November 5, 2009

Rick Mercer on Canada’s Economic Action Plan

Filed under: Cancon, Economics, Humour, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:40

Background on those “Cellared in Canada” wines

Filed under: Cancon, Economics, Law, Wine — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:03

In his November Frugal Oenophile newsletter, Richard Best looks at the evolution of that blight on the Ontario wine industry, the “Cellared in Canada” designation:

For some time (since 1973 in fact), Ontario wineries have been allowed to import juice or wine from other countries and then bottle it as their own. Bottles containing mostly foreign wine were originally labeled Product of Canada. Then in 1993 Product of Canada was replaced by Cellared in Canada (CIC). So, what you’ve been reading and hearing about lately is that people don’t get it, and that in an effort to support the local wine industry, they’ve been buying CIC wines and unknowingly underwriting wine factories in California, Chile and elsewhere.

Why Did This Come About

In the beginning, Niagara had thousands of hectares of north American Labrusca grapes the likes of Concord and Niagara and even one called President (“President Champagne” anyone?) When better grapes came along, the Ontario government encouraged growers to grub up their Labrusca vines and replant with French-American hybrids, mostly Vidal, Seyval Blanc, Marechal Foch, and Baco Noir. Then in 1989 the government launched another grubbing up program when some die-hard wineries started planting European Vinifera grapes: Chardonnay, the Cabernets, and especially Riesling. (It’s interesting to note that government experts insisted for decades that Vinifera vines could never succeed in Ontario.)

So, what do you do when you’ve ripped out your vineyard and now must wait 3-5 years to harvest grapes? The simplest solution is to allow wineries to import even more wine with which to “extend” their remaining harvest. Now, the original plan was to phase out the imported wine, with a “sunset” in the year 2000. But by then a few large wineries had shifted their business plan from Canadian fine wine to cheap and cheerful jug wines (but without the jug, at least). It’s pretty hard to change a law that has allowed a few companies to grow rich and dominate the market, so the plan was carved in stone . . . soapstone, as it turns out.

In 1993, when Canada signed the Free Trade Agreement, Ontario put a cap on the entire wine business. Only wineries establish before NAFTA would be allowed to import wine for blending. Moreover, only these wineries could own multiple site licenses. So we now have a two-tiered system: wineries that can do pretty much what they want, and those that can do little more than pay the bills.

It’s hard to pretend that it’s a level playing field for the domestic wine producers when there clearly are two distinct classes enshrined in law.

To subscribe to Richard’s newsletter, send him an email at frugalwine@sympatico.ca with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject line.

How unpopular do you have to be to have fans do this?

Filed under: Football — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 08:42

ESPN reports that Kansas City Chiefs fans really don’t like Chiefs running back Larry Johnson:

Embattled Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson is 75 yards from becoming the team’s all-time leading rusher.

And some Chiefs fans have a problem with that.

An online petition started by Chiefs fans asks general manager Scott Pioli to deactivate Johnson and keep him on the sideline so he cannot pass Priest Holmes for the team rushing record, or join the team’s Ring of Honor at Arrowhead Stadium.

Holmes holds the Chiefs’ rushing record with 6,070 yards; Johnson currently has 5,996 yards.

“While we are thankful for his service, we feel that Larry has been a black eye on the organization and has no business being mentioned” among the team’s all-time greats, the petition reads.

If the “I’m a Mac” guy bothers you . . .

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:19

. . . you’ll find that he’s a pretty accurate characature of soi disant typical iPhone users. A non-scientific poll of 445 iPhone and Blackberry users found more d-baggery per square metre than anywhere outside an Abercrombie & Fitch ad:

. . . iPhone users consider themselves to be extrovert intellectuals who know a lot about the media but find a lack of high-tech gadgets to be a turn off.

35 per cent of iPhone owners said they would find a partner with out-of-date electronics a turn off, though a quarter have dumped someone who was spending too much time playing with their phone.

33 per cent of those with an iPhone have used a text message or e-mail to break up with a partner — which is harsh, though nothing beats fax for that sharing-the-pain experience. When it comes to good news electronics are, apparently, out: none of those polled would propose marriage by text or e-mail.

When not dating, 20 per cent of iPhone users admitted to frequently watching adult material on their 3.5-inch screen, and more than 60 per cent consider themselves to be extrovert.

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