Does speed really kill? Sometimes, yes, but when the speed limits are set artificially low, and enforcement is targeted to those areas where the limit is far below traffic speed, then all the speed kills campaign does is keep drivers complacent about paying fines that don’t improve safety.
In this video, I investigate the culture and science surrounding speed enforcement in BC, coupled with my trademark Simpsons, Supertroopers, and Family Guy references.
September 16, 2013
May 20, 2013
The new polymer bills were touted as having very hard to counterfeit features, and people apparently believed what they were told — because they haven’t been bothering to check the new bills:
Less than two years ago, the head of the RCMP said Canada’s new polymer bank notes would go a long way in deterring the threat of counterfeiting.
Just last month, the Bank of Canada announced the notes’ sophisticated transparency and holography made them “the most secure bank note series ever issued” by the institution.
Too bad somebody forgot to tell criminals in British Columbia.
Mounties and municipal police in Metro Vancouver are warning the public that several of the fake $100 bills have been detected in the region over the past few weeks.
The fanfare about the security features on the bills, may be part of the problem, said RCMP Sgt. Duncan Pound.
“Because the polymer series’ notes are so secure … there’s almost an overconfidence among retailers and the public in terms of when you sort of see the strip, the polymer looking materials, everybody says ‘oh, this one’s going to be good because you know it’s impossible to counterfeit,’” he said.
“So people don’t actually check it.”
December 21, 2012
In the National Post, David Granirer talks about a stand-up comedy therapy program he runs to help people suffering from mental illness find ways to cope with their issues. He also ran the program for women in the sex trade and provides a few jokes from a recent performance by members of the program:
* “I’ve been in detox. While I was there I took a lifeskills course. They taught me how to shop, how to manage money, and how to pay my dealer on time so he’ll keep fronting me drugs.”
* “When you’re selling drugs on the street everyone wants to trade clothes for drugs. You can get a $200 pair of jeans for a $10 rock. Why would you go to Winners after that?”
[. . .]
* “When I first started in sex trade, a friend and I went down to the stroll and I get into a car with 2 guys. At first I thought it was kinky that they were into handcuffs, but then I found out they were cops.”
* “But the sex trade is a business like any other. If a john can’t pay I turn it over to my collection agency – 2 guys with baseball bats.”
* “As a sex trade worker you have to be a psychologist. The only difference is a psychologist’s clients don’t ask to be peed on.”
January 24, 2012
There are undoubtedly culinary discoveries yet to be made, some of which may well be amazingly tasty. Pulling together unlikely combinations is certainly one way to discover new and interesting flavours. This one, however, strikes me as being just a little bit crazy:
dougieDog Hot Dogs, a popular Vancouver eatery renowned for its creative all-natural hot dogs, has just added the Dragon Dog to its menu — with a price tag of $100. The hot dog features a foot-long bratwurst infused with hundred-year-old Louis XIII cognac, which costs over $2000 a bottle. Also on the dog, Kobe beef seared in olive and truffle oil and fresh lobster. A picante sauce (ingredients undisclosed) ties the flavors together for 12 inches of absolute culinary decadence.
“In designing this hot dog I wanted to come up with something super tasty and high-end that stays true to the traditional identity of the hot dog — a hot dog that any hot dog lover would enjoy,” explained dougieDOG proprietor and Chief Hot Dog Designer dougie luv.
I’m surprised the owner’s name isn’t C.M.O.T. Dibbler …
October 20, 2011
The National Post editorial board has lots of nice things to say about the federal government’s attempt to take politics out of the huge shipbuilding contract process:
On Wednesday, the Tory government released its Solomonic decision regarding which shipyards will build $33-billion in new military and non-military vessels over the next two decades. The evaluation of bids for the largest government procurement contract since the Second World War was handled by senior bureaucrats, rather than cabinet ministers. Even the announcement of the winning contractors was made by Francois Guimont, the top civil servant from Public Works and Government Services, rather than his minister or the minister of National Defence, as would have been the case with past contracts of this magnitude.
Of course, that’s not to say there will be no political backlash from the decision. Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax will be given $25-billion to build new joint support ships, Canadian Surface Combatants — a sort of destroyer-frigate hybrid — and offshore patrol vessels capable of sailing off all three of Canada’s coasts — east, west and Arctic. Seaspan Marine of Vancouver will build science vessels for the Coast Guard and for the Fisheries department, plus icebreakers worth a total of $8-billion. That means Davie Shipyard in Levis, Que. was left without a major shipbuilding contract (though Davie is still eligible to bid on a further $2-billion contract to provide smaller government boats, such as Fisheries patrol vessels). It must have been tempting for the Tories to intervene in the contract-award process and toss Quebec a bigger bone. Their recent decision to expand the grasp of the official languages commissioner to several airlines, and their willingness to give new seats to Quebec in the House of Commons (despite the fact Quebec was not underrepresented there), just because Ontario, B.C. and Alberta were getting more, shows the Tories have become very concerned about their appeal to Quebec voters.
You can guarantee that many Quebec politicians will benefit for having yet another stick to beat the federal government with — this would be true in all scenarios except the one where the Quebec shipyard got both contracts. It would be an even better deal for the taxpayers (and perhaps even the Royal Canadian Navy) if the contracts hadn’t been restricted to Canadian shipyards: it wouldn’t fly politically, but it would almost certainly have been better bang for the billions of bucks.
July 12, 2011
Jesse Brown has the most entertaining copyright story I’ve read in quite a while:
But some of the hooligans exposed on Youtube found a clever way to get the video removed—copyright claims. Under Youtube’s “Notice and Takedown” policy, all you need to do is claim you own the rights to a video and demand that it be removed, and Youtube will remove it. The video’s uploader will be informed of the allegation and then have a chance to challenge it.
But here’s the rub: in order to claim ownership of a video’s copyright, you have to identify yourself. And when Youtube informs the uploader that they’re being accused of a copyright violation, they have to tell them who their accuser is. So rioters are indirectly handing their names over to the very people who were trying to identify them.
June 16, 2011
Just as cities have to anticipate trouble, ordinary law-abiding folks who think a trip downtown to watch the fun have to accept that they won’t necessarily be protected from it, or from the police response. Ontario courts are still dealing with cases of people claiming their rights were trampeled when police reacted to the G20 violence by abandoning their own duties and discipline, and lashing out at anything that stumbled into their path. Hearings are being held to sort out what went wrong, and the force is struggling to retain some respect after doing its best to avoid being held accountable for its own indefensible actions. In other words, once the trouble starts, all bets are off, and anyone who thinks they’ll take the kiddies down for a peak, and will somehow be protected when things get out of hand, is deluding themselves.
There is something bizarre going on just beneath the surface of our supposedly decent and civilized society. Canada is prosperous and peaceful, and does as much or more than any country to preserve and protect the rights and opportunities of people fortunate enough to live here. There are certainly inequalities and injustices, but anyone who thinks they’ll find a society that tries harder to eliminate them, or is more concerned with trying to spread the benefits equally among all citizens, will have a lengthy search on their hands. It’s doubtful in any case that the dolts who ignited the trouble in Vancouver think that deeply, or have any purpose other than mindless mayhem. They deserve no sympathy, and should be treated by the law as harshly as allowed.
Kelly McParland, “Lessons to learn from dolts at a hockey game”, National Post, 2011-06-16
Lord Stanley’s Cup won’t be coming back to Canada this year, but as Brian Hutchison points out, that’s only one of the losses sustained by Vancouver last night:
The season ends, and the worst does come to pass. Vancouver, you have lost. Twice. But the game hardly matters now, does it? The score? Who cares? As I write this, my eyes are stinging, my is throat sore, having breathed in some sort of dispersal chemical that police deployed — in desperation, and perhaps too late. There could be some residual effect from having inhaled acrid, toxic smoke from burning cars, exploding cars, destroyed by lunatics still running crazy on the city’s downtown streets.
Blood in our streets. I saw people on the ground, bleeding. Shattered glass everywhere. Police cars set alight. Major bridges are now closed, preventing public access into the downtown core. Transit is plugged up, there’s no way out. More police and fire crews are arriving, from the suburbs, but again, it seems too late.
And as I write this, the sun has just set. Vancouver, what a disgrace.
Update: A Tumblr page posting photos of the rioters and looters:
The National Post has more photos of the aftermath.
March 18, 2011
According to an article in The Economist, the well-known San Andreas fault in California is not the most likely to cause an earthquake of the magnitude of last week’s quake in Japan. The most likely source is the Cascadia subduction zone:
The most likely megaquake on the West Coast would be much further north — in fact, 50 miles off the coast between Cape Mendocino in northern California and Vancouver Island in southern British Columbia. This 680-mile strip of seabed is home to the Cascadia subduction zone, where oceanic crust known as the Juan de Fuca plate is forced under the ancient North American plate that forms the continent. For much of its length, the two sides of this huge subduction zone are locked together, accumulating stresses that are capable of triggering megaquakes in excess of magnitude 9.0 when they eventually slip. As such, Cascadia is more than a match for anything off the coast of Japan.
What makes Cascadia such a monster is not just its length, but also the shallowness of the angle with which the encroaching tectonic plate dives under the continental mass. The descending plate has to travel 40 miles down the incline before it softens enough from the Earth’s internal heat to slide without accumulating further frictional stresses. Could the fault unzip from end to end and trigger a megaquake — along with the mother of all tsunamis? You bet. By one account, it has done so at least seven times over the past 3,500 years. Another study suggests there have been around 20 such events over the past 10,000 years. Whatever, the “return time” would seem to be within 200 to 600 years.
And the last time Cascadia let go? Just 311 years ago.
Cascadia subduction zone image from wikimedia.org.
March 6, 2011
Did you know that the US shot glass is ever so slightly larger than the Imperial one? These guys didn’t, but they do now:
To be fussy about it — and who’s fussier than a liquor tax auditor? — a U.S. fluid ounce works out to 29.574 millilitres while the imperial (that is, Canadian) ounce is 28.413. While that may not sound like a big discrepancy to you, it means Canadian bars using U.S. shot glasses, as virtually all of them do, have spent years serving countless more litres of liquor than legally required. The upshot for your shots is that they’ll soon be 7% lighter.
Owners had no idea there was a difference between a U.S. shot and a Canadian one. “I’d say it’s totally unrecognized,” Tweter says. Finding imperial shot glasses proved impossible, and Tweter and Wilson took matters into their own hands. They sourced a factory in China to make a slightly smaller-than-usual vessel. Meet the Can-Pour, probably the only imperial ounce shot glass on the Canadian market.
As a result of rounding, the standard U.S. shot glass actually works out to 30 millilitres while the Can-Pour pours an even 28. Tweter points out this falls within Weights and Measurements Canada’s tolerances. A chart on Tweter and Wilson’s website shows how a bar with annual liquor purchases of $360,000 could save more than $25,000 by pouring a little less. Doesn’t that cheat the customer? “The two-millilitre difference is virtually undetectable. It’s literally drops,” Tweter says.
So drink up, Vancouver shot fans: you’ll soon be paying the same for slightly less alcohol per drink.
February 28, 2011
This sounds like an excellent idea:
Since Devon Boorman opened the Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay in Vancouver seven years ago, he’s taught actors, fans of medieval weapons as well as bankers and office workers. Like an action-oriented Pilates class, the Western martial art of swordplay requires the grace of a ballet dancer with the strength of a warrior. It’s not about building muscle mass, as in weight-lifting, but about building plyometric — that is, explosive — strength.
But last fall, he added a new hybrid to his lineup.
The 90-minute SwordFit workout at Academie Duello is designed to be a mix of technical and cross-training, and features two instructors — one for swordplay and one for general fitness. Meghan O’Connell, the fitness instructor, has a background in boxing and has based many of the exercises on boxing training circuits.
[. . .]
“Swordplay makes you feel graceful and powerful at the same time — like dance,” Mr. Boorman says. It strengthens arms and shoulders, and tones the core. “If you relax your core,” he says, “your posture will crumple and you will lose your balance.”
Ms. Thomas also enjoys the couples aspect to the class. “I like the fact that we can take turns being the attacker and the defender,” she says. “It really gets a lot of frustration out.”
Mr. Thom agrees. “There’s something so visceral and revitalizing about the clanging of the swords.”
H/T to Elizabeth for the link.
March 2, 2010
I originally just added this as a comment on this post, but it appears to have a bit more life in it.
Gil LeBreton made this pithy observation in his column about the Vancouver Olympics on the 28th of February:
After a spirited torch relay ignited pride in every corner of the country, the Olympic Games began and quickly galvanized the nation.
Flags were everywhere. The country’s national symbol hung from windows and was worn on nearly everyone’s clothing.
Fervent crowds cheered every victory by the host nation.
But enough about the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
I thought it was amusing, so I just added it to the comment thread, but I guess I wasn’t the only one to notice Mr. LeBreton’s insight:
So true. The parallels between Berlin 1936 and Vancouver 2010 are clear, if you just pay attention.
Not everyone has the perspicacity to discern the neo-Nazi threat north of America’s borders. Fortunately, Mr. LeBreton does. Because he’s more observant than most. He makes the cognitive connections others miss:
“For 17 days we were barraged with Canadian flags, rode buses and trains with people in sweatshirts and jerseys adorned with Canadian maple leafs, and were serenaded at venues by Canadian spectators, lustily cheering for Canadian athletes.”
My God. It’s spine-chilling.
The rest of the world was lulled into complacency and Olympic fever. But the Star-Telegram’s crack reporter wasn’t fooled by the crafty Canucks. Their display of patriotism reminded him of something. Something terrifying.
“I didn’t attend the ’36 Olympics, but I’ve seen the pictures. Swastikas everywhere.”
You see? Maple leaf flag equals swastika. Damn you, Canada.
He’s so right. Connect the dots! Look it up, sheeple!
March 1, 2010
Apparently, the Russian government is taking the relatively poor showing by the country’s Olympic team very seriously. The “fat cats” who were responsible for training the athletes have been ordered to resign or “we will help them”:
President Medvedev said those who trained the Russian team before the Vancouver games should “have the courage to step down” as a result of Russia’s woeful medals tally. If they refused to resign “we will help them”, he said bluntly.
Over the weekend Medvedev abruptly cancelled a scheduled visit to last night’s closing ceremony, apparently in disgust. “We must drastically change the training of our athletes . . . We have been living on Soviet resources for a long time. But that is over now,” Medvedev told the ruling United Russia Party.
He added: “Unprecedented investments are being made in sports in Russia. But money is not everything. We should think about changing the training methods. The new training system must focus on athletes rather than on fat cats.”
Opposition politicians demanded the sacking of the sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, and Russian Olympic committee president Leonid Tyagachyev, both close allies of Putin. The pair were antiheroes, the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper said, ridiculing Tyagachyev’s Panglossian prediction Russia would finish in the top three.
It would probably be wise for the so-called “fat cats” to get out while they can. An embarassed Russian government will probably not be acting with grace or tact.
It may not have been the most important hockey game in Canadian history; the 1972 Summit Series has a pretty good argument, and does the 1987 Canada Cup. There were no political implications here, just sporting ones.
Nation-stopping sporting ones, true. If you ever wanted to knock off a bank in Lloydminster, Sask., this was probably a good day to try.
The game was played with a desperate ferocity, and at eye-watering speed. Every goal-mouth scrum was the fall of Saigon; bodies were being thrown around as if everyone involved forgot there is a quarter of the NHL season left to play. Every puck mattered; every play mattered. Everything mattered.
And there was hostility but no fighting; hitting but no headshots; talent so rich that when the NHL starts again today, it will look like a pale shadow of what the game can be.
“I think both teams are winners,” said Wilson. “And maybe more than anything, hockey in general.”
Bruce Arthur, “Crosby makes leap from superstar to legend”, CBC Vancouver Now, 2010-02-28
February 27, 2010
After the exit of their men’s hockey team from the games, Russian opinions were channelled by that staunch Slav Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey in Pravda:
We all knew it weeks before the game started, with accusations about doping being levelled at Russian athletes, and we all saw it on day one of the games, with the death of a Georgian athlete on a corner which miraculously was elevated the following day. Vancouver is not fit to hold the Winter Olympics.
[. . .]
We all know Canada has problems with the future lines drawn on Arctic maps and we all know Canada lives in the shadow of its larger neighbour to the south. The abject cruelty shown by Canadian soldiers in international conflicts is scantily referred to, as indeed is the utter incapacity of this county to host a major international event, due to its inferiority complex, born of a trauma being the skinny and weakling bro to a beefy United States and a colonial outpost to the United Kingdom, whose Queen smiles happily from Canadian postage stamps.
Maybe it is this which makes the Canadians so…retentive, or cowardly.
[. . .]
Everybody who knows anything about Olympic skating, Winter Olympic sports and international politics will infer from the pitiful and dangerous conditions provided by the Canadian authorities, which already caused one death, that Vancouver is mutton dressed as lamb. Take off the outer veneer and the stench is horrific.
However, not to be outdone by a mere “Russian” journalist, the mighty Times of London weighs in with their more nuanced condemnation of Canada and the Vancouver Olympics:
The idea was for Canada to emerge as gracious hosts of the Winter Olympics and glorious winners as well. Alas, the Canadians have come across as a bunch of mean-spirited, chippy, unsporting losers.
Things have come to a pretty pass when you find yourself rooting for the United States. But I really have been cheering for stars and stripes rather than maple leaves. The Canadian shenanigans in Vancouver have alienated the entire world.
[. . .]
The Canadians have taken an aggressive line towards any criticism. This kneejerk reaction is both small-minded and small-nation. It is not hostile to point out an error, particularly when the error is rudely thrust in your face.
It is customary at the Olympics to say that the nation holding them has “come of age”. China “came of age” in 2008; Australia “came of age” with the Sydney Games of 2000. In fact, Australia also “came of age” with the Melbourne Games of 1956; that’s because this observation has become an Olympic custom.
But Canada has not come of age in Vancouver 2010. Canada has regressed into a sneering but ultimately impotent adolescence. It’s been — well, rather unattractive on the whole.
So, there you go, Canada. Aren’t you ashamed? Don’t you feel properly dressed down by your betters? Or, like Simon Barnes’ “adolescent”, do you feel like telling him to STFU and GTFO?