Thursday, July 30, 2009

Don't Buy GM Vehicle

Even after Canadian Tax payers bailed out GM Canada, GM refuses to disclose executive compensation packages. Legally GM has no obligation to do so, however it's a moral issue as far as I'm concerned. Transparency is an over used term these days, but this is a great example of where transparency is needed.

If GM wants to take our money and they want us to buy their cars, they better recognize that they are accountable to all Canadian taxpayers and not just shareholders. Oh, I'm sorry ... I forgot there aren't anymore shareholders because they all got shafted.

Enough said.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gasp, Blech. Toronto Parks during Strike

This Saturday I read an inspiring article in the Toronto Star ( about a summer tradition of running in the Don Valley, through the various park systems and tails.

I've biked the trails for years, on and off road, but this year I've been avoiding them because the Taylor Creek entrance by my house is a designated temporary garbage dump during the civic strike. However the article was inspiring enough for me to try a run this morning in the Don, except that I'd enter from Laird Ave, up by Eglinton. I figure a posh area like that would be safe from garbage but I would be dead wrong.

As I descended into the park everything was great, except the uncut grass and abnormal amount of weeds I was happy. I headed east through Sunnybrook towards Taylor Creek. 4 Runners approached from behind and I overheard them debating about whether to tough it out or detour. I didn't understand what they were referring to, until the stench hit me. Rotten food, diapers and god knows what else.

It turns out the Park's parking lot at Eglinton and Leslie is also a temporary dump. WTF! One of TOs beloved parks which usually hosts weekend birthday parties, picnics and charity runs is now a garbage dump. Well, those four toughed it out, but I opted to run up to Eglinton and across to Don Mills. I'm not breathing that sh*t into my lungs.

This week has been raining like mad. So I'm left wondering what the long term environmental impact will be from the runoff. Thanks Local 416 and David Miller.
BTW Ferguson and Miller, you're both gonna be toast so start looking for a new job.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Something Spectacular

I was reading an article in the Toronto Star today about how the TTC needs to buy 4 new tunnel boring drills at a cost of $58 million to complete 13 km of a new subway line from Spadina to York region. Personally, I disapprove of this project because the City should not be funding transit for 905 region commuters. And clueless Mayor David Miller refers to this expense as a nominal cost.

Anyways, really Toronto should be planning something spectacular for the future. This subway line, although will be appreciated by York U students, won't do anything to alleviate downtown commuter congestion from GO transit, nor will it boost the image of Toronto to bring back tourists and investors.

I leave you will two images to drive home my point. Chicago Waterfront, courtesy of  world class design, planning and sticking to the plan. And Toronto, waterfront revitalization in limbo.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Apollo 11 40th Anniversary

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the first manned walk on the Moon. It is a tremendous achievement and testament to the ingenuity and dedication of Americans.

But how come 1 in 4 people don't believe this ever happened? 

Much has been written over the years about inconsistencies that point to an elaborate hoax. You can easily find lots of articles on the internet. I'm 99.9% sure it did happen, but here are some of my Mythbuster questions:

1. How could a project of that size involving close to 400,000 people ever have been coordinated in less that 10 years. This case study should be taught in business schools around the world.
2. How is it possible that all subsequent Apollo missions successfully landed on the moon but in recent years NASA has lost a number of Space Shuttles that typically only travel a fraction of the distance of the Moon.
3. Could computer technology at that time really have been feasible to support the Apollo missions. By comparison, today clusters of supercomputers are needed.
4. Why would Neil Armstrong be publicly silent and a recluse for decades after the mission. I would have expected him to be a voice of inspiration to industry, schools, children etc.
5. The original Apollo 11 landing video recordings are lost or destroyed. What kind of operation is NASA running , where arguably the biggest technical achievement by humans is accidentally erased, and all there is to show for it are some fuzzy 16mm recordings off a black and white television monitor.

Back to my question about why 1 in 4 people don't believe what they are told. Look no further than the vague explanations given for the Mysterious collapse of WTC Building 7, and that if tax payers didn't bailout Wall Street there would be blood in the streets. BTW recently Goldman Sachs, Citibank and Bank of America all posted record quarters.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Equality and fairness, unless it inconveniences me

Last week Canada imposed Visa requirements for Mexican and Czech Republic visitors.  The public and media had a lot to say about this, but for the most part an overwhelming majority of Canadians agree with the decision. As one can expect, Mexicans and CR citizens as well as their families and Canada aren't so pleased.

Canadian Visa's are required from a long list of countries, such as the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and India so what's the big deal about adding Mexico and CR to the list? Generally we all wanted to be treated equally so isn't this an example of leveling the playing field?

Granted, the real reason is to stem bogus refugee claims but the reality is that there are people taking advantage of the generosity of Canada and obviously don't have a conscience about impacting people with legitimate claims of real persecution. Why should they, the Supreme Court of Canada says that anyone claiming refugee status has immediate protection under the Charter. It also means health care, welfare and shelter. Good deal.

Mexico and CR lashed back by threatening reciprocal Visa requirements. I'd be curious to know when the last time a Canadian claimed refugee status in Mexico or CR.  

You know, if Canadians stopped visiting Mexico there wouldn't be a Yucatan Peninsula. And I'm sure before this, the Czech Republic wasn't too broken up about exporting it's Roma Gypsy population to Canada.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

$10K discount on the backs of Ontarians

Premier Dalton McGuinty announced today an up to $10,000 rebate to anyone who buys an electric car next year.

Unfortunately it can be any car, as long as it's a Chevy Volt, that's because that's the only electric car which will be available in 2010.

This is essentially a bribe by the government for you to purchase and experimental vehicle, which would without the subsidy most Canadians could not afford because of the $40,000 price tag. Certainly sounds like they already know it's going to be a hard sell. For that price you could buy a few very fuel efficient 4 cylinders which you would not have to worry about driving too far before being stranded.

McGuinty envisions 1 in 20 cars to be an electric. Canada sells over a million new cars per year, so would that mean the subsidies would cost us billions? If a product can't flourish without incentives, it should be a strong indication that it can't make the cut.

Even if this car were successful, ironically it would eventually kill off the other industries and repair services that are so dependant on gasoline cars, for example exhaust, emissions, cooling etc. See the movie, Who Killed the Electric Vehicle.

What if I don't want a battery powered car? Why should I have to subsidize those vegans that do. And since the government is in the car business, it wants to pay us with our own money to drive one of their cars. Weird.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Slow demise of the union

Union workers should soon realize that the economic reality of today means job security coming to an end, whether it's CUPE or UAW. Globalization forces North American labour  to be wage competitive, and unions are at odds with this concept.

Whether it's garbage collection or building cars, the reality is than it's only a matter of time before it's privitized or bankrupt. All Toronto suburbs contract private companies for garbage collection, and there is a good possibility that Oshawa will eventually be shutdown for good. The latter mainly because, GM insists their world class facility manufacture low volume niche cars that no one will buy, like the Chev Camaro and Cadillac XTS.

I actually don't mind taking my garbage to the dump (because of the strike). If this goes on for 10 more weeks it's really only a small inconvenience for me.  I think it's worse off for the workers trying to live off $800 a month strike pay all because of someone else who doesn't truly represent their interests.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Garbage Strike Reality Check

Mayor David Miller says on CNN that Toronto is still a great place to visit at this time, and the city is handling the trash problem fine.

Here is a reality check for those that believe him:
  • There is a vacant store front vestibule in my neighborhood that is jammed and piled high with stinking and rotting garbage. Not only are there no workers to pick it up, there is no one to issue fines.
  • Public waste containers wrapped in plastic to prevent litter from being tossed in during the strike, are wedged open and overflowing with trash. This is downtown by the way.
  • There are trash bags with rotting diapers strewn on the sidewalk
  • There is no pick up of trash at local parks and beaches.  
  • I avoid parks, for example Taylor Creek, because it home to one of 19 trash depots. Stinks  like crap and it's being sprayed by god knows what.
  • "The litter my friend, is blowing in the wind" and down the sidewalks and alley ways.
So sure, wonderful place visit, if you are comparing it to Detroit.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

David Miller's Toronto

It's almost as if something comes up each day to expose how Mayor David Miller has been asleep at the mayoral wheel.

I see lots of similarities between Miller and Micheal Brown, head of FEMA during the imfamous Hurricane Katrina fiasco. Both totally out of their element in leadership, vision, and crisis management.

And I knew it was only a matter of time before travel writers began bashing Toronto. , written by esteemed travel writer Larry Habegger, recently posted a travel advisory aimed at Toronto visitors. Although it doesn't say to stay away, no one spending their hard earned recession dollar would think about brining their familiy a place where parks, ferries, recereation and garbage collection programs have been cancelled.

I remember 10 years ago, I'd have to squeeze by throngs of summer tourists walking up and down Yonge and Bay Street. I'd choke on the fumes of back to back double-decker tour buses. It's not like that anymore, despite all the new theatres, restaurants and entertainment areas downtown.

So this is some of the David Miller highlights:

- Got bitch slapped by Fed. Transport Minister John Baird, when he tried to swindle $400 million to build new street cars, as a "stimulus" project.
- Increased Toronto property taxes
- Additional municipal license plate fee
- Garbage Strike
- Three ridiculous garbage bins for each type of household waste
- Additional garbage fees on top of what we already pay for taxes, plus now limiting how many bags per pickup
- News that the organic waste that we've all been diligently sorting is being dumped into landfill anyways, and whatever is composted into "black gold" is actually toxic to plants (due to incomplete composting and sodium content).
- City indoor and outdoor workers on strike. i.e. no social services, permits, park services, etc.
- City programs, including my kid's day camps cancelled
- Bike lanes that no one uses
- Bike racks on buses that no one uses
- A pesticide ban, that has turned once green parks into meadows of dandilions and crabgrass. The pesticides by the way are safe by Federal guidelines. But, ironically it's totally okay to spray toxic poisons on the rotting garbage in makeshift dumpsites located in public parks.

At least FEMA's Michael "Brownie" had the smarts to ask "Can I quit now?" Miller actually think he's cut out of the job.

I just came back from Chicago and gained some perspective. Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley faced with a similar defecit and antiquated labour demands did this, threatened to send out 1,500 layoff notices if unions didn't show up at the bargaining table and conceed. Now that's leadership. That's also helps explain what Daley's been mayor since 1989.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Vacationing in Chicago

We are in Chicago this week for vacation.

Chicago is somewhere I've been wanting to go to for years but something else always seemed better. This year it seemed to be the perfect time for a few of the following reasons:

1. 100 anniversary of Chicago architect Daniel Burnham's vision and plan for the city.
2. July 4th weekend
3. Taste of Chicago

The above photo is a reflection of me at the sculpture Cloud Gate, or what locals call the Steel Bean. Amazing piece of artwork.

Aside some a few criticisms it's truly a magnificent city. I'll be posting more details when I return to Toronto next week.