People shocked with reality from reality TV star.

hillbillies

 

To all the people expressing shock and horror with the candor from one of the stars in the reality TV series Duck Dynasty this week all I can ask is: What the hell did you expect?

Did people really think that the backwoods Louisiana family depicted in the A&E series were actually longbearded hipsters with some sort of politically correct Wiccan spiritualism that embraced tolerance and a strong understanding of the world at large?

I think some people need to get out more and not just the backwoods types. The people who are demonstrating an ignorance here are the urban living self-styled “progressives” who until now enjoyed what they thought was a sanitized version of how rich hillbillies live.

I guess we sort if set up that illusion in the 60s with the show pictured below.

bevhillbillies

 

I hate to break it to the shocked urbanist reality TV voyeurs who had previously been enjoying watching the Duck Dynasty family but the family pictured above is actually a bunch of actors. The family in Duck Dynasty is for real.

I have spent a great deal of time working in the Appalachians in this last few years. As I type I am in a hotel room in rural Pennsylvania. I can assure you that what you heard coming from the fellow on Duck Dynasty is pretty tame when compared to some of the views that some backwoods locals have shared with me at times. For somebody to to hold intolerant views and to take a literal approach to the bible is actually not all that uncommon in many rural areas. Get over it folks.

It was that strange world outlook that made the family in Duck Dynasty so quaint and appealing to viewers. How dare they open their mouths with social views however!! Again folks, what the hell were you expecting?

By the way, before folks get on a high horse I have seen these attitudes from many Canadians too.

Personally I never thought much of the show. I think camouflage outfits only belong on military personnel or people actually in the act of hunting. Unlike the hyperventilating folks jumping on the condemnation bandwagon with Duck Dynasty however I am tolerant. Live and let live. I really don’t give a shit what the social views of a Louisiana hillbilly are.

What were people seeking from that show? Social and spiritual guidance? The meaning of life? Will you now move on to Pawn Stars to seek deep spiritual revelations and philosophies? I am afraid that you are in for disappointment.

Do I care that A&E has suspended the guy? No, I don’t really care about that either. They are a private company. They can hire and fire whoever they like. This is not an offense of freedom of speech. Phil Robertson is still free to hold his views and to speak them, he just no longer has A&E as a platform to promote them. I couldn’t care less if A&E takes him back either.

The only thing that has gotten me worked up is the Pollyanna “well I never!” faux-outrage from the idiots who are all pissed off about this.

If people really want to battle intolerance from bearded backwoods bigots, may I suggest that they start with the fellow below and his compatriots. The last I heard they were still executing gay folks in his mountain land. Tying your balls in a knot over the open views of a harmless reality TV star isn’t really changing anything.

muslimhillbillyOh and I may as well bust one more myth for reality TV fans. The friendly folks encountered by the guys on American Pickers (I do like that show) are staged to a degree and fictional. I can assure you from personal experience that more often than not when you approach a yard overflowing with junk and personal treasures that the homeowner is paranoid, well-armed and crazier than the proverbial shithouse rat. Sorry to break that to you but I would hate to see a person walk up to a hoarder’s door unexpectedly and learn the hard way that the person is not exactly interested in visitors or selling their stuff.

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City of Calgary’s war on cars getting ridiculous.

Macleod Trail

I honestly have to wonder if the plan to close an entire lane on downtown Calgary’s section of Macleod Trail (1 St SE) in order to put in a bike track is not a bait and switch tactic. Perhaps the plan is to get people so worked up with this profoundly stupid plan that Calgarians will sigh in relief when our ideologues in city planning decide to move the lanes over to 4 St SE in that precious parking lot of subsidies that they call “East Village”. The question on most people’s minds when it comes to this plan is; “Can they really be that stupid?”. Sadly the answer is yes.

Let’s look at some numbers right now to dispel some of the weak bullshit that proponents of this pending traffic catastrophe are using in order to justify this idiocy. Last spring the city took a lane of parking from 7 St. SW and created a separated bike track. I checked it out and didn’t find it too bad aside from a lack of cyclists actually using it. The lane came at tremendous expense as our cities finest needed to have 10 people to paint a simple box. It’s done, the lane is now there and we are expected to get over it.

Well in a matter of a few months the city has compiled some numbers and now is claiming that traffic flow has increased on 7 St SW due to the bike track. At best that is a half truth. Traffic flow on 7 St. SW has increased but that has been due entirely to the city finally synchronizing the traffic light system there and has nothing to do with the lane itself. Those lights could (and bloody well should) have been synchronized with the same effect on traffic flow without a bike track being placed at all.

Some are trying to spoon-feed us the horsepoop that this justifies the crazy plan to close an entire traffic lane on one of downtown Calgary’s busiest streets and that this will actually aid traffic flow on Macleod Trail South. Macleod Trail South (1 St SE) and 7 St. SW are completely incomparable as city transportation corridors and it is nothing less than utterly disingenuous to try and compare them as many are trying to do.

To begin with, the lane taken to use as a bike track on 7th St. SW was a parking lane, not a driving one. If anything, just the loss of people stopping and meddling around to parallel park eased flow a little bit. If traffic flow was the real goal, it could likely have been doubled simply by getting rid of the parking lane and opening it up to vehicular traffic along with synchronizing the traffic lights. Many drivers now choose to use other streets to drive rather than the one with the bike track as well which contributes to increased flow on 7th but decreases flow wherever they have spilled to of course. To reiterate, the bike track itself had nothing to do with the increase in traffic flow on 7th St. SW.

Next, 7th St. SW was one of the least used streets in all of downtown Calgary. It is a short connector of a street with only a couple lanes that only moved about 5,000 cars per day. Macleod Trail South (1 St. SE) in the city core however moves over 25,000 vehicles per day and is one of the most critical arteries in the entire core. The proposed area for this ludicrous bike track is not a parking lane, it is a traffic lane and it is heavily utilized. To squash thousands and thousands of cars into even less lanes will impact traffic on all of the roads feeding this critical route as well. Anybody who works downtown knows just how fun it is to try and turn on to 1 St SE during rush hour. Now imagine that task with one less lane and a ridiculous two way bike lane in the way. We can count on increased traffic jams on 4th Ave, 6th Ave and so on as people desperately try to adjust to this loss of critical infrastructure. There are bus stops on one side of the street and will be bike tracks on the other. Over 25,000 vehicles will be squashed in between as there is no comparable egress from downtown nearby.

The statement that the transportation planning is anti-car is quite well justified when looking at this lunacy from them. To purposely target the busiest street in all of Calgary to accommodate 1% of commuters proves this point rather well. Why the hell is it impossible to synchronize traffic lights throughout the city anyway? Oh yeah, our planners are focused on traffic “calming” rather than flow. In the last 20 years the percentage of people who choose to commute to work on bikes in Calgary has remained at a flat 1% range despite a huge increase in bike infrastructure.

There will always be a hardy one in a hundred souls who want to ride a bike to work all year round. That number has not grown however and it simply will not. People will not give up their cars and ride bikes to work no matter how hard our city tries to pressure them to. Do we really expect a middle aged person in the suburbs to decide to spend an extra two hours of their day riding a bike back and forth to work in the snow downtown? How about in summer? How many folks do you think will ride a bike for 15km each way in 30 degree heat? Do they all have the time and means to shower and change every day at work or will they funk it out? We have to get realistic here.

If city transportation planning really isn’t anti-car, then why does cycle infrastructure always seem to come at the expense of vehicle infrastructure that is already heavily in use?

As a growing city, we have pressures on our transportation infrastructure. Our freespending mayor loves using that as an excuse to keep up his lobbying for record tax increases. We will get much more bang for our buck in transportation infrastructure if we began planning and building it to reflect the real needs and wants of commuters. That would require having city hall dropping their anti-car agenda however and I am not sure if and when that may happen.

As a final note, it is not like we shouldn’t have seen this coming. The city planners released a plan to run a bike lane at the expense of as many as two automotive lanes down the entire length of Macleod Trail. Don’t underestimate their capacity for ideologically driven foolishness.

 

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Time to put Canada Post and it’s union out to pasture.

cupw

Reality is quickly catching up with Canada Post as the obsolete Crown Corporation continues to bleed record losses every year. $129,000,000 went down the hole in the last quarter alone and these huge losses will only grow as electronic communications and an ever efficient private sector fills the void where conventional mail used to be.

On top of these losses that the taxpayer will surely end up paying, Canada Post is carrying a $6 billion pension deficit with no realistic means in sight to pay that out. This monster of a debt that accumulated through decades of buying labor peace through unrealistic pension promises will surely be biting us all soon. That growing black hole will only get worse as long as Canada Post is in operation.

Along with technological realities making the services of a Crown postal carrier obsolete, Canada Post has been burdened with one of the most activist and self-destructive unions in the country. CUPW used to gleefully strike just before Christmas every few years. In holding the country hostage at holiday time, huge pension obligations grew and letter carriers became grossly overcompensated for what truly is unskilled labor.

I remember well in the 90s when a tipping point was hit with the postal union. Postal workers made a great deal of noise as usual and hit the streets with the usual demands of more compensation for less work. What CUPE had not realized at that time is that the fax machine had removed business dependency on them for document delivery and things such as telephone banking were beginning to take hold. Consumers found the postal strike to be an annoyance at best as opposed to crippling as such strikes used to be. After some time picketing to an indifferent populace, the postal workers returned to work with their collective tails between their legs. Following that strike loss, Canada Post actually managed to profit for a few years as they could restructure with a cowed and humbled union. That was simply putting off the inevitable though as technology simply continued to advance and need for postal services declined.

The Canadian Union for Postal Workers should have been watching out for their workers and working with Canada Post to try and restructure the company for the future. Instead of using such foresight, the union went on extreme left wing activist crusades that were totally unrelated to their mandate of labor such as an ongoing and fervent CUPW campaign against Israel. Opportunity has passed and now the layoffs of the workers that the union was supposed to be protecting will be in the thousands (and Israel still exists).

Canada Post is rightly phasing out home delivery which will lead to the loss of 8000 jobs. That is simple reality and this can’t be fought. Letter delivery will be going up to as high as $1 as rates must be hiked dramatically in a vain hope of achieving solvency. While this increase in service charges is clearly needed, it will also speed up the process of people leaving conventional mail delivery behind.

In their usual bizarre manner, the idiotic Postal Union feels that Canada Post should expand into financial services and banking. I can think of few ways where billions more could be lost and pinned on the taxpayer. Why don’t those clowns pool their union dues and start their own damn bank and show us how it’s done then?

It is time to work on an exit strategy. There really is nothing that Canada Post provides that the private world can’t do (and usually does better).

The billions in pension debt will surely be a disaster as it is. Let’s end the growth of that debt and the ongoing burden to the taxpayer of constant Canada Post operating losses while we can. Things are not going to turn around.

The next dinosaur on the Crown Corporation list is the CBC but that is a matter for another post.

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Desperately seeking relevance.

neil

It is sort of sad to behold. Neil Young was once an A-list celebrity. He packed stadiums and wrote songs on political issues of the times. Young was respected and honored by music fans and political activists alike. Decades have passed now though and what we see is a shell of the artist that was Neil Young in the midst of a late-life crisis trying to create himself an issue to get his name back into the mainstream.

With no low hanging fruit such as the war in Vietnam or soldiers killing protesting students in American universities, Young has decided to jump on the anti-energy bandwagon and go after Alberta’s oilsands. One would wish that Neil had educated himself a little better on the issue but I guess that really was never his intent.

Neil Young embarrassed himself by referring to Alberta’s oilsands as being comparable to Hiroshima after he made a whirlwind visit to Fort McMurray with washed up actress Daryl Hanna last summer. Rex Murphy (a true Canadian legend) excellently wrote on Young’s hypocritical idiocy here.

During Neil Young’s tour of Fort Mac, he hired a local photographer and chartered a helicopter to get some footage of the area. The disillusionment and disappointment in Neil Young was very evident in a great piece written by the photographer he contracted. He had looked forward to working with Young and showing how things work and look in Fort McMurray. Moen’s discovery of Young’s close-minded focus on trying to create the image of a wasteland was an eye-opener for him and well worth the read.

Now Neil is going to hold a series of concerts entitled: “Honor the Treaties” with the proceeds going towards a legal fund for the Chipewyan natives to fight against the oilsands.

While Neil Young has made it clear that he has no interest in actually pursuing facts in his little self-serving, anti-progress crusade, one would wish that he would wipe the crud from his rheumy eyes and actually read the treaties between Canada and native bands (most Canadians should actually). There is no anti-oilsands clause and there are no violations of treaties happening up there. If indeed we “Honored the Treaties” literally as Young believes we should, the natives up there would be decimated.

Here are all of the relevant treaties in one easy list. They are not being violated.

What the oilsands are actually doing is providing hope for a future for Canadian natives in Northern Alberta. What do Californians like Young and Hannah really think that those people will do up there without local resource development? The fur trade is not coming back and a lifetime of welfare is not exactly a goal to aspire to. The oilsands are employing thousands of natives in Alberta and providing countless opportunities for social and economic improvements up there. Young is like so many of the latte set in that they want some sort of feel good zoo of aboriginal people all living happily as they apparently had 300 years ago living off the land and dying at the ripe old age of 28. These celebrities can then pat themselves on the back at having preserved Indians of the North like so many whooping cranes or some other creature. The concept that these are actually people who need to earn a living is utterly lost on them.

Go away Neil. Retire with a little grace. You made a mark and now you are sullying your own legacy through an ignorant and self-serving activist effort which will harm the very people that you claim to want to help. It is pathetic to watch.

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WestJet, doing business right.

As a person who is constantly flying I can tell you that there is a great deal of truth to the rule that it is the little things that matter. WestJet has continued to grow and expand even in those post-911 years while Air Canada continued to lose money, whine for taxpayer bailouts and demand preferential treatment on the allotment of gates at airports. While both airlines provide pretty much the same services, the differences in the provision of them are profound when you are the air traveler. The most glaring difference is simply attitude. Air Canada has a well earned reputation for surly service and unreasonable lineups while you feel like they are doing you a favor for simply answering a question. Air travel can be a harrowing experience at the best of times and dealing with Air Canada people can truly compound what is already a bad day.

WestJet has always focused on service and getting you from point A to point B with no frills but with as little stress as possible. Their perky service and in flight jokes can be a bit hokey, but they make the experience much more tolerable and they have built a loyal and growing client base on it.

The recent WestJet promotion with the Santa and gifts was nothing less than brilliant. This is the sort of idea (and willingness to follow through on it) that sets WestJet apart from the others. If you haven’t seen the viral video below, it is well worth a watch.

I encountered a cynical person on twitter who took terrible offense to this initiative last night. He howled on about how Air Canada does charities and that this WestJet thing is just a crass publicity stunt. He yelped about a TV being given to a man in a $600 jacket (apparently only people wearing rags should have gotten gifts). I suspect that this gentleman works for Air Canada (probably a union shop steward or something) and his attitude of bitterness and spitting out at this initiative perfectly demonstrates how Air Canada indeed just doesn’t get it.

Yes, this was a promotion that had the promotion of WestJet in mind in the end of things. Welcome to capitalism. This promotion brilliantly used social media and a true human element in order to go viral as it did. The effort was not disingenuous on the part of WestJet and that is why it has been embraced. As a company they do truly care (as much as any company can). It has been years of these kinds of efforts that have made it so that people in general do accept the human side of things with WestJet as being genuine.

The video is nearing a million views as I type and I expect that it will spread further as it goes international. It really was that good and striking as a promotion. WestJet does a whole pile of charitable works too as can be seen here, but it is the little things like the Santa idea and video that really add up.

For the above effort as well as countless other small things done by WestJet I will continue to go out of my way to use WestJet as much as possible. I do hope that WestJet’s competitors can learn from WestJet rather than keep trying to lash out at them.

Merry Christmas

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