Sunday, November 20, 2011

Voting takes time

"I got, got, got, got no time."
- Burton Cummings 

For the working and middle classes, voter turnout is positively correlated with amount of leisure time.  How many TV news sources do we have in Winnipeg alone?  I've never heard any of them make the connection between our busy North American lifestyles and low civic involvement.

Voter turnout is, if anything, too high.  I'm more concerned with people that do twenty minutes of internet research and feel satisfied that they are making an "informed decision" than with those who say they were too busy to understand the issues and thus didn't vote.  Even worse is the party system which let's people pick a team and be done with it.

Part of the core problem with voter turnout is time.  Start by making it easier for Sundays to be a day of rest rather than a day of Home Depot-then-WalMart-then-Safeway.  Make every Sunday a stat holiday.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Plastic is worse than lead

In the past twenty years I'd bet credit cards have ruined more lives than guns have.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How to Run a Business, Pt.1

This lesson is from David Thomson, one of the proud new owners of the yet-to-be-named NHL team in Winnipeg.

"One decision in which it appears Thomson had a very direct hand was the choice to scale the arena at 15,000 seats – to some minds, too small to house a contemporary NHL franchise – again, he says, drawing on his time with HBC.

“Do you build it at eighteen and a half thousand or fifteen? For those who hadn’t been in retail, you build eighteen and a half. For those who hadn’t spent time with Steve Stavro [who made his fortune in the big box grocery business], you build eighteen and a half. But the important thing is the customer experience. Yes, we have a smaller rink and I still tell people it’s too big in my opinion. More seats would have cost more money and you have to fill them. It’s not the Bell Centre. It’s not the ACC. But for Winnipeg, I think it’s the right size.”

The rest of the article is here

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hockey Rock: Winnipeg Style!

If you're like me and remember listening to Jets-style parodies in your parent's car back in the early spring of 1996, well, you'll probably be glad to hear these tunes again.

Colin James, Streetheart, and local blues man Big Dave McLean are some of the artists on this album. It was recorded and released at the start of the playoffs in '96. Here 'tis (with youtube links to some of my favorites):

I met up with the Russian, he took the puck away:

On Teppo we depend. He's all we ever need on 'D'!:

You can download the entire album here (its a good and fast download, just have to wait 30 or 40 seconds til it'll let you download... you'll see).

Track List:

1) That's One Hot Russian Jet (You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet)-R. Bachman
2) Numminen (Innocence)-Harlequin
3) Give Me A Ring King-Jennifer Hanson
4) One More Save (One More Time)-Streetheart
5) Along For The Ride (Just Came Back)-Colin James
6) The N.H.L. Hockey Blues-Big Dave MacLean
7) I Just Want To Play Hockey-Joe Gregorash
8) Jets Fight/Wear White-Big Dave MacLean and Friends
9) Regrets To The Jets-Big Dave MacLean & The Muddy-Tones

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jets Season Tickets

Looks like quality season tickets may be had for less than the $100/ticket I've been going with.

Here's what you're looking at in Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa. Prices below are per ticket, per game (assuming you buy a season ticket):

Edmonton: pretty good seat $73, really good seat $100 Edmonton seat map

Calgary: pretty good seat $60, really good seat $95 Calgary seat map

Ottawa: pretty good seat $54, really good seat $100 Ottawa seat map

SUMMARY: We'll have to wait and see, won't we?

* * * * *

Other notes: NHL Seating capacities: Seating capacity of Calgary and Ottawa is 19,000+, Edmonton is 16,839 while MTS Center seats 15,015... guess which price scheme will be closest to ours... i've seen games in Ottawa and Calgary and there are some garbage seats there, only quality here at least... prices MUCH higher at the door... cheapest ticket to a Jets game will be in neighborhood of $35 for standing room only, in my opinion.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Portage & Main May 19, 2011

These videos show what last night was like a little better than what you saw on the major news channels.

More footage. Note that at 0:39 of this clip the crowd is chanting "Burrows, Burrows..." This was the name of the #16(?) bus and also happens to be the name of a Vancouver Canucks player. People usually chanted the name of a bus when it passed (WATT! WATT! WATT! WATT! ...)

Probably my favorite moment. Somehow the whole crowd decided that this guy, who I later heard is named Andy, should give a speech. Everyone hushed down and listened. This is what he had to say:

Gotta sing O Canada! Glorious and BLUE

And I didn't know this but it was my old friend Brad who led the rush out to take the streets.

Pretty good night. Thanks Stephen Brunt. You're always welcome in Winnipeg! Even though you're a Ti-Cats fan.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Humor is the Glue of Online Communities?

That's what this article from the guardian claims. Interesting.

There's obviously something pretty powerful about humor and this might explain some of it.

Here's a quote:

"It's not surprising that so much of online content is comedy; the library of psychological and anthropological research describes humour as the glue that helps to define communities and keep them together. Psychologist Dr Rod Martin, who has published extensively on the role of humour in mental and physical health, describes it as a coping mechanism: we seek to clarify a unified reality through our interpersonal communications, but when that unified reality isn't forthcoming – because we inevitably look at the world through different frames of reference and have different interpretations of what's happening around us – we poke fun at our inconsistencies, which allows us to smooth them over because we are able to embrace the contradictions."

So maybe we should begin recruiting comedians for our diplomatic posts, sending our funniest to Middle East peace negotiations. Worth a shot? Why not.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Just came across this. It's exactly the sort of thing I was talking about in an earlier post. This type of presentation style is going to help spread a lot of ideas.

Watch it - its pretty cool. A short video presentation on a cloud-based way to help media sources and freelance journalists do business together.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Genius of Rebecca Black


The demographic of middle-class 7- to-10-year-olds is under-exploited from a marketing standpoint. My tongue is only partially in my cheek on that one (as in it sucks but its true).

Obviously this market segment has been targeted in the past. Its just the cartoons that worked in the past do not cut it anymore. The writing is on the wall. Kids are increasingly connected to pop culture. Way more than I am. The only thing slowing them in their embrace of technology is their parents who still park them in front of the TV.

Kids seem to be doing everything at younger and younger ages. From dating to joining gangs*. Young kids always want to be like the older kids and now there are people providing their own pop stars, singing and rapping at a first grade level.

The video is here. What market do you think is being targeted?

*I have personal experience with the latter through working with inner-city youth. Not only are existing gangs recruiting at younger ages than they have in the past, but it is becoming common for youth who are still too young to form their own gangs. In my experience this has been at the ages of 11 and 12 or so. Obviously this really sucks....

Data Presentation

There is so much information available to us.

Through the roof amounts!

I think we're primed for some very cool breakthroughs in terms of what we can do with our mountains of data. Those of us who can show glimpses of creativity and smartness might as well get to work on this. Many people already are (eg, earth kings: Google).

But there is SO MUCH more to do. The age of the plain, black and white text, up/down-only documents are over. Video? More video.

And don't tell me to buy an iPad. I think that the coolest breakthroughs will be the ones that we can fit in by using or modifying existing technologies.

Finally, here's a little example of how we can present the lyrics to Rebecca Black's song Friday!

Wordle: Rebecca Black - Friday

Who knew she said so few words, so many times?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Groupon Effect

The 'Groupon effect' has already begun to change how people buy things. It will soon change how we vote - and everything else.

For those not familiar with "Groupon" it is a business that provides consumers with an enticing offer to buy coupons worth 50%-80% off at local businesses. Every day is a different offer and you only get 24 hours to buy or let the deal pass. If you need more info google it.

The important things here are:

- groups of people have power
- businesses and organizations increasingly want to identify groups so they can cater to them.
- this is really, really popular right now

I believe that many areas of life are heading in this direction. In politics there have long been lobby interests for industries (milk producers) or causes (drunk driving). Now, a group like MADD can form in an evening online through twitter, facebook, and whatever comes next. It won't have a president or constitution but it will have leadership and be real. We're entering a world more friendly to group-forming thanks to social media.

Yeah... people are going to want to group themselves for community. Then they'll find that they have influence, too.

Monday, March 21, 2011

This Is Remarkable

TED Talks often pretty great. This one had my jaw dropped right down to the floor.

Just over half of the talk is on how infants learn to speak, then at the 11:48 mark presenter Deb Roy applies his research to social connectivity. It is worth watching.

He presented 3-D maps of the social universe. Media sources on one plane and viewers/commenters on another, with a web of connections between the two planes and a web of connections between the viewers/commenters themselves. It was as if someone made the Internet into a model city.

MUCH to infer from this. But all I'm going to say for now is that this is very important. This is world-is-round stuff.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We All Suck at Tipping

Why the hell do you tip? Probably for bad reasons I'll bet.

A) You are rewarding your server for past performance - ie the meal you just ate.
B) You are trying to build a good reputation at a restaurant you frequent.
C) Its just part of going to a restaurant.

"A" is a good response. If the server made you go "Wow!" in some little or big way, or maybe just 'cause he or she is hot, leave a big tip. No prob.

"B" I really like, but then I've never been a "regular" anywhere. It makes sense to tip well at a restaurant you frequent. It's an investment in future service.

"C" is lame. Okay, most restaurants require servers to share a percentage of their tips with the cooks and this is based on their net sales, so a tip of $0 actually costs them money. Also, minimum wage (or thereabouts) alone would be unfair to the server in most cases. It's not the easiest job in the world.

BUT - for pete's sake a lot of servers make damn decent money for being on the ball on refilling your coffee cup. If you don't think there's surplus money at this position, ask how many servers resume's they have on file next time you're at a popular restaurant.

I think most of us tip - and tip pretty well - because we want to feel like "good tippers". If you're not coming back to this restaurant twenty times in the next year why bother giving that 20% tip? Just leave 10% and be done with it. If you need to scratch your generosity itch, consider who else may be more in need of your money.

Friday, March 11, 2011

post #1

As of right now I am a light user of social media. I've had a facebook account for several years which I'm not particularly active on and a recently created twitter page.

Right or wrong I've been convinced that social media is worth understanding because it might be damned valuable to use. Recent events in the Middle East and speeches by US Defense Secretaries of all things have led me to believe this.

I don't need or even really like attention - or at least appearing to seek it. This may be a big hurdle...

Was up at 4am researching how to be more effective on twitter and plan on buying a book on this subject.

This is step one I believe.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Return of the Jets, pt.2

Thanks for reading pt.1! Here is pt.2. Will the Jets return? This post answers that very question!


The world changed one cold September morning... of 2008. That was when the US economy crashed.

If the Jets DO come back it will be because of two words: "recession" and "parity". The metro Phoenix area has over 4.3 million people (does this include illegal immigrants?) who potentially like team sports. It also has a ton of corporations who may not like hockey best, but probably like tax write-offs just fine. I know this hasn't panned out for the Coyotes yet but it was at least worth a shot - and for Bettman it looks like it is still far better than the other alternatives. Sure the Coyotes have lost a lot of money since they moved there but it took the entire US economy to tank to even have them MAYBE moving back to Winnipeg.

Winnipeg's hopes for an NHL team depend on the Canadian dollar trading at parity with its US counterpart. The financial community sees this happening for the foreseeable future, ie. the next ten to twenty years. So if you find yourself watching Sidney Crosby play our boys in the MTS Center in the next year or two, you'd better thank God we live in the same country as those Albertans with their sandy, black gold.


People will name their children "Goldwater" if the Jets come return in 2011 - and for good reason.

The city of Glendale (along with the NHL, I imagine) came up with quite a creative plan to make the Coyotes a palatable purchase. As I said above, they essentially figured out a way to give $197 million of taxpayer money to a private business. And it came really close to working.

Unsurprisingly, someone did have a problem with giving $197 million to a rich guy. The Goldwater Institute not only didn't like it, they also believed it to be unconstitutional (although if the $197 million was paid to Hulsizer in the form of guns I believe it would've been legit) and threatened to sue. Actually they sent out a letter to potential investor's in the city of Glendale's bond offering (that's how city's come up with lump sum money up front) advising them that they may be suing.

Goldwater has had their clout increase from annoying to powerful. Their letter scared away those who thought Glendale would not become the next Greece (now threatening to not pay back its debts), and this week they were paid the highest form of respect: they were sued by the city of Glendale. Stephen Brunt has long pointed out that those in Goldwater ideologically driven and zealots in their cause against government waste. They do not appear to be backing down.

Final Thoughts

Matthew Hulsizer has said that he will not sweeten his offer for the Coyotes nor should he. So, as bad as this deal sounds for the citizens of Glendale I don't think he feels he's ripping them off. The city of Glendale is begging him to take their money and suing the watchdog organization that stands in the way of the sale, so they clearly agree. Doesn't say much for the profitability of the millionaire-hockey-players-with-high-school-educations industry.

The big thing is that Goldwater can tie this up in court. How long would that take? A year? Two? Can the NHL stomach covering more operating losses and having the unprofitability of one of its franchises brought to light in court again?

This is what we're up against Winnipeg, and it's pretty much a tie. Doesn't make us feel too special, does it?

The NHL in Winnipeg...

Will be the greatest couple of years ever. I can say that with certainty. Beyond that I can only speak for myself - I don't plan on devoting huge sums of money for my own personal entertainment, and I don't plan on spending all my time thinking about the team. So I hope that its affordable for me and a lot of other regular people in this city for the long-term.

Will the Jets Fly Again in Winnipeg?

Gary Bettman is a smart, crafty villain of a man. If anyone can keep the Coyotes in Phoenix, he can. If I had to pick what's most likely though, I'd say....

Start saving for your 2011/12 Winnipeg Jets season tickets now.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Return of the Jets, pt.1

Many are wondering if the NHL will return to Winnipeg. I am an expert on this. Allow me to tell the story...

The Phoenix Coyotes are in purgatory. Both hockey-wise (desert) and ownership-wise (owned by other 29 NHL teams). They have been for nearly two years now.

Will they escape that quagmire to play in this barren, frozen, hellhole/hockey paradise that we call Winnipeg? The answer awaits!

Hockey in the Desert

Here's the situation. The NHL owns the Coyotes, and that's just pretty awkward. Especially when you consider that the other 29 owners have to chip in to cover the operating losses of $30 million annually - give or take. Therefore its time to sell the team.

Plenty of people would buy the Coyotes, just not anybody who is dumb enough to keep them in Phoenix - or should I say, Glendale - the suburb community with illusions of professional sport grandeur. Glendale, btw, REALLY wants to keep the Coyotes to bring business in its new retail district.

Enter Matthew Hulsizer.

The Deal of The Century?

How much would you pay for an NHL franchise? The correct question should be how much should you be paid to own one - in Glendale, at least. The deal in place is for Hulsizer to buy the Coyotes from the NHL for $170 million. He will then receive $100 million from the City of Glendale in exchange for some parking lots near the arena. The City of Glendale will also pay him $97 million over the next 5 years to "manage the arena". Pull out your calculators!

This says two things: First, everyone involved really expects the Coyotes to continue to lose a lot of money. Second, Glendale is absolutely psycho desperate to keep a tenant in their arena.

Glendale: Screwed Either Way

In the early 2000's Glendale bet heavily on professional sports to transform the local economy from a primarily suburban residential one into a thriving commercial and retail destination.

That was before the world's economy collapsed.

Phoenix was hit harder than almost all other major cities in the US. I imagine the situation looks pretty grim (crippled housing market, diminishing tax revenues, etc) even without considering the Coyotes situation. But if the Coyotes leave, Glendale's city council believes it will ruin the recently built commercial/retail district. They have recently alleged that this could cost the city $500 million in lost revenue over the next 20 years or so.

While that number was probably probably pulled out of somebody's ass, they are willing to hand over $197 million of taxpayer money to this dubious cause - meaning they REALLY believe the Coyotes and their 41 sparsely attended home games will have a serious economic impact if they left. Plus, as bad as this looks, the politicians in Glendale responsible for building the arena and luring the Coyotes may look even worse when the only economic spinoffs from the arena are from the coffee breaks of security guards needed to keep vandals out of the empty building.

* * * * *

I'm tired. More in Pt.2 later.

In the meantime, here's a FastFact!

Media: Get your NHL-related information from guys like Stephen Brunt and Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail. Especially Brunt. He's quality.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Humor is Power

Some thoughts on how being funny enables one to be pretty darn powerful...

- Most bullying in my high school days was through making fun of people. There wasn't much The Wonder Years-style slam-the-loser-into-the-locker physical intimidation. Mainly the popular kids/bullies/assholes would make fun of the losers (us losers...).

Fights at my high school would take place at a nearby bridge, off school property, and were high profile events. In my grade 9 year Kevin fought Colter and a couple years later Riley fought... some girl... but that was it. Two.*

- Not to compare bullies to Our Lord, but Jesus used humor, too. Two examples:

"Go the extra mile." This popular saying was coined by Jesus. It is not about self-sacrifice, pretty much at all. Its about power and it leans heavily on humor to wield it. Read "Example 1" at the bottom.

"Give him your cloak also." Jesus again. Basically he's recommending public nudity as a tactic in dealing with legal matters. "Example 2" at the bottom.

- Finally, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are highly influential. "I believe/agree with them because they say things about the world in a way that makes me laugh." Do you agree with that statement? I used to be a pretty political and pretty conservative dude and used to be jealous of their ability to sway people just because they were so damned funny.**

In sum, there's a lot of power in humor. Hell, I can remember as a kid making my little brother laugh so he wouldn't tell on me... I really think there's something here.

Maybe I should go try and be funnier?

* Maybe bullying is communicated through jokes because violence is so strongly suppressed in our society?

** Check out (hour 3, early on) Here is an interview with professor Kelly McBride who offers - hands down - the best take on news media I have ever heard. I believe its about 6min in to hour 3.

* * * * * * *

Example 1

"... “if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.” Once again we need to consider this text from within its contexts. The people hearing this would undoubtedly be very aware of the Roman Empire’s limitation of forced labor for its armies. You see, each soldier carried a pack that could weigh as much as eighty-five pounds. The powers that be wanted to allow the soldiers to enlist whatever help was needed but at the same time limit the anger occupied nations have toward the Empire. So, soldiers could “enlist” civilians to carry their packs, but only for one mile.

Now, not adhering to this law entailed severe penalties. If a civilian refuse, they incur the penalty. If a soldier made them go more than one mile, the soldier incurs the penalty. That is the first and obvious reason to offer to carry the pack a second mile – severe penalties for breaking the law. Immediately the power has shifted. Wink suggests that the scene would quite hysterical - a soldier asking, possibly even begging, for his pack back from a civilian. The civilian has taken the initiative away from the soldier."

Get the joke? "If I take your pack more than one mile your commanding officer is going to whip you! Hahahahahaaa!"

Example 2

"Wink also looks at, “and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well.” What good is there in giving more than is asked of you? Well, in thinking about this, it is important to ask why would someone be suing for clothes rather than money or some other substantial asset? Placing the text in its day and age, the Old Testament provides some answers. Exodus, Deuteronomy and Amos all contain examples of people suing for another’s clothing. It always happens when the person being sued is poor.

Once again it is a question of power. What is Jesus’ response? Is it to be a doormat and allow the person bringing the suit against you to not only have their way but also take extra? No. He proposes that they not only give their outer clothing but also all of there inner clothing, which in that day and age would leave them stark naked. What could possibly be the purpose in this?

Once again Jesus has suggested to creatively and nonviolently shift the power structure. Imagine the rich man standing there with the poor person’s clothing carelessly draped over his arm, all of it, while the poor person stands there (willingly at this point) naked. The embarrassment of the rich man is almost palpable, but it doesn’t end there. In Jewish traditions, public nudity is extremely taboo. The interesting point here is that the shame is not on the person who is naked but rather on the one viewing it."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Years-ish Predictions

There's been some things that I've been predicting and I just want them out there. I think we can all agree its annoying when you predict/prophecy something, have it come true, and then not get the cred for calling it before everyone else.

1. This year yellow will be the #1 trending color. Pretty sure I'm right about this. Remember purple ties? Purple everything? Yellow is next. I think the World Cup - held in Africa for the first time ever - will have a ripple effect on clothing. Think the Ghanaian flag. (Serious)

2. The idea that "humor is power" will gain acceptance. I can remember sitting in a Critical Thinking class years ago and thinking about this as we studied fallacies. There should be a humor-based fallacy, since we must be far more likely to believe/agree with information or a viewpoint if we feel it has been shared with us in a funny way. As a social scientist, I'd say this trend has continued and will continue... to continue. Humor is pretty huge. Jon Stewart once said that his cultural/political influence "scared the hell out of him" - or something like that - anyways... very influential due to funniness.

3. Professional sports teams will make significant breakthroughs in identifying "injury-prone" athletes at young ages, so they can avoid them. Maybe there is a genetic answer? On the other hand, I do feel that the idea of "injury-prone" is probably more myth than reality. I'd have looked into this long ago if medical scholarly journals were free.... Anyways, athletes are investments and injury problems mean a diminished return on investment, so yeah... Gattica.

4. Former Blue Jay third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, and current 1B/DH will hit "54 home runs after a slight adjustment to his batting stance." (Not serious, credit to a commenter on my 2nd fave Jays blog for the humor that few else will get.)

Good luck not writing "2010" on checks, forms, and homework.