The Humanoids: New and Improved Flavour

With the return of summer, I figured that July was a good time for the return of The Humanoids column. I’ve been trying to figure out what’s been missing from the blog and I’m selfishly thinking that my rants are part of it. Well, I’ve decided to revive The Humanoids with a new format. The format is more question-based than topic-based so I can go on a few more tangents than I used to. Will this new format actually get some traction? The only way to find out is to hit the jump.

Is the Canada Post back-to-work legislation the beginning of the end?
The Harper Government decided that rather than let the Crown and Canada post employees negotiate in something that could resemble good faith, they were just going to force postal workers back on the job. The back-to-work bill was filibustered for over two days before the Conservatives forced it through. Because, clearly, telling someone to go to work for a dictated nominal wage increase to be determined at a later date in binding arbitration or get arrested is the way that every worker wants to be treated.

And I refer to the government as “The Harper Government” ironically. No Canadian government should be passing such a draconian bill on its citizens that tells them they have to work at a wage that they essentially dictate. It borders on slavery. It says “You work for the government. We are the government. We tell you what to do and you will like it.” It’s not like postal workers are an essential service. Important? Yes. But it’s not like they’re doctors or nurses. Postmen deliver the mail. They aren’t saving lives. There’s UPS, FedEx, Purolator and the like that can be used to deliver mail during the strike. If people aren’t willing to go elsewhere for mail delivery, it’s their problem. Postal workers are getting screwed by this very un-Canadian dictate. And we wonder why postal workers go postal.

When will we stop caring about celebrity marriages?
Let’s face it, when celebrities date or marry other celebrities, it’s very seldom about fluffy concepts such as feelings, compatibility, or (dare I suggest it) love. Marriages and divorce are largely publicity stunts. A Hollywood type dating another Hollywood type is a sure way to get into the tabloids and generate talk online. Let’s face it, celebrities and their publicists know how to stay in the news and use dating and marriages as an easy way to keep people talking. For example, Christina Aguilera disappeared off the face of the earth when she got married but her profile has picked up since her divorce. And Scarlett Johansson went from nowhere married to that one dude to everywhere while nailing Sean Penn.

The other thing I don’t understand is why celebrities marry coworkers. I’m not saying that celebrities should marry mere commoners (though if Kate Upton is reading, feel free to call me). But sometime I wonder if actors have trouble distinguishing between the act and reality or if they think the best way to promote their movie is to date their co-star. Think Jolie and Pitt or more recently Weisz and Craig. I suppose I could understand either side of the scenario. Any publicity is good publicity. But on the other hand, I suppose if you pretend to be romantic with someone, lines could blur after a while… Then someone realizes that there’s no feelings there, the relationship ends and everyone gets some quality time in the tabloids and a quick publicity boost.

Why was there an NHL lockout for a whole year?
Was the idea behind losing the 2004-05 season to contain costs of player salaries to a manageable level based on league-wide gross revenues? Well, we did get a reduction in player salaries as a percentage of gross revenues but now it’s gotten back out of control. Before the lockout, players’ salaries were at about 74% of gross revenue. Post-lockout, we had the salary cap that set league-wide players’ salaries at a total of 54% of league-wide gross revenue. The floor was originally set at 55% of the cap limit but is now a set at $16 million below the cap limit. For this season, the salary floor is at $48.3 million. For the first season after the lockout, the cap was only $39 million.

With that out of the way, where are we now? On a percentage basis, the NHL is better off now than before the lockout. On a dollar basis, I can’t be certain, but it sure seems like shit is about to hit the fan after this next season. The current CBA expires at the end of the 2011-12 season. The players aren’t going to complain about the current state of the CBA. With cap circumvention contracts like Kovalchuk and Richards and teams having to give out obscene contracts to make the floor, they’re going to fight tooth and nail to keep this cap system. The owners are going to look at the contracts for guys like Erik Cole who’s getting $4.5 million per year or Jan Hejda at $3.5 million per year as examples of mid-level guys getting overpaid because of the CBA.

Does anyone else get the feeling that the NHL is going to join the likes of the NFL and NBA in a lockout? The NHL might be more in line with the NBA in the lockout. The NFL is fighting over their own obscene amount of money but it’s so much that there are no losers there. In the NBA, salaries are out of control thanks to the soft cap and use of exemptions to overpaid mid-level players. The NHL is going to have to watch the NBA negotiations to see which way the wind is blowing when negotiations start this fall on a new CBA.

Were those fireworks or gunshots?
For the last month, I’ve been holed up in North York for career-related things. (Quite clearly, I’m not blogging for a living. I don’t post enough to make money from it and what I do post isn’t going to draw many readers unless it has gratuitous eye candy.) Specifically, I spent June on the campus of York University which is a hop, a step and a jump away from the famed Jane and Finch intersection. There were some nights where I heard loud popping or banging noises. They almost sounded like they were fireworks but I could see any of the telltale explosions lighting up the night sky or the smoke from the exploding fireworks. That leads me to think that there was the occasional gang war that was being waged. I’m sure it would have been national news and I would have heard about it if someone was killed at Jane and Finch while I was in North York. It was fun enough being told that if I was outside by myself at night, I would be raped and murdered (I’m actually not joking about that. I was told it would happen if I was walking through campus by myself after dark.) but having to worry about being collateral damage from a gun fight just made the whole month’s experience even better.

When did the Canadian Border Services get tougher than their US counterparts?
To travel to North York, I went through the US. That means having to go through US customs when going into American and through ours when I come back into Canada. Guess who asked more questions at a ratio of almost 3 to 1? That would be the good folks at Canada Border Services. For some reason, a Canadian citizen is asked more questions about travelling through the States to get to another part of Canada than a foreign citizen is asked when going into the USA. I know the Harper government wants to crack down on crime but it’s almost gotten to the point where the government considers Canadians more dangerous than the Americans do. And we gave these guys a majority government? That’s what happens when you have the rich backing you. It’s a perfect application of the golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.

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