Archive for August, 2010

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Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Ford and Smitherman want to be mayor of Toronto,

If McGinty helps Smitherman, isn’t he helping Ford?

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#73 – Ignorance makes life simpler for Babel’s political wannabes.

Friday, August 20th, 2010

It must run in the family. Joe Tascona is trying for the mayor’s office on the promise of no property tax increases. His nephew, the local MP, is now telling us how he is going to stop federal prisoners from any entitlement to Old Age Security payments. They are both trying to win votes from the ignorant and uncaring among us.

You would think that Joe Tascona would know better. Since he helped Premier Mike Harris dump welfare costs on Ontario’s municipalities, that one expense has meant constant upward pressure on our municipal taxes every year. To keep our property taxes from growing, something has to be cut from the budget. More than 30 per cent of city budget costs are for police, fire and emergency services. Maybe this is where Mr. Tascona thinks he can save money. Our citizens might not want to pay the cost to see him try.

The younger generation are less direct. Speaking of that younger generation, one of the objections Joe Tascona brings up about his major rival for the mayor’s chair is that the councillor might be too young to be mayor. That surprises people who have seen what a great job that the councillor has done over the past four years. It is also surprising when you consider that councillor’s 12 years of experience in advising municipalities on how to manage costs and save money on major civic infrastructure projects.

In a recent conversation with some politically interested taxpayers, one said that the councillor is not only old enough to be mayor but he is also the best qualified. Another answered that the councillor is not only qualified but he is older than Mr. Tascona’s nephew who struts around town as the Member of Parliament. He is not only older, this person pointed out but he is one hell of a lot smarter. This got a grunt from a third person in the group who said: “The councillor is not only more experienced than the uncle, smarter and older than the M.P. but he also has a personality. In choosing a mayor, we are choosing someone to represent us. Is there a choice?”

Which brings us back to the nephew MP’s cavil about Old Age Pensions. Through their working life, Canadians earn the right to Old Age Security payments. The maximum today is something over $500. a month. The MP wants to take away that right. It is not as though the prisoner has anywhere to spend the money. Most arrange for that money to go to their family. Many families need it. One supposes that the MP would prefer that the prisoner’s family go on welfare. We can pay plenty for that.

What a sensible person thinks about it is that there are many reasons why a person might be in jail. That seems to be enough rights taken away from them. No doubt the courts might be better able to determine that. Someone as ignorant as Joe Tascona’s nephew should not be making those decisions. Every citizen has a responsibility to protect everyone’s rights. That is the best protection for ours.

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Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Dr. Goebbels gave lessons on how to twist words,

Misstate what I write and you will eat your words.

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Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Saw the Chinese warriors in terracotta,

Since advice we got was that we gotta,

This dioramic, it needs more terracotta

And less of Chinese social propaganda.

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Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Stopping mixed martial arts is paternalistic,

To forbid Internet gambling is paternalistic,

To say okay to them is liberal and realistic.

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If we are contradictory from day to day,

It probably depends on our mood today.

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#72 – Caribana belongs in Toronto.

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Babel had Caribfest this past weekend. Caribfest is supposed to be the same as Caribana in Toronto. It is not. I am not at all sure that what I witnessed this weekend should take place in Babel.

Caribana is a joyous festival in which all Torontonians can participate. When living in Toronto, we found we could enjoy the food, the culture and the music of the islands of the Caribbean throughout the year and especially at Caribana. And what Canadian does not appreciate those beautiful islands that can offer much needed respite from the brutality of our winters?

But Babel lacks the cultural and racial mix of Toronto. Old Babel is old Ontario and is mainly European in origin. The visual minorities are just that: minorities. Somebody asked the other day, since we were having Caribfest, if Babel has a large population from the Caribbean? The answer was: no, we have to import them.

And that might be the problem. From our front row seats above Centennial Park, we settled in on Saturday to watch the parade that started in the downtown. The music was raucous, the crowds enthusiastic and colourful and the parking along the Lakeshore was unimaginably more chaotic than it had been for Kempenfest two weeks earlier. It took a while to realize what was wrong.

The first clue was the very noisy announcers below us who were working their sound system from the back of a van. While it was hard to understand through the announcers’ accents and the way the sound was bouncing, we finally realized that they were broadcasting for Toronto’s new black radio station.

The area around that van was probably not planned by that radio station. It was one very large and noisy tailgate party. It was a party with none of the facilities needed to accommodate the thousands of people involved. Instead of parking and then going across to the very attractive park area with all its facilities on the east side of Lakeshore, this part of the party was mainly on the road and among the helter-skelter of parked cars on the west side of the road.

The organizers and the city had failed to work out the logistics. And, while economists say that the anticipated earnings for the local community for events can be worked out at so much per attendee, nobody was making any money in this situation. These partygoers brought their own music, their own food, their own liquor and their own entertainment. They failed to bring their own toilets, garbage receptacles and good manners.

Quite frankly, these visitors to our beautiful city acted as though they had never been housebroken. It was as though their parents had never taught them that, when invited to a party, you do not defecate on the hosts’ front lawn. You should not throw liquor bottles and trash around with abandon. Gentlemen should not go into the bushes, below where people live, to wag their weenie. They might consider it discrete for the people around them but from above they do not appear very shy about the process.

There is no point in shouting down to them. Despite the dazzling performances of the bands and dancers out on the road being much appreciated, the performance of the revellers in the parking lot did not win universal approval.

From where we were, we saw only a few thousand of the people attending the event. Most were having fun and if there was some littering out on the road, the city had it swept up in short order. It was only a few people who disrespected us as residents and forced us inside to control our anger at their bad manners. Regrettably, the city and the organizers need to seriously rethink their attempt at bringing Caribana to Babel.

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Sunday, August 15th, 2010

The McGinty gang want to allow mixed martial arts,

Rowdies used to get arrested for that in these parts.

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Saturday, August 14th, 2010

It’s Caribfest weekend in Babel, there’s nothing Babel lacks!

It’s a joyous Caribbean festival, that honours Babel’s blacks.

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Friday, August 13th, 2010

Snake an’ the Corporal will be studying Pythagoras,

Finding the square of a hippopotamus is beyond us.

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#69 – Nobody likes complaints—especially Canada’s telecoms.

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Have you ever complained to Canada’s Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS)? Canadians are expected to complain to this organization about their home telephone service, cell phone service, cable, satellite, television or radio programming, Internet service, all things that create the fabric of our modern society. If you have complained, have you ever wondered afterwards why you did? You blush to admit that you could have been so gullible. It appears that something like 99 per cent of the people who complain to this body are told that the complaint is outside the CCTS’ scope. Word of mouth says, “Don’t waste your time.”

It is embarrassing for Canadians and triply embarrassing for the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that we have let our telecommunications companies make such a mockery of customer service. Decency, fairness, consideration, empathy, respect, caring, humanity, kindness, regard, honesty, concern for our fellows are not words that are part of the modern telecom’s language. Canada’s telecoms and their customers are in an abusive relationship.

Much of the fault for this sorry state of affairs rests with the CRTC. This craven agency of an uncaring and ideologically consumed government has committed this act against the citizens they are supposed to represent and protect. They ignore the problems we face with telecoms in the guise of deregulation. That is their mantra: It seems, they claim, that unregulated companies care about their customers while that truth is today that nobody gives a damn—regulated or unregulated.

But somebody has to give a damn. The joke used to be in days gone by that the regulator (the CRTC) and the telecoms spent so much time across the table from each other that they began to think alike. They are so much of a like mind that they finish each others’ jokes. Never was this more evident than in the hearings last fall on having cable and satellite companies paying broadcasters for local signals.

The first half of the hearings was the heavy-weight event. It was broadcasters versus cable and satellite companies. Everyone was on their game. The broadcasters were wily and smirking—buddy-buddy with their pals, the commissioners. The cable and satellite people were wary and erudite—buddy-buddy with same commissioners.

It was obvious as the hearings progressed that the commissioners were feeling squeezed between their influential buddies and were trying to push the service delivery companies into a negotiation with the program creation companies to set a price for local signals. What was left unsaid was that the cable and satellite companies would just pass on the cost to their customers and no commissioner would care—except one commissioner, a gentleman from Quebec, who noted that basic cable and satellite costs were too high and he wanted the companies to consider what he called a “skinny basic” cost structure for cable and satellite service.

He had little trouble selling his proposition to the individual consumers who represented more than 20,000 Canadians who had asked to intercede on behalf of either the cable/satellite companies or the broadcasters and even a few who thought about the issues and brought some original thinking to the deliberations.

But the consumers were wasting their time. It was like a mask had dropped over the chairman’s and most of the commissioners’ faces when the consumers started to appear. Sitting in the commission’s tiny Toronto office, crammed between other consumer supplicants and facing a web camera, the only view on the television screen was the bored commissioners at their head office, paying attention to everything else but the speakers. The only recommendation to them, that made sense at the time, was to suggest they resign. They were hardly doing any good for Canadians.

An addendum to that is the CRTC recently looked into the complaints process at CCTS. According to Michael Geist of the Toronto Star, Bell Canada argued before the CRTC that CCTS is not needed. The point Bell was trying to make was that competition encourages better customer service. Geist reported that Bell believed it was in the interests of all the telecom companies to provide “high-quality customer service and complaints resolution.” One wonders when that miracle might happen.

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Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to peter@lowry.me