Monday, November 30, 2009

Armed & Dangerous - An Entire Country

Committed to an afternoon of mindless football watching, I was instead jolted back into reality by the horror story from just below the border.

A man walks into a coffee shop and shoots and kills four police officers.

You can find the story and late-minute updates on all your news sources on the web.

Here is the morning version from the New York Times.

I'm not sure why, but I have found this news so disturbing.

If you followed CNN at all throughout the day, yesterday was an almost typical madhouse in the USA in terms of killings, shootings and mayhem.

Family shootings, random shootings, gang shoot-outs and so on.

But the idea of some mad fool walking into a cafe and executing four police officers is particularly frightening and offensive.

Much of America is obsessed with the "right" to carry guns.

And most of America is armed.

Twice over.

Almost anyone can stroll into any gun shop and arm up.

Anyone can go online and buy automatic repeating deadly assault weapons. There are hundreds of websites selling killing machines at bargain prices.

I just Googled "AK-47" and this is what I got:

(Results 1 - 10 of about 1,780,000 for ak-47 for sale. (0.23 seconds)

The Winchester Varmint - albeit not an Uzi or better - is on sale for $499 with telescope.

Now, please, do not write in and use that tired old mistaken piece of shit that passes for folk wisdom - "Guns don't kill people. People kill people."


It is the ubiquitous AVAILABLITY of guns that allows people to kill people, using, oddly enough, GUNS.

Did you hear me say outlaw all private guns?

No, you didn't.

But certainly a sane society can figure out how not to sell war machines at the corner grocery.

The picture of that colossal idiot and dreadful actor, Charlton Heston, holding his rifle over his head and yelling at his NRA convention, "Not over my dead body," continues to haunt me.

What might Mr. Heston have to offer the families of these four slain police officers?

Oh, I get it.

They died so that we can have the right to run around shopping malls with guns and kill officers who are defending our right to run around shopping malls and kill officers...

My visits to the USA have become less and less frequent over the years.

I pray they can find a way to become a more civil society.

But I doubt it.

Not when there is so much money and there are so many votes involved in the making and selling of killing machinery.

Coming Clean? Not Necessarily...

Here, taken from his website, is the full statement from Tiger Woods. Make of it what you will:

"As you all know, I had a single-car accident earlier this week, and sustained some injuries. I have some cuts, bruising and right now I'm pretty sore.

This situation is my fault, and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again.

This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.

The only person responsible for the accident is me. My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false.

This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me. I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received. But, I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be."

New Blood?

The Nostalgia Vote?

The We Don't Know What Else To Do or Where Else to Turn Vote?

The Let's Set the Record for Shooting Ourselves in the Foot Vote?

B.C. NDP choose Moe Sihota as party president


Where are Larry and Curly when you really need them?

Slow Mihota back in the limelight.

Hang on, kids.

It's going to be a bumpy night.

Councillors in the Ring

City hall has gone to the fights.

Read the story for yourself. It's just too, too silly to repeat here.

It is noteworthy however for the quotes and they are great.

This is the best of the lot.

“I agree” Jang chimed in, “I'm actually having a lot more fun then I thought I would.”

That would be psychiatrist and city councillor Kerry Jang.

As we know, psychiatrists don't get out very much or have a lot of fun.

Apparently, this summer, Kerry will be trying the Tilt-a-Whirl at the PNE.

Then, he will ask his mommy if he can catch the pig races.

Le Coupe Grey, Part Deux


When I left to make my dinner, Saskatchewan had the game in hand 27-11 with a few minutes on the clock.

That's fine, I figured. I'll be back with my dinner on time to catch the second half of the Steelers-Ravens slugfest and watch the good green prairie folk celebrating.

Instead, I see the Mounties delivering the Cup to a platform on which are standing a host of beaming Montreal players.

In time, I saw what happened.


Of course, they deserved to win.

They put the points on the board and they won. Boo effing hoo.

Chuck Noll, the legendary coach of the Steelers way back when said it best. Something like, "Football is a marvelously simple thing. There's a winner and a loser. Guy who gets more points on the board wins. Life is much more complicated. That's why we love football."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Le Coupe Grey

May the best Saskatchewan team win.

Slow Down & Cross at Crosswalks

Saturday night dangerous for Vancouver pedestrians

Yah? Well, don't forget Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Seven pedestrians were struck by vehicles yesterday.

I'm surprised it wasn't 70.

As all good ghost stories begin, "It was a dark and rainy night..."

Hey, kids, it's been a dark and rainy night every night for the past two months.

Everybody, including me, is in our winter blacks. We are basically invisible.

Which makes it really disconcerting that idiots are crossing in the middle of streets all over the place.

And of course people are relentlessly speeding. Racing. And that's just in the Safeway parking lot.

Flying through crosswalks and past school zones.


Consider us lucky.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Get Outta Town

Sometimes you get the feeling that politicians and bureaucrats just make up thoughtless harmful things to do just because...well, say, just because it's Tuesday.

Or for the same reason that dogs lick themselves - because they can.

The latest folly is this:

The Vancouver Park Board, under pressure by City Council to economize, has passed by a narrow 4-3 vote the stupid, stupid, stupid decision to close the Children's Farmyard at Stanley Park and the Bloedel Conservatory atop Queen Elizabeth Park.

They haven't figured out what to do with the plants and animals.

Perhaps they could just send themselves out to pasture and leave a few of Vancouver's best loved small treasures in peace.

Aside from being a stupid decision - Did I mention that this decision is stupid, stupid, stupid? - it is a lazy one.

Instead of carefully going over expenditures and trimming a shard of fat here and there and spreading the bad times out among all the Park Board assets, they have simply said, "What can we kill quickly to get over this unpleasant task?"

You lazy, thoughtless bums.

The Bloedel Conservatory is one of my favorite places in Vancouver.

It is exotic and delightful and fun.

So it needs some roof come on, repair the roof!

Find new and innovative partnerships and new and innovative marketing to generate more income.

Ditto the Kids' Farmyard.

Let me promise you this, Dear Park Board Lazy People.

If you do not reverse this decision, I will not vote for one of you in the next election.

May thousands join me in this commitment.

Send your email to:

I have sent this to the above address.

The foto, by the way, is of the Board Chair, who, when he voted, didn't even know that Bloedel is a designated heritage sight.

Greed is Limitless, apparently

Dubai was always an obscenity.

With all the oil money in the world available and thrown at it, Dubai was a kind of desert Disneyland, able to construct miles and miles of garish hotels and homes and air-conditioned shopping malls and golf courses and tennis courts.

Federer and Woods and Agassiz and Beckham and anyone else with more cash than they know what to do with rushed in to buy, buy, buy.


What the hell would you do in Dubai?

Gamble? Drink? Play golf? Screw prostitutes?

O.K. I admit it. I'm a hick. I don't get it because I've never been there.

Of course, I've never wanted to be there. Or Las Vegas. Or many places.

I've been to Whistler half a dozen times and I've always enjoyed myself swimming in the hotel pools and riding my bike and eating good food and playing tennis.

But I can't imagine spending a lot of time there or wanting a house there. Too man made. Too instant community. Too gingerbread.



Now, Dubai has close to $60 Billion in debt and it is threatening to flinch on it payments.

It would be fun to giggle and cheer.

But we cannot because the failure of Dubai and all it excrescent excesses now threatens to bring down the entire world with it.

The Globe's cover story in the business section is appropriately titled:

A world awash in debt

and sub-titled:

"The financial crisis provoked a global front to stimulate economies through massive spending. But this was fuelled by a staggering amount of borrowing. Now governments are realizing that a new calamity looms - higher taxes and slashed social programs."

Now, because of the Dubai failure, markets worldwide are shaking.

The Dubai failure is, of course, identical to all of the recent American failures, only more so - greed and greed followed by more greed.

And you thought you could be doing better on your own personal financial management. Ha!

The photo, by the way, is of stupid bored people playing golf at night under the lights in Dubai.


Can you imagine anything more ludicrous and frightening than the thought of a border guard deciding what kind of speech you are entitled to give?

This, of course, is exactly what happened to American Journalist Amy Goodman the other day on her way to deliver talks in Victoria and Vancouver.

She was detained for over 90 minutes and her car, her notes and her computer were all searched.

The Border Holy Grail?

The Olympics, of course.

Not in the least concerned that Goodman might be here to blow up the Marine Building (She wasn't.) the zealous overseers of our mental health were obsessed with concern that Goodman might say anything negative in public about the 2010 Games.

Here's my worry.

When I attempt to board that flight in early February for Italy, will some uniformed geek ask me why I am leaving Our Town, dare I say, "Because I don't want to be around during the Games?"

Will Geek then say, "Sorry, you MUST stay here and enjoy and cheer and buy red mitties and other useless consumer goods that are only licensed to the few."

The IOC and VANOC, as we have said far too many times in this space already, have proven to be the worst kind of thugs, running wholesale over citizens' rights and freedoms all in the name of some vague international ideal that is denied by their very behaviour.

Trouble in Paradise

Tiger Woods is to sport what Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are to business.

He is also the most carefully guarded and private rich famous man on earth.

Big news therefore when Woods takes off in his SUV at 2:30 in the morning and crashes quickly into a fire hydrant and a tree.

The story broke just before noon and both CNN and BBC News gave it non-stop coverage, BBC oddly enough doing a much more thorough and credible job.

Soon, the "Tiger in hospital in serious condition" report was changed to "Tiger has been released from hospital," for which we can all be thankful. No one I know wishes the man any particular ill will.

Now the questions remain and abound - What the devil was he doing dashing off at 2:30 in the morning?

TMZ, the gossip website, has already conjectured that Woods and his wife, Elin Nordegren , were having a marital spat about possible outside liaisons.

Who knows?

The Woods publicity machine will no doubt offer an agreed spin within the coming days.

I know of no marriage that manages to avoid completely a speed bump or two.

If you're the most famous and richest athlete in the world (Woods is already a Billion Dollar Man.), anything you do will be photographed and written about.

Woods is an amazing performer and a joy to watch.

Let's hope that whatever private or public taste of hell this may be, that he and his family may move on in some positive way.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Little Light, Please

David Mulroney has testified only that there was no direct and specific evidence of torture.

He could not answer that he was certain that none were tortured.

In fact, all that he and others trying to repute the testimony last week of Richard Colvin could offer was that this was an honorable war and that times and conditions were tough and we love our soldiers.


All agreed.

But what's that got to do with the issue.

Do we or do we not hand over detainees knowing full well that they will be tortured?

Do we agree to and or condone torture under certain circumstances?

And if we do, what are those conditions and when do we give the green light and how?

I agree with the succinct Globe editorial of this morning.

"The Conservatives' preference for attacking the whistleblowers and deferring to military heroism rather than dealing with the actual charges is deplorable but not surprising.

Beyond what was known, and sat on, in 2006 and 2007, the core question remains: Were people detained by Canadians subsequently tortured by Afghan authorities? Canadians need to know."

We Mispoke

Somebody has to speak to the Boys at 12th & Cambie.

We can forgive them, as we know they are on a steep learning curve.

Even their moms didn't tell them that we can only understand what you say, not what arcane intentions you may secretly harbour.

In re-wording that nutty offensive bylaw that would allow Stasi/Gestapo tactics, including the invasion of your home if you burped during an Olympic moment, Pretty Boy Floyd, a.k.a. Hizz Honor, said, ""Our commitment has always been the protection of people's Charter Rights and Freedoms."

Always? Really?

Geoff Meggs is one of the few Vision councillors who is allowed by the Puppet Masters to speak in public.

His take on this about face was cute.

"Staff have tried to reflect long-standing concerns in the community over rights to expression and free speech during the Olympics," said Councillor Geoff Meggs, who previously charged that worries over the July bylaw were overblown. "I never had any qualms this council would tolerate any violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

Good, Geoff.

Now, let's get to the brass tacks.

Ellen Woodsworth, one of only two council members to vote against the controversial bylaw in July, also welcomed the shift. "I am glad to see we have these changes, although they only came about because of public outcry. All the questions we had have been validated."

And Woodsworth is right.

This wording of this bylaw was amended because of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the media and nut bars like me who like to keep tabs on these little constant gnawing threats to democracy by The Smiling Clowns Class.


My favorite politician in the whole world is Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister of Italy.

Three times over.

In spite of being indicted at least six times on various charges of corruption.

Never, of course, convicted.

He is the second richest man in Italy, with an estimated net worth of $6.8 Billion.

He controls all the media in Italy.

His current and second wife is now suing and asking for a modest settlement - $68 Million a year.

All of that is interesting in the same way that any celebdrek can be called interesting.

But here's the grabber.

I love this.

I didn't know it until today, and, as I often say in this space, you cannot write material this good.

Berlusconi is famously infatuated with young women,

Here is the bit:

Mara Carfagna, one of Silvio's faves, was once a topless model.

He appointed her to the government as...wait for it...

Minister of Equal Opportunities.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I have one simple question about Richard Colvin's testimony to Parliament about torture in Afghanistan.


If he is lying or making this all up, what is his game?

Money? Self-aggrandizement? Amusement?

Sorry, folks.

I believe there is something substantial to Colvin's accusations and that we ought to know more.

Road Signs

Amazing & Beautiful

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quote of the Year

"Canada needs to dismantle its public health care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit."

Guess who?

Sarah Palin.

Turns out this woman is both stupid and dangerous.

Loco TV

Local TV Matters?

This is what Global, CTV, CBC and others have been yelling at us for several weeks now in full page ads across the nation.

Well, kids, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Today, CBC Newsworld, or whatever they're calling themselves these days, offered complete and extensive coverage on the Ottawa hearings into allegations of Canadian soldiers knowingly handing over prsioners to be tortured by the Afghan army.

And in the same time slot, CTV, Global and City?

American eye-candy crap, as always.

Get real.

Dr. Phil is local TV?

Is watchable?

Two Sides of the Gay Divide

How's this for a list of charges?

Seven years for defending the rights of gays and lesbians.

Three years for being aware of homosexuality in your neighbourhood and failing to report it within 24 hours.

And the prize goes to...

Life imprisonment on anyone who “penetrates the anus or mouth of another person of the same sex with his penis or any other sexual contraption.” The same penalty would apply if he or she even “touches another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.”

I had no idea our penises fell into the category of "sexual contraption," but so be it.

Of course, you can't make up stuff like this. A hundred comedy writers trapped in a room off Sunset Boulevard with Sprite and nachos for three weeks couldn't top this.

It comes from the government of Uganda.

That's the smiling face of the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, one of the acknowledged great leaders of the modern world. But we just call him, "Yow!"

In contrast to all of that...

Let's instead cheer a man for whom we have had little use over the years.

This is what can happen when you don't really know someone and leap to conclusions based on public persona and media coverage and water cooler b.s.

I plead guilty in my previous assessment of Brian Burke, the hockey man.

Yesterday a good old friend sent me a powerful and moving article, written by John Buccigross for ESPN.

The story details how Burke's son, Brendan, has dealt with being gay. The young man is, like his dad, completely involved with the world of hockey. The story tells how he came out to various family members and then recently to his dad.

And how beautifully his dad reacted. And how honorably he has conducted himself since.

Turns out, Brian Burke is a mensch, a real mensch.

It is unlikely that the Burkes will be vacationing or playing hockey in Uganda soon.

That's Brendan Burke with the You Know What after the Ducks won it all in 2007.

Ze Plot Sickens

Richard Colvin sent some of his reports about the torture of prisoners in Afghanistan to Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs.

This is the latest little bombshell in the continuing little melodrama of lies, innuendo, denials and intimidation coming from an inquiry in Ottawa these days.

So many questions to be asked.

Not the least of which is why is the Prime Minister jumping into the fray?

“We also know that a large number of his colleagues did not agree with those opinions,” Mr. Harper told the Commons Tuesday.

Stephen, baby. Shhhh...

We thinks the Preem doth protesteth too much.

The Globe editorial - in a Passover frame of mind - asks four questions. Read them here and ponder the curiosities getting curiouser and curiouser...

Principles Shushing Away in Flurries

To paraphrase...

"It little profits a man to sell his soul for the world, but jumping?"

Yet this is exactly what we are doing.

No sooner do we raise the flag and flame with the excitement of having The Games here in a great Western democracy, then we abandon all principles and become a Fascism of the Happy Face.

The culprits are VANOC and the IOC. The victim is Free Speech.

Listen to the language:

"The artist shall at all times refrain from making any negative or derogatory remarks respecting VANOC, the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Olympic movement generally, Bell and/or other sponsors associated with VANOC."


Keep those nasty noisy artists quiet, we're luging here, folks.

Why have The Games, if the price is reducing the social order to Orwellian sheep?

Salt Lake City and Melbourne had no such restrictions.

What is it about Vancouver that makes it so hyper-sensitive?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Politics offers several definitions of 'politics.'

Here are a couple:

6. use of intrigue or strategy in obtaining any position of power or control, as in business, university, etc.
7. (initial capital letter, italics) a treatise (4th century b.c.) by Aristotle, dealing with the structure, organization, and administration of the state, esp. the city-state as known in ancient Greece.

This morning we have two glaring examples of how whatever politics may be, it/they sure know how to cloud the issues. Perhaps the definitions could have used some more qualifiers, like 'self-serving, above all....'

1. The Harper government has apparently sent out a flyer coloring the Liberals as anti-semitic.
That resulted in a letter signed by many asking the Prime Minister to withdraw the offending document.

“We find it highly disturbing that any party or parliamentarian would attempt to use Israel as a wedge to divide the Jewish community and, indeed, Canadians, for partisan gain,” the letter says.

“Support for Israel should not be portrayed as exclusive to one party. The Liberal Party has a history of support for Israel, working co-operatively and effectively with the Canadian-Jewish community and speaking and acting against terrorism.”

What across-the-board- bumph.

2. On Friday, I posted an item herein on how Richard Colvin had testified at a Parliamentary inquiry that all prisoners captured by Canadian soldiers and handed over to Afghan authorities in 2006/7 were tortured - and that many were innocent.

Government backbenchers and others rushed to denounce Colvin.

Now, the government wants David Mulroney, currently Canada's ambassador to China, to return post haste to Ottawa to refute Colvin.

The opposition dogs are screaming blue murder that Mulroney shouldn't be allowed to testify -basically denounce Colvin and his testimony - until they can see more documents.

Simple question.

How is the Canadian public to learn anything approaching the truth with all parties involved huffing and puffing like crazy?

The answer, of course, is painfully obvious.

The very point of all this noise is to obfuscate and obliterate.


How helpful.

Lagging Behind

Yesterday I posted an item about child poverty on Canada.

Today, Ed Broadbent offers his thoughts on the subject in an op ed piece in the Globe.

The NDP needs someone of Broadbent's calibre.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Two Different Worlds

On one page, we have the amusing spectacle of an egghead asking for more taxes. Only a fully tenured academic could ask the federal government to raise the GST and HST. Must be nice. What an idiot.

On an earlier page, we have the hard truth of the Canadian economy and the lack of political will that embraces it: ONE IN TEN CHILDREN IN CANADA LIVE IN POVERTY.

This should not be a news item featured on page three on a Monday morning.

In one of the richest and most peaceful sovereign states in the world this disgrace should be front and centre until we do something real to change those numbers.

Twenty years ago, Parliament voted unanimously to eliminate this scourge within a decade. So much for the vote.

National Child Care has been on the agenda for at least the last ten years and we are no closer to it than ever.

Times have changed.

Mommy and Dada are both working.

They have to. This is not a "life style" choice. This is a bare necessity.

A 70-year old falling down wood frame bungalow on the treeless east side of Vancouver costs just under a million dollars.

The minimum wage in B.C. should have been $10 ten years ago.

So let the politicians and their Econ whores tell you that the HST is good for you.

Let the academic elite ask for more taxes.

Then let them take a starving kid to lunch.

It's All in the Family

It is kind of silly, perverse fun to watch the Liberals of Iggy Pop squirming over nothing.

Janine Krieber, the outspoken wife of Stephane Dion posted - and then quickly removed - a comment on her Facebook in which she trashed the current Gang:

"I will not give my voice to a party that will end up in the trashcan of history," she wrote in a passage that included shots at a "Toronto elite" behind Mr. Ignatieff's rise.


May they all bite each other.

A friend's sister at Vimy

Melancholy beautifully defined

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nature Advisory

Animals that were formerly self-sufficient are now showing signs
of belonging to the New Democratic Party..... as they have apparently
learned to just sit and wait for the government to step in and provide
for their care and sustenance...

And where the heck did that waiter get to?

A Comment that Deserves its Own Post

[The PHOTO is of Ephesus, and it comes from my friend, Maurice.]

What is worse is that public libraries are getting HIGHER USE during this recession.

People who have had their wages/hour cut at work (or who have lost their jobs altogether) have less money to spend.

They try to save a few $'s by frequenting the library to borrow books, dvds, and even video games.

They attend the "story times' for their children. They attend book readings and lectures.

Job seekers even utilize the resources at the library to help them in their career change or job search.

This is the time to INCREASE funding to the libraries, not decrease it.

BTW - David, you didn't mention it in this blog posting, but could you have a word about the Conservatory and the Stanley Park Petting Zoo.

I recently took my children to the Conservatory and, as usual, was happy to have an inexpensive, non-commercialized place to bring the kids on a cold day. The kids were pointing out birds, fish, plants and trees. After, as there was a break in the rain, we walked around the quarry gardens. It was a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours (and cost less than $10 for two adult admissions to the Conservatory itself). Not many places that we can go for an enjoyable outing for that kind of money.

Of course, because of the fiasco surrounding the Cambie Line, business dropped off for the Conservatory for a few years there. Now that the Cambie Line is complete, the Conservatory could be getting more people (individuals, families, school groups, seniors group and tourist groups) and more facility rentals, thus getting higher revenues.

As for the Petting Zoo, accessible transit has FINALLY been provided to Stanley Park (the #19 Stanley Park bus was not accessible until a couple of years ago). Families often had trouble getting here (if they didn't drive). Coupled with the Stanley Park Train, the Petting Zoo was another enjoyable outing for families.

I guess the needs of residents (especially families with young kids) just isn't on the radar of this city council

To voice protest, write the city at

I have already written my letter.


Mark Leiren-Young's latest effort continues on all cylinders.

Check it oooooouuutt!

Energy Plus

Caught bits and pieces of "Walk the Line" again on TV last night.

Reese Witherspoon won the Oscar for Best Actress in 2006 for her role as June Carter Cash and, given, the peculiar choices that year, it was well deserved.

Joaquin Phoenix lost out to Philip Seymour Hoffman, who pretty much had the award to himself the moment "Capote" was released.

And Phoenix is pretty darn good in all of the dialogue scenes. From moment to moment, shy, determined, crushed, enraged, addicted, desperate and so on.


When he straps that guitar on and leans into a microphone some alchemy beyond explanation takes place.

He is utterly transformed and imbued with a wild, deranged beautiful energy.

The performance and concert scenes are astonishing.

What is so strange is that this is exactly what happened with Jamie Foxx in his Oscar-winning performance in "Ray."

Both movies are rather pedestrian. Predictable and formulaic music star biopics.

But in both cases, the two actors get hit by a bug when they take on the music.

And in both cases the result is electric every time you watch.

I mean electric.

Last night, I kept switching over to some other movie or the news or whatever during the expository dramatic scenes.

As soon as the singing came back on, I was there, whooping it up and with tears in my eyes.

Go back to these two flicks for a helluva good Saturday Night time.

Inspired Performance

Wake Up Call

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Canadian Soldier Coming in From the Cold

Do you admire the Canadian Forces?

Are you pleased to see our men and women in uniform on the streets?

More and more Canadians would say, "Yes," to both of these questions.

There was a time not very long ago when the Canadian Soldier was very much at the bottom of the ladder.

That perception and the acceptance that comes with it is changing dramatically.

Michael Valpy has written a fascinating piece today examining this shift and our "embracing of the warrior culture."

Particularly interesting was the following:

"Warriors were the centrepiece attraction at a black-tie dinner titled True Patriot Love held in Toronto on Nov. 10, organized by some of the city's super-wealthy with $750-a-head tickets and an auction that raised more than $1-million for Mr. Hillier's Military Families Fund."

Could that have been possible even 10 years ago? I don't think so.

Very few people want war.

Some do, but that's another story.

Few of us want war, but most of us realize the cold reality of a harsh and often hostile world.

There are real dangers and it is our necessity to have a well-equipped and honorable and honored standing fighting force.

We needn't blindly worship these men and women. Nor should we revile them or diminish them, as we too often have in the recent past.

One of the worst and dumbest faces of a week-kneed liberalism - that can only flourish in the safety and luxury of a peaceful social order - is the citizenry who scoffs at its military.

These comments are not a reflection on foreign policy or an excuse for not asking for the same transparency from the military that we demand from other government offices.

Costs of Recovery

Wendy Stueck has written an excellent and compelling report in today's Globe about the Burnaby Centre for Mental health and Addictions.

She argues persuasively that the Centre is doing some truly good work in helping some hard case people to get clean and sober.

I admire their efforts and cheer them on.

But there is a small catch.

The cost per bed per annum at this facility is in excess of $125, 000.

Critics of treatment often charge that treatment is too expensive.

My first response is I am happy to pay whatever it takes to do this difficult and necessary work.

But I add this.

The Behavioural Health Foundation in Manitoba is doing exactly the same work with better demonstrable results for $50,000 per bed per annum.

BHF is the oldest and leading Therapeutic Community in Canada.

Other TC's in Canada operate on similarly smaller budgets than the Burnaby Centre.

They are able to do this because they use so many recovering addicts as staff.

Praise the Burnaby Centre, but note that less can be more.

The Sponsorship Scandal - Quiet Please

I copy herein in full the Globe story of the crook who wept and gnashed his teeth at his sentencing yesterday.

I add that we are not moved.


OTTAWA From Saturday's Globe and Mail

Adman Gilles-André Gosselin had the gall at the time of the sponsorship program to frequently charge taxpayers for more than 24 hours of work in a single day.

The move was part of a systematic attempt to squeeze every penny out of federal contracts, even if it meant making up timesheets and fake invoices.

For his crimes against taxpayers, whom he defrauded of $655,000, a sobbing Mr. Gosselin was sent to a federal prison yesterday to serve a sentence of two years plus a day.

His lawyer said Mr. Gosselin, 62, is bankrupt and suffers from depression, heart problems and sleep apnea.

Madam Justice Lise Maisonneuve took those factors into account, but she insisted on a jail sentence, saying the one-time journalist was educated and well aware that he was committing fraud as president of his advertising firm from 1997 to 2000.

Mr. Gosselin said little during the 11/2-hour hearing, except to plead guilty at the start and to express remorse at the end.

"I'm sorry, I apologize," he said in tears, unable to add anything else.

Mr. Gosselin's firm, Gosselin Strategic Communications, was a major player in the sponsorship program, overseeing federal visibility at 500 events that received government funding.

He made $4-million from 1997 to 2000, but his remuneration was obtained in part through the submission of 81 fake invoices to Public Works Canada.

The court heard yesterday that Mr. Gosselin had instructed his staff to overcharge the government to maximize his company's revenues.

On the Dial

One of the best things on television these days isn't on television, it's about television.

So why isn't someone televising it?

The CRTC hearings over the dogfight between the broadcasters and the cable companies is a laugh riot and filled with great quotes day after exasperating day.

But Jim Shaw gets the award with the following addressed to Ivan Fecan, the president of CTV Globemedia:

“You're the CEO of CTV. You're owned by the richest family in Canada, and yet you've never, ever come and seen me … never, ever come to Calgary,” he said of Mr. Fecan, whose company also owns The Globe and Mail. “You can't even get your arse on a plane and come out and see me. Come on.”

Shaw has said that he is tired, very tired, and Konrad von Finkenstein, the CRTC chair says that he is sick.

Between them, they are sick and tired.


"Good morning, Sicken Tired. How may I direct your call?"

If they think they are sick and tired, try being an average popcorn consumer of Canadian Cable TV and paying a fortune for Seinfeld reruns.

Friday, November 20, 2009

War Stories

One story has utterly dominated this morning's Globe.

It is on the front page. It is the main subject of the editorial and the editorial cartoon and the op ed and the letters to the editor.

The story is this.

Richard Colvin, a Canadian diplomat, has testified that our soldiers in Afghanistan turned over prisoners to the Afghan knowing full well that the prisoners would be tortured.

At first glance, nothing seems very surprising about such an admission.

But the reaction from the government - our government - and from some observers is amazing.

This horrible "whistleblower" must be lying, claims Defense Minister Peter MacKay.



Why would Colvin make up this tale?

And what could be more ordinary in the course of war, murder and mayhem than the torturing of prisoners?

This is new? This is news?

Why the hysterical denials?

The man was giving testimony to a House of Commons hearing. Does he have some secret and dangerous agenda?

Or is the government of the day just being plain old silly?

On the other hand...

If you want to really learn something about the realities in Afghanistan, read the piece on Malalai Joya, (pictured above) an Afghan woman and writer and activist. Here you will find more of the hard and simple truths.

Your Library Card is Running Out

Watch for library cuts across the city.

City hall wants the Public Library to trim close to $1.5 million from its budget.

Shorter hours, fewer staff, closing of some branches altogether.

Now, that $1.5 million is juts about the exact equal to what this gang of fools spent on the famous bike lane nonsense on Burrard Bridge.

As a friend said yesterday as we were crossing the bridge in the dark and the rain, "It was all symbolic."

I had just commented that the Bikes on Burrard issue was neither good nor bad. It was simply a waste of tax money.

The truth is that car traffic has been barely changed and that bike traffic has been barely changed.

So what was it all about?

Pretty Boy Floyd told his pedal constituency that he'd do this thing, so he did.


Now, libraries - that's another matter completely.

To me, a public library system is one of the first signs of a civilized state.

The Toronto Public Library, main downtown branch, for example, is much loved by locals and deservedly so.

I seem to be one of the few people who really likes our main library downtown.

More importantly, I want to see all public libraries in all neighbourhoods open 7 days a week and for long hours.

I'm happy as a taxpayer to fund this commitment to lifelong learning.

City hall is, as usual, an ass.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Attenzione, si prega...

I must leave early Wednesday morning on an assignment and I won't get back until Thursday evening.

Ergo, non blogismentis.

Hope to be back in full dish Friday a.m.

Best wishes to all and to all a good night...


It was sad to see Tim Shields, the local RCMP spokesman, hiding behind a false claim on the supper hour news last night.


That's the mantra being used by the police these days when they want to excuse not letting people see what they have done.

They want to protect the privacy of the guy who died in their care.


Clayton Alvin Willey died of a heart attack in 2003 several hours after police knocked him to the ground, hog-tied him, kicked him in the chest, pepper sprayed him and used a taser on him repeatedly.

What the RCMP is doing in cases like this - and there are far too many in recent days - is misusing some one's right to privacy to shield themselves from investigation.

According to all reports, Mr. Willey, no matter how restrained or injured he was, just kept on fighting.

Now, I have seen such situations and they are not pretty and I can understand the police trying to do their job.

But the police have to understand that they must be clear and transparent and accountable to the citizens for whom they work and who they try every day to serve.

Show the evidence, gentlemen, and man up.


Yesterday, Oprah's guest was Sarah Palin.

Today, a porn star.

Palin is everywhere these days. She had a "book published."

I put that phrase in quotes because it will be hard to imagine anything coming from this idiot as resembling a book, or that someone other than a horse trader bothered to publish it.

Did I mention that Sarah Palin is an idiot?

She is also dangerous.

The fact that half the population of the U.S. takes anything coming from Palin's tiny corner seriously is frightening.

This woman has never had a thought that wasn't lonely. She functions in cliches and shop-worn non-ideologies.

She is ignorant of most of the world.

Of course, Bush didn't have a passport until he was elected President.

How many ways can the central idea of democracy be misunderstood?

Even Better Quote of the Day

It wasn't love that was visiting Calgary last weekend.

Swastikas and slogans including “kill Jews” and “6 million more” were spray-painted on a Holocaust War Memorial, the Calgary Jewish Centre and mailboxes, signs and fences in the southwest neighbourhoods of Pump Hill and Woodbine overnight Saturday.

Now the local police have to decide if these are hate crimes.

Hm...touch one.

Well, let's give them a little hint,

It ain't an MGM musical, kids.

However, the best response came from Stephen Harper:

“Anti-Semitism is a disease of the soul; its odious manifestations, in any form and however rare, can never be tolerated in Canada.”

Quote of the Day

In the ridiculous mock war between the TV boredcasters and the cable and satellite exhibitors, the simple issue has always been who gets to haul in more consumer dollars.

Now that they are facing the CRTC, it is marvelous to hear the CTRC chairman, Konrad von Finckenstein lambaste both sides for their histrionics.

“I don't know why you two don't realize it's in your long-run interests to come to some solution – rather than scaring the daylights out of Canadians.”

Monday, November 16, 2009

911 for the 911

It is not often that I feel the direct impact of a labour dispute.

But the current struggle between Ambulance drivers and paramedics and the B.C. Government has me a little worried.

It was only a few months ago that I dialled 911.

Within minutes, the whole gang was in my kitchen, and only a few minutes later, I was in a bed at VGH.

The response from these dedicated and knowledgeable workers was terrific.

Now, as they have been legislated back to work, they are running a series of work stoppages that has severely limited the number of vehicles and personnel on the road.

The public is being urged to call 911 only in the most dire emergencies.

The first thing that tells me is that in ordinary practice many people are calling for ambulance services when they should not.

If people are being told to visit a walk-in clinic or their local bones, they must be casually using 911 frivolously.

This is not something I had ever before considered, but why should I be surprised?


If anybody, any worker or group of workers is fighting with the B.C. Government about almost anything, my natural sympathies will lie immediately with the workers.

And so in this case, I support the paramedics pleas for a better contract. They do great, life-saving work and they should be appropriately compensated.

I just wish they could find a way to drive home their arguments without scaring the living beejazus outta me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Prize

As proof positive that the world is completely mad, we offer some recently announced and conferred awards:

1. Martin Scorsese will be honored with the Cecil B DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes next year.

It is true that Scorsese made Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, two brilliant iconic movies.

And then?

The aptly named "The Departed" won the Best Picture Oscar. I departed the movie theatre with 40 minutes left to run. Months later, I asked a group of people who were standing around talking about it (Why?) who killed whom at the end.

The answer was, "Everybody."

If that wasn't the most execrable movie ever made, then certainly "Gangs of New York" was. I walked out of that just after Daniel Day Lewis threw an axe into someone's back.

Scorsese is obsessed with bloody violence and macho posing.

He is absolutely a fine craftsman and knows film as well as anybody ever has.

The Howard Hughes bio? Yawn, goodnight.

Unfortunately, he makes unwatchable drivel.

2. The man who was drug czar for the City of Vancouver is being given an award from a delusional group in the Excited States. They feel that this creep, who helped create and open Insite and has openly said repeatedly that "treatment doesn't work," has put Vancouver right at the apex of leadership in responding to drug issues.

These geniuses should try living here for five minutes.

They are also awarding the nutty German psychiatrist at UBC who is giving a handful of heroin addicts free heroin. Cost about $8,000,000 a year. Nuff said.

3. And then, of course, there is the dullest bore in broadcasting who was recently given a Lifetime Achievement Award for reading off his question sheet and never looking at his guests. Hahahaha...

By the way, one of the stations that still pays His Dullness has recently fired one of its longest running and popular hosts to accept $100,000 a year in fees from a rival broadcaster to air programs on their own home signal. Possibly a first in the history of broadcasting and the clearest possible example of living by the Bottom Line.

Who knew that the Bottom was so far down?

'Tis Wonderland, kids.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Whole Lotta Sheikhin' Goin' On

Can a war criminal or terrorist or soldier be tried in a civilian court?

Should he?

Can such person get "a fair trial?"

Can justice - whatever that may be - be served?


Can the confession of a man who has been tortured be believed or accepted.

These are big questions and they are all thrown on the table as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and friends are brought to New York City to face charges on killing more than 3,000 people in one horrible moment, now known a 9/11.

Every paper in the world has covered this story today.

The Globe and Mail's is as good as any other, I suppose.

Read it
, and tell us what you think of this.

Simple "off with his head" comments won't cut it, so to speak...