• MennoMelange
  • Thursday, March 29, 2007

    Castles and Lions and Spaniards Oh My!

    9 out of 10 riders leading the Vuelta Castilla y Leon, which is a bike race around the largest autonomous community in Spain, are Spanish.
    The first of which is Team Discovery's Alberto Contador.

    Monday, March 26, 2007

    Knives are great!

    Enough with the politics already! Ranting about political things lately takes too much time and energy. 'Specially that budget thing. Although, I must admit after doing ye olde tax return, I'll say that whoever had the idea not to tax scholarship money is beer-worthy in my eyes.
    I turned off random on my ipod today and just listened to Knives Dont Have Your Back. It reinforced my thoughts that it is a quality album. Very appropriate for the way I've been feeling lately. I strongly recommend acquiring it via your method of choice.

    Monday, March 19, 2007

    Its Not Free Trade.

    I was reading a book review in this weekend's Globe, and thought it was fairly informative, until I got to the part where the reviewer writes:
    Unfortunately, too many of us will resist reducing our lifestyles to the values McKibben argues will be necessary to save the Earth. We may buy our produce at a local farmer's market, but we'll usually drive there, many of us in SUVs. We may choose free-trade coffee, but won't give it up to reduce the copious quantities of fossil fuels burned to ship the beans around the globe.
    If the author calls it free trade coffee, I wouldn't buy the book. This all too familiar mistake really bugs me. Free trade and fair trade are opposites. Fair trade encourages sustainable development, gender equity and better working conditions, and consumers pay a higher price knowing that more of the money is going to the workers, not market middle men. This higher price can be seen as a tariff (by some) and thus is the exact thing that free trade is trying to abolish.

    Friday, March 16, 2007

    Dion: Your Carbon Bud.

    On the frontpage of the globe and mail website, I find this image. Hmmm... Either the liberal party's new environment strategy is to be friends with the pollutants, or they're trying to leverage the latest organic trend.

    Mind If I Sprawl?

    If you're like me, you've at least heard something on the radio, or read something on the web about the compiled census results. I took a look at the federal ridings as pointed out over at kirk's blog, and saw something surprising. All of the ridings with centre in their names had below average growth (most of them had negative growth, also known as shrinkage) and the ridings with the highest growth were suburbs and exurbs like Milton, Barrie, Vaughan, Brampton and Markham/Oak Ridges (where have I heard of that before).
    Not long after I noticed that, there were radio segments and newspaper articles like this one from our local rag. It is interesting to see the quotes pulled from our local politicians. Our (new) Mayor, Brenda Halloran, sees the situation as an opportunity to be a leader, and set the standard for urban intensification. Ken Seiling is in complete denial. He thinks that since Waterloo Region hasn't changed its borders in 30 years, there is no urban sprawl going on. Never mind that the only areas that had significant growth in the past five years are on the edge of the city, and they all have low population density. Some of the regional divisions experiencing this growth have 'rural' in their names!

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    Simon part 2

    A follow up to the last post, about the suspension handed out to Mr. Simon. At 25 games (or the rest of their season and playoffs, whichever is longer), it is the longest suspension ever handed out, but only by 2 games. The previous longest was a 23 game suspension given to Marty McSorley for hitting Brashear. But we should also note that McSorley never played in the NHL again, and was found guilty of assault with a weapon and given 18 months probation.
    Simon's coach, Ted Nolan, is continuing to stand behind his player, and maybe that is the right move for a coach. But the front office has to take a hard look at this. They are now paying about $80,000 of salary for a player that they're not getting, because of a bad choice he made. He is also a 1 million dollar player who isn't able to contribute to the team down the playoff stretch. He also took a bad penalty and shortened the bench in a fairly critical game. All reasons why we might see him looking for work as a free agent this summer, and if justice is served, nobody picks him up.

    Saturday, March 10, 2007

    Mr. Simon's Suspension

    After having a look at 'the incident', I would say that the hockey world ought to treat this kind of stick swinging episode the same as most other sports would treat a major doping infraction. The reasons for this are clear. These other sports (I'm thinking specifically of cycling and track) want doping gone, and so they impose very strict penalties. The NHL needs to make it clear that there is no place in hockey for deliberately using the stick as a weapon.
    It is not that the league needs to protect the players, as so many media outlets cry, it is that they need to protect themselves. What would happen to the league if the worst happened? A player died on the ice. Or worse than that, a player killed another player? Of course, I am not saying that deciding on this suspension will have any impact on whether that worst of worst situation would ever come to pass. But it would set precedent, and show that the league is actively trying to reduce the incedence of extreme violence in the game. If the league has a policy of suspending, for a long period of time, those who commit acts of extreme violence, then when that happens the league doesnt need to sit behind closed doors and decide if what happened was bad or not. It would diffuse the talk in the media about what the league is doing about violence in the NHL.
    Two years.
    Chris Simon should not be allowed into an NHL arena for two years.
    If he does it again after that, he should be banned for life.
    This is how you stamp out extreme violence.
    We'll deal with hits to the head in another blog post.

    Thursday, March 01, 2007

    The Rich and the Rest of Us

    It is all in the title folks. It is a recent report from the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives... it paints a stark picture. Because it wants to paint a stark picture, not necessarily because reality is stark. The title plays on envy. It paints the 'Us' as outside the classification of rich. Because even the rich are envious of those richer than themselves.
    Check out an article about it in the KW Record.

    Things I noticed after reading the report:
    1. Focused totally on families. A direct quote from the report is
    "Almost half of Canadians (46.3%) live in households that are raising children under the age of 18.1 They represent a big chunk of Canadian society."
    Big chunk? If you want us to take your report seriously, talk about all Canadians, not just a big chunk of them. And the bad thing is, the family only caveat isnt part of the headlines. They know this. It just gets reported as 'Rich vs Poor'. The Record article actually points this out and says
    "Jim Davies, economics professor at the University of Western Ontario, said he finds the study's results puzzling since the income gap has narrowed in the last decade when you look at all Canadian households, not just families."
    2. The next thing to skew the results: only considering family income, not individual income. How many of the top 10% income earning families (that is, the rich) are two income households. Yeah, thought so. While this does nothing to help the bottom 10%, it does hit the middle class where families are more likely to have the choice to earn two incomes or not. And while they may be able to earn 20-30k more (and jump into the next decile) paying for daycare would mean very little extra money for them. They could make more, but their standard of living is exactly the same.

    3. Data was custom compiled by Statistics Canada. nuff said.

    4. Quote from the report:
    Families with children under 18 have consistently displayed the most stable and least unequal distribution of incomes over time among all Canadian households.
    Does that wash with Jim Davies' quote? What about other factors such as the changing household? More single parent families. More dual income families. These factors push both ends of the scale further apart.

    5. Looking at the graphs in the report, the income bars are linear up to (but not including) the 10th decile. This suggests to me a fairly even distribution of income over the population save for the very rich. By discussing just the gap between rich and poor, and that it is widening, we start to expect a double hump type distribution, but that doesn't seem to be happening.

    6. At the bottom end, (which is what we ought to be ultimately concerned with, right?) by discussing income, we see that more often than not, the bottom decile has an income of zero. (must be median not average, I guess... or maybe rounded.) The income change over the 76-04 time line is a stark -80%. But the after tax, after social assistance etc. number is +8%. Seems they are better off now than before. Hunh. Not what the headlines lead you to believe eh?

    Lastly, I'll bring it back to the title. Playing on the envy of the rich. Or for the rich, playing on the envy of the super rich. People who are making more than me ought to do something to help the poor. A telling part of the record article is this quote from a woman who's family makes just over the average salary, which is in the 6th decile:
    "I see the rich are getting richer," she said. "But we're not getting to where we're supposed to be."
    Envy and greed my friends. We can't all be better than average.