opinion

NextBus me!

One week ago Mack Male wrote about St. Albert Transit launching its system-wide GPS system. I gave it a whirl Tuesday.

It’s great.

As you’ll be able to barely see from my crappy cellphone photos, the NextBus system allows you to track St. Albert buses on their routes. You get up-to-the-minute results, allowing you to know if the bus will be exactly where it’s supposed to be at any given time.

I tried it out after an interview at the new Enjoy Centre (where Hole’s Greenhouses now reside). First up, the A21. (more…)


Helping Slave Lake

(Photo: CTV Edmonton)

Hi Edmonton.

As news of the devastating fire in Slave Lake, Alberta continues to come in, you might be wondering what you can do, sitting here in non-burning Edmonton, to help folks in this northwestern Alberta town. There are a few things you can do. And they are really simple, but could mean a lot to someone who has lost everything.  (You also don’t have to feel any pressure to donate, we just want to let you know there are a few options out there in case you’re sitting like us, staring at the terrifying images of fire and burned-out buildings, feeling a lousy combination of terror, sympathy, and powerlessness.)

Just a quick note to anyone who hasn’t seen much on the story: Slave Lake, Alberta is a natural resources town (primarily lumber and forestry products) a couple of hours northwest of Edmonton. Dry, windy conditions have contributed to wildfires in Alberta, and the town was preparing for this as it became surrounded by fires. This weekend, the fires moved into the town, and everyone was ordered to get out last night.

The Red Cross (still helping Japan after its earthquake and tsunami) has its Alberta branch working on relief in Slave Lake. You can always donate to the Red Cross at its website.

#YEGHelps is also organizing collections here in Edmonton. You can donate household items and clothes. There are plenty of donation sites in Edmonton, and around the Capital Region.

You can let us know if there are any other donation drives or ways to help in the comments.


It’s not “local”, but…

red cross…in a world where we’re all connected by the interwebs, it’s hard not to see a situation like the disaster in Japan and feel like it’s happening right around the corner. And, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably going to spend the entire day neurotically monitoring news coverage and everything coming out on Twitter, and feeling a lousy combination of terror, sympathy, survivor guilt and powerlessness because you wish you could help – but right now, there’s not much that can be done besides watch.

Days like this make me want to hire an edmontonian guidance counselor, just in case you guys need to talk about anything. :(

However! This sort of shock and awe will do little besides drive us all crazy, so if you’re as overwhelmed as I, you may want to consider (though, no pressure here, kids) donating to the Red Cross’ Japan Earthquake Fund. And it doesn’t have to be like a floppity-jillion dollars. While I know it can feel insignificant sending them $5, the reality is, were I in any kind of peril, the idea that a complete stranger on the other side of the world wanted to send me anything at all would be pretty staggering.

And I’d like to think that if we’ve learned anything here at the website, it’s that most of us just want to know that somebody sees us, somebody cares, and that we’re all in this crazy world together.  So, no matter how small a gesture you may think you’re making, it really counts.  I swear.

 

 

 


Internet Usage Telegrams

 

We're going old school to regin in our Internet bill.

We got word that our most prolific commenter, Derjis, somehow convinced Shaw that he was a respectable citizen who should be invited to one of their few town hall meetings about usage-based billing (UBB). (Shaw is among the Internet providers considering usage-based billing. Rogers and Bell also want to charge more when you go over your monthly bandwidth cap.)

We said “Hey, let us know what happens at the meeting.” He did. But since he was pretty convinced UBB was still coming we decided to save our bandwidth for watching 80s movies on Netflix.

So we dusted off the edmontonian telegraph and asked Derjis to file his report from the nearest Western Union office. What follows is our first (but perhaps not our last) report by telegram*. (more…)


Happy Birthday, Homeless Eddie

By Amanda Bennett

It was at least-25 outside as I set out to find out how some of our homeless cope with this extreme cold. My heels dug into the snow on the icy sidewalk and I blew clouds of white breath as I made my way down the side streets. My hair hung down in half-frozen icicles on either side of my face and my double layered coat crinkled as the frost attempted to inch its icy fingers in…According to the label, I was prepared for the ascent to Everest and up to -65!

Opposite the church…

The last time I had been to the step outside the church it was fall, and several men had gathered out there to enjoy the last warm temperatures before the winter chill. Tonight it was barren. All that remained was a sign telling people to gather up their belongings or the items would be tossed into the neighbouring dumpster.

Next to the Library…

I saw a young woman hugging the wall by the library who asked me for some money for something hot and she looked so very forlorn and cold. I thought she was not so very old and felt her desperation as we spoke a little. She likes that the library lets her stay for awhile to warm up. She likes to see the posters in the children’s section and sometimes takes advantage of community programs in the area, to get a bowl of soup and a hot coffee. “Jackie” bid me a good night and hoped that it would warm up soon.

At the gas pumps… I met Eddie. (more…)


Last Minute Christmas Gifts

It’s that time of year, again, isn’t it? The time of year when you panic shop to make up for all the time you spent watching Holiday Specials and swilling eggnog with your friends. Your no good, riff-raff friends. GOOD GOD, IS THIS WHAT CHRISTMAS MEANS TO YOU?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?! GROW UP!

Anyway, in an effort to take the edge off, Monsieur Samsonow and I have made lists of a few ideas we might like to receive (p.s., send us christmas presents).

5 Gifts Sally Would Want

1) A fitness class from Defining Eve (10920 88th Avenue)

Defining Eve is a somewhat lady-centric (but dudes go there too!) fitness and training studio in the Garneau area that offers group classes, personal training and nutritional counseling. I am currently a very happy customer of theirs, and would wholeheartedly recommend this to the fitness enthusiast on your list. Or, alternately, if you have somebody who talks a lot about exercises but is actually terrified of the gym (someone like, say, ME) this place is basically their dream come true. Helpful staff, a friendly clientele and a warm atmosphere make it nothing like the junior high Phys. Ed classes etched in your memory. (more…)


Arena open house (and a new idea)

30,000 people have completed an online questionnaire, with hundreds of people attending these open houses.

As I’ve been mentioning, I attended the last of the downtown arena open houses, last week. It was a better time than I expected.

There was lots of information around the Robbins Health Centre at MacEwan University, and lots of Post-Its with ideas and questions going up on boards asking about things such as funding. (They kept calling them “stickies” though.)

I made it just in time for the discussion groups. (The first half of the evenings were open houses where people could check out information and ask questions of City of Edmonton staff, with the second half being the discussion groups.)

After an introduction about what we’d be talking about, and some history on the project, we were shuffled off into classrooms.

On the history of the downtown arena…it goes back to 2007. In February of that year we heard about renovating Rexall Place and the potential cost of that. Then, in 2008, we had a group look at whether downtown could handle an arena. They said it could. Soon after, Oilers owner Daryl Katz put forward his support for a downtown arena. (Initially $100-million for an arena, then it changed to $100-million for the entertainment district around the arena, then, seeing how everyone thought he was putting money into the arena in the first place, $100-million into the arena, then he said it would be $100-million for both arena and entertainment district.) The arena itself is supposed to cost more than $400-million. That leaves the City of Edmonton (you and me) on the hook for at least $300-million in the current plan.

For further reading, including how such an arena could/couldn’t fit into long-term plans, we were directed to the City’s Downtown Plan and The Way We Grow.

Here’s why the evening went better than I had expected: the discussion wasn’t split into for/against or pay for it/don’t give the billionaire a dime. There was some actual gray area amongst the group. I didn’t expect that and it was nice to know people are considering and thinking up all kinds of options for the arena (and for Edmonton, in general).

The biggest themes that kept coming up in the discussion the 14 of us had were:

  • The city should get revenue of some sort if it puts money into the arena.
  • The city should push ahead with its LRT plans. (Not exactly related to the arena, but it kept coming up, so it seems important.)

We were asked whether we were in favour of the Katz arena project, how to fund it, and a few items to the arena itself (design, impact on surrounding community, etc…). I think the facilitator did a good job of keeping the conversation going, making sure everyone had a chance to speak, and ensuring a few didn’t monopolize the conversation. It’s up to the recorder to make sure the important points, and feelings, are accurately captured and conveyed to city council.

I think my group leaned in favour of building a downtown arena. I don’t know if they necessarily leaned in favour of THIS arena plan though. I say that for a couple of reasons. The numerous other projects in Edmonton’s downtown (The Quarters, McCauley, Walterdale Bridge, 109 Street, 104 Street, LRT) that require city attention, and money, which could be jeopardized in some way, and the funding question. (more…)


Alberta Health Services’ Doctor of Cookies

Look, we didn’t want to make comparisons of Alberta Health Services CEO Stephen Duckett and Cookie Monster. But when you’re on the Internet, you’re forced to adhere to certain rules.

One of which being, hilarious and/or callous behaviour gets mashed up with silly things.

Now, if everyone at the top of Alberta Health Services, and politicians, could just stop jerking around and work on fixing healthcare, it would be a good Tuesday.


Keep CJSR cool (or, why I’m donating to the FunDrive)

cjsr, belt buckle

Just one of the many fine prizes you get, simply for donating.

I’m probably boring you with all my talk of CJSR’s FunDrive. But I’m not done yet.

Today, I donated. I really, actually, finally donated. And, if you’ve got a few bucks, I think CJSR is a cause worth some of your money.

Since Edmonton has more radio stations, per capita, than anywhere else in Canada, you can get lost in a sea of signals playing the same Black Eye Peas or Nickelback songs.

CJSR (and the always mentioned CKUA) isn’t like that.chad, colin, cjsr, makin' whoopee

With its varied and eclectic shows, produced and hosted by volunteers, you’ll hear more music, more genres, in a day than all of those commercial radio stations could play in a month. I guarantee it.

And we can bask in this endless music, and music knowledge, for a paltry $125,000. Surely you’ll help meet that goal.

Do it for music! Do it for local! Do it for Chad and Colin who are secretly the best morning show hosts in all the city! Do it so we have a station that goes out of its way to not play the same songs over and over!

Oh, and if you’re in the mood to donate to original, local media we’re always accepting sweet moola.


Sign of the times?

edmonton, election, sign

Municipal election signs bloom every three years.

By Janine Edwards

Yesterday afternoon, I sat down with the Internet to catch up on the news. That’s right, I don’t only get my news in the mornings with the edmontonian – sorry Jeff. So what did I see? “No tickets issued to Edmonton election candidates“.

No tickets issued? Wait a moment… Haven’t I seen signs on the side of the road just this past weekend? I don’t want to name names…

But Lee Permann, have you taken any signs down?

If you run during an Edmonton election, you’re supposed to remove signs from public property by 10 days after the election. If you fail to do so, you receive a $250 ticket. Seems simple enough right? You park in a no-parking zone, you get a ticket. You litter, you get a ticket. You ride the LRT without paying, you guessed it – a ticket!

So why is the city not giving tickets to candidates who have littered our streets with election signs?  (more…)


I think Edmonton is in good hands

edmonton, mayor, stephen mandel

I guess Dave's otter mug makes a cameo after all.

Just before the election, I was invited to a social media editorial board of sorts with Mayor Stephen Mandel.

Newspapers usually have an editorial board, which is a bunch of honchos and the opinion writers. Big names, and most big candidates in an election, will come through and sit with the editorial board for interviews. Kudos to the Mandel crew for reaching out to what can be a scattered blogosphere to talk with a few of us online journalists. Let’s hope this trend continues and we can do a larger “social media” editorial board next election.

Anyway…for more than an hour the mayor chatted with me, Dave Cournoyer, and Mack D. Male. Paul Mennier, from Mandel’s campaign team, was also in attendance.

LRT, downtown arena, neighbourhoods, community connections, local food, plebiscites, the tech community, third-party election campaigns, and the next police chief were among the topics. Notice I didn’t mention the airport. The Mayor said it was a dead topic, and none of the three of us interviewers could disagree, and didn’t feel like wasting our time talking about the same issue again. And again. I think the election results prove we chose our questions wisely, as most Edmontonians are ready to move on as a one airport city. (more…)


Speedy Beever

This van was introduced in 2009, to get people slowing down in school zones.

By Gregg Beever

Scona Road is a nice windy road I enjoy zipping down on my way to work each morning. Its perfect combination of curves and slope are as close as my Toyota Echo and I are ever going to get to rally racing, as we fly into the river valley at 80 clicks.

As much fun as it is to squeal down the road in my little red clown car, Scona is a trap. The speed limit is set at 50, a ridiculous pace for a two lane artery into the city centre, and is often peppered with photo radar.

Speed traps are a fact of driving in Edmonton, and if you enjoy breaking velocity limits as often as I do, then photo radar tickets are a hazard of the habit. I can accept that, and I’ll gladly pay for my indiscretions without argument.

What bothers me about photo radar in Edmonton is a powerful tool that could be used to improve public safety is instead placed in areas cherry-picked to maximize revenue. Scona Road, as I mentioned, is a fast strip of pavement with a deceptively low speed limit, a prime spot for a photo radar van to lie in wait behind the bushes.

There are plenty of other fantastic radar hideouts. (more…)


I want to Fringe you like an animal

I’m likely never going to get another chance at a headline like that, so I’m taking it.

I don’t tend to see a lot of fringe plays when the big festival is on, and so far I’ve got one in this week. But even with just a cupcake, and the one night, I’m enjoying the 29th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival.

First of all, after learning what is in Taco in a Bag I learned, last night, that it costs $7.50.

What is wrong with you that you would pay that kind of money for Doritos and taco fixings? I could understand if it was $2 or something so cheap it was the best deal on the grounds. But that seems a little steep for something that’s fairly guaranteed to haunt you for the next few hours.

So, as I mentioned, I went to see a midnight showing of Game Face. It’s getting solid reviews, I know people involved in it, and it involves a woodchuck mascot. That’s a darn good mix of reasons to see it.

I won’t go into great detail, since we’ve learned only a chosen few should ever dare review a sacred theatre production, but I will tell you to see this play.

The actors in it are great (and all have laugh-out loud lines), there’s quite a bit of scene changing and production (which must be tougher to throw together for a Fringe play), and I want Scott C. Bourgeois and Morgan Smith (she also acts as the angriest lady ever) to write another play for next year’s Fringe, so I can see that.

That's Alex, running away from the drunk guy.

While trying to guess at the thought process of those enjoying Taco in a Bag, I caught some of the street performing. It’s actually one of my favourite parts of the Fringe.

After catching Alex Clark doing his thing near the Gateway Boulevard entrance, I highly recommend you try to see him perform. Funny and skilled, he seems to be enjoying the hell out of his gig. (Thanks to Brittney for the link.)

And he handled a drunk, dancing, walk-through (who wouldn’t leave) and an over-the-top excited participant hilariously.

—–

So, I give my night at the Fringe  4.0 stars out of 5.

(It would have been 4.5, but I deducted points for Taco in a Bag.)

—–

By the way, here are some other recommendations from Fringees:

Ladyvision

Happy Whackin’ Jim McCrackin

The Fairy Catcher’s Companion (At the Kids Fringe)

Call Me a Liar

Apocalypse Kow (Outdoor stages.)


Problem Solved

We’re all for Edmonton’s downtown becoming more vibrant, with more people living, working, and enjoying it. We also like the Oilers.

But we understand it’s expensive to build an arena and entertainment district (AED).

We also understand that Edmonton city council is wary of borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars to create the new AED. So we think we’ve come up with a plan that can raise the money to build the new downtown arena, and save taxpayers any possible losses.

Call us if you need anything else, City Hall!


David vs. Goliath vs. Airport

By Gregg Beever

I consider myself to be a reasonably politically savvy dude. A steady RSS feed of the CBC, the Edmonton Journal, and Jeff’s daily link dump here at the edmontonian arms me with just enough knowledge to claim my wildly inflammatory political opinions aren’t completely unfounded.

I’m familiar with the majority of the local and national movers and shakers, and I mostly understand political and electoral speak.

Mostly.

Plebiscite is a word that has been kicked around a lot with the coming closure one of the Edmonton City Centre Airport’s (ECCA) runways next month. I understood what the word meant, in context, but had to look it up in the dictionary to be sure I grasped the meaning completely.

There is virtually no way to look up a word in the dictionary without feeling stupid. I know, because I do it often trying to avoid sounding like a dolt in front of you guys.

Now you know why I mostly write about movies. Movies are easy and fun; the petition to keep the ECCA open is complex and not that much fun to read about. So let’s discuss it, shall we?

(more…)


Gregg’s quiet coffee

By Gregg Beever

Coffee is a relatively new thing for me. I have always had an aversion to bitter tastes, and coffee is as bitter as liquids come – unless you’ve developed a taste for battery acid, a.k.a. Tim Horton’s coffee.

In the last year I have warmed up to the coffee bean and its deliverance of hyperactivity. On the weekends I regularly take an enjoyable stroll down to the newly renovated Wild Earth Bakery for a cup of mild roast.

Wild Earth coffee may consistently make my stomach go boom, boom, but I drink it anyway. I love having a tiny little coffee shop two blocks from my cosy residential dwelling, and I especially love the walk, as short as it is.

My apartment sits nestled in a urban forest of old growth. Long branches, thick with brilliant green leaves, sift sunlight down through to the sidewalk while summer birds sing to the melody of rustling deciduous.

It is quiet, and calming.

That is until I get to 99th Street where the din of steady traffic finds my ears begging for silence.

While celebrating this year’s Canada Day with my regular pilgrimage for coffee, I thought “wouldn’t it would be great if Edmonton took a holiday from traffic?” Just one day where everyone parked their cars and the only the dull hum of the ETS would fill the streets.

Let’s forget for a moment how logistically impossible that would be.

Think about it, one day out the year when the city’s white noise is replaced by the soft sounds of feet traveling the sidewalks; children laughing and playing in the vacant streets; and conversations of your neighbors enjoying a peaceful day in Canada’s sunniest city.

Imagine Whyte Ave. littered east to west in musicians and street performers setting up shop in the middle of the road, or an impromptu game of ball hockey being playing on the High Level Bridge.

What if, for just one day, you could challenge your friends to a foot race down the length of Calgary trail? Or set up the world’s most painful slip and slide down Bellamy Hill? Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Until that day I’ll just have to enjoy my short walks for coffee where, for a moment, everything is beautifully silent.

Gregg Beever writes amazingly sarcastic movie previews for us, among other things. We had no idea he was so introspective.


Banff and crap

(Yes, we were in Banff, getting so close we could almost touch celebrities, at the World TV festival. Here’s what our man in the mountains, Jonathan Robinson, learned.)

“The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.” – Hunter S. Thompson

“I look at what we produce and if we’re honest with ourselves, I look at it and say, ‘Why do I produce so much shit? Why did I fund such crap?'” – Lindsay Blackett – Minister of Culture and Community Spirit

Forgive me for not filing this story earlier, but I’ve only just wrenched myself from beneath the giant pile of iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks that descended last week upon Banff for the World Television Festival. You see, I was there when Minister Blackett made his comments. I had gone to Banff both to write this piece and to pitch some shows myself.

There were representatives from all kinds of television networks, distributors, new agencies, and hundreds of “Independent Writer/Producers” there, all chasing after the next “John and Kate Plus Eight” or “Being Erica”… and everything was going according to plan. That is until Minister Blackett went and ruined the party by making all of us “showbiz” types actually look inward for a moment to reveal the complete lack of substance in our products.

Within the industry, and certainly outside of it as well, the question has existed for ages… why is Canadian film and television such garbage? What can make it good?

To find the answer… I went right to the heart of the issue, and asked perhaps the most credible source on Canadian media, Jason Priestly (clip above):

OK… so maybe ol’ Brandon Walsh isn’t the best source on all of this, but he does raise an interesting point. The need for Canadian programs to find American and other international money exists because there is not equitable financing coming in our own country.  A report for the Alberta grants paid out in 2008/2009 can be found here.

As you can see, our province handed out just over $31 million last year, and what do we have to show for it?  “Heartland”? I mean “Christmas in Wonderland” got just under a million dollars for God’s sake! I worked on that movie and, let me tell you, it’s a HUGE pile of shit!  Christmas shit, but shit nonetheless.

But here’s the punch line… do you know what the budget was for debatably Hollywood’s worst movie last year: “Old Dogs”?

$35 million.

That’s right… “Old Dogs” cost more than all of the grant money that was given out in our province last year to film and television combined.

Which brings me to what I see as being the underlying problem with Blackett’s comments. They are true, but they are true because we have such a skewed frame of reference and we are continually trying to produce content simply for sale to other places.

As long as we keep playing the game of comparing ourselves to the U.S., we will fail. It’s like trying to fight a tank with a spear… sure you might get lucky, you could throw the spear, it could slip in through the window and kill the driver… but the chances are a lot better that you’re just going to get blown to shit. We don’t have the same kind of money to play with, so we should be using what we do have to create our own products based on quality as opposed to resale value.

If the products are good, we will be able to sell them regardless of their budget. Just look at “Trailer Park Boys” if you need an example of this. It airs in 14 other countries. Proof that strong characters and story are indeed marketable, regardless of the cost of production.

There is a tremendous amount of talented people working in film and television both in our province, and in our country, but we are putting ourselves at a huge disadvantage out of the gate by immediately comparing everything to our richer neighbors. I know it’s much easier said than done to ignore the overwhelming influence of the U.S., but if we can manage to create a product for ourselves, we will find that the quality of product will shift significantly, and that we will have much more diverse and interesting film and television coming out of Canada.

That, or we’ll keep getting gems like “Dan for Mayor.”

—–

And now, on a lighter note:  More celebrities!!!

Here’s William Shatner shilling all of his current projects, starting with Shit My Dad Says.

Here’s Eric McCormack talking about working in Canada.

And finally, here’s Ricky ‘Effin Gervais talking about what Karl Pilkington is up to right now.


Pipe down, loudmouth

Our resident cranky lady, Janine Edwards, is back, and wants you to quiet down.

Darling Edmontonians, we have a problem. And that problem is noise. You see, our delicate ears cannot handle the terrifying noise that motorcycles make.

Shut-up, ambulance!

Living where I do, it makes sense. All too often, they rip through my neighbourhood, startling myself and my little old lady neighbour next door. They are ridiculously loud, and I was more than happy to hear that the city is telling them to quiet down.

But then, I saw that people are now complaining the sirens on emergency vehicles are too loud. Where do we live? Communist Russia?

The sound of emergency sirens are too loud? You would have hated bomb raid sirens during WW2. The common theme here: sirens save lives.

I live near a fire station, and I’ll admit… Occasionally the fire trucks will awaken me in the night. But rather than get angry at them I consider this: that emergency vehicle is potentially SAVING SOMEONE’S LIFE.

So maybe it jolts you out of your light sleep, but that emergency vehicle is on its way to put out a fire, stop crime, or give much needed medical attention to someone. Are you really that selfish that you’ll whine about the siren sound?

Other people on the road need to know the good guys are on their way, so that they can make way for them. Those precious seconds mean something in situations which can be life or death. So when I hear someone whining about the decibel levels of sirens, I want to push the mute button on them.

Rather than complain about the heroes, let’s stop a real noise menace! I’m talking about drunks and “woo girls.” I’m sick of trying to go to bed and hearing drunk people having their loud conversations on street corners. Of girls ‘wooooing’, and of overly loud laughter. I’m tired of waking up to the party crowd, honking horns, and arguments. Where’s the noise crackdown on them?

I want the loud mouth partiers to shut-up. Is that too much to ask? Go home! It’s a Wednesday night!

Is it too much to ask that instead of punishing the police and emergency vehicles – we give emergency responders duct tape for the jerks who wake me up, while they describe some rad thing that just happened at the club? Or they can taze them. I don’t care, I just want some sleep.

Feel free to use your sirens on the way over to taze the loud drunks.


Watchoo talkin’ ’bout Edmonton?

Yes, Edmonton, it’s time to dive back into that sometimes horrible, awful world of online comments.

Now, I don’t want to seem like I’m picking on the Edmonton Journal, because that was never my intention. In fact, I really want the Edmonton Journal’s comments to be a place we can all rally around as a spot to have valuable debate about city topics.

I just pointed out how their anonymous comments can knock down multiple comments of worth, with a single racist or personal attack.

One way we can help them is to sign up for the comment system, then go under the My Community tab (once you’re in “Your Account”) and activate your name. Anonymous no more you can shoot down the angry, dumb people and vote them off the island, so to speak.

The Journal being Edmonton’s most active newsroom they are my first point of reference on this. But let’s see what Edmonton’s other newsrooms offer in the ways of online connection and discussion with their audience (you and me).

Edmonton Sun

The Sun doesn’t always seem to activate comments on every story. Or I’m just missing the “Comment here” button.

But when you can comment on a story you’re asked for your name and an e-mail address or your Facebook login. (See the image to the right.)

Sure, that stuff could be fake, but most people will likely enter real information and comment in a productive manner. While not moderated the comments can be removed, and if you’ve given your e-mail or Facebook info you could probably be blocked (I’m guessing that’s why they’d be asking).

And I really think that’s about all it takes. It’s going to be the rarest of trolls that will come back again and again, with fake e-mail after fake e-mail address, when they could just go somewhere without any information required.

CBC

The CBC doesn’t always allow comments. They’ve gotten into some trouble for people saying things in comments, and then being held to account for those comments on the CBC’s website.

So you probably won’t be able to comment on legal, court, crime stories.

They require you to sign up to comment.

That’s not to say signing up is the perfect way to limit trolls and stupid comments. As we learned with the St. Albert Habitat for Humanity letter, some people will gladly sign their real name to things that aren’t nice or smart. But sign-ups and moderation are BIG steps to having a worthwhile debate.

CTV Edmonton

It doesn’t look like they activate comments. Or, again, I’m missing the button or tab while scanning the site.

You can, however, comment on their blog.

Global Edmonton

It appears you can comment. Whether it’s moderated isn’t clear, but since you’re to use your Facebook, Twitter or OpenID to login, they’ve probably got some tracking going on.

CHED

There doesn’t look to be a way to comment on 630 CHED stories.

You can comment on the blogs. Though, check my warning about the iNews880 blogs in case your comments don’t appear right away.

iNews880

While CHED and iNews880 share a newsroom they do have different approaches to online comments.

iNews880 doesn’t let you comment on their iReports (sometimes audience-submitted stories). You can comment on their blog posts in a familiar fashion (though they go off somewhere for moderation) but they can take hours, even days to be approved. And when you comment on a story your thoughts are whisked away to a central comment area, not the story’s page. Which is weird.

Neither of these Corus newsrooms appear to ask for e-mail or ID stuff, but their comment-by-comment moderation would likely negate the need. Though, in my opinion, comments appearing quickly are more important.

Otherwise, aren’t you missing the point?

Metro Edmonton

Metro’s tricky. They let you think you can comment without having an account, and then they ask for a name and e-mail address. (Look to the left.) They do have an official sign-up process too.

Again, it’s all about putting up hurdles to the lazy people that want to spew hate. There are way more of them then the hardcore trolls.

Edmonton Examiner

You won’t get away with posting whatever you want here, without the usual name and e-mail address for their sign-up process.

SEE Magazine

You’re required to register for SEE‘s comments. Though some people are still named “anonymous.”

I would hope that anyone asking people to register is then using that information to block idiots. Oh sure, send a nice e-mail asking for intelligent debate the first time, but be ready to turf them.

Actually, whenever we’ve sent an e-mail we never hear from them again…

Vue Weekly

It doesn’t look like you can comment on stories at Vue’s website. They encourage letters to the editor.

CityTV Edmonton

I checked a couple of stories and didn’t see any way to comment.

—–

That all said, most of the newsrooms were allowing their audience to share items via Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc…

So, what does all mean?

I don’t know. I just wanted to see what everyone was up to.

It appears you can comment at most of the city’s news websites. Most of them require some basic information from you, which I hope is then used to block you for saying angry things.

I really don’t think you have a right to spew your vile thoughts at another website. If you want to exercise your freedom of speech you should get your own blog.

What do you take away from how comments and interaction are being done?

Where do you comment? Do you do it on a regular basis, or only when a story really grabs you?


All too common

You already have that feeling of dread, don't you?

By Gregg Beever

South Edmonton Common is not a place I visit often. At least not anymore.

Six years ago I would travel to the “retail power centre” daily, working for Best Buy. It was my first intimate exposure to the modern retail mentality; a big box culture where everything centered around the bottom line.

Morning meetings discussing the previous day’s sales numbers were followed by an emphatic cheer session. Best Buy’s stock numbers hung up-to-date in the break room while managers on the sales floor hovered over their charges reminding them ad nauseam to sell each and every customer on a Product Service Plan.

The flat linoleum wasteland was packed with patrons desperately seeking a poorly paid staff member, who barely knew a Firewire cable from their shoelace, for electronics advice.

When I quit to move on to my current job the general manager tried selling me on staying, like he was selling me a car stereo.

“Don’t you like opportunity?” he asked. A question I assumed was meant to be rhetorical.

Working only 37.5 hours a week to ensure I wasn’t legally full-time, and therefore did not qualify for benefits, was all I needed to know about the “opportunity” at Best Buy and how much the retail giant cared about the needs of its employees.

I packed up, left for greener pastures, and have scarcely been back to South Common since.

This weekend, however, I returned to Edmonton’s southern beacon of commercial progress in search of some hockey gear. (more…)


Abortions R 4ever?

Abortion is a profoundly complex, deeply personal political and social issue.

But whether your stance is pro-life or pro-choice, I think there’s one thing we can all agree on.

The kids love to text. AM I RIGHT?

Txting 4ever!

Prolife Poster with funny text


Telus Revenge: Best Served with mustard and relish

By: Colin MacIntyre

Show of hands; how many of you hate Telus?

3…17…63…576….6,192….1,093,833….464,837,272,828….. hmmm…I guess ALL of you hate Telus.

No, there isn’t much love for Canada’s favourite western-based telecommunication company. Oh sure, they have cute commercials starring baby ducks, monkeys and hippopotamuses, often set to catchy music. Unfortunately, that seems be where people’s enjoyment with Telus comes to a sudden, screeching, car rolling into the ditch, kind of halt.

I’ll confess, I haven’t been a Telus customer since waaaay back in the days when I owned one o’ them landline telephones (remember those?), so I don’t have much experience to draw upon. However every person I’ve talked to that is a Telus customer has a story to tell; nay, stories to tell.

From receiving bills for services not even used, to waiting two months for services to be installed, to that ohhhh so expensive fine print, which is fine, but also written upside down, backwards and in Ferengi. That’s just from people I’ve talked too! A quick Internet search reveals pages and pages of angry people. Heck, the Internet Search Page even asked me if I wanted to specify or narrow my search from ‘Telus Complaints’ to ‘Telus Complaints 2010’ or ‘Telus Complaints last 24 freakin hours’. I even found a blog where people can submit their own horror stories.

Unfortunately, if you are one of this misbegotten customers, there isn’t much you can do when Telus decides to play with you like cat plays with a blind mouse. Sure you move to a different telecommunications company, but seeing as how there ain’t that much to choose from in Canada, switching Tel-co’s is a bit like being stood in front of a row of half a dozen Ninjas, and being told you get to pick which one gets to kick you in the forehead. Writing letters and angry phone calls to customer service will only take you so far, and even the most hardened whiner will come to realize that their bleating is falling on deaf ears. It would seem that when it comes to having a lousy Telus experience, there is no way of extracting any measure of justice.

Until Today. (more…)


Anonymous Anger

This guy probably love edmontonjournal.com

It’s time for our second installment of “Edmonton Journal anonymous comments make us look like the worst.”

Ugh.

Paul Band fire contained

anonymous

3:14 PM on April 21, 2010

no surprise this fire started on a native reserve…got out of control with all the somewhat empty whiskey bottles tossed in amongst the garbage

– I’ve already reported this one.

Approving Katz’s rezoning application would be a big mistake

anonymous

1:04 PM on April 20, 2010

Paula, you are fat, get a life, you want a crappy sprawled out city, go write for the Herald.

Edmonton Needs this Project and it needs it now, today, no more waiting.

– This is your response to a well-written, cogent, eloquent argument against City Council passing Katz’s zoning application? Maybe you should be the one getting a life.

So, here’s what we do, Edmonton. We all get signed-up to Canada.com’s system (It’s your standard name, e-mail, password…) and we start posting smart, informed, sarcastic comments that make those people look even worse.

Oh, and we flag them for being angry, racist, hate-filled Internet trolls and knock them right out of the comment section.

That combination of flagging stupid comments and shouting down the idiots should help keep things in order until the Journal gets better moderation, and less anonymity.

Update: After writing all that stuff up there, I went and commented on a story. That’s me at 4:59pm on April 21, 2010. Why it still says “anonymous” is beyond me. I’m just trying to help you, Edmonton Journal!


One night with Coco (is not enough)

Photo quality suffers when snapping pics on the fly.

As promised, here’s a little more on Conan. (The camera had been temporarily misplaced and we are back on track now.)

I’d mentioned previously that I was trying to avoid reports of “The legally prohibited from being funny on television” tour, so that if there were repeat gags I wouldn’t be bored. I’m glad I hid under my rock.

The Conan O’Brien live show was way better than I had expected, and after paying $100 for a ticket I was expecting a lot.

While I had missed the opening comic’s name, many, many people smarter than I had caught that information and passed it along after the show. Reggie Watts is worth a little of your Internet time, as he’s funny, drops mad beats and has a lot of hair. Not that I judge people on their amount of hair.

Things were kicked up with a couple of songs from the band, with LaBamba coming so close I could touch him. But I wouldn’t, since he was playing his trombone. That didn’t stop the jerk across the aisle from slapping him on the back.

An hour or so later, Conan would lick LaBamba's face. He tastes of Funions.

(more…)