Friday, October 31, 2008

The Rise and... Fall?

While sitting, surfing, & sipping a coffee at a certain downtown cafe this evening, I browsed on over to catch the latest post on The Rise and Sprawl, and I have to say, I am a bit disheartened.

While it was my Geography & Urban Geography teacher (and one of my heroes), Fred Headon, who first got me interested in cities and how they worked, it was the Rise and Sprawl's author, Robert Galston, who really got me interested in urbanism. His blog and his affiliation with TRUWinnipeg are what really made me care about this city, its inner workings and petty politics, mass (rapid) transit, and threw fuel on my already-smouldering hatred of surface level parking lots and big box retail.

Despite never having met him, Rob has had a large influence on my attitude toward urban issues, both directly and indirectly (I discovered New Winnipeg and my pal Jim's TRUWinnipeg while looking him up on Google). So to hear him admit that "he doesn't really like Winnipeg" came as a bit of a surprise. Not a huge surprise, mind you - I've always detected a subtle undertone of disgust in his posts, but in my book it was usually a well-founded disgust (half-hearted "renewal" efforts, city hall buffoonery, demolition by neglect, etc).

"So your hero doesn't like your city", you may ask, "Who fucking cares?"

Well, first of all, you're an insensitive little bastard for even asking me that question. Give your fucking head a shake!

Secondly, everyone should care. Unlike some armchair urbanists who probably live in the 'burbs and drive their SUVs to work, Rob actually bought a house in an oft-maligned area of the city (Point Douglas), wrote (writes?) an op-ed column in the more "respectable" daily newspaper (and authors a well-read and respected blog), and even ran for city council. In other words, he has tried to make a difference in this city!

So, when someone who has done all that says something like "I decided that I do not really like Winnipeg", we should all be concerned, and not simply dismiss it as typical Winnipeg whining.

But enough hero worship/the sky is falling reactions for now.

Having thought about it, sometimes I really don't like Winnipeg either, feelings that run deeper than low-IQ/low-sloping-forehead types who cowardly hurl projectiles and insults from the relative safety of their (probably stolen) vehicles.

Well, it's not that I dislike Winnipeg per se, it's more appropriate to say that the "average people" of this city really piss me off. I get tired of hearing about "how much our city sucks", that the crime rate is too high, that we're the auto theft/murder/child poverty/crumbling infrastructure/mosquito capital of the country, etc, and not hearing any constructive solutions for any of these perceived failings.

We seem to be destined to wallow in our own muck, living in a perpetual state of disillusionment and self-pity, with little motivation (and less resolve) to improve ourselves as a city. We elect people who seem to be more interested in giving their pals a piece of the action than effectively running (and fixing) the city. They allow their developer pals to tear down our history in favour of parking lots or buildings that don't fit their architectural surroundings. We allow (even encourage) the city to sprawl outwards instead of renewing its core, shoot down any LRT plans, then complain about traffic being tied up when lanes on our major thoroughfares are closed for construction/repair.

This city really pisses me off.

But it's because I care about it.

And I care enough to do something about it.

Watch this space, you may be in for a surprise.

EDIT: Damn, Mr. Christian beat me to it by a few hours. Curse my lack of home internet! For a well-reasoned and infinitely more focused take on this subject, check out his latest post.

On Making a Little Instability Go a Long Way

Life's been dull since I killed off my home internet account.

In an effort to save a few bucks here 'n there, I cancelled my Shaw account - so no high-speed internet or digital cable television for CJ.

Meaning no soccer coverage, no Wikipedia, no forums, nothing!

Theoretically, this should free up a lot of time for working on my pet project, or so you'd think. Truth is, I've been slightly less motivated since my development box, a Sun Ultra 5, exploded.

Well, it didn't explode per se, rather the power supply failed quite spectacularily - with bright blue sparks and everything. So, until I pick up a new PSU, I'm kinda hamstrung.

With my pet project on ice for a week or so, and with no internet connection at home, I've been putting my Amiga 2000 to good use - such as superimposing (I fucking loathe the use of the word "photoshop" as a verb) a customer's face onto a large pink bunny costume, printing it out, and showing it off to my co-workers...

There's nothing quite like a bit of irresponsibility to liven up one's day!

With that in mind, I am arming myself to the teeth with ImageFX and Pagestream and dedicating the next week (or until I replace that PSU) to gathering source material and drawing up a few nasty but inoffensive pictures and, in a premeditated bout of poor judgement, leaving them in strategic public places for the unwary to see.

See you around (possibly sooner than you think),

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On Absenteeism

I'm swamped with work from my day job, my new project(s), and demands of my personal time, but rest assured, I shall return in the near future - right in time for some holiday "cheer"!


(I may even finish my Blog Action Day post...)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On Poverty : Blog Action Day

"When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist." - Archbishop Helder Camara

I spent part of the last week out and about in Winnipeg's downtown, taking pictures of the homeless and downtrodden for my Blog Action Day update. I took detailed notes on what I saw, the things I heard, and quotes from the people I talked to.

Notes and pictures that I eventually scrapped, along with my initial plan.

I thought about it for awhile and decided I couldn't, in good conscience, cynically trot these people out like some sideshow just for the sake of a few extra hits on my blog.

Everybody knows poverty exists everywhere, I don't need to throw out a bunch of numbers, statistics, and percentages to tell you that. Poverty is not necessarily confined to one geographic area. It's in the little-travelled alleys and on our major thoroughfares. It's in Third World countries as well as in your backyard. It's in the downtown of every booming metropolis and on the outskirts of every backwater town. In the suburbs, the trailer park, and the refugee camp. Everywhere.

So, what's to be done? What are we doing to help? I asked myself this over and over during my little outing - thinking that we obviously aren't doing enough. That is, until I retraced my steps...

I swear, I must have passed by the offices of two dozen social service agencies dedicated to helping the poor and indigent... from soup kitchens/missions to NGOs.

Which again, got me thinking... on an international level, there are dozens of aid agencies dedicated to helping the poor and needy - Government agencies, Non-Government aid groups, religious/faith-based organisations, philanthropists, etc. We have UNICEF ("For the Children!"), OXFAM, and the Salvation Army, to name but a few.

So, I have to ask the question - with all these people or groups (armed with funds from donations and grants) fighting to help the needy, feed the poor, and eradicate poverty - why hasn't poverty been eliminated?

Naturally, I have a number of theories based on what I've seen.

It seems to me that a lot of the money donated to these various NGO/NPOs and faith-based groups are eaten up by administration costs - it costs money to rent/lease your Bricks & Mortar, and more to buy advertising to get the word out. One wonders how much of every donated dollar actually reaches the poor?

Not trying to belittle or bemoan the good work these groups do, the costs are part of today's harsh reality - the cost of doing business, if you will.

(to be continued throughout the day until midnight CST)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

On the Things One Finds While Tunnelling Underground

As most of my regular readership are aware, I'm an active participant in a number of internet forums around the world. I've seen more than my share of petty rivalries between forum members (and in a few cases between forums themselves) over the years, and it really takes me back to my BBS (and Fidonet) days in the 80's.

So, imagine my bemusement when I stumbled upon this little blast from the past while exploring gopherspace, which I present verbatim:

the glue ball bbs----------312-465-hack

barney badass's b-files
//////////////b-file #1////////////////
the code of the verbal warrior,or,
barney's bitch war manual

so you log onto a board and make a bee-line for your favorite
sub-board.some people love pirate boards,some people like phreak boards. my
passion is the trusty old standby,the bitch board.

so you get in the 'argument den', or 'discussion board',or'nuclear bitch-
fare'and start looking around for someone who you think you can
know,insult,cut down,and generally verbally abuse. and so you post,and,next
thing you know,somebody appears to hate your guts. you've got an enemy. now

the main problem with 85% of all bitching that goes on on boards today, is
that people just don't know how to handle the answer to that question. now
what? do i keep it up? do i give up? do i insult his mother?

barney's bitch tip #1------- make up yor mind. either take the bitching
completely seriously,or do not take it seriously at all. if you find yourself
grinning at insults thrown at you by your opponent,then either cut it out
immediately,or try grinning even wider when you're typing your reply. the
benefit of this is that you can't be affected one way or the other by any thing
that your opponent says.if you're taking it seriously,then you just keep glaring
at your monitor,and remain determined to grind the little filth into submission.
if you're using the lighthearted approach,then it's pretty dif- ficult to get
annoyed by any kind of reference towards your mother/some chains/and the family
dog,because,remember,you're not taking this seriously!

barney's bitch tip #2-------- make damn well sure that you're not falling into
a trap. what's a trap? well,a trap is something that someone in a position of
power(usually a sysop) sets when he/she thinks you need to be 'put in your
place'. i could not tell you about this if i had not experienced it
learn from my own mistake --lord chaos,sysop of utopia bbs is not to be trusted.
probably no sysop who is under the age of 18 and starts their name with 'lord'
is to be trusted,but that's a different story. (nothing per- sonal,pat.) more
on traps later.

barney's bitch tip#3-------- to bitch effectively and with class, you need a
certain talent. you either have it or you don't,and that talent is the ability
to write. think of it this way-if you don't think that you could write
something like...well,let's see-well,something like a g-file,then chances are
you are going to be made to look rather silly. a general rule of thumb
concerning bitching is,the better the command of the english lan- guage,the
better the bitching. and i'm not talking about the infamous john- athan lewin
school of saturate-the- enemy-with-3.8-metric-tons-of-extreme- ly-long-words,but
rather the instinct to know when to be direct;ie-'so-and-so ,eat shit and
die',or to be a bit more clever like:'what does so-and-so and the male sex organ
have in common? they're both dicks!'. not the best ex- ample,but you should be
getting the point.

barney's bitch tip#4------- this is tied in with tip #3--well-pol- ished
writing skills are a must,but almost equally as important is the ab- ility to
spell. for myself,nothing assures me of victory more than seeing the misguided
fool who took me on spell like a romper room dropout. the most common screw
ups(and the most sick- ening) are along the lines of spelling you're,'your',and
other such blatant gaffes. 3 lines into a message and you can tell immediately
if you are deal- ing with an idiot. but,in the same vein ,be careful at how
quick you judge-- typing errors are different than spel- ling errors...even i
stopped editing my msgs.(except in real extreme cases) months ago. the key to
looking good when bitching is to know your oppon- ent's weaknesses. if spelling
is one, then exploit it mercilessly. but you'd better make damn well sure that
he doesn't catch you doing the same thing.

barney's bitch tip#5------- *the advantages and disadvantages of multiple

when bitching with victory in mind,it is vital that you retain control in the
exchange-i.e.;make him respond to you more than you respond to him,get and stay
in the position where you can con- sistently talk down to your opponent, things
like that. control is the key. lose it,and you're in trouble. an efficient
way to keep control on your side,is,of course,thru having al- lies(if the
opponent is particularly tough). my word on this is as follows; when bringing
neutrals into a 1-on-1 war,you'd better make damn well sure who you're dealing
with,just as you should know the ins and outs of your opponent. bbs'ers are
fickle,fickle people. ------------------------- ------

the reason i underline this is because i can't possibly stress this enough.
in other words,a little paranoia never hurt anybody--trust practically no-one.
when assuming this attitude,you can save face if a verbal dagger flung from the
keyboard of a once-ally hap- pens to find its way to your back.
unfortunately,there's nothing much even the best bitcher can do when dealt odds
stacked by the bitchers most cov- ert enemy:the sysop. the sysop and the sysop
alone has the power to set the trap that no hi-egoed verbal soldier can escape
from...if he/she feels like it,the target could find himself facing;
mysteriously disappearing messages a strange and sudden lack of allies and,an
army of new opponents,never seen or heard of before.... these tactics,are,of
course,the trap that i referred to back in tip#2-- using this method,the sysop
and his cronies(the new opponents,a few of which are undoubtedly the sysop him-
self),once you,as the bitcher have taken up the false challenge,proceed to flood
the bitch board with messages ,and while yours mysteriously go bye- bye,wow!
you've 'lost'! it is this type of'loss'that is inesc- cpable. if you're good
enough,you can figure out the scam before you look too stupid,but your rep(if
you have one) is damaged.know your sysop like you would know your enemy! he may
be your enemy! --

barney's bitch tip#6--------- using the above methods,you should now be able
to definitively tell the class of your opponent. but you should also know the
class of the conflict you are in. in my experience,there are 3 types of
conflicts. **gee,barney,what are those 3 types?** well,i'm glad you asked
that-they are; discussions,arguments and wars

discussions usually are free of any hate(real or simulated),and usually center
around relatively minor topics. a good example of a discussion would be
something like;'does big business des- erve the millions of dollars damage we
hacks and phreaks cause it every week? well,we all know the answer to that,but
it's still a good example of a pot- ential discussion.

an argument is something like the clas- sic oct-nov '84 greek inn bbs election
discussion--is ronald reagan extremely dangerous or just incredibly stupid? as
you can tell,something like that is bound to bring about some strong verb-
age,but usually not directed against one specific user of the board from an-
other user.

wars are the exchanges where you find out such interesting things as'your mom
still owes me money for the 10 minutes of heaven i gave her last night',or,
'your dad told me to tell you that he can't find the whip,so you can't sleep
with him tonight',or similar 10-year- old level sickening drivel.when you hapen
onto a war like this,just do your best not to parachute down to the level that
most bitchers are on,and carry on in the tradition of wit,not shit.good,fun,and
funny wars have in- telligent bitchers. be one,don't just watch!

so that about ends this b-file #1-my personal war manual. hope you found it
ever-so-educational....look for fur- ther b-files in the coming weeks. oh, and
just so you know,these are the verbal warriors of chicago--the ones to beat;

myself,vid kidz,scarlet armadillo,rum runner,and radical rick. good day.
======================================= barney badass's b-files////b-file#1 nov.
1984 ======================================= call the university bbs- check bbs
list for #

(if you dig these b-files,and want them for your board,or perhaps wish to con-
tact me,leave feedback on the : glue ball bbs->->312-465-hack


v e r b a l

_ ___ _ the _ _ __ P>rogressive U>nderground
And as this textfile | ||__ \ | | | | | ||_ \ D>issidents
rolls off the screen, | | __) )| | | | | | \ \ 3 1 3 - 4 3 3 - 3 1 6 4
you realize instantly | ||___/ | | | | | | ) ) 300/1200 Baud
the place to get more | | | |___| | | | _/ / 20 Megs of TextFiles
like it.. |_| \_____/ |_||__/ SysOp: Mr. Pez


Credit to the original author.

See kids? This is what we did back in the 80's, before the Internet became a household appliance word.

BBSes (Bulletin Board Systems) were our forum, and text-files were our blogs.

Durned kids. Get off my lawn!

Incidentally, if you're interested in exploring Gopherspace, check out the Overbite plug-in for Firefox!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

We interrupt this hiatus to bring you this important bulletin...

... and by bulletin, I mean drink recipe.

This one was soooo good, I had to share.

I built it off a number of similar drinks (but mostly the Russian Cadillac) that were essentially the same drink across the board, just with different measurements concerning the ingredients.

I found the Russian Cadillac to be the most palatable (if a little too chocolaty), but even then, it wasn't quite to my liking, so... true to my hacker spirit, I tweaked the recipe until it met with my own exacting standards, even going so far as to add a new ingredient.

With that in mind, I give you:

Russian Cadillac Redux

3/4 oz Stolichnaya Vodka
1/4 oz Absolut Mandarin Vodka
3/4 oz Galliano Herbal Liquer
1/4 oz Bol's Creme de Cacao (white)
1 oz Lucerne 18% Coffee Cream

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker half full of crushed ice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.