Thursday, March 31, 2011
Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May may or may not be a great addition to Parliament, to national political life or to fine dining. She may or may not have a one-note or full-piano agenda.
But we know these things for sure:
- She is running against Conservative incumbent, Gary Lunn, Minister of State for Sport.
- Mr. Lunn is the second worst parliamentarian in Canadian history, the worst, of course, being Hedy Fry.
- Elizabeth May is the leader of a federal party that gathered one million votes last time round and that collects substantial federal election spending from our federal government.
- A consortium of TV broadcasters (CBC, CTV, Global, Radio-Canada & TVA) have decided that Elizabeth May is not worthy of participation in televised debates.
Since when are entertainment conglomerates the rightful holders of democratic freedoms in this or any other country?
Barbara Yappy, in her column today, presents the oldest and dumbest argument in favour of the TV execs' decision: "They [the Green Party] are not part of the parliamentary play in this country. They have no seats in either the House of Commons or the Senate."
NEWS FLASH FOR BABS - IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO GET A SEAT IN THE HOUSE WHEN YOU ARE BANNED FROM PUBLIC EXPOSURE.
Is this what we really want in Canada? The same old, same old tired old white men babbling about the size of their...programs?
I say, "The more the merrier."
To date, Elizabeth May has not proven herself to be a circus clown, a pot advocate, a nun in politician's clothing or Linsay Lohan's evil twin.
She is the leader of a registered and legitimate political party.
It is unlikely that she or her candidate in my riding will get my vote.
But I do want to hear their arguments.
Maybe because I have this quaint, old fashioned notion of democracy.
One day I will grow up and think like the CBC.
Which, of course, will be the same day, I watch Peter Mansbridge interview someone.
Posted by David Berner at 8:38 AM
Monday, March 28, 2011
This is an election about nothing.
Jack Layton forced the election for the same reason that a dog licks himself - because he can.
This is an election about the three P's: Power, Politics and Putzes.
Harper may or may not be the warmest, cuddliest guy on earth, and you may not think of him first when you ask yourself, "Whom should I invite for coffee this morning?"
But so what? Has he wrecked the country? Has he done anything as criminal as the Liberal Sponsorship mess of a decade ago?
What are the issues for this election?
Health care? (Costs out of control. Service fabulous on Tuesdays, the shits on Wednesdays.) Education? (Third rate. Run by the Teachers' Unions.) Productivity? (Unknown. Less than zero. No skilled labour force. No apprentices.) The military? (Proud and in harm's way every day, unloved and under financed.)
Not at all. None of these issues is at play.
We are one of the least productive nations on earth. Our economy is run entirely by the service industries ("Can I put some Cinnamon sprinkles on that for you, Ma'am?) and foreign grabs on real estate. And the every diminishing natural resources.
This all a vainglorious $300 Million hit in the taxpayers' pocket.
It's all for cheesy sound bites and posturing.
I've reached the point where the sight of Mr. Mustache (Fast Eddy Felson, above) and Professor Iggy Pop actually make me sick.
I don't believe for a second that these stick figures have me or you at heart.
Eat a bagel, don a turban, kiss a baby - I'm throwing up already.
And no sooner will the poop from this Cavalia be shoveled off the sawdust, then we'll have to watch Christy Palin mount her steed and costs us another $100 Million or so.
Try keeping the libraries open instead.
Posted by David Berner at 8:50 AM
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Gavin Walker has been broadcasting "The Jazz Show" on CITR radio 101.9 FM continuously since 1984.
You can listen in every Monday from 9 to Midnight.
Gavin and I have only been friends for 45 years.
In this photo, taken March 19, by another local jazz aficionado, Ron Hearn, Gavin is wailing with Joey DeFrancesco at Corey Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club right here on West Broadway.
Gavin is not only a great historian, broadcaster, and story teller of the Jazz saga, but it doesn't hurt that he is( and has been for a lifetime) a sax and bass player and a guy with an astute, educated and trained ear.
Posted by David Berner at 9:31 AM
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Methadone is six times more addictive than heroin.
It is almost impossible to get free of a methadone addiction.
How do I know this?
Because for 44 years, since 1967, I have been dealing with addictions issues, for the first ten years running an abstinence program that is still turning our clean and sober citizens today.
I have never met an addict who profited in any way from using methadone.
Now, pharmacists, doctors, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists - they're a whole other bag of tea.
They make money on this poison. They build careers. They get to speak in public.
Here is yesterdays headline in the Vancouver Courier:
Residents oppose methadone clinic proposal in troubled Vancouver neighbourhood
Strathcona association pans planThe coverage by staff writer Sandra Thomas is, as always, excellent.
Let me assure you that this story has been going on for close to 50 years now. With startling regularity, some genius or other decides it's time to spread more of this disease. And, as always, the pusher (pharmacy/doctor/shrink) wants the latest clinic opened across from a school.
Let me assure you that this is what happens outside methadone clinics.
Dope fiends shoot dope.
So, methadone or no methadone, the addicts will be dealing drugs and behaving like sewer rats, all in full view of the neighborhood.
Their idiocy will infect everything around them. depend on it.
Their is no better place for a new methadone clinic.
Because methadone is a failed idea.
t simply doesn't work.
It only clouds the issue and makes matters worse.
Citizens in the Strathcona neighbourhood are right to oppose this sickness with all their might.
Posted by David Berner at 8:40 AM
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
For my money, the three most beautiful women ever to grace the screen were Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor.
It didn't hurt that all three were fine actresses.
Elizabeth Taylor died yesterday in Los Angeles. She was 79.
Read the most comprehensive obituary in the New York Times.
For over 700 photos, go to IMDB, The Internet Movie Database.
Below, you will find two videos.
The second is from "A Place in the Sun," the George Stevens 1951 film version of Theodore Dreiser's novel, "An American Tragedy."
The first is from one of my all-time favorite movies, "Giant," another George Stevens film (1956), this one taken from Edna Ferber's book of the same name.
In both movies, she is in love with a man played by a gay actor - Montgomery Clift an "A Place in the Sun," and Rock Hudson in "Giant."
In "Giant," Taylor, age 24 at the time of filming, plays a woman from the age of 15 or so to a grandmother in her 60's. She was magnificent.
She made some real duds, but she also made some of the best movies ever made including, in addition to the two mentioned here, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Her mad, unusual life was stormy and tempestuous and completely her own. She may have been half crazy for all we know, but she was utterly herself.
She was terribly clever and crafty about the ruthless movie business and amassed a small fortune.
She was known to be kind and caring and a great friend.
For better or for worse, for all, she was a part of our lives for so many years.
Posted by David Berner at 9:15 PM
Monday, March 21, 2011
There's an odd tone to this morning's front page headline in The Sun.
DRUNK DRIVERS CAN FACE SIX-WEEK WAIT FOR REQUIRED IGNITION DEVICE.
If drunk drivers face a six YEAR wait or six DECADE wait to get back on the road, that is just fine with me.
There are few people in our midst who are more hateful, irresponsible and unworthy of our sympathies than the barbarians who drink and drive.
It is not possible to be alive on this earth and have missed the message.
Of course, drinking drivers know that what they are doing is mortally treacherously wrong.
But, scariest of all - THEY DON'T CARE.
Yet, one gets the feeling reading this piece that somehow we are supposed to feel that these non-citizens are being hard done by.
Read the story and tell me what you think.
Posted by David Berner at 9:57 AM
Sunday, March 20, 2011
CHANGES ARE COMING ----
Posted by David Berner at 9:49 AM
Saturday, March 19, 2011
I'm currently still in one piece, writing from my room in the Narita crew hotel.
It's 8am. This is my inaugural trans-pacific trip as a brand new, recently
checked out, international 767 Captain and it has been interesting, to say the
least, so far. I've crossed the Atlantic three times so far so the ocean
crossing procedures were familiar.
By the way, stunning scenery flying over the Aleutian Islands. Everything was
going fine until 100 miles out from Tokyo and in the descent for arrival. The
first indication of any trouble was that Japan air traffic control started
putting everyone into holding patterns. At first we thought it was usual
congestion on arrival. Then we got a company data link message advising about
the earthquake, followed by another stating Narita airport was temporarily
closed for inspection and expected to open shortly (the company is always so
From our perspective things were obviously looking a little different. The
Japanese controller's anxiety level seemed quite high and he said expect
"indefinite" holding time. No one would commit to a time frame on that so I got
my copilot and relief pilot busy looking at divert stations and our fuel
situation, which, after an ocean crossing is typically low.
It wasn't long, maybe ten minutes, before the first pilots started requesting
diversions to other airports. Air Canada, American, United, etc. all reporting
minimal fuel situations. I still had enough fuel for 1.5 to 2.0 hours of
holding. Needless to say, the diverts started complicating the situation.
Japan air traffic control then announced Narita was closed indefinitely due to
damage. Planes immediately started requesting arrivals into Haneada, near Tokyo,
a half dozen JAL and western planes got clearance in that direction but then ATC
announced Haenada had just closed. Uh oh! Now instead of just holding, we all
had to start looking at more distant alternatives like Osaka, or Nagoya.
One bad thing about a large airliner is that you can't just be-pop into any
little airport. We generally need lots of runway. With more planes piling in
from both east and west, all needing a place to land and several now fuel
critical ATC was getting over-whelmed. In the scramble, and without waiting for
my fuel to get critical, I got my flight a clearance to head for Nagoya, fuel
situation still okay. So far so good. A few minutes into heading that way, I was
"ordered" by ATC to reverse course. Nagoya was saturated with traffic and unable
to handle more planes (read- airport full). Ditto for Osaka.
With that statement, my situation went instantly from fuel okay, to fuel minimal
considering we might have to divert a much farther distance. Multiply my
situation by a dozen other aircraft all in the same boat, all making demands
requests and threats to ATC for clearances somewhere. Air Canada and then
someone else went to "emergency" fuel situation. Planes started to heading for
air force bases. The nearest to Tokyo was Yokoda AFB. I threw my hat in the ring
for that initially. The answer - Yokoda closed! no more space.
By now it was a three ring circus in the cockpit, my copilot on the radios, me
flying and making decisions and the relief copilot buried in the air charts
trying to figure out where to go that was within range while data link messages
were flying back and forth between us and company dispatch in Atlanta. I picked
Misawa AFB at the north end of Honshu island. We could get there with minimal
fuel remaining. ATC was happy to get rid of us so we cleared out of the
maelstrom of the Tokyo region. We heard ATC try to send planes toward Sendai, a
small regional airport on the coast which was later the one I think that got
flooded by a tsunami.
Atlanta dispatch then sent us a message asking if we could continue to Chitose
airport on the Island of Hokkaido, north of Honshu. Other Delta planes were
heading that way. More scrambling in the cockpit - check weather, check charts,
check fuel, okay. We could still make it and not be going into a fuel critical
situation ... if we had no other fuel delays. As we approached Misawa we got
clearance to continue to Chitose. Critical decision thought process. Let's see -
trying to help company - plane overflies perfectly good divert airport for one
farther away...wonder how that will look in the safety report, if anything goes
Suddenly ATC comes up and gives us a vector to a fix well short of Chitose and
tells us to standby for holding instructions. Nightmare realized. Situation
rapidly deteriorating. After initially holding near Tokyo, starting a divert to
Nagoya, reversing course back to Tokyo then to re-diverting north toward Misawa,
all that happy fuel reserve that I had was vaporizing fast. My subsequent
conversation, paraphrased of course...., went something like this:
"Sapparo Control - Delta XX requesting immediate clearance direct to Chitose,
minimum fuel, unable hold."
"Negative Ghost-Rider, the Pattern is full" <<<>
"Sapparo Control - make that - Delta XX declaring emergency, low fuel,
proceeding direct Chitose"
"Roger Delta XX, understood, you are cleared direct to Chitose, contact Chitose
Enough was enough, I had decided to preempt actually running critically low on
fuel while in another indefinite holding pattern, especially after bypassing
Misawa, and played my last ace...declaring an emergency. The problem with that
is now I have a bit of company paperwork to do but what the heck.
As it was - landed Chitose, safe, with at least 30 minutes of fuel remaining
before reaching a "true" fuel emergency situation. That's always a good feeling,
being safe. They taxied us off to some remote parking area where we shut down
and watched a half dozen or more other airplanes come streaming in. In the end,
Delta had two 747s, my 767 and another 767 and a 777 all on the ramp at Chitose.
We saw to American airlines planes, a United and two Air Canada as well. Not to
mention several extra Al Nippon and Japan Air Lines planes.
Post-script - 9 hours later, Japan air lines finally got around to getting a
boarding ladder to the plane where we were able to get off and clear customs. -
that however, is another interesting story.
By the way - while writing this - I have felt four additional tremors that shook
the hotel slightly - all in 45 minutes.
Posted by David Berner at 12:11 PM