Thursday, October 27, 2011

im going to decapitate you. jk, Halloween!

     I have a love/hate relationship with Halloween. I love trick or treating, carving pumpkins, wearing costumes, the festivities, and thinking of spirits. I hate the commercialization of cheap plastic crap adorning people's lawns and the glorification of brutality and violence. The type of society that casually enjoys decapitation, gore, and skeletons, is a society that is far too comfortable. It is a society that has never truly experienced actual hardship or brutality. We need to stop normalizing violence in society, especially in Halloween advertising. You know where they don't have such violent Halloween media? Answer: In places where there is actual violence. In Mexico and the Philippines, where people actually get beheaded, Halloween or All Saints Day, is a celebration of lost spirits. People gather for potlucks in cemeteries and remember the spirits of lost family and friends.

     I hate the proliferation of cheap costume stores popping up around Halloween. I understand everyone has to make a buck, but I certainly won't be spending my dollar there. How many junky costumes, and plastic accessories end up in the trash? All of it. Don't even get me started on those full face plastic makes; I can think of no better way to encapsulate your head in chemicals. Be original; make your costume at home and put some make up on. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

thoughts from last night's council meeting: noise by-laws

Last night at council, there were two delegations from concerned citizens regarding excessive noise at night. The concern stemmed mainly from motorcycle engines at night, but eventually extended to all vehicles as the discourse on the subject developed.
During the second citizen's delegation, a well spoken senior lady brought up previous recommendations to the city, from a subcommittee, regarding excessive noise. The woman's area of concern was along the Speed river's walking trails west of Gordon St. Obviously she lived there, and has claimed to walk the trail over 15 000 times since she moved to Guelph. Some of the suggestions for dealing with the noise pollution included:

1) Increased police enforcement of noise violations.
2) Increase police training with "decibel rating" devices.
3) Create the motivation for neighbors to snitch on their nosy nieghbours. When the vehicle in question is parked in a driveway it becomes easier to locate.
4) Create a sound certification system for vehicles that wish to operate within city limits. This requires the cooperation of mechanics to certify automobiles.
5) Reroute truck traffic from Wellington to Stone Road

The current by-law is very vague because it states vehicle exhaust systems must operate in an "effective and working" manner. This leaves much to debated. The factory default settings on a 2011 Yamaha R6, or Harley Davidson Fat Boy are already ultra loud. Although they meet the DOT decibel regulations, they're not something that should be prowling a residential neighbourhood at 2am. To compound the problem, aftermarket exhausts crank the volume up to 11.

The issue of motor vehicle noise is similar to that of the ruckus caused by students. Towns-folk get pissed-off and demand the city do something about it. My main contention with the solutions offered by the citizen delegate and city's sub committee on the issue, is No. 5. When the citizen delegate described the fifth option, rerouting trucks from Wellington to Stone, she said: "the noise of the trucks would drown out the noise of the students". I have a problem with this, and not because it marginalizes students. A statement like this marginalizes the families and communities living amongst students. Rerouting trucks down Stone Road would punish a group of citizens that have already felt the brunt of noise and disturbance that comes from students.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

who is responsible for all the shit in downtown Guelph?

Below are some thoughts on Guelph's downtown scene from a letter to the tribune, way back when...

Barkeeps are big part of downtown problems
Re: Dino Busato’s letter to the editor “Nail the core offenders not city bar businesses” (Tribune, Dec. 7).
The onus of destruction and debauchery downtown every weekend cannot be placed solely on poor enforcement issues and lack of bathroom accommodation.
It is very irresponsible to confront only the “customer” side of Guelph’s nightlife.
While I do agree people should be fined for doing bad things, enforcement is more complicated.
It is easier to find people urinating, fighting, throwing up and littering at 2 a.m. in downtown Guelph than it is to find Waldo in his wonderfully illustrated environments.
Are these people being fined? No. For whatever reason (lack of police resources, lack of police diligence, lack of people’s respect, etc), these people are not being fined. It is a fantasy to hold every person accountable for their actions when several thousand people shuffle into downtown every weekend.
That being said, I have spoken to downtown business owners who say the police are scared during the downtown scene. I’ve seen police just stand there while people fight.
I rarely see police walking around; mostly they just sit in their cruisers. That being said, they have an immensely difficult job and I respect what they do, although I think a more “pro-active” stance needs to be adopted by the police.
It is a bone-headed minority that is reeking chaos downtown. It is also a minority of bars responsible for producing the majority of boneheads. I’m a university student. I go to bars, and overserving is rampant.
Several clubs downtown have signs around the bar reading “Two-drink maximum after midnight.” I have never once seen the rule enforced by the servers, who fulfill orders for several drinks to overly drunk individuals – myself included.
People throw up when they drink too much, and if they bought a drink downtown then an irresponsible server contributed to the problem. It does not take an undercover sleuth to determine who is making people drunk downtown.
People pre-drink before they go downtown.
They are already drunk when they get there, and yet several servers will still provide drinks.
This places more trouble in the hands of security, who just throw drunks out into the public.
I feel the city made a terrible call when setting up the pissoirs and made a another terrible call with their subsequent removal. I feel the burden of rampant public urinating falls on the bar owners and the City of Guelph. It is cruel to expect people to drink beers and then lock them out of every washroom downtown when the bars close.
Bar owners and the city must provide a place to relieve oneself if they are profiting from pumping us full of liquid. Ensure adequate washroom facilities after the bars close, and then start fining people for urinating.
Ben Baena Guelph

Thursday, October 20, 2011

city councillor’s ‘joke’ gives a bad impression

At the Sept. 26 city council meeting, there was discussion around the city providing home energy audits. They are going to implement a pilot program that provides these audits, and the debate surrounds the cost of providing the audits. It was also noted the pilot program would take place in a neighbourhood heavily populated with students.
Coun. Bob Bell recommended a price of $20, at which point other councillors weighed in on the issue. When setting the price of the program to homeowners, it is important to consider whether the property is leased to tenants.
When it was Coun. Karl Wettstein’s turn to speak, he jokingly remarked that he “would charge students double,” after which he gave a chuckle and assured looks to other councillors around the horseshoe. I am not offended by his comments. I am both a student and a full-time permanent citizen — probably for several more years after I graduate. My concern is that these comments, jokingly or otherwise, represent underlying tensions between Wettstein and his ward, which has a high population of students.
His “joke” was not very funny, nor in good taste. To suggest that anyone would discriminate in price, and unfairly charge a specific group of people more than normal, is to cast aspersions on that group.
If he brings this attitude forward in council, what does he say in private?

Ben Baena, Guelph

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Guest Post: Paul Wartman on Foodstock

Sarah Harmer at Foodstock, photo by Diogenes Baena

Hello All! Today's post is a thoughtful contribution from Paul Lion Wartman, a 4th year undergraduate student at the University of Guelph. Mr. Wartman is engaged with local organic food production, sustainable living, promoting social and environmental justice. Below are his thoughts from Foodstock:

      Last Sunday, October 16th, a counted 30,000 people came together in the forested, agricultural land of Honeywood, ON to celebrate Foodstock. Community members of Guelph jumped on their bikes, hopped in their cars and piled, literally, into buses with family and friends to join the festivities. Everyone was gathering there to support the provincial efforts to stop a local issue - the Mega Quarry… as well as to enjoy the local bounty prepared by 100+ chefs from across Canada, which was complemented by the musical talent of Jim Cuddy, Sarah Harmer and many others!

     Once there, people trekked across farm field paths to the entrance of the forest.  Greeted by friendly volunteers that were collecting registration donations, "pay what you can" with a recommended donation of $10, we chirped with excitement. Upon entering the forest, people stopped and stared. It was as if entering a dream! Amongst the stands of fall coloured trees were pockets of tents that had chefs crafting together their meals to share. Many were cooking the locally produced food over fire pits, which added multiple streams of aromas that pulled you in different directions. With home-brought plates, cups and cutlery in hand we gathered our senses and galloped towards the smells. First table had little tarts filled with goat cheese, produced just 3 km away, mixed with berries it was quite the treat! Next was squash gnocchi! I don't know if you can imagine how it tasted swirled with maple syrup and sage! Ah! Plates moved, pulling their human parts from location to location being settled by the warm pockets of sunshine and acoustic tunes during their short journeys.

    Grazing throughout the art stands and mud-jumping children, eating mouths took time to discuss the issues at hand. Where would all this amazing food come from if this class A farming and ranching land turned into a quarry? We enjoyed our vegetarian poutine, those potatoes grew here. What about the water? Wouldn't digging 200ft below the water table in the headwaters of 5 major river systems affect the flow? These are all important issues to be pondered.

    Overall, it was a fantastic experience, rich with culture, that left you feeling satisfied. We left with new energy and hope that our efforts here today and our continued efforts will help prevent the proposed Mega Quarry and to create new policy to help make the necessary process of aggregate production less destructive to the environment.

For more information on the Mega Quarry and the efforts surrounding it, check out these links:

-Paul Wartman
Oct 19, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

occupy wall street.

I like the Occupy (insert developed world city here) movement. Something in the capitalist system is not working, and it needs to be addressed. I'm not claiming to have any answers about what exactly the problem is, but I know something is wrong. I can feel it my bones.

At the heart of the Occupy Wall St. Movement is the complaint that current financial markets are not regulated properly. Archaic banking practices, high-risk investments, and a bottom line driven solely by profits have combined to create a system vulnerable to exploitation by greedy goblins. Wall street occupiers claim old economic rules no longer apply; for example: rational expectations, which are: "economic situations in which the outcome depends partly on what people expect to happen".

What I don't like about Occupy Wall street, is how other advocacy groups have attached their agendas to the occupation movement. In order to bring about meaningful and effective change to the West's banking systems the message cannot be diluted with things like: climate change, social injustice, and environmental concerns. All of these things are inextricably attached to the impacts of capitalism, they are important and deserve attention; but let's just focus on bad banking practices (hasn't that been the major inconvenience of the past 5 years?). Policy makers will take the movement more seriously and it will be easier for them to affect change, if the priorities are direct and specific.

 I also don't like references in the media relating Occupy Wall St to the Arab revolutions. They are entirely different. Arabs have faced decades of stagnation and oppression, while Wall Street occupiers have only been affected for the past decade (the major shift coming after 9/11).

I have two videos that compare the political media perspective from the left and right. Notice how each media group, from opposite ends of the political spectrum, uses people at rallies to portray their message. The first video is of left-leaning media interviewing stupid people at a Tea-Party rally and the second video is of right-leaning media interviewing stupid people at the Occupy Wall Street movement. Media from across the spectrum are guilty of interviewing a small select sample of individuals and using that to represent the entire movement.

It just occurred to me this video may not play on all computers, try the link:
Ari Horowitz on GBTV
 p.s. I am well aware that 95% of what comes out of Glenn Beck's mouth is garbage.