The Club


One of those sad moments in our parliament’s long and tattered history of miscues and snafus: Lisa Raitt ushering Elizabeth May away from the microphone in mid-tirade at a press dinner. “It’s all right dearie, perhaps a touch too much claret, overwork, whatever, but we ought not to spoil the evening with such vile venting!” First problem: it all made complete sense to anyone who had been paying attention to the direction of the legislative body in this fine country. It was unfortunate that, as presented anyway, it did come off as a bit of a rant and not the coherent and incisive discourse for which May is generally known. When the dust settled, it seemed as though Raitt’s intervention was that of a friend and that everyone in Parliament, though there might be serious disagreements on issues of policy, is an upstanding member of the Canadian citizenry and the human race.


Now McLean’s has a piece that Mulcair turned down a position as an adviser to the current Conservative lot because they wouldn’t offer him enough money, Mulcair fires back that he declined because of differences of opinion on policy. Why was this a consideration at all? Harper was already firmly in control of the CPC and everything in his background screamed aggressive corporate takeover, a a lack of recognition on that front constitutes a serious lack of awareness if not moral flaccidity.

The idea that these clowns are all worthy souls and members in good standing of the League of Elected Good Folk just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Many of us have close associates with whom we maintain civil and friendly relations, but there is a personal honesty and integrity that goes with the package, and there are so many in the Ottawa caucus of the LEGF who seemed to have missed that memo (please see, for starters Perps With Perks #17 in full knowledge that the blue men have no corner on the misdeed market, despite the rush of the current CPC crowd to cash in at the public trough).

How bad is it? The local branch of the library found me a copy of Michael Harris’ Party of One. It took months to get around to me, and the book is still in demand, seemingly, as there is a sticker on the front limiting the loan to two weeks without possibility of renewal. I read a chapter and put it down, not because it isn’t a splendid book or that the narrative is anything less than detailed, perceptive and gripping, but because I’ve already lived through this and followed it in all its sad and tawdry details. Hence, it seemed a good idea to let someone else anguish over the book.

I’m taking a day off from a lot of the engagement to spend that day in the best of the Voltairean traditions, cultivating my garden.



Happy Canada Day!


Addendum: My garden (and most everything else) partner with some Voltairesque lettuces…


Equality Before The Law



So all people can now get married and enjoy  the responsibilities and benefits that our society accords to people who settle into a domestic union. Like interracial couples, LGBTQ folk should now have access to what the rest of us have enjoyed in terms of societal recognition. community acceptance and tangible benefits over the span of recent history.


So here is Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader, celebrating Pride and the Supreme Court Ruling that says that people ought not suffer discrimination based on sexual orientation.


Problem is that a raft of Democrats then climbed on board the TPP Fast Track wagon, expediting the adoption of yet another treaty that has less to do with real trade than it does with ensuring corporate rights to make profits before all other considerations, including human health, the environment, and the democratically expressed will of the people of the U.S. Lest we feel smug, we need to remember that Canada wasn’t originally scheduled to be included in the TPP, but Stephen Harper whined and complained loudly and long enough that the rest of the guys gave up and allowed him into the club. Negotiations have been held in the most strict of secrecy and only small parts of the treaty have leaked out, but we can say with a degree of certainty that the section on investor-state relations, the Chapter 11 of this monster, is the key and basically enables malcontents in the corporate world to sue the rest of us for profits they think they might have accrued had laws not been passed to insert sticks into their spokes. I believe it also allows the suits to override whatever restraints any jurisdiction within the signatory countries might put on unbridled greed.Note that these cases are heard by (again) secret trade tribunals set up by the corporations themselves.


In effect, your vote doesn’t really mean anything any longer, unless you and any democratic pals you have can fly under the corporate radar. I don’t quite know how that could happen with the increased surveillance that seems to happen all over both the corporate and government sectors, sectors which seem to be closer to a complete merger with each passing bit of legislation.

So to all the LGBTQ folk, welcome to equality, but you’ve picked a bad time to win this equality, because it means that you will basically earn the same exploitation as the rest of us.

(In all fairness to Ms. Pelosi, I believe she voted against Fast Track in the House, but her friend Diane Feinstein voted for it in the Senate, so it seems that there is unlikely to be any public debate on this corrosive corporate dreck.)

The “Celluloid” Transformation



We went to an actual movie theatre last night to see Inside Out, my first go-around at a 3-D movie and a bit of an adventure, given my rather sour attitude toward Disney, with or without Pixar. The film didn’t disappoint: it was full of emotional moments pulling all the familiar levers to generate empathy/sympathy and stunning animation to go with the sassy, cliché-laden language of contemporary pre-teen parlance. Still, I was there because my grand daughter, a somewhat atypical eleven-year-old, had told me that I should see this film, and she was present, along with Mummy, Daddy, Baby Brother, Friend, Nana, Grandpa and Grandma. I could see where she would like the film and where it might raise some interesting questions were they laid out in some sort of reflective way.

The feature was delayed because some folks had arrived too late to get through the gauntlet of ticket wicket and concession. I hate it when people aren’t punctual, and even more when others cater to the needs of the tardy. Hence, I was not in a particularly receptive frame of mind when I was shown a trailer for the upcoming screen adaptation of St.-Ex’s Little Prince.

It’s a lovely little tome that Grand Daughter recognized right away as being a part of Grandpa’s cultural firmament, a book that reads well as a child’s bedtime story or as an adult reflection on a plethora of knotty problems confronting those serious and sensitive enough to question their way of life, their relations with other people, animals and things, and the way perception can affect reality. The language is simple without being simplistic, and the illustrations, done by St.-Ex himself, are charming accompaniments to the text.

The trailer tells me right away that I won’t be going to see this film. It layers another story over the original princely narrative, nesting the Prince in a contemporary context of a controlling family, reiterating one of the central themes of the book in a most unsubtle and decontextualizing way, keying into that same sassy cliché of pre-teen angst that flavours so much of the Disnified reality superimposed on so much of the life lived by young folks in the current context. I don’t want to have to fight through the Disney layer (is it a Disney film? It hardly matters.) to get to the charm, and likely, for the price of admission, I can buy a copy of the book and read it to my grandchildren, or to myself, for that matter.

I was silly enough to read a couple of books by a man named Pierre Boule, Planet of the Apes, and Bridge On The River Kwai. If ever screen adaptations messed up the message of original novels, Boule got messed over royally. I fear that St.-Exupéry is about to get a somewhat milder dose of the same treatment. It’s sad that we can’t come up with original narratives that better reflect what film makers want to say without twisting someone else’s work into something it was never intended to be. Dr.Seuss is another recent victim of this kind of Hollywood trivialization, and it seems that Charles M. Schulz’s estate is offering up some of the same for next fall.

Worth knowing that St.-Ex’s other works are for adults and are well worth reading for their reflections on adventures, confronting danger, the agony of defeat. His own story is worth a look.éry

I think I’ll go draw a boa, or an elephant in a boa, or some sheep.





Pater Noster

qui es in caelis.(RIP, February 8, 1998)


And there is almost the whole rotten hockey-sock full of us, camping at Mt. Lassen in 1958. Maggie is off somewhere tending to the latest, baby Gabrielle. I got on well with my Dad, though I occasionally got into a tempestuous funk when he called bullshit on some of my out of bounds forays. Retrospect, even the shortest and most immediate, drove me to apologize and acknowledge that he was likely right about everything he said, and ultimately, it was that schooling that helped me to be a reasonably constructive being (of course, I also had the benefit of a mother who tempered whatever hard-nosedness I perceived on Dad’s part, so equal participation in whatever good I might have done).

This all came to mind when the house filled up with the perfume of black currants last evening, part of the cycle of things ripening in the yard and coming indoors to be eaten or to be processed for later reference. Black currants make wonderful syrup (Crème de Cassis) or jam/jelly. Dijon is famous for its currants, as is another spot somewhat to the North and West, Bar-le-Duc, which was the source for a blackcurrant jelly that Dad particularly liked.



So, after enjoying the perfume of the blossoms, I watched as Erica pulled the fruit off the bushes while I did some grunt work close by.







Then they went into the steam juicer and into the Maslan Pan.

















Eventually, they look like this. There was even a partial jar so that we could toast some of Erica’s whole-wheat bread and slather it with our own home made jelly.


I have no children of my own, but I worked at being a decent mentor for my stepson and have been pretty present in the lives of his kids. The young man in question asked me long ago why I never seemed to get upset and I explained to him that first of all, I had two grandfathers who didn’t really want to deal with children and whose gruff manner was enough to ensure that there would be no attempts at intimacy, and that, as well, he never seemed to do anything worthy of anger (true statement).

When he was over on Thursday, we snacked and cobbled together a home-made periscope, something that arose in a book his mother had given him.



The book also had material on spiders, on bruises and cuts, on sea urchins and a wealth of other topics. most of which the little man wanted to share. His mother’s parents live in town as well, so he and his sister are surrounded by care, love and coaching at many levels.


As much as to say that life in our little circle is pretty darn wonderful. The sad part is how quickly the picture degrades as we move away from that centre of friends and family, a wider world that seems to have forgotten the value of integrity, truthfulness, mutual aid and caring.

It is somewhat comforting to think that there are myriad other little islets of family and friends, of integrity, truthfulness and caring, though the network is spotty and we aren’t all connected, and that there might be a possibility that cooperation, collaboration and mutual aid might emerge as a dominant way of directing our actions. The alternative is too ugly to contemplate.



Reactive on Reading

The Globe and Mail has a post about the seven books that Bill Gates wants me to read this summer and he’s qualified to direct my education because he’s…rich? Because he made a ton of money selling half-baked and shoddy software? Because he aided and abetted in the dumbing down and distraction of his fellow citizens? Because he cloaks his current sleaze behind a curtain of show-philanthropy?

Better we all develop healthy bullshit filters and go read the blogs for an hour or so a day, then look for works that will theorize on how to get us out of the hole rather than digging it deeper, then find good works of literature, some of it foreign (broadens the perspective) so you can die educated (I guess it might help to influence a few other folks, who knows?).

Ignore Gates and read the Globe and Mail only as a penance.

Monumental Folly

I signed a petition today in what will likely be a vain effort to forestall the construction in a prominent location in Ottawa of a monument to the victims of communism. Even though that brief interval and the energy of a few keystrokes may have been wasted, it is a fine jumping-off point for some reflection on ideology and the ideological underpinnings of régimes and their resulting misdeeds.

The motivation behind the monument, along with the scale and placement of the structure amounts to a dishonest pandering to one or more constituencies being curried for votes and financial consideration and perhaps to a lasting sign of the Harper legacy of eschewing any real diplomacy for supporting the side that best suits his own ideological and religious bent. Ideologies, like guns, don’t kill people, but, also like gun, if you leave one lying around, there’s a pretty good chance that someone will pick it up and use it for his own ends, likely in the service of coercion. In this, communism has certainly been the backdrop for millions of victims, but let’s not mistake what we called the Communist Bloc for communism: the USSR and its satellites were tyrannic dictatorships that spouted communist rhetoric as they exacted vengeful exactions indiscriminately on their own people and on those who had the great misfortune to fall under the extended Soviet influence. Do other ideologies have a tally on the victim slate? I would think so, even in something so “innocent” as the British/American strategy during the Second World War of delaying direct engagement with Axis forces in Europe until the Russians (note: Russians, communists and otherwise) had essentially absorbed the worst punishment that the Third Reich could hand out and turned the tide against the Nazi menace. Under the occupation, sympathetic factions arose in almost all countries to carry out many of the worst atrocities attributed to the Nazis, using National Socialism as a screen behind which to shelter the murdering, rapine and thievery that was at the heart of the matter, without regard to some ideological justification. And when the tide went the other way, there was more of the same, but from the other side, and pretty much without regard to any opposing or replacement ideology. The story of Alexander Solzhenitsyn is instructive, a seemingly loyal artillery officer who, at then end of the Great War, was gifted a dozen years in the gulags, demonstrating that Stalin et al were equal opportunity oppressors.

On the other hand there is the purported antithesis of communism, capitalism, whose record contains a litany of the same horrors perpetrated by the Stalinists. In theory, it is a perversion of capitalism for personal gain that lies at the root of the crimes, and that puts capitalism in exactly the same category as communism. It’s interesting to note that Mussolini characterized fascism as the marriage of capitalism and state power. This sounds vaguely familiar:

Pols Have Nothing To Do With People











Let’s add Pan-Slavism and Zionism, the Greater Asiatic Co-Operation Sphere, The White Man’s Burden, the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Aztec and Incan empires to the list of ideas that have wrought great deeds (their own definition) and left great works as monuments to their superiority (yikes, do the world’s great religions get caught up in the net?). So really, to be fair (not something for which the Harperites are really known), each of these ideas should have a memorial erected  to the memory of its victims, and, given that real estate in Ottawa is at a bit of a premium, we could do these memorials as scale models of the great works such as that planned for the victims of communism, and house them all in a single building.We could then call it The Museum of Civilization.

Front Page News


This was on twitter:

You know what really needs to be front page, national news? Indigenous people turning down $1 billion of dirty money.

Here is more:

Thanks for all the Fish.


This is a revolutionary act, telling the money to walk because it maters not where the environment and culture are concerned. Too bad it took the rest of us so long to figure out that those First Nations we beat up so badly might have had the right idea in the first place and that Wal-Mart doesn’t wash when the devastation hits.



Blues On Top Of Blues

BBKI guess when you’ve become an icon, you get the big news. CBC Newsworld was full of B.B. King’s passing, and a lot of it was truly gag-worthy as the level of faux reverence, long faces and script-reading ratcheted up to full stun, including touching testimonials from the likes of Kelly Clarkson. (?) Really? Nice words from Eric Clapton via Skype, though.

I went to see What’s New, Pussycat? with a Bill, Stella and Leah when it was a new movie. Leah’s mother drove us, then left us to hang out for a second showing of the movie, meaning that we were walking east on Geary Blvd. late at night on our way back to Stella’s place on Hayes around Steiner before Bill and I would turn north on Divisadero to get back to my place. It was after two when we got to the turn on Divisadero, and, being fitted, we were both hungry, so we went into this burger and barbecue place, the only thing open. We must have looked like the proverbial deer in the headlights as the reception from the all-black crowd was not particularly welcoming with an added tinge of WTF at the sight of two white boys somewhat off course.

Sensing a certain hostility, we ordered burgers to go, but in the wait, the jukebox was going full-bore and it was King playing, though it took me a couple of days after to run down the song, hence the artist. This was something of a revelation for a couple of whippersnappers steeped in Beach Boys, Beatles and Stones. I had the pleasure of seeing King live on a couple of occasions while still living in the Bay Area, the whole routine where the band would come out and do a number or two before bringing King on stage with flourish and fanfare, and he played from a fairly well-stocked catalogue with panache and freshness that belied the several hundred dates he was playing each year. The last time I saw him in the Bay Area was at Winterland (I think) and he still did some of the same routine, but he seemed much more relaxed and the connection to the crowd was much more direct. He mentioned in his inter-song patter that he’d been listening to some jazz and proceeded to ruff up some Django on the spot.

That December, Magic Sam died of a heart attack at 32, and I was sad. He went early and left a lot of possible career on the table. If you get a chance, check out King’s appearances at the Crossroads Festival to get a feel for the decline that must have been difficult for the man. Noting his passing is fine, but I know I’ll just keep on celebrating the music from the early jump stuff à la Louis Jordan right through duets with EC.

Let’s see, who’s next?

The Teacher


How ironic, the Clarkish one in the rôle of teacher. Ms. Clark has come up with another doozy in the wake of the Notley election in Alberta, to the effect that she has a lot to teach Alberta about carbon and climate change, and that, in fact, she has much to teach the rest of the country. Presumably this is because we have a carbon tax and they don’t, but she fails to mention that the carbon tax was a ploy by her predecessor to hog tie Carole James, making her either agree with the rampaging Liberals, or gainsay them in a move that would alienate her from voters in the greener shades of the spectrum, politics pure and simple. Herself hasn’t helped to redefine BC as anything other than a carbon furnace with the continued shenanigans related to the Pacific Carbon Trust, to dedicating agricultural land to carbon offset projects, and mostly her giveaway support of the gas industry, particularly the fracking end of it..  Her government has consistently missed opportunities to support alternative energy, despite indications that wind, solar, tidal and geothermal energy all hold great promise. She is an object lesson in what not to do, even as she waggles her finger at the rest of the country from the standpoint of someone who, without any reasonable explanation, seems to consistently dodge the consequences of both her actions and her inactions.


Consult: Another Term Rendered Useless

File 154

Update: (05/01) Gary Mason says that the BCTF would do well to raise the white flag.

Bully for Gary, and not a surprising comment from one out to feather his own nest and who represents the entrenched economic failures, not to mention the moral and ethical failures occasioned by the drinking of the Radian Kool-Aid. Anyone who cares for the maintenance and enhancement of public services, who cares for children and the possibility of constructive and enlightening experiences in the public school system, or who cares about the value of a signed contract or the process of consultation and negotiation should be in there hammer and tong as a countervail for the heinous larceny practised by Clark & Co.


Today’s release of a ruling by the courts in B.C. that determined that the Province had, indeed, consulted with the BCTF regarding class size and working conditions proved that much of our language has lost and real meaning. It would be hard outside of the niceties of the law, to argue that there was any real consultation when the MoEd basically sat on its hands through the whole process,including through two lower court rulings, and to this day, through the smug babbling of Clark about this being an opportunity, the Province hasn’t offered the slightest change in position.

In essence, the court has decreed that no contract has any validity. I imagine Phil Hochstein and his little posse are licking their chops in anticipation of testing the private-sector contract waters.

The only bright side is that the idea might later be turned around to imply that none of the Free Trade, NAFTA, CETA, FIPPA and TPP provisions about investor-state relations means anything, either, and that we as citizens can do whatever we damn well please within our several layered jurisdictions.

Any of the political class, particularly BC Liberals and FedCons who says anything about defending Canadian values has “a mouth full of gimme and a hand full of much obliged.” it’s hogwash. Their pink shirts are the sheep’s clothing for a pack of lupine bullies.

This is part of the Fraser Institute clique’s plan to privatize schools, to keep the public schools in as much penury as possible and subsidize private schools that cater to the clog at the top of the Cremeville bottle.

This decision must clearly be a proper interpretation of the law (we’ll see if the Supremes want to weigh in as soon as the BCTF files an appeal), but it fails miserably any sniff test of ethics or morality.

“Oh, Mon dieu, promets-moi que l’enfer existe!”

(Dear God, promise me that there is a hell!)    —Luc de la Rochellière