October 8, 2014

A Vacation from Cigarettes

I should've started smoking years ago. According to an ad posted in the washroom of my favourite pub, if I quit smoking now I can visit Thailand. Not necessarily my first choice, but if you can visit Thailand, practically speaking you should be able to visit any place that's the same distance or less. I could go for that, but unfortunately I've never smoked so I'm unable to quit. Why didn't somebody tell me about this years ago? Now if I start, who knows how long it'll take to earn travel reward points by quitting. Hey! What's to stop somebody from taking the habit up again and again, like Mark Twain: "It's easy to give up smoking. I've done it a hundred times." Surely there can't be many easier ways to become a traveler to faraway places on a regular basis, if this ad is to be believed.

February 26, 2014

Rob Ford; math skills

Rob Ford has pointed out that neither of his most recently declared rivals in the upcoming mayoral race has the record of Rob Ford”, an unusually generous endorsement of two opponents, but surely this could be fine tuned further. One of them must have a record less like Rob Ford than the other, and if somebody could perform the necessary differential analysis we’d have one reasonably efficient measure of who might make the best mayor. (Should we want an anti-Ford who’s also a better saxophonist than Bill Clinton, we should get behind Richard Underhill.) John Tory and Karen Stintz both differ from Ford in possessing basic math skills---neither imagines a loss or break even on city revenues accompanied by steep cuts in basic services is a saving in the neighbourhood of a billion dollars, and I doubt either one even imagines such a thing as a city being “ten times better off than it was” after three years of a mayoral term distinguished mainly by chaotic governance, bullying and mendacity—or for that matter after three years of sober, industrious, socially and fiscally responsible leadership, things simply don’t change that radically and dramatically, over so short a time span, in a sprawling metropolis with over two million citizens—some of whom, incidentally, are getting tired of being referred to all the time as customers. On a related subject, how do you stop a rhino from charging? Take away its credit card.

Speaking of math skills, a settlement in a class action abuse case brought by inmates judged to have suffered abuse, physical, sexual or both, at Rideau and Southwest regional centres (David McKillop recalls being beaten and sexually abused at the age of 4 ½) yielded a collective settlement of $32 million, which, doled out amongst 4,300 plaintiffs, works out to a little under $7,450 apiece. One’s obliged to say, I suppose, that it’s better than nothing.