Saturday, September 15, 2007

Church and State


The Republicans are having trouble finding a candidate who goes to church.

Which means, among other things, that the Bush era, of a country run by fundamentalist zealots,will be pushed aside for a while.

Imagine a major power that is not run by TV evangelists. I can hardly wait to see what this is like.

Civil Liberties and The Net

The police chiefs are right to wonder about Stockwell Day's refusal to let them get quick access to your personal computer information. Just as Day is right to be cautious about this issue.

Privacy and individual liberties are hard won and we need be ever vigilant in their maintenance.

But there are relatively simple practicalities involved here.

If a maniac is using the net for criminal purposes, the police should not have to struggle to trace the bad guy through his isp. And that can be done without bothering with which porno sites you cruised last night or whose spouse you chatted up.

I received the ugliest threatening e-mail a few years ago at the radio station.

The VPD traced the sender to a fool in North Vancouver. The did a little "meet and greet." The man apologized and I have never heard from him again.

Civil liberties are complex. We must hold tightly to these ideals and catch the bad guys at the same time.

Ferry Ride

The Campbell government pulled one of the oldest gags in the book when it "privatized" the BC Ferries.

Of course, we the taxpayers still shovel millions of dollars into this wet road system (which is, after all, the slithery end of the Trans-Canada Highway), but now Victoria can put up their arm's distance and claim innocence whenever anything goes wrong (like, daily) and whenever the fares are hiked higher than a Powell Street hooker's skirts.

David Hahn, the American airline executive from the East Coast, who now runs this system, has been raising the rates consistently since he came aboard. In return, we are given posters, murals and video games.

What he has never considered is the obvious reduction in fares for resident daily and regular users such as exists in almost every public transportation system around the world.

Tourists pay 6 Euros a ticket for Venice's water bus, the vaparetto. But anyone with a Venice ID card (I have one.) can buy 10 tix for 9 Euros.

My last trip to Victoria cost $53 each way for me and my tiny Mazda. In addition, I paid $15 for a reservation on the return trip.

Now, that reservation system has been a huge income booster for Mr. Hahn. To avoid 3 hour waits, more and more British Columbians are paying the surcharge.

But more and more British Columbians, knowing that a car and a carload of family will cost them $200 Plus for a little getaway are staying home.

Can you say, "Highway Robbery, Boys and Girls?"


This afternoon, I began reading "All Quiet on the Western Front; this evening, "Tender is the Night."

The first is a most famous book about German soldiers in the First World War, the second, F. Scott Fitzgerald's invention of The Jazz Age.

People of long passed eras were lucky - they died within their own generation. They weren't presented with the enormous psychological challenge - or Gift - of facing Change with a capital "C."

I am coming at this ripe old age to recognize how "of another era" I truly am.

I love these two new books I've started today. I love the memories and the lore and myths of the early and mid-twentieth century. I am a nostalgic fool. Yes, I like Sting or even Bono or Elvis Costello, but not the way I positively swoon and come unglued over Gershwin or Rogers and Hart or Jerome Kern. Astaire and Brando are still my greatest movie heroes, even while I recognize the talents of Edward Norton and Nicole Kidman.

The kids in their early adulthood are largely strangers to me. I see them now at the college where I work and I notice their goodness and their seriousness towards their studies and towards each other. Yet I cling to the (fictive?) narrative that "we" were sharper, more attuned to Literature and mathematics and the affairs of the world. None of this may be true in any objective sense, but my belief system is an ontological raft bobbing in this ocean of change.

Was cruelty more overt have a century ago?

Two Great Awful Wars allowed for a release of savagery on massive scales. We have little explosions around the globe like this today. But mostly, the crudeness and violence seem to come in small and local doses. Families and neighbours and lovers kill each other. What are 3,000 troops compared to Hiroshima, Dresden, London, Auschwitz?

So much of the differences are simply style. I must forgive the world its bare midriff, pierced lip and i-plugged ears.

The trick is to cherish was has been...and to revel in the new that is good and exciting and hopeful.