I’m getting ever closer to accepting that I am not a politician by nature… part of that process is letting go of the self-censoring. If I want to say something that’s controversial, I should just say it. Life’s too short (at least it is now that I’m in my thirties) for continuous diplomacy. Rather than playing it safe and listening to people yawn whenever I open my mouth, I’m going to give people a chance to truly hate me… I mean TRULY… like sick to their stomach, shaking with disgust… that’s the hate I’m talking about. Or maybe people will like that I’m speaking my mind… it’s possible…
No real change in the city, even with large changes in council.
- Civic Election. I am pleased that Thomas Steen won Elmwood, because the NDP needs to learn that it doesn’t own a single piece of this city.
- Civic Election Redux. Wasn’t surprised to see Sam win again, since doing nothing while looking busy is one of the official passtimes of Winnipeg, His Worship being team captain.
- Bike Lobby. If I hear another mention of a project done “for the cyclists”, I will either vomit or simply descend into madness by perpetually paraphrasing Helen Lovejoy: “won’t somebody please think of the cyclists!”
- Roundabout/Traffic Circles/Turnamatrixes. Why did no one make any noise about the traffic circles? Not “we need a story for the news” noise, but serious “WTF is wrong with the traffic department?!” noise. “It’s just like Seattle”, I heard, but of course, Seattle does it based on citizen’s petitions and tends to actually install circles with dimensions that qualify as traffic circles. Who asked for these circles? Helen Lovejoy?
- North End shootings. What shootings? It’s okay… we all forget about what happened to people who don’t live in the suburbs.
- University of Manitoba. Winnipeg used to be made fun of for comical reasons, like our creative drivers and big game mosquitoes. But the U of M is trying its best to establish a new comedy routine. It appears that some degrees are now being granted based on the same selection criteria as pinning the tail on the donkey. I heard of someone who turned down a job at U of M to work in New Jersey! There may be a punchline in there somewhere, but right now I feel like crying.
- University of Winnipeg. (Proud alumni of sorts.) Not content to be the liberal arts college that time forgot, the U of W has decided to swallow up entire blocks in its urge to make gentrification and over-expansion a lifestyle choice. I like shiny new buildings, especially when they block out superb examples of brutalist architecture (that’s sarcasm, friends), but wouldn’t it make sense to put some energy into improving the quality of the education? Is U of W getting students because of academic excellence, or because for half the city the trip to U of M seems a little long?
- Rapid/Mass/Bus!Bus!Bus! Transit. I take the bus, but whenever I do, I feel like I’m kidding myself. It’s not really saving me money, and I’m not sure I can justify the extra forty minutes it adds to my commute. I saw someone I know taking the bus who is from all accounts wealthy and respected. But do you know what my first thought was, deep in my Winnipeg psyche? That guy must’ve gotten his license suspended; I didn’t realize he was such a drunk! And that, my friends, is why Bus Rapid Transit is not the right choice for Winnipeg. We’re just not bus people. That’s probably why city council likes to increase the price of bus fare every two weeks.
- Canwest Global’s Big Screen. Yes, I know this is old news, and that Canwest has gone the way of my political ambitions, but seriously: who actually thought people would watch a screen that doesn’t face traffic? It must be a big hit with the thirty people who work across the street, or the two guys who fish for cigarette butts in the garbage cans nearby. Of course, that could be their target demographic. I didn’t check how many commercials were for cigarette butt recycling operations.
- Canadian Museum for Human Rights. A museum about human rights in a city with what’s close to record-breaking levels of poverty, alcohol abuse, and untreated mental illness. That’s like a Museum of Hockey Greatness at Maple Leaf Gardens. Don’t worry, though… they’ve got most of their funding… by coercing government and crown corps (so more government) to hand over money. I’m not usually a “don’t go to space, solve Earth’s problems first” kind of guy, but I feel like a hypocrite just living in a far-from-perfect city with a human rights museum. I’m not saying that Winnipeg is a festering cesspool, but something about glass houses keeps popping into my head while I’m in the shower… which, by the way, interrupts my time thinking about hot pants.
Manitoba the Have-Not Province
This province and I have a love-hate relationship. It’s hard to see so much potential and so much disappointment.
- Budget Deficits. If we change the law, they’re no longer deficits. Next up: poverty now called “monkish asceticism”, adultery known as “creative fidelity”.
- Manitoba Hydro. Whistleblower says company is deluding itself; in fact, company is deluding itself, but by even bigger proportions. Does Bob Brennan have an all-marble office at the top of the Hydro Building? I don’t think I’ll ever be invited to find out. None of it matters, though, since our government can just bail out Hydro if things go wrong. And because we don’t actually admit to the existence of deficits…
- Drinking and Driving. People are dying at alarming rates, sometimes on their way to work, because some dumb f*** thought that sleeping on his friend’s couch was a fate worse than vehicular homicide. Why is this not a bigger issue? We’re madly in love with plug-in hybrids that may or may not work in our climate, but no one gives a crap about technologies that could prevent drunks from starting their cars. But wait, you say… the drunk could just get someone else to start their car… but I have a theory… when idiots let idiots drive drunk, it’s usually an indication that those initial idiots are also drunk. Would you stay up until five or six in the morning with a drunk a*** if you were sober? I know you may have counterarguments, which I’d then have to counter… but this is supposed to be point form, so move it along, okay?
- The Bodies Exhibit. Unclaimed bodies, Falun Gong prisoners… either way, those people did not give their consent, so they are victims of an indecent act. I read a comment about the exhibit: “Their bad luck is our good luck because this is something to be seen.” I like that comment. It’s like the Swiss banker who said “hey, look at all these thousands of gold teeth those nice Nazis just dropped off. It’s too bad their previous owners had to get rid of them, but hey, we’re making money!” Godwin’s Law notwithstanding, I do think this analogy is not as much of an overstatement as you may think at first. Because you don’t know where those bodies came from, and you do know that the Chinese government has been accused of harvesting organs from unwilling Falun Gong practioners. But wait, David Matas‘ paws were all over that report, too; isn’t he the guy who wants those exhibit bodies buried simply because Manitoba law states that the bodies can’t leave the province? What’s with that guy?
- Manitoba Slogans. I remember what happened the day that we became the land of Spirited Energy. The influx of new investment, business, and immigrants was up 500% from the day before. People felt like the slogan really captured what they were looking for, so they changed their life plans to be a part of the action. That’s how all the great centres of innovation and industry were formed:
- Rome, Italy – 1st Century BCE: “Roma, a dirty pit of disease and unemployment… but we do kill a lot of gladiators!”
- Oxford, England – 14th Century CE: “Students: come for the deadly riots, stay for the plague.”
- Silicon Valley, USA – 20th Century CE: “Only squares live in Boston.”
My point? Slogans are silly. They are either going to make us sound like the guy who is always last to be picked for intramural soccer, or they’re going to blatantly conflict with reality. Do you know what brings success to a region? Pre-existing success. How do you nurture and develop that initial success? There are a lot of ways, like education, incentives, culture… but generally NOT SLOGANS.
Country formerly known as the Dominion of Canada
I love this country, not just because I live here, but because I honestly can’t think of another country that’s as close as we are to getting things right.
- Bashing the Monarchy. We have a Queen for a reason. Her Royal Highness is detached and separate from normal society through wealth and privilege, FOR A REASON. We do not elect presidents in our country; we believe that people elected through money- and media-skewed popularity contests tend to be narcissistic and ambitious to a dictatorial fault. So we have a person who is outside of the “rat race” to be there to ensure that if things go very wrong in our political structure, that person (or a local representative of similar mindset) can step in and dissolve the whole bunch. It may not be an ideal solution, but anyone who followed US politics from 2000-2009 may agree that being a republic has an even uglier side than the occasional Heir to the Throne’s mention that he’d like to be reincarnated as a tampon.
- The NDP-Liberal Merger. There is no idea that would be quicker to kill the Liberal party than merger with the NDP. As Canadians base much of their identity on not being American, so do many Liberals base their political life as being different than the NDP. I like left-leaning Liberals, just as I like right-leaning Liberals… but the notion that cherished liberal beliefs should be set aside for the views of a party that exists for union members first and everyone else maybe sometime later is enough to make me start wondering if there’s enough progressive left in those Conservatives to make me a Harperista.
- Chicanery in the House of Commons. I would love to vote for a party that disciplined its members for showing a lack of decorum in the House and beyond. I’d like there to be a party that actually realized that this is an issue that is destroying any remaining respect that Canadians have for their politicians. At times I’ve said and done things that may not be in keeping with what I believe; it’s part of being human. But I don’t make a career out of it.
- Hatred of Quebec. What is this, 1995? I still hear that joke about building a wall around La Belle Province and filling it with water. Granted, it’s fun to make GOOD jokes about the Quebeckers when you’re among friends (like when you’re in Acadia; those people know some really good ones), but let’s be honest. What would Canada be without Quebec? Answer: North Dakota. A surprisingly beautiful place and good people, but no one goes there for the cosmopolitan atmosphere.
- Hatred of Aboriginals. We are all treaty people… there is no way around that. If you don’t like it, see if your distant relatives in Britain, Germany and/or the Ukraine will take you back. Oh, they don’t want you, either? Seriously, though… what would Canada be without Quebec and our aboriginal peoples? Well… we’d no longer qualify as North Dakota.
Miscellany. Its inclusion here is only to allow for the use of the word “miscellany”.
- Being Unfriended on Facebook. Why does it hurt so much? So VERY MUCH? Well, not that much, but when I saw that someone had dropped me it was worse than losing ten Twitter followers (hell, I’d unfollow me if I could). It’s like that person is saying that our friendship fifteen years ago didn’t mean a thing… I guess it didn’t, but to just go and unfriend me…
- Red Lobster. Who actually knows a group of people who are all willing to eat seafood? This is more a mystery than a complaint.
- Payday Loans. I hate that people profit from the poor financial decisions and situations of others, but I have trouble envisioning other ways for a person who needs two hundred bucks OR ELSE to get the cash. Why can’t there be more easy answers?
- Self-absorbed Bloggers. Self-important windbags born with silver spoons in their mouths, who type their rants about traffic circles and Facebook without actually wondering if they are contributing to society in a meaningful way. Couldn’t they be spending this time trying to cure cancer? Or reading to old people? Or cleaning up the fifteen garbage bags that they piled up next to their garage two weeks ago? Truly disgusting.
Note to startled onlookers: Not only was I not drunk when I wrote the above, but I even saved the draft and reviewed it later. I really have no explanation or defense for having pressed the Publish button.