Sunday, September 28, 2008

Much ado about nothing

Friday was a ped-day and ped-days mean meetings. Don't get me wrong, I like my colleagues, my colleagues are excellent teachers, consummate professionals, but whenever you put a bunch of teachers in a room with a mandate to decide on the phrasing of a simple sentence you are in for a long and agonizing time. It took us 2.5 hours to decide on 12 simple comments for the report cards. The nuance of each adjective, noun and verb was discussed until I felt that having root canal work done without anaesthetic would have been better. What does it matter, it'll probably be changed again before the end of the year anyway, I really don't know why people take it so much to heart, we weren't writing the ten commandments here. (This is probably proof that there is a deity, since if the 10 commandments had been writtten by a committee, there would be 100 commandments with 100 subcommandments each and they would still be arguing over whether to put a semi-colon or a comma in the first one. )
(Ironically that morning at breakfast I started reading Kathy Reich's new book "Devil Bones" and the first chapter is about her sitting through a university department meeting that is deciding on a name for the ethics committee... she has obviously been a teacher and knows about meetings because it is a very good description of what happens...
There are three constants in human history that have blocked human progress, warfare, bureaucracy and committees. Just think of where we could be if we didn't have those holding us back.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Public Transport LOL

I was reading an article about our newest metro station. The Cartier station is the terminus of the Laval line of our metro system. It seems that it is causing all sorts of problems for the people who live in the streets surrounding it. People are parking cars all over the place, even in people's private driveways. The residents are really pissed off, as well they should be, at the disrespectful behavior of the drivers. There have been towings, fines, fights and vandalism all because there are just not enough parking spaces.
The Cartier metro station has 60000 people go through it everyday. Yes that's not a typing error, sixty thousand people per day. The bright planners at the STM (Société de Transport) only built 450 parking spots at the station. Yes that is also not a typo. They planned for only 450 parking spots. Now how stupid is that. Even if each and every car, car pooled and packed 5 people per car that would only be 2250 people.
Now let us to some basic math. Let's say that of the 60000 people, 75% take the bus, bike, walk or fly to the metro, that's 45000 people. That leaves 15000 people minus the 2250 who are parked, leaving us with 12750 trying to find a parking. Let's say they all car pool to the maximum, that means that 2250 cars have to find a place to park. Now how ridiculous is that?
They are always yammering about how we should take public transport and they do all sorts of ridiculous things that turn people off of public transport. Joé Bleau is going to be frustrated searching for a parking and it'll only be a short while before he says the hell with it and drives his car into work. You can be sure that persuading him to take public transport will, thereafter, be nearly impossible.
Where I live there is a commuter train line, an adequate (not enough of them), albeit expensive, way to get to work. Except if you arrive at the station after seven, forget it, there is no parking, so people just get on Highway 20 and drive into town. It used to be that at the terminus of the metro lines there would be free parking if you had a metro pass or bought tickets. Now you pay the same price for the parking as you would downtown. For example Mrs. BB, the two BB kids and myself would park the car at the western most terminus and buy eight metro tickets (there and back) to get to Montreal. Now we have to pay for the parking, which on weekends is the same thing as the parkings downtown and on top of it we have to pay for the eight tickets... DUhhh, we now just drive downtown, much easier and less costly.
When we were in England many cities had a Park N' Drive. Outside the city, you would park your car in a well protected car park (CCTV), hop on a bus and you would be driven to the center of town with a minimum of stops and fuss. The cost of the parking... a bus ticket. Now that's smart, people will take the bus or metro if you make it worth their while. That's something the STM has yet to grasp.
Oh by the way, do you know what solution they found for the problem? They are going to make residents buy stickers, and the streets will become No Parking except for the residents with stickers. Like I said... dumb!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Newer new look

After reading the comments, I decided, that yes, reading white on black was not good for the eyes. Very dramatic, but not very readable. So here we are with something new in shades of blue. (I even rhyme now)

Monday, September 08, 2008

New look

I decided that Blogger's templates were rather boring, so after having googled "Free Blogger Templates" I came up with this. What do you think?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Election Time

Well it seems that we are in for an election. Stephen Harper our prime minister has decided that enough is enough and since the polls are looking good for him, today he went to see the Governor General and asked that parliament be dissolved. He has done this despite the fact that he passed a law saying that elections would be at fixed intervals, every four years. (He only served 2.5 years.) His excuse, parliament was "dysfunctional" despite the fact that he has passed just about every piece of legislation he has brought forth even if his party was in minority. The Liberals, who have the balance of power, have been "no-show" for pretty much the last two years. Their leader, Stéphan Dion, has all the charisma and leadership skills of a dead squirrel. So let's go for a majority.
What has our beloved PM done in the last two years? Well he threw out Kyoto and came out with his homemade plan that gives the oil producers carte-blanche. Instead of banning guns (especially high powered assault weapons) or making it harder to acquire them, he scrapped the gun registry (which wasn't very efficient to start with) and left it all in limbo. Mr. Harper should maybe go give a little speech to Dawson College and the École Polytechnique students, explaining to the friends of the dead and wounded students the logic of his policies.

Dawson College shooting tribute video
He has kept our soldiers in Afghanistan to clean up the mess left by Bush's policies. When will we leave? Well I figure about the same time as the US leaves Irak, with about the same result, nothing to show for it but bodybags. The list goes on and on.
Everyone knew that it was coming since for the last couple of weeks we have been seeing political ads. These ads focus exclusively on our PM. They show him as a soft and cuddly guy, who loves family, country, the environment. A really nice guy... vote for me and everything will be alright. Do they talk about his party and its accomplishments? Nope, not one word. Just about what a nice guy Harper is. What these ads don't show is that Stephen Harper has always been to the right, he would be perfectly at home with the Republicans (in fact he is great friends with Bush). He comes from the Alliance Party which had/has many members way the right of Attila the Hun. When the Alliance Party finally assimilated the Conservatives and took over their name, I don't think that changed their ideology, they just camouflaged it a bit more to get votes outside of the west.
So are the ads accurate? Put it this way, does putting a Borg into a Teletubby suit make him more cuddly?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hockey mom

At the Republican convention this week end, Sarah Palin, during her speech, made a joke.
"What is the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? answer: lipstick"
Well that pretty much says it all, joke or not. Do we really need a hockey mom who compares herself to a pitbull (a nasty dog bred for its viciousness rather than its brains) as vice-president of the United Sates. Let's face it, McCain is no spring chicken, and should he die in the White House, the nuclear puck will be on her hockey stick. Now there is a frightening thought.