Saturday, November 20, 2010

ATTENTIONE SI PREGA PASSEGERI TOURISTICA


This blog, retired on May 10, 2010, will be resurrected with new vigor in the New Year.

There is a reason.

It will support another public effort to be soon announced.

Watch this space...but not too closely...until late December when all will be revealed.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Goodbye


In the words of Rogers & Hammerstein,

"So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night

I hate to go and leave this pretty sight


So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu

Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu."

Adios, shalom, tiejen, ciao carissimi...

Except for a short period last summer when I stopped writing the blog, I have been doing this continuously for over three and a half years now.

It's been a lot of fun and I've made many new friends.

Your comments have, in the main, been delightful, insightful, welcome and on the mark.

But all things come to an end.

Last year I cancelled my Vancouver Sun subscription. This morning I canceled my Globe & Mail subscription.

May music and laughter remain constants in all our lives.

May all the politicians retire and give us back our money.

May Life be kind to you.

Thank you and good night.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

In Praise of Women



Maybe we need more of them in High Office.

One woman in Ottawa and one woman in Victoria have together shown courage and leadership that is rare.

We applaud them both and look for more in the same mold.

In Ottawa, the MP's have skulked away into the night, refusing to even comment on how or why they refuse to let Auditor-General Sheila Fraser look at how they casually spend HALF A BILLION TAX DOLLARS each year on themselves.

And in Victoria, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the provincial watchdog for children has had to go to the courts to get Campbell & Co to turn over cabinet documents. She won.

But, understand that in order to do her job protecting children and youth, she had to sue Gordon Campbell and Children's Minister, Mary Polak.

Way Too Much



The Gulf Oil Spill has exceeded all imagined horrors.

A first, it was a tragedy focused on an explosion and 11 deaths.

Then it was about 40,000 gallons of oil leaking into the sea.

Then it became 200,000 gallons a day.

And now it is about an immense human disaster, eating away at wild life, the oceans, local communities, jobs, livelihoods and everything else in its wake.

It was somewhat encouraging to see President Obama being truly angry not only at BP and Halliburton and their complicit partners in this crime, but also the US office of Minerals Management Service.

While this anger and determination may be a bit of theatre and a bit of how we all feel, in the long run it may mean next to nothing.

Every weekend, the newspapers publish their biggest and no doubt most lucrative section called "Driving."

Oil is built thoroughly into our culture, our thinking, our very assumptions about how we live.

There is an old adage.

"Do not s--t where you eat."

We have, as an entire species, been ignoring this quint idea and we are running out of time and space.

Willie Nelson


I am a huge Willie Nelson fan.

Below are three classic videos that might get you onside if you are not already leading the cheers.

I don't really know much about the fellow's life or story.

What I do know is that he is in the top rank of singer's whose work is artfully artless.

Listen to this Vocal

Such ease...

Anthem

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wither The Opposition?


A regular commenter to this site raised a very good question the other day, something I've been wondering about me own true self.

Campbell blah, blah, blah...yes, fair enough.

BUT...where is the NDP?

What are they doing to take advantage of all the self-inflicted wounds that the Liberals are offering them?

Where are the rallies, the town hall meetings, the press conferences are whatever else it takes to keep the heat on the current administration?

Yes, it's the HST.

But it is also the consistent pattern of Playing All the Big Games, while letting the little people hang out to dry.

It is the heartless and cruel approach to health and education and families.

So very many thousands of British Columbians have had it with this government and yet the NDP has stayed curiously off the radar.

What the heck are they waiting for?

America may be slightly mad in the heels, but if this were Colorado or New Jersey, the Official Opposition would be on TV and radio every night, screaming bloody murder and building their voter base.

Where are the Opposition Stars? Who are the Names? Who is positioning himself or herself for leadership?

If this is excitement, I need a pill.

Wake up Little Suzy...puleeeeze.

Pay...and then pay Some More


We pay enormous amounts of money for public education.

That money is called taxes.

Taxes on practically everything, but especially school levy taxes on home ownership.

(We also pay considerably for private education, but that's another story and another argument.)

Think then about the peculiarity of this headline:

Coquitlam considers school bus user fees


School boards in the TriCities are now suggesting that parents should have to pay to get their kids to school.

Melissa Hyndes, the chair of School District 43, which covers Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, Belcarra and Anmore, said the school trustees have ordered a report on the proposal.

Hyndes said trustees want to know how much the district could save by implementing a user-pay system. The district currently spends about $1.5 million on school buses.

Similar proposals have been considered in the past, but have never been implemented because of opposition by parents and trustees. Any new user pay system would not go into effect September 2010, but could be a possibility for 2011.

Some parents say the free service is unfair to those who pay for their own children's transit passes.

*****

This fun little announcement comes on the same day that You Know Who has declared that he will run for a fourth term as Premier in 2013.

Hey parents in the TriCities...better start saving up to buy your kid a skateboard.

Never You Mind


O.K. Now it's official.

Members of Parliament are refusing to let Auditor-General Sheila Fraser examine their expenses, saying she has no right to look at their books – and they don’t plan to give her one.

The combined Houses of Parliament spend some $500-million a year.

But your MP's and Senators feel it is not our business how they spend tax dollars on themselves.

Welcome to Feudal England.

One of the Great Albums of All Time

Thursday, May 13, 2010

And someone Printed it and Sold it to her


We were sitting in the window seats of a coffee shop the other day.

A young woman, perhaps late twenties, early thirties, jaywalked across the busy street in front of us.

She did this casually.

She was wearing a bright red T-shirt.

This is what the T-shirt declared in very large bold leters:

JUST DO ME


Just do me.

Just do me?

Clearly this young woman is not working for Rape Relief.

Clearly this young woman has never heard of Rape Relief.

Possibly she's never heard of terrible things that happen to women every day of the week around the world.

Yes, even here in Supernatural.

Why aren't all of the women and at least half the men in this idiot's social circle telling her to think about what she is doing?

Is there someone who thinks this is clever or funny?

And if some madman attacked her, what would be her defense?

I was just kidding, your Honour?

He should have known that.

Just Drill Baby, Drill


Turns out it wasn't an "act of God" after all.

Seems it was that old Triple Threat: Greed, Graft & Incompetence.

Always bound to get someone dead.

In this case - the Gulf Oil Spill - 11 people died in the explosion and the oil spill is ruining coast lines, livelihoods and communities.

Between BP's rush for crude at any cost, sloppy and sleepy management of the site and corruption of government regulators, this was entirely a man made disaster waiting for the green light.

Can the likes of Gordon Campbell and Stephen Harper be trusted to approve off-shore drilling with real and secure safety measures in place?

Come on, get serious.

Life is a Trial...especially in B.C.


Six and a half years.

The other day, I found myself thinking about the Basi-Virk case.

I was struggling to remember when all of that began.

Such is the beauty of the internet.

On Dec. 28, 2003, police executed a search warrant on the legislature in Victoria and seized documents and other evidence.

I cannot help but suspect the highest reaches of the current administration from having some hand in causing all these delays in bringing this case to trial.

As the story revolves somehow around the selling of BC Rail - with a little sidebar of narcotics thrown in for good measure - one wonders who has what to hide?

But we seem to specialize in justice gone astray in this neck of the woods, do we not?

How about 25 years?

Trial date on Air India anniversary dismays families

Perjury case to be heard 25 years after terrorist attacks that killed 331 people

Inderjit Singh Reyat has been accused of lying only 27 times under oath in the original trial that acquitted B.C. residents Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri of charges of murder related to the Air India disaster.

The old saw about "Justice delayed is justice denied," seems to have been strongly out of favour in these parts for at least a quarter century.

Campbell Calculus


Here's how we compute in B.C. under the regime of The Monumental Premier.

If you are a poor parent and your children have been placed in foster care, your housing allowance is now being cut from a family rate of $570 a month to a single person’s rate of about $375.

The government will save the taxpayers $195.

Of course, if your housing allowance is now $195 less than it was last month, you may have even more trouble than usual paying for your home, which in turn reduces your chance of getting your children back and out of foster care ad its intendant costs.

Lovely.

Of course, there is no problem funding the Site C dam, the new roof for The Playpen, the new convention centre, etc...

How do Campbell, Hansen, the Housing Minister, the Minister of Children & Families and the rest of these carpetbaggers sleep at night?

Probably very well.

Because they have a personal belief system that allows them to ignore this kind of human suffering in their own back yards.

Footnote:

Many of you will now tell us that parents whose children are in foster care are loafers and bums and that they are hardly citizens at all.

Thank you very much in advance.

Merry Bloody Men


The Cannes Film Festival is in full swing and the press can't say enough about the new Russell Crow/Ridley Scott version of "Robin Hood."

The press had yet to praise or condemn the film. They are too busy gushing over the stars.

On Monday, February 8th, I posted an item about this release, called "Merry Men."

If you missed it, here it is again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Crystal Balls


Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" was published in 1932; George Orwell's "1984" in 1949.

In these two seminal and brilliant novels of the future, people were stunned and regulated automatons.

They were controlled in all their behaviours by overshadowing central governments.

They watched and were watched by TV screens.

They took soma tablets to stay happy.

On Monday, I was walking in the 'hood.

A girl of about 15, dressed in the uniform of a very expensive private school was walking towards me.

She was texting.

Of course.

She's a Happy Little Consumer Unit.

Her family thinks she's a person.

On Friday, I had a late breakfast with my son.

At the table next to us, two people met and texted and said, without looking at each other, "Great to see you."

They are Happy Consumer Units.

HCU's.

Somebody has mistaken them for real people.

But less frequently these days.

People in the UK are pissing so much Prozac into the toilets that the water systems are polluted with Happy Medicine.

One in ten Americans has a prescription for an anti-depressant.

HCU's rule.

The pharmaceutical bill is in the many, many billions of dollars, euros and yen.

Hank Haney, Tiger Woods swing coach, decided the other day to jump from the Tiger ship. After working with Woods for several years very closely, how did he break the news to his biggest client and a man he calls his close friend?

He texted him.

Tiger Texted back.

They may speak soon.

All the good HCU's are texting, watching the Big Plasma Screen and popping the Happy Pill.

Half the people driving in the lanes next to you are HCU's stoned on Happy Meds.

The rest are texting and talking on their cells.

Brave New World.

1984.

We thought it was just literature.

Cellar Jazz Club - Go...You'll LIke!

Youth-In-Asia


When the geniuses at the top of the heap that calls itself CBC Radio Two decided to Youthenize its formats, they scrubbed most of the classical and jazz playlist.

They decided that their audience was just too, too old.

Missing the point that Canada has been getting older by the day.

So enough already with the Ellington and Scarlotti.

In with the...uh, the...

What they've managed to do in the past few years is come up with a playlist that appears to be unique in broadcast worldwide.

They play a kind of pop/rock/folk/funk/hip/blues that apparently is known only to five guys in Nova Scotia.

This is Fall-Through-the-Cracks music.

It's music that never sells an album because it s second rate drek.

Oh, it's soulful alright.

It's cute and clever on occasion.

It's just not memorable or hummable or impactful.

It's Loser Tunes Inc. is what it is.

Somebody's cousin is running the shop.

Investigate and change, please.

Unparalleled Beauty

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Readers to the Barricades


I buy most of my books online from Amazon.

One-click checkout.

And - presto!

Five days later, my book is in my mailbox.

Why would I stand in line at Chapters/Indigo to give them 20-50% MORE?

I buy the second most books from Book Warehouse because it is Book Warehouse...i.e., cheaper than Heather and her picks.

I buy finally from those rare and disappearing one-of book stores where people actually know their stock and products and can actually hold a conversation. There is one in Kerrisdale (Hager Books, 2176 West 41st) and actually several in Ganges on Salt Spring Island (Watermark Books is especially good.)

All of this is in aid of agreeing with this morning's editorial in the Globe, which calls for an end to the ludicrous system of book buy in this country that serves only to inflate the price of books for you and me.

The editorial correctly argues that this is an unnecessary and punitive trade barrier.

End it.

At Rest


Ever wonder what your elected government is doing these days?

The answer is simple.

And they even boast about it.

The answer is...nothing.

Case in point.

Ontario police chiefs go en masse to the Ontario legislature to seek a number of changes to the Police Services Act.

The changes are interesting, but not the subject of this item.

The subject is the lovely response from the government.

Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Rick Bartolucci made it clear during a meeting with the chiefs that he has no plans to introduce changes during the remainder of the government’s mandate – the next election is in October, 2011.

In other words - go piss up a rope.

We are using the tried and tested true methodology of Jean Chretien - Do Nothing so no one can ever accuse you of doing anything bad - This is how to get elected and re-elected and then elected again.

So there you have it.

Canadian governance in a nut shell.

Don't ask us who have been elected and are collecting fabulous salaries and expenses and are spending public tax funds at astronomical rates to actually do anything 'cause we are not going to, so there.

Gerry V.


has hit a number of nails on the head with his comment yesterday about the deadly and costly over-prescription of psychotropic pharmaceuticals. In particular is the pronounced use of anti-depressants and other poisons among women. When will some women's groups rise up in united voice to stop this clear enslavement of women? This barbaric attempt by male doctors and by society in general to "calm" women's miseries with happy pills?

Just wait, David. It shouldn't be long before bitterness is declared a disorder if not an outright disease. Thats right. If you get laid off from your job or go through a nasty divorce, you could be suffering from "Post Tramautic Embitterness Disorder". Look for it in the newest DSM.

I personally like the "Intense Explosive Disorder" which explains why some people have hissy fits or fits of rage. Treatment for such a rare condition? Yep, you guessed it. Valium.

By the way, the most commonly prescribed drug in B.C. is Tylenol 3. Lipitor is number two. Seroquel, an anti-psychotic medication, is number 7 on the list.

In North America in 2008 the most commonly prescribed drug was hydrocodone. The number 2 drug was lipitor. Out of the top 50 most commonly prescribed drugs, 10 of those 50 were antidepressants or anti-psychotics. That represents 20% of all prescription drugs prescribed in North America in 2008. That's 20% of a conservatively estimated 65 Billion $ industry. These stats were provided by the AARP.

What's somewhat interesting is that twice as many women are prescribed these drugs compared to men. Now you can draw many conclusions from this statistic, but it makes me wonder if maybe this is why women live 10 years longer than men on average. (That last statement was made with tongue in cheek)

Lena


The news of Lena Horne's death reached me just as I was finishing yesterday's morning blog, so I put in the YouTube video below.

Today, please read the NY Times bio, which, by no means definitive, is pretty good.

Lena has so much more than a singer and a movie star.

She was a one-woman force for good in the world, a dynamo.

She says that she learned everything she ever knew about singing from her great friend, Billy Strayhorn, the genius who wrote and arranged so much of Duke Ellington's signature music.

Lena struggled with and against and broke every color barrier in American life.

She was fearless and emotionally rich and complex and all of that was revealed in every note she sang.

Reconfiguring "Stormy Weather" into the version that she sang much later in life and the one you can see and hear below, she said it took her an entire lifetime to fully occupy and understand the song.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Nobody LIke Her, No One Even Close - R.I.P.

This is your government at work


Drunk driving and selling cocaine have found new friends in B.C.

While the government is churning out press releases about how they are getting tough on impaired drivers, turns out many of these scofflaws are getting off scott free.

As are many coke dealers.

Why?

Because there aren't enough judges to hear their cases.

Why?

Because Gordon Campbell's government is spending half a billion on a new roof for The Playpen, and other Monumental Projects.

What the Gordo Government is not doing is hiring enough judges to hear criminal cases.

Now the office of the chief judge of B.C. Provincial Court has warned that court delays will only worsen unless the provincial government reverses budget cutbacks.

The Provincial Court has 16 fewer judges than it did in 2005.

Nice.

Why not just advertise in the Toronto Star and all the Prairie papers?

Come One, Come All to the Land of the Stupid.

Drink, Drive, Snort, Deal.

No worries, mate!

No judges!

Mental


Between 1988, the year after Prozac was approved by the F.D.A., and 2000, adult use of antidepressants almost tripled.

By 2005, one out of every ten Americans had a prescription for an antidepressant.

IMS Health, a company that gathers data on health care, reports that in the United States in 2008 a hundred and sixty-four million prescriptions were written for antidepressants, and sales totalled $9.6 billion.

May I Say Again...


On Saturday, I posted an item about the level of corruption abundant in BC political circles these days.

The item is titled "On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever."

The content is all about the consistent information that to get appointed a Special Prosecutor in BC and to be paid considerable legal fees regardless of your successes, you need only have been a Liberal Party contributor.

If you missed this piece, please give it a read this morning.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever


It is all becoming clear now.

Here is how things work in British Columbia in the 21st Century.

RULE ONE PRIMO ABOVE ALL:

If you or your company/law firm/society/family contribute to the B.C. Liberal party in any way shape or form, then you get special appointments - like say - Special Prosecutor - that are among other things very lucrative.

1) How is this for irony?

Winston Blackmore, the ever-smiling "leader" of the polygamous Bountiful community (You might be smiling too if you could, with impunity, shtup every 15-year old girl who wandered within yodelling distance of your cave and then you could simply declare her to be another of your "wives.") wants to fire his own lawyer.

Why?

Because Blackmore has learned that his government appointed attorney, George K. MacIntosh has donated to the BC Liberal party and that his firm has donated more than $50,000 in recent years to the BC Liberal Party.

Mr. Blackmore, a paragon of civic virtue himself, asks, "How worse could this look?"

Adds Blackmore, “It already smells bad.”

When one of the creepiest guys on town ism pointing the finger at you, how bad is that?

2) Terrance Robertson, the Special Prosecutor, who first cleared Kash Heed of any wrong-doing and then stepped down from his position because of contributions to the BC Liberal party from his firm, is receiving almost $300,000 in fees for his work on the Winston Blackmore file - work, by the way, that resulted in his recommended charges being tossed by the BC Supreme Court.

This is a little akin to those Wall Street executives who bankrupted their own companies and their clients and took massive billion dollar bailouts from the public purse, but nevertheless paid themselves many millions in performance bonuses.

3) One year after taking the case as Special prosecutor in the Basi-Virk unending melodrama, Bill Bernadino donated $500 to Wally Opaque's Liberal election campaign.

But hey! No Problem, Buddy.

Just ask Bernadino his Special Self.

Everything in Life is a Song Cue

Friday, May 7, 2010

Demand Value


I had a haircut yesterday.

In a conversation about the price of haircuts, my barber, who charges me $14, told me that in the coming few years we will see no barbershops on the west side of town.

Can't afford the rent.

At 14 bucks, it's plain and simple.

The beauty shops/salons/stylists charge $40 or $50 for the same haircut, with a bit more fuss and bother. Maybe a shampoo and a bit of a head tickle, thank you very much.

Rents for small shops on West 10th Avenue are astronomical.

There is no help from City Hall.

All of which leads to the article below, focusing on the future of the Broadway corridor.

The only reasonable plan is above ground Light Rail Transit, already proven around the world.

But as we seem to be married and attached at the hip to Bombastier and its cement pylon loving partners, we can probably expect a Cambie Street repeat destroying one Mom 'n Pop Shop after another through the Greek neighbourhood and up the hill to the UBC gates.

Read the following and weep.

And then bombard your city councillors and Transclunk with demanding emails.

Demanding above ground LRT and protections for ongoing businesses.


Were City of Vancouver employees asleep during the construction of the Canada Line megaproject?

They say lessons learned from the Canada Line are important as they start working with TransLink on plans for the transit line along the Broadway corridor from Commercial Drive to the University of B.C.

But the principles put together by city staff for this process, recently approved by council, show that the main lesson to be learned has escaped them.

Construction of the Canada Line destroyed many established small businesses and gutted others. It was an unprecedented fiasco. Shockingly, only one of the city's 10 draft principles speaks to the issues that most concern small businesses.

It is vaguely and weakly worded as "minimize and mitigate construction and operation impacts." Wasn't this the same promise made to merchants along the Canada Line? We are not off to a good start.

If Vancouver wants to have the trust of its businesses, it is going to have to do much better than that.

The construction-related noise, dust, lane closures and traffic rerouting along the Canada Line were far more severe and lasted much longer than promised. Many customers avoided the area completely.

As a result, small-business owners along the construction corridor suffered sales losses averaging more than $100,000.

Efforts to stay in business went far beyond the ordinary and included taking out second mortgages, using retirement savings, laying off long-term staff and relocating.

The emotional stress defied quantification. As one longtime owner, who renewed her lease under the assurance that construction-related disruption would be minimal, put it: "This [my business] was supposed to be my legacy for my daughter. It was supposed to be my retirement. They are taking everything."

Did all of this hardship escape the notice of city staff? We know it didn't escape the notice of Vancouver's current mayor. He was an MLA at the time the Canada Line was being built and the most vocal politician championing the cause of affected businesses.

Where is he now?

The Broadway corridor project could affect hundreds of businesses as well as their families, staff and communities. Protecting the viability of businesses along Broadway corridor should be among the city's highest priorities and principles for the project.

The hardworking individuals who support families and communities in Vancouver deserve nothing less.

The way small businesses were treated around Canada Line construction remains a black mark on the reputations of all governments involved in the project, including Vancouver.

Broadway is an opportunity to do things differently. This starts by acknowledging that the costs to businesses along the Canada Line were unacceptably high.

TransLink is now starting its consultation around the Broadway Line. Any hope they will hear small business? If past experience is any indication, we better get ready to shout.

Laura Jones can be reached at laura.jones@cfib.ca.

INTRODUCING . . .

Laura Jones, of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, makes her debut today as a regular columnist for The Province. Jones's column on issues affecting small businesses in B.C. will run in the Money section every second Thursday.

© Copyright (c) The Province



A Fair Comeuppance


"The Lancet" is considered the world's leading English language medical journal.

Here is it's pronouncement on Stephen Harper.

"The Canadian government does not deprive women living in Canada from access to safe abortions. It is therefore hypocritical and unjust that it tries to do so abroad."

The numbers:

70,000 women die from unsafe abortions worldwide every year.

350,000 women die during childbirth each year.

9,000,000 children under the age of 5 die each year.

Mr. Harper has put together a summit focusing on women's health.

He should stick to his agenda and keep his personal backwoodsie philosophies out of the picture.

Watchdogs with No Bite


It is supposed to be re-assuring that Environment Minister Jim Prentice says there is no need for a moratorium on future offshore drilling in Canadian waters while the world tries to figure out what went wrong in the Gulf of Mexico.

He says we will rely on Canada’s ‘strong regulatory environment’ to ensure disaster in the Gulf is not repeated here.

Truly?

Well, what does he have to say about this?

It has been revealed in recent days that the U.S. government has its share of watchdogs allegedly being paid to oversee all safety concerns for their off-shore drilling operations.

The only problem with that program is called Corruption.

Investigations have revealed that many of these "overseers" have been bribed with money and sexual favours to turn a blind eye to procedures that are speedy, convenient and one step away from disaster.

Will the Canadian watchdogs have teeth?

Or just deep pockets?

Keep Your Skillet Good and Greasy


An enterprising woman in Toronto has hired several female mechanics to join her in her new business.

The shop is called "Ms. Lube."

Of course, the folks who own the better-known Mr. Lube are not amused and they are suing.

If only they had a sense of humour and a little grace and the good sense to know that this can only help their business in the long run.

If only they could keep their oil rags from getting in a knot.

No doubt it will only be a matter of days before some yutz will come along looking for employment and claim discrimination before a human rights tribunal because he is a man looking to get dirty amongst the women mechanics.

Lawyers and tribunals should all be given tickets to comedy shows. They could pass them out to many potential clients with the advice, "Go find your ability to laugh again, you goofball."

Sublime

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Happy Trails To You


The Premier is a renowned C.F.

Control freak.

Nothing gets past him and nobody says or does anything without his Holy Blessing.

Independent Operators in the BC Liberal government - not there are any or have ever been any or ever will be any - go straight to the back of the bus.

They get dropped off at Palookaville toot sweet.

How then is is possible that:

- a law firm that makes regular contributions to The Party gets to have one of their own as a Special prosecutor? Try about $50,000 in recent years.

- one Solicitor-General, John van Dongen, has to resign because, although he is the region's Top Cop, he has lost his driver's license to speed? 2009.

- another S-G, John Les, hs to resign because of possible shady land deals? 2008.

- a third S-G, Kash Heed, has to resign twice in three weeks, because of possible election campaign irregularities? 2010.

How are these things possible, we find ourselves musing over the back porch at twilight, with a man Who Knows Everything, Who Sees Everything?

So far the only answers that emerge are these:

1. His Granite Face doesn't really know everything and see everything.

2. He does know everything and he does see everything and he just doesn't give a damn, Scarlett.

3. He has pre-scripted all of the above a) to keep everybody on the edge of their cheap seats and b) in the most recent fiasco, to get all the original charges against Kash Heed's gang of ethnic-baiting rabble-rousers thrown out.

Diabolical.

No.

Even Gordon Campbell is not this clever.

The truth may be something closer to this.

Conflicts of interest and rules of behaviour simply don't impress the Premier very much.

If I want to appoint a Special Prosecutor, frankly I don't waste much time worrying about how many dollars that guy's firm may have given me over the years for my own election war chests.

If I want Kash Heed or anyone else that I favour this week as my Minister of Cups and Saucers, well then I will bloody well appoint him.

Everything is Vanity and Vexation of Spirit.

The truth is closer to this.

Gordon Campbell's run as Premier of the Province of British Columbia is coming to an end.

His tattered skirts are showing and in the not too distant future someone else will have the opportunity to mismanage our affairs on a grand scale.

Falcon? Vulture? And the Difference Is?


That Prince of Warm Heartedness, that purveyor of Public Kindnesses, Kevin Falcon, the man posing as the Provincial Health Minister - I say, posing, because an actual real human person occupying that title would demonstrate some actual interest in HEALTH - has hit rock bottom with his latest profundity.

"B.C. instituting fees for convalescent care

Charges will fill gap between palliative and respite care, minister says"


You have to read this announcement and then think seriously about the implications.

These are fees for the dying and the elderly and their families.

We out here in the thoughtless boonies who clearly are too stupid to understand the good and mysterious workings of our glorious government have a small appreciation that governments are always on the lookout for more revenue.

Fair enough.

I guess.

But the elderly, the dying, the barely recovering and their families?

Perhaps Mr. Falcon knows no people over the age of 40.

Perhaps his parents and grandparents have long since thrown off this flimsy veil for a far, far better world elsewhere.

If we may be so bold...

Old people don't make a lot of money.

The elderly and the dying are not raking it in, folks.

So it is to these vulnerable, weakened people that we turn for more loot?

This administration is finished.

No one with any conscience could possibly vote to stomach another season of these ghouls.


Scary Great Beautiful Combination

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Update


Kash Heed resigns - again

Victor's comment, posted below, was written before this morning's announcement.

The Special Prosecutor, Terrance Robertson, who cleared Kash Heed in the elections matters just happened to work for a firm of lawyers who made contributions to Heed's campaign.

Heed was correct in stepping down...again.

But here are a few nagging questions that remain.

Is is possible to run for office and not know what your campaign manager is doing?

If he is not aware, why not?

Is the Premier not aware that the Special Prosecutor works for a team that makes campaign contributions to the man under a potential cloud?

If he is not aware, why not?

And the biggest question of all - the one that must be asked at the moment that Old Granite Face re-instates Heed long distance:

Is Kash Heed, good or bad, innocent or guilty, the ONLY person in the province capable of being the Solicitor General?

Can we function Heed-less?

Victor Comments on The Return of Kash Heed


So, Kash is back in Cabinet.

Does Ministerial accountability mean anything today?

He may be pure as Caesar's wife (although not as pretty) but I would
have applauded him if he had said that he would abide (like the Dude)
on the back bench until this unpleasantness passed.

This man will keep watch over us to protect us from every nefarious
scheme, every crook, who may bring harm to us.

And he couldn't scrutinize 3 people in his campaign office?

There is much more to this. He won his seat by playing one race
against another.

My wife is Chinese. She arrived here 10 years ago, struggled to start
a business and now employs Canadians. Like me, she is disgusted with
the hypocrisy of Canadians who, on one hand, bleat about
multiculturalism while endorsing political campaigns that pit one
culture against another.

The fact that the Premier re-appointed Kash Heed, over the phone,
while attending observances in Holland for Canadian soldiers who died
by the thousands for democracy, says it all.

He has no honour. He profanes the graves he walks on.

Real Issue, Bad Law


Imagine you are walking down, say, Robson Street towards the Library.

A policeman stops you and demands your "identity card" or your "immigration papers."

You might think, "Did the Berlin Wall go back up? Is this the stasi?"

When I first moved to Vancouver in my early twenties and began driving taxi, I was always astonished to be asked by curious passengers, "What are you?"

Of course, I had a number of ready smarty pants answers.

But what they meant was, "What is your ethnicity?"

Coming from Winnipeg, where a question like that was moot and never asked because if you weren't Scottish, then you had to be Ukrainian, German, Jewish, Polish, or twelve other unacceptable pitiable things, I always found this inquiry alarming.

Long before we lived in Hongcouver or Shangcouver, this was decidedly BRITISH Columbia.

Now...

Place yourself if you dare in Phoenix.

Last week, Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer, signed a law which makes failure to carry immigration documents a crime. Further, the law directs police to question people about their immigration status.

Among other backlashes, conventions booked for Phoenix and Scottsdale have been cancelled and moved to other cites.

Baseball clubs are urging that the 2011 All-Star Game be relocated out of Phoenix.

There is no question that states bordering Mexico have serious problems with illegal immigration.

Among the several hundred possible remedies, this is close to the worst.

The very Americans who hold their rifles high over head shouting, "Over my dead body," are happy to have their fellow citizens stopped at the mall by officers of the state demanding ID because of the shape of your eyes or the colour of your skin.

Who Is Out of Control Here?


In the video below, a fan at a Phillies game runs around the filed like an idiot.

Par for the course.

It's a game. Beer is drunk, People are dopes.

But then comes Mr. Policeman armed with a taser.

Listen to the highly sophisticated broadcasters.

"He got him."

What is this? A video game for 9-year olds?

Can anyone say, "Robert Dziekanski?"

Was this poor sap running around the outfield armed? Was he threatening anyone? Did he pose some clear and present danger to anyone other than his own lonely goofy self?

No, no and no.

Over-react or what?

Who Is Out of Control Here? Part Duh?

Who Pays?


President Obama expects British Petroleum to pay for the Gulf oil spill clean-up.

Good luck on all of that.

Aside from the massive environmental impacts and the devastating loss of jobs, work and incomes, the scrubbing could cost upwards of $15 Billion.

BP is not alone.

They share the oil rig project with Transocean of Switzerland and Houston's Anadarko Petroleum.

Shares of BP, Transocean and Anadarko have plummeted since the rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers and triggering a massive oil leak. BP’s market value has sunk by about $30-billion since the accident. Shares of Transocean have dropped 21 per cent on the New York Stock Exchange and Anadarko’s stock is down 14 per cent.

How many lawyers occupying how many complete buildings toil for BP full-time?

Cleaning up the crude will be significantly easier that getting BP and its friends to pony up to the pay booth.

All of which raises a boatload of questions.

Starting with...what codicils are built into these drilling agreements in the first place regarding disasters?

The photo is of a giant containment device that will be lowered into the ocean to grab some of the spill.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Plain Speaking


Nancy Ruth is a Conservative senator and pro-choice feminist.

She worries that aid activists, pressuring the Harper government to include access to abortion in a G8 initiative, will only touch off a backlash.

She has some friendly advice for them.

"Shut the fuck up – on this issue,” Ms. Ruth said.

That's what she said and that's what the Globe printed on page 4 this morning.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA...

It warms my heart to see that there are still a few people who speak English.

What is behind Ruth's warning, however, is troublesome.

It is but one indicator of how folks everywhere in political life in Canada at this date fear speaking up and speaking out lest Harper bite back at them where it hurts.

We share the same concern...while applauding Ms. Ruth for her clear messaging.

All praise Her Feistiness!

Asper-ated


I don't rightly care which "Family" completely controls all TV and newspapers in the country, believing as do that this kind of concentration of information assets is bad for almost everyone.

However, there are a few wrinkles in the Shaw buys CanWest story that interest me.

First is the claim that Shaw is betting that consumers will put increasing value on the ability to watch TV on their mobile phones, laptops and portable devices such as iPad.

Well...

A) I think they are right. If cafe life is any indicator, apparently everyone under the age if 35 is incapable of being anywhere without thumbing themselves to death, whether or not they are alone or with a companion.

This mindless consumerism frightens me.

Where did all these goats or TV's - Trend Victims - get this idea that they MUST live like this?

There are now more mobile phone and electronics shops in malls than women's shoe stores!

B) I will not be one of their eager new customers.

Just as I don't buy espresso in paper cups so I can walk down the street sucking on a plastic lid, I have no interest in watching TV on a screen the size of my wristwatch.

Drinking espresso means to me sitting down in a cafe with friends and talking and laughing or sitting alone and reading a book and watching the passing parade.

Watching TV means to me sofa, popcorn, pajamas.

Call me a Ritualist.

Call me not Shaw's Best New Bet.

* * *

The other thing that concerns me about this sale is the impact it will have on the City of Winnipeg.

Winnipeg is my old home town.

I still have friends and relatives there.

I go there occasionally for one reason or another.

The Asper Family is now officially out of business.

I don't know these people personally and I have no judgements or comments about them.

But I do know that they have had, over the past several decades, an enormous impact on the community with their business interests and their charitable contributions.

How much of that, I wonder, will survive?

R.I.P. Great Canadian Jazz Man

Monday, May 3, 2010

Shortness


A quick and short blogismatis this morning, folks.

a) I've got an early morning appointment, and

b) What can I say, let alone do, about the Greek economy, the Gulf Spill or bomb threats in Times Square? (Talk about a blockbuster show opening!)

Back with the usual complaints, kvetches, outrage and home-grown solutions to local problems tomorrow.

Read It Here


Mike MacDonald has left a new comment on your post "THE HST BLUES":

I own a manufacturing company, typical I believe, with 1.5-3 million in sales a year over last 4 years, and 10-12 employees at any given time, in Delta...all probably typical for a small manufacturer...we make very automated machines primary for food, pharmaceutical, and plastics industries.

I had our bookkeeper spend a day exporting the last few years data and then using Excel making a figure that represents how those years would have been with HST instead of PST/GST.

We would have saved, oh yes indeed!
A whomping .3% to .5%. Not 3%, NOT 5%....POINT 3% or POINT 5%! Less than 1% savings from this huge change to my company, which will never offset the added tax on every-ones personal spending!

What savings am I going to pass on to our customers? I must now upgrade our accounting software, and be patient as our staff figure out the new rules...there is no savings David, you are 100% correct.

I was at a Langley City (where I live) open house and the local MLA Marry Polak commented strongly that there would be huge savings as manufactures could have HST rebated...

...I commented that manufactures are currently PST exempt and GST ITC rebated...so I asked where are the savings from?? Where? How?

Honestly David, she looked surprised and politely told me she has been assured there is a savings for manufactures...so I ask...anyone...where is this savings coming from, what am I missing?

She Got It

Sunday, May 2, 2010

THE HST BLUES



I saw one of those Captains of Industry wizards on the television news the other day confidently assuring me that, if only I were patient, if only I really understood how things work, I would come in time to love and embrace the HST.

His claim?

Manufacturers - all his pals, I guess - will save money and they will pass the savings on to stupid me and you, the consumers, with lower prices.

Hahahahahahahahahaha!


How a fool like this can stand up in public and with a straight face utter such a bald-faced lie and fantasy is beyond human understanding.

Of course, we are all familiar with all the prices of things rocketing downwards because the supplier saved a few bucks and wanted to share that with the public.

NOT.

The HST is a cruel scourge and everyone who opposes it is right to do so.

The silver lining?

It might be the political end of You Know Who.

THE OLYMPIC CITY




On Friday afternoon, a friend and I headed over to the tennis courts at Kits Beach to hit a few balls.

Half the courts are asphalt, which is to say, they have no green paint or other surface that might give a truer bounce or allow you to use the balls more than once without having to throw them into the practice bucket because they are now grey and scuffed beyond recognition. The nets are sagging old pieces of dirty string.

The other courts, the ones closer to the beach on the north side, are painted green, but they are not much better.

Moss and grass are breaking through cracks everywhere, the white lines are completely faded, the nets are garbage and the courts slope in several directions at once. "Level" is a condition they've probably never experienced.

Green canvas strung across the fencing might somewhat abate the steady winds coming off the water, but how are we to know?

This is a very public place.

It is in full view and it is an urban disgrace.

So much is babbled on about the "legacy."

Sport B.C. is currently advertising for a new CEO or General Manager.

What good was all of that excitement – what good is a new boss - if we can't attend with some civic pride to the most ordinary accommodations for ordinary citizens who enjoy staying healthy?

I am hardly a wealthy man.

I am basically retired and I live on a very limited income.

But I would be happy to pay a $5 user fee for public tennis courts if it meant that they were put into playing shape and maintained.

The courts at Kits Beach are not the exception. Almost all public courts in Vancouver suffer the same abandonment of care.

In Montreal, public courts are beautifully groomed and ready for action. You pay a small fee to play.

In Toronto, many public courts have been turned over to small local neighbourhood clubs, who collect modest yearly membership fees and maintain the facilities in first class condition. Non-members can use the courts for free in off-prime hours or any time a court is open.

Show us the Olympic legacy on our street corners.

Teary speeches at the Board of Trade won't cut it.

They Should Try Vancouver

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Vicious, Unprovoked and Cowardly


That's what you can expect to hear when you walk up to a guy on the street, punch him in the face, breaking his jaw, and then stand over him yelling pleasantries, like, "FAGGOT!!! HOMO!!!"

Especially when it all gets caught on videotape.

In sentencing Michael Kandola to 17 months in jail, Mr. Justice Joel Groves added, "It is hard to believe that something as innocent as two men holding hands could cause such a visceral assault. In Canada, people are free to choose to live their lives as they choose, regardless of sexual preference."

So, in essence, Judge Grove has found Kandola guilty of a hate crime.

Many people argue that hate crime laws are unnecessary because we already have many laws on the books prohibiting violence against others.

That is true and often that is enough.

But what are we to do when a person or group assaults another person or group because the latter is Catholic, white, male, female, gay, Fijiian, left-handed, a member of the Cello Players of America, Jewish, black, Japanese or Swiss?

The Sublime Cleanliness of It All


Although I stopped subscribing to daily delivery of The Vancouver Sun newspaper some time ago, I still have a peek in cafes and on line fairly regularly.

The Sun is to be highly commended for their current serious on B.C. Municipal Elections Donations.

This is a series and it is a well-written, thorough and well-researched revelation.

Article after article chronicles monies being given by very interested parties to local councillors who then mysteriously vote directly in the favour of the kind donor.

Clicking through this link HERE will lead you to most of the stories.

The Maple Ridge/Jackson Farm piece and the Langley Firehall story are particularly intriguing.

In the latter case, the headline pretty much captures the gist:


Ellen Degeneres laughed and ad libbed, "That was fine, but you actually can buy love, by the way."

Simon Cowell, a man with a few coin, howled with sly recognition of this ugly old truth.

Well, apparently, in B.C. you can still buy a good vote and a good old politician when you really need one.

Often, for as little as $500.

I repeat, Little People.

If you want me to run for office, deposit large amounts of cash in small untraceable bills in a brown paper bag on my door step, guarantee me a chauffeur-driven Cadillac, and always call me, "Sir."

In a pinch, "Your Highness," or "Your Holiness," will do.

Then There's Always This - Wow!

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Enabling Society Has Hit a New Low


Vivaldi, the great Venetian composer, known as the "Red Priest," did most of his work at the Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage for poor and illegitimate children.

Now, centuries later, almost every day and night, you can hear a local group play Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" there.

If you walk around the side of the beautiful church facade, you can still find the opening in the wall where women who knew or feared that they could not care for their babies could leave the infant to be cared for.

This provision of a safe haven for babies in such dire circumstances has been around in most countries in the world since practically forever.

Now, Vancouver will be the first city in Canada to revive this very practical but troubling tradition.

St. Paul's Hospital has created a "baby drop off."

A bassinet near the ER will be alarmed so that staff will be immediately alerted if someone has left a baby there.

The mother will not be subject to arrest.

This is in many ways a reasonable response to an ugly reality.

But it is at the same time deeply disturbing.

First, I found myself shuddering as I listened to some young enthusiastic policeman saying repeatedly on the radio yesterday that this initiative would make things "easier" for the woman in trouble.

Is that our job?

To make things "easier" for people to not care for their own babies?

Second and finally...

I am sitting here today at the age of 67 writing this piece because that many years ago, my mother made a courageous choice and lived up to its challenges.

My mother chose to be a single parent and to raise her child.

She did this in 1942 and in the milieu of an orthodox Old World Jewish family.

She passed on to me, among other things, life, food and shelter, endless curiosity, humour, and a deep sense of social justice.

Not much was "easier" for her.

But here we are, having this conversation.

Maybe as we continue on this path of accommodation, we will soon be providing a place to drop off your baby and right there a place to safely inject some free heroin.

PHARMA ADS ON AMERICAN TV


Advisory:

Before using BLAAST-OFF, please consult your doctor.

BLAAST-OFF is not advised for people with 10 toes, plumbers or bridge players holding more than 27 high card points and aiming for a small slam.

Be advised that using BLAAST-OFF may result in loss of rental property, the ability to appreciate baroque music - in particular the fugue - and control over a neighbour's toy poodles.

If you are pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant or deeply jealous of all women at the supermarket who are pregnant, BLAAST-OFF is not a sharp idea.

Remember that using BLAAST-OFF could cause some of your favorite body parts and organs to simply halt by the roadside.

BUT...in every other conceivable way, BLAAST-OFF is a modern miracle, it is practically the second coming of You Know Who and you should consider yourself among the privileged few that you can get your snivelly little paws on some.

To Your Own Self Be True


Hahahahaha...

It couldn't happen to a nicer government.

Hoisted on their own petard.

The Gordo gang was poised to spend $2 Million of your tax dollars - money that could have gone to music programs in schools, for example - on a modest little mail-out to tell us stupid peons what a savory and good thing is the HST.

Alas.

Elections B.C. has declared that a foul ball and it is simply something up with which it will not put.

Colin Hansen is fuming and he wants a copy of all Elections B.C. rulings in the past 400 years dropped on Bill van der Zalm's head.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rights and Freedoms Day in Canada


1. Every house on the street boasts well-manicured lawns.

One house grows veggies.

Oy gevaldt!

Call the fuzz!

So one of the lawn nuts says the veggie patch is bringing down his East Vancouver property values.

Let's get some things straight, neigh-booors.

Lawns are idiotic scourges. You want grass, walk three feet to the boulevard, go to the park or call your district dealer. People with lawns are dingbats. They seed and water, water and seed and then they mow, weedwack and hack and cut so they can seed and water. They are noise polluters and engaged in an activity that makes as much sense as washing your car when the world is filled with drive-through car wash joints.

On my street, one guy grows fruit and veggies in his front yard, his back yard, his side yard and on the boulevard. Hundreds flock to his house all summer long to chat with him and marvel at his work. Last year I put my tomato plant in with his patch and they thrived.

On my street, one lady has created a beautiful garden on the boulevard made entirely of tall grasses and big boulders.

Lowered the property values?

Hahahahaha...

2. Being gay or lesbian is a disease.

And it's catching.

Just ask the Catholic Girls school, Little Flower Academy, in Vancouver who have fired a music teacher who is lesbian.

Actually, she is still on the payroll.

She's just not allowed in the classroom.

Of course, she's been working there for ages. She's never been remotely accused of spreading her disease to the little pansies and roses with whom she works.

But.

3. Students at the University of Calgary set up an anti-abortion table in one of the busy hallways.

They were quickly given the bum's rush by security.

The Pro-Life demonstrators use ugly graphic images of fetuses, among other horrors.

I am not a Pro-Lifer. I am not anti-abortion.

But tell me something.

If Canadians cannot voice their opinions and thoughts on a University campus, where then?

Are these kids preaching violence against a recognizable group?

No.

* * *

We are a quiet people, a gentle people. e like our bacon crisp and dry, thank you.

We are sheep.

We are hockey fans.

We are asleep at the wheel.