Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Public Places

The morning news affords the usual opportunities - the unprecedented raid on Tory headquarters, Kevin Falcon's lame kvetch to the BC Ferry Board for their huge salary increases - but there is something else on my mind.

I've been thinking since yesterday afternoon about Public Spaces/Public Places.

Unlike every city and village in Italy (and France and so many countries in the world), we have have none here in Vancouver.

Every twenty paces or so, Venice offers if not a piazza, then at least a small neighbourhood campo, where children boot soccer balls, parents compare notes on the prices of real estate and groceries and grandparents sit on benches. I realize I am creating an idealized, romantic image of a society in harmony.

But of late this mud town has been carrying on from every direction at once the noise called "Civil Society."

The usual suspects were hauled in by the Sun to "edit" a special Saturday edition embracing this notion. I was spared these pronouncements from the Mike Harcourts among us by a timely visit to Winnipeg.

If there are no places to stop and chat, if discourse is unnatural and an interruption rather than a daily pursuit, how can we speak of a civility?

What would it take for us to build stopping places - public spaces, mini-parks, breathing places that might even include fruit and vegetable stands or stores and cafes - in this cold, unwelcoming community?

Is this a silly dream of transplantation?

Is this one old culture plopped will-nilly on a newer one?

I'd love to see us try.

Pharma Lack O' Care

One of my favorite targets for scorn rmeains the gigantic pharmaceutical industry.

Armaments, BigPharma, illegal drugs and oil - there are your Big Four World Industries.

One of the biggest and most immoral of the BigPharmas is Merck.

Today it was revealed in stories published in both the Vancouver Sun and the NY Times, among others, that Merck has been ghost-writing reports and studies on their products and paying doctors to sign their names to these "testimonials."

The case of Vioxx is particularly troubling as it resulted in many deaths, before the poison was removed from the shelves.

How innocent has Merck been in all of this?

Well, for some mysterious reason they have seen fit to pay out $4.5 BILLION in compensations to victims of their malfeasance. No doubt with non-disclosure clauses.

Read the NY Times coverage here.

Carter, the Clown or Carter, the Saviour

Is Jimmy Carter a Hero or a Fool?

Or does the truth lie somewhere in between?

He places a wreath on the grave of Yasser Arafat.

He visits Hamas leaders.

Watch this video report and tell me what this man is doing.

Human Rights vs. Hygiene

This is an astonishing story.

The BC Human Rights Commission has come down heavy on the MacDonald's restaurant on South West Marine Drive in Vancouver, because they insisted that one of their employees wash her hands.

Madness. Read the entire Ezra Levant piece here.