Thursday, 31 October 2013

Peterborough Parkway Over Park Planned

Much has been written about the 'devastating' and 'permanent' impact on Jackson Park in Peterborough if the proposed Parkway route over Jackson Park is allowed to go ahead. This is a representation of what that might look like from the air:

That tiny grey line connecting Medical Drive to Fairbairn is an approximation of the proposed route. The other grey lines you can see are current trails that cut through the park, including the Trans Canada Trail. I thought it was important to have a visual to accompany all the bluster on both sides about the impact or lack thereof related to this potential development.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

There are some real nuts on Twitter.... I mean how do you respond to this:

Thinking about doing a longer essay on trolls... Feel free to tweet with examples :)

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Let's Talk About Casinos

Casinos are certainly a hot topic of discussion here in my little corner of the world. And it seems to me that the people who are most vocal, on both sides, do not have a common view of what a casino is, or more precisely what kind of casino is being proposed for this area.

Background: The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is looking for expressions of interest to determine if communities are amenable to hosting a casino. Currently there is an OLG run slot machine operation within 10 kilometers of the City offering free shuttles on a regular basis throughout the week. This facility is in a revenue sharing agreement with the neighbouring municipality that has resulted in millions being poured into the local coffers over a number of years. There is a larger full on gaming facility within a two hour drive that offers free shuttles as well.

At their best, casinos can be an entertainment hub, drawing patrons from far and wide to spend their entertainment dollars. They can employ significant numbers of people in jobs offering reasonable pay with the potential for upward mobility in the gaming industry and beyond. And who wouldn't want that?

Well, there is the other view.  Casinos are a magnet to attract organized crime and become a centre for illicit activities including drugs and prostitution.  They prey on the poor and those with addiction problems, particularly gambling addictions, leading to widespread crime and social problems in the broader community. And who wants that?

Lately, those who hold the latter view have been quite vocal in their opposition to Peterborough hosting a casino.

The argument put forward by those opposed speak of a casino as a den of iniquity as well as the social ills that accompany the type of gambling associated with these kinds of enterprises. Bring the casino to town they say and those ills will come with it.

Here's the thing though. Those 'ills' are already here.  There are local cases of individuals squandering their family's savings and their trust resulting in family breakdowns.  Social agencies regularly report the existence of these problems within our city. There is no doubt that some of the petty crime that occurs here is a result of desperate individuals trying to deal with their financial losses.  Our local police force has indicated, though, that they feel that any increase in crime within the city would be negligible if the casino were to move 10 kilometres closer.

And the city receives no money from the local casino to fund the agencies that have to clean up the mess created when people are unable to control their own behaviours. So the taxpayer and the goodwill of populace step in to fill that financial gap.

But let's for the sake of argument assume that no casino will be located within commuting distance and that no free transporation will be provided for patrons who wish to attend at a more distant facility.  Does that mean we will also stop selling lottery tickets? Will we ask local internet service providers to ban access to gambling sites?  The bottom line is, people with a gambling addiction will find some way to satisfy(?) their urges and desires.  Banning a casino will not protect those people from themselves.

There is little chance that the neighbouring municipality will share the spoils of hosting a gambling den.  If this city wants to get their hands on any of the revenue generated by a gaming facility, in whatever form, it will be necessary for the casino to be situated within the city limits.

So the question is really, would you prefer to have the money and the related problems or would you rather have just the problems?


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Theory of Attack Ads

Well, it started day one.  The Harper Conservatives could hardly wait to trot out some out of context quotes and video to attack the newly crowned leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Going shirtless to garner donations at a charity fundraiser becomes a striptease for money. An excerpt from an interview describing the Trudeau family philosophy that citizens of Quebec do not need special protections becomes a Quebecers are just better message. Why?

Attack ads are characterized by their tendancy to play fast and loose with the truth. Typically they use out of context data and creative editing to characterize the target in a manner that would not be so if context were provided.  In short, they attempt to manipulate us.

Attack ads do not work for everyone or in every case but they do work often enough to be tried on a regular basis.  They are particularly effective for right wing groups and here's how.

The use of these ads has the potential to accomplish a couple of things the first and most obvious being to paint the target in a bad light.  The question is for whom?  It may cause some folks who are on the support bubble or who sadly rely on political ads for their information to turn away from the target and maybe even repeat the negative message like gossips in a school yard.  Fortunately they are actually the minority.  For harder core right wingers it provides more fodder and talking points and solidifies their support.  These folks are often called the base.

Looking at this, the effect seems to be minimal until we look at the effect on the more politically left leaning folks.  This demographic tends to be younger and more idealistic.  The effect on them can vary from outrage to disgust.  It is unlikely it will win many over to the right.  The ads are not trying to do that.  The ads are trying to push them out of the equation all together.

Young idealists in particular can become bitter about the whole process and potentially disengage. This is the great hope of the right.  Just try to have these folks so fed up that they just turn their backs on it all.  It is a fantastic example of 'when good folks do nothing'.

In 2007-2008 in the US, then candidate Obama countered negative ads by professing a culture of Hope and Change. This drew in the idealists.  The result was a higher participation rate by the young and others previously tagged as apathetic voters.

So how do we get rid of negative attack ads?  People have to show that these tactics no longer accomplish their objective.  Rather then becoming frustrated and turning away from the process, it should galvanize people in support of the victim of this kind of bullying tactic and campaign of misinformation.

If you are offended by this type of slam against your intelligence that these ads represent then buck up, get involved, support the target and point out, whenever you can, that the emperor has no clothes.

Stick to your ideals and make a difference. You can't do the from the sidelines.


Sunday, 14 April 2013

About my Avatar

I am sure many of you recognize the comic strip character Dilbert in my profile image.  I have been a fan of the work of Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, for a very long time.  The presence of Dilbert accompanying my posts (Twitter and elsewhere) is based mainly on the nature of his tie.

To quote the Wikipedia entry on this...  "In nearly every strip, Dilbert's tie is curved upward. While Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, has offered no definitive explanation for this, he has explained the tie at least as a further example of Dilbert's lack of power over his environment."  

Surely most of us have felt that frustration from time to time and most certainly there is a lack of direct control of the situations and environments that are the focus of my posts. If you share that feeling of lack of control, sorry, but you should find your own avatar :)


Saturday, 6 April 2013

Why NoDogInTheFight?

While I often comment on stuff, I have adopted a user name that reflect my point of view.  That is to say that I don't have a direct stake in what I am commenting about.  For instance, I would not use this forum or user name to comment on things that are going on at a local school if my kids attended there.  Typically, instead, I am offering opinion or insight or possibly even advice (to anyone who may be listening) on things that have a wider resonance.

For a direct example, consider the local media buzz around the possibility of building a city street through/over a local park.  I don't live near either the park or the land on which the road would run.  I may use such a road if it were built but it would not be a daily or primary route for me.  I do recognize the decision has an impact broader than just the park.  To this I bring my experience in the area of traffic and urban design and offer my comments, insights and suggestions.  The adoption or agreement with my comments makes little difference to me. My hope is to add some additional perspective and stimulate informed and reasoned civil debate.

That is my aim when I comment on items.  If I have a stake in the outcome, look for me to comment without the use of a pseudonym in other media.


Why a Blog?

I have been posting comments on various media sites over the last while.  Commenting on current events is fun and interesting but requires a news story to get the ball rolling. Occasionally I encounter events in my own experience that raise questions for me or sometimes my rancour. When that happens I have wanted an outlet to express myself AND be in a position to share my thoughts with others - a blog seemed like an experiment worth undertaking.

So in the next while I will attempt to use this outlet as a means of getting my thoughts out.  Who knows if it will turn into anything.

If you happen to read one of my posts my hope is that it, at the very least, is moderately entertaining and just perhaps encourages discussion in your corner of the world.  In the end though, I am probably writing for me first and anyone else in passing.