Time to Cancel Via and the CBC

Via Rail 6403 CBC Paint
With few exceptions, Via Rail is always more expensive than the bus. Via is also slower. Worse, passenger trains cause congestion on the heavily used rail network. Via is subsidized. Intercity bus travel isn't (and bus companies pay gas tax and, if they manage to make a profit, income tax).

If you have ever been stuck behind a slow moving clunker or an speed limit respecting intercity bus on a two lane highway, sending part of your gas tax to Via might make sense. But when was the last time that happened? We've four laned much of the country, with limited access to boot.

Time to drop Via from the federal budget.

Are Canadians not fat enough? Do they read too much? Do they not spend enough time listening to the radio in their cars? Why do we subsidize radio and TV? I'm a fan, and I probably get more out of the CBC-Radio-Canada than I pay in taxes. Still, I'm not sure I'd pay to watch Mr D or Artic Air...

Both the CBC and Via are comparatively small federal budget items. But if the priority is healthcare and education, they should go.

Bag of Soda to Nurse a Hangover 2

I just saw Hangover 2. I was a bit dismayed that it didn't win the Oscar for best movie ever, but I'm happy that it made over half a billion dollars. Critics complain that Hangover 2 was a repeat of Hangover 1. Well, Hangover 2 is in Bankok. That's not Vegas. How more different can you get? Plus extra points for not using roman numerals.

Hangover 2, or 1 for that matter, would have been pretty mediocre had it been located in LA or Toronto. Thailand is different. Somewhere many of us want to visit, but haven't been to yet.

I think my favourite scene in Hangover 2 is when Alan (Zach Galifianakis), the stay at home son, walks down a street in Bankok with a bag of soda. A bag of soda (aka pop or carbonated soft drink)!

Orange soda in a bag

Just discoverd Qingdao, China, has one better: beer in a bag!


GeoSweep Betting on the United Church, Abominations of Satan's Handiwork?

The United Church is against gambling. Bingo is a Catholic sport, you won't find that in a United Church. My mother wasn't even allowed to play cards!

Althought the United Church is quite progressive and ever changing, you still can't gamble in a united church. However, thanks to the Altantic Lottery Corporation and its new game GeoSweep, you can gamble on a united church.

But who would, right? Well at least one person has. If you are a reporter, you can go to his house and ask questions. Althought keep in mind that if you are the type of person to bet on a church that forbids gambling, you might also be the type of person to pick some random house and write "my home" on it, for the lulz (wasn`t me).

PS. Never realised Moncton-Riverview had so many Baptist churches! They seem to be on the fence/100% in favour when it comes to gambling.

So far, nobody has dared gamble on any of Altlantic Canada's 3 mosques. Oh, but so, so close.

And yes, GeoSweep uses Google Maps, of the don't do evil company. I guess abominations of Satan's handiwork desn't qualify. :)


GIS of Trailer Trash Playing Lottery

Who buys lottery tickets? Trailer trash. This must be a sophisticated trailer park, because the lottery in question is the online-only GeoSweep, the cool Google Maps based why-didn't-I-think-of-that new lottery game of the Atlantic Lottery Corporation.

Since 2010, the mapped-based British lottery concept has been so successful that they have had to franchise it to Atlantic Canada in order to survive (Just like Ray Kroc realized you can't get rich making your own hamburgers).

I've been doing some "market research" (aka, excuse to waste time on the Google Maps interface). I've decided that Caholic Churches are indeed more popular when it comes to virtual lottery games. That one is a freebie, if you want more you will have to hire me as a consultant. 


C-38: This Means War

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2 days ago – “It's not a right wing, left wing [issue], it is right and wrong, and this iswrong. And so .... C-38 removes definitions of "suitable work" from the Employment .....


Spirits are an Affordable Luxury. But Where is Finlandia?

Spririts are an affordable luxury, or says Forbes. But why has Findlandia been off the shelves here in New Brunswick since the Fall? Further investigation reveals that it is also off the shelves in PEI and Nova Scotia. It is still present in Ontario, Quebec and Newfondland.

Why does Findlandia's ownerBrown-Forman, hate Maritime people?

Why has the sun set on Finish vodka in the Maritimes?

At this time we have no plans on bringing this back as the supplier has not approached us as yet.

From Finlandia:
I am unsure of the answer to your question, so I am going to forward your request to colleagues of mine in Canada who can better answer you.  They will get back to you at their earliest convenience.

OK, so it is established that Brown-Forman is a slow moving inefficiency American corporate bureaucracy, not quite the image I had of Finlandia, but that is a brand, not a company. Perhaps Brown-Forman doesn't hate the Martimes after all.

Any suggestions for an alternative?

Old Orchard Vs Shediac

Planning a Summer Vacation? You are in Central Canada and your kids have never seen the ocean?

Old Orchard or Shediac?

-At about half the distance, if you are driving, Old Orchard wins.

-Flying? Porter flies direct from Ottawa using a plane that leaves Toronto Island airport. Air Canada does Montreal-Moncton. Westjet and Air Canada do Pearson-Moncton. And get this, Westjet, in the Summer, does Hamilton-Moncton! I suppose you could fly to Boston if going to Old Orchard. You can actually get to Old Orchard from Boston by train (if you want to avoid a rental). Boston's airport is 150 km from Old Orchard Beach. Moncton's airport is 23 km from Parlee Beach. Conclusion, if flying, Shediac wins. 

Roller Coaster

-Old Orchard has one on the beach. Shediac? Well, nearby Moncton has a small indoor one.

-If taxes are your obsession, you can save big by going to Old Orchard (Maine: 5% (prepared food 7%), New Brunswick: 13%), as long as you don't eat or spend the night in New Hampshire (9%) (but it is OK to shop there: 0%). Keep in mind New Englanders are big spenders when it comes to other taxes such as property, estate and corporate taxes. All those can find their way into your bill, as they have an impact on the relative costs of doing business. Also, health insurance costs are significantly higher in the US for low paid employees than they are in Canada.

-Gas tax is also significantly cheaper in the USA. So much so that many in New Brunswick's border communities cross over for the sole purpose of tanking-up (you could as well when you pass Edmundston, Saint Leonard and Grand Falls, or get to Shediac via the Maine route).

Health Care
Unless you have a yacht you can sell and a house that you can mortgage, you need health insurance when travelling to the USA. You can do without in New Brunswick, particularly if you live in Ontario. Prudent Quebeckers should get insurance, as New Brunswick charges more than what Quebec reimburses. Both nearby Moncton (Shediac) and Portland (Old Orchard) have adequate hospitals and other emergency care options. Many employers provide travel health care insurance, so that could be a tie for you. $30 extra per person if your employer is stingy and you choose Old Orchard.

-No tolls in New Brunswick. Only tolls in Quebec are across the new bridge from Laval to East-Montreal ($5 per crossing when you don't have a transponder). I95 is a toll highway in Southern Maine, so expect to pay a few bucks each way when going to Old Orchard. If you decided Shediac isn't far enough and want to venture onto Prince Edward Island, 85 km away, then expect to pay $45 per car (you pay on the way back). 

Both Shediac's Parlee and Old Orchard's beach are nice. Both also offer nice day-trip beaches 90km away if you need a change of beach venues (Hampton and Kouchibougouac). However, in the Summer the water will undeniably be warmer in Shediac. On the plus side, the water is usually too cold for even the jelly fish in Maine (but they have sharks). The waves are also significantly higher in Maine, as Shediac's beach is sheltered by Prince Edward Island, across the Northumberland Straight. Despite the cooler water, the air will probably be warmer at Old Orchard, as it is significantly further south.

The local season starts in August in Shediac. But further north they start in June. Fall is peak lobster fishing time in Maine, although they can legally fish year round. Neither location is know for their cuisine, and you will have to hunt unless you like your clams deep fried.
Beaches suck when it rains. Both Southern Maine and Southern New Brunswick have many sites worthy of a visit, but if it is raining, you probably won't be in the mood. Both Moncton and Portland have big malls within 30km, and both are on the beach side of town. Moncton has a zoo and a museum and a small indoor amusement park. Portland has many small museums. The city itself is fairly old and worthy of of a visit. Cities aren't why you are going to the ocean, so lets call it a tie.

Places to stay
Old Orchard definitely has more accommodation options, but if they are all booked up by beach crazed Quebec construction workers (they have a mandatory vacation during the last two weeks of July, in 2012, from July 22 to August 4) it is a moot point. Shediac only has one small hotel, and nearby motels are few and far between. But there are camping options, and Moncton is only 30km away.

Getting there is half the fun, right?
Going to Old Orchard or Shediac, you will be crossing Appalachian forests. Scenic? Sure. But it gets old real quick. Going to Shediac, you have the option of stopping in Old Quebec and Old Montreal. Going to Boston on your way to or from Old Orchard is an almost 300 km detour. Both Mount Careleton in New Brunswick, 800m, and Mount Washington in New Hampshire, 1800m, are kind of on the way to the beach, and can present interesting diversions for mountainly challenged Ontario residents. Mount Carleton offers a hard way and an easy way to walk up. Mount Washington offers a road and a train! Both mountains are the highest peeks in their respective regions (Atlantic Canada and New England). Going to Shediac, you can return or go via Maine. But don't do it for the change of scenery unless you plan on visiting the towns, as it is the same forest and the same mountain range as in New Brunswick. 
You'd never know from the signs, but Shediac is a French speaking community. Inversely, Old Orchard is very much an English speaking community, despite all the French signs aimed at vacationing Quebeckers. 

Unfortunately, thanks to Obama, who is from Hawaii, Canadians need a passport to walk, bike, drive, canoe or fly into the USA. Thanks to Canada's federal government, passports are expensive as the passport fee is used to finance European embassies. Quebec is still Canadian, so you can get to New Brunswick without a passport.

If you can't decide between Old Orchard and Shediac, flip a coin! There will be an other Summer next year... 



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Hat tip to Coold Hunter for Alesund.

Oceans Make People Socialists

At first I thought is was salt water, but then how do you explain Corsica. Mountains? Nope. Borders? Maybe. But the most logical illogical explanation for the French election results is that the Oceans make people vote Socialist (unless they live off the coast of Madagascar).

As you know, the same is true in the USA (replacing Socialist with Democrat). New Yorkers and Californians have systematically voted for the federal Democrats. Folks in the Gulf of Mexico, not so much.

The Ocean theory breaks down in Canada thanks to Ontario and Quebec being oceanically challenged and Atlantic Canada being all over the political map. Still, Alberta is staunchly Conservative. And there are no oceans in Alberta. 

In French, You Only Capitalize the First Word of a Title

This is a For Your Information post from a blogger who lives in a very fragile glass house. Heaven knows, spelling, typo avoidance and grammar are not my strong suites.

However, since the error is most often made by English speaking writers, I thought I'd point it out. Because capitalizing every word in a title in French basically screams out "Written By Anglo".

Here are some examples of proper title capitalization in French. Here, the Bloc Québécois gets around the rule, sort of, by writing in all caps. By the way, the Q of Québécois should be lowercase, but you could forgive the implied "des" which would make it OK (Bloc de Québécois as in bloc of Quebeckers and not Quebec bloc). 

Once you have mastered that, you can move on to subtleties like these:
Can you explain Nouveau Parti démocratique ? Also, note the capital  E in "La journée mondiale de l'Environnement" but the lower case of Journée mondiale des océans, found here.

Update: Just realised Blogues Progressites is OK if you accept that it implies "de" as in Blogues de Progressistes. And since the English title is Progressive Bloggers, not Progressive Blogs, I suppose it does.


Blocking the Metro to the F1 Race is Dangerous

This is just wrong on so many levels. "Ligne jaune" (yellow metro line) is the way the vast majority of spectators will get to Montreal's F1 race tomorrow. To get to the yellow metro line from Montreal, you'd use the Berri-UQAM station. To advocate that people should congregate in protest at the bottom of the station (the yellow line is under the other two lines at the station), in a very confined area, adjacent to a track powered with a deadly electric rail, is at best ill though out, at worse completely immoral. The platform will be jammed packed with race fans, continuous fed with a never-ending flow down the stairs from the other lines and the station above. 

I've been on strike working in the public sector. I get that being annoying jerks is part of the process. And thousands and thousands of fellow citizens within earshot is understandably appealing. But the platform of the yellow line on race day? No.

The other call to action at the adjacent-to-the-station, and above ground, Place Emilie Gamelin, is far better. People can get noticed without fear of third rail electrocution. Smoke and tear gas will dissipate. And if the police start arresting protesters, it is fairly easy to leave (and come back). There certainly won't be as many people passing by (changing from the green and orange lines doesn't require going above ground), but it is exponentially safer (call for blood notwithstanding).

Now, although I'm a New Brunskwicker, I'm also a huge F1 fan. So I'm not exactly neutral. However, there is a difference between being a jerk and annoying in order to get the population and their elected representatives to give in and give them their cost of living raise (or in the student's case, keep tuition increases at the rate of inflation) and protesting the Formula 1 because you are against the Formula 1. Stay on message. The message is tuition.

Oh and by the way, on average, people who graduate from university pollute far more than people who don't. The reason? Their salaries are far higher, on average, than those who don't. The more money you spend, usually, the more you pollute. You could even argue that delaying purchases of cars and houses is a good thing, environmentally. 


Mad Men is a Beautiful Thing That You Can Own

I'm not sure what iTune's cut is (at least 30%) but based on the TV
ratings, the show Mad Men would barely be viable even if all it's
regular 3.5 million American viewers forked over $3 every week to buy

Man Men depends or cross subsidisation via subscriptions. People who
pay for AMC because the channel they really want is part of the same
package. Same applies for Netflix.

I don't have cable and love the show too much to wait for it to show
up on Netflix. So I pay $3 a week for the HD privilege. I'd be happy
to pay less if iTunes Canada had a rental option, but as a result, I
own a beautiful thing.


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