Monday, October 22, 2007

Random Pieces of Tape...

I would like to welcome Duct Tape into the world of blogging and wish him all the luck in updating more often than I do! I have big hopes for Random Pieces of Tape.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Referendum Ontario

It is election time in the Province of Ontario. The candidates are all out glad handing and generally making asses of themselves everywhere you turn. I'm not overly concerned with how I'm going to vote as there really are no good options this time around. The politics of this election are probably best saved for a different post (or a different blog entirely).

The big news in Ontario is that we are having ourselves a referendum. No, not a cool one like deciding if we want to separate from the rest of Canada and just use their infrastructure for free. We get to have a hand in a misguided attempt at electoral reform.

Let me start by outlining the two options.
First we have "First Past the Post" or "FPP". This is the system we are all familiar with where the person that gets the most votes in an electoral riding gets the seat in parliament.

The other option is "Mixed Member Proportional" or "MMP". In MMP each eligible voter would have to votes to cast for each provincial election. The first vote would be for one of the candidates running in their riding to represent them in Parliament. The second vote would be for a political party. The political parties would have lists of party members who would sit as MPPs based on the percentage of the vote garnered in each electoral district by each party.

Those are the general descriptions of both options. Now for some basics to consider. Currently, the Province of Ontario is broken down into 107 electoral districts (I promised myself that I wouldn't preach (read rant) about the importance of voting in this post. If you are stupid enough to not vote then you will have to deal with the decisions the rest of us have made. Just like being stuck at the kids’ table at Christmas. Having said all that, if you want to find out what district you are in you can go here and you can go here to find out who the candidates are.). Right then, so 107 electoral districts in the current system (FPP). in MMP, there would be a reduction in the number of electoral districts from 107 down to 90. There would, however, be a net increase in the number of seats in Parliament from 107 to 129.

Let me try to make that a little less ranty and a lot less ambiguous. We currently have 107 seats in Parliament. In MMP, there would be 129 seats. 90 seats would be filled by 'Local Members' (i.e. the person voted in in any given riding just as it is now). The remaining 39 seats would be filled by 'List Members' or party members put on a list by the various parties. Now the party in questions has to have won at least 3% of the vote to be eligible to a seat. There would be no change in the way that the 'Government' is formed as the party with the most seats in Parliament would be asked to form a government. The difference is in how we get there.

I will try giving a practical example so that I can wrap my own head around it as well. The Green Party of Ontario I believed had 11% of the popular vote in the polls this past weekend. With 11% of the vote, the Green Party would be able to win a seat in Parliament in the new MMP system. This could mean that the Green Party might actually be able to formally take part in the political process and have the opportunity to mature into a legitimate option for the voters in Ontario. If MMP were in place already I would go into the voting booth (by which I mean go behind the little cardboard screen) tonight when I get home from work and mark two selections. I would vote for the Liberal candidate in my riding (because as the incumbent they have served the riding well, not because they are Liberal) and then I would vote for the Green Party of Ontario. This would potentially allow for a member of the Green Party to hold a seat in Parliament and fight for better environmental stewardship from this province.

There are flaws in the system we have. There are flaws in the new system. MMP is a huge step forward as it is a mostly practical application of proportional representation (I know, I know... Wikipedia is not always the most credible source for information.. It's good enough in this case). It is not the perfect answer but we could all sit around arguing until the cows come home about what a perfect system would be. There are no easy answers. I think that I will be voting in favour of MMP so that we can try to move away from the two party system we have in Ontario (yes, OK.. the NDP _is_ a party but do you actually they will ever form a government (minority or otherwise) in the foreseeable future..? Didn't think so) and open up the diversity of the political landscape.
Let me know what your thoughts are on the referendum (even if you have already voted in the advance polls). You can do it anonymously or put your name to it if you are feeling bold.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Andrès Duany, Riverfront Gambler

Rob.. first, thanks for the article.. it is a good piece.
second.... aaaarrrrrrrrrgggggguaaahhhh....
huh. New Urbanism (or neo-traditional if you will) is a great idea in theory IMHO (insert obligatory Jer style communism/theory joke here) It takes the only actually intelligent thing
Jane Jacobs ever said (that being that you have no community without connection and without 'eyes on the street' and marries it with the good ideas from Ebenezer Howard and his garden city (i.e. makes it a little more practical) and then blends in the reality of modern life.

I think it is a great idea to produce communities instead of just housing in a subdivision. I think it is great to think of transit connections and basic infrastructure as the basis of the plan, not try to cram it all in after you have come up with your lot sizes (of course to maximize profit... we are capitalists after all). You end up with a community that affords the opportunity to live and work close to each other. You also have a pedestrian friendly landscape with shorter front yards allowing for a connection between the public space (the street) and the semi-private space (the front porch) it brings the community together and allows for better interaction. The rear laneways are somewhat of a necessary evil to get rid of the garage centric housing that has been the product of haphazard planning and honestly just shoddy design since... hell, since the late 70's and early 80's.

Ok, in the real world it is unlikely that the people are going to work in their community (until telecommuting becomes more prevalent and/or the concept of satellite work space catches on.) the hard facts are that the commercial that goes into developments like this is generally low grade retail (like a convenience store, postal outlet, that sort of thing) There generally isn't the density to support restaurants or even higher function commercial (doctors, lawyers etc.) unless you insert it into a pre-existing community (like the development at Highway 10 and Lakeshore in Port Credit. Horrible design but in theory a smart concept)(well except the commercial space on Lakeshore is live/work space so you actually own the townhouse over top of it as well... but I digress) If you can get yourself into a pre-existing village setting like that then you can have people living and working in the same neighbourhood. If you then have them close to transit then when they need to visit others or want something that may not be available to them locally then with a half-way decent transit system you can get where you need to go without relying on your car.

Now the problems come in... The housing it too expensive because the developers bite of more than they can chew and the market values dictate that the housing prices be higher than the retail/commercial space can support. Then it becomes a kitsch bedroom community (read Cornell) that exists as a stunted testament to what New Urbanism could be if the different layers of government go on board and the developers started caring less about money and more about social planning (I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth typing that just now....) (I know, I know.. it's not fare to say that... the developers are in this to make money and that is their right in a free market economy... that doesn't mean the government can't tax the rich bastards to provide subsidies and bonuses to the developers to make more affordable units within the communities they build)(oh God... I could have sworn I slept through social planning... all three courses... I hated it!!!)

Then you get into the atrocity that is Seaside I mean shit... where the hell do you start with that one...? It has product testing written all over it... I mean shit!, the residents are all allowed to have a tower on their house for God's sake.. I mean yes there are limitations so that you don't mess with other people's views of the water and whatnot but that is a bastardization of the actual form... As far as I am concerned it is more of a case study on why the United States of America needs to take property rights out of the constitution and work out a better planning system than restrictive covenants and give up their precious gated communities and neighbourhoods run by committee.... Anyway, enough bashing of the states (but I mean seriously! ok ok, it was Walt Disney after all but come on... Celebration? What the hell were the thinking with that one?) And who could forget Windsor... I mean who thought that a gated community build around a golf course with matching polo pitches on wither side of the front gate was neo traditional in any way...?

Ok ok, enough blabbering from me.... let the commentaries commence... Dick..? Cap Thug...? Anything to add...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I'm ruining YOUR CHRISTMAS.....??????????

Oh that's right, it's that time of year again where I am destroying people's holidays because they actually have to think about their case over the holidays. Well I guess you should have thought of that before you filed in the first place..

That doesn't quite compare to the other caller I have had the pleasure of talking to. Not only am I ruining her Christmas but I am personally trying to ruin her pregnancy as well. I wonder if I should tell her that we are expecting our first in June.... See what she has to say about that?

Where do these selfish pricks get off dumping their crap on me?!?! Isn't it bad enough that I have to read their sob story letters and put up with their rediculous questions? Why must I also bear the brunt of their displeasure at the system?

Suck it the hell up and move on with your lives! I have every intention of having a perfectly lovely Christmas with family and friends. Perhaps when people call back next week (and I know that they will) I will go into detail about how wonderful my Christmas was because I was thinking about them having to slave away and actually take some responsibility for their appeals!

Merry Christmas Dick... we're just down the road a little further into the heart of Lambton County... You two Cap thug.. you know all our love goes out to Watford and Georgetown this weekend!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Rest in peace Mr. Altman (February 20, 1925 - November 20, 2006)

It is a sad sad day for the entertainment industry…..

We found out that the great Robert Altman passed away. He is perhaps best known for his ground breaking directorial style as best displayed by M*A*S*H

He was an icon and will be dearly missed.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Man.... you can't make this stuff up...

So silly little me is sitting down to read some of the 'odd news' happening around the world while eating my breakfast and what do I come across but this.

Now I understand that people have compulsions so it isn't unheard of for someone to lay about naked in public, nor is it unheard of for someone to masturbate in public. Of course I haven't heard of both happening at the same time but I'm sure it is not a first. The real twist is the concealed weapon.

I know, I know... What made the cop ask if the gentleman in question was concealing a weapon? Force of habit...? Professional demeanour....? Personal experience...?!? Whatever the reason he had the forethought to ask and (hopefully) to his surprise the man informed them that he had a screwdriver concealed on his person...

Ok, yes he had just recently gotten out of prison and it can be tough to get back on your feet and figure out the appropriate behaviour and reactions to situations in public (well as far as I can gather anyway) but I am willing to bet that laying around naked, with an ice pick (yes, turns out it was an ice pick wrapped in electrical tape and not a screw driver) in your rectum, masturbating is not even a normal occurrence in prison. Why he thought it was appropriate to do out in public is anyone's guess.

Besides which, the makeshift shiv hidden in the rectum.....? Seems a little cliché to me...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ever notice...

Well, at least I managed to resurrect one of my
posts... Let that
be a lesson to you. If you are tired, don't try to do
anything to your Blog...
You will just end up erasing the whole damn thing
and having to start again from
scratch.. - pm

That when you need to accomplish the most work your desire to procrastinate becomes the strongest?

I mean sure, I have been in a rut at work and yes I am actively seeking out new employment but how does one do it? How does one force oneself to work when every fibre of their being is straining against it?

You lie. You trick yourself and say that it won't really be that bad and then you do about 5 minutes worth of work and then you check your e-mail. Or you read some more of the archives of your favourite new Blog and then realize that half an hour has passed (so much for taking a walk on break today, it just disappeared into the ether of the interweb).

Then you lie again and tell yourself that you will do better this time. And you do. You make it through 15-20 minutes of work and then your phone rings or someone walks down your row in the cube farm or the clock advances by a minute and you get distracted.

Then comes the ultimate lie, the biggie that will let you off the hook for the rest of the afternoon... "I'll take care of it tomorrow". Uh oh...It's out there... like the pink elephant in the corner of the room that nobody wants to talk about. "Now you've done it" you warn yourself. Now not only have you guaranteed that tomorrow is going to be busy but you have given yourself a free pass for the rest of the day. The only problem is that you know all too well that tomorrow you are going to do the same thing all over again until about Wednesday when you decide "well, this week is a write off so I will enjoy myself and start fresh first thing Monday morning...". Thankfully I didn't make it to that point until today. Tomorrow I can justify because I have to walk visitors around.

Monday doesn’t scare me. I know it will be exactly the same as the Mondays before it. One of these days I will find a lie that works and stop living by the old axiom "Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday." For you see, tomorrow never comes. It always becomes today and the work will always be waiting for you tomorrow.

On that note, with the Internet as my witness, I will definitely get that work done tomorrow…