Monday, June 20, 2016

Smoking in the washroom.

I have a memory from Westmount High School back around 1971.

It was common in those days to sneak into the boys washroom across from the cafeteria to have a quick smoke. 

Sometimes the stall would get quite crowded with participants, all sharing a single cigarette. The cigarette would develop a "heater" as we called it from being puffed on and quickly passed around. The paper would turn brown. Curiously, I don't remember anyone ever getting "caught" even though it was as regular as class changes.

So one day I was in there with Mark Waind and Chris Saunders. I was drum crazy in those days, always drumming on something. On this occasion, I was drumming away on the heater cover when Chris formed a trumpet with his hands and fingers and started to belt out a bunch of flud-uts. 
Flud-ut da dut-dut dut and so on.

Then Mark joined in with his version of a trombone or something. I started to add my own version of a vocal tuba or bass or something. (Going by memory here.)
It turned out to be one hell of a little jazz session.

Every little while, as if perfectly scripted, the music would come to a sudden stop and the three of us would below with laughter, then, just as seamlessly, we'd start "playing" again.

We had a great time. Needless to say, tobacco wasn't the only thing we smoked that day.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Should people who are incarcerated in mental hospitals be deprived of the right to smoke?
Should the priority, when it comes down to the treatment of mental illness, be the attempt to make mentally ill patients as comfortable as possible? Or to get them to quit smoking?
After all, before they are hit by a car, or murdered on the streets, or jump off a cliff.... they might run the risk of dying of smoking-related disorders.
Where should the priority lie? To enforce the Ontario (McWynne) Liberals Smoke-Free Ontario Act? Or to making whatever remnants of the shattered lives of these people more bearable?
How difficult would it be to give mentally ill smokers an area in which they could puff away without being subject to incarceration or other authoritarian sanctions, not because it has anything to do with their underlying illnesses, but because it violates the McWynne NO SMOKING edicts?
Why am I so angry about this right now?
Why do I ask these questions?
Because a person I love very dearly is currently confined to his room, and a short corridor in a mental hospital, not because his mental condition has changed, (even though his mental condition HAS changed, for the worse, because he's been locked up. My mental condition would change too. So would yours.)
I asked one of the people at the desk, during my last visit,
"Why is he being kept locked in that corridor?"
The answer was, more or less, "Well, he has been caught leaving the ward and smoking cigarettes, he was even caught smoking cigarettes in the bathroom, and that could be very dangerous."
Yeah, smoking in the bathroom is dangerous.
Why?
Because there are a whole bunch of flammable materials in there?
Because mental patients might light the paper towels on fire?
Because a passing health care worker might get a whiff of "deadly" second-hand smoke and die of a sudden heart attack?
Nope. It's because of "policy."
I think the policy should be changed.
Why don't you give the poor bastards a place where they can  smoke?
After that, you can spend your time actually trying to help these people, instead of enforcing authoritarian edicts.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

It's Ubernacht in Hamilton


Read through the minutes of HAMILTON LICENSING TRIBUNAL from October 29th, 2015.  You will see that the City of Hamilton takes bylaw compliance very seriously when dealing with taxi operators who try to work within the law. (And who happen to be not-Uber.)

While reading, think about the treatment this same government has given to Uber in Hamilton. So far only a token 23 charges have been laid. The proposed joke fines are about $305 per charge.

23 times $305 = $7,015. Compare that to the  "evidence of the licensee’s non-compliance," a tally of convictions that represent only a fraction of the dollars and fees this city has extracted from the licensee in this case. Yet, at $11,500 these fines already exceed the $7,015 Uber will pay if convicted.

"Since April 16, 2014, Gill and his numbered corporations have been convicted of the following Provincial Offences Act charges and fined accordingly:

--- 

Inspection Date Taxicab Result

December 7, 2013 #233 000010 – 1826548 Ontario Inc. found guilty March
13, 2015; $2000.00 fine

December 7, 2013 #415 000011 – 1826548 Ontario Inc. found guilty March
20, 2015; $2000.00 fine

December 7, 2013 #017 000013 – 1826548 Ontario Inc. found guilty March
13, 2015; $2000.00 fine

February 13, 2014 #138 000801 – 1826548 Ontario Inc. found guilty March
20, 2015; $2500.00 fine

March 26, 2014 #430 001537 – 1830259 Ontario Inc. found guilty March
20, 2015; $3000.00 fine"

---

You can add another $18,000 to that $11,500 as a result of the fines that were levied as a result of "drive-offs." A drive-off occurs when a taxi driver sees a parking enforcement ticket officer writing out a ticket and drives away before the officer can issue the ticket. The fine goes to the owner of the taxicab, not the driver. 

This is Hamilton style "justice."

The owner has no control over whether his drivers drive away. The city, however, does have some control over this practice. They could stop flooding the city streets with the unnecessary licenses which  created the huge demand for parking spaces for idle taxis in the first place. (Even before Uber, Hamilton taxis were operating at less than 25% of capacity.)

If it turns out that I am guilty of double-counting, that the $11,500 in fines already includes the fines for drive-offs, it only bolsters my argument by revealing the true quality of the City's "evidence." 

The minutes of the tribunal include many references to taxicab meters that were not in compliance with the By-Law. This usually means the seals were missing or broken. None of the Uber cabs operating in Hamilton have meter seals. Not one charge has been levied against Uber, nor its drivers, for non-compliance with the By-Law as it applies to meter seals. The same thing goes for the fact that Uber taxis do not have the mandatory spy cameras installed in their cabs.

In the case of Mr. Gill, it is clear, that the decision of the tribunal was to put him out of business and completely destroy his livelihood, despite his pleas for mercy.

On the other hand, we have Uber taxi. They have simply given the city the middle finger when it comes to By-Law compliance. Instead of laying down the law in the face of Uber's open defiance, the city is desperately angling to find a way to accommodate the Uber taxi company  while Uber continues to thumb their nose at the By-Laws. 

It is difficult to put a label on this open double standard on the part of the City of Hamilton as this Ubernacht spectacle unfolds, no matter how much damage is done to those who's only mistake was to invest their lives in the taxi regime that the City of Hamilton created in the first place. (My use of the word, "Ubernacht" is based on the infamous KRISTALLNACHT pogrom that occurred in Nazi Europe in 1938. Law enforcement simply stood back and let it all happen.)

The label that would best encapsulate Hamilton's response to this rogue corporation is, most likely, a combination of the following list of suggestions:

- total cowardice (bullying the little guys while kissing the asses of the corporate behemoths.)
- total incompetence 
- total hypocrisy
- total negligence

and/or,

- Total corruption.


Oh, and by the way, if you want to witness the next chapter in the Ubernacht saga, there is going to be a performance at the City of Hamilton Council Chambers on the 26th of July. The show starts at 11:00 A.M. 

Up for discussion is a "potential new licensing category."  Can you guess what the new licensing category will be? I can. It will be proposed that Uber, unlike Mr. Gill, will be rewarded for its bold non-compliance in the form of unlimited taxi licenses. 

I don't know if they intend to hire a live band,  and provide pool tables, and an open bar, but I guarantee there will be a lot of stand-up comedy. Don't miss the entertainment!


---

References:

MINUTES 15-005
HAMILTON LICENSING TRIBUNAL
10:00 a.m.
Thursday, October 29, 2015

https://www.hamilton.ca/sites/default/files/media/browser/2016-01-29/oct29licensingminutes15005.pdf

13 more Uber drivers charged in Hamilton

http://www.thespec.com/news-story/6229199-13-more-uber-drivers-charged-in-hamilton/

KRISTALLNACHT

https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005201


----

More:


- What have I been saying for a while now? I have been saying that without funny money central bank inflation and a fundamentally sick economy, Uber would have never existed.
Think about it. A $62 billion taxi brokerage? Preposterous.

"There's no way Uber could have started and thrived without the cheap cash it has been able to collect from a growing pool of eager investors, almost no questions asked."

http://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2016-06-15/uber-s-debt-fueled-cheap-price-race-is-on-borrowed-time

Uber likes being regulated so long as it can write the rules.

http://qz.com/707892/uber-likes-being-regulated-so-long-as-it-can-write-the-rules/

Has Uber changed it's terms of service? "The Service is not available for use by persons under the age of 18."- Uber

http://www.nationalpost.com/m/wp/blog.html?b=news.nationalpost.com/life/why-parents-choose-uber-to-take-their-kids-to-school-when-theyre-too-busy-to-be-a-part-time-chauffeur

- and another example of underage passengers using Uber cabs 

http://globalnews.ca/news/2763116/uber-driver-charged-following-sexual-assault-of-boy-in-oshawa-police/

- and now other curious things have been happening...

http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/newsreleases/35080





More Uber BS Again with the mega BULLSHIT in reporting on the crisis in the taxi industry. Consider this disgusting paragraph from the NY...