Thursday, June 30, 2011

LET GO!


Until yesterday, the great Roger Federer has been 178-0 when leading two sets to none in a five-set major tennis match.

Yesterday at Wimbledon, the six-time champion blew that 2 set lead and lost in five to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Full credit to Tsonga who never faltered for a moment and drove through like a determined mad man to push Federer off the court.

But for those of us who have follwed Fed from the beginning and marvelled over and over again at his sublime athleticism and mind-boggling shot-making, Fed' s performance was more than disappointing.

It was downright annoying and frustrating.

How can you fault a guy who has experienced such success for his methodology?

Well, you can.

Federer has the most wonderful belief in himself, and that's understandable. He has 16 major singles titles, more than any other player.

But sometimes that belief gets in his way.

Yesterday, the commentators during the first two sets kept saying, "Federer's on cruise control."

And they were right.

Unfortunately, he stayed on cruise control for the next hour or so and lost the match.

He did that because he seems always to believe that he will pull this out of the hat.

What he had to do instead was let go of his stoic exterior and FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT.

He settled back on his heels into a largely defensive game exactly when he needed to fire out on all cylinders.

Easy enough for me to say, I realize.

Many of us are looking forward to witnessing more history when Roger Federer collects his 17th and 18th and maybe more Grand Slam trophy.

But it won't happen with the current game plan.

I had the extraordinary pleasure of watching Boris Becker in person at the Italian Open turn around a losing proposition by sheer will and determination. You could see on his face the thought that went something like this, "Who are you kidding? I am Boris Becker! Get out of my way, Buddy!"

Like millions of tennis fans, I am waiting to see Roger turn on the same kind of juice when he needs to...and against the quality of players now in his path, he will need to many times.

THE BEAT GOES ON


Recently, I posted a monologue that began, "All governments are corrupt."

Soon I received the following note from my friend and colleague of many years, Mike Harcourt:

Jeez David what the hell did you put in your 10 th Ave cappuccino to write such a bitter and twisted diatribe!
Mike H


So I replied:


Hi Mike,
I am sorry that you found this monologue bitter and twisted or that you may have taken personal offense.
There are good people doing good work with the best motivations in every walk of life, including elected officials and public servants.
But the systems themselves, I believe, are by nature, corrupting.
The evidence is before us every day.
This is simply a call to remain ever vigilant.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that 50% of all government employment and activities are useless, senseless sops. The cost of government is and has been for a long time completely out of any reasonable control.
If you'd like to characterize these observations as “bitter and twisted,” you are free to do that.
But I am a happy guy. I enjoy life.
And I enjoy the freedom to laugh at the Emperor’s New Clothes.
Cheers,

Then Mike closed the discussion with:

David,Vancouver's budget goes to Police,Fire and Engineering services-75 %. Most of the rest is for our fabulous parks and recreation system,culture. The rest is to manage planning and development,and collect taxes and fees to pay for these basic services to citizens.
If you examine the provincial budget 75 % goes to health,education and social services. Most of the rest-20% goes to transportation and the administration of justice.
The national government's $200 billion budget almost 1/2 flows back to individuals as OAP,CCP and other direct income transfers;or equalization payments to poorer provinces;or health,education or social service cost sharing. A huge chunk of the remaining budget is for defence,prisons and other basic functions.
Now agreed there is some waste,dubious programs,incompetence,and some lying self serving politicians and civil servants(a very small number in my experience).
Compared to the sub prime mortgage,real estate scammers,bankers,bond rating agencies who trashed the world economy in 2008,who should you be venting your wrath at?
Just trying to bring a little perspective to these issues old pal. Not to take it too personally. To be continued.
Mike H

I have posted this lively debate with Mike's permission.

Soon, we will meet at a White Spot for our quarterly breakfast and the arguments and laughs and camaraderie will continue.

Mike Harcourt is a former Mayor of Vancouver and Premier of the Province of British Columbia and not a bad Sunday tennis player. Neither of us got to Wimbledon.

PERSPECTIVE from SUSAN HEYES


Where is the relief fund from multi-billion dollar SNC Lavalin, and their “ DEAR CAMBIE MERCHANTS: I LOVE YOU ” tee shirts”?

Where is any accountability for the many years of unmitigated relentless losses caused by the built-for-profit Canada Line project?

The healing needs to begin for merchants who have had their life’s work torched by all the Canada Line partners.

Susan

Riot relief fund for small businesses launched in Vancouver

VIVIAN LUK

Vancouver— Globe and Mail Update
Published Tuesday, Jun. 28, 2011 3:02PM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, Jun. 28, 2011 3:06PM EDT

Small businesses that are struggling to cover insurance premiums or other repair costs resulting from riot damages can now apply for up to $7000 from a relief fund co-ordinated by the Vancouver Economic Development Commission.

Contributors to the fund, called the Vancouver Restoration Fund, aim to raise $150,000 to help about 55 downtown Vancouver businesses that suffered damages to windows, doors, furniture, fixtures and equipment during the Stanley Cup riot on June 15.

Both Vancity and Telus have contributed $50,000 each, while sports merchandise store The Fan Zoo is hoping to raise the same amount from selling #DEARVANCOUVER: I LOVE YOU T-shirts. To The Point Tattoo will be donating a percentage of its revenues to the fund.

“Vancouverites were in need of a way to come together and show their pride and appreciation for their city,” said Bobby Atwal, president of The Fan Zoo in a statement. “This is about supporting the businesses that serve all of us in the downtown core and in many cases they missed watching playoff games themselves while they served us.”

Businesses can go to vancouvereconomic.com for details about applications and donations.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

STATE OF THE ONION


All governments are corrupt.

Some are just more tainted than others.

There can be no other way.

Whether elected by ballot or propelled by sticks and stones, the inhabitants of the castle are always playing with the coin of the realm.

That is, your money.

The kings, prime ministers, presidents, despots-for-life, kleptogenerals or whatever title they may wrap about their shoulders have not been tending the fields or the flock, re-soling the shoes or sailing the rugged waters to bring back bounty from distant lands.

They have been taxing or stealing or muscling funds from the people who work - you.

Not all government actions are dreadful.

Just most.

Occasionally, a man nor woman in government will do a good deed. They will treat some poor local sufferer with kindness. They will act reasonably.

This is the exception, not the rule.

The official story is always suspect.

If not an outright lie, it is at the least a marvelous thigh-slapping whopper.

Take the Canadian Senate...please.

You work.

Larry Campbell plays.

He has air fares, secretaries, lunches and a life-time sinecure.

Triple E senate is a three-Monte scam. The only reasonable senate is no senate. We don't need one. We need to spend our billions of dollars on other things.

The police are in disarray. Not just at Georgia and Homer, but across the country. Demoralized, understaffed, without leadership and clarity.

Every day, some school trustee or Member of Parliament or other elected or appointed official is found criminally responsible for some felony or other - theft, fraud, sexual misconduct, addictions, madness, lack of humour.

The teachers' union doesn't want their members to be scrutinized too closely for job performance. No tests, no evaluations. And that's just for the students. No matter. The kids are taking the tests anyway and doing just fine.

How are we to impress upon those who run for office and then how are we to remind them that this is public money with which they are playing their childish games.

You have your own personal fortunes? Good. Go ahead. Build bike lanes that no one uses.

Tear up main streets and destroy small businesses.

Open places for drug addicts to be drug addicts and for prostitutes to be prostitutes and call this progress.

On your own dollar, please.

All governments are corrupt.

In 2001, friends picked me up at Inchon airport and drove me into Seoul over the cleanest, firmest, straightest piece of highway I have ever seen. I asked from the back seat, "Who's cousin got the cement contract?" My hosts thankfully didn't get my impolite joke.

The next morning I came downstairs to the breakfast room in the hotel (Korean, American and Japanese breakfasts on tap), chose my fare and opened up the English language newspaper.

What was the headline story?

The Highway Cement Scandal.

Somebody's cousin was at the center of the story.

All governments are corrupt.

If you even knew how many people are working, for example, for the Canadian federal government in this city doing obscure, unnecessary, largely political backroom jobs that add nothing to the common weal, you would throw up. These faceless bastards have six-figure jobs. They are plotters and plodders. They are deemed necessary to the smooth working of your government. They all have i Phones.

All governments are corrupt.

Some are just more corrupt than others.

They are playing with your money.

They are naughty, irresponsible children.

We mustn't take them too seriously.

They are good targets for fun and ridicule.

Friday, June 24, 2011

ARAB SPRING

Low Productivity? Pish Tosh!


Who says Canada is a real slug in the productivity department?
Link
No longer!

Canada is a leading source of synthetic drugs: report


So there, ye of little faith.

Turns out we have much about which we can crow.

The entire glorious tale is here in today's Globe.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'M, LIKE, SO BETTER NOW


Two wonderful new entries in The Riot Stakes had me in stitches this morning.

Gawd! I love a morning laugh!

Here's the first:

NO TALK OF POSSIBLE TROUBLE ON GAME DAY.

Apparently, the secret words of the day - "trouble" and "riot" crossed nobody's happy lips at the Police Board meeting.

The Police Chief and the Mayor were both in attendance.

Hahahahahahaha...

OK. That was pretty good.

But the second Class in Public Mythology 304 was even funnier.

Bike Lane Chicken Coop Puppet Mayor has assembled a Spin Group called 'THE VANCOUVER BRAND TEAM."

Hahahahahahahahahahaha...

Ain't life here in Oz just swell, Dorothy?

The Team's job?

Glad you asked.

Sitting down?

Here it comes...

"Community Healing."

Isn't that nice?

I have a question.

When did this spittle borrowed from the lexicon of "grief counseling," enter the public realm and find spurious legitimacy?

If I hear from the mouth of another anchor desk newscaster the word "healing," I am going to hurl all over my tiny retro-TV.

The official story managers are all hard at work. The consultants are all on board. Full steamed latte ahead!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fun Exchange


Anonymous Jeff Taylor said...

David, if you want to see the real reason our society is in so much trouble, please take a moment to read this blog written by a young woman whom recently came out from behind the riot's shadows. I couldn't believe what I was reading !

http://camillecacnioapology.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/dear-vancouver-i-am-sorry/#comment-436

June 20, 2011 12:13 PM

Delete
Blogger David Berner said...

Dear Jeff Taylor,

I have read with interest the blog post you quoted above and I have watched the video of her running out of the store with STOLEN GOODS, and I must say that I don't buy one word of it.

There is something essentially wrong with this young woman's character.

After her apology, she might try paying for the window and the STOLEN GOODS and cleaning up the city streets every night for a month or two.

She is like so many people sitting on the bus next to us.

She wears the easy veneer of civility, while not far below the surface she is a savage.

The worst thing about global warming is the loss of ice flows.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Great Comment Line


"It will happen again if Vancouver's idiot mayor continues to live in his own personal bike lane chicken coop dream world."

Hahahahaha...

Bravo!

THE BIG ENGINE

GREASE


We are an adolescent culture.

It is commonplace to see a 60 year old woman in a classically cut business suit and heels, her briefcase on the floor next to her, having a cafe or a small glass of white wine at 10 in the morning in a bar in Italy.

Here men and women schlepp about in public in fleece warm-up pants with rude messages emblazoned on their bums.

You could say we are laid back.

Or maybe we are just klutzes.

We certainly are careless and childish in our drinking habits and behaviours.

I have visited Venice, Italy 18 or 19 times since 1995, each stay for two weeks to a month. I have been out late many times. In all those visits, I have seen two men drunk and neither was a threat to anyone.

I have never heard hollering - except, of course, when I made the mistake of walking past the soccer stadium one afternoon, when VANCOUVER almost broke out.

Today's headlines are a pathetic joke.

SIGNS OF HEALING

To quote McEnroe, "You cannot be serious."

It is nice that a handful of decent citizens have shown up with their brooms and masking tape. They are good folk and we thank them.

But this Neanderthal madness cannot be dismissed that easily.

POLICE CHIEF PROMISES AN INTERNAL REVIEW

How about a competence test?

No one faults the stand-up performance of the officers who were put in harm's way the other night by the complete lack of foresight on the part of their superiors.

Whatever numbers of police had been deployed at the outset is half what the situation deserved. whatever barriers and corridors had been created in advance are a third of what was reasonably called for.

This was SOOOOOOOO PREDICTABLE.

We are a blue-jean wearing, stomping, goof-ball adolescent culture.

There is nothing even mildly amusing about how rude and crude we are.

What was learned from '94?

Nothing.

MAYOR SAYS BLAH, BLAH, BLAH

Go ahead. Invite 100,000 valueless children to congregate downtown. Why would anything untoward occur?

The man one commenter calls Mayor Moonbeam lives in a dopey dream.

And so do so many fellow Canadians.

There are no mortar shells whistling overhead.

Or bombs exploding on buses.

Or interrogation cells. Or extermination camps.

We are blessed by this peaceful beautiful country.

And cursed by its bounty.

We live in Fantasy Land.

Nothing bad can happen here. Until it does.

People are good. They always behave well. We are nice.

Excuse me while I wretch.

"This isn't the real Vancouver," rings the chorus of the permanently deluded.

OK.

You're right.

None of this happened.

We are nice.

We will investigate this rare moment of NOT NICENESS and chronicle it and bag it and put it on the shelf.

That was a two per cent decaf WITH the cinnamon sprinkles! GOD!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

DEEP PURPLE DISGUST


Cutesy-Boy Puppet Mayor posed against a backdrop of burning police cars tells us with a straight face once again that "We are a World Class City."

You cannot write satire this rich.

These pointless, gormless, brainless thugs with no identity and no purpose feel ENTITLED to destroy public and private property.

There are riots these days in Guangzhou province in China and in Athens, Greece and in half the capitol cities of the Middle East. But these disturbances are about work and food and human rights and democracy. They are understandable.

We smash bank windows over a hockey game?

I cannot accept that the police had been properly organized and dispersed in the first place. If they had, not a tenth of the madness that ensued could have happened.

We have proven ourselves to be goofs and fools and most of us are deeply shamed.

Do these cave dwellers have families? Brains? Values?

Do we?

Monday, June 13, 2011

THE LESSON

BRAVO!


It is a rare night indeed when I am in tears at the end of a concert performance.

But that is exactly what happened on Saturday night before a packed and deliriously appreciative house at the Orpheum.

The VSO and James Ehnes, who have collaborated on a number of recording projects over the years, absolutely nailed the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.

This is a famous and popular piece.

But it is notoriously difficult to play, both for the orchestra and for the soloist. The rhythms and tempi change abruptly, the moods shift and slide and there are often more notes per square inch than any mere mortal should be able to produce.

Ehnes, playing no less than a Strad, was lyrical and dynamic and full of a thousand colours.

And Maestro Bramwell Tovey was possessed.

It didn't hurt that Ehnes quietly came back to the stage and blessed us with an exquisite little Bach sonata for an encore. Wow!

A ton of standing, shouting Bravos for all concerned.

The video above features Mr. Ehnes talking about and playing sections of the Tchaikovsky.

SLEEPERS


Dirk and the Two Jasons were sensational.

The richly deserve the NBA championship they stole from Miami last night.

But tell me.

Have you ever seen a professional sports team choke and wimp out as badly as the Heat did in the last few games.

LeBron James is supposed to be the best there is.

He didn't even show up.

Just sort of wandered around the parquet like a guy looking for a hot dog and a beer.

Maybe the Heat can be fined for Failure to Appear.

Maybe multi-millionaire athletes should try a little harder.

Meanwhile, never thought I'd cheer on a Dallas team in any sport, but the Mavs were absolutely great in every department.

SKOOL DAZE, PART 987,231


The Sun has a full page report on Education this morning.

Here's the gripping headline:

December-born children at a disadvantage

Link

Study shows youngest kids are 12% less likely than older peers to graduate on time

Why not go right back to reading bumps on heads or isolating lefties?

A much more enlightening, but not very politically correct, article about Education can be found in this month's Atlantic magazine.

This excellent piece by Joel Klein, the prosecutor who took on the software giant Microsoft, tells a simple but chilling story about New York Schools. The exact conclusions could have been reached if he had studied BC schools:

Teachers, not parents or income class, are the single biggest determinant in how a child does in school.

But, thanks to controlling teachers unions (Here it is the BCTF.) teachers can not be graded, assessed or held in any way accountable for their performance.

There are almost no politicians on earth who are prepared to take on these unions and bring some measured quality to the classroom.




OH BOY


Franklin the Turtle is a boy.

Shame on him.

He, and all the other dominating sexist boy animal characters in children's books, are warping the minds and hearts of little girls everywhere.

These are the conclusions drawn in a 227-page study led by sociologist Janice McCabe of Florida State University.

Poor Janice.

Poor family and friends of Janice.Link
Just another excellent argument for more children staying out of University and going into auto mechanics and plumbing - regardless of their gender.

This is what is funded?

This is scholarship?



Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Future of Entertainment

YES YES YES


To quote, Molly Bloom from Joyce's Ulysses, "Yes, I said, yes, I will, yes."

Of course, in that instance, the lady was getting fucked.

Oh, but then, so are we.

So, here is the HST referendum dumdum question that, depending on rotating postal strikes, will soon arrive at your door:

"ARE YOU IN FAVOUR OF EXTINGUISHING THE HST AND REINSTATING THE PST IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE GST?"

If you answer "Yes," that means you want the HST drop-kicked through the goal posts of life.

The question is confusing and a double-negative and a bit of a sham at heart because who knows what the administration will actually do with the results. Has anyone said this exercise is binding, other than around our hearts?

Nevertheless, harken not the business and government interests that have been bombarding you with lies and bolder lies. I kept waiting for leaflets to flutter down from the skies overhead.

The HST is one way or another more tax money for more bloated government.

The only reasonable answer is YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES.

DITTO


Yesterday, I wrote in this space about the fine job all local politicians are doing using and abusing "ethnic" communities for cheap and ready votes.

I am not alone in my sentiments.

Read Vaughn Palmer in today's Sun for more of the same.

The sub-headline gives a hint of what's to follow:

Hundreds of Surrey residents joined both NDP and Liberals, and that abuse needs to stop


TRAVEL TIPS


Get elected.

In 2007 and 2008, David Cadman, Vancouver City councillor, spent $59,000 of taxpayer, public money for trips to Poland, Korea, New York, Amsterdam, Bonn, Barcelona, Honolulu, Geneva, Bali, Kyoto and Auckland.

That's The Cad, featured in the photo.

He's smiling because he's just had a wonderful meal at your expense and he's going to photograph exotic animals after the conference.

I want that money back.

And all the other money that all the other elected vampires spent in business class airplane seats and first class hotel rooms around the world.

Can we launch a class action suit against these honorable men and women?

For theft and fraud and misuse of public trust.

Friday, June 10, 2011

TEA FOR TWO


"South Asians" apparently hold all keys to democracy in British Columbia.

South Asians is codeword for Indian and Pakistani, as far as I can understand this term when used in the context of voting and elections.

Three years ago in a public forum, I dared to question the decency and usefulness of busing in hundreds of elderly new immigrants who didn't speak English or French, who had no idea of local history and who knew nothing of the candidates on the ballots. These people cast votes. Their votes were decisive in election results.

The words were barely out of my mouth when Kerry Jang, then a Vision slate candidate for Vancouver City Council, and now a Vision slate Vancouver City Councillor, leapt to his feet enraged.

Of course, he accused me of racism, among other crimes.

After the public debate, Jang stood in front of me and glared.

When I asked him what he wanted, he hissed, "I know you!"

I assured him he knew nothing about me, and ended with the ever graceful, "F--- off!"

Interesting, therefore, to read the morning headline:

B.C. Liberal, NDP leadership races saw same people sign up for both parties

followed by this:

"Several hundred Surrey residents held dual memberships in the B.C. Liberal Party and provincial NDP when both parties were holding their leadership campaigns earlier this year.

It was well known that organizers for candidates in both parties were aggressively signing up South Asians in Surrey during the leadership contests..."

So, your Mr. Gill and my Mr. Gill loves both political parties equally.

Isn't that nice?

Isn't that exactly what we want all Canadians to understand about political process?

Isn't that what we teach in civics class?

Oh, I forgot.

We don't teach civics class.

Pity.

Only in Canada, you say?






Thursday, June 9, 2011

CHILD PROTECTION

UNCIVIL


An editorial in the Vancouver Sun this morning contains disturbing information.

In the wonderful world of hate crimes, nobody is more targeted more often than Jews.

There are only about 300,000 of us in all of Canada.

Less than one per cent of the Canadian population.

Were the 25th ethnic group out of 25.

Yet we suffer more hate crimes than blacks, gays, Muslims and presumably alley cats put together.

I have a neighbor who is a wonderful old man. Much accomplished and very creative.

I've always been very fond of him.

Until about a year and a half ago when he told me about what "the Hebrews are doing to the Palestinians."

The Hebrews.

It wasn't since I was a kid in the north end of Winnipeg that I heard the phrase, "dirty Hebe."

I told my neighbor that I was shocked by his comment and that this expression showed an appalling ignorance of many things, including history, ancient and modern.

I can barely say Hello these days as I pass him in the street.

And the numbers of hate crimes against all peoples and groups is on the rise.

ALMOST JUSTICE


We really have our eyes on the prize here in BC.

We spend millions of fabulous new court rooms. Good.

But the, oops, we cut the budget for police to supervise the trails that are supposed to take place in these fancy new court rooms. Not so good.

34 sheriff positions have been cut.

Result?

No trials can be held.

Back logs.

Bad guys waiting trial.

Justice delayed is justice denied.

But why spend money on justice when you can build a new stadium roof or a big dam that nobody wants?

LITTLE MOUNTAIN IS A SCANDAL


I've got an idea.

Let's displace 220 families from inexpensive social housing they've enjoyed for many years.

We can sell the property to someone in Asia (a favorite Vancouver past time), have them screw up and not get along with the city and choke on some other grandiose downtown projects and then have the property city empty for years on end afterwards.

Won't that be fun?

And helpful?

And humane and considerate of poor people.

Jeff Lee has chronicled exactly this little local nightmare in this morning's piece of the Little Mountain debacle, which could easily outrun the Olympic Village for incompetence and idiocy except that it's not as sexy and chichi.

This project is so off the map that,three years after almost everyone was booted, plans for the site have yet to be drawn.

Nice planning.

Now, this story will not hold the public's attention because it is not about waterfront condos.

And that's a tragedy.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pea and Shell Game


BC Federation of Labour President, Jim Sinclair has nailed it.

The HST can't be fixed.

And all the taxpayer money aimed at PR campaigns to convince us that it can is nonsense and misuse of public funds.

Look at this photo.

3 salesmen 3

Snake oil, anyone?

Bull's Eye


Madame Families First has inherited the highest poverty rate in the country.

Does she have a plan?

Not that we've heard.

Targets? Goals?

Yes, she's increased the minimum wage. Good start.

And?

And?Link

INSIDE JOB


Psychopaths abound.

It's not exactly that they are everywhere, butt if you count the middle-aged Caucasian women who park vans in handicapped spots (It's just for minute!) and the people who drive the wrong way down one way streets, their numbers are considerable.

Now, we have the local police officer whose hobby was nurturing the homeless to be his personal agents in his thriving Mary Jane biz.

Can you get much lower than this?

And what happened to the psych profile at the entrance exam?

"When a police officer engages in the kind of outrageous criminal conduct that Peter Hodson (pictured above) displayed, the damage to public confidence and the hard-won reputation of the VPD is incalculable," Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu said. "In violating his oath of office, Peter Hodson betrayed himself, his colleagues and the public in the most shameful way."