Today in Politics

I love the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC). Today the SCC ruled that closing Vancouver’s supervised injection site would be a violation of peoples’ Charter rights. Basically, it would deny addicts access to heath care that helps keep them safe while they inject the drugs to which they are addicted. More importantly, Insite offers its clients a way out of drug addiction, if they choose. And really, what it all comes down to is choice. Just because people on Vancouver’s DTES are addicted to drugs does not mean that they are lesser citizens of the country. They have a right to appropriate health care for them. If that means that a nurse watches them shoot up to make sure they do it safely and that they do not contract blood-borne diseases then so be it. Apparently the number of new HIV infections among injection drug users is down as are serious infections and other diseases. In spite of the research and the evidence of the positive outcomes of Insight, the Harper Cons do not believe that drug addicts are really people, entitled to appropriate medical care. Luckily for us, the SCC does not have such ideology influencing their decisions.

Has anyone been listening to our Premier Christy Clark lately? I think she is a Stepford-Premier. She is always so happy, happy, happy! And what is making her so happy you ask? Well, it would seem that she is really, really optimistic. Optimistic about what one might ask? Well, we are not really sure. It would seem that she is sure good times are just around the corner. Today speaking to the Union of BC Municipalities convention she gave this speech in which she announced 30 million dollars to help municipalities with recreation facilities. Seriously, we are going to build more swimming pools and arenas when children go to school hungry, without proper clothing and without school supplies. Did she not see the coverage Carrie Gelson received when she sounded the alarm about the state of children in inner-city schools? While recreation facilities are important to communities as they give people a place to exercise and socialize, I suspect most people would be quite happy to see that 30 million go into fixing the problems Carrie Gelson highlighted. One has to ask where starving, ill-clothed children fit in to Christy Clark’s ‘families first’ agenda?

Still on our ebullient premier, it would seem she does not really have control over her ministers. This became apparent today when Mike de Jong mused about charging smokers higher health premiums. Of course this is a complete non-starter as it would be a slippery slope. It is the same thing as when doctors muse about charging an obesity-tax on fat people. The argument, as far as it goes with smokers, is that smoking is a choice and therefore smokers should pay for the health care they are doing to need when they get cancer. Smokers already pay more taxes than non-smokers through the taxes governments collect on the sale of cigarettes. What is bizarre in all of this is a senior minister floating this idea without getting the approval of the premier. Perhaps there are cracks in the veneer?

Oh, and Clifford Olsen is dead. I hope the families of his victims get some measure of peace knowing that he is finally dead and can no longer apply for parole.


I am sick. I have a sore throat. I am dizzy and running a fever on and off again. I am sure I got it from someone at work, as there are now three of us with this thing. I am hoping I fight it off overnight.

In other news, I killed a wasp today. This is a huge advancement in my evolution as a human being. I have been phobic of wasps and bees my entire life. I have never been stung so I am not sure what I am afraid of but I have always been.

Other than that nothing much to report.

Telemarketing Hell

Our phone rings anywhere between 5 and 10 times a day with some kind of marketing call. I don’t have to tell you all how frustrating it is when you run to the phone because you are expecting an important call only to hear nothing or the voice of a marketer. I think the calls where there is no one there are perhaps the worst.

I have started to get really annoyed with these calls. It seems to me that the telemarketers are getting more aggressive; they are rude when you challenge them. Plus some of the scams, in particular the ‘there is something wrong with your computer’ scam is probably the most dangerous.

I headed over to the Do Not Call site to verify that my number is on the list and it is. I thought I would check out how things are supposed to work. First of all, there are still some people who can call you even if you are on the list. Charities and political parties can call you. Any company you have done business with in the last 18 months is exempt from the list. Ironically, newspapers can call to sell subscriptions. The recommendation is to ask to be placed on these organizations’ internal do not call lists. The big exception to all of this is polling and research firms. They are completely exempt from the Do Not Call (DNC) list and they do not keep internal DNC lists.

There are a bunch of rules that govern how the DNC list works. You can check it out at their site. I think telling them you are on the list and threatening to report them is the best defense. I know I am going to start doing it.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘it is not good enough’ edition

  • I had today off. Yay! I was clearly tired as I slept from midnight until 12:30 pm. I was up at 2:30 to use the washroom and then I slept straight through without waking up or moving for 10 more hours! I am clearly still having fatigue issues. I have been ok at work as long as I got to bed around 10 or 10:30 but maybe it is not enough. I am hoping it is just still the adjustment period and that my stamina will improve.
  • In other related news, all the weird pains have stopped. As of today, I am doing really well – no arm pain, no shoulder pain, and no wrist pain. My knee has a little pain but nothing major. I really hope this episode of my life is over. I have a theory about the arm pain but I am not sure if I am right.
  • The plea by Carrie Gelson, a teacher in Vancouver’s inner city, yesterday has resulted in some much-needed donations going to her children. However, this is not the solution. When you systematically defund social service programs like income assistance you have children in poverty. The average parent on welfare gets $84 a year for young children and $116 for children over 12 to start school. Most schools require at least $200 just for school supplies. There is no way they can afford to buy new clothes, boots, and shoes for the $100 a year clothing allowance per person. Even children who are in low-income working families, the problems are similar. There is just no way that everything can be covered when you are making minimum wage in this province. There is also no reason why kids should be going to school hungry, without appropriate clothing and school supplies. How are children supposed to learn when their needs are not being met? How can they participate in class when they are so hungry they cannot think? Or so tired they can barely stay awake? It is unbelievable that in a country as rich as Canada there is no reason we should have systemic poverty. We must pressure our politician to do better. Where is Christy Clark and her families first agenda? We must do better.
  • I have come to the conclusion that Piper is an orangutan. We took her in the car today and she was pulling like a freaking tank! We went into Bosley’s and she was pulling so hard that I couldn’t even gather up cans of cat food. I think she is even more bratty now than before her surgery!

Long Day

So, I had this whole great blog post planned about poverty and schools. However, I just don’t have the energy to write it after working all day and attending a meeting at work tonight. Maybe I will write it tomorrow. Feel free to check out the topic here.

What is it with movies lately?

I am getting quite frustrated lately when it comes to watching movies. I spend time scouring iTunes and other sites to find movies to watch. Most of the time I can barely get through a movie before I have to turn it off. Why can’t Hollywood make decent movies anymore?

Case in point: Bridesmaids. I heard nothing but good things about this movie. It was supposed to be funny. In actuality, it is a movie that relies far too much on the inappropriate elimination of body fluids.[1] Seriously, on what planet is that funny? Well maybe in teenage boy gross out movies it works. Gross out comedy is really not that funny.


[1] Someone uses a sink and a road to defecate. Ick!

I Write Letters: Animal Fur

Hi <redacted> – I am a proud owner of a pair of <redacted> boots. I have to say that I am disgusted to see that your company is using fur. Unlike leather, where most parts of the cow are used, fur-bearing animal killed just for their fur. Sometimes they are trapped using inhumane methods and suffer. I cannot believe with all the faux fur available on the market, a company such as <redacted>, would exploit small animals in this manner. I am sure your design team is capable of coming up with other designs that do not utilize real animal fur.

I suggest you take some time to educate yourself about how animals are exploited in the fur market. The Fur-Bearer Defenders have an excellent website and can be a resource for your team. I hope to hear, very soon, that <redacted> has decided to stop using animal fur on your shoes and boots.

The animal rescue community is very well organized and large. Having your company’s name associated with the exploitation is a huge potential customer base you will be alienating. I will not purchase any more <redacted> until such time as you stop using animal fur. I will also tell everyone I know about why I am not purchasing <redacted> anymore. I hope that you can get back to me soon to advise me that you are no longer using animal fur in the making of your shoes and boots. Thank you.



Dispatches from the Swamp – the “I hate traffic” edition

  • Being back to work has been mostly ok. I have managed the week, including an early training day. But the traffic has been outrageous. I have fought it both ways except this morning. It appeared to be the rain that caused people to forget how to drive. Never mind, it is just Metro Vancouver drivers for which there is really no explanation.
  • Speaking of Metro Vancouver, they have voted to ban smoking in all public parks. They tried to do this about 6 months a go at which time they decided it was not necessary. I am not really sure what has changed to cause them to bring it forth again. I don’t spend a lot of time in parks. But I have friends who have children and I bet they are happy to hear that smoking will be banned. The new law will come into effect in January 2012.
  • So we have been hearing this very strange noise over the last couple of months. At first I ignored it thinking it was something to do with the neighbours. But it has been getting louder and louder. So then we started thinking perhaps we had a pump for our city water. I didn’t really think this was possible but who knows what goes on at the Swamp. I finally remembered to call the plumber today. He thinks it is something called a water hammer. Apparently this part reduces the pressure from the city water source before it comes into the house. While it is not an electrical part, it can vibrate loudly when it needs to be replaced.
  • My poor mother. She really can’t win. Today a bus scraped up the entire side of her car. She then had to chase down the bus, as the driver didn’t know he had swung wide and scraped her vehicle. Quite a stressful day for a 75-year old woman!
  • My ulcerative colitis has been behaving quite well over the last couple of weeks. I have had virtually no breakthrough pain whatsoever. However, I have been dealing with an incredible amount of joint and muscle pain. My shoulders and arms have been seriously painful at times. My knees have been in the rotation as well. Yesterday my jaw started to hurt. It was so painful last night I am not sure how I was able to sleep. Today, I can’t seem to make my back teeth meet on the right side. I can’t win.


I was very sad to hear that REM was splitting up. REM has been one of my favourite bands for many, many years. Every playlist I have has REM songs on it. There have been REM albums that have defined substantial periods of my life.

The first song I can remember hearing by REM was “It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine).” When “Out of Time” came out in 1991 it became the theme music of my undergrad. I loved the whole album. “Shiny Happy People” and “Me in Honey” are still in regular rotation on my iPod. I can remember reading the REM fans could be divided into 2 groups those who liked material before “Out of Time” and those who became fans after. I definitely fall into the second group.

Very quickly, REM followed up with “Automatic for People.” I do not have words to describe the effect this album had on my life. So many songs from it spoke to me at different times. My absolute favourite was “Ignoreland.” Having lived through the Reagan years, REM’s lyrics captured the frustration of a generation. “Nightswimming” is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. I have no idea how many times I listened to this song – I am sure it must be over a thousand.

The next album, “Monster” was not my favourite. However, I did have some favourites. The stand out for me was “What’s the frequency Kenneth.” Somehow I missed “New Adventures in Hi-fi.” I think I was busy having my post Masters degree melt down when I realized I was not going to be able to find a decent job. I digress.

I absolutely adored “Up.” If I remember correctly, it was billed as a concept album, best listened to from the beginning straight through. I loved almost the entire album. “At my most beautiful and “Falls to climb” are the standout tracks for me on “Up.” In “Falls to climb,” Stipe’s vocals are outstanding. He holds a note for so long it almost seems impossible. Yet there it is.

I mostly didn’t engage with 2001’s “Reveal.” “Around the Sun,” which came out in 2004, was another great album. REM’s ability to capture complex political systems and ideas was evident again on this album. In particular, “I wanted to be wrong,” which astutely captured the state of American foreign policy was almost as powerful for the Bush Jr. years as “Ignoreland” was on the Reagan years. “Accelerate” is another album I didn’t really like. One song, “Hollow Man” was the only one I really liked. I found the album too heavy.

Clearly no band or artist can continue to churn new, creative material year after year. Many bands fade into obscurity after only a few a mediocre albums. REM’s brilliance has spanned over 4 decades. I think this speaks to the creative genius of REM. I think I will spend some time in their back catalogue where I am sure I will find some more gems.

What about you? How has REM affected your life? What are your favourites? Leave your recommendations in the comments!

Vancouver Canucks and Civic Responsibility

So the Canucks played a game last night and guess what? There wasn’t a riot! Go figure! I am completely appalled at the silence of the Vancouver Canucks with regard to the riot. They have said absolutely nothing. I am not sure how they think it is ok to take people’s money and not bear any responsibility for the behaviour of their fans. They participate in ramping up the expectations and the ‘hype’. However, there needs to be some responsibility on their part.

Civic participation should be a major part of any professional sports team. The Canucks could have done several things to show their fans what they think of riots. They could have helped clean up after the riot; this would have shown that they see themselves as part of the fabric of the city. What about putting up some reward money to bring the rioters to justice? They most certainly could have put up some money towards the businesses subjected to destruction. Imagine what an inspiring message it would have sent if any member of the Vancouver Canucks had shown up.

This really opens up a larger question about what responsibility, if any, professional teams have towards their fan bases and the cities that host them? The teams do not pay any of the attached policing costs from the games. Why should they get a free ride? I really do not understand why no one is demanding more from the Vancouver Canucks. I don’t understand how people can continue to support a team who feels no loyalty to us. It is a travesty.