Down on the Corner, out in The Street...

Over the weekend I took part in the New Democrats' province-wide Neighbour to Neighbour canvass. Fixed election dates have changed the dynamic of campaigning in BC, meaning that we have to be on the streets 9 weeks before the election because the Liberals have started to roll out their heavy-duty-feel-good-flying-mountain arsenal of TV ads 9 weeks before the election. Mind you, to a casual observer, getting intense about the election at this point must be like handing out the World Series trophy two weeks into Spring Training.

Nonetheless, I was at Grandview Park along Commercial Drive with (The Unsinkable) Jenny Kwan, the only NDP MLA seeking re-election on May 17. She won Vancouver - Mount Pleasant with over 60% of the vote in 2001, but I was still somewhat anxious to be out there, given the volume of Believe BC/Best Place on Earth/Spirit of 2010 anvils the Liberals have been dropping over the past few months to pummel the public consciousness into submission.

In the course of a few hours Saturday afternoon, my 2003 move to East Vancouver was solidly validated. Just about everyone who came by took the pamphlets, those who didn`t said it was because they already knew they were voting NDP. There were some passers by who were difficult, like the woman who was upset about Carole James "cozying up to business". I spent 13 years in Calgary, where just about any picket or rally I went to was met with admonishments of "f**king socialist" or "get a job" or "go back to Vancouver". Wow - these people got their wish from me on all three counts! If anything, I never thought I'd see the day that someone would be barking me up for being too right wing.

The guy who actually made the afternoon most difficult was either Gordon Campbell, or whoever at head office decided to put Gordon Campbell's photo on the front of the pamphlet with the caption "Can you really trust another four years of Gordon Campbell?" I counted at least 13 people who initially refused to take the pamphlet thinking it was from the Liberals. It got to the point where we started turning pamphlets over or refolding them so it was Carole James' image we were extending to people. It was bright out, but I don't think that was the cause of the squinting - you could almost see the gears turning in people's heads that maybe it's true the party has a new leader, and Glen Clark really has torn up his membership to go sell Jimmy Pattison's used cars!

I know that one can't tell May 17 from February 26, but if one thing is for certain, it's not June 15, 2001. The Liberals might chant "BC's back" but so is the consciousness of a good chunk of the electorate after shaking off their media brainwashing.


A Shout Out to RevMod and the whole crew! Peace out!

(insert phat beats here)

Prowl the online wildnerness untamed - Flamin' all da suckas who got to be flamed - the revolution grows as I bust the prose - right wingers can't take all of my body blows - from Sea to Sky to the Interior, my commentary is superior to the Vancouver Sun or the National Post - an earthquake of truth to rock the west coast....

....Wow. Maybe bloggers and rappers are separated at birth.....


The Sky's The Limit

U.S. Ambassador Paul Celluci says that in rejecting the Bush Administration's Ballistic Missile Defence plan, Canada has relinquished its sovereignty over its airspace.

Of course Celluci relinquished sovereignty over the airspace between his ears a long time ago, but still, I'm sure that the U.S. military can handle Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and vigilantly patrol a region that stretches from the 49th parallell to the Arctic Circle.

Isn't the most important thing about a show of force having someone around to see it?


I'm on my own

Unless they interrupt '24' with breaking news about Gordon Campbell's new puppy, I've officially ended my abusive relationship with any news and information programming from CanWest Global.

A call to the circulation department this morning ended the delivery of the Vancouver Sun to my doorstep. The operator wanted to know why I was breaking up with them. Here's my answer.

Before the split they were trying to win me back by sending me the Province for free on Sundays. I really hope I don't have to take out a restraining order.


Football Update

With a few weeks left before the two-minute warning, our score is:

Howe Street Briefcase Bandits 46
East Side Lunchpail Rebels 40

Despite their impressive air attack, the Bandits haven't been able to pull away from the Rebels, largely due to the Rebels punishing ground game.

Trailing by less than a converted touchdown, coach Carole James and her squad still have the chance to pull off the upset of the cenutry if they stick to the game plan and don't fumble the ball.

One other score to report:

Granola Hypocrites 11
Interior Extremists 2

Adrienne Carr's expansion team continues to show their ability to cut left or right whenever it suits them, and may yet stay out of the basement in the standings.


Postcards from the Fringe

Today's Vancouver Sun ran a round up of B.C.'s fringe political parties as they approach the May 17 election.

It is a CP wire story, but in opting to run it, the CanWest cabal has sorely disappointed Adrienne Carr and her Green Party syncophants. In 2001, BC's media salivated over the prospect over the Liberals "killing" the NDP "once and for all", and essentially used the prospect of the Greens usurping the NDP's position on the "left" to add insult to injury. Adrienne Carr got a free pass to the televised leaders debate (where she told her "left" leaning supporters that she "trusts business to do the right thing", and parrotted whatever Gordon Campbell said about putting the boots to nurses, teachers, and transit drivers) plus considerable face time on the front page of the Sun.

You might have heard the "cancel my subscription!" scream echoing from the Sunshine Coast this morning, as it appears that Adrienne's media sugar daddy has turned on her, lumping the Greens once again with Reform, Marijuana, and the new Democratic Reform BC (Dr. BC) as a FRINGE party. To make matters worse, the Dr. has a leg up on the rest of the fringe by having an MLA (Elaine Brezinger) in the legislature.

Traditional Greens take the position of "not left or right, but forward", whatever that means. Carr opted to accepts Canwest's labelling of her party on the left, and has suffered the consequences. Voters betrayed by the Campbell Liberals are going back to the NDP, which, despite its more moderate stance under Carole James, still have more traditional left-wing chops than the shrill, opportunistic Greens. In the meantime, Dr. BC has tried to plant itself as squarely in the middle as possible, much like the BC Liberals did in 1991.

In 1991, having moderates shave votes from the right elected the moderate left. In 2005 it could happen again, but it won't be the Greens: taking postions from the radical left and mixing them with a few from the radical right doesn't make you moderates, it just makes you confused.


No TGIF in Kitsap County

Commissioners in Kitsap County (near Seattle) have banned the use of acronyms during meetings.

Commissioners caught abbreviating are subject to cash fines forwarded to tsunami relief efforts. If this idea spreads across the country, maybe Americans could get an idea of what the PATRIOT Act is really about.


The Sound of One Man Clapping

Remember back in the winter of 2001, when the Liberals were jacked about taking over the legislature to the point that they couldn't keep up their opposition duties anymore? Gordon Campbell ordered his caucus to stop asking questions during Question Period and the Liberals refused to debate what was left of the NDP's legislative agenda. It was like watching a bunch of spoiled brats on Xmas Eve bolting for bed early with the expectation of a huge payoff from Santa.

After Campbell and Co. successfully bullsh*tted the electorate to a 77 seat majority, the Liberals retained their contempt for parliamentary tradition, deciding that they didn't need an Official Opposition to hold them accountable. I'm sure on the days Joy MacPhail wasn't in the house, Gordo must have been getting off at being able to sneer across the room at Jenny Kwan, reliving the glory days when she was the only COPE Councillor while he was Mayor at Vancouver City Hall. Nothing like a strong whiff of arrogance (and some really stiff martinis) to get through your midlife crisis.

3 months to the election, and the Lieberals show no signs of relinquishing their contempt for real debate. Question Period has been cut in half, and outside of a jumbo-sized super sweet slush that would give an entire grade 6 class diabetes., the Liberals have no intention of trying to pass the budget, lest the NDP get a chance to show their faces and warn us not to "Believe BC" (tm).

The problem for the Liberals is that the longer they go on talking in a vacuum, the more people will realize just how much they suck.


The Royal Canadian Mounted Police:
"Pummelling the Aspirations of the Disenfranchised since 1920"

Congratulations to the Kwantlen Student Association for standing in solidarity with BCGEU members on their campus, and for enduring the verbal and physical abuse of RCMP officers, who were more concerned with pouty motorists than upholding a union's legal right to stop traffic at a picket line to inform the public about the dispute with their employer.

Actually, the Mounties have never been interested in upholding workers (or students) rights: the Winnipeg General Strike, the Regina Riot, the War Measures Act, The APEC Summit at UBC, last year's strike by CUPE BC members on the same campus: pick the picket line or demonstration, and the Mounties have been there to put the proverbial boot to anyone looking to exercise their democratic rights.

KSA has joined a decades-old tradition of activists standing up to the badge bullies, proving once again that in Canada, the law is never neutral.


"Breaker 1-9, Breaker 1-9:
Any of You Good Buddies Get This Trucker Math?"

(Note: this post is much better if you read in a Waylon Jennings voice)

I vaguely remember in the 70's (or at least in the pop culture of the 70's) that truckers were pretty clever. Movies like Smokey and the Bandit and TV shows like B.J. and the Bear taught us that people who worked in the trucking industry were hard working, intelligent, resourceful, and stood up against the injusitices of the day, like not being allowed to transport beer across state lines.

Paul Landry, President and CEO of the British Columbia Trucking Association, has pretty much blown that image of the trucking industry for me. Instead of standing up to the man like Burt Reynolds would, Landry is instead sticking up for the man, the man in this case being Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon. After decades of carefully controlled growth in the Lower Mainland, Falcon wants to shove road and bridge construction into high gear , with the most obnoxious project widening Highway 1 (First Avenue in Vancouver) to eight lanes (and counting) through East Vancouver. My East Side neighbours have so far responded by taking up arms, at least the kind of arms which can get you two minutes for slashing.

If Landry is the spokesperson for B.C.'s trucking industry, does he not realize how stupid he's making the trucking industry look, especially when he hijacks the op-ed page of today's Vancouver Sun (page A9) to carry Falcon's load and jackknife both the GVRD's Sustainable Living Strategy and proposed increases in transit funding? Landry claims that transit ridership is "mired at 11-12%", a number he appears to glanced at from a similar number in TransLink's annual report, which would actually refer to an increase in ridership (largely as a result of the U-Pass program).

Not only can Landry not add, he can't subtract either. Any sensible urban planner (including the right-wing ones like Gordon Price during his tenure as an NPA Councillor in Vancouver) will tell you that the more roads you build, the more vehicles will take up space on those roads, simply because they can. In the long run, that means less room for trucks, which in the longer run drives up prices for goods. Build more transit, and leaving the car at home becomes more of a viable alternative. It's especially viable when there's more money left in the pot for all kinds of transit initiatives, since nobody has to pay to expropriate people's houses for freeways.

If more cars stay at home because their drivers are using transit, what does that leave more room on the roads for? I'm sure that chimpanzee who worked with Greg Evigan could figure it out, how about you Paul?



Daniel Igali won a gold medal in wrestling at the 2000 Olympics. Now he wants to be the BC Liberals' candidate in Surrey-Newton.

Up to this point, Igali was O.K., what with the dancing around the Canadian flag and planting a kiss on it after his victory in Sydney. Igali came to Canada as a refugee from Nigeria in 1994, and because of this country's tradition of understanding and giving people a chance, became a champion athlete and a respected figure in the community. Why join a political party that thrives on refusing to understand and hoarding opportunity for its rich and powerful friends?

Is Igali the next Lorne Mayencourt? Mayencourt won a medal, in his case the Governor General's Award of Merit for his work with AIDS patients. After a few years with the Liberal cabal, he signed off on the "Fair" Pharmacare program, which led to many of those same AIDS patients not being able to afford their medication. For all we know, some of them may have been charged under Mayencourt's Safe Streets Act if they took to panhandling to try and pay for their meds.

There's no way to tell what Igali is thinking in seeking a Liberal nomination. He might have throught of a career in pro wrestling, but maybe he has too much integrity to be involved in the fakery peddled by the likes of Vince McMahon. Sadly, nobody warned Igali about the fakery peddled by Gordon Campbell for the past four years.

Over 5,000 Starbucks shareholders packed into Seattle's McCaw Hall yesterday for their annual general meeting, and to bid a fond farewell to outgoing CEO Orin Smith.

Who knew that a little coffee shop near Pike Place Market would grow up to become the Monolith from Stanley Kubrick's 2001 with a bad case of the shakes? Since going public in 1992, Starbucks has globally saturated itself by bullying itself into urban neighbourhoods and shoving aside the mom-and-pop espresso pushers, staking its full roasted claim in shopping malls and brewing up institutional sales with universities, airlines, department stores, theatres, and anywhere else people might like something with cream and sugar. The downtown Vancouver Sears has a Starbucks on the main floor, while at the Starbucks corporate headquarters overlooking Elliot Bay, there's a Sears. Odd.

One would think that a company that's provided its original investors with a 480% rate of return might be able to share the wealth with the people who actually grind the beans, run the cappucino steamer, and endure the abuse of narcisstic yuppies who's double-tall non-fat isn't tall or non-fat enough. Nope, the love affair between Starbucks and its millions of patrons myopic enough to hand them an interest free loan (i.e. The Starbucks Card, the grandaddy of so-called 'gift' cards), does not extend to the employees, many of whom have been looking to inject a double shot of reality into the relationship by forming a union.

Starbucks may have supported John Kerry's bid for the White House while other corporate behemoths like Wal-Mart backed George W. Bush, but when it comes to accepting their workers fundamental right to organize, very little separates Starbucks from the rest of the freeze-dried vacuum pack. I'm not sure which is more bitter, the stuff in the mermaid-stamped cups or the hypocrisy of launching a line of Starbucks Fair Trade Coffee when the people serving it up don't get a fair deal themselves.

Smith received a Lifetime Starbucks Card as a parting gift from the adoring throng in Seattle yesterday. In order to use it, he might have to face a few of the people who get shortchanged on the other side of the till because of Starbucks' pretending to be a progressive employer rather than actually being one.

He might want to get that to go....



The Government of Mexico has published a guide for people looking to illegally immigrate to the United States.

Given the volume of detailed information given up in this article, it looks like readers can also use the guide keep up with the Knicks, watch for sales at Macy's, and do a really big crossword puzzle.

Pray for the foreign newspaper vendors in the maquiladora - it's going to be a long day...


One would think that going into the final legislative session before the May 17 election, Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals would come up with something positive and dramatic. Yesterday did see mention of a raise in the minimum wage and a tuition freeze, but unfortunately for BC students, those announcements came from Ralph Klein next door in Alberta.

On this side of the Rockies, the most the Lieberals were willing to offer (besides the usual misleading statistics and tax cut lullabyes) was pegging tuition increases to inflation, which means no real tuition relief, and not much else for anyone. In fact, Campbell admitted outside of the Legislature that the Liberals are walking away from a signature promise of the 2001 campaign, creating 5,000 bed spaces for BC Seniors. Even though he's been behind the wheel of province for the past four years, our favourite drunk driver blames the NDP for this one too.

If there's anyone I came away from the goings on in Victoria yesterday with a newfound respect for, it's Lieutenant-Governor Iona Campagnolo. Anybody who can sit in front of 79 MLAs, the media, and anyone watching on TV, and read out that the government is committed to increasing the fruit and vegetable intake of British Columbians by 20% while keeping a straight face, is obviously something special.



Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Year of the Rooster. Since moving to Vancouver, I've grown to love celebrating the Lunar New Year, more than the narcisstic alcoholism that passes for Western New Year celebrations. Maybe it's because the Lunar New Year isn't shackled to an overwhelming uberfest like Xmas, which has gone from being too commercial to being too polarized - I find that if you wish someone 'Happy Holidays' at the Lunar New Year, they don't look at you like you need an exorcism.

I argued at the beginning of the Year of the Monkey last year that
the Lunar New Year should be Canada's winter stat holiday, instead of artificial excuses for a holiday like Prime Ministers Day, or Alberta's Family Day. We'd be adopting a real holiday with thousands of years in tradition, and at the same time recognizes ourselves as a Pacific Rim nation.

The festivities have been great to this point: went to the Sunbrite Lunar New Year Carnival at the Pacific National Exhibition last Saturday, and saw a performance by Vancouver's own
Juliana Chen. Picked up some sweet import DVDs and maybe had one too many Shui Mei. Can't wait for the parade on Sunday.

The highlight for me so far was receiving a Lai Tsi (lucky red envelope) from my MLA. Once she knows you're on her side, Jenny Kwan is a lot of fun. I still chuckle from her Hedy Fry impression at the Pride Parade a couple of summers ago. For the Lai Tsi, I wished her a happy 4702 and said I'd see her in cabinet. She winked at me and playfully punched me on the arm. Given that the Vancouver Sun has come down with a case of pre-election editorial rabies, it was fortunate that none of their attack dogs masquerading as journalists were around, otherwise the headline probably would have read "NDP MLA BRIBES, HARASSES, PUNCHES CONSTITUENT".


The University of Calgary: Canada's White Collar Crime University!

The University of Calgary has a Political Science Department which is essentially a front for the Conservative Party of Canada. When hired thugs (some on the municipal payroll) were escorting scabs and beating strikers at the Calgary Herald five years ago, U of C struck a marketing agreement with the paper. Last fall University Administration proposed 20% across-the-board budget cuts while Alberta's oil and gas windfalls continue. When the U of C Board of Governors runs a little short, they ask Ralph Klein to lift the cap on tuition increases rather than asking for more money. Members of the support staff bypass their company union to call the powers that be on stuff like this, and things happen like forced resignations, unexplained suicides, slap lawsuits and relocations to the West Coast to write sarcastic incidiary blogs.

Among Canada's Universities, U of C usually bitches the loudest when the MacLean's rankings, or for that matter any other rankings come out. It's always Eastern media bias or not being rewarded for doing more with less. However, if they really are so concerned about the image of the institution, why do they insist on putting criminal activity in their academic calendar?

"The idea is for the students to learn how these things propagate, how they are created, how they interact with the system and that sort of thing," Aycock, who teaches the virus course, said. "Then we turn around and say, OK, here are these things you've created – now we write the anti-software and figure out how to fight against them." Excuse me, but does the RCMP Training Academy have cadets commit armed robberies around Regina to learn how to fight against them?

"Each student signs a legal form that says a breach of the security means an automatic "F" and a potential criminal investigation." Once they've completed the course, however, nothing stops them from "F" - ing up security networks and people's bank accounts with their U of C education. U of C might not be completely blameless: there should be an error message flashing at Alberta's Advanced Education ministry for granting permission for a course that belongs in the jurisdiction of criminology or law enforcement, not computer science, whose graduates at other schools have brought the Internet such law-abiding endeavours as Napster and Kazaa.

Wow. And they wonder why people send back the alumni magazine and fundraising appeals marked "deceased"....
CanWest Talking Barbie says:
Responsible Journalism is Hard!

In Saturday's Vancouver Sun, columnist Barbara Yaffe said "BC unions anti-Israel stance is troubling" (I don't have a link to the column, because damn it, I'm not paying for it twice). If this is what Barbie considers so "troubling", I wouldn't make any sudden moves around her. It's obvious that she rattles easier than Patriots fans during the last couple of minutes of yesterday's Super Bowl. (Note:anology shamelessly dropped to point out I called it in my previous post.)

CUPE BC's International Solidarity Committee (Drop the sarcastic quotation marks, Barbie, CUPE BC does have an International Solidarity Committee) produced "The Wall Must Fall" in response to a resolution passed at the union's 2000 convention which called for "a peace process based on international law and equality between Israeli's and Palestinians". The Labour Movement has a saying: "What we want for ourselves we want for all", and aren't peace, justice, and equality just as important as defined benefit pensions and prescription drug benefits?

What gives Yaffe the right to decide that workers shouldn't strive for Peace, Justice and Equality outside the immediate membership of their union? CanWest Global editorial policy, that's what! In the CanWest world, in case you haven't noticed, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a zero-sum proposition where the scattershot, decentralized terror from the likes of Hamas is always deplorable and evil, but the organized, state-sponsored terror from the Sharon regime is always justified. Contrary to what Barbie and the Aspers might think, most people I know think killing of any kind is just plain wrong, and more to the point, there's two sides to every conflict. "Tear Down the Wall" might be a laundry list of Palestinian grievances, but it's still a different perspective than the Sun and the National Post have been serving up for months.

Saturday's headline labels CUPE BC as "anti-Israel", which is interesting, given "Tear Down the Wall" features a forward from Canadian Jewish Outlook editor Carl Rosenberg, and points out the rapidly growing peace movement among Israelis. Talking CanWest Barbie also makes her own attempt to accessorize her position with remarks from UBC Professor Howard Stein who charged the union with trying to "pass on this one-sided propaganda to unsuspecting students". That's right, Professor Stein, with a provincial election and a critical round of bargaining on the way this year, the CUPE members in Locals 2950, 2278, and 116 who work at UBC are more concerned about having enough copies of "Tear Down the Wall" to hand out with "The Protocols of Zion" to give to unsuspecting students during Frosh week.

Yaffe points out that taking a position contrary to the CanWest one "can only contribute to a negative climate on campuses in B.C." That's funny, I thought she'd be happy with anything that makes it easier to cross picket lines because "unsuspecting students" think union members stand shoulder to shoulder with suicide bombers.

Which brings me to this question, why, during a substantial thaw in Israel-Palestinian relations, do Barbie and her pals at the Sun's editorial board choose to pick this fight now? CanWest Global editorial policy, that's why! Yaffe signed on off on Saturday calling for "broader debate on whether it's cricket for unions to politically indoctrinate their members". Is this really about a position paper that (with apologies to the International Solidarity Committee) sat pretty much unread on information tables at last year's CUPE BC Convention, or is it about casting aspersions about Labour's more immediate political organizing?

Barbie's TV friends over at Global Vancouver were sure quick off the mark a few months ago, rounding up the mouth-breathing gutless wonders (i.e. too scared to complain at a meeting or launch a decertification bid) who call themselves union members to scream on camera about CUPE BC's Dirty Deeds Calendar. Most CUPE BC members, however, don't Believe BC (tm) and the BC Liberals the same way the Sun, Province, and Global TV have been insisting since "A New Era for British Columbia" (tm) began in 2001. The overwhelming majority of CUPE BC members, as polling done for their Political Action Committee illustrated (at least they allowed PAC Chair Mark Hancock a rebuttal), won't be supporting Gordon Campbell on May 17, and since the NDP needs the backing of about 65% of union households to pull off the most humiliating defeat in Canada's political history, perhaps a little whiff of anti-Semitism might be just the thing to pick off a few of the less than true believers and give BC's best known drunk driver the keys to the province for another four years.

You know, if Yaffe or anyone else at Canwest was looking to take a potshot at CUPE BC, they could have dug a little further into the current conflict of interest allegations between Local 15 (City of Vancouver workers) and the coalition of Progressive Electors, i.e. the possibility that Local 15 has been floating COPE's debt from the last civic election while at the same time bargaining with a COPE-dominated City Hall. Mind you, Larry Campbell and the "Diet COPE" caucus have had no qualms in betraying their core constituents, backing the RAV line, while flipping the bird to core constituents like the Bus Riders Union. I'm sure the Sun's editorial board had no qualms about that kind of behaviour either. Of course, for the likes of Barbie, there's too many facts (a few of which would toast the conflict of interest altogether) at City Hall to get in the way of a good story, like, say, 'Unions hate Israel'.



UPN has announced the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise. Like most people with progressive ideals and too much time on the internet, this is a disappointment for me. Sure, Enterprise might have recycled the same elements that have orbited around the Star Trek universe since the late 60's, but in a cultural galaxy that's more marked by the juvenile, the brutal, the vain and the insipid every season, a lot of us related to Star Trek better than we ever will to 'Reality' TV.

Like the current Star Wars movies, Enterprise is a prequel, set decades before the original Star Trek series. In telling the 'history' of the Star Trek universe, the franchise came full circle. It also appears to have come full circle in a few other ways: In 1967, George Takei, as Ensign Hikaru Sulu, was the only Asian presence on American prime time television. In 2005, if I'm not mistaken, Linda Park, as Ensign Hoshi Sato, is the only Asian presence on American prime time television.

It may be better that Star Trek beams itself up for good after the Enterprise finale on May 13. The past two series (Enterprise and Voyager) have aired to mixed reviews, and the last feature film involving the Next Generation cast, Star Trek: Nemesis, bordered on embarssing. Also, the prequel format would have eventually cornered the show's writers into either embarking on more clunky, overreaching story arcs (like the Xindi crisis, last season's 9/11 parable) or monkeying with story continuity until Star Trek's backstory read like Star Wars Episodes I and II.

That book is true, everything you needed to know you did learn from Star Trek. Notice how successful the franchise was at the beginning, when Gene Rodenberry stuck to his vision, refused to compromise the integrity of the project, while a small but enthused and vocal fan base kept NBC from pulling the plug. The Next Generation proved that an original drama could work in syndication, allowing creative talent a little more freedom from dictates of the major networks, setting the stage for moments on Deep Space Nine you wouldn't see anywhere else: a clever story about union organizing, a same-sex kiss, and not one, but two African-American lead actors (Avery Brooks and Michael Dorn) performing outside of stereotypical black roles.

Now, look what happened when the franchise put itself fully in the hands of the bean counters and deomgraphers at Paramount in order to regain its mass appeal. The aforementioned Star Trek: Nemesis. The Rock's guest appearance on Voyager. Enterprise saving Earth from Xindi annhilation only to be bumped from its time slot on Wednesday nights for the catfighting antics of America's Next Top Model. The moral of the story, it doesn't matter if you're Rick Berman (Star Trek's executive producer, not the ESPN guy) or a leader in your union, activist group, or your community: don't sell out your principles to be popular, and to thine own Trek be true.

Live long and prosper...in reruns.


Everything I needed to know about Social Security I learned from the Internet Movie Database

If there's one movie I got tired of pretty quickly, it's The Corporation. It could be because I work on the same University campus the authours came from, precipitating the "local prof makes good" saturation. It could be because at every union or activist event I attend, I'm exhorted to make my way to the obligatory screening and have the same revelation that the unenlightened in my circle had when the movie snuck into the neighbourhood multiplex.

It's not that I hate the movie. It's a detailed treatise on the dysfunction in making the corporation's first duty to maximize profits to its shareholders. That being said, it has the charm of a PowerPoint presentation: the lack of "characters" (like the newsroom staff in "Control Room" or the grieving mother in "Fahrenheit 9/11") make The Corporation boring, confusing, and difficult to follow, but the events on the screen are still pretty damn unsettling.

Speaking of boring, confusing, difficult to follow, and pretty damn unsettling, the Bush administration continues it's push to privatize America's Social Security system. It appears the White House is looking to wash its hands of the longstanding practice of using Social Security as a slush fund, which under Bush has equated to big slushy tax cuts for wealthy Americans and a big slushy, sandy, bloody misadventrue in Iraq. Rather than a public system with defined benefits so people can retire with some sense of certainty, the President would rather see the nation's retirement nest egg handed over with no questions asked to that well-known bedrock of certainty, the stock market.

Moving defined benefits into 401K's (RRSPs for those who speak Canadian) means that brokers and fund managers would be taking up even more seats at multinationals corporate shareholders meetings. It's not like they actually show up at the meetings to fill those seats, they actually send a proxy. However, what's written on the proxy, with apologies to Malcom X, (who more than likely would have beat the crap out of these bastards) are the words "By any means necessary."

If that isn't bad enough, let's think about what would happen if the Bush plan actually came to pass, and fund managers carried the urgent weight of America's well being in the twilight years. All the nasty stuff we saw in The Corporation: just put the movie on fast forward and play it in a continuous loop, because that's what everyday life would eventually look like for Americans, and anyone America happens to rub up against. Actually, it could also look a lot like Matewan, Wall Street, John Q or even The Day After Tomorrow.

Economists (the good ones, not the TV ones) almost unanimously regard the privatization of Social Security as something of a sick joke. To provide a comparable level of benefits, the markets would be have to be running as they were at the height of the dot-com boom for about 75 years. Of course, we all remember how the dot-com boom went. Even if this Miracle on Wall Street (not an actual movie, hence no link) were to pass, wouldn't the perpetual windfall of payroll taxes render strangling Social Security in its sleep kind of a moot point?

Americans would be likely better off betting on the Oscar Winners or the Super Bowl (and this reporter says the Eagles will cover the spread) rather than gamble their life savings on Bush's plan for their retirement. All the more reason to wonder why Bush's retirement plan didn't start during the first week of last November.