Summer reruns

Our story so far - Israel is attacked by Hezbollah rockets and their soldiers are kidnapped. All intelligence indicates that Hezbollah are backed by Iran, so Israel retaliates by attacking Lebanese civilians. The Israelis then claim that they're not interested in a lengthy occupation. This episode seems really familiar. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this page remembers seeing the U.S. attacked by Al-Qaida agents, most of whom were from Saudi Arabia, and America retaliated by hitting Afghanistan and Iraq. And weren't the Americans going to hand control back to the locals really soon? It's either the same show, or just the same plot with a few different characters.

Another episode I saw had Ontario Conservative MP Garth Turner stating that after evacuating thousands of Canadian citizens from Lebanon, Ottawa should take a serious look at redefining and categorizing citizenship rights. The ratings for Turner's musings were substantial, gathering more attention than "The One: Making of a Music Star". This page is pretty sure that this particular story may have been aired a long time ago, but we definitely saw this one before too.


You pick who you want, we pick who we want

China threw a tantrum this week at Canada's Parliament over the honourary citizenship granted to Tenzin Gyatso, a.k.a. His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Despite his humanitarian work, adoration from millions of Buddhists, and repeated overtures to open a dialogue with the Butchers of Beijing, the Communist regime still regards His Holiness as a security threat and a "separatist", not someone who should join Nelson Mandella and Raoul Wallenberg in receiving this honour from the House of Commons.

This page is extremely skeptical that Counsel Zheng Weidong, in calling down the House of Commons for praising a "separatist", actually took a look at
the people sitting in the House of Commons. Zheng could have realized that in THIS country, we don't deal with differences of opinion by running them over with a tank or sending them to forced labour camps.

It's not like Canada ever criticizes China for who they grant honourary citizenship. Who would want it?


A Rainbow cracks in Olympia

By a 5 to 4 margin, the Washington State Supreme Court upholds the 1998 'Defence' of Marriage Act (DOMA).

This verdict, and the local media coverage surrounding it, is a striking illustration of the cultural divide that still exists between Canada and the United States, even relatively progressive states like Washington. It appears that my regular visits to Seattle, poking through Left Bank Books and leafing through The Stranger mislead me to believe that the Evergreen State was a progressive oasis in an otherwise reactionary American desert.

For all the huffing and puffing about same-sex marriage in Canada, the issue was never more than a means for Stephen Harper and Co. to assure Prairie diehards that the new Conservatives hadn't lost their Reform Party roots. Everyday Canadians treated it as a non-issue. By contrast, once the State Supreme Court announced they were about to rule, Seattle TV stations acted like this wedge issue was about to wedge open the gates of heaven (or hell) and exhorted viewers that the first/best place to experience Wednesday's rapture was KIRO, KOMO, KING, or Q13.

The ruling itself screams 'Appeal', as it flies in the face of the privileges and immunities clause of Washington's state constitution. DOMA denies a benefit (marriage) to a specific group (gays & lesbians), but Justice Barbara Madsen, one of the majority, believes that the plaintiffs could not prove that gays are members of a "suspect class", ie. an identifiable group entitled to protection against discrimination. In a bigoted nutshell, not only are gays and lesbians prevented from marrying in Washington State, they don't really exist there either.


Oooh..Aaah...OW! @#$!*!

The Offshore Bank Celebration of Fight...er...Light begins tonight at English Bay.

For the longest time, Vancouver's movers and shakers have lived in terror of being labeled "No Fun City". There was much wailing and gnashing and teeth when the precious Molson Indy took off and touched down at the Edmonton Municipal Airport, but the truth is the Indy was a toxic celebration of testosterone, gasoline, alcohol, sexism and noise that said nothing about Vancouver.

The much-beloved fireworks are no better. This page may not be heard over the explosions and the roar of the thousands who descend on English Bay, but the Celebration of Light is an overhyped, undermanned, and dangerous event that should have been sent packing years ago. For 20 minutes of fireworks, spectators are treated to hours of bad behaviour and the worst event management this side of Beirut.

It is not 'fun' when drunken underage kids scream obscenities throughout the West End and they redefine "fighting the crowds". It is not 'fun' when' rednecks use the fireworks as an excuse to swoop in from the Valley to go fag-bashing (the fireworks unfortunately coincide with Vancouver's Pride Festival). It is not 'fun' when Vancouver Police consider three stabbing deaths as acceptable for a gathering of this size. This page is certain they won't react the same way if the same number go down on the streets during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

It is not 'fun' when taxpayers in Vancouver are forced to foot the bill for cleanup and police overtime when residents from elsewhere in the Lower Mainland cause most of the trouble. When 'Celebration' organizers start promoting the fireworks as an alcohol-free event and Translink admits that rerouting a few buses on fireworks nights is not extra transit service, this page may consider going back one of these years. Until then, this page is content to skip the late night pyrotechnic idiocy and enjoy A REAL CELEBRATION OF LIGHT.
Do the Math: A million Calgarians can be wrong

Sometime this week, the population of the City of Calgary will reach one million. In fact, this page saw an item in yesterday's Globe & Mail where a Cowtown PR hack had declared Calgary the third largest city in Canada behind Toronto and Montreal (if one doesn't count the much larger populations of Metro Ottawa or Greater Vancouver). For those of you scoring at home, no one in Vancouver loses only sleep over the fact that Surrey will be the largest city in British Columbia within a few years.

As regular readers are aware, this page has issues with Calgary. Calgary produced Ralph Klein and Stephen Harper. Calgary cheered on scabs during the 1999 Herald strike. Calgary turned its downtown into an armed camp during the 2000 World Petroleum Congress and the 2003 G8 Summit. Calgary bought a tank for its police department. Calgary is what the Bush administration wants Iraq, and pretty much the rest of the world to look like. Calgary is a grandstanding right-wing bully that seriously needs its oversized ass kicked.

Which brings this page to the "biggest" problem about Calgary: by virtue of the farmland and small towns the city has devoured over the past few decades, Calgary is actually the biggest city in Canada. Calgary's million residents sprawl themselves over 701.79 square kilometres* for a population density of 1424 per square kilometre. By contrast, poor little Vancouver can fit about 600,000** into 114.67 square kilometres*, for a density of 5232 per square kilometre.

How can Vancouver fit almost five times the people in the same space? Almost a quarter of us don't own a car, which causes things to be built at a human scale, not an automobile scale. Vancouver may be fenced in by mountains, the ocean, and neighbouring cities, but we also stopped singing "Don't Fence Me In" a long time ago. Size isn't everything, cowboys.

**2006 Projection extrapolated from Statscan


Campbell still alive, Globe columnist, Premier

Today's Globe & Mail features a guest column (unable to link as it's subscriber only) from the Premier advising readers not to "forget taxpayers in any new fiscal federalism". While everyone's favourite drunk driving supply-side sociopath is shilling for more tax cuts in the pages of Canada's National Newspaper (tm), Campbell has the gall to use the term "working families" as the chief beneficiaries of bleeding vital public services further just to have a few more nickels to rub together.

In the 2001 Leaders Debate, Campbell literally choked on the term "working families" as it figured prominently in the NDP campaign, mumbling his way around to saying "BC families". As Campbell advocates the same kind of fiscal stupidity for the rest of the country, it's obvious that Campbell has recast "working families" to mean people like the Campbells (and their elitist circle) as opposed to
families made up of actual working people.


Drink plenty of fluids, and keep filling the gas tank

B.C. is at the tail end of a heat wave that brought out the usual advice from local mediots about drinking plenty of water, putting on sunblock, and staying in the shade.

Despite the corresponding Air Quality warning from the GVRD, at no time was it ever suggested on TV, radio, or in the papers over the past few days by anyone that it would be a good idea to PUT DOWN THE CAR KEYS and walk, bicycle, or take transit if one needed to go anywhere. Did it ever occur to anyone that the cars' exhaust, congestion, and heat rage turning into road rage make an uncomfortable situation way more uncomfortable?

Nope - hop in the car, drive the nearest big box store, grab an energy-gorging air conditioner, and hit the drive-thru on the way home. "Never let the facts get in the way of the story?" More like "Never let public health get in the way of our advertisers".


Seriously Hooped

Basketball makes the local news this week on two fronts. Victoria's Steve Nash, the NBA's most valuable player, returns to BC this week for Saturday's Steve Nash Charity Classic at Automobile Manufacturer Place. This page has always been annoyed at the local media's treatment of the Phoenix Suns' point guard. Nash is a thinking person's superstar, and he has a hell of a lot more important things to talk about than his haircut or whether he'd rather be playing soccer.

Also this week and just down the I-5, a group of Oklahoma City investors bought the Seattle Supersonics (plus the WNBA Seattle Storm) from Starbucks' Grande Barista Howard Schultz. It appears that after building new digs for Baseball's Mariners and the NFL's Seahawks, the Emerald City is a little tapped out on the bread and circusses front. With that knowledge, the OKC group has committed to nothing beyond a 12-month cup of coffee before taking the Sonics home with them. As a former Vancouver Grizzlies season ticket holder, this page advises Seattle basketball fans to just be thankful that new boss Clay Bennett won't be signing the national anthem before tip-off.


I've got your good side right here.

"Yeah...that's it baby...look all sad and wistful. Get all wistful and mopey about your great great great....great uncle while you're sending kids to get whacked by Opium Lords in Afghanistan. Wow, can Teskey ever turn on the waterworks, she's money Stevie! If the idiots back home eat this up, just wait 'til they see you guys fly into to Cyprus and save 10 dozen new Tory voters! Disrupting rescue operations? Oh, come on, the camera loves it baby!"


Breaking News: Cars the largest cause of car idling in Vancouver

Yesterday, City Council has passed a bylaw prohibiting the idling of automobiles. At the same time, the NPA set the stage for a huge intake of car traffic by green-lighting big box retail on Marine Drive.

That car traffic will more than likely be idling, since the selfish unethical mouthbreathers who shop at Wal-Mart will be waiting for other selfish unethical mouthbreathers to pull out of the parking spots closer to the store so they don't have to (gawd furbid) walk across the super-sized parking lot.

Isn't it great how easy it is to completely run over the concerns of the neighbourhood when your party gets donations from Wal-Mart's PR firm and the Mayor fires the Variance Board? This page never ceases to be amazed that for a guy in a wheelchair, Sam Sullivan is still able to get his head so far up his ass.


Light it up

This page asks: how many Israeli soldiers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

The answer is: Three. One to screw in the light bulb and two for an excuse to level Beirut.

What? too soon? Not soon enough for 213 dead Lebanese and counting, plus the Israeli civillians killed in Hizbollah counterattacks.


All the Comforts of Home

This page and Walnut Boat had an anniversary-and-merlot fuelled outing in Victoria last weekend. Anytime one can dance to an African band in front of a Canadian government building next to an Irish pub with a crowd of Korean exchange students, one would think that this city goes out of its way to welcome the world. The hospitality industry in Victoria may think they have an international focus, but there's only one country whose travellers make them go out of the way to roll out the red, white and blue carpet. Our American neighbours stepped off the cruise ships, the Clipper and the Coho, strolled down to the Inner Harbour, and found themselves in a scene which one could only describe as the world's prettiest Wal-Mart.

Local merchants are still more than happy to accept U.S. currency at grovelling exchange rates, even though the Loonie has been working out lately. Security guards at the Bay Centre assured us that the lockers that used to be in their shopping centre were taken out because of 9-11*. Thanks, but one, we actually wanted a locker, and two, wearing a Seattle Mariners cap does not make me Captain America. For that role, I nominate the "singer" by the Empress Hotel who was performing Toby Keith covers, drowning out other buskers and snidely dismissing people who don't support "our" troops.

This page can certainly see the appeal of Victoria for many Americans: what better way to escape from the decline of the Bush Empire by sampling the maple sugar-coated leftovers of the British Empire?

*When I'm not wearing the Seattle Mariners cap, it turns out the lockers were taken out of the Bay Centre because it was a popular drop off for drug dealers.


Only Time Will Toll

The Greater Vancouver Regional District have been sharpening their political chops this week. Earlier this week the board passed a resolution 'supporting' the Gateway Project, but declined to endorse the two most controversial pieces of Kevin Falcon's Lego set from Hell: the twinning of the Port Mann bridge and the widening of Highway 1 into Vancouver.

Yesterday, the GVRD board began consideration of a proposal to charge tolls on all major bridges in the Lower Mainland. This page soundly endorses the proposal, and any other measures that push Greater Vancouver's pampered motorists closer to paying the true cost of driving. There are measures to reduce the region's dependency on automobiles that could certainly use the money.


Switching Channels

Forget LCD, this page has a TV with CBD - Crystal Ball Display. Let's do a little channel surfing and look at what Canadian TV will be like in the near future as the result of yesterday's Bell Globemedia - CHUM/City merger:

(Please note I spent so much on CBD that I can't afford digital cable, and the channel numbers apply to good ol' full service analog)

Ch. 9 (BC-CTV): CTV remains pretty much the same, but slowly becomes something of a Canadian CBS, with unchallenging programming for aging baby boomers. Grandpa Lloyd reads the evening news after a night of CSI: Minneapolis-St. Paul and Really Desperate Housewives simulcast from their American network feeds.

Ch. 12 (VITV): The A-Channels get flipped by CTV, and carry on depending on the strength of the local markets. In this case, expect more Vancouver Island than Vancouver, like it was with the New VI. Without their share of network ad revenue, the station runs B-movies in prime time and raises the price to be on Speaker's Corner to $20.

Ch. 13 (CityTV): It's CTV for baby boomer's kids. The evening newscast with Ben Mulroney and the pretensions of hipness are insufferable. Ed the Sock is tossed down the laundry chute by talking beavers Frank and Gordon. At least they didn't dump the Baby Blue Movies.

Ch. 30 (ESPN Canada): Formerly TSN, Bell plugs in the more recognizable brand, especially since repatriating the Monday Night Football ESPN simulcast from City. Lots of sports, but the big events (like Hockey Night in Canada) air on CTV. Brian Williams flies into a rage when the Toronto Blue Jays next World Series appearance goes to CTV and uses a FOX simulcast.

Ch. 40 (Bravo): Remember when A&E used to be ARTS and Entertainment, and had the ballet, the symphony, the opera, and other high-culture programming? Before Growing up Gotti and Dog the Bounty Hunter? Bravo either goes that way, or becomes the Canadian HBO.

Ch. 45 (Space): Space pretty much becomes the Fanboy Channel as several shows (Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG1, Smallville, the 4400) are lifted and dropped into the CTV and City schedules. Since Vancouver produces more science fiction than Ralph Klein on Global Warming, Space can serve as a feeder for the Bell/Globe networks to maintain Canadian content.

Ch. 57 (Comedy): After gas prices jump to $2.50 a litre and interest rates start going up again, the Comedy Network drops its regular schedule and shows reruns from Report on Business Television. The laughs are bigger, but no one's sure if they're laughing with or laughing at ...


A Cup Half Empty

Yesterday Italy beat France 2-1 (5-3) on penalties to win the FIFA World Cup. While this page enjoyed watching the past month's worth of soccer, the spectacle yesterday on the big screen and in my neighbourhood near Commercial Drive left much to be desired.

This page enjoys soccer, and found his loyalties at this World Cup split between my Ukrainian heritage and the German family I married into. Coming from a generation that understands loyalty, I could appreciate the espresso-sipping pensiones enjoying Italy's win. However, I have nothing but disdain for the bandwagon-jumping juveniles whose passion for the Azurri dates back to when France knocked out Brazil in the semi-finals. These would be the ones who wear Yankees caps and have no clue who Roger Maris is, or for that matter, Derk Jeter. They care more who wins 'Idol' or 'Top Model' than the next election. Their parents bitch the ears off University enrollment officers because these precious little darlings can't get the courses they want.

This crowd gets to yell and scream in the street uninhibited and unintimidated because they bought the 'right' soccer jersey. When I was that age, I jumped on a few bandwagons, like fair contracts, human rights, action on climate change, and a woman's right to choose. This page can say with a great deal of certainty that Authourity treats a picket sign much differently than they do a plastic car flag. For those of you scoring at home, there were more live remotes on local TV from Commercial Drive yesterday than there were four years ago when over 50,000 British Columbians shut down Victoria to protest the vicious agenda of the Campbell Liberals.

Also that year, Korea had a stunning run to the semifinals at the World Cup. In Vancouver, hundreds of Korean ESL students poured into the streets of the West End to celebrate. This page questions whether or not anyone around here watching the fixtures over the past few weeks noticed FIFA's "Say No to Racism" banner, given that the Italian celebrations were described as "beautiful" and "lively", whereas the Koreans were a "disturbance" and "a nuisance".

All things considered, and despite a few misgivings about the new stadium proposal, this page would much prefer to take in a real, live Whitecaps match than subject myself to the toxic mix of television and tribalism that appears to be the World Cup in Vancouver.

One final question: what did Materazzi say to Zidane to induce Zidane's head butt? Given how much was made about a North African Muslim leading France's team, this page can't help but think the race card was successfully exchanged for a red card...


Passport to trouble

While the U.S. Congress tries to bolster their electoral fortunes with America's paranoid, the focus on border security has completely blindsided common sense. Not only do mandatory passports for crossing the Canada-U.S. border cause irreparable damage to trade and tourism (approximately 80% of Americans don't have a passport), they also create a market for stolen passports.

This begs the question as to which is actually more secure: A driver's license or photo ID that someone will cling to for dear life because they need it to get behind the wheel or into the liquor store, or a document that's useless until you leave the country, carries an unsmiling portrait, and isn't even stamped when it reaches the U.S.?


So...I'm NOT a left-wing anti-semite with no respect for human life?

In recent days, this page has trundled down to the front door of his building, gathered his copy of the Globe & Mail, and endured a non-stop harranguing tirade by association. As regular visitors to the show are aware, I am a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. This page is also (despite having abandoned organized religion years ago) a registered member of the United Church of Canada.

I don't agree with the United Church about a lot of things, and the UC minister who this page is related to is cool with that. However, this page very much does agree with them joining CUPE Ontario in the international boycott against Israel. To the rabid Canwest Global Zionists and the intellectually challenged at the Globe like Margaret Wente and Christie Blatchford, CUPE and the United Church are Canada's new Axis of Evil.

To refute a few of the bleatings from the Israel-can-do-no-wrong crowd: This page is fully aware that Hamas don't exactly have their hands clean either, but their hands aren't on the world's fourth largest military. Israel retains the right to defend itself, but do they have the right to violate the Geneva Convention by systematically punishing all Palestinians? It's also a little annoying to read and hear how CUPE doesn't call down other regimes besides Israel. Having chaired a Political Action Committee for one of Canada's largest unions, this page knows full well that the media flat out doesn't care how much one bleats about East Timor, Myanamar, El Salvador, Darfur, or even Tibet. If it bleeds, it leads - but only if it involves America's best pals in the Middle East.

Fortunately, there are
some people who are not CUPE or UC members who also don't completely buy Israel as the victim here. Hopefully, more of them will speak up before the tanks have rolled too far across the West Bank and Gaza, lest all voices of reason be drowned out by Tel Aviv's cry of "Look what you made us do!"


American Democracy: 1776-2006

After the Florida Recount, Redistricting, and Diebold, this page was certain that Republicans had done everything they could to save Americans from free and fair elections.

A more fatal blow, however, has been struck by Southern GOP Congressmen by
not doing anything at all.


Double-Tall Bullsh*tachino

Once again, The Mermaid is finely grinding the rights of its Vancouver employees and serving them at annoyingly high prices. A couple of years ago, the Mermaid fired an employee at her Commercial Drive location because of what she wore on her ears. This time, she's under fire for taking one of her workers to task because that worker's ears don't work.

The Mermaid doesn't miss a trick when it comes to public relations. When the Canadian Auto Workers were organizing Vancouver locations three years ago, she successfully played the victim and swam deftly around the Labour Code by closing unionized locations (like Denman & Nelson Street) and opening non-union stores nearby (like Denman & Davie Street, two blocks away).

In the case of the current Human Rights complaint, Starbucks says they won't comment on pending or current litigation. However, that didn't them from prejudicing the BC Human Rights Commission (and the Globe and Mail) with all the PR bumpf about "embracing diversity" they poured out like so much bullsh*tachino.