Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Halifax bars closing and demographics

In recent times few well known Halifax bars have closed. Pogue Fado shut down. Palace closed. Some other place called G Lounge I admit I'd never heard of closed.

Now bars will always come and go so maybe it is just statistical variance that three have closed in a short time. But maybe there's an underlying dynamic.

It's the next phase of the same problem faced in the education system. In the school system every single year for many years now there have been fewer grade primaries than the year before, and so on to fewer grade 12s each year for many years (well it started with the decline in primaries and around a decade later it was to the 12s). Now roll that forward into the key 19-24 demographic that is crucial to the downtown bar scene.

With fewer young partiers and a generally aging population there are just less customers to go around and some consolidation of the bar scene would be expected. Suppose Halifax can support say 1 downtown bar for every 5,000 19-24 yr olds. Then if there are say 50,000 of these then that would amount to about 10 downtown bars. If that declines to say 35,000 19-24 year olds then the market can support around 7 bars.

The boom in university enrolment, along with migration to Halifax from rural areas, papered over this trend of declining birth rate for a few years. But with the rural areas more depleted of young people to move to the city, and the decline in grade 12s now affecting university enrolment, then the trend of declining numbers of young people is now in Halifax as well.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

events in the community

some random thoughts about all the front page news this week

first and foremost, in no circumstance do I accept any concept of shared or discounted responsibility for the people who choose to commit crime. the criminal, not the victim, is always fully responsible for his own actions and personal decisions. let me reemphasize that before even beginning

now that's out of the way, you won't be seeing me walking alone through Mulgrave park at 2 AM Sunday morning with my wallet out counting through the paper cash

  • there's a reason the minimum drinking age in Nova Scotia is 19
  • especially women, at house parties, be careful. many assaults are unplanned crimes of opportunity
  • be aware and in control of the situation. don't be so intoxicated to be vulnerable or your safety relies on others who may be too drunk to look out for you
  • at bars and house parties be very careful around people you don't know
  • when drinking don't be alone with people you don't know or may not be able to trust
  • be with and stay with a reliable friend(s) at parties and bars. don't become isolated, especially around people you don't know 
  • without toxicology or rape kit physical evidence from the night it happened it would seem to be super tough to get a conviction
  • probably a relevant precedent would be the Denver football rape case. if Cox was acquitted even after his friend turned and testified against him and the physical and circumstantial case, then I could see why they didn't proceed to trial in the Nova Scotia Parsons case
  • a defence lawyer might have taken a similar tack, "we were drunk out of our minds. apparently we had sex. I don't remember." it's tough to establish no consent in that type of case. remember the burden of proof is on the accuser
  • being drunk at the time greatly damages your ability to be a witness in a court case later on
  • regarding Anonymous and naming names of the four boys. well the four cleared the criminal hurdle apparently. thus the only objection would seem to be privacy. well Rehtaeh's privacy was certainly violated and they were party to that. and it was them who took and caused to be distributed the notorious photo. thus they have no real privacy claim. especially considering the notorious picture was so widely distributed to be effectively public domain. thus I can't personally see any objection to anyone holding their names to go ahead and publish
  • lots of tough talk on the internet these days. careful what you say. everything can be traced and you're responsible for it. don't start what you can't finish

Monday, April 01, 2013

Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez

I finished of another Daniel Suarez book. It was Kill Decision. It was pretty good. I was motivated to read another Suarez title after enjoying the Daemon series.

In the story an American ant researcher McKinney in Africa narrowly escapes a drone attack in the middle of the night. She's saved by a shadowy operative named Odin and his very well trained special forces style group. There have been sporadic drone attacks across the United States and Odin says he is on a mission to track their source after saving Professor McKinney. The liberal, peace activist academic McKinney turns out to be important to the emerging "drone war" because of her research and software model on weaver ants turns out to be applicable on a larger scale with drones.

As usual with Suarez it's a bit hard to figure out who are the good and bad guys. The US government and its heavy reliance on private contractors whose loyalty is to profit, I couldn't really tell if Odin and his team were trustworthy.

Suarez in his style takes some emerging trends such as drones and autonomous software agents and moves it forward in a compelling near future science fiction. He sees drones becoming smaller, around the size of lawnmowers or dolphins. Manufactured in large numbers from off the shelf components, suddenly nations like China can undermine US technology and military economic supremacy and upset the geopolitical balance.

It was a good story. It takes a while to get untracked. The author finishes strong in the last 100 pages or so. I think the biggest knock is that it was so hard to follow up to the Daemon which was so good. Although Suarez doesn't do as good a job of developing the characters. I found them cardboard, lacking dimension, and I just didn't connect with or care about them all that much. I kept hoping Mosely, the Major, Loki or the Daemon itself would make an appearance and liven things up and bring the characters to life. My favourite characters were the ravens Huginn and Muninn.

Still it was a good book and worth reading. The stuff about drones makes you think. His observations on possible implications of drones in naval warfare was quite interesting