack Layton day here at the Peanut. Just watching Connect with Mark Kelly. A spur of the moment entry into their caption contest:

Pleeeease ... can't I take a few stem cells for my hip?

Okay, I'll Jack alone now. Let's see if it makes it past the CBC mods.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Poor Jack Layton

Did a little doodle of Jack, in honour of his having no chance of winning.* Actually, not much thought went into it .. I just started doodling and this is where I ended up:

I kind of like Jack in some ways. He's not a bad guy. He is just an otherwise normal guy who happened to be born with that abnormal gene that turns you into an NDPer.

I did one other sketch of him while I was at work some time ago. I'll share with you, because I don't know what else to do with it:

* further to this: NDP seems to be trending down in the polls, especially in Ontario. Not promising. How does Jack make the NDP relevant?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

11 Japan 11

Found this picture on the 'net. Thought I might share...

Click to see full size.

Artist's explanation:

Tsunami project:
If this art is chosen, this will be sell in auctions (August 30, 2011, Arludik gallery, Paris) -> 100 % will be reversed to GIVE2ASIA.

Explanations on symbolic details:
+Blood on her breast symbolizes Japan
+A flower of hope is growing on her kimono
+I was inspired by Tsunami wave by the artist Hokusai, well known piece
+the golden sky behind the grey skies in the upper part of the picture, symbolizes hope.

With all the coverage of the problems at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, you ought to remember that the tsunami had the greatest impact, and still does. Over 12,000 dead and 15,000 missing from the earth quake and tsunami.* Fukushima: 0 dead and 0 missing. Possibly the greatest tragedy about Fukushima is that it's diverting attention away from the real tragedy.

*source: BBC

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Debate debate

I love that 25% of people don't think the PM should be in the leaders' debate:

- fp -

25% of people also don't think the official opposition should be part of the debate. This just proves my theory that people are too dumb to vote. We should appoint William Shatner as Tsar and be done with elections.


If you're wondering when I'll get to some real election punditry: probably not for a couple weeks. I'm saving up some energy for the Manitoba budget, but free time might be a factor for reasons that I can't get into here. Meanwhile, I'll be watching Harpo and Iggy and Gimpy out of the corner of my eye. I might even work on a new cartoon of the boys.

I'll be in touch...

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