Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: It Scares Us Too (ManLinkWeek 7)

If you'd happened to wonder, here is what Highway 8 looked like on our warmest November 24th in history:

Knowing full well that it's nine degrees out, but still having to try and outrace the sun before it drops at 4:30 PM? Weird feeling, man.

The sandbag walls along southwestern Lake Winnipeg appear to be undisturbed thus far, though, so you know what? I'll take it.

On to ManLinkWeek!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: Everything is Terrible, There's Your Local News (ManLinkWeek 6)

We're proud of the ManLinkWeek name!
So proud of its glory and fame

[Markosun's Blog: Winnipeg Blue Bombers fight song circa 1970's]
The continued problem of working around the lyric "We're best in the West" is probably why you don't hear this tune played too often any more, it being a difficult task to squeeze "except for those years when Ottawa fails to support a team, during which time we quote-unquote 'move' to the East for the sake of league parity" into the song structure.

I noted also in listening to it that it sounds to be a newer version of the first song you hear on this album -- meaning I have no idea how old the song actually is, since the excerpts on that album were undated.

I've gleamed from a bit of online inquiry that this particular recording of the track -- very much in the style of the times -- is an arrangement by Canadian big-band director Dal Richards for the 1968 album "Canadian Football Songs", which you can listen to in its entirety here. (96kbps MP3, granted, but c'mon -- what were you expecting, FLAC?)

If you gain nothing else from today's post, at least now you know more about the Blue Bombers' fight song (officially titled "Bombers' Victory March") than you did when you woke up this morning. Also, the Riders' fight song was stolen from Wisconsin. JUST THROWING THAT OUT THERE

[West End Dumplings: Great Winnipeg Stadium Moments: Construction (1953)]
Sunday's CFL Eastern Final also marked the last significant use of Winnipeg Stadium (officially "Canad Inns Stadium" in its final years, but that's all behind us now), triggering the inevitable mental switchover between referring to it as "the current stadium" and referring to it as "the previous stadium". So here's everything you ever wanted to know about the previous stadium but were afraid to ask, more specifically a link to the opening post of (fellow Winnipeg Internet Pundit) Christian Cassidy's eight(!)-part series on the history of the venue.

[David A. Wyatt's All-Time List of Canadian Transit Systems: Winnipeg Transit and Osborne Junction (Confusion Corner)]
Speaking of sweeping historical research initiatives, this page is part of a broader project to profile the evolution of transit systems across the country, which is a crazy impressive scope to behold. I honestly never had any idea that Gladstone School ever actually existed, for how rarely it's mentioned and how long before my time it was demolished. And, wow, few things are as discouraging as realizing that north Pembina looks almost exactly the same as it did fifty years ago. Jump in any time, developers!

[Uptown Magazine: Friends of the... Public Safety Building?]
Last week was hectic enough that I'd even neglected to plug my own column, an oversight I will sheepishly rectify this week. But guys, seriously, we need to figure out what we're doing with this thing; you will get absolutely no sympathy from me if the first I hear about this problem is slightly ahead of the police moving to their new building. How delayed does this really have to be? If we want to save it, let's decide we're saving it; if we want to knock it down, let's make arrangements to knock it down; if we want to sell it, we should be going balls to the wall to find a buyer as we speak. Keep in mind this is a city that has previously listed property with its favourite realtor nine months before council agreed it should be sold, so this whole thing would be long since solved by now if anyone were genuinely interested in getting it done.

[Anybody Want A Peanut?: Winnipeg Police Service Strategic Plan]
The police department's Strategic Plan through 2014 dropped this past Friday, to generally tepid public reaction. This cherenkov post on the matter gets in the best zinger of the week with the printer crack, but also notes as an aside that -- with our continued expansion of land use relative to our teensy population growth rate -- the city is actively losing population density every year.

[Christopher Leo: The price Winnipeg pays for subsidizing new roads]
And we've bankrupted ourselves by building outwards. So there's that. It's going real well, around here.

"Although it is claimed the city can’t afford to fix the old roads, there is always money available for new roads. And that is the nub of the problem."

It doesn't help that our old-ass water pipes are exploding again, either. The best that any of us can hope to do at this point is bombard Justin Swandel with subliminal messaging about consolidating development into the core, so that one morning he'll wake up believing it was his idea and then it'll be official city policy by noon that day.

god, this city

[CookBook Adventures: Bannock Step By Step]
To end on something that doesn't make me want to throttle somebody, here's a helpful tutorial for traditional local fare if you feel like getting your Voyageur on early. The more traditional written recipe is here, but the step-by-step photo tutorial is way more helpful for schlubs like me whose most successful baking attempts were with 40-watt bulbs.

Tune in next time for more ManLinkWeek!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: You Must Believe that You're the Champion (ManLinkWeek 5)

I keep meaning to do posts other than these, but in the meantime, let's have ourselves another ManLinkWeek:

[CBC.ca: Winnipeg breaks homicide record with 35th death]
Welp, there it is, then. That's the kind of year it's been, around here, that we'd break the city's previous annual record for homicides by the midpoint of November.

Winnipeg may or may not be officially recrowned as the Murder Capital of Canada next year, owing to the measurement methodology employed on the subject by Statistics Canada, but the balance and the difference between homicide rate and homicide count kind of muddle the whole point. Thunder Bay was considered the Murder Capital for 2010 with a omicide rate of 4.2 homicides per 100,000 people, comparative to Winnipeg's rate of 2.8 homicides per 100,000 people, but the total homicide count in Thunder Bay last year was five. The current Murder Capital of Canada had as many homicides last year as Winnipeg had in one fire this year. It's not been a good year, around here.

My point is this: we like to make a big deal of the comparative numbers each year and each time they're released, but we should probably worry less about how Winnipeg measures nationally and worry more that our city has now recorded more homicides this year than in any other year, in history, ever.

[The View from Seven: Fixing “Under-Educated Manitoba” could help ensure that Jets, Ikea are here to stay]
And we're stupid. So, I mean, things could be going better.

An insightful piece of research and analysis from Kevin McDougald on the benefits of working smarter rather than working harder, which is a continued challenge for a province that has "traditionally been better at producing high school dropouts than scientists".

The article places a particular emphasis on the value of the sciences, but really, I don't think it will come as any particular revelation to the reader that a Science degree makes you vastly more employable and wealthy than an Arts degree will. You can't just get any old degree! I myself have a Double Honours Bachelor's in History and Political Studies and a Master's of Library and Information Science, and this unique combination of education and experience -- credentials earned by over half a decade of hard work, with knowledge and skills forged by years of toil and sacrifice under tens of thousands of dollars of debt -- has brought me what I have today: part-time night work at the Pembina Hotel beer vendor. Just... just go into the sciences, kids, just trust me on this one.

As bad as things may be, of course, there's always a bright side:

"In the 2006 census, we ranked 10th among the 13 provinces and territories in terms of the percentage of 25 to 64 year olds with post-secondary credentials in any form, whether it be a college diploma, university degree or a trades designation.

"Only Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nunavut ranked worse."



[The Masks We All Wear: Hackers Anonymous (SkullSpace)]
My doom-and-glooming aside, not all is lost on the regional brainpower front; newly-established local hackerspace SkullSpace Winnipeg celebrated its grand opening earlier this month, and this on-site report from CreComm student Justin Luschinski adds the helpful reminder that picking a lock in real life is far more complicated than Skyrim would have you believe.

There are people around town building fully-functional hovercrafts in their basements, and if you don't think that's awesome, I don't know what to tell you. (To borrow one of my favourite Tom Lehrer quotes: "it's people like that that remind you how little you've accomplished.")

[Sean Carney's Website: How about them Jets, Mr. Speaker?]
This Hansard excerpt isn't the first time that the provincial NDP have invoked our National Hockey League representation in the Legislature, but it is thus far the funniest. I also enjoy that the reaction of Speaker of the House Daryl Reid is basically just "yeah yeah, awright, you made your point, g'wan get out of here."

[Winnipeg Free Press: Santa gets stuck in Winnipeg parade]
What Staff Writer declined to note in this story about the Santa Claus Parade failing to get Santa to The Forks properly is that... I don't think they've ever managed to get Santa to The Forks properly.

I know they couldn't pull it off in 2006, I'm told they couldn't pull it off in 2009, and I remember at least one other year having a mini-flurry of news stories after the fact about the lack of Santa in the Santa Claus parade by the time it got off Main. (Both of our major papers have since completely revamped their web architecture, so the hell if anyone knows where anything is any more.) But what can they do? The Santa at the end is the only Santa allowed in the parade, so he has to have a huge float to instill the necessary presence, but then they can never get it to fit under the bridge. Curse our antiquated civic infrastructure!

[Kijiji Winnipeg: Wanted: Winnipeg Sun - May 18, 1995]
Well, fortunately I carry two copies of that specific issue on my person at all times, so I'm sure I could--no, okay, seriously, what is this.

My favourite detail is the placement stressing that it has to be an "original", like all he can ever find on eBay are the reproductions and it just pisses him off every time. It's also fun to imagine the reasoning behind why it has to be that exact edition, including:

-- copy editor from 1995 still paranoid he left an 'r' off of 'embarrassment' on page six
-- cognitively unable to handle happiness for Jets' return; need depressing old headlines around to feel normal again
-- inherited complete collections of April and June 1995 Winnipeg Suns, and at that point you may as well just fill in the gaps
-- Black-o-rama Reggae Festival coverage especially well done that year
-- through elaborate series of wacky sitcom contrivances, accidentally spilled coffee on attractive neighbour's prized copy of May 18th, 1995 Winnipeg Sun while housesitting
-- contains fascinating article about this new information superhighway thing
-- wife was the Sun Girl for May 18th, 1995; intended divorce court strategy to "expose that bitch" about to backfire spectacularly
-- somebody wants that newspaper because that was the day they were born, and oh god i just realized how old i am jesus christ

[WITCHPOLICE: Time Travel: Various - Ska is Back in Town]
(cached version, if that link isn't working)
We'll close this out on a high note with this vintage little A1 Records compilation; it has a couple of fun tracks on it, but I am linking this almost solely for the free downloadable MP3 of Gregory Kraj's "Champion Reggae" because that song makes pretty well anything better.

"If you want to be a champion! You must believe that you're the champion!"

Next Tuesday, more ManLinkWeek!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: We Got Roads Ahead (ManLinkWeek 4)

I'm still experimenting with post themes and post times for this segment, so let's jump right in with week four:

[bigsugar.com: REVOLUTION PER MINUTE fall NATIONAL TOUR dates announced.]
Very few things in the big wide world warm the cynical cockles of my heart quite like the knowledge -- the very idea -- that Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason both have new albums and are touring the country together in the year 2011. The tour rolls through the Walker dammit the Burton Cummings Theatre for the Performing Arts this Thursday (and through The 40 in Brandon tomorrow night, if that's closer for you); I've already bought my ticket, and inner fourteen-year-old me is totally stoked about getting to go to this.

If I had my way -- reference, uh, unintentional -- if I had my way, these guys would staple this list to the wall and then hurl darts at it until they had enough bands together for a great big Can-rock summer tour. Not infeasible! Big Sugar, Wide Mouth Mason, the Watchmen, Econoline Crush and the Tea Party are all currently reunited; the Tragically Hip never actually stopped; Matthew Good was literally just through town yesterday. Somebody throw money at David Usher until Moist emerges, everybody agree to dedicate the tour to Dan Achen, and let's put on the best cross-Canadian tour ever! And, while I'm dreaming, I'd like a rocketship.


[The British North American Blog: Winnipeg street plan driver’s nightmare and developer’s dream]
"Do people complain that we need an underpass at Waverley? Or do they complain that we need to extend the Charleswood Bridge all the way to Bishop Grandin? I bet if you asked a thousand people to choose you would get a thousand 'what a stupid question' looks before being pummelled in the head. Underpass Underpass Underpass."

Following the recent unveiling of the City of Winnipeg's Master Transportation Plan, suffice it to say that nobody's much impressed. (Ditto for the city's short-term transit plans, too.)

[One Man Committee: You can't get there from YWG (at least not directly)]
Remember how everybody had a good laugh when Barry Rempel tried to convince money-savvy Winnipeggers that flying out of Winnipeg was every bit as inexpensive as flying out of Grand Forks? Oh, man, those were good times. (They've since deleted the comments thread on that story, which is really too bad, because dang if the public reactions to that claim weren't amazing.)

But even if Winnipeg could hypothetically close the price gap, through some combined miracles of fare competitions and wildly beneficial exchange rates, this fine Walter Krawec post reminds us that there'd still be the problem of actually getting anywhere efficiently from our airport. Ahh, it's always something, I guess.

Interesting sidenote: the front page of the Grand Forks International Airport website boasts that "GFK is proud be the closest U.S. international airport to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada." How odd must that proclamation look to anybody from anywhere else?

[Google Maps: Brandon Beer]
You know how it is, sometimes: you find yourself in an unfamiliar locale, and you don't really know where you're going or where anything is, but you have a dire and urgent need of beer. Hey, it happens! So if such a scenario should strike while you're in or around Brandon, this recent geolocational initiative of The Cranky Beer Blogger will have your back.

[Winnipeg Free Press: Gang war hits ticket revenue]
This is a real thing: according to Winnipeg Police Service Chief Keith McCaskill, the police department is $1.4 million short on its financial statement for the year because gang activity and violent crime in the summer meant they couldn't have enough police issuing traffic tickets. The city was very, very much counting on these tickets being issued, having predicated its overall budget on the expectation of continuous traffic revenue, so this unforeseen circumstance -- "reduced resources for traffic-ticket enforcement", the continued inconvenience of having to deploy police officers for crimes rather than infractions -- directly caused a quarter of our civic deficit for the year.

To recap, keeping people safe from violent crime isn't as lucrative as sitting in a van on Bishop Grandin, so the police chief had to go to city council and explain why he doesn't have the money they wanted. Well, we have to have our priorities, after all; what good is public safety if it isn't profitable? What kind of world do we even live in when the new cops we hired aren't paying for themselves? Knowing our city, the solution is obvious: we must hire more cops.

[Love me, love my Winnipeg: One stop shopping?]
The reactionary NIMBYism of Winnipeggers is so overwhelmingly powerful that people don't even want 7-Elevens in their neighbourhood, and that's in a city that prides itself on its Slurpee consumption.

(I'm not entirely sure which section of that last sentence is the worst part.)

But it bears mention that these assorted Slurpee stations, new and old, may also soon become the cheapest and most convenient way to rent (physical copies of) recent DVD releases -- especially since everywhere in town that used to be a Blockbuster location is now either a fitness centre or a "leasing opportunity".

[RetroWinnipeg YouTube: Valu Rent a Car commercial (1984)]
I tell you what: every time I watch this, every single time, the third guy playing the butler cracks me up with his maniacal cartoon villain laughter at the very end. Nothing against David Keam and "You'll find us!", but holy hell, local commercials used to be amazing.

"When you're stars, image is everything!"
"hyeh ha ha ha"

And that's your ManLinkWeek!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: Always So Good for So Litt--[Signal Out of Range] (ManLinkWeek 3)

It's been another big week, so let's open with the most time-sensitive information:

[Information Tsunami: Ambassador Gary Doer, streaming Nov. 1]
If you don't have anything down in your day planner for 10:00 this morning, you are invited to watch a live stream of Premi dammit Ambassador Gary Doer speaking to Creative Communications students at Red River College. What about, I have no idea; it could be "Brain Drain is Awesome: How to Get Out of This Province", for all I know. You know you'd watch that, too, don't pretend like you wouldn't.

I don't know what Doer's itinerary is for the rest of the day, but maybe after the speech he'll drop by the Legislature and it'll be really awkward. That'd be amazing, wouldn't it? Like Selinger stands beside him to shake his hand, starts to lean in for a half-hug, Doer glares at him and shakes his head 'no', and then they just keep shaking hands painstakingly slowly.

if i lapse into longform fanfiction i need you to promise you'll shoot me

[CBC.ca Player: Winnipeg's air terminal opens (1964) (via West End Dumplings)]
"Modern facilities required by the Air Age are housed in this new, 13-million-dollar terminal project."

Everything old was new, once, so get a load of this: twelve minutes of black and white (!) documentary-slash-promotional footage for our then-new, now-abandoned Airport terminal, with persuasive narration and bursts of swank 1960s production music and everything.

Jump to about 8:45 in for some hilariously baffled patron reactions to the modern art ("It's god-awful." "I don't know what it's... supposed to represent.") and the narrator's chuckling transition of "Whatever your taste in art, it... calls for a drink." Really, just watch the whole thing straight through, it is pretty fantastic.

"Thirteen million dollars is a lot of money... but it's given us something to be proud of. A thing of beauty as well as utility. In a way, I suppose it's also given us a better stake in the future. We'll get used to the modern art in time, I guess."

lol nope

[Urban Compass by Colin Fast (Metro Winnipeg): Welcome to the ’peg: watch your back]
As I'm sure you've noticed several times before, we as a city and as a province distract very, very easily; we are Dug the Talking Dog, and the police helicopter is our squirrel.

Our once and future Policy Frog combines the unveiling of the new Airport and a nearly-simultaneous shooting death on McPhillips to call out our leaders, of all stripes and styles, who prefer "random acts of publicity" to the actual hard and dirty work of pursuing and implementing lasting solutions.

And he's right! Local politicians and authorities will continue in perpetuity to roll out any cynical lipservice they can afford, unless we hold them to account, and the time is now for we the common people to rise up and--SWISS CHALET

[Observations, Reservations, Conversations: Swiss Chalet Now Open in Winnipeg]
I used to date a girl in Ontario whose absolute favourite thing to eat was Swiss Chalet, whose favourite luxury was ordering it online and having thirteen-dollar chicken delivered right to her door, so I am qualified to tell you that affection for Swiss Chalet is not necessarily a regional quirk; it is not necessarily a Winnipeg thing, nor is it necessarily an Ontario thing. Definitely a white people thing, though! White people love Swiss Chalet, oh man, that shit is white people catnip. Hold the little container of that weird sauce near the carpet and they roll over for it, it's great.

John Dobbin -- incidentally a guest on this week's Winnipeg Internet Pundits! -- notes in a later update that "no other post I have written has ever come close to matching Swiss Chalet for traffic", and reports indicate that the store has been consistently slammed since its opening. Between this and our collective civic post-Jets afterglow, there are probably a lot of people figuring we can bring back anything and everything we used to have back in the day; the Occupy Winnipeg encampment will be infiltrated and then eventually overtaken by signs like "WE WANT CONSUMERS DISTRIBUTING" and "BRING BACK GRAPES", assuming this hasn't happened already.

[AlysonShane.com: Let's get serious for a moment]
For a city that so desperately declares itself 'world-class', holy smokes, are we ever bad at things like wireless hotspots. You can walk around other cities with a Nintendo DS and get better internet access than our computers get here, our town still about a decade behind on the whole idea of it actually being the 21st century.

Remember when our Mayor made a campaign promise to establish a downtown-wide Wi-Fi network? In 2006? It's going real well, so far!

Ahhhh, I shouldn't pick on the guy too much, though; he may be the third least popular Mayor in Canada, but he does have his supporters, like--

[Winnipeg Sun: Who is the real Sam Katz?]
--wait, what

Okay, did Sam Katz stonewall a Sun TV interview request, or what is this? Did Metro Winnipeg land a plum Goldeyes sponsorship deal? Did he run over Laurie Mustard's dog?

Katz is the same Katz he's ever been, the same kind of guy making the same kind of decisions with the same kind of mental processes -- but last year the Sun assured us he was "the mayor Winnipeg needs" who "can be depended upon to keep the city gradually moving forward" and "can also be trusted to keep his word when it comes to freezing property taxes for at least one more year", and now this year they think he's a promise-breaking disappointment scumbag poop.

The headlines within the span of a year have literally -- literally -- gone from "Winnipeg's Caped Crusader" to "Katz, you're no hero". He's the same guy he was before, Sun dudes, I don't know what to tell you.

Okay, seriously, though, what did he do? Did he shoot a cop? He shot a cop, didn't he.

[Upper Deck Blog: Upper Deck Celebrates the Return of the NHL in Winnipeg with a Special Jets Set]
Hockey card collectors, traders and prospectors converging on Winkler Video and Thompson Book Nook? It's more likely than you think!

After all the chaos of uprooting and replanting a hockey franchise, particularly the delays in jersey design and related merchandise, it appears that sports fans will be able to get hockey cards of the Jets in uniform after all. Not of all the Jets, mind you, and not inexpensively; the article mentions buying "select amount of 2011-12 Upper Deck NHL packs" to get three Jets cards, and their declining to specify the amount of packs indicates it'll probably be a fair number of packs.

The front designs of all fifteen cards are included in the link above, and one of the cards in this "special 15-card set of current Jets players" is Mark Scheifele, who was reassigned to the Barrie Colts last week. So, uh... whoops. Is there such a thing as a pre-rookie card?

Mind you, though -- the Phoenix Coyotes have banned pressbox photography after the media kept taking embarrassing shots of the mostly empty arena during games, so I suppose there are worse problems to have than a limited availability of player cards. Right? Right.

So on that cheery note -- see you next time for more ManLinkWeek!