Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Oxymoronic, I know.

Almost as impossible as happy marriage, Catholic university, military intelligence, liquor control board...


In this case, it is true.

Bravo is running the original first year of "Law & Order."

Over the years, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Michael Moriarity - "Ben Stone," Rene Balcer, the show runner and Executive Producer, and the great Stephen Hill - "D.A. Adam Schiff."

They were all marvelous interviews.

The first year or two of this wonderful series was filmed in a gritty, neo-realistic style. One had the sense of being in those stuffy rooms and on those scary streets.

Moriarity, before he succumbed to demon drink and a few other of his unique peculiarities, was one of America's great, great actors.

Hill was a lesson in acting week after week.

The show has continued to be pretty darn good, but nothing as superb as those first few seasons.

Bravo, 8pm, Monday to Friday.


Every day for the near foreseeable future, I will share with you the number of actual bicycles I have seen on the Burrard Street Bridge as I drive over it in my car.

The number is just to the right of this column.

The largest number I have ever seen since the One and a Half Million Dollar Ideological Miasm was instituted is 11.

But a friend told me yesterday that he counted 12!

Now, I don't drive over the Burrard Street Bridge every day, but most days. And I don't always drive over at rush hour, but often enough.

An important caveat:

I do not work for the government or Vision Vancouver, so my numbers may not match theirs.

But you knew that, didn't you?


I have been asked by one of our regular readers to talk about solutions for addictions and the DTES.

I will do that in the coming days.

Stay tuned.


I appreciate that the devil is in the details.

And that President Obama's health care initiatives may be craggy and rife with almost as many problems as the ones he is trying to solve.


He is trying to find health insurance coverage for almost 50 million of his fellow citizens.

And the hysteria and lies and near-violence and death threats against the President himself are astonishing to me.

Hideous and repulsive.

And the fear implied in words like "socialism" speaks so much of rank ignorance, lacking of facts and information.

This simple fact remains.

I pay $168 every three months into my publicly funded health care system.

For a great many years, I have cost that system darn little.

As I age, I cost the system more.

I see my doctor more often in his office.

I have had two heart "procedures" in the last four years.

Nobody asks for my credit card.

No insurance company argues with me about what they feel bound to pay.

Americans and Africans ( South Africa is in the midst of the identical struggle to reform their own system, which is rife with iniquity, based largely on color!) should be looking to Canada as a hopeful role model not as the devil incarnate.


I'm afraid you've grossly underestimated the extent of the problem. While the uninsured are, of course, in deep doo doo, those of us 'lucky' enough to have "health insurance" (really just the 'illusion' of health insurance) in the US are, in some respects, even worse off.

My wife and I pay $364 a month for insurance through my job at Tulane university. For this, I receive the dubious privilege of arguing with United Healthcare about which part of which bill they may or may not bestir themselves to pay. The way it works is, I go to the doctor (first, of course, coughing up my $25 "co-pay" in front). He takes a look at me, and if that's all he does that's the end of it. If, however, he actually treats me in any manner, in about three weeks (although I have received them up to six MONTHS) I receive a calculation containing the actual cost of the procedure, minus whatever United has decided to pay. What's left is the "patient responsibility," which is mine to pay.

As near as I can tell, there is no sure way to ever determine what this will be. The insurance contract itself contains pages of meaningless, deliberatly misleading blather, all of it undecipherable, even by colleagues with degrees in higher mathematics. Their website is no help. I've even tried calling their 1-800 number while in the doctors office, only to receive an ultimate accounting wildly different (and always larger) than their representative's 'quote.' Imagine a healthcare system run along the lines of a shady used car dealership and you get the idea.

At a recent 'enrollment meeting" (don't ask) United asserted that they would now pay for a "routine colonoscopy" every five years for men over 50. After a morning spent wasted on the phone with a representative I now understand that the word "routine" means something very different in insurancespeak and that if I want fiber optics technology shoved up my ass this year I'll need to fork over $1800.

Then there's the "lifetime cap" for treatment. On most policies this is about a million dollars, which seems like a lot, until you get a load at what a couple of weeks in the ICU costs. Once you've exceeded that your family has a choice between letting the hospital kick you out on the street to die or bankrupting themselves paying out of pocket.

For a lot of people though, things never get that far due to a nifty process insurers call 'recission.' If you get sick and start costing them money, algorhythms in their computers red-flag your file and their team of adjusters go to work looking for egregious reasons to cancel your coverage; childhood asthma that you forgot to include on your original application, say, or a change in meds your doctor noted on your chart but forgot to inform you of.

Unfortunately even Obama's 'reforms' still leave private insurers in the catbird seat. The uninsured will receive government subsidies to assist them in buying private insurance (talk about "socialized medicine," only in this case the risk is socialized while the profits are privatized). The 'public option,' if it happens at all, will likely be so compromised and ineffectual that only the poorest and most disenfranchised will opt for it, reinforcing the notion that "government" can't do anything right.

I'm sad to say it, but this latest "health care reform" bill is looking more and more like a rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic


There are 2 things that the BC Government is counting on:
1. As British Columbians , we will continue to be apathetic to the proposed HST and although we will bitch about it to our friends and neighbours, we will not do anything to stop the government from implementing this tax.
2. That we will be as stupid as the government considers the voting electorate to be and by the time the next election rolls around, we will have forgotten how the Liberals lied to us (HST was not part of their platform for the May election)
If you do not want this tax implemented in July of 2010...Please contact your MLA and the Premier's office.
SIGNING ON LINE PETITIONS IS NOT ENOUGH They must hear from individuals!
The Premier and MLA's will only take notice if they are inundated with emails, phone calls, faxes, and letters.
Find and email your MLA Http://
Premiere's Office - email -;
- phone 250 387-1715
- FAX 250 387-0087
- mail PO box 9041, Stn Provincial Gov't, Victoria, BC V8W 9E1
Listed below are a few of the items that you will be paying more for if the Liberals get their way and the HST is passed:
  • Cable TV
  • Car and home insurance
  • Chiropractors, naturopath
  • Golf Fees
  • Gym Membership
  • Gas for your car
  • Hydro
  • Haircuts
  • Heating Fuel
  • Internet
  • Income Tax Prep.
  • Legal Fees: for wills, P.Of A., advice, etc.
  • Hockey/Football/Baseball Game Tickets
  • Home purchases
  • Home heating oil
  • Magazine Subscription
  • Movie Tickets
  • Newspapers Subscription
  • Pizza Delivery
  • Restaurant Service
  • Telephone
  • Theatre Tickets
  • Used Car purchases
  • Vacation Travel: airline ticket and hotels
  • Veterinarian
  • Vitamins
  • Tim Hortons Coffee
Aren't you tired of handing over your hard earned paycheck? Please email/write/fax this government and let them know that we will not be lied to anymore....and keep writing until they start to listen