A fresh start

So I heard Derek Powazek talking on Twitter about having a fresh start on Twitter.  Someone posted a YouTube video with code on how to unfollow everyone.  After a couple of days of considering it, I decided to try it and saw me unfollow almost 1100 people.

So as soon as I did that, I decided to go look for interesting people to follow.  Of course there was some family and friends but I decided to find local people to follow and started to click “follow”.  It was a lot of fun and some people that I was aware of and enjoyed their tweets and never followed were added to the list.

That took me to about 300 followers and then I looked at who I should be following.  It was all Alberta names!  Apparently many of us in Saskatoon keep an idea on what is going on in Calgary and Edmonton.

I added a few national voices to my followers, photographers, and photography sites and I found myself back at about 900 followers.  I also realized that Saskatoon now has a lot of journalists covering city hall.  You can blame Dave Hutton for that.

I also followed some MLAs from both sides of the floor.  My advice for them is to be more like Brad Wall, Cam Broten, Trent Weatherspoon, or Dustin Duncan.  It’s okay to act more like humans and less like robots folks!

The people I left behind were the spin doctors, NFL pundits, and a lot of American political voices.  They can be fun to follow but don’t contribute much to my life.

If I unfollowed you and haven’t followed you back, don’t take it personally.  It will take some time to track down everyone I left behind and I’ll get to you soon.

The NFL Season in Review

Many of you are aware that I said goodbye to the NFL this fall after the Ray Rice scandal hit and wonder how I did.  Here are my thoughts of the NFL season that never was.

  • I still watched some football.  I am a Notre Dame fan and of course Mark plays high school football (where he played every position on the defence this season).  I enjoyed a lot of it.  I also came to grips that I am not a CFL fan.  I wish I was a bigger one but I really am not.
  • We cancelled cable and I got rid of my NFL Now subscription.  That hurt a bit but I vowed not to give the NFL any money in 2014.  I didn’t.
  • I spent my Sundays with Wendy which was time well spent.  We went for coffee at City Perk, out for walks, and explored the city.
  • I realized how much time some of my friends spend watching the NFL.  Sunday, Monday, and Thursdays.   That’s a lot of time in front of a television.
  • After spending 25 years a die hard Denver Broncos fan, it was weird not to know how they were doing during the season.
  • Despite giving up on the game, I still heard a lot about Jonny Football.  That isn’t a good thing.
  • I am still a fan of the game but Roger Goodall makes the game almost impossible to respect.  Even if you get past him, you have Jerry Jones, Jerry Richardson, Woody Johnson, Jimmy Haslam, Jerry Jones (whose stadium uses more oil than Liberia on game days), and of course Daniel Snyder who are all owners who have done horrible things.  Of course the NFL and other leagues all have horrible owners (Darryl Katz anyone?) but the idea of me giving my money to them really bothers me.  Again, I’m not calling for a boycott, it’s just a personal decision.
  • I have spent a little more time watching the Raptors (maybe because they are good), the Calgary Flames (after we had a breakup back in the late 90s during the second last lockout) and while I can’t watch such bad hockey, I find myself enamoured by the train wreck that is the Edmonton Oilers.
  • I should link to this, other pro sports owners are horrible humans as well.
  • In the end, not watching the NFL wasn’t really that big of deal.  It is a bunch of millionaire athletes playing a child’s game in the hope of winning a championship which will somehow validate themselves in their minds.  It’s fun to watch but doesn’t matter a lot to me in the big picture.
  • It is also a big business in which local communities are pitted against each other to keep their billionaire franchise owners even richer.  That part is what I find so offensive.
  • I was happy to see the NFL take a tougher stance against Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson but at the same time, this should have been done decades ago.  For all of the Ray Rice’s, there was a Warren Moon who was never suspended.  I am hoping there are changes moving forward but I am still going to take a wait and see.  I just have no faith in Goodall or owners like Richardson who won’t cut or suspend Greg Hardy.

The problem with the NFL is it’s owners (and corrupt politicians that enable them)

Amazing column by the New York Times’s Michael Cooper

Lesson 1: If you pull often enough on state and municipal levers, the gold of public subsidies inevitably tumbles into your hands.

Last week I strolled from the Mississippi River and the sylvan parks that line its banks, past the elegant Guthrie Theater and handsome condos, to a construction site and its forest of giant yellow cranes. A new stadium for the Vikings is rising here with a roof and state of the art everything. It is undeniably impressive, as it should be: This Taj Mahal will cost state and city taxpayers more than half a billion dollars.

Through their lobbyist, the Wilfs noted that they would pay rent on this stadium, which is grand of them. The project will also create a jewel of a public park next to the stadium.
Unfortunately, this park will not be as public as advertised. The fine print gives the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority control on most weekends other than those during the deep chill of winter. (The Vikings may place a soccer team in the stadium, which would extend their control of the park.)

The city remains on the hook for park maintenance. According to an analysis conducted for the Park and Recreation Board, the park came without any financing to pay for its upkeep.
“They’re running circles around us like we’re rubes,” former Gov. Arne Carlson said. “You have children living outside in parks and tents. We don’t have the money to take care of that problem. But we have hundreds of millions of dollars to pour into Zygi Wilf?

“It’s an embarrassment, really.”

The genius of the N.F.L. is that when talk turns to public financing, shame is viewed as a disabling emotion. We obsess on the failings of Roger Goodell, commissioner of the $10 billion nonprofit National Football League. But the men who own the league’s franchises are more intriguing, not to mention more powerful.

Continue reading the main storyThe league makes relatively few demands of these owners, other than requiring that they are terribly wealthy. And it offers them a prime directive: build ever-grander stadiums and make sure that every stream of revenue — suites, seats, concessions, parking — sluices into your coffers. Do this, and we’ll help you gang tackle cities and states. We’ll even throw in a Super Bowl to boot.

Read the entire column and ask yourself if this is a league that deserves your money.  It’s sickening to realize how it literally loots cities and states to grow it’s business.

Contextless Thoughts

  • After the Saskatoon Transit lockout is done, I can’t see Ann Iwanchuk winning a second full term.  Especially with Mike San Miguel quietly running again.  Her campaign was largely financed by labour and with the city attacking the ATU like it did, her slim margin of victory, her constituents relying on Transit heavily, and a lack of a signature issue so far, it could be really tough to win re-election.
  • It could hurt Clark and Loewen with their base and could mobilize the non voting parts of Ward 2 to really hurt Lorje.  I am not saying councillors will lose their seats but rather could face much tougher re-election races than they would have.  The right opponents will capitalize on this.
  • Despite what people think, this won’t hurt the mayor at all.  That is what the attack ads are targeted to protect (at the expense of councillors).  In many ways he could come out of this the winner, especially if this weakens rivals and empowers his base which to be honest, never rides a bus.
  • Of course the city being the city, coincided the lockout with the Mayor’s Cultural Gala.  You had some city councillors tweeting pictures of the city’s elite having a fun time while lower class people were being kicked off buses and having to walk home.  
  • Why would the city run attack ads against the very union it needs to negotiate with on the first day.  Saskatoon already has laughable communications and that didn’t exactly make the city look good.  Of course the political nature of the ads was bizarre.  Several city councillors swore to me that they never had any foreknowledge of the ads until they ran but both city staff and some others on council say that council saw and approved the ads in an in-camera session of executive committee.  It’s not exactly breaking news that council members lie to me on issues.  
  • Speaking of executive committees, it would be a lot easier for them to lie to me if council and staff stopped leaking what happened in there.  If only they had a way to investigate the leaks…
  • I have had several discouraging conversations with people who are utterly dependent on the bus for work, to provide care for a spouse who is in a nursing home, to get to school.  In Saskatoon we call those people collateral damage.
  • It is weird to hear councillors go all out in defence of their real fiduciary duty but ignore their responsibility to those who rely on a public service.  Empathy for those who have been hurt by this strike has not been something that has been communicated well.
  • I don’t really miss the NFL.  You would think I would after watching it every week since 1987 but I haven’t.   I glance at some scores but other than that, I haven’t really missed it.  I still have some college football, the Huskies, and the CFL but I have never cared about them like the NFL.
  • Brady Hoke needs to be fired from the University of Michigan.  He sent back out a quarterback with a concussion back onto the field.  That should be a fireable offence in any league (including when the Calgary Stampeders did it a couple of years ago in a playoff game against the Riders).  You send out a player with a brain injury, you are fired or suspended, especially in the NCAA.
  • What could Stephen Harper be thinking?  $300,000 courtesy ride for a couple of European diplomats because he wanted to have them at a reception?  Does he just not care anymore?  That does not look like a move by a politician who is planning on re-election.  Not only that but there is still widespread opposition to the deal in Germany.
  • The NFL is talking with Texas head coach Charlie Strong who has taken some strong steps in dealing with player misconduct. “We can’t compromise and sometimes that means getting rid of the best player.”
  • If you are a big company and you want to associate your brand with a strong event, I’d talk to the people behind Nuit Blanche right now.  Over 5000 people were on 20th Street last night for the inaugural event and it was a big time success.  People were partying, shopping, and hanging out all over the place.  What a great event.  Someone needs to step up and get behind it in 2015 monetarily so it can get bigger.
  • After reading this piece by Cathal Kelly, you will realize that the Blue Jays will never get any better than they are now.  So yeah, that kind of sucks.

Goodbye NFL

Most of you know how much I love the NFL.  I wrote about it a couple of years ago in this post.  Each weekend I catch a couple of games from Thursday night to Monday.  I subscribed to NFL Now.  I have a fantasy team.  I have been a fan since I watched John Elway and the Denver Broncos blow the biggest lead in Monday Night Football history against the hated Los Angeles Raiders.  Somehow I became a life long Denver Broncos fan and if I saw Raiders quarterback Jay Schroeder on the street, I’d boo him in real life.

All through the 80s I’d rage at The StarPhoenix sports desk for never posting the west coast scores of key Broncos games and would have to go downtown to the main library to find a “real paper” to find out the score (real paper was always the New York Times who hated their sports desk and make them stay up late so they could publish the west coast scores or USA Today who probably felt the same way).  I hated the sports broadcasting of first 650 CKOM and then C95 for only occasionally mentioning the occasional NFL score which ignoring the important AFC West games. (important as in Broncos scores)

Yet for some reason this year, I’ve had enough for a few years now, the cons have been piling up:

The worst part of the Ray Rice thing was that well respected GM of the Baltimore Ravens suggested that Rice’s wife was to blame and the Ravens Twitter account even tweeted out her apology.  An apology apparently for being violently hit?  The NFL could have also demanded to see the video (“umm, Ray you are suspended until we see all of the sealed evidence”) and it isn’t as if the first videos of Janay Rice laying on the floor of the elevator and Ray Rice kicking her lifeless body to the side wasn’t horrible enough.  If you haven’t seen it, it made me sick to watch it.

No, something is wrong at the NFL.  Roger Goodell is a big part of the problem.  He was going to be the new sheriff that was going to clean up the league and protect the “shield”.  Instead he became obsessed over pot (which is not a performance enhancing drug) which ignoring the bigger issue why so many NFL players are violent towards women, in a league that is trying to aggressively market itself towards women.

In fact, a lower percentage of NFL players are violent towards women than in the general population but because of wealth, status and a stable of high priced lawyers most of those charged, get away without penalty (the worst example of all time is boxer Floyd Mayweather – don’t read this link unless you have some time to get angry).  The other issue is for a NFL player, what constitutes a jury of their peers.  Many people on that jury cheered for him, wore his jersey, and was a fan of the team he was on.  The league is stuck trying to penalize it’s players.  Of course by handing out ridiculous penalties for pot use or for dog violence, you would expect them to give out severe penalties for violently hitting a women.  Nope, those are the lenient penalties which both reflect a problem with the league and society in general.

So yeah, I am fed up with the NFL.  I still love football.  Mark is trying out as a linebacker for the Bedford Road Redmen  err RedBlacks  err Red Hawks.  There is the NCAA, the CIS, or if forced to watch it, the CFL.  I’ll still have football but unless there are some serious reforms in the NFL, I am done.  How do I say to Mark and Oliver that it is never ever okay to hit a women and then sit down and turn on the NFL which condones violence against women.

It’s been a great 26 years of being a diehard Denver Broncos fan but enough is enough.  Roger Goodell has to go and until something changes, I’m out of here.