That's it, I'm outta here....

This page is taking a break due to increasing work responsibilities and a subsequent vacation from those responsibilities.

Also, recent developments have led the producers of this page that the bear604 show could use some retooling and a shift in its artistic direction. This will be mulled over during the break.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Commodifcation of Literature

This page has never read one the Harry Potter books, nor seen any of the Harry Potter movies. Yet, with each new release excreted from the Raincoast Books/Scholastic Publishing factory, my contempt for this so-called "literature" still finds room to grow. While all the Muggles and whoozits scramble to big-box bookseller or movie megaplex for the latest scrap of the Potter brand, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, this page quietly rejoices in J.K. Rowling's promise that this will be the final dispatch from Hogwarts Academy.

Why isn't the page feeling the Harry Potter magic? Having skimmed through enough of the material and read enough reviews, it's easy to draw the conclusion that Harry Potter is the most self-indulgent, patronizing, smothering crap that's ever been put to print. I can't see how the series is supposed to get "darker" as it goes along when reviewers consistently point out J.K. Rowling's "love of children" and "the value of friendship". Maybe it's my Gen-X cynicism showing, but I have issues about grief counsellors being put on standby for Potter readers. There was no grief counselling when Gwen Stacy was killed in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man. There was no grief counselling when Bambi's Mom was shot. There was no grief counselling when Maude Flanders fell off the grandstand at the Springfield Speedway.

There is counselling, coddling, and comforting for Harry Potter fans, because Harry Potter is the kid-lit brand of choice for spoiled, upper middle class trend-mongering brats and their idiot overprotective hyperbraded yuppie parents who are loathe to do any actual parenting. How many times have we heard "Harry Potter turns kids on to reading!" Do you know what turned this page on to reading? READING: Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, Agatha Christie, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby - a little variety instead of the stamping readers' heads with the same brand repeatedly. Can these kids who've been "turned on to reading" name any other books they've read that don't involve juvenile wizards or standing in front of a Chapters in the middle of the night?

Most pop culture phenomena in our day and age have a sense of irony or camp (and openness to criticism) about them which makes them palatable (See: Star Wars, Episodes I & II). The world of Harry Potter, however, is a closed world where no one dares criticize the sacred texts of Rowling for fear that they will be forever cursed. Hogwarts is locked down by the scavenging lawyers of Raincoast/Scholastic, who go out of their way to bully anyone engaged in speculation about upcoming Potter books, for fear they might be casting "spoilers" among the true believers. Anyone here see Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan? Why did you go see it? I went because I heard Spock was going to die!

I realize that for those of you who actually know this page, much of this will read as hypocrisy, given that I've read pretty much everything with the name "John Grisham" on it. However, I don't see myself being stuffed into the back of a van if I give away the verdict in the final chapter, or if I write my own story about southern-fried attorneys up against impossible odds...BTW, the comments section is open - POST YOUR HARRY POTTER SPOILERS HERE!


Green Party Forecast: Fair to Middling

Interim BC Green Party Christopher Bennett thinks that the candidates running to lead his party should pull the Greens to the centre. Once upon a time, this page actually pulled a little towards the Greens. In the dark, soul-crushing days of the 2001 election campaign, this page actually considered supporting the Green Party, up until got into a screaming match with one their candidates at the Park Royal shopping mall. Any party who runs a candidate who barks at me that Unions "destroyed" British Columbia and Mike Harris did "great things" for Ontario is not the party for me.

The thing Bennett doesn't realize is that unlike the rest of the country where some form of the family compact still exists, British Columbia really has no political "centre". There's the right (The Liberal party formerly known as Social Credit), the left (the New Democrats), and anything else just fractures the vote and lets one side win more easily. One party is the party of the wealthy elite (and those who aspire to be like them), and the other is the party of working people and the less advantaged we need to take care of because the wealthy elite won't.

The Greens are using environmental issues to wedge themselves into the picture, but ever since the Industrial, Wood and Allied Workers' Union (IWA) split from the Labour Movement, they volunteered to be a rat union for Regional Health Authorities, started raiding the Hospital Employees Union, and Dave Haggard started kissing up to Paul Martin, nobody in the NDP really cares what the IWA thinks anymore, which allows the party to match the Greens on environmental issues. The only difference is that Greens prefer market-based incentive solutions which may not see results in our lifetime, whereas New Democrats aren't afraid to legislate necessary reforms before the environmental damage gets worse.

The NDP has made its own efforts in reaching out to small business people, and in many cases (like Vancouver-Fairview MLA Gregor Robertson) successfully converted them from the inconsistencies of the Green agenda. The Greens however, have never really dealt with their antipathy towards unions. In 2001, Adrienne Carr and Gordon Campbell were lockstep in busting nurses' and teachers' unions, and despite Carr's showing up at HEU rallies after Bill 29, workers weren't fooled and rallied solidly behind the NDP in 2005, taking back votes from the Greens, beating Carr in her own riding, and forcing her resignation as party leader.

If Bennett really wants the Greens to capitalize on disaffected Liberal voters, this page says more power to them. However, I don't see where he thinks there are disaffected New Democrats, beyond the backseat drivers who want to show Carole James the door when the poll numbers are a little weak after a blizzard of bullsh*t Liberal propaganda. As Gordon Campbell's love-in with Arnold Schwarzenegger illustrated, this province already has a party of capitalist greenwashers. We also have a party of progressive social democrats who, give or take a few Surrey MLA's who need a little shake about The Gateway Project, match the Greens on the environment.

Given the reality of the situation, what could the Greens offer BC voters? The candidate who can best answer that question is the one Green Party members should support, not the one most likely to travel in Business Class like Bennett sees it.


The Puppet Masters

According to a misdirected e-mail form City of Vancouver clerk Syd Baxter, the blame for the impending city workers' strike falls squarely on the shoulders of Geoff Meggs, Executive Director of the BC Federation of Labour.

This page sits in awe of Mr. Baxter's investigative skills. For Meggs to be "engineering this", he would have had to been in on all the events leading up the legal strike position CUPE 1004 find themselves in tomorrow. Was it Mr. Meggs who decided that Locals 15 and 1004 should go without a contract for over half a year? Was it Mr. Meggs who told City negotiators that stripping benefits and pensions was a good idea? Did Mr. Meggs convince those same negotiators to demand CUPE accept a contract with no job security after the 2010 Olympics?

This Geoff Meggs appears to be one dangerous operative. Was he the one bankrolled the mayoral candidacy of James Green in 2005, whose subsequent appearance on the ballot stole enough votes from Jim Green and Vision Vancouver to let Sam Sullivan and his right-wing NPA stooges run City Council?

For those of you scoring at home, Mr. Baxter has apologized...to the Mayor and Council for comparing Council Chambers to a toilet bowl. However, he has refused to apologize to Mr. Meggs or the BC Fed for lying about them, which raises the possibility that the next time Baxter is anywhere near a toilet bowl, an ardent trade unionist could be around to shove the City clerk's head in it and flush.


A rising tide lifts all streetcars

A survey conducted by Intel reports that the commute of the average mass transit user takes up 240 hours of his or her time per year. The number of people who commute by mass transit make up about 12% of the population in Canada.

Intel thinks the best way for corporations to squeeze a little productivity out of that time would be to outfit their commuting employees with shiny new laptops or other portable computers, preferably with Intel Inside (tm). This page says instead of spending money, time, and energy on more gadgets, businesses should be lobbying municipal, provincial, and federal governments to improve public transit in cities across Canada.

Of course, most corporate board members have way more shares in Exxon, Shell, BP, and Amoco than they do in Bombardier or Simens, so they'll help themselves before they help their own workers. Besides, the only 'public' entity that capitalists ever support is an IPO.


How to tell your neighbour reads the National Post

This page was attacked in his own home yesterday. More to the point, this page, and Walnut Boat were attacked by their anti-union neighbour, who ironically, works for a financial institution which enjoys a positive reputation among Unions in British Columbia. For reasons unknown to us, she decided we were appropriate targets for her to spew her imagined superiority and vitrol towards the members of CUPE Locals 1004 and 15, despite the fact that she is well aware that both Walnut Boat and this page are also members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

For your consideration, this page is in the process of drafting a response:

Dear Neighbour,

The Labour Movement lives by a creed that was first spread by the Industrial Workers of the World at the turn of the last century "An Injury to One is an Injury to All". When you insulted the members of CUPE Locals 1004 and 15, you insulted every member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and that includes Walnut Boat and me. You are not a member of our Union and you do not have the right to cast judgement on our Union's bargaining proposals. Bargaining proposals are established in consulation with rank-and-file union members like Walnut Boat and me, and are researched according to the needs of our members and the employer's ability to pay. They are NOT based on what you made at a job sometime in the past and how you had to 'suck it up': it's not CUPE or anyone who supports us who needs a lesson in 'reality' - it's you.

I am extremely disgusted and angry that someone like you who gets a six-figure bonus and yet has complained openly about the cost of living and buying a home in Vancouver actually begrudges someone asking for a 3% wage increase. City of Vancouver workers' previous contract had increases of zero, zero, and one per cent. The City is running a surplus (at least until the 2010 Olympics and the RAV line bankrupt them), and yet they are demanding concessions in their workers' pensions and health care benefits. You have spoken to Walnut Boat and this page at great length about how hard you have worked and how much you've sacrificed to get where you are today, and those tirades leave three questions which are begging to be asked:

1. Do you really feel you're the only person who has worked hard to get where they are today?

2. Do you really believe that hard work and education automatically entitle someone to a better position in life? Is it not possible that issues of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, political belief, economic opportunity, or geographic location might factor into whether or not someone succeeds?

3. Do you think being in a 'superior' position gives you the right to look down on and disparage workers who organize to mitigate those disadvantage and improve their own position?

Another creed union workers live by is "What we want for ourselves, we want for all." You made it quite clear yesterday you don't share that view: you said that CUPE 1004 members don't have the "right" to ask for 3%. In case you missed it, last month the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against the BC Liberal Government in the Bill 29 case, where the government wiped out the binding contract provisions (and jobs) of my friends and co-workers who were members of the Hospital Employees Union. The court stated that Collective Bargaining is a RIGHT guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms.

Please be advised that until you can absorb these facts and discuss them without selfishiness, petty jealously or imposing your personal issues, you should not consider yourself our neighbour, but just another fascist we have to put up with.

Ursa Minor


Chicago, 10:43 AM

"Damn! That was some pretty tasty rat.


The end of 'Reason'

As some of you may have noticed, this page pulled comments from a poster who calls himself 'Reason', which were in response to my column about Canadian military commanders demanding that Canadians civilians shut up about what's happening in Afghanistan because Canadian soldiers have been killed. 'Reason' believes this page to be a hypocrite and an idiot because I'm discouraging dialogue at this site. For those you scoring at home, smear tactics do not amount to dialogue: Not only did 'Reason' claim that opponents of the Afghan occupation disrespect the Canadian military and their families, he also said we've been calling them 'babykillers'.

Those of you who are regular readers, and those of you who have seen me on Babble know that I am capable of saying some very cruel things. I have prayed for Vancouver May Sam Sullivan to rise from his wheelchair and walk again so that we don't have to feel guilty about someone beating the sh*t out of them. I have advised anti-union trolls to go f**k themselves with something sharp. I should have the term "waste of skin" trademarked before the end of this year. However, I HAVE NEVER REFERRED TO ANYONE AS A "BABYKILLER" DURING THE AFGHAN OCCUPATION, NOR AT ANY OTHER TIME. Neither has Linda McQauig, Heather Mallick, Rick Saultin, Avi Lewis, nor anyone else among the too few progressive voices in the mainstream Canadian media. I also haven't seen anyone on Babble call anyone a "babykiller" either. At this point, Reason should understand why his comments were pulled.

'Reason' is under the impression that when Canadian soldiers are killed, their families rush out to buy copies of the Toronto Star and Canadian Dimension so that they can be told how evil their fallen loved ones are. WRONG: I think the families are either too busy looking at the maple leaf flags people are hanging from the highway overpass as the funeral motorcade goes by, or they're starting to agree with the opposition and have some serious questions about what kind of orders the Harper government was passing down to their children. Another thing - If 'Reason' thinks military all military families submissively rally around the flag, he needs to learn who Cindy Sheehan is.

'Reason' doesn't get that in a democracy, people not only say what's on their minds, they also choose what they want to hear, no matter what day of the week it is or if it happens to be raining outside. Reason obviously disagrees, but the "War on Terror" is a phony war being conducted for a multitude of reasons which have nothing to do with stopping terrorism. If Canada were serious about fighting terrorism, our troops would be marching into Pakistan where Al Qaida forces routinely retreat to, and we'd also be infiltrating on a certain six-star hotel in Dubai where Osama Bin Laden has been seen a few times over the past three years. My source on that is a pair of former UAE government employees who picked it up through the local rumour mill, but it's still a way better lead than sending Canadian soldiers into the Afghan hills and waiting to see if they come back.

This war, as this page sees it, is really about securing an oil pipeline from Iraq through Afghanistan, but what it's really about keeping western democracies in a perpetual state of war so that governments can eradicate the freedoms our fathers (including mine) and grandfathers fought to preserve in previous wars. If Canada is perpetually at war against "terror", Canadians are always going to be killed, and someone like reason or Colonel Jon Vance will always be telling us to shut up and not ask questions. When everyone's too afraid of upsetting grieving families and rocking the boat, who needs martial law?

'Reason' has a choice - he can debate what he perceives as the merits of Canada's deployment in Afghanistan, or he can continue his personal attacks on this page and anyone else who opposes current Canadian foreign policy. If he continues to choose the latter, those attacks won't be showing up here.
*NOTE: "Reason" posted up more comments which have been expunged - it appeared at one point we were actually to get some actual dialogue that could have proved to be interesting - he did point out that apparently English isn't Col. Vance's first language and that he was adamant about people needing "breathing space" in the face of tragedy. Unfortunately, he regressed into calling me a hypocrite and called out Babblers such as Unionist and Jingles, accusing them of using the 'babykiller' tag. Reason - if you hate Babble so much, why go there, or for that matter, come here? Geez - what part of "my blog, my rules" don't you understand?


Up with Papal

The Vatican has announced that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true Church.

This page congratulates Pope Benedict, the Archbishops, the priesthood, and everyone involved in what is obviously a remarkable achievement. After a millennial battle for superiority among the world's religious organizations, Catholics finally stand at the top of the heap. Face it, church fans, Catholics just wanted it more: From the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, to winking at Auschwitz and keeping condoms out of HIV-stricken African villages, the Catholic church proved they weren't afraid to get their hands dirty to get their point across.

Here's hoping for sake of the Catholic Church that the one true God has been impressed enough by the Vatican's treatment of women, indigenous peoples, gays and lesbians, and people of other faiths that he (or she) would actually consider joining the Catholic Church.


Who says you can't fight City Hall?

CUPE Locals in cities around the Lower Mainland are gearing up for what could be a long, hot, stinky, and brutal strike.

This page says thank gawd: it's about f**king time somebody stood up to the NPA and their fellow travellers who mistake fellating real estate developers and right-wing posturing for actual governing. It's also time that a union in this province wiped the February 13, 2010 date stamp off their foreheads. The City of Vancouver can't hand out raises and huge bonuses to managers while expecting CUPE Local 15 members to accept concessions and wage freezes just because the Olympics are coming. This could explain why Mayor Sam Sullivan refuses to bargain.

As for the City's claim that their offer is in line with other public sector settlements around the province, let's not forget that those agreements were lubricated by Carole Taylor's signing bonus bribery. My CUPE Local fell for the easy money, and in return received wage increases that don't keep up with the cost of living, job classification gridlock, ongoing discrimination of our members, and no safeguards against contracting out. Having been to a few CUPE B.C. conventions, this page can say that it's the municipal locals that set the tone on the convention floor. Hopefully, CUPE 15 will be able to set a much louder tone by taking Sullivan and his right-wing minions to the wall the same way CAW 111 helped flush Vancouver of George Puil and the NPA following the 2001 transit strike.


Fall Star

*This page realize that there are readers among you who don't like baseball. Those readers may want to check out something else today. Have a nice weekend. See you next week.

(pause while we let those people out....)

With only 4 dingers to go before catching up to Hank Aaron's 755 carreer home runs, Barry Bonds has opted out of the Home Run Derby at next week's All Star Game in San Fransisco. One would have thought that Barry would have enjoyed pounding the horsehide into McCovey Cove while the adoring crowd in his home park cheered him on, but as with everything about Barry Bonds, there's a little more to it than that. The Home Run Derby has reached a popularity that many fans now enjoy it more than the actual All Star Game. However, there's a forced casual chuminess to the event in which the media's jockriders feel they can chat up the longballers between rounds. It's a prime opportunity for a sports "journalist" to try and make a name for himself by confronting the Giants' left fielder. This page contends that Bonds is taking a pass because he doesn't want to be Pete Rose to somebody's Jim Gray.

This page doesn't blame him either, because none of the anti-Bonds hysteria is really about steroids. It's little more than a weapon of mass distraction for Major League Baseball and the politicians who jumped on their moral high horse (yet trotted lightly around the likes of Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens). For those of you scoring at home, Bonds has never tested positive for steroids. He has however, tested positive for telling Republicans to pay less attention to him and more to Hurricane Katrina victims, and comparing the likelihood of finding steroids in his locker to finding WMDs in Iraq.

Besides, I'm pretty sure whoever was pitching for the Derby would be under orders from Bud Selig to intentionally walk him anyway.


Shut the f**k up - we're fighting for democracy here!

In reacting to the most recent Canadian casualties in Afghanistan, Colonel Jon Vance says that Canadians should stop questioning the Afghan mission and provide a "clarion call of support" to the families of the six soldiers who were killed.

With all due respect, Colonel Vance, I sympathize with the loss of Canada's finest, and obviously it must be devastating losing troops from your own unit, the First Canadian Mechanized Brigade. However, if I was a family member of one of the fallen, the first thing I would want to know exactly WHY my loved ones were sent to die, and I would want a better answer than some propagandist garbage about "fighting the terrorists over there before they get here".

In telling us not to ask questions, Vance puts the Canadian military on the same footing as Al Qaida or the Taliban. Stand down, Colonel Vance, we're not under your command, we're still a democracy, and we can support our troops AND question our government at the same time.


The United States of America

1. Fear 2. Rage 3. Delusion 4. Hopelessness 5. Despair 6. Myopia 7. Antipathy 8. Denial 9. Shock 10. Concern 11. Emergency 12. Intoxication 13. Fatigue 14. Restlessness 15. Hopefulness 16. Apathy 17. Depression 18. Obesity 19. Confusion 20. Acceleration 21. Decline 22. Loneliness 23. Paranoia 24. Rhode Island 25. Aggression 26. Debauchery 27. Disrepair 28. Grace 29. Hostility 30. Remorse 31. Disbelief 32. Innocence 33. Ambivalence 34. Frenzy 35. North Dakota 36. Agitation 37. Hunger 38. Joy 39. Extravagance 40. Toxicity 41. Poverty 42. Shame 43. Nostalgia 44. Idaho 45. Recklessness 46. Abandonment 47. Piety 48. Avarice 49. Congestion 50. New Mexico