Thursday, August 14, 2008

Five'll Getya Ten - Victor on Gambling

The go ahead for slots at Hastings stirs memories of the unique ability of BC politicians to combine hypocrisy and stupidity.

Remember Steve Wynn. This was the guy from Vegas who was going to build a casino on the Vancouver waterfront and toss in a convention centre ten years ago. All on his own tab. He is currently doing precisely that in Macau.

But the politicians in Vancouver and Victoria would have none of it. Why? Well he was an American, see. A little too flashy for Rubeville-on-the-sea. And gambling was bad. Bad,bad, bad.

Well since then, taxpayers have been gouged with a grossly over-budget convention centre. Our governments grow fat on gambling revenues now that every convenience store is a mini casino, selling lottery tickets to survive.

And Steve. Well, he's over in Macau, spending billions, welcomed with open arms by those very Chinese we are currently labeling as intolerant.

Comment From Light Rail Guy

The streetcar of today is very different from the streetcar of yesterday.

- Helsinki, just built 5 km of new streetcar (streetcars are LRT) for Euro 15 million or CAD $23.6 million or CAD $4.72 million a km.! Compare that with almost $200 million/km. for SkyTrain.

- Helsinki's tram (streetcar) system carries over 20,000 persons per hour per direction (pphpd) one one downtown route, during peak hours. Compare with SkyTrain, which can't carry 15,000 pphpd without a $3 billion upgrade!

- In Karlsrhue, Germany, one can board a streetcar in the downtown and alight in Heilbronn, some 150 km. away, with the streetcar operating on-street; on a reserved rights-of-way (LRT); and as a railway train, track-sharing with the mainline railways! Compare with SkyTrain, it can only operate on a massively expensive segregated rights-of-way and is compatible with no other railway!

- The Kong Kong tramway's (those quaint double-decker streetcars) CARRIES OVER 80 MILLION PASSENGERS ANNUALLY! Compare with SkyTrain, with almost $6 billion invested with the metro, barely 70 million passengers annually use it, with 80% first taking a bus to use it.

- In Spain, a new streetcar line cost under CAD $7 million/km to build, including cars! Compare with SkyTrain where $7 million would buy you 70 metres of guide-way, without cars!

- Streetcars can travel at 30 second headways. Compare with SkyTrain, which even 1 minute headways pose a problem.

- Streetcars come in all sizes, from small metre gauge 2 axle affairs, to large, multi-axle articulated vehicles, with a maximum capacity of 350 persons (Strasbourg's 'Jumbos').

- Streetcars can climb 10% grades with ease (Sheffield, UK); in Lisbon, their 'heritage cars' (see above) climb 13.7 percent grades. compare with SkyTrain where the system doesn't like steep grades at all!

- Streetcars can travel as fast as 100 kph.

- AND STREETCARS OPERATE WITHOUT PROBLEM IN THE SNOW! In the Great Blizzard's in Denver last year, the LRT/streetcar only stopped operating because there was no passengers to take. No one could reach the streetcar! Compare with SkyTrain, where one flake of snow causes panic and.......... you know the rest

TV Blues

The firing of the Breakfast Television team at CityTV is not a national tragedy, but it is discouraging.

Not only for the very decent and capable people who will be hard-pressed to find work in this moribund market, but for all of us as lively and involved citizens.

It is a text book case of everything that is wrong with broadcasting in this country.

The CRTC grants licences to every manner of well-heeled hooligan, who dutifully promises to spend millions on local programming.

The reality, of course, is that people want to kick back and watch American Idol or the NFL.

What would local programming have to be to attract a significant audience? Sex and snuff movies?

So, from the very beginning of television in Canada, we have been soaking up the Ed Sullivan Show and Donny and Marie and Oprah and Charlie Rose.

The original Global station in Toronto became incredibly rich on two strands - one, great buying of new American product at the annual Las Vegas fair, and two, repeater stations granted to Global throughout rural Ontario. Literally, a license to print money.

Except for local newscasts - which CITY abandoned a few years ago - very few local or even Canadian programming ever sees the light of day. CTV and CBC love to gush over themselves when they crank out cheezy, imitative police dramas.

Yawn, goodnight.

CBC, never having the courage of its own alleged convictions, plays CanCult one minute and Sean Penn movies the next.

Australia has the advantage of being very, very far away, adrift in a remote sea. Thus, they have created a booming and unique film industry and their own TV stars.

But, as we huddle together here on the 49th parallel, in the shadow of the really, really Big Show, we continue to be a B-movie that can't even sustain a morning show with 6-minute guests.


The Conversation Turned Sour

Most of us, in our wisdom, ignored the PR stunt called the "conversation on health."

Its transparent purpose - to encourage support for private initiatives in health services - was comically apparent.

The rube who heads the class in Victoria sees the rest of us as turnip patchers and thinks that we won't get his cloddish slight-of-hand tricks.

How refreshing therefore to learn that the $10Million caper brought exactly the opposite results. Over and over again, citizens showed up and told the hired monkeys that they supported government funded universal health care.


Of course, I shouldn't be laughing. That's 10 Million of my and your Canadian tax dollars and 18 months wasted on complete and utter bull.

Isn't government grand?

Too Lowe for Comfort

The Mayor of Victoria, Alan Lowe, needs some quick instruction on the the basics of contributing to a democratic society.

His handling of the Police Chief affair is appalling and amateurish in the extreme.

The Police Chief has been under investigation for many months. He has now been cleared. And he has resigned.

He was under investigation for WHAT? He has been cleared of WHAT? He has resigned WHY?

This is the Police Chief! If there is the hint of an aroma of a whiff of mis-doing, we the public must know.

Hiding behind arcane inner sanctum rules will not cut it.

If anyone should resign, it is this mayor.

Return of the Streetcar

For fans of LRT - and we are legion - it is very good news indeed that no less than 40 American cities are looking at re-investing in long gone or non-existent or minimal streetcar systems.

Not that the uber-planners in Victoria would ever consider such good sensible ideas.

Read the NY Times story and hope and email your local elected dope.

The Boss, Live 1975