The Wonders of Tomorrow
With Revenue Canada's deadline to file income tax returns approaching on Monday, many working Canadians are thinking about their money. Meanwhile, students across the country look forward to graduation. There are a lot of people thinking about the future, and a couple of moves just made by Federal and Provincial Governments has this page strongly encouraging readers to think carefully.

Yesterday Federal Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn announced that all incandescent light bulbs in Canada will be replaced with fluorescent bulbs by 2012. Fluorescent bulbs consume less energy, but will they be more cost-effective for Canadian consumers? The answer is: all the fluorescent bulbs in the world won't help you save on your hydro bills if deregulation and privatization of public power continues at its blindingly arrogant pace. The economic benefit equals the environmental benefit of power profiteers generating the electricity for these bulbs from coal-fired plants and ripping up a sensitive river ecosystem.

Also yesterday, Attorney General Wally Oppal introduced legislation to end Mandatory Retirement in British Columbia, with other provinces likely to follow suit. Does this mean that would-be senior citizens will be able to supplement their pension incomes with a little part-time work? Wait...what pension incomes? As long as Corporate Canada continues the war on Defined Benefit Pension Plans, we'll be smilin' and wavin' down at the Wal-Mart until someone has to scrape us off the floor.

If this the kind of crap we're going to have put up with over the next few years, imagine how the people on Planet Goldilocks will react when we export even worse ideas to them in the distant future.


Happy Servitude!

Today marks Administrative Professionals Day in the United States and Canada. Formerly known as 'Secretaries Day', this "holiday" provides corporations (and their public sector collaborators) a much-needed break from abusing their employees, making them work unpaid overtime, cutting their benefits and pensions, and lobbying for tax cuts to take money out of government programs their staff might need, like health care or public education for their kids. Sometimes treating the underlings to an expense account write-off lunch or a cheap bouquet of flowers is a welcome change from beating them into submission.

Another "perk" that large employers give office workers is to send us on 'retreats'. This page recalls one retreat that a former employer "rewarded" me and my co-workers with: several hundred of us from similar institutions were herded into a hotel ballroom, fed some kind of diseased rubber chicken, and lectured to about the importance of "doing more with less" and "taking responsibility for own wellness". A few days later, as part of the Klein government's austerity program, many of us were served with "position abolishment" notices and escorted off campus by security guards.

Seriously, this page hasn't felt the love since. The only card I can be bothered to look at today is my union card.



"Hey, Bobby Lou! Did ya hear the allegations in the Basi Virk trial yesterday?!

"Sure did, Trev! It's about time the public heard what kind of underhanded crap the Liberals have been pulling for the past few years! Say....who's the idiot up in the skybox bawling in his martini?"


Stop the presses...please!

An 11th - hour deal between Pacific Press and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union means that subscribers to the Vancouver Sun and the Vancouver Province won't have to go without their daily dose of advertorial right-wing cheerleading until at least the Rapturolympic year of 2010.

Meanwhile, the Globe & Mail unveiled its new look this morning, which, other than the addition of the soft-news "Globe Life" section and shoving more typeface onto less paper , the Globe hasn't changed that much. However, the advertising copy will probably change noticeably once the sales department rakes in some fat new accounts from optometrists across the country.

Quebecor/Sun Media is locking out 140 of its staff at Le Journal de Quebec which means that for the duration, this page is calling on his readers to boycott the Sun newspapers and 24 Hours. I realize that there is some subtlety to boycotting a newspaper that they're giving you for free, but if you really need your Bill Tielman fix, he is on this page's blogroll.


No, you're the one who's "Ugly"

If anyone saw Gary Mason's column in the Globe & Mail yesterday, it's easy to see why the B.C. Liberals are up 17 points on the NDP after this week's Ispos-Reid poll: the Goebbels-like precision with which B.C.'s corporate media continues to manipulate the truth to appease the profiteering, anti-human agenda of the B.C. Liberal government.

Aside from the usual Liberal cheerleading that Mason parrots in declaring Carole James the "Ugly Betty" of B.C. Politics, the former jockrider cites the "startling" illustration of NDP MLAs agreeing with the lawyers for the two BC Ferry & Marine Workers Union members who advised their clients against participating in B.C. Ferries' internal coverup...er...investigation of the Queen of the North sinking. If there was one thing that this page learned under the first five years of Campbellism, it's that everyone in this province has a right to be treated fairly, unless you happen to be a unionized public employee.

This statement by Mason amounts to little more than a SMEAR by omission. First of all, since when does any elected official (or for that matter, any newspaper columnist) tell anyone to REJECT the advice of their own lawyer? If that was an acceptable practice, Robert Pickton would be deaf now as a result of people screaming at him to plead guilty. Secondly, and more importantly, why does Mason leave out the fact that the crew members and their union have, in fact, actively participated in the only investigation that counts, the Transport Canada Investigation? The Transport Canada investigation is going to take a little longer, but it isn't going to be exempt from vital accountability legislation like the privatized BC Ferry Corporation is.

Michael Smyth at the Province and Vaughn Palmer at the Vancouver Sun threw similar tantrums at the BCFMWU and the NDP a few weeks ago. Wow, is there anything better to pump up the government than linking the opposition to one of the worst tragedies in B.C.'s marine history? It wouldn't surprise me that someone on the CanWest or Globe editorial boards is trying really hard right now to find a link between the NDP and the Virginia Tech shootings.

It disgusts me that these sickening subhuman syncophants are regarded as the gospel truth by much of the unsuspecting public. For any real democracy to emerge in British Columbia, these idiotic lying scumbags need to be shut up once and for all.



Does the Sunshine Breakfast come with a body cavity search?

Tourism Victoria has been putting up billboards in downtown Vancouver inviting us city folk to spend some quality time in B.C.'s capitol city. The signs feature the slogan "No Passport Required". Those words may change the minds of some local travellers who would otherwise be heading to Washington or Oregon, but if BC Ferries CEO David Hahn has his way, everybody's favourite boatride to Vancouver Island will be more of a hassle than the traffic jam at the border.

Hahn, another southern-fried pinhead who doesn't have to be sold on the "benefits" of deep integration with America's War on Terror (tm), wants random checks on vehicles and passengers boarding BC Ferries, with those checks being ramped up at "increased threat levels" - which will make it an orange, purple, or teal delay of 3 hours for the next sailing to Swartz Bay.

It may not take a passport for this page to go to Victoria, but this page makes regular trips to Seattle without being searched and harassed either. I'm not seeing a difference.


Just shut up

This page was at the bank yesterday as the TV overlooking the lineup showed coverage of the shootings at Virginia Tech University. The response from the cellphone yapping GQ wannabe in front of me was "I wonder what that Green Party guy who got fired has to say about it".

For those of you scoring at home, my reaction is still being formulated - for all the safewalk programs, amber alerts and taking our shoes off at the airport, we just can't guarantee that someone is going to kill us.

As for Kevin Potvin - I've read enough issues of the Republic of East Vancouver to know that despite being acclaimed he was never going to be the Greens' candidate in Kingsway. Let this be a lesson for anyone who still thinks the Greens are a member-driven, let alone "left-leaning" party.


God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut

It is a sad day for this page in learning of the passing of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. He was 84.

This page was turned on to Vonnegut's work over two decades ago by my good friend and fellow traveller Don at Revolutionary Moderation. Novels like Breakfast of Champions and short stories like Harrison Bergeron helped us to develop our critical thinking and our sense of humour by filtering American life through the filter of his extraordinary imagination, leaving what sifted through as the truth.

This page contends that if you scratch a Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, or Michael Moore, a little Vonnegut rubs off. Kurt Vonnegut was the 20th century's answer to Mark Twain, and the 21st century will be hard pressed to answer him.


If a puck drops in the forest...

The Stanley Cup playoffs begin today, and a multitude of pundits and prognosticators are weighing in with their predictions. Here are mine:

-Someone will claim that scheduling Canadian-based teams to play on weekend afternoons to accommodate NBC telecasts is an affront to national sovereignty, but will watch the game anyway.

-Female followers of the Calgary Flames will have to be treated for (over) exposure due to a chilly spring along the 'Red Mile'.

-Any player leaving the arena on crutches or in a wheelchair will be reported by the team's medical staff as sustaining a 'lower body injury'.
-No one will see 'The National'.

-Someone will insist on telling this page how boring baseball is compared to hockey, at which point I'll promise to give him back his Ritalin if he shuts up and goes away.

-The Sedin twins will be revealed as a single Swedish hockey player getting two pay cheques. The Vancouver Canucks will make subsequent end runs around the salary cap by signing the Kariya triplets and the Crosby sextuplets.

-The Army will run more TV spots during the games than Sony Pictures does for 'Spider-Man 3'

-Sidney Crosby will walk on water...after it's been frozen, on skinny metal runners...

-Don Cherry will say something controversial, which astounds this page given he hasn't actually said anything new for years.

-Toronto Maple Leaf fans will commemorate the 40th anniversary of their team's last Stanley Cup championship by watching their hockey neighbours, the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings, play each other in the Finals.


El Orso Regressa

This page has returned from Semana Santa en Puerto Vallarta with a few rhetorical snapshots from a week in Mexico:

-For a country where La Policia ride in the back of a pickup with automatic weapons, Mexico doesn't feel like a police state in the same way Canada and the U.S. do these days. On our return flight, the luggage screener asked me if I would prefer to carry my bottle of tequila on the plane. A flammable and potentially sharp object? The Mexicans must be doing something right, since 9/11, they've had as many airline terror incidents as Canada and the U.S., where we have to shove our trial-size toothpastes into ziploc bags and take off our shoes.

-Semana Santa is a great time to see Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico as opposed to Puerto Vallarta, a division of the American tourism and hospitality industry. Easter in Mexico is a cross between Spring Break and Thanksgiving - everybody takes gets on a bus or fills up their car and hits the road. Carreta 200 was lined with vehicles and people making their way to and from the beach. While this page and Walnut Boat stayed at a hotel which doubled as a timeshare, we spent most our time out and about, mixing it up with locals & nationals from Viejo Vallarta to the town of El Tuito in the Sierra Madre.

-Puerto Vallarta needs to rein in the omnipresent timeshare salespeople who are starting to disturb people's vacations. The tactic that seriously pisses off this page is setting up "Tourist Information" kiosks which direct you to a 'special presentation' where you will receive a 'free gift'... Some tactics to ward off these vultures: tell them you're a travel agent, tell them you don't have a credit card, or act like you don't speak English or Spanish. Qu'est-ce que c'est , "Time... share"? Pardon monsieur...are you coming on to me?

-Unlike their overprogrammed, overparented counterparts in Canada and the United States, Mexican children are allowed to be children. Many of this page's entertaining moments in Puerto Vallarta were watching kids chase each other round, splash around at Playa Los Muertos, or just kicking el futbol with each other. The parents also play with their kids, which I think makes them far more credible figures to relate to than American parents who come off to their kids like dictatorial wanna-be hipster ATM machines.

-Vanilla is a real flavour, not the abscence of flavour. If you're tired of sushi, try out cevice, preferably on a tostada with a little auguacante. Of the four major brands of beer noticed by this page, Pacifico had the most robust flavour. Tecate and Modelo tasted much like American brands (in fact, Modelo appears to be Budweiser trading on a Mexican name), and nothing says Gringo Turista Estupido like opening a Corona.

-Mexicans like beisbol and lucha libre, but nothing compares to futbol. In Jalisco, nothing compares to Chivas. This page made the mistake of asking the locals if they were following Chivas' American branch plant team, Chivas USA of Major League Soccer. Putting the words 'Chivas' and 'USA' together creates a spitting action, since the real Chivas (Chivas Verdad) which plays in Guadalajara (about 4 hours from Puerto Vallarta) only signs Mexican players.

There are photos, but this page is unwilling to subject them to people who don't know what I look like after extended exposure to mariscos, cerveza, and sol.