Millions of Americans and not a few Canadians made the shocking discovery this week that winter can be very cold.

Baby, it’s cold outside. Or are we not allowed to say that anymore?

It was impossible to tune into any American newscast (and the me-too Canadian news) without seeing breathless reports of record shattering cold in American cities. Chicago was the focus of American news, with temperatures falling as low as -29C, just shy of the coldest temperature ever recorded in the Windy City. Schools were closed, hundreds of flights cancelled, postal service stopped, etc. Chicagoans were practically bragging about how cold it got. (By the way, as I write this in Edmonton, the temperature is -29C.)

Meanwhile, here in the Great White North, it was business as usual. Winnipeg, probably Canada’s coldest major city, endured temperatures as low as -40C, but kept right on ticking. This kind of attitude is very Canadian. Take the examples of Windsor and Detroit, separated by one kilometre of river. On the American side, the governor of Michigan declared a state of emergency, the postal service stopped, schools, government offices, libraries, restaurants and businesses all closed. In Windsor, with the same temperature, life carried on as per usual, even though it’s not a famously cold place.

Then there’s the questionable science that is wind chill. As detailed in this story from the CBC, wind chill is at best debatable. It’s based on how fast your skin can freeze with the combination of temperature and wind. Sure, it’s a good indication that it’s really, really cold and you should protect your exposed skin, and the combination of wind and cold is brutal, but it’s still kind of questionable. It has no impact on non-living things. For example, if it’s -10C overnight, and the windchill is -30C, you don’t have to plug in your car because cars don’t feel cold. Yet, wind chill is reported as fact (American TV just calls it the “feels like” temperature). And the calculations don’t always make sense. Consider this item about Chicago: “Temperatures will climb to a high of minus 1 (F) on Thursday — though wind chill values will remain as low as 43 degrees below zero, the weather service said.” Are they expecting hurricane force winds in Chicago?

Last week, much of the media in the Excited States got caught up with Twitter fever in the case of the Kid in the MAGA hat. (Remember that? Seems like months ago.) This week, here in the People’s Republic of Alberta, we have an example of politicians tweeting before thinking, providing more evidence that no good comes from Twitter.

Last Saturday, a United Conservative Party candidate sent out a tweet claiming that her Medicine Hat church was facing a $50,000 carbon tax bill. Now, a $50,000 tax bill will bankrupt most any church. Even Joel Osteen would have a hard time with that kind of bill. UCP leader Jason Kenny retweeted the post, adding that they hear this kind of thing all the time. The carbon tax, one of the NDP’s signature policies, will be the central issue in this year’s provincial election. The election could hinge upon it.

One problem: the bill was $5,000, not $50,000. The church in question even issued a statement saying that they were happy to pay the $5,000. (Only a church would make that kind of statement) So, the would-be MLA made a mistake. Not the first, or the last, from a political hopeful. But Kenny’s retweet was just stupid. He’s supposed to know the facts about the carbon tax, and he should have known that a $50,000 carbon tax bill is impossible for a single church. (The province says $50,000 is about the cost of the carbon tax for about 100 houses.) In the big picture, this stupid mistake is not going to make or break the UCP. But cumulatively, the steady drip, drip, drip of dumbass tweets and Facebook posts wears away at public confidence in your party. Political parties today should ban candidates from Twitter, or at the very least only allow tweets after they have been vetted by someone in the party. But that would be the smart thing to do … so it won’t happen.

Here in Edmonton, the Edmonton Economic Development Authority – a body that promotes the economic well-being of Edmonton, with $20 million in taxpayer money – was swindled out of $375,000 in a ‘phishing’ scam, which involves phoney invoices being paid out. Last year, Grant Macewan University was swindled out of $11.8 million, most of which it has recovered. Now, I understand how simple people like me could be swindled out of money, but how do major government agencies, with their allegedly top-of-the-class employees and systems, get conned this way? Somebody should be called on the carpet and fired for this kind of mistake, but since we’re talking about a government agency, nothing of the sort will happen.

Today is the Stupor Bowl, the world’s most hyped sporting event. And once again this year, Canadian TV viewers will get the relish the real reason to watch the game – the commercials. But this may be coming to an end.

The Super Bowl Canadian rights holder, Bell Media (CTV, TSN) has for years substituted Canadian commercials for the big budget, must-see TV American commercials, even when the host U.S. network is seen here via cable. This was done so Bell could charge top dollar to advertisers, knowing that millions of Canadian eyeballs would see only dreary Canadian ads for Mattress, Mattress and the like. That changed a couple of years ago when the CRTC ruled that Canadians would be allowed to see the U.S. commercials on the U.S. networks, just because we wanted to. But those days are numbered.

A little known part of the negotiation of a new NAFTA included the provision, said to be demanded by Donald Trump, that Canada rescind the policy that allowed for American ads to play on Canadian networks. This was apparently done as a favour by Trump to Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots. Why should the NFL want American ads to be blocked on Canadian TV? Here’s why: if Canadians watch the American broadcast instead of the Canadian broadcast, that makes the broadcast rights in Canada less valuable, meaning less money for the NFL.

So this could be the last year you’ll be able to see the Yankee ads. That’s not such a big deal anymore since the ads are mostly released well ahead of time on the internet. In case you have no interest in the game, but have some interest in the ads, here’s a link to the best. And of the game itself? Well, one team is the most hated in pro sports because they win too much (which also makes them one of the most loved in pro sports), while the other team is in a city that is remarkably indifferent to their existence, and who wouldn’t even be in the game if a referee hadn’t missed an obvious penalty. So who wins? Who cares?

RIP

James Ingram, 66, Grammy-winning and Oscar nominated singer and songwriter … Ron Joyce, 88, co-founder and initial driving force behind Canada’s most beloved brand, Tim Horton’s. He’s a remarkable business success story, a dirt poor high school drop out who created Canada’s most successful brands.

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