Wednesday, May 26, 2010

(Cough) Bull$#!T

"Winnipeg residents strongly support red light photo enforcement"

From http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/May2010/26/c6838.html
A public opinion poll on Winnipeg's photo enforcement safety program reveals a clear majority of residents are concerned about drivers running red lights and support photo enforcement.
Oh? You mean 10 years of Photo radar cameras has done nothing to stop people from running red lights? Are you saying the amount of people running red lights might have even increased? Well then, whats the point of photo radar if you admit it DOES NOTHING?
As part of an ongoing study, people in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area (Winnipeg CMA) were polled on various aspects of road safety including their level of concern for drinking and driving, running red lights and speeding.
People in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area? You mean people with land lines who have nothing better to do than answer phones. People who have no rational basis for their opinions other than whats been learned to them by rote from MPI ads while watching 60 minutes.
"The levels of public concern about road safety in general and the specific road safety issues that are the focus of this particular study are in line with levels of public concern coming from other independent sources," says Ward Vanlaar, lead researcher and Vice President, Research at the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF).
Sure everyone is always concerned about safety, Mr clearly non biased Vice President of research for an organization with a vested interest in pushing a particular viewpoint.
The actual percentage of respondents reporting concern about road safety (54% reported being very or extremely concerned about road safety) is indicative of road safety being considered a mid-level priority to the public.
what are they going to say, they're NOT concerned about road safety? "Oh yes, I let my kids play in the streets in the middle of traffic all the time. Builds character, dontcha know?"
When looking at specific road safety issues, the public is particularly concerned about drinking and driving (89%) and a clear majority (78%) is also concerned about running red lights. Slightly fewer people reported high levels of concern about speeding (60%).
does anyone think people should run red lights? No. Does anyone think drinking and driving is good? no. Is speeding the worst thing you could do next to killing a puppy? They should have asked that question instead.
Moreover, the photo enforcement program garners rather high levels of support among people from the Winnipeg CMA. About 80% think the photo enforcement safety program makes the public more aware of the issue of speeding, 81% support the continuation of the photo enforcement safety program and 71% believe the program helps improve road safety in Winnipeg. Even among those who have previously been caught for speeding and received a ticket, the level of support for the continuation of the program is still high at about 74%.
Well certainly the photo enforcement safety program makes the public more aware of the issue of speeding. What else will it make people aware of? "92% think the photo enforcement safety program makes the public more aware of the issue of governments finding new ways to gouge you or unfairly ticket you"? I would have liked to see a question in that vein.

Now, the notion that 81% of people polled support the continuation of the photo enforcement safety program is tellingly outrageous. That 71% BELIEVE the program helps improve road safety in Winnipeg, regardless of the fact it does or not (clearly it has not in the last decade improved road safety one bit, if its still such a major concern) is not so unbelievable, but that 81% support the continuation of photo enforcement in this city is ridiculous. I don't know ANYONE who supports the continuation of red light cameras or photo enforcement. Who are these people? 81%. 8 out of 10 people in Winnipeg are in favour of red light cameras, according to this poll. Go ask 10 random people what they think of red light cameras. I dare you.

While some have raised concerns about the effectiveness of photo enforcement programs...

"some"? "some"? HOW MANY? you have statistics for everything else. How convenient you don't have any for this.
...a review of the literature, completed in 2009, shows that there is ample evidence that photo enforcement does have an overall positive effect. These include studies completed in Ontario, California, Virginia, British Columbia, Arizona, Singapore, and Victoria, Australia.
"an overall positive effect" .. holy shit, can the weasel words get any vaguer? "sure, it doesn't really do anything to stop speeding, but overall, at least people are AWARE that speeding exists, and we make money.. so theres an overall positive effect." Look, people in Singapore and Australia think so!

Many of the studies we reviewed found significant decreases in average speed, speeding violations, red light running violations, speeding collisions, and right-angle crashes, with some studies finding minor increases in rear-end crashes, which are often much less severe than right-angle crashes," explains Vanlaar.


minor increases in rear-end crashes, which is okay, because they're less severe than right-angle crashes. doesn't matter that more people are getting hurt, cause at least they're not all dying!

Overall, these studies also suggest that photo enforcement is effective in reducing many of the social and economic consequences related to speeding and red light running, especially when coupled with public awareness campaigns.
how can that be true if after 10 years of red light cameras speeding remains such a horrible problem? How can you have it both ways?

"Project delays have been due to technical challenges, which is not uncommon for comprehensive evaluations of this size and magnitude," explains Patrol Sergeant Kirk Van Alstyne of the Winnipeg Police Service. "More specifically, delays were unavoidable as we increased the number of intersections with cameras to enable researchers to collect baseline data at intersections before cameras were installed in order to increase the rigorousness of the evaluation."
how kind of the police service to do so much for the researchers. Nothing to do with revenue shortfalls or making more money. No sir.

Results from the public opinion poll are based on a survey developed and conducted by TIRF. A total of 750 drivers from the Winnipeg CMA completed the poll in May of 2009. Based on a sample of this size, on average, the results can be considered accurate within plus or minus 3.6%, 19 times out of 20.
That's a pretty crappy poll size. 750 people.

Established in 1964, TIRF's mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety institute, TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. Visit us online at www.tirf.ca.


So no reason for them to try to create a poll that tells Winnipegers they think the exact opposite of what they actually think. No sir, none at all.

As far as I'm concerned this "poll" clearly must have asked leading questions. I don't trust the accuracy of this poll any more than I trust the accuracy of red light cameras.

The worst thing is you will see this poll referenced by people to push their agendas. You will see it in the Winnipeg Free Press maybe even the Winnipeg Sun, You will see MPI or the Winnipeg Police Service quote it. You will see it referenced because they want to keep the revenue source churning. Despite the fact that Red Light Cameras JUST DON'T WORK.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cell Phones

Now, I'm not a big fan of cell phone companies in Canada. Still, of the big operators in Canada, I hate Rogers Wireless the least at this moment in time. If only because they were early adopters of GSM/3G technologies and I respect that. And their prices aren't as horrendous and their customer service is better than Telus and Bell. That said, A woman is suing Rogers over the breakup of her marriage because I assume her calls were sumarized on her bill, which was joined with her husbands internet and television bills. He found out that she was cheating on him and left her.

The best part is Rogers official statement in court.

“The marriage breakup apparently resulted from the fact the plaintiff was having an extramarital affair, a fact admitted in the statement of claim,” the company’s statement of defence reads.

“Rogers is not responsible for the plaintiff's affair or its consequences.”

I have to admit. Sometimes corporate arrogance is justified and amusing.

The customer is not always right. If they were, they'd be shopping at the competition.

Privacy is certainly important, but the woman is clearly reaching with this.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

on the subject of debit cards for social assistance recipients

I heard on the local news that the province of Manitoba is apparently seriously considering giving welfare people debit cards instead of giving them cheques. While I applaud the creativity, There are a number of reasons I don't think its feasible.

First, the premise being that you can monitor what welfare abusers are spending their money on. They're going to go to the first machine and withdraw cash, then go spend it on food and alcohol. Of course not all of them, some people have legitimate need of a social safety net, but c'mon i'm talking about welfare abusers. Then they're going to lose their card or have it stolen. Then you have to replace it every 7 days because this keeps happening. I wonder if these would have no withdrawal fees as well? Province swallows the cost? Or do they legislate the banks have to?

Not to mention the poor bastard who gets stuck behind some solvent/alcohol/drug abusing welfare bum trying to remember his pin number at the machine/store.

I mean, maybe people lose their cheques often enough that there is no real cost difference. I dunno. Maybe the people who sign the cheques just don't want to get carpal-tunnel syndrome. Maybe the government of Manitoba has realized that all banks moved out of the inner city years ago.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pertaining to the Proliferation of Pepsi Products in Winnipeg Pizzerias

What the hell, Coke? Why are you allowing this to happen? Is Winnipeg a Pepsi town now? For shame. Gondola Pizza switched to Pepsi products from Coke. Pizza Hut was always Pepsi. I stopped going to McDonald's years ago (I won't get in to the reason, but I at least felt like I was going to die, and that gets ingrained into your psyche quite deeply) but it wouldn't surprise me to see even them selling Pepsi products at this point.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Nostalgia Goggles and the 204 BBS List


I wonder how many Winnipeger's (or Manitobans even) remember the era before the internets, when BBS's reigned supreme, from the late 70's to the late 90's. I doubt there are that many of us.

I recently was reminded of the era of BBS's by the BBS documentary project. Which is a set of DVD's that give an overall biography of that bygone era. Now, the DVD is released under a creative commons license so you could probably download it, but it is extensive and I think worth the money but that's neither here nor there. I believe that the author of said project is also the administrator of textfiles.com, which collects a number of old "text files" that appeared on many bbs's. Amusing and timeless bits of nonsense like "How to Pick a Master Lock" or "The Bastard Operator From Hell"

In any case, it is a noteworthy and commendable act of preservation and I am supremely glad the guy was able to turn it into something he enjoys and does full time. That is neither here nor there though. What amused me was perusing a compilation of the old 204 BBS list was the fact that the BBS my friend ran and I co-sysop'd on (And I mean co-sysop, I wasn't just some douchebag who held the title, I helped with everything) has the same phone number that my mother has for her home phone number currently.

The odd thing about that is before she switched phone numbers, the old phone number we had was receiving numerous prank phone calls and/or auto-diallers. In any case, too many people were misdialing or just plain annoying my mother and she was so fed up she had to switch. Now in all this time since, she's received little to none of the same prank phone calls. I suppose there are less auto-dialers out there and less and less people trying to connect to BBS's or faxes or whatnot. The sad thing is somewhere out there I'm a little sad that the number that belonged to our little BBS received less random calls than the phone number my parents held for maybe 20 years before switching. You'd think something published in many BBS lists even after the fact would be worse, but I guess she never noticed.

A part of me misses those days, dialing up local BBS's in Winnipeg like Scorpions Lair, Fighting Irish BBS, The Dark Zone, Beebo the Mutant Sloth (Multiline! Wow!), Cop Shop..(Which moved to Brandon at one point but had the best Ansi welcome screen), There was also the ever useful Generic BBS, home of the Generic BBS list, and later the 50 Foot BBS ran by Steve George who seemed to take over the BBS list afterwards (and he had a BBS review which I'd love to read again today for nostalgia purposes.) There was I believe Craig Foreman and his Life in the Fast Lane BBS which anyone who had the misfortune of dialing knows what I'm talking about. (Aside from running on a glacial 8088 that is) .. There were others I'm certain to have called that I'm forgetting the names of, many are not even listed on textfiles.com or maybe I'm not remembering them correctly. I mean theres Steintech computers on Main Street which I see every day and it reminds me of Steintech BBS (perhaps theres a connection?). There was another BBS that existed running Wildcat software that was basically in its death throws and was basically just set up to allow people to leach as much software off it as possible until he took it down. It went F****** or something I think but I can't remember what it was called. That place supplied me with all of my file sharing files to upload on websites with file ratios. They used to publish the BBS lists in the Computer Post which you could pick up at Safeway or whatever. It was always good fun, I wonder if I still have any copies of that stored away anywhere. I doubt it, sadly. Maybe they have them at the Winnipeg Public Library? I wonder.

A part of me is curious about whatever happened to all those people. I can see some of them are online. Are they still in Winnipeg? Did they move East? West? Granted I never went to the yearly BBS BBQ they usually had, I think either at the Forks or at Assiniboine Park. But it was a formative part of my youth, plugging away on my Tandy 386sx with Telegard. It's funny how the Internet is worldwide yet theres probably less local interaction than ever. I don't count facebook, though you could look at facebook and see something similar to what BBS's were back in the day.

It's funny, people could probably still set up BBS's and completely bypass the net if they really wanted to. Especially if they had nefarious purposes. I vaguely remember 8-bit porn BBS's being popular (and the scourge of humanity if you believed what the Winnipeg Free Press wrote about them) .. and the whispered talk of many a high school computer class. I think there was one that sticks in my mind (if only because of the duty free place of the same name) called Happy Harrys. Not that I ever dialed it.

If there are any survivors of the 204 BBS Scene wandering across this page, and you've got some historical documents you want to share, feel free to comment in this thread or send me an email.

The textfiles.com (incomplete) compilation of the 204 BBS scene can be found at http://bbslist.textfiles.com/204/.

Hey, speaking of Winnipeg BBS's, theres a Facebook page. As much as I loathe facebook, there you go.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Public Bathroom sinks

You know what I hate? Public Bathrooms at restaurants or the like, where if you try to wash your hands they have either motion sensors or that faucet that you push to get 5 seconds of water out of. Why the hell can't they make it so that the water flows for at least 15 seconds? Is that so goddamn hard? I'm not eating at your restaurant if your sink to wash my hands and ensure cleanliness infuriates me.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

I learned something today


So its been a couple weeks now since South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker created a brouhaha out of not airing an actual depiction of Mohammad on TV. The 201st episode is nowhere on the comedy network's website. I didn't catch it on TV but apparently it was the censored comedy central version. Which comedy central forced them to air.. at least, according to this post on Macleans.com:
"The Comedy Network prides itself on airing South Park uncut and uncensored. However, we only had access to the censored version of this particular episode. Our choices were to either air it as it was, or not to air it at all. Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that not airing it would constitute even more censorship, and that it was best to broadcast the episode as it was delivered to us so that our viewers could make their own conclusions.

That said, we'd still really like to know what Kyle said.

Sincerely,

The Comedy Network"
While I admire their sincerity, why can't they even post the bleeped version online? I can understand why Comedy Central doesn't, because they're pathetic, but what reason does the comedy network have to not put it online?

That said, why haven't Matt and Trey posted the offending material online? Or at least a script of what Kyle said? Contractual obligations?

The whole situation is screwy.

Maybe someone with too much free time can piece it together based on the movements of Kyle's mouth.

I did end up finding a way to watch it all the same, lets just say a "friend" had it "video taped" on "VHS" ... yeah. that'll do. It had an amusing reference to the seminal Batman story "The Killing Joke".

Anyways, you can't blame Canada for this one.

Crappy google quote of the day