Anderson Cooper, that's not Kool...

As many readers may have noticed, this page has been restrained in discussing the Democratic National Convention this week, largely because one, everbody else is on it and two, I couldn't be bothered picking out the actual news from the reality TV as the Obama-Clinton feud drew to an apparent close.

I will however, state that if any piece of mediocy (when I wasn't watching the unfiltered C-SPAN feed) it was CNN's Anderson Cooper and his repeated use of the term 'drinking the Kool Aid' to describe supporters of Barack Obama. This page fully understands that the expression has worked its way into the popular vernacular, but remember, if directly refers to the mass suicide of over 900 followers of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple cult in Guyana in November of 1978. This page finds it highly disturbing, if not sinister, for Cooper to equate the inspirational candidacy of the Democratic nominee to the largest mass killing of American civillians prior to September 11, 2001.

Besides, it wasn't Kool Aid, it was a knock-off called Flavor Aid. For those of you scoring at home, this page greatly enjoys Kool Aid (particularly the blue raspberry vareity) and would prefer to remember Kool Aid a little more fondly (see clip bleow).

As for Anderson Cooper, perhaps Kool Aid just isn't his thing - maybe he'd prefer this instead.


Rally Time

If anyone is looking for something to do on Labour Day, the BC Fed is staging a rally at 11:00 AM at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Why should one give up an hour of one's Labour Day to go a Union-sponsored rally? Gee, I dunno...how do you think we got Labour Day?


Bring It On

This page is bowled over by the torrent of speculation about an impending election. It's about time - we can overlook the government breaking its own law concerning fixed election dates if it means we have the opportunity to kick their arrogant asses to the curb once and for all. It's not like The Powers That Be haven't acted as if they were above the law too many times already.

Stephen Harper and the Tories? Yeah, sure..but I was talking about Gordon Campbell and the B.C. Liberals...


Fasten WHAT seat belts?

In order to save fuel costs, Air Canada's 'Jazz' carrier is removing life vests from its aircraft. Apparently, Transport Canada regulations stipulate only one means of flotation is required for flights within 50 nautical miles (about 90 km) from shore, so this page is advising my readers to hang on tight to those seat cushions, because you never know when the Great Lakes, Hudson, Bay, or the Georgia Strait might suddenly be jumping up at you.

This announcement follows similar measures by the airline to reduce the amount of weight being carried on its flights, such as the removal of 270 crew members. This page can only assume that these would have been the heavier among Air Canada Jazz personnel. As airlines dispense with everything from onboard entertainment systems to safety equipment to staff, what will the future of air travel look like?

For those of you scoring at home, Wayne and Shuster called it years ago.


Citius, Altius, Fortius, Que Sera, Sera

(pause for emphasis)

Before this page returns to our regularly scheduled deprogramming, I would be remiss to not address some of the awestruck jawdropping among the media with respect to the spectacle of the past two weeks. I don't believe anyone thinks any differently about China as a result of these Games, the only difference is that viciously myopic Chinese Nationalists are going to be a little more vicious and myopic for the foreseeable future. Putting on spectacular Opening and Closing Ceremonies and winning most of the Gold Medals proves what a totalitarian regime with money to burn can accomplish, it does not, by any means, validate it. On that note, kudos to the CBC's Mark Lee for reminding viewers of the bloodshed at Tiannmen Square in 1989 as the marathon runners were passing through that square in 2008.

Before the Overlords of 'The Best Place on Earth' (tm) edition of the Five-Ring Circus get any ideas, let's put to bed any ideas of Vancouver needing to put on a 'better' Olympics than China did. This is somewhat of a ludicrous tipping point because Vancouver is still a city with some glaring self-esteem issues. A lot of my neighbours aren't happy with outranking Edmonton, Regina or Winnipeg, they want to mentioned in the same breath as Madrid or Rio or Tokyo. The lack of objective empirical criteria for great cities and respective bells and whistles doesn't faze these people, they're the same ones who can sustain heated arguments about which country had the best presentation at the Celebration of Light fireworks.

If the 2010 Opening Ceremonies feature Mike Reno screeching about how "Everybody's working for the Weekend.", so be it. If Whistler condo owners stage a blockade of the Sea-to-Sky Highway to protest the lack of ready access to their Whistler condos because of Olympics-related traffic, so be it. If Canadian athletes Groan the Podium rather than Own the Podium (tm), so be it. There's no such thing as staging a 'better Games', especially with only 536 days until the curtain rising at B.C. Place. However, there's still a chance to stage a more cost-effective, environmentally sensitive, and socially conscious Olympics. China has left the field wide open in those disciplines, and the home field advantages for Canadians, British Columbians, and Vancouverites are in the upcoming Federal, Provincial, and Municipal elections. We can put leaders in place who are willing to Go for the Good more than Go for the Gold.

VANOC: Everyone's watchin' to see what you will do...everyone's lookin' at you...


He probably sucks at Monopoly, too.

In what is easily the most disturbing mash-up of Alzheimer's and Affluenza during the 2008 Presidential election campaign, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) can't remember how many homes he and his wife Cindy own.

This page doesn't think McCain is being callous, or that he's pulled some kind of a gaffe. I think he's trying to corral some kind of sympathy vote: why would any 72 year old who can't remember his address want to move into government housing in the middle of winter?


Waiting for DaVinci

Anyone else tired of Tony Clement's histrionics concerning Insite? Is there anyone annoyed by his Conservative Party's use of taxpayers' money to leaflet East Vancouver neighbourhoods to lie to voters? The 'Safe?' flyer, which was sent to this page by an M.P. in Quebec (My MP, Libby Davies wouldn't distribute this cynical opportunistic garbage), has a close-up of a syringe lying by a playground swing set, a scene that's being PREVENTED by having a safe injection site.

Anyone else disgusted by Clements ad hominem attacks on the medical community? His questioning the ethics of doctors who support Insite amounts to slandering the entire Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, which sponsors Insite and is made up of physicians from Whistler to the U.S. Border. Clement also says the Tories have plans to close Insite, which flies in the face of a Supreme Court ruling that squarely places the facility in British Columbia's jurisdiction. Claims of overwhelming support from the law enforcement community are specious at best, especially considering it was a former Police Coroner who got the ball rolling on Insite when he was Mayor of Vancouver.

So, Peter Ladner, Gregor Robertson, how about it? Which of you is going to show voters in Vancouver who has the courage to be Mayor of this city by giving this bullying idiot of a Health Minister what he really deserves?


The 5-Ring Circus will be back after a Message from these Clowns...

This page has been watching some of the Olympics TV coverage on Seattle's NBC affiliate, which has allowed me to keep an eye on that other major competition, the upcoming U.S. elections:

In a TV spot airing during the Games, Senator John McCain (R - Arizona) is claiming that he's "The Original Maverick". Anyone who's spent enough time in front a TV knows that James Garner is the original Maverick, and unlike McCain, he's already been President.

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire (D) is seeking re-election by telling voters that "As a parent, I've worried a lot about my kids, but as Governor, I've been doing a lot of worrying about your kids." Is it just me, or is that a little creepy, kind of a Hand That Rocks the Cradle creepy?

Gregoire's opponent, Dino Rossi, runs an ad where he addresses accusations about him as they flash by on the screen. The problem is that any Washington voter who knows how to hit the 'mute' button during commercials doesn't hear Rossi's rebuttals and encouragement to 'Get the Facts', voters are left to believe their worst suspicions about Rossi, like luring Yakima schoolchildren to his 'sugar house' and denying that he's actually a Republican. For those of you scoring at home, one of those is actually true.

At least the Olympics end this weekend. The finals for this thing don't go until November.


Olmpx Update

Canada has yet to win a medal at the Beijing Olympics. This development is mashing couch potatoes across the country into some kind of bitter, frustrated vodka, but for those of you scoring at home, this page finds himself somewhat indifferent to the futility. However, lurking though the CBC and Globe & Mail discussion threads, one would be left with the impression that sending over 300 athletes who have won 0 medals to Beijing is some kind of crisis. Before a Canadian athlete manages to win a medal, allow me to pose this scenario: what if Canada doesn't win any medals in Beijing? What if two years from now, Canada doesn't Own The Podium (tm) in Vancouver? Are we going to feel that much differently about this country than you do now? Would we really trade free elections, public health care and education, (relatively) breathable air and (relatively) safe drinking water for what amounts to a few collectors coins on a string?

It's not a question of athletes not trying hard enough, or giving athletes more money: the major reason for Canada's defeats at the Beijing Games is that somebody else is winning. There are, after all, over 200 countries competing, and as this page is painfully aware of following my beloved Seattle Mariners (and their $117 Million Payroll), sometimes it just isn't your year, and throwing money at a team doesn't solve the problem. Shifting national priorities just because the ball isn't bouncing Canada's way for a couple of weeks this month won't do anything but appease the jocksniffers who use the terms 'support our athletes', 'support our troops', and 'support the Tories' interchangeably.


Touchdown STUPID!!

If anyone thought that Market Stalinism was exclusive to the People's Republic of China and the Olympics going on in Beijing, check out the free-market bullying the Bush Administration is inflicting on football fans in Seattle this weekend. The Federal Transportation Administration has ordered King County Metro (one of Seattle's public transit providers) to cancel its popular park and ride service to and from Qwest Field for Seahawks' home games because a private operator wants to provide a 'similar' service. Metro, which has hundreds of buses already paid for and economies of scale to charge only a slight premium above the regular $1.50 fare. The government-sanctioned private operator only has a handful of buses, and wants $14 for the same ride. It's only 'similar' in the same way that the Seahawks and a Pee-Wee team are similar because they both play football.

This may not be the Disaster Capitalism Naomi Klein's been talking about, but it would be a disaster for someone to lose a loved one because one of the '12th Man' decides that too few buses at too high a fare is too much of a hassle, and decided to drive his own vehicle to and from the game: with several tailgate parties and stadium beers in between. This page has been to Qwest Field for Seahawks games, and I can testify that Seahawks games are a mind altering alcohol-fuelled jet engine of noise, adrenaline and mayhem. Personally, I don't think I'd let anyone drive a vehicle away from one even if they were sober.

Rethuglicans can bitch all they want about tax dollars supporting public transit, and they can sing the praises the FTA for shutting down Metro's game day service. What they don't get is that Public Transit isn't just about giving someone a ride, it's about taking cars (and people who shouldn't be driving them) off the road. Scream all you want about 'freedom' and how the private sector does everything better, it's not freedom when the government tells a community that the private sector will be the only choice.


Welcome to The B.S.'d Place on Earth

Gordon Campbell received a grilling from the international media at a Beijing press conference yesterday as the Premier was trying to update/bullsh*t the gathering about preparations for Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympics. When confronted by Chinese reporters about the staggering amount of homeless, addicted, and mentally ill people in the city's Downtown Eastside, who will meet the world in just under a year and a half from now, the Premier said "In terms of some of the shelter issues, I think you will see a city and a community that has invested significantly in housing those who need support."

To quote a great B.C. sportsman of days gone by, Howie Meeker, this page says "Golly gee! Stop it! Stop it right there!" Notice how Campbell uses the term SHELTER 'issues' instead of focusing on the real issue: HOUSING? Anybody who trusts the Lieberals to do something about Social Housing needs to understand that a SHELTER is not HOUSING, and it's certainly not a HOME. What the homeless need is HOUSING, i.e. a STABLE and ONGOING living environment where one can can overcome mental health and addiction issues, and develop a base from which to reintegrate back into the society and the workforce. All SHELTERS do is keep the homeless out of the elements (and the attention of the global media) for a brief period, like the first eight to 10 weeks of 2010.

As for the Campbell's statement about the City of Vancouver investing significantly in housing, how is kicking tenants out of Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels, cutting the future Social Housing component of the South False Creek Olympic Village from 33% to 20%, the lack of a City Housing Authority, and ZERO construction of any dedicated Social Housing a significant investment? Either the Premier needs a new financial planner, or had one hell of a layover in Maui on the flight out.


Venti, Vidi, Vici

This page has received information over the past 24 hours (mostly by looking at the corner of Scotia Street and Broadway as I went by) that, in fact, Starbucks Coffee is opening a location in my neighbourhood of Mount Pleasant.

For those of you scoring at home, the arrival of Starbucks may jeopardize our reputation for being what many Vancouverites generously refer to as a 'bad part of town.' We gained this reputation as the result of ugly episodes like the Fortune Happiness Restaurant shooting about a year ago, and a brawl involving golf clubs and baseball bats a couple of years ago. The new Starbucks is on the former of site of a former strip club (with the unfortunate name Uranus Lounge) which was notorious for violent gang activity. Even the former Safeway at Kingsgate Mall had its own holding cell for the high volume of shoplifters a couple of decades ago.

Put these isolated incidents together and one is left with the impression that my neighbours and I live in some dystopic urban warzone hellhole. I've actually heard Mount Pleasant described as a 'ghetto' described by travellers on the 99-B Line as they make their way to the Skytrain and the far more opulent, crime-free environs of Surrey. Before anyone becomes overly concerned for my safety, it should also be pointed out that this page hasn't seen a prostitute at the corner of Fraser and Broadway for over a year, and the closest thing I've seen to violence in a long time are the crowds of eight-year olds jostling for position on the playground equipment at Sahali Park.

However, all of us in Mount Pleasant can breathe a sigh of relief because the Mermaid is coming to save us from ourselves. I can't imagine how we've been able to get by with coffee from such independent cafes as Our Town, Lugz, and the new Javalicious, all within a couple of blocks from each other, plus local chains like Cuppa Joe and Waves Coffee. Apparently, small businesses have failed in gentrifying East Vancouver quickly enough, and only corporate titans like Starbucks can stop the violence, stop the madness, and make us speak that annoying Neo-Latin one requires to actually order anything at Starbucks.


A Raise of Olympic Proportions

February 24, 1994: While all of Norway was glued to their TV's watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Lillehamer, a band of thieves broke into the National Gallery in Oslo and stole Edvard Munch's masterpiece, The Scream


August 8, 2008: Another Olympic robbery, and this time the ones left screaming are B.C. taxpayers. While we were tuned to the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics on Friday, Gordon Campbell's B.C. Lieberals dished out huge salary increases to about 100 Deputy Ministers and Assistant Deputy Ministers. This page is left wondering how big a trough will be needed when we're distracted by Vancouver's 2010 Winter Games less than a year and a half away.

For those of you scoring at home, this page, does is fact, work in B.C.'s public sector. For most Public Employees in British Columbia, there is a tacit understanding that we are going to be kept a little short on the payroll compared to similar positions in the private sector because we are paid out of the good graces of taxpayers. In return, we expect a little more from our government employers in terms of benefits and job security. I think it's a fair deal - I go to work to be the best cog in the machine I can be, and in return the employer makes sure I can afford three squares a day, a 600 sq. foot roof over my head, and the medication which keeps me healthy enough to return to work the next day. Also, they don't fire me without cause when the governing party wants to boost the stock options of one their multinational corporate donors by contracting out my job.

Unfortunately, Campbell and the Liberals have never grasped the notion of a Social Contract, or for that matter, any kind of contract. These so-called 'best and brightest' are only as bright as the people above them cutting a cheque, and the people below (like this page) who do their bidding. Anything else the public hears about the Lieberals wanting to 'retain quality people' is bullsh*t - the mark of 'quality' is not having a tax bracket to match the corporate stooges bankrolling this self-serving farce of a government.


Everyone can Suck It

Last summer this page visited a friend who a few months earlier, had given birth to an adorable baby boy. During that visit, the little guy started to get hungry, and Mom asked me if I was O.K. with her breastfeeding her newborn. This page said no problem because one, it's a baby, two, I had visited another friend who breastfed her son earlier that day, and three, I was in her house.

She shouldn't have had to ask if I'd mind - a baby is not some kind of chubby cute little cigarette that gives off chubby cute little puffs of second hand baby smoke. Why is it disturbing to watch someone breastfeeding? None of us may remember being on the receiving end of the nipple, but almost all of us were there in our early days.

The Granville H&M store had it coming. WestJet, you're next. Babies may not remember being treated like some kind of unnatural disturbance, but their parents will.


Let the Games Begone

The Games of the XXIX Olympiad begin later today, or tomorrow...or yesterday with preliminary matches in Women's Soccer.

The torch has yet to be lit at the Beijing National Stadium, and this page is already tired of these Olympics. Maybe it's the result of constantly being shilled to by the local media about the impending glory of the Five Ring Circus in our own backyard. Maybe it's because the host country is three parts Gulag, two parts Maquiladora. Maybe it's because the thrill of seeing a fellow Canadian win a gold medal vanished about 20 years ago when Ben Johnson had his taken away a day later after beating Carl Lewis in the 100m.

Maybe it's because the International Olympic Committee has gone from being a drawing room society of athletic enthusiasts to a whacked-out corporate religion which matches Scientology for out there beliefs: the 'sanctity' of the athletes (at least until they test positive), the 'power' of the Games to transform society (Because of the Olympics, China has gone from quietly repressing its population to telling U.S. Presidents to step off), and the notion that caring about who wins at Synchronized Swimming or the Modern Pentathlon will bring the nations of the world together.

Or, it could be that Baseball is getting kicked off the Olympic program. The Eurocentric IOC doesn't get that baseball puts the 'summer' in the Summer Olympics: hanging around in the sun, moving only when it's absolutely necessary or advantageous, and generally waiting for something to happen. Jacques Rogge can suck a knuckleball if Canada wins a medal and don't get to defend in London four years from now.

Will this page be watching the Beijing Games? Being the sort who slows down to gawk at traffic accidents, and catches a fair amount of Cops and When Animals Attack whenever Walnut Boat is out of the house, sure. Athletes will be caught cheating, people will be repressed, the Powers that Be will rake in the profits, and nothing will really change. It's just like the rest of the summer reruns.


Greetings from the Terran Empire

This page has returned from a summer vacation, which included a visit with Alberta relatives, RevMod Don, and that cute baby elephant at the Calgary Zoo.

However, being familiar with Star Trek's Mirror Universe, this page does have to question whether I have actually returned to my own rightful coordinates, unless someone has a better explanation for how Rafe Mair could be endorsing the NDP.