Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Grab and Grope Politics

New homes will cost more.

So will bicycles, haircuts and meals in restaurants.

Tourists will be no doubt delighted when their dinner bill arrives with a mysterious extra 12%.

Maybe they'll just mistake it for an automatic gratuity.

But never fear.

Colin is here.

That would be Colin Hansen, your ever optimistic provincial Finance Minister.

Now, HEEEEERE'S Colin!

“Eliminating the PST and replacing it with the HST will make B.C. more competitive, it will stimulate the economy and it will result in more jobs in every region of the province.”


At the Special Presentation Skills workshops that government employees must attend every week, they are coached on how to say things like this with a straight face.

"Now, look. No giggling, gaffawing or chortling. Above all, smile, smile, smile! Remember our motto: ALL OF THE PEOPLE CAN REALLY BE FOOLED ALL OF THE TIME. Now, get out there and dissemble like crazy."

So businesses will collapse.

So families will be stretched way beyond their limits to put food on the table and get their kids into exercise.

So, thank goodness, the government knows better than all of us what we need.

Yesterday, the same government announced $25 Million cuts in social assistance.

From a reduction in dental visits to a cancellation of the province's minimum shelter allowance, the government hopes to save $25 million over the next two years through the reductions — something it says needs to be done in light of a recent explosion in demand for income assistance.


"The budget is very tight because of the increase in the number of people on social assistance," said Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman.

"It's a reality of life that you've got to balance your services to what you can pay for."

Last week, the Premier proudly announced his new multi-million dollar 24/7 gambling emporium for downtown Vancouver.

This government's priorities are very clear.

It can only be hoped that this heinous, cynical HST grab will be the final nail in the BC Liberal government's coffin.

Oppose this legislation and this administration in every reasonable way.


The Large Haron Collider beauty experiment, with a staff of 650, will be studying differences between matter and antimatter.


How many people does it take to visit the Senate?

In a Nutshell

Remember Reader's Digest?

Goes along with the Moffat Range and the Studebaker, right?

Wrong again, Little Grasshopper!

According to (yet another august body) the lordly and gold-plated Print Measurement Bureau (PMB to you, Sidney) the current editions of Reader's Digest attract 6.38 MILLION readers per month.

A simple enough question -

Has anyone in living memory heard some one say something like, "Yah, so I read in Reader's Digest the other day that...?"


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Death of Comedy

Bob Newhart never swore on stage.

He didn't have to.

But he and a few others are the exceptions.

Most so-called stand-up comedians today are Trash Talkers.

Fuck, shit, poop, dink.

And that's just for openers.

So two women go into a club that's featuring an open mike night of comedians.

What did they expect - the Pope's blessing?

So they heckle the comedian-MC, who quickly discerns that the two women are lesbians.

Look out!

What did they expect - a wedding celebration?

They're in a trashy low-down comedy club joint and they are aggressive hecklers and lesbians.


The trashy low-talking jiving MC, of course, starts calling them "dykes."

Like they've never heard this word before and appropriated it for themselves with honour, as in "We are righteous dykes, so back off."

All of this horrible, shocking important incident in the black history of Canada happened 3 years ago and now, one of the injured women has taken her complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Commission.

Now is where we need a real comedian.

If ever there was a good argument for the dissolution of this august body - the BC Human Rights Inquisition - this is it.

The MC's lawyer has walked out in disgust saying that "this tribunal is proceeding against the rule of law."

That may or may not be the case.

But it is certainly against all good common sense.

This idiocy and waste of time and public money may soon find itself in front of the BC Supreme Court.

Please spend public money on dental care for poor children and stop the bullshit.

Aren't We Bold?

The Prime Minister's idea of a revolution in parliamentary reform is to limit Senate appointments to 8 years.

Oh, brother.

Remember the whole Triple E platform?

The only good answer to the rot that is called The Senate is to abolish it.

Please point out to me One Good Thing this austere body has produced in the last 30 years.

To keep Mike Duffy and Larry Campbell safely off the streets costs Canadian taxpayers about $1,000,000 a year each.

Please spend that money on dental care for poor children, and ask Mike and Larry to go to summer camp at their folk's expense.


"This is our chance for a green, urban casino."


This man should be writing for The Simpsons.

Unfortunately, he is our City Planning Director.

His name is Brent Toderian and he is speaking, of course, of Gordon's latest Toy, the Big Kahuna Caper on Pacific Boulevard, which we discussed here last Saturday.

Was Brent being particularly clever in calling this piece of public drek "our chance?"

Is he familiar with the traditional list of oxymorons to which he might add, "green urban casino?"

Like, military intelligence
Catholic university
happy marriage
liquor control board

She can Sing!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Go, go, go...

I sat in the rehearsals for "Joseph" the other night, and WOW!

Some incredibly talented kids...great singers and dancers and actors.

Valerie Easton is doing a terrific job directing.

And this show moves!

So...go, go, go the the Royal City website and buy some tickets today.

Or call: 604-521-5050

I want to see you there...

On the Run

There is a new commercial on TV.

It is the poster child for The Law of Unintended Consequences.

No doubt, the geniuses at the high-powered and mucho muy expensive ad agency that created it and sold it to the dumb clucks called the client are thrilled.

Perhaps you've seen it.

A woman gets out of bed in the morning.

She begins her routine at top speed.

Showers, shampoos, brushes, dresses, puts on the stilettos.

All of this is shot from the floor so we never actually see any of her much above the ankles.

Terribly clever, no?

Then she high tails it uptown. I can't remember if she grabs a subway.

Then she masterfully vaults over a bit of morning dew at the curb.

Finally into her favorite eatery in town.

And the payoff?

A big greasy dripping somethingorother with egg and smoked meat and bad buns.

Let's call it The Heart Stopper.

"I'll have the Double Artery Clog, go, of course. Everything I do is 'to go!"

The commercial is for MacDonald's.

Their so-called breakfast.

Apparently, in the real world - a world I have never experienced (except, of course, for the stilettos) - food is something to be gobbled in high pursuit.

It is also high in cholesterol, fats, white flour and cured meats.

This is a TV commercial designed to get you, you unsuspecting boob, to rush to the Big Arches and wolf down the worst imaginable goop for your first meal of the day.

Instead, I watch in horror asking myself, "What in god's name is wrong with that person? Has she no self-respect?"

Except, of course, for the stilettos.

Grazie tanto

For those who think I have disappeared...not quite yet.

I re-iterate...

The BIG computer is in the shop getting a lube job.

This little guy just doesn't have my mailing lists, so if you are here, you have faithfully sought me out, for which, "Thank you."

BIG should be ready for a homecoming this afternoon.

All things in CyberLand being equal, I should be emailing the blog by tomorrow morning.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I really think America has gone mad,

Folks walk into Starbucks with loaded firearms and not only think that's ok, but insist that it is their God-given right.

Maybe they'll shoot you if you disagree.

Maybe you'd enjoy a cup of coffee without Silverado playing out before your eyes.

Folks who don't approve of the President's Health Care reforms REALLY, REALLY, REALLY DON'T APPROVE.

They call this Obamacare and other epithets and they threaten violence against...well, against anyone who disagrees with them, including fools who have had the nerve to run for public office and get elected and vote on what they believe is necessary and good.

And now, Sarah Palin is back.

When she publishes a map targeting districts that need some good Republican votes, she puts the Democratic seat-holders in a rifle cross hairs. She thinks that's cute.

Palin is a scourge and a distraction.

She wouldn't know a cogent thought if she swallowed one.

She has "written" a "book" which 1,000,000 of her fellow Americans have bought and apparently read.

She draws huge adoring crowds wherever she goes.

She is an idiot and housewives and accountants love her.

I used to worship America.

For its movies and its music above all.

And then for its brash open unapologetic style.

I was always flattered when people mistook me for an American.

No longer.

I am afraid to fly from here to anywhere that might involve American air space, let alone touch down somewhere and brave the OK Corral of a coffee shop.


The University of Regina (an oxymoron?) has created Project Hero.

The University will pay tuition and $1000 for the children of fallen service men and women.

OK, so far?

No, no, no.

Not OK.

Sixteen enlightened professors have signed an open letter condemning this horrible act.

You giving children who have lost a parent a little help in their education, the University is unwittingly approving the War in Afghanistan.


The only people I know on earth who can twist their kishkas in such knots are academics.

I have been against our participation in Afghanistan from the beginning.

But that has nothing to do with the efforts and sacrifices of soldiers.

Or with the devastating emotional and economic losses to their families.

Some folks at Universities really must find something to do with themselves all day, other than kvetching that they have another course to teach this term. Oy!

Laundry Bin?


365, I guess.

That would be the working hours of the new hotel-casino complex that will soon be built downtown near B.C. Place.

Is there some other known form of "entertainment" with that kind of licensing, or that kind of business model?

I mean other than hooking?

Listen to the Premier babbling on in all directions at once:

"We do have a better quality of casino which actually provides, I think, for entertainment opportunities, cultural opportunities..."

Cultural opportunities?

He's always opening some new giant gaggle or other, while quietly - oh so quietly - closing down dental care for poor children.

And have you seen the model for this playground?

Ugly, unimaginative, architecture from the '50s.

Come about a giant bagel or dollar bill.

Where's the water slide?

Victor on American Health Care

Dennis Hopper is dying of prostate cancer. He weighs 100 pounds. He
made his first movie in 1955 and worked for the next 50 years.

According to reports, his lawyer says he makes $58,000 a year from
residuals and his treatments are taking all of it. He is a pauper
living in a Hollywood mansion.

His story underlines some of what was wrong with the US health care
system and why legislation was needed. But not in the way it is being
sold through the media by the Democrats.

Much of the media coverage depicts the new legislation as aiding the
economically oppressed, those on welfare. Not so. The poor, without
incomes were fine. Medicaid covered them. That's why if you visit LA
or Chicago for a weekend you are not stepping over the decomposing
bodies of human trash who shoot eachother every Saturday night. None
have an insurance plan. None have a job. All are treated.

Same goes for the aged. All are covered by free health care and the
American public pension plan is far,far richer than Canada's.

The real problem was with people like Mr. Hopper. Although he worked
as an actor for 50 years, it was never really a job. So he had no
health care plan. And he probably never thought of it until cancer
struck, at which time he was over 60 and no insurance company would
touch him. And since he had an income, albeit a trifle of his big
earnings days, he didn't qualify as poor. So, as Charles Dickens might
have said, if he made $58,000 a year but his care cost more than that,
he was still considered solvent. Insane.

Similarly, a 62 year old American, working at a factory, who had a
good health plan, and lost his job also lost his health care. And
because he was 62, no insurance company would touch him and he didn't
qualify as poor until his severance ran out and he spent all his

So this had nothing to do with the non-working poor. They were already
covered. It is not going to address the black-white-hispanic divide.
It will hopefully address the situation of people who, through no
fault of their own, lose their benefits after a life of earning a

It will also force the gormless young to buy health insurance if they
get a job. And that's overdue. I once sat in a bagel shop in San
Jose , in 2004, where there was a sign in the window offering
employment for a server at $7 an hour plus medical benefits. I asked
the owner how he could provide health care for a $7 an hour worker. He
replied, " Well, I'll be hiring a healthy 20 year-old and they cost
bugger all for health care. I can cover them for peanuts and they
won't buy it themselves".

About 25 per cent of those uncovered by health care in the USA fall
into that category.

There is a little bit Dennis Hopper in all of us. We go through life
ignoring two immutable facts. (1) We will get old. (2) We will lose
many options as a result of (1).

I am not an Obama fan and loathe his oratorical excesses. But
something had to be done. No matter how imperfect. It is said that the
state can't be expected to protect us from our stupidity. Well, since
stupidity is the most widely shared human trait, maybe that is the
state's job. When great civilizations built walled cities in ancient
times, they would compel the blissfully ignorant peasants who were
farming outside the walls, to come inside the walls in times of crisis.

Stupidity was not a death sentence then. It shouldn't be today.

Blue, Blue Herons

A kind commenter has found the Stanley Park Blue Herons.

You can find them as well at this website:

or...head over to the Park.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Apology and Greeting

My main computer is in the shop getting a shampoo and set today.

Which means that I have generated today's blog on my trusty little mini-machinka.

Which means that I don't have my email lists available.

So if you have found your way here, thanks for making the effort, and...

How the hell are you?


The B.C. government says subsidies for housing in the city's poorest neighbourhood have been diverted to cover the administrative costs of an outspoken advocacy group, the Downtown Eastside Residents Association, and to help pay rent for ineligible tenants in subsidized housing in the community.

The list of allegations is long and it is damning.

I encourage you to read the entire article and take a hard look at what is being charged., because if even half is true, it is sickening.

It is also important to remember that $1 Million a day in taxpayers' money is poured into that sinkhole known as the DTES.

No one that I know of has ever asked to see what the "outcomes" are for this outrageous misuse of public funds.

And this set of charges against one of the cherished "babies" of the DYTES must represent only the tip of the iceberg.

You cannot tell me that with that much free money going into this living urban nightmare - run often by shrieking advocacy groups - that corruption, graft, personal dealings, skimming and rimming aren't the norm.

Where is the Board of Directors of DERA?

Where are the checks and balances on so much money going into such a small and dismal space?

The Tracks of My Tears

No train...

38 k of unused track...

$10 Million in executive pay in the last six years...

And that's since the whole thing was sold.

Now...wait for it...

$600,000 in severance for two guys who are leaving this tough job.

This is your Gordon Campbell government.

This is your B.C. Rail.

Does the word "corruption" ring a bell?

The appropriately named Shirley Bond is the Minjister of Transportation.

She says this ia all good.

Is her word her Bond?

Is she Bond, Shirley Bond?

Can she leap The Truth in a single bound?


I was wrong.

There is a train.



Wooo wooooo....

Curiouser and Curiouser

Where's Joseph Heller when you really need him?

In a move straight out of "Catch 22," the federal government has come up with some new GST rules.

Now, if you want help on your will be taxed!


Does no one in RevCan have a sense of humour?

Read the story and then close your company and go back to being an individual taxpayer.

This is how the people in the know encourage business in Canada.

Not Mary Richards

"Ordinary People" is one of the best movies ever made in America.

Robert Redford directed this family drama in 1980 and the movie won 4 Oscars, including Best Picture.

Whenever it show up on television, I find myself unable to not watch it.

And no matter how many times I see the movie, the last line and the last moment always reduce me to a sobbing mess.

What is particularly astounding is the performance of Mary Tyler Moore as the mother.

Moore was nominated for Best Actress, but was up against the marvelous work of Sissy Spacek that year in "Coal Miner's Daughter.' Spacek, channeling Loretta Lynn, won.

Spacek was deserving of her award, but it was a shame that these two towering performances had to compete with one another.

Mary Tyler Moore should have been given a shelf full of awards for this work.

What is really scary is that I know this woman.

I mean the utterly enclosed and frozen and self-involved mother that Moore played in the movie.

I had a friend for a great many years that, in time, I could no longer count among my friends or even see for a cup of coffee and she was this character in the flesh.

Jolly, friendly, jokey and completely false in every way.

Ultimately cold and distancing and destructive.

"Ordinary People" is one of the most simple and direct and honest movies I've ever seen.

If you don't know it, head over to your neighbourhood video store before it runs out of business.

You're in for a treat.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Face Values

"Here in Quebec we receive and we give services with our face uncovered"

And with that simple declaration, the Province has tabled a bill requiring Muslim women to show their faces in all government locations, including schools, hospitals and daycares.

This basically bans the niqab from much of public life.

The hijab - a partial veil - and other religious symbols like crosses and the Star of David are not a part of this initiative.

Why has Quebec stepped over the fences of political correctness to do this?

"...because they disrupt personal interactions, and makes it hard to identify and communicate with people."

The Premier, Jean Charest, says that this is an issue of secularism and gender equality.

I salute him.

Robert Culp

He was so peculiarly himself, that you either liked him or you didn't.

I thought he was a terrific actor and I always enjoyed watching him.

Although he achieved his most popular fame and exposure on the "I Spy" TV series, it was his 1972 movie "Hickey and Boggs" that I thought was among his best work.

Culp directed the film and co-starred again with Bill Cosby.

The movie was uneven, but it was gritty and daring and beautifully acted by the two principals and a very young James Woods.

Culp was the kind of signature actor that if you knew he was in something, you made a point of getting out the house to go and see it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The End is Nigh

If you want to read a great piece on how marvelously the Campbell government is doing preparing for its own demise, you must check out Bill Tieleman's latest blog entry:

Gordon Campbell leads BC Liberals into political Hurt Locker - prepare for casualties

As usual, Tieleman nails it.

100 % Wrong

The B.C. government's cuts to a dental program for low-income children will mean funding only half the preventative care.


This is so outrageous, so egregious a move by such a heartless, shoot-itself-in-the-ass government that all you can do is laugh.

Cut dental care for poor children?

What is this - Dickens' London?

Then, to add insult to injury, when told that MLA's and civil servants get full dental coverage, Rich Coleman, Minister of Housing and Social Development, dismissed the comparison between Healthy Kids and the program for elected officials because MLAs contribute to their plan.

“That's co-pay, to start,” he said, while the government pays 100 per cent of the Healthy Kids plan.

In fact, B.C. MLAs don't pay for their dental plan, B.C.'s legislative comptroller Dan Arbic confirmed yesterday. “The dental plan for MLAs is the same as for public servants. It's 100-per-cent employer funded.”

Too bad, the good Minister doesn't know his own rules.

The government plan does fully cover twice-yearly dental checkups for the children of MLAs.

So the solution is simple.

For those children who have poor parents and rotting teeth, here's your plan.

Get your parents elected to government and then you can all have nice teeth!

See, everything is simple in Beautiful British Columbia!

Speak Up

Francois Houle has got to go.

He is the "vice-president academic and provost" for the University of Ottawa.

Quite a mouthful.

Failing utterly to understand, among other things, his role in a democratic Western society, Houle took it upon himself to send a friendly warning letter to someone who was about to be a guest speaker at his institution.

The speaker was a right-wing American shrieker cum clown cum entertainer cum 'journalist' whose name is Ann Coulter.

That's of the Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh Coulters.

So what?

We don't have to like or agree with or approve of every dog and pony show that comes our way.

But in a community that claims to pride ourselves on the protections of free speech, we honor that fading idea in action.

Coulter wants to speak, let her.

You want to disagree, carry on.

That's what we call democracy.

What we don't do - what people in places of power in swarms that call themselves "institutions of higher learning" - is send warning letters to such speakers about what they may or may not say.

It was my great displeasure to watch an infamous holocaust denier spew his lethal garbage all over the daily TV program of which I was the host (Oddly enough, also in Ottawa).

I then looked at the camera and voiced my disgust and dismay and sadness that this man must be heard.

Management was not happy with me, but that's their problem, isn't it?

Ann Coulter had to cancel her speech because the authorities feared violence.

Houle has disgraced his position, his University and our country.

Time to open that hot dog stand on the Kona Coast.

The Health Care List from "Underemployed Guy"

Here are a few ideas that don't easily fit into your questionnaire:

a) create more employment (and more taxes!);
b) reduce waste;
c) improve self-care and preventative programs (return sports funding);
d) license more foreign-trained specialists;
e) heavy fines for corporations that have large numbers of health-care claims;
f) cap doctors' billings and set minimum service levels;
g) a wage freeze for top-tier union employees (as part of a pay equity program);
h) bring back reference-based drug pricing;
i) place new doctors (& nurses & technicians?) in rural or northern communities for their first five years of service;
j) higher taxes on cigarettes, booze & gambling;
k) re-introduce the precautionary principle in genetic/pharmaceutical research (this causes greater problems than most people realize);
l) 100% user pay for purely cosmetic surgeries;
m) legalize and tax marijuana;
n) more peer-support for mental health patients;
o) develop humane euthanasia policies (that's a toughie!);
p) freeze tuition fees for "the healing professions";
q) allow people to pay (lots!) to jump waiting lists (including foreigners, who pay double lots);
r) huge crippling fines for any industrial toxic waste in the environment;
s) stricter enforcement of existing environmental laws;
t) free dental care for children;
u) government dental insurance for adults;
v) stop over-prescribing drugs;
w) make the Canadian Food Inspection agency answerable to the public, not industry;
x) promote volunteerism;
y) promote civil discourse;
z) and do something nice every day.

More Malcolm

The gentleman in question later sent me several "in house" technical videos of light rail operations. As well when I faxed him for information (which he always courteously replied to me) was to a the head office of a large transit concern.

The only city that has copied Vancouver's SkyTrain "light-metro" philosophy was Seattle and their new hybrid light rail/metro system is a costly fiasco.

Who else copies Vancouver - no one, I wonder why?

Most transit experts I talk to (and I have talked to a lot), who live outside of the lower mainland, have all echoed the same phrase: "the problem you have in Vancouver is SkyTrain!"

With a metro system where 80% of its customers first take a bus before using it, is an indication of massive problems.

The problem with SkyTrain is that the region is funding a hugely expensive metro system, that is operating on routes that do not have the ridership to support it. The result:

A $230 million+ annual subsidy (not including the Canada Line), which means every higher fares and taxes to pay for it.

You can continue to build with SkyTrain, but be prepared for larger property tax increases and higher fares to pay for it! There comes a point of taxpayer exhaustion, then what?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

And Our Own House?

On the day that President Obama will sign into law the new Health Care document in Washington, it might serve us well to look at our own problems.

Health-care spending in Canada now typically consumes more than 40 per cent of provincial budgets, and will account for half of all spending within a few years. Left unchecked, health care will eat up three-quarters of every dollar spent by a province 25 years from now.
Sixty-two per cent of seniors in six provinces are taking five or more prescription drugs each day.

Guilty as charged.

C├ęst moi.

So what are we to do?

We have a system that is bloated, costly and often unequally delivered from district to region.

In most ways, it is magnificent and it works.

But it is clearly bursting at the seams.

Take a look at the SURVEY in the right hand column and give me your cogent thoughts, please.


In a classic Canadian non-decision, the beloved CRTC has declared that the fight between so-called local broadcasters and the cable companies can just darn well fight in some else's backyard.

In other word's, "We don't have a clue or any balls, so let the Supreme Court solve this one."

Which means that the "local TV matters" fisticuffs will go on for ages and, in the end, you the consumer will be paying more per month to watch those Seinfeld re-runs.

In spite of this clear refusal to man up and solve anything, the CRTC receives massive praise this morning from John Doyle in the Globe.

The CRTC justifies its existence

Complain all you like, but it’s just shown why we need it

But keep in mind, that Mr. Doyle spends all his time watching television and taking it seriously and writing about TV programs every day.

That's got to affect your mind somehow.

Loco News

1. The Provincial government has finalized a deal with Paragon Gaming of Las Vegas to build a major hotel and entertainment complex with a casino attached to BC Place.

Because this is provincial land, the City has no say over anything about the project.

Nice way to run a shop.

2. Two years ago, a man in Merritt killed his three children.

Allan Schoenborn was found not criminally responsible because he was in a "psychotic state."

He is in custody.

So far so good.

But now a panel of geniuses will study the psychiatric reports to decide whether he should remain in custody or released under some form of supervision.

Why don't they consult with the good doctor who has seen all that progress in the mental health of Mr. Li who chopped off a fellow bus rider's head because it was Wednesday or he had a bothersome pebble in his shoe?

Malcolm Johnston of the Light Rail Committee Offers Excellent Comment

[The foto is of Dublin's wonderful LUAS system.]

David, years ago and in a different life, a I got a phone call from a European Transit type, representing one of the main players in the LRT/streetcar game.

The call went something like this:

"Hallo - I would like to speak to the head of the light rail department."

I replied, and some what taken aback by this and apologized;

"Sorry this is the Light Rail Committee and we don't have departments, let alone the people to staff them!"

The chap replied; "I was given your number by someone at TransLink."

I replied something like this; "I think you were given the toss by TransLink because they just don't do LRT, nor do they talk to people who do!

Realizing he was given the "bum's rush" by the transit types in the Ivory Towers on Kingsway, we talked for over an hour about transit and transit applications.

He told me that "one could build a LRT line from BCIT to UBC, via Broadway and 10th Ave. and a line from Main street to Stanly Park, that would double current bus ridership in two to three years, providing the revenue not only to pay operating costs, but to pay the dept servicing costs as well.

By doing so, it would be easy to find a transit company to plan, build and construct a LRT/streetcar line on the two routes with no cost to the taxpayer!

As well the LRT/streetcar service would replace buses operating on the route, thus saving TransLink a lot of money!

I am still laughed out of transit meetings when I repeat this, but of course, it is the same old TransLink/SkyTrain crowd the runs them; the same tired hacks that practice professional misconduct on a daily basis!

More recently, this quote from Gerald Fox, noted American transit experts should send chills down taxpayers spines.

"It is interesting how TransLink has used this cunning method of manipulating analysis to justify SkyTrain in corridor after corridor, and has thus succeeded in keeping its proprietary rail system expanding. In the US, all new transit projects that seek federal support are now subjected to scrutiny by a panel of transit peers, selected and monitored by the federal government, to ensure that projects are analysed honestly, and the taxpayers’ interests are protected. No SkyTrain project has ever passed this scrutiny in the US."

In Vancouver, the Luddites rein supreme! Tax and spend forever!

Monday, March 22, 2010


Historic American Moment

You can read the coverage of yesterday's health care decision in Washington in the New York Times or the Washington Post.

But no one wrote it up any clearer or better than the Globe's Konrad Yakabsuki:

The passage by the House of Representatives of Mr. Obama's $940-billion (U.S.) overhaul of the health-care system ranks with the 1935 creation of Social Security and the 1965 advent of Medicare as a milestone that will change the face and character of this country.

Presidents since Harry Truman have aspired to put the United States on the path to universal health insurance for all of its citizens, only to be out-manoeuvred by lobbyists and politicians who exploited Americans' innate suspicion of government to win the day.

That Mr. Obama got farther than all of them – farther than Kennedy, Nixon, Ford or Clinton – assures him of a legacy that only weeks ago seemed in doubt. It also infuses his presidency with a burst of renewed potential to build on.

It is discouraging that this struggle became so ugly, so partisan, so personal.

In the end, the vote hinged on Obama's promise to sign an executive order that would ban federal funding for abortion.

In spite of that, one rabid enthusiast managed to holler out "baby killer" during the debate.

The Republicans - unwilling to consider their nearly 50 million uninsured neighbours - referred to this bill as Obama Care and the vitriol spilled forth both in public and private places.

The cost of health care is double that of other Western nations with considerably less positive results and deliveries of service - unless, of course, you have the loot to pay for the best attention.

The President had moments ago to also abandon any hope of what was being called "the public option."

Americans, with their long-bred - and often admirable and healthy - streaks of individualism and dislike of big government simply cannot see their way to anything that would resemble that health care porgrams that define Canada, France and Great Britain, among others.

This enormous - admittedly flawed - step is a great triumph for citizens.

It is also a huge triumph for the President.

On both scores, I say, "Good on you!"


It is not often that we see a new thing.

This morning I saw a new thing.

A little bird - I think it's a junco - kept repeatedly flying off the pine tree in my front yard and onto a tiny sill on my bedroom window.

It would tap on the window several times and then flit off.

Only to return moments later and repeat this hopeless gesture.






You the know the cute little ferry boats that ply the False Creek waters between Granville Island and the rest of the known world?

There are two separate companies operating these. One has blue hulled boats and the other rainbow stripes.

Both were born just prior to Expo 86 and they have been thriving ever since, including expanding dock locations the outer reaches of Yaletown and the Science World.

What is important to remember at this juncture is that when these small businesses were first proposed, the sitting City Council scoffed.

"What do we need that for?"

Deja vu, baby.

Vancouver says goodbye to Olympic streetcar

Here's the central problem and what makes it all wrong for us:

It is apparently "very efficient, very clean, very fast."

Well, why the heck would we want that?

City staff have suggested it would cost $90-million in capital costs to buy cars, build a works yard and take other measures to make the streetcar permanent.

I don't believe that.

Do you?

The thing runs every six minutes less than 2 k and we already have one or two cars.

What do they need? An occasional lube 'n oil job?

There has got to be another story lurking in the salal here.

Vat is it, mein schatz?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tweet Tweet Tweet

To all my good fwends and fowowers...

Please note the little Tweety Bird off the the right hand margin.

This is to advise that you can now fowow me on Twitter.

My new Twitter account is called "BernerSpeaks."

If you are not alweady on my maiwing wist, you can cwick onto Twitter and sign up for reguwa notices about my daiwy bwog.

Wait for It

My Favorite Movie of All Time

Saturday, March 20, 2010


First we had The Age of Enlightenment.

Doesn't that seem galaxies away?

For now, it is all The Age of Entitlement.

Look at this pompous ass.

His name is Jean-Pierre Blackburn and he is your National Minister of Veterans Affairs.

God save us.

Here's his headline:

Tequila tantrum adds to Tory woe

Blackburn tried to board a recent flight with a bottle of booze in his hand.

Airport security stopped him.

He freaked.

Hey! I'm somebody! I have an office! Fax machines! Cell phones!

The press quotes me!

I eat in the Parliamentary dining room!

Blackburn is the second federal minister of recent days to pull the same stunt.

Helena Guergis, your Minister of State for Women, went postal in the Charlottetown airport in February.

Are these people mad?

I had security at Gatwick last month go through every little tissue and notebook in my shoulder bag.

I was mute.

This is the best policy around airport security.

Always has been, but especially these days.


I am not a Minister of Cups and Saucers, or Minister of State for Bacon & Eggs.

I do not feel entitled to break all the other rules that apply apparently to those other little people - as great and wonderful and unique as we can all agree I may be.

I do not ride my motor scooter through city parks, talk on my cell while driving or scream up snowy mountainsides in my over-revved lawn mower.

I am a good boy.

I am only entitled to my tiny fair share of the world.

Except, of course, on Wednesdays, when I go completely mad and ask for service at a store somewhere in Canada.

The Columns

On a day of little news that grabs me, I find solace in two consistently good Globe & Mail writers.

1. Christie Blatchford finds her neighbours busy renovating. Unfortunately so does the City of Toronto and so do all the pesky other neighbours.

In this modern urban tale, we get a taste of how the social compact has become the Home of the Busy Bodies.

Add a sundeck to your house? Raise the roof?

Just who the hell do you think you are, Buster?

Blatchford invokes the ghost of Jane Jacobs and wonders how will all find peace in our own back yards.

2. Konrad Yakabuski charts the final push for Obama's health care reforms. Yakabuski spells out the grave stakes with all the numbers and all the melodrama that is at hand.

I hope the President gets the votes he needs and passes this bill. As short and compromised as this legislation may be, it is something and it is necessary and it is way past due.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Something Wonderful Comes

1. The Three Tenors in Caracalla

Long before the Three Tenors and their handlers embarrassed themselves and everyone around them with one quirky show after another in football stadia around the globe, there was the original concert in Rome.

On a typical 159 channels-with-nothing-to-watch evening recently, I came across the first 1990 concert of Knowledge.


A spectacular setting on a gorgeous night.

At least twice, conductor Zubin Mehta looked absolutely transfixed by first one singer and then another. He seemed to stare in disbelief that someone could produce such beautiful sound and such powerful emotion.

2. Nixon in China

The Vancouver Opera's production of the John Adams opera, "Nixon in China" was fantastic.

The physical presentation was innovative and spectacular, often fooling us with stage tricks and misdirection.

The music and the singing and acting were sensational.

This is not for your average Puccini-Verdi fan.

This is ultra, ultra, ultra Philip Glass-like modern music and it takes a moment or two to get used to its own natural sound.

The video below is not the Vancouver production.

3. David in Venice

People often expect great reports from me when I come back from 3 weeks in Italy, as I did on March 2nd.

But the truth us...I often don't do much of anything.

Other than walk and gawk and drink coffee and read books.

In the evenings, I'm having dinner with friends, old and new.

Pretty exciting, yes?

Not really.

But always rejuvenating.

Always a fresh outlook on things.

Always the old Stones of Venice bring clarity and new ideas.

Nixon in China - The John Adams Opera

The Original Concert at Caracalla

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Most Dangerous Man

Many of us cherish the belief that Psychiatrists are among the craziest and most dangerous class of people in society.

I appreciate that this is an unhealthy categorical thinking that could be construed as "hate."

Or just a gentle warning to always listen carefully.

Today's example is chilling.

Psychiatrist says Greyhound bus killer could be released inside of 5 years

Vince Li stabbed, decapitated and dismembered 22-year-old Tim McLean in front of nearly three dozen horror-stricken witnesses on board a Greyhound bus outside Portage la Prairie, Man., in July 2008.

Li was suffering from untreated schizophrenia and psychotic delusions at the time.

Li was found not criminally responsible during his trial in March 2009. A provincial panel ruled ten months ago that the Chinese immigrant must be confined indefinitely under heavy security at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre.

Dr. Stanley Yaren, Li's original psychiatrist, said Monday that his former patient is making good progress in treatment — and could be released into the community in a matter of years.

"It's really a guess," Yaren said. "But I'm going to say a time frame within five years is not unrealistic.

"Relatively speaking, his response to treatment . . . has been better than average, somewhat faster than usual."

Here is my question.

Is there any possible explanation for how completely out of touch this psychiatrist is with reality?

Is there any possible explanation for how this psychiatrist is allowed to continue to practice?

Violent Young Offenders

Yesterday, we were babbling in this space about the Federal Government's considerations to let the public know the names and faces of violent young offenders, and the raising of such violent young offenders to adult court.

Today, the poster boy for this initiative appears.

The currently unnamed suspect (He was 17 darling years at the time of the offences - last year.) had been spending his free time drawing swastikas and the words "kill Jews" on mailboxes, synagogues and war memorials for Holocaust survivors.

For this he is being charged with mischief and "hate-related" charges.


I am a Jew.

I would like to know this sweet fellow's name.

I want to see his photo.

I want to know when to cross the street or grab a brick.

His "rights" are being protected by some perversion of bad thinking and legislation.

And my rights?

Open Court

TV cameras in BC courts?

By all means.

Bring it on.

.C. Attorney-General Mike de Jong says he would like to see cameras in the province's civil and criminal courts with a pilot project as soon as this fall.

“The justice system belongs to people that it is designed to serve and who pay for it,” said Mr. de Jong, who practised criminal and matrimonial law for six years before entering politics. “I am also very concerned about what I see is a growing disconnect between the justice system and the people,” he said yesterday in an interview.

There are those who are opposed, suggesting with some good sense that the players will begin the cameras that is.

This may be what comes to pass, but it is a small price for more transparency.

Of course, this being Canerda, we are looking at a "pilot project."

God forbid anyone in office should ever just make a decision and get behind it.

Unless, of course,m it means more tax revenue.


1. Are we surprised that Blockbuster is on the ropes?

Not really.

Netflicks, vending machines and Cable downloads of current hits have made your corner store look like log cabins.

I'm always surprised when I see that they're still open.

2. What does "branding" mean?

Check out the quarterly reports for Nike.

In spite of the Tiger Tale. profits have DOUBLED.

I don't know about you but I will drive another 10 blocks and endure more service indifference from non-existent clerks to avoid buying the swoosh.

Fortunately, the brand doesn't need meanies like me.

I remember a few days after the SUV crash seeing a middle-aged paunchy Chinese man in a Chinese restaurant wearing his sporty TW/NIke ball cap and thinking, "Like they've got something to worry about...right!"

Victor is Not an Obama Fan

Victor, whose comments are occasionally given free reign here, is my friend. We do not always agree on matters. This is such a case.

Ok, now I'm pissed.

I wonder how many of the Jewish glitterati who supported Obama are
surprised by his hard line on Israel. These glitterati included not
only the Hollywood types (Streisand, Geffen, Spielberg) but multi-
billionaires like Sergei Brin, co-owner of Google.

They made the assumption, I suppose, that a black president would be
empathetic to a minority like the Jews.

Damn, dumb fools. Not a month of street smarts among them. Not a week.

There is a strain of anti-Jewish sentiment among blacks that runs as
long and putrid as a piss stain on a wino's leg.

Remember Jessie Jackson's apology tour for his " Hymie" remarks.

Research Martin Luther King and savour his frequent and consistent
anti-Jewish rants. He hated Jews.

Understand, there are 250 million Moslems in Africa. Obama's dad was
born there.

I lived in Detroit when it burned in 67 and saw interviews with blacks
rejoicing about burning " Jew stores". Where did they come by that?
Well, I suppose that because Jews were a mercantile culture, they
opened a lot of small stores in the 19th and 20th centuries and had no
choice but to collect overdue bills from poor blacks buying shoes for
their kids. Would you want to have that conversation?

As for Obama, read carefully and think.

He is facing a close mid term election in November. He needs that
record black vote that got him elected.

Whether you like to think it or not, beating up on Jews, however
discreetly, scores well in some segments of the American black

Yes, I know, Hillary and Joe Biden echoed Obama's views.

A liar and a jerk.

Hillary, in her memoir, said she was shocked, shocked (cue Claude
Rains) to discover Bill had cheated.

As for Biden, Google "Biden and gaffes" and be prepared to spend an

I have remained an Israeli hawk for decades. It's self interest. Jews
gather patents and Nobel prizes in amazing numbers. They advance
science and save lives far beyond their small numbers.

Is George Clooney really waiting for the next medical miracle from

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Law & Order

Watch out, Kelowna.

The Cop Killer is coming to town.

Craig Munro, who shot and killed a police officer and let him bleed to death in 1980, has been denied parole from his life sentence, but he has been given instead a number of unescorted absences.

He killed the cop while he was out of prison on mandatory supervision.

Of course.

We trust that the RCMP in Kelowna will be keeping a close eye or two on Munro during his upcoming visits.

Now hold onto all of that scenario while we consider the fuss and bother being raised over the Harper government's moves to publicize the names of violent young offenders.

What is so amusing and so predictable is the name calling from those who oppose such a move.

Apparently, any of us who feel that a little taking of responsibility for one's actions - whether one is 14 or 40 - make us a unique sub-set of human Canadian beings.

We are the dreaded "Law and Order Crowd."


Let me get my noose.

I don't know about you, kids, but I see laws being broken with complete pathological indifference every day and I don't like it.

That qualifies me for membership in the Law & Order Crowd apparently.

Yesterday, as my son and I took a walk after breakfast, we saw a young man barrel through a city park on a very nice electric motor scooter.

The bike was silent and interesting and the fellow was wearing a helmet.

But he was driving on a pedestrian pathway in a city park.

What does he care?

On the way to breakfast, there was a brief traffic tie-up with horns blaring.

A man in a van was talking on his cell phone and he was so completely distracted that he basically had stopped in the middle of Broadway.

Now if a 16 year old lunatic pummels someone to death, it seems reasonable to me that he or she be tried in adult court and that we the public see his or her miserable little face and learn his or her fabulous name.

But I guess for the sociologists of the world that makes me - and most of you - Pale Riders.

So be it.

And by the way...

Could the Parole Board please send me an email and let me know when Craig the Cop Killer is going to be in Kelowna so I can book elsewhere?

P.R. in Place of Substance

Solicitor-General Kash Heed may welcome the distraction of avalanches and debates about regulating mountain speed junkies.

At least all of that roar distracts the public from his measly token gift to the growing problems of family violence.

The numbers are up and they are huge and they are growing each year.

To date, this is how police in BC study domestic violence.

They take a short on-line training course.





Kash to the rescue.

Almost 3 years after the Peter Lee murders in Victoria, Heed has announced a $250,000 fund to develop somethingorother.


In provincial spending...that's lunch money.

But let us not be too harsh on Mr. Heed.

We all know that the Holder of all Purses in British Columbia is the Premier.

A man deeply dedicated to matters of social justice.

What He Loves to Do

Tiger Woods may or may not win the Masters next month.

He may or may not win scads of future tournaments and, in time, supplant Nicklaus as the greatest all-time winner of majors.

But there is this certainty.

It will now be impossible to ever look at him again the way we did a year ago.

We know too much.

Way too much.

Tiger's friend, Mark O'Meara said this:

"...maybe the better palce to be is out on the golf course, that is what he loves to do."

Was O'Meara going out of his way to be funny?

That is what Tiger loves to do?

You mean in addition to serial sex with Bimbette of the Week?

I am not blaming Tiger or judging him.

I am saying that because of my own vivid imagination, watching Tiger from now on may be its own peculiar distraction.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sentimental Journey

A pollster has taken the Canadian public's pulse regarding the EQ (Emotional Intelligence) of Stephen harper & Iggy Pop.


Try my to speak...


"Pretty much any time you go into the back country, you're taking a risk. And you accept those risks every time you do. You have to be smart. But what happened isn't going to stop me from going up there today, tomorrow, the next day."