Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Halifax council makes the wrong choice - as expected

So Halifax council arrogantly rejected $400k from Molson to sponsor the oval. Terrible decision. The beer companies sponsor all kinds of all inclusive events including natal day. So now our choice is for the taxpayers to come up with $400k or accept a crappier oval experience.

Let's look at what big beer has done for sports in Halifax and Canada: built the replacement building for the Montreal Forum, kept the Canadiens in Quebec in Canadian ownership - as opposed to becoming American owned and being moved out of Montreal, brought the Blue Jays to Toronto, sponsored hockey and baseball broadcasts through the years, brought the Mooseheads to Halifax, provide good paying jobs at the Olands plant in Halifax. That's just off the top of my head.

So for all they did and continue to do, for Gloria McCluskey and her ilk to take this attitude today. Disgraceful. But no surprise really. Now they've leapt onto the slippery slope and they won't let up until beer is eradicated and the Olands plant closed. It took a little over a generation with cigarettes and beer is next, followed by lotto, mcdonalds, etc. Soft totalitarianism is on the move and continues its remorseless expansion.

Sigh, but what do you expect in this region from the people who brought us

  • ban on Scott's Turf builder on our lawns - only jurisdiction in the world to ban it
  • destroyed hundreds of student jobs running Lawn Ranger and Weed Man out of business
  • mandatory helmets at public skates
  • 11 year olds in booster seats
  • can't smoke in a bar
  • can't smoke in your own car
  • can't buy smokes at a pharmacy
Anyway enough of this. On HRM election day they all have to go. Every one of them. I will vote against any incumbent starting with honourable Kelly and whoever the local rep is. I hope everyone else does as well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

debt and the end of democracy

Some interesting and related stories lately around western government debt.

Italy has to pay 13.4% to borrow. It's 13.4 annual if you take the 6.5% 6 months and roll it over in full for 6 more months. So the bond market seems to believe there's about a 1 in 8 chance that if you lend Italy money today for 1 year then you will get stiffed.

Part of me wants to take that action, 13.4% return on a sovereign where you can cash out after 6 months seems like a good deal. Is it possible for regular retail investors to lend on the sovereign bond market? Compared to basically 0% you can get locally. Of course the only way Italy can honour that debt in 6 months is if new lenders come along at that time at probably some even higher rate and lend Italy the money to settle its debt with you. It's not like Italy will have the money on its own. Plus there's the issue of converting from CDN$ to Euros and then back at the end so there's some exchange rate risk too (which could be hedged for a fee).

The real interesting story is that the Italian government fell and was replaced by a "technocrat" government.

Same in Greece. Elected Greek government falls and replaced by technocrat.

Finally onto America. As part of the debt ceiling deal last summer a bipartisan committee of only 12 senior members was charged with coming together to specify just what the "future cuts" would be as part of the "borrow and spend today" money Congress and Obama wanted when they raised the debt ceiling. Alas they failed to reach agreement and now automatic (i.e. technocratic) cuts will kick in - unless Congress votes to renege on the automatic cuts under the original deal to raise the debt ceiling.

I am really quite surprised at how little commentary there has been on the voluntary fall of the governments in Italy and Greece and just replacing themselves with unelected caretakers. If tough decisions need to be made then the elected politicians had the means and the authority to make and implement those decisions. Why would they be so spineless as to just step aside and leave it to these faceless technocrats do the unpopular dirty work then have the nerve to re-stand for election. What Italy and Greece should do is this: when the elections are held and the "new" government is elected, then anyone who was in office at the time power was handed to the technocrats should not be allowed to run in the election. Then they would get a real new government.

But technocracy is dictatorship. It is fascism. I know continental Europe doesn't have deep roots in democratic elected government but this is a bad sign. When the going gets tough the modern elected step aside and hand the reigns of power to the faceless technocrats. There's no reason to believe this is just a European phenomenon. The post 1945 industrial west political class is all cut from pretty much the same cloth (tax and spend, borrow and spend). I guess it says all you need to know about the contemporary leadership.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I heard Atlantic Lotto is interested in interactive tv gambling. Sounds dodgy to me. So I guess the idea is that during commercials people will flip over to some ALC gambling channel and take a few slots spins for real money during the commercial break using the remote control? Maybe if you're settling in to watch Hockey Night in Canada flick over to the ALC gambling channel to make some zero research bets on the games about to start.

Also with ALC they are interested in expanding beyond Atlantic Canada. Sounds like another bad idea. The only reason they are successful in Atlantic Canada is because they are a government enforced legal monopoly. If they have to compete with other operators public and private I think they will lose their shirt. Additionally if they seek new markets outside Atlantic Canada that would effectively open up their own currently protected home turf to other operators. So we could see like US powerball coming into corner stores and siphoning ALC's profit base.

The fundamental issue with ALC flatlining profits is that the Atlantic population is stagnant / declining. In general the average annual per capita profit will be some fixed amount. Now with declining population the only way to increase profit would be to extract yet more losses from the existing pool of players which would be bad (at least for the donators), or cut ALC spending perhaps reduce unproductive overhead like gambling education and addiction treatment.

I was pleased to see Halifax Mayor Kelly finally found a backbone and evict the occupy Nova Scotia eyesore tent city / shantytown. Good riddance little Haiti. Long overdue. What do you think would happen if I tried to pitch a tent down on Point Pleasant Park? The cops would bust my ass and have me in handcuffs before the tent was even up. So why was this special group above the law and allowed to camp out indefinitely on city land?

As for their claim to represent 99% of the population - make it 98%. I'm not in the 1% of wealth but I certainly do not identify with or support the occupy crowd in any way. I think that their 1% number is actually the percentage of the population who support the occupiers.

And lol at the adult woman they showed on tv that night bleating that after the tents were torn down she doesn't have anywhere to go. Honey you're an adult and if your housing plan was living in an illegal tent city ... well illegal tent cities have a way of being torn down at any time and you knew that. So screw you it's your problem not the police, not the government, not society.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Police and the long gun registry

The government continues to move too slowly to abolish the long gun registry. Along the way there is a recurrent theme that the media reports and then irresponsibly fails to challenge.

The issue is always something like some police chiefs association supports the registry because it reduces crime or makes police safer or some such noise link, link. Of course they never back this claim with real data. Because it's the police the media report this as fact and never allow such statements to be challenged or logically analyzed.

I generally support the police in their efforts to keep us safe as evidenced by the writing on this site. However let's do some analysis of this police position.

First and foremost our nation is not a police state like say East Germany. Society does not exist to make the police job easier or even safer. There are a lot of things we could do that I'm sure the police chiefs would agree would be valuable "tools" against crime including:

  • being able to tap phone calls without a warrant
  • entering someones home to search without a warrant
  • arrest and detain indefinitely without charge
  • imprisonment without trial
  • enhanced interrogation techniques of suspects
  • more widespread ability for search and seizure with no exclusion of tainted evidence
  • casual access without warrant to detailed individual electronic records such as banking, health, tax, etc.

All of these things, like the long gun registry, would make the police job theoretically easier and more effective. Now since Canada is not a police state we establish boundaries the law enforcement must operate in so that the people can be generally free. There's a balance between individual freedom and the ability of the police to keep the peace and deal with crime when it does occur.

Of course the police do have abilities regular folks don't

  • carry a loaded gun while on duty
  • bulletproof vest while on duty
  • mace and pepper spray while on duty
  • ability to arrest
  • ability to quickly pull information on a VIN, license plate or suspect name
  • ability to call in backup

Canada got by for over 125 years without the long gun registry and the cops were able to sustain the rule of law during that time. I'm sure we'll be fine now without the offensive registry. It was never explained how a crackdown on law abiding citizens was supposed to reduce crime.

Alas today's police seem overly preoccupied with harassing law abiding citizens who are easier and more docile targets. For a long time now the role of the police has gone from dealing with tough criminals to picking on soft middle class targets including

  • hunters
  • public skaters not wearing helmets
  • adult commuters not wearing bicycle helmets
  • smokers in their own car
  • parents of 11 year olds not in booster seats
  • motorists not in seat belts or motorcycle helmets
  • people playing cards in their own home

Sunday, November 06, 2011

joined CAA

I joined CAA this weekend. I went down on Saturday morning and the office was open. It was $92 taxes in for the basic membership. After what happened with the dead battery I realized it would be a wise precaution to have some coverage. The vehicle is 6 years old with over 150,000 km so it's kind of old vehicle insurance. I hope the 2005 Honda Civic can continue to run well for 2-3 more years. I'll keep the brochure in my car in addition to roadside coverage there were a number of deals with local merchants so if I remember I may use some of them.


It is offensive to see our government squandering the people's tax money preparing this literature and purchasing online advertising.

It is fully inappropriate for our government to be doing this. Need I remind Mr. Harper Canada has two official languages: English and French. Anyone coming to Canada from some other nation should be prepared to live and work in one of those languages. If they lose money on housing or real estate because they don't know the language, well that's hardly the concern of the federal government. It is inappropriate for any Canadian government at any level to be providing information or services in any language other than English or French.

Useless CMHC. Speaking of federal government departments that should be downsized or entirely closed CMHC is just about the top of the list.


It would be great if this bill goes through to bet on single games in Canada. I've never focused on it but I've always had it in my mind pro-line is beatable. This is long overdue and brings it one step closer. Although love this guys PPH videos and can't help but want to sign up.


I'm starting to get organized on Christmas shopping. If I get moving soon I'll be able to use the Web to find stuff. It reminds me how much better things are this year than last year when Christmas was pretty much wiped out by the events in the community. One idea I was thinking was to suggest a kind of "swap" with my sisters where I might get stuff from them for my kids and they can get stuff from me for their kids. I'll think about it but it might make it easier for everyone that way.


I caught Horrible Bosses over the weekend. It was ok. Maybe not quite as good as I expected. The plot was a bit weak and stilted in parts. There were some funny scenes and dialog but just not enough for the length of the movie. It was different to see Jennifer Aniston as the foul mouthed dentist. Also Richard Jenkins seemed to be working really hard to carry this film. He was very good but just not enough to save it.


So David Heap got roughed up while committing and act of war against Israel. Well boo hoo. He is lucky to be alive after voluntarily jumping into the battle as an enemy combatant. Unlike the Liberal and NDP whose policies are based strictly on voter counts, Harper has been a consistent supporter of Israel. Then again you don't see the Jews plotting to kidnap and behead the Prime Minister. The people the David Heap fought for launch rocket attacks from schoolyards during the schoolday in order to draw return fire back there. And since when are prisoners of war expected to be provided with "free communication with the outside world and wasn't receiving adequate writing and reading materials"

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


I've never really agreed with the Dr. Conrad Murray trial. It's not a crime to be a bad doctor. There's a saying "doctors bury their mistakes". I think the prosecutors are attempting to score on Jackson's fame.

Sure it looks bad. After all Dr. Murray only had one patient to look after. It was a man in robust enough health to be embarking on a gruelling world tour. From the trial it appears Dr. Murray may have been too easily distracted by the interrelated issues of his personal wealth, his status as a doctor to the stars, the possibility of becoming a celebrity doctor himself, texting with his several girlfriends while on duty.

But it all comes across as malpractice, not any crime (after all Murray has no motive for Jackson to die and every incentive to keep him well). The normal route for malpractice is censure, suspension or loss of medical license, loss of reputation and business, and civil malpractice litigation.

Now in Jackson's case unlike with regular folks there is little reason for his wealthy estate to go through an embarrassing public trial trying to get say a $2 million malpractice judgment. But it's not the prosecutor's responsibility to substitute a criminal trial because Jackson's estate is strongly unmotivated to pursue a shaky malpractice claim against Murray. After all Jackson was of sound mind and was free to fire Dr. Murray if he was unhappy with the service he was getting for what he spent.


Nice work Jon Corzine destroying 200 year old MF Global in only a few short months. Today 3,000 people cleaned out their desks thanks to you.


ah Greece again. What's the point of this referendum? At some level I hope the Greeks just reject it and I guess they will go back to the Drachma or just outright default on the bond payments. There's not much point in the Eurozone anyway giving money to Greece so Greece can then make payments to bondholders. What would that accomplish? Better to let the irresponsible Greeks default. If that imperils some German or French national banks then the Eurozone nations could take care of their own and make direct injections into their own banks if they were foolish enough to be that badly exposed to Greece.

It's weird because the population of Greece is like 11 million. How can default by such a small group cause so much trouble? It doesn't make sense.


I went to the Rodeo last Saturday. That was a good time. Lots of people dressed up. I can't remember ever going there before. I'd heard about the place. Staff were friendly and service was fast. Good crowd there but not too crazy. Maybe not every weekend but I would go back there.