Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On the Lookout from The Rock

Saving for a rainy day is always wise, and there may be more days like that with an international economic downturn. The province is already feeling the ripple effect of decreased market demand. What a difference a few months makes. It seemed like the price of oil was going to make 2009 into another $billion surplus year, but on the contrary, it could very well be a major deficit year, not a good time for hefty salary demands from government. There could also be more in-migration, but due to more laid-off workers from out west. It's never a bad time to, you know, ___ away some resources for the future.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gas Prices Across the Map

This tidy interactive map shows gas prices (regular unleaded) in Canadian cities. As of Dec. 23, 2008, there was a range of .28 cents per litre of gas - that is only what's showing. Click it below to view the CBC page, and then click on each city - this years gas prices appear for that place.Ottawa has the cheapest pump at .65 cents per litre, while Yellowknife put up with .93 cents per litre, and though not on the map, Labrador City tolerates 93.5/litre gas.

See price detail for many other Canadian towns on M.J. Ervin & Associates gas price site.
Related: NL Gas prices from 1987-2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Economy - Hope you Liked Your Stimulating

It is especially at this time of year that we must think about the less fortunate CEOs of financial companies like AIG, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae; auto companies Chrysler, Ford and GM. May they be blessed with 100's of billions in stimulus packages without terms. And may CEO bonuses be just as big so as to feed a poor starving nation somewhere in Africa.

The good people of the western world have just went beyond normal need to feed the economic beast by way of Christmas 'n' everything. May our system of economics continue to offer hope to believers and non-believers alike that the system is fair, decent, and oh so rewarding.

May justice be bestowed on investment guru Bernard Madoff who is charged with defrauding the public of $50 billion, and may the selfish starving people of Congo and Somalia stop their begging for food and help out mega-rich industries of the world, somehow.

Yes, may the world unite as one to support the one true way that works, and let us bail out together, the industries that are the symbols of success and virtue in the world, so that once again the world will be as it should. Blessings to both the needy, the greedy, the conniving, and the 'just surviving' of the world.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Hard Day's Night in Yiddish - oy vey

Found this on yerself tube - enjoy.

Blackberry Ringing in the Dead of Night

play midi        
Blackberry ringing in the dead of night
Take these friggin rings and learn to hide
All your life
You were only hating for this moment to arise.

Blackberry ringing in the dead of night
Take these reddened eyes and learn to flee
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackberry free Blackberry free
Into the dark of the bright blue light.

Blackberry free Blackberry free
Into the dark of the bright blue light.

Blackberry ringing in the dead of night
Take these freakin rings and learn to hide
All your life
You were only dreading for this moment to arise
You were only wanting some sleep for your eyes
You were only needing a break from the noise.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Predictions for 2009

  • CBC announces a new game show, "Who Wants to be Bailed Out"

  • In Parliament, MPs will be allowed to call the House Speaker, "dude"

  • The successful marketing phrase "New and Improved" will be replaced by "The Same, but Still Not Too Bad Though"

  • The Mid East cuts olive oil production

  • Conrad Black will take over the Liberal leadership, bring down the Harper government and become Canada's first Black Prime Minister

  • Sardines and broccoli replace pizza as the favorite school snack

  • Microsoft gets into omega-3 oil business and comes out with an Omega-3.1 capsule

  • PEI will begin a resettlement program, moving residents of 50 small communities to larger centres. The move is expected to take about an hour

  • The economy will get so bad that business will resort to such things as directing cigarette advertisements at kids, and offering high interest credit cards to naive university teens (wait. sorry, that's already happening)

  • Christmas shopping will drastically fall after it's discovered that the three wise men did not bring gifts to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, but were trying to sell them life insurance

  • Danny Williams' image as a dictator will be promoted so much by media writers that reporters in Venezuela give the nickname, Hugo "Williams", to their president

  • Political protesters will use a more deadly weapon to attack U.S. Presidents, their socks

  • 1000s of products drop in price because the price of oil (transportation cost) is low

  • George W. Bush will write his memoirs called either "D'oh", or "Oops"
  • What Has the Shoe Thrower Been Doing Since?

    He has been in talks with the Toronto Blue Jays manager to start next season as pitcher. (His aim was amazing)

    He has been practising with sandals, sneakers, and skechers

    Booking interviews with Jay Leno, Letterman, Larry King, and Oprah

    Writing a book - possible titles: Bush Whacker; Hurling Insults; If the Shoe Fits, Throw It; Weapons of Reeking Destruction;

    Nike offered him 100 K to throw their footwear next time

    Appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Shoe Throwing Edition

    He's been developing a heat seeking shoe that hits the target even when they duck.

    Thursday, December 18, 2008

    Danny's Repatriating the Trees Strikes a Cord with Canadians

    The Globe and Mail, or at least writer Konrad Yakabuski, is back to calling NL's premier, Danny Chavez, but judging from the comments, Canadian readers mainly supported Williams for Newfoundland & Labrador's move to repatriate timber rights from AbitibiBowater.

    From the Globe - "Just when you thought the Danny Chavez gibes were getting tired, the Rock's irrepressible strongman strikes - no, more like bludgeons - once again... At least Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's nationalization-happy President, has the decency to call himself a socialist. Mr. Williams just acts like one."

    Here's the story from The Telegram, Dec. 17th, 2008:
    In an unprecedented move, the provincial government announced Tuesday it will strip AbitibiBowater of all its rights and assets in this province, with the exception of the century-old newsprint mill in Grand Falls-Windsor.

    The legislation was passed within hours of it being introduced into the House of Assembly.

    In essence, the province will cancel all the company's timber, land and water rights, including the 1905 charter that allowed the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Co. to establish a mill in the town, without any compensation to AbitibiBowater.

    Control of an estimated 1.67 million hectares of timber rights on Crown land will revert back to the province.

    There were 200 comments on the piece, with the majority supporting Williams' taking back control over forest resources. A few samples:
    Andy Guenette from Asheville, NC, United States writes: I've never been a fan of Danny Williams, but in this case, I support his government's decision. Bilateral agreements need to be respected by both parties.

    Auroran Bear from Montreal, Canada writes: I applaud the move. Now get those assets working in the interest of the people of Newfoundland.

    And enough of the Danny Chavez stuff G&M. When the G&M allows open comment on every story that's free of moderation, maybe then you can wave your banner.


    Patrick Shaw from Markham, Canada writes: Some have wondered where the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility may head in a tough economy. Danny has answered loud and clear. The Premier has shown that Newfoundland won’t tolerate a wavering of the intent or the commitment. This is a great example of a company being held accountable to the public owners of the resource. Shareholders get their say everyday; now the real owners have spoken.

    Green Canada from edmonton, Canada writes: This story is at least raising a key point of contention that needs addressing. Whether governments sole role should be to facilitate business or whether it should work in the public's interest? some say the first and second are tied others don't think so. It seems to me that over the last few decades the governments of Canada have become "corporatist" in nature insofar as they view their governing role as facilitating the work of their clients, the corporations. This is worrying on many fronts, not the least of which is the privatization of profits while all debts are unloaded on society (see recent bail outs). Anyway...way to go Danny.

    Sunday, December 14, 2008

    Bush Gets the Boot From Iraq - Literally

    Talk about an unceremonious visit. Poor old Bush Jr. Current times and recent past have not been kind to W. Will history be kinder? He would hope so, but the deadly, misguided missile guided mistake will forever be part of his legacy. The shoe throwing was a pretty symbolic feeling from the dissident, likely echoing the general feeling of not just Iraqis, but most world watchers towards the American presence in the tragically traumatized, cradle of civilization.

    Have a look, Bush was quick to react.. then again, that was a weakness of his administration concerning Iraq.

    Bush even laughs it off. Good public front poor Mr. Bush puts on, but it's a sad ending to a regrettable forgettable/unforgettable episode in world history.

    A line from the great song, "I'm a Loser" has a line,
    "Although I laugh and I act like a clown, inside this mask I am wearing a frown."

    It's one thing to live with the knowledge you were responsible for sacrificing troops to a war. But one that was not necessary in the first place, must be cause for a heavier conscience still, for all the Iraq war supporters in the Bush administration.

    Still, the future history, post-U.S. presence in Iraq, could be kinder to Bush, if, democracy remains, and protesters like the shoe thrower, are not shot for an act of demonstration like this.       (read CBS story)

    Stick to Your Guns Defence Minister McKay

    For the second week in a row three Canadian men have been killed in nightmarish Afghanistan, and U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates is hinting that Canada stay longer than it's planned 2011 withdrawl. Canada's Defence Minister Peter McKay has said that it is sticking to 2011 and does not plan on changing. Actually 2009 sounds much better. Since 2002 Canada has contributed immensely to democracy and re-building that place, sacrificing 103 healthy, valuable sons, brothers, and fathers. This does not include the men and women who have been wounded physically and mentally from the trauma of war. Don't be goaded into staying longer over there Mr. McKay, Canada has much to be proud of.

    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Water Surpluses, and the Outlook is Good

    November - December 11th (at least) would be the Christmas time of year if you were into the bulk water business here in St. John's/Avalon/many parts of Newfoundland. Sure it is relentlessly dismal, dreadful, gross and imprisoning, but hey, maybe all this rain might uncork the genie out of the lakes for the waterboys. There is no shortage of this resource around here. Take a look at the long range forecast below.   Related update
    This post was meant mainly as light-hearted look at our rainy weather, but really a headline like this from CNN is a reminder of how valuable our water resources are, and could raise the issue of bulk water exporting which was controversial about a decade ago when Gisbourne Lake was being considered to use.

    Here's a blurb from the CNN story:
    The value of water is starting to become apparent in America. Over the past three years a drought has affected large swaths of the country, and conflicts over water usage may become commonplace in the future, climatologists say.

    When the price of oil goes down businesses get their stimulus package

    Just filled up the car, and saved $25 compared to a July fill-up costing $62. Now if rent, milk, and many other products came down in price it would seem fair. The cost of rising fuel gets passed on to consumers. This year's rent increase was rationalized by higher oil prices, but it would be quite the surprise to see something like rent come down as oil prices fall. Makes one wonder how many companies/businesses already have gotten their stimulus packages because of price mark-ups which stayed the same despite lower transportation costs for example. The reports earlier this year that $100-a barrel oil is here to stay seemed pretty convincing at the time, and it was a nice justification for anyone to boost product prices (hello Newfoundland Power). If this consumer saved $25 on 46 litres of gas, then transport vehicles and other modes of transport that rely on the same cheaper fuel, must be saving proportionally a similar amount.

    Here is a summary of Newfoundland & Labrador gas prices for the last 20 years.

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    NL has Surefire Plan to Boost Tourism

    What, you say, could bring more tourists to our province? There is one certain answer, set up a Tim Horton's franchise. The first trial of this new plan is being tested at Signal Hill, and there are plans to set up similar attractions at rural and isolated but beautiful places in the province. Advertising will be cost effective - it will mainly be by word of mouth and by aroma.Click to enlarge
    There are critics though, The Daily Telegraph has condemned the idea saying that some other restaurant should be put on historic sites like Signal Hill, like Mr. Submarine, where they sell less fattening food. The Telegraph makes a great point - a healthier restaurant would send a better message to tourists.

    Tuesday, December 09, 2008

    Huge Surplus Great News, but Includes Big Message - More Economic Diversity Needed

    As was expected for this current year there is a huge surplus, $1.27 billion. That's because for most of the year, the price of oil was grossly high. While it hurt individuals, it was great for the province. Next year could be very different. The price of oil is near $40/barrel - bad for province because oil prices can ride the roller coaster in any year, and even finance minister Kennedy said that we could be looking at up to a $600 million deficit. Consumers are getting a well deserved break, and surely do not wish to again pump their cash into pumps so that this province can be enjoying huge surpluses. The province should promote more economic diversification - that's a message that's old, but still true.

    Monday, December 08, 2008

    John Lennon & Yoko in their own Words & Music

    This is the last interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, on Dec. 8, 1980. In this audio clip he talks about their innovative peace vision and activism, from the late '60s and early '70s. He talks about envisioning a peaceful world in the same way that many years before flight, or landing on the moon, people imagined that happening - projecting into the future a better world.(By the way, this clip is part 10/13 - the other clips are very interesting as well)

    In other interviews Lennon said that in peace events like the John-Yoko honeymoon bed-in, they were aware that whatever they did after getting married, the press would be focusing on them, so they thought why not use their "opportunity" to make a new type of call for peace in the world. Prior to their PR stunts for peace, Lennon had talked with a media friend (who was alledgedly "in the know") who told him the government ultimately controls the messages the media broadcasts - in particular he referred to messages about the Vietnam war. According to Lennon, this inspired him to feed the media with anti-war messages.

    He knew his popular appeal could be used to promote and send a message that the world could be a better, safer place, and that as one of the greatest musicians ever, he had the potential to reach great numbers. Thus, he wrote songs that were not standard "Beatlish" songs, but were meant to make people think about another way of living in the world without fighting.

    John and Yoko's bed-in for peace was creative and outrageous, especially at the time, - two newlyweds lying around in bed for a week, with a room full of media, talking about peace. But that was the way John Lennon's mind worked - always wanting to explore new things, be it music arrangements, effects, melodies, lyrics, art, or political activism.

    In the video below you can hear Lennon at the 1969 Concert for Peace in Toronto. He, Eric Clapton on lead, Klaus Voorman, bass, Alan White on drums, and Yoko (Plastic Ono Band), played together for the first time and did a few numbers, including this sizzler - great vocals and lead guitar work here. Not bad for a band who never played before. By the way, this was Sept. 1969. Lennon had told friends that he was leaving the Beatles, though it was not publicly announced till April, 1970. On stage he looks similar to the famous Abbey Road shot, which was photographed the previous month. Enjoy.

    Just one more link to give a glimpse into John Lennon. On the Dick Cavett show in 1971, he discusses drugs, alcohol and why it might be that people rely on them - interesting and insightful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LftibKEA7U&NR=1

    Saturday, December 06, 2008

    A Divided House Closes for the Seizin'

    So much for cooperation and national unity for the good of the country. This seven week hiatus should really help. The skies are filled with blame missiles going back and forth. There won't be any winners in the political games going on. The liberals, NDP and Bloc do not appear as saviors of Canada's well being. But they did put more doubt on Harper's government. Even the Governor General might have to take some blame for a delay in Parliament. After all she did not have to sanction the request from Stephen Harper to suspend the next sitting of Parliament till Jan. 26, but she chose to.

    The whole talk of a coalition between the Liberals and the NDP, backed by the separatist Bloc Quebecois, was from out of the blue it appears, to Canadians. The story has dominated Canadian media coverage since the idea was aired last week. One has to wonder if the opposition had not created such a buzz that it has, would there have existed a public outcry over Harper and Flaherty's lack of an economic stimulus package in the financial announcement a couple of weeks ago. It had been an option, and they had said that such a package could be released in 2009. So would have this been for the most part, a non-issue with most Canadians? That is, most Canadians would be willing to let the government run business as usual.

    In the meantime, the next seven weeks people can really take time to decide what is the best route. Will the economy really tank during that time, or will there be a trend to? If so, then that will help people decide to either stay the course with the Conservatives or change the course with a coalition.

    Thursday, December 04, 2008

    A Dejected Jack Layton Sharpens his Attack on the Prime Minister

    Layton loses it after Prime Minister Harper convinces the Governor General to suspend Parliament till Jan. 26, thereby suspending the Bloc-backed NDP, Liberal coalition.Layton was overheard saying he was going to spearhead a bludgeoning attack, but no one saw this coming. Shocked MP's, who first thought it was the regular mace-bearer, who has a striking resemblance to the NDP leader, eventually wrestled him to the floor.

    Wednesday, December 03, 2008

    House Fire! Sparks Fly Between Dion and Harper

    The stunning news of a Separatist backed coalition has made for some hot tempered political theatre in the House of Commons Tuesday. Having not seen all episodes of the last few seasons of This Week in Parliament, I will still bet though, that yesterday's word fight between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal leader Stephane Dion, has to be the best, i.e., most real and fang showing to date!

    The unprecedented nature of the debate was passionate and befitting the dramatic, surprising and historical political stunt schemed by the three opposition parties.Harper's Tories are on the verge of being ousted from power, but will not go down without at least at week's worth of battle against what they claim, and will continue to claim, are the Liberal and NDP's dangerous affiliation with a party that has no interest in improving Canada, only Quebec. He makes an interesting point for Canadians to consider - three opposition parties, opposed to each other, with one whose goal is to get out of Canada.
    Click to see exchange, then scroll slightly down the page to view

    He also makes the point, again, to be repeated, that Canadians voted convincingly not for Stephane Dion. As well, he said that Canadians did not vote to have a coalition formed which was backed by the Bloc.

    Dion, on the other hand, should have been this fiery and passionate leading up to the Oct. 14th perhaps. As he shot back that Harper has lost the confidence of the majority of the members, it was not detectable in the video, but he must have had to wipe the spit from his chin as his busting anger toward Harper was on the extreme high blood pressure level.

    Canadian politics is dramatic to watch at this moment. Harper is a fighter, Dion is showing his charging bull side, and they both make strong arguments. The parties will be making their case for the next week. So far Harper is saying that to be fair to Canadians, an election ought to be held to prove that they in fact approve of Stephane Dion becoming Prime Minister. But will the Governor General be convinced? This is getting interesting.

    Tuesday, December 02, 2008

    Papa's gotta have a brand new bag

    Starting June 1, 2009, Toronto shoppers will pay 5 cents for new plastic bags. That's a decision city council made last night in an effort to reduce the problem of plastics in the environment. The Star article did not say whether this applies to all retail stores or just grocery stores. "Retailers will be required to accept reusable bags or containers from shoppers starting next June."

    Councillors also voted to force take-out restaurants to develop food containers made of recyclable plastic, as well as to ban bottled water from being sold in city buildings. It's good to know, but in a way, a bit hard to believe the recycled plastic use has not been enforced before.

    Will the 5 cents per bag be enough disincentive for people to really make a switch to non-plastic bags? It does not seem like much to turn people away from continue using plastic bags. If plastic bags were viewed the same way that cigarettes are, and heftier surcharges are added, it would really turn people off. Then again, maybe people would be happy to pay 40 cents per bag, just to "give back to" grocery stores.

    In the case of plastic bags people do not have to pay any price for a cleaner environment. Toronto appears to have taken a forward step in preserving our world, environment and atmosphere for future generations. It's also time our province took more measures to cut down on waste. Product replacement. Now there's an opportunity for some entrepreneurial bag makers, or sewing hobbyists to be creative... Sew B's is taken though, but now, to learn to sew.

    Monday, December 01, 2008

    How a Liberal NDP Coalition Could Come to Power

    I'll give the Opposition parties credit for at least injecting some innovative drama back into the often barren, pallid landscape of Canadian politics. Speaking of pallid, Stephane Dion, the defeated Liberal leader from the Oct. 14 election, could become Prime Minister very soon. The same man that almost immediately had Liberals planning a leadership race to replace him, and the same man charged with the Liberals' poor showing in the election. This would be a pretty neat curve ball at the Canadian electorate, who said through their votes, that they did not want Dion as Prime Minister.

    So would giving Harper's government a non-confidence vote this month, automatically mean that another election would be called? The answer is (from what this non-political expert found out) is no.

    According to Carleton University political scientist Jonathan Malloy, there is no constitutional text to describe how this specific government transition should be handled. A coalition at the federal level would be a Canadian first.

    [In 1979, Prime Minister Joe Clark who lead a minority government, could have formed a coalition government with the six Social Credit MP's, and achieved a majority government. He may have regretted not doing that, since his minority government lasted only nine months before Trudeau, who had suggested he was quitting, beat Clark in a 1980 election.]

    It could be an instance, according to Malloy, where the Governor General, Michelle Jean, could make a major political decision. If Harper's government falls, Harper could ask the Governor General to approve another federal election, but she has the discretion to not oblige, and instead, ask the Opposition to try forming a government. This scenario could conceivably be more palatable to most Canadians given that just some weeks ago, the election signs were only being picked up, taken down and stored away for future recycling.

    Interesting food for thought, but this Canuck has no appetite for what would be a wasteful election, requested by anyone, just after an unnecessary October election. Imagine the possible Liberal/NDP slogans, "You Didn't Like Dion then, But He's Great Now!", or "New Democratic and Improved"...
    see possible Liberal/NDP coalition names