The Two Thousand Six - Pack

This page is ringing in the New Year in Seattle with Walnut Boat, and not one to get in the way of a good time, offers up a highlight reel from the past year:

January 24

Thanks to the Mercator Projection, the NDP is a now a force to be reckoned with. Winning Skeena-Bulkley Valley, Western Arctic, AND Timmins-James Bay looks damned impressive on the electoral map - look at all that orange...

February 27

We have heard that these are Vancouver's games, BC's games, Canada's games...but will they really be that way? Are these really are 'our' games if some of us can't afford to live here while City Hall takes away social housing? Are these 'our' games when organizers refuse to reach an agreement with local building trade unions and look to cheap foreign labour instead? If the powers that be refuse to answer those kind of questions, the elections that take place before 2010 might be needed to keep Vancouver's Olympic experience from going sour.

March 9

Falcon comes off as an Idiot Manchild if he really believes that a privatized board along the lines of an airport authourity is more accountable than a board made up of elected officials from across the Lower Mainland...Unfortunately, democracy doesn't serve Falcon's interest, which appears to be putting as many shiny cars on the road as possible, with no one having to pay the true environmental and social costs of driving them. Perhaps its time to tell little Kevin to stop throwing tantrums, take away his Hot Wheels set, and give him a serious time out.

April 27

In declaring his candidacy to lead the federal Liberals, Bob Rae claims that he left the NDP because the party had become "too ideological" for him. It appears that Mr. Rae hasn't clued into the fact that everything in politics is ideological. However, he may have also stopped going to church because he thought it was too religious, and perhaps he cancelled his gym membership because he feels exercise is too physical.

May 15

"Renaissance?" "Inspiration?" "Celebration?" BC Ferries is supposed to be the maritime extension of this province's highway system, not a f**king cruise ship line. Does anyone remember when the ferries were actually named after places in BRITISH COLUMBIA? This name-the-ferries competition is little more than a distraction from the fact that BC shipbuilders were shut out of the bidding process to build these ships. Built in Germany, named in BC - there's a postive economic impact.

June 19

Over 6,000 delegates are attending the World Urban Forum in Vancouver this week. To those of you who came to this city in the hope of finding examples from Vancouver of how to make your cities more sustainable, this page offers a sincere apology and certainly shares in your disappointment.

July 24

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?

August 11

The ban of liquid items in carry-on baggage is not about making passengers safer, it's about to intimidating passengers to make governments look like they're in control. They can't stop the Iraqi insurgency, they can't shut down Al-Qaida, but they can make you take off your shoes, have people go through your belongings, and frisk you with an electronic wand. If you can think of any other place where people submit to this kind of activity, you're probably reading this while wearing a jumpsuit with a number on it...or a raincoat.

September 15

Unfortunately for yesterday's victims, their families, and all Canadians, Harper's promise of "more effective legislation" is no different than calling a token hundred dollars "universal child care". Harper has no policy vision beyond stealing the next election from an unsuspecting public who have yet to learn that catch phrases and manipulative rebranding aren't real policy...they just don't want gun control but are too gutless to admit that to Quebec voters. Given the choice between Harper's doubletalk and Gilles Duceppe's vow to keep the federal gun registry, concerned Quebec voters may have the Bloc Quebcois pull the trigger on a future Conservative majority government.

October 5

If the state is willing to protect fanatical zealots who want to abuse public institutions to deny Canadians their rights to equality, liberty, and everything else guaranteed by the Charter, what else is the state willing to condone in defence of "religion"? Given the contradictions among Canada's religions, it would be inevitable that one religious tradition would prevail to the point of calling the shots. It must be going terribly in Afghanistan when Canada's government is sounding more like the Taliban than the Afghans are sounding like a functioning democracy.

November 28

Dear God, please let Sam Sullivan walk again so we can all feel less guilty when someone eventually beats the sh*t out of him. Vancouver gets hit by a winter storm which is most acutely felt by the city's homeless population...What's the response from Mayor Sullivan and his NPA henchmen? Increase the number of emergency shelters? Appeal to Victoria or Ottawa for assistance? No, declare war on the homeless.

December 7

I think it must be somewhere between Prometheus being bound to Mount Caucasus while having his liver repeatedly pecked and Sisyphus having to roll that rock up the hill only to see it roll it down again. Sure, Mr. Harper, the true believers may think you're some kind of king, titan, or even a god, but how much longer do you let the abuse repeat itself before you realize how much it sucks to be you?

Now it's off to a magical evening of fireworks, funny hats and corner store booze with the 206 crew. This page wishes all of my readers a very happy 2007, and unlimited visits to the Bear604 Show!


Happy Holidays

The Holiday Season began last Saturday for our Jewish brothers and sisters with the first night of Hanukkah. This festival of lights concludes this Saturday night.

Friday marks the Winter Solstice. From Dong Zhi to Yule, who can't celebrate the returning of the Sun in the darkest part of the year?

Christmas takes place on Monday and commemorates the birth of Yehoshua (later to be known as Jesus), regarded by Christians as a savior and by Muslims as a prophet.

Kwaanza begins on Tuesday - African Americans celebrate unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith - Happy 40th birthday, Kwaanza!

This page encourages you to learn more about all of these important occasions, and understand that no one has the right to tell you how to celebrate at this time of year. If none of these holidays work for you, there's always Festivus.

On December 31, all of us can gather to ring in the New Year. Be sure to drop by this page for my look back at 2006, and enjoy the fireworks...Shout-outs to RevMod Don, the Vansterdam Kid, Zirin on the Edge, Matt Good, Canadian, Little Thought, Babblers, and the delicious to my vicious, Walnut Boat. Peace.


Buy something or get out

It's less than a week until Xmas, and some of us may not have selected suitable gifts from loved, liked, or tolerated ones yet. As a public service, this page offers a few suggestions to help those who are late in the holiday gift game.

-If representatives from, say, Future Shop or Home Depot or Canadian Tire or Starbucks stopped you on the street and asked for money in donations of $25, $50, or $100, would you give it to them? No? You don't believe in giving interest-free loans to corporations? Then why the hell would you even think about buying gift cards? Wow, it's like all the fun of buying stock, with none of the returns! If you insist on giving out pseudo-money to friends and family, go with someone with a track record of giving something back to the community.

-I bought my current cell phone in 2001. It has text messaging and a web browser. The only thing I've had to replace on it is the battery charger. Also, I bought my current mp3 player three years ago, and with a few downloaded upgrades, still works fine. The moral of the story is, if you believe what talking beavers and other fuzzy little animals tell you about personal electronics, you're in serious trouble. Jimmy Stewart used to hear angels and six-foot tall rabbits, but only in movies in which he was drinking heavily: what's your excuse?

-A lot of sportswear is made in Third World countries with suspicious labour practices. If you do choose to give this kind of gift, check the label carefully and remember: a portion from every purchase of Vancouver 2010 Olympic merchandise gets put against my property taxes.

-An easy gift choice for any non-Julian or Lunar practitioner is a calendar. This page recommends Pivot Legal Society's Hope in Shadows 2007 Calendar. Downtown Eastside residents borrowed cameras and took their own pictures, proving that it's a real neighbourhood populated by real people who deserve to be treated with dignity. The folks in Point Grey also produced a calendar, but it's all BMWs, golf courses, and bad combovers.

-After the recent episodes of snowstorms, record rainfall, hurricanes and power failures, an emergency kit isn't that bad of a gift idea. Government authorities have advised people to have 72 hours of supplies to fend for themselves, which means that what you should be stockpiling is hard liquor. Over three days, it will hold out longer than beer, wine, or you.

One more thing: if you have to stop at Money Mart before you go to Wal Mart, just go home and send e-cards.


Year of the Bear

In an obvious attempt to compensate for 38 consecutive years of shoddy treatment by the mainstream media, this page has been selected as Time magazine's Person of the Year. While Time attempts to credit the award to internet users everywhere, any sensible observer realizes that, in fact, it's all about me. I would like to take this opportunity to thank me, myself, and of course, the one whom none of this would have been possible without, I.

In a related development, this page was also selected as Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year, more than likely due to my perseverance and dedication in not walking out on several of the Seattle Mariners' futile late-inning rallies during the 2006 baseball season. I would like to thank the good people at Ivar's, Uwajimaya, Kidd Valley, Sodo Pizza and Red Hook Brewery, whose products weighted me to my seat in Section 316 at Safeco Field like a boat anchor, for making this honour possible.

This page, however, should caution readers to avoid the upcoming Playmate of the Year edition of Playboy. After coming up big with Time, everyone else is following suit, and there's a reason why I don't have any photos of myself here...


May is no Rory

Elizabeth May is demanding that her Green Party be included in the next election's televised leaders debate, despite the fact that the Greens have never elected anyone to the House of Commons. While this page understands that some Canadians do support the Green Party, my respect for them as a political entity is withheld until they do the work of electing enough MPs to have official party status, rather than having that status handed to them because they held their collective breath and clicked their own web site until they turned blue.

It didn't escape my notice that former British Columbia Green Party leader Adrienne Carr stood beside May at yesterday's press conference/plea for attention, basking in her usual holier-than-thou smugness. Real progressives in BC had to put with four years of Carr's shenanigans, such as trespassing in the Speaker's corridor and assuming she could participate in Question Period without a seat in the Legislature. It didn't help that Carr was aided and abetted by a pliant pro-Liberal media corps determined to humiliate the New Democrats at every turn.

Asking people to vote online for official party status is another example of the Greens' disrespect for parliamentary tradition. In fact, Carr once argued that because the Greens received 10% of the popular vote in BC's 2001 election, they had to be included in the 2005 debates. How did the Federal Greens do back in January? 3.5%, which makes the Greens 6.5% less credible than they were last year. Strategically, they would have been better off focusing on a winnable riding or two and build the party over the next few elections. Instead, these organic anti-union right wingers, who think Corporate Canada will listen to reason on climate change, and wouldn't recognize poor people if they dropped dead in front of them, want it all, and want it right now.

Elizabeth May belongs in the Leaders Debate as much as Rory Fitzpatrick belongs in the NHL All-Star Game. At least Fitzpatrick is willing to play the rules and knows how to skate.


What if they threw an election and nobody voted?

After bestowing "Nation" status upon Quebec, Stephie Wonder returns to his Reform Party roots and announces legislation to allow Canadians to vote for their Senators. Like the "Nation" resolution, this will more than likely turn out to be more cynical pre-election posturing from the Conservatives. The proposed legislation calls on the Federal Government to appoint the winner of a Senate election in a particular province, but do all provinces want to elect the Senate that exists now, the one where Nova Scotia gets 10 Senators and British Columbia gets 6? Funny how the Conservatives bitched about the Liberals threatening to unilaterally amend the Constitution back in the day, but have no qualms about going it alone on major institutional reform when it plays well to swing voters.

If the Conservatives follow through with other legislation, i.e. the amendments to the Canada Elections Act in Bill C-31, you won't be voting for any Senators....or Members of Parliament. Stephen Harper wants you to provide two pieces of state-approved photo ID when you register to vote, so if you don't drive (and most provinces don't have an equivalent to the BCID card in this province), it will be a long, sad walk home from the polls for a lot of people: especially the ones who don't have homes to go to and used to be able to vote by statutory declaration.

Alberta-style Senate elections and Ohio-style voter suppression: Is this a great country or what?


Bell Globemedia goes overboard

This page is saddened by the disappearance of Laura Gainey, a 25 year old woman who fell off a tall ship near the Cook Islands last week. What's really sad, however, is the saturation coverage this story has received in the pages of the Globe and Mail, delivered in a manipulative, demographically-driven context that brings little comfort to anyone except Bell Globemedia shareholders. In reading the articles concerning Ms. Gainey's disappearance, the only real information this page could glean about her was that she 25 years old and she liked to sail, give or take some factoids about tall ships and the challenge of sailing of them in rough waters to this day.

Most of what I read, however, centered around Laura Gainey's father, Bob Gainey. Bob Gainey was an all-star left winger for the Montreal Canadiens during the 1970's and currently serves as the club's General Manager. Of course, if you're a baby boomer and a hockey fan, you already know that. You should also know that thanks to this country's sorry lack of regulation concerning concentration of media ownership, Bell is using your sentiment about this accident to further the corporations CTV and TSN properties.

This is the really sad part: Laura Gainey's disappearance is only newsworthy because of her familial association with the National Hockey League. Bell Globemedia is in a bidding war with the CBC for national television rights to the National Hockey League, and is eager to supplant the longtime home of Hockey Night in Canada. In the next few days, the Globe's op-ed pages (and the intermission show during the NHL on TSN broadcast) will wax sophomoric about how Gainey's loss is a shared tragedy, and how much hockey and the people who play it equate to royalty in Canada. In turn, Bell Globemedia's negotiators will be able to show Gary Bettman and the NHL Board of Governors how deeply it cares about the game and the people around it.

Too bad none of the women who disappeared in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside over the past couple of years weren't related to any NHL personalities. Maybe someone would have noticed their disappearance sooner....


Why Santa flies charter

And we thought Muslims were the major threat to America's airports: last weekend atheists seized control of a major American airport and held it for three days. On Friday, officials the Seattle-Tacoma Airport removed the Christmas Trees from the terminal after receiving complaints from a local Rabbi, only to put the trees back three days later. For those of you scoring at home, Rabbi Bolgimilsky never wanted the trees taken away, he just wanted a Menorah so that the Jewish peoples of Puget Sound and visitors to the area would feel included in the airport's recognition of the holiday season. By this logic, you could go to Sea-Tac, ask for an upgrade on your flight to First Class, and instead they rip up everyone's boarding pass.

The bad news is that Rabbi Bolgimilsky and the Jewish community will be pegged by the Bill O'Reilly's of the world as enemy combatants in the "War on Christmas" (c) Fox News, which is idiotic given that Seattle-area Jews are probably among the world's most open-minded and tolerant. In fact (and this really happened), this page attended a Seattle Mariners game back in August which was billed as "Jewish Community Day". Which prominent Washington Jew got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch? None of them, it was James Cavaziel, whose only claim to fame is starring in Mel Gibson's Anti-Semitic rant, The Passion of the Christ.

That marketing faux pas never made the Seattle Times or Post-Intelligencer, so why does the Terminal Clearcut rate such a big deal? As the song says, It's the most wonderful time of the year...to be sucked in by the psychotic seasonal vortex of political correctness and fundamentalist backlash. "Happy Holidays" is not an abominination: "Happy Holidays" includes Christmas, Hanuakkah, Kwaanza, New Years, and in some years, Ramadan (oh, and Boxing Day in Canada). Come on America, how can a country with a hundred brands of beer in the liqour aisle at Fred Meyer not grasp the basic concepts of inclusiveness and diversity?


Always bet on black my....

So....Wesley Snipes can beat up hijackers, vampires, and futuristic cops, but when push comes to shove, the big action movie hero can't take a beat down from the IRS.

Wuss. Pay your taxes. Willie Nelson could kick your ass.


Geek Tragedy

According to a number of observers, Stephen Harper is not the same kind of mouth-breathing troglodyte social conservative that most of his party's supporters are. If such is the case, this page wonders how he must be feeling about bringing Same Sex marriage up for yet another vote in the House of Commons. Unless the Prime Minister is that deluded, he knows the motion to "restore the traditional definition of marriage" will fail miserably. At the same time he feels compelled to play to the Conservatives hate-mongering base, which in turn alienates an electoral centre that just wants to move on.

I think it must be somewhere between Prometheus being bound to Mount Caucasus while having his liver repeatedly pecked and Sisyphus having to roll that rock up the hill only to see it roll it down again. Sure, Mr. Harper, the true believers may think you're some kind of king, titan, or even a god, but how much longer do you let the abuse repeat itself before you realize how much it sucks to be you?


Le 6 Decembre, 1989

Geneviève Bergeron
Hélène Colgan
Nathalie Croteau
Barbara Daigneault
Anne-Marie Edward
Maud Haviernick
Maryse Laganière
Maryse Leclair
Anne-Marie Lemay
Sonia Pelletier
Michèle Richard
Annie St-Arneault
Annie Turcotte
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

Nous nous rappelons vous, et ce qui s'est produit ce jour.


The next big thing will kill us all!

Since Lyndon Johnson's 'War on Poverty' in the 1960's, America has fought more than a few wars against intangible enemies with very intangible results. The War on Drugs didn't really work out so well for the Reagan Administration, no matter how many times Nancy told us to "Just say no". The Bush White House continues to struggle miserably with the War on Terror, trying to ship as much of it as possible to the Middle East where annoying obstacles like the Constitution don't exist. Is there an abstract enemy out there that can rally Americans and continue to generate returns for Boeing, Halliburton and Johnson Controls? Yes, there is: Killer Asteroids from Outer Space, or as you'll soon know them, KAOS!

Already, some scientists are studying the possibility of a War on KAOS. These experts may not believe that the problem of giant rocks smashing into the Earth is best handled by maximum ordinance and extreme prejudice, but it shouldn't take long before a little political and media spin gets the public to demand that America nukes these rocks back where they came from. Everyone would be watching the skies and tuned to the latest "KAOS" alerts. Flags would fly in every window as if the Stars and Stripes could protect Americans the same way they saved the country from Al-Qaida after 9/11. Karl Rove could get his groove back, and a new Republican President could warn other world leaders in his State of Union address that "You're either with us, or you're with the Asteroids".


NDP: New Dion Paradox

This page needs to think about putting his money where his mouth his more often: if I had tied Dion on the final ballot to the Seahawks over the Broncos by a field goal, I'd be doing a lot better Xmas shopping this week. Despite my distaste for the Liberal Party of Canada, I did watch the convention as it was pretty good TV, in much the same way I enjoy a good Maple Leafs-Canadiens tilt even though I root for the Vancouver Canucks. Obviously the "play of the game" was the Dion-Kennedy give-and-go before the ballots were even counted, with an honourable to mention to Bob Rae letting his delegates fall where they may.

For New Democrats, the Dion leadership means the distinct and paradoxical possibility of diminishing returns, yet better results. Unlike Paul Martin, the new Liberal leader has the capacity to squeeze NDP votes without the fear mongering. For one, Stephen Harper is already Prime Minister, and two, Dion comes off as someone above the fray, and Elizabeth May dies a little inside every time he says "Kyoto" and "Sustainability" . Jack Layton may look to cut a deal for all the right reasons, but to casual and uniformed voters after two elections, he might look too much like a politician. However, if federalist Quebec voters swing back to the Liberals, the minority pendulum could swing leftward once again, and the NDP could find someone at the table willing to talk to them, even if they've lost a few seats around it.

Of course, it always helps to start off by saying something nice....


Snow Excuse, Skytrain fascists

The bad weather this week does not let Translink off the hook for seriously bad judgment with Skytrain operations. Some of the bad judgment dates back a few years with the design of the Mark II Skytrain cars, which unlike their Mark I predecessors, concentrate the handrails at the doors of each car, making boarding and disembarking at each station look like the BC Lions' goal-line stand that won them the Grey Cup. If passengers could hang on safely, they could move further into the train, more people could ride, and fewer would have been left out in the cold.

Of greater concern to this page is Translink Police pulling Bryce Westerhof off the Skytrain and ticketing him while his wife was in labour. Westerhof may have erred in judgment in moving between Skytrain cars, but treating him like a criminal rather than a frustrated commuter in an emergency situation is a despicable act. Back in the day Westerhof would have been taken to his wife by sympathetic officers in a taxi or even a patrol car, rather than be slapped down by the heavy-handed, zero tolerance, 'broken windows' bullsh*t being imposed by right-wing municipal governments like Sam Sullivan and the NPA in Vancouver.

Note to Translink for the next winter storm: The Skytrain cars are machines. The people inside are human beings: treat them as such.