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About that storm…

… that we had in Ottawa yesterday.

  • All things considered, I think the City staff and equipment handled the situation the best they could. More than fifty centimetres of snow fell in about a 14 hour span… very challenging for City crews. Hopefully the aftermath will be cleared away quickly.
  • What switch doesn’t go off in some drivers’ heads during a storm? Clearly it’s the “wow, I guess I should slow down” switch
  • Speaking of failed switch openings – please, please, PLEASE clean off your vehicle BEFORE you leave the parking lot! Do NOT do so in the middle of a busy street after your “clear the car of snow” switch finally does trip.
  • Last -and this will be sure to bug some of my cycling friends. I get it that you pedal-pushers have the right to share the road with we drivers. And normally I never have issues with that. But do you really, REALLY have to exercise that right in the middle of one of the biggest storms EVER and cycle along one of the busiest streets in Ottawa (Heron road and Riverside Drive, for those of you in the know). Witnessed this yesterday (and not for the first time)… couldn’t see a freaking thing because of the blowing snow but here’s this idiot, riding along, cars swerving to avoid him… being a hazard to himself and others! Can the City pass a bylaw prohibiting this type of activity? Or maybe a change to the Highway Traffic Act is in order? It is sheer lunacy to cycle in those conditions.


Yet another rant about texting…

… and driving.

So here I was last week, coming home from work along my usual route. I stopped at the Heron/Riverside lights and looked around me at the other vehicles. I really wasn’t to surprised to see that every one of the drivers were “heads-down”, furiously typing away or reading whatever was on their screens.

I have included a diagram below, for illustrative purposes. I have even given my intersection buddies cute nicknames.

I mean, I’m SURE whatever they were doing was vital and important. Maybe it was the latest post from Mashable. Maybe the newest trailer from Game of Thrones. Maybe they were discussing the effect of fracking on climate change. I really don’t know.

But I’m sure it was important.

Look, I’m not pretending to be the ideal driver who obeys every rule. I speed, for example. Not in residential areas, mind you, but my cruising speed on the 400-series highways is often over 120 kph if the conditions are OK.

But using a mobile device – EVEN IF PARKED AT AN INTERSECTION – is just plain old stoooooopid!

And I’m not big on bellowing for better police enforcement on something, but this is one completely asinine act that has to be clamped down on… soon.

Here endeth my rant.



Stupid – it be them…

Oh crap-be-gone… WHY does this keep coming up???????

C’mon – if you’re trying to score political points with your fellow troglodytes, please pick something that won’t hurt kids, OK? Like claiming Obama is a socialist. Or a Canadian. Still stupid, but it won’t hurt anyone.

But noooooooooooooo…. here we go with vaccines…. again….

… it has been deeply disturbing to hear Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaking from the fear-mongers’ playbook. During last week’s debate in Tampa among the Republican presidential hopefuls, Bachmann described the vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV) in sinister terms, calling it “flat out wrong” to have “innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection.” Making matters worse, Bachmann told TV interviewers after the debate that a mother had come up to her to say her daughter had become mentally retarded after receiving the HPV vaccination.

Presidential candidates get big megaphones and an outsized opportunity to steer the national debate. But there’s an implicit requirement to be careful, and even by the low standards of political speech, Bachmann’s nationally broadcast suggestion that a vaccine can cause mental retardation was appallingly irresponsible.

If Bachmann had bothered to check before repeating the story, she would have found that there has been no link between the HPV vaccine and mental retardation after 35 million doses. Though every vaccine can have side effects, those have to be measured against the greater good. HPV causes almost all of the more than 12,000 cases of cervical cancer that occur every year, killing about 4,200 women, and the best time to administer the vaccine is before girls become sexually active.



Friday miscellany

FINALLY, there is some sense inserted into the vaccine / autism “debate”. The doctor responsible for the studies that linked vaccinations to autism has been outed as nothing more than a fraud! Yup. He made up research results to prove his hypothesis.

But no studies have shown any clear link. The U.S. Institute of Medicine has issued several reports saying not only is there no evidence of a link, but urging researchers to look elsewhere for possible causes of autism, which affects an estimated 1 in 110 children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control says nearly 40 per cent of U.S. parents have some mistrust of childhood vaccines.

And that last sentence is the most damaging of all. Due to fraudsters like “Dr.” Wakefield and no-nothing ignoramuses lusting after fame – like Jenny McCarthy – diseases that were close to being wiped off the planet have instead made a comeback.

The only dude who is please with the work of hucksters like Wakefield and McCarthy is this guy:

I blogged about this yesterday and there has also been a lot of back and forth on the issue of the OCDSB’s aging infrastructure and crowded urban core schools. It is vital that the Board look for long term solutions to these problems instead of short term stop gap measures.

BUT. Before we go too far down the “blame the Board” road, remember that the OCDSB has discretionary control over only 15% of its $700 million budget – not chump change, but all they can really do is tinker around the edges. The other 85% is either revenue-neutral (you cut the program and the funding is cut by the province) or is already committed (e.g., teacher salaries). Plus – as I understand it – capital projects above a certain value MUST go through, be approved by and funded by Queens Park.

So, while some Ottawans (including me) might jump on the soap box and rage against the Board for being anti-urban and pro-suburban, remember that many of these decisions are out of their hands.

Though I still think that the overcrowding and infrastructure issues should have been foreseen by the Board… and a response better planned.

So if the province is the real problem, then parents should contact their MPP to voice their dissatisfaction. And if they tell you that their just aren’t any free funds around in these times times of economic restraint, then remind them that we have a needless and wasteful duplicate education system in Ontario. And if this were eliminated, BILLIONS would be saved! Ontario school boards will receive $20.2-billion this year, with a projected $6.7-billion going to Catholic boards.

I saw this headline on the G&M website the other day and almost fell off my chair:

RCMP wants less strict rules on disclosure to defence lawyers

The Mounties are whining that it is just way too expensive to comply with the judicial system that is an integral part of those little things I like to call “due process” and “democracy”

“There is a cost to [disclosure], and there is a cost to public safety to that. In times of strict budgets and in the tough economic times that we are in, it’s really difficult,” said Deputy Commissioner Knecht, who oversees police operations as the most senior assistant to civilian Commissioner William Elliott. “We have to take a long, hard look at disclosure, and we have to find much better ways to deal with the disclosure burden that we currently find ourselves under.”

The comments are likely to ignite an intense debate between law-and-order supporters who want to speed up the pace of law-enforcement operations, and civil libertarians who believe police powers should be constrained to prevent abuses and wrongful convictions. The RCMP in particular has been under fire for years over a variety of actions.

What costs? Photocopying? Faxing documents? Give me a break.

Finally, and I know no one wants to talk about this anymore, but yes, we did lose to the Russians at the WJHC this week.

Yes, the team choked. And yes, hockey fans from coast to coast were disappointed. But remember that there is no one more dejected than those teenage boys who tried their utmost but came up 20 minutes short. Kudos to them and congrats on the silver medal!