A repugnant anti-Christian display in Alberta

IMG_20140916_143449

In the selfie above, it can be seen that I sport a tattoo of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was formed in 2005 in response to a ridiculous court ruling in Kansas that called for the teaching of “Intelligent design” alongside the teaching of evolution in science classes in public schools. The rationale was that nobody can prove that God didn’t create the Earth thus it must be given equal footing in science class. A brain-dead judge in Kansas agreed. Nobody can prove that the Flying Spaghetti Monster PBUH didn’t create the Earth either thus the church of FSM made an excellent point along with some great humour. More information on FSM can be found here.

What the picture demonstrates aside from my having a bad haircut and even worse taste in tattoos is that I am not a Christian by any means and am strongly opposed to seeing theology integrated into the public school system again. I have little use for any organized religion in general but do feel that people indeed have every right to believe in whatever fairy tale that they like as long as they never feel the need to have the state impose the delusion of their choosing upon others. This is why my ire is most often directed at the crescent moon rather than the crucifix when it comes to these matters.

Having established my lack of faith in Christianity, I will state clearly that I am not supporting the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta either. I have no simple photo to demonstrate that but there are dozens of postings on this site that pretty clearly demonstrate where I stand on things.

Now, on to the anti-Christian crap that has annoyed me. Premier Jim Prentice appointed Gordon Dirks as Alberta’s next Education Minister and this has caused elements on the left to go haywire calling the appointment controversial, inappropriate and even outrageous.

Why is the appointment of Dirks such an outrage? It is not that he is not well qualified. Dirks served over a decade as a trustee with the Calgary Board of Education, has a masters degree in education from the University of Regina. and served in multiple cabinet roles in the Saskatchewan government. Dirks has no record of controversy or extreme views so what the hell is the problem?

The problem is that Gordon Dirks is openly and unapologetically Christian!

Dirks has not called for bringing religion into the classrooms nor shown any indication that he wants to do so. He has not been a part of any of the crazy Street Ministries in Calgary or led any loony marches. All he has done is dare be open about his faith.

If Dirks starts moving towards trying to integrate church with government or classrooms I can assure you that I will be in the front of the line demanding that he be fired as minister at the very least. Until then though, the only real basis of opposition to this man is an overt and rather offensive anti-Christian outlook.

It has been said before and it is worth saying again, would these usual suspects be calling his appointment scandalous due to his faith if he were Muslim, Hindu or Jewish? Not for a second of course because those on this anti-Christian bandwagon are simply being shallow, hypocritical, anti-Christian assholes. Really folks, bigotry is bigotry no matter what faith you are pointing at. It is the actions one needs to be concerned with rather than the faith and we have not seen any controversial actions or intent from Dirks.

We are a free nation. That means that a person’s faith should not impact whether they qualify for a job or not. Do these anti-Christian folks not realize that when they say a person is not fit for cabinet due to their faith that this is the exact sort of prejudice that they love sending people to the Human Rights Commissions for?

Irony or hypocrisy it is distasteful all the same. The same crowd of folks who support people being dragged before Human Rights Commissions for the supposed crime of publishing cartoons feel that it is OK to disqualify a person from a position solely based on what their faith is.

The other thing that is annoying me here is that this display of anti-Christian attitudes is giving credence to idiots like Craig Chandler who like to claim that those who don’t like them must be “Christaphobes” Chandler just called me that name last week as a matter of fact. Just to clarify, my issue with Craig Chandler is not that he is a Christian. My issue with Craig Chandler is that he is a belligerent, unprincipled asshole who is poisoning Alberta’s entire political atmosphere. Let’s not give guys like Craig more excuses to play the victim here.

Being secular means keeping religion out of government, it does not mean keeping people who have religions out of government. I think that some of those folks who have been so outraged at the appointment of Dirks need to take a good long look into a mirror and think about who really is the intolerant one here.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Let’s get real on secondary suites in Calgary

lawnpark

Every time secondary suites come before city council in Calgary, we hear the usual chorus bemoaning the status of secondary suites in the city. The process is indeed tedious and not an efficient use of city council time as every suite application comes before council for discussion for approval or rejection. There is no doubt that this is a terrible system of approval and it needs reform. That being said, this does not justify the radical changes to zoning that the secondary suite obsessed want to see throughout the city.

Nenshi has a vocal cult following and secondary suites have always been a frustrating pet issue of his. This of course has led to quite the crusade over the years by his faithful to push to have secondary suites legalized throughout the entire city. Every year the hype gets louder and if these zealots were to be believed, everything from homelessness to nose-warts would end if only those darned stubborn NIMBYs in the city would allow widespread secondary suites.

What we have is a mess in the system for approval and regulation that indeed needs to be addressed. The potential benefits of widely legalized secondary suites have been grossly exaggerated by proponents for years though and we have to get back to reality here.

To begin with, how many new secondary suites would Calgary really gain if they were legalized throughout the city? A study back in 2008 estimated that there were 50,000 to 80,000 “illegal” suites in the city already. In the six years since then the city has grown of course so those numbers are likely higher. What this tells us is that those who want to build secondary suites are building them already despite current regulations. Clearly whatever legislation there is against secondary suites is of little to no deterrent for people who want to build these suites. Getting realistic, how many more suites could we expect if the suites were legalized? To be blunt, not a hell of a lot.

The numbers above do not mean that there is no benefit to legalization of more suites, but it does demonstrate that legalizing suites will not be the panacea to solve issues of high rents and homelessness in the city as the fanatical pushers of these suites like to imply they are. The supply really won’t grow by that much.

druh

 

Druh Farrell has long been a strong proponent of the mass legalization secondary suites throughout the city. Druh loves to wax on about the misery of tenants living in illegal suites as they have limited protections in landlord/tenant issues and can often live in unsafe conditions. Druh then loves to point out how high rents are and how limited availability is within the city. The true depth of Farrell’s rationale came to light in a radio interview though when she vapidly went into circles in confusion when confronted with the reality that if we found and regulated all of these illegal suites as she wants us to that we would actually end up with less suites and much higher rent. Druh and her ideological kin have always had something of a deficit when it comes to the concept of supply and demand.

We may have as many as 100,000 “illegal” (grey market) suites in the city of Calgary. Likely well over 75% of them need at least some upgrades to bring them to code in a legal and regulated market. Bringing a suite up to code in Calgary can range in cost anywhere from $10,000 to over $100,000. It simply isn’t cheap. Landlords who find themselves confronted with the sudden legal need to upgrade these suites will have to choose between closing the suite and evicting the tenants or doing the renovations and raising the rent considerably to recoup their costs. Landlords are not charities people. The bottom line is that we will either lose a suite or costs will rise. Neither of those two options aids in availability of suites or rental costs of course (that supply and demand thing). We need to work to ensure that suites are safe but let’s not pretend that enforcement won’t have a very big impact on supply.

Now the next question is whether or not a big market of prospective landlords is waiting in the wings just salivating at the prospect of opening a secondary suite but has not done so yet because it is illegal. The city of Calgary waived their ridiculous $4,500 application fee which is a good thing. This led to what was described as a “rush” by homeowners to apply for rezoning. How many applications were in this “rush”? 11!!! Yes, folks even with free application costs the grand total of initial applicants for zoning was 11 people. There were a couple dozen more pending. We are speaking numbers in the dozens in a city of well over a million people. Folks who want to rent secondary suites are already doing so in the grey market and will continue to no matter what the regulations.

We need some degree of oversight and regulation on where we will or will not allow secondary suites. Some neighborhoods simply are not well designed to handle them. Some people purposely seek out neighborhoods with low numbers of rental properties and they pay a premium to live in these neighborhoods. These people have a right to speak up and be concerned if the city wants to suddenly change the deal in zoning. The fervent followers of Nenshi spit out the NIMBY term at such folks of course but it has to be kept in mind that most of those followers are hipster renters who dwell in the Beltline who have little regard for the property values or taxation of others. These are issues that cant be dismissed.

There is a great deal of overreaction to prospective suites too. As I pointed out, there really are not that many folks who want to open new suites out there and having a suite or two on your block wont be a disaster by any means. Stuffing 10 suites into a cul-de-sac however will cause havoc and that is why rezoning still has to be considered case by case even if not by city council itself.

There is a need to reform policy on secondary suites in Calgary. Let’s set aside the zealous density ideals though and be rational about what needs to be done and what benefits can be gained. If one’s concerns are about availability and cost of living in the city, they should aim their guns at the essential suburban land freeze that Nenshi’s administration is practicing. The effect that broadly legalized secondary suites will have on homelessness and cost of living in Calgary will be negligible at best.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Legitimacy of next Progressive Conservative leader already in question

ballot

The lackluster race to lead the governing Progressive Conservative Party is finally coming to an end tomorrow. Thanks to the Westminster System, the person selected by the membership of the party will essentially automatically become the Premier of the province of Alberta. Unfortunately due to a series of terrible decisions in setting up the system for the leadership election, we will never be confident of the legitimacy of whomever ends up elected in this mess.

I served on the three person committee that managed the election of Danielle Smith as leader of the Wildrose Party in 2009. I learned many lessons through the course of that race. The hardest lesson for an idealist like me was accepting that even in an internal race there are many people who are eager to stretch and break rules in order to win. While most people have personal principles that would prevent this, sadly many will do whatever they can to try and gain an edge for their team. For example, one of the teams in the Wildrose leadership race literally signed up multiple dead people as members. This was caught and internal discipline was enforced. One day I will go into more full detail about some of the stunts attempted in that race.

Because of the reality that some will try to abuse the system, some checks and balances were built into the system to try and reduce or eliminate abuses.

1. In the Wildrose Party, aside from immediate family members, all members must purchase their own membership.

This one can be tough to manage but with the checks below, one can see how bulk buying of memberships is difficult in a properly run leadership system.

The Prentice team initially denied and then admitted to buying memberships for others. While the practice of buying memberships for others is frowned upon by most, it is not technically wrong in the PC leadership election system. I will explain below why this is a huge problem.

2. In the Wildrose race, after a period of time, the membership lists of all teams were shared for the remainder of the campaign. In the PC race this is not happening.

Leadership races put a huge strain upon the resources of the party. Teams typically hold their membership sales tight until the last minute and then literally dump tens of thousands of them on the party at once to be processed. Just entering these memberships into the system alone is a Herculean task, scrutinizing the veracity of the members effectively is nearly impossible for the party itself. This is where sharing the lists with the teams is critical.

Who better to check the lists of members and how they were signed up than competing leadership teams? You can rest assured that volunteers in the different leadership teams in the Wildrose were dedicated to scrutinizing the new lists of members for discrepancies the moment that they got these lists. This is indeed how some of the small but still egregious abuses of the system came to light in the Wildrose leadership race. It was the knowledge that these lists would be shared that kept some of the unprincipled from abusing the system in any large way. They knew that if there were 50 memberships coming from the same household or if one person was signed up 6 times with slight differences in the spelling of their names that alarm bells would go off so they didn’t even try.

In refusing to share the membership lists among the teams, the PC party has invited abuse and we know it is happening. The only questions are the degree of the abuse and how it may or may not have affected the outcome of the race. We likely will never be able to find out.

3. The Wildrose invited scrutineers to be present for every aspect of the vote counting. Now to be fair, one unprincipled team actually took advantage of that for their own benefit and I will indeed write in detail about that down the road. Either way, for the most part having representatives from leadership teams present helps prevent counting abuses and such. As with the membership lists, nobody is better to police the rules in these regards than the teams themselves. The PCs are not allowing such scrutiny which is very distressing.

4. The PCs are using a telephone/internet voting system.

There are countless essays and articles about why these systems are terrible and ripe for abuse. I will let the reader google that should they want more information as my posting is getting lengthy enough.

Aside from cracking the system itself, the phone/internet system of voting also allows anonymity in voting which makes abuse terribly easy.

Let’s say for example I was an unprincipled supporter of one of the campaigns and I had deep pockets for some reason. Let’s say I have access to voters lists from elections Alberta. I could theoretically sign up hundreds or possibly thousands of people for memberships without their knowledge. All I would have to change would be the email address to send the PIN for voting to which is an option in the system. The party’s only check is that the name and address matches the electors list. With the members list reaching the party at the last minute, no physical mail would reach the unknowing new member until the race was over. Communications would come through the email address. With online voting and over the course of a couple days, one person alone could vote countless times and how would they be caught? Scrutineers wont catch it as the party is not allowing them.

The provincial Liberals, Alberta Party and federal NDP all did remote voting in their last races. The turnout for all of those races were dismal so what is the reason to go with this terrible system?

As I type this we are hearing all sorts of reports about how the system is getting overloaded and people cant get their votes in. Odd in mid-day on a weekday. One would think most prospective voters would be working.

The voting system is turning out to be a gong-show of a disaster and the voting has only been going on for a few hours now.

In light of the huge exploits I have demonstrated above, how could anybody really be sure that whoever wins the race has done so fairly? The PC party is already reeling from years of scandals and have lost the trust of many Albertans. What they needed was a leader elected to refresh the party and get off to a principled start. This is impossible now as we will never be able to be sure if that leader was legitimately elected.

Opportunity lost again.

 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Is there anything Albertan that Alison Redford actually likes?

I think that most can agree that one of the main causes of Alison Redford’s downfall was that she didn’t endear herself to pretty much anybody. It is hard to imagine a person in public service getting into such a high position while being so abrasive to all but Redford managed to pull it off. What Redford proved though was that while a miserable person can manage to get to a high position in public office they simply don’t have a hope in hell of maintaining it in the long run. Due to countless incidents and clashes with staffers, press, opposition members and even her caucus members, when tough times came for Redford she found herself with utterly no allies. The race to throw Redford under the bus by her own compatriots was unprecedented. Nary a voice has been heard to try to make even a weak defense for Redford and this is not for lack of defenses (politicians can always come up with some excuse). The reason nobody is coming to Redford’s defense is simply that nobody likes her.

redbean

Some folks have tried to point out that Ralph Klein routinely abused the provincial aircraft as if this somehow justifies Redford’s abuse of them. It is a sad justification of the abuse and really only proves that Progressive Conservative entitlement has been alive and well in government for a long time. It does bring an interesting question though, how did Klein get away with such abuses with only minor critique when similar actions outright destroyed Alison Redford? The simple answer is that people liked Ralph Klein.

When Klein got himself into trouble (and he often did), he had a masterful knack of extricating himself with an apology and a promise not to do whatever he had done again. That tended to close the matter and we moved on to other things. The reason Klein could do so is that his caucus and a great many of the Alberta public genuinely and simply liked Ralph Klein a great deal. Ralph had allies when the crap hit the fan. Redford had positioned herself to be all alone and it cost her everything.

Politics is a popularity contest no matter how some may wish it wasn’t so. Policy is important but the person presenting that policy is even more important.

So why did people like Ralph Klein so much when Alison Redford earned herself almost universal provincial scorn? The bottom line is that it was clear and evident at all times that Ralph Klein loved Alberta and loved Albertans. It is much harder to dislike somebody when they clearly like you and it is much easier to forgive their errors when they do. Ralph was one of us for better or for worse.

Alison Redford never really appeared to like Albertans. She seemed to suffer the necessity of us at best. Redford never seemed to leave her UN roots behind and felt that her world was to be an elite one of diplomatic functions where Albertans were there to serve her rather than the other way around. This was evident in Redford’s constant incredibly expensive world travel and her efforts to make sure she never had to travel with the unwashed. Redford spoke repeatedly on how she wanted to change Alberta’s culture. I don’t recall Albertans as a whole really asking Redford to change their culture. The only cultural change that Redford brought about was a short term aristocracy with her at the top which thankfully is over with.

The reason I am off on this tirade is a small thing I noticed in the latest FOIP release of information from the Redford Regime. This was from the communications of Redford’s personal travel scout for her globe trotting missions. I feel that trade missions are important but they do have to focus on promoting Alberta and Albertan products as opposed to preening in the diplomatic world of luxury that Redford did.

While on her $450,000 trip to India (the government site still bullshits and claims it cost $131,000), Redford’s very expensive personal travel scout reported: “Getting some intel on India gifting. I think ammonite will work here. I know it may not be premier’s favourite but gemstones are very popular.” This is actually some valuable information from this travel scout. Gifting is an important part of these sorts of missions. It is a sign of respect and it is an opportunity to promote items unique to your nation. This has been done since the days of medieval ambassadors.

It can be seen that the scout made a point to ensure that the translator doesn’t talk to Redford at any time. That gets back to that issue of why nobody really could find themselves liking her.

What is odd here though is that it is clear that Alison Redford does not like Alberta Ammonite (ammolite). Jewellery preference is a very subjective thing but that applies to what one wears personally. When it comes to gifts like this though, one has to look at what you are representing and promoting. Alberta ammonite gems are a growing industry with First Nations involvement. These gems are the rarest organic gemstone on earth as they are only found in Alberta. What could be better to promote on such a mission particularly when gemstones are very popular in the place you are visiting?

Well despite this sage advice, Redford chose to give watercolor paintings of grain elevators to the dignitaries. Art is nice to promote too but I wouldn’t be surprised if the paintings were done by a relative of Redford’s. Why deviate from the advice of the well paid scout? Honestly, why does Redford dislike this stone? Either way, Redford let her personal dislike of ammonite lead to losing an opportunity to promote this Albertan product while on her mission. Why was she supposedly there again?

redpaint

I have to give full disclosure here, my family is involved in the Alberta ammonite/ammolite business. We in partnership with members of the Blood Reserve have been mining and retailing in a manufacturing/retail outlet in Canmore. This is of course what made my ears perk up as soon as I saw the gem mentioned. It has taken decades for Alberta ammonite gems to get recognition worldwide but it has been steadily gaining popularity. Government has never really done the industry any favors unfortunately.

I will take advantage of this issue to segue into giving some background on this great stone though as it is better known internationally than it is right here in Alberta (and of course I will plug the family business).

ammonite

Ammonite is a fossilized nautilus from the cretaceous period around 70 or 80 million years ago. While ammonite fossils are found throughout the world, it is only in small portions of Alberta where the fossils demonstrate the brilliant colors as can be seen in the picture above. The best fields of these gems are on the Blood Reserve in the Saint Mary’s river area. When the gem is harvested from these fossils, it is then called “ammolite” which is why we see both terms used at times. The gem makes stones and pieces such as these below.

cab

finished

Tours and sales of course are available at the Ammonite Factory in Canmore. It makes for a great day trip and you can’t beat the mining/cutting direct prices provided.

Ahh, there are few things more satisfying than giving a well founded critique of Alison Redford while making a self-serving plug for the family business. ;-)

In summary, Redford’s abrasive personality and apparent dislike of most things Albertan led to her downfall and people should pop by the ammonite factory for a good deal on a unique gem.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Druh Farrell and her goofy anti-auto ideology yet again.

jaywalking-downtownThe tiny yet vocal anti-automobile crowd in Calgary love going on and on whenever an auto/pedestrian accident happens about how this is due to our sick car-culture and such. They love to paint a picture of Calgary’s streets as if it is a never ending scene of carnage with cars mowing pedestrians down at will. Due to the laws of physics, pedestrian vs. automotive collisions often do end in tragedy and we should examine ways to reduce these sorts of accidents as much as is reasonably possible. This is where anti-auto ideologues such as Druh depart from common sense yet again.

druh

This week’s incidents proved that people like Druh Farrell and her supporters don’t really care about pedestrian safety. Their goal is simply to attack personal automotive usage however possible.

If we truly want to look at reducing accidents involving pedestrians the approach has to be multi-facetted and look at a number of things. Infrastructure, traffic movement and the enforcement of traffic laws all are factors in road safety. The anti-auto set only wants to look at one factor however and that is personal automobiles. They endlessly call for traffic calming projects, reduced speed limits, increased enforcement of traffic laws against drivers and even the outright removal of many roads. What the anti-automobile gang never mentions however is that we need to crack down on reckless pedestrians too if we truly want to reduce collisions.

Construction is a pretty common thing in a growing city like Calgary. With construction, we occasionally have to close some sidewalks temporarily for reasons of space and safety. BOMA Calgary excellently explains all of that here.

Sidewalk closures are clearly marked with bright orange signs and a simple detour making people walk on the other side of the street is typically required. At a construction project at 7th Avenue and 5th Street, many pedestrians were lazily and dangerously ignoring the clearly marked detour and walking in the roadway rather than crossing the street as directed. This led to a great hazard for both drivers and pedestrians and led to complaints. This led Calgary police to set up and write 40 warnings and 90 jaywalking tickets.

peds

Are the signs bright enough? Is the detour not clear enough? I think the picture above says it all. It is even a short block and it is not like it is mid-winter when walking is uncomfortable.

The straightforward enforcement of traffic laws on pedestrians made the usual suspects in the anti-auto set go haywire on social media led by the ever vapid Farrell who tried to imply that the construction company was somehow at fault for these jaywalkers. Druh feels that the pedestrians are not 100% to blame in this and they are sometimes “forced” into traffic. Pardon me? Forced? How? Only by their own laziness. There is a perfectly safe crosswalk and more than enough signage to show them how to get there. Nobody was forced to break the law Druh.

Some called this a cash grab. Really? A few officers for a day issuing 90 tickets? How much was the net fiscal benefit of this? A fraction of that of any red light camera or speed on green I imagine. If they simply wanted to make money, there are many lucrative speed trap spots they like to set up in.

Some said that if the police really wanted to stop the jaywalking they would have stopped people from doing it before they jaywalked rather than waiting and ticketing them afterwards. Huh??? Does that mean the only way for officers to stop speeders is to tail vehicles to make sure they never do it? Can we only stop trespassers who ignore signs by standing there and stopping them? Do we need to assign a police officer to stand day and night at every sidewalk closure to inform people what those bright orange signs mean? No! The signs are clear. The police did exactly the right thing and set an example. If common sense won’t stop these jaywalkers, perhaps the threat of fines will.

Reducing pedestrian collisions requires increases enforcement of all traffic laws and that certainly includes jaywalking. If anybody claims that they want to reduce pedestrian/automobile accidents in Calgary yet opposes enforcement of laws against jaywalking that person is clearly and simply full of shit. Drivers who run red lights and go through crosswalks with pedestrians in them should be ticket just as idiot pedestrians who blindly step into traffic should.

If nothing else this weeks incidents proved yet again that folks such as Druh Farrell and her anti-automobile supporters are driven only by blind ideology as opposed to outcomes. Anybody who is outcome driven and truly wants to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities would have applauded the Calgary police service and their crackdown on jaywalkers.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

A great medium for political messages.

Just loving how social media is getting political messages out to new audiences in music videos whether through parody as the first couple below demonstrate or even in making economic philosophy palatable and fun as can be seen in the third video (one of my personal favorites).

 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

First Calgary Financial a sponsor of dangerous Cyclepalooza “Crowbomb” stunt.

Corporate responsibility is a term we hear often. That term can apply to what public events or actions a corporation may sponsor. I suspect that perhaps First Calgary Financial didn’t realize that in sponsoring the Cyclepalooza event in Calgary that the “festival” also included dangerous stunts such as the fourth annual “Crowbomb” action. That does not absolve First Calgary Financial of responsibility here. They really should research exactly what they are funding as the activity that they are funding reflects on the sponsor. As a shareholder and a citizen I am disappointed that First Calgary Financial has sponsored this event.

Here is a recap of what the Cyclepalooza “crowbomb” event involved.

cyclepalooza

Eight activists staged at a gas station in Marda Loop and then proceeded to aggressively and dangerously ride down Crowchild Trail in Calgary during rush hour. Cyclists purposely weaved in and out of traffic putting both themselves and innocent drivers at terrible risk as can be seen in the picture below showing one cyclist cutting off a large truck.

crowbomb-cutoff-2-copy

Fortunately for these activists, Calgary Police have decided not to charge them for this dangerous stunt at this time. In reading the quotes from Sgt. Mike ter Kuile of the Calgary police traffic response unit, it is clear that charges certainly could be possible and I suspect that they may be laid in any future events.

Sgt. Mike ter Kuile:

Sgt. Mike ter Kuile of the traffic response unit says he viewed the footage captured by Global Calgary and noted some of the things he saw — including bicycles weaving between vehicles — were dangerous and violated bylaws and rules under the Traffic Safety Act.

For example, cyclists must travel in single file and ride as close as practicable to the right curb, with both hands on the handlebars — unless signalling — and both feet on the pedals — unless stopped.

He said stunting charges are also possible in cases where cyclists are deemed to be causing a distraction to other roadway users.

He said stunting charges are also possible in cases where cyclists are deemed to be causing a distraction to other roadway users.

“In any contest with a 3,500 pound vehicle, you will lose,” ter Kuile added. “What right do you have to impact the motoring community by conducting yourself in this manner?”

 

 
The organizers within Cyclepalooza refuse to distance themselves from this clearly dangerous stunt. It can be hoped that responsible sponsors may do so. I hope that citizens and shareholders demand that First Calgary Financial and other sponsors stop sponsoring this activity. Liability has to be considered too. What if a cyclist or motorist got injured or killed in one of these events. Would the sponsors be held legally responsible?

firstcalgary

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Gian-Carlo Carra’s $100,000 “high-level rendering”

OK, it is hardly news when Gian-Carlo Carra and other members of the Flakey Four on Calgary city council waste the tax dollars and time of Calgarians. It is no shock that Carra want’s to transform a portion of his ward into some unpronounceable European modelled walkway at the expense of automotive infrastructure.

Gian-Carlo Carra has really outdone himself this time though when he went begging to city council for $100,000 to study this inane proposal a year ago and we are now presented with the “high-level rendering” below.

rendering

bathers

Yes, $100,000 and one year to create drawings that look like they were done by a 6 year old.

The rest of the “high-level” renderings can be found in a Metro article here. The quality and depth rivals the picture above.

Simple words such as “picnic” apparently are beyond the spelling ability of these folks doing this fine study and they depict nude sunbathers in the pictures too (not well drawn unfortunately).

There really is little more to be said about this. It is just another gross example of finite city of Calgary tax dollars being wasted on the whimsical notions of a city councillor. I really wonder what the tendering process is (if any) to do these six figure studies that take a year to draw stick people.

Just wanted to document this beauty so people have yet another thing to point at when Nenshi and his Flakey Four allies on Calgary city council (Druh Farrell, Brian Pincott, Evan Woolley and of course Gian-Carlo Carra) try to claim that we need to keep imposing record high property tax increases as there simply is no waste to be cut in city hall.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Too important to test! (according to teacher’s unions)

DiscoveryMath

The most effective way to send the Alberta Teacher’s Association (union) into apoplectic fits is to propose any possible means of testing the competence of individual teachers. The union has long battled all forms of standardized testing of students and has recently displayed nothing short of hysteria when the Alberta government dared to suggest that we should test teachers directly. This of course is simply because the Alberta Teacher’s Association is protecting a great number of incompetent teachers in the system and they know it.

Let’s get the usual statements and platitudes out of the way. Our children are our future thus the role of teachers is greatly important to us all. Teaching is a terribly difficult job. Alberta’s education system is critical to the future competitiveness of the province. Investing in education is investing in our future. Our children deserve the best.

All of the above statements are accurate. The Alberta Teacher’s Association (union) uses all of those statements as reasons why we must never test the competency of teachers. Anybody with a grain of common sense knows that the above statements demonstrate why it is vital that we test the competence of our teachers!

I should save on the use of parenthesis and clear one thing up right now. The Alberta Teacher’s Association is a union that tries to cloak itself as a professional association. The second an organization is empowered to collectively bargain and go on strike, it becomes a union no matter how it tries to portray itself. The prime mandate of unions is to protect the union members and it shows with the actions of the ATA. Professional associations will look out for the profession as a whole. In their vehement opposition of all forms of quality control in the classroom, the ATA has proven themselves to be nothing more than a union.

Professional associations strive to protect the integrity of their profession in working to ensure that all members meet a standard of quality and they will eject members who do not meet this standard. In 10 years, the Alberta Teacher’s Union has not found a single one of their 35,000 teachers to be incompetent. Really? Not a single one? Here is a word that I was not taught in school but it is the best one that applies here: Bullshit!

The Alberta Teacher’s Union is currently furious that our Education Minister has permanently barred some sex-offender teachers from teaching as well. That is how deeply the member protection instinct in the Alberta Teacher’s Union runs.

We all can remember our years in the education system. We all can remember some teachers who were incredibly talented and made an impact on us for life. We all can remember some who had to use slip-on shoes as tying laces was too much of a task for them.

I will run down the road of anecdotes here as I am sure that most will be able to nod their heads in understanding with similar experiences. I attended Banff Community High School in the 80s. It is a small school as demonstrated by our graduating class of 32 people in 88. This meant that teachers had to often take on multiple specialties. I had a math teacher who was incredible for my years there. This man’s presence was incredible. I was a pain in the ass student yet never dared mess around in this teacher’s class. Myself along with pretty much every student in this teacher’s class saw a spike in our math test markings as this talented man managed to make the most dry of courses understandable. Now in biology 20 I (and others in my school) had the opposite experience. The school’s regular biology teacher had taken maternity leave so the girl’s gym teacher was brought in to teach the course. This woman’s form of teaching was literally to write the textbook matter on the chalk board and expected us to copy it verbatim in our notebooks. We then would be tested and 60% of us failed. With nearly 2/3 (my math is still good) of us failing Bio 20 the course can be safely called a waste. I signed up for Bio 20 the next year and found to my horror that this same incompetent teacher was running the course. After two classes myself and over half of the class dropped the course. I still don’t have Bio 20 to this day. That worthless biology “teacher” was compensated and protected the same as that incredible math teacher. There are of course 10s of thousands of examples if this throughout the province.

Teaching is a calling and the talent within the best of teachers is innate rather than taught. Most of the best of our teachers were drawn to the profession immediately upon graduation. They love their work and are worth every penny (likely more) that they are compensated. Imagine the talent we could draw if we drove out the incompetent teachers and gave raises to the great ones. That of course would be merit pay which again terrifies unions.

There is a hard reality about many within the teaching profession that the union really doesn’t like to talk about. A huge number of teachers joined the profession as they simply saw it as a good paycheque that provided them with extended holidays throughout the year. Some of those who joined the trade for this reason are still great teachers but that number is much lower.

Did you ever wonder what happened to the schoolmate you had who drank his way through university while gliding into a degree of Ethiopian philosophy? Ever notice that while coffee shops are jammed with baristas with liberal arts degrees that few of them are over 30? Where did the person with the music degree or dance degree go when the garage band and stripper pole became tiring? Many of these people went back to school, picked up a teaching certificate and joined the high salary, profound pension world of Alberta teachers.

Not every person who decided to become a teacher as a secondary career choice is incompetent but let’s face it, many of them are. If we do want the best and brightest teachers in the system that we entrust our children to we have to test them and test them vigorously. The Alberta Teacher’s Union has failed terribly in monitoring the quality of their members (as can be expected) so it should not be a surprise that some want to see some outside testing of the quality of our teachers.

Ignore the BS from the Alberta Teacher’s Union whenever they cry the standard vapid: “its for the children!”. When it comes from the Alberta Teacher’s Union the reality is that it is always for the union members. The call is always for more pay, smaller class sizes (less work) and of course no outcome testing of students or performance testing of teachers. At least they are consistent.

While I am far from being a supporter of the Progressive Conservative Party by any means, I am fully supportive of Minister Jeff Johnson in that our teachers desperately need competence testing.

Our teachers are so important that their testing is critical.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Calgary’s war on cars now targets suburban park-and-ride users.

The ideologically driven transportation department in Calgary is hitting new lows in their war on cars as they now attack folks who park their cars in order to use transit. That’s right, it’s not good enough that people park their cars at LRT stations in suburban communities and take the train to work. These people are expected to walk, ride bikes or somehow find one of those rare, crowded and often pungent busses that will take them to the station.

The City of Calgary plans to remove 1250 stalls from Anderson LRT station!

Councillor Brian Pincott is of course absolutely giddy with this notion. He feels that the parking lot is not “walkable” enough. No surprise that he is one of the head members of the “Flakey Four” on city council.

I stopped by the Anderson LRT station today to take a few pictures. As can be seen below, the lot is already full beyond capacity to the point where people are desperately double parking and hoping to get overlooked by Calgary’s finest ticket issuers.

Anderson stationIMG552

It should be noted though, that the bike racks at the station languish empty as usual.

IMG553

So where are these 1250 commuters going to go? Whether Nenshi’s council like it or not, citizens simply are not going to abandon their cars no matter how hard they are pushed. This was proven with recent numbers showing that the vast majority of Calgarians prefer personal autos despite years of an anti-auto agenda from the Nenshi administration.

Cars are already overflowing into neighboring communities as the picture below demonstrates. Residential permit parking and mass enforcement may drive out these commuter refugees but they will still have to go somewhere.

IMG554Commuters can’t go one more station South as the Canyon Meadows park and ride is already full to overflowing (likely spaces next on the city hit list).

IMG555

The sad irony is that many of these displaced commuters will throw up their hands and just drive the entire way downtown rather than ride the train.

This sort of planning idiocy will also of course contribute to the growing trend of businesses relocating to areas like Quarry Park and up near the airport as downtown becomes increasingly unviable for employees. This of course increases the ongoing exodus of citizens to bedroom communities and the ever demonized “sprawl” accelerates.

To remove 1250 spaces from a lot that is already filled beyond capacity is a whole new level of stupidity from our city planners but I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

This is the city that is letting a homeless charity lose $350,000 per year purely due to their anti-auto agenda.

Eventually Nenshi will move on to his federal ambitions and the city will tire of his allies in the “Flakey Four”. How much damage will these ideologues cause to the city before they leave though?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,