Six In The Morning: Good Representation, Bad Representation, and Sound Arguments for a Balanced Diet

6-in-the-morning1 PRIORITIES Ward 3 councillor Shawn Fraser won’t support the new stadium plan, and here’s why.

2  OR YOU COULD PROBABLY JUST EAT MORE VEGETABLES  A new pill that takes advantage of chemicals found in tomato skins is supposed to cut the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

3 A BREEZY SOJOURN TO NORTH KOREA  Google’s Eric Schmidt is among a small U.S. delegation to North Korea this week.

4 FINGERS CROSSED  Toronto mayor Rob Ford might get the final heave-ho today, depending on how his appeal goes in court.

5  ON STRIKE  Journalists at Chinese newspaper Southern Weekly are on strike to protest censorship.

6  EI EI UH OH  Things are about to get leaner (and meaner) for seasonal workers who use Employment Insurance to get by. New changes to EI policy take effect today.

It’s Solange-Approved!

This isn’t very end-of-the-world-y, but I thought I’d use the tag anyway. Because, if the end of the world was going to happen, I’d want to get at least one last dance in, wouldn’t you? Phil Villeneuve certainly feels that way. He’s a Torontonian who likes to break into impromptu dance numbers on the street. And the music he was hearing in his head when his friend recorded this particular number was Losing You, by Solange Knowles. And she digs it!

I think we could use a little of this here in Regina, don’t you? Maybe the Roughrider cheerleaders could get involved too. This city needs some cheer over the winter months. But, as this video illustrates, we’ll need to do a much better job clearing our walks before anything like this can happen.

Snow Job?

We get a lot of snow here in Regina and, so far, this year we seem to have already received a winter’s worth – and it’s not even the end of December yet.

The thing is, a lot of it doesn’t get removed. And then it sporadically melts. And then it freezes. And that’s when it gets really ugly. Think about how many senior citizens don’t drive and wind up taking their lives in their hands just heading out for a carton of milk. Why just last week, I witnessed a septuagenarian walking down the middle of 13th Ave. just to avoid the sidewalks. I can only imagine how it is for anyone with serious mobility issues. To put it plainly, for many, Regina is more or less impassable for a good four months out of the year. And that’s because our sidewalks aren’t cleared.

So why isn’t there a bylaw requiring everyone to shovel their walks? At present, Regina has no bylaw that requires individual homeowners to shovel their walks. Commercial building owners (including landlords of multi-unit residences) have between 24 and 48 hours to remove snow and ice on walkways abutting their property, depending on where in the city they are located. Failure to do so can result in a $110 fine.

To compare, most other cities do have snow removal bylaws that apply to individual home owners. Edmonton, for example, has a snow removal bylaw that requires snow be removed from sidewalks within 48 hours with a $100 fine for non-compliance.

For the past few years, the City of Regina has cited a high compliance rate as the reason to not impose a bylaw on this issue. And, in yesterday’s Leader-Post, in response to Saskatoon’s recently implemented snow removal bylaw, Mayor Michael Fougere cited that compliance rate again.

 According to the City of Regina, 72 per cent of our walks are kept clear in winter.

Does that number seem right to you? When you walk around your neighbourhood or place of work, does it seem like 72 per cent of the walkways are cleared? Because it sure doesn’t to me. In fact, yesterday afternoon, as I passed through the intersection of Victoria Ave and Albert St, I took a few pictures. Three of the corners had hard-packed snow on them – and the walkway along the southeast corner was almost treacherous. This wasn’t recently fallen snow either – it looks like it hasn’t been cleared at all since our first snowfall this past November. Check it out:

Walking along side streets is generally even worse.

So I asked myself “where did they come up with that number?”

According to a 2009 report: “An independent survey done in March 2007 by UMA Engineering found 75 per cent of sidewalks were cleared. They did this by dividing the city into 20 areas, selecting three arterials, three collectors, and four local roads at random to be surveyed.” The city says they also regularly send out staff to survey the sidewalks, and they found a 72 per cent compliance rate over 2010/2011. “This involves randomly selecting streets throughout Regina and literally counting the number of houses where sidewalks have been cleared,” they said.

So I put it to you, dear reader – do you think Regina’s sidewalk snow removal compliance rate is 72 per cent?

Six In The Morning: Cash-Poor Schools, Cash-Poor Countries, Declining Sperm Counts, and Monkeys (of course).

6-in-the-morning 1  WE’RE RICH! NOW WE CAN DEFUND THE SCHOOLS!  The University of Saskatchewan says they’re facing a $44 million shortfall in their operating budget and expect more cuts in the New Year. Boy, this province is doing everything right, isn’t it?

2  GO UTAH!  Researchers at Utah State University have come up with an electric bus that charges as it goes. No gas backup needed. Based on technology developed by Nikola Tesla in 1891, the bus recharges its batteries every time it brakes. How cool is that? And what took so long?

3  TAKE THE HINT  Italian stocks have fallen in value following news that Prime Minister Mario Monti will step down… and Silvio Berlusconi is going to run again! Has anyone else noticed that Italy seems to do absolutely everything better except self-government?

4  FEWER SWIMMERS  According to research coming out of the Institut de Veille Sanitaire, St Maurice (that’s in France), global sperm counts are on the decline.

5  DEPRESSING  Danish scientists have found a higher mortality rate among people who are “involuntarily childless”. The study looked at data from 21,000 couples who sought IVF treatments, and found that the women were four times as likely to “die early compared with women who did conceive.” Men in that situation were twice as likely to die as their procreating peers. The researchers admit there are a lot of variables (rich people live longer, and can also better afford IVF). Anyway, I’d like to know how they define “early”.

6  PICK UP SOME CANDLES AND PLANT POTS FOR ME WHILE YOU’RE AT IT  By now you’ve likely already heard about and seen the Ikea monkey – found running amuck at a Toronto Ikea (they have two, don’t you know). When I first heard this, I imagined the little fella running around inside the store (which I like the idea of much better) – and I was glad he was wearing diapers (all that Ikea white). That he was outside in in parking lot makes me very sad, though. It was 6 degrees there yesterday which, while balmy by Saskatchewan standards, is not the kind of strolling weather a Rhesus monkey is used to. At least he was wearing that fabulous coat. Maybe his owners couldn’t have a baby. I hope someone brought him inside for a plate of meatballs. Not surprisingly, this “story” is tearing up the internet. Expect many variations on this meme today.

Six In The Morning: Beetles Heat Up The Air, Dodgy Mayors, And The Feds Don’t Care!


1 WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?  Saskatchewan professors are calling out the federal government over reckless cuts to funding for First Nation health and education.

2 IS IT HOT IN HERE OR… Pine beetles – those voracious little bugs that have been going to town on Canadian forests – are now being partly blamed for climate change. Little jerks.

3 WORKERS PROTEST IN BANGLADESH  In the wake of a fire that killed 112 in a garment factory in Dhaka, workers have taken to the streets.

4 MOVIN’ ON UP  Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of Canada, is leaving that post to become the next Governor of the Bank of England.

5  A PANDEMIC OF MAYORAL CONFLICT-OF-INTEREST CHARGES?  Toronto mayor (for now) Rob Ford isn’t the only one in hot water. Winnipeg’s mayor Sam Katz is also up on conflict-of-interest charges – over a restaurant deal. He’s expected to appear in court in April.

6 NOT SO FAST  While many of us revel in Rob Ford’s public spanking, Toronto isn’t breathing a sigh of relief just yet. He’s appealing the decision (of course he his) and that process could take months. And then there’s the specter of a by-election.


Don’t Let The Door Hit You On Your Way Out!

In what has been a very, very long time coming, Rob Ford was informed this morning by an Ontario court judge that he will be relieved of his duties as mayor of Toronto (though he’s been given a 14 day stay and he can run again).

Friends, if you cup a hand to your ear, you will hear the entirety of the core of Toronto cheering like the Whos in Whoville after the Grinch brought Christmas back. Forget the Grey Cup (who watches that, anyway?) – now you’re going to see a party!

(photo via Toronto Star)

UPDATE: Whitworth here, scribbling all over Vanda’s post (sorry Vanda!). The Toronto Star has a concise, just-the-facts recap of Rob Ford’s legal adventures here. It’s worth a read. And just to clarify for MB, this isn’t politics. Ford isn’t being punted from office (pending appeal) because he used City Hall letterhead to fund-raise. He’s getting the boot because he showed remarkable contempt for the city integrity commissioner who quite reasonably ordered him to pay back the $3,150 he’d raised. Given how small that amount is, I think it’s fair to say Ford brought this on himself.


Emma Lake Campus To Close Until 2016, Future Under Review

According to a report by CBC News, the University of Saskatchewan is closing its campus at Emma Lake – home of the Emma Lake artist workshops –  citing budet cuts and the need for unspecified repairs. All arts and ecology programs at the campus will cease effective immediately. Here’s a statement from the university.

This is obviously very sad news – and very bad news for the arts in Saskatchewan. The Emma Lake campus has an international reputation, having hosted many prominent artists since its inception in 1935 – artists such as Anthony Caro, Frank Stella, and Barnett Newman. Over the years countless artists have attended the workshops at Emma Lake – including well-known Saskatchewan artists Joe Fafard, Wynona Mulcaster, Dorothy Knowles, and the Regina Five.

Is it just me, or does it seem like this province becomes more and more hostile to the arts with every passing month?


Six In The Morning: Holiday Monday Edition

6-in-the-morning1. SOMETHING ABOUT HIS EYES?  A new poll shows that people just don’t trust Stephen Harper.

2. WELL THAT’S ONE WAY TO DO IT  Scientists in Brazil are attempting to clone endangered species of animals. Or they could just try saving their remaining habitats, but, you know, whatever works. Otherwise we probably should rent them apartments and get them drivers licenses too.

3. HOMELESS IN SPAIN  The homeless population is skyrocketing in Spain after mass evictions leave many renters out in the cold.

4. CUBA’S POST-SANDY CLEAN-UP  It isn’t getting as much press as you-know-where.

5. VENICE IS SINKING  70 per cent of the city is now underwater.

6. AND BECAUSE IT’S A HOLIDAY MONDAY Here’s a clip from The Big Lebowski.


Four In The Afternoon: Where We Downgrade A Category Six To A Category Four

4 in the Afternoon1. HURRICANE! As you’ve already heard everywhere, Hurricane Sandy is poised to beat the stuffing out of the east coast of the U.S. later today. The NYC subways were shuttered as of last night, Mayor Bloomberg is urging everyone in the lower end of Manhattan to leave immediately, and even Toronto is worried. That’s a big, big storm. Let’s hope everyone stays safe.

2.  SPEAKING OF DISASTERS IN THE MAKING  Transcanada Corp has now entered into an unholy alliance with Phoenix Energy Holdings to build a $3billion pipeline in northern Alberta.

3.  FROM MONSTER STORMS TO MONSTER GALAXIES  Astronomers have found an elliptical galaxy, now made extra visible due to increased black hole activity. I don’t know what it means either. Just read it.

4.  A RANDOM PENGUIN HOUSE?  (I stole that from a friend’s facebook status). Penguin books and Random House are merging.

Six In The Morning: Mid-Afternoon Coffee Break Edition

1  ENOUGH ALREADY?  Researchers in the U.K. say it’s time to think about decriminalizing narcotics.

2  UH OH Apparently, Canadian household debt is past the point that precipitated the U.S. housing bust. That’s not good.

3  HERE’S HOPING British doctors say that Malala Yousafzai has a good chance at recovery after being shot by two assholes who could probably use a little book-learnin’ themselves.

4  DEFINE IRONY There’s a recall of anti-bacterial hand soap because it’s already contaminated. Ick.

5  I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE SOMEONE DID THIS Felix Baumgartner recalls his descent from 24 miles above the earth as being “like hell”. What does something like that do to a person’s organs?

6  YOU’VE PROBABLY ALREADY BEEN ON GOOGLE A HUNDRED TIMES TODAY, BUT  Have you seen the Google doodle animation thingy that’s up there? You should really waste a minute or two playing with it because it’s pretty delightful. Of course, it’s meant to celebrate Winsor McCay who created the comic strip Little Nemo. For more animated delights to while away your afternoon (or late lunch break, like me?), here’s a little something featuring a remarkably graceful dinosaur named Gertie.

Save Your Fork, There’s Pie.

Friends, the season is upon us… Fowl Supper season, that is!

I’m writing to tell you that I enjoyed my first fowl supper of the season this evening in beautiful Strasbourg, Saskatchewan. And, man, was it ever good: Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, turnip, carrots, gravy, coleslaw… and then there was the pie! So much pie! There was apple, pumpkin, coconut, raisin – but I indulged in the rhubarb. So delicious. Such flaky pastry. It was sublime. And I got it all for a measly $10 (with proceeds going towards an elevator for the memorial hall).

Jealous? Well, don’t be. If you have wheels (or friends with wheels), you can take a scenic drive en route to one of the embarrassment of fowl supper offerings in Saskatchewan this fall – and there are plenty coming up, including next weekend in Sedley!

For a list of fowl suppers in and around Saskatchewan (including Regina), check out this website. Or stay tuned to this blog as I bring you supper-by-supper coverage of all the fowl supper gastronomical delights I can cram in.

Amen, indeed.

Six In The Morning: Shrinking Fish, Autonomous Coal Miners, and Confusing Signage

1 DOES THIS LOOK FAMILIAR TO YOU? Not the anti-stadium petition sentiment, but the website domain name underneath? Regina Votes? It threw me for a moment, until I visited its website, which appears to be sponsored by the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce. I thought I heard a radio ad plugging the same website earlier this week. The thing is, the official city slogan for our upcoming municipal election is Regina Votes 2012 (the city has been passing out little lapel buttons to help promote it). Imagine if someone thought they were searching for the official city info site, and got this instead. I mean, surely this is just a coincidence (I guess it’s tough coming up with a distinctive domain name), but goodness! That could really confuse a person, couldn’t it?

2  ONE FISH TWO FISH  Researchers at the University of British Columbia say that if we don’t curb our production of greenhouse gas emissions, the fishes will start to shrink. That might sound funny, but it really isn’t.

3  PUSSY RIOT APPEAL DELAYED  A Moscow court judge has postponed an appeal on the part of the band Pussy Riot, after one of the members fired her lawyer.

4  ROMNEY’S PRESUMED SUPPORTERS SMARTER THAN HE THINKS  Apparently coal miners in Ohio could be his undoing.

5  JOHN BAIRD AT THE UNITED NATIONS TODAY  He leads with telling the assembly that it “spends too much time looking at itself” and lists the UN’s goals as being “prosperity, security, and human dignity.” In that order.

6 AT LAST, IT CAN BE TOLD!  The diet that keeps the Vampire Squid looking so svelte.

(thanks to Making Peace Vigil’s Florence Stratton for passing along the picture)

This Just In: Todd Akin Might Be Confusing Women With Ducks

Todd Akin has been back-peddling on his statement that “legitimate rape” cannot lead to pregnancy. Of course, we all know that’s ridiculous. But what a human-centric way of thinking we have. Consider the duck, for instance. Did you know that duck vaginas have a complex system of chambers? And that they can close off those chambers in the event of an unwanted sexual advance? And… Oh why am I trying to explain this? Take it away, Isabella!

Happy Anniversary Making Peace Vigil!

Today marks five years since Regina’s Making Peace Vigil started gathering weekly on the north end of the Scarth St. Mall – and they’re going to party like it’s their birthday!

“We’ve been there every Thursday in the rain, cold, no matter the weather”, says Making Peace Vigil’s Stephen Moore.

Their mission? To spread the word about a host of issues to do with social justice, peace, and the environment – not to mention the dire need for affordable housing in Regina. They’ve been on the front lines of that fight, and were among those trying to stop the recent demolition of 1755 Hamilton St., which housed 46 low-income households.

In other words, they fight the good fight.

They’ll be celebrating at noon today (with cake and music!) at 11th Ave and Scarth St. (right across from the Cornwall Centre).

Moose Jaw Civic Centre’s Days Are Numbered

This is slightly old news, but on April 16th Moose Jaw city council approved the rezoning and sale of the Moose Jaw Civic Centre (aka The Crushed Can). Which means demolition can’t be far behind.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as the centre closed last year, and the seating and ice plant has since been removed. But still. It’s a great building, and a wonderful example of the mid-century modernist work of prolific Saskatchewan architect Joseph Pettick. It will be missed.

(via Moose Jaw Times Herald, Heritage Canada Foundation – and thanks to Brian Stockton for the tip)

Brent Butt Humbly Asks Why Saskatchewan Would Want To Be The Only Canadian Province Without A Film Tax Credit

Perhaps one of the Saskatchewan Party’s greatest stocks-in-trade is their ability to “straight talk” to the folks in this province. You know: the folks who voted them in.

But if there’s one guy who can out folksy Brad Wall, it’s Brent Butt.

Here’s what Saskatchewan’s favourite son has to say about the Saskatchewan Party’s plan to cut the Film Employment Tax Credit. (courtesy of CBC Saskatchewan)

Inside Neko’s Dream House

Ever wonder what your favourite singer/songwriter’s house looks like? The tile work? The upholstery? The wallpaper? Me neither. But I was delighted to learn that Neko Case’s home is as lovely as it is*. And so, apparently,  is our editor because he asked me to post about it.

So here it is: Country Living’s website is featuring a photo- essay of the singular singer/songwriter’s 18th century Vermont farmhouse – and it’s dreamy.

*Take note of the nifty decorator tips, like hanging pictures from the ceiling in a tiled room, and repurposing an 8-track case to store seed envelopes.

Six In The Morning: Dismissals, Killings, Protests, Giant Black Holes, and Communist Muppets

1. GET OUT  Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has asked a Federal Government-appointed middle manager to leave.

2. MORE KILLINGS IN SYRIA  There are reports of more government-sanctioned killings in the city of Homs.

3. MORE PROTESTERS ARRESTED IN MOSCOW  There have been more arrests of anti-Putin protesters after a second day of demonstrations against alleged voter fraud in Russia’s parliamentary elections.

4. EARTH HAS A TWIN!  I wonder if they’re screwing up as badly on that planet as we are here.

5. AND THEY’VE FOUND MORE BLACK HOLES TOO!  Giant black holes! Also, it’s already tomorrow in Australia.

6. “I WISH LIBERALS WOULD LEAVE LITTLE KIDS ALONE”   Fox News is accusing the movie The Muppets of promoting communism. And manipulating the minds of children in the process. Which do they think is worse? Because, really, who looks out for the interests of children more than Fox News?