The grass used to be greener…

… before pesticide bans. And shockingly, rather than basing those bans on science, it seems that environmentalists may have intentionally misled the public:

A group representing dozens of lawn care companies trying to bring charges against Ontario’s environment minister and senior bureaucrats over the province’s controversial pesticide ban is now calling for charges against 23 activists.

[...]

The activists worked with the Ontario government to ban pesticides using alleged false and misleading information to undermine the industry, Lowes said.

The documents filed on Tuesday allege the activists knowingly presented false and misleading information about the health and environmental risks associated with pesticide products, knowingly misled the public, lawn care industry and government officials, and impeded access to Health Canada approved pesticide products through fraudulent means.

I try to be environmentally friendly. I have used pesticides on rare occasions to deal with weed or bug infestations. When I need to. And I dislike the fact that my right to do so has been taken away from me by so-called environmentalists based on their need to tell others how to behave, rather than on any actual scientific facts.

I would appreciate it if these do-gooders would sit downand shut the hell up, and stick to actual facts. And if it takes a court to make that happen, then so be it. And I would appreciate the government sticking to science as well, rather than pandering for a few votes. Perhaps I’m asking far too much. But at least it’s a start.

Tip of the hat to small dead animals.

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Rogers just can’t leave well enough alone.

The other day I pushed the "Guide" button on my Rogers digital box remote. It didn’t bring up the program guide; it brought up the "Rogers Quick Menu", an apparent new feature, complete with advertising. I assumed that I had merely hit the wrong button by mistake. But no, it seems that Rogers has reassigned the "Guide" button to do something else entirely. It now takes two slow presses of the Guide button to get to the guide. Pressing it quickly returns to TV without showing the guide. Strangely, they left the "Menu" button alone, even though that would have been the much more logical places.

Rogers, if you are listening, please restore my Guide button back to being a Guide. I can’t imagine what utter failure of user interface design or basic common sense would have caused you to do otherwise.

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Planned incompetence.

Yesterday there was an article in my local paper, The Record, regarding plans to narrow Bearinger Road in Waterloo from four lanes to two. Curiously, this article appears only in the print edition of the paper, and does not appear on the website, keeping the notice of public meetings hidden from anyone who does not subscribe to the paper.

The logic given for the reduction is that the road carries only about 8,000 vehicles a day, which does not justify a four lane road. Never mind that it was only constructed as a four lane roadway a couple of years ago with even less traffic.

The city of Waterloo, profligate spenders of tax dollars, see no problem with the thought of ripping up a perfectly good existing roadto make it smaller. It’s not about efficieny you see; it’s a social experiment to slow traffic down.

Bearinger Road is one entrance to a one-third full Research and Technology Park, and it is one of only two routes (Columbia Street is the other) to the west side, Laurelwood, the new library/YMCA, and substantial new construction. But that is of no consequence to the brilliant planners, who typically plan for today with no thought of tomorrow. Any Waterloo resident could easily provide several examples of ridiculously poor city planning.

Near when I live, Davenport Road, another major artery, is up for the same four lane to two lane conversion, at a cost of over $4,000,000. All it needs is new asphalt. But the injection of federal stimulus funds leads to this kind of thing I suppose.

Waterloo often points to the fact that it won an Intelligent City award in 2007. As far as municipal planning and government goes, I’ve yet to see any proof of intelligence.

And I’m certainly unimpressed by this seeming attempt by The Record to contain such public information.

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Massachusetts goes Republican.

Though I’m currently in Canada, I can’t help but wish I was back home in Boston, especially on nights like tonight when there’s an election on. Especially on a night when a Massachusetts senate seat, held for almost my entire life by Senator Ted Kennedy, goes Republican:

In a victory few thought possible just a month ago, Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley Tuesday in the race for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy — a win that could grind President Obama’s agenda to a halt and portend huge losses for Democrats in the November midterms.

MarthaCoakley barely phoned her campaign in, no doubt assuming that the fact that she was a Democrat meant that she would win the seat in a walk. But she also made some stupid mistakes:

First, she insisted that her time was better spent shoring up the backing of the Bay State’s political establishment than conducting a retail campaign. When the Boston Globe pressed her on the wisdom of focusing her energies on party apparatchiks, she spat back: “As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?”

She followed up her Fenway freakout by brazenly calling Curt Schilling — the ace pitcher on whose bloody ankle the Red Sox were carried to their first World Series victory in nearly a century — a “Yankees fan.”

I’m not sure this will grind President Obama’s agenda to a halt – some shenanigans may already be afoot – but maybe, just maybe, the Democrats will slow down for a few minutes to actually listen to the will of the people.

Wasn’t it that failure to listen to the people that caused that first tea party – in Boston Harbor?

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I can relate.

Debbie Weil comments on Seth Godin’s new book, LINCHPIN:

This is great news for those of us who aren’t good at following the rules. Those of us who have, in fact, been fired because we didn’t fit in. Count me in that group. I’ve been fired at least twice – a source of shame for years. Well guess what: I’m now declaring BEING FIRED as a badge of honor. If you’ve been fired (David Meerman Scott cheerfully admits to it) then you belong in this new tribe, as Seth calls it. Thanks Seth for reminding us that it’s OK to think different – as long as you make good things happen.

I’ve recently begun declaring being fired as a badge of honor.I know that I’ve pushed boundaries and made the companies I’ve worked with better, and I’m happy with that. Rules are made to be broken after all, and nothing great comes without a little pain.

Thanks Debbie. You’ve already improved my day tenfold.

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The understatement of the year.

A headline on the print edition of today’s New York Times may even be the understatement of the decade:

Democrats Fret That the Public is Dissatisfied

With the subhead:

Race in Massachusetts as Party Referendum

But if you don’t get the print edition and go to the web instead you won’t see that. You’ll see this headline:

Massachusetts Race Tests Staying Power of Democrats

The second headline is technically accurate, but the original says so much more. It acknowledges public satisfaction, and it suggests that the Democrats might be concerned about that. It is negative, yet factual.

The second headline is positive and misleading. It suggests that all is well among the Democrats – clear staying power – and this race is merely a test of that obvious power.

After promising transparency and bipartisanship, while delivering one-sided secret backroom deals and secret bills, the public is dissatisfied. And the Democrats, in the manner of a King to his subjects, are "fretting" about it. Of course they aren’t going to change anything; their answer is merely to subvert democracy, though in a completely legal fashion:

Even if Democrats lose the Jan. 19 special election to pick a new Massachusetts senator, Congress may still pass a health-care overhaul by using a process called reconciliation, a top House Democrat said.

That procedure requires 51 votes rather than the 60 needed to prevent Republicans from blocking votes on President Barack Obama’s top legislative priorities. That supermajority is at risk as the Massachusetts race has tightened.

Oddly, this was formerly Ted Kennedy’s seat, and he believed in bipartisan solutions. Would he have been ok with this? Doesn’t matter I suppose; the deal seems done already.

I’m just not sure this the hope and change that people voted for. And I don’t think that it’s what the founding fathers had in mind either.

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Spelling counts.

I just saw an ad on my phone for "Jhonny Carson DVDs".

Now for those of you tooo young to remember, Johnny Carson (not Jhonny Carson) was the host of the Tonight Show. He wasn’t the first; that would be Jack Paar I believe, though that was before my time. Though he was the second host, for my generation he was the Tonight Show. Jay Leno was just an occasional guest.

He was funny, with a unique delivery, and he had no problem making fun of himself. I would probably enjoy his DVDs.

But if you aren’t smart enough to spell his name correctly, I’m not likely to trust you enough to buy something from you.

Spelling always counts.

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WIIFM.

You’ve never seen that acronym before?

WIIFM = What’s In It For Me?

If you are in the business of selling a product or service, this is what every one of your customers, or potential customers, is thinking.They don’t care what you or your company need.

That isn’t meant as an insult. It’s just a fact of life.

If you think your product or service solves a problem that’s great. But first and foremost you need to understand if and how it solves that problem for your customers. What you do for your customers is your "value proposition"; it’s What’s In It For them.

If your value proposition is good enough, people will part with their money to buy your product. If they don’t feel it provides them value they won’t.

If you hate chopping onions, you’ll purchase tool that makes it easier, like the SlapChop. I don’t mind chopping onions with a knife. My wife does, so we own a SlapChop.

Where technology is concerned, my family prefers the elegant design and ease of use of Macs, so we have chosen to pay extra for that privilige, because it has value to us. It may not to another consumer who may prefer a PC.I like the fact that Steve Jobs and Apple are ruthlessly concerned about my experience with their product.

You could define your value proposition based on what you think you do for the customer, but the customer isn’t concerned about what you think, and often has a funny way of deciding what is important to them. It’s better to ask your customers – or better yet in this social media age, to listen to what they say – and take your value proposition from that.

Don’t be afraid to refine it if people find new uses for your product either. That often allows you to enlarge the potential market.

Just keep in mind that it isn’t about you; it’s all about them.If you constantly keep that in mind you will build better products that people want. And you’ll sell more of them.

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Never insult Fenway Park.

Martha Coakley, running for the Senate in Massachusetts, did the unthinkable and insulted Fenway Park today:

Coakley bristles at the suggestion that, with so little time left, in an election with such high stakes, she is being too passive.

“As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?’’ she fires back, in an apparent reference to a Brown online video of him doing just that.

Standing outside in the cold at Fenway Park is what Boston is all about. Ted Kennedy knew that too. Perhaps she just isn’t up to the task.

Tip of the hat to Don Surber.

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Double standards.

Victor Davis Hanson notices:

For every racially insensitive Trent Lott, Senate party leader, there is a racially insensitive Harry Reid [2], Senate party leader. For every illegitimacy story about Levi Johnston and Sarah Palin’s daughter, there is a John Edwards’ love child. For every supposed Bush fabrication, there is Barack Obama on YouTube swearing he will air all the healthcare debate on C-SPAN [3] (sort of like his old public campaign financing promises, or closing Gitmo within a year, or getting out of Iraq by March, 2008, or …).

So why are the Republicans demonized while the Democrats walk away unscathed?

He posits an answer:

The answer is that those on the left are moralists, smarter people who pass up their own personal agendas to help the community. They think of society, not self, and so when they err, they do it under stress, in accidental fashion, and with no lasting significance — not like their selfish Neanderthal cousin conservatives, for whom transgression is a valuable window into their flawed souls. Bushisms became a media pastime, but no one suggests that a president who says Cinco de Quatro, or 57 states, or references the “Austrian” language is a Dan Quayle wrestling with potato.

The rest of the article is well worth the read.

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